Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Sleep Battle

My children are home again, a blessing of course, but the youngest might see an early death if he does not quickly adapt back to our routine. Among my frustrations is the early rising. This child tossed and turned, played, fussed, and made racket in his bed until nearly 10 PM last night, so why did he still wake before seven this morning? In fact, why is it that no matter what time a small child is put to bed, he will rise at the same hour? When I am struggling to open my own peepers, the last crack I want to see is dawn’s much less anyone else’s.

Yesterday, we planned an outing, a snack, naptime, and an afternoon date at the playground. We scored two of four. My son would not nap, and played in his room until he was allowed to descend from it at 3:15. On the way to the playground, he fell asleep, which meant turning around, driving back home for a now late-in-the-day nap, and a whole screwed up evening schedule—thus 10 PM frolicking. Because I was in and out of his room getting him settled (for example, removing the lamp that he insisted on playing with, shutting his door as a consequence, and retrieving a toy he was distracting himself with), my own work downstairs was constantly interrupted and I did not finish until late.

This morning, suddenly weaseling in my bed was my little Tiny Man. I was still fighting the concept of waking.

“Mommy!” he whispered excitedly. He slipped his cool hands around my neck and shoulders for a snuggle. This is beautiful and my favorite part of motherhood—the super sweet snuggles. What troubles me is the banging, noise making, stomping, and pow-pow psshtt boom sounds coming out of his mouth prior to this little moment and immediately after.

So today, I am tired, but it’s a new day. Today I will wear my children out at the river. We will look for bugs, fish, and ducks. I will listen to the kids giggle and splash. We will sleep on time. I will go to bed earlier. And maybe, I will duct tape that little child to his mattress… just kidding… maybe….

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Classic Conversation

I know I have been quiet this summer, but I have been taking time for other things... gallavanting around my fabulous little town with step-daughters or traveling, for starters. But this has given me much opportunity to note amusing conversation, both public and private.

The conversation here is with my ten year old, who is visiting her father right now. He obviously does not have the same rules I do about movie ratings and what is appropriate, but this is still funny:

“Are you getting ready for bed, sweetheart?”

“Well, I already took a shower so we are going to watch the rest of a movie.”

“Oh, that’s nice. Which one?”

“Batman. The Dark Knight. There is a lot of killing in it and my favorite character got blown up already.”

In a museum gift shop, this conversation took place between two significantly aged women—women with grey hair, osteoporosis, and canes:

“I studied art with him once and he pinched my fanny!”

“Well, I studied art with him, too, and not only did he pinch my fanny, but he felt me up!”

(When I heard this, I had to walk away before I could hear any more. I thought I was going to die.)

At a restaurant, said by a grandmother to her grandchild:

“Honey, really! Are you sure you’re ok? You won’t stop moving!”

(All right, maybe you had to be there for that one.)

In Target, I overheard a woman on her cell phone:

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I was a prisoner, and now I feel like a criminal!”

From a young lady this summer (if you are reading this, sweetheart, remember I love you):

“I completely wasted my good make-up and get-a-man outfit on that party.”

Something I said yesterday to my youngest step-daughter when she asked if I had ever driven through Pasadena. I wasn’t thinking—or maybe El Paso was stuck in my head:

“I drove all the way across Texas, twice, but I don’t remember Pasadena.”

“California!” she corrected. Of course, she had to stop laughing at me first.

Another cellphone conversation:

"He lives in the ghetto, the real ghetto."

(As opposed to the fake one?)

Told to me by my little four year old son, after a visit with his dad:

"Is not nice to say dammit, shut up, or stupen (stupid). Or shut your mouf. Or shit."

"I'm glad we've got that covered," I said.

I figured it was at least nice that someone had explained this to the little guy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Letter to My Children's Step-Sister

As you know, with the little people gone, I write fun letters to them. Concerned that the youngest step-daughter of my ex-husband might feel left out, I write her as well. She has two older sisters of her own, both of whom are in their teenaged-young adult years. The letter below speaks for itself. I will be putting it in the mail today.

Dear ______,

Yes, it has been a while since you have received a letter. Chicken Little and Tiny Man will have to tell you why—it has to do with the family dog. But I have had some other distracting obligations in which you could most directly relate: there is a teenager in this house.

Teenaged girls are funny. They put on fancy clothes and shimmery make-up before going just to the grocery. They spend a lot of time playing with their hair. They sleep all hours of the day and are up at least half the night. They giggle. They text message. They eat odd combinations of food during the worst hours of the night. But most of all, teenagers seem absolutely consumed by the worst thing of all: boys.

So this summer has been the summer of coaching young ladies through break-ups with very foolish young men, protecting young ladies from the unwanted advances of other foolish young men, and helping them remain chic and savvy as they sustain another relationship with another young man (who may or may not be a fool at the present). This, my dear, will happen to you.

One minute you may find yourself happily slapping together mud pies in the yard or constructing new Barbie doll outfits out of old socks and bits of ribbon, and the next thing you know, the boy next door who used to break the heads off your Barbies suddenly turns cute—overnight. The dolls are packed away, the mud pies disintegrate into the yard, and you find yourself writing love notes in hot pink pen. You will write notes such as this one:

Do you like me? Check one.



__Well, I thought you looked pretty cute on Tuesday, but then I saw you Wednesday talking with Gracie and then all of sudden I was not so sure. You gave me the look of death. Did you mean that?

Yes, child. You will dot your i’s with hearts and sign your name as swirly as possible. You may even, given the chance, sneak a text message in spelling your parents will find absolutely atrocious, but that your peers determine is trendy code. You will change outfits multiple times during the day. You may, as well, completely underestimate your own natural beauty and talents, and find yourself feeling awkward and out of place among others. I assure you, child, that much of this awkwardness passes. So whatever crazy behavior you may see your big sisters exhibiting is only temporary insanity. In the meantime, any tips we can exchange on this rather delicate matter would be much appreciated.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Magic and Light

When my younger step-daughter confided a recent difficulty, my husband and I listened, gave counsel and insight, and offered a series of compliments designed to make her laugh. Finally, when she disclosed that a certain level of self-doubt persisted, I told her that she has a kind of magic and light. There are so few people out there like this young woman. Woe to the creature that fails to recognize her value.

And she is magic and light. She is some kind of combination of Holly Golightly, Tinkerbell, and Amelia Earheart. She describes her future and I am certain that she will do as she dreams. This girl, that recently plummeted fearlessly from an airplane and routinely climbs mountains, puts young men to complete shame and still maintains girlish charm. She has honored me with her love this summer. She could not possibly know how moved I am when I even think remotely about her trust. Perhaps, until she is a mother herself, she could never know. But this daughter claims not to want that role. Magic and light—she will find other ways to share it.

She charms street people into making bracelets for her. She smiles in complete paragraphs. She makes books and odd art charms as gifts. She has completely tamed and socialized our rabbit to the point that he is now a litter-box-trained house bunny. She still stands and walks as the trained ballerina she once was. When she pins her hair and curls into place, she becomes a 1930’s paper doll. She is thrifty and conscious. She is the kind of girl most men find elusive, but she really does not want to be. When young men disappoint her, her faith in love persists. She is admirable. I expect one day she will receive some kind of prize for aiding a third world country. I will be the old woman at the supermarket bragging to strangers that I know this girl.

To be so blessed! I have had a joyful summer with two step-daughters, the elder of whom has returned to college already. Perhaps someday I will illustrate her own unique loveliness in a blog here (and I believe I have touched upon it once or twice already). Truly I am thrilled to have welcomed into my life both young ladies who have somehow unknowingly managed to lift and inspire me. I can no longer imagine my life without them in it and feel as though I have fallen in love with both of them nearly the way I initially had fallen in love with their adoring and noble father, a man who sometimes seem strikingly innocent despite his age and maturity.

Perhaps magic and light is simply love in its purest state. Joyfully, there is plenty of it here.