Category Archives: Family

Conversations With a 7 Year Old (Temporary) Only Child

I .

“Mom, what’s a bachelor party?”

“It’s a party that men have before their wedding, one last night to go out and get crazy before they’re married.”

“Do they take their girlfriends?”

“No, it’s usually just their guy friends.”

“That’s no fair that girls don’t get a party!”

“Oh no, if girls want to, they can have a bachelorette party. Same idea, just all girls.”

“No boys?”

“Nope.”

“So you just go out with your own kind? All girls or all guys?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

(2 minutes of silence)

“Mom, I think those parties are really smart.”

“How come?”

“I think it’s a good idea to go out one last night, and figure out for sure if you’re gay or not.”

(More silence,while I try to unravel where that went off the rails.)

II.

“How was daycare today?”

(Big sigh) “Pretty much torture.”

“Oh, really? Which was worse? The jumpy castle, or the mini-golf? How dare those sadists put you though this? This clearly contravenes the United Nations Convention Against Torture! HAS ANYONE CALLED THE UN??!???”

“Mom, do you ever get tired of your own drama?”

III.

(We tried to go to a movie. Their Internet was borked, so no credit cards, the cash confused the hell out of the teenage cashiers, and the theatre’s Fro Yo stand was down. Screw that. We improvised by hitting Marble Slab instead.)

“What do you want, kiddo?”

“Chocolate. Large. With peanut butter cups and smarties and sprinkles and peppermint patties.”

“Sounds messy…..”

(Fixes me with the iciest, most laser-like glare on which I have ever been on the receiving end.)

Good.”

(Turns back to detachedly supervising the mix-in process.)

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Because I Didn’t Know What to Say This Morning

Dear Friend,

We’ve known each other for 20 years. I’ve known you since you were a gangly teenager with a goofy smile and a wonderfully warped sense of humor. (If I’m telling all the tales, and I don’t even know if you remember this, through a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings, you were the first boy to see me completely nekkid. To your credit, you did not gawk. Nicely done). Through the mixed miracle that is the Internet, we’ve seen pictures of each others lives on the book of faces, you’ve kicked my ass at words with friends, I’ve appreciated your comments on my blog. And then, this morning, the Internet brought me your message. A message sent out to a select group of people, tastefully announcing that you and your wife are getting separated.

After I got over my mild jealousy that you’d figured out such a great way to get the word out (when it happened to me, I had no idea how to let people know. The papers won’t publish un-wedding announcements…), I found it just a little bit tough to breathe.

I lose my breath every time I hear it. I have been hearing it a lot, these days. There’s something about this age we’ve all achieved, all us 30-40-ish folks. It seems like some of us are all “Oh HELL no, I refuse to let the time I have left be miserable/unfulfilling/painful/unproductive/etc., etc.”

It’s happening quite a bit. And I’m shocked that it still shocks me.

But it does.

And once the shock subsides, I go into some Momma Bear/Divorce Fairy mode. I want to bring the person into my living room and make them tea and give them a nice quilt to curl up with and close the curtains so they can feel comfortable crying the Ugly Cry. And I want to tell them all the stuff I learned. So here, all I can think of at this moment, is thecompletely unsolicited advice I can muster.

1. Cry. Cry a lot. And don’t freak out when the crying starts at uncomfortable and awkward times/places. People understand. And you need to do it. Don’t deny the ugly hurt. It’s happening, and pretending it’s not will only make things worse. You’re a dude, so I don’t know that this will translate for you, but the whole separation thing felt like childbirth to me. I kept feeling like I could go around the contractions. At a point, I realized I had to stop skirting them, face them, go through them. Same thing with the emotional pain. Go ahead and mourn. You might feel like there’s been a death. There has.

2. Go to mediation. The government provides a free/cheap service. It was invaluable for us. It made us talk. Having a stranger in the room made us act like the best possible people we could be. And it let us map out how our lives would work during this crazy-ass, upside down time. Kind of like triage.

3. I know you want to handle this maturely. But when things can’t stay civil (and believe me, it is really, really hard to talk about things like money and kids without thinking “I used to love you, and do stuff with you, and we had so many awesome inside jokes, and you want to haggle over the fucking lawn-mower???”), don’t sweat it too hard. It’s not a straight line. There can/probably will be setbacks.

Having said that….

4. Keep your eyes on the prize. Picture how you want your family to work a year, 5 years, 10 years from now. And act accordingly. What helped for me was looking at a divorced couple I knew, who came to their son’s school plays together, and still talked and laughed, and even though in the beginning I never thought I’d get there, having role models helped.

5. The co-parenting was harder than I thought it would be. At first, I didn’t know why. I honestly believed that even though my ex and I didn’t love each other, we could parent with no problems. And when that didn’t happen, I was a bit mystified. We parent together wonderfully now, and I went back to when I first felt that way, to figure out what had been wrong. The turning point, for me, happened during a discussion about money. There was a moment when things got incredibly heated. I was as stressed as I’d ever been(which was saying a lot). And then my ex looked at me, and used a phrase I hadn’t heard him say since back when we’d been young, and this person who’d become a complete stranger to me since the day we separated? Well, all of a sudden, I could see him again.

I had been trying to parent with a stranger. And who can trust a stranger?

Which leads to

6. It gets better.

Time, in and of itself, does most of the work for you. It puts distance between you and the ugliness. It dulls the pointy memories. It makes you realize you’re still breathing, and this thing hasn’t ended you.

In my case, it made my life so much better. I was pouring ridiculous amounts of time and energy into something that turned around and sucked all that energy right back out of me, and then some. When it ended, I put that energy into other things. Figuring out who the hell adult-me is. Being a waaay better parent. And being excited about life. Probably for the first time, ever.

All of this might apply to you. None of it might apply to you. I don’t know. But it’s what I have to give you. Plus my number, which you have, never hesitate to use it.

Virtual hugs and mega-good thoughts,

Ginny

Technology is Awesome! (Or: We’ve Veered Into the Ridiculous, Here)

The Scene:  My Living Room

Me, at my laptop, fucking around doing very important, writerly things.

(Distinctive “bing-bong” tone lets me know there’s a new text.)

Walk to the kitchen, clear across the house, where phone is charging.

Text is from sister.  Who is upstairs.  And was directly over my head, when I was comfy with laptop.

“Can you come kill a spider?”

Spider meets an untimely end.  Sister is grateful.

That was kind of ridiculous.  And awesome.

Fin.

(spider image from here)

Do You Think Mia Hamm’s Mom Ever Had This Moment?

The Girl had her very first soccer game last night.

She ran.  A lot.  She made contact with the ball once,  maybe twice.  She sat on a blanket with her team.  She shook hands at the end of the game.

And I was proud of my baby girl.

But it had nothing to do with soccer.

Because while I can appreciate that she is learning new skills, learning how to relate to others, learning how to be part of a team, I have to admit, all things sports-related leave me feeling a little “meh”.

No, the pride was all inspired off the field.

Just before half-time, The Girl seems a little off.  She’s looking around, maybe dancing a little.  And I walk back in my mind, to when I was running around the house, trying to feed supper to two excited kids, get them into soccer gear, and remember the damn water bottles.  I remember telling her to make sure she went to the bathroom before we left.

But I don’t remember her doing it.

Uh oh.

At first, I try to convince her that she’ll be able to hold it.  She’s not buying it.

I scan the area.  All the adjacent buildings; the school, the community hall, the rink shack, all closed.  We don’t know anyone who lives within a block of the place.  And I’m not taking her all the way home.

As I try my hardest not to curse her for not being a born a boy (because damn, I really love that about raising a boy), I panic and weigh my options.

We have no other choice.

We find a relatively dense bunch of pine trees, walk between them.  And I tell her how this is going to go down.

Watch out for your soccer shorts.  And your shoes.  And try to balance.  And try not to get it on yourself.  And be quick so no one sees this.

She was unconvinced.  This kind of went against everything I had ever taught her about etiquette, bathroom or otherwise.  But she’s always up for a challenge.  And she REALLY had to go.

Copping a successful squat?  Really damn hard.

Getting it right on your first try?  Genius.

Not one drop on those shorts, not one stray trail down the leg, not one wet shoe lace.

She can score goals all damn season.  And I could not be as proud as I was last night.

Good job, kiddo.

Wherein I Sell My Inner Child Out

When I was a kid,

I knew pretty much everything about everything.  It was a sweet, sweet time.

Or, rather, it would have been, had I not been burdened with a brother and sisters.

Whenever I would misbehave, act selfishly, my parents would respond with an accusation:  “You always WANTED to be an only child!”  To which I would (mentally and silently) reply, “Duh!”

Those siblings cramped my style.  A lot.

Which is why I am absolutely flabbergasted, gobsmacked, stupefied, by a couple of things I’ve done, lately.  (OK, maybe not that surprised.   My childhood penchant for exaggeration?  Delightfully intact.)

I’m on the Twitter.  So is my sister.  As soon as I knew she was there, I promptly followed her.  (And not just because that’s what decent people do.  Ahem.)  And then I waited.

And waited.

Beeotch wouldn’t follow me back.

I watched her follow other people, gain more followers herself.  Still nothing.

I even publicly called her out.  Still, no follow.

After the fifth or sixth passive aggressive note/email/facebook message, she finally followed me.  After pointing out that, “I will follow you. But just remember,you used to give me shit for that.”

Consider me burned.

And when she wasn’t busy following the hell out of me when we were kids (to the point where I once jumped out a bedroom window to get away from her), she delighted in the occasional game of “Repeat”.

You know the one, where you just say everything that your older sibling says, right after they say it.  All 3 of them would do it to me.  Repeat what I said till it drove me around the fragging bend, forcing me into complete silence, waiting patiently to pounce on my first utterance.

Made me crazy.

So I’m tooling around the app store on my phone, when I come across Talking Carl.

He’s a little red dude, and is FREAKING ADORABLE.

He laughs when tickled, flinches when poked, yells indignantly when “hurt”.

And repeats everything you say.

Being parroted as a kid bugged the living shit out of me.  And last week, I paid $0.99 for the privilege.

I have SOOOO sold out my childhood self.

The Murraying Kind

I don’t think this is my daughter’s first time around.

Although she’s only 3 in this life, I’m pretty sure she’s had a crack or two at this planet, previously.

If I had to guess when her last life here on Earth took place?  I’ d say somewhere in the 1950s.

Because she has the soul of the Perfect Housewife.

She’s been able to crack eggs, one-handed with no shell bits in the bowl, since she was one and a half.  Last year, she asked for her own vacuum cleaner. (I didn’t think she was serious.  She was.)  Her grandmother called me while The Girl was at her house, asking when we’d baked pies.   I laughed out loud.  (We don’t make pies, we buy them.)  She went on to explain that The Girl was using an old-fashioned, crank-handled apple peeler.

(Image from here.)

With no help.  And no instructions.

I had no explanation.

The Girl is never without a baby doll, who she is potty training and diapering and burping, and no she can’t just leave them and come have lunch because she is responsible for them, duh.

And when she’s not taking care of her babies, or cooking, or cleaning,

she’s playing Marrying.  (Which, in her own particular dialect, comes out sounding more like “Murraying”.)

I do not understand.

I have never, ever pitched marriage to her as a plan.  I’m not against marriage, per se.  I just don’t see it as a destination.  But I think she does.

She finds weddings fascinating.

She marries everything to everything else.

Barbie & Ken get married.

Her spoon and her fork get married.

When left with nothing else, she’ll even marry crayons.  (Can you imagine Blue talking about the wedding night to his blushing bride, Red? “Oh, I am gonna color you so hard.  You won’t be able to tell where the Blue starts and the Red ends.  When we get done there’s just gonna be a big puddle of purple left, you dig?  Aw, yeaaah!”  Anyway…)

We had a moment, tonight.  To be by ourselves and talk.

I asked her why she wanted to get married.

She just smiled.

I asked how old she thought she should be, when the deal goes down.

“How old were you?”

I told her I was 23, and that was too young.  She nodded, agreed.

“Are you going to marry a man or a woman?”

She laughs, looks at me like I’m slow.  She will marry a boy, she says, because she will want to have babies.  I start to explain that families with 2 moms can have babies, and families with 2 dads can have….but she senses this explanation is going to be bigger than she has patience for, so she tells me she will have 2 babies.  One will be named Tito, the other Apple.  (P.S., the boy is Apple.)  And she tells me that one day Tito and Apple will have babies, and that she will be their grandma, and….

I interrupt.  “You know, you don’t just get married.  You have to be married.  And when you get married, you promise you will stay married.   For your whole life.”

She tells me she knows that, stops just short of rolling her eyes at me.

And she tells me that’s why she is going to marry a nice boy, so she will like him for her whole life.

“What would a nice boy be like?”

According to The Girl, a nice boy will kiss you on the forehead and buy you fries and pick up the babies when they cry and open the car door for you.

(Image from here.)

She’s not entirely wrong, you know.  She’s kind of got a lot of the elements figured out, already, at the age of 3.

Nearly as figured out as I did at the age of 23.

Family – A Play in One Scene

“Oh my god.  This is it.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not going to post today.  I’m going to miss a day of Holidailies.”

“Ooooh, that sucks.  Didn’t you miss a day when you did it last year?”

“Nope.  Posted every day.  But I have nothing today.  Na to the da.”

“Just write about your day.”

“What about it?”

“Well, you could write about The Boy, the diarrhea, ….”

“I’m not writing about poop.  I’m just not.”

“Did anything happen that wasn’t poop related?”

“No.  No it didn’t.”

“Damn.”

fin