And now you are Eight…

Published Date: January 8th, 2013
Category: Weekly Thought |

How quickly time has gone. How are you eight and how do I have an eight-year-old child? I look at the chubby pictures of you scattering our walls and it seems like so long ago, longer ago even than my own childhood, that you were this open-mouthed laughing baby. But this year brought you so many new adventures:

1)      We stole you away to the mountains on a pilgrimage to Bob Marley’s house during our family trip to Jamaica, where somehow you were able to play the EXACT  piano he had played as a child. You will also sometimes randomly turn to us while we are at Lollapalooza or an outdoor concert and ask, “Why does it smell like Jamaica, here?” We’ll save that answer for your 14th birthday…

2)      You also learned how to snorkel. Kind of. Floating on a big inner tube. But still, you put on the mask and the snorkel and saw the magical underwater world of sea anemones and spiky sea urchins.

3)      After many sidewalk falls, arguments on “how Dad is better at teaching me how to ride a bike,” and sore back muscles (OUR sore back muscles, I should add), you learned how to ride a bike.

4)      Swimming finally became something you like to do. With goggles.

5)      You talked back for the first time. And looked at me, waiting to see what would happen. And I perfected my, “Don’t try that again with me” mother glare. So you didn’t.

6)      You thought you would rather live in an apartment. After moving to an apartment, you realize you want to go back to living in a house. We’re working on that one, G.

7)      You had to make that ever-so-difficult decision at Lollapalooza—Black Sabbath or The Black Keys. And you chose…Black Sabbath. But somehow made it in time to see “Gold on the Ceiling” live, proving at age 7, you will always strive to DO BOTH!

8)      Much to our chagrin, you learned all the dance moves to “Gangnam Style.” So we get to listen to that at least once a day. And watch you shuffle from side-t0-side, grabbing your crotch, and wearing black sunglasses.

9)      You made four goals in one soccer game! And one was from mid-field. David Beckham you better watch out…

10)  You proved that although you are taller, wiser, and cooler, you still will snuggle with me. And I hope I still have one more year of those magical moments.

 

But this year I also learned from you—I learned that you don’t need me as much anymore. I learned that it is not too late to follow my own dreams, and now some of my favorite memories from this past year are of us both studying at our dining room table. You pulling out my stethoscope to listen to your own heartbeat. You have given me the desire to help others again and to continue to learn. And I hope, my darling boy, we never stop learning together.

 

The Santa Conspiracy

Published Date: December 6th, 2012
Category: Weekly Thought |

Remember when we were seven, going on eight and we learned there was no Santa Claus? Do you remember that moment when you realized life was against you, your parents were big fat liars, and the only people you could trust was your 7-year-old friend and his older brother, Andy?

I do. It was the worst day of my 7-year-old life, only to be followed by the 2nd worst day—the day I learned how babies were made.

I keep waiting for this day, wondering which path I will take when my son asks me if Santa is real. Will I fess up, shattering his trust in me, in the Christmas spirit, in all things considered jolly and young and carefree? Or, will I hold onto his childhood, his baby face and eager eyes and innocence ONE MORE YEAR, meaning he will hate me EVEN MORE since I just doubly lied to him about Santa being real?

Well, turns out I don’t think I will have to deal with it. Because although the gig is DEFINITELY up (I could see it in my son’s eyes as he dug into his St. Nicholas day stocking this morning), the difference between young 1981 me and the wiser, more crafty youth of this day is that they have all agreed to partake in the biggest sham of their lives so far:

The Santa Conspiracy

That’s right—all of this gaming and computer time and urban wiliness we have encouraged has made him (and I am pretty sure all of his friends) realize that if they never tell us they stopped believing in Santa Claus, they’ll keep getting Santa gifts until they’re 10? 12? 18?

We children of the 70’s and 80’s were total amateurs compared to the kids of today. Sure, they realize their parents suck and that the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are probably phony concoctions as well, but why on earth should they fess up? So they can get less presents, less Easter candy, less money every time they lose a tooth (which seems to be every week)?

Oh no. These kids are onto us. And they’re riding this Santa Train all the way to Pile on the Presentsville.

Which now shows me that the joke is definitely on us, parents. I have this vision of my 16-year-old son studying for his driving exam while writing his yearly letter to Santa. Although by then the good news is that he can at least drive himself to the mall to go sit on Santa’s lap…

And now you are Seven…

Published Date: January 8th, 2012
Category: Weekly Thought |

 

This year, my darling boy, you have done so much. You have:

1)      Taken up meditation. Since you have decided you are a Buddhist (who celebrates Christmas, of course).

2)      Explained to your grandmother how one eats edamame.

3)      Ridden through the locks of the Chicago River on a large boat and were reprimanded by the Chicago Coast Guard for NOT WEARING A LIFE JACKET (although you were somehow the ONLY one wearing a life jacket).

4)      Experienced a red moon on a long stretch of beach in South Carolina and how it affects the mating of horseshoe crabs. They mate.

5)      Determined that you DON’T like honky tonk bars and that you NEVER want to go back to one.

6)      Taken up golf.

7)      Caught your first and probably last fish, due to your lack of interest in rowboating and fishing.

8)      Lost your first two teeth.

9)      Donated your OWN money to a school in Africa so they can have real soccer balls instead of balls made of old rags and leaves.

10)  Uttered the magic words that all literate parents love to hear, “Mama, I love reading!” and then proceeded to use this pick-up line on 6-year-old-girls, “Hey—I’m good at reading…”

11)  Contributed to the creation of everyone’s (well, ten people’s) favorite holiday song, “O Mojito Tree.”

12)  Attended your fifth Lollapalooza. And discovered you really like The Cars (the band, not the movie).

13)  Watched the trilogy of Star Wars movies. All in the same day.

14)  Experienced your first blizzard and actually sledded off of your front porch. And kept your mother charming company while your father was AWAY on a business trip for the WHOLE TIME.

15)  Given your very first oral report (on Native Americans) with a real poster board and everything.

16)  Watched your mother go back to school and supported her in every way by saying, “You can do it, Mama! But wait, when do I get your Organic Chemistry modeling set?”

17)  Decided your first task as a scientist will be to create a time machine so you can see what you were like as a baby. But that won’t happen for 30 years. And MAYBE I get to use it.

18)  Participated in your first 1K (well, 2K since you and Dad got lost) to support breast cancer survivors and met me at the 5K finish line.

19)  Started playing Angry Birds. Much to my dismay.

20)  Somehow made me love you even more. I cannot imagine my life without you, my forever sweetie sweetie. Happy Birthday little boy!

Squeaky Sneakers

Published Date: November 21st, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

I almost threw up today because I was so nervous.

So nervous for my son’s first piano recital, that is. And why was I nervous, you wonder? Because in my SEVEN years of piano lessons, I absolutely refused to participate in any sort of piano recital. Or to play the piano in front of any human being.

But did I make my son play in HIS recital?

You betcha.

He didn’t even know it was a choice (kind of like my mother never even knew I had the choice to participate in a recital as a child. See how this all works?)

And in the preceding week prior to his recital, I found myself dangerously slipping into Tiger Mom mode. It was truly scary. Not my proudest moments.

I would sit down in the rocking chair in our newly created “music room” that was supposed to ENTICE all these people to buy our house (has not worked yet) and “listen” to him practice.

With each minute, my blood pressure would go up just a little bit more. Because a Van Cliburn he is not.

Even though he had been practicing “Squeaky Sneakers” for nearly THREE WEEKS, he still just couldn’t really play it. Without taking 2-3 minute breaks. Or basically just playing many wrong notes. And all I could keep thinking is,

“Oh God. He is going to absolutely BOMB up there on the church stage. And then I will die.”

So I would slide on next to him and make him practice each page twice and then put it all together and play that twice.

And then he would get upset and I would say, “I don’t understand how you still can’t play this!” and he would stomp off and I would realize all I was missing was well-shaped eyebrows, a satin dressing gown and dainty slippers, and some wire hangers. Because this piano recital had turned me into THAT mother. I realized that something needed to change. And that change was me.

So my solution, you wonder?

Avoidance.

I was pretty much banned from the music room while he practiced and concluded that if he bombed his first piano recital, that’s okay.

Because he is six-years-old.

It took me a while to get there. Some coaching from my husband and sister-in-law. But I made it. Kind of. Because I have to be honest—I was a NERVOUS WRECK the day of his recital. I really hid it from him and was supportive and told him that however he did, as long as he tried his hardest, we would be so proud.

But on the inside, as the minutes crept up and his turn got closer and closer, I was just a LITTLE bit closer to pulling him from the stage and whisking him out of there so he didn’t have to experience this hell called, “performing in front of other people.”

Then a magical moment happened. Right before he was going to play he looked over at me and smiled. And I realized that my panic was exactly that—MY PANIC. He didn’t care. He was really just going to go up there and play his best and if it went well, great. And if it didn’t, well at least he would get some post-piano recital treats.

The time came. His name was called. He approached the bench in a no-nonsense manner, confidently placed his music on the stand, slipped onto the bench and without a blink, started playing.

And rocked it. Not one mistake.

I was so proud of him. And for the first time in my 6 short years as a mother I finally understood that although our children come from us, that does not mean they inherit all of our neuroses and psychotic expectations. They LEARN those from us.

So from now on, no more rocking in the rocking chair for me while he practices his piano. I’ll just hide in the kitchen, keep my mouth shut, and hope that piano recitals only happen once a year…

Ten Reasons you Know you are Too Old to go Back to School

Published Date: September 21st, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

1)      You have lower back pain not because you were drunkenly falling under cars in sub-zero, icy weather or because you decided it was a good idea to participate in your roommate’s boyfriend’s “shopping cart races,” but because you are too old to carry a back pack full of $500 worth of books.

2)      You can’t believe you just spent $500 on books, which is how much you spent on beer for ALL FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE.

3)      You eagerly wait for hand-outs from your teacher on the 1st day of class and are told that “everything is available on Blackboard.”

4)      You immediately look at the Blackboard in your actual classroom and see that it is blank.

5)      The 20-something next to you kindly explains that Blackboard is an online organizational system that you can access via your college’s email system.

6)      You didn’t realize you had an email address with your college.

7)      After telling the helpful 20-something that you haven’t been to school in 18 years, he looks at you and says, “Wow! You look good for your age.”

8)      You now realize that every time you told someone they looked good for their age, you were really just telling them, “Wow! You’re really old!”

9)      You then pull out your Transformers pencil sharpener and pencil case that you stole from your 6-year-old because you are too cheap to purchase your own school supplies.

10)  The little hipster boy sitting next to you in his skinny jeans and tight retro t-shirt looks at your Transformer pencil sharpener and is wondering if he should buy one?  You barely notice because you are SO TIRED. Because it turns out going back to school at age 38 when you have a child and a husband who works all the time BLOWS.

And every day my list grows just a LITTLE bit longer. But I push on so maybe one day, if I’m lucky, you too can come visit me at your local Walgreens so I can test you for strep throat…Yeah nursing school!

A Toothless Tooth Fairy?

Published Date: August 5th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

Why isn’t there some sort of guidance document or protocol for you to follow when your child loses his first tooth? Specifically in the:

a)      Tooth Fairy back-story

b)      Monetary transaction expectations

I have to say, we were utterly unprepared for this whole Tooth Fairy thing. Which is a trifle surprising since we have had SIX YEARS to come up with the Tooth Fairy back-story, but maybe we underestimated how difficult it would be to talk about her.

Because, really? The Tooth Fairy? Who came up with this gimmick? She’s worse than Grandparent’s Day. What child in their right mind is going to believe that some stupid fairy is going to:

a)      Know that a child has lost a tooth

b)      Care

c)      Care enough to give them money for it

My favorite question of G’s was:

“Well, what is she going to do with my tooth?”

And my utterly dumb response:

“Maybe she needs them for herself.”

G then asked:

“What, like she has no teeth?”

So now our son has a depressing vision of this tired, old toothless fairy that flies around paying children for their teeth so she can then disgustingly insert them into her OWN mouth in order to eat apples or corn.

Therefore I say this: Beware parents of children with a full set of teeth. Your day will come. Please make sure you are ready with appropriate amounts of small bills in your wallet and a better story than mine. Maybe your tooth fairy can be this hip young woman who makes cool jewelry out of children’s teeth (although, still a little creepy if you think about it). Or maybe your tooth fairy can grind the teeth into some sort of magic tooth fairy dust that makes bad children good or wide-awake children sleepy.

I don’t know. Just something better than a gummy, old woman.

And for those of you wondering what the going rate for a tooth is these days, watch out. Gone are the days of quarters. These children don’t understand the economy. They really have no desire to hear a diatribe about fiscal responsibility when they only receive fifty cents. Oh no, they want cold, hard cash.

In the end, our tooth fairy gave G $5 for his first tooth. I guess she really had a big plate of corn to eat that day…

You spend your whole parenting existence grooming your son to be a rock star or an internationally known artist or writer or even just a regular old cowboy, and in the end, he just wants to play golf and be an accountant. You try not to be disappointed; you really attempt to NOT be a show mom when you watch him at his little school events and the kid can’t even do the motions for the YMCA, for God’s sake, but whatever. He doesn’t like being on stage or performing for others.

Nope—instead he likes golf. And math.

So you look all over the city for some sort of golf program for 6-year-olds (nearly impossible, BTW) and get comments like, “Wow—you must be so proud! You have the next Tiger Woods on your hands! I bet he’ll start beating YOU soon” which would not be difficult at all, since you have NEVER played golf and NEVER will. You finally find him a golf program that you can sneak him into (he really should be 7) buy him some clubs. Buy him the wrong clubs (come on. Why don’t you buy left-handed clubs for a left-handed kid? Really?!) return them, buy him the right clubs.

And then you find yourself sitting on a golf course, wearing TOTALLY inappropriate clothes (black sundress, big earrings, black baseball hat, flip flops) surrounded by pre-teens in polo shirts and perky college kid coaches in their $100 golf attire attempting to come up with GOLF TERMS. Yep. Your little 6-year-old son is supposed to write his name vertically on a tiny piece of paper (as soon as he heard the word vertical, I knew this was going to be a group project) and then come up with a golf term that starts with each letter of his name. First AND last name.

Come on.

The next thing you know, you are busily paging through the book they gave you at this camp and copying down strange terms onto a piece of paper.

For some reason all you can come up with for “Y” is “yar” and then you realize that is a sailing term, not a golfing term.

But through all of this, your son LOVES this. He doesn’t care that he is the youngest one there by a few feet. That he is surrounded by kids who have been playing golf for years with their golf-loving parents. He actually RAISES HIS HAND when the coach asks questions and looks so intent and focused.

When you hear the perky coaches say the dreaded words, “And golf is also about respecting each other on the greens and wearing respectful clothes. So pretty soon we should start wearing polo shirts and tidy shorts” you try not to cringe, as the whole polo shirt/croc-wearing lifestyle is something you have always attempted to eschew away from.

You buy him a polo shirt. Granted—it is black with tiny white skulls on it—but it is indeed a polo shirt and insure that he will tuck it into his little khaki shorts next time. And like all good parents do, you support him. You are excited when he gets the ball close to the hole (puts? Chips? Whatever. I don’t know. He got the ball onto the really green part of the course) and are appreciative when the coaches tell you he is doing well.

And you try to not look wistfully at the arty kids at Target with their disheveled hair and black clothes and paint-stained hands. Because who knows—he’s only 6! He can change his mind! Maybe this golf/math thing is just a phase!

Secretly you know it’s not. And that your willful dreams of being backstage while your son fills Wembley Stadium are not to be.

That’s okay. He’ll be a golfer. Become an accountant. Maybe because he is REALLY good at math and will REALLY like golf he’ll be a REALLY good accountant and become a partner in some firm. And live in a big house in the suburbs.

Near a golf course.

So no visiting cool recording studios for you. Or light-infused artist lofts. Or even ridiculous communes somewhere in the deserts of Arizona.

That’s okay. You’re sure they have many fun things to do when you go visit him. At Ernst & Young…

The Lego Wars

Published Date: June 3rd, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

Most people work to provide their families food and a roof over their heads. Others are just working for the weekend. And then there’s me. I’m working for Legos.

Yep, Legos. At least that is what my son thinks.

Like most 6-year-old boys, he is obsessed with Legos. It turns out, you can NEVER have too many Legos. Regardless if you have FOUR BINS of them, that is not enough. Not only are FOUR BINS not enough, you CANNOT:

1)      Throw away any of the boxes the Legos come in. They, of course, are needed as reference points as to how the Legos should look.

2)      Take apart any of the Lego worlds your son has created. If he makes the “Lego City Airport” or the “Lego City Submarine,” it must stay intact. Which means that your entire house is like this creepy Lego museum.

3)      Loose any of the Lego instructions that come with the Lego kits. These little pamphlets (which are pretty much 2 pages of instructions and then EIGHT pages of other Lego kits your son or daughter MUST have IMMEDIATELY, therefore pretty much making them like Lego porn for your kids) must go into a special Lego binder that is on hand at all times.

If you do any of the above things, you are chastised and accused of “breaking my Legos!” or “losing my Legos!” for hours on end. Which is tiring, especially after you have been nursing your aching foot all day that you bruised since you stepped on what? Legos.

Lately my son’s newest Lego obsession is the Star Wars “Death Star” Lego set. Which retails for $400. Which he thinks he should have RIGHT NOW. When I explained to him that $400 was a lot of money to spend on Legos and that it would take me an entire day of working to pay for this ridiculous purchase he responded without batting an eye:

“Well, on days that I take Spanish I get to school even EARLIER, so you can start then. You’ll have plenty of time to work that day.”

To which I responded with:

“Or you could just sell A LOT of lemonade. I would get started on that if I were you.”

Oh Legos. You are the bane of my existence. Yet someday while my son is 18 and skulking around the house in weird skinny jeans and tight black t-shirts, I know I will wish for these days of The Lego Wars. Until then, I’ll gingerly step around my house, silently planning my next move against the Legos…

Did you Say “Landscaping” or…

Published Date: May 24th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

So it really wasn’t a word I wanted to teach my son. At age 6. But like most things you don’t want your child to do/know/understand/feel at a young age, teaching him the word “manscaping” was an accident.

It was an ordinary Monday morning. We were all rushing around, getting ready for work and school, running late even though NOTHING had changed about what times we needed to be at work and school in the morning. G was in his room pretending to get dressed, but really just laying on pillows and staring at his new moon light, I was brushing my teeth, and John was taking a shower when let’s just say the concept of “manscaping” came up in our conversation.

And then G jumped out of his reverie like he had just heard “free Happy Meals for all boys under 7” or “all little boys deserve ONE Transformer a day” and bounded into the bathroom. I must share this uncomfortable conversation, because all parents should be prepared when the concept of manscaping comes up. Because it will.

G: Manscaping? Manscaping? Is that like landscaping? What’s manscaping?

Me: Silence. And then huge guffaws. And then one of my famous ‘what did you just ask’ questions?’ flew out of my mouth.

G: I asked you what manscaping is.

Me: Now silently doubled over in laughter. I am doubled over in laughter as I write this now.

John: Hissing at me from the shower ‘stop laughing. You’re making this worse.’

Me: Which of course made me laugh so hard, I actually had tears streaming down my face.

And a minute had now gone by. Instead of a boring answer to what manscaping is, G is now egged on by my incessant, loud laughter and thinks he is REALLY funny.

And proceeds to make up the “Manscaping Song.” That goes something like this:

“Manscaping (soft), manscaping (little louder), Manscaping (even louder), MANSCAPING (yelling), I love man…scap…ing!”*

I physically now had to go to a different floor of the house I was laughing so hard.

And for those of you wondering, we never gave him an answer. We pulled the infamous parental tool of answering an uncomfortable question with a question (i.e., ‘Mom, where do babies come from?’ And the Mom answers, ‘Where do YOU think babies come from, sweetheart?’).

His answer?

“Manscaping is landscaping done by a man.”

Exactly.

*The release date for this single is TBD…

I Don’t Like Mondays…

Published Date: April 29th, 2011
Category: Uncategorized, Weekly Thought |

Or Fridays.

How can I not like Fridays, you wonder?

Because it is “popcorn day” at G’s school.

For those of you who aren’t up-to-date in the various fundraising options at elementary schools, let me explain—the 8th graders sell popcorn to the students on Fridays to raise money for their Washington, D.C. trip. Which is great! The profit margin and relatively low effort in popcorn sales makes it an exceptional fundraiser for children. And I’m all for enterprising teens taking an interest in paying their way through ANYTHING.

Except, for some reason, the kindergartners are OBSESSED with getting popcorn on Fridays. Which is problematic because:

1)      None of us parents carry cash with us anymore and although our children are OBSESSED with buying popcorn on Fridays, they have the memory of fleas so they don’t remember they want popcorn until they are at school and see one of their little friends waving their popcorn dollar around in their faces.

2)      So the parents therefore shuffle around in their wallets and purses and coat pockets and pool the little bit of cash they have with them so a few kids can share some popcorn.

3)      And then proceed to OBSESS the remainder of the day that their child is going to choke on popcorn during lunch.

Plus, let’s face it—it’s hard enough getting these 5 and 6-year-olds to actually EAT their lunch in a 30-minute timeframe and once you throw “popcorn day” into the mix, you can forget about it. It takes a kindergartner 10 minutes just to figure out how many quarters are in a dollar so once they obtain their money, walk down the hall to the popcorn stand, stand in line, and somehow not spill all of their popcorn on the way back to their lunch seat, they maybe have 5 minutes to eat.

Eat their popcorn, that is. Not the lunch their mothers and fathers had so lovingly prepared for them that morning.

So that’s why I hate Fridays. I never thought I would. I have even tried to put an end to G’s purchase of popcorn but get this—these children bring EXTRA money so they can buy “rounds of popcorn” for their friends. Nothing like a kindergartner with grandma money burning a hole in their pockets.

Therefore I have given in to “popcorn day” and am chalking it off to a math lesson, when I hear G mumbling in the back seat on Fridays, “Let’s see, if I have FOUR quarters, I can buy one bag of popcorn but if I have EIGHT quarters, I can buy TWO bags of popcorn.”

And at least we’re not arguing about what to listen to the radio that morning, either…