Thursday, September 29, 2011

We drank the kool-aid (a.k.a. the week I became a Disney ambassador)

We recently spent the happiest week of our lives at the happiest place on Earth.

What a big statement. It surprises even me. But it's true.

Mickey knows how to pull the same strings Santa does, apparently. He left these bags in the boys' rooms. When they woke up it was time to go.

Disney kept commanding that we let the memories begin and so we obliged. Then they rushed in. And they started flooding.

Brothers loved on each other. Why not? There was just this abundance of love to go around. Seriously, Disney!

How do you do this, Disney? This voo doo that you do, so well?

My spirited boy was spirited in all the right ways.

My reserved baby made new friends.

No detail was overlooked.

We will be back. Again and again.

And again.

Monday, September 26, 2011


In hindsight, I should not have left the kitchen TV on the “E!” channel and walked out of the room.

In hindsight, that is really a waste of electricity.

And in my even sharper hindsight, coming back to the room quite a bit later only to find my kindergartener on top of the countertop, eyes glued to the pivotal climax in the movie Titanic in which Jack’s frozen stiff hand is pried from Rose’s, whereupon she watches his cold, dead body -- eyes garishly open of course -- drift downward to the black depths of the Atlantic? Um, yeah not cool.

And even less cool was the slow-motion pivot in which my boy turned to face me with his huge eyes, clearly questioning all of humanity. This was of course followed by the face scrunch, and then the alligator tears and deep-seeded wail. Like a one-two-three punch you could see coming right toward your gut.

“Why are you so sad?” I tried to play it cool. Like maybe he would forget about the melodramatic death he had just witnessed.

“Her friend Jack just died!” his finger jabbed at Kate Winslet on the small screen. He was beside himself. “And he sank into the ocean!” my 5-year-old wailed.

“Well, we need to get ready for your class picnic!” I exclaimed, as if tap dancing in front of a crime scene. Nothing to see here, folks, did you notice there is an ice cream truck over there! Hey kids, ice cream! Carnival! Santa! Fun!

“I think a shark bit his leg off!”

Well now you’re just making things up. Isn’t James Cameron dramatic enough all by himself?

In hindsight, when the tap dancing did nothing to help and I feebly attempted to provide my boy some text book logic (long time ago, wouldn’t happen today, yadda yadda), mixed with a definition of “movie magic” (actors aren’t real, Leo’s not dead, clothes are costumes, yadda yadda) I basically dug my own grave. My answers led to new questions as his little mind started weaving an intricate web, attempting to make sense of it all and bandage his broken heart, such as:

  • Why did the captain not know there was an iceberg under the water?

  • How does the captain see under water?

  • Did someone not tell him?

  • What is technology?

  • Do the boats we have today have technology?

  • So boats have computers?

  • Where are the computers?

  • Our car has a computer?

  • I probably should have stopped at “movies are not real,” even though the way the questions progressed made me think I was totally working at that distraction thing. But then he totally called me out on saying that this happened “a long time ago” and thus DID IT REALLY HAPPEN OR NOT???

    Note to self! Turn the TV off! Particularly before loading up the car to drive to the kindergarten class mixer/picnic at the park where your still-weepy kindergartener will tell the other kids about Jack who died in the ocean!

    In my future hindsight? I’m sure this will be pretty funny.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    What I want for you

    You came home last night with exciting news. You had already told Mimi and couldn’t wait to tell me, with a sheepish grin.

    “I wrote my name on all my papers today,” you proclaimed. Followed by, “You can go ahead and cry now, Mom.”

    You were so ready to see tears of elation.

    You know. Oh, you know how it kills me that you aren’t more like I was in school – teacher pleaser, honor roller, over achiever. You know how much advice I’ve sought simply because you are so desperate to divergently walk your own path – the road less (or never?) traveled – so much so that you do these things that land you in the “safe seat” constantly, that get your name on the board, that have put me in constant contact with your teacher.

    “Graham is smart,” she reassures me. But you won’t show your cards. You can do what you’re asked, but you refuse. You can finish the worksheet, but halfway through when you’ve shown you know how to write that letter G, you don’t see the need to keep going. You can write your name on your paper, “but everyone knows the one without the name is mine.” This is Kindergarten.

    And oh we have so many years to go.

    You exhaust me. Your brother who actually has diagnosed needs? Piece of cake compared to you. But here we are in the trenches together. I subconsciously dress myself in armor in your presence. I try to mentally anticipate your needs, your actions, before they happen. I work to diffuse your “spirited” ways. And it’s work.

    I remember hosting our first Parents As Teachers meeting in our old house when we still counted your age in months and we still wore our naiveté on our sleeves. Our instructor asked us to tell her what characteristics we hoped you would have. I remembered how surprised she was that we knew so clearly what we wanted for you.

    Perfectionism wasn't one of those things.

    Unfortunately what I’ve found is that you are in fact more like me than what I want for you. “It has to be perfect!” you shrieked recently when your pencil line contained a wobble. “It’s not perfect and it has to be perfect!” The wobble became a roadblock and you refused to go any further. I saw my reflection in your eyes and my heart broke.

    Who doesn’t want their child to do well? But you don’t believe me when I tell you that you can indeed make mistakes. You can wobble. That you only have to do your best, whatever that may be, try again, learn from it, move on. Move on.

    Things are harder than they have to be. I know because I make them harder, too. I want to be perfect, too. I know how exhausting it is inside your mind, too. Trust me, son.

    But while I yearn to see you as the teacher pleaser, honor roller, over achiever, what I more so want for you is to not be like me. To get off of this steamrolling perfectionist train before it’s too late and you live your life on it, mile after exhausting mile. What I want for you is to be imperfect and happy in your skin, in your surroundings, in your intellect. To have character, not perfection. To shrug glitches off, not let them incapacitate you. To write the word, not dwell on the wobbly line.

    A couple nights ago, between stories and tucking in, you looked in my eyes and said, “Mom, I can’t tell you how much I love you. And the more days we get, the more I love you.” And oh my heart. My armor fell off.

    Child, you slay me – with both frustration and elation. How do you do that? You do it so well… so perfectly imperfectly. This is what I want for you. If only that was all you wanted for yourself.