March 30, 2010

Let’s check back in 30 years

Our four-year-old daughter is dressed in her white Easter dress that has a blue sash across the waist and gold and blue flowers adorning the billowing hemline. She has dressed herself, like a big girl, even managing to put on the white tights that go on underneath the dress. She prances a little when no one is looking and I can tell she is pleased.

Mommy comes down and does her hair. She dampens the hair and adds hair gel to create a wet, loose-curl look of Swee’Pea’s locks. Swee’Pea is satisfied with her hair. She looks beautiful and is ready for her first school photo shoot.

We arrive at school and, after some shy moments (and a bribe of cake after dinner), Swee’Pea smiles for the camera. All is well.

Later that night, we call Grandmother as Swee’Pea is eager to tell her of the dress, the tights, the photos and… of course, the special treat after dinner.

As we explain to Grandmother what Swee’Pea is excitedly trying to tell her, Mommy tells Grandmother that she gave Swee’Pea curls instead of braids. Suddenly, Swee’Pea comes to the conclusion that she COULD have had braids. In her mind, this is a special kind of evil. How could Mommy deprive her of braids – and not even tell her?!

She begins to pout. And as we begin to chastise her for pouting, she erupts with one final declaration:

“I’m not gonna make MY daughter wear curls!”

March 21, 2010

Learning to take the path less traveled

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to instill in my kids the fact that they don’t need to always conform to what others expect. I want them to feel like they can blaze their own path to whatever they want to achieve in their lives. And, most of all, I want them to live their life without limiting themselves because they are worried about what other people think.

At almost-five years, I worry that maybe that lesson isn’t sinking in. I worry when my kids cling to me at preschool in the morning rather than racing off to join their friends. I worry when they don’t like my idea of showing everyone their uvula when they have to bring something that starts with the letter U for show and tell. I want to shout out to them, “Don’t do what everyone else does! Be different! People will respect you for being an individual!” But then, I look into their young, innocent eyes and I acquiesce by grabbing the umbrella and stuffed unicorn. I guess, they’re not ready for uvulas quite yet.

But then, on other days, I am blown away by the paths that Swee’Pea and TheMonk choose to blaze. One day I’m encouraging them to be leaders – to do their own thing without a thought of what they look like or what others will think – and the next day, I walk into our play room and find TheMonk looking like this:

TheMonk is experiencing a severe identity crisis.

Yep. They’re gonna be just fine.

March 16, 2010

It’s a longitudinal study

He lies quietly on his side as he pushes his tiny hot wheels along imaginary streets in a town that exists only in his head.

She sits quietly on the couch, pad of paper and some markers in her lap, creating her latest masterpiece that, no doubt, will amaze me when she rushes over to show me.

They don’t know that I’m watching them from behind the newspaper that is in my lap. It’s times like these that I can take a step back and marvel at the two not-so-little ones before me. It seems like yesterday that I held them both in my arms at the same time. And suddenly, we’re making plans for a 5th birthday party.

My mind races over the past almost-five years and it’s funny how I remember only the good. Even the bad, incredibly tiring days seem somehow more pleasant than any of those days have a right to be. I remember early morning snuggles with bottles. I remember a lot of firsts. First baths. First solid foods. First steps. First words. And first days.

I remember dancing in the mall. I remember tantrums that were so awful they are now funny. I remember endless days of Swee’Pea chasing Nutmeg the cat. And I remember the day she finally caught her. I remember when TheMonk didn’t say anything and how now we can’t get him to shut up. I remember.

And as I look at these two beautiful children, I feel a sense of pride in having had a role in creating such wonderful little beings. They are well-mannered, smart and a lot of fun to be around. I marvel that their mother and I have been able to do this one thing so very, very well.

And as I look back at the past, I also have an eye on the future knowing that time will not slow down. The next five years will go by just as fast and the five years after that and the five years after that. And when I think of how much further we have to go, one thought crosses my mind.

Don’t screw this up.

March 7, 2010

Everything I know, I learned while registering for kindergarten

The alarm on my phone pierced the serenity of the night.  It was early.  Or it was late.  3:00 a.m. does that to your brain – all you know is the only place you should be is wrapped up under the covers with your tattered shorts and “I’m Wearing My Twitter Shirt” t-shirt.  Instead, you find yourself filling up a travel mug with a poor man’s mocha of freshly brewed coffee and hot chocolate, pulling an old beach chair out of the garage and heading to the local elementary school to register your kids for kindergarten.

I arrive at 3:45 a.m. and there is already a group of 10 or so people waiting in front of the school auditorium.  They say the early bird catches the worm, but the early parent also guarantees enrollment in the area’s only full-day kindergarten.  There are 100 spots for kindergarten in this school and those who arrive after 7:00 a.m. will be out of luck.  They will also have to wait all day in the auditorium to register as it take each parent approximately 10 minutes to register.  That’s six people per hour. It’s gonna be a long day.

But for me, it’s a long night.  I settle into my beach chair at 3:45 and sip my mocha and make small talk with the lady to my right.  She lives in my neighborhood so we chat about home values, our kids and the fact that the school district really should change the way people register for kindergarten.  This. Is. Insane.

Before long, but long after my legs have turned numb, the sky begins to lighten and, thank God, the custodian arrives to open the restrooms. After a trip to the little boys room, I’m a new man. Soon after, the doors to the auditorium open and we are escorted into the warmth of a carpeted multi-purpose room that has a stage, basketball hoops and fold out tables. Being the newbie that I am, I did not realize I should have picked up the enrollment forms ahead of time. So, I quickly grab a couple of packets and furiously scribble all the needed information in record time. I am ready when my number is called at 8:30 a.m.

But, it turns out, I’m NOT ready. The first person I speak to is the school nurse who informs me while cringing that our shot records are not up to date. These are the same shot records that we scheduled an appointment in February with our pediatrician to make sure they were up to date. And now? After almost 5 hours of waiting, I’m about to lose what little sanity I have left. I know it. The Nurse knows it. Luckily, I ask, is there anything I can do? She summons over the head admin person, explains my situation, and asks if they can hold my spot. Once we hear yes, she tells me to go get my kids and go straight to the pediatrician’s office. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 but also, do not leave without getting those shots.

So that’s what I do. And the kids? They deserve a frickin’ award after being unceremoniously plucked from daycare and ushered over to the pediatrician where they are given FOUR shots without a single tear. In fact, Swee’Pea actually giggled the entire time – which totally confirms my suspicions that no one will EVER figure that girl out.

Two hours after I’m told our shots aren’t up to date, I arrive back in the auditorium where they are serving number 23. I proudly show them my updated records and, duly impressed by my speed and determination, I am allowed to register the kids for kindergarten. Mission accomplished.

Now, they better get straight A’s or there will be hell to pay! (What? They don’t get grades in Kindergarten? Who do I talk to about that?!)


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: