Monday, January 26, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
... and my kids got their first formal introduction to Barack Obama.
Now, for my children, as with most of his followers, Barack Obama is a rock star.
“That’s ROCK-O-MAMA!” Zip cries out every time he sees a picture of our new president.
On the way to speech class, while listening to the news leading up to the inauguration, Tizzy asks: “Why are the people yelling?”
“Because they’re excited for Barack Obama.”
“They’re very proud,” Tizzy replied.
“Do you remember why?”
“Because Barack Obama is going to be the next Present!”
Later that afternoon, he was talking to one of his friends.
“Rocco? Do you know who Barack Obama is?”
“Yes, he’s the new President,” replied fellow four-year-old Rocco.
“That’s right. He’s the new Presenter.”
Zip is completely enamored with Obama’s magnetism.
“Show me the movie ‘bout Ba-Rock Bama!?”
“Ba-Rock Bama likes cannons?” He asks after watching the end of the inauguration speech for the 25th time in a row.
“Dat’s his Michelle?” He asks after begging me to play the first dance over and over again.
They’re equally smitten with Malia and Sasha. When they see pictures or videos of them, all they can do is giggle.
Today, we were in the car with the radio on, and the announcers were talking about Obama’s first day on the job.
“What are they talking ‘bout Ba-Rock Bama?” Zip pipes up from the back seat.
“They are talking about laws that Barack Obama is putting into place. Laws are like rules. The president is the person who protects and guides our country, and just like your teachers at school, it’s the job of the president to keep everyone safe and to treat everybody fairly.”
“Yeah,” Tizzy said. “Barack Obama doesn’t allow ANY hitting in the White House!”
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
To the rest of you old faithfuls, thank you for your regular comments. I love knowing that you’re here, and I love being able visit you in return.
While we’re on the subject of de-lurking, or more accurately, lurking, I once had a neighbor tell me at a Christmas party that, when he was a teenager, he used to break into his neighbor's houses and make breakfast while they were out. Or, he might sit and read a book, or take a nap in the quiet house. He never stole anything. Well, that is, if you don’t count the few eggs and toast, and he’d obviously gotten over this crimespree by the time I knew him.
While this is all very creepy, this story has always fascinated me, and I’ve wondered if his neighbors were aware of his presence. Whether he’d adequately cleaned up after himself, or thoroughly creeped them out by leaving unwashed dishes. Whenever I’ve misplaced something, I think about him, and entertain the idea that maybe someone’s just come in and taken it.
By no means, am I condoning this behavior, and neither was he, when he told me the story in the context of those odd things we do when we’re young, for which we have no explanation.
Beyond creepy was the building manager in our first city apartment, who would let himself in when we were out on a regular basis, go through our things and leave our newly delivered mail on the table. He spent his days roaming the halls and rummaging through everyones flats. Nobody ever complained because the owner of the building was even crazier. We soon broke our lease.
Lately, many small things have gone missing around here, and those of you with small children will agree, there is nothing unusual about this. I sometimes feel a bit seasick given the continuos motion with which our things float about the house. Last week it was vitamin supplements, diapers and almond butter. Those are the kinds of things that make you wonder if people are “borrowing” from you.
The vitamins reappeared, miraculously where we'd left them. The diapers will probably be found the week after Zip's been potty trained. The almond butter? For all I know, it could be tucked under a plant in the backyard.
Just the other day, that’s exactly where we found this:
Monday, January 12, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The truth about this New Year, 2009: I’m jumping into it with cheerful optimism, but fully expecting icy waters. For reasons that are rudimentary and boring, we are cutting out my most luxurious expense: preschool. The short explanation: The Economy. I wish we were alone in this, but I know we are not. I am feeling very grateful that my husband still has his job. I know that for many this is no longer the case, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
A year and a half ago, when we got both boys enrolled, I was counting the days before they could start. Having had two boys back-to-back in less than two years was certainly challenging for me, and not having had a babysitter of any kind or family who could fill in the cracks, meant that I was feeling a bit cracked. Ten hours a week, I learned, was just ten hours, but it gave me time to screw my head back on, or at least mop the floors, and I was always a little cheerier for it.
I chose to be a “Stay at Home Mom” for several reasons, but primarily financially. For some reason, when “Stay at Home Dads” say they are staying home for financial reasons, people seem to understand that it means that they really would be making less than they were paying out for childcare, because why else would a dad stay home unless he had to! (I say that with the utmost respect, Dads; I know this is not the first time you’ve heard it.) When a woman stays home, however, she really must be pampered, using the time for spa dates with her girlfriends and shopping in between pedicures. Gross generalizations? We’re all guilty of them. When people would roll their eyes at me and say, “It must be nice to stay at home with your kids and not have to worry about a thing,” I would smile knowingly thinking, “Must be nice to use your mind, have a daily adult conversation, and go on an occasional date with your husband without wondering about the milk money.” But again, these feelings both come from privilege.
While going to art school, (Ah-ha-ha-ha!!!) which I planned to pay off with an art degree, (HA-HA-HA-HA!!!) I worked much of the time as a nanny. I came face to face with class privilege, when, as a white student, I was frequently making twice the salary the Haitian, Cuban, Salvadorian nannies I was attending play-dates with were making. I was only supporting myself with the additional aid of student loans and grants, and, later, help from my mother and husband. The women I worked with would tell me stories of leaving their own children with neighbors, or older children, while they worked 60-70+ hour work weeks to support them, as well as sending money to their extended families in their countries of origin. I knew women who were live-in nannies for families that provided them with food and shelter and “spending money,” with essentially no time off, who had children that were being raised back home by their parents on their “spending money.” Some of these women had been away from home for the duration of their kid’s childhoods, and their comfort was in knowing that the money they sent home was providing them with a proper education.
All this is to say that, while we've had to scrimp and save to make this staying at home gig work, I feel privileged to have done so. Now, it appears that even the privileged are having to look at a different kind of life style. Daily, we are reading about people losing their jobs, their retirements, and their 401K plans. We are reading about worldwide food shortages, wars, and global recession. I know that even in the past years of economic prosperity, the poverty in this country, let alone the rest of the world, has been extreme, and that for a huge number of people, these sacrifices are nothing new, if not ironic.
I say this with optimism, we are feeling fortunate. While giving up preschool, we currently have food and shelter, running water, warmth and true abundance, computers, phones, a car, toys, clothes, washer/ dryer/ dishwasher... luxuries... things to take for granted that people all over the world, including our own rich nation, live without.
I very well may have to go back to work before my children are in school full-time. For now cutting out pre-school should hopefully give us a cushion. Pre-school, regularly touted as the gateway to college, necessary for future education, is still a luxury. My children, however, are not going to be deprived by being held back. Tizzy is still going to be attending speech therapy, for free, in an excellent school district. Not only is it pre-school equivalent, but, he actually thinks it’s kindergarten.
Our parents have given both boys dance lessons for their birthdays and Christmas gifts this year, and we have an amazing, free story time program at our local library that people drive for miles around to attend. While I may not be currently supporting us with my art degree, (*ahem*... what do they pay the career counselors at art colleges? They are so skilled at filling impressionable minds with illusions of grandeur!), my children will be reaping the benefits of my education while we cut and paste, and count and sing, and know each other just a little better for the time we’ve spent with one another. No, I think my children will quite enjoy the extra time with me. It’s my luxury that will be cut - those precious hours of alone time - but, truly, in the greater picture, it’s a blessing. Another reason I stayed home was to watch my children grow. Being responsible for teaching them at this young stage of their lives is really making me stop and do just that. Really watch them grow. It’s so easy to rush, and fret and find a million other things to take care of. If I’ve learned anything from taking care of dozens of children from other families, it’s that they grow so fast, and you don’t get this time back. Even in knowing this, the time with my own children has flown by. They are now old enough for me to see beyond their utter dependence, and yet still young enough for me to pause and absorb their joyful playfulness before they rush past me at the door in search of independence and life experience.
This is not a post against working parents. I grew up in day care, and was raised by a single working mom. I fully intended to be a working mother. Nor is it a woe-is-me. We live in a world where there is always more affluence to be found, frequently just around the corner, but I’m not foolish enough to not consider myself affluent. The poverty in this world far outweighs the affluence, and always has. Of that, I am aware. This is just a reflection at the beginning of another year to recognize and be grateful for my richest assets. While times are tight, I feel truly blessed to have my health, to have the love of those in my life, and the opportunity to flourish. For that, I jump readily into icy water.