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Bad Motherblogger

Well, then.

I told you I was all or nothing.  I take a few days off writing and then, suddenly, it’s been a month.

The thing is, if I don’t stick with a habit, I tend to forget it.  I like writing and I love getting all of the crazy brain palooza organized by putting my words on the page, but I find myself plagued with self doubt and an overwhelming sense of self-consciousness.  I really can’t write using my authentic voice if I’m self-editing or worrying about what other people are thinking when I write.

Anyway.

In the past month I’ve not only been a Bad Motherblogger.  I’ve pretty securely cemented my place in the running for the Bad Mommy Award (if they gave out such things).  Here is just a short list of what I’ve managed to accomplish.

  1. After our lovely moment bonding over her trauma/discovery/awakening re: The Tooth Fairy, I enlisted Bookworm’s help as the Official Tooth Fairy Assistant.  She has since lost 2 more teeth and did a bang-up job selling her belief and excitement to her little sister.  Until said baby sister lost a tooth and, well…the Tooth Fairy forgot to come.  Uh Huh.  That’s right.  Somehow I got it pretty much right for nearly 11 years and brought Bookworm into adolescence believing and then I completely blow it for the 7 year old.  I think The Tooth Fairy’s Assistant covered like a boss, but I cannot believe we did it.  The worst part is that I wasn’t home the next night and Circus Dad followed my instructions to use the My Tooth Fairy App (check it out if you have little ones!) and leave the photo for her.  The Assistant wrote a note in glitter pen and left “fairy dust” all over her pillow…but both of them forgot to leave her the MONEY.  #facepalm
  2. The girls wear school uniforms, which I love, and which eliminates so much drama for Girl Moms.  The only real area the girls have for self-expression is their footwear and hairstyles.  Thank GOD my girls have lost interest in fancy hairdos, so we have a ponytail assembly line in the morning and we’re out the door.  But shoe selection can take upward of 10 minutes.  A couple of weeks ago, The Bean found a box of shoes I had saved for her from when Bookworm was younger.  She hated most of the shoes and we donated them or passed them on.  But she did rescue a couple of pairs of ballet flats and one really obnoxious pair of Sketchers that light up and have some bizarre Justice-style graffiti pattern on them.  The only real rule I have for them re: shoes is that they must wear proper trainers for PE days.  Sketchers do not count.  So on regular uniform days, my girls can wear any shoe that conforms to the uniform code.  A couple of weeks ago, The Bean decided that her sister’s old (very old…I’m thinking Kindergarten?  And definitely made and bought in China) red ballet slippers were her fashion statement for the day.  We hadn’t even gotten her IN her classroom for the morning when one sole completely came off.  I’m not sure if it was the Chinese manufacture or the Thai climate that rendered the shoes useless, but it didn’t matter.  The situation was such that the kid was literally sporting one shoe-and that one was precarious.  I told her I’d swing by after Boot Camp and bring her replacement shoes.  No later than 9am,  I promised.  And then I got busy. Doing what, you ask?  Well, drinking coffee.  And paying bills.  And then getting cleaned up and dressed and to my nail appointment.  At 11am I get a phone call from an unknown number and The Bean explains that she has borrowed her Teacher Assistant’s mobile phone to ask if I could please bring some shoes because she had to stay in for first recess and was going to have to miss lunch recess, too, if she doesn’t have shoes.  Blink.  Gulp.  Worst.  Mom.  Ever.  Shoeless Kid.  Almost all day.  The shame.
  3. For being such a sensitive person, I’m strangely unsentimental about objects.  I save almost nothing.  Maybe it’s because we’ve been so nomadic?  But I think it’s not that.  I just abhor clutter and I don’t see why I need to save junk.  It’s not like I will ever go through the box of artwork the kids made starting in Pre-K.  But my lack of sentimentality when it comes to the girls’ little projects is not a good thing.  Each year, a the end of the school year  the kids come home with the giant bag full of their work and art, and projects and 7000 worksheets with gold stars and smiley faces on them.  I immediately take out the giant bin that they each have that is full of what they have deemed necessary to save from their previous years of work.  I make them sort through, keep what still matters and toss the rest.  Then they sort through what they brought home and put it all back in the box and we shove it back on the top shelf of their closets.  Only to see the light of day again on the last day of school the subsequent school year.  Bookworm is a hoarder-she will probably need a second box this year because she saves giant projects and notebooks.  The Bean is like me and saves almost nothing.  Whatever.  I have a folder in my filing cabinet where I save little notes, and cards and pictures they have made that were especially sweet or had some kind of meaning.  I also have teeth, but not because I’m saving them.  More because I truly do not know what to do with them.  I digress.  What I do not save are the paper placemat masterpieces that the girls make me when we go to Chilis.  Or the macaroni necklace we made together in Girl Scouts.  That is not to say I don’t save the homemade gifts they have made me-macaroni included.  I just don’t keep things that are every day.  I probably should.  It would provide me with more of a day to day snapshot of them growing up.  That way, my Timehop flashback photos wouldn’t give me such a permanent heart attack.  But I don’t.  Last week we were having mommy-Beanie time and my little one asked me if I would save the picture she made me of me looking suspiciously like Elsa from Frozen.  I said sure!  I would even put it up on my bulletin board next to my desk!  She looked at me askance.  Just then, the Bookworm popped her head up over the side of the sofa and emerged from her literary fugue.  “No you won’t.  You don’t save anything we make you.”  She asserted.  Thus ensued a whole conversation about how they know I don’t really care about their artwork and the things they make me.  OMG.  I’m such a bad mom!  I think this transgression puts me over the edge and into the inescapable lead for the Bad Mommy Award.  I went straight upstairs and hung up Bean’s artwork.  That evening, Bookworm glanced over at me and raised one cynical little eyebrow and then directed her attention to my bulletin board (which did have other artwork by the girls-admittedly mostly at least 3 years old).  “Nice, mom.  That’ll show us”.  The inscription at the bottom of the picture says “Dear: Mom  I love you so much can you plecs pleas keep this picher then you will never forget me.  Love: Kiki”.  (Let us not get into the spelling, lack of grammar and the hilarious attempt to correct said atrocious spelling with yet another misspelling…this will only set me off on a rant about school.)
Portrait of a Bad Mommy

Portrait of a Bad Mommy

I have spent a good amount of time really thinking about my Bad Mommy moments.  And here’s the thing.  I’m so outrageously flawed it’s embarrassing.  I read at least one parenting or family improvement or self-help book a month.  I worry and agonize and fret and then…ultimately?  I let it go.  Because I totally suck.  I put pressure on them when I shouldn’t.  I push them to be more disciplined and better behaved and kinder and more thoughtful and to try harder.  I insist that they be polite, but I encourage them to stand up for what they want and to speak up.  I make absolutely no sense.  But I’m counting on one thing.  That my presence (omnipresence?) in their lives will overshadow and make up for my abundance of flaws.  My overwhelming and shameful mistakes.  My unintentional (but real) damaging of their tiny little egos.

My takeaway is this:  I will not muck up Tooth Fairy Duty again.  I really will not…and the Tooth Fairy Assistant will get a commission for her job in reminding me.    I will remember my kids when they need something during the day, because they really shouldn’t ever wonder if they are more important than my nail appointment.  I will replace the artwork on my bulletin board and do a better job of showing them the items I have saved.  Because my girls are my heart…and for all my lack of sentimentality…it kills me to think that they might not know that deep in their souls.  I will also forgive myself for my utter suckery.  And I will try harder.

12

The End of the Innocence

I knew this day was coming.

I’ve known it since Bookworm was 5 years old and despite her having worked that wobbly tooth back and forth with concentration and determination never seen before (and rarely since, unless a book was involved)…she just could not break free her first tooth to warrant a visit from the elusive Tooth Fairy.  In fact, more than 7 months after she first started wiggling that tiny little tooth, I had to take her to our dentist to have it pulled.  It was basically dead from so much manhandling-so much so that it had turned a funky sort of oyster grey.  Our dentist was gentle and wonderful (and had Apple TV installed in the ceiling so that she watched Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses while he did the extraction-so seriously-who’s to complain?) and sweet Bookworm virtually danced out of the dentist’s office with her First Lost Tooth wrapped like a treasure for the Tooth Fairy to collect in the night.

Bookworm's First Lost Tooth

There was no bringing her down from her high.  Her smile was infectious, her joy absolutely true…and that tiny little hole on the bottom of her gums was just adorable (the days of really ganky, jack-o-lantern smiles was still years in her future) and the next morning she treasured her Tooth Fairy Money as though it were the most valuable and special thing on the planet.  Until.

The little boy in her kindergarten class told her that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real and it was just her mom putting money under her pillow.

Now, here’s the thing.  I totally respect and understand that we choose to live in a multi-cultural environment and we also elected to live outside of our own culture.  I get that the majority of her Hong Kong classmates don’t “get” our customs. I also respect them for not adopting them.  When you really think about it, somebody sneaking into your room to steal your teeth is a little bit creepy.

But, seriously.  I wanted to thump that little kid right in the head.

I didn’t.

Which is good for many reasons.  In reality, I tried very hard not to even react.  I just asked my sweet little Bookworm what she thought.  And here is what I have always loved about my Big Girl.  For all of her troubles, my girl has an imagination and a pure soul that is just full of wonder and belief.  Often times, Circus Dad and I have pondered if it is good for her to live so much of her life in her fantasy world-in her head and in her books and in the little universes she invents in her own stories.  But, my 5-year-old Bookworm looked me straight in the eye and told me how sorry she was for that little boy because it WAS his mom.  Because, obviously , he didn’t believe in the Tooth Fairy.  And everybody knows that if you don’t believe, fairies can’t stay alive.  Therefore, he must have killed his Tooth Fairy.

What?  You didn’t know every kid has her own individual fairy?  Duh.  Of course they do.  Because how else would it even Work??

Anyway.  I knew then that the moment my sweet Bookworm matured to the point that her logic trumped her belief in magic, it would all crumble.

Last year, she very seriously asked me if I thought it were possible that Hogwarts is real.  (I answered no.  There is a Hogwarts at Harry Potter World, I think…but there isn’t a real school.)  She argued that I simply couldn’t be sure and when she had her 10th Birthday Party (It was a Hogwarts School Entrance Exam Party), she was certain that she was going to receive a REAL acceptance letter at some point before her 11th birthday.  Which is quickly approaching.

Only, no letter.  And her best friend didn’t get a letter when she turned 11.  Which has gotten her thinking.

This Christmas, we had a few conversations about how strange it is that Santa is all over the world.  And then she would get very quiet and ask why there aren’t any specific photos of the REAL Santa online when you Google him.  Circus Dad and I vacillated between wanting to go overboard with ridiculous reasons why she should believe and wanting to sit down and help her to grasp the magic versus the myth.  In the end, we decided that she would ask specific questions when she was ready for the answer and neither of us wanted it ON US-the end of the innocence.

Three years ago, Bookworm asked Santa some really deep questions about Fairies and sent it in a letter to Santa (that she thought I didn’t see).  I enlisted literary assistance (this time from my Genius Skip-Sister-see previous posts on Expertise and my giant family) and Santa delivered a brilliant 7 page explanation of the Fairy world and how it all works.  Every so often, Bookworm still pulls that letter out to disprove a classmate or friend that might cop to being a non-believer.

I found some great letters and ideas on Pinterest for how to deal with her if she came to us.  But it didn’t happen.  And Santa pulled through again-even though we were in the USA and her present was in Thailand.  Santa even brought her sister the crutches she asked for.  Yes-that’s right.  The Bean got crutches for Christmas.  We’re not Normal.

Bookworm has her mother’s bad teeth.   We’ve been discussing the inevitability of braces for at least 3 years.  Just last week, she pulled out a tooth and I happily told her that we only had one more baby tooth to go before we could get the braces on!  She grumbled a bit and acted a bit funny and sulky as she went through her little routine of making a little fairy seating area on her nightstand and left her standard letter for the Tooth Fairy.  In the letter (which was a the size of a mini-post-it-note) she wrote (in miniature lettering that I could hardly decipher with my 40-year-old-eyes) asking her Fairy for a photo.  Because The Bean got a photo of the tooth fairy when she lost her tooth last semester.

It’s an App.  You take a photo of your sleeping kid and then you pick a tiny fairy to superimpose on the photo.  It took me 60 seconds and it was free.  I just thought I was being fun.  But apparently, I kicked of a s*&%storm.  Because the fairy wasn’t REAL.  She was a cartoon.  Anyway-I didn’t know that.  I just used the same app and did the same thing (with a different fairy, obviously) for Bookworm.

When she came down to breakfast she was mopey and irritated.  It was then I heard that her fairy was a CARTOON and that wasn’t real.  Why didn’t she take a REAL photo of herself.  I didn’t reply.  How could I??  I sort of ignored the whole thing and hoped it would go away.

But tonight I returned home to find her in the kitchen with a little baggie in her hand and a strange look on her face.  I waited.  Eventually, she brought me the bag.  Inside, the last baby tooth.  I congratulated her and said, “Nice!  You’ll be rich!”  She rolled her eyes.  And Then.

“Mom.”

I’m dying a little bit inside.  Because I know what’s coming.  I’ve halfway hoped for this, I admit.  I’m old.  I’m tired.  It’s a miracle I remember to put the money under the pillow half the time.  But I know that this is such a moment.  I don’t know what to do.

“I know.”

“You know what?”

“Well, my teacher kind of gave it away”

“What?  What do you mean?”

Listen, again.  I get it.  It’s not kindergarten anymore.  I seriously think Bookworm is The Last of her friends to believe. Most of The Beans friends don’t believe anymore.  So I get it.  And I’ve appreciated that Bookworm’s friends have protected her and even coddled her in her need to believe.  But I was curious.

“Well, a boy in our class was sharing.  He said he had a terrible weekend because he asked his mom directly if she was the Tooth Fairy and she gave him a bag of his teeth.  And Ms. XX didn’t know what to do.  She got all weird and I could tell she wasn’t sure what to do.  So, then I knew.  She was afraid she was going to ruin something.”

“What do you think?”

“I think I want to believe.  But I know it’s not real.”

Oy.  Cue sappy hallmark music.  My stomach clenched up and I wanted to turn back time to when she was 5 and she was So Certain that fairies were real and magic was everywhere.  And I knew I could save her because if somebody hurt her feelings, she cared more about my opinion than anybody else’s.

But those days are over.  And they have been.  She’s lanky and angsty.  She rolls her eyes more at me than she laughs at me when I’m being silly or doing voices.  And that’s okay.

I did ask, gently, what she thought that meant about other things…like, say, for instance The Easter Bunny?  She said she didn’t think about it.  I asked about Jack Frost.  She actually raised one eyebrow and just stared at me.  We live in Thailand.  I waited.  She looked at me and said, “Santa?” her voice breaking a bit.

I asked her if she wanted to believe.  I told her that belief was important and believing in magic and all that entails is such an integral part of who she is, she should spend some time thinking about that.  I just couldn’t bear to push her one millimeter beyond where she was.

She was quiet.  She said, she believes in Santa.  I said, “I do, too”.

And then she asked me if she could help me BE the Tooth Fairy for her sister.

I cannot think of a more perfect job for my sweet dreamy girl.  It may be the end of the Innocence for her, but I know she will help to make the next few years truly magical for her sister.  I just hope I can remember to enjoy each moment while I have it.