Drawing the line – where?

Hell’s parking lot (a representation)

After getting away on my own for a fantabulous gal pal weekend, I had a lovely night with Lily (and Joe) at a winter-themed library storytime on a recent Monday night. We all danced to songs, made marshmallow/pretzel/chocolate chip snowmen, cut out paper snowflakes, and made snowy pictures with glue and instant potato flakes. We all enjoyed ourselves, and Lily couldn’t have been happier as we headed back down the block, through the snow, to our house.

So here I was, thinking, “Wow, things are really going great.” And when Joe reminded me that I’d be flying solo with Lily the following night, because he needed to go to an evening board meeting for the brass band he used to play for. No problem, right? He’d just been on his own with Lily all weekend, and she’d been an angel throughout. This should be a cake walk.

By now, when I think such things, I should automatically assume the worst. Yet I never do. Despite my generally cynical persona, I have an irrepressible optimistic streak when it comes to my own life. So I couldn’t possibly see the dark night of the parenting soul that lay before me. Continue reading

Advertisements

Field notes and follow-ups

* Joe and I took Lily to see “Tangled” this past weekend at the nearby, second-run theater, and the basic premise, of course, involves a witch stealing Rapunzel as a baby from her parents (who are the land’s king and queen). In the movie version, the beloved king and queen, as well as their subjects, release glowing lanterns that float up into the sky each year on the girl’s birthday, in hopes that she will return. By Rapunzel’s 18th birthday, after being shut up in a high tower her whole life, she ventures out to see this ceremony in person; and simultaneously, we see the king and queen briefly behind-the-scenes, just before they step outside to release a lantern once again.

It’s probably about 30 seconds of film, and involves the father looking inconsolably sad, while the mother touches his cheek in comfort. And at this point, I completely fell apart, quietly crying while Lily sat attentively on my lap.

This throwaway little scene that would have passed me right by a few years ago. But the difference, I’m sure, is that while I would have empathy for these characters before, and would have vaguely imagined what the loss of a child might feel like, Lily makes these kind of scenes powerfully concrete rather than merely abstract. There’s not a blank, faceless child in my mind; it’s Lily’s face, and cry, and laugh, and smile, and voice. The thought of her, and the very specifics that make her who she is, being suddenly taken away is too devastating to even imagine. 

Hence my turning into a weepy mom during a Disney movie – despite the fact that in the past, I established a reputation for being pretty stony while watching movies and plays. (The phrase “dead inside” has surfaced more than once.) But apparently, my falling head over heels in love with this little girl has endowed me with a new Achille’s heel. Continue reading

E-reading to your kids? I’ll just read, thanks.

Check out this stock images mom, kickin' it old school!

I heard this story on NPR the other day, about a tech reporter who’s been trying out different children’s book apps with his three year old daughter (also named Lily, coincidentally).

Each night, the reporter cuddles up with his little girl just before she goes to bed, and he asks her whether she’d like a real book or one on the iPad (she usually chooses the latter).

As you might guess, there are all sorts of bells and whistles that come along with iPad children’s books, such as animation, songs, games, etc. And the reporter notes that although his daughter is very passive while reading “regular” books, she’s much more actively engaged with the iPad stories, by virtue of the opportunities they provide to interact with them.

That makes sense to me. And because the act of reading has already changed drastically during the course of my lifetime – and presumably will continue to do so, at a rapid pace – maybe this is the way to best prepare kids for a life of reading, and get them excited about it from an early age.

And yet. Continue reading