If you live up here long enough you end up with a story or a connection to the marathon. A little over ten years ago, we were nearing Michelle’s due date and had one last wellness appointment with the doctor. As we were checking out, a nurse handed me a photocopied sheet of paper with hieroglyphics on it. It might have generously been called a map. It was mostly boxes, arrows and a few squiggles.
“They close the roads.”
“If you need to get to hospital during the marathon you’ll have to use the fire road.”
Thankfully, Cecilia missed the marathon by a couple days. Her birth was stressful enough without adding an off-road adventure. The map wasn’t needed but every time marathon monday approaches I think of all the parents nervously sweating out the start time for reasons that have nothing to do with running.
So Chelle-bration week has wrapped up. Cake has been eaten. Presents opened. Friends have stopped by. It wasn’t the original planned karaoke blowout, and while I did re-learn all the lyrics to ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire,’ I’m not complaining! Food, friends, and dominoes worked out just fine.
It might be all the champagne this week but we’ve both turned a bit reflective now that we are in the 40 club.
What exactly have we learned? A couple things, I hope. This is for the girls. Maybe they’ll read it one day. Or maybe Alexa will project it directly onto their brain. Too bad flash cards don’t work like that, huh, Ce!
The big fourth grade project is a report on Canada. This includes research, a typed presentation, and an artifact. One of the things I like most about Cecilia’s teacher is how she gives the kids the time and space to do things on their own. For better and for worse. Sorry, for better and for learning opportunities.
Watching Cecilia ‘type’ her slides was almost viscerally painful. Until she discovered dictation! We thought about stepping in but if we are going to let them figure things out why can’t she use all the tools on her Chromebook.
The toughest part for me to witness has been the design of the slides. I worked for almost 8 year as a consultant. I spent a lot time using PowerPoint. A lot. I would sometimes dream in PowerPoint. People would open their mouths and a perfectly formatted slide would pop out with their dialogue.
Cecilia’s slide dialogue would have been…difficult to read. She enjoyed different fonts. Explored different font sizes. Discovered rainbow fonts. She discovered Comic Sans. We had to have a chat.
As a designer, I will not let my child submit a report using Comic Sans. Time and space has its limits.
Mid-March in New England means a couple things to me. First, I start arguing with the kids that temperatures in the mid-40’s still means you need to wear something with long sleeves. Second, I need to consider chiseling out some furrows for planting the first peas. Finally, it marks the unofficial start of the spring road racing season. I’ve never met a competition I didn’t like!
5 reasons I still like running 5k’s:
Budget They’re not cheap, but they are cheaper than most other races and you typically get the same snacks for running a lot less.
Competing Many longer events are about enduring your way to the finish. 5k’s are about racing.
Fitness The 5k requires strength, speed, power, and endurance. You can effectively train for a 5k with a variety of workouts not just long runs. It will not only help you run better but also improve your overall health.
No Chafing The risk of nipple bleeding is very low.
Beer & Naps It’s just long enough and takes just enough effort that it totally justifies at least one beer and one short nap when you are done.
We totally took advantage of the beer and nap clause yesterday.
I get my 10 year parenting chip next month. Being a parent is not simple. Ok, the core of it might be. Show up. Love your kid no matter what. It’s in the margins where things can often go sideways.
I think the biggest thing that has changed since Ce was a baby is that I can’t plan it all anymore. And I love to plan. I think about what to make for dinner while drinking my morning coffee. I love making to-do lists. I never met a calendar app I didn’t like. I also tend to invest a lot of energy in hoping all those plans go smoothly. If they don’t, I tend to get a little cranky and stressed out. Stressed out parents make terrible decisions. It’s a vicious circle.
Ten years in and I’m now trying to learn from my kids and be better at reacting to life as it happens. Sound too simple? Maybe it is. But it does works. With a little practice.
When the kids are babies you play the game with their features: Whose nose is that? That is definitely your elbow.
When they get a little older, you start to do it more with personality. Her piano tantrums must come from your side of the gene pool! Her dance moves definitely favor the Donohues.
One trait we have little doubt over is Cecilia’s ability to be alone. That definitely comes from me and is something that often confounds my more socially-adept wife. She sometimes worries about it. I just remember many happy hours playing computer games or reading alone in the basement.
I don’t think Cecilia’s lonely. Being alone and lonely are not the same. She is quite happy to play with other kids. She has friends. She just doesn’t mind being alone. I can relate. Society can often make the act of being alone feel like a stigma or a negative. As if it’s imposed rather than a choice.
So much of parenting today revolves around being involved all the time that kids are rarely left without an organized activity, never mind actually being left by themselves. I think learning to be alone was a critical skill for me to acquire as a kid. It allowed me to listen to and trust my own instincts without outside influence.
She may still be working on her math facts and trombone scales, but I think Cecilia is well on her way to confidently knowing herself.
Once a year, when I was a boy, a small, traveling carnival would appear in town and setup at the abandoned naval base in the middle of town. From afar, especially at night, the lights of the rides, the smell of popcorn and sugar and the peripatetic palaver of the barkers was an irresistible allure to us kids.
Of course, as I wrote that first sentence it occurred to me it also sounds like the synopsis of a Stephen King novel.