Kyle’s Underpants

Now that my kids are grown, with their beliefs and choices so clearly out of my control, I begin to acknowledge how big an illusion that was – my sense that I could control who my kids became. Oh, sure, of course I shaped and influenced and taught and trained. Through the things I did, the things I didn’t do, and the things I wish I could do over.

I still catch myself trying to influence. Here in my 60s, for the first time I’m discovering how to be peaceful and open – and I catch myself hoping that this will inspire my kids to try to get to this point earlier.

I’m discovering how to be grateful, and how to cut people a break. People including myself. I catch myself scheming about life lessons, how best to share these perspectives with my toddler granddaughter.

After I catch myself, I fill with peaceful futility. I can’t. They won’t. Not through me, anyway. They will live their own lives and come to their own realizations and it is through living step by step that they will get to wherever it is they are going.

The other day, writing at my favorite coffee joint, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a young family and got reminded how stressful I found it, being the parent of small children. The struggle to say no and don’t constructively. We don’t hit, sweetie… Let’s give that back, it belongs to him and he wants it back …

Which sent me on a stroll down an overgrown memory lane.

My ex-husband and I agreed that we didn’t want our twin toddlers to play with toy weapons or watch violent cartoons. But it turns out that anything could be turned into a gun or sword if you held it right. One day our son brandished some innocent construction toy, yelling, “I got you. I killed you. I’m Batman. I’m a Power Ranger.”

Baffled and frustrated, his dad demanded, “How do you even know about these things?”

Our son replied, “Kyle’s underpants.”

Kyle was another kid at the pre-school, which had a communal diaper-changing area.

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Guaranteed Me Time

Parents and other grown-ups know that as life’s demands escalate, it gets harder to take care of our own needs. I attend an exercise class that starts at 530 am because that seems to be the only way that I can guarantee fitting exercise into my daily routine. Lately I’ve been getting up even earlier, to crowbar some writing into my day. Four am is so early that even the dog is still asleep. (By 5 am, her optimism kicks in and she follows me around, hoping for a very early breakfast.)

My exercise class is outside. I love that. I love seeing sunrises like this,  instead of the walls of a gym:

The view shortly after class began this morning.

The view shortly after class began this morning.

Admittedly this was one of the nicest sunrises ever. But you get the idea.

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The view as class concluded.

Outside, you cry? Are you nuts!? Maybe, but I’m not a masochist, I’m a southern Californian. There are scant few days each year when it is unpleasant to be outside.

(This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge wants to see habits.)

Creepy-Sweet

A few millennia ago, by internet time – that is, earlier this year – there was social media hoopla about a great Reddit poll which collected the creepiest sayings of kids. I suppose every parent has contributions to that list. I know I do!

When my son was oh, I dunno, maybe 4, he went through a phase of making ridiculous demands early Saturday morning.  Sure enough, early one weekend morning as I tried to catch up on maybe 4 years of sleep, he wanted something. I don’t remember what, exactly. Perhaps that was the week he wanted to climb out his window and sit on the second story roof. Anyway, I said no, as I did each time, and he threw a tantrum, as he did each time. He went back to his room to fuss.

Laying there, pretending I would fall asleep again, I realized the house had grown quiet. This was so unusual I had to worry. I called softly to my son. Maybe he had fallen asleep?!? Nope.

“What, Mom?” he replied. The mystery deepened. He sounded downright cheerful.

“Everything okay in there?”

“Yeah.”

“Huh. Good. Whatcha’ doin’?”

“Oh, I was just thinking about a bear eating you.”

Discipline is always more difficult when they make you laugh.

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When my twins were young, I would occasionally suggest that when they went off to college I would come with them so we could stay together. They thought this was a great idea until they hit about 10. After that, there were a couple years when they reacted guardedly, unsure whether I was kidding. After that, they reacted like teenagers.

Back when they wanted us to stay together, my son developed a long-term plan that he shared with gusto. When he was grown, he would build a house behind his own house, and that would be the house where I lived. Then, after I died, he would bury me in the walls so that I could stay there forever.

He has always been a thoughtful person.

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Surprised to say, I can’t recall any creepy sayings from my daughter.  However, I will never forget – and am eternally uplifted – by one thing she said to me. She was 3 or 4 at the time: “If ever you fall low I will raise you up.”

And that has proved true ever since.

Most Tactful 4-Year-Old. In the World.

On my evening walk, I passed a mom and her young daughter headed the opposite way.

“Mom, it’s oKAY!” The girl waves her arms and bounces as they walk.

“No, it was not okay that you did that.” The mom hunches forward, pushing an infant in a stroller.

“It was okay.” With no uncertainty.

“No, I really didn’t like it when you – did that.” Mom edits for my benefit. Her lips press together. She is not pleased.

“I wish,” the girl begins. By now they are past me and her voice carries back to where I have stopped walking, the better to eavesdrop.  She continues slowly, as though choosing her words, “that I had a mom like you except somebody who didn’t care that I did that.”

I decided against openly stalking them, so missed the mom’s reply.

Why Go To College?

I’ve always loved school, as I recently posted. My college days were a fantastic, ne’er-dupulicated experience: I got exposed to new ideas, unimagined worlds; I had tons of fun and many of my college friendships have persisted for decades. I ended up with a double major and two minors but I remember so few of my classes.  What mattered was Everything Else.

I wanted my kids to have a similar experience. But their generation has a different mindset. To them, college is an early bullet point in your career plan. You narrow your career choices and then choose a major accordingly. You get in, you get out, you move on.

Gak.

Ironic, isn’t it. They’ve got a parent who wouldn’t freak if they kept switching majors, waffling and wandering their way through college. (Might have to pull the plug financially, but that’s a separate issue.)  They’ll apparently never enjoy that asset.

This post responds to today’s Daily Prompt.

Mom. Seriously. Are You *Crying*?

This week my twins turned 20! Here they are in the last few hours of their teen years. They actually let me take a picture. Best 20 years of my life, even during the worst moments of my life, because these two have been in them!

Last known photo as teenagers.

Last known photo as teenagers.

Here they are on their first birthday. The chicken wing thing was common when they first learned to walk.

Age 1 year. It was 100 degrees that day.

Age 1 year. It was 100 degrees that day.

Age 1 year.

Age 1 year.

(This Daily Prompt wanted to hear about the last time that beauty brought me to tears…)

Screenprint Art

When screenprinting, my son often starts with a photo and then Does Stuff to it in Photoshop and Illustrator before he prints the result, giving the image a new and remarkable story to tell.

pinkstorm

With the right software you can make a guy pink.

Here, he added tattoos.

Or you can add a lot of tattoos.

Or you can throw in some UFOs.

Or you can throw in some UFOs.

These were all done as class projects. Now he is talking about scrapping art as a major. Sigh. His choice. His life. His choice. His life. His…