speechless

Yes, me. Speechless. If you know The Mama in real life, then you know this is very nearly impossible. I typically have 100 words to get out for every 10 that are actually needed. But not today. Oh no, today I had no words.

None.

While The Kidling and I sat in the waiting room at the chiropractor this evening, we reviewed some word endings. This week, her class is spending some time focusing on -ck endings, so we played a bit of a guessing game. I gave her clues, and she replied. It looked something like this:

“What do you put your groceries in?”
“A bag… No… A sack!”

“Where do you put your folders after school?”
“My backpack!”

“What do you do with a sucker?”
“Suck!”

“What was your tricky spelling word last week that ended in -ck?”
“Truck!”

Think you know where this is headed? So did I. Until…

“What do you say to someone who is picking her nose?”
“Snack!”

Um… Well… I was sort of thinking… Ick. Ick, Kidling.

Ick.

the decision-making process

The Family is considering buying a new (very old) home. Fret not, local readers: we aren’t leaving Our Town any time soon. We just found a house around the corner that is pretty swell.

This being a serious decision, I decided to enlist my favorite sounding board: The Kidling. I asked her at breakfast this morning what she thought about our home vs. the prospect and which she preferred. Here’s what I got:

“Well, it would be good to have a basement that’s further away from the windows in case of a tornado. This one has (counts) one, two, three, four, five, six, seven windows–and the door–right by the basement.”

“Well, that one IS a lot bigger than ours,” she noted.
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing to you?” I asked.
“Medium.”

“Let’s think about which one would be the nicer setting for Halloween? Which would have a better table for gourds?”

“This house does have something I like.”
“What’s that?” I questioned.
“There’s a race room.”

Hmm. A race room… we might need to be sure that transitions to the (potential) new digs. Couldn’t have a little gal lacking that now, could we?

duh.

The Kidling had a remarkable day yesterday. She was cheerful all afternoon when she returned home from school, overcame an enormous fear successfully, was able to stay up late to finish her homework without a meltdown, and didn’t even get ticked when the “two stories at bedtime” reward that I offered became “one story” then “maybe just half” after I realized that she had chosen quite the tome (and no one who values her sanity keeps The Kidling up past bedtime).

A banner day, really.

Naturally, as someone who values happiness and joy, I wanted to remind The Kidling of her general awesomeness first thing this morning.

“Did you dream about your great accomplishments last night?” I asked when The Kidling walked bleary-eyed into the room.

“No,” she replied incredulously. “I dreamed about My Little Ponies having a race!”

Duh.

 

an open letter to The Kidling and to kidlings of a certain age*

The Kidling was happier than this to return to school. I swear.

The Kidling was happier than this about her return to school. I swear.

On this day that is traditionally the first day of school, The Mama stands in

Sappy, whiny, sentimental

solidarity with family members everywhere sending their

Kids who are totally ready to go to school and have probably been ready for months but whose parents/grandparents/responsible adults are worried sick. Seriously! Think of all the things that could go wrong! I could send lunch money when all the other parents packed lunch, I could pack lunch when all the other parents sent lunch money, I could forget to pack lunch or send lunch money, thereby making me a pariah and–

babies to the first day of kindergarten. May your worries be unfounded, may your tears be few, and may the force be with you… or something.

_________

A few days ago on a morning run, my running pals and I were making conversation. Idle chit-chat, at first glance. The kind that helps us get through the miles but that, in the aggregate, shines light into the corners of our souls.

“How are you dealing with Kindergarten?” the fastest of us asked.

“What?” I replied. “Oh. Great! Honestly, I am just excited for her. She is damn smart. She is really ready to be a reader.”

And with that, I brushed aside all thoughts of anxiety regarding my youngest–my only–child’s matriculation into the garden of children… until two Saturdays ago. On that day, it all came. At first it whispered, politely tiptoeing toward me. Shortly thereafter, it spoke more firmly and picked up its pace. Then it whacked me right over the head.

Jerk.

Because on that fateful Saturday, I found myself at Generic Department Store. Yes, the same one that gave me corduroy shorts with opaque tights in adolescence. Perms and bad bobs in my childhood. But that day, it gave me something else: anxiety.

On that far-from-fine day, The Mama decided to buy The Kidling’s new school clothes. Pretty striped cotton dresses, practical tees and leggings, perhaps a fall jacket… things that scream “The Kindergartner from The Middle(west).” And I did find those things. It’s just that I also found other…

Things.

Things that I wasn’t ready to see in size 5.  The details aren’t worthy of recounting,

Tight things, short things, one-shouldered things, things with words I don’t want to read in places I don’t want to read them

but the outcome is: fear. Genuine, chest-tightening fear. Fear of the influence of the world. Fear that The Dada and I will no longer control the message. Fear that–god forbid–The Kidling will actually want those awful things.

Fear that the world won’t be kind.

Fear that The Kidling won’t be kind.

Fear that she will struggle–with friendships, with learning, with anything.

Fear that she will be cruel to friends who struggle.

Fear that she will be judged.

Fear that she will judge.

Fear that she will be hurt.

Fear that she will hurt.

Fear.

Fear.

Fear.

Fear.

Fear.

I was so busy with my fear that I nearly forgot to notice today. But first times are sacred and deserve to be memorialized. So, to you, Dear Kidling, I write:

_________

Dear The Kidling (and friends);

This morning

After you went outside in your perfect first-day-of-school outfit and played with sidewalk chalk in your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit and covered your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit with said sidewalk chalk and apologized for covering your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit with sidewalk chalk and went inside to take off your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit and changed into clothes.

you went to Kindergarten. Kindergarten! I know you are a genius, but this seems extreme. You were, after all, born just yesterday.

A few weeks ago, we sat on our front steps and ate ice cream. When I thanked you for being part of my life, you laughed at me. Then you shrugged your tiny little shoulders

Shoulders on which the weight of the world seems sometimes to rest.

and said “Well, you created me,” because you had no choice in the matter.

Which is kind of awesome, because I know you would choose Nana.

Whether by choice or by nature, I am ridiculously lucky to have you. Not that I am foolish enough to think that you are meant to be had. Rather, I am so, so fortunate to have you here. With me. With The Dada. Every day, as part of our crazy little ride on this planet. And, for what it’s worth, I have no idea what I did to deserve you, but whatever it was, I am damn glad I did it. And if that thing that I did occurred in a past life, then I am seriously thanking dead-previous-The-Mama.

Really. Thank you for not being a total jerk to someone with the power to ensure future-The-Mama got screwed over with a boring, bratty kid.

On such a monumental day, I don’t have nearly as much advice as I wish I did. What little I have to offer is so very important: No matter what, be you. Always be you. Even when you forget who “you” are. Even when you lose “you.” Even when the “you” you find is wholly different from the one you lost. Be you. Strong, kind, quirky, clever, smart, stubborn, loving, rambunctious, curious, agile, witty, loud, beautiful, spunky, mouthy,

but not too mouthy

you. Because I love the shit out of you. And I always will.

Love,
The Mama

_________

* This post originally appeared (in an ever-so-slightly different form) in Kidlingville on September 3, 2013. And you know what? Not a damn thing has changed.

on futility…

…and gristle:

“Maybe it’s to keep from being eaten. Well, whatever, we don’t listen to them. We just spit that part out and gobble the rest up!”

-The Kidling
August 18, 2014

anatomically (in)correct

“Boys have buttcracks. Girls have butts.”

- The Kidling
August 20, 2014

our obligatory back-to-school post (but this one is pretty good)

You might have noticed that The Family has been MIA. Not actually MIA, so don’t go making any phone calls. But seriously, how funny would that be:

Operator: 9-1-1, what’s the emergency?
Dear Reader: I want to file a missing people report. The Family has been too quiet lately.
Operator: Your family?
Dear Reader: No. The Family. I haven’t heard much from The Mama in the last couple of months.
Operator: Your Mama?
Dear Reader: Hey, you don’t have to be rude!
Operator: No, I mean your mother.
Dear Reader: Huh? Oh, no, not my Mama, The Mama. And The Kidling!
Operator: The killing? Is someone hurt?
Dear Reader: No! The KiDling. My favorite kid who I haven’t ever actually met. I know she talks nonstop, and I haven’t heard a peep from her all month. I’m a little worried.
Operator: Okay. We can send an officer out to do a welfare check. What is their address?
Dear Reader: The Family lives in Our Town, The Middle. Oh, and don’t forget to check on The Pup while you are there.
Operator: (silence)

Which is all to say that you might not know what is going on in Our Life. A brief summary: we had school, then it was summer, and now it isn’t.  Now that you are all caught up…

Without going into too much detail, The Kidling has been feeling pretty under the weather. Nothing serious, but she has been sick in that way that includes both naps and steroids. In other words, she was about as ready for bed last night as I am after my third espresso. So, after her shower, we went for a walk. Accompanied by a moonlit sky and striped pajamas, The Mama, The Kidling, and The Pup meandered around the neighborhood until we landed at her school. We walked through the open field past the playground, stopping to count windows in order to determine which teacher was still there working so late into the night. Once we had figured it out, this child of mine–

the same child who told me her retirement plans by December of her kindergarten year. The one who, just weeks before this summer was to begin, looked her teacher square in the eye and told her, “I’m sick of learning, I’m sick of working, and I’m sick of talkin’ about readin’!”

 –gazed up at the three-story brick building, eyes bright in the moonlight, and said,(sigh) I love this place.”

I do, too.

The Kidling on summer reading program bribes

“. . . and if you fill in all of the bubbles first, you get a Kindle of Fire!”

-The Kidling
July 16, 2014