Archive for the ‘Family & Friends’ Category

Quivering Lips

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

My 2 1/2 year old daughter has the unique ability to make me angry and hysterical at the same time.  There’s is nothing like trying to be firm and authoritative with a wide-eyed, witty toddler interjecting commentary that makes it impossible to stay mad, let alone keep a straight face.

Yesterday my daughter, who has been potty training for the past few months, intentionally wet her pants.  Mommy wasn’t happy.  I knew she needed to go and yet she stubbornly stuck her chin in the air and informed me she did not.  A minute later her jeans looked like she sat on a sprinkler.  I angrily hauled her into the bathroom, sat her on the thrown and began my lecture of why it is important to be honest with mommy and not dirty her pants.  She sat there staring at my flushed cheeks without an ounce of concern.  Her eyes sparkled at my entertaining performance of The Taming of the Shrew.  When I paused to ask if she understood, she nodded yes and quickly asked “mommy, are you saaaaaaaad?….are you going to cryyyyyyyy?”  She wasn’t worried about my frail disposition.  She was clearly enjoying her mother’s weak grasp on sanity and was excited at the prospect of an emotional climax to it all.  Turkey.  I wanted to throttle her and burst out laughing at exactly the same moment.  I stood there as my lip quivered through a suppressed giggle.  No way was I going to let her see me laugh.

That experience made me wonder why it’s easy for me to mix laughter and anger with my children, but not with anyone else.  If a grown stranger, friend or family member had pulled the same stunt I would have been even angrier.  Somehow my child’s enjoyment of my angst softens instead of hardens.  Perhaps it’s because I know she isn’t being malicious, she’s just being 2.  Still, it would be a lot easier to navigate life if those who make us genuinely angry were capable of giving us a hardy chuckle at the same time.  Quivering with giggles is much better than quivering with rage.

Buttons

Friday, November 21st, 2008

The best way to find out all the things your remotes, computers and electronics can do is to give your toddler a few seconds alone with them.  Several times a day I find myself in the middle of the “what the heck could they have pushed” game.  I have to admit I’ve discovered features I never would have had a clue about were it not for my tech savvy children.

Of course, my kids have also managed to push some of my own buttons that I wasn’t exactly aware of either, the internal kind that can leave you anywhere from mushy/sappy to psycho/crazy.  And just like with the remote, the mommy buttons that lead to a bad result seem to be the most intriguing to them.  On the positive side, once they’ve pushed a not so great button I know exactly how to undo the damage quickly the next time.  I can also anticipate when they are about to push something with dire consequences and redirect them.

Scars

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Until Sunday I thought seeing red was just about being angry.  My daughter’s innocent dance twirl that catapulted her face first into our television stand changed all that.  Where delicate flesh met unforgiving wood, injury reigned supreme.  I saw red alright.  My heart wasn’t angry, it was shattered.  What was supposed to be a relaxing afternoon at home turned into a chaotic race to the hospital.  There capable hands worked to put her back together again while I struggled to keep my emotions in check.  How did it happen?  How did the little twirl she’d done countless times before go so wrong?  How was my little girl smiling and facing needles and thread so bravely when her big and protective mom wanted to sob on the floor?

By the time we made it home, my daughter was lost in the joy of the grape popsicle she earned for being such a good patient.  Though well aware of her boo-boo, she was completely over the events that led us to that point.  Mommy wasn’t though.  When she asked for some music and for us all to dance I wanted to say no.  I wanted to bundle her up on the couch with a good book and make sure she was safe and sound.  Her eyes pleaded as only a 2 year old’s can.  So we danced and she spun and I realized a split lip and a couple of stitches wasn’t the worst injury she could have walked away with.  Had her confidence been damaged, it would have left a deeper wound.

Refrigerators

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

There was a time when the only thing on my refrigerator was a magnetic calendar from my car insurance agent.  After I had been working for a while and had some extra cash, a few take out menus joined the calendar for easy access.  Now that I have kids, it’s easier to list what’s not on my frig than what is.  At a glance I see a fuzzy lamb made out of cotton balls, a paper coconut tree, a $20 bill, pediatrician appointment cards, timers, lists of various importance, emergency phone numbers, a magnetic play toy, pictures…the list goes on.  I still have a calendar.  This one is from a real estate company.  It’s amazing I put so much care and concern into selecting the exterior I wanted for my frig when I can’t see it anyway.  My life is essentially plastered to a Kenmore these days.

Not to freak people out who I know in real life, but I do look at people’s refrigerators a lot.  Just as my frig is a window to my world, the same can be said of my friends’ and family’s frigs.  Some revelations have pulled at my heart.  Numbers for various support groups, notices for parent/teacher meetings for struggling kids, medical specialist appointment cards, debt notices and the like.  I never judge what I see.  It’s simply information to absorb that helps me open my heart and mind even more to what others are going through.  I wish we could all be as open and honest in life with others as we are with our refrigerators.  I can tell you from my observations, struggles and obstacles are not in short supply.  Using refrigerators as my reference, people have even more in common with one another than they think at times.

Grandpa’s Secret

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

My Grandpa has always been a busy body.  He’s a few days away from 87 and does a little more couch sitting now then before, but he’s still pretty active for a man of his years.  As a kid and young adult, I often wondered where my Grandpa’s inner drive came from and why it didn’t get passed down to me.  I like to do things from time to time, but I don’t seem to burn with the same desire to fill every moment of my life with something.

Recently my Grandpa faced a health challenge that could have been the beginning of the end.  Not wanting to risk losing him before knowing him better, I asked him some questions in a letter.  One question was about his inner fire.  Where did it come from and why didn’t he pass it down genetically?  My Grandpa was very candid with his answer.  It wasn’t something cellular.  When he was young he wasn’t all that motivated or driven.  WWII changed him.  He saw many of his comrades die beside him and had a few close calls himself.  At the time he was a poor farm kid without a wife or family.  Men dying beside him had a lot more to live for and yet he was the one to come out intact.  When his foot hit American soil again he promised himself he would live his life for those who couldn’t, for those who never came home.  Reading his words I knew it was the blunt truth.  His life was a mission.  It all made perfect sense.  He came home from the War, but he never stopped being a soldier and comrade.  Never.

This knowlege has made me wonder if some of us are missing out on life because we’ve never had the opportunity to experience just how precious and valuable it is.

Not Yet

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I know when someone does something crappy and apologizes it is best to accept the apology and move on.  As a fan of peace and harmony I usually don’t like to drag things out too long.  If the “I’m sorry” is sincere, that is typically enough.  There are times when I feel like being mad for a bit, however.  It’s this inner need to give whatever assinine word or gesture that occurred its due attention.  When apologies come immediately, it’s like you are stripped of the chance to enjoy a full blown moment of pissed-off-tivity.  It doesn’t seem fair to subject someone to stupidity and not allow a chunk of time for them to shove things around violently while muttering all the jungle animals you are likely kin to.  The very act of furiously cleaning my house is a crucial step in the process to closure.  I need that experience to be able to embrace the apology and truly move past whatever happened.

So, to the person who screwed up today, I appreciate your apology.  I will eventually forgive you.  Just, not yet.

Journeys

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

For those who have known me for a while or who have followed my blog, you know I have a daughter with a birthmark on her face.  She has a benign tumor of capillaries on her lower lip, upper chin and inner cheek called a hemangioma.  At 2 1/2, hers has begun the process of involuting and going away.  It is still quite bulky, but it is losing its deep red color and turning to a pale gray.

I like to write about Olivia’s birthmark from time-to-time because I’ve learned so much from this journey that I want to share with others.  My awareness of how others process differences in themselves and each other has evolved.  The way I look at my world and it’s unique features is no longer the same.

I can’t remember if I wrote about it here or not, but a while ago I was reading a cat book to Olivia.  The book was a thick collection of photos of all sorts of feline friends.  One of the cats in the book had no hair.  Hairless cats have always been icky to me.  I’m not sure why.  Probably because I’m just not used to them.  In any event, while going through the pictures with her we would always point at the cat together and go “eeeeeeeewwwww.”  She didn’t do that on her own.  I taught her that reaction to this particular cat and we’d laugh each time.  To my horror, it dawned on me on one of our trips through the book I was teaching my daughter to react to a physical difference the way some have reacted to hers!  It was one of those ah-ha moments that knocks you in the head and socks you in the gut.  Though I couldn’t undo what I had taught her, I changed gears and we now talk about how unique the cat is.  I’ve managed to stop her from saying “eeeeeeeewwww” and now we say “neat!”

That experience has stayed with me and now I am overly sensitive about the messages we give our kids.  It’s so clear to me how much of our kids’ inclination to react negatively to differences is modeled for them through adult’s behavior or what is being shared through books and movies and such.  Now I can’t seem to read a book without the themes that groom our beliefs of what is normal, attractive and good jumping off the pages at me.   Villians so often have facial imperfections.  The ‘ugly’ duckling has brown feathers instead of white.  The prince who is under an evil spell is hunched over with gaps in his teeth, big ears and warts.  Of course, the second he is no longer evil he is dashingly handsome.  His physical appearance changes.  Why would we read our kids these messages and not assume they would carry a belief evil is something driven by appearance or looking different than the other ducks in the pond is ugly?

I’m not sure what I’m saying with all of this.  So many of the classic stories we tell our kids have these kinds of messages.  They weren’t put there to be mean.  The intention was to tell a good tale.  I’m torn because stories I’ve loved through the course of time now make me want to cry.

On a more positive note, I thought I would do something I rarely do here and share a picture or two.  Many here have followed my daughter’s progress and I’d like to show you a photo from early on when her birthmark was growing aggressively and a recent photo so you can see the amazing change nature is working on for her.

Olivia 7 Months

Above is Olivia at 7 months and below is Olivia at 2 1/2.

Olivia 2 1/2 Years Old

It’s Just Nature

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Have you heard the story of the old man who kept trying to lean over and pass gas while seated on a sofa?  His caretaker kept thinking he was tipping over and would prop him back up with a pillow so he could sit up straight.  This went on for an entire day and when the old man’s daughter returned home and asked how his new caretaker did he explained she was nice and all, but she wouldn’t let him fart.

That story popped into my head this morning when I realized I was doing the same thing to my son that the caretaker was unknowingly doing to the old man.  She was getting in the way of nature and thinking she was doing him a favor.  My son’s issue isn’t with farting.  He pulls that off with ease.  When it comes to nature for him, he has a deep need to put himself in danger.  Simply put, my son likes to fall.  He likes to press the limits.  He has no problem stumbling and needing to pick himself up again.  Like the caretaker, I run around after my son while surrounding him with as many pillows as possible.  It’s created an interesting dynamic as we are both increasingly frustrated with one another.  I’m frustrated he can’t see I’m trying to keep him safe and he is frustrated I am replacing adventure with cushions and sterile environments.

It is clear to me we need a compromise.  I need to find a way to embrace his nature while making sure he comes out on the otherside unscathed.

Clearly I’m All Woman

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Dang!  My husband is sitting next to me and solidly asleep on the couch.  My daughter’s television show is blaring, the house is full of fumes from the staining going on in our basement, I’m typing away on my computer and he is a bear in hibernation.  My husband can sleep anywhere and it usually only takes a minute or two for him to make it to ‘the other side.’  How do men do this?  There are days when a sleeping pill taken at 2:00 a.m. in the middle of a quiet and pitch-black room can’t get the job done for me.  This is one area where I honestly wish I was more like a man.  I’d be a lot cuter if I got as much sleep as my husband.

The Toy Myth

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

You want to know what the toy myth is?  It’s the belief we buy all of this ‘stuff’ purely for our kids’ enjoyment and enrichment.  This weekend has revealed the greater truth to me, however.  My kids don’t have toys for their benefit.  They have toys for my benefit; to keep them out of my ‘stuff.’  They don’t really want this juvenile plastic crap, they want my phone, my computer, my shoes and my jewelry.  In a fruitless attempt to avoid having to share my toys, I bury them in Fisher Price, Leap Frog and Disney.  The more gadgets and goodies I have and want to keep to myself, the more toys my kids end up with to distract and divert.

When I realized what was going on I felt a bit hypocritical.  If my kids don’t share their toys it earns them a trip to the naughty spot, yet not sharing my things seems perfectly reasonable and fair.  Of course my things are pricier and more fragile.  Sounds good, but it’s a bit of bunk.  The truth remains, I simply want what is mine to be mine.  I don’t want to have to share with my child.  As a mommy I’ve had to share what use to be my private time with my kids.  Good grief, I rarely get good bathroom time without having to couple it with reading a book aloud about barn animals.  So, no, I don’t want to share my tangibles.  They are mine, mine, mine.  I’m going to stomp around, throw a fit when my things are touched and continue to throw tons of “made in China” gear at my children.  If that means I’m being bad, put me in the naughty spot and let me have some quiet alone time to think about my behavior.  I think it is supposed to be 2 minutes for every year you are old.  That’s an hour and 15 minutes of ME time.  Bring it on!