soccer mom

On Saturdays, Chloe naps in my room in a Pack n Play since her weekday crib is in our au pair’s bedroom (which the au pair kindly agreed to since we only use it while she’s working).

Only problem is- I’m stuck out here in the living room post-shower with only the clean clothes available in a hamper, and that did not include pants.

So I did find a top and undies but no pants, so I’m sitting here bare-legged and longing for an important notebook on my desk but it is NOT worth potentially waking her, so. While Evan watches “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” I blog.

He’s wearing all black, which is his thing. He also favors giant scarves tied over his face with only his eyes showing, because he’s a ninja. So if you see him on a warm day looking bundled, this is why. He also insists on grip socks, like the ones he gets at Skyzone. He would wear the same black Hot Chillys and Skyzone grip socks every day if I let him.

He’s almost five, and we are engaging in more complicated battles of will. No longer can I scoop him up and carry him to wherever we’re going (I actually pulled a muscle in my arm the other day trying to lift him onto the kitchen counter). His arguments are more complex. The “right” approach is not as straightforward to me as it was when he was smaller.

For example, I signed him up for soccer this spring- once a week, 5-6pm, with 3 and 4 year olds. He started off fine, laughing his head off as the coach said, “Ready, set… Cheerios!” etc. and ran around dribbling and scoring goals. The sessions run by month and as soon as we switched over from January to February, it was a new batch of kids. Suddenly, he was “scared,” and “shy.” There were some of the same kids, same coach, same assistant coaches, same gym. You had fun! Get out there! He joined like halfway through the class.

One day, we showed up late and I was grumbling at myself about it when he refused to play because we were late. The coach came out and said, “Hey! You’re early! We’re just warming up.” That was enough to convince him to play.

One day, he didn’t play at all. He told the coach that it was because he was ready to play with the bigger kids and didn’t want to play with the littler kids. When we switched to the bigger kids class (4-5 year olds rather than 3-4 year olds), he refused to play with the bigger kids, crying, saying he was shy, scared, tired, sick, and hated soccer. (It was also 6-7pm, dinner time.)

As I type this out, it seems normal for this age, and nothing to worry about. But it pushed my buttons so bad. I was frustrated (but you love this!), mad (you asked me to sign you up!), resentful (we paid the money! we woke the baby!), embarrassed (no other kids are sitting out!). I was not the calm, understanding, supportive mom I think I usually am. I tried to force him, guilt him, bribe him. I gave up and then tried again and called my parents. I seriously didn’t know if I was “supposed” to let him sit out, go home, quit. I was kind of an a-hole, honestly. I never expected this I could not fight it. I was like an out-of-control football dad, a side of me I never knew existed. Other parents were around to hear, quietly not making eye contact or saying anything, and I very nearly asked them for advice…

And I made it into a bigger problem with my own resistance.

So what in the world was my deal? I feel pretty strongly about follow-through, keeping commitments, pushing through fear, being open to new experiences, being grateful for opportunities not everyone has, and looking on the bright side. I really really want to instill all of these things in my child.

But he’s 4. My family social worker friend K reminded me that you raise a resilient child not by throwing them into the game but by supporting them through their big feelings and getting creative about how to move forward. She had a little chat with him about what was feeling scary about it. Afterward, he said, “Maybe I’ll play tomorrow. Maybe I’ll transform my mind.” (!!!)

And he did. I gave him a big ol’ ham and cheese sandwich on the way over, and that may have helped too. He played the whole time with the big kids and he was so proud to call Mimi and Chacha afterward to let them know.

I’m reminded that kids are never simply “being difficult.” They are hungry, tired, scared, nervous, longing for connection and safety, overstimulated, frustrated over their lack of control, overwhelmed, and still learning so much. The list goes on. Our job as parents is to understand the root of it, connect, help them regulate, give them tools. Whew! This IS harder than I thought.

I’m proud of him. I’m a little proud of me and trying to give some love and support to my football dad side who is scared of weakness and vulnerability. I had all those shy and scared feelings as a kid in swimming class and it pained me to see it in him. I know much better how to manage this next time. (I think.)

And I’ve stopped raising my voice altogether because it never, ever helps. We’re doing good.

Chloe will have the calmest of the moms when she’s 4. 🙂

And she’s up!



fishies #1 and #2 :(

I got Evan a betta fish named Yellow for Christmas and we were enjoying him a lot. Two months later, the heater malfunctioned, taking the water to 95 degrees, and he died.

I’ve spent more mental energy, time, and money on this than I would have expected. Obviously I wanted his first pet to be a good experience and these fish can be sensitive to all kinds of factors. I very much wanted him to live a long life. So I spared no expense on a lovely 2.5-gallon tank, filter, heater, gravel siphon, food, thermometer strip, test strips, and treats. We were in a good groove with Yellow and it wasn’t his fault (or our fault) that the heater cooked him, but I still feel sad about it, especially that he had to suffer.

I cleaned the tank, moved it to a new location where I could plug the (newly researched and ordered) heater directly into the wall so there would be no extension cord to potentially cause overheating. I treated the water,  tested it for 5 different levels using special (expensive) test strips, got it to the perfect temperature, ran the filter for 24 hours. On Friday night, we were ready to pick up our new betta.

E picked a blue one, probably twice the size of Yellow, with big, flowing, shimmery turquoise fins. He named him Blueberry. We brought him home and put him in his new tank. He swam around actively, even lay on his special leaf for a bit. By Saturday night, though, he was moving less and never did eat what we fed him. By Sunday morning, he was dead.

WHAAAAAAAAAA?! (not sure if this is a wah wah cry or a WHAT??? but sort of both)

I was the first to get up and checked him and he was upside down sort of stuck to the filter. No. No. No!!!

OK, guys, this is a little fish we’re talking about. We just had salmon last night for dinner for which I paid significantly more money. (maybe he was horrified as he watched us from the tank’s new vantage point off the dining room?) Still, it makes me sad.

Admittedly, his little bowl was very dirty when he got him at the store. When I called them today, the woman who answered the phone said, “yeah, seems like they’ve been dying more recently, I wonder if we got a ‘bad batch.'” She also mentioned that they didn’t get a new shipment this week (they do most weeks) so Blueberry might have been in that little dirty bowl for two weeks. (Yep, I’m done with that fish store.)

In that case, he was probably sick and it was nothing to do with our setup. Maybe I helped him be more comfortable in his final days?

Anyway, this is surprisingly hard for me. E is stoic. I was heartbroken (and crying) when I told him that Yellow died. I watched him process this info, first wondering if he could be just sleeping… but he had more curiosity about it than anything. We had a ceremonial walk to the toilet to flush him down. He wondered if we could get a lizard now (no). When I told him about Blueberry (not crying this time since we didn’t have time to get to know him), he was OK. It was even kind of funny that we couldn’t even keep him alive over a weekend. We had another walk to the toilet.

What’s hardest for me is this lesson: we don’t control everything, even when we do our best. It’s one of the hardest lessons there is.

For now, I’m glad that we’re assigning this lesson to something as small and not-cuddly and non-communicative as a fish, as I imagine this would/will be WAY harder when we someday get some genre of cute mammal. The life lessons of having a pet are real.

RIP Yellow and Blueberry

And you know I’m going to insist on a #3. (Maybe not today though.)

Let him/her live a long life!