Monday, May 23, 2011

The Great Email Debate.

He stood in front of me with his hands on his hips, and asked me again. "Why? Why? Can't I? Huh? Why?"

My answer was simple and firm. "Because. I just don't think it's necessary."

"WHAT. EVER. Mom. I'm not a baby. You hafta give me a reason."

"I never said you are a baby. But I just don't think you're ready for your own email account. That's my reason."

"But I'm 10 and a half!!!"

Oh. Ten. And a half. The age of sophistication. I remember it well.

"Sweetie, I know. I get it. You're a big dude. But there is really no reason for you to have one."

"Is too! I want to talk to my friends!"

"But you talk to your friends at school. In the summer, you will see them at baseball, or we can have them over to play. Besides, what do you need to say to them in an email that you can't say to their face?"

This boy, this oldest child of mine, just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Dunno."

And with that we were at an impasse.

As our oldest child, he has the privilege of leading us to these moments and decisions and roadblocks first. We learn together. Until this moment, I hadn't thought of what age would be appropriate for an email address.

I just know that it is not ten. And a half. 

Our parents never had this problem.

At ten-and-a-half, he is learning who he is outside of us. Outside of this family unit. He pulls away and unravels from us like a spool of thread, but fortunately always rolls himself right back into our protective fold. He wants to be independent but he doesn't.

It is the yin and the yang of childhood.

Is it cliche of me to say that kids grow up way too fast these days?

Because they do.

Sometimes I feel like childhood has become a bullet train hurtling towards adulthood.

Is it selfish of me to want to slow it down?

It's not that I want to keep them little. I just want to keep them innocent.

We monitor what television shows our children watch, what video games they play, and who they are friends with. Add to the list the dashing of our son's hopes of an email account.

For now.

Because it's just not necessary. He can communicate with his buds the old-fashioned way.

He is a good boy, and as trustworthy as the day is long.

But he is ten. And a half. And I am just not ready to open that door to emailing, texting, and digital communication. I know what is right for my child, just as you know what is right for yours.

I'm perfectly happy with being the bad guy in these moments.

Maybe I'll rethink this when he is eleven. And a half. But for now, I am not budging.

I can't help but think that over the next decade, Bill and I will laugh that we even thought that this was a big deal. Once I have to deal with the angst of a teenager, I will welcome these kinds of problems. I will beg for this problem back.

Friends, what do you think? What is the right age for an email account?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Word Up Wednesday: The rain is a pain.

The rain.

It is relentless.

It is constant.

It is omnipresent.

When it finally stops raining, the skies remain gloomy, and the threat of rain is always there.

Always there.

Hanging over our heads and mocking us.

Mother Nature ridicules us with her gloomy skies peppered with the occasional bursts of sunshine.

But the sunshine never lasts.

The sunshine is fleeting.

The sun is shining brightly in the sky as I type this.

But it will not last.

Because the black clouds. They are there.

I am not a gullible fool, Mother Nature.

This isn't my first rodeo.

Mama N is all, "Don't get cocky. Don't go pulling out those sunglasses just yet. You betta come CORRECT. You don't actually think I'm going to let the sun hang out for very long, do you? You silly, silly, sun-loving fool."

I like a rainy day.

A rainy day.

Not week.

Not weekS.

It is too much.

I hate to be that person who constantly complains about the weather. That person is beyond annoying. I am not her. She is not me.

Except.

The relentless rain has caused her to temporarily inhabit my brain.

Enough already.

My kids have stopped asking to play outside. Why bother? They are stir crazy.

Crazily stirred.

Shaken and stirred.

Stir to the crazy.

The basement playroom is now their outside. The carpet is their grass. The canned lighting in the ceiling is their sunshine.

It will have to do.

For the most part, I avoid the playroom.

What with the horrific mess of toys and games all over the floor.

Also, the playroom is their haven. Their kiddie sanctuary. Sure, I ask that they clean it about once a week, but other than that, I close the door to the mess and retreat to the somewhat clean main level of our home.

Today, I was collecting laundry throughout the house.

Because it's not like my shorties understand the whole concept of a laundry basket and what it does. A few pieces of laundry make it in the baskets in their closets, but the rest? I must search high and low in places like the playroom.

I descended the carpeted stairs leading to the basement, and I hesitated as I prepared myself to open the white double doors leading to the playroom, unsure of the mess that awaited me.

And I saw this.


A baseball field. In blue tape. In the basement playroom.

This is home plate, and there were three other bases, all in blue tape.

Smart kids. They used the easy release blue tape, because they are used to an anal retentive mother who would not be happy with the extra sticky white masking tape that would probably ruin the carpets.

It is their Field of Dreams.

In the basement.

It will have to do.

Rain, rain, go away.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My comfort zone.

I have a comfort zone.

A zone of comfort, if you will.

I am comfortable with puppies. Sunny days. Organization. Schedules. Spontaneity. The happy chaos that is my family. Road trips. A hot cup of tea. Volunteering. Reality TV. Tootsie Rolls. Eating at a new restaurant. Thunderstorms.

I could go on, but I'll spare you.

Of course, there are things outside my zone of comfort, such as large spiders, scuba diving and heights.

Interestingly enough, I have never been scuba diving, and I can tell you with all confidence that I never will. Sure, you can pummel my blog with comments all you want purporting the wonderfulness of scuba diving, but I will remain unmoved.

Mama ain't scuba diving no never ever.

Ever.

The tank attached to my back, the darkness, the depths of the ocean, the vastness of it all, the fish, the sea life is all too much. The combination of it all is enough to give me a huge panic attack.

But I digress.

Did you see the part that I mentioned that I'm scared of heights? Like bigtime? That heights are waaaayyy out of my comfort zone? That if my comfort zone is Maine, then heights are California? That's how far out of my comfort zone that heights are? Maine and California, people.

I am scared of heights.

My fear has gotten much worse the older I get, and the more children that we added to our brood. As a result, I went from being a teenager who would ride any roller coaster at an amusement park to an adult who almost hyperventilates while driving over a bridge.

It's not pretty. I'm not proud of it. But I am who I am. Fears are irrational.

You know how you're shopping at the mall, and you're up on the upper level, and you're just strolling along, minding your own biz? But the mall doesn't have regular railings, of course. They have clear, glass, wall-like railings, and you can see to the ground below. So one day, you're just strolling along, minding your biz, thinking to yourself, "Oh. I noticed Hot Topic is having a sale on Def Leppard t-shirts. Good for them. And what kind of fool shops at Hot Topic anyway?" So you lean over the railing to see the Hot Topic shopping fools, and then...BAM. Your stomach drops out of your body because of the heights. You are scared of them. Even at the mall.

Which brings me to my point. Spring Break 2011.

Our family of six made a journey to the beautiful American South for the week, and one of our stops was Lookout Mountain, which sits on the border of the southern part of Tennessee, and the north edge of Georgia. It is pure beauty, and nature at its finest.

Except.

Did you read the part wherein I mentioned that Lookout Mountain is a mountain? As in a mountain? As in up high in the sky? As in WAY higher than the upper level of a mall? As in a mountain mountain?

And? Most surprisingly, the whole thing about going to the top of a mountain was my idea. Mine. I may be a huge wuss, but I want my kids to have experiences, regardless of my fears.

"Mom is gonna fa-reak out you guys! FA-REAK!" my youngest son said a little too excitedly, the moment we pulled into the parking lot of the Incline Railway station. (The Incline Railway, by the way, is the steepest passenger railway in the world - at one point it's basically perpendicular to the ground - and goes one mile up to the top of Lookout Mountain. ONE MILE UP TO THE SKY.)

I can handle this. Don't let 'em see you sweat. Breathe, Clare. Breathe.


"I know! She's gonna scream so hard and barf all over the train!"

My kids. So supportive it almost brings a tear to my eye. 


"And then she's gonna barf all over the mountain."

The support. They are killing me with support.


"And then she's gonna poo her pants! She's gonna be so scared she's gonna poooooooooooo!"

Always with the potty talk. Always. They are masters. And? In case you're wondering? I assured them that their prediction will most definitely not come true. My kids. Always keeping it classy.

As we made our ascent up the mountain, I was fine. And by, "fine", I mean there was only slight screaming in my brain. But it's not like I was going to lose it. I do have my dignity.

I was pure composure. Pure composure while screaming in my head, of course.

Don't let my smile fool you. I am SCARED. OUT. OF. MY. EVER. LOVING. MIND.


And? I only hyperventilated a teensy bit.

Just a scoatch.

But I made it to the top of the mountain, and the view was phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.


Well, it was phenomenal for about five minutes until I said, "All done. Back to sea level."

Best of all, besides my kids fervently wishing that I would, "poo my pants" out of fear, they were champs throughout it all. I wanted to give them an experience they would never forget, but they gave me one. Our week was wonderful and relaxing, but I won't bore you with the details. Far and away, the mountain was the highlight of my trip. The one thing I dreaded doing the most became the best part of my week.

I am still terrified of heights. Nothing has changed.

But I did it. I stepped out of my comfortable, comfy, comfort zone.

Besides. There's something that I'm WAY more afraid of than heights, and I face that fear on a daily basis.

My boys' bathroom.