Obama 95, McCain 34

That was the outcome of the election at the kids’ school today. When I walked in the door tonight, both of the kids were wearing their “I Voted” stickers, and the Potato came running up to tell me that he had voted for Barack Obama.

Five kids in the Bee’s class (including the Bee), and one fifth grader administered the election and presented info on both of the candidates, so we had a pretty interesting dinner conversation about it. Two weeks ago, she and the Peony had to write up a couple of paragraphs about where the major-party candidates stood on health care–the other kids did education. Last week, she and the other kids in the gifted & talented program registered everyone to vote, and decorated the ballot boxes.

It should come as no surprise, to regular readers of this blog, that the Bee had strong opinions, not just about the candidates but about her classmates’ voting patterns. Apparently there was one kid who said he was voting for McCain because he’s white–which the Bee thought was ridiculous. We also talked about how it isn’t okay to base your vote on age, gender or whether the person is gay or straight.

Four years ago, when I was working to elect John Kerry and the Bee was a tiny kindergartener, she was devastated that her school voted to re-elect Bush. I’m happy that it worked out in her favor this time, since she was so much more involved in the actual process of the election this year.

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October 29, 2008. '08 election, growing up. 3 comments.

a new year, and a new year

Yesterday, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the Bee turned 9. We didn’t let her stay up till midnight to see the ball drop, but it did have a kind of doubly-celebratory feeling.

It’s so hard now to remember back to what life was like 9 years ago, especially when I think that 9 years from now, our day-to-day grind of parenting the Bee will be basically over—because she’ll be a college freshman (god willing). It’s funny to think that parenting has a half-way point—of course, I don’t actually believe that I’ll ever stop worrying about her, or loving her, or being her mom.

I am hoping that 9 years from now I won’t be dragging her butt out of bed every morning to get her ready on time, though.

In some ways, that day 9 years ago was the happiest day of my life. Having gotten through 36 hours of labor, I foolishly thought the hard part was over. And while none of the parenting that’s occurred over the past 9 years has been QUITE that physically taxing, you couldn’t really say it has been easy, either. Certainly not emotionally.

I was happy when the Potato was born too, but it was a happiness that was mixed with more worry—worry about how the Bee would deal with becoming a big sister, worry that I would have a hard time adjusting to being a mom of two (and knowing somewhat better what becoming a mom entailed than I did the first time). When the Bee was born, I was awash in happy ignorance. By the time the Potato came around, I knew better.

We had a relatively quiet day yesterday. Picked the kids up right after school for once, went out to dinner, saw my brother. But the Bee’s now-annual sleepover is being held this weekend, and she’s saving up her real partying for that night.

I remember, from my own childhood, that the older one gets, the less attractive it is to spend one’s birthday celebrating with one’s family. I don’t think she’s quite at that point yet, she’s still interested in having us around (although will utterly ignore us, I’m sure, when the 9-year-old posse arrrives, except to ask for food). But the day when we’re quietly irrelevant to her birthday is a little bit closer than it was last year.

It will never just be her birthday to me, though. It’s the day I was born as a mom.

October 1, 2008. growing up. 6 comments.

bittersweet

September 3, 2008. growing up. 6 comments.

Bye, cable and daycare!

The Bee cried tonight when we turned off the TV, knowing that this is our last day of having cable. I cried a little too, especially after we tried to turn the TV back on after the kids were in bed, only to discover, in some kind of cruel cosmic joke, that our TV now only receives Telemundo with any clarity.

I cried earlier tonight, when I was paying the bills, and wrote the very last daycare check I will ever have to write. Those were tears of relief, though. Hello, extra $9K per year! (Well, except that we do have to pay for aftercare. And summer camp. But even then, we’re still saving a hell of a lot of money.)

It’s hard to fathom that, after this Friday, we will never again drive up the road to the daycare where we’ve been dropping off both or one of the kids every single work day for seven years. At this point, I don’t think there’s a single institution that I’ve had that long a relationship with in my entire life, unless you count the public school system that I grew up attending.

This summer has felt like one long transition to me, and it’s hard to believe that a major part of that transition is coming to an end this week. I took the kids shopping for new school supplies yesterday, and the Potato promptly came home and filled his backpack with new notebooks and boxes of tissues, and then put it on and walked around the house triumphantly.

The Bee, of course, was too cool for that (although she did effect the same transfer of supplies to her new bookbag). But isn’t that the best part of being a big sister? Getting to be cooler than your little brother?

August 24, 2008. growing up, thoughtful parenting. 3 comments.

and while we’re on the subject of the Potato…

he’s 5 today.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Potato Boy!

August 11, 2008. growing up. 7 comments.

he’s got the wiggles

Does anyone else have an almost-five-year-old boy who just can’t sit still?

I’m starting to really worry about how the Potato is going to do when he starts kindergarten in less than a month (ulp!). He is just not a kid who can sit still for any length of time. It’s not that he can’t concentrate on things–if you give him a pile of legos, he sits there (with his tongue sticking out–a sign that he’s focused) until he’s built a huge stack of whatever it is he’s dreamt up to build that day.

What he can’t do, however, is sit still while he’s doing it.

Or while he’s watching tv.

Or while he’s eating a meal.

Or while he’s listening to a story, or playing a game, or having a conversation, or even sleeping.

The kid is just a wiggler. A fidgeter. A squirmer.

He twitches, he jiggles, he’s basically a big bundle of energy that needs to keep moving.

The only thing that gives me hope that he’ll be okay in kindergarten, is that I know that the kindergarten teacher has three sons. Surely one of them was a wiggler too?

Also? the Potato will not have the same kindergarten teacher that the Bee did. I don’t think there’s anyone left reading this blog who read it back when the Bee was in kindergarten (with the possible exception of MetroDad–can’t remember–can you, MD?). Here’s a refresher, if you want to catch up.

August 9, 2008. growing up. 10 comments.

growing up

When I turned 25 years old, I had a huge party out on Ocean Beach, in San Francisco. I had two other friends with birthdays near mine, and we shared joint festivities. There was a bonfire, and a couple of kegs. I have a hazy memory of the rest of it–most likely, illicit substances were consumed*.

Yesterday, I turned 40 and, though it’s trite to say, I don’t feel that much different than I did when I was 25. I’m having a party tomorrow night, and again, I’m celebrating with a friend (landisdad being the one to turn 40 today). Somehow, it won’t seem like the right party, since the friends I had when I was 25 won’t be there. The friends I had when I was first really succeeding at being an adult have always felt like my ‘real’ friends, even though I haven’t spoken to some of them in 12 years or more.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me, in the past week, how they didn’t really feel like a grown up until they turned 40. I confess, I don’t really feel that way, but maybe it just hasn’t hit me yet. I mean, when I was 32 I had a kid, a husband, a mortgage, a real job–what’s not adult about that?

At the same time, I don’t feel bad about turning 40–it does feel like a significant (but not significantly awful) milepost along the highway of life. I think it’s safe to say I’ve achieved a certain modicum of wisdom, without really having given up the ability to make an ass out of myself.

I guess there’s not too much more than I could ask than that. I don’t ever want to be the kind of person who takes my knowledge and experience too seriously. I mean, after all, my life could just as easily gone in a different direction, and I could have ended up in a different place, with a different guy, living a much-less satisfying existence. It would be beyond foolish to ascribe the modest success I’ve had–as a parent, as an adult, as a worker–to anything other than good luck and good timing.  I can’t say I’m hoping for 40 more years of that like–it seems too hubristic–but I can say I hope it will go on as long as I have to enjoy it.

*note to my children, if you’re reading this in the future–of course, they were not consumed by me!

July 11, 2008. growing up. 14 comments.

would you like to come over and kick me in the head?

A confession:

Sometimes, I really am the world’s worst mother. It’s not just something that my kids say to hurt my feelings.

On Thursday morning, I got really fed up with the fact that the Bee was dawdling about getting ready for school (like–it was 8:15, she needs to be at school by 8:30, she was still in her pajamas). This is a dawdling that’s been going on for a week, and I was/am so tired of having to nag my kid out of the house every day.

We got into a huge fight about it–at one point, she, landisdad and I were all screaming–and finally I yelled, “what’s wrong with you?” at her, and she broke down in tears and told me that one of her friends has been making fun of her clothes every day. Because they ‘don’t match.’ And because she wears the same sneakers every day. And that two days ago, this other girl pointed out to her several times that she was wearing a purple shirt and brown socks. And that the Bee, for the past week, has been freezing up every time she opens her dresser before she gets ready in the morning, because she is afraid that she will pick the wrong thing to wear.

Gulp.

Was. Not. Prepared.

I honestly believed that we had a few years before this “I’m telling you this hard truth because I’m your friend and I want you to be a better person/popular/cuter” kind of bullshit started.

And I honestly believed that, when it happened, I would actually help my daughter through it in a calm and supportive way, instead of screaming at her.

We’ve had a bunch of conversations about this topic since then, and come up with some strategies for her to call out the other girl for bullying her, and enlisting some of her other friends as a support network. I told her a story about how I ran away from school when I was in the fourth grade, because I was getting teased for an outfit that I was wearing. I’ve asked her repeatedly why she didn’t tell me and landisdad what was going on earlier. You know what she said? “It’s embarrassing, mom.”

So we talked some more about that, and about how there are other adults that she can talk to, if she doesn’t want to talk to me and landisdad about things like this, and about how we live in a country where people will judge you on your appearance, and you have to learn to be happy with the way that you look, or else there will always be someone making you feel bad about it because you’re too fat, or your skin is too dark, or your nose is too big, or you wear too many stripy clothes, or you have feet that are too large, or eleventy-million other things that are not “the norm.”

And I feel like she’s going to be okay about this, in the long run, and she will learn to stand up for herself against bullies, and she’s a tough kid.

But I also feel like I fucked up, and that at a time when my kid really needed me to pay attention to her, and notice things about her, what I chose to do was make her feel worse about herself, because she was making me late for work.

The thing about parenting is, you can’t wallow in your own feelings of fucked-up-ed-ness. I’d like to spend a bunch of time lying in my bed, curled in the fetal position, but that’s not going to make the thing I fucked up better. I’d like to invite you, oh people of the internets, to come over and kick me in the head, but that’s not going to make it better either.

So instead, I post this cautionary tale:

Sometimes, your kid is not dawdling just to get on your last nerve. Sometimes, your kid has a rich and fascinating (and even scary) interior life that has nothing to do with you. Pay attention.

May 17, 2008. Tags: . growing up, thoughtful parenting. 21 comments.

not everything is about you, LM

When I was about 8 years old, I had super-long hair. One day, I decided to have it all cut off, and when I came home, I went searching for my best friend to show her my new haircut. I was walking down our street when I saw my best friend’s sister. Who thought I was a new boy in the neighborhood.

I was quite traumatized at the time, and I’ve evidently been carrying that around with me for the last 30+ years, because when the Bee told me two weeks ago that she wanted to get a major hair cut, I froze inside. I debated telling her that story for a long time, but in the end decided not to—because not everything is about me, after all, except here on my blog.

I did tell her that she should wait until after her musical was over, since she was supposed to wear her hair in a bun for that. We were talking about it in the dressing room yesterday with the woman who was doing her hair, who told her that she would probably feel ten pounds lighter after she got all that hair cut off.

Today, I took her to get it chopped off. She donated a huge, foot-long braid to Locks of Love. Here’s the before

and the after:

This weekend I’ve been reading Anne Enright’s The Gathering, and was struck by this observation in the novel:

“They are surprisingly tall–eight-year-olds. They are surprisingly like real people. Of course your own babies are always real to you, they are all there from the word go, but even strangers’ children look like proper people by the aged of eight…”

My Bee is looking more and more like a grown-up every day, and this new hairstyle has hastened the process considerably. She and I went out for ice cream on Friday night, after her performance, and the ice cream stand at the end of our street was full of the sixth-grade stars of the show. It was fairly terrifying to be around that much hormonal tweener-dom, not least because I was sitting there with the Bee, who was drinking in the big-girl-ness of it all.

I need more than three years to get ready for that. Can’t I just go back to the time when an eight-year-old looked like a big girl to her? Can’t we regress to toddlerhood? I’m not ready for cell phones and boys hanging around on their bikes, and talking about how eating too much ice cream makes you fat.

As we walked home from the ice cream place, we talked about whether she would still be willing to go to the ice cream stand with me when she was in sixth grade, or if she would be wanting to hang out with her friends and talk about boys. She admitted that, while boys are gross now, she might want to talk about them when she’s in sixth grade, and would not want me around for that, and I told her that when I was in sixth grade, I talked to my friends about boys (“eww, Mom, gross!”), and that I didn’t want to talk to my mother about it either.

I also told her that she might decide that she liked girls instead, and that would be fine too, then we talked a little bit about the lesbians that we know, and how liking girls that way is just as normal as liking boys. She said it’s okay to have a little crush on someone when you’re in third grade, but not to really like them. I asked her if she had a crush on anyone and she hesitated, but then said no.

Ulp.

Today she’s playing dress-up with her brother. Tomorrow, she’ll be asking for the car keys.

April 27, 2008. growing up. 9 comments.

needling

I’m going to register my little Potato for kindergarten tomorrow. Sniff!

Tonight, I had to take him to the doctor to get his paperwork filled out, and that required six shots! Six!

Poor little man, I wasn’t the only one sniffling.

April 1, 2008. growing up. 5 comments.

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