Tag Archives: parenting

The Great Ballet Debate

This morning, while watching the news, a commercial came on for the Atlanta Ballet Nutcracker. The Boy asked what it was.

“It’s the Nutcracker, son. The ballet.”

“Oh. Is that the thing you are making us go see in New York?”

“Sorta, only it’s the Rockettes…a little more exciting.”

“Ok. Good. Cuz I’m not going to see some people dressed in stupid tights, dancing around.”

For the next 15 minutes, we debated me making him go to the ballet at some point in his life and him definitely not going. “Son! You have to experience everything in life, whether you like it or not. You go to the ballet once and check it off your list. If you don’t like it, don’t go again.” According to him, he won’t go again because he won’t be going the first time. *exasperated sigh*

Understanding that the world is ever shrinking (thanks internet), it is imperative for kids today to experience something outside of the everyday mundane crap collection of…well…crap. Various foods, spices, activities, places, people, events and, yes, even ballets. When I was his age, I was reading Poe and Shakespeare just because. I was going to the symphony alone and listening to Beethoven for entertainment. I have not seen the world yet, nor have I tasted every food there is to taste but that doesn’t mean I am not open to it (well…except for eating bugs). All I am asking is for my children to do the same.

I understand the ballet probably is not his first choice for entertainment, but there is so much more to life outside of ESPN and Call of Duty and NBA 2k whatever. Some of the most brilliant, creative minds have been touched by something outside of their norm. The Girl is easy going. She will try anything once. But him? Not so much. I did get him to try cross stitch, which was awesome. It lasted all of 15 minutes, but he tried it. I am dragging him to see the Rockettes (kicking and screaming) but he will have experienced it. By accident I got him to watch How To Get Away With Murder–certainly not something to add to his culture toolbox, however it is outside of his box. And I am still confused on how he ended up with an affection for The Gap Band and Charlie Wilson, but I will gladly take it.

We ended the ballet debate with him saying he did not want to see men dancing around in dresses and tights to “that boring music” and putting his size 11 down on the matter. I allowed him to assert his almost 14 year old manhood, wisely picking my battle, and putting my hands up, conceding….today…but there is always a tomorrow and he will be seated next to me, watching men in tights by surrender or by force.

~SM

Wits Meet The End

I am almost positive, when I was a teenager, my mother wanted to leave me on a far away street corner like some stray cat. I am almost positive that she, too, stood at the sink full of dishes I could have easily done and muttered under her breath about selfish kids. I am pretty secure in thinking that there were days on her way home from work she almost veered off the road to purposefully land in a ditch, hit her head on the steering wheel and fall into the (best) worst  coma only to wake up after I was moved out and grown (ok…maybe that is just me). I am sure of these things mainly because those are the thoughts in my mind on any given day. Wits….meet the end.

I love my children. The Girl has the spirit of a servant. Her heart is so big and so loving it could have only come from God. Her wisdom surpasses her 12 years.  The Boy, he’s pretty special too. He’s special from the inside–the place where only few people can see. His love is measured deeply and it is kept locked away in a tiny vault…secure within himself. He protects those he loves as if his life depended on it. Those are my kids. I love them. Lord knows I do, but I swear I wanna drop them off at the nearest fire station with a sign that says “Free & Potty Trained….Please Take One“.

I stood at the sink, washing a billion dirty dishes, complaining under my breath about my children being selfish, argumentative, rude and selfish (yes, I said it twice). I know what you’re thinking. You are saying to yourself one of two things: (1) I totally understand where she is coming from, or (2) That’s her fault. Unfortunately, you may be  correct on the latter.

After The Split, I checked out. I began picking my battles sparingly and literally throwing my hands in the air. Argue about washing the dishes? Nope. That would mean they would do a half ass job and I would have to re-wash them anyway. Get in between sibling arguments? No thank you. That would mean I would have to actually listen to both ridiculous sides. Repeat myself 900 times for them to either: (a) pick up their rooms/dirty clothes/wet towels/trash/dinner plates, (b) take a shower, (c) read a book, (d) all of the above? I’m good. Thanks.

I am a mom, so naturally, I do those things anyway. I repeat myself,  yell, punish, make them clean…I do those things. But sometimes it gets to be too much to–well–nag. His main concern is expensive shoes. Hers is anything apparel related. Neither one has any concern about real things like starving children or homeless people. Neither one has an interest in how the house is being magically run or how gas suddenly appears in the gas tank or how the dishes end up in the dish drainer ready for use. They. Just. Don’t. Care. So….I don’t either.

I stood at the sink, sloshing sudsy water all over, apologizing to my poor, poor mother. I stood there wanting to lock them in the garage only opening the door to slide in their meals. I stood there, hands submerged in boiling hot water, hating The He for only being responsible for himself. He has a dishwasher. He doesn’t have to listen to arguments or drown out the thundering sound of The Boy running from one end of the house to the other, pretending to be a running back–dipping and dodging. He never has to argue with The Girl (she will make a hell of a lawyer one day if nothing else) about why she can’t go to Rainbow and buy yet another pair of boots (that will end up under the couch no doubt). He doesn’t have that burden. I do. And I stood there, at the sink frustrated, annoyed, guilty, and in need of a break. After the last pot was clean, I stopped The Boy on his 500th run through the kitchen (invisible defenders in tow) and asked if they would like to get out of the house. Starbucks was as good a place as any to get out and gain some perspective.

I spent 25 driving minutes, probably two gallons of gas, and $11 on some peace. I suppose that’s better than a bag of heroin or a clepto-spree (neither of which I have ever participated in, let the record show). It allowed me some breathing room. I guess that’s all I really needed anyway. Some room to breathe, a little perspective and some quality quiet time with The Them. Wits met the end. They shook hands and reluctantly departed. I am pretty sure they will meet again…some day.

~SM

His Girl

I’m his girl. No, not in the girlfriend sorta way (that would be both disgusting and illegal), but in a I-will-never-be-far-from-his-heart kinda way. It is a scary thought–to think of yourself as a permanent fixture in someone’s heart. What if you break it? What if you make an irreversible mistake? What if you just simply don’t do the job right? What happens then? Am I still his girl then?

I noticed it one September evening as he stood on first base. I have seen him do it so many times I just forgot to notice. He picks me out of the crowd. No matter how large the crowd, no matter how far away I may be–he finds me. He sees me. There is a silent communication, once he finds me. Sometimes its a thumbs up on my part or a nod on his. Sometimes it is a roll of the eyes or a shrug of the shoulders, but no matter what–he sees me. I am his girl.

He stood on first base during an easy game. The kind of game where the coaches didn’t really say much to the boys, they just let them do what they came dressed to do. He stood there, his back to second, hands on hips and winked. He has been doing it for so long it never registered until just then. I had had a long, odd day of stress, sadness brushing the edges, and at that moment it all got lost. I was the only one that mattered for a split second and he saw me.

It occurred to me, right then, he would always see me even when he wouldn’t. He would begin to see his girlfriend or his wife or his daughter or his son vs. me and, one day, I will no longer occupy a seat in Life but in Heaven instead–yet I would always be a permanent fixture. I am his girl.

That is a huge job to carry out–the protection of the heart. It is a delicate affair of knowing which threads to cut and which to leave untouched…when to walk away and when to stand guard. On the way home from the game, as we talked girls and teenage relationships, he put his hand on my shoulder and thoughtfully said “My girl has to be just like you, Mommy.” He paused, I smiled unsure of what to say beyond ‘okay’, and then “…only….prettier.” I guess that says it all, doesn’t it?  😛

~SM

The Job

Over dinner with the children (and the He…He stayed to hang with the kids I guess), the subject of me working on my day off came up.

“Enjoy your day off,” He said. “I know I would.”

I pointed to the children playfully and said “Even when I’m off I’m never really off…I have another job to tend to.”

“That’s what parents do,” the He said very matter of factly, as if I was wrong to have the audacity to want space…a real day off. If looks could kill he would have been dead.

I am very aware of what parents do. I’ve been doing it for quite sometime. No, not as good as others and most likely better than some. But my children (I do hope dearly) aren’t violent or mean or rude or hateful. They aren’t just floating through life with no goals or ambitions. Sure they have a problem with not leaving their shoes in the middle of the floor or not walking empty water bottles to the trash, but that’s not out of the ordinary.

I suppose my statement at dinner came from the unspoken realization that I’m on 24/7. At least when I was sharing a household with their father, I could sneak away and have a stolen moment to myself, but those days are long gone. Now it’s a constant barrage of teenage attitudes and the sibling push and pull. The constant reminders to do homework & change socks & take a shower fall on me to deliver to half-deaf ears. The daily tiffs over front seat privileges and pouting over things I don’t get the privilege to pout over (like new shoes and allowance) all fall on me to sift through.

This isn’t to say the He doesn’t do what’s in his job description. He does what fits him and his life. I, however, don’t get the luxury. Someone has to make trips to practice and manage to cook dinner in one fail swoop.

This weekend was suppose to be not my weekend, however, it is (previous approved plans). A music festival is in town, Young Gun finally has a free Saturday, & Trinidad is itching to go dancing. I wanted desperately to enjoy some company of someone over the age of 13 who could appreciate a stiff drink or an R rated movie. But…Someone has to keep watch right?

Instead of wishing I could be a carefree adult for 48hrs at least…coming home in the wee hours of the morning, girl chatting at a restaurant, or talking under the stars about everything and nothing at all, I grabbed some pizza and a couple of movies. We sat in the living room stretched out and carb wasted, safe…sound…happy. On my way to bed, I looked into The Boy’s room only to find him curled up still in his school clothes, mouth open, lightly snoring. His sister curled up in her bed, in her room, only hair peeking from beneath the covers. As I closed their doors one by one, I smiled. The He was right…this is what parents do. This is what parents get to see. This is what parents get to experience. I couldn’t ask for a better paying job. It’s rough and tumble. It’s nerve wracking at times, but in those moments of ease and simplicity it all seems worth it.

My hat tips to those men and women who take it on alone…who get the daily load of raising children–whether divorced, widowed, military spouse, business spouse, accidental parent, and everything in between. You do a great job and you are doing exactly what God intended…giving yourself in service out of love. That’s the Job. That’s the real job, isn’t it?

~SM