Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Things: Month 1

So, at the beginning of this year I set a goal to do one thing every month that I've never done before. And for January, I got off to a good start by doing two things I'd never done before.

• I entered a fiction writing contest. I didn't win it, but considering that they had more than 1,000 entries and only chose five finalists, I don't feel too bad about this.

• I tried Peruvian food for the first time. It was chimbotanos (like a spicy potato stew) with brown rice and a side of fried yucca, and it was quite good, not to mention very different than what I expected Peruvian food to be like. Here's a photo:

I'm already eying a few potential activities for February, and will report on whatever I choose at the end of that month. So far, so good!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Esta es la hora del gato

Last night G wanted me to lie down with her at bedtime. I agreed, and as I lay on her bed, half asleep in the dark, I suddenly heard a deep Spanish-sounding voice proclaim:

"This is the hour of the cat."

Needless to say, this gave me quite a start. Then I realized that it was this talking Puss in Boots, which we bought for G when she was five or six, and which she's long since outgrown and forgotten. Either Puss's batteries are finally running down after all these years, or he would like me to liberate him from the bottom of the basket of discarded stuffed animals in her closet. Maybe both.

On a side note, Puss's random speech reminded me of my mother's belief that P communicates with her through a similar battery-operated toy that she keeps in her family's car. She's been insisting for years that this thing speaks up at opportune moments and she knows, knows that P is somehow controlling it, to which I've always countered that a.) odd experiences aside (and I've had much odder ones than she has), I don't really believe that dead people can communicate with anyone;  b.) if P could communicate with anyone, it would be with me and no one else; and c.) P was a direct-verging-on-blunt man who didn't fuck around, and if he had something to say, he'd find a direct way to say it. I imagine if I told my mother about Puss, she'd tell me that P was behind that somehow too. It's a good thing she can't see me roll my eyes over the phone.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Well, when you put it that way

Me: You know, torturing Mommy is not a game we play.
G: But it is. It's exhilarating fun.

Darned smart kids and their big vocabularies!

The "torturing Mommy" conversation came about because G has lately rediscovered an interest in roughhousing with me. We used to do a lot of this when she was younger; it's something kids normally do with their dads, but because I was always the stronger parent, even when P was alive, I was the one who tossed her up in the air and wrestled with her and gave her horsey rides around the house. It was all good fun when she was little, but now she's 5'5" and weighs 125 pounds and she can just about take me down in a tussle. I've told her repeatedly that she's too big to play like that and she needs to stop before someone gets hurt, but she insists on running up from behind and tackling me, or trying to knock me down and sit on me. I'm at a disadvantage when it comes to defending myself because I don't want to hurt her by accident, so I deliberately hold back a bit. But she knows no such caution, and I usually end up yelling "I said STOP IT!" as I extract myself from a stranglehold.

It's a problem, not only because of the risk of grievous bodily injury (mine, not hers), but because it won't be long before she's bigger than I am, and I don't want her getting the idea that she can push me around physically. She's just playing now, like an overgrown puppy that doesn't know its own strength, but I can envision scenarios a few years down the road when she might not be. I guess my first step ought to be cutting her off as soon as she starts to play rough, and if that doesn't work, I'll have to think of some sort of consequence. This is certainly not an issue I expected to have when I gave birth to a little girl--though at 10 pounds, even newborn G probably could have played in the defensive line on a baby football team.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The year of many changes

In thinking about 2011, I've realized that it's going to be packed full of milestones:
  • This month, G turns 12, beginning her final official year of childhood--not that she'll suddenly be grown up when she turns 13, but a teenager is not a kid in the same way a 6- or 8- or 10-year-old is a kid. (A 12-year-old isn't really either, but you've got to draw the line somewhere.) This is her last year of day camp, afterschool care, children's tickets at the movies, and all sorts of other things that have been fixtures in our lives for a long time.
  • Speaking of which, in June, G leaves the elementary school she's attended since her first day of kindergarten.
  • Hard on the heels of that milestone, in early July, is the fifth anniversary of P's death, and then a few days later, what would have been our 15th wedding anniversary.
  • In September, G starts junior high, which I expect to usher in all sorts of lifestyle changes for both of us.
  • In November, I turn 40. The idea doesn't bother me as much as you might think, because the alternative to getting older is being dead, and I'm not up for that. But no matter how you look at it, it's a huge milestone. Maybe even a monolith.
In keeping with this theme of change, I've only made one resolution for this year, and that is to accumulate more new experiences. This came about because just after Christmas, I was filling out one of those end-of-the-year surveys that circulate on Facebook. The first question was "What did you do this year that you've never done before?" and I couldn't answer it, because I hadn't done anything new. How embarrassing!

So, anyway, I thought it might be nice to pick one new thing each month and do it, so I'd have 12 different answers to that question when the end of this year rolls around. I'm having a little trouble getting started because I can't do anything unless I take G with me, and so far she hasn't been into any of my ideas. (I thought the Moroccan restaurant with belly dancers sounded fun. Sheeesh.) But I'm determined, and sooner or later I'll come up with an activity that interests both of us. Stay tuned for updates.