I always said I wouldn’t be that mom who overscheduled her child.
As a matter of fact, I distinctly recall climbing onto my soapbox and making superior comments like “Too much structure stunts creativity,” and “Let a kid be a kid. What’s the rush?”
This all occurred when I knew everything about raising a child. Which was obviously before I actually had a child.
In any case, I’ve recently found myself mesmerized by mastermind marketers….
“Do you want to lay the groundwork for a good foundation in math? We can help your child. Enroll in Math Club today!”
And so I did.
“Do you want to give your child a competitive edge? Do you want her to swim like a fish? Enroll her in swimming classes today!”
And so I did. (Note: I was so mesmerized with this one I enrolled her twice a week.)
“Does your child have hidden drawing talent? We can nurture it! Enroll today!”
And so I did.
“Do you want your child to master strategic thinking and analysis? Chess Club can help. Enroll today!”
And so I did. (Note: I met with a bit of resistance on this one but upon promising to volunteer at Chess Club Maya was on board.)
I’m thinking that with her current schedule Maya is well on her way to being a well-rounded individual. Or a stressed out basket case.
Not really sure which way things might go.
But it goes without saying that if I find a class entitled, “Knowing When You’ve Asked Mom One Question Too Many,” or “Keeping Toothpaste On Your Toothbrush and Off the Sink 101,” I’d enroll her.
I didn’t get too much done this past week.
This was mostly because I was preoccupied with important things like tracking where a certain someone’s red swimming trunks might turn up next.
- Sunday: Ali and Maya go swimming. Clean red swimming trunks make their way from Ali’s closet to the pool. Upon his return they are relegated to the hallway floor.
- Monday: Wet red swimming trunks remain on the hallway floor.
- Tuesday: Housekeeper comes, picks up damp red swimming trunks. Cleans the hallway floor. Puts damp red swimming trunks back on the hallway floor.
- Wednesday: Damp red swimming trunks get moved to the bathroom tub. This is only because I said, “Is there any particular reason why your swimming stuff is sitting by the front door? It’s been 3 days.”
- Thursday: Red swimming trunks are finally dry and can now be put in the hamper! But then Ali takes a shower and the swimming trunks get wet again. Back to square one.
- Friday: Damp red swimming trunks turn up in a corner of the bedroom that I rarely frequent. This is because this particular corner is slightly out of my line of vision and thus serves as a dumping ground for things Ali doesn’t know what to do with. Like his damp red swimming trunks.
On Saturday a mostly dry pair of red swimming trunks turn up under my nightstand. I understandably lose my @#$#.
- Me: “Why are your swimming trunks under my nightstand?”
- Ali: “Because they’re slowly making their way across the room. That’s why.”
So many questions. So little time.
Mostly I’m just fascinated that Ali said the above with complete conviction and a straight face. Fascinated.
Whereas I have little interest in doing anything except enjoying some peace and quiet on my birthday (I’m still waiting for that unattainable gift – maybe next year?) I know Ali’s birthday is a big deal to him.
So last Saturday, as Ali turned 37, Maya and I :
- Bought him a much-needed new robe and some books.
- Made him muffins and tea.
- Took him to Soho for more tea and scones at Harney & Sons.
- And then we took him to his favorite Ruth’s Chris for steak (the name of this place continues to trouble me).
I also gifted my husband a break from my sarcasm and commentary.
Thus, I didn’t mutter a word when Ali said “I hate bees. This is why I am not a park person,” minutes after we arrived at Central Park for the picnic lunch he requested.
I also didn’t say anything about the mountain of gift wrap that sat on the dining table and floor for 3 days until I finally recycled it.
I even gave him a free pass on socks in the living room, dishes in the sink, and tea stains all over the counter.
It was a difficult day for me, as I’m sure you can imagine.
What I failed to do, however, was to spare him from my post this week. But try as I did, I could NOT come up with a topic that didn’t involve Ali.
I guess some gifts will remain unattainable for Ali as well. Maybe next year?
Are you also afflicted by Running Commentary?
Example : A husband leaves his plate in the spotlessly clean kitchen after dinner.
- A Normal Person’s Reaction : I’ll just put this last dish in the dishwasher before I sit down.
- A Person Suffering from Running Commentary : Well allow me. No, really. I’m not tired at all! But thank you for being concerned. I mean, despite the kitchen being spotless, I’ll just put this plate in the dishwasher too. Because while I’ve cleaned the kitchen three times already today, it’s really NO problem to move your plate. Really.
Example : An 8-year-old asks one too many ridiculous questions including (but not limited to), “Mama…which socks should I wear today?”
- A Normal Person’s Reaction : “Just wear the pink ones.”
- A Person Suffering from Running Commentary : She has at least 40 pairs of socks in her drawer. No joke. 40. Pairs. Of. Socks. How hard is it to choose a pair? I mean, is the day going to go any differently if she picks white over pink? I wish I had the same problem. I literally have 2 pairs of socks and one has a hole. Note to self: Must stop buying socks at Target.
Example : A family of four obliviously walking their dog (all in a row) on Columbus.
- A Normal Person’s Reaction : Hmmm. I wonder why they are walking so slowly? They must be on vacation.
- A Person Suffering from Running Commentary : Maybe I can get around them on the left. No, that didn’t work. Maybe the right? Nope! So confused. Do they not see all of these people trying to get around them? Are they immune to the glares as people pass by? How can they walk four in a row on a busy street like Columbus? I mean it’s not like it’s Sunday. Not that Sunday is an excuse either!
Treatment for Running Commentary : A cure has not been identified for this genetic disorder. Treatment is also limited. Experts suggest that those afflicted take deep breaths and try to ignore. And when all else fails, seek the help of a professional.
(Which I obviously need to do…)
Have I mentioned how much I disliked school? This is mostly because I was super skinny and had frizzy hair and kids were mean to me.
You’re probably thinking, “Cry me a river Ameena. It was like decades ago. Time to move on.”
Yes I should move on. And yet, my scarred psyche must analyze for a second, if for no other reason than to help me get to my point (which I assure you is below).
- Elementary School : We moved to a new neighborhood where I knew nobody. My teacher went by Dr. B and was scary. A little kid started calling me Amino Acid. I hid out in the library as much as possible.
- Jr. High School : I stupidly decided to have principles and refused to let some kid copy my homework. He made my life miserable by shoving me into the lockers every chance he got. I hid out in the library as much as possible.
- High School : My hair got frizzier. I got even taller and skinnier. I had braces and my sister’s hand-me-downs. Every day I had heart palpitations about who to sit with at lunch. The one plus? The library was huge! I spent as much time there as possible.
- College : I moved into an apartment at school. A neighbor took pity on me, introduced me to a blow dryer, and showed me how to use a brush. Aside from a roommate who kept stealing my food things were good! And then after spending one particularly fun evening studying at the library I was mugged at gunpoint. (How’s that for irony?)
The good news: The working world is 100 X better than school. Love it. Wouldn’t go back to school if someone paid me.
The other good news? I’m finally ready to make my point, and it is this:
That Maya, despite being brought up by a clearly maladjusted mother, loves her new school, already has lots of friends, loves her teacher and her after school program, and thankfully has good hair without the need for hot tools.
And all I can say is thank God that she’s nothing like me as a kid. Nothing.
One of my husband’s goals in life is to not spend one second more than necessary at the airport.
And in his effort to make this happen, he plans, devises strategies, and inevitably angers and annoys his fellow travelers (me and Maya) beginning 48 hours prior to departure (PTD).
The following is based on our departure from London last week:
- 48 Hours PTD – Ali discussed, at great length, the cost / time benefit of taking a cab to Heathrow versus the Underground or car service. He consulted Amex. He consulted relatives and friends. He consulted neighbors. He decided on a cab.
- 23.59 Hours PTD – Ali was the very first person to check in online. Because it’s a race.
- 12 Hours PTD – Ali Ignored the fact that clothes and computers were scattered around. Everywhere. And that there was a slim possibility they’d all fit in his carry-on.
- 8 Hours PTD – Ali contemplated the fact that the Underground is cheaper and less likely to see delays due to the inclement weather. He consulted Amex. He consulted relatives and friends. He consulted neighbors. He decided on the Underground.
- 4 Hours PTD – Ali watched as I packed all his clothes and computers. He said annoying things like, “I was just about to do that,” and “That’s a nice shirt. Make sure you don’t wrinkle it.”
- 3.5 Hours PTD – Ali noted that the rain had stopped and insisted that 3 people in a cab is only slightly more than 3 people on the Underground. He re-revised plans to take a cab and then (absurdly) said, “We should go to Hyde Park one last time.”
- 2 Hours PTD – We finally left for the airport at my insistence. En route, Ali complained that we’d get there too early and have too much time to kill.
- 1.25 Hours PTD – We arrived at the airport with less than the recommended two-hour window. Ali complained about the lines and wondered if there was another secret line that airport security kept unknown from the general public.
- 1 Hour PTD – Ali exchanged boarding passes for pool sticks and start playing pool with Maya. He ignored the loudspeaker as it repeatedly advised travelers on VS 045 to head directly to the boarding gate.
- 0.75 Hours PTD – Ali raced to the gate, all the while screaming at Maya that we were NOT on a Sunday walk, and why can’t she hurry up?
- 0.50 Hours PTD – We all collapsed on the plane. Ali said super annoying thing #542: “See? I told you we’d get here just in time.”
Nobody can accuse us of not knowing how to end a trip on the right note….
After consuming approximately 5 baguettes (me), 4 croissants (Ali), way too many Starbucks lattes (Ali), and 2 more McDonald’s lattes (Ali – he has no shame), we rolled ourselves back on to the Eurostar for a 2.5 hour train ride back to London.
As soon as the train took off (and not one second after the planned departure of 13:13 – the timeliness of the Eurostar allows me to overlook the dirtiness of their trains) a mom, traveling with her 3 kids said, “Who has the playing cards? Let’s play cards.”
And so began our journey.
Me @ 13:15 – “Wow Ali, she’s playing cards with her kids. I wonder how she had the patience to do that? And how cute are their accents?”
Me @ 13:45 – “They are still going at it. Impressive. That’s a dedicated mother.”
Me @ 14:00 – “They could keep their voices down you know, some of us are actually trying to work.”
Me @ 14:15 – “It’s like nails on a chalkboard Ali. Nails on a chalkboard.”
Me @ 14:30 – “If that kid yells ‘You’re a cheat! You’re a cheat!’ one more time? I’m going to lose it.”
Me @ 14:35 - “Make it stop Ali. Please make it stop.”
Ali @ 14:36 – “I’m moving to the dining car. Can you watch the luggage?”
While Ali likely enjoyed another latte in the peaceful dining car, sans my running commentary, the family continued to play cards at the top of their lungs.
Ultimately, they played cards for – are you ready for it? – 2.25 hours. And the mom participated the entire time.
The takeaway here? Maybe I’ll never, ever be able to play games with Maya for 2.25 hours (or for 5 minutes – let’s be honest here), but at least I don’t annoy strangers on a train.
And that counts for something.