Tuesday, November 6, 2012

236 Years of Service

I know, I’ve been quiet. It’s not you, it’s me. Really. It seems like a lot has gone on, but really, I have no great excuses. Turbo finished soccer last week, Lunchbox turned two on the 4th, and we attended the Marine Corps Ball this weekend (which even entailed a night away from home in a hotel room without kids! Yay!)

There’s a lot I could write about in all that, but I thought I’d spend a little time on the Ball. We go most years if we can… but I remember the first time I went about 8 years ago. As a new spouse, the entire thing was brand spankin’ new to me. I didn’t know the first thing about the Marine Corps or the Birthday Ball. So here’s what I didn’t know…

The Marine Corps was founded on November 10, 1775, making this November 10th the 236th birthday of the Corps.

The first year that I attended the Ball with the Major (then a Captain…), I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that there’d be a bar, and that I got to get my hairs did and wear a fancy dress. And that was seriously it. I didn’t expect to be moved or touched, and I didn’t know that I’d come away with a whole new perspective on my husband.

The Ball is full of pomp and circumstance. There is a sword procession, the presentation of the colors, and a formal cutting of the birthday cake — which is my favorite part. One piece is offered to the oldest Marine present, and another to the youngest, marking the continuity of the Corps — respect for those who have given years and have much to teach, and also for the youthful vigor embodied by the newest members. There is always a table set for one up at the front of the room — that represents all of the Marines who cannot share the birthday festivities with us or with their loved ones. There is usually a band — in our case last night it was the USNA band and they were really excellent. There’s some marching, lots of standing at attention, and a good deal of speaking. The Ball was the first time I’d seen my husband stand at attention. It was the first time I’d seen him wear his medals, and it was the first time I’d recognized these silly guys that he hangs out with as anything more than overgrown frat boys with F-18s. When called upon to do so, they all became rigid, serious… reverent. And I realized that when called upon, they would also all become heroes, if needed. They would protect one another and perform the duties assigned to them with the same stoic resolve I saw on all of their faces when the national anthem and the Marine Corps Hymn were played.

There is always a message presented from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. This year’s message reflected on the fact that 2011 is the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and illustrated the roles that Marines played in those events. Here is the message:

I got teary watching this — I lived in NYC during 9/11, and like most from my generation, this will forever be a turning point in my life — an end to innocence. I knew people involved very directly, though was lucky enough not to know anyone personally who lost their life. Still, many close to me were scarred by the events of that day and the images will never leave my mind. And mixing those memories with my appreciation for the sacrifice that Marines make — are making –  every day, was a lot to process. Mix it with a few glasses of wine, and poof! There goes my mascara.

It was a good time, but I try to remember what the Ball means as well, and what it means in my husband’s life. He’s a humble guy, and he would be the last person to call himself a hero, but when I see him in his dress blues, medals on his chest, standing at attention… I feel so proud of my Major. And he will always be a hero to me (and to two little guys I know!)

Semper fidelis.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Incident Report

You smell delicious -- is that baby powder you're wearing?

If your kids are in daycare, you know the dread you feel when their peppy teacher, Miss Whatshername, catches you when you arrive at the end of the day with clipboard and pen in hand. “Oh, hello Callsign Mommy. We had a little incident here today, just need a quick signature.” The Incident Report details for you either how your kid has been an a** to some other little person, or how another little person has done something less-than-friendly to your kid. I don’t get many of these for Turbo these days (thank goodness, because he was showing signs of being the class bully when he was about 2.) No, now we get them for Lunchbox. And I’m not kidding when I tell you that we get them pretty much EVERY. DAY.

I could actually use a bit of help here… when the first few were presented, my heart jumped just a bit as I felt the guilt that comes with thinking that your perfect little angel did something awful to another child. And once in a while, Lunchbox does clobber someone. Usually he bites them. Turns out this is going around in his class. I have signed an incident report almost every day for the last month, because ANOTHER KID in Lunchbox’s class has bitten him. My poor tiny guy has come home with visible teeth marks on his arms constantly. It’s at the point now where I ask when I walk in, “incident report?” And the answer has become a sheepish, “Yes, here you go.”

About two weeks ago I asked if the bites were always coming from the same kid. The answer was yes. A week later I asked in a less friendly manner, as I returned yet another signed form and looked over the new bite on my kid’s shoulder, what was being done about this little vampire’s proclivity for toddler flesh. They told me that they’re shadowing the tiny cannibal and that it’s been effective. Except that I still get an incident report every day. I asked if Hannibal Lecter is biting anyone else, or if Lunchbox just has a bad habit of being in the line of fire. Evidently, many parents are being presented with these forms each day.

Once or twice is not a big deal. Lunchbox has dabbled in the world of peer chomping himself. But every day for a month is a bit excessive. I am struggling with some guilt here because I know that if the daycare informed me that one of my guys could not attend anymore because of a behavior issue, I’d be mortified and completely screwed. This daycare was the ONE here that had a schedule that worked for us that we could actually afford (and bonus! is a Montessori program, which I’m a fan of for preschool). I would have to scramble to find something else, end up driving to yet another out of the way destination before getting to work at 7:30am, and probably end up paying more. And I hate the thought of throwing another parent into that turmoil. It’s hard enough just being a parent. And I’m sure that the parents of little Dracula are mortified enough (they have to sign an incident report each time their kid bites someone, so they must be getting three and four a day!)

I was told on my last inquiry that this child was about to turn 2 and would therefore be moving up to the next class. We didn’t get any reports last week, so maybe the werewolf had his birthday. But guess who else has a birthday coming up and will be moving? Maybe if I wrapped Lunchboxes arms in a protective layer of eggo waffle… or bacon… but that might just invite more nibbles. What if I coat him in Tobasco? That oughta keep Toothy away, huh? Wonder if that burns the skin… Ideas?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Spouse Event

"Sara, look at her shoes! They're gorgeous. Bitch."

So tonight I’m going to my first spouse event here at our new base. This is kind of a weird situation because normally the Major is part of a squadron, so there is an automatic wive’s (spouse’s, sorry) club that has regular meetings and social events. Additionally, when we’ve first checked in before, I’ve been contacted right away by the CO’s wife, welcomed, offered babysitters and shopping tips. Here, not so much. But that isn’t anyone’s fault – it’s because the Major is working more of an administrative position. It also has to do with his being one of only about 200 Marines on a Navy base. There’s no squadron to “take care of us” and there just aren’t that many other Marine spouses around. But the Marine Aviation Detachment is trying to take up the slack, which is nice.

I’ve never been a huge joiner when it comes to spouse events. I guess part of me thinks that it’s silly that we’d all be friends just because our husbands work together. At least if WE worked together we’d know that we had similar backgrounds or interests, maybe, but the spouse groups are often quite the hodgepodge of people from every corner of everywhere. And I’m all for a diverse group of friends. And I don’t like stereotypes in general. But to me, throwing together a group of women becuase of who they’re married to is kind of like assuming that two gay guys will be a perfect couple because, well, they’re both gay. That being said, I have also always found a small subset of these women with whom I’ve gotten along great and forged good lasting friendships. And I’ve made other friends who are great to know while we’re at whatever base we’re at, but those are often the types of friendships that  you sort of know won’t last when one of you moves on. And those are nice to have, too.

And it wouldn’t be a wives’ club post if I didn’t mention the “knives club” aspect of these groups. As in any gathering of women, there are often a few who prefer backbiting and gossip to actual friendship and see these groups as an ideal setting for making snap judgements, saying nasty things and excluding people when possible. I haven’t run into a lot of this myself — aside from a few cases when attendance at such events was disputed due to being a ‘fiance’ rather than a spouse; or once when someone’s hubby deployed for a non-squadron billet and some ladies said that the wife left behind was not actually a squadron spouse anymore and should not be coming to events (nor should she receive any support from all of us despite the fact that she was left at home without her hubby, caring for the house and family… cuz that’s not hard.) And there are always a few wives who believe that they have somehow earned their husband’s rank and should be treated accordingly…that’s pretty fun. ANYWAY, crappy things do happen, but generally these organizations are a good source of support. And I have to say that even if you don’t really bond with anyone, even the nastiest of biddies will tend to rally around another spouse when they are truly needed. I didn’t cook my own meals for months after having my kids… that alone was worth more to me than I can ever express.

So I go tonight not knowing anyone. Actually, that’s not true. I know (and like!) one other Marine spouse here, but I don’t know if she’ll be there. Maybe I’ll actually make a new friend. Friends are nice. Wish me luck not being shy and also not being an asshole. Sometimes I struggle with both.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trying to be Hip…

Round Head
"No, it's really, uh, cute!"

I am having a problem. With my hair. I know — this is on track to be the most interesting blog post ever, right? Read on, fascinated followers!

My hair is kind of gray. Not totally but enough to make me want to hide those pesky harbingers of all things wrinkly and tired. So I have been coloring my hair for years. But lately, no matter how much I spend or how much of an expert my colorist believes herself to be, within two weeks of coloring my hair I find myself topped with a glowing mass of brassiness. It turns kind of an auburn shade, which isn’t as offensive as the orangey color that follows closely behind. So recently I read that Courtney Cox swears by Clairol’s no-brass brunette, and it’s only $9. Being easily swayed by celebrity recommendations, I went out and got myself a box. And you know what? It’s about the same as what my extremely talented Redken colorists were achieving. But about $91 cheaper. So that’s one problem kind of solved.

Then there’s the style, or lack thereof. I like pictures of myself best when I had longish straight hair with no bangs. But it has been suggested to me that this isn’t the most becoming style for my longish face, that bangs would cover the nascent wrinkles on my forehead, and that I should have some kind of layering going on. So I’ve had some layers added, and have had sideswept bangs for a while. But I’m not much of a hairstylist, and with all that going on, I still manage to make it look straight, flat and boring, and usually end up with all of it in a ponytail or at least with my bangs pinned back because I can’t stand feeling them on my face.

So with this history, I trotted into the salon last week. The salon, here in this smallish town, is supposedly ranked one of the top 200 salons in the country. (I will confess that the reason I went was because my friend told me that they offer you a glass of wine while you get  your haircut. I actually told the stylist that, and she looked at me with just a bit more fear than she had before while telling me that since my appointment was at 9am, she hadn’t thought that would be appropriate, but that if I wanted it, she’d go get me a glass. After the briefest consideration, I assured her that I did not actually WANT a glass of wine, but that I liked knowing I COULD have one if I wanted one. We talked less after that.) Anyway, we consulted initially. (This was before the wine conversation). She told me the same stuff everyone has always told me and I consented to layers and softness around my face, and even let her cut it pretty short. I might’ve uttered the word “bob” at some point, which I think led to the current issue. Which is that I have round head now. It’s a little shorter in the back and I still have bangs, and some stuff coming forward into my face. It actually looks cute when I look in a mirror at the back of my head, but when I turn around and see it with my face it looks quite weird. Maybe because it’s new. Maybe because it’s cute and that is one word that I just have never felt described me in the least… (I’m kinda tall, and not teeny weeny, and just not…cute.) The Major’s first reaction? “Oh, you got ROUND HEAD.” Just what every girl wants to hear when arriving home with a new do. Thanks, buddy!

Maybe it will grow on me. (At least I’m sure it will grow out.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Can we Skip Ahead

NO. I will NOT put on my pants.

Lunchbox is undoubtedly, unequivocally turning into a two-year-old. I am beginning to remember this age with Turbo. The thing is that Turbo has been the teensiest bit on the far right hand side of the difficult spectrum for so long that I sort of just eke along from phase to phase, suffering in some way through them all. And until we got a refresher on what two was really like, I’d forgotten that it really did stand high and above all the rest of the difficult times. In fact, Lunchbox has become so difficult that Turbo is a shining example of wonderfulness in comparison. And actually, Lunchbox’s recent turnaround into tantrumy toddlerhood has made me realize that, really, Turbo has turned himself into a really awesome little guy.

I’m sure I sound like an uncaring and mean mommy when I talk about Turbo being tough pretty much forever… and a lot of my perception probably has to do with the fact that he’s the first kid I’ve had to personally deal with. I mean, I’d had lots of experience with other kids, but this was the first of THIS kind of kid for me (you know, the kind that live at your house and expect food and attention and clothing and stuff?) Anyway, I’m sure that all the “firsts” had a lot to do with my expectations for happy babyhood being dashed on the jagged rocks of reality, but I’ve also had a good deal of outside confirmation that Turbo may have been attempting to break some records in the areas of stubbornness, aggression and anger in the last few years.

Unfortunately, I understand him a bit too well because he is basically a tiny male version of me. And life as me was not super easy until I realized that I made a choice every day to be happy or sad (or in my case, mad) and that the world was not really conspiring against me. Turbo hasn’t made that realization yet, and seeing a four year old struggle with serious angst is not a fun thing. But I talk to him a lot about making choices about how we see things and how others react to the choices that we make. And it actually seems to be working.

But this is not a Turbo post. This is a response to my frustration at having to deal with the worst of Turbo’s phases again, embodied this time in my tiny, usually jolly little lunchmonkey. Lunchbox has always been an easygoing little guy. He was always smiley and cheerful, easy to laugh, very silly. And that’s all still in there somewhere… I hope. Right now he’s just disagreeable. About everything. All the time. Anything that was once just a normal part of our routine is now something to be fought tooth and nail.

When I went into their room this morning to wake them up for school, singing my little “good morning, good morning” song, Turbo jumped out of bed (literally. He scared the crap out of me), and Lunchbox greeted me with “NO.” He repeated the word at least six times in the three feet I carried him from his crib to the changing table, where he proceeded to fight me taking off his diaper, putting on a new one, and flat out refused to put on pants. I let him pick out his own pants and things were going well — we got them on! But then came the time where we needed to take off the PJ shirt. After 15 minutes, he was wearing half of the shirt he’d chosen for school (one arm and the head were in), and I left him on the floor of his room, wailing and protesting.

We got through that eventually, and he went on to protest putting on socks, then shoes. Then breakfast. Then walking. I hope he doesn’t decide that it’s me who is making him breathe and quit doing that.

I thought they were going to call child protective services when I picked him up from school yesterday because I had to bodily force his limbs into the car seat (after 15 minutes of blocking up the curb waiting for him to climb in because lawd forbid I try to help him) and he paired this effort with a soundtrack full of sounds that even I didn’t know he was capable of. At a very high volume. Which continued ALL. The. Way. Home.

He turns two next month. Does anyone remember when this phase ends? Anyone?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Even Wronger

I. Am. an Idiot.

For anyone capable of reciting the months of the year, it was probably clear in my last post that Turbo will certainly be Kindergarten-eligible next fall unless you are using the Mongolian Trinomial calendar, and really — who uses that old thing anymore? I was. confused. And really, that’s nothing new.

We celebrated Columbus Day at our house by visiting the hospital. The Major had some surgery to correct a gym-related accident he had a few weeks ago. In retrospect, this was a fairly major (no pun intended) event, but I managed to downplay it until this afternoon, largely because he wasn’t making a big deal out of it. But when I considered how to pick his recently-under-anesthesia’d ass up from the hospital and get him home, it occurred to me that doing this with two small kids in tow was not going to work. Thus began the scramble. Through a combination of a very good friend (who deserves a post all her own … not sure how we’d be doing living here if she hadn’t moved her family here 6 months before us) and her awesome babysitter, I got that handled. But it was a stressful and tiring day, and I’m expecting it to be a rough night and probably a tough day tomorrow too, with pain, etc. And that’s not even figuring on how to explain to the the tiny guys that Daddy can’t pick them up or hug them, and that they can’t jump on him… Wish us luck!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Was Wrong Again

So, I’ve spent the last, oh, I dunno… four years? thinking that Turbo would be going to Kindergarten next fall. 2012. I mean, I didn’t like sit down and calculate it out when he was born to see what year he’d be packing off to “real” school or anything, but when he turned four I kind of assumed that since next summer he’d turn five, he’d head to preschool that fall. And the other day I was thinking to myself, in kind of a smug parenting, take-the-high-road, make a tough choice cuz it’s good for the kid, kind of way, that maybe he shouldn’t start until the following year. He turns five LATE in the summer, afterall, and he’d probably be one of the very youngest in his kindergarten class. Plus, if he starts in 2012, he’ll be 3 years ahead of Lunchbox in school, which is a good enough span that they won’t know the same kids, might not have the same teachers, etc. I was thinking that it might be better for both boys if they were closer in school, and maybe that was reason enough to hold Turbo until 2013. Then I was talking to the other moms on the street while the kids rode their bikes around the cul-de-sac this afternoon and told them what I was thinking, and they looked all confused. And I got that feeling that you get when you’ve only just realized that you are an idiot, because they were both looking at me like I was sadly misguided. And in a very gentle voice, one of them told me that the cutoff for public school here is September anyway. Turbo’s birthday is at the end of August. So the choice was never mine anyway. The boys will be 2 years apart, as they should be. And we can just take it in the junk for one more year of crazy expensive Montessori preschool. So much for all my big plans next year of saving money, moving Lunchbox to a closer school so that I don’t drive a full hour between leaving the house and getting to work to drop them off, etc… The best laid plans, yada yada. Poop.

But in the long run, this is the right thing for Turbo, who is not the most socially adept small person at this early age. One more year will do him good.

I’m not upset… I guess I was just kind of ready to dive on into the public school system. Some part of me has felt like he’s such a big kid, and he’s ready… maybe it was just me missing the structure of elementary school myself. I loved elementary school. Not so much junior high and high school… and maybe letting Turbo have another year to mature will give him the advantage socially that I didn’t seem to have.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I do me

Don't even think about trying to help him.

The title refers to Lunchbox’s new mantra. This combination of words (or some close approximation of this) is shouted at me any time I dare to set foot into the ever-expanding territory of “things Lunchbox believes he can do for himself” (but mostly cannot.) This is a frustrating stage — with Turbo it lasted from like 4 months until, oh, nowish… Hopefully Lunchbox will soon see that some things are still outside his abilities. These things — like opening the front door, tying his shoes, carrying a ridiculously heavy bag out to the car, fastening his seatbelt, etc., etc., — are the newest source of time vaccuuming in our world. These are all the things that used to take mere seconds to accomplish, but now they take upwards of five minutes each because we must all wait while Lunchbox tries to do the task himself. There is no stepping in until he says, “hepp peeze.” If you dare try to “hepp” before “hepp” is requested, you will have limp screaming baby, stiff screaming baby, screaming baby writhing on the ground or some nasty combination of the three. The only thing certain will be the screaming. I actually have started getting up ten minutes earlier to allow for two instances of “I do” every morning before we manage to get the car moving to school… Growing up! Fun, right? It’s fun. I will keep telling myself that. Fun.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Things That Wait…

When I have a free evening, I feel a lot of pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I also feel, well, free — but getting a couple consecutive hours with which I can do whatever I want starts to feel like a puzzle where I analyze all of the many things on my “want to do but don’t have time” list along with those on the “need to do but don’t have time” list and try to see which things fit into the space available. And then the feeling sets in that if I do all of that and choose a “thing” to do with my free time then it is no longer free. And so I don’t decide. And I usually choose to watch TV (on the Internet since the Major talked me out of subscribing to cable…) or episodes of something I care nothing about on Netflix. (There is a notable exception here – I recently watched seasons 1-4 of Mad Men on Netflix, and I really enjoyed the entire thing. But now that is over and since I don’t have cable, my Don Draper fantasies will have to be put on a back burner for at least two more years I guess, until Netflix gets season 5. By which time I won’t care. But that’s kind of a digression, huh?)

I want to write. Something real. I often think about how this wouldn’t be so hard. I have lots of ideas, and I know how to type. I’m not cocky enough to think that I would be successful if I ever chose to actually try to, like, really write something real… but I’m smart enough to know that I’ll never be successful at writing if I don’t, uh, write. (See, really SUPER smart, huh?)

I want to learn how to quilt. I know. I’m like ninety.

I want to finish the appliqued felt stocking I’m making for Lunchbox before Christmas, since I finished Turbo’s (in just under 1 year, thank you very much. Hoping for a bit quicker completion on this next one.)

I want to finish making curtains for my kitchen. (You had no idea I was so darned crafty, did you?)

I want to edit the book that I’ve been asked to edit. Since I will actually get paid for this, it seems like I’d be more motivated.

I want to finish unpacking the boxes that are STILL HERE…

But I don’t do these things. Or any of the many many other things I really do genuinely want to do.

Because when I have a couple hours unscheduled and uninterrupted, what I want most is to do nothing at all. Or at least to not HAVE to do anything at all. And so I accomplish little. I wonder if this will change when my kids are a little bigger and I’m able to accomplish more stuff during their waking hours, freeing me up to do more stuff when they’re asleep?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flat Tires And Other Fun

Yesterday totally sucked. And the weird thing was how surprised I was to have a day completely suck. I’ve been in such a good mood (which is a new phenomenon because really, I think I’ve been in a bad mood for, like, 30 years or so). But I’ve been in such a good mood that I almost didn’t realize that the day was sucking as one little thing after another didn’t go quite right, and finally the universe (which must have been pissed to realize that I hadn’t noticed that my day was totally blowing monkey balls) finally had to do something really crappy to be sure that it had my attention.

First, I ripped a contact lens while I was rubbing it clean. I took this as a good thing, actually… see, I’m not supposed to be wearing contacts at all right now because I’m having my eyes evaluated for laser surgery in a couple weeks and they must return to their native “no contact” shape. I normally wear rigid gas permeable lenses (hard), and if that’s the case you have to have them out for 3 weeks prior to evaluation. But I have a pair of soft lenses which I don’t usually wear because the vision isn’t as good, and if you wear soft lenses, they only make you go without for 2 weeks prior. So I kind of just “stepped down” from hard to soft for that first week because I hate wearing my glasses in public. Anyway, Monday of the second week should’ve been the first day that I just sucked it up and wore NO contacts as suggested. I was breaking a rule by planning to put in that soft lens, you see, so it was probably good that it got ripped before I could put it in.

Some other random things went wrong in the morning — I suppose all put together, I should have seen a trend… but I still wasn’t getting it. So the Universe decided to get my attention. By blowing out my tire. Luckily, I didn’t even notice. :) I was sitting at my desk, sipping my coffee, when “the owner of a blue..” was paged to the front. I quickly started feeling guilty about something that I must’ve done without realizing it. “Did I hit someone’s car and not even notice? Did I park diagonally and just walk away? Did I leave my door open (this has happened before)?” I really don’t see all that well with my glasses in, and am not super confident driving with them since I wear them so infrequently… but it turns out I was paged because someone heard air hissing from my rear tire. I called AAA to put on my spare, and the tread had totally detaced from the sidewalls. I was lucky it didn’t completely detach while driving with my tiny people in the car. That would have been scary. Luckily we have a car with this Frankenstein-style motley assortment of features, including speed rated tires that only Dale Earnhardt Jr. would really appreciate while driving two kids to the grocery store on a daily basis. Replacing them with anything normal is next to impossible. So I’m driving on my tiny spare for a couple more days until we get it figured out.

I also got some fantastic news at the dentist yesterday… I’ve always had crappy teeth. They look okay, but they’re like an optical illusion. They’re all crowned and now it seems that I’m just one misbitten apple away from having one of my front teeth fracture and crumble, as a result of my stress-induced grinding on my misaligned bite. Braces, the dentist tells me, are a necessity.

Eye surgery… braces… ? What the hell is wrong with me?? I am supposed to be having to worry about this stuff with my kids! Now it looks like I will be choosing between fixing my eyes and fixing my teeth, if we can afford to do either. I’m not even going to go into the jaw popping issue that the dentist brought up, where my jaw locks open if I open my mouth too wide… He thinks that will cause long term problems too and that it will somehow need to be ‘treated.’ Maybe we can treat it with hypnosis. Or by simply ignoring it as I’ve done for thirty-some years now…

Here’s to a better Tuesday!

No Apologies

I won’t begin by apologizing for not posting for a while. It is what it is. I’ve been busy, like everyone else at this time of year. There was the crazy weeklong Thanksgiving travel hullabaloo and lots of work stuff going on in the meantime. And those are the big rocks on the bottom of the cup. The little pebbles and the sand that have filled in every spare air pocket of time have been composed of things like Christmas shopping, considering various work scenarios, trying to write a novel and trying to figure out who that strange man is who lives at my house. Oh, wait, that’s my husband? Cool. He’s kinda cute.

Now that we’ve dispensed with that, I’ll get on to something that made me feel like posting. The gluttony of the holiday season.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. My house is decorated top to bottom as soon after Thanksgiving as I can manage. And I would keep it all up until Valentine’s Day if I didn’t worry that the neighbors would think it was tacky. I’m loving all the nooks and crannies that the new house offers that are just begging to hold some of my holiday treasures — less loving having to tell Lunchbox continually that pretty much every one of these treasures is “NOT FOR YOU! NOT A TOY! NO NO NO!” He thinks this is a new Christmas Carol that Mommy especially likes.

I love that people become more generous this time of year and go out of their way to help each other. (Let’s just forget that nasty incident that we all read about at Walmart on Black friday. Doesn’t everyone Christmas shop online now, anyway?) My favorite blog, Rants from Mommyland, did a wonderful mommy-helping-mommy thing this year that I got to take part in, and my office also had lots of donation and collection opportunities to help those less fortunate.

With all this giving going on, it is hard for me to watch my tiny gluttons completely miss the spirit of the season. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got spirit… particularly Turbo. He informs me at least six times a day of a new thing that he wants that he believes Santa should give him. Today in the car on the way to school I told him how we had sent a gift card for Target to another family that couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for their kids so that they would be able to have some toys under the tree. I explained how some children were happy to have even one gift, and how maybe we didn’t need to worry about how MANY things Santa would bring, and instead that we could just feel happy that we could count on Santa at all. I told him about how some children went to bed each night not knowing if they would have food to eat; that some kids just like him didn’t even have their own bed to sleep in or their own houses to live in. I made myself cry, so I know I was really hitting some poignant issues. I was sure that something I said would get through and was just waiting for the recognition to color the next very meaningful thing that he said. So here’s how he responded:

Turbo: “Yeah, Mom, okay, but what about when I turn five?”

Me: “What does that have to do with what I was just telling you?”

Turbo: “Will I still get lots of stuff when I turn five?”

Me: “WHA? Were you even listening? You completely missed the point.”

Lunchbox: “Saaan Claaassss ga ga bada, MY LUNCHBOX!!” (it may be somewhat ironic that one of the only words that Lunchbox can say clearly is now “lunchbox.” I believe it’s safe to say that he also missed the point of my diatribe on how to appreciate the fortunes we enjoy and staying aware that there are those less fortunate than us.)

I’m trying not to feel judgmental of my four year old. I know that for kids, the spirit of Christmas is the sheer wonder that they get to open so many presents all on one day… they love the lights and the glitter and the songs and the magic, and it’s kind of hard to get anything through the thick layer of chocolatey goodness that seems to coat all kid-related Christmas topics. And maybe I shouldn’t try at this age. I just don’t want to raise unappreciative kids. I want them to KNOW that they are not just lucky, but ridiculously spoiled (thanks, grandmas…) I want them to appreciate that there are others who are not so lucky and that they can help. Maybe they aren’t ready for that at 2 and 4.

Any suggestions on finding ways to illustrate the concept of GIVING to others would be very welcome!

Happy holidays to all…

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Turbo Gets His Kicks

Turbo started soccer Tuesday night. It happens all the time, for lots of families — kids start new sports. But this was a big f’ing deal. I have never been so proud of him.

I should let you know that we’ve tried Turbo in an organized sports class once before. We tried Tai Kwon Do when we lived in the desert. And it didn’t go well. He had the physical agility and coordination necessary, but the concept of listening to a teacher and doing what the other kids were doing was not something he was interested in six months ago.

This was different. I was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to follow directions, listen to the coach, or keep himself from beating the crap out of any other kid who happened to touch his fancy new red soccer ball. I was worried that I’d be taking home a sobbing mess who screamed “I don’t want to play soccer, I don’t want to play soccer,” over and over all the way home.

I was wrong… I have never been more proud of Turbo. He listened. He followed directions. He KICKED ASS. And I shot photos the whole time, and the kid had a huge grin on his face in most of them. I saw talent, coordination, willingness to learn and most importantly, FUN! He was so excited about it all night, and he kept that enthusiasm throughout the next day. I couldn’t stop telling him how proud he made me, and not because he is actually GOOD at soccer. Because he had fun. Because he participated.

I have a kid who is a lot like me. WAY too introspective, WAY too controlling, WAY too anal. And it makes for a hard life. So I’ve made it my personal crusade to keep this kid of mine from focusing on the negative all the time, to find the silver lining that I always struggled to see. Every day on the way to school we talk about why today is going to be a great day. And every day on the way home he tells me one thing that was awesome about his day. Sometimes he has to really think hard to find something, but he does it. And soccer has made all of that effort to lift him totally unnecessary for the past 24 hours (and maybe tomorrow too!). He was proud of himself. He was happy. He was confident.

It. Was. Awesome.

I vowed to never post my kids’ real names or their photos here in order to maintain some anonymity in a scary world… and I’m struggling with that because the only way to show you how amazing he was is to post a photo. So I am breaking a rule tonight. Here is Turbo. Being awesome.