Posts tagged ‘parenting’

Winter, You Lame-Ass Cold Thing

I know it comes every year. I know it’s because the earth tilts away from the sun. I know all of that but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Yesterday, talking to a friend I said: I still wish for shorter winters, and he said: You’re a bit too far north for that!

Arg. Grimace.

On Saturday I saw a sign at the Farmer’s Market, the last market of the year, that said: ” See you the first weekend in May!” The month of May. That is SEVEN MONTHS away. You know they have a market at the first opportunity so that means the very first possible chance of standing around outdoors for any stretch of time is officially in May. Seven months. Seven f-ing months.

Yesterday as I geared up for a dog walk I reached for my puffy coat, which even through the warmth of summer still hangs on the coat rack because Winter always jumps up out of nowhere without any warning, and I almost cried. Because it meant it is cold and it also means that I will be wearing that same coat from now until eternity. Basically the same outfit for seven months. That is worth crying over.

For the last part of spring, all of summer, and the first part of fall, the entire town has been our playground. Any scrap of grass, any stretch of river. If you loaded up the stroller with enough snacks and water you could conceivably stay out all day, moving from one kid friendly locale to another. But not anymore. Yesterday, heading home from the coffee shop, Echo wanted to stop for a moment and watch the football players grunt out some plays. Ordinarily this would mean a relaxing slump on a grassy knoll, but instead with Winter’s arrival, it meant a miserable crouch behind a ponderosa, a face scrunched, shoulders hunched, test of endurance. And I failed. I finally convinced her to climb back in to her sheepskin and blanket, the cozy den of a stroller, and grimaced our way swiftly back home.

Sigh.

October 27, 2010 at 8:03 am 1 comment

Bicycle

Bicycle! Bicycle!

We live in the downtown area, which means that basically every destination is within fifteen blocks, or so. The library, the coffeshop, friends’ houses, the river, the pet supply store, the bank, dance class, you get the picture. So most days I toodle about on an upright, old red bike I found in an alley, chosen because of its shape, meaning it was able to accommodate the front loading seat we had for Echo. Only one brake functions, the seat slowly tilts forward as I ride, and the gears don’t shift well, but we love it. Often I attach the dog trailer and pull eighty-pound Henrydog around too, making him wait while I run errands, and then finally stopping along the river to throw a ball, soak him entirely, and exhaust him thoroughly. The system works perfectly for our, often, simple life. But it’s a slow ride with no gears to speak of and my legs splayed to make room for Echo’s body.

For that reason, when our journey takes us beyond our “zone” I wimp out entirely and take the car. Until yesterday. With Nathan at work, the most beautiful day in history, and the need to deliver Xi to her other house (decidedly outside the “zone”) I looked around for an alternative. And then I saw Bicycle, my trusty road bike. I pumped the tires, hooked on the kid trailer, loaded Echo, Xi, lunch box,and every scrap of school project that Xi wanted to show her mother, and hit the road.

We went up hills, through a tunnel, over a railroad bridge. I felt like Natty Gann, hitting the road, seeing the west, riding from horizon to horizon. My body lithe. My legs strong. Not toodling but zipping.

Oh my trusty bicycle friend! How I had forgotten thee!

There is a long history with that bike. When I had just graduated college and returned home to work for my sister and her bike delivery company I rode a red mountain bike, a bike so stupid within the context of Santa Cruz-bike messenger-roadbike-coolness, that we nicknamed it Chad. And Chad just wasn’t going to cut it so I searched and searched for a road bike that would fit my small frame, not an easy task, and one day was surprised by Bicycle. She is blue and I loved her from the start. Bicycle is what I rode on the bike tour where I witnessed the spider to wasp battle. Bicycle is what we strapped onto my truck when I moved to Colorado for grad school. The same trip where, when we stopped in Nevada to try out the novelty of gambling and pulled into the casino parking garage, the handlebars of Bicycle didn’t make the required clearance and were munched, and I cried my eyes out on the curb. Bicycle is what I rode, in the wee hours of the morning to my job in a bakery. I rode in the middle of the street, no hands, and one time, in the heat of summer, topless, because there was no one in the streets at that time of night. Bicycle is what I was riding, years later, whizzing down a hill, when I saw Nathan for the first time.

Bicycle.

A long-lost friend.

Riding her yesterday, I was drawn to analyze why I had moved her aside. Why I grab the van now to drive to the box stores when yesteryear I rode Bicycle, navigating stop lights and unfriendly traffic without a second thought. I suppose having a baby can cause that kind of change. For the first year of her life, hating to strap her into the car seat, which she loathed, and following the bike trailer rule of waiting until the child is twelve months old to use it, we walked everywhere, and simply did not go where we could not walk. In winter I loaded her in layers of clothes, strapped her into the ergo pack, and then tied an old down coat over top. My body became unbelievably strong, at least in that way. And then at the magic age of one, I put a pickle in her hand, strapped on her insanely large red helmet, loaded her into the trailer, and rode three exuberant blocks before she screamed and wanted to get out. So there is that. An unwilling passenger would, of course, prevent one from going beyond the “zone”.

But there is more underneath that.

Yesterday, buoyed by the successful trip across town, Nathan and I decided to ride further. First to a harvest party at a homestead in the hills, and from there, across town again to an evening baby shower. Again I pumped the tires (seems Bicycle has a slow leak), loaded sweatshirts, bottles of water, toys, and an apple cake into the trailer, and set off. We chatted and laughed through paved neighborhoods, winding our way to the hills. Soon the pavement turned to dirt, and our chatter to labored breathing. My pulse began to beat in my skull. Sweat trickled through my hair, and I thought This is hard. I panted. I looked ahead to see how much further we had to go and the road stretched on. On and up. But I also thought, This is hard, but so what? What am I saving myself for? What are these quads for if not to move my body, to transport my child? I will be tired, and drink water, and feel good, and sleep well tonight and wake up and have energy again.

I think I have been living in scarcity. With a colicky newborn I stripped down. I ate only rice and sweet potatoes, so that her belly would be soothed by milk made from simple foods. As she grew, as all the girls grew, I watched the clock, wanting to be home before too late. Wanting them tucked in bed with teeth brushed by the appointed bedtime. I managed our day, seeking stimulation – but not too much, action – but only in the right measure, and fun – but not so much that we couldn’t recover quickly. There was so much at stake, so much preciousness at hand that I was careful of them, but if I am honest, also of me. I wanted to be equipped. Like a mountaineer that stocks up on the latest alpine gear, I was stockpiling rest, energy, vitamins, whatever I would need to care for these beings. Without knowing what chaos the next day would bring, I sought to keep the current day simple, to remain in constant preparation.

And there is sense to that method, sure. Children need sleep and they need moderation. Certainly parenting is a lot easier when the kids are well rested and well fed, and maybe more importantly, parenting is easier when the parents are well rested and well fed. I know that conflict resolution, figuring out whose turn it is with the roller skates is akin to torture with less than six hours of sleep, but what does that have to do with my quads?

Perhaps I can parent just as well with tired muscles, as at this point I am not literally chasing anybody. There are no toddlers running toward the street anymore. In fact Echo casually saunters next to me now. I still hold her a lot, of course, but I don’t think I need to stockpile muscle strength any longer. The days of screaming after three blocks in the bike trailer are over too. The ride to the homestead took a long time, but there was barely a peep from Echo. She cooed to a crusty plastic Bambi figurine for the duration. Which is good because I was not much of a conversationalist. I sweated and pumped away, past cows, over rocks, and just when I started looking ahead hoping for an end in sight, Nathan circled around with his trailer-less mountain bike and gently pushed me upward. I thanked him, as I know how hard it must be to pedal and push someone else at the same time. He said he didn’t want to patronize me, since he knew I could do it, but he wanted it to still be fun. I loved that answer.

And it was fun. We made it. And drank water, and wiped sweat, ate apple cake and other homemade dishes, tried to catch a chicken to hold, smiled at friends, and pumped water from a real water pump. As the sun slanted low we made our way to the top of the orchard and gazed out at yellow hills. Deer poop at our feet, strands of spider web flying like flags from grass stalks, fermented apple on the air. My legs were spent, my mind flat in a good way, and I wanted to freeze that moment for eternity. I wanted to hear Echo say Mama? I want to see a deer, so stop moving your leg, hold really still, and turn to actually see a deer sniffing our human scent, again and again.

I wanted to remember Bicycle, to never forget her. I wanted to remember my body and all that it is capable of, to remember that wobbly legs are good. I wanted to remember that I don’t need to hoard muscle strength, that I can spend it and still parent well, that I can spend it and it will fill again.

And again and again.

October 3, 2010 at 9:26 am 5 comments

Out of Commission

Blarg.

It’s been a rough couple of days. Not the rain, not the early school mornings, not the sibling fist-fights, that stuff is just normal rough. No, the giant lumpy tonsil in the back of my throat, with the pustules, is the culprit. The put-it-off-until-the-last-possible-second-because-it-hurts-too-bad kind of sick. The lay on the couch, the bed, the floor, from morning until night, walk to the mailbox and need to recuperate kind of sick.

It’s been almost two decades since I felt like this. Senior year in high school. Stretchy, tight, white eyelet t-shirt, loose boy Levis, a field trip with Spanish class, and painful tonsils. That time around I limped through the day, speaking as little as possible, until I could make it to my mom. Like only a mother can she had me on antibiotics and tucked under her covers before nightfall. I knew if I could just arrive at her door and deliver the bare minimum description of my state, and I could be done, finished, no longer in charge.

But this time around things are different. The alarm went off at seven, and because it’s what I normally do, I was at the kitchen counter assembling bread slices before I realized just how bad things really were. The peanut butter was a new jar, needing to be mixed, the oil congealed on top in that unappetizing way. I gave it a weak stir, a bit of juiciness sluicing onto my wrist, and I had no other choice but to give up. My head reeled, my stomach turned, and I had to retreat to the couch for a spell. I lay there, eyeing the jar and giving myself a pep talk. Its only peanut butter. I can do this. Men and women all over the land stir peanut butter. The oil will mix with the nutty paste, it is sure to do just that. I’ve done it before, I’m sure I can do it again. There is only the sandwich left, after that I am scott free. I stumbled once more onto the battlefield, I stirred and stirred, I spread, I jellied, I cut the beast into bite-size pieces for the girl who’s just lost both front teeth. Victory music was playing in the background now, slow-mo. I clicked tupperwares, I taped the special note, I zipped. Wha-bam.

A quick pee, a hand washing to spare myself the nauseating nutty smell, a goodbye to the schoolgirl and I was out. I tagged Nathan, you’re it, and I was done. For the whole day.

I would have to be sick, really sick, to do nothing. To wind my scarf over my eyes and sleep against the light of the afternoon. To watch the children scratch each other’s eyeballs out and just weakly stroke their tangled locks. To feel the boring eyes of a particular yellow dog, a dog that hasn’t missed more than a handful of walks his entire eight years, and still pull the covers up, if not to sleep then to lie there, simply lie there.

And I didn’t have my mom, although I reminded myself of that fact in order to juice up a little more self-pity, but I did have phone calls from intuitive caring friends, pushing past my stoicism, letting me know how ready they were to help. Witches brew from my village-mate, delivered in a steaming, giant, mug, and offers of dinner. And I had Nathan. A house-husband at heart, given the chance to shine. After I passed the baton he was off and running, school drop-offs and pickups, a toddler field trip to the children’s museum, an evening dog walk,  dinner, conflict mediation, tooth brushing, story reading, dishes, and occasional tonsil inspections.

A flurry of action contrasting my inaction.

And now I am able to swallow, to stand without swooning, to speak above a murmur, and filled with gratitude for this body, this family, this man, this community.

Once again reassured that I can fall and be caught.

September 17, 2010 at 7:33 am 2 comments

Shhhhhh…

This is what my friend and her partner do after they’ve gotten the baby to sleep. I couldn’t get this image out of my head – the two of them, heads bent close, an ipod earpiece each, grasping for any bit of entertainment that won’t wake the child – and just had to sketch it out. I think I love it because it is both an example  of the almost ludicrous things we find ourselves doing as parents, and a testament to devotion, the lengths we will go to on behalf of our children.

September 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

The Heat of the Light

Once upon a time there was a woman. She worked a simple job, took her dog on long walks, spent her mornings in a yoga studio and her days-off in a cafe. She thought of the world as a place of infinite possibility, one of pleasure, mystique, and comfortable wonder. In the winter she wore scarves and hats, battened down against the novelty of snow. In the summer her feet bore the permanent marks of a sandaled tan.

She dated, as women do, often picking a man solely because of his un-rightness for her. A drunk, a mountain climber, a “good guy”, types she found fascinating from a research perspective, like traveling in a foreign country, knowing all the while she would return to a familiar skyline. Then, as in a storybook, she falls in love, meeting a man who both fascinates and satisfies her, and though it brings a flush of embarrassment to her cheeks to think of it now, she recalls phoning her sister and girlfriends and remarking that the love one sees in a movie does not just belong on the big screen. She has found it.

He comes with more than a toothbrush. His treasure is round-eyed and beautiful – an infant and a toddler – brimming with life, and in full possession of his heart. When the woman looks up, across the primary-colored plastic kid’s table he has squeezed into his kitchen, she sees a man in an oatmeal sweater, with tossled brown hair and children at his feet, and thinks I always imagined a man like this. There are days when it is just she and him, and they walk for miles, seeing the world  through a gauze of fairy dust. When they are apart, for however short the duration, they write letters, with illustrations and thorough descriptions of love, to be left in each other’s mailboxes during the dark of night. Other days they squat around the same piece of paper, arms stretched to reach around little-girl shoulders, moving a fat marker around and around in games of coloring tag, on others they wrap little heads in warm hats, bundling children under a down sleeping bag, and push a loaded stroller through deep banks of snow.

Years later the woman discovers she is pregnant, and the sensation of life growing inside fills her with greater love for them all. Like a valentine made real, her baby rests within her strong body and though she continues much as before, as much in love, as much a parent to the little girls, as much a hard worker and devoted dog walker, the world is forever changed. Swings make her dizzy and she cries during movies, causing her partner to search the video rental store down the street for strictly comedic or romantic features. Her belly swells larger each day and she imagines a perfect scenario in which she could nestle in her man’s front shirt-pocket, napping occasionally, soothed by the sound of his heart as he moves through his day. She finds relief from the strength of her emotions by walking, pointing out, even though she knows her unborn child cannot see, the first christmas lights strung over the eaves of neighboring houses, and remarking that the sounds the baby hears from her watery bed are simply the frantic barks of the Siberian husky down the street and nothing to be feared.

The smell that wafts off her baby’s head is a scent that enters through her nose but forever embeds itself in the fabric of her spirit. It is a smell that changes everything. For a time, the dog, the children, the partner, and the house are fuzzed out, eclipsed by the urge to be near the baby, to feel its weight in her arms, to smell that smell, to nurse and stare. Beloved family members arrive to help, to hold the baby while she naps or showers, but the woman holds tight, aware that many social rules are being broken, that she is perhaps acting quite rudely, but she does not pass the baby. She knows then that she will never work an ordinary work week again.

The baby grows, as babies do, but she never strays far from her mother. The woman is always near, always poised to accept the reaching hand, to scoop up and kiss, always ready to give herself again, and again, night or day, to her chubby, bronze skinned-child. Years pass in this way, and as others in their play group venture on their own up the slide, seeking independence and adventure, the child does not. The woman, instead, is implored to join her daughter, to never release the grubby hand, to sit beneath her at the top of the slide and cushion her descent. Though it soothes her completely to be near in this way, indeed in some ways she hopes her girl will never shake off her reaching hand, she also wonders bittersweetly, how long it will last.

Independence arrives surreptitiously, in short stops and starts so that at first the woman doesn’t notice it for what it portends. Each solo foray appears like a fluke, a rare moment of separation, but over time it slowly begins to dawn on her that there are stretches of the day in which she and her girl have not nursed, whole pieces of an hour in which the child plays quietly by herself, even occasions in which the girl happily hops up to her fathers hip for a mother-less adventure and hardly turns her head to wave goodbye. In moments like these the woman can sense a spotlight swing in her direction, she can feel its heat warming her cheek, its silence ominously pushing against her. She straightens the house, she plans the next meal, she checks emails, but the question that keeps fighting its way to the front of her mind will not go away. Who am I? What do I DO?

The woman’s devotion to her child, to her happiness and health, to her emotional growth and sense of security, has both filled her completely and distracted her entirely. At the first glimpse of her daughter suckling happily at her breast, the question of identity was laid aside, an unnecessary query when the woman’s purpose was so clearly illustrated. But now, when her arms are occasionally empty she returns to it, at first with panic, and then with interest. Her first instinct is to do, to make something more than dinner, and then that drive extends further. As she lies awake at night she imagines making herself successful, making not just snacks and beds but money as well.

When she rises the ambition that accompanied her to sleep still lingers. She makes tea and cereal, she reads stories, and brushes teeth, keeping one eye open for her opportunity, for the moment her daughter will become occupied, freeing her to step into that other person, the one that succeeds and cashes a paycheck. But most days that freedom is an illusion, for the yawning moments of play she imagined, the lengthy spots of time for non-motherly activities are in fact, quite fleeting, interrupted repeatedly by small-voiced requests. The woman is torn, wishing she had never been spotlighted, never been released even temporarily from motherly duties, never teased by glimpses of the other side if she were not going to be allowed to participate, but also loving the sound of her name on her daughter’s lips, the weight of her  on her lap, her scent, her thoughts, her everything.

If she were needed by this little being, from now until the end of time, there really would be no plaguing questions at all, as the woman, at times, can convince herself that she is capable of happily serving this being forever. But time dictates that her devotion will be required less and less, at some point, perhaps in the near future, even becoming both unnecessary and unwanted. Also, the spotlight will not rest. It’s unfriendly gaze will seek her out when bills are due, when others receive raises at work or accolades for intellectual achievements, it will shine its hot light on her cheek, and she will find herself asking with greater regularity Who am I? What do I DO?

So the woman sits in the park, clustered on a bench with other mothers, watching her daughter, – now running freely, now scarcely checking to see if the woman is near – and wondering. They finger the holes in their jeans, discussing what they’d buy if they were making any of their own money, and turning their options over in their minds again and again. The woman hopes there is an in-between, a way to face the spotlight and declare I am this! I am a mother, a devoted loving mother that spends her days with her child. But I am more. She yearns for a break in the clouds, an angel to sweep down and tell her that there is a way to do it all. A way to keep her child at her side, to avoid dropping her off in a brightly-colored room filled with wooden blocks across town, and a way to still contribute to the family finances, to an intellectual community, and to the world.

The woman wants to feel the heat of that light and turn triumphantly toward it, to welcome it in, and shine it right back.

September 9, 2010 at 9:05 am 18 comments

Natty

We all have our edge.

In yoga class, usually in some crazy-stretchy-balancing pose our teacher says: Go to your edge. Play that edge. And my mind screams: No! I will not! The edge hurts! I’d much rather stay in this comfy spot right here. But I usually go at least a little further, a little deeper. Maybe because I follow the rules when I’m in a class, maybe because I know that, despite my protestations, it’s good for me and will probably feel good too. In any case there definitely is an edge.

There is an edge in any activity we participate in. In romantic relationships there certainly is, as in: He just pushed me right over the edge and I lost it! Sometimes the edge pops up after dinner when the dishes are stacked in the sink but one partner has slumped onto the couch instead of stretching yellow latex gloves over their hands. Sometimes an edge rears its head when a new good-looking co-worker is mentioned, or another round of advice is offered instead of a shoulder to cry on. There is no predicting where that edge lives in any given relationship but it is most certainly there.

The same can be said for parenting. I’m pretty good at pushing past my edge when one daughter wants to wear her pajamas as her outfit, when another wants to try out what its like to take a bath with her clothes on, or when another wants to save toenail clippings in a tiny red satin box. The edge is pokey and irritating but I get over it with the help of thoughts like: What’s the big deal? and in exchange get happy, independent thinking children. But lately a topic has popped up that has brought out an edge and instead of scraping myself over it I am crashing headlong instead.

In short, Echo wants dreadlocks.

The fact is that her hair wants to dread. It is the tangliest mass I have ever seen. Every day. Even after brushing. Even with conditioner. Even with de-tangler and even with routine, daily maintenance. Her hair is simply always tangly. The other fact is that she does not enjoy hair care. Clips, head bands, pig tails, braids, hold very little appeal. And even though, on occasion I manage to regal her with made-up-on-the-spot stories about a monkey sneaking in to the county fair, or about Polly the Walrus who meets his fairy godmother while walking home from school, and gently tease the knots out, she is routinely not interested.

Yesterday I even chased her around the kitchen table. A game of pursuit, in which I occasionally lunged forward and dragged the brush through her locks, was the only way she would participate in any grooming at all.

And Echo is no  fool either. When Xi, the child most concerned about appearance, looking pretty, and grooming, warns her: Coco if you don’t let mama brush your hair do you know what will happen? You’ll get DREADLOCKS!, Echo scans through the mental images she has of dreadlocks, pairs them with the idea of never having to brush her hair again and says: Good!

When I try to coach myself over the edge, even momentarily, with the question: What’s the big deal? My first response is: judgement. Although I can handle the judgement of others as they curl up their noses at my girl’s dirty face, or as they question my choice to sit down on the sidewalk and hold my flailing toddler instead of “laying down the line and showing her who’s boss”,  somehow defending her purposely tangled (by me!), hair seems beyond my abilities.

At one point, because I possess the very same knotty hair as my daughter, I considered dreadlocks for myself. As one often does when considering a new idea I went straight to google and entered “white girl with dreadlocks”. My interest came to a screeching halt. My very first  foray landed me on a blog dedicated to the discussion of white girls with dreadlocks, where readers could post their own opinions, and my oh my. I read, at most, five responses and because of the strength of those opinions, the very disgust, outrage, and repulsion that those people felt, I fled from that site like my pants were on fire.

So there is judgement to contend with, that’s for sure. But the other thing is aesthetics, or more precisely control of my daughter’s appearance in other areas. I wonder if her hair is dreaded if I will want to straighten up some other aspect of her; wipe her face more frequently or persuade her to choose an outfit other than the one she has played in for the last three days running. Will I? And if so, is it worth it?

Right now her hair is smashed up into a bun. And she might just wear a bun forever-after, or at least until she wants to brush it, or until I get more confidence.

August 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm 15 comments

Not Laser-Vision, Toddler-Vision

The perspective captured by this photo is why it takes a family longer than half an hour to leave the house.

This view of the world is why children do not march in a direct line straight to the family vehicle, climb in without haste, and buckle themselves up immediately. An adult, or as one might say to themselves in a fit of impatience, a normal person might glance at the clock, grab their keys, check the mirror for stray food particles on the face, and leave, taking five minutes tops before they are out the door. A grown-up might even walk out the door, straight across the yard and into the car where they strap the seat belt, adjust the mirrors and regulate the volume of the radio without a single pause or extra thought.

Adults might do this but children never will.

Adults and children do not see the world in the same way.

As the photo above clearly indicates, the world of children is made of details. There are discoveries to be made with each step, treasures that we, in our hurry to get somewhere other than where we already are, miss entirely. I found this photo while uploading our camera onto the laptop today. It seems that unbeknownst to me Echo has been helping herself to the camera equipment and taking a few illustrative shots from her world. As iPhoto scrolled past a close-up of her foot, an artsy side-angled view of the rug, and a spacey orange glow (a lightbulb?), Echo showed no surprise. Why would she? They make sense to her.

My earliest memories are of a golden shag rug, three colored ovals in a row, and footlights lining a path. For the longest time these were just images that played in my head. Only later could I imagine where I might have seen those things, and what they would have meant in the adult world. I was in my teens, paging through an old family album when I first saw the shag carpet in the background of a faded seventies-era photograph. I’m sure my mother, visiting her mother, set me down on that glorious floor covering for tummy time as an infant. The three ovals, I later discovered, formed the old logo of a television company and was something I’d probably stuck my face against as a furniture-gripping almost-walker. The fuzzy footlights still exist along the path leading to my grandmother’s front door. My early understanding of them must have been abstract and hazy due to my smashed-cheek perch on the shoulder of my father as he carried my sleepy body to a waiting car.

It’s helpful to remember that my experience is not unique. Children everywhere are seeing dazzling, odd sights, right beneath our noses. What we see is the day spread out before us; that we will need to leave the house in the next half-hour if we are to stop by the gas station, run to the grocery store, fill the cart with groceries, and return in time to make three-cheese enchiladas for the Morgenstern’s potluck. What our children see is the deflated balloon within their fingers, the light coming through the potted fern, and the magnet that rolled behind the book-case.

Children do not move slowly on purpose. In fact, if we took the time to consider how many wonders there are between the living room floor and the car seat, we might see their movement as almost lightning quick. But sadly I don’t often take the time. I wish I would. I do not harass my children to get them to hurry. I try to give them ample time to fasten their shoes, or even change their mind several times about which shoes they actually want to wear. I ooh and aah over the dandelions they find on our way to the curb. I come up with games and make-believes that make getting into the car and then into the car seat fun. I laugh while at the grocery store, even say yes to several of their ideas when my initial response might have been no. I try not to say: If you don’t hurry up and get in the car we probably won’t make it to the potluck that you were so excited about!, even though it feels like that is exactly what might happen.

But I do these things, at least in part, to make my life easier. Stopping to ooh and aah over dandelions ends up being an efficient way of getting them to move past them and into the vehicle. The make-believes I come up with, more often than not, are not for our mutual pleasure, they are to expedite the buckling-up procedure. What I mean to say is that I do not actually see the dandelion.

I think most of us do not see the dandelion.

We do not see even half of  the mundane attractions that capture the attention of our offspring. We see someone moving slowly and we take it personally. This is why parents yell at their children, why they yank arms and threaten time-outs, why they say incredibly stupid things, and get grey hairs. If we actually saw the ant on the sidewalk for the amazing phenomenon that our boys do we wouldn’t care about the Morgenstern’s potluck. If we saw the inside workings of the toilet with the same jaw-dropping astonishment that our daughters do we wouldn’t hurry for anything.

The reality is that we probably will never see these things the same way our children do, but we can try. We can make the attempt, actually stop our moving feet, and put down our bags. We can at least give ourselves the opportunity, maybe even leave seemingly random photos in the iPhoto library as a reminder. Maybe even going so far as to make the dirty underside of the kitchen stove our desktop image so that we never rush these sweet, fuzzy-eyed, little people ever again.

August 29, 2010 at 8:47 pm 6 comments

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