sick.

Look what I found! An unpublished draft! From this time last year (5.29.2014). Beats the hell out of writing something new. Gift with purchase? It is seasonally accurate. BAM.

*********

The Kidling is sick. Before you take pity, Dear Readers, we are talking about a different kind of illness.

School sick.

The Kidling had a rough re-entry into school after the long weekend of fun and activity. She spent several days with one set of grandparents, then got to spend an afternoon and evening with another grandma.

Lucky booger.

The Kidling: I’m school sick!
Natalie: What do you mean, Kidling?
The Kidling: I’m sick of working, I’m sick of learning, and I’m sick of talking about reading!

Someone is over this school year.

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speechless

Yes, me. Speechless. If you know The Mama in real life, then you know this is very nearly impossible. I typically have 100 words to get out for every 10 that are actually needed. But not today. Oh no, today I had no words.

None.

While The Kidling and I sat in the waiting room at the chiropractor this evening, we reviewed some word endings. This week, her class is spending some time focusing on -ck endings, so we played a bit of a guessing game. I gave her clues, and she replied. It looked something like this:

“What do you put your groceries in?”
“A bag… No… A sack!”

“Where do you put your folders after school?”
“My backpack!”

“What do you do with a sucker?”
“Suck!”

“What was your tricky spelling word last week that ended in -ck?”
“Truck!”

Think you know where this is headed? So did I. Until…

“What do you say to someone who is picking her nose?”
“Snack!”

Um… Well… I was sort of thinking… Ick. Ick, Kidling.

Ick.

duh.

The Kidling had a remarkable day yesterday. She was cheerful all afternoon when she returned home from school, overcame an enormous fear successfully, was able to stay up late to finish her homework without a meltdown, and didn’t even get ticked when the “two stories at bedtime” reward that I offered became “one story” then “maybe just half” after I realized that she had chosen quite the tome (and no one who values her sanity keeps The Kidling up past bedtime).

A banner day, really.

Naturally, as someone who values happiness and joy, I wanted to remind The Kidling of her general awesomeness first thing this morning.

“Did you dream about your great accomplishments last night?” I asked when The Kidling walked bleary-eyed into the room.

“No,” she replied incredulously. “I dreamed about My Little Ponies having a race!”

Duh.

 

an open letter to The Kidling and to kidlings of a certain age*

The Kidling was happier than this to return to school. I swear.

The Kidling was happier than this about her return to school. I swear.

On this day that is traditionally the first day of school, The Mama stands in

Sappy, whiny, sentimental

solidarity with family members everywhere sending their

Kids who are totally ready to go to school and have probably been ready for months but whose parents/grandparents/responsible adults are worried sick. Seriously! Think of all the things that could go wrong! I could send lunch money when all the other parents packed lunch, I could pack lunch when all the other parents sent lunch money, I could forget to pack lunch or send lunch money, thereby making me a pariah and–

babies to the first day of kindergarten. May your worries be unfounded, may your tears be few, and may the force be with you… or something.

_________

A few days ago on a morning run, my running pals and I were making conversation. Idle chit-chat, at first glance. The kind that helps us get through the miles but that, in the aggregate, shines light into the corners of our souls.

“How are you dealing with Kindergarten?” the fastest of us asked.

“What?” I replied. “Oh. Great! Honestly, I am just excited for her. She is damn smart. She is really ready to be a reader.”

And with that, I brushed aside all thoughts of anxiety regarding my youngest–my only–child’s matriculation into the garden of children… until two Saturdays ago. On that day, it all came. At first it whispered, politely tiptoeing toward me. Shortly thereafter, it spoke more firmly and picked up its pace. Then it whacked me right over the head.

Jerk.

Because on that fateful Saturday, I found myself at Generic Department Store. Yes, the same one that gave me corduroy shorts with opaque tights in adolescence. Perms and bad bobs in my childhood. But that day, it gave me something else: anxiety.

On that far-from-fine day, The Mama decided to buy The Kidling’s new school clothes. Pretty striped cotton dresses, practical tees and leggings, perhaps a fall jacket… things that scream “The Kindergartner from The Middle(west).” And I did find those things. It’s just that I also found other…

Things.

Things that I wasn’t ready to see in size 5.  The details aren’t worthy of recounting,

Tight things, short things, one-shouldered things, things with words I don’t want to read in places I don’t want to read them

but the outcome is: fear. Genuine, chest-tightening fear. Fear of the influence of the world. Fear that The Dada and I will no longer control the message. Fear that–god forbid–The Kidling will actually want those awful things.

Fear that the world won’t be kind.

Fear that The Kidling won’t be kind.

Fear that she will struggle–with friendships, with learning, with anything.

Fear that she will be cruel to friends who struggle.

Fear that she will be judged.

Fear that she will judge.

Fear that she will be hurt.

Fear that she will hurt.

Fear.

Fear.

Fear.

Fear.

Fear.

I was so busy with my fear that I nearly forgot to notice today. But first times are sacred and deserve to be memorialized. So, to you, Dear Kidling, I write:

_________

Dear The Kidling (and friends);

This morning

After you went outside in your perfect first-day-of-school outfit and played with sidewalk chalk in your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit and covered your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit with said sidewalk chalk and apologized for covering your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit with sidewalk chalk and went inside to take off your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit and changed into clothes.

you went to Kindergarten. Kindergarten! I know you are a genius, but this seems extreme. You were, after all, born just yesterday.

A few weeks ago, we sat on our front steps and ate ice cream. When I thanked you for being part of my life, you laughed at me. Then you shrugged your tiny little shoulders

Shoulders on which the weight of the world seems sometimes to rest.

and said “Well, you created me,” because you had no choice in the matter.

Which is kind of awesome, because I know you would choose Nana.

Whether by choice or by nature, I am ridiculously lucky to have you. Not that I am foolish enough to think that you are meant to be had. Rather, I am so, so fortunate to have you here. With me. With The Dada. Every day, as part of our crazy little ride on this planet. And, for what it’s worth, I have no idea what I did to deserve you, but whatever it was, I am damn glad I did it. And if that thing that I did occurred in a past life, then I am seriously thanking dead-previous-The-Mama.

Really. Thank you for not being a total jerk to someone with the power to ensure future-The-Mama got screwed over with a boring, bratty kid.

On such a monumental day, I don’t have nearly as much advice as I wish I did. What little I have to offer is so very important: No matter what, be you. Always be you. Even when you forget who “you” are. Even when you lose “you.” Even when the “you” you find is wholly different from the one you lost. Be you. Strong, kind, quirky, clever, smart, stubborn, loving, rambunctious, curious, agile, witty, loud, beautiful, spunky, mouthy,

but not too mouthy

you. Because I love the shit out of you. And I always will.

Love,
The Mama

_________

* This post originally appeared (in an ever-so-slightly different form) in Kidlingville on September 3, 2013. And you know what? Not a damn thing has changed.

on futility…

…and gristle:

“Maybe it’s to keep from being eaten. Well, whatever, we don’t listen to them. We just spit that part out and gobble the rest up!”

-The Kidling
August 18, 2014

anatomically (in)correct

“Boys have buttcracks. Girls have butts.”

– The Kidling
August 20, 2014

The Kidling on summer reading program bribes

“. . . and if you fill in all of the bubbles first, you get a Kindle of Fire!”

-The Kidling
July 16, 2014

The Kidling and The Pup

The Family recently grew by one member. No, I did not produce any more precocious progeny; this time, I bought it. The progeny. Of a dog.

We got a dog.

This was an ongoing conversation in our home, with The Kidling actively involved. We looked at old dogs, puppies, and middle-aged dogs. Rescues and breeder pups. Near and far. When I finally found a pup I was genuinely enamored of, I showed The Kidling a picture.

She flipped.

Cries of When can we get her?! and How many days is that?!?!? filled every waking moment at Our House. I deferred and deflected while working out a plan, then I did something new.

I lied.

“I am working with the woman who has her, Kidling. I think we can get her sometime next week,” I assured her.

The covetous response was overwhelming. More pleading, this time with Can we get her as early as possible next week? and How many days is that? erupting from her 6 year-old mouth with angst befitting a child 7 years her senior. I explained the approximate amount of time that would be, stressing that it was really just an estimate, as we were still figuring out the details.

Pants on fire, Mama. Pants on fire.

I had a plan. Damn genius, if you ask me. You see, The Kidling was spending the weekend with The Grandma, and I made plans to get that sweet little bundle of fur the day before The Kidling returned to Our Town. I would drive to the agreed-upon location to pick The Kidling up, she would be so so so happy to see me, then TA-DA the pooch would prance up accompanied by squeals of glee, lick The Kidling’s sweet face, and we would all live happily ever after (yes, I am ignoring the teen years in this scenario. Sue me.)

The cutest dog in the entire world lives in Our House. Coincidentally, so does the cutest (and smartest) child.

The cutest dog in the entire world lives in Our House. Coincidentally, so does the cutest (and smartest) child.

The big day arrived. There was a minor kink in the form of a freaking monsoon that made its way across the Middle U.S. that afternoon, but otherwise, the plan went off without a hitch. Her face registered shock and delight in that beautiful moment where she first laid eyes on The Pup. Joy radiated from every tiny kidling pore as we loaded up the car and drove back toward Our Town.

I basked in The Kidling’s reaction, watching and feeling and hearing evidence of her bliss. “Do you like her?” I asked knowingly, as the car rolled down the rain-soaked highway.

I like her even better in person—I mean—in animal!”

Yes, The Kidling has met her new best friend.