The F***-ing Fours

I like my children a lot better when I am not with them. It has nothing to do with the time then that I have to myself, such as for exploring the best lunch options in the area (Zinc Cafe on the fabulous Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach won out this week). I was also able to partake in a timely discussion at my children’s school on Raising Kids in a Device Driven World. Note, the handful of very young siblings who were brought along by mothers were all plugged into iPads or iPhones. (I decided it best not to make a snarky comment on the irony, as that is no way to begin friendships in a new community). I attempted to donate blood but was thwarted by my travels to Mexico last spring. Apparently the area around Cancun is now considered a Malaria risk– though my lack of any extreme fever leads me to believe that my blood is actually desirable. And I also participated in a friendly tennis tournament for Breast Cancer Awareness (more later on my reversal of retirement from the sport). How easily I can combine selfish time with selfless acts when unencumbered by children!

No, I like my kids better because I have to believe that they are at their best when I am not in their presence. Just yesterday I asked my son’s teacher if he is always as pleasant as he is at pick-up, or is it just when I walk into the room. She confirmed the latter– fortunately for everyone else.

I’m simultaneously envious of and repulsed by the starlets who incessantly tweet about how in love they are with their babies. Clearly Kristin Cavallari is years away from being called Didiot by her son. Oh yes, at least mine is clever enough to add a consonant at the beginning of “idiot” so that he is not technically saying a naughty word, or so he reasons.

There has to be a bright spot in this madness. I know there is because my daughter was no picnic at four, five and even into six. Now she has terrific moments where she really reminds us that her exceptional qualities can prevail. But my son, well, right now he has a personality that only a mother could  has to love. And for some reason being around me brings out the worst in him, very sadly. The Terrible Twos didn’t happen for us, and at three he was still quite charming. Now we are paying for those years with the F***-ing Fours! Just under six more months to go…

Come March 31st I don’t unrealistically expect a miraculous emergence from this trying phase. But with each passing day there is the promise of raising a self-sufficient, socially-conscious, critically-thinking, compassionate citizen. I look toward positive role models of talent, intellect and humanity to keep me going in these child rearing efforts. How incredibly moving is the plight of Malala Yousufzai, the bright, young Pakistani blogger who fights for her life after a brutal assassination attempt? She is just fourteen. She is a mere seven and ten years older than my kids. Is it possible that my oft whiny, moody, snotty children can evolve in just a handful of years into mature, admirable, inspiring leaders? That may be a stretch, but dreams are meant to be lofty. We’ll keep working on taming the Didiot-shouting beast.

And above all we’ll keep sending our best wishes for Malala Yousufzai’s recovery.

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Twenty-two Minutes

Sunsets are deceptive. They conjure up images of serenity and splendor as another day comes to a close. Thoughts turn toward relaxation, bedtime routines and welcomed sleep. But for those of us who surrender quite early, sundown brings on a mild sense of panic: There’s-still-so-much-to-do-but-time-is-running-out races through my head as I mentally organize the tasks left to accomplish. A handful of the seemingly endless chores include lunch packing, dish loading, laundry folding, school reading, teeth brushing, squabble refereeing,  phone-call returning, email sending, and the ever lovely thrice daily dog pooping. And so goes the list.

It’s at this time–at sunset–when I remember that thought-provoking college essay (I believe it was for Princeton, but correct me if I am wrong):

What would you do with an extra hour in the day?

As a high school senior I didn’t have an appreciation for time, or lack thereof. I wish I could tell you that I would have provided an intelligent, creative and profound answer– but I didn’t have it then and I likely don’t have it now.

What I would do with that 25th hour would be to follow the news. I make a minimal effort in that I put the 10 o’clock news on, but I am passed out within minutes. And our weekday mornings are so hurried (also admittedly a bit militant) that we don’t linger over the early news as I would like to if I had my way. Note that I do harbor some bitterness over Ann Curry’s ousting departure from The Today Show and I am silently protesting. As a result I know very little about current affairs either locally or abroad, other than the tidbits I pick up from peeking at gossip sites from time to time. But what good is knowing that Justin Bieber tossed his cookies on stage a few days ago in Arizona when I can’t tell you where the Obama-Romney debate is happening tonight?

It’s time that I emerge from under my rock. It’s time to create extra minutes in my day. When I was little I dreaded long car rides because my father instituted “driver’s choice” to determine what we listened to on the radio or tape cassettes (remember those?).  Somehow it was actually father’s choice, not necessarily driver’s choice, and he opted for 1010 WINS.  I can still hear that irritating promise: You give us twenty-two minutes and we’ll give you the world. Those were some loooonnnnngggg twenty-two minutes. Yet, I now long for those twenty-two minutes.

Funny how age brings about appreciation– I would love for my brain to be filled with all that I need to know in just a fraction of the day. Once I forgive NBC, and also figure out how to operate the DVR, I’ll start recording The Today Show so that sometime during the day I can plug through the highlights.

Then maybe if I could re-write those college essays, I would suggest that I don’t need a whole hour, just twenty-two minutes.