Dealing

April 23, 2017

I’m the parent of a 13 and 16 year old.

It recently occurred to me how much time i waste looking at old snapshots of my kids, tripping down memory lane.

Every time i see Colin or Katy, anytime between the ages of two or ten, in a random picture, I grieve a little. The chubby, flushed cheeks. The easy smile for the camera. The giggle just below the surface, and the memory of the easy hugs, the non stop conversations at dinner, during which I would count the moments till they were in bed.

Then there is the time spent where I reminisce with other parents, friends, or any random tired strangers approximately my age standing in line at Target with a cart full of slim tampons or Axe body spray, about when we were young. There was no Instagram, pot was mostly worthless, porn was Playboy, and everybody played outside. In those days, teenagers didn’t spend all of their time looking at screens. while making really bad choices and posting pictures about the entire experience.

How much time have I wasted missing my own children, albeit the smaller, less complicated versions? Yes, preadolescence is really cute. Everybody under 12 looks adorable, especially to the people that met them as tiny, pink faced, noisy blobs of anger and insatiable demands, wearing silly tee shirts, tiny socks, and the most necessary underwear ever, diapers.

Even the tortured debates- karate or saxophone? Hip hop or girl scouts? Do they stay at the table till they have eaten at least three brussels sprouts or do they go to bed without ingesting anything with nutritional value at all so I can take a bath before Sex and The City? Even in the middle of these meaningful conversations in my  head,  I knew I was playing house.  My policy on vegetable consumption was as meaningful as the decision not to enforce the pants with zippers on holidays rule.

I’m sure both my kids have spotted the look on my face, peering at an earlier versions of them, in photographs carefully placed in CVS frames. They know I miss the days before pimples, charger wars, intelligent arguments that refuse to end because I say so. They can tell there are times when I see them as taller, paler imitations of my babies, my children.

Shame on me.

If I was so entranced with the early years, and not prepared to step aside to celebrate them in all the horrible glory of early adulthood, then I should have signed up to be a preschool teacher and skipped the rest.

As for the rest of it… yes, times have changed.

There is the internet. A million tv channels. Kids have their own damn phones and we don’t have to share one line.The porn is ruder than it ever was, I think, or it’s more easily available.

My kids are growing up and in the present, they can record everything stupid thing they do while the world watches.

I can mourn the way they were and the way things used to be or i can step up.

These changes, and the crazy stuff going on in the world, have given me a thousand opportunities to talk to the beautiful aliens across the kitchen table. They aren’t always in the mood, but sometimes bribery, in the form of expensive chocolate or a trip to an outlet store, works. Sometimes, they take their plates up to their rooms and the phrase ‘thousand opportunities’ seems as outdated as Mister Rogers and Peace on Earth. And sometimes we linger, night falls, our voices carry out over the radio. Sometimes, we listen, while the other one speaks.
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If I continue to wallow in old snapshots of tiny toddlers, or vague memories of simpler times when I had to cross the room to turn the channel, I’ll only be looking over my shoulder.

Chances are I’ll get hit by a train, a tangle of smelly laundry, a bag of hula hoops and sidewalk chalk, or a thousand pairs of outgrown cleats and basketball sneakers.

I’m better off looking forward- leaning into the hugs and the angry debates, ducking the garbage and ignoring the hormones, and looking ahead].

I’m scared to death and I can’t wait for what’s next.

It’s My Party

July 28, 2013

My family threw me a surprise party today. There were hamburgers and hotdogs, grilled chicken and pickles, vanilla cake with strawberry filling, ice cream. I got a candle holder in the shape of an owl and some candles scented like apple pie to nestle inside the owl, approximately where the owls digestive tract would be. My daughter gave me  a designer contact lens case, my neighbor gave me a bracelet, my brother in law cooked for hours.

I had plans for this evening; my friends at church were holding a pot luck to meet the candidate for the position of Director of Congregational Life. But when I got home from the surprise party, I was a little drunk. My sister in law’s gift was a really good bottle of Chardonnay. And I wanted to wait for my son to get home from an afternoon with his basketball coach. Mostly, I was a little drunk, and overfed on chips and cheese.

I gathered the dogs. Sophie, the Magnificent, Wondrous Creature and Coco, the Almost As Magnificent and Wondrous Creature, who lives next door. I found the last of the headphones that work. I poured a cup of this mornings coffee into a go cup. I sprayed on bug spray, I stuffed my bare feet into a pair of Colin’s sneakers.

I went to the woods. I was alone. I put Warren Zevon on my phone, placed my head phones over my ears, and followed the dogs. They raced thru the woods. Coco hops, he’s a mini  Doberman Pinscher. Sophie bounds on three legs; she might have Lyme, she might have arthritis, we can’t afford another trip to the vet.

The dogs laughed, and ran, and wrestled. I sang along to songs about Carmelita and headless gunners. There was no one else there, it was almost dark and the clouds promised rain.

I was probably still a little drunk from earlier, I don’t drink much these days. So it felt like a party, walking in the woods with the dogs, some songs and my own self.

Second time round, and I guess at my age it’s ok; happy birthday to me. And thanks to all of those in my life that make me incredibly so happy.