Sunday, September 18, 2011

Someone Moved My Cheese

I recently went back to work, and Shorty went to preschool for the first time. Big step. Needless to say it was quite an adjustment for all three of us, including my husband. Now we do the get up, get washed, get dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed then shuttle-the-kid-to-school-and-get-to-work-on-time bit.

On Shorty's first day of school both my husband and I dropped her off, like a rite of passage I guess. As expected, she went off and played with other kids right away and had to be called back so we can get a goodbye kiss. Shorty made it easy for me. No tears there, no tears here. I have such a cool little kid; I am the world's greatest mother.

By the second week however, the novelty had faded. She realized it wasn't a field trip. Shorty had resorted to bringing her bed buddy, a now not-so-white and black panda, to school with her. Upon drop-off, she would just stand there holding Happy Pandy.(I did not name said panda.)

Come third week, Shorty would not unclick her seat belt and had to be carried in. "Why do I have to go to school?" she asked. "So you can go to college and get a job like me," I answered cheerily. I wanted to add, 'and leave your child at daycare, so you can earn money, so you can pay for daycare and buy work clothes, both of which you wouldn't need if you weren't working,' but I didn't. She was, by then, full-on bawling and clung to me like a monkey to its hairy mother's chest, not that I'm hairy, especially in the chest.

One crazy morning, Shorty threw a tantrum the size of Texas because she didn't like her outfit. I finally got her and myself ready, threw our stuff in the car then went back in to corral the dogs into the laundry where they usually stay while we're out. I had to search for the Pug who wouldn't come when called because he is fourteen and deaf as a door knob. Then the Boston Terrier was nowhere to be found. Did he get left out in the hot sun? Did he fall in the pool? I was a ball of nerves. I hooted and hollered, searched in closets, under beds, in laundry baskets, and every corner of the backyard. I even checked the car. Surprise, surprise; there he was. He had slipped in while I loaded our stuff in the car and was now looking at me like I was nuts for leaving him in that laundry room all day long.

At school, Shorty refused to get out and said, "My teacher said when I'm big, big girl I don't have to come to this school. I'm big, big now, see?" she said stretching up to touch the car's ceiling. I told her some lie about her having to wait in the car for eight hours if she came to work with me. She hopped to, but cried all the way to her classroom saying, "I'm ready for college now." Well, I'm not. Mom and Dad need to get your 529 started which won't happen if I showed up late for work, then I'll get written up, then I'll get fired so I really need to leave in five minutes. As soon as I pried her off me outside the classroom door, she bolted back down the hall toward the exit. Try running after a toddler when you haven't worn heels in three years. Those shoes look great, but they don't corner well. Anyway, I left her crying while her teacher had her in a bear hug. Breaks my heart every time, but when I go to pick her up, she's having so much fun she doesn't want to leave.

Week 4. She's getting better. Each morning though, I still have to lie through my teeth, "School is so much fun," when all I really want to say is "Sorry Shorty, school's going to suck for a while," And she's barely started.

*The title is inspired by Dr. Spencer Johnson's book "Who Moved My Cheese?"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The seasonal vegetarian

I recently enforced, on my little family, meatless Fridays for 40 days this past Lent. Then, for 6 holy days leading up to Easter Sunday, we were vegetarians. Prior to the Lenten season, my husband decided to give up the occasional alcoholic beverage. He asked me what I was giving up. Before I could reply, he offered, "You should give up steamed white rice." I smirked. Was he nuts? You see, I grew up with the stuff. I'm wired to like it, it's practically part of my DNA. On occasion, my husband would wake up to me sitting in bed beside him, watching TV, chowing down a bowl of hot, white rice. I am to white rice as Peggy Bundy is to bonbons. "Facebook," I declared. Well, he's woken up to me, in bed staring at the bright screen of my laptop like a moth to a flame, checking out Facebook. That went out the window by the time Ash Wednesday came around.

So, meatless Fridays it was which he insisted, Shorty, who's 3, should observe it as well. I agreed. We take her to church, perhaps she should experience this too. We planned meatless options: salads, spaghetti marinara, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, egg sandwiches, and rice in various shapes or forms. I don't know how vegetarians and vegans do it.

One Friday evening, Shorty was jonesing for a hotdog and I told her, "We can't eat meat." "Why not?" Not wanting to have to explain Lent, I said "Do it for Jesus." "Okaaay," she said with resignation. I was surprised at her willingness to participate. By Holy Week, Shorty seemed to look forward to having meat more than the scavenger hunt. To distract her, we made our own pizza which was a favorite activity of hers. When all the toppings were on and I was about to put it in the oven, "Wait," Shorty stopped me. "We forgot the pepperoni," she said with clear panic in her voice. "It's holy week," I said flatly. I tried to say it sweetly like a patient mother would, but I was having withdrawals myself. She hung her head, arms limp at her sides. "But mommy," she whined, "I love meat."

When Easter Sunday finally came, we went to Mimi's Cafe after church and had omelets with the most anticipated, most beloved bacon. Sigh. Oh for the love of all pigs crispy. Then, in sheer joy, arms in the air (and strip of bacon in hand,) Shorty exclaimed with a greasy grin, "Thank you, Easter time."