Month: July 2016

Really Real America

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I was sitting in a diner with my kids eating lunch the other day. Behind me sat a table of three men: a Puerto Rican, a Sicilian and a Polish guy. As we were leaving the Puerto Rican guy said to me, “Excuse me, miss? What’s your nationality?”
“Ehh, just American but my dad’s family is Swedish and my mom’s family is Native American.”
The Sicilian guy said to me, “I’ll give you $5 if you say you’re Polish!”
The Polish guy replied laughing, “Nope! Too late, she already said it!”
Then the Sicilian guy explained, “Sorry to bother you. We’ve been playing this game together for years whenever we need to kill time, we try to guess other people’s nationalities. Try to guess mine!”
“Hmmmm. Russian?”
“Nope, Italian! But lots of people think I look Russian.”
We laughed and wished each other well.
After lunch we went to the playground. All the kids immediately gravitate toward each other. Some speak Spanish, some speak English or Polish, but they all speak “kid” so it never matters. All the parents watch, all the parents push their children in the swings, all the parents tell their kids to stop climbing all over them when they’re wet from the sprinklers, until it gets hot and they change their mind. All the parents look at each other and laugh when their kids do something funny. A lady wears a burka, and her eyes are smiling. We are all the same. Our children even more so. A cop walks by and says hello. Later as we’re leaving, I see the same cop giving a guy a parking ticket. The guy looks minorly annoyed. No guns are drawn.
This is real life. This is real life for most people. The news is not real life. The news is a meticulously curated collection of the most tragic occurrences in our society. Some people are full of hate. They abuse their power. They get on the news. The ignorance and hate contained within a small number of people is being exposed every day. It’s difficult to watch. We’re in the middle of peeling off a huge band-aid that has masked the corruption in our society for a long time. But most people are not like this. Most people take their kids to the playground, don’t think twice about what language anyone else is speaking, and when it gets too hot we hug our wet kids to cool off.

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Hippo Anxiety

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I felt like a relatively calm and not at all uptight mother until just now when I left my kids with a babysitter for the 2nd time ever in their lives and suddenly heard myself saying, “I know this sounds ridiculous, but if you guys play Hungry Hungry Hippos I always count all the marbles when I’m putting it away. Can you believe a kids toy would use these tiny choking hazards? There are supposed to be 20. Hahaha I mean, it’s fine. Whatever you feel like doing. That’s just what I do to make sure. Because they’re so small! Haha. So silly.”

I’m Living Alone

When you’re a stay at home mom and finally the weekend comes so you’re like, “I think I’ll go into the bedroom by myself so I can do a little yoga and clear my thoughts” then both your kids scream outside the door entire time like they’re being tortured and somehow manage to run in multiple times and jump on your back even though their dad is right there so clearly they have not been abandoned.

Happy Birthday, O-Man!

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Happy 2nd birthday, O! Here he is as a fetus, clearly waving at the camera. This picture totally sums up his personality. From the very beginning he’s been more friendly and full of love than anyone I’ve ever known. The past two years felt like some sort of extreme parenting bonus round, with him throwing us new challenges almost daily. Lately his favorite toy is a tape measure, and he absolutely must have it every night as I rock him to sleep like a 30 lb newborn. Over the course of the next hour as he dozes off, he always finds a way to tangle himself up in it. When I finally lay him down in the crib I not only have to do so without him waking up, but I also need to bust out the Mommy MacGyver Moves (TM) and untangle his arms and legs. It’s straight out of one of those Chinese game shows you see on YouTube. He’s a little bit nuts in the same way that I’m a little bit nuts, and being with him has taught me more about myself than any amount of soul searching ever could. He talks to his big sister nonstop. Once he accidentally said something that sounded like “mommy muffin” and now that’s what they both call me. It melts my heart. There has never been a kid so specifically focused on the information he is trying to learn, or the task he is trying to accomplish. Instead of asking simply “why?” he says passionately, “WHY mommy, WHY?” When I start singing to him each night before bed, he stops and asks me to kiss his elbow. His favorite word is “schmutz.” If there is any schmutz in the stroller, he politely asks me to brush it out before he sits down. His face is constantly covered in a sticky film ranging anywhere from peanut butter to misapplied sunscreen, and his fingernails are constantly dirty. Walt Whitman would say he contains multitudes. He sometimes goes to the fridge and takes out a jar of spicy pickled string beans, then gets upset if you won’t eat one with him. He does not care if it’s 6 am. He came into our lives seemingly without warning, hungry and a little angry and wanting to be big. And now he is. He smiles and loves bigger than anyone, and when he gives you a hug you feel like it’s the first hug you’ve ever had. His hugs are different.