While watching game six of last week's World Series, my attention fluctuated between the hyped-up commentary of the TV sportscasters and that of my Facebook feed. At the top of the 11th inning, an old friend, who hailed from neither the Show Me or Lone Star State, posted a status update that rung incredibly true. "It's way more fun to watch a ball game," she wrote, "when you don't really care who wins."
At that moment, I couldn't agree more. While I probably had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for St. Louis (it's just so hard to root for anything from Texas), I was able to sit back, relax and thoroughly enjoy watching hometown-hero David Freese defy the odds and knock in the game-winning Cardinal home run. If the Brewers had been playing, I would have been chewing on my nails, looking away nervously, and pacing the family room floor. It was a pleasant relief to be so emotionally un-invested in the game's outcome.
I wish I could have the same relaxed attitude when it comes to other aspects of my life, especially parenting. But let's face it. No matter what our kids do, we care. A lot. Perhaps sometimes, we care so much we take all the fun out of the experience for ourselves.
I'm not sure I enjoyed a minute of my oldest son's baseball season this past summer. I was always on-edge worrying he'd be the kid dropping the fly ball to right field, paving the way for the opposing team's victory. He's a tough kid with an easy attitude towards sports; he would have easily gotten over the error. Me, I'm not so sure.
The same could be said for watching my daughter's drama camp play. It's hard to appreciate the finer moments of a theatrical masterpiece like "When The Hippos Crashed the Dance" if you are worrying that your own little hippo may crash and burn. Elementary school kids forgetting lines and missing cues can be a delight to watch; the stuff great sitcom moments are made of. Unless, of course, the kid flubbing Henrietta Hippo's big aria is yours.
But as I spent some time with my adorable and unusually active 3-year-old nephew this past weekend, I realized that "aunthood" is an opportunity to achieve that "Game 6 feeling" with a kid I love. When I'm with him I can let my "mommy" guard down and appreciate just how fun observing childhood can be. When he stops a policeman on State Street and asks him why he isn't being a fireman for Halloween, I can find it charming. If it was my own kid, I'd probably have been slightly embarrassed. And when the same adorable pre-schooler uses a tissue to wipe his snot-filled nose and then carefully folds it to place it back in the box, I giggle and try to capture the YouTube-worthy moment on video. Had my own daughter done the same at that age, I'd have been praying no one else was around to see it.
With the kids in my extended family it is bubble gum, kiddy cocktails and a stop at McDonalds if they'd like. With my own kids it's apple slices, milk (white, rarely chocolate) and fast food on very limited occasions. I don't have to pay my nieces and nephew's dental bills, after all.
Being an Aunt has given me the opportunity to enjoy family without the sometimes- heavy of responsibility of parenting. When I am with my sibling's kids I can sit back, and enjoy the game.
I never feel the need to look away nervously.
And I love not missing a thing.comments powered by Disqus
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?" Mistakenly believing she was referring to school supply shopping, one of my favorite consumer events of the year, I excitedly told her we could stop by the office supply store right after we picked up some much-needed milk and cereal.
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.