Friday, April 30, 2004

Litany of no 

I want to be a positive parent. I really do. But even when I'm making a big effort, it seems that most of the things I say to Emma are negative: Stand still so I can brush your teeth. Don't spit out your food. Hey, you got sand all over me. We'll read this page first, and then we'll look at the picture on the next one. Emma, go straight to the bathtub. Don't run through the house. Come back here. Be careful when you pour that. Take your shoes to your room. Nope, not under the dining room table. To your room, please. No, you can't have a treat now. I didn't play with these blocks alone, so you need to help me pick them up. No more drinks of water. No more potty trips. No more hugs. Don't call me back here again, just go to sleep. No, we can't play in the rain. Don't splash in that puddle; you'll get your shoes all muddy. I need you to get in your car seat, and then I'll hand you the toy. The rock and stick have to stay outside. Stand still so I can brush your hair.

And that's me trying.

Last night, after being called back to her room for the third time, I gave her a lecture about her CD choice. (She listens to music at bedtime and has been picking these short Tunes for Tots CDs lately. And she doesn't like half the songs, so she'll start halfway through and then call us back when it ends 10 minutes later.) I told her she'd have to start listening to her longer Disney CDs or just go on to sleep when it ended. And then I left.

Only to turn right around, go back in and tell her how much I loved her, she was my favorite girl in the world, I couldn't wait to spend the weekend with her, etc. She was so thrilled that I'd come back. And what the hell difference does it make if I have to pause my TiVo'd Friends to start a CD over, anyway? Why do I get so annoyed?

Even if she wiggles and shows me ballet moves, teethbrushing is only going to take two minutes. Why do I try to make her stand still instead of enjoying the dance?

Lately, if she asks, "Can I read a book?" or "Can we go outside?" or "Come cuddle on the bed," as long as I can drop what I'm doing, I do. I'm tired of always saying no. So why do I say it so much anyway?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

School daze 

In just over a month, Emma starts preschool. And as much as I've been working on getting her used to the idea, I am starting to get a little terrified.

Part of it, I'll admit, is the change in routine. The day-care schedule she's on right now works perfectly -- one of us drops her off at 8, and the other uses a lunch hour to pick her up at 1 and put her down for her nap. The school we've chosen starts at 8:45, so if I'm dropping her off, I'll always be really late. If she's with Adam, he can work from home for a bit and bring her over, but that's not convenient for him, either. And we're doing the extended day (because picking her up at 11:30 was even harder to schedule), which ends at 2:30. We'll still both use what we'll designate as lunch, but it's going to be awkward to be gone that late in the afternoon.

And then we've also got the added weirdness of having someone take care of her in our home when she's not in school. Don't get me wrong; I'm really excited about the setup. It's just going to be different. I suspect I'll often be sweeping the kitchen at 7:55 a.m.

Those are the kind of things I'd worry about with any change in the routine, though. The big worry is, well, bigger.

She's going to be one of up to 21 kids, managed by three teachers. She's always been in in-home day care, usually with no more than her and one other child. At home, of course, she's the absolute center of our universe. And at day care, it's been pretty close.

We have put her in group environments, like Gymboree classes and library storytimes. But that's really not the same, since one or both of her 'rents has always been with her. I'm just scared about how she'll adjust.

She's very social, and I'm sure she'll do fine. But I really started to worry at a mommy-daughter tea party last weekend. It was very intimate, just us, two other moms and kids and a grandma. But the two other girls know each other really well and were promptly off, doing their own thing. They didn't exclude Em, exactly; it was more like she excluded herself. If they were in the living room, she'd wander off to the bedroom to check things out. She really acted like an only child for that afternoon, perfectly content to play by herself.

She's marvelous with adults, again, as the center of attention. But how will she react when she's not anymore? How will she deal with those social situations with other kids on her own?

I got a little reassurance at the park yesterday. A small group of older kids were playing hide-and-seek. Emma watched them for a while, as she forced me to go down the slide behind her and chase her around the grass. There were plenty of kids her own age, but Emma didn't interact with them much. Adam and I were her playmates.

Finally, though, the hide-and-seek looked too tempting. Emma said, "I want to play with them, too!" so I encouraged her just to ask. And to my extreme gratitude, the oldest girl (7 or 8) immediately said yes and included her. Emma had to run back and inform me "SHE SAID I COULD PLAY!" as she started the game. We watched from a safe distance, creeping closer as one of the kids hid in a drainage ditch while Emma was counting. ("Emma knows better than to go down there, right?" Adam asked. "Right?" She did, in fact, know.) But watching her romp with the big kids, never wondering what her parents were doing, made my day.

Now if I can only figure out a way to peek in the preschool windows three days a week ...

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


One of the biggest reasons I've been gone of late was the Women in Business Conference, put on by my college, that was held yesterday. The Daily story doesn't do it justice -- and exaggerates the number of attendees. It was one of those magical kind of days, one that left me so fulfilled and shocked that a work event had done so.

Sherri Coale, the OU women's basketball coach, was one of our main speakers. She did the event for us last year, and she impressed me then, too. She's known around Oklahoma for being one of the most charismatic women -- honestly, people -- around. But yesterday, I felt like she was speaking just to me. I sat on the edge of my seat, on the edge of tears, enthralled. I forgot to get up and take pictures while she was speaking, ya'll. Guess I'll be running a mugshot in the next issue of the college's magazine.

She spoke about passion. She said your passion didn't have to be what you do at work, but how you do it. How you live your life. She made me want to run right out and change the world. And, more importantly, she made me feel like I could do so. Maybe not on a major scale, but my world is pretty darn small. I can have a significant impact on it.

The rest of the conference was rewarding, too. I introduced each speaker in our three communication workshops, so I spent the afternoon listening to three incredibly knowledgeable people talk to women about communication. About the differences between men and women, managers and leaders, effective and ineffective communication. One speaker claims email is making us uncivil. Another drew a model of leadership with people, power and purpose as the three points of a triangle, and we picked out which line we draw in our own lives. One swore by the personal touch of a handwritten note. By the time I got back to my office at the end of the day, I had a list of people I needed to write notes to, I wrote the most polite email of my life (with a "dear" and a closing salutation) and couldn't stop thinking of where the power and purpose lay in each of my relationships.

And then I promptly went home and hugged my daughter, the love of my life, the world I can change. This house in central Norman may not be much. But it's ours. And I'll be damned if I take one minute of it for granted.

I'm back, and so are Em's books 

Whew. The worst is over at work, and now I just have to catch up on all I didn't do amidst the chaos. But at least that's at my own pace.

The break did give me time to revamp the Em's book feature in the sidebar, as I said I would. It's updated now, called "Em's Current Faves," and will list whatever she's loving at the moment. It'll be mostly books, but I'll likely include some good TV, movie, activity or outing now and then.

Let me know what you think. And please, as always, give us your suggestions, too. We're always in the market for ideas.

I missed you guys. Glad to be back.

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