Friday, April 25, 2008

Senior Skip Day

UPDATE: 11 hours later I learn that there actually was a fatal shark attack in San Diego today. It took place early this morning in Solana Beach, the neighborhood just north of ours. If you could please keep the victim's family in your prayers... MSN Article, click here.

Eighteen-year-old surfer conversation overheard while standing in line at Einstein's...
"Dude, did you hear about the guy who got eaten by a shark?"
(I know, it sounds like the beginning of a truly unfortunate joke.)

"No, dude."

"The shark bit him. He's dead, dude."

"That's sketchy."

"Dude, it, like, fuckin' ate his legs off. He died, dude."

"No way."

"Yeah, I don't know if he was surfing or swimming but it's total sketch. Dude."
I shit you not. It's an almost perfect quote.

And apparently, "sketchy" is the new "bogue"...or am I dating myself?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't Judge Me on the State of My Refrigerator

The shelves are crusty in spots and and seem to be conducting a breeding program for plastic containers; there is order to nothing. The door boasts purple crayon "artwork" (no, not on paper, directly on the door), alphabet magnets and family/friend pictures. The sides are feathered with Gymboree schedules, park maps, errand and grocery lists, flyers, menu ideas...and more crayon. I've narrowly missed a concussion by opening the freezer door without care...frozen soup is heavy. And I occasionally find toys tucked in various corners of the shelves and drawers.

This is my fridge. Don't judge me.

I have recently become aware, and slightly sensitive to, how this large appliance looks and functions. For two reasons...First, I've been reading an "organizational" book (yes, yes, I know) and the author chastised an old friend of hers who let her fridge crusties build up to the point of small villages by the time she finally had to move out of her house ("why couldn't she just wipe down the shelves every week before grocery day?" Cripes.). Hmm. That sounds familiar. And she was implying that there was something wrong with that. Ergo, my new-found sensitivity. The second reason is that we have our first non-family/non-close friend babysitter coming on Saturday and I don't want her to be scared away. Because apparently, fridge crusties and intense disorganization are not the norm (?). By the way, folks...feel free to correct me on this one.
Now, I didn't grow up with an immaculate fridge (although Mom and Dad do seem to have a problem deciphering the expiration date on several items, which has become a family joke) but it did stay pretty clean. Much cleaner than mine, which is slightly embarrassing because I have one kid and Mom had three of us running around. Maybe my priorities are just different (read: kind of effed up). For example, I'm a little lenient when it comes to Ari's fridge usage. There should be none, right? He's 18 months old for Chrissakes, he doesn't need to be in the fridge.
Weeell, I don't believe in saying "no, no, no, no" all the time and I do believe in fostering the creative spirit. So, when I'm putting together lunch or putting groceries away and the fridge is open/shut/open/shut and Ari is dragged out five times in a row, I'll frequently just leave it open for a minute or so and let him explore. That's why I'll find toys tucked in there and that's why the ketchup bottle disappears for an entire afternoon...only to be found in his dump truck that evening...and that's why plastic containers are shoved back haphazardly and also why I've saved the eggs on more than one occasion before moving them to higher ground. This morning I was putting our picnic lunch together and heard a pleased "aaaah" behind me and then a "thump". Ari had found the limes. They look like balls, you know.

And so, my lack of desire to be a no-no-no Mom has led me to a po pazza* refrigerator. And really, why say "no" when it's so much more fun to say "yes"...and to and find little cars in your veggie drawer.

*po pazza means a little crazy in Spanish.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Serendipity and "More-Ness"

I always thought "Serendipity" would be a good name for a girl. "Seren" as a nickname. And then I remembered Seren Gas. And that's not good.

Anyhow. The past week has tended toward the serendipitous for us. Last week, I was strollering toward a further-away playground, intent on meeting up with our playgroup, when Ari spied his neighborhood playground along the way and made sure I knew that he wanted to play there instead. Fair enough. A swing is a swing is a swing, right? You pick your battles. An hour later, I left with a babysitter. Well, I didn't bring the babysitter home in my pocket but she is currently booked for Sascha's birthday next week. Cha-ching. First night out in San Diego. I think I'll even wear eye-liner.

Today, I decided to chuck all Wednesday sensibility to the wind and meet up with some buddies at a beach before going to our Gymboree class at noon. (All you non-moms are thinking, "What the hell? Do you even have a life?" Answer: No. Not really.) It was a little messy. It was a little chilly. And it was a close-call making it to Gymboree on time, covered in a fine layer of sand. However, I met a mom on the beach there who is, also, parenting a "spirited" child. We talked for an hour.

I've been reading this book "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I told my mom this and she laughed. "Is that what they're calling it these days?" she asked. Apparently, my brother was of the "spirited" persuasion as a youngster. Strong willed, difficult, stubborn and other negative, Dobson-esque terms is how these kids (including my son) have been labeled. But, let me tell you, it's not often that I nod constantly while reading. I feel that we have been understood. I've found "my peeps".

The way Kurcinka puts it, these kids are normal, they're just "more". More energetic, intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, selective, enthusiastic, curious, tenderhearted, dramatic, passionate. These are fantastic qualities in adults. But in children, it raises red-flags and eyebrows all around ("I can't believe she can't control that child." Well, bite me, bitch.)

Now, Sascha and I often do call Ari "difficult"...but I don't take it well if anyone else calls him that. So, finding this book and seeing that these terms can be turned around, looking at the positive side, was enlightening...and helpful. The author even goes so far as to say that raising these children can be even more rewarding than raising the "non-spirited". I haven't gotten to that chapter yet. Will let you know if I agree with her.

My little man, who is currently playing with his Dad in the driveway - no doubt pushing a broom around with a big grin, chooses his own spirited path. He's quietly spirited. Intense; tenderhearted (which I heard today is a Virgo trait); dramatic (high and low extremes, tantrums); sensitive (he'll disintegrate into tears when a child yells, all the while trying to hold it together and be brave); very absorbed and goal-oriented in his play; persistent and definite in what he wants. Physical pain barely seems to touch him, yet he'll fall apart if you raise your voice. He's been this way since birth. Shot out of the womb (well, crawled, if you're timing it) with his little personality solidly intact.

I share all of this about my little boy because I know how alone I felt in thinking I had done something wrong, was raising him wrong, maybe drank too much coffee while pregnant...that's why he frequently seemed It seemed everyone else's kid was so much more easy going. (And, funny thing, people will frequently ask me if Ari's as quiet and sweet as he seems on the playground. They usually receive a blank look from me in response.) Well, it is what it is...that's one thing I've learned so far in life. And I have to let him be him. His intense behavior is not a reflection upon me. It's part of his learning to be in this world. And know what? When I accepted this fact and just let Ari be Ari, with all of the whining, drama and laughter that it entailed...he chilled out. Because I chilled out. Well, he chilled a little...let's not get crazy here. We still have our "days", but we've been handling them with a little more finesse and laughter than we used to.

Another source that slapped me upside the head was this quote by Donna Partow, found in a book by Julie Ann Barnhill..."God did not give you your son so you could 'fix' him or whip him into shape. God gave you your son to make you more like Jesus." Whatever your personal beliefs, take from it what you will. Bottom line: this isn't a grad school thesis, all on you to "get it right". This is hard core soul growth, in your face. How much can you grow to give compassion, direction, boundaries and unending love to another human being? How much can your life twist in order to accommodate this challenge? Answer: as much as possible. Some lives have to twist more, some less. But we all have to allow our soul to open up and change in some way. That's parenting. That's life...if you're brave enough to live it.

And so, this woman and I shared stories today while we played in the sand. Our stories were reassuringly similar and I left the beach feeling better. I left feeling connected.


Aaah, Naptime.

3:30 pm. Sitting down with cup of coffee and computer. Finally. Done prepping pea soup for dinner (involved chopping onion...equivalent of self-flaggelation). Now simmering on stove. Hopefully happily - and not spewing all over poor, difficult to clean stove.

I guess I can stop mentally speaking in bullet points now, Ari's in bed. You know how it goes...throughout the day, your mental conversation proceeds as follows:
  • breakfast
  • no, eat breakfast, don't throw
  • clean up
  • clean up
  • clean up
  • play a little
  • okay, play some more
  • make sandwiches
  • pack sandwiches
  • load car
  • crap
  • change diaper
  • change diaper
  • wipe floor
  • change diaper
  • pull screaming child off armoire
  • wipe armoire
  • finish changing diaper
  • socks!
  • shoes!
  • okay, shoes!
  • no, shoes!
  • out the door
  • where's your carseat?
  • not there
  • over here
  • over here
  • yes!
  • in car

Sigh. I read somewhere that women must sigh, else they'd scream. This is true. It's a pressure-release. Sascha's commented to me on this phenomenon before...usually in concern.

Me: Siiigh.
Sascha: Everything okay?

The other day, my phone rang, so I answered it. It was my beloved trying to book a flight for a conference he's attending in June. That same week, Ari and I are headed to Michigan so I don't have to single-parent too much (I have a low tolerance for that)...Sascha and I are coordinating our flights so we can carpool to/from the airport.

So, Sascha calls to ask if he should take the 8:40 a.m. flight (requiring him to leave his hotel at 6:40 a.m. after an uninterrupted week of sleep and adult conversation) back to San Diego, which will ensure that he'll get there a little before us. "I'd really rather not take such an early flight...there's one that'll get me in an hour and a half after you'd just have to wait for me." For an hour and a half. At baggage claim. With a toddler. At naptime. I think not.

Now, let me put it this way, Ari and I are leaving Michigan at 7:40 a.m., which requires my sweet ass to be up by 5:30 so we don't miss our first flight as well as our connecting flight. All my dearheart husband has to do is get his sweet ass to the airport and sit on it, not playing with or trying to feed or comfort anybody throughout a seven-hour ordeal.

So. Sweet wife that I am, I told him it was his decision which flight he took (read: it's your funeral if you make the wrong choice) and that it should be an easy decision (read: I can't believe you called me over this) for someone of his intelligence (read: how on earth do you make as much money as you do?). **

And so, I sigh.

**Author disclaims any and all negativity toward said husband readers may interpret from this posting. Author loves, adores, cherishes, etc. etc. said husband and appreciates the bacon he brings home...and really, is it any of you damned business?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


It's good to have Grandpa visit.

Birth Control

Well, I've ingested my fair share of birth control lately.

I've just returned from a quick visit with our neighbors, who have a three week old daughter. ( regard that we are considering going for that life-changing "#2".) Here's what we talked about...breastfeeding sleep...crying jags (both mother and child) for 40 minutes at a time...trips to the pediatrician because you're "just sure something is wrong"...humiliating trips home when it turns out there is nothing wrong...feeling completely inadequate...knowing you are completely inadequate, although you managed to run an adult life just fine a couple of weeks ago.

What the hell happened?!

Oh yeah. The baby came out.

Well, put 'im back in.

There has been more than one occasion when, in my rearview-mirror longing for an easier pre-child past, I've guiltily wished that we had a receipt for Ari. Granted, I get a little tired and testy at times myself, and his life would probably be easier at moments if I was not his mother. But then, can't we all say that about our moms, and our kids?

The word "easy" doesn't really come with parenthood. In fact, it is anti parenthood. There's nothing easy about it. Yes (sigh), everyone told us this before Ari came out...but you never know how crazy hard it's going to be until you're right there, at 3 am, completing your 80th messy and painful nursing of the day, running on 40 consecutive minutes of sleep and wondering when you're going to stop bleeding "down under" or when you can sit up on your own (if you've been cut open to get the kid out). My apologies (sarcasm heavily implied) if this is too graphic for the delicate men in the crowd.

It doesn't get too much easier as they grow, I'm finding. It's just that the hard things change. We've just completed our eleventy billionth grouchy period. You of those 1-3 week lengths when every little thing is a battle and cause for major meltdown. These periods usually end in our house when I finally break down and have an evening-long cry jag myself, sobbing over and over that there's no way I'll have another child. Ari then wakes up the next morning in a completely normal and happy mood. This has happened on more than one occasion. So, go figure.

Please tell me we are not the only parents who experience this. On second thought, don't tell me anything at all. I'd rather just assume that every other toddler is like this.

For the past few weeks, it's been a battle of wills. I only just now figured it out. Lame momma. He's been pushing and pushing and wheedling to get his way, seeing how much power he can take...erupting like a clinging-to-my-leg Mt. Vesuvius when said way is not attained. This, in turn, causes a baffled mom to also erupt like Mt. Vesuvius. Except I do not cling. I just yell. Loudly. Once. And then I feel terrible. Usually, praying for grace and patience helps...but on some days...some of you know those days...nothing but a Rum&Coke will keep the explosion from rocking forth. And Rum&Coke's can only happen once dad's on duty...which leaves daylight hours raw and un-medicated.

I know my son is not Pure Evil. I know this because, during the GrouchFest, he has these beautiful moments of love and care (i.e. gently touching my face, petting the cat so sweetly, grinning up at me as if I were the sun itself, hugs upon request). He'll even, once in a while, exhibit some contrition when it's clear he's stepped over the line. With his hand upon my shoulder, he'll bend down to look up into my face, with a hopeful expression, as I clean up whatever mess he's experimentally/angrily thrown I clean up the pee that has splashed all over as I chased him around with the fresh diaper he'd soulfully refused to don. I just wish he'd choose to use his powers for good more often.

And so...birth control.

Despite all of this...and despite common sense, self-preservation and duty to the world's increasing population, we are still considering that second child. Should we be so lucky.