Monday, September 26, 2016

The Unicorn Mom Friend

When my feet hit the doorway of the elementary school on Open House night, the smell of the newly waxed gym floor overwhelmed me.  I was immediately transported back to my own elementary school days. The memory of the first day of each school year is intertwined with that waxed floor smell.  As a very timid kid, the beginning of school each year gave me that yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach. That familiar feeling washed over me as I gripped my daughter's hand and made my way down the Kindergarten hallway.

We had one week until my daughter's first day of Kindergarten. One week until I had to share her with the rest of the world.  One week until we jumped into the really 'real world', the world of school commitments, testing, celebrating big successes and learning from big failures, projects, managing the endless school communications, and navigating new friendships.  We walked into her classroom.  I was nervous for her, and nervous for me. I anxiously looked around the room.  The parents were busy finding their child's desk, excitedly pointing out the features of the classroom to their Kindergartners.  I wondered if one of these kids would be my daughter's new friend, and if one of the moms would be mine.

My best friend and my sisters live 500 miles away.  I have a very small circle of Mom friends locally, but none of them are neighborhood friends.  I am still looking for that unicorn Mom friend, the kind of neighbor friend from a TV sitcom that sits with you on your porch while the kids play in the yard. The friend with a home that I can feel confident sending my kids to, trusting that she will keep them safe, and not let them get away with anything they shouldn't be doing.  The friend that doesn't judge me for wearing the same shirt I slept in when she sees me at drop off, or when she comes to my house and sees my three year old running around in his underwear.  I am an introvert and I work from home.  My opportunities to cultivate new friendships are limited. Making new friends as an adult, for me, is intimidating.

We met the teacher, found my daughter's cubby and desk, filled out some paperwork and left.  I took a few seconds to scan the room prior to our exit. I smiled at a mom wearing a similar outfit to mine, shorts, a "nice" t-shirt, minimal make-up. Would she be the one?  On the ride home, I gave my daughter the "You will make so many new friends and do so many new things. It is okay to feel a little nervous and excited and a little scared at the same time," pep talk.  Later that night, I realized that I was saying the words to her that I needed to hear.  We start Kindergarten in one week. I was one week away from a chance at new friendships and opportunities. It was okay to feel a little nervous and a little scared and excited all at the same time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

More Real Life Parenting Courses

Miami University's Upham arch (photo credit: me)

Just in time for back to school...more real life parenting courses I wish existed! You can see the original post here: Real Life College Courses for Parents

Foreign Language
Interpreting Your Child I:
This course is designed to prepare parents for the language development of your toddler/preschooler. Learn how to translate your toddler’s verbal gibberish and jumbled observations to persons outside of the individuals living in your home. This also includes interpreting a toddler’s physical demonstrations in lieu of words. For example: A child’s repeated kicking of the pantry door indicates his desire for yogurt covered raisins.

Interpreting Your Child II:
This course focuses on common mispronunciations of words and how to handle mispronunciations in public. You will learn how to correct the child in a public place by conveying the proper amount of embarrassment while containing your own fit of giggles. Some examples we will explore are:

“How many people fit in a Vulva (Volvo)?”
“Look at my fuh-kers (freckles).”
“I see a manscaper (landscaper)!”

Human Anatomy
Gross Anatomy in the Public Setting:
From questions like “Do you still have milk in your nipples?” to “Daddy, why does your penis have a hole in it?” we highlight common anatomy questions that are often asked loudly by young children in public bathrooms and restaurants.

Life Skills
The Mathematics of Reality Time Management:
This course will concentrate on time management mathematics. We will teach you how to calculate the ratio of time needed to prepare for an outing with your children versus the actual duration of a child’s enjoyment at the event. For example: If it takes one hour to gather towels, dress in swimsuits, prepare snacks, fill water bottles, apply sunscreen and drive to the community splash park, the actual amount of time spent outside in the water prior to your child expressing that they are “over it” is less than or equal to twenty minutes.

Physical Education
The Human Jungle Gym:
Weight training, stretching, and self-defense are the primary objectives of this course. At the end of this class, you will be able to withstand the physicality of 1 to 3 small children simultaneously climbing on your back, legs, and neck, while protecting your vital organs and sensitive areas of your body.

Dexterity in Low Light Situations:
This boot camp style class is for new parents and parents-to-be.
The class is conducted in a low light setting, such as a room illuminated by one small nightlight. You will learn how to change a diaper, strip and replace soiled bedding, dispense medication, and most importantly, fasten the snaps of a sleeper correctly, in minimal light. Don’t get discouraged by these requirements. Remember, if surgeons can operate in the middle of the night, after working a twelve hour shift, you CAN close those snaps in the correct order!

Friday, August 7, 2015

For My Nephew: Some Advice About Freshman Year in College

It is OK to be nervous. Remember that every single freshman on campus had to wave good bye to someone as they turned around and walked back into the dorm.  I promise you the majority of them had to fight back tears and take a deep breath to calm the butterflies in their stomach as they watched the car that is now empty of all of their belongings pull away and head towards home.

Your best friend is waiting for you.  Find him/her. It may not happen overnight, but you will find each other.

It is OK to be intimidated by your courses.  Some classes will be tough.  You may have a professor whose English you can barely understand. You may realize that you will never grasp Physics. Talk to the kids around you. Someone has the same questions that you do, and someone also "gets it".   You will find that some classes are easier than your high school classes.  Don't skip these classes, you'll want that easy A to boost your GPA.

You will fall asleep in public. It might be in the middle of class, it might be between classes every Monday morning in the library.

On the subject of napping, you will learn to power nap like a champ. You will have 45 minutes between classes.  You walk 10 minutes back to your dorm.  It takes you 10 minutes to fall asleep. You sleep for 10 minutes, get up, and walk across campus to your next class.

Get your roommates to agree on a code word or phrase to alert you when a roommate has "company". Do college kids still hang dry erase boards on their doors? Never mind, this is probably obsolete,  just text each other.

If you need to go home for the weekend go home, but don't go home every weekend.  You will miss out on so many memory making opportunities.

Go to parties.

Don't go to too many parties and be smart about where you are going, what you do there and who you go there with.

Respect yourself. Respect the women you meet.

Dorm living makes you a tidier person (usually).  You have little living space to share. Respect your roommates' space by not being a complete slob.  Change your sheets from time to time. Seriously.

You will start the year caring about what you are wearing, but by Fall Break, you will be wearing warm up pants and a sweatshirt every day. You may or may not have taken a shower in the past 48 hours.

In the middle of winter, don't worry about looking like a fool in a giant coat, gloves and hat. You live in Ohio. You have a long way to walk to class. You will be warm and you can laugh at the idiots without a coat.

Dining Hall food really isn't that terrible.

If the dorm fridges are still the same, a pint of ice cream just barely fits in the freezer part.

Savor this time. Soak it up. These are the last few years before you to enter the really "real" world. Make memories. That campus is a clean slate.  Be who you want to be. Learn.  Join clubs.  Play sports.  Have a snowball fight in the quad. Take a few random classes just because they sound interesting. Go to class. Skip class. Fail a test and study like crazy for the next one. Make yourself proud. Hang up that first A that you really worked for on your tiny dorm fridge.

Lastly, I am excited for you (and a little nervous for you) but mostly EXCITED.  I am so proud of you, so very proud.

I love you!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Parenting Truths (Installment #3)

These things I know to be true:

Motherhood means always sitting on a damp toilet seat.

The struggle over the decision to take a nap when they nap and getting stuff done starts the day you come home from the hospital.

You will cry at the prospect of not buying diapers anymore. Whether it be tears of joy over the money you will save, or tears of sadness because your baby is becoming a big kid, you will cry.

The guilt of the daycare drop off can unexpectedly punch you in the gut , even if you have already been doing it for years.

Men will never understand why you feel sad when you box up the size 3 month sleepers and move the size 6 month sleepers into the dresser drawer.

Some days, many days, you go to bed feeling like you have done everything completely wrong.

You will buy the latest hyped parenting book with every intention of reading it. You will start to read it with gusto and before you know it, the book is at the bottom of the stack of bedtime stories on your nightstand, covered in a fine layer of dust.

You will over pack for every trip, three day weekend, week vacation.  However, you will become an expert at cramming the excess stuff into a small number of bags and suitcases.

Having your first kid triggers a compulsion to buy a bigger car.  Fight it.  You can make it work in your non-kid sedan.

There are days when doing laundry is like producing a local craft beer. Everything is done in small batches.  You have laundered and put away three loads. You think you are caught up, then someone gets a nose bleed at school. In goes the bloody shirt and a random dish towel. The next morning, the baby's diaper has leaked.  In go the wet pajamas and the sheet. If someone gave out an award for "Best Local Small Batch Laundry" you would be a blue ribbon winner.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Trin

Last week we made the heart-wrenching decision to euthanize our cat, my cat. Trinity, also known as Trin, Trin Trin or Trinny, was 15 years old.  She was a sweet blue eyed girl. She didn't hiss, she didn't bite.  She didn't climb on the counters or tables, or scratch at the furniture. She was my roomie when I was single and was my 7 pound space heater on cold nights. My husband became attached to her and vice versa.  I joked that she dumped me for him.  When the kids came along, we didn't see much of Trin during the day.  She was already a senior citizen when they were born.  Like a lot of older folks, she didn't have the patience or tolerance for all of their rambunctious activity and noise.  She just wanted to nap in peace. 

Trin's passing is the first personal experience with death for my almost 4 year old. She is uber perceptive and inquisitive and questions everything. I usually have answers for her, and if I brush over something she will get frustrated and say "No, explain it to me!" Her questions regarding Trin's death, and her whereabouts now, are kind of awesome.  They are the perfect illustration of the innocence of a child and have made me smile on days when I wanted to be sad.

Is Heaven a building?

How do you get there?

Does she have to stay there forever?

Can we send her a card in the mail?

Is it hot in Heaven today?

When you die you go see God and Judy and God makes you alive again.  (This is knowledge from friends at school.)

How is God magic?

Is she sad there without us?

But where is Heaven?

Does it ever rain there?

Do you think Trin misses us?

What if one day Trinny comes back from Heaven to our house and knocks on our door?  What would we say?

Can we take a picture on your phone of us and send it to her?

How does God make her not sick anymore?

Is God a boy or a girl?

She has her moments when she gets sad and says she doesn't want Trin to stay in Heaven forever.  When we pull in the driveway after daycare, my 2 year old son automatically says "Trinny, we're home!" and she informs him somberly, "Elliott, Trinny is in Heaven."

Trinity Kathleen, you were a good cat, the best cat. You will be missed. 
Say hi to God and Judy for me, and soak up those sunbeams.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

10 Ways 38 is Just Like 18

"The more things change, the more things stay the same." According to the internet, this saying is a translation from a line written by the French author Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr. It is also a Bon Jovi song.  If Bon Jovi sings about it, it MUST be true.

Here are a few examples of that truth for me:

At 38 I still have acne, more than I had as a teenager. I call total B.S. on this.

In high school, I declared the 3 worst things to shop for were swimsuits, jeans, and formal dresses. This still holds true today. Nothing has changed, except the latitude and longitude of certain body parts.

Eyebrows are still an issue. At 18, I was hesitant to pluck my brows, for fear of going overboard.  I cleaned up the area under the brow a tiny bit.  Now, I pluck stray eyebrow hair, while other sections of my eyebrows seem to be thinning. Oh and don't forget the random white hairs springing up in my brows. What is up with that??

18 year old me and 38 year old me still think I look weird wearing lip stick.

I naively thought PMS would somehow ease up when I got older.  WRONG.

I still have a curfew, and it is still 11:00 pm.  At 38 my parents don't yell at me if I miss curfew, my body does.

Hanging out with my BFF still gets me in trouble on the weekends, only now, it is because I am up way past curfew (see above) talking to her on the phone, instead of staying out late cruising.

I still get homesick.

At 18, making new friends on my college campus was very intimidating.  I can say the same at 38 of the neighborhood playground.

Instead of raiding my Dad's jar of change for money to tip the pizza guy,  I raid my kid's piggy bank.

Time is a crazy thing, isn't it?  I still feel 18, well except for the days after I am up too late..then I feel every bit of 38...

Thursday, April 23, 2015