To parents of small children

by emily on April 23, 2014

Parents of young children, I want to tell you something.

You cook dinner in stages, starting usually about 24 hours before you actually put the food on the table. That’s when you do cook dinner, which—let’s be honest—doesn’t always happen. What? Oatmeal is a whole grain. If you serve it with chocolate milk and bananas, it’s a balanced meal.

You can’t complete a thought. Who the hell am I kidding? You can’t start a thought.

Every day is a ticket punch from opening the blinds in the morning, through every meal, every diaper change, every enriching activity, right on until you close the blinds at night.

You feel old. Like, really old. That may be because you have a hunched back from carrying the baby in the Bjorn while pushing the toddler on the swing while simultaneously wondering exactly how high you should let a four-year-old climb on the jungle gym. Or it may be because you’ve gotten three complete nights of sleep in the last four years. Or it may be because you last brushed your hair before setting out for the hospital to birth your first child.

You exercise because you’re supposed to… sometimes. You go to work because you have to, but you can’t focus on a goddamned thing because you’re mentally completing all the evening tasks you’ll have to start in on the minute you walk in the door.  You last had sex… how old is the baby again?

But, here’s what I want to tell you: it gets better.

One day, that baby is going to be a five-year-old who turns on the light on Saturday morning and reads a book quietly to herself while you sleep in until seven-thirty. Scouts honor: this will happen.

One day, that four-year-old will walk his brother home from school, then scoot up to his room to do his homework without being told.

One day, even your middle hellion will spend two hours playing with the youngest in the basement and you’ll have no idea what they’re doing and you won’t care because you will suddenly find, this one day, that you have downtime. Honest-to-fucking-Audrey downtime.

And you will realize you no longer know what to do with such a thing.

My advice? Save all your New Yorkers. Or run up to the bedroom with your spouse and lock your bedroom door. Your choice.


I don’t want to build a snowman

by emily on April 16, 2014

In keeping with my commitment to being the last family in town to get whatever it is all the other families are buying, I held out for a long time against getting the soundtrack to Frozen.

(In case you’re wondering what other things my kids insist we’re the last family in America to get, we don’t have an Xbox, a wii, cable TV, or a football. We do have Netflix, so the kids are getting to watch the entire Little House on the Prairie series—starring the inimitable Michael Landon—from the beginning. I still cannot figure out why it is my children aren’t considered the coolest kids in their grades.)

Lilah’s kindergarten teacher was playing the soundtrack in the classroom, so the frenzy was getting stoked, regardless. Lilah was incessantly babbling about an eternal winter and telling me she got the feeling I didn’t know. Finally, I took the hint and, nudged on by the fact that Zachary’s Glee! class is performing Frozen, downloaded the soundtrack.

I was rewarded for my capitulation by glancing in the rearview mirror on Sunday and seeing them singing “Let it Go” together, although I’m pretty sure that Zachary was singing his parody, entitled “Let it Rip.” He’s nine.

It’s about twelve kinds of adorable to watch Lilah sing these songs, and fifty-seven kinds of sweet to watch Zachary actually interacting with his little sister. (Benjamin, the surly one, maintains a staunch opposition to said soundtrack being played in his presence.)

Every morning, after the boys head out to walk to school, I drive Lilah to her school with the soundtrack playing blaring and her shouting, “Stronger than a hundred men!” in the backseat. When we arrive at school, we sit in the parking lot with the engine off, finishing out whichever song we’re on. When you own the Frozen soundtrack, every moment is a Driveway Moment.

Then I take her in, and she reminds me: “Mommy, when you get in the car, can you please turn it off so that… you know…” Yes, yes, I do know. You want the soundtrack to pick up exactly where we left off when I get you in the afternoon, so I shouldn’t listen to it on the drive home.

Because after getting three kids ready for school and listening to you sing about how love is an open door, what I really want to do is get back in the car and listen to the Frozen soundtrack all by myself.


Darwin awards

April 9, 2014

“What’s this,” I asked the employee striding through the produce section. I thought I knew, but I’d never seen it for real before. She smiled. “It’s sugarcane.” “So, um, what do you do with it? I mean, how do you eat it?” “You have to peel it, but then you can suck on it. I […]

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Luna Lovegood

April 8, 2014

She has decided of late that I should braid her hair in the mornings. “Without elastics at the top,” she specifies. “Like Laura.” “I don’t know how Ma did this every morning,” I said one day as I grappled with those slippery bits of hair attached to a wiggling child. “She had all those chickens […]

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March 14, 2014

Last year, a letter came home with the third-graders informing us that children were allowed to chew sugar-free gum during the MCAS, our own special state version of the Almighty Test, in order to help the kids concentrate. This year, Zachary came home delighted to inform me that not only would they be allowed to […]

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Wonder of Wonders

February 26, 2014

Something strange is happening around our house. Something strange and wonderful. Mysterious, too. Let us not forget “mysterious.” Something so weird, so unexpected, so—dare I use the word—magical that we’re afraid to trust it, to talk about it, even to look at it. Yes, that’s right. You guessed it. Zachary—star of the popular dinnertime show […]

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Read Across the House

February 24, 2014

“Just let me do your hair,” I told her. “And then you can keep reading.” She got up and obediently walked over to the bed, where I sat perched on the edge with a brush and some elastics. “Pigtails or pony?” I asked. I got no answer. She was reading. So, it’s official. I’ve pulled […]

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Small packages

February 23, 2014

There are three things—and possibly only three things—that my children have in common. They are very verbal, they are good readers, and they are little. I mean, tiny. This combination means that random strangers used to look at Zachary in bookstores and comment, “That book is bigger than you are.” Benjamin, our giant, tops out […]

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One of these things is not like the others

February 17, 2014

The snow was too heavy for the kids to shovel and the wind was whipping sizeable chunks of ice through the air, so I left the little people inside with the admonition that anyone who demonstrated that he couldn’t get along with his siblings would be brought outside to shovel with me. I’m going to […]

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I’m uncool

February 3, 2014

We went to Las Vegas to celebrate my husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday a decade ago. Rose Aline loved Vegas, and until the day she died she played cards on a daily basis. Some people are just born cool. I was born uncool, and so what I saw in Vegas was not the excitement or the […]

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