Honey, I shrunk!

May 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

I went to the doctor this morning for a physical and I was shocked to find that I had shrunk over an inch since the last time I was measured.

“Five eight-and-a-half,” said the nurse as I stepped off the scale, oblivious to my look of horror.

“Gravity’s a bitch,” shrugged my doctor, when I complained. (I love my doctor). “You have to start taking vitamin D and calcium. You’re still tall.”

But I’m not, not really. I’ve described myself as just under 5’10” since I unexpectedly grew two inches my first year at college. “That can’t happen,” said my 5’2″ mother at the time. “Five nine-and-three-quarters,” said the nurse at the doctor’s office.

I agonized over my height when I first shot up in high school, relegated to the back row in choir, towering over my friends in ballet class, cast as Charlemagne in Pippen. I would have gladly shrunk an inch then. “Laurie, come out from behind that Amazon,” said my ballet teacher. “Maybe try jazz,” said another, as I was well over six feet en pointe.

Something funny has happened since those long ago days. I started to like being tall. I could care less that I’m an inch or so taller than my husband. I wear heels as often as my wretched feet let me (thanks again, ballet). My oldest daughter, one of the shortest in her class, envies my height.

Be careful what you wish for. And I guess I’ll just buy higher heels.

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Why I’m looking at Property in the North Woods

May 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm (Kids) (, )

My daughter asked me if her legs were fat yesterday.

We were in the car, on the way home from soccer practice, which was directly after tennis, which took place after choir, which was right after school. (And I still persist in thinking that I’m winning the fight against over-scheduling. Let’s just say I have a rich and full fantasy life…but I digress).

My perfect girl

My perfect girl

“Mom,” I heard from the back seat.  “Are my legs fat?”

Don’t worry, I was cool.  I didn’t rear-end the car in front of me, or rupture a vein screaming to the heavens above, or drop a string of profanity so blue I scarred her for life…although all were very possible and even likely reactions.

“No,” I answered, with the “oah” vowel peculiar to my Upper Midwest peoples, and in the tone of Bart Simpson saying “Duh.”

“Why?” I asked, trying not to make a big deal out of it, and grateful that the other two kids weren’t in the car.

“Well, when I sit down, my legs just sort of…spread out.  And there’s all this jiggly stuff.”  She was utterly sincere.  I felt like crying…and raging.  Again, I did neither.  Who knew my acting background was going to prove so critical to my parenting?

“Riley, those are your strong muscles, that helped you walk to school today, and run at recess, and play soccer and tennis after school,” I said calmly. “They’re not fat.  You’re not fat.  You’re perfectly made, the way God meant you to be.”

She believed me I think, because she’s only ten, and I haven’t gotten completely stupid in the way that teenagers’ parents are completely stupid.

Did you get that?  She’s ten.  My ten-year-old asked me if she was fat.  My ten-year-old, who has never been higher than the 25th percentile on the weight chart at the doctor’s office.  My ten-year-old, who was a baby so slight of frame that my dear friend called her the “Pilates Baby.”

So my ten-year-old (TEN!) has entered into the ranks of the (by some accounts) 97% of American women who are dissatisfied with their bodies. (I’m not making that statistic up. Google it.)

And here’s my question…Where did that come from?  We watch almost no television.  I don’t subscribe to Vogue, or any of those magazines filled with pubescent girls modeling women’s clothing.  Her diet of movies is by and large animated.  She was never a big Barbie girl.  I would swear on a stack of Bibles that I haven’t ever, ever, EVER mentioned the word “fat” when talking about myself, at least not in her presence.  Where is it coming from?

I knew this was coming, because I have two daughters and I live in America…I just didn’t realize it was coming so soon.  And I have to admit, I don’t know how to combat it anymore than I already am, except for maybe by throwing in the towel and moving off the grid Up North somewhere. And actually, that would solve the over-scheduling too.

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Rules for Parents in the Stands

May 1, 2013 at 4:07 am (Community, Kids) (, , , )

It sometimes happens that our musical and sporting worlds collide.  This past weekend our family had both a violin recital and multiple games.  Something struck me about the different events:  the differences between the audience in the seats and the parents in the stands.

Spring ball

Spring ball

This is Henry’s second year playing Little League, and by and large, we’ve escaped the curse of the ugly parent in the stand – you know the stereotype, I don’t have to describe it.  We had a great team last year and we all – kids, coaches, parents and sibs –  enjoyed spending time together…a lot of time…really so much time…at the ballpark.

However, that doesn’t stop me from pointing out that at the recital every single member of the audience clapped for every kid…twice. Once as they bravely mounted the stage, and once as they completed their performance, whether that performance was error-free or not. At the game, lots of us in the stands are just clapping for members of our own team. At the recital, none of the parents shouted advice to the performers. We trusted in their teachers, and in their own preparation. At baseball games, I hear advice shouted at each kid as he or she comes up to bat or when the ball comes careening toward them. At the recital, no one groaned when a kid made a mistake…at least not audibly. I’ve heard plenty of groans at the ballfield…when a kid drops a pop fly…or can’t field a grounder…or strikes out.

Here’s the thing, parents…and I include myself in this lecture since I am by nature a terrible sport, competitive to a fault.  (I held myself to one shouted, “Wake up out there Henry!” at tonight’s game.  But I had to work tonight, meaning I only saw an inning and a half, so I don’t have too much to brag about.)  We’re not setting a good example by that kind of behavior in the stands, that much is obvious. But we’re also not accomplishing anything by it. Our players on the field? Half the time they can’t hear us. They certainly SHOULDN’T be paying any attention to us.  That’s what the coaches are for.  You know who can hear us though? The parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters of the kids on the other team. So let’s put a lid on it. Take a note from the recital parents and be happy for everybody just getting out there and doing their thing.  They’re all awesome.

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