Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Break Continued, My New Philosophy on Parenting, and an Open Invitation

I've never really read a parenting book. I'm sure I skimmed a couple of websites way back when I was newly pregnant and had time to sit around musing about the behavior of my unborn children. I seem to remember something about Dr. Sears and embracing the notion that I'd be wearing my kids around for the first year of their lives, picking them up every time they cried, and nursing them whenever they were hungry or needed the kind of comfort only mama's milk can bring.

But these days I am just winging it. One of my friends who is VERY VERY pregnant (we'll talk more about her later) was telling me about a parenting book she read that emphasized the idea of raising your kids in a family centered rather than child centered house. Hmmm. I had to think on that one for a minute. I've always thought that the kids should be the focus of the household and well, actually they are kind of the center of the universe around here and we do seem to bow down to their every command... and wait one second here! She's right! Screw the kids, let's focus on the whole family for a change! And also, MEEEEE!

But just what does that look like? I had to ask. Her explanation was simple: kids need to see that adults have their own lives, too. As in there are other things we do that don't involve wiping noses, building lego fire trucks, and reading bedtime stories. We even have... wait for it... our own RELATIONSHIPS and FRIENDSHIPS!

Again with the hmmm. I like the sound of this parenting book.

And so as parents we should model for our children the relationships we would like them to one day have. We should have people over for dinner and carry on a conversation without catering to EVERY SINGLE INTERRUPTION from the kids. We should make time for our partners to do things that do not include the kids. And finally, we should make plans with our friends and let the kids come along for the ride.

And the more I thought about it, I realized that this was exactly how I had approached my weekend with my friend, Melanie.

Sure, there was coloring to do.

And plenty of new and exciting toys to be played with.

But there was also Movie Time, which is parenting code for Drinking and Ignoring the Children Time.

Melanie and I ate cold sandwiches for dinner and then snacked on approximately five pounds of pistachios while polishing off the top shelf wine from Plaid Pantry. Don't worry all you mandatory reporters out there, the kids were in bed long before the bottle was through.

And the next day when the sun broke through the clouds for an hour or so, we frolicked in the backyard with juice boxes and popcorn and Ninkasi Double Believer Red. Melanie declared it was the best beer she has ever tasted. And that means a lot when you consider she is from Bend and must therefore claim Deschutes Pride.

However, when the weather resumed its oppressively cold and rainy punk attitude, it became difficult to keep four small children from climbing the walls and destroying the house. So we took them all to the Portland Children's Museum and let them climb the walls and wreak their pent up havoc there.

Giant Litebrite? Oh yeah! It was like Vegas for toddlers.

I am about to sound like a total jerk here. Prepare yourselves. I'm going to go all out MOMMYBLOGGER on you and gush about how my kid is a genius. I've tried reeeeaaaaalllllly hard not to tell you this already because I know what a dumbass many of you will think I am, but seriously you guys? Jack is FREAKISHLY smart. I should get his IQ tested. He is headed for TAG camp for sure. I could go on, but I'll stop because I think you get the point: MY KID IS A GENIUS!

Okay, so being a child genius sometimes means that you do things, well, differently from other kids your age. Case in point, the oversized Lincoln Logs museum exhibit. Most of the kids were using them as weapons of mass destruction. A few had halfheartedly stood the logs up on their ends and watched them topple over. But not Jack. He got right down to business and planned out an elaborate cabin which included windows (do you remember how hard it is to get your windows right with Lincoln Logs? Do you recognize the complex spacial thinking involved in this process? We are talking the HIGHEST LEVEL OF BLOOM'S TAXONOMY here people!). A small crowd of adults soon gathered around Jack, who remained oblivious to their presence and continued to construct the cabin. I crept up behind them and overheard murmurs of "How old is that boy?" and "Whose kid is he?" and as I tried to discreetly redirect him to another activity I was peppered with all kinds of questions about Jack as his apparently amazing building skills. Smiling sigh. My kid- the Lincoln Log genius.

The genius who still puts his underwear on backwards and can't tie his own shoes.

Okay okay, so now that I have totally dorked out about my smart kid, let me tell you a dirty little secret about myself which will hopefully negate any feeling of animosity you are feeling toward me for declaring that my kid is a genius.

I abhor fast food. I am a total freakishly healthy eater. I obsess about organic produce and nutritional values and added salt and preservatives and food dye and blah blah blah. But! I am a total hypocrite when it comes to two things: cookies and Burgerville. We almost always have cookies in our house. I bake cookies on a weekly basis, sometimes more frequently if we are feeling extra snacky. I have cookies baking in the oven RIGHT THIS MINUTE. I love cookies. And I also love Burgerville. The fries! The milkshakes! The veggie burgers! There is no Burgerville in Eugene (this is fortunate, I think) and so every time I go to Portland I must indulge my Burgerville demons. But Burgerville is kind of expensive and so the kids had french fries and milk shakes for lunch. Yikes. Oops.

And then we headed home and had our friends Kate and Aaron over for a dinner of pizza and Buttermilk Blueberry Cake, of course. I served the kids some extra peas that night too, you know, to make up for the whole fries and shakes lunch thing. Kate is days away from birthing a baby girl and Sawyer was visibly fixated by her round tummy.

Oh who am I trying to fool? Clearly my world does revolve around these kids. Just look how excited I get about my kid putting some damn Lincoln Logs together. But that doesn't mean that I don't do my fair share of sitting around sipping a drink or two with some friends. Isn't it all about finding that elusive balance anyway?

And so, on that note, cheers to the home stretch of Spring Break 2011. Anyone want to come have a celebratory beer with me?

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