Tuesday, November 24, 2009

House of Cards

Several months ago my daughter Anna, then 6, was in the back seat of my van belting out I don’t want to be your friend, I just want to be your lover, when it occurred to me that I probably should be more select about what I chose to listen to while driving. So I decided to put together a play list of kids’ songs on my mp3, which I did, and which they both greatly enjoyed. But there are only so many times I can listen to Rainbow Connection and forgo the urge to throw myself off a tall building, so eventually we came back around to Radiohead. My children, having an apparent broad range of musical tastes, were unfazed. “Mommy,” she said,” I don’t know what this song is called, so I just call it ‘Denial’”. That’s fine love, just don’t sing it at school, okay?

There was a time not so long ago when all I had to worry about was placing the medicine bottles on a high shelf and putting plastic guards in electrical outlets. My husband and I could spell out words not meant for little ears. Now Anna reads Facebook status updates over my shoulder. Like this one: “Bananagrams with wine and cleavage!” And thank you, Matthew, for the accompanying photo. Try explaining that to a 7-year-old. But I don’t have to explain it because my 4-year-old son has just emerged from my bedroom. “Mommy, what is this shaky thing?” Oh. My. That’s something mommy uses to massage her tired muscles.

Back before I had children I used to imagine that parenthood would consist of baking cupcakes with my kids and taking them on outings to the zoo – all bunnies and wholesome goodness. And of course I would also continue to enjoy the same pleasures and moderate vices of any adult. And, consummate organizer that I am, I would be able to effortlessly juggle my two worlds, slipping back and forth between them with ease (contain your laughter, please). While I love to bake with my kids and we do occasionally go look at caged animals, parenthood is nothing like the neatly-framed vignette I imagined. I was a fool to think my kids would be satisfied with having access to only a fraction of my life, even if it is the greater fraction. Nor did I realize that they would be blessed with powers of observation and intelligence and curiosity so insatiable it would bring me to my knees.

They hide behind the clothes in my closet, listen in on my private conversations, get into my lipstick, poke little fingers into my jars of lotion, go through the drawers in my office, take the mints out of my purse, count the coins in my wallet, try on my bras even. My world is their oyster!

The other day, as I struggled to open a bottle of cough medicine, Anna told me she knew how to open child safety caps. Really? “Yes,” she said. “Would you like me to show you?” I have now given myself over to the realization that I will never be prepared for my children’s precipitate curiosity. In the battle to stay one step ahead of them, my strategy has gone from one of averting casualties to simply hiding the bodies. So when Anna comes over and wants to know what I’m reading, I don’t try to think of a child-friendly response. I tell her, simply, that it’s between me and my diary. “What’s a diary?” she asks. It’s a place where people record their private thoughts. But it’s just a saying; I don’t actually keep a diary. “Yes you do. It’s under the pile of books by your bed.” Oy vey. Now I just have to keep her from discovering my blog.

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  1. So did she get the words to that old Texas song wrong or is there just a new song on the block along a similar theme?

    I think I'd rather have a child doing a risque song that regurgitating early Texas - but that's just me, maybe?

  2. No, it's a song from Radiohead (called House of Cards). Not sure what old Texas song you're referring to, but we don't do much Texas, early or late, in our house. ;-)

  3. You have just had a father of 12 ROFLMAO. Boy did you come into parenthood unprepared? Such sweet innocence; I'm talking about yours, kids don't know the meaning of the word.

    After this post, I am following, I want to meet your other delusions in life.

    I'm going to add this to my Blogger's Cafe as well:
    http://avarchives.blogspot.com/ it'll be under Mom's Blogs

    Love it!


  4. “Mommy, what is this shaky thing?” Oh. My. That’s something mommy uses to massage her tired muscles.

    Kinder Major just carried mine through the household the other day, leaving a wake of shock behind her (my parents and siblings were home) as she gleefully shouted "MOMMY! YOU HAVE THIS BUNNY ON A LOG WITH A SECRET BEAD NECKLACE IN IT, AND THE BUNNY HOPS REALLY FAST!!!!"

    Ahhh, the joys of motherhood. ;)


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