The Year of the Cup

IMG_9001As parents we experience hundreds, if not thousands of milestones. Our kids’ first food, first steps, first word, first sleepover and the list goes on and on. I think for the most part, we’re pretty familiar with the basics and what to expect. But there’s always those ones that end up sneaking up on you – the ones that you may or may not have even known about, making them that much more… well interesting, let’s just say.

This year my son tried out and made the “travel” baseball team. And when I say travel, it just means the next town or two over. Thank God, we’re not shelling out millions for long road trips and hotels…just yet. This kid absolutely loves baseball. When asked, his favorite things in life are “baseball and family.” Although I’ll have to admit I wonder if he realizes his sisters are part of that whole “family” thing. My husband has him pretty well trained, and he knows more facts and stats about the Cubs than probably most adult Cubs fans. He’s obsessed but it’s a good thing. Anyway, apparently for this travel team one of the rules is that the kids must wear a cup. Now as an adult and mother, I know what that is. I know its job. Basically I know the minimal basics that surround this contraption. Thankfully my husband handles 99 percent of all things related to baseball, which just so happens to include any necessary supply shopping. (PHEW!)

Now picture this if you will. I’m busy cooking dinner one evening and trying to get things ready. In walks my son and husband from somewhere. I tend not to ask too many questions when the husband takes any of the kids, because all I really need to know is I’m down one less kid to worry about. Hooray. Anyway, my son immediately heads to the bathroom and walks out a minute later. He walks right up to me and says, “Mom, hit me in the wiener.” I may or may not have gotten whip lash from turning my head so quickly to him as I was still trying to compute what was just said to me. I quickly put two and two together and figured out the surrounding story to his insane request and while secretly dying inside, calmly reminded him to please don’t ever ask ME (or anyone for that matter) to hit his privates.

To say this kid was excited about his new piece of equipment would be a complete understatement. I guess maybe I kinda sorta understand if you can equate it to getting one’s first training bra? I don’t know but regardless it resulted in a lengthy show and tell to his sisters. Explaining what it was for. Inviting them to inspect it (not on, of course!) It was all pretty comical. But I think the icing on the cake, however, was when he asked me if he could SLEEP WITH IT AND/OR WEAR IT TO BED. Yes, you read that right. My kid wanted to sleep with his cup – like it was his beloved stuffed animal or pet dog. Certainly not a request I ever imagined I’d hear. Alas my husband just reminded him it’s simply part of our uniform and we don’t wear our uniform to bed.

Children certainly are odd creatures, but it’s these kind of moments that I revel in as a parent. The nutty. The unexpected. The hilarious, yet innocent, requests. These are the things that are meant to be remembered (well for me that means written down because I can’t remember what happened five seconds ago) and used as possible blackmail when your children are older. Because every kid learns to walk and talk. But not every parent gets to experience the hilarity of being asked if their kid can sleep with their cup. This milestone is undoubtedly one for the books.

The Skill of a Lifetime

img_5277So a thing has started happening at my house and I could not be any more excited. My middle daughter is just starting to read. In my opinion, this is a huge milestone for all kids and as everyone knows, reading is especially near and dear to my heart. And the other week, for the first time ever, Spawn #2 picked up Green Eggs and Ham and read the majority of the book – on her very own. I think that child got a year’s quota of high fives and shouts of joy from me in that moment. Now I remember being super excited when Jaycob first learned to read too but I just don’t think I fully appreciated the greatness of it as much mainly because I had a newborn attached to me 24/7 as well as a needy three year old. So unfortunately for the first born, he might not have gotten quite as much attention. Or maybe he did, and I just simply forgot because, well, Mom Brain.

But a few weeks ago as I sat and watched Addy furrow her little brows as she concentrated on sounding each and every word out, I just kept thinking to myself: girlfriend, your world is about to open up in ways you never dreamed it could. It’s hard for me to even vocalize how proud I was/am of her. Granted I know reading is nothing “special” or unique – obviously everybody learns this skill. But regardless, it’s just so gosh darn important. I want to relish the pride and jubilation I’m feeling so I thought I’d write her a brief note so that maybe someday she’ll never forget just how momentous this time is for both of us.

To My Favorite Middle Challenge,

Learning to read is one of the most detailed first memories I have. I’ll never forget the day the letters just “clicked” in my own mind, and they went from being merely letters thrown together on a page to actual words jumping out at me. And while I don’t remember my first book’s title, I do remember it was a “thicker” book (well, thick for first grade) with complete sentences. I remember rushing to my dad when I got home from school and insisting he listen to me read. I was so excited and proud. It was one of the greatest feelings of my life and even today it still ranks pretty high up on the list. I hope you feel the same when you’re older because while you might not realize it now, your world is about to change. And not just because I can no longer spell out words to your father with you having no idea what I’m talking about. (Although I am slightly sad about that.) But because with each page you read and each new word you learn, you are gaining the knowledge and know how needed to change the world. Reading gives you power. It is THE tool needed to ultimately do and become whatever you dream. It can take you places you’ve never dreamed of all the while providing you with new ideas and insight that you might never come up with on your own. It can offer you new perspectives and transport you to another world in the blink of an eye. With reading the possibilities are endless, and I hope you never underestimate the power in this milestone.

Love Always,
Your voracious reading Mother

There’s a lot of things that I do wrong as a parent. I’m crazy. I yell a lot. I love to say no. (Dad, that’s ALL your fault!) But if there’s one thing I do well, it’s modeling my love for reading. Any spare chance I get, my kids see me with a book (even if it’s an e-book) in my hand. They see me reading the history section of our local Barrington magazine (really, the only section I can handle!) They see me reading my weekly Mt. Carroll newspaper. And most often when everyone else is glued to the television, they see me go find a quiet spot on the couch and curl up with a book. I grew up watching my own dad constantly read, and I think that really shaped my own love for it. I certainly hope that among all the negative traits I’m ultimately passing down, my love for reading is one of the positive ones.

There’s been a few times when I’ve caught my second grader still reading with his flashlight in bed at 10:00 at night. Now granted, I’m not happy the next day when he’s overtired and throwing fits, but secretly my heart is swelled with pride because that’s what I used to do. Give me a Christopher Pike book any day during my adolescent years, and I too would stay up way too late reading. Hell, that’s me every night now still. It’s my me time. My time away from reality where I can zone out and forget about all the things I need to do or how many times the kids sent me over the edge that day. Without that time, I couldn’t function.

So while ultimately I want my kids to grow up to be happy, healthy and kind – you know, the staple things that every other parent on the planet wants for their kids – I also can’t help but wish they turn into the biggest book-loving nerds that ever could be. Because someday, whether they like or not, I too will make them plow through Atlas Shrugged over their summer vacation. Isn’t that every kids’ dream?! Hashtag sorry not sorry.