Conversations with the Peanut

Peanut: Soooo, Mommy, how was your day?

Me: My day was good! How was yours?

Peanut: No! ….. Soooooo, Mommy, how was your day?

Me: … It was good. How was yours?

Peanut: No!!!! ….. Soooooo, Mommy, how was your day?

Me: What am I missing? It was good? How was yours?

Peanut: NO!!!!!!! (Visibly working hard to keep herself from completely losing it)….. Soooooo, Mommy, how was your day?

Me: What do you want me to say? Why don’t you tell me how my day was?

Peanut: No! (sigh) …. Soooooo, Mommy, how was your day?

Me: I’m so confused. I thought it was good, but now I’m rethinking…

Peanut: NO! ….. Sooooo, Mommy, how was your day?

This seems like it would be an effective form of torture. Someone contact the CIA.

I identify a little too closely with this video.

Also, one of my most favorite ways to annoy Ms. B. currently is to call it THE YouTube. As in:

Ms. B: So, Mom, how was your day?

Me: It was good. I spent all day eating ham and watching cat videos on the YouTube. How was yours?

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Posted in Conversations, family | 3 Comments

Yikes!

I’ve been saying the word “yikes” a lot lately. Too much. Way too much.

The Peanut screams, “Yikes! Inside voice please!”

D says he has to work late, “Yikes! That doesn’t sound like fun!”

Ms. B. remembers at 9:30 pm that she has a paper due tomorrow, “Yikes! Better get a move on, kid!”

I don’t know where it came from, but it’s become this annoying automated tic. One more thing I berate myself over. Every time one slips out, I think, “Stop it! Stop using that word! What’s the matter with you, woman? Try a little creativity in your vocabulary, for cripe’s sake!”

You would be appalled at the number of ways I find to say “Yikes” on any given day. Yikes! How annoying!

The following is going to feel like a non-sequitur, but in the messy filing cabinet of my mind, it’s related, so just roll with me here.

When I was in 5th grade, I intentionally and methodically adopted an obnoxious laugh for the express purpose of annoying my mother. (Sorry, Mom!) It was a gasping, wheezing donkey-bray of a laugh. Super-effective in terms of achieving new heights of parental annoyance. At its height, when I would perform ‘the laugh,’ I got to gleefully watch my mother’s eyes close while she struggled to maintain her typically saint-like levels of patience and understanding. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.

After a couple of weeks of this, however, I decided enough was enough and I’d probably pushed my mother as far as a child who values her life should. I decided to retire ‘the laugh.’

Only the problem was, I had used the laugh so much, had so effectively trained myself to laugh in that obnoxious bray, that it had inadvertently become my default laugh. I’d be on the playground, my mother nowhere in sight, and a friend would tell a joke. Instead of my previously normal giggle, ‘the laugh’ would come rushing out of my mouth. I no longer sounded like an 11-year-old girl. I sounded like a highly-entertained mule.

I had to retrain myself to laugh like a normal, socially-acceptable person. Those first few weeks, a normal laugh was the one that felt weird and unnatural. D says that when I giggle now, I sometimes sound like Betty Rubble from the Flintstones. I personally don’t hear it, but it sounds like an annoying idea. Is that my ‘real’ laugh? Or is that the way I trained myself to laugh in the 5th grade? I’ll never really know, which is a weird thing to think about.

I don’t know why I’m sharing this story with you girls, and I’m not really sure how to wrap this post up. Is this a cautionary tale about not working too hard at annoying your mother? An inspirational story about changing the things you don’t like about yourself?

I also have the annoying habit of trying to look for too much meaning in the written word. All signs point to the fact that this is probably just another story about what a dork your mother is. Yikes!

Posted in nostalgia, Randomness | 3 Comments

Evening Commute

Yesterday I ducked out of work early for a Mother’s Day party at the Peanut’s daycare. We decorated a popsicle-stick picture frame with foam shapes and glitter and ate cookies that had clearly been heavily frosted and sprinkled by the kids. The Peanut was nothing but sweetness, excited to have me there, until we went to leave. As we headed for the door, her teacher asked if she could take a picture of us to put in the frame we made. The Peanut promptly shoved both hands in her mouth and scowled at the camera while I tried to tickle her into a smile. She wasn’t having it.

Picture taking over, we loaded ourselves into my car (the Peanut tells me its HER car…) and headed for home. The Peanut was quiet most of the way, probably still upset that we dared to try to take her picture, until suddenly she came to life.

Peanut: “Mommy! Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING ME?!”

Me: “Uh, I don’t think so….”

Peanut: “That whole cookie is in my tummy!”

Me: “It WAS a pretty wild and crazy time.”

Peanut: “Yeah! It was tasty!”

The Peanut was silent for a few more minutes. Then,

Peanut: “Hey! There’s a SPRINKLE on my hand!”

Me: “From the cookie?”

Peanut: “Yeah! The Sprinkle! It’s on my hand!!!”

Me: “Well, you better lick it.”

Peanut: “No, Mommy. It’s just for eyes.”

The backseat grew quiet again. Then, “Mommy! I licked it! I licked it off my hand! It was tasty!”

The Peanut was funny not just for what she was saying that drive home (“Are you kidding me?” “It’s just for eyes.”), but for the exuberant, caps lock, exclamation point way she was speaking in between long silences.

We recently decided to move the Peanut, starting this summer, from her daycare near my office, to a preschool that’s just two blocks from our house. I’m excited for her to start preschool, but I’m really, really, really going to miss our conversations in the car while we drive to and from daycare. It’s often my favorite part of my workday, and my commute is about to start seeming a whole lot lonelier. I might just have to unnecessarily drive her around a bit in the mornings, just to hear that adorable chatter coming from the back seat.

Posted in Conversations, family | 1 Comment

This is love, eleven years in

Me: I was worried you were going to hate me.

D: HATE you?!

Me: Well, maybe just be supremely annoyed with me.

D (spoken with an air of experience): Honey, I can be annoyed with you all day long and still not HATE you.

Good to know. Good to know.

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The Quitter

This is how it starts: In orchestra, her teacher drops her from first chair to second. She thinks its unfair. She doesn’t understand. The second chair part isn’t as fun or interesting to play. She hates the music, and, so, doesn’t want to practice any more. At dinner, D and I talk about how she should be practicing more so she can get back to first chair and the music that she enjoys. At dinner, she tells us that she wants to quit her private lessons. The writing’s on the wall. She’s already signed up for orchestra next year (the sign-ups occurred before the chair-drop), so she’ll have to get through it. But I suspect we’re nearing the end.

Honestly, I never saw Ms. B. playing violin all through high school. I was pleasantly surprised when she signed up for it in middle school. But she seemed to be really enjoying it. Enjoying it enough that she asked for private lessons and this past Christmas, when the lease on her old violin was up, we bought her a new one. (Parenting Axiom No. 407: If you drop an ass-load of cash on an activity, your child will ask to quit within the next 12 months).

I think what bothers me about this loss of interest in violin, however, is that it was all triggered by the drop from first to second. It’s the attitude of “I’m not on top, and that’s frustrating, so I’m no longer interested.” It’s an attitude she’s had about a number of activities we’ve tried and abandoned over the years. It always drives me crazy.

Here are responses that I would find acceptable:

“I was Number One, but now I’m Number Two. That frustrates me, so I’m going to use it to motivate me to work harder and get back to Number One.”

or

“I was Number One, but now I’m Number Two. I’m not too serious about violin, but it’s not a competition and I enjoy playing. Number Two is still good, and I’m just happy to be here.”

What I’m not okay with is:

“I was Number One, but now I’m Number Two. That makes me unhappy. So I quit.”

It’s virtually guaranteed that no matter what you do in life, there is always going to be someone out there who’s doing it better than you. And the response to that challenge is not to quit, but to push yourself to be as good as YOU can be. In that context, this doesn’t feel like a little lesson about violin, but a bigger lesson about life.

I’m tempted to tell her that if she puts in the work to get back to first chair, and STILL doesn’t like violin, then she can quit and I won’t be upset. But that seems like a plan destined to breed resentment. And we’ve all heard adults complain about their horrible parents making them stay in piano lessons for way too long. It’s a part of childhood. We try things out, and we discard them in a quest to find the things that truly interest us. But when does it become more than just trying things out; when does it become a problem with quitting every time things get hard?

So, what do you say? When is it okay to let your child quit?

Posted in Ms. B. | 3 Comments

Vignettes – Peanut Edition

As I put the Easter ham in the oven, the Peanut stood next to me and said, “See ya later, ham!”

—–

The Peanut poached a stuffed teddy bear from Ms. B’s room. When we asked the Peanut what her ‘new’ bear’s name was, she said, without hesitation, “Bobby Joo Joo.” Alright, then. Bobby Joo Joo it is. The other day I heard her singing a song about “Me and Bobby Joo Joo.” No joke. It lacked some of Janis’ flair, but not her enthusiasm.

—–

Peanut: (coughing)
Me: I don’t like that cough.
Peanut: Why? (Is this the first ‘why?’ Surely not. But as I write this, I’m wondering…)
Me: It makes me sad. I want you to be healthy.
Peanut: Okay, then. I won’t cough. I’ll just cry.

—–

Peanut: Where’s Daddy?
Me: He’s at work.
Peanut: You go to work, too?
Me: Yep. Mommy and Daddy go to work during the day.
Peanut: (As we pull into the daycare parking lot). I go to work in the day, too.

—–

Me: You’re pretty smart!
Peanut: I’m not pretty smart!
Me: Oh? What are you, then?
Peanut: I’m a little bit funny!

Posted in family, favorite things | 3 Comments

You’re doing it wrong: Parenting*

*Side Note on the title: There is this cooking series on Slate.com that drives me batty because it’s so sanctimonious in a smug hipster way. Every article is entitled something like, “You’re doing it wrong: Pancakes,” or, “You’re doing it wrong: Boiling Water,” or “You’re doing it wrong: Life.”

———-

“Everyone keeps saying that we’re more like sisters than mother and daughter.”

“You mean we look like sisters, or…”

“No, that we are sisters.”

“Well, that’s no good. That’s no good at all.”

“What?! Why?!”

“Because I’m your mother, not your sister.”

I can see why the perception is there. I used to have an almost visceral negative reaction to 13-year-old girls. I found them to be odious, nasty, hateful things. I dreaded when my own daughter would reach that age. But with Ms. B., I’ve been having more fun than I ever have had as her mother. We share wardrobes and jewelry. We find the same things funny. I’m young enough that I still easily follow her slang and pop culture references. We text each other little inside jokes.

I don’t know how to say this without it sounding wrong: I genuinely like Ms. B., as a human being, not as my daughter. Gah. That sounds awful. I don’t know how to say it. A mother loves her children unconditionally. And I do love Ms. B. unconditionally. But there’s also the non-mother part of me that thinks of Ms. B., “I kinda like hanging out with that person. She’s pretty funny and cool.” Does that make any sense? I’m rambling.

I’m probably doing it all wrong. Because I’m not her sister. I’m her mother. I’m not a friend, I’m an authority figure. And Ms. B.’s great. She’s surprisingly low-drama and, aside from a pesky streak of laziness when it comes to her homework, gets in very little trouble. But what happens when she does get in trouble? She won’t take discipline from her sister very seriously. It’s why I need to remember that I’m her mom.

I recently had the horrifying realization that if Ms. B. were me, she would be pregnant a mere five years from now. I kind of want to vomit just thinking it again here. I don’t think a single realization has ever before brought home for me just. how. young. I was when I had Ms. B. Five years? Ms. B. will still be a child. I was a child. In some respects, Ms. B. and I grew up together.

Is that why I have this struggle? Do all teen moms with daughters, even subconsciously, have to give themselves a ‘you are their mom, not their sibling’ pep-talk? Because even though we are mother and daughter, we’re also pretty close in age? Or do all parents have a moment when they are surprised to realize their kid is actually turning from a kid you have to remind to wipe their own nose into a likable young adult you actually enjoy hanging out with?

Posted in family, Ms. B. | 1 Comment

Seeking Rationality

Recent debates with my two-year-old:

  • Whether or not the sippy cup she was requesting was already in her hand.
  • Whether or not I could take the hair she found on her sleeve and reattach it to her head.
  • Whether it is possible to safely go down the stairs while simultaneously carrying three stuffed animals, a My Little Pony, a pair of shoes, two books, a blanket and aforementioned sippy cup. Alternatively, whether it was possible to transfer said items from one floor to another using multiple trips and/or let your mother help you. (The answer is no. On all counts). 
  • Whether or not our morning commute comes with enroute food and beverage service.
  • Which of us was going to ‘stop it.’ (“It” was never defined, but in my defense, I’m going with “she started it.”)
  • Whether or not two-legs-in-one-leg-hole is a stylish, appropriate, and/or effective way to wear your underpants.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

We’re done…. Maybe.

The other night I had a nightmare where I was pregnant for a third time and I had to go on bed rest because the pregnancy was causing my legs to literally rot off.

Suck on that one, Freud.

The house has been feeling slightly small for a while now (I joke that we have a one-in-one-out policy in effect), and D and I have been vaguely talking about moving if the right house just magically came along. Part of that’s just that we live in an older house with small bedrooms and even smaller closets. But we would regain a significant amount of our storage space if I would just let go of all of the Peanut’s baby stuff.

I’ve saved virtually everything of the Peanut’s, every onesie, every burp cloth, every blanket and toy, all to be used by some hypothetical third baby that we’re pretty sure isn’t ever going to come into being.

I don’t have the best track record in this regard. Compare my hoarding with the Peanut to Ms. B., of whom I kept almost nothing, because (1) the space required to store it was not a luxury I could afford, (2) I needed to sell her stuff to have the money to buy the new stuff she needed, and, I felt most importantly, (3) I was never ever ever going to have any more kids. I guess what I’m trying to say is, should hypothetical baby number three ever come along and read this post, they should not use it as a catalyst for developing some sort of complex about whether or not they are wanted, i.e., loved, thereby requiring excessive amounts of talk therapy in their late twenties. They might need that anyway. But it shouldn’t be because of this post.

I actually would really love hypothetical baby number three. So long as we are speaking hypothetically, that is. During the Peanut’s first year, D and I would discuss hypothetical baby number three as if he or she was a certainty. But as time has gone on, common sense has started to kick in. At Christmas I started drinking heavily around D’s grandmother, because I started getting the feeling that she thought I might be pregnant and I didn’t want to give her any sort of false hope. So instead of just blurting out, “I’m not pregnant, you know!” I made it really awkward by letting her think I was giving her great-grandchild fetal alcohol syndrome.

There’s the small things: Hypothetical baby number three would probably mean we would need a bigger car, and I don’t really like the idea of buying a car, for example. Also, I just don’t want to be pregnant again. Like, really really REALLY don’t want to be pregnant again. The Peanut is a light and a joy in my life, but my pregnancy, labor, delivery and recovery with her was horror-movie terrible. Now quite rot-my-legs-off terrible. But close. Honestly. I don’t like to talk about it. Because I’m afraid once I start, I won’t be able to stop and I’ll turn into one of those crazy ladies who stop pregnant women in Target to say what a nightmare my personal experience was. I hated those ladies when I was pregnant. I just don’t want to go through that again.

There’s also the financials of hypothetical baby number three. We cover the Peanut’s daycare fees just fine right now, but if we were to add another kid, and double them, I don’t know where the money would come from. I really don’t. Not to mention the additional costs just associated with diapering and feeding a third human. Our budget has some wiggle room, but not that much. Not enough.

And there’s the issue of maternity leave. I used my grandmother’s inheritance to take almost a full year off work when the Peanut was born. The gift of that time was, I still believe, the best possible use of that money. But that money’s gone now, and hypothetical baby number three wouldn’t have that same luxury. And, on a personal level, I can’t stand the idea of putting one of my children in daycare at the end of my twelve-week maternity leave. Even if we had it, I don’t even know that my job would let me take another year off. They just held my empty office for a year. And it took a good eighteen months after I came back for my case load to get high enough that I was earning the firm the same amount of money as I was before the Peanut was born. That’s two and a half years where I was just a money suck for my employer.

If it were possible, I would stay home in a heart beat. Yeah. I said it. I’m a highly educated, only-six-credit-hours-away-from-a-double-major-in-Women’s-Studies-sure-I’ll-say-I’m-a-feminist, woman with a ‘career,’ and I’m saying I would love to be a stay at home mom. Because I can’t stand the juggle. The “No, Bossman, I can’t stay late for that meeting because I have to pick up my kids. No, beloved daughter, you can’t participate in that activity because I have to work and there’s no way I could get you there” juggle. Maybe its just that I really hate saying ‘no’ to my kids so much, but I like my juggle analogy, so I’m going to stick with it here. I suck at the juggle. My inability to juggle well means I’m not exactly ‘partner track,’ so what am I doing here anyway when all I really want to do is focus on Ms. B, the Peanut, and D? Hate the juggle. Loathe it.

But the juggle is my reality. And the thought of adding one more human being’s ball of wants and needs to that juggle just feels unworkable. I know it’s not, but it feels that way.

So, yeah. We’re done. No hypothetical baby number three for us. Except for there’s all this baby stuff in the attic. Stuff that D tried to sell to a coworker who was having a baby a little while ago. Stuff which I only then realized I was extremely unwilling to let go of. Because despite all the impracticalities and ‘probably never going to happens,’ despite the fear of it causing my legs to rot off, I can’t quite pull the trigger on letting go of hypothetical baby number three.

Posted in family | 2 Comments

Vignettes – Ms. B. Edition

(Flipping through a Crate and Barrel catalog) “When I grow up my house is only going to have stuff from Crate and Barrel in it. Like this vase, that’s cute. And this couch. That dog’s cute. (It was a real dog used to add ‘interest’ to a picture of outdoor furniture). How much do they want for him? And these wine glasses. Which I will just have to fill with colored water… ‘Cause I can’t afford wine… ‘Cause I spent all my money at Crate and Barrel.”

———-

She informed me at dinner last night that in seven months she can get her learner’s permit. To drive. Gulp. I tried to tell her to stop being such a lying liar, but she made me look it up. And goddamnit if she isn’t right. Heaven help us. Heaven help us all.

———-

Ms. B: “Those are cute jeans.”
Me: “I just got them. I had to get a new pair because you stole my last pair of skinny jeans and I’ve completely given up hope of ever getting them back.”
Ms. B: (clearly plotting) “Hmmm…”
Me: “No, don’t even think about it.”
Ms. B: “How about I give you your old skinny jeans back and you give me those new ones.”
Me: “No. That’s not the way this works. You steal my clothes, I buy myself new ones. It’s trickle down economics, or something.”
Ms. B: “Well, I’m definitely stealing those…Soon.”

(D, by the way, finds all of this ‘exchange’ of clothing to be completely, pull-his-hair-out maddening. Men. They just don’t understand.)

———-

Ms. B: “Mom, who’s funnier, me or D?”
Me: “Hmm…. That’s a tough call.”
Ms. B: (turning to D) “Haha! I’m funnier than you!”
D: “Interesting. Hey, Mom, who’s the better listener?”
Me: “…. Actually, also a tough call.”
Ms. B: “Who has the better legs?”
Me: “I’m gonna go with D on that one. You don’t want me looking at your legs that way.”
Ms. B: “Ick. You’re right. Well, then who has the better hair in the morning?”
D: “Me. No contest. Have you seen yourself in the morning?”

(The next morning)
Ms. B: (standing groggily in front of the mirror while I help her sister brush her teeth. Ms. B. startles and her eyes snap open wide). “Ugh! Um… Yeah, maybe D is right on that whole morning hair thing…”

Posted in Conversations, family, Ms. B. | 2 Comments