Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category
Sunday, March 10th, 2013
Even before Xander was born, I started doing the math. It is, I suppose, a byproduct of having a child at 40.
When he was a newborn, I thought how I’d be 80 when he was the age I was then.
Every birthday is a mile marker for us both.
Today Xander is four.
He told me the other day he wants to stay little. I want him to stay little too, small enough so that I can still hold him when he wraps his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist and clings to me. Small enough so that I’m not aging, too, counting down one less year I’ll have to spend with him.
But this post is supposed to be about Xander. Not me.
So let’s discuss Year of Three. We potty trained (yippee!), including a memorable pee in the portable potty – on the bleachers during Sawyer’s baseball practice. Team was confused when all the moms sitting there started cheering.
Xander started preschool. I was excited to have two days of 2 1/2 hours of freedom per week. Xander was less excited to be away from home. I’d like to say his crying tantrums before we leave most mornings (still!) are because he misses me too much, but I really think he misses my iPad.
The boy is an introvert. I KNOW! I don’t know how this is possible. He is extremely shy around adults, even ones he’s met before, clinging to my leg and hiding his face. At school this past week the teacher mentioned that he was the most interactive he’s ever been. Apparently his warm-up period is, oh, about six months. He has made one friend at school and fortunately they’ll be in the same pre-k class next year.
Third child syndrome is alive and well. Sage started reading when she wasn’t much older than Xander, while he can’t recognize letters. Apparently I actually have to work with him or something. I figured he’d learn it through Older Sibling Osmosis (OSO), just like he’s learned the words “fart” and “stupid idiot” and, of course, how to play minecraft. (See fail, parent).
Xander gets to play soccer in the fall. He’s excited, he said, because he gets to “kick people in the face.”
Remember when your first born started kindergarten and came home with all kinds of fun words and phrases? And you sniffed and said it’s because his friend little Johnny has older siblings and learns all that bad stuff that is now polluting your precious child? Yeah. Xander is totally little Johnny. I apologize in advance, future kindergarten classmates of his.
He’s funny, though. He really is. I wish I could come up with some good examples but they’re location jokes: you have to be there. Let’s just say it’s tough to find a picture in which he’s not winking or doing this scrunchy face.
The truth is, I cannot predict how he’s going to be in a few years, like I could with Sawyer and Sage. And I’m okay with that. He’s been an unbelievably amazing surprise since I took that pregnancy test almost five years ago.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Happy birthday, sweet boy. Nobody loves you like Mommy.
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!
Friday, February 8th, 2013
I am killing my kids’ childhood, one sports practice at a time.
At least, that’s what the self-proclaimed “anti soccer moms” would have me believe. They pat themselves on the back because THEIR kids are going to enjoy drippy popsicles and hours spent building lego castles and letting their imaginations take them where they will. Instead of, you know, consorting with The Devil.
Congratulations. And thank you for the implication that because my kids play sports, and because I am not only a soccer mom but a baseball and softball mom and a swim mom and a sometimes dance mom and a former gymnastics, karate and art class mom, I am somehow depriving my children.
I love mommy wars, don’t you?
I guess it’s cool to be the ASM. Like it’s cool to be the free range mom right now. Giving a big eff you to The Man.
The Man, in this case, being sports.
I take it being a soccer mom means you shove your kid into a sport in which he or she has no interest, drive them all over creation, screw the family dinner, look like a tired mess, never have any down time and leave that child exhausted and pining for his or her, er, iPad.
The only accurate part is the looking like a tired mess. But that’s only because I am also Homework Mom.
My kids like playing sports. Maybe yours don’t, and that’s fine too. Forcing your kids to do something they’re not into doesn’t make you a soccer mom. It makes you a frustrated mom.
Listen. It’s not about making sure your kids don’t fall behind some mythical Keeping of with the Joneses family of elite athletes. It’s about giving your kids the chance to try things that interest them. When my kids ask me to sign them up for a sport, I do it. My job is transportation. Well, that and uniform washing. And, of course, spectating. I sit and watch them practice: baseball, softball, swimming, soccer. I cheer them on at games. I make sure they have water and a snack. And, most days, matching socks. I play catch with them in the street and kick the soccer ball around in the yard until they want to do something else. Or nothing at all.
Sawyer has an entire group of friends from another school across town he met through playing soccer and baseball. These boys come to his birthday parties and he goes to theirs. When they leave their elementary school in a few years for the big mixed stew of four elementary schools that is middle school, Sawyer will already know a ton of kids. David and I are good friends with the parents, from hours spent bonding on concrete bleachers and saggy canvas chairs. There was the time Xander peed on the potty I set up on the bleachers and the other moms cheered so loudly the kids on the field stopped practice to wonder what was going on.
Because we are all moms. Regardless of whether there’s a sport in front of our name or not.
I could go on about the health benefits of active kids. Or that sports teach discipline and how to work as a team and be a good teammate and how to lose and also, how to win graciously. I have watched passion develop. I could tell you about the priceless looks on their faces as my children learn to throw a ball that pops into a glove; when my son hit the ball onto the outfield grass on the fly for the first time or my daughter scored two goals against a team a year older.
But you’ve heard all that kind of stuff.
So let me tell you a secret: My kids stay out on the street playing with the neighbors until dark. Sometimes til after dark. They play basketball and kickball and kick the can. Ride bikes and scooters. Toast marshmallows over a fire pit. Hang out and play video games. They have playdates. Go to birthday parties. Get dirty. Watch TV. Sell Girl Scout cookies. Read. Turn cartwheels. Play Barbies.
They even eat popsicles.
Those memories will be as much a part of their childhood as the moments they spent on fields and in the pool.
Besides, what my kids will remember about playing sports won’t be the practices or a missed dinner or skinned knees.
What they will remember is that I was there for everything.
I was there.
I’m a mom.
I’m a mom.
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.