Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sam continues to teach me

Another law of the universe I've learned courtesy of Sam:

The more public the location, the deeper the finger in the nose.

Thanks, baby, really.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping it Mysterious

I don't remember meeting my husband. As strange as it may sound to those of the "love at first sight, he's my own personal vampire" persuasion, it is just the truth. We were only eight years old when I moved in across the street. Further, I don't remember when he went from "ewwww gross" to "he's a good friend" to "madly in love." I do remember the moment I realized that I was in love with him, but by then the damage had been done, and it was an imperceptibly slow process to that point. So when I read in a magazine that the secret to a happy marriage is continuing to find your spouse mysterious, I could only determine that if that psychobabble garbage was indeed true, we were pretty much screwed. There's not a lot of mystery to someone you've known forever, no exes to pop up and surprise when you've watched them leave for every single date from your kitchen window. I figured we were very nearly done with the "mystery" of marriage before we were married!

Imagine my surprise then, when a few months back Daniel came in the room an announced that instead of playing basketball with his buddies, they were going to play dodgeball for the next several weeks. Just as the words "That's too bad then, that you won't have anywhere to play for a few weeks. Only sadistic jerks like dodgeball" were escaping my lips, I realized he was saying "I'm so excited! I love dodgeball! This is going to be awesome."
Uh oh. What?
"You love dodgeball? You LOVE dodgeball?! Are you serious!?" I felt like he had just dropped a bomb on me, and in a way he had. I was a total nerd growing up, and I was very much serious about the fact that only jerks enjoyed dodgeball--I could picture them with their rock-hard red kickballs, laughing as they pummeled you repeatedly and you begged to go sit on the sidelines.
I decided years ago that you have to have something wrong with you to enjoy beating weaker people with balls. I believe that with all my heart. To find out the very man I was married to was the type who would have hit me and trampled on my self-esteem shook me to the core. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that Daniel can be a decent man and like dodgeball. As stupid as it sounds, it still hurt. I just have to keep repeating to myself that maybe not all people who like dodgeball end up in prison.

I'd pretty much gotten over the dodgeball thing when we went bowling. Every two to three years Daniel and I forget that we totally stink at bowling and we think it will be fun. Then we go to the bowling alley, it smells like old beer and cigaretts, we both suck at the sport, I rip off both of my thumbnails inside a germy disgusting ball, try not to think about wearing shoes a million people have sweated in, I realize I enjoy the company but not the game, and we go home with sore wrists deciding not to do that again for a while. It works for us. There is nothing wrong with this system. Imagine my surprise that on the way home from the bowling alley, Daniel turns to me and says "I think I'd like to buy my own bowling ball."
"Yeah, with a score like 110 I'd say you have a career blossoming, is the stub of my thumnail bleeding where it ripped?"
"I think it would be fun to do this more often. You know, learn how to be better at it."
"So you're not kidding about the ball?"
"hmmm. I just don't think I know you anymore. A bowling ball. I am so confused."

It would seem that there still are mysteries in our marriage, and they all involve sports. Now please make it stop!!! I'm not the surprise type, and I'm tired of ducking in fear every time Daniel picks up one of Sam's playground balls.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Whatever happened to Stranger Danger?

Small children adore my husband. It's not something I've always fully understood, as he's generally quiet, a bit shy, and looks nothing like Barney the dinosaur, but it just is what it is. Our friends' kids have always taken to Daniel immediately, even though he's not remotely the type to strike up a convo with a kid he doesn't know. I, on the other hand, have always seemed to be wearing a sign that says "trying too hard." I remember one time, I was babysitting my good friends' kids and I decided I would do my best to be as lovable as they found my husband. Maybe, just maybe, I could get them to stop referring to us as "Daniel, and Daniel's friend." It didn't fly, and their daughter ended up sitting and watching Daniel study rather than do play-doh with me. Talk about an ego blow. Really.

It usually doesn't bother me that kids like to hang with Daniel. With kids he knows really well, like our nieces and nephews, he's the fun Uncle that tosses them in the air, and plays chase or catch in Grandma's backyard. It's adorable to watch.

However, lately, when he tries to take Sam to the park to play, strange children have started following us around. By strange, I mean kids we don't know from Adam, not that the kids are weird--at least not any weirder than the general weirdness of feeling completely at ease bugging strangers. They appear out of seemingly nowhere, so they must live within view of the park, and they just come over and make themselves comfortable with our toys and talk Daniel's ear off. And the extra weird thing is they come all by themselves, not a parent in sight, not even on the porches or in the windows of nearby houses. What the heck is up with that? Haven't these people ever heard of stranger danger? I mean, yes, I know that Daniel is an incredibly nice guy who would never hurt their kids, but they don't know anything about us! This isn't an isolated incident either, I personally have seen it happen twice in recent weeks, in two different parks in our neighborhood, and it's not the same kid!
It's insanely awkward for several reasons, not the least of which is that Daniel is not cool with being alone with kids he doesn't know, and who can blame him for not wanting to appear on Dateline because some kid decided to show up and be his best friend? So instead of him staying at the park with Sam like he planned, he ends up making me come supervise instead of cooking dinner, or he just has to leave and head home earlier than planned.
Leaving gets complicated too, because we don't just want to leave some kid standing alone in the park at dusk (unlike their own parents, we actually do have concerns about their kid's safety), but we also don't feel comfortable asking where they live to take them home. Who knows but that the kids who don't seem to understand the concept of not talking to strangers will in fact freak out if a stranger asks their address? I hate that these parents are ditching me with a sense of responsibility that they don't seem to have for their own children. Plus, when these kids come to play with our toys, good luck getting them to cough them back over so we can go home! Just last night, some kid was holding our remote control car hostage until Daniel would tell him what night we would be coming back to the park to play (yeah, right, like we'll show up when we said we would, strange little child)! How insanely nuts is that? I was in no mood to play his little game, because we forgot Sam's water and she was getting overheated, so I just started walking away. I had to get my baby some water, and I wasn't about to let someone else's crappy parenting stop me. A few minutes later, I heard Daniel literally running behind me to catch up. When he got there he said "Geez, you can't leave me alone with a strange kid! What is with nosy kids today, did you hear all the stuff he felt okay asking me about!?"
Instead of a nice day at the park, we were ticked off. I was mad because with work and school Daniel gets maybe 45 minutes a day to just play with Sam, and instead, he had to spend it with a kid taking his attention away from her by taking her toys and asking rude questions! He was mad because he doesn't want to be put in a situation he's uncomfortable with, and there's no one to talk to about stopping it because the parents are all ghosts or something. Sam was the only one happy because while Daddy and I were distracted by Captian Obnoxious, she found a mud puddle to step in.

I want to know what the crap these parents are thinking to just let their children wander around with total strangers. If you think I watch too many crime shows and don't care about your kid's safety, then at the very least, have the social decency to keep them from endlessly irritating people you don't know!!!

Am I crazy? Do we still live in a world where you can be totally chill with your kids going up to people you don't know without you present to keep an eye on them? I really don't think we do, but what's your take?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tools of the Trade

Just the other day, I realized I had to do some studying for the first time in a while. Not just passive reading, mind you, but actual studying complete with highlighters, pens, and notebook paper. I was actually looking forward to working out my brain. I went upstairs to get some lined paper but when I set foot in our office I quickly realized that I had no idea where to look for it.

And I was stunned by that realization.

The surprise was in no small part because as wife and mother of our home I am expected to know the location, state of repair, time until replacement, and approximate remaining battery life (if applicable) of roughly one million objects on demand, so I was floored that I could be so easily stymied. The main portion of the shock I experienced, however, was that it was only a few short years ago that I was never more than an arm's length from college lined notebook paper. I was once utterly surrounded by office supplies, five subject notebooks, both full and empty, reams upon reams of note paper, and quite possibly 100 pens. If I was away from home, I carried paper on my back, along with several books. I was at the bookstore buying paper at least every couple of months. You could argue that for most of my life, I was quite literally defined by my proximity to notebook paper. I was a hard core student, and my collection of office supplies was a testament to that fact. It was a physical testimony of what made up the majority of my personality, and where I spent my time.
Fast forward to Monday afternoon, and I was digging through my home office on some sort of deranged quest to find that one pack of paper I was absolutely positive I had seen floating around when we moved in. When I finally unearthed it, it wasn't even open. I found myself shocked all over again, and actually a little bit sad. Never had it hit me so hard that a major portion of my life was unequivocally over. I was saddened because apparently I hadn't even really noticed until a few years later.
Perhaps I never noticed that what had once been an object so central to my very being was now gone because I wasn't all that sad to see it leave. By the time college graduation finally came due, I was so thrilled to be finished with the years of slavery I didn't care if I never saw another notebook again. I guess I took what I thought at the time was a flippant joke truly to heart. Maybe it took me nearly five years to notice the absence because if I'd realized it any sooner, I would simply have felt continued relief. I'm not at all sorry to not be in school anymore, mind you--I wouldn't go back and trade what I have now if you paid me--but after all these years, I guess what I'm sorry about is that I could be so oblivious to the sweeping changes I've made.

This got me thinking about what objects have defined me since I left behind the lined paper days. When I was working full-time, it was always nasty microwaveable lunches at my beck and call, I suppose. When I was pregnant, it was baggies full of dry cereal to stem the desire to heave. And now, I'm never more than a few steps away from a size 3 Luvs diaper. I suppose diapers have become my new paper, a physical testament to what my life is really about and how I spend my time. Not that my daughter brings nothing to my life but poop, but that diapers represent what I always have at the ready, what I am in constant need of, that my time and energy is not directed at me, but a very small person who still pees her pants. I'm happy with that, but if you had told me in the lined paper days that I wasn't that far away from trading it all for diapers, I'm not sure what I would have thought about that.

I've also been thinking about my brother in context of all of this "defining myself by the objects that surround me" thing. He is now home after spending two years as a missionary in Mongolia. Virtually overnight, the objects that defined him, and how he spent his time, and where is priorities are, have to change. There are so many things that are part of your everyday life in the countryside of the third world that simply don't apply to the everyday in the good old US. But it's not just that. No more does he always have several copies of the Book of Mormon with him, strapped to his back, ready to share. Sure, he might plan to carry some around, but the day will come when his textbooks will outpace his back strength and he will have to take them out of his backpack to make room for what he needs right then. That doesn't mean he has traded something great for something so-so, it just means his immediate needs have changed. I don't know what his new objects will be, all I know is that he is in a state of confusing limbo right now. It's hard to let go of what you always had at hand, and it's even harder to realize that they have let go of you. That's what life is about, evolving and changing from what was important right then, to what is important now. And I want him to know that it's okay. It's okay to let your definitions change, or you might never find what brings you the most joy. You won't find the objects you want to keep if you don't collect new ones.

Today, while I was laying on the floor doing ab exercises, Samantha decided she needed attention right that very second, so of course, she came and sat on my face. It was at this point, I realized she had a diaper completely full of poop. Now, there was a time in my life, in fact any other time in my life but right now, that I would have been completely undone by another person sitting on my face with poop in their pants (diapers or no, it's gross). At this stage in my life though, I just got her off my face, explained that it's rude to sit on Mommy's face, and went to snag a clean diaper. After so many experiences like this one, I can honestly say I won't be sad to see the diaper stage of my life go either. But if my experience this week has taught me anything, years from now I just might be moving furniture and find a long lost size 3 Luvs, and while I won't want that time back per se, I'll certainly wonder where in the world it all went, and feel just a little sad.