Little Things

  I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then ~ Bob Seger, "Against the Wind"
There are probably close to twenty times a day, on any given day, I wonder (silently) to myself, "I wonder if anyone else silently wonders about [this] to themselves." I muse: Comparatively to the rest of the universe, if I actually were incredibly amazing at [insert task at hand], or horrifically deficient in every imaginable way, I will most likely never find out. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, try as hard as I can, and pretty much fucking wing it. This self-analyzing, with a dash of devil-may-care and holy-shit-I'm-surely-clueless, can pertain to anything from stain removal to parenting, in my world. (And wow, there are a lot of times those two are oddly intertwined.)

As much as I love and adore my family and friends, I've never been one to ask for much advice. Lord knows, I need it. And I'm certainly not above it. I guess it's just that, in my everyday life, there aren't opportunities to ask for it. Time is such a commodity that winging it is the norm, and that seems to be doing all right, for now.

If there's a health issue, I'll call the doctor within eleven seconds. But if it's an issue of the heart (or cooking, or interior design, or again, stain removal), I just roll with it. Only later will I ask myself: "Is my decor too kitschy-coastal to have purchased yet another sea-green throw?" "Can too much mac 'n cheese damage one's colon?" "Did I just eternally ruin my child's psyche?"


5:03pm, Thursday:
AJ: I want candy.
Me: Well, that's not the way to ask for it.
Me: You are not asking for it nicely so no, you can't have candy.
AJ: May I please have candy?
Me: [Shit. Little man's playing me. And candy's bad for his teeth. But now I'm in deep. I am a horrific parent. Or perhaps I'm a good one for not immediately handing it over to him. ? No, two out of three dentists would disagree. Candy? No candy? Is this even a big deal? Are we out of wine?]
AJ: Who is your favorite Power Ranger?
Me: The red one. I believe his name's Cab.

Today, the monkeys and I went to the Children's Museum of Naples (C'MON) to see Super Why, whatever that meant. We got there about twenty minutes before said PBS superstar took the stage, so we ran around the place for awhile before settling in to the faux lemonade stand area, completely ignoring the Super Why craze twenty feet away. When the big-headed guy cruised up to the front of the rabid museum throng, Lila looked around indifferently as AJ leaped into my arms.

[Cue: 1991 memory of my first week of work at a NYC fashion merchandising company specializing in kids' licensed pj's and sportswear. My new boss was explaining to me in a midtown elevator, on our way to a convention, that we'd be meeting a bunch of bigwigs in the world of licensing. I unwittingly responded, "As long as there's no one wearing a costume -- I despise not knowing who's behind a mask." The grand doors opened up to a scene of approximately a thousand costumed freak shows.]

So. Lila came over to me, crying, right as a girl I'd never met ran over screaming, "Tell her to give me my ice back! It's my ice!" I didn't know what had happened. Lila had a fake piece of ice cupped protectively in her hands, and was so obviously upset, so I gave the girl two of my cubes and then I asked my monkey what had happened. She said, amidst sad little sobs, "I try so. Hard. To make friends. And she screamed at me!" Ugh. So we bolted.

Inner monologue: Should I have interceded? Should I have 100% taken Lila's side? Am I really cool for playing it cool, or am I the worst mom in the world for not going all WWE on the 7YO? How's about winging it, bolting, and promising the kids a great lunch? Check, please.

I've noticed that, every now and then, life gives out free second chances. Perhaps it's just all about knowing how and when to jump at them:

No less than five miles away, we found ourselves at Calistoga's for lunch. As we returned from the restroom post-meal, we spied Lila's nemesis in line. After grabbing my shirt and motioning to me she was there, Lila told me that she wanted to say hi. I told her I thought it was a great idea.

Lila: "I'm shy, can you say 'hi' for me?"
Me: "Of course, just hold my hand..." [...approaching 7-year-old, admonishing-and-fake-ice-craving girl] "We just wanted to let you know that it was great to meet you at the museum today!"
The girl looked surprised at first, but then she smiled kind of shyly and gave a little wave to Lila, and Lila waved back. And then my sweet girl skipped all the way back to the car...
I am a huge proponent of learning something every day, and today my daughter was my teacher: Have faith. Don't give up. Be the better person. Thank you, Lila.

In other family news: Last week...

In cleaning our home on the impending arrival of dear friends last week, I imagined strange fascinations of a place existing on the very distant shores of Coastal Living. I could see whitewashed angled kitchen ceilings braced by dark, heavy beams; soft dewy grass blanketing a shadowy, long lawn; and fairy lights twinkling in odd corners, everywhere. Cool jazz would flow in and out of the jalousie windows while colorful wildflowers in sea glass bottles led the way to a rustic table sporting casual white linen and exquisite bottles of red.

Maybe I'd show up at the door to welcome our guests wearing an exotic, flowing tunic from Calypso, perfectly worn Levi's, and a simple indigo flower tucked behind my right ear. "Come in, come in... Grab a mug of sangria and then definitely go try out my homemade salsa while I throw on some Coltrane."

Reality found me tripping over Crocs and throwing the toilet brush into its container at the exact moment the doorbell rang. I was wearing stained white sausage casings jeans and the only clean short-sleeved top in my closet, which happened to be see-through. And neon orange. Trade the homemade salsa and sangria for hotdogs and beer, and some generic Music Choice reggae on channel 831, and you get the picture... But the happy part of being with our be-all-and-end-all friends, who became immediately enmeshed in our haphazard, 1,200-miles-away family? Well. I could use a cliche' Priceless. here, but I won't. Because it was, quite simply, beautiful...

Thank you to my children ~ my family ~ for the daily small, but very big, life lessons. Thank you, Tony and Penny, for dancing in the waves with our babies and sharing a weekend with us that we will never forget. Thank you to Shout and to patience for diminishing the daily stains. And thank you, Beautiful Life, for the simple little things that I'm taught every day, can ultimately be the most intricate, biggest measures of happiness.
I'm just a simple guy, I live from day to day. A ray of sunshine melts my frown and blows my blues away ~ Led Zeppelin, "Out On The Tiles"


Me said…
Dreamy... and kudos to Lila and Mama for being such big girls :)! Miss you cats. xo
Lovely family visit! Your little girl is adorable, it can be so hard to make friends sometimes!! My little one (well, she is 14 now) had a hard time years ago, her shyness was just really bad. She is now a friend to many, an awesome Tennis player, and will hug everyone she meets.

I have to say, your beach photos are killing me. We are from VA originally, and lived on the coast for years due to the Army. Now we are in El Paso, TX...which is desert and there is no water to be found. It is so brown, and icky. I miss the ocean. We plan to head to Florida once he is done, in about 5 years. The blue water, the lush greenery (which we don't have here, not even grass...I have a rock yard) and the beaches just suck me in!!

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