On contradictions and bob haircuts

I am more than mid-way through my fourth year of teaching at Small Christian University in the South. In other 4 year installments in life, like high school for example, this would be the time when one would be getting fitted for a gown, sizing up the graduation platform, making plans for the next chapter.

For me, I feel as though I am just getting started. Year four has been very self-actualizing. I am better at teaching what I have to teach. I am better at anticipating questions about what I teach. I am better at knowing what I don’t know about what I teach.

Let me tell you the cool part about improvement: once you’ve improved to a certain degree, you feel like the thing you’re doing is something new. Because it is. In the past, you were doing that other thing, the mediocre thing, the thing that made you feel all bummy and ill-equipped and now you are doing it better which actually changes how you approach, tackle, reflect on that thing. Life is new even though it is basically the same. Except you sleep better and don’t dread everything and you can eat food without having acid reflux and you don’t feel on the brink of tears all the time.

God is pouring a new formula into me. The bottle is better, stronger. The ingredients are of higher quality because they’ve been distilled longer. The label still says Kendra’s Jam. But to me it tastes new and improved.

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In some ways, I am hitting my Finally Stride. Lovey and I can finally go on dates and Little Man does not go mental and thrash about and punish us for days when we leave him with another benign person. I am finally finding a rhythm at work where I can feel good about the work completed and the work yet to complete. We are finally making a dent in our loans. I am finally reading Wild.

Yet, I am also fully aware of how much finality there is in finally. We got Baby Girl’s hair cut the other day. “How are we cutting it, Mom?” asked the hairdresser. She asked how we’re cutting it, like it was a joint effort, her sheers and my master vision. I realized how this might be one of the final times I have any say-so in that cute little bob.

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I realize that in general, we are shifting altogether too rapidly from the phase of dimpled elbows and slurred letters to the full-on independent child phase. It comes in waves, noticing suddenly that their play has become more sophisticated, their desires are more long-term rather than immediate, their cares are no longer whether they got the last pack of fruit snacks but more whether or not their friend who is moving to Arizona will remember them. There is finality in their own little child infinities. Their little ends become our endings, too.

But then there are the whole new epochs of their growing up — the fun and fish ownership and new favorite things. It is all so fleeting and yet it is all so rich. How can something, this parenthood business, be all so ephemeral and yet all so meaningful? Why are the days long and the years fast?

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God, so infinite and so lofty, still continues to make all things new. He makes it all good and perfect in seven days and we burn it and hoard it and waste it and still–He makes all things new. He is in the contradictions. Alpha-ing and Omega-ing all over our final finallies. He lives and works in this busted vessel and calls it a new thing.

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American Parenting (see also: a tad bit over it)

I have to be careful how I word this and how I identify the cast of characters since I live in a small community and folks might read this and think I was talking smack about them and retaliate by accusing me of counterfeiting all my kids’ Boxtops for Education.

***
Anyway.

Once upon a time, I was at a children’s tee-ball game. The average age of the players was no older than 6. The coach, we’ll call him Coach, was watching his wife, we’ll call her Mom, who was taping the bench where the players would sit whilst waiting to go up for their at-bats. Mom was taping the spots in an orderly fashion and doing a bang-up job.

Part of me was thinking, That’s nice, I bet she saw that on the Pinterest. The other part of me was, Yeah, I bet you those kids can probably figure out how to sit down without someone taping their names for them? And anyway, have you ever met a 5 year-old? Sitting isn’t their best gross motor skill. Unless you ask them to empty the dishwasher. Then suddenly they’re champion sitters.

Okay, but then Coach starts critiquing Mom about her measured taping skills. He starts arguing with her about there not being enough room for all the kids on the bench. Like maybe she should have used a tape measure to precisely allocate a certain number of inches for each tee-baller rump. He starts hammering out each spot on the bench where the tape line should have gone, and suddenly Mom is feeling bad and Coach is clearly irritated and I’m on the sidelines totally embarrassed that this is happening.

This.
Is.
So.
Unnecessary.

Why is the five year-old tee-baller and her best seven pals not doing this themselves? Even if it’s not perfect, why are they not the ones marking up the bench so that they can take pride in their butt-assignment system? Why are we as American parents riddled with so much guilt and why are we so quick to swoop in and help our kids navigate situations that we ourselves were fine to figure out. Further, why are we taking all parenting cues from Upworthy videos and bloggers (hi.) and glossy photo DIYs pinned to the internet?

***

“Have you talked to your tweens about over-the-counter medications?”

I read the above on the Twitter tonight.

It is not enough to cloth diaper and puree organic root vegetables and help them with Sudoku-style math every night.

You have to add not oversnorting Afrin to the list of Things to Talk about with your Tween. Or you fail.

***

The moral of the story is, I should never have read Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting). Laissez Faire parenting, aka parenting that encourages discovery, is so my jam.
Packing my bags for France, parenting abroad indefinitely. Who’s with me?

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3 things that are terribly unfair (see also: might die)

Hello, world. Remember how I was all ra-ra, dance like no one’s watching yesterday about sugar maple trees?

That must have been the Monday girl. Because today’s blogger is in a bad way.

Terribly Unfair Thing the First
All of my hair is falling out and I’m gaining weight like the wrong kind of loser on Biggest Loser and the mouth-breather on the other line at the doctor’s office just waited on the line, snapping her gum, didn’t even say hello? HELLO! I THINK MY THYROID IS BROKEN. Please to set up an appointment and please to not judge me on my insurance plan. Southern hospitality, my hat. Shoulda just bought the Groupon for hair loss treatment and called it a day.

Terribly Unfair Thing the Second
Have you ever tried to contain a 4 year-old boy in a public place where running is not an option? Remember how well that went? Four year-old son was all thinking the velvet ropes at the bank were the Olympic bars and the whole space was basically set up for the 100 yard dash, right? So then you go and sign up for a Fun Run with the same lad. All the kool kats from school are there at the starting line. Runners take their makrs. Your son is wearing a fierce headband and the sun is shining and the atmosphere is equally sunny. YOU ARE GOING TO ROCK THIS RACE. Then your son, who is 100% Tasmanian Devil when not sleeping, cannot run. Everyone else is motoring around the race course and your son just wants to hold your hand and caboose it. He’s walking so slow he’s practically crawling. His face says, please carry me, his legs say, please seat me over there with the oxygen tank draggers. By the time you cross the finish line it is already time to file your taxes.

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Terribly Unfair Thing the Third

I have spent the better part of the last week meeting with my Aflac rep (quack) and filing claims for my accident policy. I am way too young for this biz. Sadder still is how excited I am when I’ve successfully filed the claim. Like, I’m legit geeked when I get the message that “your claim is complete.” If this is what dazzles me in my mid-twirties, what else is there to look forward to in life? Colonoscopies? Blockbuster sale on wheat germ at GNC? Ken Burns taking on Alan Greenspan for PBS?

Hand me that new Taylor Swift album. I just gotta shake off all this injustice…and #firstworldproblems

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