24 June 2008

A Mother's Prayer

Please God, when my son gets his snack out at camp today, please let him be sitting next to some kid who takes one look at his Trader Joe's yogurt cup and says something like: "Those are awesome! You are so lucky -- I wish I got those in my snack!"

Here's the thing. He likes vanilla yogurt cups. He likes oranges. He got both in his snack today. He also has a skewed sense of what's embarassing, and when he saw his snack option this morning, complained to me that yogurt cups are embarassing to eat, and orange seeds are embarassing to spit out. Nothing I say will change his mind about this, so I am left to hope that a peer convinces him that his food will not permanently relegate him to the Land of the Nerds.

Lordy.

Well, at least he is at Young Writer's Camp this week, and can use the suffering he endures at my hands, my utter snack-cruelty, as fodder for the creative process. Maybe at the book store reading they have at the end of camp, the audience will be treated to a scary tale of a witchy mom hell bent on poisoning her offspring with seemingly healthy snacks that are actually going to melt their eyeballs and cause their fingers to curl up like curly fries.

17 June 2008

An Old Fashioned Reflection

In two senses. First of all, on the eve of my daughter's 6th birthday, I am engaging in the time-honored tradition of wondering where the time has gone. Six years ago tomorrow, I became the mother of a girl, and promptly wondered what on earth I was going to do with one of those. Having only parented boys up to that point, I was sure I was headed for a household of boyness. I was so very wrong.

Second of all, on the eve of my daughter's 6th birthday, her father made me a very large Old Fashioned, and it's working its way through my circulatory system in a delightfully fuzzy way, even as I type. 'Scuse any typos.

It really is quite something how time goes by, and how little people emerge into real, independent, autonomous beings, right before our eyes. Today, while Lola and I were running errands, we ran into a neighbor, who tried to talk to little Missy. Little Missy did her usual: she looked at me with pleading eyes as if to say, "Please answer for me; I cannot." Later, we talked about how we (Rick and I) want her to answer people when they talk to her, and work on having a modicum of social graces with others. A few hours later at Tilden Park, she proudly told me that she said "Hello!" to a boy who said hello to her. Wow. They listen every now and then. Who knew?

And so, on the eve of my daughter's 6th birthday, I find myself amazed at all of them, at the way they are growing and laughing and fighting their way through life. I truly believe that children are more honest about their relationships, with others and with the world, than adults. When they're mad, they lash out; when they're sad, they sob; when they're happy, they laugh their little backsides off. They mean what they say. They ask the first questions that occur to them. They react. They do not edit, screen, censor, or omit. They relate.

I wanna be a kid again.

Speaking of wanna. On the way home from daycare today, Tallulah ate her half of the z-bar that she and Elizabeth had split. Elizabeth had already downed hers, so she decided her little sister needed to share. And the youngest of five promptly shoved the whole thing in her mouth, clearly as an alternative to handing any of it over. Which lead to the following refrain, which I heard too often to count as my car snaked its way down San Pablo Avenue at rush hour:

"IWANNABAR!" Hit the high notes on WAN and BAR, and then repeat like 50 times, and you'll have a good idea of what I was enduring. Made me "wanna bar" of a different sort...

So the old-fashioned reflection is this: They -- my children -- embody all of life's intensity and complexity, minute by minute and day by day. String enough of those minutes and days together, and pretty soon, you're taking your daughter to get her ears pierced, and wondering how she ever got those calves all shapely like that. String enough of those minutes and days together, and you are bound to marvel at just how intense your parent-anger, parent-love, parent-fear, and parent-joy can be.

I may not be a person who "wears her heart on her sleeve," so to speak, but at moments like these, on the eve of my daughters 6th birthday, I feel strongly the push and pull of love, the impossibility of my children growing up and out and beyond my reach. It's all over me like a warm blanket that someone is tauntingly pulling off of me, even as I scramble to tug it back into place. I don't want them to get bigger, and yet I can't wait to see those ears pierced, to see where those calves will take her, to marvel at the way she is in the world, laughing, fighting, growing.

***

13 June 2008

Clay and Beads are Killing Me

About a year or so ago -- I can't really remember -- one of my kids did an art project that resulted in one small round ball of blue clay with beads and beans stuck all over it. It was really pretty cool looking.

But that little blue ball became a symbol for me of "The Curse of the Can't Throw Aways." It was special to the kid who had made it. And every so often, if it had gotten lost, someone would find it and much rejoicing would ensue. I grew to hate that little ball because it, like so many other things around here, became part of the clutter that I do not know what to do with, the clutter that threatens to take over and one day crush us all in our sleep. The clutter I engage my Sysiphian battle with on a daily basis, usually losing. No good place to keep it or display it; no good way to toss it without grievously injuring some small feelings.

A week ago, it somehow ended up in my car, where it met its final demise under the feet of five kids climbing in and out. Again, much rejoicing! But of course, from me this time. I finally got to throw it away -- YIPPEE!

***

Yesterday, three of my kids spent the day with a very good friend of mine and she did all kinds of fun projects with them. They each came home with TWO bead-encrusted clay balls. Which means I now have six of them.

The parenting gods (for they surely are not goddesses, who would be much kinder) are cruel to the mothers of the world.

09 June 2008

A Little Cultural Experiment

Rick chaperoned the school field trip today, which was a park day for both 3rd and 2nd grade, so both of our boys' classes went. Since he was going to be with them, I packed snacks for all three of them in one of those soft coolers, rather than in individual bags, and sent them on their way.

Fast forward to the end of the school day. "Did they eat their food," I ask, because I want to know if they ate the healthy stuff so I can give them the Cheese Crunchies I bought today or if I need to enforce a little vegetable time on them. He says, "Yeah, they ate it, but they ate it early, so when they got hungry again, I gave them the other food too. I didn't know you sent two bags."

Me: "Uh, I didn't send two bags."

Pause

Me again: "What did they eat?"

Rick: "Yogurt?"

Again, me: "I didn't send any yogurt today; the last time I sent yogurt was Friday." We just had the hottest weekend of the year so far. That yogurt was in Sam's bag all weekend, and HE ATE THE WHOLE THING.

We are about to find out just how strong his constitution is, or conversely, just what a little overactive yogurt culture can do to a nine year old tummy. Good to know that parenting continues to provide hands-on education, don't you think?

The Heartbreak is Over

Baseball is a sport that will break your heart.

And for this season, it's done breaking mine.

We officially ended our almost 5 month season of baseball this past weekend, finishing off with four games, two for each boy. For the past four months and change, we've had four practices per week and 2-4 games per weekend. We've had front row seats for the tears and frustration of strike outs. We've prayed for the ball to land in the mitt and we've shaken our hands at heaven when it didn't. We've looked for that damn orange sock at the very last minute and we've repeated the "Take Care Of Your Stuff" lecture so often that the opening line just might be Tallulah's first sentence. We've schlepped the snacks and walked the parade route. We've witnessed some stellar adult behavior; we've witnessed some truly cringe-worthy adult behavior. We've cheered at the hits, the walks, the catches, the almost catches, the runs, the wins...we've encouraged till our encouragers are plain wore out.

We walked away with one 1st place champion and one 2nd place champion and 4 (yes, four) trophies, one for participating and one for placing in the playoffs, times two boys. I'm pretty sure I also left with a small shred of energy as well, but I can't quite find it at the moment. It's probably underneath the pile of baseball gear in my front hallway.

My boys LOVE baseball, and isn't it funny that because they do, all of the above is completely worth it?

02 June 2008

Come On Mom, Admit it!

"So Mom. What do people do when they are drunk?"

"Oh, they act silly, and do things they don't usually do; they also can't do some things that they usually can do, like drive a car or walk in a straight line. Sometimes they talk funny, like they can't really pronounce words..they might laugh more than they usually do...stuff like that."

"Has dad ever been drunk?"

(Hmmm....how might Rick want me to anwer that one, I wonder.)

"Have you ever been drunk?"

(OK, dodged the Rick question, caught my own...) "Yes, honey, I have been."

"What did you do when you were drunk?"

"Oh, I think I just went to sleep."

"No, I mean what silly things did you do???"

"Oh, I don't really know, sweetie; it was awhile ago."

pause

"Well, are you still an alcoholic?"

* * *

And here was a golden opportunity to talk about things that fall in the shades of gray category; what is OK for one person might make another person sick. What is bad for the goose might be good for the gander. We've had similar conversations about how we love people who smoke and yet we still tell the kids not to smoke; we love people with tattoos and yet we still tell the kids not to get one. We love all kinds of people, and who they are is different from what they do.

Thank God we are not sums of our bad habits, or I would be in seriously bad shape.