Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Punny girl

At our house we talk about the debris field left when the blond twin finishes eating. We see the same thing at the dining room table that we see at the breakfast bar. Recently I looked at her seat on the red coach at her desk. I knew immediately where she had been sitting. The debris field created an outline of her seat.

At breakfast she created a huge debris field after eating toast. And, by toast I mean a single slice of toast. It was an impressive display that made me wonder if she received any nutrition from her toast.

The blond twin saw me staring at the debris field and said, "Hey Mom, guess what? If you collected all my crumbs you could make crumb brulee. And, you know how much you like crumb brulee!"

Both girls started laughing before trying to come up with other puns. Some of the puns were pretty good, but the blond twin was right. I do adore crumb bruleee.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

You are not staying

The girls made plans to meet friends at the library this afternoon. When we discussed it last night, the blond twin said her friend’s mom wanted to make sure I was going to be there. She has four children with her fifth grader as her oldest. It is hard for her to bring all of them places like the library for more than an hour or so.

I told the blond twin I would take my computer to the library and do some work while they did their homework. The brunette twin made plans for her project partner to come home with us after school.
Today the girls came home, ate a snack and got ready to go to the library. I was packing up my computer when the blond twin said, “Mom, you are not staying. You know that, right?”
We talked about last night’s conversation. She told me her friend’s mom didn’t care of I stayed. Anna, their friend who came home with us after school, confirmed that her mom was ok with her going to the library with the group -- and without me hovering. I hesitated for a minute because I didn’t speak directly with Anna’s mom. Knowing Anna and her mom, though, I decided that  Anna was telling the truth. After all, who wants to end up in trouble for lying about being able to go the library with the other girls? I told the three girls in our car that I’d double-check with Jenine’s mom and decide what to do.
Jenine’s mom was fine leaving them all together. I gave the blond twin my phone, told her to call if she needed anything and made plans to pick-up the girls at 5:00 p.m. They headed off to do their research, chatting happily and giggling.
It was so easy. All the girls were happy to be at the library together. All the moms were thrilled to have them together. It was one more independent step as they march together towards middle school.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Connect the sports

The brunette twin was telling stories about her first softball practice when she said, "Oh yeah and Coach knew I play golf."

I said, "How?"

She replied, "When I hit the ball I followed through like I do when I hit the golf ball. He asked if I played golf because most girls don't follow through. He said I did a really good job."

It was the first time she realized skills from one sport impacted other things she might try. She was so proud of herself that it made me smile. She was so sure she didn't have any softball skills and it turns out she's been practicing her batting whenever she hits the golf ball. Oh, it's not exactly the same, but it's close enough that her coach complimented her batting and made her week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The great mitt scavenger hunt

The girls really wanted to join a softball league this year. I did some research and found a casual, local league.

Their coach has been sending regular updates so we weren't surprised when he set the practice schedule. An email a couple of days later said that the league had an equipment shopping day set at a local sporting goods store. League representatives would be available and the league would receive a percentage of the sales. I was so happy to know that someone would be able to help us figure out all the equipment we needed. I realized we could do it from a list, but having someone to give us advice on which helmet or proper bats was a relief.

The morning of the first practice, I checked email to find a message saying, "Remember to have your girls bring their mitts and bats to our first practice tonight." I realized then that I had a lot to learn about organized softball.

If I had thought about it, I would have realized that the other girls already had mitts and bats. The sporting goods shopping day was to update or upgrade equipment. There probably weren't too many other families starting from scratch.

I started thinking about who might have mitts we could borrow. I crossed many people off the initial list because they wouldn't have been home from work before we needed to be at practice. I decided my best two bets were Uncle Dave and Uncle Steve. I called both, left messages and waited.

In the meantime, Daddy called to talk about practice. I told him the girls needed mitts. He immediately offered to visit a few stores during his lunch break.

A couple of hours later Uncle Steve called. He only had mitts to fit his high school age sons. Aunt Sue-Sue called after Uncle Steve to say she found some mitts in the garage. We crossed our fingers for luck that the mitts would fit the girls. Daddy called to say he bought two mitts. We made plans to meet up to get those mitts if the ones at Aunt Sue-Sue's didn't fit. Now we had lots of options, but didn't know if any would work.

Right after school the blond twin and I ran to Aunt Sue-Sue's. We were on a tight schedule. We had to get there, try on the mitts and be back at school within 45 minutes to pick-up the brunette twin from choir.

One mitt seemed to fit the blond twin. As luck would have it, the other mitt was a bit bigger. We thought it would fit the brunette twin. We thanked Aunt Sue-Sue and drove back to pick-up the brunette twin.

Luckily for us we were able to find mitts so they walked in with at least one piece of equipment. Now we just have to deal with the rest of the list...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I didn't get my allowance

I carry a piece of paper from a trip Daddy and I took before our girls arrived. It says that I had enough money to pay for ice cream while we were in Williamsburg, Virginia. I pulled it out recently and showed him that I still had it. We both fondly remembered the trip and the moment.

What made it memorable was the idea that I had any cash in my wallet. For our entire marriage I have always turned to Daddy when I needed cash. I just never carry very much cash. I have a debit card and credit cards. It's rare that I need much cash.

This weekend I went to the bank to get some cash. I left it in my wallet. It didn't take long before Daddy turned this into a running joke. More than once we needed to pay for something and he said, "I can't pay for it. I didn't get my allowance yet." He laughed when he said it. I rolled my eyes. The girls took in every word.

"Do you really get an allowance?" the girls asked. Daddy, of course, said in his most dramatic voice, "Sometimes, but Mommy hasn't given me my allowance yet." The girls immediately turned around and told me that I should give Daddy his allowance. The girls worried that Daddy wouldn't have enough money to buy his lunch at work next week. After all, I hadn't given him his allowance. He laughed. I rolled my eyes at him

When I told him the girls talked to me about giving him his allowance, I reminded him that this was one of the rare occasions in our marriage that I had more money in my pocket than he had in his. The last time it happened we marked the occasion with a note. This time it was seared into our girls' memories, even if they didn't really understand why Daddy laughed every time he talked about his allowance.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Some secrets you don’t keep

I walked home with our twin fifth grade daughters listening to stories about math class and icky boys and library events. It all seemed quite ordinary, which is why I was surprised to receive a message from Mrs. H, another fifth grade mom, asking if I heard what happened at school that day.

It was too late to ask our girls, so we talked about it at breakfast the next morning. The blond twin said she and Mrs. H’s daughter had a disagreement, so she thought the other girl was mad at her. I told her that fifth grade girls were always getting into disagreements and making up so I was pretty sure that Mrs. H wasn’t calling about that. We walked to school and I didn’t think about it anymore.
When Mrs. H called, she said her daughter didn’t give her all the details, but here’s what she knew. A student in our girls’ class went to the health aid the day before because her arm was bleeding through her shirt. She came back with a bright pink bandage covering her arm from elbow to wrist.

The story Mrs. H heard from her daughter was that the girl told our blond twin that she was cutting her arm because she was upset. There was a fifth grade boy she liked who didn’t like her back. The blond twin asked her if it hurt. The girl said no. The blond twin told her not to do it again because she might really hurt herself. I explained that our daughter never said anything about it to me when I asked. I told Mrs. H that our daughter probably didn’t know what “cutting” meant since I didn’t know that I’ve ever talked to our girls about it.
I spent the rest of the day with a sick feeling washing over me in waves.  I realized that young girls faced serious issues at younger and younger ages. Still, knowing that a fifth grade girl was cutting herself because a boy didn’t like her really unnerved me.

If anyone had been in our house that day, they would have worried about my mental health. I kept rehearsing what I wanted to say to our girls. Sometimes I just did it in my head. Sometimes I spoke out loud to our dog. I wanted to make sure I said the right thing so our girls understood how important it was to talk to us about cutting and what it meant when someone started cutting herself.  I was about an hour away from meeting our girls to walk home from school when I hit upon my key message.
There were some secrets it was important not to keep. If a friend told you that she thinks a boy is cute, you keep that secret. If someone told you that her feelings were hurt that you were invited to a party and she didn’t get an invite, you keep that secret.

Anytime someone told you something that involved hurting him/herself or others you had to tell a grown-up as soon as possible. You were not breaking a confidence by sharing secrets involving activities that could end up with your friend or someone else hurt. The secret might be about someone cutting herself, like their school friend. As they grew up the secrets might be about more dangerous activities. I gave the example of friends using drugs at a high school party. We talked about how dangerous it was for their friends to talk to strangers on the internet. We often talked about how dangerous it was for our girls to interact with strangers on social media or gaming sites. I expanded that conversation to include their girlfriends talking to older men via those same channels.

I explained that it wasn’t breaking a confidence when someone was doing something that might be dangerous. It was important for us all to look out for each other and try to keep each other safe. Once they gave an adult the information, it was up to the adult to act. Their only job was to make sure we had the information to process.
Our girls seemed to understand the distinction. They talked about secrets to keep and secrets to tell Mommy or Daddy immediately.  We talked about other people they might tell. The girls gave examples of when they might have to tell those people something rather than wait to tell Mommy or Daddy.

When we arrived home they went through their usual routine like nothing changed. I knew that everything changed, though, and not for the better.