Friday, February 19, 2010

Reality at its best

Today I received a shocking confirmation of the reality that is my life right now. Now don’t get all worried on me because I’m not about to lose it or anything- I just realized something that should have been obvious, but because of many different reasons, I forgot. Now I know you must be biting your nails in anticipation, wondering what could be that important but so easily forgotten, and I’ll keep you in suspense no more... I totally, indisputably, undeniably closed my eyes to the fact that my children, especially my daughter, are still small.

Now I can hear you all going, “What the _____,” and thinking that I have really gone and lost it, but I swear to you that I am more sane today than I was yesterday just for admitting this fact. You see, I work with “the big kids” as my daughter often puts it, in that pubescent dominion otherwise known as high school, and when you work with this age bracket all day, you tend to look at your kids differently, to expect more. Believe me, it’s not consciously done-there is this voice inside you that says things like, “The students at school may not be listening to me, but my own kids better think twice before they ignore my request,” any time there’s a confrontation at home. And even though there is a giant age gap, this age comparison never comes to mind at the time.

Then there is the fact that I wear so many different hats during the day: wife, mother, teacher, adviser, leader, employee, and co-worker that I forget which role I am playing. My husband will occasionally take me aside and say, “Remember teach, you’re at home now.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t always stop me from lecturing on and on about topics ranging from the ins-and-outs of time management, to my favorite, you need to show respect in order to get respect.

But I’m getting off topic-I haven’t told you about the life changing event that helped remind me about my children's tender age. It was a small incident today when my daughter called me on my cell phone. (She now knows her daddy's and my cell phone numbers because we had an incident not too long ago when her school let the kids out early and the automated call did not get through to my husband’s cell phone-I’ll spare you the details, but she was at home alone and at 10 ½ she thought it was wonderful since she has never been left alone before, but I was a basket case!) And for a girl who shies away from phone conversations with her relatives, she certainly doesn’t feel the same when it involves calling my cell. Today she actually called me while I was sitting in our car, in our driveway, waiting for her and her brother to come out of the house so we could go pick up our movie rental. My phone started ringing so I answered and the conversation went like this:

“Hi mom.”
“Hi dear.”
“How are you?”
“I would be better if you were in the car. What’s taking you so long-I thought you were on your way out?”
“The boy “ (my son) “couldn’t find his shoes and now he's going to the bathroom.”
“Just hurry him up and come out.”
Click. Why do I ever think that if I get in the car first, my children will follow?

I quickly get out of the car, enter the house, get my daughter to stop bossing her brother and actually leave the house, and help hurry my son out the door, but it wasn’t until we were actually in transit that I started to think about my daughter’s phone conversation-it wasn’t what she said that had me lost in thought, it was more like how she sounded on the phone. I listen to her every day excitedly tell me about something at school, or whining for me to change the radio station because she doesn’t like the song, or being miss “know-it-all” with her brother, but even though I am listening to the content of our many conversations, I am not really hearing her. She tries to act all grown up with her insistence about how she wears her hair to the new wild style of her clothes, but on that phone reality sinks in and there is no mistaking the fact that she is still a little girl, my little girl, and I’m loving that fact right now.

She’s already in bed because we have a busy day tomorrow: practice in the morning, I have to fill the vending machine, and then team and individual pictures after practice, but thank goodness she’s opted out of the ballet training on Saturdays following practices... I went in to rub her back, something I have done since she was a baby and something she still has no objection to me doing, and I told her she was the subject of tonight’s post-I think she uttered, “Oh, great,” but I quickly reassured her that it was all good as I closed her closet door (you know, the boogie man's hideout), left her room door open a crack, and walked away smiling...


  1. Susan, my 13 year old and I are having daily battles. Each night when I see him sleeping, I find myself softening and thinking of my "little boy" and all his teen angst and troubles. I do tend to expect a lot from him being the oldest. I appreciate this post since it reminds me that he really is still a kid(even though he seems to be an expert at pushing my buttons).

    Your daughter looks so pretty in that last photo. :)

  2. You know what? I do the same thing and sometimes my mom has to remind me that Emily is only 10. Even though 10 seems old, she is still a little girl.

    Great now I am crying...

    They just grow up so fast.

  3. I am reading this to the tune of my son and his 13 year old bandmates arguing over booking studio time. It's great to enjoy them while they are young. It's like they get old overnight.

  4. Hi Susan,

    I remember having to be away from home for a few days last year, and I would ring the boys just before bedtime to have a chat. When I talked to them on the phone they sounded so much younger to me than when having a face-to-face conversation.

    I sometimes have unrealistic expectations when it comes to my four-year-old, because he thinks forward and is so much more mature (apart from the sippy cup thing) than his older brother was at that age. I tend to expect more from him. I have to stop myself and bear in mind that he is only four.

    Regarding rubbing your daughter's back and her still letting you, you understand how I feel about preserving those last moments at any stage of their lives, because they are so fleeting.

    Thanks for commenting on my post today.


  5. My youngest is 13, and sometimes, I forget that he's already 13. I have to mentally stop myself from giving him a kiss in public mwahahaha

    Gosh, Susan, what's it like to teach high school kids? I can't imagine!

  6. When you're a kid, you feel like growing up takes FOREVER. And then you have children, and realize how quickly the time flies-and they are growing up wayyy too fast.

    I didn't know you were a HS teacher! That's awesome!

  7. That was so sweet! They never really stop being our babies even as we enjoy watching them learn and grow.

  8. Janie- You're right. They're wonderful, and it's one of the reasons I became a teacher...

    Kelly, my daughter is the oldest too and we have butt heads on more than one occasion. Thanks for the comment about her picture-she is super photogenic.

    "Girl", I get weepy too when I think of things like this...

    DG, you're right-time goes by much too quickly.

    Shelly, thank goodness I am not the only one who notices the kids voices on the phone, and don't worry-I am going to keep the ritual as long as possible.

    Hypermom, everyone asks me that question, but I really enjoy working with young adults-it's a classroom of little kids that would scare me!

    Monique, time did go slow growing up. Sigh...

    Mom of the Perpetually Grounded, sometimes when my kids are talking I have flash backs to them as babies...

  9. what a sweet ending to the post. Your point about "hearing" her rings true with me, thanks for the reminder.

    And I always pretend to get in the car by myself when the kids are futzing around for too long, that gets them going!

  10. Molly, I just started getting in the car to "hurry" them along, but it hasn't worked very well...

  11. Susan, my son just turned 18, and he is still "small". I expect a lot from him, but in the end, he still needs his mom. I am so anxious to get him to grow up, but I don't think he's quite ready.

  12. Flory, I go back and forth on this-sometimes I can't wait for them to do more for themselves, and sometimes I want them to stay little.

  13. I think I'm guilty of forgetting my oldest is only four!

  14. Sometimes it's just certain moments when things truly hit us. We have to cherish how young our children are everyday. I know I've been thinking about how little my son is lately and how I better hold on tight before his toddler years get away from me.

  15. Thanks a ton for this post. As a mom to two toddlers, I sometimes wish I could just speed by certain days or experiences.

    You remind me of the importance of slowing down a bit and enjoying the moment.


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