Friday, June 26, 2009

Children are Different: the List

1. One of my children slept poorly. He/she hated to go to sleep, hated to wake up, and as soon as he/she could move came into our room in the middle of every night. He/she still does this.

2. One of my children slept great. Even in the hospital, he/she slept like a little baby log for hours at a stretch. He/she still sleeps great.

3. One of my children is afraid of very little except house fires. He/she watches scary movies, picks up biting bugs, climbs on the roof by him- or herself.

4. Interestingly, this is not the one who sleeps well.

5. The good sleeper, however, is not so good a sleeping companion. He/she flops, kicks, squeaks and sleep-talks, all while fast asleep.

6. The poor sleeper, once asleep, is difficult to wake.

7. Unless the smoke alarm goes off.

8. One of my children will eat anything, more or less (although see #9/10). The other child will commonly refuse dessert, especially if it comes with conditions, like eating something that has been contaminated by parsley or other leafy foods.

9. One of my children loves meat and his/her favorite dish is a big hunk of beef or salmon. He/she hates salad. Salad makes him/her cry.

10. One my children loves salad and his/her favorite dish is a taco salad. He/she hates unadulterated chunks of meat or fish. These make him/her cry.

11. I've kind of given up trying to cook meals that make everyone happy. Instead, I stuff eggplant with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes and refuse to make an alternative dinner.

12. This makes everyone cry. Even me. It turns out I don't like eggplant, either.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Camp Moose

We went camping on Tuesday at a campground a little west of here, in the mountains. It started out typically: "I don't want to camp!" shouted Si, groaning and falling on the floor. Meanwhile, Helen piled half her room on the "to pack" pile. Two hours later, as we pulled out of town, Si was chattering joyfully and Helen was asking nervously about rain and clouds and lightning and tornadoes.

It did rain, a little, but not much, and there was no lightning (which I was thankful for, too--I'm not one of those who appreciates the spirituality of storms, esp. when in them). We found a campground that was completely empty (SCORE) and way far away from the road (double score). We set up the tents (my folks were with us, too), made dinner, built a fire, had a brief moment of character-building ennui (Si: "I don't have Space Invaders OR Leapster! What is there to do? It's boring!"), and then ate the fish Mike brought home for dinner.

Si also got to sharpen sticks for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. He used a knife for this. Between the knife and the fire I got a chance to showcase my split parenting personality. In one ear I have the boyscout coach: knives and fires are good for kids! Teaches them responsibility and self-sufficiency! Don't hover! In the other ear comes the helicopter parent: OMG he's going to set the entire FOREST on fire! ("Put that blazing stick BACK in the fire!") Yikes--what if he stabs out his eye with the knife? If he does, would it be better to drive out to a hospital or try to call Flight for Life direct? ("Be CAREFUL, sweetheart!")

I get really irritated with myself when I do this--just sick to death of how my voice is constantly narrating the negative. While the voice is not exactly not mine, it doesn't really feel like me, this voice--the me I know is easy-going and relaxed. I guess the obvious remedy would be to try to just be QUIET for, say, a week. Stop trying to constantly organize the world with my vocal cords. Just let it be, you know?

I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, photos:

After breakfast, we had some visitors. (Moose! Not a cow and a calf, as you might expect, but a young bull and a calf.)

Helen was a little dubious about the moose.

Silas, meanwhile, got busy figuring things out. One of the things he learned was how to shoot good close-up photos of plants. Not bad, eh?

Monday, June 15, 2009


"No, Mommy," Helen says when she catches sight of me watching. "Don't look at me. Don't listen."

"Okay," I say obediently, looking down at my computer. But I lie: I'm totally listening. She's playing on the floor with the Playmobil stuff, and apparently all of the villagers, as well as the pirates and the pilot, are in preschool. A few moments ago they were sitting in a circle, playing Duck Duck Goose. Now they're obviously having naptime. Or else someone's holding up the bank--hard to tell. However: Silas isn't playing. More likely to be naptime.

I love listening to the kids playing, especially when one is alone. They crouch over their blocks, or their playmobil, or their arrayed waterguns, whispering serenely to themselves--not fighting, not whining, not asking me for snacks or drinks or to get down the art projects box. I have to be sneaky about it, because if they see me the spell is broken and they start to remember all the things I could be doing for them. But it's awesome. It's almost as good as watching them sleep.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No more pencils, no more books, etc.

So this is interesting: Si didn't WANT school to get out. "Are you looking forward to the last day of school?" everyone would ask, all excited. Summer! Freedom! Et cetera!

"No," he would say in a small voice. "Oh," they would say, confused, and change the subject. Unless they were me, and then they'd press for details. "Well, why NOT?" (Aren't you glad you're not my kid?)

I must admit I was dreading that the answer would be because then I'll have to spend more time with you.

And it may have been, but he was too savvy to say that to my face. Instead he mumbled something about changing grades and having to leave his favorite teacher and so forth.

As any mother with grade school kids will know, I, too, did not want school to get out. And yes, this was partly because I'll have to spend more time with my kids. Having the whole house to myself for long stretches of time is beautiful, and writing just isn't the same without it. Also, too often "quality time with my kids" devolves into "quality nagging time." Time to turn off the TV! Play outside! Please close the screen door! Where do your dirty dishes go, again? What are you going to do for exercise today? And for the love of god, STOP SHOUTING!

And so on. It's mind-numbing for all involved, and actually for non-involved parties within earshot as well.

However, I'm hoping that this summer will be different. Helen has daycare three days a week, so those will be more quiet days, when I try to get work done. On the days when I have them both, though, we're going to hit the city. This place is lousy with museums, many of them free. There are hundreds of playgrounds--we can visit a new one each week and not be done by August. We can hike ("we hate hikes, don't we, Silas?"). We can play in the creek (I bring a book. It's awesome). We can go swimming, especially when this cool-stormy weather pattern we've been having in Denver clears up. We can play minigolf.

Summer: I AM looking forward to it. And dreading it, but mostly in a I-hope-I-don't-fuck-this-one-up way, which is mostly good.

What about you? Do you have fun summer plans?