Patrick the Soccer Player

31 05 2012

Our dear friend Tony bought Patrick this shirt last year. Then, it was too big; now, it fits perfectly and it’s Patrick’s favorite thing to wear. 

The Batter is the Best Part

He now thinks his full name is “Patrick the Soccer Player.” In fact, this came up in an unusual way last weekend, when Molly had one of those terrifying-for-two-minutes experiences that every parent has: She lost Patrick at the Farmer’s Market. When she found him, crying and being comforted by another mom, she realized that we’ve never taught him what to do if he gets lost. Neither child knows our cell phone numbers, for example. So, walking back to the car, she started questioning him. When he was lost, did he tell the other mom his name? “Yes. I’m Patrick the Soccer Player.”

If you wonder why Molly gets nervous…

29 05 2012

…when I volunteer to take the kids out of the house on my own, this pretty much sums it up:

Run, Splash

They never get into messes like this when Molly watches them! Two days later, Alex’s shoes still weren’t dry.

Brain Hoses

21 05 2012

Every now and then, in Patrick’s eyes, I’m not a sufficient parent. It could be he needs help with his clothes, or getting dried off after a bath, or just a band-aid, and he insists that Mom help him. If Mom’s available, everything’s fine. But sometimes, Mom’s busy.

In those cases, though it never works, I say in my falsetto voice, “Hi, I’m your mom. I have blonde hair and I’m a girl.” I then try to help him. As I said, this never works. Instead, it starts one or both kids on a project of cataloging all of the proof they can see that I’m not really their mother.

Sunday night, when we were at dinner, we had another one of these incidents. I can’t even remember what it was about, or why Molly was busy. We were all sitting around the table, and Patrick needed something, and he insisted Mom was the only person who could help, and Molly was there but busy, and even though it was hopeless, I said, “Hi, I’m your mom. I have blonde hair and I’m a girl.” And I tried to help.

“You don’t have curly hair!” exclaimed Alex.

“You don’t have abwainhose!” protested Patrick.

I should point out that Patrick’s articulation isn’t great. It’s even hard for us to understand him sometimes. But this one stumped us. Both Molly and I stared at Patrick. “What?” we asked, nearly in unison.

“Abwainhose!” Patrick said.

Molly & I stared at each other, dumbfounded. Was he trying to speak Chinese again?

“Can you say that again, Patrick?” I asked.

“A… bwain… hose!” he said, and pointed to Molly’s pony tail. There it was, a brain hose, coming out the back of her head! We have no idea where he got that expression, but it’s one we’ll never forget! 

Bubble Boy


Mother’s Day Facepainting Extravaganza

14 05 2012

Molly spent Mother’s Day running in the Kirkland Half Marathon. (Yes, she does everything better than me.) My only job was to keep the kids occupied. Along with every other family in Seattle, we decided to go to the zoo. This is what happened:

Mother's Day Facepainting Extravaganza

Yes, by the afternoon, there was just as much paint streaked on various surfaces of our house as you’d expect.

Happy Mother’s Day

13 05 2012

Alex wishes everyone a happy Mother’s Day:

I’m a Role Model of Failure

8 05 2012

I’m taking failure to a whole new level. I’m a role model of failure!

Saturday morning, I was pumped… I was going to run 10 miles for the first time in my life. But halfway through the run — at a pace and a time I’ve done many times before — my heart suddenly started racing and I felt light headed. I stopped to catch my breath, and I just couldn’t get the energy to get going again. I don’t know if it was a failure of willpower, or if I’d “hit the wall” (I hadn’t had much to eat that morning). Whatever the reason: 10 mile run FAIL

Worse: Sunday night was an “adult soirée” sponsored by the Seattle Music Teacher’s Association. I’ve been practicing Bach’s Invention Number 4 for a few months now, so (at the prompting of my teacher), I decided to perform it. The “performance hall” was the lovely Victorian home of a fellow student. We filled his entire first floor. My turn to perform came near the end… third to last. I sat down at the piano, focused, and started playing. And about a third of the way through the piece, I missed something. I can’t remember exactly what I’d done, but I found myself unable to remember what to do next and unable to figure out how to recover. For me, I play by memory because I can hear the music in my head and match my fingers to my internal concert… but there was nothing but silence between my ears. I plunked out a few notes, trying to remember. My arms started trembling violently and it was hard even to press a key down to make a note. Complete failure.

And honestly, I’m pretty excited about it.

Because who’s seeing me fail? These guys:

Motorcycle Fail

For better or worse, I know I’m a role model to them in everything I do. So I want to be the best role model for failure I can possibly be. Yup, sometimes I’ll push my lifetime-of-no-exercise body too hard, like Saturday’s run. But I’ll keep lacing up the shoes. And they’ll see me keep practicing piano every day, because I want them to see that’s how everybody gets better at things. But I also want them to know that even if you practice, you’ll sometimes fall down on your face in public. And that’s OK. Just try again. 

I think it’s working, too. When I was practicing piano on Saturday, I hit a wrong note several times and grumbled (loudly!) in frustration. Alex came up to me. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I can’t play this right,” I told him.

“That’s OK, Dad!” he told me. “Just keep trying and it will get better. It’s like me and swimming lessons! Last week was really hard, but I just keep trying, and this week was easier.” With those words of encouragement, he went back to playing and I went back to practicing. Yeah, it was a pretty bad weekend: But I’m proud of how good a role model for failure I’m turning out to be!

Postscript, back at the soirée: While I was staring at the keyboard in panic, unable to remember where I was in the music at all, my teacher called out from the back of the room, “It’s OK! You can start again from the beginning.” So I did. I finished the piece the second time, with a few awkward and long pauses where I got tripped up, but I never lost the thread of melody in my head. I’m sure it sounded awful because with my shaking hands and broken confidence, all I wanted to do was finish and spared no thoughts for the nuances of the piece. But I finished. It was horribly frustrating and embarrassing, yet in spite of that, I really wish Alex could have seen both the failure and the recovery.

Gender Stereotypes

6 05 2012

Here’s Patrick, standing in a field of flowers and with painted fingernails… and carrying a toy power tool. Tell me, what’s the more significant gender stereotype here?

Gender Stereotypes

What Does This Make You Think Of?

2 05 2012

One side effect of not carpooling: Molly & I don’t have to compromise on radio choices. That means I spend more time listening to classical music in the car… and by extension, so do the kids.

Every now and then, Alex interrogates me when the music is on: “What does this make you think of?” I have to give him an answer, no matter how much I was paying attention to driving instead of to the music. This must be something that he does in music class at school. Occasionally I can get him to tell me what the music makes him think of. Typical of a six-year-old, the answers are either profound or nonsensical. I can’t decide which. Some of the more memorable:

“This makes me think of a pretty forest, and there’s a girl walking through it. But there’s something scary… there’s a wolf hiding and it’s going to try to get the girl.”

“This makes me think of remembering. Of remembering something that hasn’t happened yet.”

“This makes me think of a happy time, but someone you love has died.” (This is the only one where I remember the music that was playing… one of the movements of Vivalidi’s Summer.)

In the Cherry Trees