Tag Archive | children

Locked out….again

The very first post I ever wrote was about me getting locked out of my house. It was a chilly but sunny spring day and due to a door malfunction, (yes it really WAS the door’s fault) I found myself locked out of my house with half of the groceries in the house on the kitchen floor. Over an hour and a soaked pair of pants later (car washing mishap) I was able to get back in the house thanks to a friend with a spare key. That was a good four years ago.

This time, it wasn’t the door’s fault, it was mine, and sort of my daughter’s. It was a simple case of talking to a friend as we left my house, and realizing after the door slammed that my keys were not in my purse. Never walk out distracted. Fortunately, I carry a spare to my car in a hidden place and have a garage door opener. So problem solved right? Wrong! My 6-year-old, always eager to be a help, in that 6-year-old rationale, raced ahead of me into the house. She wanted to be the hero of the hour and find the keys by herself. Thinking quickly, she slammed the door and locked me out so she could look for the keys herself. I pounded on the garage door while my friend pounded on the front door, both of us yelling and hollering to open up. Finally my threat of withholding a favorite cartoon hit home, she opened the door and we found the keys. While this was going on, my older daughter and her friend had wandered down the street, bent on raising money for one of their school clubs. Of course we were late for an appointment because these things don’t happen in the middle of a lazy afternoon. In a move which I thought was cooler than Tom Cruise’s in the MI movies, I grabbed my youngest, tossed her in the car while both of us moms each took a different route around the block to confront our eldest daughters. They simultaneously leaped into our respective cars and away we raced just in time for our appointment.

Frequently I have thought that parts of my life resemble a sitcom. But that day, I was pretty sure it was more like a cross between action and a Mr. Bean episode (without his yellow car).

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My mom

I am sure that there will be about a billion and two posts about moms and Mother’s Day this weekend, so I know I am not unique, but, being new to the blog scene, I think it’s a really great opportunity to share some of my best memories of my mom.  These are some of the things she has done to make her, well, herself.  Actually there are so many things Icould write about, but these are just a few that really kind of give me a warm glow, and make me realize how much she did for me, and never asked for anything in return. 

When I was a kid, I was in a pretty bad car accident and spent a lot of time in the hospital and then recuperating at home.  When I first came home, I guess I was around 5.  For a while I had trouble walking and used to stay on the living room couch.  I don’t really remember that much about the time.  It was a long time ago, after all.  However, I do remember with great fondness that she would make me sandwiches for lunch and always cut up some carrot sticks or pickles and lay them on top of the sandwich.  Sometimes she cut the sandwich into small squares or triangles to make it interesting.  It really showed how much she strove to make my day fun and happy, even though I am sure that she was stressed and worried about my health, and about her own personal life and that of my father.

Another memory I have which is really a good one, is that when I was in junior high school and high school, we would take a ‘mental health day’ as she called it.  Once a year, towards the end of course, she would call me out sick from school and take me to the beach, or exploring somewhere fun.  It would be just the two of us.  Since I had no siblings, this probably was not as hugely momentous as if I was in a family of five, but again it helped us to keep our bond, which has never broken, despite the inevitable teenage bickering and the hectic lives that we now lead.

The last one I am going to share is just a very simple one, but I think about it often, especially when sick.  I was in my twenties and I had the good fortune to be living fairly close to my parents, about 15 minutes.  In fact I have not lived that close since.  I had a cold, or maybe sinus infection, and was feeling pretty lousy.  My mom stopped at the local diner on her way home, which made incredible matzoh ball soup, and picked me up a container and brought it to my apartment, not far but not really on her way home.  I have always maintained that chicken broth makes me feel better, and its the one main thing I do for a cold.  I know that just the act of my mother bringing a carton of soup to me was what really made me recover.  She took care of me, and that was what really mattered. 

People always say that you really don’t begin to grasp what a mother does until you have children of your own.  I think in part it’s true.  But if you love someone so much that you’re willing to do almost anything to help them and protect them, than you get the idea, even if you have no children.   Now that I have two of my own, both of whom are always moving in opposite directions, I really appreciate how much my mother gave to me and helped prepare me to be an independent woman.   I only hope that when my daughters are my age they will be able to look back on their childhood with such fond memories.  No flowers, candy, or even  reciprocating saw (which my mom got one year) can ever say how much is in my heart when I think of my mom.  Happy Mother’s day to all of us moms.  Especially mine. I love you, mom.

Cats

I am undisputedly a cat person.  That’s not to say I don’t love a lot of other animals.  I just love my cat, and all my previous cats the most.  I grew up with a dog, many cats, a rabbit, and a mouse, not all at the same time though.  As an adult I adopted two cats who have sadly passed out of my life and a silly German Shepard for a few years.  Now our family of 3 is matched by two guinea pigs and a cat.  I would love a dog at some point when I don’t have small children, so maybe in 10 years.  Cats, though, make a lot of people uncomfortable because of their superior attitude and independence.  They generally don’t rush up to you at the door, follow you around or look at you with adoring eyes.  They come when they want to, rip your couch up and don’t need any help attending to their bathroom needs or bath, thank you very much.  In all of my years and at least 15 cats though, it has become clear how often this is a misconception.  Yes, there are definitely cats who are stereotypical and I respect them for that  in fact I love a cat’s sense of independence.  But the majority of my cats have been goofy, affectionate, and quite loud at times. 

The cat that now shares our living space is interestingly loveable.  We adopted her from the local shelter about 2 years ago as a kitten.  She’s a half Maine Coon, which is a large breed, sometimes reaching into the 20 plus pound size.  She is positively diminutive at 13 pounds.  I would have to say I have never had such a happy cat.  She purrs constantly, only while she purrs she likes to bite and play, very roughly.  She sleeps on my bed at night, and while not a lap cat, loves to be brushed and petted, until she starts acting like my hand is a rabbit.  She loves playing hide and seek and tag as well.  With two young children, she might be considered a risky pet to have, but she is incredibly patient with my little one,who has gone from being able to scoop up the tiny kitten that she first was to barely being able to stagger down the hall with poor Oreo the cat.   Needless to say my fears were unfounded . Oreo seems to know who to be gentle with and generally submits to adorations that would infuriate the mildest or personalities.   Cats always do seem to have a special sense for sickness as well.  I know that my daughters would be thrilled to have more cats, and so would I, if space were not at a premium.  Mostly I think our cat would not allow another one in the house.  I know we will have many more feline companions pass through our lives, but I hope to be a one cat family for a while.  No more guinea pigs either…..

I am my parents

When you are a kid, you try as hard as you can to push the boundaries and be your own little person.  When you become a teenager, you ignore your genetic make up, and insist you have been adopted.  You deny that you will ever be like your parents.  As you grow older and start actually behaving like an adult, you start to realize how very much like your parents, biological or otherwise, you are.  It some times amazes me how much I am like my parents.  Growing up, I was a lucky kid.  There is no doubt about that, and I have pretty much always known it.  My parents had their quirks and refused to give up their individualities to become mindless parents at my beck and call, not that I wouldn’t have minded that at some points.  I got to tag along on a lot of my mother’s craft shows since she was an artist, and also go into the ‘big city’ (aka New York) with my dad where he was an executive.  So I saw both ends of the spectrum on career day.  As I grew older, my mother went back to school, completely changing the feel of our family to one slightly more conventional.  My dad’s quiet yet deeply intellectual personality balanced my mother’s highly energetic fun yet sometimes maddening person.  My dad was always a writer.  He had been a journalist, and had a great flair for writing and story telling, which I now hear my own kids listening too eagerly.  As for myself, I also loved to write, just like my dad.  I had some of my mother’s incredible talent for art, but much, much less.   One thing I lacked was passion.  But you don’t really think about that where you are growing up.  Now I realize it was that passion that kept my mom working those long hard hours making and selling pottery and although my dad’s passion was more subdued, it was there.  You could hear it in his voice when he talked about various subjects and especially showed in his diverse knowledge and love of reading.  But as I said, I didn’t really have that.  I did the college thing, kind of liked history and literature and hence got a degree that, unless taken farther wouldn’t do me much good.  OK well I guess I could have joined a renaissance fair with a degree in medieval studies.  Now I realize I took that path to prevent me from having any real responsibilities.  From there I sort of wandered around the corporate world in low-ish level jobs.  I kept writing as a hobby, on the  back burner until the last few years.  Lately it has become kind of an obsession of mine.  I don’t have the best imagination, kind of a difficult thing if you are trying to write fiction, but I found my comfort zone.  In researching and writing, and also in the creation of this blog, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my motivations and how I came to be the person I am today.  I realize now how very much my parents actions, not words, shaped me as an adult.    I certainly don’t have my mothers boundless energy and wide areas of interest, nor do I have quite my father’s thirst for information and intense knowledge of the world, but I can see that it isn’t that I lack passion, it’s just that I never allowed it to flourish.  I see in me the same way my mother would throw herself into a project 150% and then move on when it was done, never staying still for very long.  I have that to a lesser degree, but the urge to keep moving is there.  I also see my fathers love of writing in me, and just recently found that we share many other views, even though we have never really spoken about them.  Now at the wise old age of 37,  (OK I really am not wise) I have started thinking more and more about my beginnings, and I think that’s in part from watching my children experience things I did when I was little.  I can see my parents very clearly in the ways I interact with my daughters.  I have come to the conclusion that we are all much more like our parents than we thought or hoped we were.    It gives me great comfort to find that I really am like the people who I most admire.  I am proud to feel a such connection with them, even when we don’t speak every day.

The Fire

A few weeks ago there was a fire in the house next door to ours.  A fire is always scary.  It’s unexpected and the damage can be devastating.  Our house is a townhouse, so there are 6 houses in a row all attached.  I have known people who have had house fires before, but had never been on the scene when the fire trucks and police were in action.  Because the fire happened on a friday evening at dinner time, and in such a neighborhood, there were a large number of kids in the crowd, including mine, and the kids who lived in the house on fire.  Kids always have their own way of dealing with situations so it is interesting to see the differences between them and the adults.  The fire started in the attic of the attached house.  We didn’t notice anything at first, except that when I stepped outside to check on my youngest who was playing with her friend, the air seemed smoky, but it wasn’t from grilling.  I came back into the house, telling my oldest, who was helping with dinner that we should see what was going on, because there was a lot of smoke around.  I knew what a house fire smelled like but thought that it was in another neighborhood.  My first instinct was to get my other daughter while we figured out what was going on.  We went outside and I saw a few other neighbors.  My youngest came running up followed by her friends.  After a few minutes my next door neighbor came out and said there was a fire in the house.  They have a few children of various ages.  After a few minutes everyone was shepherded outside, and I think the fire company must have received about twenty calls simultaneously.   Luckily we live right down the street from the fire chief who was on his way home anyway, so he was the first on the scene.  After what seemed like a long time but was in reality about 10 minutes a policeman showed up, instructing me to get all of my animals out, and then the fire trucks right behind him.  As the sirens sounded, the crowd outside our block of houses grew larger, and most of the people there were unfamiliar to me.  We watched the fire men pulling hoses and ladders down, trying to calm the kids who lived in that house.  One little neighbor decided her job would be to try to calm my cat, who clutched my neck throughout the entire hour and a half in a panic.  Some of the other kids were more interested in my daughter’s guinea pigs than in the fire.  Both of my daughters alternately cried or tried to comfort their friends.  We adults all stood around watching with concern, glad that the family was safe, but worried that the fire might spread.  We chatted uneasily and I got to know a few more neighbors.  I could sense the tension filling the adults on our side of the street.  After about an hour and a half of standing around with the growing crowd, the firefighters packed it up.  After advising me of the smoke smell in my own house and the necessity of having to knock out the roof vent, we were cleared for re-entry.  The kids had all calmed down by this time.  My youngest took it upon herself, after the firemen started to pack up, to grab half a case of water bottles from our garage and give them out to any one who was thirsty.  She is pretty smart for a five-year old.  My older daughter was busy trying to find clothes for the teenager whose room had been burned in the fire, deaf to my advice to wait until the family was settled.  Finally I was able to persuade them that we could pick up some happy meals for the younger neighbors and put a hold on searching for old clothes for a girl who was at least twice as tall as my daughter.  The days that followed were slightly smoky and filled with strange sounds emanating from trucks and inspectors trooping around next door.  Since both my girls were very concerned, I suggested they ask our church to collect some clothes suitable for a teenager, with the result of a very cute and mostly audible speech by my 5-year-old to the entire congregation.  A few days after the fire, save for the absence of our neighbors, the whole incident had been forgotten by the kids.  They have not been scarred in any way or had any nightmares about fires, which is good since I did.  The whole unexpected episode on that friday evening reinforced my belief that children really are far more practical creatures than adults.  While we worry about the future, they are busy dealing with the present.