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
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.