Worrying things

said by my kindergartner on this, the morning of school pictures:

“It’s picture day? Do we have any crisco?”

“Let me see what my hair looks like in the mirror… Hey, I thought I said I wanted two spikes!”

“Hmm.. We seem to be running low on gunpowder. Oh. I meant dog food but I was thinking about gunpowder..”

“I opened a nail salon in the bathroom with your nail polish!”

I blame this directly on Calvin and Hobbes.

Just in case

having a first day of kindergarten was not enough

he had to make sure to get another first in!

At breakfast he lost a tooth and swallowed it!

“Come on!” He said, eyes welling, “How am I ever going to get money if I keep swallowing my teeth?”

“What if we leave a note for the tooth fairy?” I suggest.

“Yeah, it can say, ‘Sorry, you’ll have to look for my tooth in the sewer.'”

Lucky Blue Star

Today was rough, yesterday not so great and to be honest the last half of summer has been a bit “less than ideal.” (I say “less than ideal” because if I said what I really think, at best, you would back away slowly, and at worst, I might break the internet.)

You may have noticed I took the summer off writing. It was not, as you surely imagined, because things were going swimmingly and we were too busy eating organic artisan cupcakes while free playing in the dirt at our house in The Hamptons. Picture the exact opposite of that, add in more stress eating the 2am tacos of shame, and you’ve nailed it.

And then, just like that, the summer’s over. Today is Ash’s last day as a preschooler.

Lest I slip into carelessness and forget it is my Full Time Job to worry, he made sure to be extra difficult today. BECAUSE HE CARES.

“Ash, put your shoes on so we can go outside”
“No ma’am”
“I appreciate you saying ma’am but you still have to do it.”
“No ma’am”
“Ash, put your shoes on now!”
“I choose.. … Laying on the couch.”
“That wasn’t an option!”
“…”
“…”
“No thank you ma’am?”

To be fair, today was a little crazynutballs. New counselor appointment, last minute shot, frazzled nerves (mine).. Anyone, five or not, would be a little cranky. Still, I look at this child and wonder what on earth we’re going to do with him. I lock myself behind a door to take a deep breath so he doesn’t see how terrified I am. What will his teacher do with him?

These are the thoughts that have me frantically calling my husband at work, both kids in time out, crying and panicking, “What are we going to do?”

So when I finally put my little ne’er-do-well to bed, I’m not reminiscing about how fast he’s growing up. I’m not picturing his wee feet in booties or the fleeting nature of time. To be honest, I’m not enjoying this milestone, because school has only ever added stress for us. And I don’t know if he’s ready to dive back in and I’m pretty sure I’m not.

“Mom!” He says, excitedly, “Don’t forget the ‘Get Ready Confetti!'”

Because his teacher is already a wonderful person (who surely doesn’t deserve the tsunami that’s about to hit her classroom in the form of my child) she sent packs of confetti home to put under his pillow in case he gets nerves and can’t sleep.

“I wonder how it got lucky?” He says, beaming with capital “I” Ideas on this topic. “Maybe she has a good luck machine.. No, that’s silly.” He says just as quickly.

“Sprinkle the rest,” I say, worried about boring mom things like bedtimes and good night’s rest and starting off on the right foot.

But he doesn’t drop the last one. He holds on to it.

And then this boy, this tiny miscreant who hates being told what to do, holds out the last lucky blue star to me.

“Here mom,” he says, “I saved this one for you, in case you’re a little nervous too.”

Oh son.

You have no idea how much I need that star tonight.

“It’s just one, but I will try to make it as lucky as all of mine,” he says, holding it in his fist and saying the magic words only children know before pressing it into my palm.

And that moment I know. I will save this star–this memory–forever.

May your spirit always go before you. May you be seen. And everything will be all right.

You are all stardust

Our newly 3yo (as of the 9th) got a new big girl bed, and after chasing each other around, aggravating and general nonsense, they both snuggled in together and wanted to sleep in it.

Of course it would never actually work, but I let them snuggle for a minute and as I was turning to leave, I heard him whisper in her ear, quietly, with intensity, as if it were the most important thing in the world,

“Lucy… You were once a star in the sky.”

My heart you guys.

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.” – Lawrence Krauss

My favorite thing

When Ash was just shy of two and not speaking at all, we had an evaluator come to the house. He was young, expecting his own first child, and we ticked our way through a series of developmental questions. The last question he asked was, “What is your favorite thing about Ash?”

This being my favorite subject, I started talking and when I wouldn’t shut up, he sat back, smiling, and relaxed.

“It’s so nice,” he finally said, “to hear that. Some moms can barely think of anything.”

He leaned in close. “I had one mom struggle for an answer and finally say, ‘When he’s sleeping.'”

We stared at each other incredulously for a while. How could that be someone’s favorite thing about their own child?

Sleeping.

Their favorite.

And then the evaluation was over.

Now that Ash is a very loquacious five, and has traded in fifty cent words for $5 paragraphs about any and everything, the idea that anyone was ever concerned he didn’t talk enough is amusing to say the least. And so I’d long since put the evaluation out of my head.

But tonight.

Tonight, after a day filled with joys and tragedies so steep you wonder how you go on.. After statements so heart-wrenchingly clever and funny I had to scramble to jot them down, quickly, to keep them forever. After testing so strong I thought we would both burst from the struggle of trying to outdo the other and my husband would come home and find us in tiny frazzled pieces scattered around the house.

Tonight.

He scream-cried in bed because for some reason tonight was the first night he “just really, really couldn’t” sleep alone. And I soothed him by saying he didn’t have to sleep but just lay in bed and I would check in in five minutes. And when I checked, he was, as I had hoped, prayed, crossed fingers, peacefully fast asleep.

This clever boy, who holds galaxies of wonder in his eyes. This boy who can yank the heart out of my chest and return it reanimated. This boy who never stops, not even for a second. This boy was still.

And I put my hand on his never-still forehead and brushed the hair back from his face, and thought, this could be my favorite. Tomorrow I will have a dozen new favorites. But for this moment, this could be my favorite.

And I remembered that evaluator, and realized that we had missed something. It isn’t that we love them more when they sleep or less when they’re awake. It’s not that we don’t love the activity, the flurry, the personality; even when it’s strong, wild, defiant.

It’s that at night, there is space. There is no action required from me. No judgement needs to be made, no correction, no redirection, no worries about his behavior. He is free to exist in that moment, and I am free to enjoy him.

If you believe in any sort of divinity, it’s impossible to experience this moment without realizing it is a gift. A miracle. Each breath a benediction. Breathe in. Amen. Breathe out. Amen.

Amen. Amen.

If everything’s a pun, then nothing is.. whoa.

Guys.

Guys. My poor kids.

I love puns. I do. I am the groan inducing, playground clearing pariah of a punster. I am the walking epitome of the dad joke. And they’re stuck with me.

Worse yet, I think I’ve converted them to the dark side. (I’d say the dork side, but that’d be derivative.)

Exhibit A: Today, a play doh creation was falling and without thinking, I said, “Help me, Obi Wan Playdohbi, you’re my only hope!”

And Ash laughed for five minutes straight.

Five. Minutes. Straight.

Crying laughing.

Exhibit B: Ash has been building towers and telling me they are his “townhalls.” Well, yesterday, he crashed one down, turned to me, and in a sportscaster’s voice announced, “Now that’s what I call a town-fall!”

Shrieks of laughter ensued, and he may have chuckled a bit too.

I guess they couldn’t fight it. It’s in their blood. But you know what? It’s totally worth it because we now have a name for eggs made in a muffin tin, as he walked by the oven and said, “Muffin eggs? More like ‘meggs!'” A handful of cashews elicits an excited, “Cashewsome!” and when I stubbed my toe twice, he told me it was really “stubborn.”

And really.

Puns are just efficient language. Efficient, hilarious language.

Pretty much, he’s totally the best.

(In case you’re missing stories about Lu, she informed me today that caterpillars go into a “raccoon” before turning into butterflies. So. Not exactly a pun.. We’re hoping she stays pretty. KIDDING!)

It’s not you, it’s me. (Actually, it is you; you are the worst and you should change.)

I wish I could say we are breaking up because I no longer care about you. Sadly, that’s not the case. I care. I care way too much. I may have never even met you, but chances are, I care what you think.

I care random googler, facebook commenter, voice in the latest article about adhd.

I have to admit, it stings when I am trying to search for info about my son’s struggles and three of google’s first suggestions are all variations of “ADHD is fake.”

There is a thing that is making my kid’s school life hell and you, random person I’m breaking up with, think I’m making it all up, probably because I’m looking for excuses for my bad parenting.

I cringe when I read your advice, the articles you share, the offhand comments you make in the checkout line about someone else’s kid that have literally zero things to do with my son, but that make me bite my lip until it bleeds so I’m not *that* person who started ugly crying in the grocery store.

For some reason, it is SO important to me that you know whatever latest “cause” for ADHD, whatever fad opinion, whatever article you just read, doesn’t apply to me, to us. That we can’t be explained away so easily, and that if there was a simple solution, we would have found it.

“Let me tell you,” I want to yell, “that my son had no screen time before two years old. We didn’t even own a TV. Let me talk about our screen free summer and the zero improvement in symptoms. Let me tell you about protein, the no processed food, the fish oil supplements, the discipline in our house. Let me tell you.”

But the more I thought about it, this thing that is severely affecting the quality of my life, and in turn my family’s lives and happiness, the more I realized ADHD isn’t stressing me out. You are.

Which is great, actually.

Because ADHD I can’t get away from, but you, the kind of stress and anxiety that you bring, you are optional. I’m not saying it’s all in my head, it’s universal to be hurt when your experience is invalidated. But the part that is optional is the part where I spend a large amount of my already very taxed mental energies, feeling ganged up and anxious about people, many of whom I don’t know well or at all, and all of whom don’t know my brilliant, creative gift of a child like I do.

The truth is Ash and I are better than that. We are rocking this life, the best way we can maneuver, and between the two of us (mostly him) we outshine any diagnosis, any medical form, any IQ test, and we definitely outshine you, random googler/forum contributor/loud-talking-mouth-breathing-stranger, any day of the week.

As moms, we waste too much time worrying about the details. Did I post a photo of him with a slurpee? Are people going to assume I don’t care about red food dye? Did I give him my phone in the waiting room? Are people going to think he’s a screened out zombie? Did I use the proper tone correcting him in public? Will people assume his behavior is a direct result of me being too stern or too lax?

But no more.

I’m breaking up with you.

I’m saying bye felicia to your opinions.

I’m shake-shake-shaking it off.

I’m putting everything you own in a box to the left.

You can feel free to think I’m a bad parent (or not!). Your opinion lives with you and it’s not welcome here anymore.

We’re far too busy working towards our dreams to listen to the people who think we’re doing it the wrong way, but don’t worry, when we get there, we’ll be sure to wave.

Oh. and in case you were wondering.