Monthly Archives: February 2016

Look up and smell the roses

We recently took the boys on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Universal Studios. I feel truly blessed to be able to do this for our kids. When I think about the memories we are making, and how they will look back fondly on these fun times, it makes me so happy.

But there was one aspect of the trip that just made me sad: So many people staring at their phones.

Granted, when you go to a major theme park on a holiday weekend there is lots of waiting. It can be tedious and frustrating. My patience was tried a few times, the boys got bored, and a few times we had to remind ourselves to just breathe and enjoy it.

But the number of people staring down at screens really struck me.  It was just sad.

During a 45 minute wait to get into Hogwarts, a group of young girls in front of us spent the entire time each engrossed in their own screen. Occasionally, one of them would show something to another, they’d laugh, and go back to their own phone. There was no conversation. No excited chatter about the upcoming ride, no talk about boys, or school or what they had done the previous day. (Unless, of course, they were texting each other.) I was astonished, and even my son mentioned it.

In another line, there was a very young girl with her mom. Her mom was on Facebook pretty much the entire wait. The girl had her own phone, but she tried to talk to her mom a couple times without success. So she kept opening and closing apps, not really doing anything on the phone, but staring at it nonetheless. I think that made me saddest. She seemed to be either mimicking what she was seeing around her and wanting to fit in, or she was resigned to the fact that her mom wasn’t engaging and was just bored. What a wasted opportunity!

(And no, I wasn’t being nosy. When you are stuck in close proximity to someone it’s very easy to see with a glance what they are looking at on their phone.)

Those are just two examples of what I saw over and over again.

We really are having a zombie apocalypse, but instead of some mystery virus, it’s our smartphones that have turned our brains to mush. Did I mention how many times we ran into or had to walk around someone because they were doing the zombie shuffle, or stopped in the middle of the path to look at their phone? Maddening.

I’m not perfect. I wasn’t always 100% engaged with the kids. Yes, I pulled out my phone to text my husband who had the younger one on the other side of the park. Or to take a quick picture and post it to Facebook. And frankly, there were times during our waits that I wanted to sleep. (Sleeping in the same hotel bed with a four-year-old? That’s for another post.) Or I didn’t really feel like engaging because I was thinking about how much my back hurt from all the standing, or I was people-watching.

But most of the time, we enjoyed each other’s company. We talked. My older son and I made up our own versions of the rides we were about to get on. We talked about why he can’t see Deadpool.  (And he didn’t cry this time. Whew.) We dreamt up our own movies or stories. We laughed.

I would not have traded that time for any app in the world.

What are we doing, people? These are the memory-makers. These are the times we should be laughing and talking and sharing (IRL not social media sharing).  When else do we have time to just hang out with our kids without having to rush here and there? And we’re spending it on our phones?

It just makes me sad.

Why Deadpool—and parenting—sucks

Sometimes parenting straight up sucks.

I made my son cry on the way to school this morning.

Why I picked that time I don’t know. I guess I didn’t expect that reaction. I knew he wouldn’t like what I said, but I didn’t expect him to cry. I forget that although he’s taller than me and sometimes has pimples, he’s still a little boy inside. Now I’m devastated, thinking he had to start his day like that.

But I did it for a good reason. Honest.

For two years he’s been looking forward to seeing the Deadpool movie. Since before there was even a hint of the movie being made, he drew pictures of him that he hung on his wall. He made Deadpool his home screen on the iPad. He bought some of his comics. He loves Deadpool.

(I know the comic books, and how raunchy the character is. My son’s read only read a few of them. In his twelve-year-old mind, Deadpool just looks cool and says funny things. He’s still naive and innocent.)

When he heard they were making a movie, he was beyond excited. WE were excited. Because that’s OUR thing. We see all the Star Wars, super hero, big monster movies together. And I cherish and love every second of it.

So he’s seen every preview, read articles about the making of the movie, counted the days.

Then, with a dawning sense of dread, I realized how inappropriate the movie is going to be. I stopped encouraging it, stopped mentioning it. Hoping he’d forget, but he didn’t. When the commercials started showing the opening date, he’d look at me, wide-eyed.  I’d smile half-heartedly and change the subject.

I told him last week that I wasn’t sure the movie was going to be appropriate for him. Laying the groundwork. I dreaded telling him that he couldn’t see it. I knew he’d be disappointed.

Last night, talking to a mom-friend, we agreed we’d go together opening weekend to decide once and for all if our boys could see it.

So, this morning in the car (bad timing!) I told him that I would see Deadpool this weekend to decide if he could see it. And he was crushed. He started to cry. For some stupid reason, I was surprised. I knew he’d be mad and disappointed, but didn’t expect tears. Ugh.

It’s moments like that, that I really hate parenting. I hate to see my boy cry, even if it’s for the right reason. And especially when it’s my fault. Part of me was screaming inside to say, “OK, you can see it,” just so he’d stop crying. But I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do.

Once I explained my reasoning and apologized for the bad timing, I changed the subject and tried to be cheerful. To his credit, he pulled it together and was talking about possible easter eggs in the movie by the time he jumped out of the car. But still. I’m left with this knot in my stomach.

Thanks a lot, Deadpool.

First Snow

The new-fallen snow kissed the still-warm earth

And snowflakes danced like fairies in the night.

As the moon shone down upon the snow, a blanket over the land,

The wind whistled through the treetops above

And I stood amazed, watching.

Gram, Remembered

Her cool hand on
My fevered head
A soft smile and
A soothing touch.

Church on Sundays
All dressed up, “Sit still
And we’ll get candy”
Her voice
Beautiful, when she sings the hymns.

In the kitchen
Baking pies. Flour and shortening
Transformed, like magic.
Dough scraps and jelly become tarts
For the helpers.

A little older
It’s shopping and lunch and
“Don’t tell Grampa!”
But we did, and he grumbled,
Then laughed when we modeled.

The weekend’s over
Now we’re clinging and
Crying, and begging.
“We don’t want to go”
Because to us, this was home too.