Walking in the Rain

[more on kindergarten kissing at the end]

One of my friends has walked and/or run a minimum of two miles (and typically more like five) every single day for over 200 days. In the process she has inspired a significant number of women to get outside, get to the gym, and just plain get to it before the day is done. Knowing others are out there moving in a journey toward wellness encourages me to start over every day, and try and do just  a little bit better than the day before.

Some days I succeed. Often I do not.

It’s raining today after a long stretch of sun sprinkled days during which  my sugar snap peas, zucchini, and broccoli doubled and tripled in size. The carrots I started from seed didn’t make it, but the tomatoes, cucumbers and greens look happy. Experimental cantaloupe and unidentified herbs are also doing well.

One tiny strawberry is turning red and this afternoon I was super strict with my youngest about not picking it until it’s ripe. He looked at me like I was the Wicked Witch of the West, but he did his usual 180 crazy degree changeabout within moments and gave me a kiss with love in his eyes.

Last night we harvested the first romaine of the season for a salad. My kids rejected the poppy seed dressing, but there’s still something about eating something that grew out of the ground, or fell from a tree, that the boys and I like. Although I’m not a vegetarian anymore, I cannot see a better way to start the day than with a cup of strong, black coffee and a healthy serving of fresh spinach in an omelette. And yet, too often lately I’ve opted for less healthy fare. I’ve been craving salt like crazy and eating baked cheesy puffs and popping corn which I overly salt. I skipped yoga last night. I’ve drank too much wine. I’ve had strange dreams.

As a result, I’ve felt tired this week. I meant to run today, but the rain felt heavier than usual.

This past Sunday’s 10K seems like it happened long ago. Why can’t every day be like Sunday run day?

After school I tried to ask probing questions to get my son to describe his day. Today I asked if there were “any problems” during the school day. Quickly he told me that Allison* kissed Maribel* in the girls’ bathroom and that the substitute teacher had told the entire class that “no kissing is allowed”.

Here’s a snippet from our dialog [*names have been changed to protect the innocent]:

M: Allison kissed Maribel in the bathroom. Then Maribel told the substitute and Mrs. H. told us there is no kissing allowed.

[he continues].

M: You know, usually kissing is a girl on boy thing, but sometimes it can be girl on girl. 

[me: just listening, nodding].

M: But Teacher Penny doesn’t mind kissing, but the substitute says it’s not allowed at school.

Me: Was Maribel upset about the kiss by Allison?

M: No! She just came back in and told the substitute.

Me: Ok, well, do you remember the rules on kissing? Ask Permission Before You Kiss Someone and They Have To Ask Permission Before They Kiss You? 

M: Yeah, I remember. Can I have a snack?

Before picking up the boys today, I made a last ditch effort to purchase a new dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. I’m pretty happy with what I came home with. Having headed immediately toward the little black cocktail dress section, however, my cell phone rang. It was my husband.

Don’t buy another black dress, he implored. Nothing black.

Damn.

So instead I tried on a half dozen colorful dresses in daisy patterns and flowery oranges and reds and blues and yellows. I found one that was perfect, but of course it didn’t come in my size (curse you, extra 10 lbs, curse you – they are coming off as I train for three half marathons this summer). Finally, I went with a faux wrap dress in — yes — black, but it also has lots of white and a bow. Step in the right direction, yes?

This post is full of silliness and truth and thinking, and as my son said the other night, …sometimes the thinking in my head just surprises me and I have so much to tell you! There’s just so much thinking in my head tonight.

Wishing you a bit of color and light, readers, as you walk or run through the rain this week.

If it’s not raining where you live, gaze up and drink in the deepness of the sky.

skp fall 2009

Damn that Peter Parker

Dear Two-Year-Old,

You were so mad because I wouldn’t let you wear your pajamas to school today.

Those are your “night night” shorts, I explained. Try these baseball shorts instead.

No! Not these baseball shorts!

You grabbed your pjs and ran away.

Cursing silently, I drank deeply (coffee – it’s 8 am).

I told him he could change into his jammies as soon as he came home from school.

Observing me solemnly with dark eyes fringed in long lashes, this tiny half-dressed warrior toddler almost preschooler boy child considered my suggestion.

Ok, Mommy.

And he put on his baseball shorts.

We walked toward the front door. Let’s put on your shoes, I said benignly, and waited.

Sneakers successfully on, he grabbed a pair of Spiderman crocs from the basket of shoes on our way out, and began crying wildly in the car.

Not these baseball shoes, Mommy!

Dear sweet heaven help me.

Yesterday his big brother asked me to buy him a box of Spiderman Cheez-Its. You don’t even like Cheez-Its, I countered.

Yes, but I will like these Cheez-Its, you see, Mom, because they have Spiderman.

Ah, I do see. That’s called Marketing.

What’s Marketing?

It’s a tricky way to get you to buy stuff that’s not good for you.

Oh. Marketing is like an evil bad guy criminal.

Right. We did not purchase the Spiderman Cheez-Its.

Back in the car on the way to school, my youngest attempted to break free of his carseat and yelled “Open door, Mommy! Open door!”

Would you like me to open the window? I inquired.

This really made him mad. He’s not an idiot, after all.

NO! OPEN DOOR!

I’m driving down the road. I can’t open the door while we’re driving.

Finally he agreed to have me help him out of the car, and he tearfully unclutched the Spiderman shoes.

Damn you, you webbed, taunted spider-bitten hero. My boys adore you.

I love these kids.


Regress, re-program, repent

My son’s teacher emailed me this morning to ask if there was anything unusual going on at home because today he engaged in some behavior that was way, way, way over and done with, so far away in the past when he was a power-struggling three-year-old, and now he’s almost five, and growing in leaps and bounds….

And…

he is screaming? hitting? freaking out at preschool?

WHAT is going on?

No, there’s nothing unusual going on at home. In fact, it’s been a great week at home. Our eldest has excelled in swim lessons twice this week and he’s super excited because - in fact – he is learning how to swim! Watching him jump and bob in and beneath and over the cool water of an indoor pool guided by a young, engaging teacher has been pure delight.

So what?

And why?

And how?

How can I make it better? How can I make it easier? How can I teach my baby-turned-big boy to release his demons in a healthier and less dramatic way?

Hours from the incident, things were probably just fine at school, and the one of his teachers indicated that he found his way out of an angry patch. But in the meantime, I had to continue working when all I wanted to do was run to my car and go to him, pick him up, and hug him to pieces.

At home, I didn’t scold or even question much. It’s not that helpful to belabour the process with extended inquiry. Anyway, I already knew what provoked him – something ridiculously simple that generally isn’t a big deal, but for some unknown reason it was today.

He didn’t get to sit in the chair that he wanted to at lunchtime.

I didn’t go too deeply into that.

Instead I brought him home, looked in his eyes, and opened my arms.

And I listened.

Listened with my head, and listened with my heart.

Because I’m a mama warrior. I am heart and strength and defense and compassion and challenge — all in one body, one mind. It is my job to protect, teach, defend, grow. I think I’ll form a group of mama warriors — because I know there are a lot of us out there.

Though he didn’t say anything too revealing during our dialog, that’s ok.

Hitting (even when provoked) is not ok, of course, and I presented that in a very clear manner.

But mostly I let him know that he is loved, and it’s ok to be mad, but you’ve gotta figure out a way to deal with it in a Buddha like way.

Or if you must be Rocky – punch a pillow.

Either way, I missed my baby-turned-big boy today, and I questioned the whole working mom thing.

Meltdown

In the words of a blog-writing physician, “toddlerhood is far more exhausting than internships or residency”. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve observed two close friends survive and thrive the challenges of medical school, residency, and enter and establish new practices while growing and parenting two children under five. I’ve nodded in sympathy at their 30-hour shifts and sleep deprivation, and empathized with their frustrations, and shared the bright spots in parenting a pair of very, very young people. It seems to be that there can’t be much worse than the rigors of residency in a professional context, so for this guy to claim raising a child from age 18 months – 3 years is actually tougher than his experience gaining experience in medicine was alarming.

Toddlerhood isn’t all bad. Toddlers are funny, silly and smart. They know what they want, except when they don’t know what they want. Toddlers are like “Pick me up! no put me down! Not there! There! Now up!” This frequently happens within a 30-second interval and then happens over and over again. Fun, right?

Remember the words of George Bailey to his wife, Mary:

You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?

But that was before he met Clarence the Angel.

My youngest doesn’t have any words yet, but he is an effective and persuasive communicator. Recently I bought a pack of dried mangos. I had not realized that dried mangos are like crack to the set under five. When something doesn’t go his way, like when I had to cut him off of the tropical fruit, he physically and emotionally falls apart. The injustice pours out of his every chakra. Drama unfolds. Tears flood his personal space.

Often, my four-year-old tries to help me out when the little guy disintegrates under the weight of unjustice. He’s like, “Relax, Max. I’ll read you the bird book”.  And our big old black lab will give him a nudge, or a friendly lick, trying to cheer him up. It’s very sweet.

And sometimes it works. The tears dry up, a smile plays on his lips. All is right in the world again.

Until 30 seconds later, when something stirs up the teeny monster hidden deep in the body of a happy little guy. Calm the monster! I announce to the family. Use your words! I sing to the angry child. We go to work, father, brother and dog, everyone pulling together to bring peace to the toddler.

As the good doctor said, toddlerhood is tough. For everyone involved.

Wishing you parents of toddlers a peaceful evening filled with hugs, books and crayons that remain unchewed. Wondering if you parents of grown-up kids (by definition age 5 and older) have any reflection of parenting the non-speakers, the tiny people of mashed peas and carrots and sloppy sippy cups. I’d love to hear from you.