Being My Mom

I think I am turning into my mom, which is pretty awesome.

A few Decembers ago, my family and my brother’s family were all gathering at my mom and dad’s for a Christmas celebration, and my mom got some kind of horrible flu-ish plague.  Did she cancel?  Ohhhh, no.  She kept her distance from us and the food to protect us all from infection, but the show went on.

Today I am home from work with a much-less-severe sore throat and cough situation, and before he left today Robin said, “Just rest today. No work.”

I am sure he meant, “except for changing the water in the fishtank; wiping down the counters in the bathroom; and washing, drying, and folding a couple quick loads of laundry.”

In my defense, I did all that in between drinking juice, watching Scrubs (“Ketchup is for winners, Ted!”), and eating an undisclosable amount of brownies.

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If you want to hear God laugh…

For a few weeks now, I have been struggling with a way to get back into writing, and I even made it so far to start this heartfelt post about how having kids this age is like living with three of your best friends – kind of like college, only now you live with your boyfriend, too, which would be pretty weird if you lived in a dorm with your friends, and even though you sometimes squabble about who left which mess where, you also laugh, like a lot, because you have enough in common to really get each other, but you are different enough that sometimes they can totally surprise you.

It was going to be lovely, but I couldn’t quite finish it because it had this vibe like I wasn’t really parenting anymore, just hanging out and having a constantly good time, and I hadn’t figured out how to correct that tone without just saying, “It’s not like that.”

I worked on it this morning for a while before the kids woke up and started getting ready for school, at which point we discovered that despite the fact that I do a load of laundry several times a week, and despite my near-constant harping about making sure all your dirty clothes are down the laundry chute, one of my children had zero (0) pairs of clean underwear this morning.

Nearest store open before 8am: 15 minutes away, and I had yet to dry my hair or get dressed. Nearest laundry room where this child got to get much more involved in the clothes-cleaning process: downstairs.

At least my writer’s block problem is temporarily solved.

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My entire parenting reputation pretty much rests on this one moment

A couple of months ago, Ben was very excited to find a book he’d heard and enjoyed at school during a family trip to the local library.  Somehow, none of us noticed he’d checked out the Spanish-language version until we got it home, and Great Disappointment ensued (trust me, nobody wants to hear me attempt to read it in Spanish).

On our next trip to the library, we looked again, but couldn’t find it, so we put in a request for it (in English!).  The library robot voice called us to say it was in, but we got busy, and by the time we went to pick it up, our hold had been released.  Great Disappointment #2.

My mom took the kids to the library last week.  Lo and behold, the book was there – as a read-to-me CD packet, no less (Ben can read, but still likes being read to.  The same book, many many many times.  Genius, whoever came up with these CDs.  Complete genius.).  Great Excitement … until they tried to check it out and the computer said it was “The Three Bears.”  My mom took it to the librarian, who said that it couldn’t be checked out because it’d been returned in the wrong case.  Great – nay, Almost Insurmountable Disappointment.  [ARE YOU KIDDING ME, PEOPLE WHO CHECKED THIS OUT BEFORE US?  YOU ARE RUINING THE LIBRARY FOR EVERYBODY WITH YOUR CARELESS WAYS!]

The robovoice just called to say that my mom’s attempt to reserve it for Ben was successful, and that I can go pick it up.  If we fail this time, you can bet this is going on Ben’s blog – just as soon as he has one – as a prime example of everything that was wrong with his childhood.

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I Know

My kids already know all the things that I tell them.

“You are supposed to be getting ready for bed!”

“I know.”

“8 times 7 is 56, not 54.”

“I know.”

“No, you cannot play Angry Birds right now.”

“I know, I just thought I’d ask.”

Whatever.  Admitting you don’t know is hard.  I know.

“Ben, can I tell you a secret?” I asked tonight at bedtime.

“OK.”

I whispered in his ear, “I love … Phineas and Ferb.”

“That’s not what you were going to say!  You were going to say, ‘I love you.'”

“Come here.  I have another secret.  I love … chocolate cake.”

“Mom!”

I leaned in one last time.  “I love … you!”

“I knew it!”

When I tucked Karina in, I told her my first two “secrets,” too.  She pulled back after each and looked askance at me as only a 6-year-old can do.

Then I whispered “I love you” in her ear.

“Well, I already know that!  Of course you do!”

“Mom!  Mom!  I wanna hear the secrets,” Riya called from the top bunk.

“OK,” I said, “here they are.  One, I love … chocolate cake.  Two, I love … Phineas and Ferb.  Three-”

“You love me!”

If there is one thing they truly do know, it should be that.

 

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Nine.

On this, the eve of Riya’s 9th birthday, I suggested to her that she could be an excellent lawyer someday.  This is something Robin’s mom has maintained pretty much since Riya learned to talk, and every year I only get more convinced that she is right.

My arguments in support of this theory are as follows, though I am sure she would first want me to stipulate that she is in no way obligated to choose law as a career once she reaches the age of majority.

What prompted the observation in the first place was that she called me urgently to her room because she needed to tell me something.  When I got there, she pointed to a page in her book.  She was practically quivering with indignation over an injustice done to the main character, and she wanted someone to commiserate with her over it.

She has always been this way, rising to the cause of the underdog.  It has never mattered whether the underdog in question is fictional or real, historical or current, someone she knows or someone she will never meet.  It is one of my favorite things about her.

And then, as I was tucking her into bed later this evening, she talked me into promising that I would wake her up at 12:30 in the morning so she could celebrate the moment she turns 9.  Despite how it went last year.  Even though I told her there was no way I was falling for that again.

The alarm is set for 12:25.  Shut up.

Robin says I am a sucker, but I did at least gain one concession.  I said if she doesn’t remember tomorrow morning that I woke her up, then I never ever have to do this again.

“Forever,” Robin says, “is that how you measure 365 days?”

He would’ve made a good lawyer, too.

Happy 9th birthday, Miss Riya!

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Feminism 101

We let Riya read The Hunger Games trilogy.  I had my doubts, but she loved it and handled it well, and I’d far rather see her challenged by reading material than bored by it, so…

Other than that, I really had no agenda, until Robin mentioned to me that someone had complimented him on allowing her to read it.  “It’s so great to see young girls reading something with such a strong female lead character,” she said.

“Huh,” I said when he told me, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

Fortunately or unfortunately, Riya overheard this conversation and wanted to know what we meant by “strong.”

“Ummm,” I said.  “Well, you know how much I love Buttercup, but when Westley gets attacked by a giant rat, she just stands there, and that happens in a lot of stories – the girl doesn’t do anything to save herself or help anyone else.  She just waits for someone else to do it.  Do you think Katniss would just stand there, or would she whip out her bow and shoot the stupid rat?”

“She’d shoot it!” Riya answered.

“Right.  And even though The Princess Bride is an awesome movie, in the real world I’d rather be friends with somebody like Katniss than someone like Buttercup.”

“And,” Robin added, “I’d rather have my daughter be able to shoot the rat herself.”

Man, I love that guy.

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Revealing

Priorities

“Aauuuuuuuuugh!” Riya screams, clearly distressed, from the bathroom.

“Oh, my God, what!?  What is it?” An impressively lengthy list of possible emergencies races through my mind.

“Ben OPENED THE DOOR!”

I pause, bent double, and try to slow my heart back down.  “In the future, that kind of scream is only to be used if you see a mouse.  Or, you know, there’s a bad guy in the house or something.”

 

Six-year-old twins, or old married couple?

[Ambling into school, arms linked]

“What day was it that we saw Ms. M?”

“Yesterday.”

“No, no, no.  Yesterday was the day we were playing with L.”

“Yes, you’re right.  We saw Ms. M. on Friday.”

“Friday.  Yes, must have been.”

 

Proof that she was really listening

[Front pew, center section, during Sunday’s sermon]

“In the first part of today’s reading,” the pastor began, “there are three main characters.  There’s a landowner, a gardener, and … a tree.”

“A TREE!!!” Riya exclaimed.

Over the congregation’s laughter, without missing a beat, he said, “Yes, a tree.  Right on cue!” and continued with the lesson.

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