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Posts tagged ‘touch’

Spiderman and the Last Sip Save the Day

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Peep the little trash can in the alley.

It was a winning weekend.  I will pay for it tomorrow a.m. when the alarm goes off at 5:15.  Still, I’m grateful for it all.

We celebrated Jay’s 5th birthday on Saturday.  He and about 12 of his closest friends ran and bounced and slid their way around an inflatables place before settling down to pizza, brownies, and ice cream.  Jay enjoyed himself thoroughly.  He rewarded me with big eyes and a resounding “wow” when he saw his Spiderman brownie towers.  I have to say that the result was better than I expected.  I baked and froze three batches of chocolate brownies and two of red velvet over the course of two weekends.  I didn’t start “building” the scene until Friday night at around 10 pm.  I was nervous, and I had a Plan B that would have involved an early morning, shame-faced trip to the bakery section of the neighborhood grocery store.  Then, I told myself that if it looked crappy, I could say that Spiderman visits the Projects too.  All in all, I’m pleased with the outcome, and so was Jay, which is what matters most.

This morning, we enjoyed french toast and bacon, two of Hubby’s favorite breakfast items, before the kids and I went off to Dharma.  In the afternoon, as a Father’s Day gift, my sister came over to babysit while Hubby and I went to lunch.  We drove over an hour to get to a riverfront seafood dive on the Potomac.  There are many other seafood restaurants closer to us, but it’s an easy, straight drive and one of my favorite things to do with the Mr. is have alone time in the car.  It’s nice to be sheltered from the outside world, whether we’re having uninterrupted conversation or just listening to each other’s silence.

Today’s lunch was actually our second date this weekend because Grandma (Hubby’s mom) volunteered to babysit for us last night.  So, we saw Prometheus.  Or rather, Hubby saw Prometheus while I napped on his shoulder off and on.  I did see enough to know that Idris Elba, love him like I do, is no good at a Southern accent.  He was going from Southern to generic American to British.  The other characters represented a multi-national mix, so Elba’s British accent would have fit perfectly.  Perhaps he wanted to stretch himself, which is admirable.  At any rate, Hubby liked the movie, and I needed the rest anyway.

Tomorrow begins the second week of summer camp, and Mae and Jay will return to their regular school’s camp.  They were at the Y last week, and it went very well.  Mae and Jay adjusted well and had fun.  So, I expect more of the same or better since they will be in a more familiar environment starting next week.   Mae at home has been another story.  She thinks she should have more freedom now that school is out.  The last two weeks have been a battle of wills when it comes to bath and bed time, in addition to a general attitude of teenage-quality snarkiness.  Her insistence on challenging or questioning almost every instruction, including routine stuff, is remarkable.  I frankly do not know where she finds the energy.  The time and effort that she puts into explaining why she should be allowed to do what she wants to do or trying to negotiate some middle ground exhaust me.  This morning, she wanted to take a toy into Dharma, which I told her would be a distraction.  She told me that it would help her focus and keep her from rubbing my arm or the Dharma teacher’s arm.  Clever girl that she is, she knows those are matters of importance to me.  I reminded myself that there will be days when her persistence will pay off, and there will come a time when she will make extraordinary contributions to her community or the world because she won’t give up when someone told her no.

In the meanwhile though, many of these conversations have been ending with Mae being disappointed, if not crying herself to sleep.  Yet, she will take just as strong a position next time.  Someone told me on Friday that I have a “patient spirit.”  I laughed.  My paid job does require extreme patience; however, compared to parenting this eight-year old, work is a breeze.  Mae thinks I’m mean and unfair, and those are her nice words for me.  Usually, these transitions after a change in routine take 2-3 weeks to take hold.  Hopefully, we’re not far off from settling down.

Challenging as it is some days, I am grateful for this family.  On our way home from Dharma, Mae and Jay were sharing a juice box.  She gave him the box and said, “You can have the last sip because I want to honor you on Father’s Day since you’ll be a dad one day.”  Her spirit, I know, is good, and I’m glad she showed it to me (and Jay) today.  I needed that.

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Heat, Snakes, Heros, and Love

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We woke up Saturday morning to a blanket of icy snow. It was enough to get Mae and Jay to whooping and donning their boots. They stomped around the front yard, enjoying the sound and feel of crunching their footprints into the sheet of ice-snow. And, on the very weekend that Ole Man Winter settled into the DC area, our furnace went kaput. I think we’ve lost heat at least once every winter since we moved into this house over six years ago. I am so hoping that the technician will declare the unit a total loss so that we can get a new one under our home warranty. I know, I know . . . but I can dream.

On Saturday, we took Mae and Jay to an area children’s museum. It boggles my mind that Mae can ask the curator to take the boa constrictor out of the cage so that she can pet it, yet, she calls for her dad when she sees an ant or spider in the house. Maybe the latter is a damsel in distress thing. Maybe she enjoys seeing her dad in the hero role, which is cool because he’s awesome like that.

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On Sunday, Hubby and I made a delicious spinach and lentil soup. He came into the kitchen and said, “Can I help you cook?” Best words I heard all day. I enjoy cooking, so I was happy not in terms of relief, but that he chose me over football during playoff season! Cooking is something we enjoy doing together and hadn’t done in a while. Bonus: while the lentils simmered, we made guacamole for the first time. Well, it was something like guacamole because we added a tomato, which I think made it salsa. Also, we don’t have a proper stone mortar and pestle set, so we mashed the avocado and other ingredients together with a fork. We stood right at the counter and devoured the whole bowl. For the record, we are not totally greedy and selfish. We did try to convince the kids to try some. No dice on the guaca-salsa, but Jay, starch lover that he is, did try the multigrain chips and asked to have some with his lunch.

Then, I tried to convince them to try ants on a log. A few weeks earlier, Jay had asked us to buy celery so that he could try it (Thank you, Wonder Pets). I thought it unlikely that he would actually eat the celery. Since he likes peanut butter and raisins already, I thought maybe he would take at least one bite of the combination. He and Mae were tickled by the name, and uninterested in a taste. Frankly, I had trouble keeping my mouth from twisting as I demonstrated how fun it would be to eat “ants.” Unable to get them on board, I went back to the kitchen and gave the rest of the log to Hubby. Yuck.

When the soup was done, Hubby and I had a taste test — one bowl, two spoons, standing face-to-face with the soup between us, heads bent into the steam, taking turns with our spoons. Yummy! Best.soup.ever.

Our kitchen adventures over, I took Mae to one of her friend’s birthday party. Yes, she was invited to a girl’s birthday party, and a girl that she likes! Even better, Mae got to sit by K, the little girl whose friendship she seems to value the most. So, Mae was really happy while she painted her ceramic mug. In the down time between the ceramics painting and cake serving, Mae got antsy and started jostling with K. It was the kind of horseplay that can easily and quickly turn and led to someone getting hurt. As I walked over to remind Mae that she can play without touching, I heard her explaining, “I’m using your own power against you” (Thanks, Avatar). I took her on a tour of the ceramics shop to look for gift ideas. After a few minutes, she was ready to go back to the party room and I reminded her again to keep her hands to herself, and warned that if she couldn’t, we would go home. Others were still eating cake when Mae went back in, and since she only eats chocolate cake, she had nothing to do. Idle time is not my girl’s friend. When she and K got to jostling playfully again and I heard another mom telling them to cut it out, I got Mae’s attention with my hands and motioned for her to get ready to go home. The party was winding down anyway as there were no other activities planned. Mae was disappointed, but she came over without complaining. As we walked to the car, she put her head down and said that she always messes up. I told her that’s not true, and that she often makes smart choices.

In retrospect, I think I should have just pulled her out of the party room for a few minutes to make the point. Maybe I was too hard on her. The funky thing is that I know such horseplay is more acceptable among boys. I feel like I’m forced to play to a double-standard. I want Mae to be seen as a good playmate in front of other parents and kids so that they will be more accepting and inclusive, and that means I have to encourage her to “play like a girl” when truth be told, she prefers to “play like a boy” with girls. My sense is that K would rather not horseplay, and that she goes along because Mae has a strong personality. Leaving the party early allowed Mae to get out before she got on K’s nerves or got into any serious trouble. I realize that Mae may not be able to appreciate that, but I like to think I saved her from something. K came over to give her a big hug before we left, and I call that ending on a good note.

I’m no spider-squishing hero, but hopefully, one day Mae will understand that I tried to make her life a little less scarey, even if I didn’t always go about it the best way.

Fairy #3 Has Landed

Mae had drama rehearsal today.  She will be Fairy #3, and she has three lines!  Last year, she was a napkin in Beauty and the Beast and she had one line, “No, pick me!”   She’s moving up in the drama world!

I took her to the school’s gym and then went up to the ground level to look through my newest issue of Cooking Light and make wishes about dishes I’d like to cook one day.  When I returned to the gym to see how things were going, I saw Mae sitting on a little girl’s lap and the girl’s hands around Mae’s waist.  This is Red Circle activity.  Some months ago, Mae and I made green, yellow and red circles from construction paper.  We wrote names and relationships (e.g., friends, neighbors, teachers, strangers)and acceptable and unacceptable types of touch on the appropriate circles.  Sitting on a friend’s lap is unacceptable.

I called Mae to me and reminded her of the Red Circle — no sitting on laps.  She corrected me, “But, it’s ok if it’s Grandma.”  Oh, so she does remember something about the Circles.  I asked if the little girl is her grandmother.

Mae went back, and I decided to finish the magazine in the gym.  The next time I looked up, the little girl, who is playing “Jill”, was holding Mae around the waist.  Gee whiz.  I wondered to myself, should I say something to Jill?  Tell her nicely that she should keep her hands to herself?  I looked around to see if I could spot her mother, but there were no other parents in the gym.  Just then, Jill asked the drama teacher for permission to go to the restroom.  He said yes, and Jill took Mae’s hand and started for the exit along with a third girl.  I stepped in front of them and took Mae’s hand from Jill.

Jill:  “I’m taking her to the bathroom.”

Me to Jill:  “No, you’re not taking her to the bathroom.

Me to Mae:  “Do you need to use the bathroom?”

Mae: “No, but my leg hurts because I fell.”

Me:  “Ok, go have a seat and I’ll check your leg later.”

During the next break, I talked to Mae again about not touching others and not allowing others to touch her.

Perhaps Jill is just an affectionate, friendly kid . . .  but what if she isn’t?  What if she is an abuse victim who victimizes other vulnerable children in school bathrooms?

Ok, now my head hurts.  I’m going to make empanadas.

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