Yes, it’s that time of year again. Our children have made us feel another year older, our house is another year more lived in, and our cat is another year crankier. So here are our notes on what we learned last year.
The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2010
10. Cats need not bring gifts. Harley occasionally tries to bring in mice and birds, but on Christmas Eve, he outdid himself. Anna screamed when she stepped on something at the top of the basement stairs. It was a dead mole. Ewwww! Never nominate that cat for Santa.
9. Feminism is alive and well. In the car with Grandma Barbara, the girls somehow got onto the topic of girl jobs vs. boy jobs. As lifelong feminists, Grandma and Marjie really wanted to hear about this. “So what,” Grandma asked, “Are boy jobs?” “Anything girls don’t want to do,” her granddaughters confidently replied. After we finished laughing, we decided that the new generation of feminists is doing just fine.
8. Pretty shoes are so hard to pass up. Marjie’s teaching 4th/5th this year, but her book club has lots of K to 2nd. We were reading a story about a fox that stole shoes when Marjie decided to show them what ten dozen shoes might look like. We all took our shoes off, threw them into a pile, then tripled it with our imaginations. When it came time to put our shoes back on, volunteer Jenny Kay’s shoes were missing. She found them on a little girl’s feet. “But your shoes are really pretty,” protested the child. Jenny Kay, afraid she wasn’t going to get her shoes back, thought fast, “But I can’t fit into your shoes. What will I wear home?” Happily, it worked.
7. Watch what you feed your children. After reading some recent research on the connections between ADHD and malathion, Marjie decided to eat more organic. She was worried about the kids’ reaction so she even took her niece and nephew shopping and kept repeating the mantra, “It’s just an experiment. Try whatever you want.” She shouldn’t have worried. Kaylee said organic milk tasted fresher. Hailey approved the chips. Organic mac and cheese was a huge hit with all the girls, better than any they had ever had. They even tried kefir. Hailey declared that organic was the only place she wanted to shop from then on, which is flattening our pocketbooks a bit. You’d think we’d have learned this lesson when they were toddlers, and we taught them to eat sushi.
6. Truth in labeling might help. Of course as Marjie worked her way into vegan, some of the experiments had unusual side effects. Marjie didn’t tell Anna that the taco “meat” she ate straight from the pan wasn’t, well, meat. As Anna shrieked, “Mushrooms, you made me eat mushrooms!” Hailey tore into the kitchen screaming, “I can’t trust my food anymore!”
5. We are becoming slacker parents. We knew we had calmed down from our California hyper-vigilance when, while visiting the Oregon Zoo, we forgot to count our kids for a whole five minutes. But it really hit home when Anna came home from camp. While the Brownies rehearsed their farewell performance, we tossed her dusty, ill-packed luggage into the trunk and sat down to wait out the heat. Other parents busily opened their daughters’ bags and checked contents against packing list. One mom was distressed that the carefully folded clean underwear and the dirty clothes bag looked unused. One dad opined, “We hope that Megan had a positive experience.” We just drove home, picked off the tick, and were glad that Anna had fun.
4. Maybe we should be more specific with our children. Eight-year-old Anna tells us that she cuts her own nails, but she really doesn’t. At one point, Marjie got her into a leg lock and took the nail clippers to her frightening toes. When Marjie moved on to Anna’s fingernails, complaining loudly that she didn’t take care of them, Anna asked, “How do you take care of nails? Feed them treats?”
3. Somehow, we just know. Marjie’s sister, Barbara, knew when she was quite young that she would not be childless, she would be child-free. And despite the fact that twelve-year-old Hailey loves every baby she sees, completed babysitters camp with certifications in every age level of CPR and first aid, including dog, and offers to babysit at all of the neighbors’, she sounds just like her aunt. Marjie, in quiet despair, asked Anna. “It’s okay,” Anna laughed, “She’ll babysit my kids.”
2. Unbelievably, some things are more stubborn than David. When David finished mowing our unending lawn, he noticed a distinct stripe. And while it had that cool look of a baseball diamond, double-height grass wasn’t what he was going for. With a groan, he realized that running over that tree stump had bent the lawn tractor’s blade. To bend it back, he spent days stomping on it, loading weights on it, heating it, and even parking the car on it, but mower blades are apparently tougher than he is. He finally bought a new one. Anyone want a cool-looking lawn? We have a free John Deere blade.
1. Moms can get carried away. While college has always been on the horizon for our children, a couple of years ago Hailey relaxed visibly when we mentioned that design or cooking school were fine as well. She has since kicked around a few ideas, lately telling us that beauty school sounds interesting. Marjie, ever on the hunt for a cheap haircut, said, “Cool, you can start practicing on me.” “Mom,” Hailey replied scornfully with her hands on her hips, “Have you seen our Barbies?”
We hope your hair doesn’t look like our Barbies, or our lawn for that matter, and that your holidays were happy.
David, Marjie, Hailey, Anna & Harley