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How much do we intervene?

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I’m standing outside, watching my son and daughter in the yard. The 5-year old is up in “his” apple tree and his devoted sister is holding court down on the ground. He might be throwing things down at her, or he might be throwing things down to her, the appropriate preposition is all a matter of one’s point of view…

I get mixed up when I am called upon, (or more often, NOT called upon), to intervene in their play. In the above scenario, I couldn’t help myself — I raced forth and tried to change the game a bit so that the little one, Jenn, had a better role, even though she wasn’t complaining, wasn’t really at risk, and was happily engaged in a game with her brother. Of course, we all know that my intervention didn’t work but actually ruined whatever they were happily playing, leaving them both looking at me with the “Entertain us; we’re bored” face.

I know I need to leave them alone and just let them play. I’m pretty sure the “experts” say we should let them argue, let them tussle, let them work it out. And I want to do that, except when Jenn (my baby for another 4 1/2 weeks, when her baby brother is supposed to be born) is involved. I don’t like seeing Jenn always “it” in a tag game she can’t win; always last in the race her older brother orchestrated, always wanting to play with him, regardless of how grim her role might be in the game.

Ultimately, I need to be more hands-off in these instances. But somehow, I always regress to being the little sister:  I’m 5 years old and my older sister and the neighbor girl have invited me to play horses with them again. Every time, I eagerly accept, even though I know my horse whinny noise isn’t good enough. (I still have a weak whinny.)  And every time, I’m initially surprised that they AGAIN have tied me up with jump ropes and left me as a prisoner, as they galloped off down the hill in the back yard.

How involved should we get? Do we hide the jump ropes, or just wait to be summoned to untie someone?

 

 

 

 

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Jun 14, 2011

More self-image building

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The last couple days have delivered a significant hit to my self image. Yes, the truth hurts, whether you’re lame or not.

The first blow came from the daughter, still young enough for this to be a little cute.  I was lying on my side and from behind me Jenn informs me that she thinks the baby is in my butt.  Ha ha ha.  She’s cute and funny and we all laughed.

The second blow?  Jake was playing 20 questions with someone and as a way of ascertaining how big the item was, he asked, “Is it bigger than my mom?” Not bigger than a bread box; not bigger than a school bus.  No. He wondered if it was bigger than I am. Ach. Fortunately the item in question was an airplane, so there was an obvious answer.

The final and most stinging blow? Husband was walking me from lunch to a cab. I was limping a little because I had gone to physical therapy that morning for an ankle issue and felt VERY out of sorts. I mentioned this.

Me:  (limping) Maybe I should wear a sign so people don’t think I’m walking like this just because I’m pregnant.

Supportive husband:  Yeah. It could say “Fat and gimpy.”

Silence.

He always knows just what to say.

 

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May 3, 2011

Watermelon and worry

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We were at a family breakfast for my son’s kindergarten class, which is a big event for the kids. Almost all the parents come and each family brings some assigned dish, selected by the kids. There is a song or two, some showing of their art work, some reading and then it’s over within the hour.

We got lucky at this breakfast and were assigned watermelon as our dish – easy to buy and bring.  One of the other fathers had mentioned to me that they were bringing lox, which struck me as funny because of the sheer New York-ness of it, and then funny because it seems kind of expensive to bring lox for your child, her 24 classmates and their parents. Maybe it was this phew-d0dged-the-bullet-and-get-to-bring-fruit mentality that made me lose my mind in the watermelon store and buy enough watermelon cubes (of course I buy it already cut) for the each of the school’s 1000 children.

The party was in full swing and Jake and I were sharing a black and white cookie (also so New York!) while we waited for our turn to get a plate of food. Jake casually strolled past the food table and came back to me, looking concerned.

Jake:  I’m a little worried.

Me:  Why?

Jake:  It seems nobody is enjoying the watermelon.

Me:  What do you mean?

Jake:  Nobody seems to be eating it. Nobody likes it. There seems to be a lot left.

My heart did that seize thing that it does when we don’t want our kids’ feelings to be hurt. Then I felt bad that I had bought so much. Then I thought,  “How did I make him as crazy as I am already? ” And then I felt a surge of pride that my son is as nutty as his mother… I also like to check to see if my salad/dessert/other culinary masterpiece is popular when I’m forced to bring one to a potluck.  Isn’t it a little bit normal to want others to like what we brought?

So while Jake settled into a big bowl of fruit loops (bless the teacher who invites her 25 5-year olds to have fruit loops as a school sanctioned start to a day), I did the only thing I could do. I skulked off to hide a few packages of the ignored watermelon in my purse. And then I made myself a big bowl of it, just to make sure it was as delicious as we wanted it to be. By the time I returned to my son,  the watermelon was virtually gone and he was in a sugar stupor. Just in time to kiss me good bye.

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Apr 28, 2011

Ditch your spouses and kids for the weekend

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That’s the gist of the invitation I received last week for a weekend-long reunion of sorts. I was invited with several other close (but far-away) friends to (what amounts to) a booze-up outside of San Diego. The invite is clear to point out that this weekend is not one to tour the sights (I have never been to San Diego) as we will be under house-arrest — eating, drinking and staying at a friend’s house on top of a mountain. (Wonder where her kids will be?)

The invite list is pretty short — good friends from my first few years in New York. Our lives then were simple and consistent — we went to work and then met up to drink beer, play pool and maybe eat some 4am Famous Ray’s (excepting the one friend who insists that if you go to bed hungry you wake up thin). We used pay phones and checked our home answering machines to find out the next destination, (though one friend might pull out his work cell phone that was bigger than my current laptop), and those with more money would buy the most rounds.

Do I sound nostalgic? Probably. The (real or perceived) strength in the numbers of our group left us a little bit invincible. Eventually, most of us left New York and continued with a more grown-up (?) life  – bigger jobs, fewer hangovers, maybe a spouse and some kids.

So why revisit it? Can lamemom ditch her family for a few days and buy an expensive ticket to visit a city she’ll actually not see? Fully aware that she’ll wake up with a headache every day of the trip? Absolutely. And I can’t wait.

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Jan 20, 2011

Keep on quitting!

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Happily, I don’t have to quit smoking, but last week, in a wave of poor judgement spurred on by an interesting article I read, I thought it would be a good project for me to try to st0p yelling for a week.The first day, I was Mary Poppins — no raised voices to be found. I should note that both kids had school and the babysitter was here after school. The second day – kids in school again (partial day!!) but no babysitter – I was screaming by bedtime. And my spiral continued until on Friday night when I was driving the kids to our lake house in a snow storm and I screamed myself hoarse for the last several hours of the (normally 2-hour) drive.  In fairness I should also mention that I’m recovering from an ankle reconstruction back in September and that I still am unable to run, which is a big deal for an every-day runner – so I’m a little crazier and yellier than normal. At least I hope that’s part of the reason.

I have lots of friends who never raise their voices at their children. How is that possible? I’m pretty sure my kids’ teachers don’t yell at the children in their classes. And my kids’ babysitter, the kindest, calmest woman ever created, definitely never yells at them. She says she sometimes yells at her sons when they don’t come to dinner on time, but I don’t believe her. Am I missing some sort of “chip”? My next-door neighbors don’t seem to yell at their kids, either, because I’m certain I would hear it. So why me?

Obviously, that’s what I should probably figure out. But in the meantime, I’m going to try to start my week-of-no-yelling again. Maybe I can make it two days this week.

Jan 10, 2011

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