Take Your Kid to Work Day

Our school has an annual Take Your Kid to Work Day, lovingly and ridiculously referred to as TYKTWD. We’re in D.C. We like acronyms for everything. It’s insider lingo.

I asked Sissy if she wanted to come with me. I imagined her adoration as she saw her mother in a different light. I pictured students stopping me as I crossed campus to profess their devotion to the ways I had transformed their writing through my teaching. I know. I know. Sissy mentioned something about a killer game of foursquare at recess that she didn’t want to miss. My dreams were crushed. Then little Piper piped up.

“I’ll go, Mom! I’d love to go to work with you. You work?”

Off we went. First, on the train.

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Where Piper read me all the rules. No eating. No standing in front of the doors. No loud music. No drinks. Then she spilled her water all over our Metro seat.

During my class, after my students fawned all over the Piper, she busied herself with her Career Shadow worksheet.

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That’s as far as she got. “It looks like you just talk a lot. Is your job talking?”

Then she discovered a chocolate her Sissy had stuffed in her backpack as a surprise. Her chomping drowned out my talking. Until I started asking questions. Then, Piper’s hand shot up in the air with the rest of my students. She waved frantically. Then she noticed that college students don’t wave frantically. Much. I called on Piper. “I don’t know,” she said, “I wasn’t even listening to the question.”

The lesson continued. As my students brainstormed possible presentation ideas, I wrote them on the chalkboard. Then we began analyzing the argument and evidence for each. They talked, I wrote, we learned. Piper joined in. There was a chalkboard and chalk. She couldn’t help herself. Just as I was about to sit her back down so that she wouldn’t be a distraction, she wrote this.

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Awwww. I’m not sure what Piper learned on TYKTWD but I know that she LOEVs MOM.

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City Kid

Yesterday our morning breakfast was interrupted by hovering helicopters. As we ate our waffles with Nutella, sirens screamed by. Then they were closer and louder. Soon, SWAT teams descended into our neighborhood. It should have been alarming. Instead, it was the lack of alarm that was alarming. Sissy and Piper went about their day, packing snacks, zipping up back packs, brushing teeth.

I checked the news and didn’t find any so I went to the real news source: Facebook. A neighbor reported that it was a domestic situation. We chatted about whether the school would open on time. My phone rang and it was the principal on an auto call letting us know that the school was open and in shelter in place. No big deal. Typical urban neighborhood stuff. Sigh.

We drove the kids the three blocks to school rather than walk. The hovering helicopters and search lights were a little much. Dad walked them inside and was greeted by our principal who assured the kids that the day would be a normal school day. Sissy and Piper weren’t even phased. “Gosh,” Piper said, “I hope those SWAT teams are gone by recess!” And they were.

Happy

Piper is my dharma. She doesn’t mean to be. She just is.

Maybe I was a little grumpy. Maybe I was a little impatient. Surely not.

Either way, Piper was supposed to be playing by herself. Piper hates playing by herself. She wants to be attached to a member of our family every minute of the day, even in sleep. She’s an extrovert living with three workaholic introverts. Piper is the one that makes us see the light of day. And she makes us laugh about it, too.

After her thirty minutes of “alone time” Sunday afternoon, Piper bounced into my office and slipped this in my palm.

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“I made it for you,” she said. “It’s a pin. You can wear it.”

“Thanks, sweetie,” I said, hugging the Piper.

“You can be happy, too. If you want to, Mommy.”

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Piper wants to know what I do all day. It seems boring to her. Maybe even a waste of time.

“So, you just sit there?” Piper asked me this morning, indicating my desk.

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“Well, I guess,” I admitted, “but I answer emails, Skype with students, grade essays, and write, too.”

“BOORRRING!”

“Teaching isn’t boring. I happen to love it, P, but I can see how sitting in a chair all day looks boring. Sometimes it is. Want to know what I do when I go to campus for my classes? Want to hear about my teaching?”

“Not really,” Piper said. “I’m off to do important things today. Good luck with your boring day.”

Then, Piper’s daddy and I sat down and wrote this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-young-and-melissa-scholes/boston-marathon-terrorism_b_3120008.html

It wasn’t such a boring day after all.

Home Invasion

Day Six is when I lose it. Six days of single parenting is when everything breaks down for me. I can handle days one through five. For some reason, Day Six is when I let them eat Cheezits for breakfast and I don’t care. At all.

It’s not that I don’t love taking care of Sissy and the Piper. Come on. You know better than that. It’s that I’m better with a parenting partner. Parenting is easier when you pretend it’s a big game of tag. You’re it. I’m out. Whew.

So when the Dad came home on Sunday I was more than ready to hand over the reigns. I wasn’t actually that interested in hearing about all of his fancy meals out in Chicago. I’m not that sorry that the weather was horrible. I’m a little sad that he came home sick, but even this remorse has a selfish motive. He has another trip in a few days. Can you imagine how funny it would be if he came home between trips just to get us all sick? Yeah. Me neither.

On Day Six all I want is a few minutes alone. My partner gets that. He swooped in and did double parenting duty. I hid behind a closed door. But still. Piper and Sissy kept busting in with urgent questions and messages that had to be delivered. I think I got three whole minutes alone. Finally, because it was Day Six, I yelled:

“WHY IS IT THAT WHATEVER SPACE I’M IN IS ALWAYS INVADED? IT’S A CONSTANT HOME INVASION. THERE’S PLENTY OF ROOM IN THIS HOUSE!”

Piper blinked her eyes at me. I’d let them eat Cheezits for breakfast. It’s true. But I hadn’t yelled in six days. “Because,” she said,  “the best part of this space is that you’re in it.”

No Exchanges. No Refunds.

Sissy ordered caramel french toast for her annual birthday breakfast in bed. Piper had to eat cold cereal on the floor of Sissy’s bedroom. Piper opted out of the french toast when she saw me making “stuff you dip in eggs that’s gross.”  She did dig two chocolates from her own Easter basket to add to Sissy’s vitamins. She’s got a generous heart, that one.

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Piper was pleased just to step into the sacred preteen space. We, too, were allowed into Sissy’s bedroom to deliver the breakfast and wish her a happy birthday. It was quite a treat.

“What’s the best gift you ever received?” I asked Sissy, stopping myself short of cutting the french toast. Back off, Mom. Got it.

Sissy thought for a minute. “Probably my bike,” she said.

“I think Piper’s the best gift we ever gave you,” Dad said. Sissy and Piper exchanged incredulous glances. Me? Her?

“Boy I hope you don’t still have the receipt for me,” Piper said. “I do not want to be returned. I’m ‘as is,’ Sissy.”

Welcome, Spring. Come On In.

Piper likes to decorate for everything. Easter, Passover, Spring, Lent. You name it, Piper has a decor scheme in mind. She plots and plans. She eyes bunny cut outs and spring flowers. She tries to convince me that it will be fun; decorating will make our lives better. She brings home “projects” from school and scatters her designs on every surface.

In the same way that Piper likes to decor herself, she thinks more is more in our home, too. I try to keep up. I really do. I even put up this on our front door:

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Come on. That’s cheerful, right? Nest and eggs and fake flowers. Come on.

It’s not enough for the Piper. Not even when I let them do stuff like this:

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I’m still a decorating disappointment. We need a craft fairy. Truth.