Thursday, April 27, 2006

The ABC's of parenting today (Originally written 2/13/2006)

So, it was more than a week, what a surprise! It is hard to get back in the once a week mode of writing. So where to begin? Turning to Sue Grafton for inspiration, I will loosely use the A, B and C method this time to update you on some funny and not so funny things!

First, A is for Attitude

Whoever thought a five and a half year old (official on February 2nd and don’t you forget it!) could have this much attitude!? It is sometimes subtle, in the way she says “maaaaaam” and sort of rolls those baby blues. Sometimes less so, as when she told Jamie a week or so ago that I told her that she (Jamie) was not her mom and that I was lying (and that lying is not a good idea). Jeez. It is tough to explain the nuances of single legal parenting to a kid, you know? She keeps trying on different ideas for shared visitation:

How about if I stay with you tonight, and Jamie tomorrow and you the tomorrow after tomorrow and then Jamie the two tomorrows after and……?

What if I stayed with you all week and spent weekends at the condo? (Jamie’s condo). That is fair, right?

Mom (whined not spoken)…it isn’t fair when…..(fill in the blanks).

Poor kid, she loves us both, tells us what we want to hear sometimes (“Mom, I love you the bestest ever ever”) and pines for what she does not have.

It is hard enough to keep track of what stuffed animal is currently residing in which home. I trust her to know more than I do.

But then I soften, last night she spiked a 102.4 temp and I kept her at my side in my bed, all night, worrying about febrile seizures (she had one over two years ago) and waking frequently due to kicks, legs sticking in my ribs, etc. How can someone who weighs under 40 pounds strike such a punch? Yeow! At least she doesn’t shed, Gracie, our “plump” cat, walks on me too, and sheds constantly. I choose the kicker with the high temp any day of the week.

B is for Boyfriend (and Birthday)

So, about a week and a half ago, Sofie is in the back of the car, where we have most of our more philosophical chats, and she says, kind of out of the blue, “Mom, you know what? I have a boyfriend”. I counter (calmly of course), “you mean you have a friend who is a boy? That’s nice”. “No, mom, (exasperation in voice), I have a boyfriend. You know. (well, actually, I don’t know. What exactly constitutes a boyfriend at five and a half?). So I ask her, what does that mean to have a boyfriend? What do you do? And she responds: “well, we play together and read together and laugh and sometimes we have recess together and play”. Relieved, I support her with interest. “That’s great. And what is your boyfriend’s name?” “I forget” she says. Whew. I guess they are not doing anything that special not just yet.

It has been interesting this week, however. We got into a discussion of sameness and difference with people. She said we looked “the same”. I asked her why she thought that and she said our noses were the same and our eyes. I pointed out that mine were brown and hers blue-grey, but that parents and kids did not need to look anything alike or friends either to have those relationships. She thought about this a bit, and responded that “yeah, that is right. Sheldon is different and we are friends”. Sheldon is an African American boy in her class. (I suspect he may be the “boyfriend”). I probed a bit about those differences. “Well, mom, Sheldon doesn’t have a lot of hair, and I do” was her response. You gotta love the blank slates that our kids start out with. Appreciating differences is a Montessori value, at her school and she is learning a lot. She came home singing a song last week:

Everybody, everybody, out to (sic, ought to) know freedom

Everybody, everybody out to know justice

Everybody, everybody out to know friendship

It is sweet, she frequently sings to herself while playing. Tonight, she sang this to me in her voice and then in a cute high pitched voice, she sang it for her blankie. I wish I had not written that, that she was totally over this object of her affection, but I am beginning to think she will be packing it when she goes to college. It made me smile, however, to hear her sing it in a totally different pitch for the blanket.

Oh, and the birthday B is so sweet. I had a very quiet birthday last week, Sofie and I ate out at Whole Foods little cafĂ© (a whopping $5.86 for both of us, she gets salad bar and pasta but such a small portion that it costs under $2.00 and I got soup and a roll). Then she picked out the most huge frosted chocolate cupcakes to take home for candles. That day, my actual birthday, she learned to zip up her jacket solo, so I told her that was a great present for me. Her response (and it still makes me smile)…Mommy, I am your present…with a big kiss to seal the deal. Best present ever.

C is for Challenges and Ccccchange

I am still trying to figure out if I/we need to move back to California. Day to day, life is manageable, if somewhat boring (by my bay area standards, I guess). Unremarkable, perhaps? I find myself looking smaller signs of good things, and finding them in little things, realizing I know several ways to get to a destination, without Map quest. That the cold days don’t seem as cold as last year. That I kind of like the way the house looks most of the time. That Sofie is growing and changing in all sorts of lovely ways. That I don’t mind not going out three nights a week.

But I miss the company of friends, I miss gay men (I don’t have any gay male friends here at all!) And nary a black tie event to even consider. This year, for the first time in 20 years (since 1986) I will be watching the Oscars in my bedroom slippers and not in black satin. Yep, I am unable to go to the Academy of Friends this year. So it will be a novelty, to watch from home. I might have to bring in some gourmet food and wine, so the withdrawal is not so painful!!! And perhaps I will wear my pj’s but with heels.

I miss that feeling that there are all sorts of possibilities out there, even if I am not attending them. I am totally happy with Netflix and the occasional movie in a theater. I have started reading again, which I love and missed. But sometimes…..

And I miss that feeling of familiar. The feeling you have after 20 years in the same place. The weather. The bay area-ness of it all.

But then I think about “retirement”. Whatever and whenever that might happen. And I think that I won’t be able to live in the bay area then, not with a small retirement income and no house. So what would make more sense? I really love Asheville. (Western NC). My good friends Jacque and Barbara are there, living a lovely life (no kids) and always welcoming. It is a place with beauty, cultural arts, some but not tons of snow in the winter and not so many hot sticky nights in summer. Not a bad option, eh? So that is a new train of thought. If I moved “back” to CA for now, rented and perhaps bought a house for my future in NC, in Asheville.

The thought of not having my own house, after nearly a decade of owning one, is hard to handle. I know what a fortunate person I was to have done that in the bay area, and I mourn my lovely home in Oakland. But it is more than that. Renting doesn’t seem settled, somehow. And so far, the only places to rent I have investigated are from $1750 to $2100 for not so much space, less than 1200 square feet. So it is hard to let this less expensive option here go.

Everyone who has written and been so incredibly supportive, I thank you. Don’t stop! And if I start driving you nuts with my indecision or my process, let me know, gently and I will try to stop.

And, if I have not mentioned it, you are all welcome to visit. One or two at a time, of course.

OK, must stop for now and go check her temperature again. She was down to 99.8 before she fell asleep, but that was the Ibuprofen, I suspect.

Love and happy Valentine’s day.

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