Newsletter, Olivia

Month 70

Dear Olivia,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a very observant and very honest child.  Most children are brutally honest and are perfectly capable of pointing out flaws without even a breath of concern for someone’s feelings.  I’m actually quite jealous of your ability to bluntly say how you feel.  If I made a dinner for you that is anything other than chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese, you have no problem telling me that it smells like feet or your pretty sure that you just can’t eat it.  Sure, it is incredibly rude and you should be grateful for having a warm meal placed in front of you, you little twerp but I understand your stance.  I can still remember the eye twitch I suffered from the anxiety and pure hell from having to consume my mother’s tuna casserole.  Excuse me for a moment while I dry heave over those flashbacks.  Point is, parents make you eat some really fucked up stuff in an attempt to expose you to all the food there is out there and it’s my job to make you suffer through it.  So despite the pain and anxiety you feel over the mysterious dinner that will make its way to the table, I will feel little remorse for you because eating strange food is just part of childhood.  Thankfully your words can not deter me from feeding you meals like Aloo Gobi or chickpea dumplings in curry tomato sauce.  That’s right my child, you’re going to be fed meals with obscure names and until you learn how to cook, there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.  Ah, the power of parenthood.

Swim team wrapped up the season last weekend with a ten hour championship and no I’m not exaggerating.  I was warned by several other parents that the day of championships would be the longest day of my life and with the added heat, it really was an exceptionally long day.  In the final weeks of swim team, you began to show some significant improvement with your strokes and in your race times.  You were also heavily motivated by the deal of receiving an Elsa doll if you came in first place or reached your patch time–a time decided by the team as being exceptional and warranting a special patch for your achievement.  Every week you would come up short and knowing what was on the line, you were deeply disappointed when you would emerge from the pool knowing that you would go another week without your beloved ice princess.  With championships as your last hope, you were extremely motivated to land your prize.  During the week leading up to your final races, you asked me if I could help you practice.  Every day we would go to the pool and swim laps together.  I could tell you were serious about improving your strokes because you were actually listening to me in the water and not submerging yourself every time I opened my mouth as was the case for every other week.  On one outing at the pool, you started doing flips under water.  Knowing very well that this is part one of a two step process to learning flip turns, I merely nudged you closer to the wall and showed you how to push off and roll over and voila, you’re now a flip turn aficionado.

Your hard work over the course of the summer paid off because when the day of championships arrived, you were ready.  Forget about the medal or patches–you wanted Elsa and you wanted her now.  Your first race was a 25yd freestyle and you lined up like every other race.  The announcer sent you and the rest of the swimmers off and I watched before my eyes as you took off.  Dad and I really wanted you to experience some sort of victory at some point during all this just to show you that hard work can have wonderful and glorious outcomes.  In that moment as you took off ahead of the other swimmers, I couldn’t help but be the loud exuberant proud Momma that I am and watching you achieve your goal was a moment I will never forget.  You crushed your best time by eight seconds!  That may not seem like a lot but if you’ve ever seen a five year old struggle to make it across a 25yd pool, you will know how extraordinary that is.  I should point out that there were eight heats in this event and you came in 23rd overall out of sixty something freestyle swimmers but you came in first in your heat and that is enough for me.  I was elated–screaming and jumping as you were the first to touch the wall knowing that you persevered and did it.  I searched frantically for you in the crowd because all I wanted to do was squeeze you and tell you how wonderfully proud I am of your hard work but before I could utter a word, you asked, do I get my Elsa doll now?

The deal of an Elsa doll was something I introduced at the start of the season because despite me trying to teach you about race times and patch times and placement, the words were escaping you and you couldn’t quite grasp the notion of what competition meant.  You received ribbons but the entire reward system didn’t hold a lot of merit with you.  You’re not an overly competitive person nor do you ever exhibit and sort of hustle unless you’re racing Miles for the last Drumstick.  Remember, you were the kid in soccer practice who asked the other player if you could kick the ball away from his feet.  Seeing how you were performing at the start of the season, I knew that earning the Elsa doll was a bit of a long shot but it was just enough to keep you motivated and trying a bit harder.  The introduction of the doll was the perfect little fire lit under your butt because suddenly you cared about times and how fast you were in relation to the other swimmers.  As the weeks went by and I began to notice you making vast improvements, I determined that I should probably have this doll on hand just in case.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take in to account that Frozen fever is still running rampant in America and most anything with a Frozen label slapped on it is either sold out or is selling for a hundred times more than it’s original cost.  There have been several instances where I just happened to be at Target when the shelves were freshly restocked but I could never purchase anything because you’re glued to my hip.  I would return later in the day to retrieve the coveted doll only to discover that the entire aisle had been pillaged by savage beasts.  When I asked the employee if by chance they had anymore in stock, he laughed in my face and said no chance.  Apparently if you’re lucky enough to be around when they stock the shelves, grab anything and everything because chances are, it won’t be there in fifteen minutes.

Looking at my few options, I realized that I may be forced in to a situation where you earn your prize and I have no prize to give you.  What kind of bargaining power would I hold then if I’m exposed as a fraud?  What power would I hold if I can’t hold up my end of the deal?  Bribery as my main parenting tool might be lost forever and then what would I have then?  Honesty?  Words of encouragement?  OH THE CALAMITY!  I had to find this damn Elsa doll.  Thankfully, this beacon of hope appeared in front of me in a moment of need.  With two days left before the championship and knowing you were flirting with your goal, there she appeared–blue shimmery plastic doll of dreams.  I squealed in my mouth upon seeing it as I couldn’t display a full blown act of joy as you were trolling next to me.  Thankfully Grandpa was with us and thankfully so because I needed a platoon to carry out this plan.  I quickly ushered you in to the other aisle as I quickly shoved the doll in to Grandpa’s arms and told him to get it to the car pronto.  Grandpa, very confused, sauntered towards checkout leaving me in anticipation of the outcome.  Grandpa returned fifteen minutes later–exhausted and terrified at his experience.  The women in the store could smell Elsa as if she were fresh meat to a vulture.  They began to hover around Grandpa and sensing he was being watched, gripped the box tightly against his chest.

On accounts of Grandpa, he arrived at the checkout with no open lane to enter–the enemy lines were thick that day with all eyes on watch.  A savior, disguised as a Target manager, whisked Grandpa away to a seperate line where she tried desperately to discreetly check him out only to be exposed by hawks who began pointing their fingers and alerting to the others that Grandpa had something valuable–OVER THERE, HE’S GOT A FROZEN DOLL!!  The gentle lady worked feverishly attempting to wrap the doll so as to not expose her existence to any more observers.  With farewells exchanged and now with a tail of people in the know, Grandpa made his way to the car where he attempted to hide his bag with as many blankets as possible.  He locked the car and locked it again and returned to me in the store with his story of fear and victory.  We were triumphant and the foundation of my parenthood would live to see another day.

Perhaps the pressure of succeeding and reaching your goals proved to be too much because in the final weeks of swimming, you began crying for no reason at all during practice.  You would emerge from the pool in full blown tears with no reason as to why.  I would do my best to console you but you could provide no reasoning as to why you were in so much distress.  Once practice was over, you would be fine and the memory of crying would be lost.  I forget that you’re only five years old and given that I am an extremely competitive person, I often have to reign myself in as to not overdo it with you and become one of those psycho parents although I’m sure I achieved psycho status when you won your race at championships.  I understand the importance of allowing you to learn and grow at your own pace otherwise it’s not real.  If I’m meddling with everything and pushing you constantly, it’s not really you earning and achieving goals on your own.  This past summer taught me that this will be a real struggle for me because I can’t help but see the potential in you and Miles and I want you both to experience and relish in success and victory.  I’m sure that’s the opening line at tiger mom’s anonymous.  Just be patient with me and understand I’m manic when it comes to you and your brother.  The sooner we’re all in agreement with that, the better we can all cope.

I would like to acknowledge a discovery on my end and this is in large part to you and your brother being the observant little creatures you are.  Apparently, I’m a sufferer of bitchy resting face and I had no clue until we were walking through a store and you kept asking me what was wrong because I was making a certain face.  I watched with much confusion as you tried to show me the face I was making by morphing your face in to this ugly sour expression.  I reassured you that nothing was wrong–I was in fact just thinking.  I would have let this slip by but on three separate occasions, either you or your brother have asked me if I was angry because I was making the face again.  THIS IS JUST MY FACE, OK!?  Then it dawned on me, maybe I do have bitchy resting face.  It would explain why so many people thought I was bitchy when I never even talked to them.  Or I really was bitchy to them and I didn’t even realize it.  Anywho, I’m aware of it and I’ll work on that if it’s even possible.

Kindergarten is quickly approaching and there was a period of time there where we weren’t quite sure where you would be going to school but we have determined to follow our original plan and send you to Valley Montessori for your first year.  Despite our feelings towards public school, you will most likely be a public school attendee next year given that the cost of your current school could perhaps pay for my retirement one day.  We’ll just take it one step at a time.  Your swimming has been a nice distraction for the major event that is about to come.  How are we approaching Kindergarten already?  You’re more than ready and I’ve already delayed this whole process by a year since technically you were allowed to go last year but ultimately we decided to wait until you were closer to the age of six and because last year I wasn’t able to accept the fact that you were ready for Kindergarten.  I hope as you enter this major milestone in your life that you continue to be curious about everything and anything around you.  Meet everyone with an open heart because you just might meet your best friend one of these days.  Learn as much as you can because as the great Dr. Seuss said, the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.  I want you to discover your own path in this great big world and the only way to do that is to get out there and see it for yourself.  Your journey starts here and I have a sneaking suspicion it will be a joyous journey for you.  You are capable of great things and I can’t wait to watch it unfold before my eyes.  Now, if you can excuse me for a moment, I need to go lie down in the closet and cry in to your baby clothes.

Love,

Momma


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