AND JUST like that, on the final day of break, it seemed to hit us all at once. Tomorrow, the girls will be back at school. Tomorrow, J. and I will be back at work. Tomorrow, real life returns.
So we spent today kind of grumping around, being snippy with each other and cranky at life in general. It’s not that real life is bad. It’s just that break life — sleeping in, trampolining, gathering with friends on weeknights (!) — is, well, better. And now that all of that is about to end, we’re a bit tetchy about it.
We’ll settle back in and get our respective mojos back, hopefully before we devour each other. Until then, here’s a prayer of gratitude to the calendar gods that we’re going back to a two-day work/school week. | DL
FOR ALL of the poise and skill they show on the pitch, in the concert hall, and on the boards, R. and Q. lately have taken to reminding us that they are 11 and 6. It’s as if they don’t want Mrs. D. and me to get too smug in our parenting achievements. And it’s working.
R. is questioning every last request, comment, and direction, whether it involves her chores, her clothes, or her bedtime. “Why?” “Why not?” “No, I don’t.” “Yes, I do.” “But, Dad/Mom …” These are flung at us constantly, in response to the very smallest and most insignificant statement on our part. It’s a grinding ground war, and each instance of resistance represents another few inches of depth in the trench she continues to dig with dogged determination.
LEST YOU think that R. is the only Dadlibbing daughter with artistic tendencies, rest assured that Q. is beginning to make her mark as well. At age 6.
A wonderful, dedicated mom at Q.’s elementary school is staging a couple of student-starring musicals next month to raise money for our Parent Teacher Organization. She recruited volunteers to help backstage and landed my piano teacher as the shows’ pianist. And she announced auditions in order to separate the actors into two groups: speaking parts and chorus.
What Mrs. D. and I didn’t realize until the night before was that Q. was supposed to memorize lines from one of the scenes for her audition. Each of us spent the remainder of the evening and some of the next morning running lines with her. By the time she left for school, script in hand for further study, she was doing pretty well. But she’s in kindergarten, after all, so we were all kinda, “Yeah, we should have started helping her earlier, but she’ll have fun in the chorus, and she’ll have plenty more chances in the years to come.”
SHE IS but 11, yet as R. stood on stage, her hair fixed just so, wearing a short-sleeve button-up shirt and a frilly black skirt, and running the bow across the strings of her violin with skill and poise, she looked much, much older.
Q. typically is the one we see as acting above her age. Because she’s scary-smart and loves to hang out with her big sister, she seems like a tween trapped in a 6-year-old’s body. R., though, the personification of sweetness, with a heart as big as the sky, is impossible to conceive of as less than two years away from being a teenager.
But at last week’s violin recital, dressed as she was, playing as she did, R. began — just barely, mind you — to come into focus as the young woman who’s not too far away. As much as I want to stave it off, it was a beautiful sight. | DL
YOU THOUGHT you were noble because you gave up a Sunday afternoon to watch your kid play soccer?
You’re a piker.
Noble parenting is deciding to adopt not one, not two, but three kids.
Who are a pair of 15-year-old twins and a 12-year-old.
And live in Uganda.
And whom you’ve never met.
THE GIRLS had a choice yesterday: Help Mrs. D. with a massive cleaning of the house inside, or join me outside for the final leaf raking of the year. They bopped back and forth a few times before settling with me in the front yard, where the year’s most ironic statements were made.
R: “I’m going to start a leaf-raking business!”
Q: “Me, too!” Continue reading
YOU THOUGHT jamming yourself down a chimney, piling presents around an evergreen tree, and hightailing it out of there without waking a soul was something else?
Rise of the Guardians gives us a Santa Claus who’s a master swordsman with massive, tattooed forearms. Also an Easter Bunny who’s deadly with a boomerang, a Sandman who battles nightmares with golden fairy dust, and a Tooth Fairy with a molar fetish.
Oh, and a Jack Frost mired in an identity crisis. Continue reading
TWO PEOPLE took pity on me at the Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting yesterday afternoon.
One was a teacher, the other a bookstore staffer. What earned me their benevolence was the completely useless discussion I was having with Q. over what I would buy her.
I was arguing for books that reflected her status as a kindergartener who’s reading at a second-grade level. She dug in her heels over a princess sticker book.
Each woman, the teacher and the bookseller, tried engaging Q. over what she likes to read and suggesting various kids’ series and chapter books. Each was met, as I had been, with folded arms, a dark scowl, and pouting lips. Continue reading
MOST 10-year-olds lack the capacity to offer a full rendering of their feelings and experiences regarding a week’s worth of completely new activities, surroundings, and people. And so it is difficult to determine where R.’s heart was with respect to the week of sleep-away camp from which we picked her up last weekend.
She was presented to us with frizzed-out hair, a body devoured by insects, an ear-to-ear smile, and crushing hugs. Yes, she had fun. The food was … okay. Rock climbing and zip-lining were awesome. She made some new friends. The nighttime thunderstorm that woke her up sent her scurrying to her counselor. She missed us terribly.
The question of questions, of course: Would you go again?