Sleeping in on a winter day: a fond tribute

I am awake. I am tired, and work and school are opening late on account of the 1.5 inches of snow, and I have fresh, supremely warm flannel sheets on my bed. But I am not in bed. D2 convinced me that I wanted to watch Octonauts–and she is very persuasive.

I tried to resist. When she initially came in, I followed past precedent of identifying an arbitrary future time when I thought I could be willing to wake up and told her to come back. After two long, probably mostly unbearable minutes, she returned to see if it was time yet. It was not, but I had already played–and lost–my ‘come back later’ card. As I write this I realize that card never wins.

I told her I couldn’t get up yet–it wasn’t THE TIME!–so she could either go play by herself or cuddle with me.  Silently. She began to cry that she couldn’t play by herself. (Who did I think she was!?) so I told her to climb in the bed. She used my neck to hoist herself up, and snuggled right in. She was holding a dress on a plastic hanger, leggings, socks, and a blanket, so–herself overloaded–she handed me some things to hold during the cuddle. I got the hanger dress and the socks. (You have to HOLD them, mom, or they will get lost!!) So I cuddled up, underneath the hanger, holding someone else’s socks, smashed between two people who were pretending to sleep. Ahh, lazy mornings.

D2 is a snugly child. It is one of her greatest toddler attributes. And, sometimes, one of her most powerful weapons. Once situated beneath her future OOTD, nestled asclosetomeaspossible, she began to stroke my face. And whisper that she loves me. And it is morning time. That’s the time to get up, mom! The sky is awake. And breakfast sure sounds nice. Do I want a donut? Then she tried to braid my hair; tricky, as it lay underneath the rest of my head against the pillow, but she was not deterred. Next, she (rather aggressively) kissed my eye and forehead. Over and over while I pretended that I did not notice, since I was asleep. Going for the win, she added loud smacking sounds and started to sing. It was then I realized, it WAS time to get up–not THE TIME–but time. I had been bested, and I needed to wash my eye.

It is nice, I admit, to have all this extra time in the morning. I (could have) done dishes and laundry and made hot breakfast. Sometimes, when I arrive at work after having already been awake for hours, I feel like a superhero to have gotten so many things done already. To have more ‘day’ than other people. A tired superhero who needs some tea and whose coworkers think she is crazy, but a superhero all the same.

I hope your morning was as exciting as D2s’. Or as productive as Captain Barnacles’. octonauts
He just saved twelve huge whales from. . . something.

Or that you slept in–are sleeping still!–alone in your bed surrounded by silence and warmth. Ahhhh…. I remember it well.

“Even though I got this a long time ago, it is still sort of the way it is supposed to be.”

Fortunately, as I said, we were toward the back. And in an act of true grace, the woman immediately behind us was *actually* blind. And there was another three-year old who kept yelling loudly. I thought we could make it.

Or, the story of how children mostly just break everything.

The quote in the title was part of a explanation from my five-year old neighbor, said with an air of pride and surprise, that she had owned her plastic sword for a very long time (like, more than a year) and it had not broken yet. So remarkable was that fact, she had decided the sword was unbreakable–even though made of plastic and purchased at the circus. I am totally with her, though; that sword must have some magic powers, because children break pretty much everything.

I share the most recent example: this morning at church. We came in late, as we do, and so sat toward the back. Ella was in charge of packing her own entertainment for the one hour-ish session and carefully selected five, small, identical plastic zebras. (The choice, incidentally, allowed me to say the awesome, new-to-humanity sentence, “Stop lining up your zebras and brush your hair.” I always like thinking that I am saying something that no one has ever said before.) We sat next to dear friends of ours and their similarly-aged daughter had also brought plastic animals. What are the odds?  She had reptiles–snakes and lizards and something else. Maybe frogs. The zebras and the lizards tried to hang out together at first. Lining up. Thinking about Pride Rock and the Glass Menagerie. Planning future dioramas. But, eventually, a fight broke out.  And the snakes kept knocking the zebras over and the zebras stampeded the reptile cave. It was all in good fun–very energetic, almost-certainly-louder-than-it-should-have-been fun–and I mostly let it go because we were still on track for her best behavior at church all year. Maybe ever.

Big mistake. As it turns out (hindsight, oh, hindsight), the menagerie fight served to awaken the real beast: six-year old destructive energy. The incessant moving. The inability to keep from grabbing all objects in proximity. Running and jumping as the only acceptable method of transportation. Fortunately, as I said, we were toward the back. And in an act of true grace, the woman immediately behind us was *actually* blind.  And there was another three-year old who kept yelling loudly. I thought we could make it.

Communion. Ella was late walking up the aisle with the rest of us because she had to collect her five zebras to come along. Obviously. And then she realized half way up that she couldn’t receive bread and hold zebras, so she gave them all to me. Awesome. My pants had pockets, so I filled them with zebra. We had a nice, peaceful 53 seconds of communion, and then MI and D2, following proper protocol, left the altar. Ella did not. She stood on it and started to bounce. No. I leaned in to stop her and lead her away, at precisely the same time that she either lost interest, realized it was almost time for snack, or saw an opportunity to run.

She exuberantly bounded off the altar–straight into my face–as I leaned forward to corral her. And thus came to pass the first time that someone BROKE MY NOSE AT CHURCH. Right up in front of the congregation. At the altar of God. Immediately next to the choir.  BROKE MY NOSE AT CHURCH.

My eyes watered, but I did not scream or cry. Pretty much, I was a badass at getting my nose broken at church. I do think people noticed, since she and I were pretty much the last ones up there. MI told me, though, that it was not clear from my face whether I’d had a strongly spiritual moment or a terrible accident. I bet they assumed the best of me, unless they’d been watching Ella much. She immediately realized my pain and loudly apologized with, “I am sorry. I am so sorry. I am soooo sorry. Can I have my zebras?” I yell-whispered that no, she could NOT have her zebras (No zebras if you break someone’s nose.) and shuffled, semi-blind back to my seat.

Reflection. After the end of the service, which was graciously not long, MI and my friend laughed at the story and then politely suggested that my nose was perhaps rather crooked. I straightened it the best I could in the bathroom, with some backup from MI in the car, and am now waiting to see what happens post-swelling.

I add this to the pile of stories of things broken. The mounting list of mysteriously missing items. The odd way everything is sticky around the house. Kids.

And even though I had them seemingly a long time ago, everything is still sort of the way it is supposed to be.

Clean is the new rich.

(My youngest daughter, D2, is at the wonderful age where she almost completely grasps conversational language but does not completely grasp the world. I find this a magical, hilarious time in all of our lives and try to capture her fantastic dialogue for all to enjoy.)

D2, in the car, planning her future happiness.

D2: Mom, when I grow up we can’t get married because you are already married to Daddy, right?
Me: Right.
D2: So I can’t marry Daddy either.
Me: Right. He is already married to me.
D2: And I can’t marry Ella…
Me: Right. Because she is your sister.
D2: No, because she is not good at clean up.

She may not quite get “marriage” yet, but she has good taste and clearly has picked up on some of the key things to look for.

Cleaning-supplies-1al6xdr

Thank you?

Yesterday, I was in a multi-person, adult meeting–in the middle of speaking!–when my daughter entered the room, interrupting the conversation to hand me her half-eaten apple. She was done. Here, momma. I took it, as I do, and said “thank you” as she walked away. Said it automatically, without really thinking.

Thank you? Thank you for being willing to have someone else throw this apple away for you. Thank you for not screaming about being finished. Or hiding the core in the depths of our friends’ couch. Or throwing it at someone. Or trying to flush it down the toilet.

Thank you for eating fruit. Thank you for walking away, instead of insisting that I eat the rest of this apple, right now while you watch. Thank you for not vomiting. (Always, thank you for not vomiting.) Thank you that this interruption was quite short. And that you were fully clothed and had recently blown your nose, on account of the guests. Thanks for only eating half so that there was somewhere obvious to hold.

Thank you, my thoughtful little friend. Thank you for all that this interaction was not, but so easily could have been. I will throw away your apple. In the trash can you passed on the way over.

Gratitude in parenting–such a low bar.

Nearly Effortless Rockstar

My dad’s 60th birthday is coming up in a couple of months. The rest of my family started an email exchange about what we could do to celebrate to make the day special.  I weighed in late in the electronic conversation, presenting the grand idea that I COULD COME TO DINNER.  That would be my gift.  After I hit send, I felt kind of ridiculous, that my great gift idea for someone would be that they could eat near me (and probably pay for the meal, based on past precedent). What a selfish daughter. Full of herself. . . entitled. . . But when my mom responded so excited–that he would LOVE that–I realized, I am kind of like a rockstar. To commemorate special occasions, other people fly me in to surprise their relatives at birthday parties.  Lauren is HERE!  And how did I become a rockstar, you ask? Simply by being the only person to move far away, such that my presence at dinner is somewhat rare.

My fleeting sense of importance led me to remember another “rockstar” moment of my life.  It was when I was baby Ella’s handler (of sorts. “Parent” also probably describes it.) in South Korea. She was 18 months old; white blonde pigtails, inquisitive blue eyes, fair skin. A beautiful white, American baby. The Seoul natives and other Asian tourists were in raptures. Students on field trips would detour to touch her leg and then run back to their friends and giggle. Grandmothers on the subway would try to take her out of our arms for a chance to rock her. Visitors at the Demilitarized Zone lined up to take photos of. . . themselves with the white baby. Using her strong, early grasp of language, we taught her to say “hello” and “thank you” in Korean. Several older people nearly died of the cuteness. Kamsahamnida. Never in my life have I felt as noticed, as famous, as celebrity-like as when I escorted little Ella through Korea. It was her rockstar moment.  (I’ve often felt guilty she had her five minutes of fame before she could realize it. But she actually hated it. It probably would have been more fitting to teach her the Korean phrase for “go away.”) But really, all she did to be a rockstar was. . . be born. Just like how I became one today by virtue of having moved to another state a decade ago.

My family: nearly effortless rockstars. I pondered this realization as we ate nachos for dinner. I wondered, ‘how else can you be a rockstar without really trying?.’ Maybe, guys, maybe I have figured it out:

  • High-five people going the other way on the escalators, like you’re coming off the field after a major sports win. It seems mysterious and exciting. And little risk for awkward, because the interaction is over immediately.
  • Toast people SO MUCH MORE OFTEN. You have a water bottle.  Your cubemate has a water bottle.  Clink.  I’ll drink to that. All workday long.
  • Use the flight attendant call button on the plane for some reason other than ‘my kid is about to throw up’. I’ve never actually done it for any other reason, but I bet you feel fancy.  And, as a bonus, the flight attendant is probably more enthusiastic.
  • Wear sunglasses inside, with a buttoned trench coat. I think you have to do both, though; glasses only and people will assume you’re hung over or on the cusp of getting lasik. The trench is what pushes it over to “classy.” Buttoned, though, so you might–just might–be naked under there. If that combo doesn’t say “celebrity,” I don’t know what does.
  • Write a blog. Where you cover–in painstaking detail–emails you sent to your family while driving in slow traffic, making them seem important and yourself seem cool and witty. No one will know that you’re crafting the post from your basement, in your pajamas and slippers, having just binge eaten all of your youngest daughter’s gummy bears, writing mostly to avoid making lunches for tomorrow. They won’t know. They’ll just see the glamour.

Nearly Effortless Rockstar.

I have a blog, or, the story of how I write to you not on Facebook

My husband (“Mr. Incredible” for the purposes of this new writing platform) gave me a blog for Christmas!  It was the best present for two reasons: 1) it was a complete surprise, which I think is almost impossible to do now-a-days for someone with whom you live, commute, and share an Amazon Prime account 2) It is something I have been thinking about and talking about but not actually doing because I didn’t quite know how and wasn’t quite sure. But now I don’t have to think about it or set it up. I have a blog. Boom.  Thanks, Mr. Incredible (hereafter “MI,” since I am tried of typing that all out already. Remember it is flattering.).

My old ideas for a hypothetical blog included this title–Parenthetical Asides–because such phrases are a notable characteristic of the way I write (as you’ll come to see) and my favorite way of infusing my (obviously witty and important) opinion into stories about life to open them up and make them richer and more funny.

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Happy. Serious. Good looking.

For years I have regaled family and friends with accounts of my children’s hilarity and my experiences as a mother/wife/sister/daughter/employee/aspiring athlete/home cook/consistently poor parker. I take joy in capturing life’s ridiculous, happy, and authentic moments with candor, photos, and the occasional poop story. My hope for this new blog is that its existence will inspire me to think creatively; that it will draw out more light and humor in my surroundings; and, that it will make us both happy.