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There's nothing like the Internet to make you feel completely insecure and incompetent as a parent. There are the over the top birthday parties, the blog posts and Facebook updates about how smart/talented/athletic your friend's child is, and my personal favorite... the bento lunch box craze.
I look at these, and my first thought is, "What the *&#$!$?? You have GOT to be kidding me! Who has time for this?" It is a successful morning in my house if kids get their hair brushed, nobody is wearing the same shirt they slept in, and the bus driver waits for us as we are running down the street screaming for her to wait. Are there really people in the world who dedicate time to this? Why? What is missing in their life that they have to overcompensate with cheese cut-outs? And what sort of expectations are they setting for their child? It baffles me.
Then I look at them again, and despite the absurdity of making Angry Birds and pirates out of cheese, I think... "Man... that's one heck of a healthy lunch!" The tomatos, cucumbers, berries, carrots, celery, cheese, and grapes put my lunches to shame. My kids' typical lunchbox contains a PB&J sandwich, pretzels or goldfish, and some applesauce or blueberries. It isn't too shabby, but it certainly isn't cheese, turkey roll-ups, tangerines, grapes, and snow peas either.
You'll never find me spending my mornings taking a cookie cutter to my kids' sandwiches... not gonna happen. The uber-healthy contents of some of these lunches do have the tendency to make me feel a bit inadequate though. Whenever I start to have those feelings, all I have to do is go have lunch in the elementary school cafeteria, and any feelings of guilt or inadequacy are wiped away. J.C. had lunch with Elise this week. The little girl next to him had the following in her lunchbox: a donut, sherbet, gummy bears, pudding, cookies, and a banana.
Score! I totally don't suck at the whole lunch box thing. PB&J owns donuts! (Then Nina would add, "ownage!")
As a mother, you hope that your children see you as a role model, look at you and think, "I want to be like my mom when I grow up." You want them to have a happy childhood, see you as a happy mother, and you hope that they grow up wanting to have a family like yours of their own one day. I'm not so sure I'm succeeding in that. Here was our conversation in the car today.
Addison: Mom, I don't want to be a mom.
Me: That's OK. Some people want to be parents and some people don't. Plus, you don't have to make that decision right now anyway.
Nina: Yeah - you should make that decision when you're Mom's age... when you are 42. (For the record, I am only 41.)
Me: Uh, well, you really should make the decision before then... like when you're 28 or 30.
Elise: Well, I want to have one or two kids and then adopt one.
Me: Wow, that's great! Why do you want to adopt?
Elise: Because having three kids in your belly is just TOO many.
Nina: Yeah... and how do they get out of your belly? Do they just cut them out?
Addison: No, Nina! They come out your bagina! (yes, with a 'b'... that is not a typo.)
Me: Well, they can actually come out either way. Sometimes they have to cut your belly to get the baby out. That's called a c-section.
Nina: Well, I only want to have two. I don't want one because then she doesn't learn how to share, and she'll be selfish. If you have two, then they learn how to share. I don't want to have three because obviously that is too many. I can tell that three is too many for Mom, right Mom?
<sigh> So... maybe it has been a rough weekend with J.C. out of town. I guess I need to work on the whole happy role model thing, huh?
A couple nights ago when I was working at the ballpark, we had a brief break from the line of people wanting nachos and beer. I was quickly texting a message to J.C.. When I looked up from my phone, one of the high school kids who was scooping tortilla chips was looking at me. He said, "Who taught you how to text?" Ummm, what? I had no idea how to even answer that question. I said, "Uh... nobody? I just text. Why? Am I doing it wrong?" He responded, "No, it is just that most people... <big pause while he figures out the least offensive way to say I'm old> ... uh, the generation above me don't know how to text like that." I'm pretty sure that was supposed to be a compliment, but it came across as, "I can't believe someone as old as you actually knows how to text!" Thanks, kid. You really know how to give a compliment.
The next day, Addie redeemed me though when she proclaimed, "I'm going to be a doctor when I grow up! You can be an alien when you grow up!" I'm not sure how I feel about the whole alien career path, but at least somebody thinks I still have room to grow up!
Look out... I'm going to be one hot texting alien when I grow up.
Gone are the days of of sweet smocked dresses, hairbows, and white fisherman sandals for the first day of school. <sniff, sniff>
That was Elise's first day of kindergarten. Their styling may have changed, but one thing hasn't... the pre-first-day-of-school head injury. Elise headed off to kindergarten that year with this lovely black eye.
In an attempt to top that, last night Nina fell back in our garage onto the pavement, giving herself a whopping blow to the melon. She looks like she has an egg or ping pong ball sticking out of the back of her head. I had to email her teacher to ask her to watch Nina for any signs of concussion (as if the the poor woman doesn't have enough to juggle on the first day!). I guess that's one way to make a first impression, huh?
Despite the slightly deformed head, Nina's fashion sense remained intact, and she left this morning in this all black and white ensemble - zebra backpack, zebra lunch box, and striped dress.
Nina... ever the fashionista.
Elise went for her usual graphic tee and rubber flip-flops attire with her standard "comfort trumps everything else" attitude.
Elise headed off to fifth grade and Nina to third this morning. They were each loaded down with fifty pounds of school supplies. I am forever baffled by the fact that parents have to supply basics like hand sanitizer, hand soap, Kleenex, and Clorox wipes. I guess that is the sad state of education funding these days. Despite the heavy load, the girls looked happy to start the new year.
We got to the bus stop just before the bus arrived, so I made the bus driver wait a few seconds while I snapped a picture of all the kids. I'd say that delay likely did not put me in good graces with the bus driver. She'll have to get over it though. How would my blog readers survive without a bus stop photo? (She doesn't have to know that you guys could care less, right?)
The girls should be home any minute now, and hopefully they still have smiles on their faces!
On July 3, I perused the list of local Fourth of July events - parades, festivals, fireworks, and street fairs. As I read each one, I thought, "I bet the girls would like that." Then I quickly came to my senses, realizing the temperature was going to be over 100 with humidity to match. My kids might like those events, but I was not going to go stand in a puddle of my own sweat to attend one. We could do our neighborhood bike parade and then spend the rest of the day in the pool or air conditioning.
When the day arrived, I found myself hoping the kids would forget about the parade. I really had no desire to leave the comfort of our air conditioning to go walk a few blocks on the hot asphalt watching kids on bikes careen into each other. Unfortunately, the girls remembered it. Sadly for them, they didn't remember it until 10:00 (for a 10:00 parade). We rushed out the door, threw Addie's bike in the car and drove over to the start of the parade. We missed it, and that was perfectly fine with me. There was none of that standing around in the hot sun with sweat rolling down your back waiting for the parade to start. We drove over to the end point at the pool. Addie was disappointed about not riding in the parade, so she rode from the car to the lady handing out popsicles... maybe 50 feet.
She got her ride in though, so she was good. Everybody got a popsicle and tried to slurp it down before it turned into sticky orange soup.
I took a quick picture to accurately document that we at least did something to celebrate the Fourth (excuse Addie's broken neck look. Apparently that is how you "pose" when you are four).
Then we hopped in the car and came back home. That was the extent of our Fourth of July celebration - 5 minutes of popsicles with neighbors. When we got home, I spent the rest of the day painting Nina's room. The girls spent the rest of the day... um... I have no idea. I don't think they did anything else patriotic though. Maybe next year will be a little cooler, and we can actually celebrate a proper Fourth.