Singing my kids (and my neuroses) to sleep

IMG_0631.JPGAt bedtime a few nights ago, the girls were giggling and telling Joe, “Do it again, Daddy! Do it again!”

So Joe re-entered Neve’s room, stood at the foot of her bed, and starting crooning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” like a jazz singer wannabe.

My brows hunched in full-puzzlement mode. This was what led Lily and Neve into hysterics?

But then Joe arrived at the song’s bridge, at which point he started jumping up and down, and his face, though still smiling, became more intense. It was as if Black Flag’s Henry Rollins suddenly appeared, pounding out iconic lyrics as angry thrash metal: “Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far BEHIND MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!”

The girls both doubled over, laughing so hard their eyes watered.

And I thought, “Thank you, universe, for these crazy, crazy people.” Continue reading

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What parents learn from kids’ lessons

photo (1)When your kids are little, it’s so hard to know when to let them make a decision; when to nudge them push through challenges that they’re already resisting – because things are getting hard and they’re scared – and when to let them just walk away.

The conflict arises often when pre-paid extracurricular classes/lessons are involved.

Last fall, we signed Lily up for a gymnastics class – largely because her best friend was in it, and the girls wanted to take the class together.

Lily’s a few months older than her friend, though; so when spring rolled around, the girls’ teacher recommended Lily for the 6-9 year olds’ class, but Lily’s friend would probably not yet be moving forward.

I had a complicated, delicate little dilemma on my hands – which caused me to start questioning our own reasons for repeatedly signing Lily up for these classes. Continue reading

Food Fight, take two

I’ve previously written about our struggle with Lily’s spotty, picky eating habits at home (though, mysteriously, she eats like a horse, and eats a wide variety of foods, at daycare). But things really came to a head last Wednesday night.

Joe, who’s now dealing with the craziness of preparing to be lead attorney on a multi-million dollar trial, came home after a tough day and cooked dinner. He cut Lily’s dinner into small pieces for her, and also put some fruit she likes in a small bowl.

Just before coming to the table, Lily – motivated by the promise of a fruit snack (we’re following daycare’s lead on this) – wanted to use the bathroom. Nothing happened on the potty, but Lily still wanted her fruit snack. We said no, not wanting to get into the habit of giving her one just for trying – she’d be there all the time otherwise – and she started falling apart.

I was determined to stick to our plan of offering her dinner and nothing beyond that. So after trying to comfort her (she refused me) and talk to her (she couldn’t hear me for all her own ad nauseum, weepy screaming of, “I want a fruit snack”), I told her, “Lily, it’s dinnertime. I’d like for you to eat with us, but with you or without you, we’re going to eat.”

I left her crying in the living room and went to the kitchen, sat down at the table, and set to mechanically eating my dinner. Joe stood at his chair sighing, miserable, saying things like, “I used to love coming home and having dinner. After all the stress at work all day, it was really nice to come home and have dinner. And now, I hate it.”

I felt terrible. The two people I love most were profoundly unhappy, and I felt absolutely helpless in altering the situation in either case. So I listened to Joe vent (and to Lily’s screams) while continuing to fork food into my mouth. Continue reading