Thursday, April 25, 2013

The confidence of TWO.

I've written before about what it might be like if I acted like my two-year-old.

But as I've watched him over the past several weeks, I've seen a whole new side of my toddler that I can learn from -- and that is this kid's unfailingly joyful self-confidence.

My son springs from his bed each morning ready for the AWESOMEST DAY EVER!!!! 

I ask him how he slept. He throws his arms wide and beams,

"It was great!!! I dreamed about candy!!!!"

Next up: breakfast.

Here's something I bet you didn't know: There is, in fact, a way to be the best at eating breakfast, and my son has mastered it. 

How do I know this? Because in between bites of oatmeal he loudly announces,

"I am THE BEST at eating breakfast!!!!!"

I barely have time to agree before my boy is off to the backyard sandbox to construct the BIGGEST and MOST WONDERFUL castle EVER in the history of, well, EVER!!! He calls his siblings to gather around and admire his handiwork, at which point his baby sister trods around destroying it completely.

BUT NEVER FEAR! My son is confident that his next project is going to be EVEN BETTER!

We get dressed and it's off to music class, where the confidence parade continues. My boy sings along in a voice as booming as it is off-key. He dances with his arms splayed above his head and his rump shaking with abandon. His drum banging is wild and exuberant enough to require a substantial "safety zone" and is only interrupted by an occasional pause to announce that he is, in fact, 


After lunch and naps (which are GREAT, thanks for asking!) we head to the indoor playspace for a little fun. My kiddo takes on an older kid at the air hockey table. While he is not particularly skilled or even familiar at all with how the game works, my son's enthusiasm is undimmed. Each time his opponent knocks the puck into my son's goal my son jumps up and down shouting, 

"I DID IT!!!"

Oh yes! I'm fantastic at this!

The four-year-old he's playing against is justifiably annoyed by this reaction and attempts to inform my son that he is, in fact, losing terribly. His efforts are in vain, however, as my son's teflon shield of gleeful self-assurance cannot be penetrated by logic, and he continues to whoop in celebration each time his adversary scores on him.

Next it's home for dinner (GREAT!) and a couple of awesome laps around the yard:




...before it's time to wind down in the bath (alert: my son is just awesome at getting clean!). The last activity before bedtime is a final nude strut about the house. 

Like a peacock showing off its plumage, my son marches from room to room greeting anyone who might be about in all his naked glory. His belly juts out in front of him, his dimpled bottom wiggles behind, and his hair sticks up in crazy tufts above his head.

And his smiles conveys all along, "I rule."

Then it's off for bedtime stories and sweet dreams to get rested up for yet another amazing day tomorrow.

As I leave 40 in the rearview mirror, I feel like I've also left behind much of the self-doubt that plagued decades of my earlier life, and I am truly grateful for that. But as I've watched my son over these past few weeks, I know that I still have some things to learn from him.

I mean the kid is basically a walking inspirational refrigerator magnet:

He dances like there's no one watching, he sings like there's no one listening, and he said last week upon arriving at the breakfast table:

"I wonder how many good things are going to happen before bed today? I bet at least one hundred."

As someone who often arrives at the same table with the thought,

"Ugh, how am I going to make it through this one?"

I figure I have a thing or two left to learn from my son... all his joyfully confident two-year-old-ness.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Several years ago my brother and I were visiting the apartment that my Grandmother shared with her older sister. As the two women made us dinner they got into a heated argument about which one of them had worn a particular pink dress to a party at a neighbor's house. My Grandmother insisted that she had worn it but her sister just as vehemently felt that the dress had been hers.

After listening to this debate for ten minutes or so, my brother and I realized that the disagreement centered around a party that had, in fact, occurred in 1927.

I was reminded of this on Monday when my Dad, as he sometimes does, called to say, 

"You know, I thought of something you should write about on your blog."

He went on to tell me that (after almost 45 years of marriage) he had come to the following revelation:

"You know, when your Mom says that she thinks we had the salmon the last time we were at some restaurant and I think we had the trout, it's better to just agree rather than to fight about it."

Vector Art

This is, I feel strongly, an insight that my husband and I should probably take to heart, because we have this problem kind of a lot.

David and I are generally not huge fighters. Sure, we have the occasional

"You were supposed to show up and you forgot" 

humdinger or the  

"Mother's Day was yesterday" 


But mostly we get caught up in the more mundane "neither of us know and yet we disagree" arguments, especially when feeling overcome by day-to-day stresses.

The root of this lies in the fact that my husband and I both suffer from what my Mother calls "often in error but never in doubt" syndrome. Neither one of us will hesitate to defend a point on which we possess exactly zero knowledge, and it manifests in exactly the sort of spats that my Dad was warning against.

In the past month my husband and I have had major disagreements on the following subjects:

  • That guy kind of looks/doesn't look like your brother.
  • We always take the next street, not this one.
  • Do they record "The Voice" auditions all in one day or over the course of several days?
  • The name of that hotel we stayed in four years ago was called "The Bedford"/"The Medford".
  • Was that woman we met that one time named 'Darlene' or 'Cheryl'?
As I said, nothing particularly terrible resulted. But as my father's forty-plus years of marital exposure suggest, perhaps these conflicts could be avoided entirely if we both just opted to let a few more things slide.

So that's what I'm going to try to do.

....I mean except for about that thing with his brother because I'M TELLING YOU THAT GUY TOTALLY LOOKED LIKE HIM!!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Seagull

“If my life can ever be of any use to you, come and take it.” 
― Anton ChekhovThe Seagull

Our daughter has firmly entered what my husband and I refer to as the "seagull phase".
The "seagull phase" usually presents between 12 and 16 months of age as the child's awareness of his or her surrounding environment increases. This awareness, coupled with a lack of meaningful language skills, results in the dreaded "seagull's CAW".

My day with my daughter begins as I lovingly lift her out of bed. She smiles up at me with a trusting and loving grin, and I grab her and nuzzle her many chin rolls. This delightful moment lasts exactly six seconds, at which point she spots her blanket, left behind in her crib. She then turns to me, leans in an inch or two for maximum effect, opens her mouth wide, and screams,


directly into my face.

I rush to retrieve the desired item in a timely fashion.

Thrilled to be reunited with her beloved (yet pestulant) blankie my daughter's smile returns. For 7.3 seconds. At which point she spots her doll across the room.


The seagull is back. And she means business.
A well-balanced breakfast does little to soothe the angry seagull. The moment she spies her brother's milk the cries begin again:


I literally beg my son to hand over his beverage in hopes of getting a moment's respite from the caw.

It works. Until I am too slow feeding her oatmeal.


Again I have failed and have further angered the seagull.

The remainder of the day is consumed by desperate attempts to keep the seagull mollified. This is difficult as the list of things that anger the seagull are vast and ever-changing and can at any moment include
  • picking her up - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • not picking her up - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • putting her down - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • not putting her down - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • refusing to allow her to hit me repeatedly in the face with her sippy cup - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • stopping her from pulling her brother's arms off - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • letting grass touch her - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • advising her against eating fistfuls of sand - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!
  • forbidding her from removing my tonsils with her fingers - AAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!!!

When out and about with my daughter, strangers take note of her large, innocent-looking blue eyes, her halo of blonde curls, and her cherubic face.

"What an angel!" they exclaim.

I smile and nod, safe in the knowledge that her brothers and I know the real truth.

Facebook - Angry Seagull

The angry seagull lurks beneath....

Friday, April 5, 2013

Marital Chicken

Featuring my husband David's acting debut and music by the great and talented Robert To'Teras:

Every Married Couple Has Played This Game At Least Once. Have You?

more episodes to come! Please like and share if you enjoy it!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Some Thoughts on Keepin' It Free Range

I was thrilled this week when the blog Free Range Kids re-posted part of my piece Parenting that Great-Grandma Would Recognize. I've long been a fan of Lenore Skenazy and her (as she describes it) "commonsense approach to parenting in these overprotective times."

As kids, my brother and sisters and I would explore alone in the woods behind my parents' house with the only rule being "Don't go near the storm drain." Some afternoons after school we'd ride our bikes down a pretty busy street over the highway to buy ourselves candy at Finch's drugstore. The summer I turned thirteen my Mom put me on a plane to France to visit a family that someone on our block knew. I didn't have anything useful with me like a cell phone or, say, the ability to speak French, but I somehow managed to navigate two airports and eventually reached my destination.

And all that was pretty great.

But the reality is that, while it's super to wax nostalgic about "the good old days" when we all ran wild through the streets and joyfully stuck our heads out the windows of speeding cars unencumbered by seat belts, it's not always so easy to give those same freedoms to our own kids.

In part this is because there are things we really do know better. For example, we understand how major injuries can be prevented through minor precautions so we make our kids wear seat belts and bike helmets.

The problem is that opening these reasonable doors can also allow in a whole universe of "what ifs" that set us back from being "free range Moms" and transform us into "locking our children in their rooms until they are 18 Moms" overnight.

So I've come to accept that the best I can do is to find as many opportunities as possible for my kids to test their boundaries, no matter how hard it is.

My sister-in-law, a highly self-confident and generally bad-ass Mom of four was standing with me a few months back as we watched her fourteen-year-old daughter and my four-year-old son climb a tree together at the park.

The two of them kept climbing until they were both more than a dozen feet off the ground. I started getting nervous as they eyed the next set of branches over their heads and asked them to stop.

My sister-in-law took the opportunity to tell me about the tree she used to climb when she was a little girl. It was several stories tall, and month after month she would go out and explore higher and higher through the branches. At some point she reached a section of the tree way above the ground where she realized that she would have to jump -- losing contact with the tree for a moment -- in order to climb higher. 

It took a while to screw up her nerve, but eventually she made the leap and continued up the tree until she reached the top. From there she looked down with an unparalleled sense of pride in her accomplishment that had clearly stuck with her to this day.

I listened to her story and begrudgingly allowed my son to continue upward with his cousin.

But I'm not gonna lie, I shut my eyes.

You can make me be free range, but you can't always make me like it.