And for once I was SuperMom

Monday, October 15, 2012

Playground Bully

“Here Em, come here, you can climb down the rocket.  Stay there, I’ll go around and show you how,”  Emma is about to turn three, and I’ve started to realize that there are a lot of things that she is capable of doing that I haven’t encouraged her to do.  I flipped her on her belly and positioned each foot and hand in the slots of a tube attached to a play structure, that Emma has named ‘the rocket.’  After she climbed down she ran over to another element on the play structure, a rope attached to some steep stairs.  I was just thinking about how to help her up it when a boy about six rounded the corner, he looked at Emma,
“BOO!” he yelled and then climbed up the rope cutting her off.  Emma cowered a bit and then put her hand on the rope, wanting to climb up after him.  I took her hand and moved her away, I was suspicious that this child was capable of violence.  I took her over to ‘the rocket,’
“Here Emma want to climb up the rocket?”
“No,” she cowered, put her hands to her mouth, and began to bend her knees together, the beginnings of a melt down.  The boy ran up next to us,
“That’s not a rocket,” he says.
“Yes, it is,” I said defending my daughter’s imagination.  Emma was now almost to the ground with her hands in her mouth.  The little bully, I mean boy, whipped in front of us and started climbing ‘the rocket.’
I grabbed Emma and put her on my hip and took her another structure.  The boy’s mom was several feet away talking to someone else.  I know it was her because we were the only moms on the playground.  The boy was right behind us and whipped up the stairs as I was trying to convince Emma to climb them.  The meltdown was in full tilt.  I didn’t want to leave yet, because we had a few more minutes until dinner time and I wanted her to play.
And I didn’t want to be driven off the playground by a six year old.  I kept thinking,
“Should I call out to the other mom and ask for help, what do I say, ‘Your rude son is chasing us around.’  Or, ‘Can I get a little help, please?’”
Emma didn’t want to climb those stairs, how about the slide?  We are wailing now.  I threw her back on my hip and marched to our stroller and plunked her down.  Handed her juice, took a breath, and looked up at the other mom. She was looking at me like I had done gone and lost my mind.  I grabbed the handle bars of the stroller, wheeled it around and left. 
I could hear the boy stomping on the structure behind me shouting,
“This is my playground!”  He had followed us again.
I could feel the hot bubbles pop in my blood.
I may have hissed something under my breath as I left. Might have.

My heels pounded the ground as I marched home.  Emma was calm now, pacified by juice.  Was I just chased off the playground by a kindergarten bully?  Should I have corrected him?  Should I have said something to that mom?
When we rounded the corner, I saw Scott’s bright green shirt coming toward us.  As I let the presence of my husband relax I could feel the shaking rise, the little gurgle of tears in the back of my throat, was I that angry?  I was. 
Scott told me that I did the best thing, that I took the path of peace.
What do you think?  What should I have done?  Did I do the right thing?  What are the playground rules about these situations?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hello Beautiful

About a year ago a friend included me on a Facebook feed.  An open discussion of beauty.  Why did we all not feel beautiful.  This particular always greeted me with, ‘Hello, beautiful.’  Initially I would blanch at it, seemed too naked a compliment, something I wanted to hear so much, but didn’t want the need on my face to show.  The discussion fizzled.  Some of us offered ways that we had felt better about ourselves over the years.  I don’t think anyone came out feeling beautiful. 
I love that young friend, with her desire to change the world.  I can remember years ago wanted to turn forces around, stomping around cursing the injustices that I felt.  I’ve gotten more fatalistic about it as of late.  That maybe it’s just inherent, that we all feel insecure.
I saw Cindy Crawford on a talk show and the host mentioned that Donald Trump had spoken of her to the host, the Donald had said that she was a great business woman.  Cindy’s response?
“Oh, I thought you were going to say that he thought I was beautiful.”  Are you serious?
I remember talking to my mother-in-law about all this, I blamed the media, the skinny models, and the companies that perpetuate that ideal of beauty.  She shrugged,
“I think it’s because men look at us.”  That felt so grotesquely accurate.  That throughout the ages women have always felt inadequate.  I remember seeing a political cartoon from the turn of the century, it depicted two old women walking through a gallery and saying,
“Venuses, always Venuses!” Complaining that only beautiful women were depicted.
I’ve gone up and I’ve gone down.  Some stages of my life feeling beautiful, fit, and strong.  Other times feeling overweight, and flaw laden.  The times where I’ve felt good I’ve almost felt like I’ve had to hide it.  I remember sitting in a room with friends as they went through several features, insulting them as they went, I felt like I almost had to make something up to get along with them.
So what do I with two little daughters that I think are the most beautiful little creations?  Some say downplay their appearance.  Emphasize their intelligence and skills.  I like that.  But I never struggled with being confident in my intelligence and honing skills is a life long endeavor.  How do we keep from passing on a legacy of insecurity? 
One friend talked about a conversation that she had with her husband where he pointed out that she had to stop saying denigrating things about her body in front of her daughter.  Oh, give me strength.  Keep my mouth shut?  A sacrifice on the altar of self control.  Because sometimes it feels good to just dig in and insult yourself.  You know that you’re being ridiculous, and if you say something ridiculous someone will tell you that you’re wrong, because even though you’re pretty sure that you’re ridiculous, you still need to hear it. 
I want them to have beauty in their back pocket.  A card they whip out when they want it.  Not to rely on it, to know that they don’t need to worry about it.  How do I greet them?
“Hello, beautiful.”

Monday, October 8, 2012

Open It Up

The number blink back up at me.  I look up at a friend.  They are the same as they were two weeks ago.  I look at a friend,
“How’d you do?”                      
“I’m up a pound.”  We talked, she blinked red wet eyes, and said she thought she’d been doing well,
“I have to just try harder,” I feel that so much in my own life.
Try harder.  White knuckle.
So I try harder at working at my art.  I sit staring at blank mocking white.  Erasure marks tell me to take a break, come back when I am inspired or at least not droolingly tired.
Try harder.  White knuckle.
Furrowed brow.
So I try harder at being a mom.  My voice hits a note I don’t like.  My child’s voice hits that same note.
Try harder.  White knuckle.
I don’t pray for patience with my children anymore.  The wise will often intone that is a mistake.  They’re right.  But I don’t think praying for patience with my children will invite difficulty, they already try my patience.  I’m already there.  Short.  Stressed.
White knuckled.
So I dig.  What’s wrong?  What can I do with my heart to make this easier?
Mother Teresa writes about opening your heart.  Pray to God that He will open your heart to love.
I have sat in the pews Sunday, after Sunday, after Sunday, and listened to well meaning male pastors re-tell scripture.  We’re thinking about this wrong.  We’re acting on this wrong.
Try harder.  White knuckle.
Give up.
But I don’t.  I’ve been in this for too long.  The furrows of Christianity are rutted deeply in my heart.  And I know God.  I know His touch and voice.
I’ve started to pray to take joy in my children.  An opening.  Open my heart to the beauty that is my two sweet healthy girls.  An opening to thanks that they were not born palsied or missing chromosomes.
How to open your heart?  What did Mother Teresa say?  Pray for it.  Those are the prayers of mine that usually get answered loud and clear, those where I pray for a change in my heart.  A change for the better.  If you pray for a bigger house or a better car you might not always get what you want….then sometimes you get what you need.
(Sorry I couldn’t help myself.)

PS:  I don’t know how you ‘open it’ for weight loss.  I’ll have to think about that.  Then I should probably lose some weight….