Friday, October 29, 2010

a whole lot of crunching going on

Being the nutrition committee liaison may never result in removing Trix from the lunch menu at Hamish's school. It did however result in my being coordinator of the Pennsylvania-wide event called Apple Crunch. This morning was the big day. After dozens of emails and phone calls with the cafeteria manager, my co-liaison, the parents' association, the Nutritional Services secretary and the principal, there were tables stacked with hundreds of local-ish washed apples in the atrium, and a whole lot of crunching going on.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Dinner with the family is so... familial. Hamish tells Stella that she should be friends with girls and boys but not with robbers or hogs. Bryan wants to know why Stella shouldn't be friends with hogs. After all, she loves pigs. At least she used to, back when she was four and not four and a half. Hamish says, no Dad, not pig-hogs. The kind of kid who hogs everything. Then he reaches for the air above his plate of chicken and pasta and green beans, and pulls fistfuls of it toward his snorting face to demonstrate the kind of kid Stella should stay away from. Bryan smiles his understanding, but I know his smile also reveals his adoration and wonder at his six year-old son. Dinner has become a time of revelation, of getting to know our kids on a more relaxed level, of witnessing their growth from feral bunnies to coordinated humans capable of using forks and finishing sentences and laughing at PG-rated jokes. There's still discipline and frustration but there's fun at the table too these past few days, the kind of fun that reminds you why you had kids in the first place, the kind of fun that reassures you your life is not over. Now Stella demands that Daddy watch as she counts her fingers. She begins counting. She starts over. And over. And over. There's no hurry. She's already eaten her chicken. Finally she gets it right. Counts those fingers the way she must have imagined it. The luxury of not rushing her to finish already is blossom-sweet. Stella, it turns out, has ten fingers. It's quite a discovery.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

exhaustion is the cheapest drug

Stella's going for the world record in the three A.M. nosebleeds category. Three nights and counting. Parenting in a stupor can be fun. With ample TV time.

One of the cafeteria managers on the nutrition committee thinks she has my number. Cocked her jaded head to one side and accused me of owning chickens. Almost, I said. I'm thinking about it. She implied I'm wasting my time if I think I can rid the school of hot pink Trix and milk and cream cheese. I should see the kids loading up on snacks after school at 7-Eleven, she told me, crossing her large freckly arms across her chest. Or watch the middle school kids at Starbucks. She was certain the kids would not go for it, and was there when they raised hell the day the soda machines were removed. It was one of those moments where I couldn't quite register that she was not playing for the same side, so I just nodded vigorously and agreed that of course the kids would do everything she described. I did not remind her in not-so-subtle tones that 7-Eleven and Starbucks are not accountable for educating the children of our community. I did not ask her why the inmates are in charge of the prison. I did not ask her if she would think about a crackhead in place of a junk-food-addicted child. Would she care that the addict wouldn't like it if she took away his pipe? But in my car driving away from the meeting, oh you know I gave her hell. I did. The next meeting is not until January. I'm too tired to start a petition, but maybe one day...

And now I can't concentrate any longer, my head is about to explode because Hamish is whining for something exciting to do, with a half hour left till dinner, which I still have to cook. Help me in the kitchen. How about that, kid?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

heal my neuroses (dot) com

Okay here's my million dollar marketing idea.

This is for the neurotic parent, the kind of mom (or dad) who's sure she (or he) didn't get the memo or the proper genetic code, the one who is frequently convinced that she (or he) is the shittiest mom (or dad) ever.

Say you're a mom who's finally made an appointment to take her four year-old daughter to get her hair trimmed, because you just can't take the jaw-clenching insanity anymore. Every day you look at your daughter's hair, a snaggled, tangled mess, your whole face tightens into a stressy mask of agony. You don't know how to tame her hair or your anxiety over her hair.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Jewy Jewenstein

Tonight we're going to try our hand at being Jewish. There's a pizza party and bonfire to celebrate the uh, Simchat Torah, given by a local liberal ultra-reform Jewish community group, of which a friend of mine is currently president and sneakily persuasive in recruiting members. Plus I am a sucker. A curious sucker who would like to see if I can find the right communal fit for my Jewish ass because I've always wondered if there's a place in Jewish life for me. I am dragging myself and Bryan and the kids there despite my Teflon-like reaction to pretty much all organized religions.

As a Hebrew school drop-out (no Bat Mitzvah day, for me, ba da da da...) I flinch around practicing Jews. I flinch out of guilt. Jewish guilt. I used to hit the high holies with my parents when I was little but my Jewish education ended with my parents' divorce. Even though I was dragged to temple a few times in my youth, my parents did not love worshipping God. There was no passion to pass down to the next generation. It just didn't happen for me.