Of Pie and Bravery

Thankful For Pie

I remember my first crush in Kindergarten. I also remember the first and last names of each boy I had crush on in subsequent grades up until middle school when I had THE BIG crush on one boy for like four years. He was the Winnie Cooper of my Wonder Years. I’ve had countless crushes in my life, most of whom never even knew. I suppose that is the gift of the combination of a big imagination and intermittent shots of anxiety to keep you practical.

I know some parents balk at the idea of little grade schoolers having crushes, raising eyebrows and saying how they are way too young for that, etc. But to these parents I ask, do you show your kids Disney movies? Do they relate to the main characters? Because if so, you probably introduced them to the concept of romance a long time ago and it’s really not cool to make them feel ashamed about it now.

I digress…

One of my littles has had a big crush on a boy in her class for a year and a half. Being pragmatic, she’s discussed at length with me and her sister the pros and cons of letting him know. I listen and nod and it always ends in the mutual conclusion that when considering matters of the heart it’s best to ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?” We’ve been through many scenarios: he doesn’t like you, he laughs at you, he makes fun of you, he tells everyone, etc. And each time we talk about these outcomes it becomes clear that any of those responses would prove him to be unworthy of the crush, rendering said crush null and void.

So the other day after school, she joyfully confessed to me and her sister that she TOLD HIM. I said, “Tell me everything! What did he say? What did you say?” Apparently he said thank you and then confided in her who he has a crush on. Spoiler alert: it’s not her. As she was telling me this, I watched her watching me closely for a reaction; anything to nudge her towards a way to feel about it.

I said it’s pretty great that he respected and trusted her enough to tell her a secret of his own. I saw her consider it. I added I’d rather have a friend I can trust than a crush because crushes come and go. She decided to agree.

Later she regaled our extended family about the whole thing, adding proudly, “I actually told him. So I’m braver than one thousand boys.” She knew she couldn’t control the outcome, but she could control the action. Proud momming moment.

Cut to the other night at bedtime cuddles, she gave a little sigh and said, “I don’t think any boys in my class have a crush on me.”

Mind you, I was exhausted, drifting off to sleep myself and vaguely heard myself mumble, “Babe, boys having crushes on you is like unexpected pie. It’s nice when one just shows up, but it doesn’t make sense to miss it when it’s not there. If you’re always thinking about unexpected pie you’ll always be disappointed.” This is about when I stopped myself from going on along the lines of “pie comes and goes but friendship is forever, there’s plenty of pie in the sea, a pie in the face is worth two in the…” nevermind, you get it. Thankfully we both fell asleep.

The point is, my little girl reminded me that bravery leads to truth, and sometimes the truth isn’t what you hoped. Sometimes you think how lucky you are to get an unexpected pie, but it turns out to be rhubarb and you re-evaluate the whole pie thing in general.

You can’t control the outcome of your life, only your actions.

I will leave you with one of my favorite Jack Handey quotes from when I was a kid, which has turned out to be oddly poignant at this point in my life:

Jack Handey On Pie

How many years are there?

The other morning my newly-turned-five-year-old and I were sitting on the couch watching cartoons and eating Doritos while the other half of our family went on a bike ride.

Savvy was singing the Days of the Week song, which is where you just start with Sunday and sing the days of the week to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine. Try it, it’s catchy.

Savvy: “I know how many days there are. Seven.”

Me: “That’s right!”

Savvy: “And ten months.”

Me: “Twelve.”

Savvy: “How many years?”

Me: “How many years in what?”

Savvy: “How many years are there?”

This stopped me, mid-chip. It’s such a logical follow up question for a child to ask, I can’t believe I’ve never thought about it before. It gave me a pang in my stomach as I answered, “no one really knows.”

She accepted that answer and we seem to be moving on, but I can’t stop thinking about it. How many years are there? People say “live each day like it’s your last” but to me this sounds as good as getting kicked in the gut everyday. Like, don’t put that kind of pressure on me, you kitschy Hobby Lobby farmhouse wall sign.

Life expectancy wise, I should still have over 50% left of my years to live, but I’ve never really been one to think into the future long term. I suppose that’s what allows me to live in the moment, especially because I’m someone who often finds myself looking back. I constantly tell my children, “don’t wish the time away.” I’m sentimental, nostalgic, and there’s almost nothing I’d rather do than sit with old friends talking about things that happened years and years ago. Many people find this tedious, but to me it’s comforting. There are things that will just always be funny to me, and retelling those incidents and inside jokes makes me laugh all over again, cementing them into the narrative of my life.

I recently watched the Nora Ephron documentary “Everything Is Copy” in which she says one of my favorite lines about life and death:

“It’s very important to eat your last meal before it actually comes up. When you are actually going to have your last meal, you either will be too sick to have it, or you aren’t gonna know it’s your last meal and you could squander it on something like a tuna melt.” – Nora Ephron

In the same way that my stories help explain who I am, I have always turned to songs to explain how I feel. I often play songs from my childhood for my own children. Some they love (Britney) and some they don’t (Tom Petty). But last week they heard the song Seasons of Love from Rent for the first time and they asked me to play it over and over again.

Sometimes the best answer to a question is another question.

How do you measure a year? How about love.

Seasons of Love

KC Live: The COOLEST Bath Toys for Toddlers (And gerbils?)

“So there I was, alone in a Ritz Carlton, crying into my used/hotel-issued ‘luxury’ bathrobe”….is a way I could start more than one story. But for now,  I’ll stick to Monday night. It was my own fault, in that I drank a bunch of white wine and turned on Mamma Mia on Netflix. If you have a little girl and think you could watch Meryl Streep sing this song without drunk-crying, fight me. Continue reading

Lessons In Broken Toys: Just Go With It.

Today we came home from school to discover that Savannah’s (weird, trashy, but favorite) My Little Pony “Barbie” had been severely mauled by Mr. Biffles. Savannah was understandably horrified. (Bif lacked any signs of remorse.)

Hearing Savvy’s cries of shock and grief, Avery and I made quick work of a rescue mission. Avery got the silver duct tape while I performed CPR. I patched up the arms and leg while Avery applied the defibrillator (a Shopkin), as Savvy hesitantly looked on. Soon the doll was stabilized and the wailing subsided. Avery declared the doll “still beautiful.” I offered that her name could be “Ilene,” as she was now missing one foot. Savvy was unpersuaded. Continue reading

The Hootie Diaries: A #MomFail

My daughter’s preschool periodically sends home the class owl named “Hootie.” He comes with a notebook and instructions to please add photos and a journal entry about all of the fun he has with your family. Since my daughter is 4 and cannot read, write, or pick up pictures from Walgreens, Hootie, while a fun concept, is largely just a homework assignment for me and pressure to look like we are “having fun” and “doing things.”

The first time Savannah brought Hootie home, we lost him. For like a week. I eventually found him hidden under the couch with several dog toys. I was just grateful that he still had eyes. Most of Hootie’s journal entries are lovingly crafted recaps of family leisure time with pictures of smiling children taking Hootie to church or posing with a fishing pole at their grandpa’s pond. ‘Here we are sharing an organic banana milkshake after a long day of helping the homeless!’

Savannah ended up with this:

Continue reading

When Will There Be Cupcakes Again?

When I was in grade school I read Number The Stars by Lois Lowry about little girls living in Denmark during the Holocaust. Since the Nazi occupation, resources are scarce but the little sister, Kirsti, longs for a “big yellow cupcake, with pink frosting.” For some reason, I have never forgotten this detail.

My daughters both have summer birthdays so they miss out on the fanfare of having a school day birthday. Instead, we celebrate their half-birthdays. Today we celebrated my sweet Savannah sunshine’s four and a half birthday. I sat in a tiny purple chair and read a few of her favorite books to a bunch of wide-eyed, pink frosting-covered, grinning little faces.

Milestones always make me sentimental, even arbitrary ones, like a fifteen-minute preschool half-birthday party, but I genuinely believe in celebrating as much as we can, while we can.

When I was in first grade, I remember the exact moment I heard my teacher say the word “war” as it related to the Gulf War. As a Senior in high school, I remember silently watching Mrs. Goldberg scrawl the name “Osama Bin Laden” across the chalk board on September 11th. My own first grade daughter overhears words in the media like “protest” and “gender inequality” and “racism.” Though I grew up hearing about military conflicts, my own children are growing up amidst wars between all kinds of people, and it’s nearly impossible to tell if anyone is winning.

But my little four and a half year old is still blissfully unaware of such topics. She thinks the President’s name is Donald Trumpet and once asked me to help her fill out a postcard to send to the White House because she overheard concerns of people losing their rights, but she heard “writes” and surmised he was stealing crayons and various other items. For real, we actually sent a postcard we tore out of a Highlights magazine to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue asking the President to please stop taking things from people and also give Savannah her fictitious stuff back. She doesn’t worry that someday someone could come into her school with intention to hurt people for no reason. She thinks skin tones come in colors called “brown” and “blonde.” She doesn’t live in fear of friends or family being deported. She doesn’t worry that she’ll be denied an education because she’s female.

And she loves cupcakes.

So as silly as it may sound, I made these symbolic cupcakes to mark an arbitrary milestone with a bunch of preschoolers today. Because I can.

And that’s something to celebrate.

Cupcake

“Mama, is there anything to eat?”  Annemarie asked, hoping to take her mother’s mind away from the soldiers.
“Take some bread.  And give a piece to your sister.”
“With butter?” Kirsti asked hopefully.
“No butter,” her mother replied.  “You know that.”
Kirsti sighed as Annemarie went to the breadbox in the kitchen.  “I wish I could have a cupcake,” she said.  “A big yellow cupcake, with pink frosting.”
Her mother laughed.  “For a little girl, you have a long memory,” she told Kirsti.  “There hasn’t been any butter, or sugar for cupcakes, for a long time.  A year, at least.”
“When will there be cupcakes again?”
“When the war ends,” Mrs. Johansen said. 
She glanced through the window, down to the street corner where the soldiers stood, their faces impassive beneath the metal helmets.  “When the soldiers leave.”

-Lois Lowry, Number The Stars

 

Take No Preschoolers

Savvy 1 month

This morning my four-year-old Savannah (pictured above when she was blisfully unable to make biting, hurtful remarks) asked me if she could have a “healthy breffast, with no sugar.” I happily agreed to make her some eggs. About two minutes into me cooking, she took one look at the eggs and said, “NOT LIKE THAT! OH MY GOSH I WANTED THE KIND THAT ARE ROUND AND YOU CRACK THEM!”

“I don’t have any hard-boiled eggs cooked though.”

“NO, YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND ME! YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO COOK THEM YOU GET THEM OUT OF THE ‘FRIGERATOR!”

“I do understand you, but I’m telling you that I have to cook those kind of eggs FIRST before you can get them out of the refrigerator.”

She then let out some sort of primal scream of frustration and flung herself onto the staircase crying, “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME IN THIS HOUSE! YOU DON’T EVEN LOVE ME!”

From his chair where he was enjoying his hot coffee and reading the news, my husband muttered, “Jesus, what is she, on her period?”

In this moment, I realized two things. 1. My husband is 100 percent going to infuriate my daughters when they are teenagers and I’m going to sit smugly in the corner with my hot coffee and watch him try to figure out what he said/did wrong. 2. My four year old is just a small version of me when I’m PMSing, hangry, drunk, or some combination therein.

We recently watched the Judd Apatow stand up special on Netflix and in talking about his wife and two daughters he hilariously said something to the effect of, “I don’t just live with three women. I live with three ages of the same woman.” So if that’s true, my husband is in for hell on heels.

Since Savannah’s been having these outbursts, I’ve been looking up a lot of parenting resources on discipline and how to curb anxiety in your children before it gets out of control. But probably the most useful article I came across is not a parenting article at all, but it should be. It’s called, Hostage Negotiation Techniques That Will Get You What You Want. It includes this chart and points out that the reason most people aren’t great negotiators is that they skip the first three steps and move straight to Influence, when the step that actually weakens someone’s defense the most, is actively listening while they talk.

hostage-negotiation-techniques

Via

So the moral of the story is Savannah ate Lucky Charms and I’m turning to the FBI for parenting tips.

Happy Friday, Y’all.

#MommyBombing

I got the idea for this post when I was volunteering at my daughter’s school and a fellow mom acquaintance dropped a snide comment on me that had me like,

The Audacity

Lucille Bluth

So I posted a call on my social media for what I’m referring to as “mommy-bombing” stories, meaning those verbal grenades lobbed by fellow parents during an otherwise friendly conversation that leave you like:

Excuse me what just happened

And you guys did not disappoint! So here, edited for brevity, is a gold mine of your experiences with Mommy-bombing:

Continue reading

Am I Doing This Right?  

DSC_2414

Being a borderline millennial and having two daughters has made me a devoted Taylor Swift fan. Since her new album dropped it’s all I listen to with my girls, which gets dicey because it’s got some “grown up words” in the lyrics, but damn that girl writes catchy tunes.

There’s a line on her new album that says, “And I know I make the same mistakes every time, bridges burn, I never learn, at least I did one thing right.”

Obviously Tay’s not writing about parenting, but when I heard this line it was like she unwittingly summed up everything I feel about my identity and how it’s tied to motherhood. Continue reading