Friday, September 30, 2016

Small, Grey, and Bright-eyed

Small, grey and bright-eyed.

Small, grey and bright-eyed, he repeated on the drive home from preschool.

Mommy, what does bright-eyed mean? means like happy and healthy.

Oh. You are big, peach and bright-eyed Mommy.

Uh...thanks Noah.

Another day, another flower from Noah to tuck behind my ear.

And you my love, are the reason why I am bright-eyed much of the time. Noah, for all his fussiness and inflexibility is still ridiculously delicious and charming to me.

He is a master of communication (as demonstrated above for his love of new words and phrases) and I often find myself adopting his own made-up conventions. In particular, he invented a way to express EXTREME approval - the Four Thumbs Up - in which you give two thumbs up twice.

Simple and effective, no?

I also often adopt his thumb-to-the-side convention to signify moderate approval. As in, Noah, do you like the new noodles I cooked for you?

I like it [side-thumb] medium, Mommy.

And it isn't just me. On the rare occasions Judah and I are alone, Judah often asks me - Mommy, tell me what Noah says. I want to hear more about him. What does he tell you?

Such is the ridiculous delight that issues forth from Noah's little mouth.

Aside from his creative expressions, he also delights me daily with flowers. Practically every day Noah will grab a dandelion or daisy off some green field and present it to me as a token of his love. Some days I have giant handfuls. Other days I have bright fuschia blooms from a neighbor's prized bush - sorry neighbors!

It never fails to remind me of his older brother, who used to do the exact same thing, but hasn't done it for over a year.

Six year olds are just not as obsessed with their mothers as 3 year olds, alas. When I get home from an outing Judah barely lifts his head in acknowledgement whereas Noah will stop, drop and barrel down the stairs to me, giggling and chortling the whole way.

Oh how quickly the window closes for me to feel like a rock star to my kids.

And so, with a relish that I didn't have with Judah, I embrace his fierce embrace. I know how precious and truly short-lived it is now.

And how it will never, ever, ever be quite like this again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Stuff of Nightmares

Today I realized I am literally my child's worst nightmare.

When Judah awoke this morning, I asked him, as I usually do, how his sleep was and if he had any dreams.

I had a nightmare mommy. You were really mad and yelling at me.

Uh, maybe that's because I AM always yelling at him. But not really because I'm mad at him. It's mostly because Noah is causing great disruption and WE ARE LATE!!!! And I'm flustered and annoyed at Noah, but everyone gets a taste of my scattershot wrath.

Judah endures yet another unpleasant trip - you and me, both kid.

But Judah's nightmare recounting really sobered me up.

I realize I yell at the kids all day, every day.




Actually, you can substitute any variety time-sensitive events for "school" - church, Chinese lessons, doctor appointments, etc.

If we need to be somewhere at a definite time, there's one thing the kids can count on - Mom will be yelling.

I really really REALLY need to plan more margin into our departure times. But as someone who loves efficiency, it totally offends me that I have to allot 10 minutes to the mere putting on of socks and shoes and a jacket. I'm not even exaggerating just a little bit!

Ten minutes! For what normal people can do in 30 seconds!!!! But the alternative is, apparently, a nightmare.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Reign of King Noah

Recently, Noah's been obsessed with being a king.

It started a few weeks ago when I mentioned that kings have a lot of treasure and instantly something clicked inside him. Now he often tells me he wants to be a king when he grows up and will elaborate in great detail:

When I'm king, I'll sleep in a...giant king bed.
And in the day time I'll sit in a...king chair.
Everything will be soft and cushiony, my king bed, my king chair, and even the floor and ceiling of my palace.

You can bring me green jewels.
And Judah can bring me silver jewels.
And daddy can bring me gold jewels.

And I'm going to be a good king.
I'll keep some money for myself.
And I'll give a little bit to the children.
And I'll give a little bit to the poor - small jewels, not my silver and gold ones.

And there you have, the benevolent reign of Noah.

But in reality, being with Noah is more like being under a reign of terror.

Noah on his king bed - well, actually my king bed - contemplating a cushy life

Noah has entered a very inflexible and grumpy phase of his life. Everything displeases him and his displeasure lasts for hours.

Just yesterday he dropped a sticker in the toilet while he was pooping and insisted that I get it back for him. When I explained that it was soiled and that I would absolutely not get it back for him, he exploded in rage.

A few days before that, he asked me to hand him his breakfast bar. I opened the wrapper and handed it to him and he immediately melted down in rage. No! No! No! I didn't want you to open the wrapper!!!!! he screamed while I stood there annoyed and perplexed.

But don't you want to eat it? I asked.

No! I wanted to just hold it! And NOW I want to eat.

Okay, well just eat it now.

No! You opened the wrapper too soon!!!!!!

Somehow that extra 30 seconds of exposure to the elements rendered that bar unfit to eat for King Noah. Noah promptly asked me for a new one. In horror, I realized that that was the last bar in the box and told him so.

For the next 5 hours, I kid you not, Noah repeatedly demanded that I go to the store and buy him a new box of the exact same kind of breakfast bar, refusing any substitute food. The kid would NOT let it go.

When Noah kvetches about something, which he does many times a day, he has a standard script that goes something like this:

I'm sad Mommy. I'm going to be sad forever. Even in God's new world, I'll still be sad. My whole day is sad. (repeat on endless loop).

And so, when I found myself near a drugstore later that day, I popped in with Noah to buy him his stupid breakfast bar. Of course the little 'good parenting' voice inside my head was telling me - don't do this! You're giving into bad behavior! You're reinforcing that whining works! You're creating a monster!

But all the other parts of my brain were saying - oh good grief! LET IT JUST END!!!!!

And so I bought him his bar. He asked for me to hand it to him. I gingerly handed it over like a live grenade - WITH the wrapper still intact.

He asked me to open the wrapper for him.

I double-checked and confirmed that indeed - you want me to open the wrapper for you? Right now? Or later?

Right now, he said.

And even then, I tensed my shoulders and sucked in my breath post-traumatically as I tore open the wrapper.

He smiled and reached for the bar and ate a few bites.

And I lived to serve another day.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Momiversity: Girls and Sex

I recently read Peggy Orenstein's fantastic journalistic book on the sex culture of girls between 15 - 20 years old.

At first it seems completely random that I would pick this book up since (a) I don't have girls and (b) I don't have teens. But it actually makes sense when you consider that I'm officially old. And as an old-timer, I want to understand the younger generation. What are those whipper-snappers up to?

I want to be informed about youth culture since that's the missing link between me and my kids, and since I hate youtube and instagram and twitter and being on the internet in general, I have to get my data from good ol' fashioned books - harrumph! Back in my day, we read books! Real books with pages. That you flipped. One by one. Dang it!

And so I picked up this fabulous book that just came out a few months ago. Orenstein is a prominent journalist for publications like the New York Times Magazine and has written broadly about girls and culture. She interviewed 70+ girls, mostly from wealthy Bay Area neighborhoods, and includes all facets of sexuality in her book - views on sex, sexual experiences, assault and rape, coming out as gay, etc.

It was...informative.


And...I'm just a little bit glad I don't have girls.

There's no way I can sum up this weighty book in a single post, but here's my top 3 takeaways:

(1) Looking Hot
Orenstein shows how prevalent and pervasive and all-consuming the cultural message is for girls - your value is significantly based on how hot you look (hot as defined by Victoria Secret models). Whether you are a teen, a young adult, a senator, a business woman, a scientist, a presidential candidate - your hotness is always up for evaluation.

The girls in Orenstein's book will say, matter of factly, that they're having a good day because they feel like they look hot that day. Or they were having a bad day because they felt insecure about their looks that day.

This is not a surprising insight. Nor is it a new revelation. It's just...really, really sad.

(2) Porn
Porn is pervasive. Most teenage boys consume so much porn that there is now an epidemic of porn-induced erectile dysfunction due to the inability to feel any sexual stimulation outside of watching porn.

But what was most disturbing to me was Orenstein's very graphic description of the typical content of porn. I always, in my completely innocent head, imagined it was just a very long extended version of the stuff I see in regular movies. Nope. Wrong. Totally wrong.

It is, in a nutshell, degradation of women as titillation. The more degrading, the more titillating.

This may not be surprising or novel. But it is, again...really, really sad. Especially when you consider how this form of media automatically becomes a social script for young men.

(3) College
Apparently the run of the mill female college experience goes like this on the weekends:
Drink 3-4 shots with your friends before going to a frat party (aka pre-gaming).
Drink 3-4 more shots at the frat party.
Dance, make-out, fool around at the frat party.
Drink more shots.
Lose track of how many shots you've had.
Lose track of everything.
Wake up the next day feeling not great (best case scenario) or like you had non-consensual sex (one of the worse case scenarios).

This also is probably not surprising, but again, very heartbreaking.

And there you have it.
Girls and sex.

Hide your daughters.

Actually, Orenstein advocates the opposite of hiding. She thinks one of the main contributors to this broken culture is the lack of parental guidance and instruction on sex. Most parents, whether conservative or liberal (yes! they have one thing in common when it comes to sex!) do not tell their daughters anything about sex or their bodies beyond the typical 5 minute spiel about waiting until you feel ready, being safe, using a form of birth control, etc.

And so girls are left adrift to find out and explore for themselves.