Most days when I look at Lucas I know there are certain notes home from school and choice photos that I am going to see some day. I watch him chug a juice box and smash the container in 30 seconds flat – and well I’ve keyed enough beers myself to know how that turns out. I watch him try to strip down in the public fountain and well can’t say I didn’t try that one either (though after hours mind you). I listen to him tell, what might be convincing stories to another mother, and remember how I managed to get out of three months of PhysEd in 3rd grade with a one day excuse note. And I listen to him debate, rather successfully for a four year old, why the sky is not actually blue and I blame that on Eric’s half of the genes.
However, I had always hoped to hold off on the notes home from school until at least kindergarten.
Luckily, Lucas is still at that age where he rats himself out – especially to a well-seasoned knave such as myself.
“Remy got in trouble at school today.”
“Oh really? What did Remy get in trouble for?”
“He showed me his butt like ten times. It was SO many.”
“I see. And why did Remy show you his hiney ten times? Did you show him your hiney?”
“No, I didn’t show my hiney at all.”
“I see. So how was the rest of your day? How was water play?”
“Oh we didn’t have water play today.”
“Why not?” (insert narrowed gaze and honed mom emphasis here)
“I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t feel like it.”
With 2 + 2 equaling 5, I asked Eric to ask school the next day. Indeed, it turns out there had been a full out mooning war complete with sprints down the hall and attempts to maximize the number of moon victims.
And thus I can cross one note off my list of disciplinary notes I will eventually receive.
However, my “to do” list has a few more items:
- Buy awesome teacher gifts
- Befriend the local police
- Find a doctor willing to implant a tracking chip
- Enroll in the CIA – focus on lie detection technologies and techniques
- Buy stock in preferred vineyards
So apparently, not only have I made it to thirty, but much like the experiment of Dr. Frankenstein, I have managed to to awkwardly stumble my way with a somewhat vacant stare almost to thirty one.
Lesson here – keep static numbers out of your blog naming conventions if relevance is important to you.
But as this is my annual reflective post I will mention that in this lackadasically phantasmagoric year – realism has been a bit chucked out the window, or at least been brought into question – so perhaps thirty one isn’t really thirty one after all . . .
Yeah nice try.
This year was a liminal one – lots of change, lots of plans and lots of the past bubbling up – all recombining in strange threads through daily existence – almost convincingly enough for me to give Proust a try. Yet alas, solipcism is a slippery slope and perhaps some slopes are best unexplored.
The year has been full of chance meetings, new friendships, old friendships reappearing, new habits, combining with old habits, and a strange house of mirrors that seems to be illuminating every corner of every preconceived notion I might have once entertained. Things have moved quickly, but also not at all as I spent untold hours huddled over the rather extensive and extensively dry contents of the CFA curriculum.
Beginnings do come at random, but endings always have a meaning. How we choose to interact with what comes into our lives does say something about who we are and is the only thing we can possibly change.
Some things are closing – I have now completed everything I set out to do before/right when Lucas was born and he will start school in a month. I have thus far done what I said I would do and that in itself has been its own magic lantern impressing upon the rather chaotic timeline a sort of personal stamp of loosely directed grit.
Perhaps I am unique in that I don’t expect order, even from my best-laid plans. If I have gained any wisdom in the ten years since I could first (legally) drink (and those of you who were present for that tequila-fest please remain silent), it’s that you might as well just start coloring, because the lines are going to change anyway. I keep getting asked where am I going . . . and where/what do I want to be . . . but to me these are questions that would only answer if I wanted to be wrong. I can pick a direction, but the availability of road and the passability of the terrain will have much more influence on my success than any amount of sheer will.
They say stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Thus, I have decided my one true goal is to try to avoid doing things repeatedly and expecting different results. You may laugh now, but anyone with kids knows this is easier said than done. Perhaps not the lofty aspirations of a future nobel laureate or at least household dictator, but seems goal enough for thirty one.
And besides, in a world where you can walk into a grocery store and get charged $2826.32 for one head of broccoli (which by the way did not seem to be particularly remarkable in any way upon consumption), things are not always what they seem so clinging to anything too tightly seems a bit of an exercise in futility. And thus perhaps I would rather just wander . . . but if I can define a few lines . . . preferrably on a beach somewhere . . . in peace and quiet . . . with a fruity drink . . . with an umbrella . . . the ones that actually open and close, because there’s always something amusing about a wee-little unbrella made of paper, which pretty much defeats the purpose of umbrellas . . . and makes you wonder how an umbrella made its way into a drink as garnish anyway . . . which makes you wonder why you would try to protect a liquid, from liquid, with paper.
See it’s not just me. It’s the general melee.
Most days I am constantly reminded that, no matter how much I parent, Lucas is and always will be Eric’s son. And this means, that unlike me, who refused to be enslaved to any system other than my own sufficiently shackling internal code even as a young child –that Lucas will always be easily motivated, manipulated by and intent on manipulating the old Skinnerian system of positive reinforcement. Hence when Eric introduced the responsibility chart – we should have known what to expect.
The responsibility chart’s goal is to give children a visual reminder of specific behavioral trends that are encouraged and to allow the child to see his/her progress on achieving these desired behaviors – in theory.
In practice, it has turned out the 4-year old version of a heroin fix.
On our responsibility chart, smiley faces mysteriously appear seemingly out of nowhere and more difficult tasks are conveniently replaced by tasks more to the palate of the youngest member of the household. Every conversation has become prefaced with: “Do I get a smiley face for this?” Plants must now be watered three times a day and clean dishes are periodically collected and dumped in the sink.
Congratulations Lucas you have magnificently embodied the term “creative response”.
Now the responsibility chart looms over the household like the Eye of Sauron, watching everything, a part of every move made, irrevocably altering the behavioral dynamics of the family unit and I rue the day those cute, brightly colored smiley faces ever arranged themselves neatly on a 7 x 8.
At least I can take pride in the fact that someday my child will make an excellent lawyer.
The upcoming school play has a water theme. Apparently there are jellyfish involved.
Lucas: “I am going to be in the school play. There are tadpoles and a good jelly fish and an evil jellyfish. I want to be the evil jellyfish.”
“Why do you want to be the evil jellyfish.”
“Because you know I’m not good. You should ask your teacher at work if you can be an evil jellyfish too.”
“Mom did you know that if I poked out your eye, you would only have one eye. And then you’d be a Cyclops.”
“That’s not very nice Lucas. If you poked out my eye it would hurt a lot and I would be sad.”
“But you’d get to be a Cyclops.”
Of course, silly me.
Four year olds seem to exist for two reasons:
1. To remind us how stupid we’ve become.
2. To remind us how smart we’ve become.
As someone who has recently learned a little about programming, four year olds have minds that work in much the same way. You write a general rule and then you cannot make exceptions to that rule without a ridiculously long string of ‘if/then’ statements detailing out every possible deviation from the rule you just made and how to handle it.
Four year olds are just starting to write the rules and have yet to build the caveats.
For instance, you must wash your hands after you use the bathroom translates into “you must wash your hands every time you enter, walk by or look in the general direction of the bathroom. Failure to do this will serve as proof that the rule was stupid in the first place and hence never needs to be followed again.
Rule – Princesses wear long flowy dresses, hence everyone wearing a long flowy dress must be a princess.
On our way to dinner we pass a billboard of Jesus, surrounded in light – hair and robes flowing and Lucas cries “Momma, look at the princess! Isn’t she beautiful?”
Attempts to explain that men sometimes wear robes are met with confusion and a handful of looks displaying serious doubts as to my sanity.
Upon explaining to him that we were on the heart walk for our hearts:
“You don’t use your heart to walk! You use your legs.”
Statements of the Obvious
Four year olds are also prone to statements of the obvious. For instance:
“Tutu is nicer than Mommy.”
“Disney world is better than Texas.”
“Mommy your butt is squishy.”
“But I like candy!”
“Macaroni is not pasta. If it was pasta we would call it pasta.”
“I didn’t do XXX, because I didn’t want to.”
And, upon receiving a meal he decided he did not want,
“Fine, I’ll just drink!”
Apparently, he picked up that blanket rule from his mother.
When I named my blog I thought:
A. I wouldn’t actually make it to thirty
B. That I could somehow use my as yet undiscovered super powers to stop time
C. That I would be done with my short blogging career before the date
D. That I actually gave no thought to having to change the name when the date occurred
If you picked E, all of the above, you are probably somewhere close to right.
But as to whether I will change the name of my the blog now that yes, I am 30, the answer is no. It is far too much effort and now that I have gotten you all conditioned I dare not disrupt my tenuous audience. So instead I will force you to live with the lie of my lack of temporal forethought. Sorry if this causes ethical distress.
Speaking of ethical distress I have learned that ethics in the mind of a three-year old are conceptually limited to a tool of convenience. For instance:
“Lucas did you hit any friends today?”
“But Ms. Zara said you did.”
“I didn’t hit any friends today.”
“But Ms. Zara said you hit Remy.”
“But Remy is not my friend.”
“You said he was yesterday.”
“Well he wasn’t my friend when I hit him.”
“But momma told you to keep your hands to yourself.”
“I used my elbow!”
Unfortunately I am not sure my parental soliloquies will ever be long enough to cover all possible scenarios . . . guess we should just go get some f-in’ bajitas.
According to the Urban Dictionary the term “that guy” is slang for the person that everyone knows but no one wants to be.
No matter where I work, I have noticed that at the office, there is always that guy, and in this case I mean that guy who seems really nice but who absolutely exudes the creepy vibe from every pore of his body – not necessarily because he is creepy (although he may be) but because he just seems to have missed out on social interaction 101.
Currently, that guy at my office’s, MO goes something like this:
1. He will use your name as many times as possible in a given conversation, consistently making you aware of how rarely your name is used to refer to you in 2nd person dialogue
2. He will come by your office just to ‘hi’ but will refuse to leave until you have had a lengthy, but stilted conversation
3. He will walk in just to talk to you as you are writing a post about him (kid you not)
4. He will make you ridiculously uncomfortable while simultaneously making you feel guilty for feeling uncomfortable because he hasn’t actually done anything wrong
5. You will find yourself making any excuse to leave your own office to escape, only to run into him again in the hall five minutes later as you try to sneak back in
6. He will happily capitalize on any miniscule amount of decorum you show him to create the mirage that you have had some friendship-building connection
You will debate whether or not to just freeze him out, but again will find yourself unable to be that mean because of a lack of actual evidence of creepiness so you will waste at least ten minutes of your life each work day trying to be polite which may eventually compound to nearly equivocate the amount of time you will spend on the toilet in a lifetime. At least there you can read a magazine in peace.
This is the question every parent dreads to hear from the mouth of three-year old . . .
Now I must admit I am a little more excited about this question than most. I get a sort of giddy, “well didn’t you just set yourself up for this life lesson?” feeling every time I hear that syllable . . . but recently I have realized that the question has taken a rather adaptive turn.
Now instead of being used as the general marker of requesting additional information, it is used as a sort of torture technique by my budding Freudian.
For when the soap makes bubbles, does he ask why? – no
Or when the we mix blue and yellow together to make green, does he ask why? – no
Or when we are talking about the seasons does he ask why spring follows winter? – no
Instead, the question why is reserved for key situations.
1. You really screwed up Mom and I am SO going to call you on it –
i.e. Why did you just totally lose your temper in the bookstore when I resembled a whirling dervish and now everyone is staring at us? I am being perfectly good now and you look like a lunatic.
2. There is actually no good reason why –
As in, why is the word why spelled with three letters when one letter with the same sound would do just fine (I’m just saying mom)?
3. I don’t like your first response you are going to have to try again.
This is a sneaky attempt to wrangle the hated “because I said so” out of me, which annoys me more than it annoys him because I know darn well that that’s not really a reason other than the exact same reason that makes me have to say that in the first place (see irony).
And my favorite:
4. Because I want to see how much you REALLY love me.
“Lucas, you need to tell me when you need to go potty before you have an accident.”
Translation, “Clean up my feces, woman!
Because I said so . . .”
Here is the link to my new blog. Although, sad to say it is neither about Lucas nor funny . . . but I figured I might get some cross audience.
As someone who has always been in love . . . with the perfect color, the perfect turn of phrase, the perfect rapier retort, the perfect outfit . . . I know the intense excitement my son experiences when he feels he has found the perfect whatever, because, in many ways I have never really lost this feeling.
Last week it was the perfect shoes. Being a fan of light and color myself since infancy, it was with great excitement that I bought Lucas a pair of light up sneakers. He loves them, but I must admit the motive was purely selfish because I love them too.
I will never forget the pride expressed in his voice as the daycare greeter opened the door to the car to take him out and he jumped to the ground beaming even brighter than the green lights on his shoes and said “Look at my NEW shoes!”
She grinned and they spoke about his shoes asshe walked him into the building.
Yesterday, after a fight with a cup of juice – a fight which the juice won, I took Lucas upstairs to change his clothes. Rifling through the underwear drawer he produced a pair adorned with baseballs.
“I want these.”
“I want to wear them to school tomorrow too.”
“Well then you have to save them.”
“I want to save them.” he replied, and in uncharacteristic three-year old fashion, he did exactly that.
The next morning I dropped my son off. The greeter opened the car door and we said our goodbyes. Then after closing the door, I see her dissolve into hysteria.
Noticing my quizzical stare she opens the car door to the front seat and there is my son, shorts to his knees, beaming with pride as he shows her his baseball underwear.
Perhaps we should stick with white.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well then I would personally love to meet the jerk in the glass house who made this remark . . .
oh wait it was Einstein
Ironically then, I believe he did discover a unified theory – for the only thing I think that binds absolutely every member of humanity is the fact that we are ALL guilty of this – just some of us more than others.
My particular breed of insanity seems to revolve around the fact that – despite numerous examples to the contrary – I believe I can rationalize with my three year old.
Never having been much of a fan of ‘because I say so’ in childhood or beyond, I made the decision early on that I was going to avoid the phrase at all costs.
However, I have discovered that, in my attempt to be a ‘better’ parent, I have undertaken a particularly Sisyphusian task – something akin to trying to translate Eygptian hieroglyphs before the discovery of the Rosetta stone. There is a chance it might be done – but the chance is so small its like matching all 20 numbers in game of Keno . . . multiple times in a row.
For instance: I have many times explained that the only end game of whining is a ticked off mom and a pervasive state of absence of whatever it was the whining was meant to produce.
The standard answers are as follows:
“But I want to!”
“But I want it!”
“But I NEED it!”
Which leaves me wondering exactly what was lost in the translation. However, I am learning that absolutely nothing was lost in the translation and rather, that the act of whining – has very little to do with procuring something one wants and is more like a game of mercy – you know the one where pain intensifies until someone balks first. After many attempts my son has realized that I am unlikely to give in and that, indeed, the situation will only frustrate me, but yet he persists because this the prime playing field of the toddler ego struggle and . . . in trying to explain the absurdity of the situation in simplified, toddler terms am actually bringing upon myself the full extent of the absurdity of the situation.
Irony is a bitch.