Anatomy of a Cold

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Monday Morning dropping Lena off at daycare
Me: Oh Hello, Other Kid.
Other kid: COUGHCOUGHCOUGH

Wednesday Night very very late
Lena: Mommy, I am coughing, I need to sleep in your bed.
Me: *grumblegrumble*
Lena: COUGHCOUGHCOUGH

Monday Morning at work
Me: COUGHCOUGHCOUGH

Reading

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lena has these really specific bedtime routines with each of us. (Us being, me and my parents.) Pops reads Beatrix Potter stories. Nana snuggles and reads Cat in the Hat. Mommy yells at everyone to go to bed. I mean, just kidding, but not really. Nana and Pops are too easy with Lena at bed time. It is all about scaring her into staying in bed and falling asleep. And by all that I mean I’m the last snuggler, giver of ‘just one more hug’, and fetcher of ‘more ice please’.

The result of our different roles means that we all discover new things that Lena does at different rates. The other night, while the lights were out and I was snuggling for ‘just 10 more minutes’, Lena recited almost all of Cat in the Hat, and I didn’t even tell her to go to bed and be quiet and I think I stayed there for almost thirty minutes until she fell asleep because I was just so amazed that she could do it. Cat in the Hat is kind of a long book! And she had it down. I was amazed and then tired and I forgot to tell anyone, so the next night, after Nana’s turn to snuggle (I know I know, Lena is spoiled) Nana comes in the TV room where I’m sitting, and says, “Did you know Lena can read all of Cat in the Hat??”

This is not reading at all, I know that. It’s reciting, but I got started thinking about the reading bit because Aspen volunteers for the Durham Literacy Center, and it’s been amazing reading and hearing about what she’s learning and teaching there. It’s incredibly inspiring and also heartbreaking, how do kids slip that far through the cracks that they get to adulthood and can’t read. Can you imagine not knowing how to read? Almost all of the things that have inspired and changed me can be attributed to words.

But here’s where the policy stuff comes in, and the importance of early childhood education comes in, because if I was working two jobs to support us, and we didn’t have the amazing support system that we have that allows me to read to my kid every single day, literally. We even read a book on the way to school each morning. (Nana drives.) If we didn’t have this, Lena wouldn’t grow up to love books, and cherish reading. The thing about learning and listening and reciting, is that Lena’s not only getting that “reading” is good, she’s learning tone, inflections, cadence. She’s going to be a fluent reader, because she’s already a fluent reciter. That was one of the most surprising things, to hear in the car this morning these beautiful emphases on certain phrases of Curious George. It was amazing. And the thing is that anyone who’s EVER had a class even in COLLEGE where someone has to read something out loud, knows that fluent reading is not to be taken for granted. Seriously. Introduction to poetry was painful for that reason.

In conclusion, read to your kids. It’s good for them. But it is time for bed, so go to bed too.

Appreciation

July 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

There are some things that I never really thought about before having kids, and now am utterly thankful for them. Without further ado, I give you the top six things that never fully appreciated before having kids.

1. Take-out
I was never a big take-out person pre-Lena. Sure, I did the requisite college late night pizza thing, (Pokey stix…) but I’ve always enjoyed cooking and going out to eat with friends. Now, take out is like, the most awesome special treat that I can have during the week. A meal in the comfort of my own home that I don’t have to cook? No dishes to clean afterwards? After a long/stressful day of work, this is my idea of heaven. I had that first glorious taste of it a few weeks after Lena was born. There was a knock on the door and then there was a guy holding a lasagna. For me. This was the most amazing experience of my life. (Also, a huge thanks to Bob and Jenny–who ordered me a lasagna from all the way in England that would arrive at my door.) Hold on, I’m getting tears in my eyes. And, uhh…I’m not really this lame all the time. We don’t do take-out that much, my mom and I still cook a lot and enjoy every minute of it, but sometimes it’s nice to just say, hey, I’m going to pick up chicken and macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes and green beans from Boston Market on the way home. See you there.

2. Kid-friendly restaurants with good beer selections
I swear this is how I get friends to come out to dinner with me. I’m lookin’ at you Aspen “Can we go somewhere with a good beer selection?” Price. This could also be categorized as restaurants as simply, good local restaurants that are kid-friendly. I have a co-worker that likes to talk about the only restaurant she can take her son to is Red Robin because he watches tv the whole time. Thank god for awesome chapel hill-carrboro-durham restaurants that are great with kids. (Here’s to you, Southern Rail, Tyler’s, Brixx.)

3. People that are naturally good with kids
Some people are naturally really good around kids. I previously was not one of these. I mean, maybe, and I’m still a little worried that I won’t know how to act around Lena when she’s 5 (what if she notices how awkward I am??), but there are just some people that are so undeniably good with my child that I really have to keep myself from just falling to the floor crying when they offer to get my kid a glass of water and she takes it from them. Okay, it helps that a lot of my friends work with kids and have a ton of experience with kids, but seriously, these people go above and beyond anything I could expect when dealing with my child. Here’s to you. You surpassed my wildest imagination.

4. Pixar
I’ve been hard on Pixar before. They tend to err on the side of more strong male characters and less strong female characters, but that is a whole other societal issue that I’m not going to fault them for at the moment. Because, there is no denying this, every movie they make is pure gold. These guys (In the gender neutral term but they’re mostly guys) know kids. And they know adults. And Pixar movies are the only movies I can reliably watch Lena and be completely satisfied with every image she is seeing, every piece of dialogue that she hears. Dreamworks, on the other hand. You are responsible for when Lena sometimes says, “We’re all going to die!!!” Pixar though, Pixar has put names and images to a wide variety of feelings–jealousy, abandonment–and shown her invaluable lessons–friendship, responsibility. I know partly it’s L growing up, and it’s not like she really learned all this just from Toy Story, but Lena is really beginning to play with her toys, giving them voices and names and actions, and it’s just so clear that the folks at Pixar just know kids. And the daycare scenes in Toy Story 3, priceless.

5. Daycare professionals
To the people that spend eight hours a day with my child, I cannot ever give enough thanks. Lena’s at a great daycare, where they have an amazing curriculum, and all the teachers are experienced and ready and willing to help me and Lena with whatever we need. I’ve learned so much but interacting with these wonderful women (they are all women.) I’ve learned a lot about being a parent–what it means to be an advocate for your kid–something that did not come naturally to me, but now I’ve found my parental voice, and I’m in the process of understanding that that means and learning how to use it. And to the people that not only keep my kid safe and happy for most of the day, while also helping me be a better parent, thank you.

6. Family
I really just need to get this tatooed on my forehead, for the amount that I say it to everyone that I meet that thinks I’m doing a great job, or asks how I do it, or compliments me on Lena’s behavior–I could not do this without my family. I have the greatest parents in the world, and not to say that I didn’t know that before I had Lena, but they have risen above and beyond in raising Lena. And me, for that matter. I only really hope I can repay them some day. And since I have kind of a shoddy work ethic and don’t want to exert too much effort into anything at all, I can only hope that I win the lottery some time soon in order to buy them a house in Cape Cod. (Look ma! I’m learning!)

This is an every evolving list, as day to day I discover more and more hidden things in the world that just make me think that, yes, someone is rooting for me. Because parenting is hard. And it’s isolating. But we can’t let ourselves get stuck in that mindset. Because there are some great things about being a parent. (Some?? Rachael, really? Just some???) And I appreciate everyone around me that helps open my eyes to that.

Full disclosure

June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tonight, everything I’m going to make for dinner is going to be prepackaged and microwaveable.

-Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese
-Trader Joe’s Chile Rellenos
-HT Frozen corn

Later, I will write an ode to the microwave, because, can you really think of a more convenient modern convenience? That and Trader Joe’s.

When you’re not around

May 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Every morning around 9, I drop Lena off at daycare, go to work, and return around 5:30 to pick her up and take her home.

Do you know what happens between 9 and 5:30 each weekday? Nothing, right? Lena’s just at a glorified babysitter’s, right?

I’m thinking of Beth Ann Fennelly‘s poem, “First Day at Daycare”, and epigram that says, “My daughter comes home smelling like / another woman’s perfume”

This morning, Lena and I went for a walk on the greenway behind our house, and Lena stopped to look at a dead cicada on the ground. She stopped me to say, “Ooh, Mommy, look at this.”
“Yeah,” I say, “That’s a cicada,” thinking that I am imparting some great knowledge onto my daughter.
“Mr. John told us about cicadas last week,” Lena says, so matter-a-factly it just tugs at my heart.
“Really?” I say. “Did he talk about the music they make?” Mr. John is the music teacher. That much I know!
“Yes,” Lena responds again. “They go buzzzzzzzzzzzz.”
That they do, small one, that they do.

I started to explain the life cycle, because goddammit I can teach my kid something too, but she was already on to the next fallen twig from a tree, twenty feet ahead of me.

L is growing up. Overnight, it seems. Every morning is a new unexpected emotion, or phrase. I pick her up from school and she is a fountain of what she did that day, or what her friend’s did. She’s this catalog of who is sick, who is on vacation, who’s parent picked them up or dropped them off that day.

And I’m just me. About twenty paces behind this whirlwind of a kid at any given time. Sometimes she lets me catch up. I get glimpses of who she is becoming and where she’ll go. And then she’s off again. And I couldn’t be more thankful for every moment I spend with this kid.

The difference

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes when Lena gets out of the bath, she doesn’t wait to be toweled off and instead runs into my room and jumps, soaking wet, onto my bed. I chase after her with a towel, giggles ensue, and soon she’s wrangled back into the bathroom to brush her teeth. Casualty: my bed, wet.

Last night, she escaped, I stood helplessly in the bathroom with her towel as she started running towards my room, waiting for the inevitable, when out of NOWHERE, (well, not really nowhere, he was in the hallway, it’s not like he apparated from Greensboro to save the day) Alex LEAPS across my room in one bound, grabs Lena by the middle in MID-JUMP and passes her to me to dry her off.

She’s giggling hysterically, and I, am dumbstruck.

“How…how did you do that?”

To which Alex replies,

“That’s the difference between the person that stands there and watches their child get eaten by the shark, and the person that saves your child from the shark.”

I think that was a not-so-subtle comment about my parenting skills.

I take it back

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just got off the phone with Alex, and I said, “I love that crazy bean something wonderful.”

And he said I know, and we said our good nights, I get snuggled into bed and…

grit…grit…grit…

There is sand in my bed. There is SAND in my bed! Who put sand in my bed?

That crazy happy sandy bean, rolling around jumping up and down in my bed pre-bathtime got mothereffing sand in my bed.

Hear this Lena? I’m taking it all back now! You got SAND in my bed, kiddo. Done. We’re done.

grit….grit….grit…..

That crazy bean…

…I love her something wonderful.

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