Archive | March, 2013

Open Letter to The Children

28 Mar

Dear my children,

I cannot let you read this blog today because one of you can’t read and the other would be embarrassed by the 100% true kid stories I blab to the entire world, (“world” here meaning all 25 of my regular readers.) But one of these days when we’re talking about The Time Mom and Dad Did a Musical Together, there are some things I want to make sure I say to you.

The Musical Mom and Dad Did Together closed this past weekend, but we auditioned almost 5 months ago. You kids were with us every step of the way. Your dad and I did a play together one other time, so you probably had some inkling that this experience would mean exhausted parents, lots of babysitters, and general household topsyturviness, but neither of you said a word that wasn’t excited or supportive. I felt humbled by your pure hearts and boundless enthusiasm. In fact, you schooled me with your unselfish ways.

You learned every one of your dad’s songs note for note, (faster than he did!) You know all of my lines, and can imitate my delivery with uncanny skill. You never once, in the whole run of 12 shows, failed to ask how a performance went for us. You wrote us notes and drew us pictures and bought us flowers and came to see the show FOUR times. Your interest in our interests and pleasure in our successes made me feel like we’re on our way to creating the kind of family I have dreamed of for myself, with members who geek out on each other and truly enjoy time together.

Daughter, you said something to me in the car on opening weekend that perfectly illustrates this point: “I have a pretty great life. For one thing, no one at school has parents who are in a PLAY this weekend. It’s so INTERESTING.” I promise to always find your big moments interesting, too.

I had a long stage freeze in the first act of the play that allowed me the opportunity to snoop on the audience a little. Watching your faces when you came to see us was my great delight. The stage lights bounced back from your wide, bright eyes. You would take it in turn to elbow whichever grown-ups escorted you to the performance to make sure they were getting the jokes. You lip-synced along with the familiar songs. Daughter, you always searched out my eyes as I stood frozen onstage, and we’d exchange a small wink or secret smile. Son, I won’t forget the sight of your small hand waving to me as I sang a line to the audience, or hearing your infectious giggle from backstage.

Daughter, as you so neatly phrased it to your dad, the main message of the musical was, “Sometimes what you wish for isn’t really what you want.” When I was your age, I wished for–well, lots of things, including wings and a phone I could use to call God. But two big things I have wanted for as long as I can remember were to be an actress, and to be a mom. To have those two wishes colliding for me in a sweet little playhouse in rural Virginia every Sunday for the last month… Well, I’m surprised the force of my emotions didn’t create a rift in the fabric of space/time. Thanks for making my wishes a reality, kids–you’ve turned out to be just what I wanted, and more. I’m your biggest fan, too.

Feeling lucky you'd consent to be seen in public with these 2 characters.

Feeling lucky you’d consent to be seen in public with these 2 characters.

A Story in Pictures

21 Mar

I could pull out my thesaurus and use all the synonyms for the word “exhausted” to describe my experience of the month of March, or I could just do an iPhone dump. See iPhone dump below. Pix or it didn’t happen, after all.

A very cool and super tiring thing that happened March 1 is the musical Husband and I have been rehearsing nights and weekends for two months finally went up.

I made some flowers for the cast for our opening night.

I like to get my watercolor on now and again.

I like to get my watercolor on now and again.

I know some people wear scads of make-up every dang day, but for a lip balm enthusiast such as myself, spackling on this amount of paint just to get into costume tuckers me out.

What mole?

What mole?

Happy to report that we had a successful opening, and then Husband went out of town for work. Pretty much as soon as he crossed state lines, this happened:

8-10 inches of the white nasty.

10 inches of the white nasty.

It knocked out the power at Casa Amomynity and canceled school, and the children and I were forced to seek refuge at my parents’ house for 3 days. Which wasn’t all bad, I have to admit.

It was like sledding in mud, but the kids were determined.

It was like sledding in freezing wet mud.

Inside was far nicer. Jeeves! More hot chocolate!

Inside was much nicer. Jeeves! More hot chocolate!

We got power back at the house about two hours before we had to report to the vocal rehearsal they scheduled in lieu of a show, as power to the theater was knocked out as well. Luckily it was restored the next day, just in time for my brother-in-law and his lady friend to swing through town for a couple of nights and see the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon shows. That weekend also included 8 hours of theater movement training and a blow-out cast party at our place. By the end of it all, I looked like this:

Uncle, weekend!

I tried to have too much fuu-uuu-uuuun.

Then my mother-in-law came to town for a week, with a bonus overnight visit from my husband’s best friend. They saw the third weekend of shows and helped out with some clutch kid-care. After we said our goodbyes and they both got safely home, this past week has been quieter, plus the first day of Spring brought beautiful sunshine! Finally! I kicked the kids outside so I could enjoy a little sanity, but apparently I needed to provide specific parameters for outdoor activities. While one child doctored his old-time “Mr. Magoo” cars with Sharpies:

I love that he made them Saabs. What a snob!

I love that he made them Saabs. What a snob!

the other child uprooted, tore apart, and generally vandalized freshly sprung greenery for “potions.”

At least the carnage was given an artful presentation.

At least the carnage was given an artful presentation.

Siiigh. Well, we’re coming up on the last weekend of the play, which will be crammed with 4 shows, a long and complicated set strike, and perhaps a little late-night cast bonding. And March has one more big event in store for me, in the form of a birthday next weekend that is perilously close to the Big 4-o. At this point I’m feeling ready to look down and see this:

Sand piggies.

Sand piggies.

Bring on July, I say!

Stranger Danger (Kinda!)

13 Mar

The kids had been playing outside for about 20 minutes when the 6 year old burst in to tell me the 8 year old was showing a strange man how to get to Walmart.

Did you stop breathing after reading that sentence? Is your heart galloping, your leaden stomach threatening to drop out of your body and make a cartoonish, jaggedy hole in the floor? Oh my god, me, too!!!

But let’s back up. My little family happens to live in the very same neighborhood where I grew up, (I know, gross! I mean, cool!), just a few streets over from the house where my parents still live. I rode my purple Schwinn with the sparkly banana seat past the house where I now live grown-up style! And therefore, although times, and standards for child safety, have changed, I have ideas about what kids should be allowed to do in my neighborhood that were formed in the early 1980’s. In a nutshell: Pretty much whatever, without an adult being too conspicuously in the mix, as long as basic rules of safety are observed.

Up until now I’ve been on the conservative side about unsupervised play because I didn’t want the neighbors to judge me for having a free-range preschooler. But elementary school is now in effect so all bets are off. Let the wild rumpus move outside!

Kids outside/me inside is potentially the best thing ever, for lots of reasons. For example, kids have the “impervious to cold” superpower that allows them to play jacket-free and happy in 50 degree weather while I shiver on the front stoop in a sweater and coat. And they work through disagreements better when I don’t stick my nose into their business. And they constantly want to roam outside of eye and earshot even when I do park it outside. AND that thing on NPR about kids not being free to wander outside when it’s actually probably still fine for them to do that, even in these dark times! Probably! NPR mostly said so! At least until your 8 year old suddenly decides to show a stranger where Walmart is! (For the record, many, many miles from our house.)

My 6 year old is a cute little dude, but linear storytelling is not among his gifts. So although I immediately and totally panicked when he dropped his bomb, I also tried to gently probe for more details.


(I didn’t succeed.)

Him (starting to cry): “What? I don’t? She just? Mommy?”


Him: “She! She went! She!” (Points that-a-way.)

I pelted out of the front door screaming her name at the top of my lungs. Cool head in a crisis, that’s me! Can’t understand why no one ever encouraged me to look into being a first responder! Thankfully for my adrenal system, my daughter answered back right away, albeit from some distance. Summoned quite, er, emphatically, she rushed back and I was able to get the full 8 year old version of the story.

She WAS approached by a group of strangers and asked for directions!

To the nearby shopping center you can reach by cutting through our neighborhood on foot, so there was no car involved, but still. Also another neighborhood kid and his babysitter were outside at the time, and the babysitter inserted herself into the conversation, but still.

My sweet daughter politely offered to walk with the strangers and show them the cut-through to the shopping center!

The babysitter and other kid went with her, and she sent her brother to let me know what was going on, but still.

Needless to say we all went inside for A Talk. Do other parents find it incredibly hard to strike the right tone in this kind of Talk? The world is a scary and dangerous place and adults might want to harm you and you should always exercise extreme caution and good lord I may never allow you to play outside again! But also, the world is not THAT scary and and most people do NOT want to harm you and don’t be afraid! And you need to learn how to conduct yourself with good sense and trust yourself to make good decisions! But you should always check with me because you’re just a kid and you might NOT be making good decisions! And don’t bother me with every little thing, work things out on your own! But know what things to bother me about and a strange adult talking to you is DEFINITELY ONE OF THEM. The Talk went well, yep.

A little coda to this story is that the other day the kids went swimming with a neighbor friend and her parents, (yes, I let other adults take my kids swimming, even though my 8 year old once knocked a TOOTH out at a pool playdate I didn’t attend. I am an equal opportunity fate-tempter, apparently.) While they were gone I ran over to my parents’ house to help my mom with something, and it took a little longer than planned. I hadn’t brought my phone with me, or left a note, and the phone at my mom’s house was off the hook, and my husband was on a run without his phone. So my children came home to an empty house with the cars in the driveway and the front door unlocked. And apparently, they did just the right thing. My daughter took the home phone over to the list of contact numbers I’ve taped to the fridge for babysitters, and worked her way through each one. When she got no answer at any of them, (poor her), she calmly walked her brother back over to our friend’s house and told the parents what had happened. I found the kids there eating snacks when I ran home about 5 minutes later.

It was a perfect test situation for, “I don’t know where my parents are and I need some help,” and she did everything right. Neither she nor I would’ve known how she’d react in this situation if I hadn’t inadvertently given her the opportunity to demonstrate. So it’s clear that learning opportunities are going to keep popping up unexpectedly, and it’s important that I make my peace with that. They are both necessary and helpful. And here’s fervently hoping that my children always learn their lessons in such easily-remedied fashion.