Sunday, May 30, 2010

This Little Piggie

Baby Sister's version of the old favorite piggie game:

This pig went to market.
This pig went home.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exclusion Exercise

We tried something new at the Girl Scout meeting this week.

“We are going to play a game and I will pick everyone who gets to play!” said Jen. All of the girls bounced around, waving their hands in the air, hoping to be picked. I joined them, showing my enthusiasm for the game with the same bouncing and waving. One by one, Jen picked every girl. They lined up against the wall. I sat alone.

First, one girl pointed out that she needed to pick me, too.

Jen said, “No. We only need this many players. I am in charge of this game and I don’t need anyone else.”

I then said, “Wait a minute. I want to play, too! This isn’t fair. I am really mad. I am so mad that I want to do something mean to you. I feel left out and I don’t like it!”

The girls were stunned. But only for a minute. Then the wheels started to turn.

Then one girl, thinking of how Jen could include me, said, “What if she is your helper?”

Jen said, “I don’t need any helpers.”

One girl stepped out of line, sat by me, and said, “She can have my spot.”

Three other girls got out of line and said they didn’t want to play, so I could have their spots, too. The line started to waver. No one liked the idea of a game like this anymore.

So, we let them off the hook. This WAS the game, we explained. We wanted to talk about feeling left out. We were so impressed with the very mature and thoughtful reactions that our girls showed when they saw me feeling left out. We talked about how everyone has been left out before, and how everyone has probably left someone out before, too. We told the girls that we wanted to remind them that when they see someone who is left out, they can do something about it. They can make a difference by using some of the skills they just demonstrated. They can give another girl a chance to be included. They can help.

I was so touched by their obvious compassion. They showed that they really can take care of each other. They showed the skills that they need to be able to be good friends and to treat one another with gentle respect. I felt choked up about it, completely surprised with how adept they were at reading the situation and how brave they were to do something about it.

But what about the game, they wanted to know. When can we play the game?!

Jen and I looked at each other. We hadn’t thought of a game. We thought the exercise was enough. But the kids felt cheated out of a game! So, I took them to the gym and ran around for 10 minutes with one of the dads. We played their favorite game, which I think they made up with the help of this dad: Bulldozer Dude. The treat was that I would play with them (which I usually do not do).

When we were home, I asked my oldest kid, who often provides me critical feedback about how our Girl Scout meetings go, “What did you think of our game today? Do you think we got the point across well?”

“Well, you got the point across that if a grown up offers you a game, you had better be sure that grown up intends to play one with you.” She paused. “And I guess the point about how it feels to be left out.”

Still, I think that the kids learned some things tonight. And so did I. Don’t joke about playing games. Kids take that offer seriously.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mother's Day A Week Later

My two biggest wishes for Mother’s Day were: (1) I didn’t want to cook or clean and (2) I wanted to eat well and have a clean house.

The day began with a leaky diaper, which meant laundry first thing. Cleaning. Damn. Then I came downstairs to see what wonderful meal my family had begun for breakfast. Nothing. Husband and two of the kids ate. Nothing in the house other than that which I would have to prepare for myself. Hopeful, I asked, “What’s for breakfast?” The disappointing response from my spouse was, “Whatever you want to make.” The two kids who allegedly ate then started to complain, along with the third non-eater, that they were still hungry.

Rather than belabor the emotional outburst that I am not happy to have had while my husband attended to yard work that he wanted to do rather than help with the laundry or the feeding of the family, I will jump ahead. I got the family organized to go out for an adventure in the park with the kids’ new scooters and my skates.

When I was pulling into the parking lot at the food co-op, my husband asked what we are doing here. I explained that I needed to eat. He was completely surprised that I hadn’t made a meal and fed the children. I left him in the car.

Finally, food in hand, we grabbed scooters and a stroller and headed out at the park. It was Big Sister and Middle Sister’s first weekend with their scooters. They scooted away, working on their balance, learning how to coast. Little Sister sat in the buggy, happy to be on a stroll, but refusing to let anyone other than Mommy push. When we got to the beach, about 1/2 of a mile into the trip, we rested and had a picnic. Suddenly things were looking up.

With tired kids who didn’t want to scoot any more, we headed back rather than continuing around the trail. I left them all at the playground, put on my skates and skated around the trail by myself. After feeling a lot wobbly (having not been in said skates for about 9 years now), I grew more comfortable and enjoyed a brief peak at the freedom and rhythm that I so much enjoyed about skating back in the day. Refreshed, I joined my family for some playground time.

Earlier, we had been invited to brunch with friends, but I was too grumpy to enjoy a social time with friends. After a picnic and a little sweat at the park, I felt much more amiable. We decided to visit the friends, which turned into a lovely social evening with Ethiopian take-out, both of which I always find incredibly satisfying.

Why did I spend most of my life not knowing Ethiopian food? I have a mission to make up for lost time and enjoy as much of it as possible for the duration of my life. I consider my children very lucky that they know so many ethnic foods that I did not, despite the fact that I grew up in a far more diverse community than the one in which I now live. They don’t yet realize how cool I am, though, because they had to come home and eat cereal when we were done.

We finished changing the bedding, and got to bed with me in a decent mood. The highlight of the day was receiving my gifts from the kids. Big Sister wrote me a love letter with her very best pencil work. Middle Sister wrote me a song and played it on the piano for me. She also made me a string with beads and a little doll from craft sticks and tape – both things she would appreciate herself. And, under Big Sister’s tutelage, Little Sister painted a wooden craft doll for me. This was the first year they all did this without help from Dad. Which pleases me on the one hand, and makes me wonder what the heck Dad was doing on the other.

I like to think of this as the Mother’s Day that was saved by the sweetness of my kids, the fun of friends, a picnic, sweat, and my efforts to maintain a positive perspective. Because while I am still telling a story of frustration and disappointment with my spouse, I have decided to love him anyway. He did, after all, help with the laundry, watch the kids while I skated, and pick up the dinner. And there isn’t a lot to be gained by staying mad at him.

I guess next year, I need to be more specific.
I hope the rest of my mama friends had wonderful Mother’s Days. I welcome any tips on how to properly educate one’s spouse on the art of facilitating a satisfying Mother’s Day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

The day began with a leaky diaper, which soaked half of my bed. It progressed with no food and grumpy interactions. I received the most wonderful gifts from my children, who wrote me love letters and a song. Scooter riding, walking, picnic in the park, rollerblading by myself for a short break, dinner with friends, Quiddler game, and ended with clean sheets.

I'll call it a Happy Mother's Day.