Saturday, July 31, 2010

Memory Blank

Here I am from my second vacation spot of the summer - Oceanside, California, where we go every year.

Here's what's occurred to me during this summer of two vacations, both to places we've been multiple times, places I would say we've established a family tradition of traveling to: my kids don't remember anything. Well, Bar Mitzvahzilla remembers some stuff, but Daughter? Nothing. All this painstaking building of memories, all the carefully planned birthday parties, all the awful, expensive amusement parks we've gone to. Blank.

When we were in Flagstaff earlier in the summer she said, "Have I ever been here before, Mom?" and I said, "Of course you were!" and then I rattled off a bunch of things we'd done there before while she looked at me blankly. Then here, in the San Diego area, she mentions that we always stay in Oceanside, which means, of course, that she doesn't remember all the other trips.

This could never have happened to me as a kid. First of all, we never took a trip until I was ten-years-old so when it finally happened it was very memorable. And interminable. My parents planned our vacations around all their fellow Holocaust Survivors they could find in various locales and then decided that we'd travel to those places. I spent our vacations stuck to plastic-covered couches listening to lamentations in Yiddish. I could definitely use a few light memories.

But Daughter's lack of memories makes me wonder about this raising kid thing, that I've worked so hard for so much that's disappeared into this big amorphous blob, later to be designated "happy childhood" or "unhappy childhood," or to have her whole life summarized by something I wasn't so good at, like cleaning, instead of something that I was good at, like letting her know she's safe.

But we'll continue. After all, we've still got four days left on this vacation. That's four days left to make memories. Right?

Have you ever noticed that your kids don't remember things that you kind of hoped they would? That maybe you worked hard at? How has vacation gone for you this summer? Do you tend to remember a lot from your childhood?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Miss Yakity Yak

The minute she walked in the house from camp today, Daughter picked up the phone to call her best friend. The best friend wasn't at camp today and Daughter needed to know if she was okay. Also, because Daughter's almost eleven she suddenly wants to be this thing - this Girl Who Talks On The Phone (is she copying me?) and so she's trying her best to monopolize it.

So she calls unsuccessfully but later the best friend calls back. Over the course of the next half hour this is what I see: I see her laying on my bed, talking to the phone laying next to her on speaker; I see her laying upside down on her bed the same way; I see her sitting on the computer reading her best friend her emails; I see her wheeling around the house on the office chair, talking; and, finally, I see Daughter marching around the house, following me, her finger on the mute button, asking me for some ideas of what they should talk about. Apparently there now was dead silence on the phone call.

I say, "If you're done talking, why don't you just get off?" But, of course, that just proves how old I've gotten and the fact that I forgot how important it is to monopolize the telephone.

She gives me a look like I'm nuts and keeps holding the mute button down. "Mom! I want to keep talking! We just don't have anything to talk about!"

Okay. That makes sense.

In my house growing up there were seven daughters and our one mother all vying for not only one phone line, but for one actual telephone. It sat on the wall of our kitchen with a cord that had probably been about six feet originally but had been pulled and tugged by us all over the house until it was actually flattened and stretched to about thirty feet.

There was just this one phone, then, for all the boys in the world to call and ask out all my sisters on dates and then, afterwards, for all my sisters' girlfriends to call to discuss those same boys. Being one of the younger sisters, I had low priority with the phone. If I wanted to sit on the phone with no purpose at all, like Daughter was doing, the phone would have been hung up for me and confiscated.

But I'm helpful if nothing else. I glance quickly at the newspaper. "How about Justin Bieber?"

"Mom," she shakes her head, "We're so over him."

The phone calls ends unexpectedly. The line goes dead suddenly. When Daughter calls her friend to see what happened the friend says during one of the silences she just fell asleep. On top of the phone.

And with that I finally hear the words, "Okay, bye."

Have your kids become obsessed with talking on the phone or did they ever do this? Do they sit in dead silence for hours just to stay on?  Do you remember any "phone battles" from your childhood?
Do you think that kids get their phone behavior from their parents?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Heat By Any Other Name

I've really tried not to write about the heat this summer. Really, what could be more boring than a blogger who lives in Arizona writing about the heat? Also, I kind of feel like I need to have a more macho attitude about it. I've lived here since 1973, folks. If I've put up with it for thirty-seven years I can take this one too.
This week, when the temperature hit one hundred fifteen degrees, the word "hot" seemed a little inadequate. Like we were saying it was hot when it was ninety - twenty-five degrees ago. For one hundred fifteen degrees there really should be a new word. Cooking terms seem strangely well suited: broiling, cooked, boiled, burned, searing. Hot isn't going to cut it anymore. 

So, since my brain is literally boiling inside my head, my skin is seared when I walk aboutside, the sun is overhead in the sky burning down at me, and, as a result, my goose is cooked, I haven't exactly wanted to do much. Well, I'll admit I DO want to drop Daughter off at theater camp every day so I manage to get her there. I DO walk in my exercise class by 9:15 everyday because I'm some kind of robot-woman. But by the time the class is over it's already 104 degrees. That's it for the day. 

In Arizona if you're interested in using your air conditioning at all in the summer and not paying eight hundred dollar monthly bills you end up having to do a lot of time of day calculations to determine if you can actually turn the unit on. We're on the free use between 7 PM and 12 Noon plan. So the house is lovely, even wintery, many of those hours. Husband chills the house down to 68 degrees because he knows what's coming after noon.

Between noon and seven all that 68-degree air has flown out of our paper-thin walls to the outside. Since Cheap economical-minded Husband only allows us to turn on the a/c on one side of the house or the other during this time period, I have to decide where I'll be, where the plants are wilting, the produce rotting, where the children are melting. And that's where I turn it on. I plop down on my bed and decide what I'll do. My main question: does it require thinking?

Some positives about this weather? Well, just in case I thought I bought too much clothes at one time or another, I'm actually going through at least three complete outfits everyday. That's good, right? Also, I'd been thinking about doing Bikram Yoga but I was worried about the 105 degree room. Now I don't have to worry. It will feel cooler than what I'm used to.

Right now? Weekend rates. Ah.

How hot is your summer turning out? Am I the only one whose brain appears to have melted away? Does anyone else live with these strange power bill calculations like we do or should I blame that on Husband?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Counting Sheep

Here's what happens on a routine night when Husband and I go to sleep. He's ready for bed. I'm ready for bed. But I have something important to do first. I have to handle my pills.

I used to just have asthma. That was really easy. I had a pill a day to take and a couple of nebulizers: one for emergencies and one for maintenance.

Then I got my brain tumor in 2001 and things got a little punchy. There's just something about having a hole in your head filled with titanium mesh and screws. Some permanent pain and some tuning in of Radio Indonesia if I tilt my head just so. 

Turns out that when you've had a brain tumor and been left with some problems a pill organizer is your best friend. A really big one.

So I have a twenty-eight-day organizer. Each month I fill up all the little boxes, which have individual doors. The asthma stuff (now two pills), the post-brain tumor stuff (five pills), the osteopenia/porosis stuff (two), aspirin, multi-vitamins - who knows what? Let's just say that the gigantic organizer my mother uses with shoebox-sized compartments is starting to look attractive.

So I shake out that night's and the morning's pills and stare at them for a minute. It takes some brain power to figure out exactly which ones I take when. This is not work meant for a sleepy woman. If I take the wrong ones, I could end up staying up all night and sleeping all day. So I pick, pick, pick through them, swallow enough to choke a horse, use the inhaler, and turn off the light.

Husband and I say goodnight. On the count of five he's sleeping. I am stunned. How dare he fall asleep so fast? I'm wide awake, staring in the darkness, waiting for one of the pills to make my eyes shut.

Despite your best efforts, do you find your body falling to pieces as you age? Any insomnia issues? Do you find you ever have to be an amateur pharmacist? Do you have a husband/partner who sleeps like a hibernating bear?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mom vs. The Remote

I discovered something alarming on our recent vacation. My kids' idea of fun TV shows to watch are basically all on the Food Network.

Seriously. Checking the TV guide, setting up our lives around the next episode of Chopped, of Ace of Cakes, of Iron Chef, of Cupcake Wars.  When forced by Husband to watch something educational, they'll turn on Discovery's Man vs. Wild. On that one the guy roasts bugs for dinner. Do I detect a common theme of eating?

Now I readily admit that I've spent about five years watching HGTV drone on and on with Househunters and Design on a Dime, Curb Appeal and Spice Up Your Kitchen, and I know those shows don't exactly have any suspense, but why are my kids so fascinated with food preparation?

Since we were spending a lot of time together and since it was vacation, I had to watch some of these shows myself. At first I was concerned. After all, I used to weigh considerably more than I do now. In the circles in which I run, the Food Network is routinely referred to as "Food Porn." Was this a good idea?

Turns out there was no problem at all. The stuff that the chefs prepare on most of those shows is totally unrecognizable to me as food. One day on Chopped the chefs had to use some fish called Aho in every dish, and they used it - as fish ribs, dried and grinded, and in other torturous preparations. And then they threw in some other stuff, like pork rinds, shaved this or that and then, I swear, jellied blech. Because of these unrecognizable ingredients, I've actually never wanted to eat anything on these shows (okay, except the cupcakes). Most of the time I wonder how the judges can stand it.

I wonder at my poor, hungry children, watching Food Network to just see something being cooked, instead of their own mother who stands in the kitchen blankly, never able to actually think of What's For Dinner? I think of Bar Mitzvahzilla, happily reading the food ads that Husband places before him as he reads the paper, Bar Mitzvahzilla's eyes growing luminous at the glossy photographs of the grocery store ads.

But the kids and I had to reach a compromise somehow. Somewhere in the vast space between HGTV and the Food Network. Finally I found it, my new favorite show: Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. Oy.

What do you get stuck watching on TV in your house? Does anyone else have kids who watch Food Network, like mine do? Are you a fan or is some of this stuff just way too complex? HGTV?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Putting the A in Awkward

The other day we were all walking down one of the quaint downtown streets of Flagstaff on our vacation - me, Husband, Daughter and Bar Mitzvahzilla. We were all pretty normal looking. That is, with the exception of Bar Mitzvahzilla. We'd made the mistake of buying him some sunglasses earlier that day and were paying the price right then. He loped along, supercool. Shades blocking his baby blues. His body built up from a summer of football training. A swagger in his step. My boy, somehow a tough cool guy. The kind of guy I would have hated in high school.

Yet one day earlier - same vacation - we were at the hotel swimming pool and he was ready to go swimming with Daughter. He sat there next to me wracked with indecision. Should he take off his shirt? Swim with his chest showing? What about those teenage girls who were frolicking in the hot tub? Was anybody watching him? I glared at him. Aren't girls supposed to be the ones who drive you nuts? My boy, somehow as insecure as a, well,  teenage girl. The kind of guy I would have liked in high school.

Then another night we all went down for an evening dip in the Jacuzzi and there I ran into my third Bar Mitzvahzilla of the vacation.

First he frolicked with Daughter in the Jacuzzi and then in the swimming pool, playing like a seal or a porpoise, I don't know. I swear he would've balanced a ball on his nose if we'd had one. He was doing acrobatics, swim racing, and then, when we got back to the room, they staged a "death by arrow" video using the arrow Daughter had bought on the reservation nearby. The kind of boy I would have liked -  in grade school.

My three sons, all contained in one fourteen-year-old boy, for one last fleeting moment before they all disappear or coalesce into one. Into the man he'll turn out to be.

Did you ever catch your kids just on the cusp between one age and another? Kid to tween, adolescent to teen? Teen to adult? Where there are flashes of the kid he or she was and the person he or she will be at the same time?

This post is part of the Bigger Picture series hosted this week by Corinne at Trains, Tutus and Teatime, where bloggers write about events which tie into the bigger themes of our lives. Please visit Corinne's blog to participate and to link up your blog!