Monday, November 29, 2010

Hold the Applause

I’m not feeling terribly creative in a writerly way these days, but maybe that’s because all my energy is getting used up trying to be a decent sleep-interrupted mother/friend/sister/auntie/teacher/church worker/baker/chauffeur.
The energy is so used up, in fact, that I’ll admit to wanting just a hint of applause for a few small things I’ve given myself to on behalf of the Girls:

1. Oldest requested bread today. Not from a store. The homemade bread I make, weighing out the flour, kneading, letting rise, punching down. I made it tonight, and not only that, I taught her how to make it because someday, I reason, she will be able to make bread herself and I will be eliminated from this process altogether. Teach a girl to fish, right?

2. Middle requested games. I am not a game player by nature. I played a lot of Rummy with my brother and my mom in the winter of 1988. And last December I played a video game. For about a week straight. In the off years I’ve embraced a round or two of Boggle, my passion fading quickly when I realized I was never going to beat the husband at a word game. But this is neither here nor there. Middle is an avid lover of games (card, board, and video) and she’s smart enough now for challenges beyond Dora Candyland, which I could get through without paying a whole lot of attention. Now, she is pulling out games like Blink, Monopoly Junior, and Go Fish, which require not only counting, but rolling, sorting, interrogation, finger dexterity, mental focus, and the necessary referreeing of two siblings arguing over rules. But okay, well, only Blink requires finger dexterity. Tonight—wait for it—tonight I played not one, but one-and-a-half games with Middle. Indeed, I got through Disney Princess Go Fish and moved on to a less-than-rousing 15 minutes of Monopoly Junior, at which point I begged off on account I had so much church work to do and honestly I was sooo tired, and yes, church work seemed way more relaxing than counting out two dollars of paper money to watch imaginary fireworks on Dr. Doolittle Boulevard. Or whatev.

3. Tiny, well, she’s just full of requests, many of them having to do with my being up at midnight, 2, 3, or 4 AM.

4. I lied about all of the girls’ requests being small. This is not small. This is big: I, crazy I, have agreed to a CAROLING PARTY with dessert and hot chocolate at our house afterward. It is my penance for not doing trick-or-treating this year. A month ago, Oldest asked, “Mom, are there any other holidays where kids go door to door?” And I came up with caroling, yes I did.

They get to invite whoever they want. At this point, if the attendance rate is 40% of the invitee list, then we’ll barely be able to fit everyone in our house. And I’ve agreed to keep my mouth shut about all the kids they are not inviting who might feel left out because they aren’t invited. But who am I kidding? If we invited all those kids, we would need to borrow the neighbor’s house to fit them in. This is their party, I promised the girls. But that means we better get crackin’. There are invites to make and address. Song lists to create and print out. And by the way, will any of their little guests be able to read? And by the way, do children even know Christmas songs anymore? This concern led to my one stipulation about the guest list: PARENTS ARE INVITED. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’m going to be singing Christmas solos for the neighbors while supervising a flock of 20 kids on a dark December night. No, I’m not. So, parents, please mark your calendars (er, if your child is invited).

Well, now, I guess that’s all I really wanted to say, and now that I re-read what I just wrote, I can see that none of this merits applause. In fact, it might merit a smackdown. My children are healthy, wealthy (in a North-American-Middle-Classish sort of way), and wise (as far as 6 and 8 year olds go). We suffer no terminal illnesses, homelessness, or poverty. I am not working double shifts to make ends meet. I'm doing what a lot of middle class Midwestern parents are doing, and our lives are full of privilege and favor not afforded to much of the world (Um, we're having a freaking caroling party). I suffer only from mental boredom, busyness and, it seems, a bit of parental selfishness. (Would it have killed me to finish Monopoly?)

With echoes of Jane Austen's Lady Catherine in my head, I ask that you withhold your compliments, for I deserve no such attention.


Laura Emerson said...

Advice: Quit comparing yourself to others who have less than you. You are allowed to feel appreciated, even for tasks that may seem trivial or privileged. You are also allowed to enjoy your wealth (monetary or otherwise) without invoking good ol' Midwestern guilt.

More advice: If I were you, I'd burn every version of Monopoly you own in a fit of wild rage. Or, you could hide the game away quietly, using motherly discretion as to how to accomplish this without Middle noticing. It's way too time-consuming. I LOVE games, and I have only finished a game of Monopoly once, and even then the game was over a three-day period. And I wanted to die. If you want Middle to learn about money and math and such, there are other games.

Yeah. I said it.

Ron said...

ah ... but daughter ... you are a treasure to the world !