Playground Uprising


Walmart
March 30, 2007, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Family, groceries, Life, walmart

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Friday is grocery day. It also use to be laundry day, however, that schedule has expanded to Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. I am not sure how one extra kid equates to 7 extra pounds of dirty clothes, but again I use a calculator to compute everything from coupon savings to just how far I would like to move away from crazed family members. I share this information with you because somehow schedules give me a sense of world order; one I know is false but like living the illusion. On Fridays I prefer to shop at the Carytown Ukrops, lured by their 10 flavors of hot Joe, but also frequent the Grace Street location because it is around the corner from our home, and though frequented by heavily tattooed college students and homeless folks, it feels familiar and comfortable, which in itself should be disturbing. Today, however, I went to Walmart. I don’t like Walmart. I don’t like their produce. I don’t like the fact that their shopping cart child seat is so narrow that Charlie’s carrier slants down as if in anticipation of a luge run. I also don’t like the vastness that is Walmart; it exploits my leanings to Attention Deficit and ever since I read the book Nickel and Dimed, I know I should be picketing instead of shopping, because the only reason those people smile at me is to avoid getting fired before they have to head off to their second job that in combination won’t cover a week’s rent at a seedy hotel. But, with that said, I haven’t found a cheaper place to stock up on diapers for those among us who pee their pants and toilet paper that seems to be rarely used by those that don’t and fish for folks that would rather have steak but not enough to actually participate in the shopping, and so there I was today sheepishly vowing, like last month, to never return. I think today I really mean it.

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Welcome Home
March 29, 2007, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I went to work today. It was strange but invigorating to be surrounded by past and future students (and not to have present) as they gurgled over Charlie (yes he went to work too) and friends who continue to amuse and inspire. I had a couple of minutes to file through mail and textbook exam copies before heading over to meet 10 faculty members who are also partners, caregivers, moms, and dads, to discuss a book that examines how an individual’s stage of emotional and cognitive development, environment, and access to quality teaching influences his or her learning level. So there we were, 10 people, representing our respective disciplines of Biology, Mathematics, English, Chemistry, Political Science, Linguistics, Business, and Education, sitting and listening, genuinely interested in what each other had to say, professors and people committed to positive change, still believing it to be possible. Welcome home.



Fit TV
March 28, 2007, 9:29 am
Filed under: Children, Family, fitness, getting old

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Ok, I just saw the funniest thing I have seen since Mac picked up my cell phone and proclaimed, “Hi this is Power Rangers Ninja Force ready to report for action sir.” First a little background. We just switched from Comcast cable and internet service to Verizon Fios, offering us a ridiculous numbers of channels to rot our brains at alarming speeds while chipping slowly away at our already low levels of maturity and personal depth. My favorite channel is entitled “Fit TV.” Now what is not to like about taking a passive activity like TV watching and blending it soulfully with short segments of men and women exercising in unfortunate outfits that could only signify a life without access to a full length mirror. Well today when I tuned in for my fitness fix there were two Amazon women in shiny, neon blue, Jane Fonda leotards working through what appeared to be the opening number of Riverdance. Not wanting to pass up the magic of this moment, I picked up baby Charlie with all of his chins and attempted to master the moves. As the two of us kicked up our heals with striking resemblance to the psychiatric patient in last night’s episode of ER, we caught a glimps of two bewildered workman, whose attention had been diverted from our neighbor’s roof, looking amusingly through our den window as they picked up their cell phones to capture the scene for UTube.



Sunday: The Day of Unrest
March 27, 2007, 6:21 pm
Filed under: Family, parenthood, parenting, Soccer, sports

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We obviously missed the memo. Sunday, to our family, has become the day of unrest. A day of church, grandparents, errands, Advil, and now soccer.

When we arrived at the field the long haired soccer coach with the cleats, uniform, and weathered tan asked me what size uniform Mac needed and then interrupted her own question and handed us an extra-small shirt, shorts, and pair of socks. She reminded me of my high school gym teacher who called me Toto in reference to my name and my urge to flee at the very mention of words like practice and tournaments; nonetheless, I trusted this new Sunday companion because she appeared to be the only one at the game with professional footwear, signaling a level of competence lacking in the rest of us.

She then directed Mac to Coach Dad with the long black hair and ponytail, the one Mac quickly bypassed as he aligned himself with Coach Dad #2 with the short brown hair and fire engine red soccer uniform. Coach Ponytail seemed a bit perturbed by the brush off until I assured him Mac had been ignoring directions from authority figures for years and not to take it personally, he was simply like a moth, attracted to bright colors.

As the game began the white team was direct to run to the left and the red to the right, which they all promptly did leaving the ball alone on the dance floor looking for some play. After the two coaches exchanged a, “these teams are likely not going to make it to the finals”  look,  followed by a brief discussion on the merits of actually making foot to ball contact, a minimum level of understanding appeared to be reached and the game was on.

As the children played it occurred to me that Mac was the smallest member on the team even though he is in the 95th percentile for height and weight and I had consciously decided not to sign him up for the “Big and Tall” league this season. So with a little detective work that would make Monk proud I ascertained that four-year-old Mac had inadvertently been place on the five-year-old team. Ponytail coach, however, said he liked Mac’s energy (I asked to get this statement in writing for Mac’s future kindergarten teacher) and I assured him that Mac’s attitude was more befitting a five year anyway.

So we both agreed to let him keep hanging with the fellas.



Sunburn
March 26, 2007, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Children, Family, Life, parenthood, parenting, Soccer, sports, sunburn

I am not yet in the mode of sunhats and sunscreens as evident by Charlie’s pomegranate glow. Moms should be equipped with a colossal sunhat adorned with manic animal figures ready to pounce on unexpecting and unnaturally large baby heads at the slightest hint of sun, a fact I knew but failed to see as applicable to yesterday’s soccer match. Now the pangs of guilt are only matched by the umpa-lumpa staring back at me with an unbeknownst smile of a child not even considering calling his congressman or neighborhood civic leader to report the offense. In an attempt to admit my transgression and turn myself in, I called the pediatrician who nonchalantly replied with one word: lotion. I was hoping for a subtle berating of my irresponsibility and inattention but I suppose I will have to settle for a self-inflicted time-out.



City Dwelling on Two Feet, Two Wheels, and a Jogger
March 23, 2007, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Children, Family, Friends, Life, urban living

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Let us break now for celebration …

Yesterday a new line of transportation opened up in Richmond in the form of a bright blue two-wheeler with training wheels. I love this idea of training wheels. We should all have the opportunity to opt for initial support to help our balance as we embark on new endeavors. For example, before teaching a new course I would like the author of the text to stop in for a consult, a personal assistant to design my PowerPoints, an investigator to assess the threat levels of hostile students, and a baker to whip up a fresh batch of morning bagels because nothing says support better than carbs with a hole in the middle. I will make sure to share these thoughts at the next faculty meeting (likely under the auspice of someone else’s name, considering I am not yet tenured).

Now back to the story.

Mac’s bike is not new. He got it back in October, but city dwelling leaves us short on cul-de-sacs and sending him out alone to experience the speeding cars, rogue college students, and bands of kind but oddly dressed homeless people is not advisable. Plus our innate bad parenting skills have caused us to succumb to the wintry chill instead of rising to the challenge of accompaniment.

Though this environment may sound foreboding to our suburban counterparts we moved to the city because urban living is Richmond at its best. I love that on a clear day we can walk through historic neighborhoods to the grocery store, the drugstore, the cleaners, the art galleries, the coffee shops, the play parks, and the innumerable quaint restaurants where you get local flavor at reasonable prices all while supporting families not neon signs.

And yesterday was one of those days, so I laced up my sneakers, strapped Charlie into the jogger, positioned a space age contraption (that would likely get you beat up in middle school, and rightly so) on Mac’s hard noggin and we were off, but not to the play park on the adjoining block, as in previous adventures, but a mile and a half to our neighborhood school that owns the bragging rights to the best little playground in town, sporting 4 jungle gyms, an elaborate swing set, and a soccer field were even the surliest of characters run themselves nice.

Upon arrival, we bought Tagalongs Peanut Butter Patties from the Girl Scouts out front, Mac ran to meet his 30 best friends he has never seen, and I cracked upon a bottle for Charlie as I plopped down for adult conversation with the neighbors who also celebrate this oasis that is now obtainable on a Thursday jaunt.

Life on two wheels in the city is indeed good!



Mommy and Macky Days
March 22, 2007, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Today is a Mommy Macky Day, the name given to the time each week when I keep Mac home from preschool so we can romp around town and engage in educational activities like riding the tractors at Lowes as we try to ignore the large sign that says, “Stay Off The Tractor: Yeh … We Mean You Lady With The Two Rugrats” and other adventures to include, layovers at Barnes and Nobles to visit Thomas the Train in the children’s section followed by some quality time in the reading nook to peruse the fine literary works of the Ninja Turtles, all while I down a healthful cup of Starbucks and gain quickly forgotten fashion tips from trashy magazines I am too embarrassed to actually purchase.

Then we are off to grab essential household items like peanut butter, diapers, and various painkillers. A 100 calorie bag of Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn and an Academy Award Winning flick like Paddington wraps up our day, and we are off to the showers to flush out the sand, dirt, and general green slime that somehow evaded me but has clung tightly to ever exposed surface of Mac’s little body.

Come April, as I head back up the highway to work, the tractors and the turtles and the books will be the backdrop I use to recall my abbreviated days as a stay at home mom with a Macadamia Nut and a Pipsqueak and it is then I will start to listen out for the Ninja call that usually comes on State holidays and particularly nice afternoons.