Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Break 2010

Today was the first day of my kids' spring break. Other than my kids not having school, not a whole lot was different about today; and I'm guessing this will hold true for the rest of the week. Spring break has a different meaning as an adult; it really doesn't mean anything. For most of us spring break ceases to exist after we've finished school. As a parent, it may reappear on your kids' schedule, but what does it really mean for you? It may mean taking off from work and obligations to travel with the kids, or just being stuck with them home from school for a week in the middle of the semester. Either way, how much of a break is it? Since we are staying home this year for Easter, it is the direct opposite of a break for me, it means not having a moment to myself this week.

My older son keeps referring to being "on spring break" and he doesn't know we're kidding when my husband and I shout out with fake excitement, "spring break 2010 - woo hoo!" But I can't help it - this is not the week that comes to mind when I think of "spring break". Bribing my kids to watch my tennis match today and then dragging them through the grocery store is not quite the same as a day in Cancun or Myrtle Beach. When I think "spring break", I think beaches, drinks, loud music, cute boys, dancing, and more dancing. I have many great memories of spring breaks of the past, but sadly there will be no foam parties this week and I didn't think the boys that woke me up this morning whining and crying were so cute.

Yes, spring break is very different these days. And although my husband is not taking off from work and my week is really not going to be much different, I will try to make it fun for my kids; it is after all their spring break, not mine. Tonight my kids wanted to have a "sleep-over" in my 6 year old's room as something special, so I tucked my 3 year old into bed with his brother and thought maybe they are cute after all. Within 10 minutes my 6 year old was calling for me complaining about his brother, "I can't sleep because he stinks and is stinking up my whole bed." Spring Break 2010 - woo hoo!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Keeper of the Sea Monkeys

We lost our Sea Monkey "Stanley" sometime overnight. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, as my 6 year old told me this morning that, "Dad noticed Stanley 'sleeping' last night". But, the discovery this morning of a floating lifeless crustacean was upsetting. My younger son was in tears because it was his "monkey", but I was upset because I spent so much time trying to get this Sea Monkey to grow that the creature floating this morning was a slap in the face. Why would I subject myself to Sea Monkeys in the first place? I don't know.

When I took on the role of "Stay at Home Mom", I knew what I was getting into. I knew that I was trading in my career of taking care of patients for the responsibility of taking care of everyone in my house. Much like an under-staffed busy shift in the hospital, there are many days that I am just trying to keep everyone here alive. But what I missed in my job description was the Zoology degree I would need to take care of all of the non-human living things in our house; and keep them alive. I'm taking the loss of the Sea Monkey hard.

I'll admit that when I bought the Sea Monkeys, I didn't know what they were. In fact, I assumed they weren't actually real. I had no idea that I would be farming brine shrimp. I bought them because they were on the shelf in the toy store next to the "Grow a Frog" kit I was buying for my older son. Since my younger son loves monkeys, I thought they would be a cute gift for him. Just like when I came home with a Beta fish a few years ago, I didn't think through the water changes and maintenance these little pets require. I was only thinking of my kids. But my kids are too young to independently care for their pets; so although these pets belong to my kids, they are really my responsibility. When the Beta fish "Swimmy I" was found floating a month after his arrival, I quickly replaced him and vowed I would never let another pet perish in my care. Swimmy II has now outlived his life expectancy and I consider him a success story. I've had success maintaining our hyper-allergic high-maintenance Golden Retriever and our new tadpole is growing on schedule into a lively frog.

So, I guess I was feeling confidant that I could in fact grow and take care of these mythical Sea Monkeys. I followed the directions exactly with my anxious 3 year old looking over my shoulder. And then we waited. Nothing. I was so worried about these little shrimp; I thought for sure I had already killed them. I checked them everyday for 2 weeks and finally, the tank was filled with movement. "The Stanleys", as they were named by my 3 year old, had hatched and were alive. I, with the supervision of my 3 year old, continued to care for them and watch them grow for another few weeks. But slowly, the number of Stanleys diminished, until we were left with just one quite large Sea Monkey. And now we're down to none. My 3 year old's tears were short-lived this morning, but I'm still disappointed in Stanley's demise. I take my job seriously, even if sometimes that's nothing more than keeping Sea Monkeys alive.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Leprechauns Beware

In the car after school today, my older son said to his little brother, "I wonder what the Leprechaun is going to bring us tonight?" Whoa, wait a minute; tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, but what Leprechaun? My son went on to explain that a little boy in his class told him that on St. Patrick's Day a Leprechaun visits homes and brings gifts and treats for children to wake up to in the morning. I'm Irish and I know nothing about a Leprechaun bringing gifts, but I do know that this tale needs to be stopped. The last thing I need is another imaginary overnight visitor bringing trinkets to my kids; I have enough trouble keeping up with the well established ones, like the Tooth-Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I needed to squash this fabled Leprechaun and squash it fast.

I let my son know that I had my doubts about this so called gift-giving Leprechaun. It all sounded a little too "Charlie Brown" to me. But to be fair to the mom of the boy in my son's class, who obviously has a cute little tradition going on over at their house, I didn't want to just say its not true. So, I did what most modern day parents do to answer a challenging question; I Googled it, I consulted Wikipedia. My son and I read through several sites on the origin of St. Patrick's Day and Leprechauns and as I suspected, nowhere did we find anything about Leprechauns bringing children gifts. Instead we found a lot of sites on how to catch a Leprechaun and get his gold.

After sifting through all of the information, I successfully turned my son's interest from getting Leprechaun gifts into setting a trap to catch a Leprechaun. We spent the rest of the evening decorating paper Trader Joe's grocery bags with rainbows, clover, and gold, as instructed by many sites, to bait the Leprechaun. And we now have two elaborate Leprechaun traps set up in our house, complete with entrance only stairs built from blocks for the little guy, and bells to sound the alarm when he gets stuck in the bag and can't get out. So, beware Leprechauns, we don't want your gifts here, we're after your gold.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Taxi Cab Confession

We've lived on the Main Line in our current home for 5 years now. And yet, my husband has trouble navigating from point A to point B on the Main Line. We're transplants, but still, its been 5 years. I asked him to drop my older son off at a friend's house in Wayne last weekend, a home that we have been to as a family many times for play-dates, dinners, and parties. A home, I might add, that I have had him drop off and pick up my son from before. He looked at me with a blank stare. I could tell he was nervous to ask, but he had no idea how to get there. After the appropriate amount of eye-rolling, I sent him out the door with detailed directions; knowing that he still had no idea and would plug the address into the car navigation and Google on his phone. Why does this man have no idea how to get anywhere outside of the 1 mile radius of our street?

But as I was driving today from Spanish class in Rosemont to soccer in Bala Cynwyd, I realized that my husband can't get anywhere, because he never goes anywhere. He drives the same 1 mile stretch every day to and from the train station; if there was a track, the car could drive itself. Meanwhile, I've spent the past 5 years driving the Main Line, from one end to the other. I shuttle my children, myself, and groceries to and from all points on the Main Line. I've worn a path between Wynnewood and Bryn Mawr getting my kids to school. I may spend the morning in Ardmore, but need to be in Radnor 10 minutes later. I've found the fastest route to pick up our sitter in Villanova, and a quick back road to the Country Club in Gladwyne. And I can get to Target in Plymouth Meeting without ever getting on the Blue Route if there's traffic. I confess, maybe I was a little hard on my husband. And maybe I shouldn't consider myself so much a talented driver, as just a taxi driver.

When I first moved here, I thought it was charming that I would always see someone I knew on the road. What a great community to live in where you see your friends and neighbors next to you at a traffic light or passing you with a friendly honk or wave. Now I realize its because all of my mom friends are all driving the same routes from one end of Lancaster or Montgomery Avenue to the other. We are all just working our part-time jobs as taxi drivers and the light is always on.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Could my children call me something other than "mom"? Just for one day. Seriously, if I hear "Mawm", in those whiny little voices one more time today I might snap. You would think there was something really important that they needed my attention for. But no, its usually to ask me what day it is or to recount some adventure they went on in Webkinz World. I'm starting to think its some sort of reflex; that they may have some physical need to say "mom" at least a hundred times a day.

There was a day when my older son was 4 and he fired me. He didn't like something I asked him to do that morning; it was probably something crazy like put his shoes on to leave for school. In the car he told me that he did not need me to be his mom anymore and he would like someone else to pick him up from school. I informed him that I would be there to pick him up until he could find my replacement, but for the rest of the day I would not be answering to "mom" and he would have to call me "Mrs. V". That was a nice afternoon. For some reason "Mrs. V" did not roll off his tongue quite as easily as "mom". As I suspected, I was rehired by the end of the day, but unfortunately I regained my title as well, and am still answering to "mom".

Its not that I don't enjoy talking to my children or that I don't want to answer their questions; even the silly ones. But does every sentence or question have to start with "mom"? And if I don't say "yes" or "what", does "mom" have to be repeated until I make some sound? Can't they just proceed with their story? Its unnecessary, especially since a lot of these conversations are between me and just one of my kids - its obvious, at least to me, who he's speaking to. I'm just tired of hearing so many "moms". I know its my name, but I think its wearing out.