Hurricane Irene: I believed the hype. And that’s okay.

I’m looking out the window this morning at sideways rain and wind as bad as I’ve ever seen. I’m safe inside- but just barely. I’m awesome! I’m braving it! I’m surviving Irene!

Kind of. A confession: I am writing this a hundred miles west of New York City. I loaded up the minivan a few days ago and drove my kids quite far from the center of the excitement. But make no mistake: there’s a distinct possibility of some flash flooding! And one downed tree! So, pretty thrilling, right?… Never mind.

All the thrills around here are me watching CNN and refreshing Twitter every five minutes for news of New York City and eastern Long Island, where I could have been instead. But even there, my sister (in NYC) and friends (on Long Island) are shrugging at the whole thing and playing cards by candlelight. Nothing much else to report. “Overrated,” one friend has already tweeted unequivocally (I guess she had the foresight to fully charge her cell phone pre-storm).

And so, stupidly I realize, I am feeling a little sorry for myself. I wish I was with the cool kids, making memories my kids could share with their grandchildren. I will get no “I survived Hurricane Irene” props here in Pennsylvania– I’m sitting here in a quiet house blogging while my husband has the kids out bowling, for Pete’s sake.

But at the same time, I know that’s ridiculous. People HAVE died. People HAVE lost their homes. This may not have been the storm of all time, but that’s nothing but wonderful news. All the snark and eye rolls at the overhype seem to me like the snark and eye rolls of a million teenagers at a mother’s overprotectiveness: she thinks, like, you can’t even drive ONE BEER and then get behind the wheel of a car, and we did, and it was totally fine.

I guess what I’m saying is: I’m thrilled my home and my friends’ homes were spared. (So far; some people aren’t out of the woods yet). But I’m not so sure the worriers among us were so wrong to worry. If we were, let’s be thrilled about that, instead of annoyed.

my 7 links

My friend Shari, whose beautiful blog  My Judy the Foodie  chronicles a novice cook’s journey through her mother’s recipe box after losing her to breast cancer,  has just given me the honor of “tagging” this blog for My 7 Links. In Shari’s own words,

My 7 Links’ goal is to unite bloggers from all sectors in an endeavor to create a bank of posts that deserve to be re-read.  The simple rule of the challenge is to choose one’s seven best posts according to seven different categories. 

It seems a little weird to nominate one’s own best posts. But hey, actors have to nominate themselves for Emmys, too. As I start my 5th (!) year blogging, and as I continue to clean up the minor fallout of moving this blog and changing its name, this was a productive  assignment.

Here’s my 7 Links:

my most controversial post: I wrote an essay for babytalk magazine called “A Daughter At Last,” about my apprehension at having a daughter after two sons. CNN reran it on their home page, after retitling it “Why I Didn’t Want a Girl.”  Half of its readers really identified with the anxiety of a mother-to-be; half thought I should have my children taken away from me. Seriously, direct quote. I stopped reading the comments very quickly, but I never deleted any, either. It was a Tiger Mom in a teapot, and it led to great things for me, but if you’re interested in what the trolls had to say, check out the hundred-plus comments for this post.

my most popular post: going by the keyword searches over the last 5 years, the most landed-on page for my blog has been mocking stuff is bad karma, which touts the lice-picking magic of the Hair Fairies and derides the baby-terrifying powers of the Nosefrida. I think most of this post’s readers come looking for how-tos on the Nosefrida, but honestly I hate the thing and think it doesn’t work.  (Again, you will find I have some commenters who disagree.)

my most helpful post: this exploration of the traps you can lay out for your children, before they get home from school, in order to ensure calm and happy play. You gotta think like a preschool teacher, rotate the toys, set up vignettes. It’s well worth the couple of minutes you put in. “Traps” have saved my sanity on many a winter afternoon in our apartment. Try it.

my post with surprising success: Do you eat dinner with your kids every night? How about ever?  I wrote this post about how we never eat dinner with a family, expecting to hear “exactly” and “us too” back. Instead, my commenters explained why family dinner was so important to them, and how I could make it happen for us. They completely surprised me, and changed my mind, and I was so grateful for what I learned.

my post that didn’t get enough attention: I thought this post on the 1960s Eloise Wilkin book “We Help Mommy”  was one of the funnier ones I’ve ever done. Still do.

my most beautiful post:This was the hardest one to answer for me, but after randomly checking some of my archives, I enjoyed rediscovering this one, a classic Seamus moment:  what was it like before we were here? 

my post of which I’m proudest:  was really a hat-tip to Katy of Bird on the Street, talking about her post on what the parents of disabled children wish the rest of us knew. Katy’s post is called “All I Ask” and you should read it there in its entirety. I’m proud of how I admitted my shortcomings in what I’d taught my children, how I thought I was doing right but wasn’t doing enough. And I’m proud that I was able to use this blog to spread Katy’s message.

Now it’s time for me to pay it forward to five bloggers I admire. These women are all real-life friends of mine that I met through blogging. Both in real life and online, they are hilarious, they are smart, they make you think. If you enjoy this blog you’ll love theirs.

Margaret of Short Fat Dictator

Wendi of wendiaarons.com

Missy of Wonder, Friend

Erin of I’m Gonna Kill Him

Kelcey of The Mama Bird Diaries

 

I look forward to reading their seven links!

class lists: watching the mailbox

It’s back to school week for some of us. Some of us still have almost a month of summer left. Not to rub it in.

Of course, maybe you think YOU’RE the lucky one if the school bus fairy came to your corner bright and early yesterday morning. Me, I’m not ready yet, so I guess it’s good that New York City kids have what is (in my personal empirical experience) the longest summer vacations of anyone ever.

Still, thoughts at our home are turning to the coming school year, and each day, my boys are watching the mailbox for two very important missives: the lists of who will be in their respective classes at school this year. This is huge news, and way too huge to be posted on some listserv. We have to wait for the old-school tell-tale hawk-crested envelopes to find out, and according to my calculations they should be here any day (where the hell are they, in other words).

I must say I am at least as anxious as they are about these lists’ arrival. I have it on good authority from a teacher friend of mine that class assignments are always done way back in June, as soon as school ends, before all the teachers forget who should be with whom, and who should not under any circumstances. This means that our kids’ school is holding out on us until the last possible minute, presumably to stave off parents saying oh-can’t-you-just-this-once-make-an-exception-and-move-my-child. Of course I would NEVER do such a thing. (**biting lip and avoiding eye contact**)

I wish I could say that the assignments don’t matter. But of course they totally do. The truth is there is one child I would very much like one of my children NOT to be with, and my child shares that fervent hope. If they’re in separate classes, my child figures, there’s only the after-school playground socializing to worry about. If they’re in the same group, they’re together all day, every day.  To my child, this classroom assignment matters a great deal, and what’s interesting is that who his teacher might or might not be is not even entering his mind.

My brother was telling me his kids are upon similar pins and needles awaiting their own school lists. He asked me how it was we found out which class we were in, way back at St. Paul’s. Neither one of us can remember. I think we kind of showed up the first day and it was Sister Angelique or Sister Mary Thomas, and that was that. I also think it was a different time, when children and parents both did as they were told, and never thought to second-guess –particularly where it was nuns making the decisions.

How do your kids’ schools reveal what their class assignments will be? Are your kids anxious to find out each summer? Have you ever fought to have an assignment changed?

 

so, what are your superpowers?

Overheard from the next room this morning, between Seamus and Maggie:

SEAMUS: We’re superheroes.

MAGGIE: We’re both two superheroes.

SEAMUS: What are your superpowers?

MAGGIE: Well, I–

SEAMUS: You can have four.

Maggie considers these parameters before responding. 

MAGGIE: I have… kicking… and… fighting

SEAMUS: Those aren’t superpowers.

MAGGIE: Yes them are.

SEAMUS: Those are superhero things to DO, but they’re not superpowers.

Pause while Maggie takes this in.

SEAMUS: Superpowers are, like, shooting lasers.

MAGGIE: Mm-hmm! I shoot lasers.

SEAMUS: From where?

MAGGIE: From me!

SEAMUS: But where from you? Like, your fingers, or your eyes…

MAGGIE: My eyes! I shoot lasers from my eyes.

SEAMUS: But no you can’t, because I shoot lasers from my eyes.

MAGGIE: Oh.

Another pause.

SEAMUS: You can shoot lasers from somewhere else… like your ears?

MAGGIE: I shoot lasers from my ears!

It took everything I had to not enter the conversation right there and point out that shooting lasers out of your ears, at right angles to your line of vision, would be a moderately useful superpower at best, and King-Midas-like in its danger to all you hold dear at worst.

But I held my tongue, since after all that, Maggie still had three superpowers to go.

My four superpowers are:

  • talking really fast
  • remembering every lyric to every top 40 song from 1989
  • the potential ability to drink all the iced coffee in the whole world at a single sitting
  • misplacing my wallet
What are yours?

Tooth Fairy, you’ve got some explaining to do

We’ve had a lot of Tooth Fairy action in our house lately– three teeth lost in the last two weeks (two for Connor, one for Seamus). This led to a frantic scramble last Tuesday after the kids went to bed. You see, the “Tooth Fairy” had only twenties in her wallet (she has the same ATM issues as the rest of us), and the “Tooth Fairy” was home alone with the kids and couldn’t go get change, and despite a long search, the “Tooth Fairy” could find smaller bills in neither laundry-basket jeans nor abandoned purses. No, all the “Tooth Fairy” came up with was a lone five-Euro bill in Mr. “Tooth Fairy”‘s underwear drawer, left over from some business trip.

And so “Mrs. Tooth Fairy” left the five Euros under the lucky boy’s pillow, with a note explaining that she had just flown over the Atlantic and didn’t have time to hit the currency exchange. Since my children are blissfully ignorant of the falling dollar, I gave Connor five bucks for five Euros, and he seemed very happy indeed.

Still, I know, I KNOW. “Five DOLLARS? Boy, the Tooth Fairy is pretty fancy at your house!” I can hear you and my grandmother clucking your tongues right now, and according to this CNN story, the average going rate for a US incisor these days is about $2.60. But it was what I had on hand, and honestly, if I got a dollar per tooth back when we were celebrating our nation’s Bicentennial, I think we should all face facts that inflation has touched most things in these many intervening years.

Even after I pulled out this massive Tooth-Fairy save, however, I was not off the hook, since the kids all of a sudden wanted to know ALL ABOUT the Tooth Fairy. “Mommy, why does her want our teeth?” Maggie asked, and hell if I know. Maggie was also very concerned about just how the Tooth Fairy had gotten in to our house, and that stumped me too, until she decided that it was probably through the holes in our kitchen window’s screen. (Sure, screens can catch mosquitoes, but the Tooth Fairy is apparently really small.)

Still,  I feel like we have to get our act together on this, as a people: what is the Tooth Fairy’s deal? I have previously complained about what a lousy backstory the Easter Bunny has. How are we supposed to keep our kids believing in a giant bunny who brings candy if we have no explanation for

  • where he lives
  • why he’s giant
  • how he gets into our houses
  • how he carries enough candy for every kid in the whole world in one basket. I mean, Santa can fit a hemisphere’s worth of bikes and sleds in a single sleigh, but he’s got eight reindeer pulling it. We’re supposed to tell our kids that a rabbit is CARRYING all this loot himself, and like, HOPPING while he does it, and I just don’t see how that works.
  • why eggs? Rabbits don’t lay eggs. Where’s he getting them all? Are the chickens on board with this?
  • oh, and this last one: why a bunny? Why candy? Why does he CARE?  

There aren’t enough Rankin/Bass stop-motion animators in the WORLD to make a lick of sense out of all that.

And now there’s a fairy that wants to take all our children’s jawbone enamel detritus, and do who knows what with it. It’s creepy at best. Besides, if Maggie’s right, and the Tooth Fairy is smaller than a mosquito, that means she’s flying around with teeth that are like 25 times her size. HUNDREDS of them. Can she fly with her hands full? Does she carry a tote bag? Hell, is she a she?
Have your kids asked you any very-good-questions like these? Did you have any very-good answers?