Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry merry...

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day to the Aussies of the group...

Well, the day has been done. It started just before 5 am with me puttering around with Liam. Didn't sleep all that well due to a cough and stuffy nose but, par for the course, i guess. The tree and livingroom were all decked out. We had put all the presents under the tree, and next to it was Raelin's gargantual present, a set of playstands that Kevmo built in his shop. His were nicer and bigger than the ones offered in the catalogues and at Raelin's school. Not our intention, but they are pretty impressive. Anyway, they were set up next to the tree with the diningroom table pushed into the corner to make room.

We had actually tried to downsize it this year, believe it or not. We made pretty much all her gifts- the playstands, and then i sewed a bunch of doll clothes (a gift to myself as well, to keep her from raiding Liam's clothes), and i made her an apron to go with a kid's cookbook... anyway, a few other small things. So, on Christmas Eve day i'm thinkin' on what we have and suddenly realize that we do not have anything that can be from Santa. She knew Kevin had been working in the shop so i personally thought she would see right through that and not buy that the stands were from Santa. She also knew I'd been sewing a ton. I thought we needed one thing that she had been asking for to be from S.

So off i trekked on X-mas eve day, Liam in tow, to a toy store to get this MagnaDoodle thing that you can draw on over and over again and erase with the sweep of a little plastic lever. She actually has a small one but it only draws in gray and she'd been asking for one that draws in color *forever*. Perfect for Santa. I searched the toy store to no avail. I did, however, see a small child's guitar set off by itself on an empty shelf. I grabbed it thinking that if i didn't find the doodlethingamabob we'd give her the little guitar... something she had also mentioned, but not much.
anyhoo... i figured we'd return the guitar if i found the DTAMB (doodlethingamabob) cuz surely she didn't need 2 gifts from Santa in addition to everything else (from us, plus grandparents). Well, Reny's (local Maine got-everything store) had something kinda similar...but it was more like painting. Whatever. i grabbed it. It was 12 bucks and close enough. I was trying hard to resist that last minute, get exactly what they need- urge.
Home i toted the new things and showed them to Kevin. he thought we should give both. ok, fine. Ribbon around the lil' guitar, slid under the tree. Ribbon the handle of the DTAMB, under the tree. Not wrapped.
So about 5:45 am comes along and we hear R's voice. She shuffles out of her room and *completely* bypasses the towering playstands and exclaims, "kelly, look! a guitar!" she snatches it up and parks herself on the couch and coos over the red plastic pick and proceeds to play away in la-la land, so enthralled with her little guitar that almost didnt' even make it under the tree and *does not see the playstands* which, is like trying to avoid looking at the Eifle Tower or something. A good, oh, 5-8 minutes later (solid, with these things like 5 feet away from her) her mouth drops and she screws up her nose and says," Look at that!! They had to move the table away to the torner (corner)!" *Then* she gets up and goes between them and under the silk canopy, still toting the guitar. She looks around a bit, sits on the bench, and plays her guitar.

are we raising a folk-music playing hippie or what? (with a little electronica love on the side...oh, and Phish too, which she heard for the first time the other day and literally sent her bouncing around the room.)

It was great. how cute is it that she is so excited to play the guitar just like daddy? adorable.

she definitely came around to the playstands and all the other garb that she unwrapped and played with and there was only one mini-overload meltdown when she face planted pushing a new wooden stroller from my mom and step-dad. ooops.

a nap cured the fussies and all in all, it was a nice day. Liam had a ball, both with all the paper and ribbons and boxes as well as the loot he was given- a pretty substantial haul for a 7 month old, i have to say. But all really nice, thoughtful gifts. we are appreciative and grateful, both for ourselves and on behalf of our kids who can't really express that yet.

now for the purge of old toys more or less forgotten. i know some folks who have a "one in, one out" rule. I am not so hard and fast as that, but i do pass on things that are never asked about or have proved themselves to have little play value. It keeps me sane.

So another Christmas done. I hope you and yours had a nice day, however you spend it. One of these years i hope the kids opt for forgoing gifts and spending the money to go somewhere warm (well, warmer than global warmed Maine, that is) and hopefully that is at an age when they sleep and we actually have to get *them* up to have breakfast and enjoy a nice walk on the beach.

But until then... i'll enjoy these memories of paper carnage and carefree strumming...

Friday, December 22, 2006

catch 22

one of the things that no one tells you about parenting (and this is not 1 out of 3, its' like 1 out of 3 million) is how much you will piss other people off, simply by doing what you think is right for your kids.

it goes without saying that you will- of course- piss off your own children. At some point (in our case, we are seeing signs of it at 3 1/2 years old) they will stop being adoring and loving and groupie-like and start rolling eyes and yelling at you to "stop singing that stupid song!" and declare that you are the most unfair person in the world and on and on. Most of us have been there; no need to illustrate.

No, what i'm talking about is how much you will piss off and offend and cross paths with all of the other people in your life:
-the teachers who think you are too nosy and bossy or not involved enough;
-the neighbors who resent all of your kids' gear that clutters up your yard and defaces the neighborhood;
-your childless friends who don't get why you do certain things and why you can't be like you used to be BK (before kids);
-your friends *with* kids who don't get why you do certain things;
-the grandparents for either not giving them enough time, or asking for too much, or limiting any number of things... or not;
-the doctors and other professionals for not following their advice and doing something different;-
-random strangers who you cut off while driving because you were breaking up a sibling argument in the backseat didn't see them; the people behind you in the express lane because you actually do have 14 items and 2 whiney children in tow who are keeping you from unloading your groceries at lightspeed;
-and on...
and on...
and on...

Most parents get a taste of this during pregnancy. Inevitably at some point in the classes i teach, a mom or dad will bring up something that grandparents disagree with, or that the experienced sister or brother or friend is giving them a hard time about. It can be both things that are seemingly less important, such as the decision to cloth diaper or to use disposables- typically the opposite of what the other does- or as important as the decision to delay or skip immunizations, or go to private or public school, or whatever. What i tell them is, basically, Welcome to Parenting- it only escalates from here.

More often than not, the conflicts are a surprise. Some things parents know going into the game, and others are as taken by surprise as they were when they planned their wedding: how did something so exciting and memorable as planning a wedding suddenly make me want to disown my family and elope? similar for expecting a child. It's a gradient, of course. Some people experience minimal strife, and for others it leads to an eventual family divorce. I have read about various dramas on my mommy boards, some of them completely whack, but others really just sad because everyone loves the children, but no one can agree.

I am not sure what the answers are, if there are any. I suppose in some cultures and societies this issue is virtually non-existant; everyone does it the same way. I can only imagine the additional stress for those families whose children grow up first generation in this country and buck not only something that is seemingly basic, but traditions that are cultural roots.

And as a parent, i am more inclined to say- defer to the parent- but you know, parents are flawed also. And when i say this- defer to the parent- i'm talking about competent, caring parents, not child-abusing, manipulative alcoholics. It's a muddy river, no fine line about it. In the end i have to think, what is most important? Is my insistance on x,y, and z more important than the good intentions of another person? Is that person's insistence on fulfilling their own do-gooding more important than my carefully considered boundaries? The importance shifts, i guess, like the currents of that muddy river. Things that are paramount when a child is 8 months are less important 2 years later... and virtually laughable 6 years later. Time changes everything, so the saying goes.

So to my new parents i say, Welcome to Parenting! and let it be. Better they don't knwn the full extent of the discussions and battles and hand-wriging that is to come. Better that we all- parents included- take a deep breath and let it go, and stick by whatever remains, that which is most important.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I am stopping a quick whirlwind pick-up of our livingroom to blog, because as i was picking up, i was doing what i often do, which is blog in my head. This would be an extremely active blog if i actually wrote as often as i think about it.

i mean, when is apple going to announce the imind?

nevermind. that would be... well. stupid.

so, i'm blogging and leaving the detritus to continue to be detritus on our floor. Detritus including random and sundry ribbons that i have saved from various holidays to re-use at upcoming holidays and birthdays. These ribbons double as earthworms when our collapsable catch-all fabric tube is doubling as Raelin's burrow, when she is doubling as a mole or other earth-loving creature. we are a house of imposters here.

last night i went to a holiday gathering at the home of one of Raelin's classmates. The family also has a child in second grade, so it was a mixing of both nursery and older children. The nursery turn-out was poor, as it competed with a ballet performance and also is a much smaller class. But as i hefted Liam around and looked out for Raelin, i was amazed at how much older these 7 and 8 year olds were. They seemed so... mature and...well, normal. I am sure they are not burrowing in cloth debris tubes and asking to be fed ribbon earthworms after which they might decide to "nutter away" with a ball of errant yarn.

as much as we whine and moan about having young children, the truth of the matter is that it is fabulous in a manic sort of way. Frustrating is the feeling of never catching up, always being a few hours short of feeling rested (ok, a full night or 7 of never feeling rested), constantly having one's patience tested. But rich is the feeling of spontaneous laughter, of working through tough spots with intention and love and experiencing the strengthening of your bond with our children because of it, and likewise watching a sibling relationship grow...going cheek to chubby cheek with a baby, sleeping with a child on your chest...and then living in a fantasy world where you don't just walk- you nutter; you don't run off to the bathroom, you gallop; behind the couch is a 'basement' and inside the cloth debris tube is a burrow where you eat ribbon earthworms.

i guess this is why when people ask me if we are done having kids, i say i am 95% done. There is 5% of me that is unwilling to agree to the finality of these baby and toddler years. Its' like this article i read in O magazine where the author stated that she realized at a certain point in her 40s that there were in fact, a finite number of times that she would look at a tree again, or eat at certain restaurant. Likewise, as i watch Raelin nutter around and Liam fumble at the couch to pull himeself up, there are a finite number of times i will watch this scene. Yes, there are other wonderful things to come with having older children. I will welcome full nights of sleep and the fun that will come with having children we can hike and bike with longer than 20 minutes and such... but there *is* something about these crazy years that I will miss.

Kevin has been lamenting the slow wind down of Raelin's early childhood years for awhile now. I have pooh-poohed him, pointing out that she is only *3* for crying out loud. But after just a few hours with kids only a few years older than Raelin, i feel it too.

so moan and groan i will...but truthfully, i love it, like a nice fat, juice green satin earthworm.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

i blogged. i did. but then the silly server couldn't connect and i got distracted by other things and now it's all gone.

and i have eggs to eat.

but i'm back around...