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October 19, 2009

You Didn’t Lick That Off The Grass

Every family has its little sayings and catchphrases.  I suppose they are a combination of cultural and geographical influences plus the personalities that make up your family.  Not as disgusting as it sounds and my all-time favorite saying.  That’s how I would describe “you didn’t lick that off the grass.” 

“What does that does that mean?” you’re probably asking with a horrified look on your face.  Loosely translated, “the apple didn’t fall from the tree.”  My grandparents lived in eastern Canada where my mom also spent her formative years before heading south to the warmer lands of California (explains a lot).  I have many childhood memories of visits to Canada.  I would be sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen in Renfrew (no you’ve never heard of it) doing some childish thing and immediately getting a dose of “you didn’t lick that off the grass” in her Canadian-Irish-Grandmotherly accent.  As a little kid you hear these things and either don’t understand them or just ignore them.  A quick, “Whatever, Grandma” runs through my brain, although certainly not out loud. 

As I got older, I’d then get it from my mom (of course referring to the fact that whatever ridiculous thing I was doing was a result of my father’s genes).  At this point, a little older (although no wiser) I would take some silent pride in doing something annoying or ridiculous (boys) and knowing I could pass it off on my genes.  My mom, looking through my eyes and directly into my brain as mothers do, would then say, “just wait.”  And the inevitable, “Whatever, Mom” thought passes through my teenage brain.

And then you become a parent.  As with many of the things our parents were right about, I’m now acutely aware of her meaning.  Circle of life and all that.  And now, on visits to California, sitting in my mother’s kitchen watching my son do his thing with me trying to keep some semblance of order, what do I hear?  “You didn’t lick that off the grass” echoing off the walls like a gunshot in a canyon, with a faint Canadian-Irish-Grandmotherly accent mixed in for effect.  And looking into my son’s eyes, what is that flicker I catch a glimpse of?  Could it be a “Whatever, Grandma?”

October 13, 2009

Love Your Socks

I love new socks.  The feeling of that pristine cotton that is shiny new, so soft and as yet unspoiled by dirty feet.  They haven’t been washed, stretched, ripped or stinkified.  They seem perfect.  There was a time I thought that I’d wear new socks every day if I could, but I’m not nearly that interesting or quirky. 

 If you think about it, our kids are a bit like new socks.  They are born as perfect little beings that haven’t taken in any of the stink of the world yet.  Starting with the moment of birth we spend our time trying to protect them from the world, themselves and even us.  There are “stinks” of all kinds that include artificial ingredients, pollution, riding a scooter without a helmet, Hannah Montana and the list goes on.  How do we keep them away from all these bad things?  Maybe we shouldn’t.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a long list of things that we absolutely need to protect them from – there is and I don’t need to list them here.  Protecting our kids from real danger is our number one job as parents as I so often remind my son, to his great dismay.  I’m just saying that I’ve recently started to realize (yes, it’s only taken me six plus years) that maybe I need to let go a bit.  I need to let my son experience the world, make some mistakes, scrape a knee or two.  Not every moment is a learning experience – some are just experiences.  

 If life was a series of the same new socks day after day it would get pretty boring.  Those new socks would start to lose their luster because they’d all be the same.  What makes us all unique individuals and interesting is our collection of unique experiences, habits and preferences (some good, some bad).  Parenting has taught me many things, but I never thought I’d learn to love my old socks along the way.