When Josh is getting ready for a school day, I can only imagine how he processes his to do list.
“Lets see, I have to
A. Bug Joe
B. Bug Amy
C. Bug Lauryn
D. Change underwear
E. Get dressed
F. Put on socks AND shoes
G. Brush teeth
Wow, that’s a lot. Time to prioritize. A-C are non-negotiables, but that’s going to leave me pressed. D is optional, so I’ll put that off til next week. I can manage to squeeze in E and F as long as I leave out the sock part. If I just run my toothbrush under the faucet, that might just leave me enough time for another round of A-C. This should work.”
We are ten days into Lauryn’s Jubilee Celebration. She’s very British in the sense that she doesn’t see the point of celebrating one’s birthday on only one day of the year when one can invite the world to take part all year long. In the same way she announced the impending date to all she met in the month leading up to the big day, she has informed everyone she sees, close friend or casual acquaintance, that she is nine, she will be in third grade, and she had a PINK cake. The video below was shot at the end of a busy day of festivities.
Well, Joe and Amy, my two older children, are finally quiet in bed after staying up to welcome in the new year. My younger son Josh gave out around 10, and my youngest, Lauryn, made it to 11. Of course, the four dogs zonked out as soon as the food stopped flowing.
I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging during a really busy fall semester–lots of work projects going on in addition to my regular teaching load, and the kids had a busy fall school schedule with homework, projects, and performances. We stuck around town this year for Christmas, and I’ve been slowly “rediscovering” our house, getting caught up on laundry and clearing out the clutter that accumulates over a semester. There have been a lot of topics I’ve wanted to write about, but just haven’t had the time. I’m hoping to get back into a regular shedule of posting in 2012.
For a quick snapshot, here’s what I’m watching and reading:
Book–The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. A wonderfully written first novel, sort of about baseball, mostly about life. Funny and poignant.
Movies–I’m on a Martin Scorcese kick these days. Watched The Aviator and Gangs of New York on DVD and saw Hugo over Thanksgiving. Love his eye–the guy just knows how to tell a story in pure cinematic language. Saw Hugo with the kids and was impressed with how riveted they were to the Harold Lloyd sequences: good film doesn’t have to have lots of special effects; intelligent humor will grab an audience every time. I also just watched Midnight in Paris and Beginners and liked both.
TV–I finally decided to sample Downton Abbey on Netflix and ended up watching all seven episodes of Season One in a single day. The multi-layered plot involving multiple social levels hooked me immediately. I also got interested because I’m not as well-versed in the years leading up to World War I as I’d like to be. The series begins the day after the sinking of the Titanic and ends with Britain declaring war on Germany. Season Two starts up this month and covers the war years.
Oh, and I’ve been playing on the Wii a lot in the past few days with the kids–getting creamed mostly but having fun.
I called Josh in to supper the other night.
He was busy fighting invisible enemies with a three-foot dowel rod.
I called again.
He dropped the dowel rod, charged toward me, and struck a pose, holding plastic knives.
He then looked me in the eye and said, “that’s my signature move.”
The kids began the new school year a week ago, so we are getting settled into a routine of sorts. We now have two middle-schoolers (6th and 7th) and two in elementary (1st and 2nd), so we have consolidated the number of car lines we wait in (hallelujah to not giving in to road rage trying to beat the tardy bell).
Some of the best debriefing occurs in the car, I find. When I asked Josh how his day went recently, he replied,
“Have you made any new friends?”
“Yes, I played with [ambiguous name] at recess.”
“Is [ambiguous name] a boy or girl?”
“She’s a girl. We played chase.”
“So you chased each other around the playground.”
“No, she chased me. She chased me the whole recess, and she didn’t even get tired. I guess girls are good at chasing.”
I smiled and said nothing.
I just started reading the current issue of The Atlantic, the cover of which carries the intriguing title “How the Cult of Self-Esteem is Ruining Our Kids.” Inside, there’s an article by Lori Gottlieb, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” in which she describes how the parental search for happiness for one’s children actually leads to vaguely unfulfilled, anxious adults.
It gave me a lot of things to think about; at times in the article, I found myself saying, “yeah, I got that part right,” and at other times I thought, “ouch–I can see how I’ve messed that up.” In essence, she argues that being too present in our kids’ lives (or, rather, being present in the wrong ways) can be just as destructive as being absent.
The article also reminded me of a funny incident involving my late father. I should preface this by saying that one of Gottlieb’s beefs is that we have culturally tried to remove the possibility of disappointment from our kids lives, in part by removing from them the experience of competition: we tell our kids that they’re all winners, all the time.
So, back to my dad. When my wife and I were newly married, we were spending a weekend with my sister’s family and my parents at a hotel. At one point, we were teaching the kids how to play Scrabble (they were in the 6-8 year-old range) by just playing around and making words. My dad wandered into the room, observed for a few minutes, and then asked, “Who’s winning?” We replied that we weren’t keeping score. He paused a moment then said, “Well, what’s the point of that?” That probably told my wife all she needed to know about my family of origin.
I’m looking forward to reading another article in the issue: “The Trophy Generation,” by James Bennet. Perhaps after reading it, I’ll have some further thoughts on both his and Gottlieb’s piece.
This was a good but hot Memorial Day weekend here in Kentucky. We hung out at home most of the time. I took the kids to Quest Saturday night for the Man Series 2.0, and Sunday morning we went as a family to Mount Zion and heard a good sermon on the importance of remembering.
We watched the Memorial Day Concert in Washington on PBS—the music is always good, and the narratives they read are really well done. It also makes me think I’m in D.C. having a picnic on the Mall—one of my favorite cities to visit.
Monday morning we did some cleaning around the house, since we were in danger of not remembering what the floor and counters looked like, and in the afternoon we carried out another Gobin/Bowman tradition—getting the annual pool pass! The pool was packed out—cars out the driveway, but it was a good cool off.
Lauryn has lost whatever reticence she used to have with the water. She’s always loved the pool but has been cautious in the past. Last summer, I couldn’t talk her into going down the slide. Those days are gone. She went down the slide on her own initiative about ten times and was jumping off the side of the pool into water over her head. Needless to say, I was on lifeguard duty the whole time, since there were about a thousand people in this pool, and she moves fast.
I took these pictures during a safety check, when the kids went up to play on the “sprayground.” I also took a short video where Joe, Amy, and Lauryn were waiting to get drenched by buckets filling over their heads, and Josh was doing his best to keep out of camera range. I finally got him coming in to enjoy getting dunked, too, while Lauryn took a minute to sit on the side and suck her thumb.
I guess the little girl took over the big girl for a moment.