28 April 2012

That's the Pits!

Today, I watched my seven year old daughter execute the wardrobe-change-while-riding-in-a-car maneuver.

We left her soccer game, where she displayed 2 scissor moves, one fake, one thigh trap, five right footed-goals, 1 left-footed goal, and 1 left-footed shot on goal, and she had to do a quick transformation before getting to her next destination, a birthday party.  Before we pulled away from the curb, she had changed out of her soccer shorts and into her cute little cut-off jean shorts.  Next, the sweaty soccer jersey was whipped off, replaced by a sassy little pink t-shirt, complete with rhinestone doohickeys on the front.  She topped it off with a black half-length vest, and then set about brushing her hair as the van careened down the hill towards the party.

I kept sneaking glances at her in the rearview mirror.  She was "doing herself up," as much as a 7 year old  can, transforming herself from rabid athlete to bounce-house party girl.  It was poignant.  I pictured her older, and found myself hoping that soccer grows up with her and stays with her into high school.  Having never been an athlete as a child, I love the idea of my girls challenging themselves physically, pushing their bodies and growing up strong.  Visions of prom night swirled in my head, with a dazzling Lady E dressed to the nines after a fierce competition on the pitch.  I don't want her to be a debutante or anything, but I like that she's got both going for her.  I kept sneaking glances at her as she brushed and brushed her unbrushable mop, and I smiled to myself all the while.

She was worried about being sweaty.  "Mom, when we get there, I'm going to use the bathroom first, so I can wash my hands and face, and my pits, Mom, because my pits are gross!"  Emphasis hers.

Happy as I was about her taking care of her personal hygiene, I  gently suggested that she couldn't actually bathe in her host's bathroom, and that it would probably be fine to just wash her hands and face.  After all, I figured, she's seven.  And she's going straight into a bouncy house with a bunch of other seven and eight year olds, where they will bounce like mad for 2 or 3 hours.  It's not like the pits are going to matter.

When we got to the party, we found our way through an immaculate, show-ready house, said hello to the hosts, then we found our way to a gorgeous bathroom, with cute little soaps, pretty towels, and matching everything.  I re-did her un-doable hair.  She washed up.  Washed her face and hands, and reached for the towel to dry up.   And just as I was marveling at how extremely lovely she is, and before I could reach over to stop her, she took that nice pretty hand towel and mopped up both her pits.

I'm pretty sure the rough and tumble athlete is going to kick the debutante's ass in this little girl.

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20 April 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 53

Let's be quick about this shall we?  Here are my 7 Quick Takes for today.  Actually 14, because today, I bring you 2 lists of seven things that reveal a little bit about me and my family.

List #1:

  1. The other day, I was lying down on my bed with my daughter.  She looked down at my feet, looked back up at me, gave me a little sly smile and said:  "Look at you, wearing the matching socks!"
  2. I organized my desk piles yesterday.  I found a Netflix DVD we have not returned.  From December.  Of 2010.
  3. My kids sometimes lament: "We're the Heck's, aren't we?"  
  4. Related: One of my kids, surveying the scene after we stayed at grandma and poppa's house for three days and were about to begin the process of putting it back together, said: "I know what happened here.  We Alatorre-ed up the place."
  5. I had to dry a school uniform shirt with a hair blow-dryer this morning.
  6. Every day, it takes about 3.4 seconds for the car ride home from school to reach epic levels of nastiness between my children.  When this happens, I worry that they are actually possessed by evil spirits.  Every day.
  7. I finally found one of the three flash drives I've been looking for!  Outside, in a dirty bucket, partially submerged in rainwater.  Along with it, I also found one bottle of expensive facial sunscreen, a couple of necklaces, a soaked deck of cards, and my kitchen dish scrubber.  The dish scrubber did not survive.

List #2
  1. My husband can simultaneously agree with my son, in the most emphatic way, that a kid we know is an absolute idiot (replace the word "idiot" with your preferred curse word; I couldn't bring myself to pull that trigger) while also telling him that even that kid deserves adults who will bring out the best in him, because "you never give up on a 13-year old kid."
  2. A couple of times recently, when they had their choice of what movie to watch, my kids picked To Kill a Mockingbird and Guess Whose Coming To Dinner.  
  3. Four out of my five children will be in a production of Midsummer Night's Dream this summer in Sonoma.  
  4. My dining room table is covered with evidence that art takes places all the time in this house.  I could sand it all away any time I choose.  I do not choose.
  5. The other day, someone asked me "how I do it," how do I handle 5 kids.  I replied quite sincerely that I yell a lot.  She, bless her, expressed disbelief: "No!  I don't believe that!  It seems like you laugh a lot!"  Well, both are true.  And I was grateful to her for pointing out to me that, yes, we laugh a lot.
  6. Every  now and then, the stars line up correctly, everyone's moons are in the right aspect, our chakras jive with our karma, and the five kids all have fun playing together, from the 13 year old, all the way down to the 5 year old.  Not going somewhere fun, not for a special occasion, just because we get lucky.  When this happens, like it did last night on a warm and beautiful Spring evening, with children rolling on the lawn and the sounds of their merriment wafting down our street, I marvel that my children are kind, fun, creative, hilarious, and strong people.   (It didn't last very long...but it was glorious.)
  7. Things I love about my family: that we are Barcelona fans...that we make paella...that we love the Beatles...that we talk ad nauseum about life...that we all give each other second chances every single morning (so, like, second chances times infinity, or something like that)...that we all possess very strong senses of humor...that we are here, in this place, with and for each other.  I never doubt that a small group of Alatorres can change the world.  Indeed, it's the only thing that does it for me, day in and day out.  (Sorry 'bout the stealing, Ms. Mead!)

We give me whiplash.

:) Happy Friday everyone.  Go visit our host, Jen, and sample some of the other 7QT-ers.  

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05 April 2012

It Only Took Me 9.75 Years

My daughters are rough and tumble.  They are hard on clothes, hair accessories, and their own bodies.  I try to dress them up, I try to "do" their hair.  It usually takes mere minutes for them to revert back to their natural state: unkempt, with holes at the knees.  Cute hair bands unravel at their touch.  Pretty blouses are christened with paint or mud or both within days.  I've used more bandaids on my three daughters in nine years than I have on my two boys in thirteen.

I had a realization this morning as I was searching for a non-shredded pair of tights for Thing One to wear.  All this time I've thought I was buying tights for my daughters, pondering which ones to buy, trying to keep them organized in a cute and tidy little stocking basket, I haven't actually been buying tights.  I've been buying disposable socks.

It stops now.  No more wasted money.  No more standing and staring in the Target aisle.  I'm taking a stand against tights.  No more tights.

I'll find something else to do with that cute basket.  Maybe I'll keep my Y2K supply of bandaids in there.

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04 April 2012

Fun With Sharpees

Give my kids a relatively free afternoon and a couple of sharpees, and there's no end to the fun they can have.

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02 April 2012

It Takes A Village To Keep Me From Whacking You Upside the Head

Monday morning is challenging enough without parent-child clashes, right?  Unfortunately, my Monday morning featured all the usual challenges, plus a side of Teen Drama.

You see, when we arrived at school, my teenager discovered he had left his lunch at home.  I reacted with all the grace of a grumpy mother bear whose cub has spilled honey all over the cave.  He got defensive and teenager-y on me, and somehow, magically, it was my fault that he hadn't grabbed his lunch.

So the two of us are walking up the hill to school hissing disgruntled comments back and forth, each of us unhappy with the other, I because he'd forgotten his lunch and he because I was on his case and in his business again.  We walked about 20 or 30 paces this way, essentially bickering.  Let me be a cautionary tale: do not bicker with your own child.  It's pointless and soul-sucking.  For both of you.  But bicker we did, right up to the school steps.

But then, we encountered two other people, another parent and another student.  And BAM!  Insta-Cheer!  

One minute we were both grousing and grumbling away at each other, and the very next minute, we were chatting pleasantly with our respective friends about our weekends.  Sam was telling his friend about his awesome guitar recital on Saturday night and I was joking with the mom on crossing guard duty like I hadn't a care in the world.  It was like we were two entirely different people than the grumpy-grumps we had been seconds earlier.

Is that fake?  Are we hypocritical when we change faces so fast and act like everything is hunky-dory when we kind of want to strangle each other?

I don't think so.  I think it's more like sweet mercy that other people come along and bring us out of our private little miseries and invite us to something better.  Thank goodness we are not left alone with our petty concerns and complaints!

Apparently, it takes a village to keep a mother and teenager from killing each other.

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