Time to write again

I have let this site lay dormant for far too long. I think my drive to write so much during 2015 really slowed in January 2016 when I took a totally new kind of job that was super creative.  I got to add all sorts of funny and art and images and editing to what I did during the day, so it didn’t come seeping out of me at night the same way it had been.

It was also hard to write because in lots of ways it was a hard parenting year. Not that my kids weren’t still totally and completely amazing, but we had lots of struggles to figure out what was going on and what we needed to do and how to help our daughters, especially the oldest one, be their best, happiest selves (if that is something people can ever figure out for themselves, let alone other beings…).  And while I loved working on such an important challenge, I was hard in some ways because I didn’t see as much silly humor in what happened day-to-day. Or I saw it, but it didn’t feel the same as it had before and I was reluctant to write about it.

But I am in a different phase in life again and have found myself missing my writing outlet.  I have some ideas for new ways to reboot, so I intend to be back.

I have missed you.

My kids are taking me, literally

My brilliant gymnastics teammate from college, Carolyn, is a real-life actress. And I really love one of her recent comedy sketches about children as the “Literal Police.”  First, check it out:

So, this video hit close to home because I always use hyperbole, and my kids have literally become the Literal Police at our house.

Just a Minute

There is no possible way to parent without saying, “Just a minute!” I feel completely certain and confident about this. I also feel confident that it is completely impossible to remain calm when a small person starts counting to 60 after you tell them to wait a minute. You just have to completely lose it.  It is the only way.

After all, “wait a minute,” is secret, polite-sounding parenting code for, “I have to/want to do something else, you won’t leave me alone, I sort of hate you right now, I wish were by myself.” So, when your adorable, adoring tormentor stands right next to you and counts slowly to 60, well, I am actually so annoyed just remembering times when this happened that I can’t finish writing this sentence.

I blame the whole thing on Frozen. (I feel internet readers nodding their heads in understanding approval. I mean, I’ve heard some children–like my sister–did the ‘count to 60’ thing back in B.F. (the time ‘Before Frozen’), but I can’t remember specifics about the era before Frozen, and suspect it is all just legend). Other parents of Frozen fanatics, do you remember the part of the movie where Anna tells Olaf to wait ‘for a minute’? Then Olaf counts to 60 before barging in? I remember seeing that scene unfold in the theater for the first time like it was yesterday (I think I did see that scene yesterday, like I see Frozen scenes most days. But I remember the emotion of that first time: the foreboding; the horror).

“1, 2, 3 . . .”

“Nooooo. Disney would never teach children . . .”

“59, 60!”

“OH, NO. You. Did. Not.”

Yup, Disney did. Within days, Ella was counting to 60 when I asked her to wait for a minute. I quickly converted to “moment” but it was too late. A whole world of literal-ity had literally been born. And I had paid Disney for it. 

I’ll be right there.
Just one more minute.
We’ll talk about that later.
I am almost ready.

All of a sudden, there was no safe way to talk about time or the future. All was lost. Forever.

But, after a minute of reflection, I see the other side of my kids’ taking me literally: it can be wonderfully hilarious. I love the way their minds work. For example, Ella had her first soccer game earlier this week. She was excited. I was nervous. It was her first game, her first team sport, maybe her first time listening, and I didn’t know how it would go since she doesn’t have . . . an established track record of strong athletic performance or a record of listening to anyone ever.

On the way to the game, I tried to build up her confidence and impart my sports wisdom. Engage with her team. Pay attention to her coach (MI). Run fast. Be aggressive with the ball. Listen to instructions. Be fierce.

Be fierce

The game started and she really got in there, running with the feral pack of other six-year olds arrayed in an electron-like circle around the ball. She was an outer electron, to be sure, but she was responsive and generally moving with the atom, so I was happy.

Max_and his clawsExcept her run. She was running in this wild way, swinging her arms in front of her body, in strange arcs above her head. Her fingers were spread and rigid, scrunched like talon-ed claws. She looked pretty much exactly like Max when he dances with the wild things.

When her (dad) coach finally subbed her out, I whisper-yelled for her to come over and asked her what she was doing with that crazy run. So looked confused and answered that she was just doing it how I told her to.

Uhhhh. . . when did I say, run like Grendel? Zombie manicure barbie? Deranged beekeeper? Raptor in the Jurassic Park kitchen?

She clarified: I told her to “BE FIERCE.” Animals are the things that people usually describe as “fierce.” Fierce animals are hunters. They have claws. So, to be fierce, you need claws. If a soccer player wants to “be fierce” she should channel the behavior of a cat of prey, and run with her outstretched claws.

How do you respond to that? I gave her her water and went back to cheering for her team, looking closely for other kids who were as strange as mine. (There were several. I love kids.)

Take-a-ways

  1. Ella’s team needs to discuss and practice some of the basic principals of soccer, and I should probably stay out of it until the basics have solidified.
  2. “Just a minute” is no longer a safe place for me, so I need to just hide in the bathroom sometimes.
  3. “Frozen,” beautiful American cinematic animated masterpiece that it is, also has the power to ruin lives. Watch with care. And Disney, teach no pranks, complaints, or annoyances if you want me to buy any more beaded plastic shoes or princess-branded pink yogurt. (As I typed that, I realized we already need to not buy plastic shoes or pink princess yogurt. So that’s, like, take-a-way 3b.)
  4. Be fierce.

Getting Your Kids to Listen: Pro Tips from an Expert

If I got a dollar for every time I said:

“Thank you for politely listening right away!”

I’d start saying it all the time.

Not because it was true, but because it would be nice to be a salaried parent. And I’d be saying something that–when true–probably makes you feel like a really amazing mom.

Professional parenting. Boom.

baby listening

Big reveal:

I am actually a professional at asking my kids six times, using the tonal pattern:

1. so nice, so polite / 2. nice, polite / 3. pretty nice, drop polite / 4. edgy, but sane / 5. threatening loss of privileges with moderate loss of perspective / 6. yelling in that voice I promised I would never use.

That last one is the one that usually works, but I never jump straight to step 6; I am a true professional, and I stick to the system.

Ella currently is in a one-week camp at an MMA studio (which was my idea, you might have guessed; I was hoping it was ‘make you listen and be somewhat coordinated’ boot camp for small people). She described one of her teachers as “less chance-y” than me. Apparently, whereas I give lots and lots of chances to listen before I dole out punishment, Ms. Sarah asks once and then you’re sitting on your knees facing the wall.

Props, Ms. Sarah. Come over anytime–I’ve got a kids’ chore list and a dollar with your name on it.

Children and the Scientific Method

Hypothesis


There exists an inverse relationship between the number of times a child says your name to get your attention and the importance of the thing they are about to say.

Observations


      1. [While I am on the phone] “Ella’s mom? Ella’s mom? Can you do something for me? How long are you going to be on the phone? Are you off the phone yet? Can you do something *and* talk on the phone? I can wait. Ella’s mom? Ok, I will wait downstairs. I just wanted to let you know I am downstairs waiting, ok?”
        “Ok, thanks for waiting. I am ready! What do you need?”
        “Can you please print me a picture of a dingo?”
      1. [While I am cooking] Mom. Mom! Mom, mom, mom, mom?
        Yes?
        Can I tell you something?
        Yes.
        Thanks. [Deep breath.] My eye doesn’t hurt.
        I am so glad. Did it used to hurt?
        No. It never hurts.
      1. [During bedtime] Mom!  MOM!
        MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!
        MoooooOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMY!
        [Climbs two flights of stairs.] What?
        I don’t want to lay on my back. I want to lay on my stomach.
        Ok.
        Thanks, mom!! [Rolls over without assistance.]

Conclusions


Children either say crazy things after calling your name many times, or always.  Further research suggested to identify times when children do not interrupt parents to say crazy things.

Also, be careful how you search for pictures of dingos.

Friends.

Friends never wake up at night, except to go independently to the bathroom or quietly solve their own problems.

Our family’s semi-annual trip to the dentist was a highlight of my day. They had this new, super comfy headrest and the hygienist hardly spoke while she polished my teeth, so I could just lay there with my eyes closed. Ahh, it was a day of appreciating the dentist chair.

The rest of the day had too much crying and whining and work presentations with mathematical content. While I was cooking dinner, I reached the end of my patience–hours earlier than usual. I normally make it smoothly until second bedtime until I lose it. Today, I lost it in the kitchen at a pan of potstickers that were supposed to be dinner and got unyieldingly stuck to the pan. (I just heard that in my head as I wrote it. WTF, potstickers!? I should probably feel like a moron, but I feel mad. Instead of just calling them “potstickers,” why don’t we address the underlying problem, Trader Joe’s?) Any way, as I was throwing a seventh-grade style fit at the Asian food in my kitchen, Ella interrupted to ask me to come help her find something. Something I had JUST handed her. (Originally, I blamed her first distraction for the potsticker situation. I’ll have to reevaluate that, given the new information.)

I told her to go look by herself. Three times. She got that I wasn’t caving, so she left. Not to look; to write me a note about my behavior.

To those who don't speak kindergarten phonetic, no-vowel spelling, it says, "Friends help each other [who knows] look for things."

To those who don’t speak kindergarten phonetic, no-vowel spelling, it says, “Friends help each other [who knows] look for things.

She brought it in, hung it on the dishwasher next to me, and cleared her throat.

Friends help each other. A beautiful lesson I taught her. Or Dora the Explorer. I am an advocate of “helping.” Not maybe at earlier today in the kitchen, but going forward, I think I can get behind this new model of friendship and communication. I have sayings ready for several new signs to deck out the house:

  • Friends appreciate a good stretch of silence every so often.
  • Friends moderate their use of hand soap. Seriously, D2.
  • Friends never wake up at night, except to go independently to the bathroom or quietly solve their own problems.
  • Friends do NOT need poop assistance of any kind. Ever.
  • Friends enjoy a wide variety of music, with each song in daily moderation.
  • Friends understand and make peace with the inevitable instance we forget something when leaving the house. They never just sob “I need my ___________” over and over in the car.
  • Friends LOVE having their hair fixed. Brushed, even styled. When it is time to style it, they hold still, admire your braiding skills, and remember not to immediately practice somersaults.
  • Friends always know the location of both mates to at least one pair of shoes at all times.

Excuse me. I am off to make these signs. And look for Ella’s thing.