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Monthly Archives: February 2011

How did I end up in a Ray Bradbury novel?

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The kids had the week off of school so we were up at our cottage for a few extra days. Since it was too gross rainy/snowy to really go on the hike we had planned, we were headed to our local library.

Jake:  How many books can we check out?  Three each?

lamemom:  Let’s wait and see how many we like. Maybe two each because I need something to read, too.

Jake:  So two for everybody.

lamemom (Imagining some of the books that I hate reading to them):  Two for everybody if I like the books.

Silence from the back seat, giving me time to quickly replay what I had just said. Whoops. Suddenly I was a censor, I’ll be burning books in no time.

Jake:  You’re not the boss of our books, you know.

Because I have I’m-the-boss-of-everything tendencies,  I started to reply, in true 5-year-old fashion. And then I stopped talking but my mind was racing.

How guilty should I feel because I want to be the boss of their books?  I don’t feel bad about hiding the scary Peekabo Game book that somehow ended up at our house but I feel a little bad that I can’t bear to read Barbie does Gymnastics for the HUNDREDTH time.  I hide those books, so is it different if I only check out from the library for them the books that I will want to read to them? Actually I think I’m feeling conflicted because I’m “interfering” with library business, like tampering with the mail. (Would I really go to jail for “borrowing” my neighbor’s People magazine?) Or am I conflicted because the book hiding that occurs at my house is a secret — I dutifully “help” the kids look for the missing Barbie does Gymnastics — and by refusing to check out Barbie from the library, my control is no longer a secret?

I think it all comes back to my fruit salad theory:   when my son was younger and we would go to the diner, we would always order a fruit salad with our french fries because fruit was something I knew he would eat. And he would eat all the grapes and strawberries (which is to say, both grapes and the one, sad strawberry) and I would be thrilled. But then this doting lamemom would end up eating most of the french fries and the under-ripe cantaloupe. The sad green melon (which I can’t even dignify with a name, unfortunately) would be left in the watery bowl. So I realized then that being a parent meant eating the crappy fruit. (And I still believe that is true in many instances.) OR it meant making your kid (gasp – even the 18-month old) share the good stuff with you or – (double gasp  — down goes the frugality my mother tried so hard to instill in me) – ordering my own fruit salad. Since I don’t want to be stuck eating the crappy fruit forever, I don’t.  And my kids’ Barbie does Gymnastics book is the literary equivalent of the watery, green melon.  So I’m avoiding that, too, and I don’t feel (that) bad about it.

 

Filed under Expectations
Feb 28, 2011

Enjoy vs. ignore

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On the telephone the other night, my sister asked what I was doing and I replied, “I’m just ignoring my kids.” Not that surprising in that after-dinner lull before bedtime preparations begin, but she misheard and thought I said “I’m just enjoying my kids.” I’m sure that would be a normal sentence for lots of people, but my sister almost spat with laughter because it’s, apparently, not a normal sentence for me.  So I didn’t have a moment to tell her my real news, which is that that starting in mid-July, I should have three to ignore (or enjoy) instead of  my present two.

Before you call children’s services (or my mother or mother-in-law), I was ignoring my kids but they were happily playing together. And I was enjoying ignoring them, and I think they were enjoying it, too. It’s way better than yelling at them.

Filed under Parenting
Feb 21, 2011

Do you ever win?

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That is a question my kids ask me several times a week. I’m a triathlon-er of sorts, which means when my 40-year old joints are moving as they should (which is not now), I swim and ride my bike and run. We have dragged the kids to my husband’s and my races since they were babies, and they think that’s normal – standing on a beach at dawn to see Mommy or Daddy finish a swim in a wet suit. But no, I have not won in a long time. Actually, I’m pretty sure (with the possible exception of a relay in middle school track) that I have never won. I can say with certainty that I have never lost. But my kids are obsessed with a win.

We were driving along the Hudson River on the weekend and Jenn pointed, “You did races in that river, didn’t you?” Happily distracted from Friday afternoon traffic on the West Side Highway, I bragged (yes, I bragged to a 3-year old – I didn’t say I was proud of it), “Yes – the New York City Triathlon. Do you remember cheering for me?”  Of course, she didn’t remember because they hadn’t come to the 2010 race (because my husband wanted to go to our cottage to waterski instead of stay in the city to cheer his wife on for kind of a big-deal race two blocks from home – I’m not bitter). But I had a nice moment or two to think about those races, until Jenn wrecked it with “Did you win?”  Then she listed two other racing friends of mine, wondering if either of them had won. No, I explained, none of us had won, but we had had fun and tried hard and all got faster than we had been the previous year. She heard, “I lost and my friends did, too. Blahblahblah.”

“Who won?” she asked. I explained that a lady from New York named Rebeccah Wassner had won and that triathlons were her job.

“Do you know her? ” she asked. No, I answered. Somehow within seconds, lamemom had gone from badass-mommy-swims-in-the-Hudson to loser-mommy-neither-wins-nor-knows-the-winner. I had to turn it around, if only to save my fragile ego. Happily, young son came to the rescue.

“Jenn,” he asked. You know all those medals at home that they let us wear?”

Race medals – the “good job for finishing” kind, not the “yippee you’re the winner” kind – get a lot of use at our house – I find them hidden in backpacks and under pillows. The kids love them and stage races, winning them at the end. (Our downstairs neighbors love this, undoubtedly. Sorry!)

“Well,” he continued, “they get them at races.  And she’s only forty (!!!) so she has a lot of years left so if she keeps trying hard and running as fast as she can, even when she’s tired, then maybe she’ll win one day.”

I stopped myself from saying, “I will probably never ever win a race,” because I don’t need to explain age groups and PR (personal record) times to them. Ultimately, don’t we want them to believe that if they keep trying, even when they’re tired, that it’s possible to win?

And though he’s just five, maybe he is right — maybe I will win one day. And if I do, they’re not touching that medal.

Filed under Expectations, Triathlon
Feb 7, 2011

What you’ve missed