December 2012 archive
Just like all of you, I’m trying to quiet my racing mind these days. In an attempt to focus my energy on the positive, I ended my day by quickly jotting down some of the Random Acts of Kindness that my family experienced over the last 12 months as a reminder that most people are good and loving and kind to children. I’m sure I’m forgetting many, but here’s what comes to mind:
1. We saw a really special Santa in his grotto (that’s what they call it) in London exactly a year ago. He asked Charlie (who at age 7 had fewer believing years ahead of him than behind), to close his eyes. A bit puzzled, Charlie closed his eyes and Santa studied him for a moment then said “yes, Charlie, I recognize you with your eyes closed. That is exactly how you looked when I saw you last year in Chicago. Remember, I never arrive until you’re asleep.” I think we all felt the magic at that moment.
2. This summer a current took an inner-tube we were playing with out in the lake, past the buoys and further than we safely could retrieve it. A boat came out of its dock, and picked up our lost inter-tube, drove up as close as it could get, honked and sent the inner-tube into us.
3. This fall a very patient lady sitting in front of us at church turned around and handed Mae, who was squirming and carrying on, a light up toy she just happened to be carrying in her purse. As I profusely apologized for her toddler antics, the lady just smiled and said “she’s a doll”
4. The many times a stranger held the door open for me at a grocery store while the kids were wiggling out of my hands or racing ahead, the strangers who offered to help me load strollers on and off trains, picked up stuffed animals that had fallen to the ground, people who waved to the kids or told me my family was beautiful.
5. Last spring older gentleman in Jamestown Virginia who appropriately asked me first if he could do so, then handed each of our kids a dollar bill and gave an extra dollar for each child to me. He then assigned them each an age-appropriate math challenge for the long drive back to Illinois and told them if they figured out the answer, their parents would give them the matching dollar bill he had provided. He was a retired math teaching visiting Virginia from Oregon and we thought of him and his kindness for many hours on the long drive home.
6. The numerous friends and family who asked us how to prepare an allergy-friendly dining option for Charlie prior to him attending a dinner party, birthday party or playdate at their house.
7. The neighbor down the street who had some new pink legos and a cute little purse and decided that she’d like to give them to Molly.
8. Another neighbor, who was watering our garden for us while we were on vacation this summer. Seeing that some tomatoes and peppers needed harvesting, she did so and made an allergy-friendly tomato sauce and gave it to us so we’d have a meal waiting for us when we returned home.
9. Observing the genuine and deep affection between my child and her teacher. After missing school for a day, Molly was so excited to see her teacher that she yelled her name, dashed out of the car and gave the teacher a big, impulsive, true hug. Thinking of this affection helps me know and trust that if (God forbid!!) I could not be there to protect my children in a time of peril, they are surrounded by loving people, teachers, neighbors, friends and even *gasp* strangers who would. The world is full of good people, who do good for others all of the time.
As a parent today’s news is leaving me especially raw, heartbroken and speechless. We all know, that as parents, the only thing worse than experiencing a horrific trauma or tragedy ourselves is to have our children experience it. And we all know, that as parents, we’d throw ourselves in front of a bullet, moving train or take our own lives a thousand times over in order to spare our child’s.
And that is why it is hitting that extra raw spot in my mother’s heart. Today’s tragedy has found the exposed nerve. Not only is it unimaginable to think of losing a child in any manner…but it is absolutely incomprehensible and against every ounce of my instinct as a mother to know that in a child’s most vulnerable, fragile and final moments, their parent was denied the opportunity to do just what we as parents have been doing for our children since their very first moments….protecting, sheltering, nurturing and comforting.
so this conversation really happened tonight:
My husband, analyzing our elf-placement strategy offered, “I think you’re getting a bit too gimmicky by staging the elf. Just keep it simple, keep it on the shelf.”
I sarcastically replied, “Oh come on…its fun! What you don’t want to gimmick up a gimmick?…I’m pretty sure we lowered our gimmick threshold back in 2006 when we spent $29.95 and the elf magically appeared at our doorstep.”
Me: “plus shipping and handling.”
Me: “Shhhhh…its magic!,” (whispering now) “but yes, that’s the going rate now, can’t remember then and not sure how to adjust for inflation when you factor in the North Pole sparkle and all of that elf business.”
Him: “Hmm, but it was a new thing then..and really hard to find, remember? Everyone was sold out. Your aunt found one in Atlanta for us. Now those elves are everywhere. So if the elf has been around for 6 years now, has it officially moved from gimmick to tradition?”
Me: “I suppose. I mean how long does it take to move yourself out of the Gimmick Category and into the Tradition Category? And in that case, $29.95 is a small price to pay for a treasured family tradition, right?”
Him: “It’s still a lot. We’re probably spending too much time on this topic…its an elf!”
Me: “Yep, way too much time. I’m tired. Lets put the used-to-be-gimmick-now-traditi
Him: “….up on the shelf.”
Me: (wandering off) “….but tomorrow night I have a cute idea of what the elf could be doing…”
Him: “I’m telling you, its gimmicky…”
Well, would you look at that? We have ourselves a family tradition!
ORD to LHR, December 2011 and a note to self in December 2012:
reminder, this is not fun! (ok, it is. A little bit fun..or a lot). But hey, just look at yourself! Look….trying to read a magazine, overcome with a full blown stress-sweat….a sleeping baby on you, fussing preschooler next to you and a plane full of people around you who do NOT think these children are cute! Resist the urge…do not travel for Christmas. Stay put. Enjoy. Savor. Period.
It’s Christmastime! It’s Christmastime!
So we spent all of this money putting in a big fence between our driveway and alley to provide privacy and protection from passing cars. Great idea…except I keep driving my mini-van into the side of the fence. So for the past five months I’ve been driving around town with a scratched up mini-van and side door that barely opens. Choose the reason why below:
A. I’m too busy to make the time to get it fixed.
B. I’m too cheap to spend the money to get it fixed.
C. I’m too realistic to get it fixed…lets face it, I’m going to drive into that fence again.
D. I’m too bitter to get it fixed…I really have hated that mini-van for the last six years and am secretly hoping this scratch may be the thing to finally get me back into a civilized vehicle.
E. I’m too cool to get it fixed….I’m really driving around a scratched up mini-van to be ironic. Like one of those hipsters in big glasses. Get it? Get it?
F. All of the above are true.
G. All are true, while E is definitely not true. No one who drives a mini-van could possibly be cool enough to be ironic.
1. put her to bed wearing the clothing she is going to wear tomorrow, so I have one less child to dress and get out the door in the AM.
2. let her actually go to bed with the McDonald’s Happy Meal toy. The first child never even ate at McDonalds and definitely wasn’t allowed to touch them (hello, plastic BPA, made in China!). For the second child, they were permitted, but only as bathtub toys. And for the third….well, you know the rest of the story.
3. there’s no Diaper Genie or Champ in a Third Child’s bedroom…that thing was trashed years ago. Just a plastic shopping bag that hangs on her closet door to collect diapers (however, in a moment of pure irony I did switch that plastic bag to make sure it was a nice crisp white Target bag instead of that gross beige Jewel bag. The thing is, if you’re using a plastic bag to dispose of your kid’s diapers, it really doesn’t matter which plastic bag you’re using…you’ve already lost in the nursery-chic category!)