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Monday, April 28, 2008

Is Exhibitionism Innate?

As any mother knows, each morning is an adventure. If we're sitting in the car, ready to go with the appropriate school bags, practice equipment, etc. by 7:25, I consider the morning off to a roaring success. Those are the days the Indiana Jones theme song pops into my head as I pull the car out of the garage.

Once in a while an event occurs during a morning routine and my mind transcends into a deep intellectual issue, like are certain people born with an innate sense of exhibitionism? Is it a gender issue?

After preparing the daily breakfast for my picky eaters (they’re lucky I’m so adept in the kitchen), I check to see the “getting dressed” progress. Alex hasn’t moved from her bed – still hidden under the sheets. Cole at least has his covers shed, pants off and is laying buck naked on his bed. He doesn’t even attempt to move upon my entrance.

“Cole get dressed. Cover yourself.”

He looks at me blankly. “Hey Mom! Do you know what my dream was last night?” He carries on a normal conversation in his sweet little voice, expounding his latest dream of becoming Spiderman, with all of his junk hanging out.

“Wow. Just get dressed okay?”

Fortunately, once he puts his mind to it, he’s dressed in thirty seconds.

Now, on to Alex’s room. She has arisen from the bed and is in her closet. I ask, “How’s it going?” (Once in awhile she likes my help in choosing her outfits.)

“Mom! Get out! I don’t have a shirt on.”

Although she doesn’t remember that I’m the woman who gave her birth, changed her diapers, gave her baths up until a few years ago, she doesn’t want me to see her without a shirt on. Thank God. Who doesn’t want their daughter to have that sense of modesty?

As for Cole, I believe he does carry within him an element of exhibitionism. (“Mom, do I look like Anakin with my hair like this?”) But mostly, I think he’s plain comfortable with himself. He wasn’t trying to show off his junk to me. He just happened to have his pants off while needing to discuss his dream. I’m good with that.

Then, Alex comes out wearing a mini-skirt, leggings and heels I won’t let her wear. Perhaps she carries an element of exhibitionism also.

But at least she’s dressed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cole's Dark Side?

Why is it that my son Cole, who is a good boy, follows rules, treats people with respect, and who cried when Charlotte the Spider died, is completely obsessed with Anakin Skywalker? Not the Anakin before he turns to the Dark Side – the one who pledges himself to Darth Sidious and ultimately becomes Darth Vader.

Cole’s favorite past-time is light-saber fighting, as is many boys his age. His favorite scene? For you Star Wars fans, it’s lava scene fight between Obi and Anakin. (You know, right after Anakin almost kills his expecting wife.) Anakin’s (aka Cole) most revered line is, “If you are not with me, you are my enemy!”

His obsession with the Dark Side would bother me if my son was a bully, or even had a tendency for wrongdoing. I’m always relieved when he feels remorse for accidentally maiming someone with a light saber.

I think Cole’s intrigue stems from the fact that evil exists in the world, and by "playing out" the Dark Side, he is affirming his own existence of "bad feelings" including fear, anger and hate. Everyone experiences these feelings at one time or another, even if hate breeds from external forces of unthinkable crimes. While on the surface, we understand hate boils down to an unhealthy level of egoism and power, and we all internally struggle to find the essential balance of egoism and selflessness. Even when we're six years old. Or, perhaps especially when we're six years old.

Am I bothered by my own offspring's obsession with the Dark Side? No. Of course, I realize he knows Darth Vader, the symbol of evil, eventually brings balance to the force by overthrowing his master in Return of the Jedi.. And when goodness is restored in the World, my son is reassuring himself he is also good. The Star Wars metaphor is a common theme, but is brilliant because it works at so many levels of the human spirit and circumstance.

Okay, so maybe we take Star Wars a little too seriously in our household. But I will close these thoughts with the words we often use while tucking our young Jedi into bed at night, May the Force be with you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Taking Alex to the Movies

I'm excited. Alex seems to like me again. She has always loved me, but something has changed within the last couple of weeks. Like, she's asking me, like, what should she wear with this shirt, or like, what shoes go best with this outfit. AND, the other day she even asked, like, what my favorite movie was when I was a kid. (I'm a female born in 1969, so obviously my favorite was Grease.)

Anyway, just as I thought we had made it through those rocky, independent years between the age of six and nine, she threw me a curve ball.

"Mom? Are you and Dad gonna, like, going to the same movie as Lexi and me?"

"What? Of course!"

She sighs. "Like, Drillbit Taylor is showing in the other theater though With Owen Wilson."

"So. Nim's Island looks good to me!"

Another sigh.

Sensing my daughter's discontent with my response, I accomodate her. "I tell you what. Dad and I won't sit by you and Lex."

She accepts the terms.

As soon as she and Lexi receive their concessions, and before we receive ours, they shoot off into the theatre to secure prime 2nd row seats among their other friends. I spy an opening in the third row, directly behind her! Perfect.

"Ugh! Oh, Mom. You are,like, so lame." She didn't quite get the joke, I guess. So, I am sent back to my husband who looks quite comfortable in the assigned parents' section. "We're getting old, Hon."

"Yep," he states happily devouring the buttered popcorn.

But I'm a bit saddened. Watching the kids' expressions was as much fun as watching the movie. Well, at least I shouldn't miss any lines in the movie. Or have to take a potty break. Maybe.

But guess what? I can still hear her cute little laugh. Even from the parents' section. It makes me happy. No matter how old she is, her laugh makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Keeping our Teeth. Losing my Mind?

Two cavities? But my oldest never had any, and she didn't brush her teeth either!

All kids are different, my dentist told me. Don't blame yourself. So, it's okay that we don't always get a brushing in our hectic mornings? Or exhausting evenings? Flossing is really out of the question.

Anyway, I had it all set up to take my son to a pediatric dentist, in Omaha, which is an hour away from our residence. I rearranged my work schedule and my husband, being the supportive guy he is, even took the day off. Mom was picking up my daughter, from play practice, and shuttling her to dance, or one of her many extra-curricular activities.

We picked Cole up from school. Of course he was excited to get out of school, not fully understanding the implications of his scheduled dental appointment. And after missing a turn or two, because I thought I knew exactly where the building was, we made it to Dr. Dana's office.

Busy -- this place was swarming with kids! We made it to the reception desk, where a polite young lady asked if she could help us. "Oh, yes. My son, Cole Kramer has an appointment." Looking a bit confused, she said, "Really? I don't have him down." Smugly, I pulled out my letter which indicated the date and time of the appointment. She reviewed and apologetically said, "Oh, I'm sorry. Your appointment indicates next week." Next week? Isn't it really the 27th today? Can you please get us in? "Sorry, we are completely booked."

My husband sighed in disgust.

My son said under his breath, "She did it again."

"Again? Cole, when have I done this before?" "Last week, at the other dentist." Oh, yeah. I took off early to take the kids to their local dentist -- the one that was sending me here. Only to find out they were closed -- the appointment was the next day. Thanks God my mom's around. Not sure if I could take off early with "more children's dentists appointments" .

Maybe I need a personal assistnant. Or, maybe we should just start brushing our teeth.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Good Mommy, Bad Cook

Do you remember some of your mom's favorite dishes? I can think of a few. Do you know what my kids are going to remember? Those cherished moment when Dad said, "Should we go out to eat?".

When I'm considering taking a dish to take to a new mother or a grieving family, I ask my husband, "What should I bring? What's the best dish I make?", he's quiet a moment. Then he suggests I buy a Pizza Hut gift card.

Anyway, I discovered a great dish today. It's called a "Burnt Grilled Cheese". Really, it's pretty good. Here's what you do...

Take two pieces of your favorite kind of bread. I recommend sourdough or pumperknickle -- something without a bunch of high fructose corn syrup.

  1. Heat a skillet -- spray cooking spray. Always spray cooking spray when you cook.
  2. Instead of buttering the bread, spray it with cooking spray. (You might know this already -- it saves calories.
  3. Place your favorite cheese in between the bread. (Unbuttered sides in.)
  4. Place the sandwich on the grill.
  5. Wait a few minutes until the bread is toasted on one side just as you like it. (This can be tricky with pumperknickle.)
  6. Turn over, then leave the room and start doing something else. Laundry, Googling on the computer, help the kids with homework, anything really.)
  7. When you begin to smell smoke throughout the house, run to the kitchen and turn off the stove.
  8. Place your Grilled Cheese on a plate and let cool a few minutes.
  9. Pull the good side of the sandwich off the burnt side and nibble on the edible parts.
  10. Enjoy and think about all of the extra calories you saved.