The kids had winter break this week. We stayed put and I hit a pandemic wall. Not the first in the past year. Turns out an introvert who doesn’t mind going days without speaking to other humans has limits. I tried to fight it. Being tired is easy. Being a cynic is easy. Caring is much harder. Hoping is harder.
Who knows how this past year will effect the kids long term? Maybe they shrug it off. Maybe it’s a weird touchstone moment they share at parties. I do know it’s not fair to let my experiences deprive them of any hope they need to be happy. So I put on my Dad pants, vacuumed up my pity, stayed off the internet, and tried to stay positive.
Parenting is not easy. It takes a certain courage. The courage to wake up in the morning and keep up the good cheer even if you’re not feeling it. The courage to believe that making a better world is possible and worth it.
Parenting is hard. But it’s worth it.
I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat. We are an Anna’s Taqueria Family and have been for more than 20 years. But we also really like Mexican food in just about all forms. Put it in a tortilla and I’ll likely eat it. As I’ve said before, lack of really good pizza and burritos in the suburbs where we live is the biggest food fail. I can make a very good pizza but haven’t really conquered recreating great Mexican street food at home. We are always on the lookout for a new burrito or taco place that is closer to home. Jamaica Plain isn’t all that much closer than some of the Anna’s locations but Chilacates was worth a try.
Cecilia lost her last baby tooth this week. One more childhood ritual done. One step closer to manic teenager. Maybe because it’s rather innocuous, not scheduled, and not typically celebrated with a Hallmark card, it caught us all a little off-guard. Or maybe it was just the end of a long Tuesday and the wine wasn’t open yet. Either way, it was a bit emotional.
Cecilia wrote a long and sweet good-bye letter. Fidget Windwand (the nom de plume of our tooth fairy) wrote a poetic response. We’re at the awkward stage where we are not totally sure is she is playing us, hanging on (for the cash), or genuinely believes.
I’m sure we’ll have plenty of years in the near future where nothing will be cool and astonishing and being a child is for babies. I’m happy to wait on that. For this last night, we were all believers.
Ally came home one day this week a little under the weather and proceeded to swing back and forth between sweet, sick angel and raving psychopath. The mood swings whipped by so fast they hurt my neck.
One thing you get really good at as a parent is seeing past that type of behavior. You know your kid is not a mean person, they’re just tired because they slept on your floor again last night because they are scared of Voldemort. You know that they’re having a tantrum because they’re hungry after only eating plain white starches all day. You sense that the impudent tone in their voice is because something happened at school or with their friends. You get that they love you, that their family does matter to them even if they said their three favorite things in the world are dancing, putty and their dog.
You see past all this because you are giving them the benefit of the doubt. You’re not jumping to the worst conclusion, you’re not attributing a permanent character defect from some single event. It dawned on me (only took 40 years and two kids!) we cut our kids the kind of slack we rarely give everyone else we meet in this life.
What if I assumed the best instead of the worst? Or if I tried to help instead snapping back? I think I’d feel better. Maybe they would feel better. Certainly my kids would see a better example.
[Note: I reserve the right to disavow any of this during Sunday return drives from the Cape or anytime I have to take Route 93.]
I think writing and writers can come in all shapes, sizes, genres, and varieties. I don’t think there is any one book or workshop or group that is going to magically help you become a better writer. I do believe two things about writing. First, it is a craft and needs to be practiced. Second, to be a writer, you need to have a love of reading.
I sometimes worry that I’m becoming a cranky old man. First, let me say the kids had a good time at the aquarium. Second, my biggest takeaway was still the sticker shock at the ticket window. This is not uncommon recently. That entree costs what? Gas costs how much? You spent what on groceries?
We visited the New England Aquarium on a cold day over the February school break. I think if we visited when it was warmer and were able to go to the outside exhibits or exit and walk around the harbor area and return, it might have helped feel like we were able to get more value out of the trip. It’s centrally located, just a short walk from the Freedom Trail, Quincy Market and Boston Italian North End.
Boston’s Chinatown may not get the publicity or attention of its bigger city siblings like New York or San Francisco and, while it’s not that big, it can more than hold its own, I think, especially for food.
If you have adventurous eaters, it can also be a great place to take the kids for some cheap eats and some exposure to other cultures (sometimes a little difficult. Even if they don’t like it, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. And it might expand their pallets beyond chicken nuggets and mac ’n cheese.
Here are three places to eat in Boston’s Chinatown that we’ve recently taken the kids to that they’ve enjoyed.