Month 68

Month 68

Dear Olivia,

Since you were a wee little lass, you have had the creative bug.  Since the age you could grasp things in your hand, you have been one with crayons.  Our kitchen table is always littered with various art supplies and don’t even get your father started on the crayons in the car.  You draw constantly and I really do admire this passion of yours.  What parent wouldn’t be thrilled that their child has a healthy imagination and an appetite to create?  You can imagine my excitement when you asked me if you could learn to sew.  Personally, I don’t know how to sew and my experience in the matter is quite limited with the exception of a single survival class I took in high school.  I have limited memory on the topic but I do remember jamming the sewing machine quite often in class if that gives you any clue as to my skill set.  However, I’m creative and I enjoy learning new things so I thought what a wonderful activity for the two of us to do together.

We embarked on our journey to the craft store to see what kind of kits were available and discovered a lovely little beginner needlepoint kit.  Thankfully it provides everything that you need because my sewing box is quite sad.  Inside my box you will discover every extra button that ever came with an article of clothing and a small sewing container I picked up in the $1 aisle way back in the day.  So if you need buttons or a small amount of white string, I got you covered.  Anything else, you’re on your own.

I was very excited about the needlepoint kit you selected because it looked very friendly.  How can a rainbow not be fun to sew?  How hard could this really be anyway?  The package says it’s perfectly suitable for the six and up crowd so this will be easy peasy.  Now, I really thought I was making great progress on my patience with you and your brother but apparently I just haven’t been challenged lately because despite the age requirement on the package and the happy design, this activity is anything but joyful.  You and I sit down together and I look at the instructions and see that I will be teaching you the very basic continental stitch.  Basically going over and under at a diagonal over and over again until the entire project is completed.  Despite the very basic pattern, this general concept is completely lost with you.  Your needle is going everywhere so I immediately learn that this will be a two person project.  I’ve seen needlepoint done before and typically people use a very thin thread for needlepoint but since this is a beginner kit, included is very fuzzy yarn that likes to double in size and twist into itself each time you pull it through the mesh.  What should be a lovely quiet activity meant for one person is now a project consisting of me trying to pull a ball of fuzzy knots through a cheap plastic mesh screen as you tell me to hurry up.  Not to mention the radiating pain I’m feeling in the back of my eyeballs from staring down at a giant yarn knot all the livelong day.  To make matters worse, you start demanding to see a smile on my face.  That’s right, kid, you have the audacity to say to me, can I see a smile on that face of yours?  Kid, I’m about to smack you upside the head with this rainbow needlepoint.

When I’m not failing horribly at kindergarten crafts, I’m driving you to swim team practice.  You practice every day for forty-five minutes and given the reaction I receive from people when I tell them this, that is apparently a lot for a five year old.  I think for a child that isn’t a fan of swimming or perhaps doesn’t have a lot of experience swimming, sure, it’s a lot of swimming.  You on the other hand, love the water.  You spent most of last summer doing four day mini sessions at your swim school so this in comparison doesn’t equate to that much more time in the water.  There is also the small minor detail of losing our Saturday mornings to your swim meets which is causing some anguish with your father.  You don’t complain about the practices nor do you seem overly exhausted after practice.  I think it’s a good fit for someone who likes swimming and it’s a good activity to fill the summer.  At the parent meeting your father and I attended, your swim team was sold to us as a recreational summer league meaning if you were looking for an intense competitive team for your child, this was not the team for you.  Given that this is your first real experience being part of a team, we thought it would be a perfect introduction for you.

Apparently a lot of parents missed this informational meeting or don’t understand what recreational means because there are some crazies at the pool.  You have been practicing for two weeks now and I have seen every cliche of a parent there is:  helicopter moms, tiger moms, and the dads who scream at their kids because the Mrs. is elbowing him to say something.  You’re part of the six and under group so I thought this group would be far more relaxed than the other age groups–you’re all still learning the basic strokes for crying out loud.  Since the first day of practice, it immediately felt like a competition amongst the parents as to who had the better swimmer in the pool because that apparently means you’re a better parent if your kid can smoke the other kids in the water.  One man asked if you swam for the team last year and I responded that this is your first year–you’re only five years old.  He proudly declared his son was swimming for the team and just turned four.  Not even five minutes in to the first practice and I’m already 0-1.

I missed a parenting class somewhere along the line because apparently when your child is in competitive sports, specifically swimming, I’m supposed to walk along side of the pool while you’re swimming and yell at you to swim faster and to kick harder.  I’m then supposed to flail my arms wildly as I demonstrate how your stroke is supposed to look.  If the coach begins to talk to you and your teammates, I should then walk over to you to remind you to listen to your coach.  Apparently these are the steps to being an active and supportive parent.  I tend to feel like I should sit back and allow your coach to do his job and allow you to learn your strokes on your time but that’s just me.  I didn’t realize that your effort in the water is a direct correlation to my parenting abilities.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this parenting business is bananas.

Next week is your last week of preschool before officially becoming a kindergartner.  I’ve been trying to not think about this too much because the mere thought makes me want to curl up in to the fetal position and cry my brains out.  Time is going by extremely fast and this makes me feel incredibly sad and out of control.  We just attended your cousin Nathan’s high school graduation and that reconfirmed my theory that time has accelerated at a frightening speed in recent years.  I swear that kid was just ten years old and running around with a Woody doll.  I know it will just be a matter of time before it is your high school graduation that we’ll be sitting at.  If I had my way, I would freeze time to when you were only a few weeks old.  Not to the time when you projectile pooped in your room but a week or so after that when you would curl up and sleep on my chest.  I still faintly remember your sweet baby smell and that again makes me all emotional.  I’m going to stop talking about it now because I have to man up and be aggressive if I’m going to take you to swim practice soon.  Enough with emotions, blech!  Time for me to be passively-aggressive with you at the pool and to enjoy the pissing competition among the parents.  As I overheard one parent say to their swimmer, you look good out there with the exception of the whole non-listening thing.  Start listening and fix that lazy arm of yours and you’ll be good.  My dear Olivia, let those words of encouragement carry you to great success.





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