February 2009 Archives

In Good Taste

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Chris has been on a bread-making kick lately.  He had his own sourdough starter and from it he has made sourdough wheat bread, sourdough white bread, English muffins, and even English muffin bread.

We've been trying to make as many of the foods we eat at home and avoid as many prepackaged items as possible.  Chris's donuts are fantastic!  Once you get away from a lot of the prepackaged food, you lose the taste for it.  The kids have enjoyed the bread and now prefer his bread to store-bought bread.

There is one type of bread, however, Jude does not want to have again...

For dinner one night, Chris made butternut squash soup and topped with toasted sourdough bread and cheese.  We also had a side salad and broiled pork.

Chris: How was dinner?
Me: I liked it.
Karenna (who has been sick all week): I liked it, but I'm just not that hungry.
Jude (considering the question, since he did not seem to like dinner): I liked it... but can you not make the kind of bread that has the soup on it anymore?

A few months ago, I heard the term "teacup parenting" on the Jumping Monkeys podcast.  (This concept is the antithesis to the Free Range Kids blog that Chris follows and shares with me.)

I suppose it's only natural to want to make things perfect and safe for our children, to not want them to hurt, to cry, to protect them from trouble and give them everything we never had.  But the sum of our experiences, good and bad is what makes us who we are.

Life is not easy, and it's not always fair.  My childhood was not an easy one.  If she taught me anything at all, my mother, whose choice in language is probably a bit different in my own (at least around small children), taught me that, "Life sucks.  Learn this while you are young, so it's not disappointing when you get old."

My mom is probably proud that the lesson, if not all the language--it was still someone cleaned up for this blog--has stuck.  I have come to appreciate the adversity in life.

When I have gone without materials things, I have focused on relationships.  When I have suffered a loss, it's made me appreciate the people around me.  When I have experienced pain, everything else becomes less painful.

The truth is that the really important things you do in life are not easy. They do not come without risk.  They might be painful.  You might be uncomfortable.  You might have to step outside of what you are used to doing.

I can't protect myself from those experiences.  I can't protect my kids.  I can't protect my friends.  As much as I wish we could all avoid them, these are the "life sucks" experiences my mom was talking about. 

I'd like to tell them that things all work out in the end, but I can't make that guarantee.  I'd like to say these experiences will make us stronger, they make us who we are, and they bring us together, but I'm not sure how I can do that without trivializing all of the their "life sucks" moments which are real and powerful.  So how do I say it?

I was pregnant with Karenna while I was still teaching high school English classes.  Perhaps some of that rubbed off.  After all, I hadn't expected my kindergartner to observe the following...

Karenna (while watching Doctor Who): Did you ever notice how all stories have problems in them?
Me (getting very proud and excited): Yes! That's called conflict.  Some are problems with one person and another person; that's called man versus man.  Others are problems with the earth or the weather: man versus nature.  Then people have problems with themselves: man versus himself.  And the last one is one person has to prove himself against everyone else: man versus society.  Which one is this?
Karenna: Man versus man.
[I tweeted the event.]
Chris: Mommy, will you get off the computer and watch the show with the rest of the family?
Me: I will, but first I had to share this moment with the whole Internet.

And now I did it again.

A continuation from the February 14th post at the same family restaurant...

My Nephew Luke (poking the lemon that was floating in his water): Hey, lemons don't swim!

It had been awhile since I blogged, but this one is new to me...

Jude (loudly at a family restaurant): I'm adopted.
Me: Jude, you are not adopted and I have the scar on my tummy to prove it!
Jude (giggling and shouting): I am adopted.
Me: I don't think you know what that means, silly.
My Mom (a.k.a. Judoo): I don't think you are.  You are just as silly as your mom.  There is no question where you came from.
Jude: Yes I am. I have a stepmother.
Me: You mean you want Daddy to have another wife?
Jude (upset): No!

This year we had to buy a ton of Valentines.  Jude had a party in preschool.  Karenna had a party in daycare, a party in kindergarten, and a dance class on Valentine's day.

Jude's been having trouble adjusting to his sister not doing things at the same time as him now that she is school-aged.  Karenna's kindergarten party was a day earlier than Jude's party, so naturally he was upset.  Chris, Karenna, and I kept reminding him, "Karenna's Valentines party is Thursday.  Your Valentines party is Friday."

Finally when the day arrived, I took him into preschool and handed his teacher his snack and Valentines.

Jude: It's my party day.
Me: I know.
Jude: How old am I today?
Me: Jude, it's not your birthday.  It's Valentines Day.
Jude: I know!  It's not my Star Wars party; it's my Valentines party.
Preschool Boy: Jude, it's everybody's party.
Jude: No, it's not! [turning to me] Mom, you guys said Friday is my party day!

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