(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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.