"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Friday, December 30, 2016

a perfect day

We are dragging ourselves across the finish line of this godforsaken year by our fingernails. Instead of eagerly anticipating the dawn of a new, fresh start, I'm looking towards Sunday as the beginning of a four-year-long sentence in a torture chamber where the punishment is, at its best, the egregious lack of common sense and decency by the People In Charge. At its worst....well...I guess simply the end of the world as we know it.

Even if that sounds melodramatic, this truth is irrefutable: The negative impact of this incoming presidency threatens to last far longer than the president elect's time in office. We are going to need to pace ourselves and take care of ourselves (and each other) in order to withstand the approaching storm. We can do that by finding the positivity where it is to be found. Though the next four years will be rough, not every day of each year will be. Despite who the leader of the free world is and what he does with the power of his position, there will still be moments of peace and joy and growth and human connection and scientific advancement and love and kindness.

There will be because there has to be. We will make it be so.

I've circled my emotional wagons. I've deleted Facebook from my phone (though I still manage to check in daily because, damn, I can't quit you, baby) and have stopped reading every article that follows a sensational, blood-pressure-raising headline. While punctuating my days with calls to my representatives and donations made to the organizations that are going to end up being the ones to save us from this new reality, I'm focusing my mind and my heart more locally...hyper-locally, in fact. It's self-preservation through self-centeredness.  

Right now, all that really matters to me is my family.

****

We started 2016 with a resolution of strengthening our family bonds through Kid Dates...one-on-one time with just one parent and one kid, engaging in anything from breakfast out to archery practice to a visit to the library. Once, Evan and I spent our date in the basement, facing off in a Nerf Battle the likes of which I never thought I'd participate in. It was awesome. The last few months of the year became hectic, though, as they often do. Much of our time was spent together as a family, but we didn't prioritize our one-on-one dates. It's something I want to get back to in the new year.  

Selfishly, I want that time with each of my kids to distract me from the rest of the world. Less selfishly, I want that time to be a chance for each kid to feel like he or she is the center of my attention...what truly matters. Regardless of what these next four years turn this world into, my children will feel Special. Loved. Worthy. Capable. 

We don't need one-on-one time with our kids to teach them these things...but it's how I am choosing to send the message loudly and clearly: You Matter. Just You. All of You.

****

Molly and I fell into our date by chance this week. The boys wanted to go see Rogue One, which I knew wouldn't be right for Molly. Rather than try to find a movie showing at the same time that was more her speed, we decided to do our own thing. 

She picked Ice Skating. 

SK8R GRRL. Little badass on blades.

It was her third time to the rink and her first time standing (and walking) on her skates unassisted! She still held onto my hands for dear life once out on the ice, but she's starting to gain her confidence on the ice and I wouldn't be surprised if she ventures out on her own (though still on the wall) next time.

After about six laps around the rink (with breaks after each complete lap to watch the semi-pros twirling and jumping in center ice) she was ready to go.

Rather than heading straight home, we popped into some of the shops downtown that the boys never want to browse through. We looked at fancy jewelry, played with toys out on display, paged through holiday books on the clearance rack, and tried on hats.


We even found a wooden rhinoceros that we almost brought home with us. It was gorgeously carved out of a single piece of wood and Molly fell in love immediately. We were short on cash by about three grand, but otherwise, it would have been ours. 


Finally, we stopped by Uncle Mike's juice bar where Mom Mom was working and where we snagged one of the last Peppermint Bark nut milks of the season. 


When we got home, we took a nap on the couch. It was such a perfect day.

Lesson Learned:
I'm glad I spent it with You....

Monday, December 19, 2016

the evolution of Knowing

It's been the topic of many whispered conversations between me and my fellow parents-of-9-year-olds this year: How much does your kid Know? And yes, sometimes we're comparing our kids' notes on puberty, sex, and the biology of babies being born...but more often than not, we're talking Magic.

There's just something about 9-year-olds, I suppose. The schools have deemed them ready for "The Puberty Video," (which they showed at the end of the last day of school before Thanksgiving Break, leading to a number of interesting Thanksgiving Dinner conversations!) And, similarly, many of us parents-of-4th-graders have found ourselves, at some point over the past year, face-to-face with our not-so-little kids asking to be told The Truth about holiday magic.

Our Day of Truth happened last March, on St. Patrick's Day. At the time, I felt as though I handled the conversation well. Evan certainly didn't seem traumatized or disappointed with his new knowledge. And rather than mourning the loss of his innocence, I was actually really looking forward to this year...our first Post Knowing Christmas. I was excited to have his eager help with the elf and, to be honest, a Christmas morning "Thank You" directed at me and Sam rather than shouted toward the ceiling would be pretty awesome. (A mom can dream, right?) And so, right after Thanksgiving, when our elf, Bear Ticklish, arrived, I pulled Evan aside.

To his wide-eyed, solemn face, I whispered, "It's time, buddy! Time to help make the magic for Max and Molly! Are you ready?"

He nodded, slowly. Unsurely. I was a bit confused by his deer-in-headlights reaction. I dropped the issue until bedtime.

After we were sure the littlest were asleep, I went to retrieve Evan from his bed.

"Put your book down for a minute! It's time!"

We tiptoed downstairs to where Bear Ticklish sat on the shelf.

Evan stared at the elf. I looked down at my big boy.

He didn't move a muscle.

"Go ahead, buddy!" I urged.

"So.....what do you do?" Evan asked.

I furrowed my brow a bit and said, "Well, what do you mean? You make the magic!"

Nothing.

"You...move him." I said, as I started to sweat.

"I...move...him?"

"Um...yes." Wait. What?! I thought we were all clear here. Hadn't we discussed this? Hadn't we talked about how Daddy and I make the magic and that, now that you know the truth, YOU are going to help us make the magic, too?! 

"So. Like. With my hands?"

Oh my god.

"I. Like. TOUCH HIM?!"

What have I done?!

"Um, yeah, buddy. Remember? Remember what we talked about? Daddy and I and now YOU help make the magic for Max and Molly. Remember?"

Please tell me you remember. Please tell me I didn't just blow this for you.

"No, yeah! I know! I just...I can't believe I get to see what he feels like!"

Okay. Deep breath. We're good. He knew.

He moved the elf and has continued to do so most nights. He seems to enjoy it, and he plays it so cool in the mornings. "Man, guys," he'll say to Max and Molly as they all wander from room to room, looking. "I just can't seem to find him anywhere."

But, it occurred to me that we should tread very lightly with The Truth this year. His Knowing seems so blurry...so incomplete...like he's trying to put a puzzle together, but doesn't have all of the pieces yet. I want him to find the pieces on his own...I don't want to just hand them all over to him if he's not ready to see the whole picture yet.

I'm so glad we did.

Last week he came home from school, abuzz with information to share.

"MOM! You'll never guess what the guys in my class were talking about!"

True. A bunch of 9- and 10-year old boys? I didn't want to guess what kind of stories they were telling.

"So there was this team of explorers exploring around the Arctic and, all of a sudden, one of the explorers bumped into this invisible wall! Like a force field or something! And they were talking it over with the other explorers and they think it might be the secret entrance to the REAL North Pole! Now all they have to do is find the secret handle on the entrance and, voila!, we'll know all of Santa's secrets!"

I stared at him. "Wow," was all I could say. Was he putting on this act for the little kids? They were both staring at him, too, mouths agape. No. He's good, but he's not That good. "Can you imagine?" I responded, turning to look at their homework folders to hide my expression.

"Yeah!" he said as he skipped away to the play room. "Wouldn't it be awesome to really Know?"

Lesson Learned:
Baby steps toward knowing the truth, I suppose. I'm more than okay with that.