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Posts Tagged ‘the kid’

It snowed last night! Our first Real Snow of the season! Woo hoo! So I’m feeling chatty.

I suppose this is just a regular old Friday randomosity, dressed up in slightly different clothes.

Being a Parent Sometimes Means Forcing Your Kid to Go to School Crying

Hoo boy we had a rough start to the day. Poor Carla woke up on the WRONG side of the bed. And, oh, how I empathize. That feeling of dozens of little angry crabs, skittering all over your skin and clamping their tiny sharp claws into your brain, is so familiar to me, and I have dealt with it hundreds of times over the years and STILL don’t know how to get through it without snapping at my husband and/or feeling wounded by any tiny slight and/or wanting nothing more than to climb back into bed and start over. But for Carla, it’s still a new experience. She just doesn’t GET cranky, and so it’s been a long time since she’s felt this way and she hasn’t yet figured out how to cope.

I tried to be empathetic – validating her feelings, lots of hugs, keeping my own frustration in check (we left the house TWENTY MINUTES LATE) – but matter-of-fact. Being cranky happens, and it feels rotten, and nonetheless we all have to go on with life and do the things we have to do. I tried to suggest some strategies for getting past the yucky feelings. (I tried not to sigh too loudly when she rejected them all.) And then I dropped her off at school, even though she was tearful and upset, and I am hoping hoping hoping that her day only goes up from here.

Okay, despite my anxiety about being That Mom, I sent an email to her teacher just to check on her. (Not sure what I will DO, if her teacher says she is still crying… go get her? That seems like both the Wrong Lesson and the Right Thing to Do.)

Cleaning Before the Cleaner Arrives, Helpful or Ridiculous?

One of the reasons Carla was cranky (I think) is because I gave her a Hard Choice this morning. She was supposed to tidy her bedroom and her bathroom last night, in preparation for the housecleaner. I reminded her twice. I asked her whether she’d done it, and she said yes. But then, well after she was asleep for the night, I had to go into her bathroom for something and discovered that she had NOT tidied the bathroom. The opposite, in fact: sodden Barbies lying facedown on the bath mat, a full Barbie swimming pool in the tub, toy catalog on the counter, hair ties and rocks (yes, rocks) on the floor, pajamas wadded up in the corner. I know that some people who have housecleaners believe that the housecleaner can handle stuff like this. And I’m sure our very capable housecleaner could. But it is my view that time spent tidying – especially tidying away toys and things whose homes you may not be aware of – takes precious time away from the CLEANING. For me, the value of the housecleaning is in the scrubbing of the toilet and the scouring of the bathtub and the mopping of the floor. Some people in our house may disagree but I FIRMLY AGREE with myself on this point. So Carla’s bathroom door has been shut tight and the housecleaner has been instructed to stay out, and Carla will be getting some hands-on experience with what I mean by TIDYING vs CLEANING because she will be doing both.

Okay, so I also gave the microwave a quick swipe (there was a Ham Incident the other day, which I mostly took care of at the time, but exploded ham bits are surprisingly evasive) and wiped down the stove top (I haven’t even MADE anything on the stove lately, WHY was it so FILTHY?) before our housecleaner arrived because I don’t want her to think we are total pigs.

Stepping Out on Your True Love: Will It Rekindle the Fire, or Cause the Relationship to Implode?

The thing I REALLY wanted to discuss with you, before all the morning’s crankiness and associated anxieties derailed me, is that I have had a Startling Revelation. I think I am growing weary of my one true love: tea.

I hope you took that paragraph break to allow the magnitude of this revelation to sink in. Because it has taken me a few weeks to come around to this understanding. Historically, I LOVE tea. Double Bergamot Earl Grey has been my faithful and delicious companion every weekday since I discovered it, with splurge days on the weekends when I drink my fancy Uncle Grey imported from Canada. Before that, I drank regular Earl Grey or English Breakfast. I can’t remember exactly when I started drinking tea, but I know that it has at LEAST been for eight years (one of my fondest memories from Carla’s first year of life is that my husband made me tea every single morning and brought it to me while I pumped), and probably for several years before that.

But these past few weeks, I’ve had waning enthusiasm for my tea. It doesn’t taste quite as good, I find myself dragging when I need to prepare it, I end up gulping it down to get it over with instead of savoring it. It’s just not giving me the joy that a warm morning cuppa should give a person.

I don’t think I can switch to other teas. I don’t really like most teas – the fruity kinds, no thank you. Rooibos and Chai are okay on occasion but not every day. I like green tea, but it doesn’t have the same comfort factor that Earl Grey does. Matcha is wonderful, but it requires so much milk and frothing and so on to make it the way I like it.

So NOW WHAT.

Today, I asked my husband to make a little extra coffee and so I am drinking that. It is… not good. It is too bitter, even with two packets of Sweet’n Low and my normal glug of half-and-half. When I am not drinking it, the inside of my mouth tastes metallic and sour, and I’m sure my breath is a delight. I made sure to eat a high-protein breakfast before I drank it, but I still feel like it’s making me jittery and a little queasy. How do people drink this every day?

I used to drink coffee. When I was eight, my mom brought home these beautiful bowls from France and she would make me café-au-lait for breakfast. When I went to her office after school, I would help myself to coffee and powdered creamer and many, many packets of sugar in the break room. During my first summer job during college, I would live for the few minutes when I could step away from filing and pour scalding coffee into a paper cup and doctor it until it was creamy and sweet. At some point in my life, I was a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. So I have gone through multiple coffee drinking periods in the course of my life.

But I can’t say I ever really liked coffee. When I left it behind a decade or so ago, I intended never to return. Still, I don’t really want to get back into it, now. It would require too much sugar, for one thing. Too much half-and-half. Too much… amped-up quease. (I feel like the non-word “quease” evokes the feeling much better than the word-word “queasiness.”)

But what else IS there? I need a warm cup of something in the mornings! (PLEASE don’t say warm milk. Hork.)

Maybe I will drink coffee for a few days and then see if I have a newfound appreciation for tea. Or maybe I will find myself sucked into the coffee cult that has thoroughly brainwashed my husband and Lorelai Gilmore and so many others (maybe even you?).

Edited to add: It took me many hours to finish this post; distractions abound! So this is Future Me reporting back to you on today’s coffee sitch: I have still not finished my cup of coffee; my mug is still one-third full and the liquid is cold and my head feels powered by hummingbird wings and my stomach is a-sail on choppy seas. This is not a promising beginning.

A Strange and Unfamiliar Dilemma Arises!

This is not an actual problem.

We ordered our holiday cards on Sunday and they arrived ON WEDNESDAY. People, it is STILL NOVEMBER. This has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I am absolutely delighted. (We ordered through Mpix.com – it was a great experience, through and through. The cards look great, even if adding a photo to a card and printing it didn’t make the awkward way I am holding my arm in said photo look any less awkward.)

But now I am facing a quandary: when do I send the cards? Part of me wants to send them NOW, get them off my desk (my office has become Holiday Storage Central, and is full of boxes that I can’t bear myself to throw away and gifts for people), and perhaps achieve the ever-elusive status of being someone’s First Holiday Card of the Season. (Our First Holiday Card of the Season usually arrives from one of the few high school friends I continue to talk to as an adult. I am anticipating it any day now.)

But the other part of me is resisting this. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am a firmly Wait Until After Thanksgiving holiday celebrant? Maybe because I don’t want to be first? Perhaps people will toss the card because it’s so early, or perhaps I am uncomfortable with the idea of MY awkwardly posed arm being on someone’s wall or mantel all alone for days or weeks? I don’t know. It seems too early!

Then again, Hanukkah is early this year, and begins the weekend after Thanksgiving. Part of the reason we send holiday cards instead of Christmas cards is because so many of our card recipients are Jewish. It would be nice for the holiday card to arrive DURING the holidays, rather than after them. (Although I doubt that any of our Jewish card recipients care all that much; Hanukkah isn’t really that big a deal, and they are likely inured to the tradition of getting “holiday” cards during Christmastime.)

All this to say: I am sort of leaning toward sending them out on December first. That puts them arriving solidly in December, and hopefully before Hanukkah ends.

You Can Bet I Filled Out the Customer Survey, and I Filled It Out GOOD

Yesterday saw me flitting about from store to store, running errands. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done something so carefree. I was looking for three specific things: 1. Candles for the menorah, which I did not find. 2. Ideas for a “giant crate filled with crafting supplies,” which was the top item on Carla’s letter to Santa. 3. A tiny, not-terribly-expensive salt and pepper shaker set that I can use when my parents are here; I did not find this, either. I did manage to spend a lot more money than my lack of success would imply.

Oh! Brief deviation from the topic, which I haven’t even GOTTEN to yet: I thought it was so fascinating to see how differently stores are handling the pandemic. Many stores had signs on their entrances, but I don’t think any of them were the same. “Masks required” said one, with a sentence below in smaller print citing CDC recommendations. “Masks recommended for unvaccinated individuals” said another. “Masks optional” said a third, which is similar to the second, but conveys a very different vibe.

One of the stores I visited was Target. I haven’t been in Target in a long while, partly because I haven’t needed anything from Target in a long time and partly because I love, with my whole heart, the option to order my items online and have someone deliver them to my car. CURBSIDE 4EVA.

It was sort of pleasant and nostalgic to wander around Target for awhile. It wasn’t terribly busy, and I could see with my own eyes that they were, in fact, completely out of Carla’s size in fleece-lined leggings. (I don’t know why I keep buying them, because holes sprout in the knees practically immediately.) (I do know why: they are cheap.)

I narrowly avoided buying any of the cute Christmassy appetizer plates they had for $3 apiece. I am beginning to think that was a mistake.

I was not able to resist the miniature office supplies set, which will make its way into Carla’s stocking.

image from target.com

But when I checked out, I reconnected with one of my biggest peeves about Target. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before. But my peeve has been so inflamed that I am going to complain about it again.

When you checkout, there is almost NO WAY to see whether you are being charged appropriately for each item. Long, long ago, so long ago that I am willing to admit it may be a figment of my wildest dreams, you could go up to the credit card reader, and it would show you what you were buying in real time, as the checker scanned your items. No more. Now, if you have even a small hope of glimpsing what the computer says you owe, you have to stand back at the conveyor belt – which makes it very awkward to fill your cart as the checker bags your items – and squint at the computer screen facing the checker. Facing the checker, not facing YOU. And the type is so small that you have very little hope of seeing the price of each item anyway. In larger type is the total of your purchase, but that requires instantaneous math, and I am not good at that in the best of times, less so when I am in public.

We all know that Target makes errors. It is OFTEN that an item will scan at a different price than is displayed on the shelf. And the placement of the computer makes it nearly impossible to know that this is happening.

Also, the only way to know the total you are about to pay is to listen carefully to the checker, who has to say it out loud to you. It does not even give a total on the card reader! This is madness!

HARUMPH.

I did get a customer survey in my email later that day, which I took great pleasure in filling out. Not that it will do a lick of good.

Suspected Shipping Snafu Turned Sweet Surprise!

A box from amazon arrived the other day, as is an all-too-frequent occurrence in these days leading up to the holidays. (I am trying to wean myself off of amazon, I AM, but it is difficult.)

The box was addressed to me; I was expecting some fleece-lined leggings I’d ordered for Carla, to replace her hole-y Target ones. So I opened it.

Inside was a smaller box, with a label that said “lidded casserole.”

This was something I had JUST THE DAY BEFORE put on a list of Christmas wishes that I had shared with my husband. My guess what that he had accidentally sent it to me because I am the intended recipient. So I sighed and put it back in the box, resolving to be So! Surprised! when it appeared under the tree on Christmas Day.

But when he came home, he swore he hadn’t ordered one for me.

Turns out it was a thank-you gift from his parents! When they were here, I’d mentioned that I was constantly on the lookout for a medium sized casserole dish… and my mother-in-law remembered and sent me TWO!

What a fun and thoughtful surprise!

That’s the note I’ll end on. Well, and this additional note, from Carla’s teacher, that she arrived to class her cheerful, happy self. PHEW.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Internet!

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Carla is being so utterly charming these days that I figured I better write it down, for posterity. As my mother-in-law keeps reminding me when I am experiencing frustration/difficulty with my child, often frustration/difficulty precipitated by said child trying to entertain her grandparents rather than doing what I have asked her to do and aggravated by my reluctance to raise my voice in front of my in-laws, I will yearn for these days when she is a teenager and think longingly of these frustrations/difficulties because they will pale in comparison to the frustrations/difficulties of the teen years. 

BE THAT AS IT MAY, the current frustrations/difficulties are no less frustrating/difficult in comparison to a future I have not yet experienced.

I am getting off track. What I want to say is that just-shy-of-eight-and-a-half, while far from perfect, is in general a wonderful, charming, delightful age. 

The first thing that comes to mind is the clothing, possibly because Carla’s ensemble this morning is fresh on my mind. She was wearing a normal shirt and pants, but had rediscovered a leopard print hat with cat (leopard?) ears and was wearing that, to breakfast. She had also unearthed a pair of dangly black and red clip-on earrings and was wearing those. 

She has very distinct ideas about clothing, is what I’m saying. And I’m Here For It. All of it. Like how she recently learned about complementary colors in school and so prefers to wear complementary colors when possible. Purple pants and a yellow shirt. Green dress and red leggings. Maroon skirt and pale green shirt. It’s a whole look. 

Speaking of things Carla has learned in school: I guess they have been talking about homonyms? Or homophones? I don’t want to look up the difference between them. I know that homophones are words that sound the same, but may have different spelling/meaning (except/accept, write/right, ring/wring, etc.)… so maybe homonyms are words that are spelled the same but have different pronunciation (tear/tear, bass/bass, bow/bow, close/close )? When I was a kid, I learned that those were homographs, because they look identical, but someone told me homographs aren’t a thing anymore, and that stuck with me. Okay, I have looked it up: homonyms are words that can be spelled OR pronounced the same way, but have different meanings; it’s a blanket term that encompasses both homophone and homographs.

What I was TRYING to tell you, before I got all caught up in elementary school language specifications, was that Carla and I have been having a lot of fun lately thinking of homonyms together. I don’t know why I find this so delightful, but it is. Partly is that I love our language and its quirks and intricacies, and so I enjoy someone else actively enjoying those things. Partly is that it feels like a game, and there are so SO many examples to share. I was filling my car up with gas the other day and got back in, and Carla said, “Bear and bare, mommy!!!!” She’ll just announce a pair of homonyms randomly throughout the day and I’m loving it.

A less-but-not-UN-delightful thing about Carla is that she is Always Right. Now, this is not always true, technically. She is always confident, but occasionally her facts/reasoning will be wrong. But I swear, if you tell this child a fact even in passing, she will remember it for the rest of her days. Her grandmother showed her a video of a red-headed woodpecker on a tree in her backyard, and Carla said, “That’s not a red-headed woodpecker, that’s a pileated woodpecker.” And then she went to her room, retrieved her bird book, and proceeded to walk her poor grandmother through every single woodpecker in the book, and then compare the pileated example to the one from the video. (Carla was right, although, to be fair, a pileated woodpecker 100% looks like it would be called a red-headed woodpecker.) (That’ll teach her grandmother to try to share something interesting with her grandkid!) (Carla’s affection for facts comes across in a very didactic and “well, actually” kind of manner, but also I find it rather pleasing. We are working on the delivery of this kind of knowledge, but I appreciate the knowledge itself.) (While I am parenthesizing, I will say that the red-bellied woodpecker is very inaptly named. Whoever decided which woodpecker was which seems like they went about it in a very slap-dash and poorly thought way. “Eh? Another woodpecker with a red head? Let’s just pretend its pale white belly is red instead.”)

This is also the year when Carla is really starting to get into reading. I feel as though I have claimed that in the past, but it seems to be ramping up now. She’s certainly interested in books; whenever we go to the library, she will search through the shelves, peeking at tables of contents and flipping through the pages before handing me the book to add to a stack, and we will check out a dozen at a time. She has even discovered the joy of asking a librarian for help, and has marched up to the help desk for advice on a) books that feature animals (we got a HUGE stack that time) and b) a specific book she’d heard about in school. The thing was that she would check out this huge pile and then never read any of the books. Over the summer, my husband and I tried to bribe her to read: $15 per chapter book she finishes by herself. We paid her $0 over the summer, so I thought it was a wash. But NOW she has been bringing home library books from school and reading them in their entirety in an afternoon! This is unheard of! And I mentioned to her the other day that I wished she would READ the books she checked out from our local library, and she said she feels like she never has time to read, so I suggested that she devote fifteen minutes to reading right when she gets home from school and SHE HAS DONE THAT EVER SINCE. She finished a whole chapter book by herself and, of course, remembered that we’d once promised to pay her for reading, so I am out $15. Listen, when my husband and I came up with the bribe we were imagining her reading The Magic Treehouse books or Charlotte’s Web or something, and the book she read had more pictures interspersed throughout, but I don’t care. BEST $15 EVER SPENT. I will gladly reimburse her for reading. She still adores Shel Silverstein poetry, but she has also become fond of the Bad Kittybooks. Otherwise, she kind of dabbles in whatever appeals to her from the shelves. 

Nearly eight-and-a-half is an age of great independence and confidence. Carla still loves to ride her bike around our neighborhood, and has befriended all our neighbors – especially, as you can imagine, those with dogs. She is so friendly and cheerful to them all, and I love how outgoing she is despite her parents’ tendencies toward introversion. 

She is also at an age where she is beginning to like to discuss and analyze various topics. I remember Swistle writing about this, as her older kids moved out of the elementary school years, and I feel like we are just at the beginning of this phase and I already like it (even if I am not as thorough or patient a thinker as Swistle is). The other day, for instance, I mentioned to Carla that we might be driving a friend of hers to Girl Scouts, depending on a possible conflict the friend’s mother had. I stressed the might, because I didn’t want Carla to get her hopes too far up. She was very excited about the prospect of spending extra time with her friend (and in the car! for some reason being in the car together (masks on and/or windows wide open) is thrilling to the third grade set). After her initial delight, she asked, “Can’t we drive her ANYWAY? Even if her mom doesn’t have the conflict?” She persuaded me to text the friend’s mom, and I did so. But it was a long text. I said something like, “We’d love to drive your kid no matter what happens with your conflict” but then I went on to hedge a little bit, just in case: no pressure, if it doesn’t work out, we understand. (Maybe the mom really wants to attend Girl Scouts [in which case she can go in my place], or maybe they have a family commitment right afterward, or maybe she only wants her kid to ride in someone else’s car if it is truly unavoidable; I don’t know.) 

Carla read my text over my shoulder and said, “Send it!” when it was done. But then she wanted to know why I didn’t simply say, “Please let us drive the friend even if you have no conflict.” I explained to her that sometimes there is this invisible pressure that people feel to do what others request, even if they don’t want to. And she agreed, she understood; sometimes she will be playing in a small group of girls on the playground, and another friend will ask to join, and she will feel pressured to agree even if the game they were playing won’t accommodate another child. So we talked a little bit about how that may be a good type of pressure to feel, because you don’t want to exclude friends if you don’t have to, and you don’t want friends to feel left out. We talked about how to handle such a situation: you can be honest about how the current game won’t work with another person, but maybe you could play something else or maybe you could play together a different time. That was a nice conversation. 

Then I told Carla that sometimes with grown-ups, there is a slightly different kind of pressure – a pressure not to offend, a pressure to be easy-going, a pressure to make things happen even if it’s difficult or not exactly what you want – and that I am susceptible to that kind of pressure, and so I try not to make others feel that way. Plus, in this case, there was a potential additional sort of pressure that the mother might be feeling, to not be imposing on us to take her child. So I wanted to be CLEAR, in my text to the friend’s mom, that we wouldn’t be at all upset if it didn’t work out, but that we sincerely would love to take her child with us. Carla seemed to understand the nuances of this thought process, and I liked being able to discuss it with her. This makes me think that perhaps my sister-in-law was speaking directly to me when she mentioned recently that she has explored, in therapy, the effect of her mother’s anxiety on her, and how she can work to keep her own anxiety from affecting her own child.

She still occasionally breaks into an accent. Sometimes a really odd Cockney/British mashup, sometimes more of a pseudo-Australian sort of thing. 

Her vocabulary is enormous and delights me. It tickles me when she uses a word or phrase that strikes me as particularly grown-up. For instance, sometimes she will leave a room – a room still occupied by a person – and accidentally shut of the light. She invariably says, “Whoops! Force of habit.” I don’t know what it is about that phrasing that cracks me up, but it does. 

Carla is also getting to an age where she is REALLY interested in makeup. She is always pawing through my collection of eye shadows and lipsticks (I wear eyeshadow once or twice a year and lipstick never) and asking me what things are and what they do and wondering if she can try them or at least unscrew the lid to see them in greater detail. While I maintain that she cannot wear makeup until she is sixteen, I love this stage. I never in my life pictured having a daughter, and this is one of those overwhelmingly delightful aspects of having this particular daughter that feel so fun and exciting to share. She did, however, “borrow” my tweezers, which I did not love. I loved even less the possibility that she may or may not have been using the tweezers to remove dead skin from her feet. I think I will be gifting Carla with my tweezers and finding myself a new pair. 

She is constantly thinking of creative pursuits. She can turn anything into a project, and squirrels away dead glow sticks, cardboard boxes, sheets of bubble wrap, tiny plastic containers, beads, string, wire, pinecones, rocks. Anything and everything can be reused or repurposed to turn into something wonderful.

At nearly eight-and-a-half, Carla still wakes up singing. I love to hear her muted songs through the bedroom wall. It is such a happy morning sound. Will she still do it when she’s thirteen? I hope so. 

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