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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Yes Day

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I have been pretty lucky in life and while I believe that we can make our own luck to some extent, sometimes luck is just luck. When I was younger, my friend Cathy could be called on to justify ANY drunk, late night with the “we could get hit by a bus tomorrow so let’s have one more” argument. And as I have gotten older and had kids, and our families have gotten older and we have all been generally unscathed thus far, I have given a lot of thought to the idea that we are just one phone call or doctor’s appointment or walk in the park away from not being so lucky.

Of course, the most recent example of this (that the whole world and I can’t stop reading about) is the Brooklyn family, Elisa and Nathan Bond. They are a mid-thirties couple with a young daughter and they were both diagnosed with serious cancers last month, within a week or so of one another. He was diagnosed first, on Valentine’s Day, so on February 13, their lives were “normal,” or maybe unscathed, too. She started their blog to keep family updated on their newborn baby a year and a half ago and now it chronicles their cancers and treatments and unfortunately, now they can’t go back to that place. (Especially since their plight went viral in the last week or so.)

Last week I was in a taxi with my daughter, headed to the hospital so she could have (what we hoped was) a Spitz mole removed from her leg, and I couldn’t stop thinking, “this might be the day we remember as the last day before X happened.” I don’t really know I thought X might be, but it wasn’t good — deadly cancer, I expect. Fortunately we received a favorable oncology report and, (in spite of a 2 inch incision), all is fine. But maybe we won’t be next time. Or maybe we will. Don’t think that I’m sitting up at night imagining what’s going to “get us” next – (Ok, maybe sometimes – though I’m pregnant, so crazier than usual.) – but wondering if “today is the last normal day” certainly makes me reconsider some of the worries I have or decisions I make.

At dinner last night my son asked when he got to have “Yes Day,” which he learned about in an adorable book by the same name in which a little boy (you guessed it) has a day full of yes-es. Jake ran through what the day would and wouldn’t include for him and it didn’t seem too crazy:  more ice cream than green vegetables, but nothing dangerous. So I think I should plan a Yes Day. Maybe we should all have more Yes Days, (or fun nights out with Cathy), because we don’t really know when we won’t get to have them any more.

Filed under Family, Parenting
Mar 29, 2011

Don’t run with sticks. Unless you’re also carrying a really hard ball that you intend to whip at me.

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We were barely out of the car and Jake was running with a giant stick through our rock garden, which is full of sharp twigs sticking out of the ground, last year’s plant remnants. (Note to friends who have been to our cottage and are wondering what the hell I’m talking about:  rock garden. The rocky, weedy stuff next to the steps that looks dangerous for children – that’s what I call the rock garden. Easier than typing “rocky, weedy stuff next to the steps.”)  So the stick he was carrying was 5 feet long and pretty thick – more walking stick than marshmallow roasting stick. Of course, he fell and nearly impaled himself and I could not actually be that helpful initially because the little sister and I were in the middle of a need-to-poop emergency. I eventually turned my attention to my son sprawled across the rock garden, still clinging to his stick. He looked up at me and we had the stare-down to determine if this fall was going to be a big deal or not.

Somehow, I won and he calmly got up, with nary a tear or raised voice. Because I’m his very own lamemom, I said something unhelpful.

Well, I’m glad you’re not hurt,  but you know, that’s why we say not to run with sticks. There’s a tiny little lesson in this…

We all returned to the yard and Jake and I started kicking around the soccer ball, which was pretty ambitious considering I have an ankle that still doesn’t bend and am pregnant-big enough that people think I’m due in the next few weeks.  Jake soon decided he would like to play lacrosse, so we pulled the tag-sale (that’s east coast for a garage sale) lacrosse sticks and a tennis ball from the garage and started to play. I know next to nothing about lacrosse but it was fun and he was teaching me what he knew, (which is not much).

I passed the ball to him (I don’t even know if pass is the right word; lacrosse for dummies is my next web search) and he started running to catch it. He was running fast while looking for the ball, holding the stick, somehow avoiding mud, snow and and the occasional dog piles in our yard, and I was cheering for  him. He missed catching the ball by a mile but we were both proud. And glad my don’t-run-with-sticks lesson had been disregarded.

Mar 25, 2011

Game day is life without us.

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This week was a big week for us as far as kindergarten is concerned. We went to Jake’s parent-teacher conference.

Apparently, our son is age-appropriate in all of his school work. But he is apparently an angel. Here are some highlights, and as much as I like some good exaggeration, these are near-quotes from his teacher:

He is friends with everybody and everybody likes him. He plays nicely. He is kind and gentle. He knows and does what is expected of him. He (- and this is rich – ) really LOVES his little sister. Blahblahblah.

You get the drift. It went on and on and I wanted to throw up in my mouth a little bit because that certainly did not sound like my son. He has been outright mean with his sister lately and his surly behavior at dinner time each night has been making me want to put him in the corner forever or shake him silly, (but I know that’s not an option). So I mentioned this recent behavior to the teacher. (Yes, I totally sold out my son. Whoops.) She smiled and said something along the lines of, “At home, they’re trying things out. It’s practice.”

That made me feel better than anything else she could have said. I understand it: I have some horrible runs (or swims or bike rides), but I try to pull it together for race day. And so it is with the kids. I guess we just have to work on his practice methods, because his game-day methods seem to be working. And I think that’s the idea. Because we can’t always be there to monitor (or judge or guide) them and it all comes down to whether they’re ready for the game or not.

Mar 17, 2011

“I’m going to be a party girl.”

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At breakfast last weekend, the kids decided to share life plans with the husband and me. Jake started the conversation by asking about guns and cowboys. I gave him my best explanation on why cowboys might have guns (less True Grit and more crazy grizzly-bear-at-night) and I think that sealed the deal:  he is going to be a cowboy. Since he hails from a long line of farmers, cowboy didn’t seem too far of a stretch, except for the fact that he lives in Manhattan.

Not to be left out, his sister piped up. “And I’m going to be a party girl.” Silence. The grown-ups exchanged glances, wondering where she got the phrase “party girl.” I have to admit that I spent a moment wondering how she knew that her lamemom had been a party girl a long, long time ago and I was a little touched that she wanted to follow in my footsteps.  But she’s only three so where did she get the idea of a party girl?

The husband recovered quicker, which is unusual. He and Jenn discussed how fun it would be for her to be an engineer (he was an engineer a long, long time ago). She was excited to build “real things” like buildings and bridges and breakwalls. The husband was seeming pretty smug as he had suddenly not only talked her into going to his university back in Canada but had also virtually confirmed that she would get her masters in engineering in Texas, just as he had done.  I began to imagine my grown children:  a cowboy (with a gun) and a girl engineer, and I was proud.

And I stayed proud, even as Jenn burst the bubble. After ten minutes of engineer talk, she announced, “But I’m going to be a party girl.” Regardless of what a 3-year old’s version of a party girl is, she’s excited about it.  And presumably that’s how we end up doing up something we are good at, that makes us happy. So I hope that she’s the best party girl she can be. Maybe the next baby can be the engineer, or something similarly reliable, as not only will he be looking after his old mother, he will also need to keep track of his party girl sister and cowboy-with-gun brother. Our reunions are going to be a hoot.

Filed under Expectations
Mar 8, 2011

3rd time is definitely the charm

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After Jenn was born three years ago, I was done. The thought of having a third baby was so crazy to me (being pregnant is a bother; newborns are a bother; gaining a million pounds is a bother; no booze is a bother, etc.) that I promptly got rid of everything, against all of my hoarder husband’s best intentions.  Breast pump? Gone to a friend in Canada. Changing table? Craig’s List freebie. Crib? Tossed because it had a drop-side and CPSC now deems it unsafe. (Though it was fine for my nephew, two nieces and my two kids.) Maternity clothes? Virtually burned the moment I returned home from the hospital because they were symbols of the fat/unpleasant/non-fit person that I generally become while pregnant.(Yes, I know that’s not a pregnancy requirement, though it seems to be how I do it.)  Infant clothes? Sent to a church in Colombia with a travelling friend. Slings and baby-wearing paraphanalia? I never figured out any of the sling-y wrappy (which is to say, fabulous, earth mother-ish) ones so they went pretty much the moment I gave up on ever using them but fortunately the Baby Bjorn (which I love) is still in my closet. Anyway, baby is allegedly arriving this summer and I have nothing, and until I go into that crazy nesting phase, I’m pretty okay with that.

We weren’t original: with Jake, the adored first — we read all the books and got everything textbook ready and we smiled calmly at the heralding trumpets. Jenn, #2, arrived with much less fanfare:   she wore his blue onesies, gazed at him while we gazed at her and and (gasp!) she was fine, if not better for it. And then we decided a third would be fun and (good gracious!) I got knocked up. Yippee. We have no crib, I have my fattest pants held together with a rubber band,  and I even ditched all the books — the What to Expects, the sleep ones, the NYC baby ones, and I’m still sure we’ll be fine. I’m old and cranky but my big kids are fired up and I have the gift of knowing how fleeting those initial months really are! (And that knowledge is helpful because I really find the first months awful.)

Don’t worry — # 3 will not suffer. I swear we’ll find a crib for him and for everybody’s benefit, I’ll find some clothes soon that show neither my crack nor the underside of my belly.  Actually, I need to find said magic garment soon because next weekend, I am lucky enough to be going to the first-ever Brooklyn Baby Expo. While I’m not a Brooklyn-er, I’m looking forward to the event as it will include product testing, demonstrations and seminars. Particularly interesting as we return to baby-ness is a seminar with the NYC Sleep Doctor on Raising a Good Sleeper. (I mentioned this seminar to the husband and he replied, “That sounds great –  I would like to sleep better.”)

I’m also excited to meet some other new and soon-to-be new parents, because let’s face it, my friends with older kids like mine don’t really want to re-visit baby gear and baby issues with me. They’re eager to hold my sleeping #3 and then will happily go home with their trim abs and barf-free shirts and sleep all night. It’s the new parents, the eager-beavers we all were before our first babies, who are the people with the energy and hope we need.  The Expo (Register at achildgrows.com ) will also be having demos on baby food making and cloth diapering and while I failed on both of those the first times around, maybe the third time is the charm.

Ok, that wasn’t entirely true. Lamemom never once tried cloth diapers; in fact,  I cringe whenever I see them. And my baby-food making lasted about four days and my children still don’t eat my food, unless a delivery man brings it on a bicycle.

Filed under Babies
Mar 5, 2011

It’s not about the ice cream.

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Monday afternoon, my son Jake (5) wanted something else to drink at the cafe. We’re neither fancy nor French but my son LOVES “cafes,” and I can turn any local coffee shop into a cafe by simply calling it a cafe. He wanted more to drink so I handed him three dollars (I knew it was only two but I hated the idea of him not having enough — nothing more embarrassing than that, as far as I’m concerned.) and pointed him in the direction of the front counter, maybe 100 feet from where we were sitting.

He insisted that I go up to get it for him and I insisted that he go. Eventually he realized that I wasn’t going to bend. For him to obtain another lemonade he needed to put on his big-boy pants and march bravely forth:  stand in a line of strangers (grown-ups), order, pay and return to the safety our table. He thought for a while and eventually he mustered up his courage and set off.  Of course, I watched him the whole way and felt a surge of relief when he actually had his drink in hand and was headed back to me.  He was proud (and no longer thirsty) and I was proud, too. Of both of us.

This cafe day, coupled with a great post by Jenny Heitz this week at A Child Grows in Brooklyn called Parenting in the Age of Fear, has me wondering when it’s okay for us to start encouraging (or pushing?) them to be more independent? Of course, I don’t let the 5-year old walk the dog by himself but he gets to hold the leash and and “be in charge” while I bite my tongue (almost off) as I try not to micromanage leash length, treat allocation, etc. (Yes, I’m a pleasure to live with. Shame my husband doesn’t have a blog.)

I don’t know how old I was when I got to start doing things on my own but I know I was probably allowed to ride bikes with my friend Tricia to Gebos for penny candy when we were 8-ish. Or maybe we weren’t allowed, but we were out riding our bikes so we just ended up there. Lots of freedom comes from having wheels, and as a city kid, my son will probably not ride anywhere on his bike for a long time. (That he is barely done with his training wheels is another whole story.) And of course, along with my desire that my kids are capable, independent people comes the desire that they don’t become those people too quickly.

I often imagine letting Jake go to our corner deli alone. He would have to ride the elevator to the lobby of our building (the elevator has an attendant), walk 8 or 10 steps to the corner, turn the corner and enter our deli, where the guys know us. No streets to be crossed, but a corner when he would leave my sight if I were to follow him as a spy. (And of course, I plan to follow him for a long time.) I envision him selecting whatever his $5 can buy him. I wonder if he would be safer if I sent his little sister along as a back-up and made them hold hands? (Because a snatcher might successfully snatch my sweet son but wouldn’t have a chance if he tried to snatch the crazy little sister.) And though I know he can order my coffee (he even knows my order at Starbucks, which is different than my deli coffee order; his father, sadly, choses to know neither), he doesn’t read yet so what if he grabs me a pint of chocolate chocolate chip instead of the vanilla heath bar crunch I really want?

Mar 2, 2011

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