Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Time, and The Modern Marriage Problem

"I have to go to work early this morning," he said. We were standing in the kitchen, and he was already wearing his shoes. "Are you teaching tonight?"

"Mmm-hmm," I nodded, taking another sip of coffee. "I'll be at the hospital tonight and at the studio this afternoon, but I can get the girls from dance on my way home."

"Okay, cool." He pulled me in for a hug, and we lingered for a moment with his arms around me. "I guess I'll see you at seven then." He kissed the top of my head. "It was nice talking to you today."

I laughed and pulled away. "I'll see you before seven! Right? I mean, surely!"

"For a few minutes, I guess. After school, when we switch off with the girls."

"You're right," I said, my eyes finding the window by instinct. (The winter sun was weak, low in the sky, and the air was cloudy.) "We hardly ever see each other these days, and when we do --- with work and the kids and school and moving and this job hunt --- we're both so busy, so focused on tasks. I miss you."

He glanced at the clock before he smiled. "I know," he agreed. "I know it's good, for both of us, but --- I miss you too."

**Totally off subject: I shared a Thanksgiving horror story on Military One Click last year, and this year they're running it again. I think that means I hosted A DISASTER! Read it if you dare...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Funny Girls

Penelope takes humor very seriously, and so lately Katherine does too.

++++

"Hey, Mom!" Katherine grinned. "I made up a joke. Want to hear it?"


"Of course I do!"

"Okay," she giggled. "Why did the horse go to the wedding?"

"I don't know. Why?"

"Because he wanted to get to the groom!" she laughed. "The groom! Get it?"

++++

"Hey, Mom!" Penelope cried. "Why do parrots always repeat themselves?"

"I don't know. Why?"

"Because parrots like to repeat themselves."

"Because parrots like to repeat themselves."

"BECAUSE PARROTS LIKE TO REPEAT THEMSELVES!!"

("I'M REPEATING MYSELF! SEE WHAT I'M DOING?!?!?!")

++++

How could you help but laugh?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cheater!!

I was sitting on a bench outside the ballet studio when Penelope climbed up on my lap.

"I - am - a - ro-bot." She giggled before she went on. ("Talk in your robot voice, Mommy!") "I - am - a - ro-bot, and - now - it's - time - for - nose (her voice rose) - snuggles."

She pressed her face against mine, and I laughed.

Her eyes widened; her accent collapsed. "There's going to be a contest!" she decided. "A contest for robot Eskimo kisses. I really hope we'll win it! Do you think so?"

"No doubt."

("Talk in your robot voice, Mommy!")

"No - do-ubt."

"But - no!" she robot-gasped. "The - judge - is - a - con - tes - tant!" 

"Unfair!" I announced.

"We're - going - to - lose. The - judge - will - be - the -winner. It - was - just - announced."

And she fake-sad laughed while her eyes danced.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Addendum to the Laundry Problem

I've learned a lot about myself in the past two years, one of the most important lessons being that I don't like spending days on my own. There are all sorts of things I could be doing --- meal planning, restocking the fridge, tackling the laundry, cleaning (or taking a nap, writing, reading) --- but I find that when I'm home alone I don't do anything. I listen to the clock tick. I dread the quiet space between each second. I get depressed about it.

I sit.

It's best if I stay out of the house, and busy.

I'm an extrovert, that's the real revelation. I've spent most of my life believing I was an introvert, telling myself I craved alone-time and quiet, so when the girls started school and I found myself so suddenly alone, and so depressed about it, I told myself I was an overly attached parent. After all, that's the fashionable thing these days, isn't it? I've lost myself. I'm too invested in my role as a mom. But that wasn't it.

I was depressed because I was alone. I needed noise and work and friends (all of which being a stay-at-home mom had provided; you know, when the kids were primarily at home), and eventually I found them. But now I have Wednesdays off, and this is partly a decision I made and partly a concern.

Today I ignored the problem. I wore a knee-length skirt and high-heeled boots and spent the day volunteering at the girls' school library. I helped the kids find books. I read them stories. I had fun. I've decided to acknowledge that I'm actually really good with children.

The trouble is, if I stay this house averse I'm never going to get the laundry done. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Budding Political Consciousness

The girls started at a new school this year. We transferred them for a variety of reasons, but one of the perks is that now Katherine's part of a class that goes to Science Lab every day. (Yay!) 

Today they had a baby alligator in their classroom.

(On purpose, I think.)

And, while she didn't hold it, she definitely touched it. (But she didn't touch its head because, as she said, it's an alligator; it could wound you, Mommy.) She pet it though, and she loved it, and --- 

"What if dinosaur's weren't extinct?"

(I was confused, too. But sometimes you've just got to roll with the subject change.)

"That would be scary." I said, glancing in my mirror before I changed into the right lane.  I was just off work; she was just out of ballet. We were heading home to meet Chris and Penny. It had already been a long day.

"But think about it!" she exclaimed. "What if there was a T. Rex just crashing down the street in the left lane?"

"That would be scary," I repeated. "If dinosaurs weren't extinct, we definitely wouldn't be at the top of the food chain!"

"You don't think?" Her voice grew calm as she considered the problem. "Humans are so smart and brutal though, and with all the technology we have we might be able to stay at the top of the food chain. We'd just have to come up with a way to keep the dinosaurs contained."

"Maybe," I nodded. "But T. Rex's are really big."

"Yeah," she agreed. "Their teeth are, like, the size of bananas. Hey! Did you know alligators have solar panels built into their backs? They sun themselves all day, and then at night they use the energy they've stored to keep themselves warm in the water."

"That's crazy!"

"And, you know, I'm really glad we have modern technology. Because it's not like people have solar panels built into their backs, and I'm really grateful for things like cars and seat warmers and electricity. I think the problem is that people just get carried away. I mean, think about all the empty buildings we pass every day. There are so many, but people are still building new buildings. And I just want to say, 'Hey, why don't you use what you've already built before you start building more?' It almost like they want to cut down the whole world and then build it back up again from scratch. But that's not what we ought to be doing, I don't think.We shouldn't just rearrange everything."

She paused while I nodded.

"That's a really well-considered opinion," I began --- and I would've said something insightful (no doubt), but at that moment we pulled into our driveway.  I pushed the button to open the garage.

It raised an inch, and then came crashing back down.

I pushed the button again.

Nothing happened.

I turned off the car, and we got out. "I guess we'll have to go in the front door." I said. "I think the garage door's is broken."

So we went inside to check it out.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Magic in Jackson Square

The girls and I were early for mass (Chris was coming, but he wasn't there), so we lingered in Jackson Square. Penelope pulled at my hand. Katherine walked slowly, pausing over street art, and stopping to talk to a vendor here and there. I followed along behind her, stemming the tide that was Penny, and shivering in the evening air.

When Katherine stopped, I stumbled. I hadn't been paying close enough attention, I guess. Or maybe I just wasn't ready. In either case, I hadn't expected her to dive for the penny that was glinting out of a crack in the sidewalk, just there.

I can tell you she said "Finally!" when she picked it up. I can't tell you the rest of what she said though because her voice was drowned out by a big brass band.

Because New Orleans. Because Jackson Square.

The cathedral doors opened just at that moment, and a bride stepped out with her groom. She paused while her eyes adjusted, and Penelope said, "Oh, the lovely!"

Katherine said, "I guess that really was a lucky penny." And she handed it to Penny. 

Penelope clutched it to her chest. "I wish to see another bride," she whispered, so sincere.

I laughed. "Oh sweet silly, there's usually only one bride at a time, and we're early to mass. Come on, let's go sit down on that bench while we wait. That one," I pointed, "over there."

So we crossed the grass, and ---

"Mommy!" Penelope shouted. "There's a bride! Another one!" I looked, and she was right. There was another wedding going on, right at that moment, right there.

Penelope laughed. "I want to see another bride!" she shouted, skipping forward.

"Me too! Me too!" Katherine danced.

I opened my mouth to say, "But girls, this is already so rare!"

But at at that very moment another bride came parading into the square. "Another bride! Another bride!" The girls jumped into the air. "Look, Mommy! Look! Right there!"

+++++

"So it wasn't just a lucky penny," they explained to Chris later. "It was a magic penny."

And say what you will about squandered wishes, but my girls performed magic in Jackson Square.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Skipping Across Milestones

Once upon a time the Romans used stones to mark the distance on their roads, milestones, and today my family crossed three of them.

(1). Penelope learned to read in her head. She was lying on my bed, flipping through a picture book, and when she realized she could understand the words without actually saying them she looked up at me with her eyes wide --- such sweet surprise.

(2). Katherine learned to text. My phone pinged while I was waiting for her to finish her ballet class, and when I looked down I saw:
Katherine! Where are you? I have the CRAZIEST story!
And maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised, but all I could think was, What's this? (She texted the whole way home. I should probably come up with some rules about it.)

(3). Our last milestone is the one I most want to tell you, and the only one I can't. But it's big! We have news that could potentially weave its way into our lives and change everything. Hopefully I'll be able to announce it soon. But until then --- I don't even know. Big news brings such a mash of feeling. It's happy news though, so celebrate with me!