Church Chat

I try to not project my insecurities, prejudices and general psychoses on my children. I really do. But I often fail.

So when the Roo asked if we could go to church, I sent a quick SOS heavenward.

“Why do you want to go?” I asked.

“Because all my friends do,” she replied.

So I wasn’t thrilled that the request was prompted by pack mentality, but at least it wasn’t because she’d realized what sinners we are and we must immediately go cleanse our souls before Tio Diablo shows up to call us home. And the more we talked, the more I realized she has a genuine curiosity about that aspect of her friends’ lives rather than a compulsion to follow the herd.

I have a Protestant hangover that won’t quit. I attended a private church school throughout elementary. My family did the church thing while we were younger, then it faded to the background. In high school I usually attended on my own, often with real hangovers. While there were good times in the light of the stained glass windows, church rarely moved my soul or inspired me to new spiritual heights.

As an adult, I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with organized religion because so many seem to use it as a weapon or reason to deny love to others. I want my kids to ask their own questions and make up their own minds about the bigger picture. I don’t want that to be programmed into their impressionable young minds. As the Roo once so eloquently told her devout Catholic friend’s entire family, “We don’t go to church because we don’t like people telling us what to think.”

Is there an echo in here?

So I had a very quick, intense chat with myself before wrapping up our talk.

Me to myself: Oh crap. This is what happens when you live so close to Focus on the Family. She’s been infected with the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in Her Heart. How do I keep her from going crazy cracker Christian on me?

Myself to me: Easy there, St. Prejudicia. Don’t teach your kid to discriminate against people who don’t think the same way you do. You and Jesus still love each other very much, you’ve just agreed to see other people. Fortunately he’s secure enough to not feel threatened by your attraction to Buddha.

Me to myself: But what if she likes it? What if she wants to go every Sunday and I have to give up my time in the Church of the Open Saddle?

Myself to me: If she likes it, that means she’s happy. Isn’t that our entire reason for being? And you’ll find other ways to sneak out to the barn and get your equine therapy. You may even like it, too.

So I took a deep breath and told her we’d hit the pew on Sunday. As a compromise to myself, we visited the local gay church. They were kind, welcoming and put on a pretty good show. The singers were amazing, the piano player was FAB-u-lous and the drummer was way too much.

Riley loved it.

bible boa

As for me, myself and I, it was a bit too traditional for our taste. I was a little disappointed that nobody stepped up to the mic with a feather boa and a Bible. But I’m willing to give it another try. And if somebody knows where I can get the sheet music to the gospel version of “It’s Raining Men,” please post a link in the comments section.

Smile, Goddammit!

This is my family photo. I’m the one who looks pissed.

Misery loves company. Way to set the tone, Dad.

I somehow stumbled across the Weekly Writing Challenge  from WordPress. I don’t know if I was surfing tweets, sifting through LinkedIn people I should know or deleting Farmville 2 invitations on Facebook, but I’m glad I found it.

I have no idea who these people actually are, but their sour faces are certainly familiar. The assignment for the challenge is to write a story about this picture — any story. The tale at the top of my mind is last night’s chat with The Roo about how we need to get along better.

Not that we’re cat-dog fighting, but I often feel frustrated with her at a faster pace and with less provocation than I do with her younger brother. I’m sure my therapist has a file full of good stuff to fill in the blanks on why, but I think it boils down to the fact that she is my blonde, 7-year-old clone. So we naturally butt heads.

I hate that. I want us to enjoy each other for the hilarious chicks we really are. But all too often, tempers and nostrils flare simultaneously. It’s like an estrogen smack-down around here over trivial things — far too often, I can’t even recall the trigger.

Earlier this week in a rare flash of genius, I came up with a new rule: If you can make me laugh, you’re not in trouble.

Anger is infectious. But so is laughter. If one of us manages to turn the mood around, we all feel better. And it’s my job to look for reasons to feel good about my kids so they feel good about themselves.

A few years ago, the elementary school my siblings and I attended asked my mom for  school photos of my brother, sister and me to feature in an ad. She couldn’t find a single one in which any of us were smiling.

At least we don’t have that problem.

Here’s our real family photo. This is what happens when you ask Wee Man to smile for the camera.

Hopefully the new rule will keep us camera-ready and out of trouble.

Do Not Desterv

It was a rough day before a long trip out of town. I was not at my best. The kids were not at their best. We’d run around all day trying to get last-minute things done. I forgot more than I actually accomplished. By the time we got home after 5, I was ready to huff, puff and blow the house down.

So I asked the kids to give me a few minutes by myself. While I was curled up in the fetal position rocking and moaning, The Roo got back to her normal sweet self. To ensure privacy during my mental meltdown, she posted a sign on my bedroom door:

This picture is worth a thousand misspelled words.

I love the spelling, despite my hyper-editing proclivities that often drive me to lectures on the difference between “further” and “farther” or explain to friends that their holiday letters are not from the Smith’s but the Smiths. I love that she used a paper towel, red marker and x.

But most of all, I love that she tried to help her poor crazy mom rebound from a meltdown.  I hope I can remember to do the same the next time she’s feeling desterved.

 

 

 

Cat-a-Tonic

In honor of Labor Day, my small people are working hard at one of those priorities that make sense only to people under 48 inches tall. They’re tag-teaming to build the perfect cat trap out of laundry baskets and beads.

Today’s cat trap, complete with doll blanket and kitchen towel.

“Put him in the wound pen!” the Wee Man just yelled.

Clearly the kitten needs more ground work. He’s only 3 months old, so he isn’t fully trained. Plus, he’s a Bengal cat, so he’ll never be fully trained. But I think Vetericyn, Ritchie Waterers and the whole Downunder Horsemanship gang would be proud that my 4-year-old wants to get the cat’s feet moving to engage his brain. He never even watches Clinton Anderson’s horse training videos with me (his sister does) so he’s clearly picking up THE METHOD by osmosis. If only he’d apply it to horses.

But for now, it’s all about cat-astrophes. Since this kitten came home last week, he’s been swaddled in blankets and deposited in various American Girl Doll accessories, added to Bat Cave adventures (luckily he seems to like lattes), nearly refrigerated, pillow-trapped into toy cubbies, pulled into the bathtub, and latched into plastic tool boxes. (That last one prompted an informative and overdue lesson on carbon-based life forms and their need for oxygen.)

But he’s also been cuddled, kissed, hugged, cradled, sweet-talked and universally adored.

This kitten is clearly a masochist. Here he is cuddled up in the arm of his oppressor. He was purring when I took this photo.

And now that Wee Man has taken a cat-catching break to tan under a reading light (That’s his story. I’ve mentioned before he’s weird.), Loco is watching with great interest from his perch just inches out of the range of the fluorescent light bulb.

There are many great things about our new kitten, but the best is he seems to love every minute of the constant and bizarre ways my kids try to show him the love.

There’s got to be a pithy parenting lesson in there. I guess I need to be more like the cat. I need to look past the discomfort of laundry bag traps and doll clothes and appreciate the fact that there are two hysterical kids sharing their love in crazy ways that makes perfect sense to them and no one else.

It’s enough to make me purr.

On Thin Ice

For spring break, I treated us to a trip to our favorite mountain resort. By “treated” I mean “once again took advantage of an awesome friend with a fabulous ski home where we can stay for free.”

It was too hot to ski, so we found other fun among the mountain’s bald spots. Hot springs and the rec center were big winners. The Roo wanted to try ice skating, but Wee Man came down with a weird fever. So I Florence Nightingaled him while our pal took Roo up to the rink at the base of the mountain.

When they returned, my friend shared one of those stories that would’ve been much more enjoyable had it been about someone else’s kid.

In addition to showing off her natural skating talent, the Roo wowed our pal with her literacy. She read the rink’s dedication plaque:

BLACK FAMILY ICE RINK

You probably can guess where this is headed.

He congratulated her on her mad skillz and kept skating. About 10 minutes later, just when he was across the very public rink in the center of the village with roughly 20 innocent bystanders, she shouted out,

“HEY GUS — WHY IS IT CALLED THE BLACK FAMILY ICE RINK WHEN THERE ARE ONLY WHITE PEOPLE HERE?”

True, most of the patrons of this resort are as white as the melting snow. But did she notice this herself, or did I say something to help her reach that conclusion? Do I project my PC self-consciousness on to her by talking about it? Would that then sensitize her to people’s skin color, something she’s seemed pretty oblivious to up to this point?

I don’t think making an issue of it is the way to go. She’ll have plenty of time to develop PC self-consciousness in the future. For now, I’m taking it as yet another reminder for me to watch my mouth. A-parent-ly I can’t get enough of those.

Fairy Tales

Like so many other 6-year-old girls, The Roo is all about fairies. She’s seen the Tinkerbell movies, she’s profited from the Tooth Fairy’s financial benevolence four times now, and she has several dress-up outfits with gossamer wings, pastel colors and magic wands.

So I picked up Doreen Virtue’s  book, “Fairies 101,” to read to her. It’s very educational. We’ve learned that fairies appreciate gifts, so The Roo drew several pictures of fairies on pixie-sized paper from her American Girl doll’s notebook. We left five drawings and two pieces of chocolate out for them in our flower bed yesterday evening. (Doreen says they love chocolate.)

The Roo checked them about seven times before bed. I reminded her that Doreen tells us we have to be patient, that they’re shy and have to decide to trust us first. Not what she wanted to hear, but a good lesson for the girl who seems to have inherited some of her mom’s control-freak tendencies.

At bedtime, she cracked her window to the Colorado winter night in case a fairy wanted to come visit her in her room.

This morning, two minutes after she awoke, she pulled on boots and ran out front. She was thrilled when she came back in: The pictures were still there, but half a piece of chocolate was gone.

It was all the proof she needed.

Dear John missed most of the fairy buzz this morning because he was hiding in the basement. She filled him in as soon as he came upstairs. I could tell he was wondering what kind of craziness I’d incited. But he at least did not dispute the hard evidence she presented and listened as she filled him in on basic fairy lore.

Here's The Roo with one of her drawings and the half-eaten piece of chocolate -- irrefutable proof that fairies are real.

“What’s a Water Fairy?” he asked after she scampered off.

“That’s a fairy from the water. Duh,” I said.

“You sure it’s not from your ass?” he said.

“No, that’s an Ass Fairy. Duh.”

I was surprised he even had to ask, since I’m convinced the Ass Fairy is his spirit guide. But he’s not always one to notice the magic that seems to follow us everywhere we go now that we have our own little people.

Maybe he just needs some chocolate.

Fine Dining

Wee Man came home from preschool with a peculiar notion: It’s time for a Green Lantern dinner party.

He set the table with leftover party plates and cups from the 4th b-day Soccer Buddies/Green Lantern blowout last month. I got in trouble for eating off one of the plates. It wasn’t dinner, after all. He rearranged his setting with Martha-like attention to detail: pizza-flavored Goldfish go here, grape stems on this plate, apple sauce squeezers go there, Ritz Bitz next to his spot. It was quite deliberate.

The Wee Man is quite pleased with how his table is coming together.

When the Roo came home from school, she added an extra touch of sophistication. She wrote place cards and invitations on construction paper and delivered them to me as I sat hunkered over this computer working to meet a deadline.

“Please com to are party Mom,” it reads. She made one for Dad, too.

I was in that work-zone that I mastered when I was working full time here in the mouth of madness. I knew there was activity in kitchen, but I figured as long as I didn’t smell smoke, we’re good.

I came in to find the table cluttered, the OJ spilled (they’d poured it into Green Lantern cups to freeze for dessert) and the two of them ridiculously pleased with themselves.

I’m ridiculously pleased with them, too. Despite the mess, it’s wicked-sweet.

And honestly, it looks about the same in there as when I’m allegedly in charge of feeding us.

So it’s time to go enjoy my Ritz Bitz and junior chefs. Right after I pour myself a big ol’ glass of wine.

Bon Apetít.