Gabby has been getting into different hairstyles lately: she comes downstairs in the morning, and instead of her typical, “put my hair in a ponytail?” or, “Nah, I’ll just brush it,” she brings hair ties and requests: “Can we do the Skrillex?” This thrills me to no end: I love doing hair. My favorite activity as a kid was to try new hairstyles on my dolls; my own hair was cut in an unflattering Buster Brown #neverforget #momwhydon’tyoulikeme, but I did- and still do- love working on any hair whose owner will sit still for it.
Unfortunately, that hair has rarely lived in this house: I have a son with a ton of hair, which is so coarse that water rolls off it like he’s a duck. And one daughter, who recently decided to cut her hair in a pixie, and another who wants as little to do with her hair as possible. I distinctly remember all the times that toddler Gabby would strategically wait until the worst possible moment, before ripping out whatever cute bow or pretty or whatever I had put in her hair. I had sort of given up: no one wanted me to do their hair, and I had made peace with that.
Until recently, as I said. So this morning, as I was putting up Gabby’s hair for her newest invention, Ballerina Bun Friday, Gabby said, “You know, my friends all tell me that you should come over and do their hair.” I said “Oh yeah? That’s nice.” She went on, “Yeah, I am pretty lucky that you’re good at it.” This was unprecedented. I was opening my mouth, to thank her for noticing and appreciating what she has blithely cared nothing about her whole life…. then she went on: “So, I have been thinking about it, and actually: I might as well let you do cool stuff to my hair. Because then people are always like, ‘That’s part of the magic of Gabby.’ Plus, if I hate it, I just take it out.”
Translation: It’s all about Gabby, all the time.
It’s actually even cuter than this.
Addie J started tae kwon do about a month ago. Not because she was particularly interested in doing anything except watching Youtube videos about Minecraft, but mainly because we continue to insist that she participate in some kind of physical activity. This has resulted in many different versions of the same scene: Addie J, tooling around in the general vicinity of a volleyball net. Or with a tennis racquet. Or (most famously) all over the equipment at gymnastics– doing this thing where she’s having a great time without actually engaging in learning the sport. You’d have to see her do it to understand– but any sport or activity for the J has always ended in Dave and me pulling her and saying, “She had a great time, but she doesn’t care.” Addie is very, very happy and easygoing. This makes her such a ray of sunshine. It also means that, while she will happily attend whatever activity, if she doesn’t care about it there is simply no way to force it. I assumed tae kwon do would be more of the same.
Last night, she had her very first belt testing. Since I have no experience in martial arts, I have to constantly ask her instructors (instructors? Trainers? Masters? –Remind me to ask them what they’re called) really obvious questions such as, “How do I tie the knot in this belt?” and, “Wait– if she’s only been doing this a short while, should she be testing at all?” (I asked that question, thinking about how she would cheerfully shrug off any attempts to learn cartwheels, just running around and bouncing off all the foam surfaces in the gym. Addie’s short-lived gymnastics experience remains one of the most frustrating parenting moments for both Dave and me– not because she wasn’t suited to it. It was the depths to which she didn’t care.) But okay: if you think she would succeed at testing, we’re happy to give it a shot.
We all watched the J as they called her forward with her beginner’s group, and walked them all through a series of forms– what my sister Jill calls “synchronized swimming on land.” She was earnest and engaged. When she was off on her form, they called out a correction and she made it instantly. When they announced her name and her new rank, the whole place whooped and applauded for her and my heart grew three sizes. Afterward, we were getting ready to leave and Addie said she wanted to go ask a question. To my utter shock, she asked her instructor if she could compete yet. He said, “Sure, there’s a tournament nearby in a couple of weeks. Anyone who wants to compete, there’s a sign-up sheet on the wall.” And then he explained to me how it works, and what she would need to do. I was literally opening my mouth to say, “Well, actually that weekend is filled with Irish dance stuff, so we’ll probably not participate this time–” when I saw my little one– the one who doesn’t care about competition and who tends to require much prompting to commit to any activity– signing her name on the sheet on the wall.
I said, “……Okay. I guess we’re in.”
Our eldest child is almost 15. Dave went to a presentation last night regarding the school district’s options for young drivers, and came home with a printout of the PowerPoint; some additional information gleaned from a Q&A; and a sort-of stunned face. I agree: how did my sweet little tiny boy become this handsome teenager, with his lacrosse-head-stringing business and his braces off and his constant requests to practice driving the car?
Also, this is a conversation I recently had with him:
CAM: Hey Mom, FYI I got asked to the dance. I don’t need a new outfit, though, and please don’t plan on taking pictures.
JULIE: ….When is it?
CAM: This Saturday. I think.
JULIE: I’m going to need more information. Also, you’re getting a new outfit and I’m taking pictures.
This is not how I imagine these conversations going with a teenage girl.
Here’s Addie J’s idea of responsibility in class. We are so proud:
I freaking love a Monday off. I mean: who likes Mondays anyway? They’re like the end of the fun. I think we should have every Monday off, am I right?
The girls tried to go outside in the snow, but there’s not enough snow to play in. (I invited them to go to a cardio kickboxing class with me, but they gave me this face:)
Cammy is still sleeping, and I’m actually glad: I don’t think he gets enough sleep. He had an opportunity to attend an event today, for which he would have had to leave the house at 4:30 this morning. He was like,
Also, did I tell you that Cam got his first pair of glasses? His vision is pretty good; the optometrist suggested we get them because he’ll be driving soon, and it will help to have very crisp vision at night. First of all, you should see him in his glasses: turns out, he’s one of those people who looks awesome in glasses and I can’t stop checking out how old they make him look. Secondly, this is my feeling about this “soon he’ll be driving” situation:
Addie J said to me this afternoon,
“Mom, this has been THE MOST EPIC DAY of all time. I mean:
- We didn’t have school.
- We slept downstairs.
- We bought Valentine’s Day presents.
- You let Gabby and me pick out new essential oils for the oil diffuser.
- There were chocolate samples in the store.
- I saw a fork under the car.
- We tried Avocado Kettle Chips.
- AND we got Starbucks! Best day ever, Mom!”
-Don’t you wish you had the Best Day Ever too?
Our ladder seat, in heavy rotation last year.
The following things happen without fail each school morning. It’s like Groundhog Day over here:
- Cam showers and then gets back in bed. I then have to wake him up, about five minutes before his bus arrives. Every morning. (I also say, “Cam, why do we do this every morning?” -every morning.)
- Addie puts on the outfit she chose the night before. Then she changes into seven or eight other entire outfits, and comes downstairs about seven minutes before she’s supposed to leave.
- Gabby hands me something I need to sign, or pay for, or sign and pay for, thirty seconds before she leaves: “Oh Mom: today’s the last day I can bring this in.”
The funny thing is that I’m not even complaining. I’m rolling my eyes a little, yes– and believe me, sometimes these things drive me crazy on an individual basis– but, man: these are some happy years we’re living right now, these school years.
On a not-really-related note: at the end of last year’s Mardi Gras, we officially retired our ladder seat. With our youngest child an eight-year-old, we no longer really needed it. So, in the tradition of NOLA Mardi Gras, we passed it on to our family friends, who had two new babies in their family last year. We just returned from a ten-day vacation to the East Coast, so we didn’t go to Mardi Gras this year (and wow, have I been crabby this week). But our friends texted us a pic of their little ones in the ladder seat, little chubby hands reaching out toward the floats, and it made my day. Then they texted us another pic, of both girls crying and trying to escape. David texted, “…And another generation of kids wants to get down.” That REALLY made my day.
This year, we watched the Super Bowl with friends who had an absolutely massive spread. Sliders. Sloppy joes. Chicken pot pie. Brownies. Just unbelievable amounts of food; so, quite naturally, we all ate unbelievable amounts of food.
You know how I live in a house full of easy pukers? With the exception of Dave, everyone in my house is super prone to the barfs– especially the J, who will throw up roughly 65% of the time she attends an event with rich food. So, last night, about an hour after going to bed, Addie J came into my room and put her head down next to me. “Um, are you okay?” I asked her, stroking her hair while also wondering if I should get my face out of the danger zone. “I don’t know. My stomach hurts,” she responded. Then she hiccuped, and in my mind, things went Defcon Two. “Okay, let’s get you set up,” I said, and I tucked her back into bed, with her trusty pink plastic bowl by her side. (Note that the bowl seems to serve as a silent witness, rather than a collection vessel. Addie generally creates ungodly messes rather than contain herself to throwing up into a bowl– but I keep giving it to her and hoping). Then I went back to bed, wondering if either of her siblings would join the fun, and also wondering how long I would get to sleep before the carnage. And then, suddenly, my alarm told me it was 5:35. I got up and went into everyone’s rooms: no one threw up.
No one threw up.
This is unprecedented. You’re thinking that I’m making a big deal out of nothing; I’m not. Let me assure you that this happens. All. The time.
But no one threw up last night.
I’m going to be checking out the window for Four Horsemen all the way to work.
Early this week, I accidentally discovered something pretty appalling. (Sorry to vague it up, but I’m not interested in sticking my hand into this particular bucket of crazy. If you know me personally, though, hit me up and I’ll tell you all about it.) And it’s really been throwing me off all week: I have been sort of on edge, finding myself idly turning over this situation in my head. This morning I realized that I need to release it. It is beyond my control to change, it isn’t criminal, there are no innocent victims etc.– therefore, continuing to ruminate on it does nothing but negatively affect my life.
Isn’t that hard, though? I have to remind myself that as appalled as I might be, this has nothing to do with me. It’s like wringing my hands over Martin Shkreli– he’s awful, but he’s not in my wheelhouse. So today I am reminding myself, in the wise words of Will Smith: don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.
Oh- and I also discovered last night that one of my children does not know how jumping jacks are supposed to work. Funniest. Thirty seconds. Ever.
GABBY: Mom, what’s a domestic battery?
JULIE: Why do you ask?
GABBY: Well, I’m looking for something for my argumentative essay, and I read that this person was arrested. And it says “domestic battery.”
JULIE: Okay… well: sometimes, people who live in the same house get in fights. And when they become physical, then someone has to call the police.
GABBY: Okay, but I don’t understand what would be happening.
JULIE: A person who gets arrested for domestic battery has physically hurt someone who lives with them, usually because they’re fighting about something.
GABBY: Hurt them how? With what?
JULIE: Um, it depends, I guess. Sometimes people hit each other. Sometimes they might push each other.
GABBY: Like, just with their hands? No one uses anything?
JULIE: …..Well, I’m sure that sometimes they might use a weapon. I’m pretty curious about why we are having this conversation.
GABBY: I’m just trying to understand how it happens.
JULIE: Sweetie, do you want to tell me what this is about?
GABBY: Well, I read “domestic battery.” So I figured people were getting arrested for making illegal homemade batteries, but I couldn’t figure out how you could make them yourself and still, like, fit them into the remote and stuff.
GABBY: So I thought I would ask you.
JULIE: Yeah. Let’s start this conversation over.