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May 13 2014

The Insane Traffic Jam That Forced Me To Stop Controlling Everything

By at 4:07 pm

traffic-jam

I am one of those people who always wants to be in control. Before I go to sleep at night (way later than I should), I pack everyone’s bags (diaper, work, lunch), make sure the tasks I want the babysitter to do the next day are all listed on my notes and that she’s got all she needs to take the kids out (metro cards, money, fresh water bottles, etc), and clean the kitchen. Then I wake up at 5 a.m. to make sure the kids’ lunches are all organized and their clothes are laid out. After I make the coffee that my partner and I live off of, I prep dinner and make sure the house in order.

It was one of these mornings when my partner called from the road; her route to work was flooded after the recent storm in DC. Could I help her navigate an alternate route, she asked. It took me a few moments to realize my route this particular morning would be the same because this entire semester, I have the honor of teaching (thanks to an amazing colleague) future Episcopal Ministers at a seminary in Virginia, a course introducing them to the world of rabbinic Midrash.

On these days our babysitter arrives early at 7:30 so I can hustle out to Virginia in time for an 8:45 start time. The car ride is normally about 30 minutes but I leave the extra time for thinking, finishing up my prepping, meeting with students, and such. I do not like being late–it is a pet peeve of mine. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2012

The Killing at the Pittsburgh Zoo

By at 11:00 am

Sunday afternoon a 2-year-old was killed at our zoo in Pittsburgh after falling into the Painted Dog exhibit.

The words “mauled to death” almost made me sick as tears welled up in my eyes. I take my kids to that zoo almost weekly. My 2-year-old just started walking on his own instead of seeing the animals from the safety of his stroller. I wear my infant and push the empty stroller, just in case he gets tired and wants to climb in for a ride. I am often preoccupied with the bulky stroller or fussy baby and he runs ahead a little. The other day I turned my head for a moment and lost him over near the Komodo dragon exhibit. A moment.

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Jul 8 2011

The Sweet Sound of Sarcasm

By at 2:18 pm

"And then, it happened. R gave me a look that could have been lifted directly from Justine Bateman’s facial repertoire back when she was teenage sister Mallory on Family Ties, and said, 'Mommy, I was being sarcastic.'"

The proliferation of parenting tomes belies the truth that all parenting really comes down to one simple fact: the second you master how to handle one thing, something else will come right up and take its place.

You figure out how to put your kid to bed…and now it’s time for them to lose the bottle, so the whole routine is completely useless. You finally work out your schedule around the kid’s naps…suddenly, Junior doesn’t need naps anymore. It’s not really Murphy’s Law. After all, nothing is going wrong, per se. The only thing that’s “wrong” is your sense that you were, for however brief a moment, in control. Because you’re not. And you never were, and you never will be. And therein lies the thrill, and pain, of parenthood.

As I await the arrival of Kid Three, who is just as intransigent in utero as her two older brothers were once upon a time, child development in my home continues apace, as I learned from my 6-year-old, R.

Remembering that I needed to pay a bill online, I sat down at my computer. R materialized as though from nowhere (a tough thing to do, since the kid has the gentle footsteps of a herd of wildebeest in heat) virtually immediately: “Mommy, come look at something.”

“Give me a second,” I told him, trying to get to the right bill payment page.

“Okay,” he responded. He took a step closer to me. I could feel his hot breath in my face.

I turned to him. “Look,” I said. “When I say, ‘give me a second,’ that means, ‘go do something else and I will be with you as soon as I can.’”

R gave me an angelic, sweet smile. “Of course, Mommy! That’s no problem at all.”

Wow – no whining, no complaints – nice! “That’s really sweet of you,” I complimented him (in that whole “give positive reinforcement of good behavior” schtick we all know and love).

And then, it happened. R gave me a look that could have been lifted directly from Justine Bateman’s facial repertoire back when she was teenage sister Mallory on Family Ties, and said, “Mommy, I was being sarcastic.”

Let’s reiterate: the child is 6. He’s really super smart, admittedly, but he’s really only 6. The idea that the 6 year old would not only know how to properly use the word “sarcastic” (explained to him, in fairness, when he asked me to translate the title of the Peanuts classic, “Why Are Musicians So Sarcastic?” into Six Year Old(e) English), but would know how to employ its sharp edges, with all its eviscerating potential, is disturbing. Read the rest of this entry →

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