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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why are you crying, Mommy?

"Why are you crying, Mommy?"

A blurred image of an innocent, yet concerned face was staring back at me. I had tried to hold my composure, but sometimes emotions have a way of sneaking through the tiniest cracks. 

"Mommy feels sad today."

The steady murmur of now infamous news clips are narrating my somber demeanor, much like I'd imagine the drone of helicopter propellers in a war zone. 

My bones are chilled and my knees are weak, as I am consumed by memories of the initial stabbing shock and terror. Memories of the day 9/11 became more than just a date on a calendar. Memories of the day we learned just how vulnerable we are. All American social classes, races, religions shared the horror together. Feeling human. Attacked. Bonded by grief.  Together as one. Heroes, victims, and helpless bystanders. United, raw bleeding emotion fused us together as we all asked why...and we all knew how. 

How do you explain such a terrifying event to a child? A child you are put here on earth to protect. How do you make them feel safe, while teaching them the gruesome history? A product of an evil I do not understand. 

Perhaps I struggle, because my own security and remaining innocence was stolen this day. I was 17 and still, for the most part, shielded from such terror and panic that this incident created. Many of us grew a million years older in an instant. And for some, that instant grew them wings. 

"Mommy, but why are you crying?" 

"A lot of people went to Heaven on this day because of a horrible thing, sweetie."


"Mommy doesn't know why. It makes me sad, and that's why I cry." 

She looks at the TV and sees images of the WTC just after impact. Those images that are burned into our brain for a lifetime. 

"Is that what happened?"

"Yes, honey."

"Were there kids in there?"

Tearing up again. 

"Yes baby. There were kids. It was a very sad day." 

My daughter looks deep into my watery eyes and I can tell she feels my sadness. I see tears forming in her young, pure, inquisitive eyes, reflecting the pain I am feeling. 

I held her close and we shared a moment of understanding and prayer. 

In that moment, I didn't want to let go.

"...for those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we'll ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day."

President George W. Bush 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ye Celebration of the Turkey Leg

This weekend we made the 2 hour trek to "Ye Big City" to go to the Renaissance Festival. In preparation for this event, I attempted to educate my kids on the Renaissance period. This educating kind of stalled when we stumbled upon a picture of the statue of David. They giggled that he didn't have any underwear.  Dude. This isn't productive. 

We have kind of found a gold mine of timing convenience when it comes to traveling with the kids this summer. We are fortunate enough to have friends that live in the cities and have discovered that heading out late the night before our planned activity and spending the night leads to a peaceful car ride there and less exhaustion melt downs during whatever activity we decide to do. Winning.

 I'm one of those small town idjits that even calls the suburbs the "cities". Basically anything within 45 minutes of St. Paul or Minneapolis is going to be lumped into my big city generalization. I know it irritates some of my friends, so I'll keep doing it. 

We arrived at our friends' house late Friday evening and brought two sleeping children in the house to put them to bed. It was a little tricky getting through the chaotic meet and greets of our dog and the four other dogs that were staying at the house. I was mistakenly sniffed in unwelcome places, and I almost dropped my kid, but we made it through the pack of wild dogs and back to the bedroom fairly unscathed.

Perfect. Two sleeping children. Parents are relaxed because we didn't have to listen to bickering, whining, and the infamous "Are we there yet?" monologue.

The next morning, in their usual "I bet I can get up before the sun does" fashion, the kids were up incredibly early. Much like the morning of our ValleyFair trip, they sniffed out the doughnuts like cadaver dogs and shoved the entire bag of doughnuts except for 2 in their little bellies before I had any indication that my little angels were awake and ruling the house of sleeping adults. You would think we would learn to put chocolate covered anything up higher than four feet. When I stumbled out to the living room with my pre-coffee sleep scowl still on my face, I noticed the trail of crumbs and chocolate on their faces. I asked them how many they ate. Sassy Girl responded with, "How many can we have?" I told her two was plenty. She exchanged glances with Little Dude and then told me that they had two. Whatever. 

One by one the adults awoke to the stomping and excited giggling of my sugared up monsters and we were ready to set off to the Celebration of the Turkey Leg. Or the Renaissance Festival as most call it. Potato/Potahto. 

We parked in a field in the designated 1940 row. I remember this because I kept chanting 1940 over and over so I would engrave that number in my memory. Then, we began walking back through time until we reached the gates of the Renaissance Festival. I kept remarking that it was such a cool gimmick to walk into the past. It doesn't take a whole lot to impress me...

When we entered, the first thing I spotted was the pickle vendors. I was warned by friends that they can be a bit vulgar. So, immediately I saw the pickle sign and promptly turned a bright shade of red while my awesome friends loudly asked if I wanted a pickle. I did want a pickle. But that's beside the point. I averted my eyes and hid behind my husband as we walked past his stand. 

My senses, and I would imagine my kids' senses were on complete overload. We were completely under-dressed, seeing as though my chest wasn't hanging out and my husband wasn't carrying a sword. The shouting of vendors and entertainers, the animal smells, the wind storm that kicked dust up into every orifice you can imagine. Still blowing dirt out of my nose. Shudder. It was all a very cool experience, but it left me just kind of wandering in awe checking things out. Once I found a bathroom to use, which when I asked about one I was rudely reminded to call it a "privy", I was on a mission to find food. Because at these events, this is my main goal. To eat until I am sick. I am an American through and through. 

After stuffing ourselves on course one, I get stuck waiting in line for a half an hour to make a "wand" with the kids. It was a straw with ribbon. Sweet. Little dude fell off a bench and hit his nose while we were waiting. While I was consoling him, an actor did check to see if he was okay, which was nice. However, he didn't break character, which started to annoy the crap out of me. "Oh my lady, is the young sire alright?" Yes. Shut up now please. Thanks.

We spent the rest of our time distracting the kids from the little traps that cost extra money. No honey. We can't ride the ponies/elephants/camels. We might get the pony-phant-el flu. We caved in at the face painting station and dumped a good 20 bucks on some sweet face art for the kids. It was peeling off today and started looking like an awkward flaking bruise, so I had to painfully wash all that money away at bath time tonight. I could have ate more food with that money.

After face painting, we decided to check out an act called, "Puke and Snot." I realized a few minutes in that this was not a child friendly act. Kind of took me a long time, since the name of the act probably should have raised a red flag in my mom mind, eh? Most of the colorful jokes went over their head, but I still kept glancing around to see if I was the only terrible parent that brought her children to such an act. I was not the only terrible parent in the room. I know. I counted several. Fortunately, the kids were distracted by my attempts to put an end to Little Dude swinging his wand dangerously close to guy in blue face paint next to us. Blue? I don't get what that has to do with anything. But some of you are really intense about this role playing thing so I will leave it be. 

The last thing we did before leaving? Took a picture of our kids' faces in a cut out picture of a horse butt.

Because we rock at parenting.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, And Other Lies We Tell Our Children

Sassy Girl has been losing teeth like crazy lately. With all these teeth falling out of her head the topic of the Tooth Fairy has been fairly common in our house. In our home, when the Tooth Fairy comes, we leave a cup with the tooth in it and the Tooth Fairy magically fills the cup up with a liquid that is the same color as whatever dress she decided to wear while out "Toothing".  The incredible powers of food coloring and water.

While playing the part of the Tooth Fairy the other night I began to feel a bit conflicted. I mean, I am all for contributing to wonders and magic of childhood...but I'm starting to feel like I am going to  great lengths in order to lie to my children. Magical, wondrous, magnificent lying.

Little Dude asked me with his big innocent eyes where the Tooth Fairy lives. Caught off guard, I struggled to come up with a decent answer. Like most lies that usually develop extremities over the course of the telling, I began weaving a tale of Tooth Island in a land far far away. Now, I am an awful liar as it is. Never tell me about a surprise party because I will find some way to ruin it as a surprise. So, while I was babbling on and on about Tooth freaking Island, I looked at my child who was hanging onto my every word, and I immediately felt guilty.  Why is this okay? Because it's accepted as a norm in society? We try and teach our kids to always tell the truth and the difference between pretend and reality, but here we are completely contradicting the values we are trying to instill in our children. 

I know. I think I'm going a bit overboard over analyzing the whole situation, since people have been playing into the whole Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny/Santa Claus gig for many generations and I don't think any child is still holding any grudges against their parents for it. Or maybe they are. Who knows. Maybe somewhere right now there is a 45 year old man in a psychiatrist's office describing flashbacks of the day he found out the Easter Bunny wasn't real. Think about that. 

Christmas is probably the most extreme for all the families that endorse the whole Santa Claus brand. Suddenly it's like all the children are in a twisted Christmas special of "The Truman Show." We tell the stories and go out for drives to look for Rudolph's nose, (radio tower lights work great for the young ones). We bake cookies for an imaginary fellow and take bites of the cookies for "proof". We write letters and the post office gets in on the gag and writes responses. We let our kids sit on some strange dude's lap and take pictures, even if they are crying. We buy things on clearance for Christmas presents and distract our kids briefly so we can hide the present underneath a stack of coats. We hush the older children and threaten them if they even think about ruining everything for their younger siblings. I mean, holy crap people. We are kind of overdoing it when you really think about it. 

I don't know. I'll probably continue with the lie until the children really start questioning me, I guess. If I get a flat out, "Is *fill in the blank* real?" then I'm gonna have to be real with them, because I'd rather I was the one to tell them I've been lying to them all this time then someone else! I can let them down easier, and make myself look a little better in this whole mess of childhood dream tweaking.   

Anyway, I wish I could fess up about the Tooth Fairy sometime in the near future. At a buck a pop, this Fairy may be posting a foreclosure sign on the grounds of Tooth Island if any more teeth fall out my kid's mouth. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Social Anxiety And Javelin Throw Stances. Yep.

I've been writing this post in my head all weekend and busting at the seams to turn all these rambling thoughts into somewhat a comprehensible narrative. I'm attempting to steal some time now before my brain explodes.

I went out with my pops for birthday fun. His birthday was this weekend and I wanted to do something with him for the occasion. Birthday fun means beer for birthday dude and exposing him to the awesomeness that is the one and only Captain May I. I was jazzed up about this occasion, but just as I suddenly found out the extent of my fear of heights when we attempted to sit in "top of empire state building" seating at the baseball game earlier this summer, I also found out the extent of my social anxiety in this particular occasion. It may be becoming more and more clear that I have issues. 

I was meeting Dad's new lady friend. I am actually a fairly shy (socially awkward) person in what we call the "real world" so meeting new people can cause my nervous, twitchy mannerisms to come to light. Awesome. Dad wanted to meet earlier so I was meeting him at around 8pm. I messed up the time that the band started so it was the three of us in a semi empty room for an hour and half before the band was supposed to play. We say our hellos and I realize I don't have my phone. This WILL NOT do. This day in age our smart phones are our "I am incredibly busy right now and I don't even notice this horrendous awkward silence thing that's going on" distraction devices. I nervously take everything out of my purse (duffel bag equivalent) which is a daring move on it's own. I am making such a spectacle about not having my phone it's really quite ridiculous. It is then decided that I will walk to the car to look and in precisely 3 minutes my dad will call my phone.  It's all about the details, people.

I am reminding myself to breathe on the block walk to my car. Let me share some of the highlights of my little pep talk:

Don't say anything stupid. Don't do that thing that you do when you're nervous. You know. When you talk loudly about things you think are funny and no one else does and then you just trail off to a mumble and pray someone changes the subject. Or when you purposefully point out you are nervous. Yeah. don't do that. That always leads to embarrassment. Oh. And you need to limit the amount of times you put chapstick on. No one has lips that are that chapped. What is wrong with you? Good golly knock it off! If only I could meet people through writing. Psh. Like a misfit teenage boy nerd on a dating site? Really?? You're better than that. Man up. Or Woman up. Ha. I should share this thought if the opportunity presents itself. Actually...no. Don't do that. You might need professional help. 

So, two things. 1. My nervous brain is kind of an ass when it comes to pep talks. 2. While I'm mentally preparing/kicking myself, I see a friend out in front of the establishment.

Little does he know the "situation". Because apparently meeting someone new has now become a "situation". I try and carry on a normal conversation, but because I am a such a ninja at masking my feelings (not) 30 seconds into the jittery conversation I get the: "Are you....alright??" And I put the two question marks because literally that was how it came out. I was so awkward at that point in time that I may have concerned people a bit. I swear I don't do drugs. Maybe I need to.
Whatever. I explain the situation the best I can, but really it's quite ridiculous when you describe it out loud.

I open the creaky door completely aware of myself like walking into church late during a sermon. This may be the only time I compare walking into a bar to going to church. I'm just as surprised as you are at my attempt to compare the two. We laugh off the fact that I HAD to have my phone and I see my lovely father has ordered me a beer. I drink that sucker like it was water at the end of a trek through the desert. Classy, right? Totally healthy behavior.

Not sure if it was the one beer or the fact that I could breathe a sigh of relief that I was actually meeting a really nice person, but the anxiety wore off and I was able to function like a semi - normal person for most of the evening. And I kept my chapstick habit at bay. So that's good, right? Even if I replaced it with pulling random objects out of my purse, like a super ball and a velvet pencil. Oh, I had a Hot Wheel car and a Polly Pocket in there too. I'm an adult. 

Remainder of the evening had some interesting moments but I'll give you the short version.

I was hit on by a chick that my dad knew, which led to a version of fatherly protection that I never imagined I'd see.

I kept an eye on my dad who was glaring at the extremely drunk loud mouth at the other end of the bar. Dad doesn't have much tolerance for ignoramuses.

Different weird drunk guy on the dance floor stood an inch from the stage frozen in some sort of a javelin throw stance for an entire song. What the heck dude? He had brought a beer out and was sloshing it all over earlier, so I took it upon myself to take it away from him and put it on the table behind us. Apparently this one interaction between the two of us gave the green light for him to make an extremely inappropriate comment to me between songs. It was appalling enough for me to look at him in disgust and loudly say, "NO! GO!" He was lucky my dad was not in earshot or he may have gotten more than he was asking for.

Oh yeah. Creepy Old Guy was in attendance as well, but he kept his distance.

All in all it was an interesting evening to say the least. Self induced mental and physical exhaustion is creeping up on me so I'm excited to get back to my normal boring life for awhile.

At home where I am generally safe from "situations" and am not at risk for a chapstick application overdose.