11 November, 2007

Being Present

We went up to SF today to see my family for the day before they head out of town on Monday morning. We sat through 40 minutes of traffic to go three blocks then we narrowly escaped being caught in the Veteran's Day Parade (thank you men and women for your courage and self-sacrifice).

We ate at one of the Ferry building restaurants and for some crazy reason I thought Descartes and I could walk with both kids to the Aquarium at Pier 39 and meet the rest of my family who would take the trolley car. Do you know that the Ferry Building is actually not even Pier One? It was 1.3 miles to our destination. Not actually that difficult, except for these reasons:
  • Lucy hates her stroller
  • Descartes and I walk at two completely different paces. I do the fast "retail" walk, and Descartes? Uhm he has a smooth well-paced "lumber". Believe me, in an emergency Descartes could walk the 50 miles to save our family, but everyday walking together has been first a "ha ha" joke between us, then a problem, and now something we 'manage'... in this case I walked ahead with Lucy.
  • Lucy hates her stroller.
  • I wore my awesome black boots with a heel, which can generally be worn all day long.
  • Lucy's stroller is broken and no longer has the ability to buckle anything to anything.
  • Lucy is only 17 months (today) and therefore cannot walk 1.3 miles in the wind along a busy street without at least having her hand held.
Okay so blah blah blah.. Lucy rode on my shoulders for 1.3 miles, then we did the whole touristy thing... then we walked back! I felt like I was doing that Avon walk again.

I have blisters on the bottoms of both of my feet from wear my socks rubbed. Descartes hurt his back somewhere along the way yesterday.

The point of all of this is that we did stuff that my kids enjoyed yesterday... with my parents. We went to a little Mexican restaurant that did not even have table service... we went to an aquarium...we sat outside by the water and drank smoothies. I think everyone enjoyed themselves too. It felt like we really were all present in the moment and there wasn't a lot of pretense or stress (aside from that initial traffic), or high highfalutin' something or other for me to panic over (you can dress us all up appropriately, but I have a kid with a disability and a toddler.. those two creatures don't exactly blend in at the club). It still wasn't a "natural" environment to show off my kids, but at this point what would that even look like? And it is hard to rest when you are fighting for a table at the wharf, but it was closer, sort of, to my parents spending time with Jake and Lucy that looks like Jake and Lucy being who they are.

I don't believe we should live our lives around our children. I think parents coddle their kids, and give in way too easily/early. I think parents lose themselves in parenting, sacrificing their marriages and neglecting their minds. I think that removing all sense of winning and losing so kids can have "great self esteem" is wrong and going to seriously back-fire on our nation in the next twenty years. Kids should learn to sit nicely at the table, and have great manners and deal with itchy ties and stiff shoes, and be able to "not speak unless spoken too" if necessary.

but...

I do think that kids are only small once. I am never having another baby. My parents are never having any more grandkids...okay , maybe one more? But not from me. It will be from my step-sister who we never see anyway. So this is it. Everyone's chance to make silly faces and read books to tiny people with little fingers who can't turn the pages well. This is it to see wonder and the world through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before. Lucy can already walk and talk. They only saw her twice before she could walk, so the 'baby' part is done. That's it.

So I guess I'm glad we all went to the aquarium yesterday so they could see Lucy touch a sea star for the first time, and see Jake watch the anchovies swim 'round and around (they still may have a chance to see this in the future though, eh?). I'm glad we spent more time sitting and drinking smoothies in the California fall sunshine than we did gazing over menus at a beautiful high-end-hotel brunch.

There will always be time for poached salmon and eggs Florentine...but Lucy is already done with her stroller.
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