Friday, December 11, 2009

5:00 Fridays

Since I played the Indian card (coined by my friend Erin), I figured I'd stick with that theme this week.

I'm no beer connoisseur but I know I'm generally not a Coors Light kind of gal. Well, if Bird and Deal are particularly whiny or petulant I might succumb to whatever is within reach, Coors Light included. All that acrimony can make a girl pretty durn cantankerous. Trust me. I speak from experience. In fact, I was such a crab apple sourpuss last night that I wrote the boys apology notes sprinkled with scented marker hearts because I felt so bad. Not a proud parenting moment, but I am finding fewer and fewer of those this time of year. Funny that the stress of making Christmas perfect and just-so turns me into such an impatient bitch. Next year I'm considering going to Tahiti for the holidays and forego all this candy making, cookie baking, gift buying, light stringing, stocking stuffing stress. What does this have to do with beer?


Did you hear me? I have children. Basic math and physics lesson here. Pay attention.

2 boys + 1 mom = basket case

Children drive you to drink.

There will be a pop quiz next Friday.

When I was 18 years old I went to India with my dad. We stayed in some pretty posh places, including where the movie Octopussy was filmed. Seriously, what was Ian Fleming smoking (or stroking) when he penned that title? I almost can't say it aloud. Perhaps a more fitting name for that nut job woman who birthed eight babies last year? Geesh, now I'm all flustered and off track. Where was I?

Beer. India. 1986.

I was a world traveler. Young. Footloose. Fancy free. Worldly. Daring. Too-cool-for-school.

I drank beer. Legally.

I have fond memories of ordering up a Kingfisher at the Lake Palace Hotel bar. I was stunned by how the epaulet adorned waiter made the opening of a simple bottle top and pouring of liquid gold into a frosted crystal goblet such a grand gesture. I was 18 and easily impressed. That was before I even knew the beer was brewed in copper urns back in the day. Keep in mind that "back in the day" in India means something slightly different than it does here. I'm not talking 1972, folks.

I'm 41 now but still serve up Kingfisher when I have friends over for a good home cooked Indian meal. It's not fancy. It's not pretentious. It's not complex. But it is a gilded symbol over the arch I walked through on my way to adulthood. Join me on the lovely stroll that hasn't yet ended. You can fish with kings too.



Pour into a frosted glass, preferably with a stem instead of a handle.

(Image from Rocky of Hoppsy.com)

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Santa, Bring me Gadgets. And an Elf.

(The following has been spellchecked by a grown up to save you, dear reader, from translating kid spelling.)

Dear Santa,

I would like another dart gun and a XBox 360 and a iPod Touch and a iPhone and a limousine and a big T-rex.

Please bring all your elves so I can have one. And my own computer. And Play Station Three.

Two guesses who penned, rather penciled, that letter.

One hint: Deal can't do much more than write his own name.

Christmas lists sure have changed a lot since I was a kid (Oh, a sign of the age old generation gap!). Keep in mind Bird is six. In first grade. He has never seen an Xbox or a Playstation. And he doesn't ride to carpool in a limo, though I do wish I had a magic button to close that privacy window that limos have. Imagine driving in soundproof bliss!

I cracked up when I first read Bird's letter. I stuck it in his special box to save it. It's endearing in a way. But then I got to thinking. Some of you might argue that I was over thinking, but hear me out.

We are not a gadget family. Our television is almost 10 years old and weighs 200 pounds. Our other TV is a lousy 13 inch model that doesn't even have video inputs. And the remote is busted so it's stuck on local news or the Food Network most of the time. I still have a twirly cord phone in my office. Mac Daddy uses a ThinkPad that is more pad than think. I still have, and use, a camera that uses film. Gasp! We are not techie people by any stretch. We are clearly not hip enough to even be laggards. I bet you gadgety people out there are throwing up a little right about now. You must find us to be Losers, which I'm pretty sure is the technical consumer profile moniker for anyone ranking behind a Laggard.

So where does Bird get this affinity for all things electronic? What happened to his insatiable love of LEGO skyscrapers, Playmobil knights, and intricate art projects? What happened to his hankering for toys that spark imagination rather than suck it dry? What happened to his appetite for books and penchant for storytelling?

One visit from his uncle, my brother, and grandfather, my dad, changed his whole perspective. I'd go so far as to say it fucked it all up. They are tech heads. They get off on all things electronic and all things Apple. Their iPhones were appendages, as they so often are with all iPhone enthusiasts. They read news, checked scores, listened to tunes, flipped through photos, played games. Again, all the things iPhone addicts around the world do. But look people, there must be limits. Is it really necessary to always have phone in hand? I see it in meetings, lunch appointments, check out lines, and now among families.

The very contraptions that are supposed to be connecting the world are really just making us all more bubbled. We're connecting avatar to avatar, not face to face. Children should have no part of this world. What awaits them is even more mindblowing.

While children need to be comfortable with technology and wade into its depth at appropriate levels, they do not need to be immersed in it. They have a lifetime to wile away the hours in front of one screen or another. Their time to snuggle on a lap reading books or perching on the floor balancing blocks is limited. And Oh. So. Dear. Too much technology fast forwards them from precious to precocious in a blink.

And it sucks the creativity from the natural wealth of imagination that children harbor. Video games and iPhones might be cool, but they are not the way to engage a child. A six year old child. The time it takes to whiz through apps and gadgets is better spent playing Uno or coloring or playing frisbee or reading from chapter books. There's no benefit to dunking kids this young into technology. In fact, it's a diservice if you ask me....not that anyone did. You can't discount the power of play. Pure frolicking and mayhem peppered with giggles of glee. Kids develop relationships, build comfort, and gain confidence through unplugged means.

We are already a world of plugged in, uber connected, frenetic consumers (raising my own guilty hand here). There's no need, or value, to dragging children down with us. And yes, I do believe the direction we're doing is down. Etiquette, grace, articulate speech, proper punctuation, letter writing, meandering, stopping to smell the conversational roses. All gems from our past that are wilting as I type.

Needless to say, Bird's list won't be fulfilled this year. He had asked for a Nintendo DSi that we just might succumb to buying. That is, unless we find some cool new pieces at the LEGO store.

Oh, and that bit about wanting an elf? I'd love a psychologist's interpretation of that one! Then again, maybe I don't.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

The Debate That Mary Sparked

Once again the boys showed just how different they are. And yeah, it's painfully obvious that our parenting is severely lacking. Read on. I'd like to pull what my friend Erin calls the "Indian card" and just say hey, I'm Indian, what do I know about Jesus?

While listening to Christmas music on the radio, Bird was asking why all the songs were about Jesus. Gulp. If I said that on Twitter I'm betting I'd lose most of my followers. That song about "Mary's boy child, Jesus Christ" did him in. I was beaming with pride right about then. Yeah, oodles of it. I emphatically explained that the whole point of celebrating Christmas was the birth of Jesus Christ. I further covered my bases and explained that some people believe this, but we just respect their beliefs and embrace them. I babbled. And babbled.

Deal chimed in right about here as I was fiercely backpedaling, which is pretty difficult considering I don't even know how to ride a bike.

Deal: (flabbergasted) "Yeah Bird, Christmas is for Jesus! It's Jesus' birthday! Christmas is about Jesus!!!"

Bird: (very calmly) "No Deal, Christmas is about SANTA."

Sigh. Parenting fail.
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