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Did you plan your life?

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When I was young, I never thought I would be a parent and I never thought I would be a wife. It just didn’t occur to me. I did plan once, with a childhood friend named Sherry, that we would share an apartment somewhere (particularly funny because I’m pretty sure neither of us had ever been in an apartment) and drink Tab and drive a shared Volkswagen bug. But I never planned a wedding in my head or named my kids like some people do. I eventually figured I would move to a city, but that was it.

Because of my lack of planning,  I was particularly interested last night when Jenn announced some planning of her own.  After I had yelled at her brother for a marginal offense, she announced:

” When I’m a mommy, it’s going to be really fun and I’m going to be nice all the time.”

We talked about what that might entail, and she had some further ideas for me.  (I’ll point out that she’s four.)

“For example, you could have just said, ‘Jake, stop doing that.’”

That was all she said, and then she moved on to finding an item for show and tell.

But I didn’t move on because she was right. Maybe I don’t need to start with cranky and angry. Maybe I can build to it. But with kids/dog/house I don’t really want in Ohio, by the time the kids get home from school, I have been building all day. If only mine went to eleven. (Have you seen This is Spinal Tap?)

Perhaps I should look up Sherry and see what she’s doing these days  – that apartment, car and can of Tab might be a perfect respite.

Hooray! The holidays are over!

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I’m no Scrooge, I hid that stupid Elf with everybody else, and Santa belief is alive and well at my house. But as depressing as a grey, snowy January may seem, I’m glad to be on this, the far side of Christmas.

The holidays were sad as I missed my friends and my city but the kids enjoyed having their dad around (in our old lives, he would have been working for much of the “vacation”) and having a non-city Christmas. One morning Christmas week, both kids were weepy because they missed New York. Of course, these are hard for me because I miss it, too. Somehow, my big son finally determined that he and his sister missed the people in NYC but tried to cheer his sister with this:

Now we have another whole group of friends. We have NYC  friends, we have friends at the cottage and we have Ohio friends…

Hard for to argue with him. Now onward to find some more Ohio friends.

Filed under Cleveland, NYC

How long has it been since your underwear was too cute to cover up?

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This fall, my sister visited and it became clear on that visit that my kids’ underwear was not up to snuff. I’m usually just happy that they are wearing underwear, so I never gave it too much thought. It takes the experience of an older sister to make one’s errors crystal clear.

Because we are from the midwest, we mention most things on the sly. Which is how she approached my son, Jake’s, undergarments.

My sister, noting Jake’s super hero briefs:  Has Jake tried boxers?

Me:  I don’t think so.

My sister, nodding once with raised eyebrows: Hmm.  I think he would like them.

Of course, I trotted out and picked up tw0 3-packs of boxer shorts for Jake. They seem giant but they’re cute and he was very excited about wearing them to bed.

Confident that we had hit a winner, I suggested that he wear them to school one day.

Jake:  Boxing shorts to school? That’s crazy.

Me: Crazy why? I don’t think so.

Jake: I’m not wearing them under my clothes. That’s crazy.

Me: But it’s underwear. You’re supposed to wear it under your clothes.

Jake:  Under my pants?

Me: Yes, I promise. Ask Daddy. Or your cousin. I swear.

Jake, looking at himself in his boxers:  Nice.

Since in our last underwear conversation, he had insisted on wearing his sister’s Hello Kittys, I felt good about the “boxing shorts” progress. And the boxing shorts are pretty cute. Of course, if he takes his pants off once he gets to school, I’m sure the teachers will be sending a note home about it. Yet another item that will never make it into his baby book, because, predictably, he doesn’t have one.

Filed under Expectations, Underwear

Happy to have contributed to an optimist

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This morning, Jake checked out the weather on my phone while I was in the shower. He checks it daily: first checking weather in New York, then the weather in Michigan where my family is and then he gets to Cleveland. For Cleveland this morning,  it showed the little iphone pictures of a sun with rain drops coming out of it (thank you, Steve Jobs). Since it has rained virtually every single day since we moved here on August 14, I would have expected him to lament the impending rain. Or complained about it in some way. Instead, he called to me excitedly:  ”It’s the sun with the rain coming out of it! Maybe there will be rainbows.”

I hope so. I could go for a rainbow.

 

Filed under Expectations

Central Park and bags of chips

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This morning before school, Jenn announced sadly, “I miss New York City. I like it best.”

Though I wholeheartedly agree with her, I asked her why she missed New York, as if that were the craziest notion in the world.

Jenn:  Because I really, really like playing in Central Park.

As always, trying not to cry, I point out that I miss Central Park, too, but that it will be there when we go back to New York. We chatted a little about the Balto statue, the candied peanuts that cost $3 in the park but only $1 on 73rd Street and playing on “her” rock. And because she’s four, she moved on.

Until dinner. She again mentioned that she missed New York.

Again, I acted surprised:  Oh?

She continued:  Yes. I want to go to J and C’s house.  And I want to eat those little bags of chips that they have in the garage. I want to eat bags and bags…

So a Costco trip is in my future, because I can’t deliver Balto or our NY babysitter or our friends or the other things we miss, but I can certainly stick some little bags of Cheetos in the garage for the kids to sneak, for a while. Maybe some Doritos, too.

Filed under Cleveland, Moving, NYC

Want to take a parenting class with me?

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In 20 -ish years of post-college life, I have been busy hiring others to help me improve at my various pursuits. I have taken writing classes (to improve my writing), Spanish classes (to improve my Spanish), running classes (to improve my running) and swimming classes (to improve my swimming). I have hired a triathlon coach and a swimming coach. I have hired someone to clean my apartment, mow my lawn, train my dog (to no avail) and help watch my kids.

Clearly I have no problem seeking outside help. Yet I dragged my feet (and was faced with some eye rolls from friends) when given the opportunity to take a parenting class. Why are we supposed to have some innate parenting knack? Because lame or not, I do not have that knack.

“You’re a great parent,” one said. Then why did I almost bite off my lip this morning to keep from screaming, I wondered. And why does my 5-year old son count to three to get my 4-year old daughter to do something? (Which would be funny if it weren’t so awful.)

A swim coach helped quicken my race times. Perhaps this parenting class will help me quicken my kids’ response times, or lower the time it takes me to erupt. And since I don’t really have any friends  here yet, maybe I’ll find one who isn’t a total whackadoodle at class. I’m almost assured, however, of another blog post.

First class is tonight at 7. I’m cautiously optimistic.

 

Am I white?

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I was cleaning up the kitchen and heard the kids’ grandma reading them a new book: a children’s book about Rosa Parks. There were lots of questions as the kids tried to get their heads around racial segregation.

The discussion was about Rosa Parks and how then, black people had to sit in the back of the bus and white people sat in the front. My heart soared with pride as I heard my 4-year old Jenn ask, “Am I white?”  I patted myself on the back for raising a child who knows no color and I may have started to hum Ebony and Ivory to myself.

Jenn’s grandma told her that she was white. My son interjected that she was more of a tan color, and I heard Jenn confirm, “So I’m white?” At that clarification, she crowed in delight. “That means I get to get ride in the front!” Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder immediately stopped singing in my head.

I was momentarily relieved that this exchange had happened at home and not out in public. Though fortunately, this wasn’t about skin color at all, but a better view. Similarly, she sometimes wants to ride in a wheelchair, because for a four-year old, wheelchairs get the best seats on the bus, too.

Filed under Preschool

Middle school

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When I moved to New York in 1992, I was alone in a city of millions. Now, in my new home, I’m alone in a small community and it’s much harder, I think.

I spent an hour last night at a PTA meeting and I was sad sitting in a room of women who have already called “same seats” in the middle school cafeteria where we sat. There is definitely some cruel irony in the fact that the meeting was held at the middle school: I can’t say I miss my overbite, frizzy hair and glasses. (Yes, I really was THAT cute in 7th grade.)

I’m not outgoing even at my most confident and as much as I might try to be that way, it’s not my nature. I’m a watcher and it will take a few PTA meetings for my extraordinary kindness and brilliant wit to rise to anybody’s attention. I volunteered to help with a handful of activities – when they see how years of micromanaging tv shoots has prepped me for organizing field trip payments, they’ll all want me to sit at their table.

 

Filed under Cleveland, Expectations, NYC

Who is your emergency contact?

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I had been patting myself on the back for being brave (not here , of course)  about the move t0 Ohio, but filling out the school forms tripped me up.   Jake and Jenn are both going to the same school this fall (or today, if you’re in Ohio), and I faced the predictable pile of forms.  I remembered to get the new pediatrician to fill out Jenn’s forms; I remembered to get the health forms sent for Jake from the NY pediatrician, and I dutifully looked up my husband’s office and cel phone numbers (which I am refusing to commit to memory in case this whole bit of nonsense passes and we can return to our 917 numbers).

I was buttoned up, which is not always the case for lame mom. Then I got to the emergency release forms – you know, who can the school call in case of an emergency to pick up your kids if you aren’t reachable. The form said I needed to list someone, not a parent, who is nearby. And at 41 years old, suddenly, I don’t have anyone to put down as my emergency contact. Can I list the stranger who re-did our wood floors? Or the cutie pie who put my groceries in the back of my new car the other day?

I expect I felt as bad as my kids would if nobody came to pick them up from school. So I put down my sister, who is seven hours away by car, because there’s nobody here yet. With the dollar a minute we are charged at school for a late pick-up, I am confident she will drive fast if she gets the call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleveland: 1; Lamemom: 0

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So Cleveland beat me today, on my first day as an Ohioan. We arrived yesterday afternoon so today was the maiden voyage.

In brief:  I made all three children cry, multiple times, and I joined them in tears by 3:3o. I most certainly convinced all the neighbors that I am a fishwife, if they heard me screaming. (And believe me, with one elderly exception, it would be difficult to not hear me screaming.) I ate half a plate of cookies (brought over by a neighbor with her three adorable kids whom she probably didn’t make cry today) and I ate a whole box of buckeyes that I found in the fridge (sounds like a joke but it’s not – they’re chocolate covered peanut butter balls) that another neighbor brought over. (Yes, the women of Rocky River want to keep me post-partum fat, which is why they all bring me treats my kids don’t like.) Oh, and since I’m full of self-pitying misery:  my new, beautiful kitchen stools don’t really match my kitchen; my son’s hands are always in his pants; I can’t find a Spanish speaking babysitter, and my too-young-for-a-midlife-crisis husband just bought a muscle car.

Now as I sit in my kitchen with the whole house asleep,  I’m sure tomorrow will be a better day, if only because the buckeyes are gone. But also because last week I got another dose of get-your-head-out-of-your-ass perspective as I spent four days in the hospital with 5-week old Rainbow, who is now just fine. You see, some times it’s just so easy to only see the trees (in my case:  boxes to be unpacked or friends that I don’t have here) instead of the forest (in my case: I lead a pretty charmed life). Where was this clarity all day?

So tomorrow I will rise above. I might not floss but I will eat a carrot before finishing off the welcome cookies. I’ll try to pause before screaming at my kids. I’ll keep plugging away at unpacking. And maybe tomorrow I can beat Cleveland. I’d even be okay with a tie.