Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Best date ever

What a day - what a date! After a morning at the "Protecting God's Children" workshop (sponsored by St. Patrick's School) and a too-cute morning trying on kindergarten uniforms, I went on the best date ever. With a woman I hardly knew (I'll call her Other Mom), her twins, and my two kids. And it was absolutely terrific.

Do you know those playdates where everyone gets along, no one draws blood or breaks down, and you leave feeling like you found a new friend? Me neither, usually. Most times, I spend the day feeling uptight and alert for any undesirable behavior in my own kids or the dates'. But this time, the kids played together well, ate most of their pizza dinner, laughed uproariously, and begged to have another date soon. The conversation between Other Mom and I was easy and fun; she was upbeat and warm with just the right amount of sarcasm and snarkiness to make me feel like I'd found a friend. 

I met Other Mom early in the school year, but since we both have full-time jobs, we weren't always at the pick-up/drop-off, park playdates or after-school momapalooza's at the playground together. And though my daughter had requested time with her daughter, I imagined she was referring to another little girl with the same name. But seeing them holding hands and playing together at their preschool graduation was so dear and lovely that Other Mom and I decided our kids must get some playdates on the calendar. And we made a plan. And we stuck to it. And it was fun.

I guess the best part was its simplicity. I plan things all the time that fall through: that perfect outfit that the baby poops on. That adorable gift with the beautiful wrapping that never makes its way to the party. That clean kitchen that becomes a battleground with one swipe of a chubby arm and a handful of cheerios.

But this came together smoothly, and we left each other's company tired and happy - as it should be.

Summer sighting: Beauty personified: My daughter running in the park with her friends, wearing her pink sunhat with her red hair flying out behind her. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Home Sweet...Whatever

So here I sit, after day 6 of summer vacation. It was a stay-cation day, or house arrest, depending on your definition. In short, I resigned myself to completing those tasks around the house that I'd prefer to ignore, i.e. summer cleanup. As any teacher can tell you, summer is our break, yes, but it's the first time in months we actually have free time to do all the things that come in second all year while we're correcting papers, writing recommendations, composing thoughtful emails to parents whose kids drive us crazy, and working into the night after our kids are asleep to be the best we can be for your kids.  (And if you're reading this thinking, "teachers have it made - they only work nine months out of the year, etc." then you don't know any teachers very well.)

Anyway, after a lovely conversation with the souls at Pottery Barn Kids (God bless their summer sale), I went into crazy cleaning mode this morning: boxing up old toys, making piles for recycling, trash, dry cleaners, Goodwill, and so on, I also moved two rooms of furniture around in an ever-present attempt to gain more space in our home, and I carted at least four trips of seasonal stuff to the attic. 

My children were rockstars; my daughter played by herself, humming and coloring, planning playdates with everyone she knows, and avoiding eating anything of real substance. My son giggled and snuggled, nursed and slept, nursed and slept. The rain made everything feel cozy and content. It was optimal clean-up mode for Mom, and I accomplished a lot today. 

But as anyone who has two little kids will tell you, it never really ends. The messes do get cleaned up, and my house is spotless when my kids are sleeping. My window for having all the laundry done and put away lasts as about long as the pauses between my almost-five-year-old's questions. 

I. Am. Tired.

And I'll have to do this all again in another week or so. But maybe the piles will be smaller next time. 

Here's hoping.

Summer sighting: No one, unless you count the bunny in the backyard. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Family: The Ties That Bind

Today was the first Father's Day with my sweet son. He was as cherubic as always, peachy and sweet, happy, upbeat and bright-eyed, which was a nice departure than the "your son has pneumonia" glazed look we both sported for the last few days. Emerson, as always, surprises me with the combination of simplicity and beauty she possesses. She is a beautiful child, inside and out. But enough bragging! It's Father's Day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kids Today

For the most part, this blog is just a collection of the thoughts in my head, a collusion of the world around me and the things that rattle and shake free from my mind.

Other times, I just feel like bitching. This is one.

I will preface this by saying that I know my kids are not perfect. They are wonderfully imperfect, often delightfully irreverent, and definitely sweet, funny, creative, and kind. They are NOT, however, aggressive. Even in their most irritating, whiny moments, they are not physically aggressive. Though I have certainly made mistakes, and often felt like throwing myself out a window during Emerson's infancy, I have never, ever raised a hand to her. So I do not tolerate it in other children. But today I dealt with the flip side. Today I dealt with the kids who walked away from my child, and wouldn't listen to her. And to me, it hurt just as much as a slap.

Yes, there are times when little kids will play together and get out of hand. they'll run, trip, clunk, et cetera. They'll reach for the same toy and screech "Miiiiiiinnnneee" until their voices are hoarse. But today, Emerson was ignored. My sweet, articulate little B was trying to talk to her friend, and the little creeps ignored her and ran away. 

As an only child, trying to reconcile these dynamics is a constant question for me, Is this normal? Do I get involved? Do I ignore this? How much/how long do I let it go? 

Let me also say that ours is a hearing-compromised household. My husband's profound hearing loss on one side affects us all. Some days, his hearing is perfect and everything is normal; we converse and laugh as all families do. Other days, we are not so lucky, and both my husband's and my frustration levels climb. In my deepest thoughts, I respect my tiny daughter for the way she handles her father's hearing loss - sometimes she is far more graceful and patient than I am. She has learned (mostly) to repeat things or say them in a different way to make my husband understand. She has been commended by all of her teachers for being a particularly articulate child, one who most recently employed "Speaking of..." into her verbal repertoire. She is a good talker and a great listener. And yes, sometimes, we fall prey to the "Just a minute, Em" when she wants to tell us something, we don't intentionally ignore her words. But today's encounter was with children who could hear everything she said, and chose not to.

Speaking of siblings, all of this frustration was happening as John was smiling with happiness at his first ride on the swing. His Royal Chubbiness was happily drifting back and forth on the same baby swings Em had loved, and his bliss was written all over those deliciously peachy cheeks.  My heart swelled for his first, and ached for Em's. I guess that's what parenting is all about. 

Summer sighting: Former student and parent-to-be, Cari Reynolds, our waitress at Burton's.

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Friday, First Flight

After much anticipation (and trepidation on the part of the older faculty), Austin Prep has iPads! Thus I am being paid to use the newest technology, learn from and and impart it to my students. For three days, Austin is in iPad training, and this girl is past falling in love with her new toy - she's obsessed.

The best thing about it is the productivity - I feel like a super version of myself. I have notes and lists organized into one app as opposed to the notes, lists and post-its everywhere. I'm making a commitment to be more streamlined and organized with my calendar and I'm loving the little check that you can actually put into the box at the side.

I am also committing to revamping the organization of my own life; with all the commitments for work, school, Emerson's school, and our calendar (with its zillion subtleties that get amplified as the family "invasions" make their way across from the West Coast) it seems only fitting to revamp it all. Declutter for an hour a day.

In short: Try to make it easier on myself so that the big things seem little, thus the little things become easier.

That being said, we ate at the most amazing restaurant today, where the seafood was literally the best I'd ever eaten. 
Summer sighting: The largest shrimp I'd ever seen.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

School's out: school's in!

It's official! School's out! Austin Prep is over for the year, and in another of the great ironies of my life, my first day free was spent in school again! But this was different - Emerson and I had visiting day for kindergarten at Saint Patrick's! We had visited in the spring, and I had really taken to one of the teachers - she and her co-teacher were so warm, kind, and funny...secretly, I had prayed they'd be Emerson's teachers this year, and our prayers were answered!

Emerson has the most wonderful teachers, and we're both excited to see a few familiar faces: Ella, her buddy from the last three years at Encore Dance Studio, Derek, her pal from Saint Joseph's Pre-K, and Christina, whose mom was my friend way back in Stoneham Junior High days. Needless to say, my butterflies were in full effect, but Emerson, with her characteristic sweetness and enthusiasm, took to her new surroundings like a little duck to water.