Thursday, March 24, 2016

I don't like the new normal

airport, airplanes, hanger, terminal, window, beams, lights, man, shadow, black and whiteAllow me to indulge in some stream of consciousness rambling today.  My head has been filled with it since Tuesday when Europe suffered from another cruel and random attack.  This time it was in Brussels on a spring day that started out with promising blue skies.  Last November it was on an exceptionally mild evening when terrace caf├ęs were filling up.  And in 2001 it was another brilliantly blue sky day in September in Manhattan.  There is no rhyme or reason.  There never is.  Just people in the wrong place at the wronng time and other people who are totally misguided and brainwashed.

So running through my mind this time (like the other times) are thoughts like these:

Why do they hate us?  We don't hate them.

When will this end?

Is it safe to travel?  Is it safe to walk outside?

Is that ambulance siren I hear something to be afraid of?

What did those poor people think in the moments after the bombs exploded?

What can we do to stop this?

How can you kill innocent people like this?

And again: why do they hate us?

They were basically the same questions we all asked ourselves in 2001.  Sadly, not much has changed.  Sadly, we aren't that much safer.  And I keep thinking, it's a scary new world.  A brave new world.  But I don't feel that brave.  And I realize this must be a little what people felt like living under occupied France during WWII.  They didn't choose to be "under siege" or to live with the constant threat of danger.  But they had to live with it.  As do we.

And I say to myself, not again.  Not another loss of innocent life, not another gaping black hole in our hearts.  Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Turkey.  They all matter, but somehow when it's a place you know, like Paris and Brussels in my case (we flew out of that airport in July), it hits home.  It's too close for comfort.

And when I see the photos of a few victims, a happy traveler about to embark on a vacation, or a fresh-faced student with his life before him, I say, what a waste.  And why them?  If God is watching all this, why doesn't he do something?  Send us a big message, Thou Shalt Not Kill! and I really mean it this time.

Too many questions and not many answers that can satisfy me or help me sleep soundly at night.

I can only pray for the grieving families and pray that peace comes soon.  And pray that we can go back to normal.  The old normal, please.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five reasons a sick day is definitely not a waste of time

There's nothing like hearing your child call out at 5 a.m. to jolt you awake.  Even more so when she yells that she has just thrown up.  It sends your day into a tail-swing before it has even begun.  You go into the mom equivalent of auto-pilot mode.  Check that child is clean, get bucket, move child to bathroom, put her hair in a ponytail.  And your mind starts calculating like never before.  When should I text my boss to tell him I can't do the eight hours of lesson that are on my schedule today? Can any of my coworkers take said lessons and when should I text them?  It adds to the stress of having a sick child, though the child should be all that matters.

Such was my Wednesday last week.  And my Thursday, too, because although she seemed to be much better Wednesday evening, the next morning she was ill again.  And my mind raced again, scrambling to rearrange my day.  But after the initial stress of informing the boss and students, I started realizing, this was a bit of a blessing in disguise.  Here's why:

1.  Forced quality and down time.  Moms and dads today know that each day can feel like a race.  Wake up, get kids dressed and fed.  Take them to school then it's off to work or appointments ourselves.  Evenings are packed with homework, bath, dinner prep, and if we can squeeze in some playing and hugging, then we go to sleep happy.  Only to do it again the next day.  We live for the weekends when the pace is quieter, but those times can also be filled with trips to the library and grocery store, scout meetings, birthday parties and just general house cleaning.

So sometimes a sick day can be a gift.  As strange as that may sound, as hard as it is to see your little angel feverish and weak, all of a sudden, you are spending more time with them.

2.  Binge-watching.   Considering my little one was too weak to do much else, the TV was her best friend.  Last week when she was up to it, we watched a few films on Netflix (in addition to all the Littlest Pet Shops she consumed en masse).  The Chronicles of Narnia took us to the snowy forest and Princess Bride brought back memories for me and created some for Juliette.  Ella Enchanted was a fun, modern fairy tale which made us laugh.  And Snow Buddies satisfied Juliette's need for all things animal.

3.  Naps.  Need I say more?!  Like I need an excuse to nap.  Well, the guilty gene I carry does usually make me justify naps by extreme tiredness or illness.  That's just what we did both days she was under the weather.  We napped on the couch together in the afternoon (hey, moms woken at 5 need naps, too).  I can't get enough of watching my little (big) girl sleep.  Even when it is in a sickly state, it's always a marvel to see her dreaming face, to watch her little chest rise and fall rhythmically.  We both woke more refreshed.   

4.  Cuddle time.  Even though my seven-year old is still a rather cuddly child, on a sick day she may be more willing to hold my hand or let me play with her hair.  She needs more comforting so I get to give more comforting, too.  Pragmatic me is always anticipating the teen years when she will push away from my hugs, so I want to get in as many as I can now.

5. Putting off chores.  Since I was caretaking, I didn't feel so bad about not using my unexpected free time to reorganize closets or pantries.  Those thing can wait.  Mom duties called.  Childhood illnesses help put things in perspective and it gives me permission to just chill and be with my girl.  I'll admit I did sweep or put some laundry in the machine but that was about it. 

Thought I wouldn't wish any more sick days on anyone, sometimes they are little nuggets of time given back to us.  Kids grow up so fast, as everyone keeps saying, myself included.  I don't want to blink and miss it. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Things today's kids say that we never did

So old school now!
In an age where toddlers and tweens rack up debt from in-app purchases on their parents' iPads and phones, in an era where they think all screens should be tactile, it's no surprise their language has changed.  They easily master multiple interfaces, just like us, and throw techy words around as easily as they do cartoon superhero names.  They might not have their own Facebook accounts (thank God!), but they know how to "like" a post.  So, herewith a list of some the darndest things today's cuties say.

1. At breakfast (and before "good morning"): Can I watch something on your iPad?

2. Does grandma have Netflix?

3. Can you print me out something to color from the Internet?

4. Can I play on your phone?

5. Can you put this picture on Facebook?

6. Where's the "like a lot" button (on FB)?

7. What, only ten people "like" this photo of me?

8. Can I draw something (from a tutorial) on youtube?

9. Can I delete this photo?

10.  Before bedtime: Can I just play one more game on your phone/iPad?

Despite all the technology at their fingertips, there is still one thing they say that we did, too.  "I'm bored. I don't know what to do!"

Heaven help us when they become full-fledged teens!  What do your techy kids say often?