Friday, January 8, 2010

Today marks the anniversary of two wonderful things. The first is US. That's right? Me. Mike. Both of us. This is the anniversary of our first date. I know, it's like, sooooooooo High School to keep track of such a day, but I like remembering dates. That's 11 years and neither one of us has gotten tired of the other. And I am still in love with him even more than I was way back when. He's hung on pretty well for a guy I thought I'd never have to see again after bumping into him at the mall.

We first met way back in the day, in grade school. I transferred to a new Catholic school in 5th grade and he was in my classes. I was a fugly girl with unruly curly (yeah, curly - don't ask me where they went) hair and pimples. He was a chubby slob of a boy with that creepy almost moustache you see on pubescent boys. Hot. We were hot. I didn't interact with him much. I didn't interact with many people that much at that school as they were all horrible to me. He was quiet and never bothered me. He transferred to another school in 8th grade and then he went to :::gasp::: public high school while I stayed in the Catholic school system.

And I never saw him after that. Until...

It was a day or two after Christmas in 1998. I was shopping at the mall with one of my besties, Steph. She wanted to call back a number on her pager (we were so cool with our Motorolla pagers in different colors) and needed a pay phone. She also needed to be. No, that's part of the story. I only us one single bathroom in the mall...the upstairs bathroom at Sears. No other. But Steph wanted to use the one in the food court. I also had a rule about the food court - avoid it like the plague. Normally, I would have asked Steph to go to Sears and use the phone outside that bathroom, but I simply agreed to brave the food court. So, there we were. As we walked out of the bathroom, this creepy guy in a long black trench coat with combat boots and a shaved head comes walking towards us. Not exactly my type. And he smiles at us. And I freak out a little because he looked pretty frightening in that "I could possibly blow up this entire mall" sort of way. And then...horrors...he says "hi" to Steph. Steph is a social butterfly and knows almost as many people as God. I hoped she would just say hi and keep walking, but Steph never just says hi. So they chit chat for a few and he doesn't take his eyes off me. I thought he must be sizing me up to cut me into little pieces, that sick little wannabe neo-nazi bastard. And then he asks if I was Firstname Lastname. And my heart stopped. How did this creepy dude know who I was - and that's what I asked him. He introduced me as Mike Lastname and said we went to gradeschool together. Not what I wanted to hear as there were about 3 people from that school who didn't try to make my life hell. The fact that I barely remembered him was a good thing as I knew it meant he didn't do anything horrible to me. He decided to follow Steph and I around the mall. Loser. Then...get this...he asked for a ride. Rude loser. I said ok, since he was Steph's friend and she assured me that he doesn't cut people up and that he was not, in fact, a neo nazi. He just thought he looked cool. At his house, he asked for my number. Ew. I gave him my pager number, waved bye bye and never had to see him again. Not. He actually paged me a few days later. Steph called him back because those are the games 20 year old girls play. She told him that I didn't even believe in kissing before marriage and that I was a Puritan. He said that was okay, he just thought I was cool. So...I let him talk to me. And we stayed on the phone until 7 in the morning. A few days later, we had our first date. We saw "Shakespeare in Love." Awww. Three weeks later, we were engaged. Don't worry, we took 4 years to get married. And...the rest is....

The other cool anniversary is David Bowie's birthday. He is 63 years old today. Props to him. I've been a fan since 1986 and he has been nothing less than a blessing to my life. That's a lot of credit to give to a celebrity, yes, but his music got me through A LOT, especially said grade school experience. He is, by all acounts, NOT one of those dick celebrities and has a reputation for being kind and down-to-earth. He's also someone who has never been the conforming type and will march to his own beat, no matter how bad the reviews are of that beat. I can think of 10,000,000 or more reasons that I think he rocks, but I won't bore you this time. Happy birthday, dude. Never get old.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Cool Mom

You know, I had a sad little fact come floating to me recently. A lot of parents I know like to keep their kids inside all winter long. Hey, I know it gets cold. We're not going anywhere above 36 degrees this week - and that's our really hot heat wave day. I know some of you in the midwest see temps well below zero constantly. I know going outside isn't always practical. In my area, it is practical during some parts of winter. That 36 degree day coming up? My son will be outside. He will be bundled up in a coat, hat, hood, scarf and mittens and maybe snowpants and boots, depending on what the weather does. I don't keep him out for hours, but he gets a chance to have some fresh air, maybe some sunlight if it's shining and he gets to burn up his energy. We may stay outside for a few minutes to fill the bird feeders. He likes to wander around a collect sticks and pretend that they are dinosaurs. We talk a little bit about how nature changes in winter - how leaves fall off some trees, but others keep their needles or about why there are different birds visiting us and why the robins have left. I personally feel that many children today lack an essential connection with nature.

I'm not pulling this out of my butt. I have spoken to several moms who bemoan going outdoors because they hate snow and bundling up and then complain about being indoors because the kids watch too much tv, play too many video games and destroy the house. Just because you are stuck inside doesn't mean you have to plant yourself in front of the tv or video system all day long, but that's what seems to be the norm. I have spoken to many mothers and father's who "just don't feel like" reading books, writing, drawing, painting or doing crafts. It's just easier to plop them down and let the tube entertain them. Judgemental? A little. I know that something has to give sometimes. I do let my son watch tv now and then - he loves SuperWhy, Sid and Dino Train. He watches those on days when I really need to do something alone or if I'm sick. He's pretty good at entertaining himself with crafts, toys and games, but there are days when he wants to just sit down and pretend he is a Super Reader, too, and that's okay because it doesn't happen the majority of the time. There are definitely times when I just don't feel like reading Persnickety for the 100th time. I don't feel like drawing 19 cars or gluing some craft together, but I do it. I hate to sound like a Hallmark card, but these moments really are brief in our lives and it's something we can never get back. And I don't want to live with myself knowing that I let the tv babysit my son when I could have been interacting with him more.

Back to the outside world. Structured outside play is a big trend in my area. If you're going to play outside then you have to play a certain way, with certain things and you best not get dirty and PLEASE do not touch nature. That last bit was actually yelled by a mother at the park, several times. Her kids were picking up leaves, sticking their fingers in the dirt, feeling the bark of the trees and running down the path. Over and over she would yell, "We DO NOT touch nature!" Why? I understand not wanting to get dirty, but you're outside and sometimes it happens. And kids are supposed to get dirty. It's in their DNA. I'm not saying you need to let your kids roll around in the mud everyday, but it's probably not best to keep everything super pristine either. Science has already shown that a severe limit in exposure to germs and the overuse of cleaning products and antibacterials actually has the opposite effect of what parents think they are achieving. We aren't making things cleaner. We're making bad bacteria and organisms more resistant and we're training our immune systems to be weaker. Not to mention the environmental and bodily harm that some of these products cause with their chemicals. I just see it a lot. Parents who don't let their kids be kids. Play has to follow a set routine. Grass stains are not okay. Dirt and the outside world are evil. Why? I do hope there are more parents like me. they are hard to find in my area, but I know they are out there.

Do you know the weird looks I get when I let my son splash in puddles? Do you know I can usually count on one person asking me why I would let my son do that? Because it's damn fun and he's learning. I guess that makes me the fun mom. Grass stains don't give me heart attacks. Dirt under the nails can be cleaned with a little (non-antibacterial) soap and water. Snow is meant for building snowmen and forts. Rain can be enjoyed and it may even make your hair curly. It's fun to watch the ribbons on your homemade wand blow in the wind. Nothing feels better than a little sun on your face. And puddles were made to be jumped in.
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