I met a new person yesterday, Justin Hackworth, who took pictures of my mom, my daughter, and me. He's pretty cool and interesting so I checked him out on Facebook--you know, like you do--and perused his blog. There are tons of photos to look at on his website which is, I suppose, not at all surprising. I clicked on the photos of his own two boys. The pictures are accompanied by simple captions which reminded me of how I felt about my children when they were little. I still have little children, but also bigger ones. They are in grade school. They can be cruel to each other and to me. Sometimes I am harsh and critical of them. Today in particular was a horrible day because I really tried to have fun with them. It's so much worse to try and fail than to not try at all, don't you think?
When I'm laying flat on my bed letting the covers puff up around me in hopes that my kids won't see me and will just go away and leave me alone I suppose there is some kind of subconscious thought that reassures me, "Yes, but if you WANTED to. . . if you had enough energy you would create and execute a scavenger hunt, shoot baskets, make homemade pizza and hello dollies for them and everything would be great!" Well, I did all of that today and it sucked. They fought. They sulked. They fell and got hurt and whined and threw fits. I was a sport and took the dog out into the creek with the kids and then I had to wash her off and she scratched me. I put cloth diapers on Ellen because she's allergic to disposables and she pooped all over and wiped it on the stairs. I should say, prior to that I got Spicy Cheetos for them as a prize for our basketball-shooting contest. Everything I did came back to bite me--including the Spicy Cheetos. It's so hard. It's tiring when they are little and you have to carry them everywhere and it's tiring when they're ages 2-11 and you have to do stuff like make dinner. And if Friday Night Lights is any indication of what it's going to be like when they are in high school, I'm not sure I can take it. It's awful. And it's also great. My kids are much better than most other kids and it is still awful and great.
When they are little, you wash them and dress them and they're just like little extensions of yourself. But by the time they are 11 they are totally separate. You never see them naked. Remember when you were 11? That's 6th grade, man. I know I still influence and take care of my son, but he's his own little dude. I was too. I rarely thought of myself as my mom's daughter even though I loved her. And yet I'm so hung up on my son still--what he wears, what he eats, who he's friends with, how he acts. Meanwhile I'm becoming more and more peripheral to him. It's OK though--on days like today I'm glad and can't wait for them to be gone--but it's not a very equitable relationship. And they'll never know until they have kids.
Look. Here's the photograph Justin took of me and my mom. I'm sure she agonized over me at times--you know, like you do--and I probably just blew her off. It almost seems like that even in this picture. I'm not even looking at her! I should be bowing down before her saying, "Thank you! Thank you for cleaning up the orange poop that leaked out of my cloth diaper onto the stairs after I ate those delicious Spicy Cheetos!" But I'm not. And I don't. And I probably won't. And my kids won't either.
Perhaps you are wondering, "What are hello dollies?" Well, you might know them as 7 layer bars. They have a graham cracker crust with nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut on top. My mom always made them for us and called them hello dollies. I love them. Do you know how I made them today? I looked up the recipe in a cookbook. That's right. Because I never helped my mom make them or paid any attention to how she made them. I've certainly never made any for her.