Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This is How We Dance in a Hazelnut Grove

I challenged myself to post something under 100 words. But if pictures are worth a thousand words, than I have failed miserably because these say so much about my girl.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Story of the Baloney Sandwich

I have a bad taste in my mouth today. Mostly because I saw a kid be slightly mean to my best girl, and I didn't like it. Even the most minty fresh gum isn't going to rinse this nagging, day-old bread residue out of my saliva glands.

Can you even imagine someone being mean to this face (and yes, that is a tooth flosser in her hair, thank you for asking)? It wasn't a big deal and the funny thing is that it wasn't the actual insensitive act or bossing that bothered me so much. What really got my goat was the Red Baron's reaction to it. She was so submissive and repentant, when I really just wanted to see her hold her ground and counter a little bit. This wilting girl was not the Red Baron that I know. If I had been the one to demand and boss, she would have shrieked, flung her arms, pointed her toes and turned a deep shade of purple. No one tells the Red Baron what to do. Except little, itty, bitty 7 years olds, apparently. Those protective instincts just flared right up in me and left this ugly feeling that I imagine echos any loss of control.

Now, if it was this face:

being mean to this face:

I would only consider it sibling rivalry and no big deal. But it was an outsider. And that just irked me to no end. I worry about the Red Baron. A lot. Is she going to be able to defend herself when the time comes? Have I stifled her sense of self and made her just another sheep following the herd with all my "good listening" encouragement and being mama's little helper? Am I equipping her with the tools to deal with people who might not have her best interests at heart? Am I forgetting that she's only 3 years old and I need to let go of the "what ifs" and focus on the smaller, more immediate things like counting in sequence to 20 and getting her shoes on the correct feet? Lots of stuff rattling the old upstairs hamster wheel, I assure you.

Then tonight at dinner the Red Baron started playing her favorite game - "Tell me a story about when you were little." At first this game was really fun. It's great strolling down memory lane, reminiscing about a simpler time (the 80's) and how life used to be before email and twitter. But eventually I actually ran out of stories. I started to repeat myself, but the Red Baron would have none of it. She demands fresh material and with a wave of her tiny hand, will proclaim "Mama, you've already said this one. I want a different one."

So I was racking my brain for any loose tidbits I could stretch into a decent story for this demanding little dictator and my better half said "Tell the story about the baloney sandwich." This story was so buried in my deeper psyche that I just didn't respond to him in the hopes that he would just forget what he had just said and we could move on to another topic. This story is so etched in my being I can still feel, taste, touch and hear every sensory element of that day. But with his persistence ("Hey!? Can you not hear me? I think you should tell the baloney sandwich story!") I took a deep breath and dutifully told her the story of the baloney sandwich.

It was a sunny day in grade 8 and I had just gotten off the school bus and had quickly gotten some distance to the bottom of the short hill toward a path that led to my street. I heard the rush of the air compression brakes as the bus pulled away from the curb and continued down the hill towards where I was walking. I was safely on the sidewalk, but the bus would pick up speed and come right past me as it continued it's route. Now, it was full with Jr. High students and you could hear the general ruckus that accompanies a bus full of teenagers on their post-scholastic high. I could feel the bus coming closer and closer, and knew that soon it would pass me and leave that thick gush of air that gets in your face, crowding you eyes, nose and mouth with dust and exhaust fumes. But this time was different. Because along with dust and fumes, I heard this obnoxiously loud slapping noise. I knew I hadn't been shot, because supposedly you never hear the shot with your name on it. But such is not the case with mystery meats. This slapping sound was so loud, it startled and disoriented me at first and I looked around to see what had happened. I glanced to my right. There was nothing. I tried to glance toward my left, but couldn't because my view was obstructed by this sticky, soggy mass. I peeled it off only to find an open-faced baloney sandwich, filled with mayo, plastered to the side of my head and face. I looked up at the bus right in time to see about a thousand eyes looking back at me and hear a roaring explosion of laughter trail ahead of me, leaving me in it's wake. There I stood, alone in the world and smelling of week-old baloney. Maybe older.

The Red Baron thought this story was hilarious. Almost like a "why didn't I think of that" kind of moment. But it was good for me to stroll down this murky memory lane and remember that without harder times, we wouldn't have a chance to rise above and fulfill our whole potential. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, that sandwich helped me to see what I was really made of. Because even though it was tempting to never step foot on that bus ever again, I still did it. Even though it was tempting to change my name and get a face-transplant, I continued to answer to and don my Pieface. Probably no one remembers that story except for me. Though, part of me would love to listen to the person at my 20-year high school reunion that starts off the conversation with "Dude, remember when we threw that sweet sandwich at that unsuspecting girl? That was the best day of my life." And if my baloney sandwich is the crowning jewel to someones high school experience, I can't take that away from them. I am not cruel (even though I picture this person surfing questionable Internet dating sites while donning a Taco Bell vest).

I still won't go near baloney. Even I can tell you that the stuff is nasty, and none of it even entered my mouth. Thank heavens my ears don't have taste buds.

So I hope that the Red Baron never gets publicly hit with rotten sandwich meat, but since I know she will be at the receiving end of other people's insensitivity at some point (or many), I hope that she faces those hardships head on and stretches to see what she's truly made of. Perhaps one day she'll be recounting her smelliest, most degrading and humiliating stories to a Red Baron of her very own and realized that she too triumphed over some ugly situations.

And this makes me smile. Because I'm pretty sure she's going to be just fine.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm a Social Marketing Genius

When I was pregnant the first time around, a friend gave me a book called "How To Con Your Kid." Which excited me to no end. I had read/skimmed plenty of parenting books/magazines and was left confused and scared. Words like "family bed" and "attachment bonding" were dancing in my head, and I realized that what I needed was a book that would just tell me, straight up, how to get my kid to do what I want them to do. Case closed. I hoped that the loving, attachment and bonding would come naturally and it did. But getting a kid to do what I wanted? I was as clueless as the next blubbering pregnant woman.

I didn't really read that book until the Red Baron was about a year old, which is when the real dissension started to happen. Some call it "the terrible twos" and the reason, I think, is because that's the age when the kid starts to think they are smarter than their parents. This goes dormant, for some, at about school age and then comes back like plague of grass-hoppers at about 12 or 13. Unfortunately for me, the seeds of superior thoughts started at approximately 10 months old for the Red Baron. This became obvious when at about 11 months old I gave her her lunch, and she threw her arms in the air and said "You gotta be kidding me!" Like a servant scorned, I just stammered and give excuses "Honey... but you like cheese, remember?.... and the strawberries were in season - remember how you like strawberries?" Talk about handing over the reigns, right? I knew this had to end - I couldn't be stripped of my dignity as routinely as one would change their socks. Since I had kissed my waistline, hair, brain, punctuation, punctuality and privacy goodbye, my dignity was about all I had left. "Stand up!" I told myself, "Stand up and be a Mom!"

So I broke out the book and started to read.

But this book, though clever and creative, wasn't quite what I needed to take back the control and "con my kid." It told me to cut my kids hair while they slept (sounds like a disaster to me) or sing songs called "eat the peas" to the tune of "Let it be" by the Beatles. Again - very sweet, but they didn't know who I was dealing with. This girl has the pipes of a banshee and a will of iron. She wasn't going to eat the peas even if I juggled 20 of them in one hand while singing Handel's Messiah on a unicycle with my eyes closed. Eat your own dang peas.

Then one night, I was making pulled pork (the BEST stuff for tacos, burritos, sandwiches, you name it) and in trying to get the Red Baron to eat it I called it "meat candy." As soon as the word "candy" was out of my mouth, a Social Marketing Genius was born within me (of course it doesn't hurt that there's a cup of brown sugar in the recipe). You put the word "candy" in any menu name and your kid will eat it. The Red Baron wolfed down the pork, and was begging for more. "Meat candy please!" was like music to my ears and a band-aid to my wounded parenting ego. I'm going to try to sell them on "asparagus candy" tonight so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Then last month I got a gym membership and knew I would need to really sell the in-house daycare idea to The Little Man, who would be going in alone. I was a little worried there would be some fireworks, but I laid down the ground work and told him that after dropping The Red Baron off at preschool, he would be going to "Playschool" where he would meet friends, play with toys and have general fun and shenanigans. So we walked in, and he marched over to the admitting desk and said "Hey Friends! I'm here!" and didn't take a sideways glance at me ever after. It was almost magical.

So you can see why I think I might be onto a second career here, right? Social Marketing expert for toddlers? Sounds great to me. Anything to keep me off that unicycle.

The Red Baron from her command central.