Monthly Archives: May 2014

Eavesdropping At The Park

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Eavesdropping At The Park

In case you were wondering, being a teenager still sucks. I know because I eavesdrop on them like crazy at the park. I can do this because teenagers do not care AT ALL what I am doing. My life seems both boring and full of responsibility, which is pretty much the most unattractive combo ever invented. Sometimes I feel sad that they don’t know how truly awesome and exciting my life actually is, but mostly I am really glad that I can stare at them so blatantly that I forget I am pushing my daughter on the swing, until she yells, “Stop pushing my face, Mommy!” It didn’t take long for my kids to get in on the fun though. Now all three of us stare at them unabashedly on the swing set, and both my son and daughter fake laugh in their sad little-kid way at their stories, as if they meant to include us.

According to my research, teenagers still like to sing badly in harmony, they are really good at telling not funny, underdeveloped stories, they talk about “hot boys” and risky things that they never did, and their drugs of choice are primarily soda and “like two pounds of candy.”  And they LOVE to do all of these things on the swing set.

The other day there was a boy and a girl who clearly came to the park to party. They each had a 2-liter bottle of soda and a pound of candy they had already done some serious damage to. Maybe you have never experienced this inebriating combo. It is basically the adult equivalent of drinking a fifth by yourself. My girls and me used to hit a pound of licorice at a sleepover just to get a little C-R-A-Z-Y and we would spend upwards of 6 hours giggling maniacally.  Let’s just say our parents deeply regretted giving us that. These kids were in pretty deep. When we started our swing time, the girl was telling the boy about how her friend swung all the way around the swing set and came down on the other side. Though he was pretty lit, the boy had the sense to ask if her friend was hurt. “No,” said the girl, ”she just laughed the WHOLE time.” He was totally satisfied with this answer. Because he was sitting next to a girl on a swing. I asked my husband what sucks the most about being a teenage boy. He said, “All you want is to be THE MAN, and you are so not the man. And you think you are the only one who knows this, which is sad on like three different levels.”

They spent the rest of the time talking about how much soda they should drink before they went home and giggle-falling off the swing. My daughter was totally entranced. I could already see her formulating a bazillion repeated questions in her mind that she would ask later. And she did. “Why did that boy have a bottle?” “Why do they drink soda?” “Why is soda just sugar?”“Why did she swing on the big girl swing?” “Is she a big girl?” “Am I a big girl?” “Is my baby brother a baby?”

My favorite part is their worst stories ever. They are the best at not giving enough information to ever satisfy the listener. They always start out promising: “Dude, have you ever seen that video of the hamster?” or “I was at the library the other day and I saw this weird guy.” But then they tank almost immediately. “The hamster was doing all these stupid things.” “Like what?” “Just things that were so stupid. It was hilarious.”  And “The guy was so weird” is actually the end of the story. My heart goes out to them. I recently re-read my junior high journal and it was really boring. It was primarily undetailed accounts of which girlfriend I was fighting with and lists of “who was there” with hearts and smiley faces around certain boys’ names. So, eventually we come out of it. But… my husband’s name does look a lot better with a tiny heart rainbow above it.

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How To Eat Crow and Like It

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Frankly, I miss being smart. I miss knowing the best solutions, the right way to discipline a child, the best way to get your baby to sleep through the night. I felt good. I felt competent, sure of myself.  I knew I was going to be a good parent. Finally do it right. But the day came when I actually had a child, and it turns out eating crow doesn’t taste so good. I’ve done the never-wouldas and the bargains and the bribes and the look-the-other-ways. I’ve seen myself outside myself and honestly been pretty disappointed. My friend likes to say that parents eat crow and humble pie from the moment they meet their babies and this is true, but it really does start to taste a little better.

Here’s why:

  1. Being a parent connects you with the world. The last time I cried I was looking at a picture of some random baby touching her daddy’s face (who was in the military) on the computer as he talked to her. No, I didn’t cry, I bawled. My heart gets broken like this on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, just thinking about this or that happening to my kids, and the horrible things that parents all over the world have to deal with or learn to live with, that are completely outside of their control. I am way more vulnerable than I’ve ever been, but this is good.
  2. Empathy is a beautiful thing. I saw a mom in the store last week actually executing the leave-your-cart-with-everything-in-it-and-exit-the-store-with-a-screaming-toddler-and-baby maneuver, and my first impulse was to cheer her on as she walked by me. There have been plenty of times when I should have done this and I didn’t. To do it in real life is heroic. But what does this look like to a non-parent? Just some annoying fit.
  3. There are plenty of parents-to-be that haven’t tasted crow yet. My mom friend and I were talking about our smart-for-now pregnant friend the other day. You know what she is going to do? Exercise through her whole pregnancy. Get her body back IMMEDIATELY. Be a strict parent. Put her baby to sleep THE RIGHT WAY. Not bring her children to restaurants or on airplanes. Take naps with her baby. Get her husband to put in his fair share of time and work. Feel FABULOUS. And what do we have to say to her? Not a damn thing. Support her completely. Nod at everything. Secretly high-five her baby-to-be. Show her what you got, buddy.  Babies are the best teachers.