Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Kitchen

A little while ago someone asked me if I liked to cook. 

I did...then I had two kids.  I feel like I spend my life in the kitchen.  I'm never NOT there.  

  1. When I get up in the morning the first thing I do is make breakfast for myself and the kids. 
  2. I clean up breakfast.
  3. I finish making their lunches and my lunches.  Even if I have made lunches the night before there's still filling up water bottles, putting lunches in backpacks, etc.
  4. If there's time I load the dishwasher.
  5. When I get home I make a snack for the kids.
  6. The kids unload their backpacks but I put all the Tupperware into the dishwasher.  
  7. I look in their lunch boxes and see, once again, a clean napkin.  Does anyone else wonder how many days a child can go without using the napkin in his/her lunchbox?
  8. I clean up snack.
  9. It's usually about 4:00ish by now.  At about 5:00 or 5:15 I start making dinner.
  10. Dinner is ready at 6:00.  We eat and then I clean up from dinner.
  11. After the kids are in bed I collapse on the couch for an hour or so and about 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. I start making lunches again for the next day.
  12. There are other kitchen chores such as loading and unloading the dishwasher, putting away the groceries, washing the refrigerator shelves, rearranging our always over-stuffed freezer, baking with the kids, sweeping, mopping, washing the counters, cleaning the sink, and the never-ending quest to find the Tupperware lid that goes to the Tupperware that has no lid.
I have a friend with eight children.  I really wonder how she ever leaves the kitchen.

I cannot wait until my kids are teenagers.  I'll be broke from the grocery bills but at least they'll live on microwaveable pizza that they can make themselves.  


Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Change From Compassion to Brutality

A couple of weeks ago Jeff was reading a story.

"Daddy, this is so sad!" he said.

"What?" I asked.

"A hunter shot Babar's mother and now she's dead."

(Note to self: maybe look at some of the books that were written a generation or two ago before leaving them out for the kids to read.)

"I would never shoot an animal," Jeff continued.  "That not a nice thing to do."

My mind flashed an image of our disgusting president's son next to his kill.  It made me wonder what he was like as a child.  I can't imagine any five year old rooting for a hunter to shoot and kill an animal in a book.  It made me wonder what changes that sweet, innocent, compassionate child and allows him or her to grow up wanting to put a bullet into an animal's head.  Or worse. 

Kids in school and online are teased, bullied, beaten up, etc.  I hope that I have done everything in my power to make my children be the ones who don't tease, bully or beat up others.  When I look at the world today - brutal dictators around the world, ethnic cleansing, anti-Semitic and racist graffiti - I hope my children are the ones who help eradicate that kind of behavior and work towards a more peaceful and accepting world.  I'm trying my best and, from what I have seen, they will exceed my expectations. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Licking the Beaters

Last week my kids had a play date at the same time.  Before you get all jealous that I got the house to myself for a couple hours please understand that the play date was at my house.  Somehow it wound up that I was going to have four 7-year-old kids running around my home at once.  I wasn't really sure how that was going to pan out.  I also had things that I had to do in life.  Most importantly, I had to bake a dessert for a dinner I was going to do with some friends.  We all know that dessert is the most important meal of the day.

The two friends came at about the same time. After that, I didn't see my kids for about an hour until they all got hungry for a snack.  Each child was occupied with their respective friend.  The house was unusually quiet.  So I got my baking done.  I made a pan of brookies: half brownies half cookies.  

And the best part of the about the play date?  I got to lick the beaters!



Sunday, February 17, 2019

Boogers On The Wall

I lived in Illinois for about two decades.  I arrived when I was 18 to start college and so my whole adult life - college, my 20s, dating, coming out, doing theater work, getting an interpreting degree, becoming an interpreter, doing my first film, adopting pets, meeting Derek, matching with a surrogate, having babies, etc. - all happened in Illinois.  I had friends there who had been through it all with me -- all of my triumphs and failures, successes and setbacks.  Moving to Boston was hard.  Very hard.  No...I take that back.  Moving was extremely hard.  I lost so much of my great life that I had built.  I don't regret it, it was just hard...wait...I mean extremely hard.

Last night I had two friends over with their kids.  While the kids played and watched a movie the two parents and Derek and I sat in the kitchen laughing, eating, and swapping war stories. 

Friend #1: I can't wait until the obsession with poop is done.
Me: Yeah, we hear a lot about poop and butts.
Friend #2: I guess that's boys.  Our problem at my house is boogers on the wall.
Friend #1: Yes! 
Me: I always ask if they need a tissue and they always say --
All: No!
Friend #1: Or they just eat it.
Me: I'm glad my kids aren't the only ones who do that.
Friend #1: Nope.  And the pee all over the bathroom -- ugh!  Boys are gross.
Me: We thought our toilet tank was leaking for a few days because every time we'd go into the bathroom the whole tank was wet.  The tank!  Not the toilet seat or the floor, but the tank!
Friend #2: I have a girl and we have pee everywhere too!

Boogers on the wall is still making me laugh 24 hours later. 

Moving, as I said, was tough.  Losing my Chicago friends was tough.  But I'm now in a community with friends who make me laugh and support me as I go through this roller coaster ride of parenthood.  I have neighbors who will take care of my cats when I'm away and I take care of their pets.  I picked up a neighbor's kid from school when a mom couldn't get off work early enough.  I had friends take Jeff overnight when Aaron needed to go to the hospital.  Derek and I watched a kid overnight to give a mom a break when her husband was away for a week.  Friends let me put them down as an emergency contact on camp forms.  We talk about the struggles our kids are going through, share babysitter resources, and celebrate birthdays together.  I'm realizing that my community and my relationships are growing. 

I hope to be in this community until my kids graduate high school.  Life could throw a curve ball and maybe we'll leave earlier than expected, but I'd love to keep these people in my life and have them become lifelong friends.  They're good people who support my family and me.  I'm making good memories and I have a feeling that years from now, when we are crying as our kids leave the nest and head to college, if I remind these parents that we will no longer have to deal with boogers on the wall we'll all have a good laugh together through our tears. 


Monday, December 17, 2018

Personalities

I remember when I adopted my first cat I was amazed at how different she was from my childhood cat.  I thought "a cat is a cat is a cat" but that's totally not true.  I have now owned four cats (thanks to my two merging with Derek's two) and each one was completely different. 

Children, of course, surprise you with their personalities too.  Whatever notions parents have about who their children will be usually get blown out of the water.  Yesterday that happened to me.

My family went to play mini-golf and after we were done we stayed to play some arcade games.  Jeff found "Deal Or No Deal" and wanted to play it.  You know, it's the game where you pick a suitcase and open cases to win cash (or in this case tickets) and the amount you're offered goes up or down depending on if you open suitcases with large or small numbers. 

Well, Jeff, my logical, mathematical, always-thinking-two-steps-ahead, save-your-money kid never took the deal.  Even when the odds were stacked against him he opened cases to the very end.  He wound up winning 3 tickets for one game and 8 for another.

Aaron decided to play too.  You know, Aaron, my emotional, sensitive, blow-his-money-on-toys-and-candy-one-day-after-getting-it, dreaming of rainbows kid, took the deal right away.  He was excited to get 88 or 92 tickets even when he had several cases left with large amounts. 

Totally not what I expected from either of them.

But hey, that's parenthood.  When you think your stoic, conservative child will play it safe, he winds up risking it all and doesn't cry when it doesn't pan out in his favor.  And when your fickle, impulsive child takes plays he might just take the safe route because he understands that leaving with something good can be better than losing it all. 

I'm pretty proud of both of them.  Who knew a video game could help me see a side of them I never knew.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

ALICE alert

This past week at school my kids did the ALICE alert training.  It stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.  The school sent out a mass email telling us that they were going to do this right before they did the training.  They included the power point presentation that they would use for the kids so parents could see what would be happening.

My heart sank.

It is so troublesome to me that these drills are necessary.  With the situation of the world being what it is, I believe this kind of training is necessary, but it doesn't make it any less heartbreaking. 

I remember when my kids were three years old and started school they had a training.  The teacher told everyone to go into the bathroom, stay quiet, and eat goldfish crackers.  The kids were told that it's a silly thing to do but they should play along with the game.  I'm glad it was presented to them as something fun to do.  Meanwhile, all the parents felt sad. 

The gist of the training for kids at this age is to listen to an adult.  Whatever teacher is around will decide whether it is best to barricade themselves in the room or try to escape through a nearby exit.  As frightening as those options are, I put my faith in the school staff and I'm OK with that.  The part that got to me the most was that if a child is not with a teacher -- for example he or she is in the bathroom or walking down the hall to the nurse -- the child has to become the decision maker. 

My children are six.  They don't know if it's OK to wear green and orange together.  They don't know how to floss their teeth properly.  They can take ten minutes deciding what donut to get at Dunkin' Donuts.  Making good decisions isn't their strong suit right now.

But life is what it is.  There are no guarantees in this world.  There are car crashes and horrible diseases and meteors that fall from the sky and we can't worry about every possible "what if" that our brains can imagine.  I take solace in the fact that I live in a nice and safe neighborhood.  I live in a state with strict gun control laws and the lowest incidents of gun violence in the nation.   I live in a state with mostly "blue" people.  The school my kids go to is locked from the outside and you must be buzzed in to enter.  If I want to feel good about sending my kids to school this is the place to do it.  I think tonight, though, as I reflect on the state of the world, I'm going to bed a little more grateful of my family.  Maybe that's one way I can turn the chaos of this world into something good.  I'll try to remember what others have lost so that I can be thankful for all that I have gained.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

"Your Work Comes First"

A little while ago one of my kids came up to me while I was working on the computer and asked if I could play with him.  I told him I would play with him in a little bit.  He said, "That's OK.  I know your work comes first."

(Oy)

My other kid wrote a letter to me.  It was a sweet letter telling me how much he appreciates me helping him with music, coloring and puzzles.  He thanked me for cooking meals for him and taking care of him ever since he was a baby.  He also wrote that he knows sometimes I can't help him because I'm working.

(Oy)

Before having kids most parents swear that they will always be there for their kids.  Parents promise to make their kids their number one priority as they cradle their newborns in their arms.  We read articles about how playing with kids, cherishing the short 18 years you have together, and making memories is more important than writing an email, cleaning the house or watching that TV show.

The reality is, though, that emails must be returned, the clothes have to get washed, and sometimes I just wanna binge watch a series on Netflix for my own mental health.  Sometimes work really does come first.

I started my own children's theater company this year.  It's something I did for me.  I miss being on stage.  I miss performing for children.  I had hoped that this business would explode onto the scene and provide a decent income for my family.  I'm also working as an interpreter.  I love that career, too, and my income is needed to keep us afloat and help provide music lessons and trips to the pumpkin patch and (ridiculously expensive) birthday parties.

What that means is that my work keeps me busy and I'm not available 24/7 for my kids.  I'm returning emails and making invoices between cutting up veggies while trying to play Uno and listen to a story about who did the monkey bars backwards at the playground today.  Some days my brain and body go on overload.  I'm often stressed out trying to balance my work, my kids, my home, my husband, my family, my friends, my social life, and whatever else pops up.  In 2018 I think we almost always feel like we are disappointing someone or dropping the ball on something.  It's not a good feeling. 

One day I hope to get this parenting thing down.  I hope I'll feel like I have time for both me, him, them, us, it, those and everything else.  Until then I'll just hope someone finds a way for humans to have eight arms.  Science is making great strides so pretty soon I hope to be like an octopus and have the ability to fold laundry, play a game, cook dinner, fill out school forms and brush my teeth at the same time.  Right?