At least I know how it’s going to go. I’ll be frustrated and angry. I’ll stay away from the news and the Internet. In three or four days, I’ll start to feel a little better. Sadly, this Groundhog Day of roiling emotions from mass shooting is now all too familiar. I just can’t accept that not giving a damn is the price of freedom. I don’t want to argue about the causes. I don’t know the exact solution. I would just like to feel as if we are moving toward one. But we’re not. That’s what I find more frustrating.
With AIDS, cancer, opioids, it felt as if everyone knew someone affected and we agreed that it was a crises that needed action. I fear that every member of Congress will need to be affected closely and personally in the same way to get anything accomplished on a national scale. It feels like we’re going to have to wait two generations for the children that survive these shootings to get elected to make some change.
In the meantime, I’ll watch over my kids as best I can and hope that I never hear my child’s school on a breaking news alert nor have to wrestle with those personal consequences…on to Saturday….
We have made it past the standardized tests and are closing in on less than a month of school left. I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve got my times tables down cold, I know my open number line strategies and I can recite many interesting facts about Abigail Adams. I think it’s been a good year. I think Cecilia would agree. Of course, one wing of the school could burn down and she would get off the bus, shrug and say her day was fine.
I do admire the way she is rather unflappable in the big moments. That wasn’t me. I did not and do not like the spotlight. Let me ghost through the room and slip out the side door any day. Not Cecilia. She may be quiet, but don’t let that fool you. She is watching and listening.
Big things just don’t shake her. She loves being on stage, whether it’s for dance or as an altar girl at church or taking a big test. The small things, however, like a bee or her bangs growing uneven, or misplaying her scales will throw her off the rails and into a ditch.
Since she is so forthcoming about her day at school, we’ve been spending this week walking home from the bus stop talking about expectations and not letting the frustration and annoyance affect your experiences.
I realize it could take a lifetime to master that little life lesson, but you might as well start on it when you’re young. Could save you a lot of heartache later.
It revved from a mediocre spring straight into summer this past week and it confused everyone. The kids, the dog, the landscapers, the trees, the bushes and the animals. And did I mention the bugs? And my children’s almost pathological fear of contact with anything vaguely resembling an insect?
I’m hoping this is a phase because it is no way to live. Both of them will go outside only to come running back in two minutes later with tales of a bee as big as a bus with a personal grudge. Both have been stung by bees in the past, so I understand that one. It’s the shuddering fear of lady bugs, gnats and pill bugs where I have less patience.
Telling them to appreciate the little things is not helping in this case.
Michelle saved me Friday afternoon. Full disclosure, she saves me at least once day, but this one was special and saved me from shaky hands, flop sweat and tears of frustration.
I spend most of the year living in fear of that specific Friday in late April where I’m in charge of costume changes and headpiece placements. You’d think I’d be better at it by this point with two girls and four recitals under my belt, but bobby pins, mascara and tulle remain opaque cosmic mysteries to me.
There’s more hope for me making successful small talk with an auditorium full of strangers than for me to correctly do dance hair and makeup, so we all breathed a sigh of relief when Michelle was able to leave work early and make it home in time to take over for me. I was demoted back to dance driver and better for it.
So if Friday night was about rehearsals, our Saturday was consumed by the recital itself and the excitement, glitter, sparkles, highs, lows and more glitter that goes with what has become an annual Saturday event.
I remember the smells, of course. The popcorn, the sweet spun candy, the sour manure, the excitement.
I remember the motorcycles in the steel cage, the elephants and the roaring lion.
I remember the big red and yellow program, too. Although I might have that confused with something else. My Dad would buy a program for any event held in a civic center or auditorium.
Like many decisions in my life, this one was driven by musicals (and my wife). After they watched The Greatest Showman almost non-stop for the last week, we decided to surprise the girls with a trip to the Big Apple Circus. Because, like Disney on Ice or the Globetrotters, if you don’t take your children to the circus at least once, they revoke your parenting license.
I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant. Maybe ‘Water for Elephants’ ruined the circus for me. Maybe I read one too many sinister Ray Bradbury stories. Or maybe the circus just felt like talking on a rotary phone, a bit old-fashioned, a bit past its time.
Despite being assured (by the website) of a thrilling, death-defying, remarkable, astounding re-launched show (they went bankrupt a few years ago), I remained skeptical. Colored by those stories and too many fly-by-night carnie operations that strand kids on a Ferris Wheel, I was expecting something rag-tag, tarnished, down at the heels. Maybe there would be an occasional spark, but a show mostly on it’s last legs for a last generation.
I wonder how long people have been saying that? Didn’t I pay attention to the movie looping in my living room?
We are very lucky to have a lot of people in our lives that are very generous with the girls. We are also very lucky to be in a position where we can give the girls plenty of gifts ourselves. This does create one of those always enjoyable Chinese finger traps puzzles that seem to pop up in parenting every other hour. You love your kids and want to give them presents or the things you didn’t have, but you also don’t want to create raging, entitled brats.
If you’re a parent, you most likely encounter this yin-yang most in the form of the thank you note. If you want a threat with some teeth that will put the fear of God in your kids, just work thank you note into the consequence then watch them writhe in agony as they lose control of their limbs and slip from the chair.
Next week Cecilia turns nine. She’s getting very good at rolling her eyes. Allison has just a few months left of daycare. If you turn your back on her, she grows three inches. It feels like that moment when the plane is vibrating and hugging the runway, but about to lift off. We are headed somewhere new. Not the teenage wilderness everyone assures us is coming, but somewhere new beyond car seats and labeled food containers.
What challenges might this new place bring? How will the girls react? How can I help them?
I’m a worrier. My mind drifts out to the future and I convince myself of a story that isn’t actually true. When the kids get sick, I’m a basket case convincing myself that a mild cough might be TB and will soon spiral into a hospital stay in the isolation ward. It can be exhausting and with the Addison’s literally bad for my health.
One reason I take the time to do these Saturday posts is because it can act as an antidote. It forces me to stop, slow down and just be with the kids, with Michelle, with myself. At least for one day. I don’t always succeed but there is relief in trying.
Whatever this new place might be, I don’t want to miss out on what is happening now. Like making pancakes with the girls or dancing (poorly) to big Broadway show tunes…..