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Entries in parenting (20)

Wednesday
Oct192011

Pumpkins and Possibilities

This past weekend, we drove from Memphis to New Orleans.

To the people who told me how wonderful it was that I would be so much closer to my brother now, I would like to say... SIX HOURS IS JUST ENOUGH TO STILL BE FAR.

But I got to see my brother who graciously took time off of his normally busy routine... Plus, Traci!!  And their baby girl!!  Come to think of it.  Six hours isn't really that long, anyway.

Time in New Orleans is usually spent some place that is both kid friendly and kind of cool.  Choices are obviously limited.

This year, we checked out a local tradition over at Canal Place, located on, not surprisingly, Canal Street.

Operation Pumpkin.

new orleans water board mark "The New Orleans Water Board Sewer Cover. Don't Steal Them."

Local surgeons get together, carve pumpkins, and sell them for $25 a pop to the public in order to raise money for The Children's Hospital.  The kids enjoyed themselves, and, dudes, look at this pumpkin.

I don't know that guy, but he has mad surgical skills.  If I ever need a plastic surgeon, I'm looking him up.  There were lots of artsy projects for the kids to do as well.

Anyway, as I walked through this mall, I thought, "Yeah, so I brought my kids to a mall for fun, this is so America."  Of course, I thought it in that cynical tone that implies that one is highly observant of the shortcomings of one's own society. In my defense, you haven't really experienced capitalism until you see small brown children begging for candy in a Coach store.

As soon as I thought that, though, I saw my niece and my own kids and I thought the same thought, far more softly and in a far different tone this time, "Yeah, this is so America."




"Cute, right?"

Thing is, to you, these may be just some cute kids.


When I looked at these kids in the middle of the Canal Place, though, I remembered something incredibly poignant.


Without America these children would not exist.  Were it not for this nation... their parents would never have met. I think that's pretty cool.

I think that's something to be proud of, too.

It's all fine and fun to be cynical, but every now and then, we should remember that we are a good people, a kind people, a unique yet diverse people, and that we have an extraordinary capacity for personal generosity and carving awesome pumpkins.


Just saying.


That was a good pumpkin, yo.


Happy (very early) Halloween.

Monday
Aug292011

Go Play. Away From Me.  Please.


I was a "latch key" kid.


Do people even use that term anymore?

Back then, there was a lot of discussion about kids coming home to empty houses and having to fend for themselves while horribly selfish, career driven mothers were off making money.

There was even a club for us at school.

They taught us the highly useful things in this club: don’t open the door for strangers, don’t tell people on the phone that you’re by yourself, don’t use the stove to make yourself something to eat, and, good God, you poor, miserable children, look how you brave you’re being by making peace with the fact that your mother is not at home like she’s supposed to be.

We did learn a few things on our own.  For example, this situation unequivocally taught me that wrapping a barbeque sauce laden hot dog in aluminum foil and sticking it the microwave in order to emulate a barbeque flavor is an extremely ill conceived plan.

Our system at home was unique.  Mom’s office was right next door to the house... she would walk over at random times to make sure we were okay or not blowing up the house with radioactive aluminum hot dog bombs.  We were instructed to call if we needed anything.

But, mostly? We were on our own.  Two kids, making their way through the hours of 3pm and 6pm with the world at our feet and all the television we wanted.  I learned a lot about the value of diversity and cultural negotiations between American rural values and the opulent wealth driven mores of Beverly Hills from Jed, Ellie May and their concrete swimming hole.

(That sounded obscene, didn't it?  Unplanned.  But too good to edit.)

I’m not sure if  being a latch key kid played into my decision to be the kind of mom who is always going to be home with her kids.  When I became a mother, something just made me decide that my kids were not going to learn about aluminum in the microwave on their own.

It sounds good on paper.  Be home when the kids are home... be there for them when they need you.  Be there for them... every... second... of... every... day.

But.

Kids need space, man.

This clicked for me the other day when, after we’d had a snack together, played on the computer together, watched TV together, did an art project together and, then, went on a bike ride together, both of my kids said something to the effect of, “What are WE going to do now...”

WE.

Not “I”.

WE.

Everything has become “we.”

“Go play on your own for a while,” I said trying to sound NOT irate.

“No.  That’s boring....” my daughter said.

"NOOO... DATS BO-WING," my son echoed.

Huh.  Imagine.  Being bored.  With YOURSELF.

Being extremely interesting myself, I have a hard time understanding this at all.

If my children were a food, I would eat them every day, three times a day, snack on them in between meals, nibble on them right before bed, and then keep them in the nightstand in case I woke up hungry.

I want to be here for them, and I crave their attention when I don't have it.

This isn’t about me, though, it really is about them.

Because you know what?

They really do need to figure out that sometimes the best company you can keep?

Is yourself.

***


Did you know that it's Ramadan?  Did you know I explained stuff about Ramadan in one of the episodes of the podcast that I host with my token Jewish friend Mike?  Go here to listen, it's like getting a degree in religious studies in thirty five minutes or less.

Credits may or may not transfer to actual universities.  You get what you pay for, people.




Photo Credit
Tuesday
Feb222011

Just Say No... To Something.  Anything.

You may think it quite obvious, but I just had an epiphany.

It's okay to say, "No."

No, I won't drop off your dry cleaning.

No, I'm not cooking tonight.

No, I didn't have a chance to make that deposit.

No, I didn't e-mail them the pictures of the kids.

No, I didn't call.

No, I won't be coming over this weekend.

No, you've already watched a lot of television today.

No, we won't be able to make it to your party.

No, I don't feel like going out.

No, I don't feel like talking.

No, you cannot sleep in my bed.

No.

And not "no" because I'm busy doing other stuff for you, but, "no" because I don't want to.

I don't want to and I don't have to, and you should know that I love you even if I don't do whatever it is that you're asking me to do right now.

"No," because deep down inside I know that I do enough, more than enough, and deep down inside, you know it, too.

It's absolutely important to show people that you love them.  I feel as though, at least for me, a great deal of overemphasis is placed on showing you love someone by the way you act and the things you do for them.  Don't misunderstand me, this is a totally accurate and necessary measuring stick, but I think we should remember that it's not the only parameter used to evaluate love.

Think about this, if doing nice things for someone means that you love them, then does saying no to doing those things every single time they ask mean that you don't love them?  I don't think so.

Because I've realized this, I can not only now say, "No... I won't" (which, by the way, is different than "No I can't"), and I don't have to be mean about it in some effort to defend myself and my "no."

I love you, but, no, I think you can do that for yourself.

I love you, but I want to make this happen instead.  In order for me to do that, I'm going to say no to you.

It doesn't mean I don't love you any less than when I say yes.

It just means that today you will either have to do it yourself, wait for someone else to do it, or just make peace with the fact that it's not getting done.  Furthermore, please trust in the fact that if I thought you would utterly and completely fail without my yes, I would simply say yes.  Dare I further suggest that my "no" is also more than a vote for my own agenda, my "no" is a vote for your ability to take care of this yourself, too?

And, guess what else?  When you say "no" to me, I will remember all of what I've said here.  I'll remember that you love me even though you are saying no to me.  I'll remember all the times you have said yes.

In fact, I will remember all of the times you did things for me when I didn't have to ask at all.

Saying yes is one way of loving someone.

Love is also feeling, telling, being... not just doing and acting.

At times, telling someone you love them should actually be enough.
Friday
Feb042011

Weekend Reading

Oh, who knows if I'll do this again next Friday?

This is good stuff I read online this week, and that may or may not be blogged by me next week.  You could consider it preliminary reading.

Or not, I might not even bring it up at all.  Whatever.

That was a lovely introduction, yes?

I may have already twittered some of these links, but in case you weren't paying attention (WHAT?!) or are a card carrying member of The Last of the Great Twitter Holdouts Association...

Health (and slightly tame Internet drama linkfest) | DEAR HANNAH | Anthony Bourdain at No Reservations Blog

AWESOME Recipe |Last But Not Least, Lamb Meatballs with Couscous Feta | RW at Version 53

Oh, No You Didn't | Fake Kenneth Cole Twitter Laughs In the Face of Political Upheaval | Racked

Parenting | What Nobody Says About Bringing Second Baby Home (or) The Greatest Gift You Can Ever Give A Child | Kate at Perpetually Nesting

Politics...Sorta | Violent Language | Neil at Citizen of the Month

I'm Not Even Sure Why This  Matters | Babies Learn That Size Does Matter | JLister at GeeksAreSexy

And, finally, I'll be finishing up the very clever and humorous book The CEO of the Sofa by P.J. O'Rourke which I highly recommend to people interested in (somewhat dated pre 9/11)  political humor.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Tuesday
Feb012011

Acrobats

N. and I were watching Disney's Beauty and the Beast this afternoon, and there's a part where a bunch of bats come flying out of the dark, gloomy forest.

N., with a certain degree of disdain in her voice, "What are those supposed to be?"

I love how this question speaks volumes about my daughter.

See, she's not asking what they are... she's asking about what they are supposed to be.  In other words, her not knowing what they are doesn't rest on her lack of knowledge but on Disney's inability to transmit what they are supposed to be to her.

Love.  Because, that?  Is me.

Anyway, I tell her simply, "They're bats."

"What kind... acro?"

::Rimshot::

Kids are awesome.  If you don't already have one, you should totally think about getting one.  Just be advised that there are no returns or exchanges.

***


By the way, if you're just dying to know what kind of shampoo I use and why I use it, be sure to visit Buy-Her and read all about that.
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