Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Letter to 4-year-old Princess About Boys

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Dear Princess,

There is a whole agenda out there which promises to let you know all about boys and what they want in girls. That paradigm, which seems to have infiltrated everything, has been set forth solely by folks who want your money. More accurately, for at least the next 14 years or so, they’re looking to help you spend money that actually belongs to Daddy and I.

So, I feel it is my duty to set straight a couple of myths that they are perpetrating.

Myth # 1. You will need a boy in your life. Nope, not true. Perhaps someday you will want a boy in your life. But since social norms have changed to where women can own property, and earn a wage and such, you will never NEED a boy in your life. In fact, boys seem to need girls more than girls need boys. Have you ever heard of a man having a face that launches a thousand ships? Seen a woman schlep all her servants around trying to find a man who fits a certain shoe because he was such a good dancer she HAS to marry him? Me neither.

So even though you don’t need a boy, you may decide you’d enjoy having one around. It’s important that you not buy into these next three myths.

Myth # 2. Boys know what they want in a girl. They have no idea. I made the mistake of asking a boy what he liked about me once. It didn’t end well (it wasn’t daddy, obviously.). Two of the world’s greatest love songs also support boys’ lack of understanding what they like about girls they like: “Whatever It Is” by Zac Brown Band and “Something In The Way,” by James Taylor. Both songs are about how head-over-heels-in-love boys haven’t the slightest clue why they are in love. This should be enough reason not to worry about what boys want, but I’ll continue on because these last two myths are so heavily publicized.

Myth # 3. Boys only like girls who are skinny and a certain kind of pretty. I haven’t been able to research this in it’s entirety, but I think it is a distortion of boys’ desire to avoid girls who are unhappy. Girls who are unhappy can be complicated, something boys seem to want to avoid. Avoiding girls who are unhappy may sound easy, but girls (including Mommy) can be fickle about communicating their happiness level. You may have heard the following conversation a time or two:

Daddy says: “what’s wrong? You seem upset.”
Mommy says: “nothing’s wrong. I’m FINE,” then storms off muttering about how Daddy should know exactly what’s wrong…grumble…grumble…

So, since a boy can never just ask a girl if she’s happy, he had to look for other clues.

Boys began to notice that girls who undertook certain behaviors were happier. These behaviors included playing sports, hiking, reading, boating, playing music and feeling pretty and such. Now, the musicians and readers were hard to pick out. But athletes generally had a certain physique. Girls who put effort into what made them feel pretty also were easy to spot. (Side note here: humans are very visual and the world is a beautiful place. Girls enjoy feeling beautiful in their own ways. For some it’s makeup and expensive clothes, for some it’s just a dress and a flower in their hair, for others it’s a pair of hiking boots and the sparkle of a little sweat on their brow.) Of course, since it’s tough to sell physical activity or that pretty feeling, corporations now try to convince you that boys like skinny girls who are a certain kind of pretty so they can sell you makeup, hairspray, weight loss formulas, and other junk you don’t need. They even increase their profit margins on clothing because smaller sizes use less fabric (see the next myth busted.)

This myth is especially awful because it means girls spend so much time and so much of their parents’ money on getting skinny and what people tell them is pretty that they don’t have any time left to do the things that would actually make them happy. This myth is also unfair to the boys because the boys then approach girls who they assume are happy because they seem fit and beautified. Then they find out the girls are the opposite of happy because all they seem to care about is finding a boy. And if there is one kind of girl a boy knows will never be happy or easy to be around, it’s a girl who spends her time trying to get a boy in her life.

Myth # 4. Boys like girls who wear hardly any clothes. This myth is just stupid. Anyone who can’t see through this corporate plan to sell clothes made with less fabric is just silly. I mean, why would a company use more fabric when they can convince you to spend the same money on one that uses less?

I picture an old white guy in huge, expensive office buzzing in an intern, who, in my mind, has a voice like Carl from “Phineas and Ferb.” So let’s call him Carl.

Old rich guy: “Carl get in here, quick, it’s an emergency.”
Carl enters, “yes sir, what is it?”
ORG: “my wife just called. She wants a tennis court at our villa in Italy. She loves tennis, and isn’t happy unless she plays. You know I can’t spend my Italian vacations miserable because she’s unhappy. We’re going to have to cut corners somewhere. Why is our bill for fabric in the juniors department so high?”
Carl: “sir, they’re currently manufacturing the winter clothing line. Items like long pants require more fabric.”
ORG: “call marketing. We need a new advertising campaign that pushes winter short shorts. Pant legs are too expensive to make.”
Carl: “yes sir! Brilliant idea! Right up there with your plan to only make three-quarter-length sleeves!”

Whether it is dresses, underwear, swimsuits, shorts, or whatever, dear daughter, don’t let them “sell you short.” Perhaps that’s where that phrase comes from. Okay, probably not, but you deserve more fabric for mommy and daddy’s hard-earned money! Don’t stand for anything less!

I think that should get you off to a good start in understanding the truth about the male gender. In summary, you don’t need boys, they’re clueless, they won’t be interested unless you’re interested in making yourself happy, and you should never buy into the clothing manufacturer’s desire to use less fabric.

Love,
Mommy

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“Mommy, run?”

Mommy, run?”

That’s what Buster, my son, said when I walked in the door Wednesday night.  He’s never said “run” before, I don’t think.  And he’s not even two yet, so you have to fill in the blanks with him.

I believe what he meant was, “Mommy, aren’t you glad I puked my tomato/strawberry/beets/pizza lunch all over Grandma’s new rug so you would have to leave work to come get me and take me home, realizing upon arrival that I seem fine and it was just a random puke session and it was okay if you just went for a run?”

Sure, it could have meant, “Mommy, how was your run?” or “Mommy, where have you been- can you take me out for a run?” or even just “Mommy, isn’t it cool that I learned that the word for when you come back all sweaty and smelly and can’t talk very well is run?

But I’m going to stick with the first one.  It makes the times he thinks it’s funny to play under my planks and lay on my crunches during my Jillian Michaels Shred workouts, and the times he escapes his car seat before I can buckle him in, and the times he finds any open door (at the library, a store, someone’s home) and dashes towards the most dangerous thing outside (the highway, a stray dog, a pricker bush), and the times he pulls my hair because he wants something I have, and all those other times he behaves like a terrible two-year-old that much more tolerable.

I so needed that run.  It was just three miles but it made me feel a little bit human again.  (The “just” is hilarious because of where I was even just six months ago, panting my way through one minute intervals.  I only use “just” this time because it’s a pretty short run compared to the 13.1 I have looming ahead on June 1st.)

Actually, I didn’t even want to run but didn’t give myself the chance to think about it.  Like always, I was glad I did.  Thanks, Buster!  You’re an exhausting little delight.

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Flooding and Stuff

When it rains it pours.

I live less than a mile from the Connecticut River, whose flood stage is 7.0 feet.  Over the weekend when I checked, it had reached 10.5 feet.  Even all the little tributaries that feed the Connecticut River are swollen and rushing with mighty currents.  It’s very beautiful and noisy. (Just like the one in the picture here, which is Little Falls at Wadsworth Falls State Park, which is normally just a tiny trickle over these step-like rocks.)photo

I suppose it’s pretty normal for springtime in Middletown.  There’s a restaurant that floods every year this time.  This year, I feel like I can identify with the floods.

It is certainly raining in my life, and snowing and stuff too, because this is the winter that never ends in New England.  Which is more annoying than the song that never ends.

I realized that all rain is good rain, though.  Whether it’s the first drop of hope after your whole life has felt parched, the convenient rain that hides your tears, that kind of cold rain that makes you tired, that light mist that just ruins your hair or that downpour that brings the flood that forces you to realize exactly what parts of your life are worth dragging along with you should you happen to remain afloat.

It’s all good rain because it all makes you grow.

Three weeks ago, I was trying to train for my half marathon and hang out with my kids all day and work my part-time job and keep the house clean and get a team organized for a charity race.  Perfectly great.  Until what appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime comes along.

What did I do?  I jumped on it.

But it’s meant an extra 25 hours of at-home work for me while I work my part-time job for now. And then I got an annoying cold and a surprise snowstorm happened and we had some of our favorite people come from out-of-town and then my daughter had vacation from school and my brother and his wife had a beautiful, perfectly healthy baby.  Plus my neighbor, an obnoxious drug addict and convicted felon, has been especially yelly and sweary lately which means interactions with the very polite police force in this city.  And there’s been Easter and Passover and the bunny and the pictures and a race I volunteered for.  Lots of people are giving me lots of help- parents taking kids for a little longer, husband giving me more time alone, etc.

So it’s all really, really, really good rain, right?

But I haven’t ran in 2 weeks although the half-marathon is still looming.  And this is the first thing I’ve written in a long time.  And I forgot to post the 5K training or try to organize a group run for the charity race we’re doing.  And I’m behind on the new opportunity.  And my kids have watched a lot of TV during their April vacation.  My poor dog is not enjoying her lack of time outdoors, either.  I haven’t had a conversation alone with my husband in a long time.   And my son puked his guts out.  Okay, not his guts- just a half a bag of jelly beans, a couple peeps, an eggs and some trail mix, which he’d managed to consume before 10 am on Easter Sunday.  But he wasn’t actually sick, just horribly fed while mommy was upstairs working.

Normally, those kind of failures would cause me to drop everything and assume I’M a failure.  That I knew I was biting off more than I could chew and so it was my fault I wasn’t at my personal best for any of it, so I should just throw in the towel.

Not this time, though.  One thing that running and writing have taught me is to embrace my mediocrity.  I normally don’t even participate in something unless I’m naturally awesome at it.  That’s why all I ever really did was bowl and sell cars.

Now, even if my head feels barely above water while I try to navigate this flood that is almost entirely my own creation, I’m going to just keep swimming.  I’ll keep getting done what I can, the best I can, when I can.  Even if it’s not done very often and not done very well.  Which will be weird for me.

Because I know that soon, the stars will align and I will get all of this done.  I believe the big dream and I’m starting to imagine some cool stuff for myself and my family so I won’t give up.  Even if it means some seriously half-assed accomplishments.  Deep breaths and focusing on what I can in the moments I can.  Easier said than done.

But the people who love me will forgive me.  Right?

(Updated at 11:45 am on 4/21/2014 because I decided not to forego proof reading completely – I just corrected some spelling.)

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