Friday, October 26, 2012

Lessons Learned While the Children have been Home Sick

For the past two weeks, my house has been infected by at least one sick, and needy, person at all times.  First the cold conquered me, and then it the children prisoner. Today is the first day this week that I have been able to drop both children off at their respective schools and find a few minutes to write.  The previous days have been spent force feeding the girls Odwalla C-Monster and watching unlimited episodes of Team Umizoomi and Dora the Explorer. 

Although, with invalids plaguing my home, I haven't had the time to sneak away to my office (the coffee shop) to write, I've had plenty of time to reflect on all that I have learned during in days in isolation. 
  1. There are good and bad types of sickness.  A cold with a low-grade fever, just high enough to suck the energy out of the child, is a good sickness.  Pink eye is a bad one; the child still maintains all his vigor, but is not allowed at school.  I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the former.   
  2. Caillou only grows more annoying as I age.  I absolutely despise his whiny voice and fuzzy white border.   
  3. After the third straight day trapped in my home with no connection to the outside world (oh how I missed adult conversation and sunshine), my ability to show sympathy greatly diminishes.  By day #4, I was attempting to send subliminal messages to my children while they napped.  "You are not sick.  You want to play.  You miss school," I whispered in their little ears.
  4. I am quite susceptible to television advertising.  Currently I have a very strong desire to buy a Cuddle Uppet (blankets that are puppets) and a few pairs of Stompeez (they are interactive slippers!!!).  
  5. Pear trees give us pears, lemon trees give us lemons, and almond trees give us almonds.  Thank you Nina and Star, for the awesome agricultural lesson! Who said TV wasn't educational
  6. Hola! Soy Dora.  Puedo contar hasta diez en espaƱol.  Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez.  
However, most importantly, I learned the delicate art of balancing keeping the sick children entertained, while still maintaining a quiet and dull atmosphere that doesn't promote days off of school.  On Thursday, when my three-year-old informed me, "Mommy, I don't want to be sick. It's boring to stay home," I knew that I had done my job. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It was like TV, but not quite

Today I was asked to be a guest speaker for Nancy Redd's Huff Post Live show on bubble wrapping babies.  Being my first time to do such an appearance, I was a bit nervous and ended up telling everyone how I have let both of my girls fall down the stairs. 

The segment is about the sensationalized baby-proofing industry.  And, as you can probably guess, I was the Free Range parent.

Please don't judge me, I am new at this!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bedtime Lullabies for Parents

Now I lay her down to sleep,
With a dozen stuffies so she won’t weep.
If she should cry before daybreak,
I’ll give her benadryl so she won’t wake.

Why aren't you sleeping, why aren't you sleeping?
Cranky one, cranky one?
You are exhausted, and I want to watch TV,
Suck your paci, suck your paci.

Rock-a-bye baby, in her own room.
When we were co-sleeping, Daddy got none.
When you would cry, the whole house would wake
I tried to ignore you, but you knew it was fake.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Smoking Gun

My three-year-old, Maisy, has a voice that rivals Kathleen Turner after she chain smoked a pack of cigarettes.  If she decides to go into acting, she will easily be cast the role of a drag queen on any daytime TV show.  Even when strangers express worry about her "hoarse voice", I'm secretly proud of her throaty, husky speech- unlike my own high-pitched voice, it's authoritative and commanding.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law and I were driving home and joking about the gravely conversation Maisy was having with herself in the backseat.  "I really have to get her to quit smoking," I teased.  

What was supposed to be an innocuous comment, turned into this-

"What's 'smoking'?" asked Elana, the five-year-old.

"Ummm... you know, like cigarettes."  I responded.

Elana- "What are cigarettes?" 

Me- "Those skinny white things that burn on the end and people put in their mouths."

Elana- "Like when we come home from a trip and those people outside the airport?"

Me- "Huh?"

But, then the fog clears and I understand perfectly when she means.  Living in San Francisco, where smoking pot is widely accepted in public spaces, cigarettes are virtually unheard of, having been banned from all indoor spaces, and many outdoor ones too.  The one place my children have actually seen someone with a cigarette is outside of baggage claim, in the smoking section.

Me- "Yes, just like those people.  But, more importantly, smoking is really a terrible habit and it is not good for your health."  

Elana- "Then why do people do it?"

Dammit!  She had to go there?  Do I tell her the truth- that it can, sort of, look cool and feel good?  Nah- better to lie on this one.

Me- "Because it is a habit.  It is kind of similar to how you bite your nails.  You know it isn't good to put your fingers in your mouth, but after you start, it is hard to stop."

Elana- "Do you know anyone who ever smoked?"

Me- "Sure, lots of people.  In college.  But, most of them have stopped, because it is so bad for them."

Elana- "Did you ever smoke?"

Double dammit!  I was planning on being an open and honest parent, yet I hadn't planned for this topic so soon.  If she were a few years older, and wiser, I would be happy to have an honest conversation about this topic.  But, at five years of age, can she really understand the truth?  Can I handle her reaction?

If I explain to her how when I was growing up in my small Oregon town I felt out of place and lonely, like I didn't fit in anywhere, and then I began hanging out with a crowd that would skip Pre-Calc to smoke cigarettes and weed in the abandoned lot a block away from school, and I finally felt slightly less isolated, would she understand? If I told her that when I was full of teenage angst and depression, I could sneak out of the house for a smoke, and feel a sense of purpose, would she think I was weak?  If she knew how terrified I was of gaining weight, and secretly loved that smoking suppressed my appetite, would she model that behavior?

Will she be able to see that twenty years ago things were different, my circumstances were different, or will she think I am a bad person, who did bad things? 

On top of that, my MIL is sitting in the passenger seat observing every moment of my unease.  Time to make a decision.

Me- "Nope, never."

Elana- "Ok, Maisy and I will never smoke either."

Maybe we will revisit this discussion in five years, and maybe then I will come clean.  However, in the mean time, I'm content being a lying liar.