Archive for the ‘Just me’ Category
Friday, March 1st, 2013
I miss snow.
I know. Easy for me to say, considering I haven’t had to step in a snow drift that went up, over and into my boots since 1996.
But. I love it. And I’m sad my kids will never have a snow day, as long as we live in Southern California.
So, if the snow won’t come to us, I decided that this winter, we were going to the snow. And not the kind we can see an hour from our house. I wanted REAL snow. Mountains full of it as far as the eye could see.
Utah. Park City. Canyons Resort.
The trip would also give me the chance to cross something off the kids’ bucket lists. Well, the lists I have for THEM. See, there are certain things I believe kids should know how to do by the time they’re teenagers, or college for sure. Stuff that, when their friends invite them along, they can at least participate. Like throwing a ball correctly. Riding a bike. Swimming. Shooting a basketball. Rollerblading and/or ice skating.
That last one is tough. I’ve only skied twice in my life, both times in my 20s. There is nothing quite as, er, exhilarating as learning to ski when you’re 5-foot-8 and have a healthy fear of hurtling downhill. I wanted my kids to get on skis while they’re young, relatively fearless and have a low center of gravity.
They needed ski school.
I needed ski school.
We headed to Canyons Resort, which is minutes from downtown Park City. We’d heard nothing but great things about the ski school there. And as someone who hadn’t skied in 20 years, I enrolled in the First-time Skiers package. Sawyer and Sage were placed together for their school, Canyons Carvers, with a guaranteed 5:1 ratio for kids to instructor, and then Xander was in a separate program called Canyons Cats, which had a 3:1 ratio. The kids’ schools were full day and included lunch. Lots of attention for my brand-new skiers.
I went into the main equipment rental place to get my rentals. The only bad part was trying on boots. The guys who were helping disregarded complaints from myself and other women trying them on. But we were all persistent. If the boot hurt when we hadn’t even gotten our skis yet, imagine how it’d feel by the end of the day. After rejecting the first pair, I got a pair that fit.
Once I had collected my skis, I tromped back outside in my boots to meet my instructor, Steve, and my classmates, Kathy and Truss. Both women were older than me, but like me, were also apprehensive/paralyzed with fear about what was about to happen. But Steve was awesome. He was incredibly patient and helpful and worked with each of us to our level. We got into a Red Pine gondola and rode up to the lodge area, where all the beginner ski and snowboard schools were located. That’s where I stepped into my skis.
There was no turning back. Fortunately, you cannot see the look of abject terror on my face.
How good was my instructor? Before long, I was going down the bunny hill. And not on my butt.
That’s right. I was skiing. I was just as shocked as you all are. Not that I wasn’t a complete spaz going down the hill, but I remained upright all the way down. Mostly.
I was grateful for the ice skating lessons I took last year, which helped me with balance. I progressed enough that after lunch, Steve moved me to a different group. It was time to get on a chair lift and go down a REAL bunny hill. The only memory I have of riding a chair was back in the early 90s in Sugarbush, Vermont, when the instructor had to tackle me as I flew off the lift and zipped out into the middle of the hill. I was hoping to be a little more in control this time. And despite almost taking down my new instructor, I dismounted relatively okay.
We went down as a group, pausing to watch Juan demonstrate snowplow turns. One of my new classmates and I eventually ended up getting ahead as Juan waited for some slower classmates. We decided we were brave enough to ride the lift and go down on our own. It was awesome. There were other instructors on the hill, and one even called out a tip to me – to stand up straighter – that really helped make my turns a little easier. He also mentioned that shrieking while trying to snowplow would not, in fact, help me stop.
He was very wise.
Everyone, from the workers in the lodge to the chair lift and gondola operators, were friendly and anxious to help.
I skiied (!!) over to say thank you to Steve and wish my two classmates luck, then boarded the gondola to ride back down to the rental area to meet David and the kids. I couldn’t wait to hear how they did.
Sawyer was ambivalent. He liked how positive the teacher was and enjoyed the class, but still wasn’t entirely confident. Sage was ski stoked. Tired, but stoked. Xander cried. I think he didn’t like being in a class without his brother and sister. At not quite 4, he might just not have been ready. But David said he saw Xander skiing a little and it looked like he was having fun. We will definitely try again with him.
Without sounding too much like an infomercial, let me just say how beautiful Canyons was. Truly. David is a much better (and much more fearless/more willing to make spectacular crashes) skier than me. He went on more challenging courses and had a blast. There are 182 trails for skiers and snowboarders so there’s something for every ability level. We also had perfect weather. Blue skies and temps in the mid-30s made our visit that much better.
The next day, Sage wanted to ski again. So back she and I went. She rode the lift for the first time. And got knocked down by three grown women who didn’t know how to get off the lift correctly. Sage was scared during her first run – and who could blame her – but after that? She divebombed down the hill and waited for me at the bottom, where she wanted to go up again. So we did. For four hours. She gave me a 20 minute break for lunch. Bless her little skier’s heart.
Spending time with her was amazing. The weather was gorgeous, the snow was perfect, and watching my daredevil daughter flying down the hill with absolutely no fear made me proud. A bit envious, too.
“Mommy? Skiing is my favorite sport!” she announced.
“But what about soccer?”
She’d fallen in love.
During our time at Canyons Resort, it was tough not to.
My family and I received complimentary ski school and lift tickets from Canyons Resort. The opinions – and my shrieks of fear – are my own. I really cannot say enough what an amazing place Canyons is. We will definitely be back!
Monday, December 31st, 2012
Today is my birthday and I should be writing my year in review. I should write about how I looked in the mirror and cried a few days ago because of all the wrinkles and lines around my eyes, the sagging skin under my chin, the final realization that whatever I used to have is gone and will never be again. I should write about how I spent the past year wondering why I couldn’t breathe and how I can no longer lift my left arm parallel with my body and how I’m actually looking forward to the surgery I’ll have to have to fix it because even rolling over at night causes me to cry out in pain. I should write about how I can’t keep weight off anymore, how my jeans pinch and I want to give it up and let it be. I should write about how I add up the years and know when Xander is my age I’ll be 84 and wonder if I’ll be vital enough to take care of his kids so he and his wife can escape for awhile. I should write about how I know when I’m 84 this age will seem so very young to me.
But then there’s the quiet. Sunset walks with only my thoughts and my dog, leading me through the darkening streets as stars silently dot the sky. The hilly, brutal run which, a couple of months ago, I had to walk most of, but now I’m a few steps from running the entire thing. Sawyer wrapping his arms around me, or staying up late reading only to come downstairs triumphantly telling me he’s finished his book. Sage, smearing makeup on her face, talking her father into buying her wedge-heeled, sequined sneakers, yet still sleeping each night with the lovey she got as a baby. Xander’s eyes lighting up when he first sees me coming into his classroom, insisting on holding my hand on the walk through the parking lot.
The writing. Always the writing. The manuscript which undulates and sings and screams and pouts until it can’t anymore. Until I can’t anymore. And then I can. Because I have to.
I am everything I have been and nothing I will be. I am fire and water and love and glory and shame. I have finished but have yet to begin. I am here yet I am unseen, invisible. Inside me I am shouting.
I am sobbing.
I am dancing.
I am 44.
Monday, December 17th, 2012
This morning I took Sage and Sawyer to school, an hour before their classes began, for a flag ceremony honoring those who lost their lives in Newtown.
I have questioned myself since Friday, when I walked onto the elementary school campus – walked right on, as anyone can do. I stopped in the office to sign in, but I didn’t have to. No one would stop me from walking around, would question why I was there. Our campus is wide open. No one ever asks to see ID.
Kids eat lunch outside under a covered patio. That’s where I stopped first, to collect Sawyer.
“Wanna leave and go have lunch?” I asked.
We walked down the outside hallway – because in Southern California, schools are open air – and opened the always unlocked door. Sage and her classmates sat at their desks, still pushed together in the two big blocks we’d created for their Thanksgiving feast. They busily colored cards they created for their families.
My heart would’ve leapt through my chest. If it wasn’t already right in front of me, wearing sparkly jeans and shirt.
I couldn’t be without my kids that day. They asked why they got to leave early. And I told them, in the simplest words possible. Then we went to lunch and out for froyo.
I’ve questioned myself ever since. Should I have interrupted their schedule? Told them at all?
What happened in Newtown is difficult enough, impossible, for an adult to wrap a head around. My kids didn’t seem all that fazed. Because the reality, wasn’t, for them, and for that I’m grateful.
But should I have kept them sheltered? Did I need to share? I’ve seen all the posts, experts and parents weighing in on how to talk to kids about what happened. I’ve listened to other parents debate about whether – and what – to tell their own kids.
The things is, the way we process information isn’t at all how our kids do. We can ascribe certain emotions to them that we think they’ll feel, but it’s all through our own – adult – filter.
I don’t think my kids need a lot of details. But I don’t want to completely shelter them, either. Honesty without elaboration.
Sawyer and Sage were interested but not overly so. This morning Sage said she was glad it happened so far away and not here. And, in her mind, if it happened far away, then it CAN’T happen here.
What do I tell my kids to do if there’s someone shooting? Hide? Run? Play dead?
What do I tell them about living in a country where this happens? Where the unthinkable is, suddenly, knowable.
The flag ceremony was organized by the girls scouts and boy scouts. Sage is a Daisy. I asked the kids if they wanted to attend.
She got to help with the flag. A friend’s daughters came. The youngest, Sage’s age, stood next to me and I put my arm around her, needing to squeeze a young, beautiful child. In case she needed it. In case I needed it.
I went to first grade in the town right next to Newtown. We had a huge paper mache dinosaur in our room that had a recorded voice inside the teacher tried to convince us was real. I wasn’t fooled. But I loved that green dinosaur. That’s what I remember from first grade. What will my daughter remember?
The flag was raised all the way up, then lowered to half-staff.
We said the pledge.
We had a moment of silence.
A handful of teachers looked on. Parents. Kids. The principal and assistant principal.
And then it ended and we went back home for breakfast and packing lunches and gathering homework and backpacks.
Ready to start another normal day of elementary school.
But for me, nothing was normal.
Nothing at all.
Thursday, December 13th, 2012
The birthday of an eldest is always a time marker for the mother, too.
The day your life shifted irrevocably in ways you’d never imagined.
Nine years ago it happened to me.
Nine days after his due date, Sawyer emerged and changed the world.
Nine years later, he continues to challenge us, make us laugh, break our hearts, remind us why we wanted him so much in the first place.
This was the year he fell in love with baseball and finally decided to give swimming a try (and discovered what we already knew: he’s good at it).
This was the year he fell in love with reading. He recently finished Hunger Games, and many nights we have to go upstairs an hour after we’ve said goodnight to make him turn off his light and go to sleep. He is so his mother’s son.
This was the year his baby brother graduated from his crib and insisted on sleeping with Sawyer in the top bunk, and he lets him. Because even though they are just over five years apart and don’t always have common interests, Sawyer will always be a big brother.
This was the year he rode Space Mountain, and despite not being a daredevil, wants to ride any roller coaster for which he’s tall enough. Over and over and over again.
Now he’s in his last year of single digits. He spent his final evening as an eight year-old with 23 friends, playing video games and running around and eating pizza at his birthday party.
When he wakes up Thursday morning, he’ll be nine.
Another year of change.
For both of us.
Friday, November 2nd, 2012
The diary entry – was it seventh grade? ninth? – included a dictionary definition.
Because I wanted to know what, exactly, “ugly scum” meant. That’s what my peers thought of me, a boy told me. And I needed to drive home that point to myself. In case I had any thoughts to the contrary.
I grew up knowing this truth about myself. No one ever told me I was beautiful. Or even pretty. Not my parents. Though I probably wouldn’t have believed them, anyway. Obviously not my friends. Frenemies. Bueller. Anyone. My sister and I now laugh about our awkward years, from age 7 to 27.
Seven. The age my daughter is now.
My sister-in-law once told me that Ellen was the smart one and I was the pretty one. I laughed pretty hard at that. My sister was so very beautiful to me. I was the one with the big thighs, the big nose. The one who didn’t have her first boyfriend until after college graduation.
So maybe you can understand that when a boy she didn’t know called Sage “ugly” on the playground, when he pointed and laughed at her, it rocked me to my core.
“How do you feel about being called that?” I’d asked her.
“I’m not ugly,” Sage said. “I’m cute!”
I swallowed hard. Her confidence amazed me. She thought something was wrong with him, to say something so ridiculous. She was correct.
One of our nicknames for Sage is Beauty Girl. Strangers have commented on how gorgeous her eyes are, and she learned to take a compliment at an early age. This is not to say we don’t praise her for her internal qualities; her intelligence, her determination, her sense of humor, her unexpected kindnesses toward her brothers, her athleticism. We do. Her confidence – her beauty – is not simply skin-deep.
But the harassment continued from this boy and his friend. Calling Sage names. Pulling her hair. The bullying got to her and, after I had spoken to the mother of one of the boys and to Sage’s teachers and nothing helped, I went to the assistant principal.
I know how some little boys are. When they like a girl, and the girl doesn’t respond, then they have to find a different way to get her attention. When I shared this theory with Sage, I also made it clear that this behavior was not remotely okay. That boys should not be mean to girls they like. Because what if she’s 16 and thinks that? What would she put up with then? When you think that being treated badly means something good, when your self-confidence erodes grain by grain, then you lessen yourself.
I don’t want that for Sage.
How dare they? Who are they to try to shame my girl with their thoughtless words?
The boys don’t bother anymore. Much.
They bothered me, though.
They bothered me.