Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Translation for kids

Ever wonder what your child actually hears when you're speaking? Well, here's are a couple of handy translations for two common situations:

What you say: "Honey, it's not time to go yet, we have 15 more minutes."
What your three-year-old hears: "We're leaving this very second. Go put your shoes on and stand by the door and ask 'Mommy, are we going NOW?' every 15 seconds for ten minutes, and then whine 'Mommy, I want to go NOW!' for the remaining five."

What you say: "We need to hurry right now, sweetie, mommy is running late."
What your three-year-old hears: "It's time to play tag! Go run around the couch five times while I chase you, trying to get your shirt on. Then, on our way to the car, please stop at every pebble to remark how beautiful it is. Also, do this all while being extremely cute so I can't even be all that mad at you."

Of course, things get much easier as time goes by. For instance, here are a couple of examples from the teenage years:

What you say: "Honey, can you please pick up your shoes and put away your video games?"
What your teenager hears: "Blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah?"

What you say: "Sweetie, it's your turn to put away the dishes."
What your teenager hears: "Blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah."

What you say: "Hey, boys, let's have pizza for dinner!"
What your teenagers hear: "Hey boys, let's have pizza for dinner!"

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Run for your life

Most of you already know that in January I injured my ankle following a race. At first I thought I'd barrel through, like I always do, mind over matter. I assumed that I would most likely not be able to run for a week, and was infinitely annoyed by this fact, especially because I was training for another race in a couple of months. Well, here we are, in August, and I'm still nursing the same injury. I've been through months of physical therapy, specialist visits, various ointments and creams, steroid/iontophoresis treatments, and still it persists. So what, right? Big deal, so I can't run. But it IS a big deal. A very big deal. Running was the last thing I had that I was doing for myself. Not only that, I had realized that running had become a very important part of me and an essential ingredient to getting through the day.  I don't know how it happened, because when I was younger I hated running with an unhealthy passion.  But here we are. I love running. I love the sound of my feet hitting the ground: the hushed zip of the tread of my sneakers on pavement; the soft crunch of the gravel under my feet; the swishing whisper as my feet forge their path through the tall grass; the satisfying splash of the puddle; the sweatier, the dirtier, the better, because that means I have earned this run, this solitude. I also love feeling my lungs burn, breathing hard, working hard, feeling my blood pumping, because it means I'm still alive. After everything, I'm still alive and, more importantly, I'm still full of life, I still have something to offer. When I run I want to work hard, to punish myself for my faults and create something positive of them, and so I can reward myself when I am done. I admit it has become a manic obsession. When I run, I can throw off the different capes and layers of person that I am trying--and failing spectacularly--to be, the personas that I am lying to myself about. When I run I am me, plainly and just simply me. I am at once a purely physical being but also more intimately connected to my subconscious. I let my mind go where it wants to go, and when it goes to dark places, the physical action of feet on earth pound out bad, the scary, lending perspective, or if not that, at least detachment. The faces of the hurtful people in my life pave my path, making every footfall, every crunch of rock or twig a therapeutic event. And that is just the beginning.

Running in the gym doesn't cut it. I love being outside, in nature, rain or shine. When I'm outside, I feel like chains around my chest have been released, I can breathe again, I can clear my head, I can recharge.

One friend suggested that my current ankle injury is my body telling my mind and soul to stop running away, from my worries, from my fears, from my obligations. And it's true I want to run away, I want to run and not stop until I reach the horizon, not the one place I glimpse at the beginning, but the ever-changing one, the end of the earth. I want to run and find where the road becomes track, where the track becomes dirt, where the dirt becomes grass, just run, run, run. And I am running away, but I'm running away so that I can come back again. So that I can spend the negative inside my heart and mind and come back a clean slate to take on the challenges of every day.

And now that has been taken away from me, with no way of knowing when, if ever, I will be healthy enough to resume. I have gone through many different emotions: anger, resentment, depression, despair, all the while my mind bouncing around in my skull, wanting to scream....I know in the grand scheme of life, this setback seems trivial. I have a healthy, happy family, a secure life, a loving husband, but for the first time I am realizing that running isn't just a form of exercise for me. It's a way of life, something that I need to keep me level, grounded, and alive--not in the literal sense, but alive in the sense that I feel energy and life coursing through my veins.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eau de vache...

This morning, as we were pulling out of the driveway:

Jakub: "Mommy, what's that smell?"

I sniffed the air, detecting only the musty, melting-plastic smell of a car that has spent several years baking in the searing heat of the desert sun.

Me:: "I don't know.  Does it smell good or bad?"
Jakub: "Bad." [pause] "I think it's you."
Me: "Are you sure?"
Jakub, in complete seriousness: "Or a cow fart."

I was fairly certain I didn't smell like cow fart, but was rattled enough that I did a frantic sniff test to be sure, and although my highly scientific test confirmed my original hypothesis, I admit the whole exchange dealt an obliterating blow to my self confidence of the morning.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What's cooking?

Before we had kids, if you had asked me what I thought our family dinners would be like, I'd have told you a beautiful story of sitting down to the nice, hot meal I'd just cooked, everyone smiling pleasantly, savoring every bite, and peacefully discussing the day with one another.  Of course we all know that this is naive fantasy.  Most of the time, I'm lucky if I can get the boys to sit for 10 minutes, during which time they pick at their food (or eat what little they actually eat pretending to be wild animals) while making rude noises and faces at each other, and pronouncing with simple matter-of-factness which parts of the meal they don't like.  So, you can imagine my surprise when, last week, Jakub (in a rare instance of actually cleaning his plate) said:

Jakub: "Mommy, you're the best cooker!"
Me: "You mean I'm the best cook?"
Jakub: "Yes! I love that you always cook dinner for us and it's always so good!"

Despite the fact that history does not support his statement, I experienced a rush of warm, fuzzy feelings, overjoyed that for once, my effort is appreciated.  Of course, the very next day, when Jakub learned what we were having for dinner, he acted like I had just told him I was simmering a pot of hydrochloric acid and bat's eyeballs with rat feces on the side.  And then, today:

Me: "What do you boys want for dinner tonight?"
Jakub: "Ummmmm....I don't want anything you cook. I want something American."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Jakub: "Well I don't want to eat anything you cook, I want something American, you know, with the bread and the salami and the garlic like we went with daddy that one time."
Me: "You mean Jimmy John's?"
Jakub: "Yes!"

Now, don't get me wrong, I am the first to admit when a meal isn't up to par, but, for the most part, I am able to stretch my meager culinary talents to their limit and come up with meals that are halfway decent, if not pretty good--certainly edible--and I've been a parent long enough to know not to take things personally, but sometimes I could use a few more of those moments of appreciation.....

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Jakub: "Hey Matěj!  I found your Woody!"

Matěj: "Wow, BIG Woody!"

Thank you, Pixar, for the continuing moments of hilarity you have provided.

Friday, January 27, 2012


"Mommy, I love you so much!"

These spontaneous, unsolicited proclamations make any mom's heart sing, particularly because when they come, we know that they are coming from a place of truth.  Several times a day, Jakub tells me he loves me and gives me kisses, and despite the frequency, it never loses its magic.  Jakub also often tells me I'm beautiful, which is equally heartwarming.  But children can also sometimes deliver zingers, like this morning, when I came out of the bedroom:

Jakub: "Mommy, why do you have an ugly face?"

I'm not sure what expression was displayed upon my face (most likely a look of extreme pain), but it must have been something pretty strong, because when Jakub saw my face, he smiled sheepishly,

Jakub: "Oh, sorry...."
Me: "Why did you say that?
Jakub: "Because I saw you and I saw your face was ugly."

OK, I'm not naive.  I know I don't look great in the mornings without makeup, especially directly after having washed my face; the red areas redder, the dark circles under my eyes darker, but.....Ouch.

Later I realized that whenever Jakub asks me why I'm putting on makeup, I say "So I'll look pretty," so maybe, just maybe, it was his offhand way of asking why I wasn't wearing makeup?  I hope....However, half an hour later in the car, out of nowhere, he said, "Mommy, you look so beautiful."  For the record, I was still not wearing makeup, since I was going running after I dropped him off at school, so maybe he was feeling guilty and wanted to make up for the earlier punch in the gut, or maybe he really meant it, but either way, I appreciate these kinds of comments a lot more.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Potty mouth

If, in the next several days, I ask you if you need to pee, don't be offended.  It's not that I am worried about your ability to hold your urine, it's because this phrase has escaped my lips an alarming number of times over the past couple of days, and I'm beginning to fear a sort of burn-in of my brain (a malady normally reserved for plasma TVs, which, I admit, doesn't flatter my current mental capacity). This is not much of an exaggeration, either, because it has become my new "filler" response--you know, like when you're not really paying attention to what someone is saying or doing, but simply answer "uh-huh" to everything?  Well, instead of "uh-huh," my new response is "Do you have to pee?"

Matej: "Momma, look, big school bus taking kids to school!"
Me: "Uh-huh.  Do you have to pee?"


Matej: "Momma, I reading!"
Me: "Very nice.  Do you have to pee?"

If you have children you've potty trained, you will likely understand my defect, especially if you consider the accidents of the more solid variety.  And, because I still remember the routine from potty training Jakub two years ago, I decided not to kid myself and broke out the bribery straight away.  Brown stuff in the toilet will be rewarded with a brown treat.  OK, that's a gross way of putting it, but this time around I've been shamelessly pitching the fact that if Matej poops in the potty, he gets chocolate.  He is very excited about this arrangement, in theory.  However, much to my dismay, carrying out this plan has proved to be less than successful.  But, it's still early days, and, as one of my friends once told me, "Don't worry, he'll be potty trained by the time he starts kindergarten."  Not that that is at all comforting.....