nursery rhymes, or excuse me, what?

I talked a big game pre-birthing a child, as in “I’ll only eat organic, gluten free fare when I’m pregnant” and “I would never feed my baby HFCS or junk food” and “no TV ever” and “I’ll be sure my baby’s library is carefully curated”…..

And after 16+ months, I’m taking a moment to stop and realize how freaking weird so many nursery rhymes and children’s stories are that I’m reading to my child! Think about it!

jack and the beanstalk

I’m reading the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to A, and it’s all, “kid gets swindled by seedy (ha) character into selling a cow for 5 seeds at market. Mom throws a hissy fit and throws the beans out the window, prompting them to grow overnight into a beanstalk that hits the clouds. Kid climbs this miraculously fast-growing beanstalk (where was his mother?) and a creepy giant almost killed him while he stole the giant’s prized possessions. Then he kills the giant when he gets to the bottom first and chops down said beanstalk. So little ones, gather ’round and hear the moral of the story: take what isn’t yours and you’ll be fiiiiiine.

And where’s Jack and the Beanstalk 2? Where this dumb-dumb kid gets swindled out of the talking harp and before long he and his mother are again destitute?

I am having some trouble finding a concise (read: one paragraph) explanation of this and other nursery rhymes/stories we tell our children, but people are too wordy and share too many potential meanings. Nursery rhyme exegesis is a thing, y’all. A thing for people who clearly don’t have toddlers and thus have gobs of time on their hands to pontificate. GIVE ME NAMES, people. I need a short lesson on what the metaphors are.

As in, Humpty Dumpty is about King Richard II, yes? And Ring Around the Rosies is about the Bubonic Plague, yes? Maybe not. And why do we all sing the “ashes, ashes” verse of that strange song?! The other verses are way more chill, says Snopes.

Over to Jack and Jill. We sing about two little kids having to go uphill to get some water (let that sink in for a second. Makes no sense unless they’re scaling up the side of a MOUNTAIN to get to a spring), Jack’s HEAD BREAKS OPEN, and Jill follows suit. FOR WHAT PURPOSE? First off, water is usually gathered down low, not up a hill, amiright? The best interpretation I found is this: King Charles I wanted taxes increased on liquor and Parliament refused. Then he tried to get the volume of a Jack (1/2 pint) to be reduced, but to keep the tax the same. Ok fine. And there’s that crown emblem on the half pint glasses. Broke crown, got it, I guess. And as a result of the Jack volume “falling down,” the volume of a “gill” (1/4) pint or “Jill” decreased, too. So gather ’round again, children, and hear about some hard liquor volume woes. (Source: Wikipedia that references this book I am adding to my Library List!)

And Pop Goes the Weasel? What is that? It has absolutely nothing to do with the weasel animal! So strange.

And don’t get me started on people’s attempts to write “good” children’s books that are immensely lam. I think I’m going to start making up new stories that go with the pictures in A’s books… will this slow my daughter’s development?! Maybe. Keep me from losing it? Yes. Yes it will.

put your phone down, people.

LET IT BE KNOWN that I am by no means a model citizen at what I’m about to get all preachy about, but after what I witnessed today, I’m making a massive change in how and where and when I use my smartphone.

I decided that A and I would have lunch at the Cafe Bistro inside Nordstrom today. It was a lovely treat; food was SO good, and A was immensely well-behaved, cheesing it up to the kind waiter and the neighboring tables and not throwing food. We were in the middle of an intense game of tic-tac-toe (kidding: she was taking the crayons out of the box and putting them back in ad nauseum) when I looked up to see FIVE tables around us with inhabitants on their smartphones.

Five.

It was gross.

Four of these tables consisted of moms with their kids. One lady was by herself so I’ll give her a pass. Acknowledging the irony that I was joining their ranks when I whipped out my phone to snap a photo of the perpetrators, I tried to sneakily capture as many tables as possible. Should have used the panorama function. Will work on stealth mode for doumentation in the future.

people on their phones at cafe bistroA and I shared some fries. Don’t judge.

Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion. I clearly have no clue what’s happening in their lives. They could have all been corresponding with a dear family member or checking in on a sick friend….(one was perusing photos, so no excuses for her – girl yes I saw your screen)…. but I know what’s happening when I’m usually on my phone.

I mindlessly turn to my phone to fill the time, to numb my emotions, to distract me from annoyances, to feel important and check likes/follows/comments, to escape from the monotony… Sure, there is a great deal of good that these fascinating pieces of technology can foster, like facilitating meaningful, authentic connections with others, but I get sick to my stomach when I think of the hours I waste scrolling through other people’s lives when my life is passing by right on the other side of the screen.

Back to the restaurant. Holy cow, moms. Can you please pay attention to your children for the brief 30-45 minutes it takes to eat lunch? Summer is nearly over and your kids will be back in school. They, as you well know, grow up entirely too fast.

And we aren’t promised tomorrow, you know?

I’m thinking of people who have lost loved ones, who would give their right arm to have a child of their own, who missed their chance to apologize, who ache when they look back at how half-awake they lived their lives…

WHAT ARE WE DOING??!?!

Andy Crouch has a book called the Tech-Wise Family (here’s an article about it and here’s where you can get the book – I’m reading through some detailed book notes – shoot me a note and I can forward the notes to you!) that is gently convicting and contains practical ways to appropriately incorporate technology in our families.

So yeah. Lunch today was an odd and eerie look into other people’s lives and I couldn’t quite stomach it. This is a strange time! We are becoming programmed to be so incredibly dependent on our smartphones and many of us are missing the lives that are right in front of us. After today’s observation, I’m massively curbing my smartphone use, especially in front of A.

Does anyone have any other tips or tricks for being available but not glued to their phone? I need some help in this department. And some mental discipline, big time.

rufus the low maintenance dog

NOTE: I’d already begun this post when we ran to Lowe’s to get some paint samples. After witnessing a non-service fifi dog POOP ON THE GROUND IN THE PAINT AISLE and its owner shoot me this knowing sort of “kids will be kids” look, I thought, yeah, this is a good day for a dog post. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!

If I were to fill in the blank in this sentence, “You know I love you if I ________” it would hands down be “pet your dog and feign interest in its wellbeing.” It’s no secret that dogs, especially fifi dogs, aren’t my jam.

Oh sure, I like the idea of having a dog. Guard dog, protector of the house/yard, one that can be sweet to A and she can grow up with, that sort of thing. But truth be told, I’m not really a dog person (or an animal person. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was little, but that’s a different story I’ll delve into some other time). Oh, and I’m allergic to pet dander. And I’m an adult. And I am my own person. GOSH! Ahem.

A likes dogs. Whenever we see one out and about, she starts flapping her arms and saying, “a-DUH! a-DUH!” and T translates that to meaning that we need to get her a dog. T likes the idea of a dog, too, more so than I do, though the irreconcilable difference between us is that he sees no problem with it being an indoor dog. THIS HILL I SHALL DIE ON.

(I could go on but I’m just going to transition to the main point of this post).

Enter a stunning display of compromise by yours truly.

In a trip to Target yesterday to get one thing (a $.95 ball for A and take a guess at how much I ended up spending on other “necessities” Target convinced me I needed), we came home with this little Cabbage Patch puppy. Adopt-a-pet or something. We call him Rufus.

Rufus the low maintenance dog

He can softly bark, make sniffing noises, and in a weird Scooby-Doo voice can say, “rhy ruv ruu.” No pet dander, no bodily functions to worry about. We can even take him into Lowe’s and…well, I’ve staved off the “we should really get A a dog” discussion for a while. And she’s learning how to “feed” and “groom” him with the little bowl and brush it came with! Teaching her responsibility. All in a day’s work and another MOM WIN.

 

“what would you say, you do here?”

What would you say, you do here?

(Halp – how to imbed the Office Space gif link above as an image??!)

I have a rather odd dislike for a variety of random things and take a strong, though usually futile, stance. Stubborn? Highly. Opinionated? Often. Here’s one of my pet peeves. AND I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE.

DISCLAIMER: if you are a mom who has a job outside the home or works from home, rock it, girlfriend! I am not judging you or conjuring up ill will for working moms* (more on this term later). If you are a proud SAHM and embrace the title, go you! Being a mom in any capacity is freaking hard, and the last thing we need is to tear each other down and get all judgey based on childcare preferences, work schedules, and whether baby is eating organic quinoa kale food purees, for the love. 

Ahem. Here goes. A term I can’t stand: Stay at Home Mom (or SAHM for short).

“What do you do?”
“I stay. At home.” Implying that I never go outside or meet friends for lunch or travel. Like some dog being told, “You. Stay. Stay Home.” My adventurous self shudders. It sounds so final. I have a strong urge to wriggle free from such seemingly final passivity and RUN (and I don’t even like to run).

If cliché had a font, I’d use it here: I was fiercely opposed to staying at home… till I had a kid. Always thought I’d stay working at an uber-important job, changing the world on a massive scale. The most recent Texas Legislative Session (there will be posts on this, eventually) was writing on the wall for me that it was time to take a step back and spend more time with A. It was an easy decision for us to make, thankfully – timing is everything. The “career vs. family” decision I’d been dreading for years wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be – it’s actually awesome to do-whatever-this-is-called-that-I-do: cook good food, clean our home, invest in relationships, buy stuff, TAKE NAPS SOMETIMES, manage activities and commitments, organize, prepare, defend, research, WORK OUT SOMETIMES, etc.

I lovingly raise my kid. And do a pretty dang good job of managing the affairs of the house and juggling all our activities. What’s that called?

  • Homemaker: “A homemaker is a parent who prioritizes the home rather than the house, and the family as a whole, rather than merely the children.” (Ester Bloom, in a Slate article advocating for the term. I like it. There’s something active and strong about this term compared to SAHM)
  • Lady of the House (I’m going to try to use this in a sentence and keep a straight face)
  • Keeper of the Castle and Protector of the Progeny (well ok then)
  • Chief Operating Officer (oh you funny)
  • Residential Coordinator (seems to be selling the job short)
  • Domestic Engineer (ok kind of)
  • Household Administrator (I think of evil Miss Minchin from the Shirley Temple movie “A Little Princess”)

Another Disclaimer: Please don’t be like me and waver between feeling all superior and feeling threatened. I too often fall into comparing myself, and I’m consciously being more disciplined with my thoughts (as of, like, this week) so I stop falling into this trap. Enough with the “I’m better than all you because I have a nice paycheck and my kid gets social time at day care….or….I am with my kid all day and can better manage his/her development.” You do you, sister. With kindness. I think women will be able to get ahead when we start supporting each other more and being kind more. Would have been helpful if the Feminist Movement had THAT as one of their pillars #missedopportunity.

Well the baby is awake, nothing has been solved in this already-too-long post, so there will be more on this fascinating topic in the future.

What about you? What do you think about the term SAHM? Do I need to dial it down and chill out, or does this debacle resonate with you, too??

Little A

oh no you didn’t

Last night, Tim and I (ok, mostly Tim… I took turns barking orders and scrolling through my Instagram feed) installed locks on the kitchen cabinets. This has admittedly been A’s playground when we’re in the kitchen: the previous owner installed spice racks in the lower cabinets and until this morning, we’ve let A play with her little rattles to her heart’s content.

I was anticipating a tantrum or two when she came to the realization that she couldn’t open the doors… but then I rounded the corner into the kitchen and found this:

childproof

Seriously?! I’m hoping this was just a fluke and maybe it was already open? Or maybe this confirms my not-so-humble opinion that she’s a genius baby and will make her Mommy and Daddy millions of dollars at an early age. Meh, maybe both.

playing with straws

Motherhood is more awesome and more all-consuming than I’d anticipated. Staying at home* (more on my dislike for this term later) for a little over a month thus far has been so wonderful: every day is and can seem different, but I must really make an effort to make it so, or else the days can easily morph into long stretches of time measured by the number of times I pick up toys or change diapers or sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm.

Yesterday was National Straw Appreciation Day at the Kirchner home.

A broke in to the $1 bag of straws and dumped half of them onto the kitchen floor. I squelched my knee jerk reaction to scramble and pick them up and instead sat down with her on the floor. We threw straws into the air for a solid five minutes, a silly practice with lots of sound effects that we repeated throughout the day. A loved it. Her joy is contagious and I am learning over and over that it’s the little things that make life wonderful.

Straws

These little moments are a sanctuary from the incessant self-inflicted pressure to DO something: be efficient always, organize another closet, knock out that to do list. Granted, all those things are important and necessary, but I’m learning that it’s also very necessary to play – something that doesn’t always come naturally to me, but something that seems to make everything else worth doing.

So how do YOU play? Seriously – I need some ideas.

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