Well FOK you too!

I’m a sports mom again!

My kids’ sports are in full swing, or kick, or tackle because my kids don’t swing anything in their sports.

I have 3 kids, which means I won’t make it to all the sporting events. Last Saturday, I went to my daughter’s soccer game. My 5 year old HATES going to soccer games and would rather be at big bro’s football game… but he had to go with mom this time.

Because he makes it his life’s mission to not watch even one second of soccer, Riley decided he’d bring something required a lot of Mommy-attention: a preschool workbook. And! Because he knows I love when he learns, he got my attention.

We sounded out words like r-r-rug and m-m-mop together as I taught him about letter sounds, while also making sure I didn’t miss the moments when Anya got the ball (all other soccer is boring unless your kid has the ball).

Next came fog. F-f-o… whoa! Anya’s got the ball there she—


Riley mistook the G sound for a K and enthusiastically yelled what sounded like an expletive during what I would describe as the quietest moment in sports history. You could here a pin drop, and you heard “FOK!” as plain as day. What followed was the most boisterous laughter ever heard at a sporting event.

Red-faced I explained to Riley that it was “fog” and the parents were laughing at something else (I have a sensitive kid).

Some of the nicer parents came up after the game and told me to make sure to read him something a little less profane next time.

There goes Riley’s favorite bedtime story, “Go the Fuck to Sleep.”

Turn the radio up for that sweet sound!

“Um, Dad, can you turn that music up?”

The few times my dad actually had music on in his truck, it was on audio level 1. I’m not sure why there even is a level 1 on the dial. The sound level this low was loud enough to compete with the heater fan… and the heater fan usually won.

CB102572When I asked Dad to turn the music up, he’d comply, unless he didn’t want to “because.” He’d generously turn it to 4, nope, too loud, back down to 3. I’m assuming this is why I know the melodies of many oldies station songs but have no clue what the words are.

As the notes barely tickled my eardrum, I imagined I was really rocking out. Sometimes I would sing, unless singing was prohibited at that particular time “because.”

Just as we’d approach the chorus, the only part I knew (presumably from hearing it at the grocery store or in doctor’s office waiting rooms), we’d hit a stop light.

When we stopped, the road noise silenced. My dad turned the knob ever so slightly (because, really, the knob only needed a 2/10ths turn) back to 1. When the light turned green and the road noise grew louder, the music was all but gone. I’d clear my throat, “Um, Dad, can you turn the music back up?”

Usually my question would receive a slight tap in decibels, unless it was a no “because” and “you’ll be fine.”

This game of turning the volume up and down continued through 5, yes 5 lights. My dad always “forgot” or “didn’t notice” the music was back at, let’s face it – zero, at every light.

The other night, I thought about this stressful game of “Um, can you turn that music up?” I was driving back from my 8-year-old’s basketball practice blasting on of my favorite songs “Turn the Radio Up (make me lose control)” Riley yelled, “Mommy, turn it down, it’s too loud!”

I said, “No” and “because” followed by “you’ll be fine.”

I’ve been blaring my music in my own car since I was 17 years old and I NEVER turn it down at stoplights.


Couples who idealize each other are happier

Michaelangelo believed that his sculptures were resting in the stone, waiting for him to release them. The way I see it, that’s how we all are. We are resting in stone and over time, we are sculpted. Into what, well, it’s determined by the sculptors.
For better or worse, we choose our sculptors. They are the people with whom we choose to spend our time. Our friends, our family, our spouses. They sculpt us. Most importantly our spouses. I think it’s because this is the person with whom we are most invested.

Generally, the Michaelangelo Phenomenon means, “Couples who idealize each other are happier.” But it’s not just idealizing, it’s helping each other become our ideal selves. 

I’m not always so certain that we’re doing this marriage thing right (we learn as we go).  

Are there times when we might have a bit of an inflated opinion of each other? Yes.

Are there times when we annoy the crap out of each other? Yes.

The Michaelangelo Phenomenon exists between us. This is one area in which I know Donnie and I are killing it. We believe in each other, we idealize each other, we sculpt each other. Without that support, it would be damned hard to achieve our dreams.
In fact, I think we annoy other people with our blind support for each other. Donnie regularly thanks me for my “unbiased opinion” of his work. And he knows that this blog has got some pretty eloquent writing in it, and he doesn’t have to read a word. (I’ve read some out loud to him, he’s not much of a reader.) If you asked him if I could be president, he’d probably say “Yes, if she put her mind to it.” That’s how annoyingly supportive he is.

The downside to the Michaelangelo Phenomenon is when one or the other is not working toward his/her ideal self. It can be really frustrating when the person who supports you, believes in you, motivates you, sees you failing. I know I want to write a book. Each day that goes by that a book isn’t being written makes me feel guilty. Not only am I letting myself down, but I’m letting him down. Because he believes in me.

This is the part we try to work on. It may not be the right time. It may not be the right goal. So, we must back off or redirect our annoying support.

All in all, I think, with the right sculptor, the Michaelangelo Phenomenon does make couples (people) happier.

When the sculpture is finally revealed, it’s going to be amazing.

Rainbow Riley

Tonight, I had a date with my 4 year old.

He held the door open for me. He ordered his own food. He got his own drink. He sat across from me (instead of nearly on my lap). He ate his food with a knife and a fork. He used a napkin (a napkin, people). He made conversation.

This 20 minute dinner on our way to basketball practice was very personal, very one-on-one. It was a definite aside from our usual hustling around, me yelling at him to keep up and then chasing after him as he runs across the parking lot. 

I’m pretty impatient with Riley. I think it’s partially because of his being the 3rd kid and partially because he’s so mature. But Riley has a very special place in my heart. 

I got pregnant with Riley after two previous pregnancy losses. In some circles (pregnancy forums), babies after loss are called rainbow babies. The idea is the rainbow after the storm. Not that my other pregnancies were a storm but that they were painful, scary. 

As such, we wanted to add Rainbow to Riley’s name in remembrance and celebration. His full name Riley Reyn resembles that notion. We just wanted a simple thing, not over the top. No rainbow walls, no rainbow bedding, no rainbow striped hair colors. Just his middle name. 

Not knowing the origin of his name, Riley’s favorite color is rainbow. 

I think I should go on dates with my 4 year old more often. 

You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

You is also illiterate, but… I choose to look past that part to see the message from the gut-wrenching, infuriating, inspiring movie, The Help.

I love how “kind” is in there. And it’s first!

I think we (I) spend too much time worrying about whether our (my) kids are at the top of their classes, the best on the soccer team or the fastest runner, first to tie shoes, first to learn ABCs.

We spend so much time and effort molding our kids into perfect, successful human beings that we forget about the human part.

Your kid may be the smartest kid in the class but I just watched him push a little kid out of the way, look back at the crying toddler and keep going. I don’t want my kids to be that way.

I won’t tell my kids “You is smart” because then they will think, “I know all I need to know and don’t need learn anymore.”

I’m not perfect though, in the past, I have focused a lot on grades and excellence in sports (nee every aspect of life). I’ve recently come to the realization (parents are always learning) that if my kids fail 5th grade science, it doesn’t mean they will become losers. It doesn’t mean they will be homeless, or worse, live with me until they’re 30.

I’ve started focusing on what makes them special, what makes them happy, what they work hard toward.

My son is below average in reading, but off the charts in math. I decided not to worry so much about the Cs he got in spelling and reading. It’s obviously not his thing. He will have to work at it, but I won’t set unrealistic goals for him in something that he already struggles with. That kid has a heart of gold. “You is kind” is his life’s motto. He’s got empathy for miles. Practicing empathy is not always easy, believe me, I know, so if kindness is your kid’s thing, I think he’ll be alright.

I know he’ll be alright because that kid has a heart of gold. “You is kind” is his life’s motto. He’s got empathy for miles. Practicing empathy is not always easy, believe me, I know, so if kindness is your kid’s thing, I think he’ll be alright, too.

The fact that I notice but choose to ignore the illiteracy of “You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” shows that I’m growing (as a mom and a perfectionist) and focusing on the very important message and not the delivery.

Also, watch The Help. It’s good for your heart.


The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Every year at Christmastime, I notice the Ugly Sweater tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool (not literally). It’s fun to make everyone dress ugly ironically. Whoever has the ugliest sweater wins. And then the one who wins is Aunt Denise who actually didn’t know there would be a contest. If you think about it, it is a little mean.

That didn’t stop my family from hosting its first Ugly Christmas Sweater party several years ago. I went out to Goodwill because that’s where you could find all the really ugly Christmas sweaters. (Conveniently, Old Navy has a line of ugly sweaters now. If you go this route, you better hope Uncle Carl doesn’t pick the same Old Navy ugly sweater. You want to dress ironically ugly, not actually ugly.

Anyway, I found the ugliest, most ill-fitted bags of wool available at Goodwill that year. One for each member in my family. We wore our sweaters proudly and laughed at the horrible looking sweaters my relatives showed up in.

I’m not sure if it was my cousins spiked wassal or the ridiculously effective sweater I was wearing, but I started really sweating. It was soooo hot. Everyone was hot. We were miserable and uncomfortable and sweaty and we couldn’t wait for the contest to be over. We opened the doors and window to let IN the draft. These sweaters were super effective. After the contest, all the sweaters were peeled. The fun was over.

And my family never did Ugly Sweater Christmas again. Every time I hear of someone doing an Ugly Sweater Christmas party, I think, “How fun for them!” and immediately feel an empathic bead of sweat rolling down my forehead.


The cool kids don’t get it.

Last night Anya had her 6th grade music program. I think 6th grade is about the time I stopped doing music programs and started doing choir.

I joined choir because it was “cool” at the time. Yes, in 6th grade, choir is cool. But what wasn’t cool was that I had an alto singing voice. All the “cool” girls were sopranos. You know? That princess-y soprano sound you’d hear in all the 90s Disney movies. Still, I sang in my alto voice. I liked choir. It was nice to belong in a group.

For days, Anya has been swearing to me that she “hates” music and singing. She tells me after this, she’ll never be in choir or anything lame like that. It’s embarrassing and the songs aren’t cool and “We don’t have to go to the concert. It’s not mandatory.”

I know Anya doesn’t hate music and singing because I hear music and singing blaring from her room every day. Even Mozart. I hear her practicing her program’s songs.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

At the concert, I watched Anya walk onto the stage with about a thousand other “cool kids.” When the songs started, I could hear singing but few mouths were moving. Eyes were darting around the risers to see who was “uncool” enough to care.

Then, I noticed. A smile on Anya’s face. She was into it. She was belting out the songs and smiling, and maybe even dancing a little bit. She knew all the Hebrew words to the Haida Song.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

The group received a standing ovation. I was proud of my little 6th grader for letting her vulnerability show at the risk of appearing “uncool.” She was proud of her performance. She had a great time and it showed.

After the concert, Anya comes over to me, “I’m so glad that’s over. How embarrassing.”