Monthly Archives: March 2012

who’s afraid of Virginia Momma?

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We sat down for dinner, having just picked up pizza after ballet.  As everyone began to eat, somehow the subject of “Who are you more afraid of?” came into play.  “I pick Momma” the boy said.  “Me too!” echoed the doll.  Laughing I said, “Baloney kids, you’re more afraid of your dad, you just don’t want to hurt his feelings.”  Dad sat at the table, but said nothing.  “No, that’s not true at all” the boy replied.  “Yeah right, when I yell at you, you both cower at the tremor of my voice” I said with a laugh.

The doll, as if wanting to put extra emphasis behind her claims got up from the table, walked over and whispered in my ear, “It’s true mom, I am much more afraid of you than daddy”.  “That is so not true!” I said as she returned to her seat.  “Yes it is mom, true!” the doll reiterated.  “Okay, so when you finally get your daddy mad enough to yell at you, who do you come running to; crying and in tears “Daddy just yelled at me…”  I don’t see you running to him when I yell.”

I looked at my betrothed and smiled.  For a minute I felt like we were in competition for parent of the year award.  To his credit, he kept quiet and continued to eat.  Then the doll replied to my last statement.  “That’s because he’s not comforting.”  I couldn’t help but laugh.  Again daddy sat there, continued eating and said nada.  “He’s not comforting?” I asked.  “Sorry dad it’s true, mom beats you at comforting, but she’s much scarier when she’s mad.” 

Then the boy threw his two cents into the ring…”Mom, while dad is the main source of income for our family, he hardly scare’s us except when he gets really mad.  You on the other hand yell at us all the time.  I am more fearful of your yells than dad’s once-in-awhile outbursts.” 

Great I thought before looking over at my guy and saying, “You need to step up!”  

And finally he smiled back in return.

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kitchen table conversations….

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Sometimes I sit and stare at the computer screen trying to conjure up good blog material.  After several false starts something clicks and away I go.  Then there are times when nothing comes up.  I sometimes think in the afternoons I should stir the pot a little to see what erupts.  Yet, that usually leads to other troubles, so that really is not an option.  We have had a pretty relaxed week–not much happening, which can be murder on a blog writer.

Lately, due to the doll’s ballet schedule, sitting down to eat dinner together has become impossible. We did try the other night and ended up eating dinner at 8:30 pm.  So until ballet finishes up, we have our scattered dinners.  However, this is not all bad.  This affords dad and I to have one on one time with the boy, who usually grunts that he doesn’t like what I’ve cooked and would prefer to make himself a ham sandwich.  The fact that he’s eating ham instead of PB&J is a huge improvement.

The only real-time I have to sit and talk to both kids is at the morning breakfast table.  I am happy to report, the new semester is nearly two weeks old and we have yet to over sleep (jinks I know).  This morning was know different.  The boy hurried to finish a homework assignment which escaped his mind last night “My mind is wired to screw me every chance it gets!” he shouted at me when I asked why he didn’t do the work the night before.  “No, your mind is wired to “pleasure me-watch TV/read a book” instead of getting the homework done” I replied.

As he sat working on his homework he looked up to me and said, “Did you know some scientists believe that if the entire world stopped having sex for five years, we could eradicate the AIDS virus?”  Smiling I responded, “Yeah, no that couldn’t work.  All you would end up with is very frustrated people and more war”.  The doll who sat quietly eating her oatmeal, looked over at me and asked “Why would you say that?” Damn.  “Why don’t you ask me in like four years….” I replied, trying to change the subject.  “Mom, I know what S-E-X is….” she replied.

Wanting to deter the conversation I attempted to change the subject.  “Doll sex is…” the boy began and showed the “screwing” method with his hands.  To which the doll responded, “No, that’s the egg and that’s the sperm.  That’s different from sex”.  “Oh, hey, look at the time we’re going to be late for school!” I interrupted.  The boy began to laugh and said, “Well doll, someday I’ll fill you in…”  which thankfully she said, “No thank you boy, I wouldn’t believe you anyway!”

I love these wonderful conversations the prepubescent and the full on puberty candidate share at the table.  But I suppose it could be worse…they could be looking for the answers without talking to me at all….

Counting my blessings

Brownie…

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As the doll exited the vehicle, a smile encompassed her face. “O’ Brother!”  I thought.  “Mom, mom, mom, you gotta see what we got…” she said as she excitedly opened a box to reveal a new rodent for our house.  “I’m gonna call him Brownie, even though he’s not brown!” she said giggling afterward.  “Oooh look, she’s already trying to chew her way out of the box…” Mary said pointing to the cardboard shards in the bottom of the box.  “God help us” I thought as the doll turned to take the rodent into the house. 

A short time later Elle came outside in tears.  “What’s wrong?” her mother asked.  “All I wanted to do is pet Brownie but Mary and the doll yelled at me.”  Wow we have owned the rodent less than five minutes and already there is contention I thought.  Entering my house, I found the doll in the bathroom, cleaning out the hamster cage in the bathtub.  “Doll, don’t you think you could have cleaned this out prior to purchasing another hamster?”  “Well mom, I didn’t realize we hadn’t done that or I would have.”  In the meantime the two sisters were yelling at each other in the doll’s bedroom.  “Mary, what in the world is going on?” I asked.  “The guy at the pet store said don’t pet Brownie until she’s had a chance to get used to her new home, but Elle keeps trying to pet her!”  “You’re not the boss of me Mary, I can pet Brownie if I want to!” Elle shouted back. 

“HOLD IT BOTH OF YOU!!” I shouted over their bickering.  “Where’s Brownie?”  The girls stopped arguing long enough to point to the rodent.  There sitting atop the doll’s dresser sat the hamster inside a WIDE OPEN box.  “What the…!!” I shouted toward the bathroom.  “Mom, I didn’t realize the cage needed to be cleaned out when I went to put her in…” she replied.  “So you left the rodent in an open box?” I came back.  “Aunt Marsha, relax” said Elle as she grabbed the box and tipped it toward her so she could try to pet the darn thing.  Visions of the animal biting Elle’s finger hard enough for her to spill the box, dumping that thing into the room unencumbered filled my mind.  Grabbing the box I said, “Well the pet store guy did say not to pet her too much…” and shooed her out of the doll’s room. 

In the meantime I pulled the doll out of the bathroom and ordered her to put the animal into something that she could not escape from, which she did.  But not before complaining to me, “Jeeze mom, I thought you weren’t afraid of anything and yet here you are not wanting to touch Brownie.”  “Well doll, it’s true.  I don’t mind spiders or bugs in general.  But I don’t like rodents running free in my home…especially when our dog was designed to hunt and catch small rodents.”  “Oooh, yeah that would be bad…” she said at the thought.  “YES it would” I replied.

In honesty, if that rodent had gotten free and the dog had gone munch munch munch, my trouble would be over…however there would be a mess to clean up and THAT doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

 

 

 

 

Deciphering Neandertal language…

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Lately I’ve noticed a trend happening more and more inside my household.  The inability to get the boy to answer a yes or no question with an actual yes or no answer.  Instead I’m treated to “grumpf”  or “hruurmm” or the very popular, “Yahmmhmm”.  Most of the time I want to shout, “What the hell does that mean?” to him, but instead I just say, “Hello, um yes,  I do not answer to words I cannot decipher.  Please speak English”.  That’s when he’ll jump into Spanglish, just to trip me up.  Unfortunately for him, I know some Spanglish-enough to get by.

“Boy did you finish your homework?”  “Yeswayza Josayza”.  “Huh?”  Last night he graced us with some understandable thoughts…”What’s for dinner?” “Chicken casserole” I replied.  “umm, gonnnna goooand fin som in romm, um grrumpf dinnner”.  He said to us as he left the room.  Looking over at his father I said, “Well, he either just told us he didn’t want to eat….or….do you have any guesses?”  Shaking his head back and forth, his father said “Nope”. 

However, the grunting seems to only apply when he isn’t interested in the outcome.  Now if he really wants something…”How about we all go see the Hunger Games?”  “Yes, that would be so much fun.  I can even fill in the narrative if you get lost Mom”.  ‘Uh, wait, what happened to Neandertal boy?”  Giving me a curious look, like perhaps I lived on the moon, he replied “Hurrumpf?”  Ah yes, there he is again.

I’m sure when I was his age I too had trouble talking to my parents in a manner that made sense.  But the one thing that always separated the boy from others was his huge vocabulary.  Now he barely graces us with any, preferring to talk to us in the primitive Neandertal style language.  At bedtime I went in to give him my hug and kiss at bedtime as was greeted with “Mama, Isureas wassa sorry for da wayza Iya treated youza this afternoonza.”  Instead of hearing the sincerity of his apology all I heard was jibberish.  I figured once the kids turned a certain age I would no longer have to decipher what they were saying to me when they spoke. 

I guess this is another lesson where the boy has proven me wrong…

 

squeaky….

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When my husband was four years old, living in Dayton, OH with his family;  he along with his older brother and younger sister went on a Christmas present hunt a few days before Christmas.  While the adults were busy downstairs preparing foods for their Christmas celebration, the kids were searching under beds and looking into bedroom closets hoping to find presents.  What they found was an old coal shoot.  Thinking the mysterious shoot was a hidden passageway to presents, my husband climbed in, only to fall two stories down to the basement.  He was lucky in that he landed on a pile of boxes which resulted  in a broken leg, instead of a broken neck.

Unlike today where they set the leg and send you home, my hubby had to spend the next few days in the hospital, Christsmas day included.  His Grandfather, felt so bad this little skinny kid would be stuck in the hospital over Christmas, that he brought him a little friend, a stuffed mouse named “Squeaky”.  “Squeaky” was a well-worn “pet” and best friend.  Several times his Grammy had to resow the eyes back on as well as perform various other surgeries to keep “Squeaky” in one piece.  At some point, the decision was made to put “Squeaky” away, to keep him safe from further harm.

We all have objects that hold an inordinate amount of sentimentality on us.  For the doll I’m sure the rodents she sleeps with fall into that category.  I have some rocks I brought home from Connecticut after a brief visit many years ago that evoke such strong memories I hate to part with them.  The boy is someone who does not like change at all, so ordinarily I’d say just about everything in his room holds some sort of sentimental value–until now. 

We held a “Big Clean” event for the kids and their bedrooms last weekend.  This was the first time in several months the boy had cleaned underneath his bed.  Once his  room was in order he walked up to me carrying  a pair of old Winnie the Pooh slippers.  “Hey Mom, maybe you could give these to Goodwill so some other little kid can get some enjoyment out of them.” he said handing them to me.  “Boy, are you sure?” I said surprised–they were Winnie the Pooh after all and he, meaning the boy, was Christopher Robin.  “Yeah, I liked them, but I can’t wear them any longer and besides, they’re still in great shape.”  “Huh” I thought, a bit amazed at his willingness to part with them.

On Sunday, while we ran around the house picking up, dusting and vacuuming, my husband approached me carrying the slippers.  “What’s going on with these?” he asked.  “Yeah, the boy wants to give them to Goodwill” I said.  Surprised, hubby looked  them over and then said, “He does?”  “I know, I was surprised to, but heck, maybe this means he’s loosening his grip on some things.” I replied.  Still holding them, my hubby looked them over again and then said, “I’m going to go put these with “Squeaky”….and if he’s lucky I’ll give them back to him when he’s 30.” Smiling back I said “Okay”.

Evidently we stumbled upon another object of sentimental value for daddy–our children’s waning youth.

throwdown on aisle ten….

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I wrote the majority of Thursday’s blog, Wednesday night following the doll’s ballet class.  She was whipped and exhausted and not  liking her “sport” very much.  Writing her likes and dislikes was easy, seeing they were eerily similar to my own.  On Thursday morning, my brother and sister-in-law, through separate conversations conveyed to me something sad in reference to my daughter and ballet. Evidently something harsh happened Wednesday night that humiliated and embarrassed the doll.  Mary and Elle were so appalled they talked to their parents all the way home from class, all through dinner and at bedtime.  The doll never mentioned a word to me about the incident.

I wondered if my talking to her instructor would do more harm than good.  While I wanted to support my daughter but not make her life a living hell because I did.   I called another parent whose daughter has been dancing there several years longer than the doll, whom I know has had similar issues with this woman in the past and sought her advice.  Just as I suspected, she warned me against talking to the instructor.  “I’ve told my daughter, when you’re in that woman’s studio, you’re in her world, so you play by her rules…but you also consider the source.”  As a big proponent of “Consider the source” rule of thumb, I agreed, deciding to talk with the doll and try to support her another way.

When the doll arrived home from school, I asked her to sit on the front stoop with me and talk.  She became reticent and would not look me in the eye when I asked what happened at ballet the night before.  “Well, the other day Ms. C and the older girls were saying I was making a face when she corrected me so she asked the girls to go home a draw a picture of me making a face.  Helen did so and gave it to Ms. C. who hung the picture up in the class for everyone to see.”  “Hmm, and how did that make you feel?” I asked.  “Horrible.  Like they were humiliating me and the whole class was against me.” 

Have you ever wanted to strangle someone, even though you knew it was wrong?  Even when doing so you knew you were stooping to their level?  Even knowing you would set a bad example in your child’s eye?  My friend’s advice not to do anything was sound.  But I don’t want the doll to hate herself for being expressive with her face.  I also did not want this woman’s bullying to defeat my daughter.  Add to that my husband’s Ire when I filled him in; I had to confront her or my husband would be sitting in a jail cell right now. 

When I dropped the girls off for ballet, I asked the  girl behind the counter if I could speak to the instructor for a moment.  Elle was with me so I asked her to sit in a far off corner.  I didn’t want her to become entangled in an adult conversation.  “Yes doll’s mom, how can I help you?” she asked through the sliding window into the office.  “Yes, I’d like to talk to you about some picture someone drew of the doll?”  “Oh yes, we’re working on stage presence and it seems that every time I correct your daughter she makes a face at me.  Even the older dancers noticed this so I asked the class to draw a picture of what she looked like, so she could learn not to make that face while she’s onstage.”  “Hmm I see.  Can you tell me, when she’s at the recital, will you be barking corrections at her?”  “Well probably not…” “Well then she would have no reason to make that face would she?” 

Before she could answer I continued.  “The doll has always been expressive with her face.  Most of the time she is unaware she’s doing so.  But now this little exercise has made her self-conscious, she believes you are purposely singling her out and humiliating her as well as turning the other dancers against her and I won’t stand for this.”  I will say I was proud of myself as I did not lose my temper, I talked in a nice even tone.  Immediately she went into the throes of “Oh no, that’s not what I meant at all.  I’m sorry she feels this way.  The picture wasn’t that bad, here let me show you…”  She disappeared into her studio, where it was still posted and returned with a picture of a girl with a smirk on her face.  “You see this really isn’t that bad, it’s just so the doll sees what we’re talking about…” she said. 

“Okay, you’re right that’s not a bad picture for you or I…we’re adults.  The doll is ten years old.  Have you forgotten that?”  She immediately folded up the picture to throw away and began to apologize to me.  “Oh I’m sorry, I would never want the doll to think I was making her feel bad.  I know ballet is hard and I love your daughter.  I just want her to be her very best for the performance.  But I would never want her to think anything other than dancing is an extension of God’s joy.”   Then she jumped up and ran to the  back and  apologized to the doll.  Through the door I could hear the apology and then quickly returned and said, “I’m so sorry.  I will talk with the rest of the class and tell them I was wrong.”

Before I let her go, I wanted to impress upon her how hard the doll has been working to improve-and she should notice that.  She in turn told me areas she’d like to see the doll improve which I laughed and said, “Well somethings like genetics are at play here…they are what they are.”  She laughed a hollow laugh and with that our conversation was over.  Elle and I walked out to the parking lot to the car where she said, “Aunt Marsha, that was cool.”  Smiling I looked back at her and said, “You and Mary defending the doll last night was even cooler…thank you!”

Post Script: Following class, the doll and Mary exited the school wearing big smiles on their faces.  “Aunt Marsha, what did you say to Ms. C?  “Why what happened?” I asked.  “Mom, she apologized to me and then…”  “…and then, she came in and made the class apologized to the doll and….” Mary interrupted  “…..and mom she said she was wrong for even bringing it up!” the doll finished.  “Do you feel better?” I asked the doll.  “Shaking her head up and down she smiled and said “Yes”.  “Well then it doesn’t matter what I said.”  Then the doll hugged me and all was right with the world….at least for today. 

But, we still have about six weeks left.

dancing the ying yang

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“Mom, I’m ready to start something new…” the doll has told me every night following ballet class this year.  “Like….?” I ask, skeptical about her response.  “Like volleyball or basketball or anything other than ballet”.  I don’t distrust the sincerity in her desire to try something new, it’s just we’ve been down this path before and I want her to be sure before we end up back at the beginning.  So I asked the doll to write out what she liked and disliked about ballet.  Here are some of her answers.

DISLIKE:  The doll has been the recipient of verbal assaults for some time by her ballet teacher.  The woman just doesn’t know how to correct her students without sounding cross and insulting.  “Did you get yelled at tonight?” I ask the doll after every class.  “Uh huh” is her usual response.  “Did she single you out and yell at you or did she yell at others too?”  Wednesday was group night for being yelled at.  “Could she tell you’ve been practicing?”  “Yes, I think so…” the doll responded without enthusiasm. 

LIKE: Daddy had an “ah ha” moment Sunday and moved our kitchen table out-of-the-way so the doll could have a practice space.  With all our second-hand furniture crowding the living room, the doll had a hard time practicing all of her steps.  But once the kitchen was cleared out, she was in heaven.  Most of Sunday morning and Tuesday evening, my kitchen became a converted dance studio.  The doll enjoyed this space so much she practiced all evening…without being asked.

DISLIKE:  “Mom why did practice have to go so long?” the doll asked as she climbed into my car exhausted.  Her jazz class on Wednesday nights begins at 6:15 for warm-ups and is supposed to run until 8:30 pm.  Last night, she walked out of the studio at 9:15 pm starving, exhausted and near tears.  “Doesn’t she know this is a school night for me?” the doll asked.  “Apparently that is of no concern to her” I replied, a bit ticked off a the lateness of the hour.  When we arrived home the doll ate some soup for dinner  before falling asleep almost immediately once her head hit the pillow.  

LIKE: “I can’t believe I’m going to say this” the doll said Saturday afternoon, after her ballet/jazz dance rehearsal “…but I can hardly wait until Monday’s ballet class, so we can  learn some more of the new dance she added to the recital”.    The recital is what draws the doll back to the ballet foal every year.  The thrill of being all dressed up in make-up and costumes, while being adored by a crowd of people and bouquets of flowers following the performance; is a huge draw for her.  “Mom I really hate ballet, but I really love the recital”  she has been known to say. 

At one particular low point this ballet season, after she had been repeatedly put down by her teacher (even in front of me) the doll said, “Mom, that woman is just mean and cruel.  I’m ready to learn different dances and not be told I’m weak”.  I understood what her teacher was trying to convey to her, however crudely; so I took a different tack.  “I have an idea.  If this is truly your last year of dance with this studio, then I say go out on top.  Prove to her that she’s going to miss you next year.  Work your rear end off and show her she made a mistake overlooking you.”  The one thing I know about my doll is she loves being challenged.  “Okay mom, I’m going to make her regret being mean to me!”  she replied, a little more fired up and ready to practice.   

If the dancing in my kitchen to practice several hours a day is any indication, she’s doing just that.  As for next year I suspect once the recital is over, she’ll ask if we can stay one more year.  That’s what has happened the last two…but….time will tell.