I stalled, trying to come up with the perfect thing to say to resolve the situation.
“Let me show you something here on the computer.” We walked over to the desk and I plopped down into the office chair. I signed into my Facebook account and pulled up an old photo that someone had tagged me in from high school.
It was a bit grainy, as pictures of pictures tend to be, but you could still clearly see the group of us girls, arms over shoulders, the lot of us grinning widely. “See that? That’s Mommy.”
“Yes. And is that Aunt Maggie?” she inquired, pointing to a girl who looked absolutely nothing like my sister.
“No, that’s just another girl with blond hair. That’s me my friends after we did a play. That’s Katie, Jen, and Leslie.”
(Continued from Introductory)
“Mommy! I missed you so much!” She came over and hugged my waist, her 7-year-old scared little hands gripping at my sweatshirt.
What had happened in such a short period of time?
Confused, I looked down at Avery, who still had fistfuls of my clothing. Her voice was muffled as she spoke into my stomach. “I’m really scared, Mommy, really scared.”
I looked over at her little brother, who shrugged. “Can I stay up and watch tv?” He was completely oblivious.
“What happened? Why are you scared?” I tried to peel her off of me so I could hold her at arm’s length. She didn’t say a word.
I looked up at Tayler.
Parenting can be straightforward a lot of times:
“No, you can’t have Oreos for breakfast.”
“Yes, you have to go with the family to Aunt Suzy’s house for her dog’s wedding.”
“Don’t lick your brother.”
“Eat a piece of lettuce, for God’s sake. Just one freaking piece of lettuce!”
I’ve notice that as the kids get a bit older, however, situations become more difficult and parenting becomes more complicated. Last night was a prime example.
“Only 2 and a half hours left!” Avery cried to me from up in her bedroom. “When she gets here, we’re going to pretend to be princesses, then play Jenga, then we’ll color a picture, then I’ll play her the new song I learned on the piano, then we’ll read my new library book, then we’ll-“
By 7:45 am, the heat of the day was already overwhelming me.
As though I was carrying a gorilla on my back, its heaviness pushed me down, making my legs weak. I continued to drag the various pieces into the driveway, yelling at my children the entire time,
“Put that down!”
“Nobody talk to me, I NEED coffee!”
Whose stupid idea was it to have a garage sale anyway? Oh, yeah: Avery. My lovely child, who had already made plans to ditch us and go swimming at the neighbor’s pool.
Chris came over in the morning to help, and was out getting breakfast for the kids at the deli when a few customers came by.
I plastered a smile on my already dampened face. “Let me know if I can help you with anything!”
We went to the animal fair
The birds and the beasts were there
The old baboon, by the light of the moon
Was combing his auburn hair…
For as far back as I can remember, I’ve known the lyrics to this song, though I’ve never really heard them, if that makes sense. I guess I just never listened or paid attention to their meaning. The traditional folk song continues:
The monkey he got drunk
And fell on the elephant’s trunk
The elephant sneezed and went down on his knees
And that was the end of the monk, yes the was the end of the monk!
When I see the words now, in all their glory, I’m horrified. Did I really listen to my elders sing this jauntily to me? Did I really dance around as it played, laughing and giggling and singing along?
The fact that I AM horrified, but my parents were not, it begs the question: is my generation coddling our children? I remember my aunt singing this song to Laura and I as we were atizzy in a sea of hysterics. It wasn’t the words that made us shriek and chortle as she sang, it was the silly way Aunt Donna would act it out, flailing her arms about and making funny noises. Nowadays, though, a song like this gives me pause. An intoxicated simian getting crushed to death by his jungle friend? Not necessarily the stuff of a Pottery Barn thematic nursery.
My brain, as per usual, is at an impasse, then.
“Eh; it’s fine. It’s catchy. Stop being such a curmudgeon.”
“If you don’t need to expose your children to such barbarity, why not listen to ‘Baby Beluga’ again. That’s catchy.”
This is where I need advice. I desperately need YOU to weigh in. What is your stance on exposing children to lyrics, literature, to bad language? HELP!!!
“I love you.”
So much power is contained within such a small phrase.
The intention of saying this in a relationship is to bring two people to “the next level.” The impact that it has could do just that, or, conversely, could do the opposite; one of the people in the couple may become scared of the relationship’s impending progression or just might not feel the same way.
So, saying “I love you” in a relationship will either bring a couple closer together or tear a couple apart. As far as I have seen, there is no in-between.
When we are younger, it seems, we are freer with the words. My 4-year-old son, for example, tells me he loves me 1000+ times a day, makes up songs about his love for me (for the record, he also makes up songs about how mean I am), and wants to be in constant contact. I would feel more special if he would refrain from telling the mailman, the guy buying bologna at the deli counter, and my mortgage broker that he loves them too. He, like most kids of that age, doesn’t quite understand the weight of the phrase; he uses it interchangeably with “I like you!” “You’re cool!” or “Thanks!”
Many more New Year’s Eves came and went, never with much of an impact. Resolutions made, resolutions broken, resolutions forgotten. Auld lang syne.
When I had one baby, then two, New Year’s Eve became a very quiet holiday. My husband and I would go out to dinner with the kids early, before the expensive prix fix began, then get into bed, inevitably falling asleep before the ball had been dropped in Times Square.
More recently, we had spent the holiday at a friend’s house while my sister Maggie agreed to stay at my place to watch the kids. It was a small gathering to enjoy food, drinks, and chatting amongst a few couples. My husband and I had been going to marriage counseling at that point, but no one knew.
Remembering that one of the therapist’s suggestions was to “act” like a happy married couple, I tried my best, though it seemed unnatural, to sit close, feigning affection and tenderness.
At midnight, after I kissed him, he looked at me with disgust. There was venom in his eyes.
When we got home, we fought, then took our spots the bed, lying as far away from each other as possible. The next morning, on New Year’s Day, we went to brunch with my family, who were all still visiting for the holiday.
The memory faded and my brain returned to the present, being crushed on both sides by my aggressive seatmates, both determined to be the emperor of the arm rest.
The seat in front of me reclined, making my space even smaller. Row 22, mine, didn’t move back. I suddenly felt as though the oxygen on the plane was getting more sparse, and I half-expected the masks to fall from the ceiling. I slowly filled my lungs with air and blew it out, realizing that I looked like a lunatic to the people seated next to me. Just a couple more hours…
I picked up my magazine again, but it was mere moments before my eyes glazed over, and my thoughts began wandering yet again. Once more, it was Christmastime, but this memory was from a few years earlier.
Avery was in her infant swing, giggling as she stared at the colorful lights that adorned the tree. I looked around at the decorations that I had just put up, and silently congratulated myself. Now, to finish ironing the Christmas linens and put the meatloaf in the oven.
I was one housedress away from becoming my grandmother.
Continued from **one**
After the decorating session, exhausted, I plopped on the couch. My Multiple Sclerosis was supposed to cause fatigue, so I gave myself a pass. As I looked around the family room, though, the mess was horrific: pine needles, chunks of holly, glitter covering every surface. Ugh, I had to get up and try to clean this place before he got home from work. After all, the cleanliness issue was a point that he kept bringing up. Dragging myself to the hall closet, I grabbed the vacuum cleaner, rolled it out to the family room, and plugged it in. It whirred and buzzed loudly when I flipped the switch, but didn’t seem to be sucking up any of the Christmas remnants that coated the wood floors. Panic set in.
“Oh- no, no, no. Not right now!”
“What’s the matter, Mommy?” My kids both looked concerned as I held back a number of curses that were threatening to escape my mouth at this point.
“The vacuum… It won’t work!” I collapsed onto the floor in tears.
“It’s okay, Mommy, Daddy can fix it.” Hunter said good-heartedly.
C-31 the code on my boarding pass proclaimed. Great, I thought: the cheap seats.
After a long stint waiting in an organized line for the flight attendant to take said pass, then another wait on the jetway while the passengers in front of me crammed their stuffed-to-capacity-and-then-some carry-ons into too-small overhead compartments, I boarded the aircraft and stood on my tip-toes to view my potential seats.
“Ladies and gentleman, there is a full flight this morning, so please be sure to allow these new passengers access to all the seats in your row,” a nasally woman’s voice came over the loudspeaker. I noticed a few people who were already seated roll their eyes, huff, or curse under their breath. Sigh.
In a feeble attempt to get myself a seat that didn’t involve being sandwiched between a crying baby and someone who looked like a “talker,” I scanned available openings as I continued to amble down the narrow aisle.
Each time I found a potentially decent place to sit, I was rammed forward by the horde in back of me. Before long, I was given the choice of a middle seat in the back row of the plane, or one on top of the toilet. I chose the former so that I didn’t infuriate the flight attendant.
I began mushing my way into my destined residence in a flourish of body parts and bags and whispered “Excuse me!”s and “I’m so sorry!”s. In order to get to that particular seat, I had to apologize for my very existence.