Friday, August 31, 2012

One Missed Call

The other day as I left work, I checked my phone, as one does, and saw that I had one missed call. I also had a voice mail message.

I listened to the message and it was from Ms. F, the teacher’s aide in O’s kinderkids classroom.

She said cheerfully, “I’m sorry I missed you. I was just calling to give you a report on how Olivia is doing in kinderkids. I’ll try to get in touch with you some other time.”

Ahhhh, how could I have missed this call? Now my entire evening would be plagued by worries about whether the report would be a good one or a bad one. Egads!

Olivia seems cheerful enough each evening after her three hours at school each day. She still gives her one-shoulder shrug if I ask what she learned. But she will tell us what she had for snack each day. And she’ll tell me whether or not she used the bathroom at school.

She won’t tell me if she talked to her teachers, though. And this is the area that worries me the most. She went through her entire year of preschool without ever uttering a single word to either teacher. I know. I really, really know.

She spoke just fine with her therapists, both the physical therapist and the speech therapist. But the teachers? Not so much.

I couldn’t take just sitting around waiting for another phone call so I emailed her teacher the next day to check in.
Her reply was lovely:
Hi Tommie,
Olivia is doing very well. She will respond when I ask her questions even if it is very quiet. She comes up to the board and counts with me. She tries to sing along to the songs. I can see her lips moving and she is really quiet but I know she is trying. She smiles and I can tell she is having fun. She works with the other children as well. So far I am very happy with how she is doing. Keep working on writing her name, count with her, and practice ABC’s. Reading to her each night is wonderful as well!! If I have any concerns I will contact you. If you have any feel free to contact me through e-mail or phone anytime.
Thank You

Whew…She’s talking, to her teachers, in the classroom. Okay, so we need to work on volume, but this is just the second week and she’s TALKING TO HER TEACHERS!! Yes, I’m shouting because I’m so proud of that girl. She’s matured so much in the past year and she seems to understand WHY she’s in that classroom and she’s not squandering her time there. She’s learning and she’s talking.

So we’re going to keep on reading and counting and singing the ABCs. We’re going to celebrate every single hurdle she overcomes, starting with talking to someone who is not biologically related to her.

I don’t expect every school report to be good but it’s nice to have the first one be this positive.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Phone Home

Ahhh, the ring of a phone. Can anything be quite so exhilarating one moment and so irritating the next?

Alyssa wants a phone. We say no. She suggested we get her one and not even activate it, just wait until she’s old enough and then she can use it. Right. We explained the lifespan of the cell phone. By the time we think she’s old enough to actually have and use a phone of her own, one we’d bought now would be sadly outdated.

No phone.

Okay, we aren’t completely heartless. I’ve explained my reasoning behind why I don’t think my nine year old needs a phone. She’s never anywhere with anyone other than me, my mom, my stepdad or Tom. She is never anywhere she’d need to use a phone and not have a trusted adult nearby with their phone handy for her to use.

And!!! She doesn’t even like to talk on the phone! I know, right? So why does she even want a phone?

Because one of her friends in her class has one, that’s why.

I gave her a couple of reasons I would accept for getting a fourth grader a phone. For example, my stepsister and her husband are divorced. The stepsister, let’s call her M, has two daughters. Their father is her ex-husband. I could completely understand if she or her ex were to get their older daughter, also nine, a phone of her own to use in case something happened to while they were at one parent’s or the other’s house and she needed to get in touch with the parent who wasn’t present.

Poor Alyssa, her parents are still together. Wahhh.

To be fair, she’s taking if pretty well. She’s good natured when we tell her know even as she sits and plots plans c, d, e and f.

Oh yes, the other reason she wants a phone? She thinks she’ll get one of those fancy phones that has the ability to play games. My phone has no games. I refuse to let her download any.

Why yes, I am the meanest mom this side of the Indiana state line. Why do you ask?

I just do not think MY nine year old needs a phone. And that’s what I’ll keep telling her as she comes to me with all the reasons SHE thinks she does need on. Ha, good luck chickadee.

I will say that on this, Tom and I are on the same page. Heck, we’re on the same word on the page. We’re thinking 14. But this isn’t set in stone. We can revisit as needed. It’s what we do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I think I've admitted before that I was a band geek in high school. I even attended band camp one summer. Nothing 'fun' happened like it did in that one movie.

So when my mom got a piano from her sister, everyone assumed I'd be the one to teach Alyssa and eventually Olivia how to play.

Except...I haven't read music in, oh, twenty years.

Alas, one does what one must.

So I picked up the beginner piano book my aunt included with the piano and...we're learning.

Both Alyssa and I are learning as we go. I've taught myself two songs and have in turn taught them to Alyssa. My mom has had the piano for four days. I'm calling it a good start.

The flute didn't not come naturally to me all those years ago in fifth grade when I first picked it up. I never aspired to be better than third chair. Hint: There were only five us. One was first chair, two were second chair and that left two uf us as third chair. I was okay with that.

I truly believe the band director chose me to be the drum major of the marching band because the band itself wouldn't miss my flute playing. Okay, and I could march in a straight line.

But all that considered, we're loving this piano thing. It's fun and as long as it continues to be fun, we're going to pursue being a musical family.

Go us.

Sour Grapes and a Round Plastic Bowl

Each evening while I cook dinner, I find time to clean out Alyssa’s lunch box, washing her sandwich and fruit containers so they can be filled the next morning with yummy goodness.

On Monday, I saw that she hadn’t eaten all the grapes I’d packed, so I put the entire container in the refrigerator to send with her the next day.

Tuesday evening, some of those grapes were still there. Maybe six of them. That’s two days of sitting around in the locker until lunch time and then going back into her locker to make their way to Gram’s house and home again.

I kind of figured by that point, the grapes had lived their lifespan and it was time for them to make their way into the old ice cream container we use for old food that will be taken out to the compost hole.

Tom…had other ideas.

When he saw those grapes in there with the coffee grounds and the ends of an onion, he, well, he kind of lost his mind for a few minutes.

Okay, to be fair, we’ve had this conversation several times. Tom hates waste. He detests it. He can’t stand to see what he considers perfectly good food thrown away.

Alas, he and I have different definitions of ‘perfectly good food.”

So he dug those grapes out and washed them off. He put them in a round plastic Tupperware container and tossed them in the fridge, giving the refrigerator door a resounding slam just for emphasis.

He glared at me for a while, just to make sure I knew exactly how unhappy he was with my actions.

I apologized once. But only once. After that, I kind of decided he needed to get over it. I explained, once, that I kind of thought after two days of being left out, those grapes were no longer worth saving. But then I assured him in the future, I’d ASK him if he wanted Alyssa’s uneaten fruit before making the unilateral decision to toss them in the compost.

Later in the evening, after he’d cheerfully cut a watermelon plucked from the vine in our very own backyard, Tom was looking for a bowl.

He was very frustrated that he couldn’t find this bowl. It was a very specific bowl he wanted. He looked in the corner cabinet, above the coffee pot, and in the dishwasher. He demanded to know where the round plastic bowl was.

I struggled from beneath an almost-asleep Olivia, walked calmly to the refrigerator, opened it, pulled out bowl holding six old grapes and asked with nary a glimmer of condescension, “Is this the bowl you mean?”

He had the grace to look chagrined by the entire scene. He apologized and said that we couldn’t all be perfect. I didn’t take that comment personally since I’d said something pretty close to those exact words a few days before.

In the end, it was all good. He found a different round plastic bowl for the watermelon and apologized for being sort of an ass over a few old grapes and a round plastic bowl.

And because I am perfect (or not) I forgave him.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


A few weeks ago, Julie and I were talking about gymnastics and ballet classes and I mentioned that I’d love to find a class for Olivia but that I think we need to wait at least another year before enrolling her.

Julie gently suggested I look for a special needs class for Olivia.

I was not offended by this suggestion, I just pointed out that we live in a VERY small town, with several other very smaller towns about 40 miles in every direction. Between those small towns? Cornfields. Really.

Anyway, it made me think about inclusion and what that means.

I am all for inclusion in school, in extracurricular activities, etc. as long as inclusion doesn’t make the other kids in the class, special needs or not, lose any quality to their own experience of the class.

When Olivia took gymnastics back when she was three and four, I started her out in a Mommy & Me class. It was fine. She loved it. The other kids in the class also had their mommies there with them and everyone was happy.

But the timing got weird and we had to switch to a Kindergym class and this one didn’t include the mommies. At least, it didn’t include the other mommies. Olivia’s mommy? She stayed and helped out in the class.

The reason I stayed and worked with Olivia was because I felt her needs would eclipse those of the rest of the students. Her coach/teacher would have to spend so much extra time with Olivia that the other children would lose out.

I don’t worry about Olivia acting out at school these days. I worry about her withdrawing to the point that she’s not getting anything out of it. But she’s not likely to disrupt the entire class when she does this in the way that a child who throws a tantrum would do so.

This goes for classes like gymnastics, ballet and even school. This year at school, there are only nine kids in O’s class. There is a teacher and a teacher’s assistant. I feel like that is perfect for O’s needs this year.

But as she grows and moves from class to class, we will have to evaluate what her placement should be. I want her around her typical peers because I know she tends to learn more/better from them. Peer pressure and all that.

If at any point, though, it seems Olivia is distracting her classmates or taking more than her fair share of the teacher’s time and attention, we’ll reconsider her placement in a typical classroom.

I know all kids act out, whether they have special needs or not. Some kids are just brats. Or wait, some kids have bratty days where they act out more than they do on other, less bratty days.

And like all kids, Olivia has her moments. These are not the moments I worry about. I think about day in and day out attention needed for her to grasp the things her typical peers don’t have to work at. If those things start to require more of her teacher’s time, don’t I owe it to the typical kids in her class to reevaluate her placement?

I think what I’m trying to say is that the special needs of some don’t trump the typical needs of others.

I have two children. One has special needs. The other has typical needs. I think they both have a right to an education that will take them to their fullest potential as well as a right to extracurricular activities that bring them joy.

But those rights are no greater than any other person’s rights to those same things. And if either of my children started to act out in school or activities to the detriment of their classmates, something needs to be done to fix that issue, even if it means pulling them out of the activity or finding a new way to educate them.

My job as their parent is teach them that yes, they’re needs are important but not necessarily more important than the needs of others.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Ballet Bun and a Piano

Before we headed to the lake yesterday, Olivia asked me to put her hair in a ballet bun. Now, her hair is amazing these days but bun length…it’s just not quite there yet.

I did the best I could. I pulled it into a high ponytail and then, with the last twist of the ponytail holder, I left her hair folded under. It was bunnish enough for her. In fact, she loved that ballet bun. She pirouetted her way around the bathroom, down the stairs. Okay, wait. She didn’t actually pirouette down the stairs. That would have been quite a sight, don’t you think?

But once she made her way down those stairs, she pirouetted her way through the living room, into the kitchen and into the family room searching for someone, anyone, to show her ballet bun to.

Tom made all the appropriate ooohs and aaaaahs at her bun and she pranced away, happy with the acclaim she’d received.

She told me she was going to swim with her ballet bun. I told her that was a wonderful idea.

Alyssa, on the other hand, prefers to let her hair flow free, even though I’ve explained so many time (SO. MANY. TIMES.) that if she’d let me braid it or even just put it in a ponytail before she swims she’ll save herself so much pain that comes from tangles. She doesn’t care. She will not swim with her hair confined in any way. Her hair must be free. Free!!!

Whatever. I sometimes forget that kids are actually their own people and not an extension of me.

On our way home from the lake we met my mom at one of her sister’s house. Aunt E had a piano she wanted to get rid of. Tom nixed the idea of us moving it into our house so my mom decided to make room for it. But my mom and step-dad needed Tom’s help loading the thing into his truck and then getting it into the house when they got home.

The kids flipping love it. They pounded on that thing all evening. I even managed to teach Alyssa a one-handed version of Mary Had A Little Lamb. I know, who knew I could teach piano, considering I’ve never played one in my life. And although I did play the flute for seven years, I’ve never really considered myself a musician. I was never really good enough to own that title. But I do plan to continue to help Alyssa. Aunt E was kind enough to give my mom all her beginner piano music books.

The fun never ends around here, is what I’m saying.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Last Hoorah

We made our way to the lake today in a last ditch effort to squeeze just a little more fun out of the waning summer.

And it was good. There weren't many people at the beach, the water was chilly at first but once you took that plunge and got all wet, it was refreshing.

The sand was hot and the sun gave us all one last bit of sunny glow to our skin.

We were planning to make this trip yesterday but Tom got a text in the middle of the night on Friday/Sunday. It let us know that the newest grandson had been born.

So we put off our lake trip so Tom could head to Huntington to see Noah, born three weeks early but weighing six pounds, seven ounces. That means we weighed more than both my girls. Alyssa weighed six pounds even. She was only eight days early. Olivia was NINE days late and weighed only five pounds two ounces.

But whatever. I saw pictures, Noah is beautiful. But then, what baby isn't?

This makes five grandchildren for Tom. Yikes, huh? Or maybe I should reframe and say, "Yay!"

So the lake trip was the icing on the cake that is a new baby in the family. Yeah. Okay.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Alyssa declared last Monday, the night before school, that the first day is one of the days where they just don’t get anything done.

“We don’t do anything on the first day!” she crowed.

She was just so excited to see her friends and thrilled beyond words that her teacher had put her and one of her BFFs next to each other.

I warned her not to disrupt the class by talking to T during lessons. Alyssa looked at me like I was crazy. “Duh,” she said. There are rules against talking during class and my girl is all about the rules.

I decided not to tell her about one 300 level English class in college that I attended with Julie. We were probably halfway through the semester when Julie and I just couldn’t contain our enthusiasm. I’d like to think we were actually talking about Ode on a Grecian Urn as we whispered urgently back and forth but we probably weren’t. Anyway, the professor finally looked up from his own class-wide discussion of the very same Ode and admonished, “Girls. Tommie.”

Hello! Why didn’t he say Julie’s name too? Why single out just one of us when we were both talking?

Anyway, that was something that didn’t happen when I was in fourth grade either. I was a rule girl then too. So yes, Alyssa may have future scoldings to which she can look forward but fourth grade should be smooth sailing.

Though they’ve been in school for four days, Alyssa has yet to bring home homework. I think third grade homework started sooner than this. Imma gonna have to trust Mrs. K, though. It’s been a nice, gradual week, I like that.

Olivia, on the other hand, came home with a folder that first day after kinderkids. She announced, “We have homework!”

And we do. We’ve been instructed to read to Olivia every night. That is her homework for the year. I think we can handle this one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two Days In

Two days of school down and Olivia has announced, “School makes me have to pee!” She said this immediately upon coming into the house after getting off the bus both days of school so far. I ask her if she goes at school and she gives her patented one-shoulder shrug, as if she can’t be bothered to remember if she pees at school or not. She does come home in the pants and underwear she left in so either she’s using the bathroom at school or she’s working out those bladder muscles like crazy.

She’s also declared, “I hate sweaty feet. School gives me sweaty feet.”

To be fair to the dear child, she spent her entire summer in sandals and so her feet were able to breathe. These days, we stuff those poor little tootsies into socks and then into a pair of light-weight Sketchers. Silver with pink and purple accents, don’t you know.

Alas, the lovely silver with pink and purple accents Sketchers don’t make up for the sweatiness of said feet.

Other than those two complaints, she’s doing well. The pictures she’s colored and brought home have more deliberate coloring to them than the ones she brought home in preschool. That’s a nice visual sign of her growing maturity. I have faith that this is the start of what is going to be a great year for Miss O.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Growing Up

On the eve of her first day of fourth grade, Alyssa had a hard time going to sleep.

She’s had a tough time falling asleep before the first day of school each year since kindergarten. But this year was different. She didn’t need to talk to me deep into the night about her fears, her worries, her shy little heart breaking at the thought of going into that big school and me driving away without her.

No, this year wasn’t about anxiety. It was about excitement. She couldn’t wait for the morning to come so she could get on that bus and see her friends.

This warmed my heart. My firstborn is so much like me. Her shyness isn’t put on, it’s not born out of arrogance or aloofness, thought it may appear that way to those who are subjected to her shyness.

No, she’s just reserved. Like her mom. Now, those who know me in real life, who have met me during my adulthood are probably laughing at this.

But until I was sixteen and started a job as a waitress, I was painfully shy. I couldn’t, literally, could not, force words out of my mouth to adult strangers.

And so I get Alyssa. I get her stress, her fear, her shyness. And this is why I don’t push. I encourage her to go beyond her comfort zone because I know that’s how I worked through my own social insecurities.

With her excitement over the new school year, the engagement she had with her friends, I know she’s going to be just fine. Yes, we have some ways to go to fully get past her shyness, but she’s nine, she’s got time.

After all, I don’t plan to make her get a job where she had to talk to strangers for at least three more years. Kidding. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Requisite First Day of School Pictures

First Day of Fourth Grade:

First day of KinderKids:

Two little girls, getting so big:


Tom’s pretty laid back about a lot of things. As far as he’s concerned, Olivia isn’t so much special needs as she’s just special, just like Alyssa and J and J and D. They’re his kids, they’re special.

I like that about him. I’m okay with the fact that he leaves the IEP and school stuff to me. I don’t mind that he’s never had to sit in on an IEP meeting. What more could he bring to the table than I already bring? He’d just be one more body warming up a room that already probably has too many bodies.

But last night after the school open house, after we’d found O’s and A’s classrooms and dropped off school supplies and met teachers, I was sitting at the desk filling out paperwork and Tom walked in during a break from his endless session of salsa-making and asked, “Does Olivia’s new teacher know about her condition?”

I had to smile. He rarely, if ever, calls her syndrome by name. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say ‘5p- syndrome.’ I don’t think he even knows what Cri du Chat is, let alone that it’s another name for 5p-.

And again, that’s okay. To Tom, Olivia isn’t a syndrome, she’s his daughter.

But he does care about her school experience and he knows that the more her teachers know, the better prepared they will be to make her experience the best it can be. So he asks the questions that concern him and I answer as best I know how.

I replied, “They’ve read her IEP. It’s in there. But I just wrote about it on this blue piece of paper right here.”

He nodded, his question answered, his concern addressed and allayed. He was comfortable in the knowledge that I had everything under control, although he did suggest I make a copy of a couple of papers with dates on them seeing as how I tend to be, ahem, a bit dodgy when it comes to takes and times. Well!

This morning he and Olivia waved goodbye to me after the three of us saw Alyssa onto the bus. O’s in afternoon kinderkids this year, so she gets mornings with her dad. They’re both cool with that and I couldn’t be happier with how this new school year is starting.

Monday, August 20, 2012


School looms just over the horizon. Wait, not there. It’s much closer than the horizon, it’s right around the next corner, it’s something that is going to happen first thing in the morning.

We’ve had a great summer. We didn’t have an official list of things we wanted to get done but if we had, I think we've managed to check most, if not all of them off.

We went to the pool, like, a lot. Though Alyssa has bemoaned the fact that we haven’t been there AT ALL in August. Waaahhh…

Alyssa got to take her first trip to Cedar Point. Wheeee!

We made it to the beach a few times and realized each time that we much prefer the pool. Huh…

We also relaxed, we gardened, we canned the vegetables that grew in our garden. Okay, Tom canned them but I snapped some beans and crushed some garlic and diced some onions. I’m counting that toward the canning. And hey, it was more on his list to can than mine

And as school looms this year, I realize I’m much more relaxed about school this year than I was last year. O’s got a year under her belt. A’s got two years down at this school. She’s established herself with her group of friends. She’s definitely not the new girl anymore.

Olivia knows how to do the bus thing and she’s got new shoes and several shirts with tutus. She’s ready to go. She can sit still longer these days than she could back in August of 2011. She can enunciate even better than ever and she promises to talk to her teacher this year. We’ll see about that one but you know what? I’m not counting that girl out. She’s going to surprise everyone with what she’s capable of doing.

I didn’t get any closets painted this summer but I did pick out colors. The paints haven’t been purchased but that just might be on the fall to-do list.

The girls have new shoes and their backpacks are bursting with school supplies. They’re ready.

And this year I’m ready too. I’m ready to let them go a little bit more than I did last year. I’m ready to let them shine, let them show us all how amazing they are. I’m ready to loosen the apron strings just a little more than ever. Let’s not untie them completely. Not yet. They’re only nine and five after all. They’re both still so little even as they’re getting so big.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Big Days, Little Days

Yesterday felt big. We hit the road at about 11:00 in the morning and headed to town, where we made the usual stop at the library then we hit Kohl's for back-to-school shoes.

Olivia has lived in sandals this summer, which is great and all but it also means she's decided socks are evil. I took socks with us anyway because I wanted to try on shoes that will need socks this year.

Aylssa's worn flipflops all summer. She complained at the beginning of the summer that the shoes I bought her in April were rubbing her feet.

We ended up having to buy size 6 1/2 shoes for Alyssa. Yes, that means no longer shopping in girls' section. We've moved into the women's shoes. She's nine! Yikes.

After finally convincing Olivia to try on a pair or lovely Sketchers that are predominately gray with pink accents, we were ready to hit the clothing department. I feel lucky that my girls wear clothes that are the same sizes as their ages. Makes shopping so much easier.

O is totally into tutus thi year. Lucky for her, there are a lot of shirts with tutus attached. She's in Hello Kitty heaven.

And Alyssa's love of horses is rewarded by a plethora of t-shirts with horses printed on them. All were happy as we left the store $200 poorer.

By this point in the day, Olivia declared she was starving to death. Seriously, that's what she said.

So we headed to DQ for lunch.

After lunch...we tackled school supply shopping. There were only four things on O's list for kinderkids. Alyssa's list for fourth grade, though? It had twenty-one items.

Two hours later, we emerged from WalMart. It felt like a big, big task had been accomplished.

Today? I've been doing the little things. Folding laundry, vacuuming the carpets. The fish bowl needed to be cleaned and breakfast was cooked and eaten. Lunch followed ridiculously soon after breakfast.

Sometimes, though, getting a lot of little things done can feel as good as getting one big thing crossed off the list.

School starts Tuesday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Full Disclosure

Reading to Olivia the past eight months has been wonderful. I have often wondered in these months why it took me until she was five years old to make the resolution to read to her more consistently.

The reason occurred to me this morning during a conversation with my mom. It was in the past year that Olivia wanted me to read to her. In the past year, Olivia has matured enough to want to sit still through three books, asking to ‘read’ the books herself after I’ve read them.

I told my mom this and we agreed that this puts O at about three years old. She’s pre-reading. She wants to listen to books being read to her and then she wants to look through the books herself, putting the pictures and words together. She may not read for another couple of years, but I have no doubt that Olivia will read at some point.

Yesterday when I arrived to pick up the girls, my mom said, “Her eyes look like that because she took a shower with her sister and while I wasn’t looking, she poured an entire bottle of shampoo on her own head.”

Of course she was talking about Olivia. O’s eyes were red from rubbing and rinsing and rubbing some more. They were read all the way around her lids. Again, we were reminded that socially, Olivia is about three years old. She can’t be left alone in a bathroom because she WILL make a mess. She can’t help it. She’s curious, she’s tall enough to see things that were once out of sight and out of mind.

These days, she’s moved beyond parallel play and is into actually interacting with Alyssa and Jaxon, playing real games, pretending and using her imagination. She’s no longer seeking solitude, rather she seeks out her sister and her cousin. I’m so happy to see this and it doesn’t matter that this type of play usually happens around three years old.

Because I’m usually so sunshiny and optimistic (ha!!) I fear that I’m not being honest with those who read this to get an accurate view of how 5p- syndrome affects Olivia.

These days, she’s delayed by almost three years. She’ll be six in November, has been fully potty trained for about three months. She’s plays, ‘reads’ and makes messes like a three year old. She does things that she knows will annoy her sister just because it’s fun to hear Alyssa squawk about it.

But if she continues to develop and grow in this way, when she’s 20, who will know that she’s on par with 17 year olds? And if she continues to fall further and further behind? Well, we’ll deal with that if it happens. Right now, being behind her age-appropriate peers doesn’t bother her. Maybe because she just don’t realize it. But if it does start to bother her, we’ll deal with that too.

All I know for sure is that she’s still growing, still maturing, still making huge strides and for that I’m grateful. I refuse to be the one to tell her she won’t one day be independent. I’ll let that news come from her own development, her own behavior, if it has to come at all.

But damn, three year olds are evil. Even when they’re disguised as five and a half year olds.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Tom has really done a great job with our garden this year. I call it ‘our’ garden, but really, it’s his. He’s done the work, he’s getting the glory.

Even though most of our area suffered quite a drought this summer, he managed to keep the garden watered enough to keep the tomato, pepper, green bean, cucumber, watermelon, corn, zucchini and pumpkin plants alive.

And as those plants come to fruition, Tom’s work has only increased. Over the weekend, he canned green beans, salsa and tomatoes. He’s borrowed my mom’s Salad Shooter at least three times so he can shred zucchini and freeze it for future (read: winter) use.

I’m really glad he’s so willing to do all this work because if it were up to me? That stuff would probably be rotting on the vine.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy fresh vegetables (I’m sorry, but I can’t shorten that word the way most do, it’s an irritant of mine.) I do, I love tomato sandwiches and cucumber slices. The watermelon we picked last night from the garden was wonderful.

But the time and effort necessary for canning? Is more than I can handle. Using a pressure-cooker for just seven quarts of green beans takes hours. A hot-water-bath for tomatoes takes even longer.

I am lucky that Tom is so willing to put the time and work into these projects. For years he’s admired my mom’s pantry, filled to the brim with lovely jars of green beans, peaches, black berry jam, homemade salsa, tomato juice, tomatoes, etc.

As he’s admired these things he’s hinted that I should learn this art from my mother. Each time, I suggested he shove the canner…ahem, that is, I suggested that when I no longer worked forty-plus hours outside the home, I’d be more than willing to take up this wonderfully domestic hobby.

Alas, that is not going to happen anytime soon and so Tom took it upon himself to learn to can the bounty that his garden is producing.

And no, I am not above enjoying the fruits of his labor this winter when the snow is falling and I want some chips and salsa.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Olivia has become obsessed with schedules in the past few weeks. I think it may have come about when I took a few days off in July and then a couple of weeks later, took another couple of days off, the poor kid didn’t know what was coming from one day to the next.

So each evening, as we getting ready for bed, she’ll ask what she’ll be doing the next day.

I think she just wants to know who is going to be taking care of her. So I always tell her whether it’s going to be a Grammy day, a Daddy day or a Mommy day.

It sort of hurts my heart the way her eyes light up and her face breaks into a smile each time I tell her that the next day is a Mommy day. It only hurts because I know how much she’d like it if every day could be Mommy day. Sadly, we can’t quite swing that so instead, I use my vacation days as wisely as I can.

And honestly, she enjoys her Daddy days and Grammy days as much as she enjoys the Mommy days.

She always wants to know if Lyssie is going to be wherever she, Livie, is the next day. She likes having her sister around these days. I like that they’re both at an age where they actually want to be together, doing things with each other.

I’m almost sorry that school starts back up next week. Almost. I’m more glad for the routine the girls will have, for the knowledge they’ll both be gaining, for the therapies O will be receiving.

Schedules are a good thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Social Security

My dad and my sister hold very similar views about getting what one can from the government. They both feel that if something is available, one should be getting it.

My sister, for example, is 44 years old and has received governmental assistance most of her adult life. She feels that since it is there, she’s entitled to it. She went on a bit of a rage this past weekend because there was some sort of mix up at a doctor’s appointment and she was forced to spend $200 of her own cash to pay for something that the government should have paid for. And then, to add insult to her injury (imagined, perhaps?) she was denied an increase to her monthly allowed food stamps when she asked for it to compensate for her having to pay her own medical bill.

I’m sure my own bias is coming through pretty clearly here.

After her little rant about welfare, Sister asked me if we were receiving social security benefits for Olivia. I said no.

She asked me why we aren’t.

I didn’t feel like going into detail so I just said I hadn’t gotten around to filling out the paperwork.

She reminded me that with O’s diagnosis, she is automatically approved for benefits and I should be getting the assistance and perhaps banking it for Olivia’s future if we don’t need it to provide for her day to day care right now.

And maybe she’s right but it doesn’t feel right to me. We don’t need government assistance to live our lives. We don’t need help with O’s medical bills because she doesn’t have any other than the occasional $25 co-pay for an office visit. We see her developmental pediatrician once every two years. We see the regular doctor a couple of times a year or when she has a cold or injury bad enough to warrant it.

Sister reminded me that social security and Medicaid would also provide me with travel money for when we have to trek down to Indianapolis for O’s afore mentioned every other yearly developmental ped appointment.

But…I don’t NEED travel assistance. I realize how lucky we are, how blessed, that we don’t need help, that we don’t need financial assistance to travel or even to pay what little medical bills we have. I also know how lucky we are NOT to have major medical expenses. I get, too, that there are people who do need this and I appreciate that the assistance is there for those people but for those of us to take it when we don’t need it feels wrong to me.

I feel like it feeds into the whole entitlement thing and makes me cringe. Sister feels entitled to assistance to the point that she won’t get a job because doing so would cut into her aid. She can make more money through welfare than she could if she got a job.

That makes me crazy if only because I’ve worked since I was sixteen years old, I’ve been paying into the system all these years so that people who WON’T work can cash in on the system.

So maybe we should be getting social security benefits for Olivia if only because Tom and I have paid in for so long and it would be nice if one of our kids benefitted from our hard work.

I don’t know.

What I do know is I’m tired of both my dad and my sister pressuring me to do something I’m not sure I feel right about doing. But hey, my passive-aggressive tendancies pay off in instances like this. I sit there, listening to their ‘logic’, nodding as if I agree and then, when they’re done, I go about my life the way I feel is best. No confrontations, no discomfort, they feel like they’ve been heard and perhaps even changed my mind with their 'thought-provoking' monologues and I continue to do what I want without bothering to justify my choices. In the end, why my family (which includes, Tom, me and the girls) does what it does is really not any of their business.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I tend to err on the side of hovering. I don’t think I’m quite a helicopter mom (do we even use that phrase anymore or have we changed it to attachment parenting? Hmmm…)

But yes, I tend to hover.

I can’t help it. They’re my bayyyybeeees.

Ahem. Right.

So I attended a family gathering this weekend. It was family from my dad’s side. Which means I’m not close to any of these people. For the record, my dad is the tenth of ten children, so he’s the same age as my first cousins who are his nieces and nephews. So no, not close.

My half-sister was there with her twenty-six year old daughter.

I don’t see my sister very often. She was raised by her mother, I was raised by mine. We’re half-siblings in the fullest extent of the phrase. I always felt more like she was a distant cousin than a sibling.

Her daughter is…weird. Seriously weird. When she was younger and they’d visit, this girl would sidle up to me and then lean. Just lean against me. She very much enjoyed hugging too. It was creepy. Thankfully, she’s outgrown the hugging and leaning but not so much the weirdness.

I asked her if she was working, knowing the answer already. She smirked and said, “No. I admit it, I’m lazy.”

Did I mention she’s twenty six years old. 26!!! She’s never, ever held a job because, as she said, she’s lazy.

As her older, bossier aunt, I should have returned her smirk and replied, “Wow, that’s something to be proud of.”

Instead, I just said, “Yes, a lot of people are lazy but find they have to work anyway to pay bills, buy groceries, have a home…”

During all this, Alyssa and Olivia was sitting on me. Yes, both of them were ON TOP of me. And I wasn’t complaining much.

My sister came up and asked, “Is this something you’re doing to have to put up with your whole life?”

She was talking about their shyness, they’re clinginess.

I just shrugged. “They come by it naturally,” I said. “I was the same way with my mom and I outgrew it in time to perform in the school plays my senior year.”

But you know what? I should have laughed in her face and said, “They’re NINE and FIVE years old. They’re still children. What is your daughter’s excuse?!”

But I’m a fairly non-confrontational person, so I didn’t say what I should have. I just sat and listened to her bitch about Indiana’s screwed up welfare system and how she shouldn’t have to beg for food stamps at the ripe old age of 44 years old. Did I mention she doesn’t work either?

But I don’t really want to go into a rant about welfare and how I feel like it’s there to help people get back on their feet rather than to actually support people for life.

Right, not ranting…

So yes, I appear to be a bit overprotective. Alyssa attended a birthday party yesterday and when she got home, she said her friend and a couple of the other guests wanted to ride bikes around town but the guest of honor’s mom suggested that I might not want Alyssa to do that. And she was right. I don’t live in town, I don’t know the people there. I dropped my nine year old off at a house where a party was being held. I appreciated that the mom chose to make my child stay at that house for the duration of the party.

If that’s overprotective, so be it. I won’t apologize for that.

While at Cedar Point neither Alyssa nor her friend were ever out of my mom’s or my sight. I don’t think that is necessarily overprotective so much as it’s common sense. They’re young girls who need to be watched, to be protected. That’s my job as a parent. And as Alyssa and Olivia get older, I’ll teach them to make good choices, to be aware of their surroundings and the people they’re choosing as friends. And then I’ll pray because I know I won’t be able to over protect either of them forever and that scares the crap out of me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oh Mom...

When we last saw O's developmental pediatrician, she gave us some great advice on potty training. This was back in May of 2011. Olivia was four and a half at the time and was struggling with potty training. She'd gone through a good stage but then lost steam for awhile.

Her doctor suggested that anytime Olivia said she had to pee, we come up with a phrase that would keep O from peeing in her pants.

We decided to say, "Don't come out, Livie's peepee, don't come out."

Then, once she was on the toilet, we'd tell her, "Come on out, Livie's peepee, come on out."

And what do you know? It worked.

We're to the point where we're shopping for a new couch because we've gone a year without anyone in our house peeing on the furniture. We celebrate the small things, don't you know?

Anyway, while I don't usually tell O's peepee not to come out when she announces she has to pee, I can still be heard saying, "Come on out, Livie's peepee."

And these days, she looks at me from her perch on the toilet, rolls her eyes and says, "Oh Mom."

I think she's over needing the prompts we learned from her doctor. Her muscles have been trained when to hold in the pee (and poop!! Wheee!) and when to let it go.

What an amazing thing.

I know children are potty trained every day all over the world but my kid, she's special, you know. She didn't always the control, the awareness.

We got really, really lucky when we were matched to her developmental pediatrician when O was two years old. I'll be sure and tell the doctor that when we see her again in May 2013.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Teachable Moments

I'm not always aware of moments that I can turn into memories and moments when I can teach my girls by example.

But today, while at Walmart (where else?) I was able to use a moment of embarrassment and make it a lesson for Alyssa.

We were walking along the aisle just beyond the registers. There was a trashcan in the aisle. It was probably 18 inches tall. From experience, I knew it was probably there to catch water that was leaking from the roof.

Alyssa, in her finite 9 year old wisdom, thought it was a good idea to try to leap over the bucket.

She knocked it over and spilled the water that had been inside it.

I set the trashcan back up and caught the eye of one of the cashiers. She smiled and said she'd get someone to clean it up.

I guided Alyssa away from the mess and paused to explain that incidences like that are why we don't go about leaping over things in public. At home? Okay, fine. But while in public, we can't always know why they'd put the trashcan right in the middle of an aisle.

She was embarrassed by her behavior and chose to climb into the cart a bit later.

It wasn't really that big a deal but it was a chance to remind her that sometimes, she needs to reign in her impulses. That thinking about how her actions might affect others is always a good thing.

I'm just glad she's willing to listen to me and that I was able to retain my own sense of humor in a moment of embarrassment. I didn't yell at her, I didn't go beyond what was necessary as I talked to her.

And it was over and forgotten while retaining the lesson (I hope) within about five minutes.

It's moments like that when I think I might be doing okay at this whole mom thing.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Back in high school, our marching band took a trip to Cedar Point. It was great fun. But then, I've thought Cedar Point was great fun from the first time I ever went, way back during the summer of 1980, when I was nine years old.

The biggest downer of that trip with my high school marching band was this one friend who refused to ride even the tamest of rides. She didn't want to spin, she didn't want to go up high, she absolutely didn't want to go up high while spinning and roller coasters? Forget it.

And yet, she got mad at the rest of us because we wanted to go on all the thrill rides. She fretted that she was being left out and whined when we went on the rides anyway, leaving her on a bench by the exits.

It was bad enough that she was having a lousy time at the park, but she wanted the rest of us to be as miserable as she was. She was pissed that we refused to let her ruin our day.

My mom and I took Alyssa and a friend of Alyssa's to Cedar Point yesterday. It was the perfect day for a visit to the amusement park.

The temps stayed moderate, the cloudcover kept the sun from burning us and it was a Thursday in August, which worked in our favor by keeping the crowd low and the lines short.

A's friend has been to Cedar Point several times. She said her first time was when she was six.

Which, fine. Good for her. Yay and all that jazz.

Except...when kids are six, their parents have to explain to them that the bigger, more thrilling rides are too big and too thrilling. They (the parents) may even tell the kids that the rides are too scary for them.

Which in turn, leads a ten year old girl to be afraid of riding the race horse carousel because it's too fast.


After we convinced her try the stupid carousel, and after I rode the ride on the same horse with her, she realized it wasn't so fast nor so scary. She and Alyssa ended up riding the race horses at least ten times, loving each and every spin.

Then she refused to go on any of the roller coasters because, again, they're just too scary.

That's the point!!! We go there, we pay insane amounts of money to be scared, to be thrilled, to be excited and to almost pee our pants.

We don't pay over $40 a person to go in the arcade and spend even more money playing games you can find just about anywhere else.

I think what got to me is that I felt like Alyssa's friend was 'afraid' because she thought she was supposed to be afraid. She claimed to have a fear of heights but I wonder if that's just because she's heard others claim the same fear and so she thinks that's how people are supposed to feel. Whatever it was, it was frustrating because her 'fears' were contagious and Alyssa wasn't nearly as adventurous as I know she would have been had her 'experienced' friend been more willing to try a few of the more thrilling rides.

In the end, we did have a great time. We walked and rode and played and ate. We got soaked a couple of times, dried out in the breeze.

And for the record, the first roller coaster Alyssa ever rode was the Gemini. She was so brave and so scared out of her nine-year-old mind. We didn't have time for her to think about it, we raced through the line and never once had to stop and wait. As we flew down that first hill, my arms extended over my head, I glanced over at Alyssa, who was holding on to the bar in front of her, her head down and her eyes squeezed shut as tight as she could get them.

I put my hand on her knee and squeezed. She gripped my hand and didn't let go until the ride ended. I didn't stop laughing until the ride ended.

When we got off, I laughed and asked if she wanted to do it again. She declared, "I thought I was going to die!"

I laughed harder still. I was so proud of her.

Today, though, we've dropped Alyssa's friend off at home and we're now recovering from the walking, the spinning, the flying and the eating.

Next year, I think I'll encourage Alyssa to invite a different friend. We'll save this friend for trips to the pool or just hanging out at home, where we're all safe and sound.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


You would think that after stepping on a dead mouse left by Orville as a trophy just outside the door to the garage, I’d have learned to look before stepping.

You would be wrong.

The first mouse I stepped on, months ago, was a fresh kill, but Orville had managed to kill the poor thing via internal injuries, thus there was no blood.

The one I stepped on the night before last? It was not so cleanly murdered.

There was blood. And it ended up on my foot.

Ick and ewww and gross and ugh!!!!

To add insult to injury, Tom, who was sitting all of six feet away from where I’d stepped on the nasty, bloody, squishy thing, didn’t even know I’d done it. He didn’t hear my gagging and my screeching and my near-hyperventilating. No. He swears he didn’t.

So I got the litter scooper and the dust pan and managed to get the corpse onto litter scooper while looking at it as little as possible and took it out and threw it in the field. Orville trailed me, meowing constantly, as if seeking approval for his kill. I snapped at him that I was not impressed.

I realize this is what cats do. They kill mice and moles and birds and then leave the evidence behind either in celebration, as if saying, “Hey, look what I did! Give me a treat because I’m awesome.” Or perhaps they’re leaving a bloody trail to show you, “Hey, look what I can do. Give me a treat or you’re next.”


So, perhaps after this last nightmare experience, I will look before stepping into the garage. One can only hope.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Good Enough

During our drive to my cousin’s house this weekend, I mentioned something about worrying whether or not Alyssa gets enough of my time.

My mom glanced at me with a small smile and said, “Don’t worry about her, she’s fine. You’ve done a great job of making sure she knows how much you love her.”

You guys…that brought tears to my eyes. I’ve worried since before Olivia was even born about whether or not Alyssa would feel displaced by her little sister. I’ve worried about my own ability to decently parent two kids. I’ve worried that I’m not nearly good enough for either of them, let alone both of them. And all that worry was before Olivia was born screaming like an injured kitten, needing more time and energy that I ever imagined a baby could need. Once we realized the extent of her needs, oh, the worry for Alyssa escalated beyond belief.

To have my mom reassure me that I’m doing a good job was a very significant thing for me.

Last night, Alyssa was snapping at Olivia for every little thing. I finally pulled Alyssa to the side and told her that being gentle, even when reprimanding, will get the results she wants much more quickly than being sarcastic or screechy.

I told her that I realize that sometimes I’m grouchier than she deserves and that I promise to work on being gentler too. She nodded her understanding and went back to flipping around the room.

Kids do what they see. They learn how to respond to stress and fatigue by watching their parents respond to those things.

And I realize that I’m grouchier than necessary a lot of the time. So Alyssa and I made a pact. We’ll both try to be gentler with each other and with Olivia. I will model gentleness and she’ll learn it from me. Even when we say no, we can say it gently, I reminded her and myself.

I’m so tired these days. Olivia’s sleep pattern has been screwed up for the past two weeks. Ever since she hurt her arm, she wakes up at least four times a night. Just last night, she woke up, realized I wasn’t next to her and started crying. I called over to her, telling her to come to me. She just sat there, crying, until I got up to get her. It is as if she’s reverted to the infant stage all over again.

Didn’t I once say I’d never go through the infant stage again? This is why. I do not do sleep deprivation very well. I get mean and grouchy and no matter how hard I try to tell myself to be gentle, when I’m tired, I can’t. I just can’t.

So here we are.

Except just last night Olivia raised both arms over her head and declared, “My arm feels better!”

Which means that this sleep issue is no longer about pain and is now about habit. We need to nip this thing in the bud.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I’m not sure what it is.

I feel…stifled. There is so much to say and yet I don’t think I should say it. At least not there, publicly. I can’t quite treat this like a journal, the place where I’d put all my thoughts and fears and worries because a journal would be private, right?

This is not. And I don’t really want it to be.

Except, that means there are things I need to stifle, to hold back and examine and see if I really, truly want to put it out there.

So this is me, stifled. For now.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Not much production today. We visited one of my cousins who recently moved back to the area. Her house is lovely, old, lots of character.

There's something to be said for deciding the laundry and vacuuming can wait another day and just hitting the road for a mini roadtrip.

That's what we did. My cousin lives over an hour away and the girls and I jumped in my mom's car, didn't care that the laundry wasn't going to do itself and enjoyed the day.

It was a very girly day. My cousin's reason for having us over was a Pampered Chef party. While I ordered a fwe things, it wasn't the main reason for going.

The main reason was to spend a day with my mom, daughters, aunts and cousins.

And it was good.

Sometimes being unproductive can create the best of memories.

Like the one my girls made today of standing on my cousin's front porch, watching lightening flash and rain pour down, feeling the mist of that rain on their faces as they danced at the edge of the porch, safe yet adventurous.

It might just be the best productions yet.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Productive Week

In those instances when I'm productive, I often wonder why I’m not productive more often. I always feel so good about myself when I’m accomplished something. And yet…more often than not, I’m not so very productive because the laziness is so much easier to embrace, even with the self-loathing that comes with it.

Productivity sort of gives me a high that I do so enjoy and yet when I’m being unproductive, I forget about that high and roll into a ball of sloth.

So yes, it’s been a productive week.

How, you ask? Well, don’t get your hopes up too high and think that I might have taken up jogging and repainted every closet in my house. Oh no, nothing that ambitious.

But you see, when you start at the very bottom of the scale of productivity, it isn’t hard for the smallest things to feel like big victories.

What I did this week was pay off my Kohl’s credit card. That $60 I spent on t-shirts a few weeks ago was really hanging over my head.

I also purchased Cedar Point tickets on line. My mom and I are taking Alyssa and a friend to the amusement park next week. I went ahead and paid for parking at the same time I got the tickets. So efficient! Olivia gets to spend the day at home with Tom. At five and half, she’s not quite ready for an amusement park. She’d be exhausted and ready to come home before we’d spend two hours there. Besides all that, she’s short.

Ohh and the best of my productivity is that I signed Alyssa up for gymnastics classes for the year. Sure, I only paid the sign-up fee and the first month’s tuition but she’s signed up and can’t stand that classes won’t start for another three weeks.

Did I mention that Alyssa had major Olympic fever? She puts on a gymnastic suit every single morning and doesn’t change out of it until I make her put on pajamas each night. She doesn’t just enjoy watching gymnastics though, she’s found the fun of diving, swimming and even volleyball. I love that she’s so into it.

So that’s it, you’re thinking? It took you all week to do those few things and you’re calling it a productive week?

Yes, yes I am. See the benefit of normally being as active as a slug? You do a few things over the span of a few days and suddenly you’re productive.

Speaking of productive, Tom…now he’s gotten a lot done this week. He’s picked tomatoes, peppers, onions and chopped those very things and made them into salsa. He then canned that salsa to be enjoyed this winter. Though we’re not waiting until the first snowfall to sample his works. Oh no, many chips swimming in salsa have been eaten this week. Can I add that to my productivity list? No? Bummer.

Tom has also picked beans, snapped those beans and then canned those beans. Oh, that was such a production.

I took the girls to bed earlier than usual last night just to get them out of earshot of his vicious irritation with the bean canning process. It wasn’t pretty.

He’s also picked cucumbers and zucchini which we’ve shared with several aunts and uncles around the area. We’re drowning in zucchini over here.

But we’re being productive. And no, I’m not keeping score because he’d win and that would make me want to go lay down and recuperate from the disappointment of not keeping up with him. So instead, I’ll do things my way and marvel at how he does things his way. And in the end, we’re both as productive as we need to be to feel good about ourselves.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sleepy Gymnastics

My life is good. It really is.

And yet, I found myself looming over a sobbing Olivia at 1:30 this morning, hissing, “You wouldn’t need a tissue if you were sleeping instead of sitting there crying.”

Why was she crying? Because instead of lying in bed right beside me, she was in a different bed that put her all of six feet away from me. She couldn’t touch me from there, don’t you know?

I’d spend the previous hour hovering on that brink between sleep and wakefulness, listening to her breath hitch, waiting for the cries. In the week since she hurt her arm, she’s formed the habit of waking every hour or so just to check and see if I’m next to her.

It’s exhausting.

So why don’t I make Alyssa sleep in her own bed and just sleep next to Olivia in the big bed? Because I hate the big bed. It’s so, so uncomfortable. Obviously, we need a new mattress and yet I want a new couch before we splurge on a new mattress. See, we’ve waited to get a new couch until there was no longer anyone in the house peeing on the furniture. We haven’t had a pee accident in almost a year so I’m on the lookout for a new couch.

And I tell myself each night that having someone, even skinny little Alyssa next to her, will fool Olivia into thinking she’s sleeping next to soft, squishy Mom.

It never, ever works. And so for the past week, I’ve been woken up at least five times every single night and finally end up sharing a twin bed with Olivia, who is a flipping bed hog like you wouldn’t believe. Then, around 4 every morning, I move to the THIRD bed in the room (we’ve got a freaking DORM set up going on over here) where I managed to get the best rest of the night for an hour and a half before the alarm starts going off at 5:30.

The Olympics have totally inspired Alyssa to get back into gymnastics. She’s lost her mind about it, actually. She flips and jumps and spins all day long.

While watching the team finals the other night, she noticed that all the girls have these fancy wrist guard things and she’s ‘hinted’ that she wants some.

I say ‘hinted’ because the girl isn’t all that subtle. She think she is, especially when I don’t let on that I know exactly what she’s saying because most evenings she finally gives up the ‘hinting’ and just says it right out, “Maybe we could go to Dunham’s Sports Center this weekend and look for them.”

I’ve explained to her that until she actually NEEDS that kind of support (she can cartwheel and stand on her hands, she can flip from a handstand to a backbend and yesterday she started out in a bridge and managed to flip her legs back up and over, but that’s the extent of her gymnastics repertoire.) I am not paying for something like wrist guards.

She hears me but doesn’t seem to believe that I mean it because she keeps asking, keeps hinting, keeps suggesting we look at them.

I’ll be signing her up for recreational gymnastics this week.

The tough thing is trying to explain to her that just because she’s starting back up with classes doesn’t mean that in eight years she’ll be competing in the Olympics herself. I’ve tried to be gentle as I counter her aspirations, explaining that those girls have been working at this for years and years and years. They work out so many hours a week that she wouldn’t believe it if I told her the actual number of hours. I’ve reminded her that there are only five girls competing for the USA out of countless girls who do gymnastics every single day. We are not all Olympic level athletes. I don’t want to crush her dreams but I also don’t want to set her up for crushing disappointment.

Besides, she’s probably going to be too tall to be a competitive gymnast anyway. So yeah.

Parenting is hard. Supporting your nine-year-old as she imagines standing on the podium at the Olympics accepting a gold medal while also gently reminding her of the reality that the majority faces is tough. I want her to soar, to reach for the impossible but I also want her to know when something really, truly is out of reach.

It makes me think of those people who audition for American Idol, the ones who really, truly cannot sing to save their lives. Why did their friends and family let them go to those auditions? Why didn’t someone gently take them aside and say, “Sweetie, I love you and think you’re voice is glorious but…I’m not sure the world is going to agree with me?”

I kind of want to do that for my girl. I want to tell her that I think her cartwheels are the very best in the world but that I don’t think the Olympic judges are going to agree with me. But I don’t want to be that mom who can’t help but smother my child with reality. I want her to dream, and imagine greatness and work toward it while keeping her feet firmly on the ground. That’s possible, yes?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Graceful Klutz

That’s how my mom described Alyssa. She of the long limbs and flawless cartwheels.

Alyssa started walking when she was ten and a half months old. She started doing cartwheels when she was five year old. She flips, she rolls, she walks on her hands and rides bike like it’s something she was born doing.

But she also bangs her shins on end tables, knocks her wrist on door jams and scraps her toes on curbs.

I think she’s growing so fast that she’s no really aware of her own body and how it fits into the space around her. She forgets that she’s no longer only three and a half feet tall. She doesn’t remember to compensate for her now four foot eight inch frame.

Her legs are constantly flailing about as she carthwheels or handstands her way through the house.

But really, the knocking of knees into walls and hands into desk corners wouldn’t be that big a deal if she didn’t to tell us about every single injury.

Wait, the telling of the injuries wouldn’t be a big deal if she didn’t seem to think that every single bang or scrape was in need of an ice pack and a bandaid or even, sometimes, an Ace bandage wrapped around the injured limb.

Oh, the drama when she draws a drop of blood! You’d think she’d just lost a pint from her poor ravaged body.

I dread the drama of adolescences even as I roll my eyes when she cries out, “Owww, I just scratched myself.”

It’s hard to feel much sympathy for someone who manages to inflict more pain (though I do wonder about her pain threshold, I fear it is quite low) upon herself in an hour that most people manage in a week.

But I always kiss the offered injury, make the necessary coos of concern and then shoo her away knowing she’ll be back in a matter of minutes with a new owie and the need for more sympathy.