These past couple months have been such a blur between the holidays, school, extracurricular activities and working. My apologies that my default response to you asking, Mom is WHAT?! WHAT IS IT?! USE YOUR WORDS! WHIOHIFKEFKLJA! I’ve been a little overwhelmed with things lately but it’s a new year. A chance to start fresh. I typically don’t make new year’s resolutions because I find them to be great examples of how you can fail at almost anything. Really, find me a person who is still succeeding with their new year’s resolution six plus months later. I guess I’m more hyper aware of things this time of year and I really do make a conscious effort to change but usually life happens and well, change is really really hard. What I’m trying to say is, I will try to nip my bad habits in the bud but don’t expect drastic changes.
A couple months back we had the epic event of your first loose tooth which had me hoping that future loose teeth would not be quite as exciting. I love adventures but not the kind that have me rooting around in my daughter’s feces. I knew you had another loose tooth shortly after losing the other tooth but what I didn’t realize was how much you were playing with it. Twenty minutes before we have to depart for swim class, you show me how you can push your tooth with your tongue, causing it to become perpendicular to your other teeth. The first thought that pops in my head is, terrific, you’re going to lose this tooth in the swimming pool and another epic meltdown will ensue. I’m pretty certain I can take charge of this situation with one quick tug with my hand. You want no part in that. Instead, you insist you can remove it yourself. You twist it several times causing blood to start running down your chin. You’re beginning to cry because well, it’s bloody and gross, and the tooth isn’t coming out. Enter pandemonium.
At this point, the tooth isn’t coming out and there is a fair amount of blood appearing. We have to go to swim class because it’s a testing day–a day you’ve been working towards for six weeks. Your anxiety is starting to kick in now that you’re realizing your tooth might come out in the swimming pool. You’re adamant that you can get this tooth out in the time it takes us to get to class. I arm you with a handful of tissues because every time you touch your tooth, it starts to bleed. The car ride over to swim class included you making every sound that is indicative of pain. We arrive at class with no tooth.
This particular swim school is already a high-anxiety time for you. So much, that we decided not to continue there. Really, I shouldn’t have to watch you cry inconsolably for the forty-five minutes leading up to class and the first twenty minutes of class. It’s not worth it and clearly you’re unhappy. I understand completely–it was too intense of a program for you and you were intimidated being the youngest student in class by at least three years. No problem but I digress. Going to this swim school is always a highly stressful time for you and now add the fact that your second tooth may come out in the swimming pool after you lost your first tooth while eating. A scene was made. So much fuss was created over this moment that Miles asked for the headphones because your crying was “hurting his ears.”
You somehow enter the pool with one hand planted firmly in your mouth as you’re still insisting on getting this tooth out on your own. You’re instructed to start swimming and you do, only now you’re swimming freestyle with one arm because you refuse to remove your other hand from your mouth. For fifteen minutes I watched you do this adapted freestyle while trying to extract a tooth. Talented, you are. I threw my hands up declaring defeat. I tried consoling you beforehand and even tried removing the tooth myself all because I didn’t want to watch you lose your tooth again. How disappointed you must be to look forward to losing your teeth only to lose them before you actually get to see them. I had a feeling that this would be another moment when you would certainly lose the tooth before catching it and despite my awesome retrieval skills last time, I was not diving into a pool to search for a rice-grained size tooth.
By a stroke of luck, swim class ended and your tooth was still there. We get home and now it’s time for dinner. We all know how this story can end. You decide to take one last good tug at it and with one hard tug and a twist of the wrist, you begin to pull it out while intensely announcing, I’M PULLING IT OUT! When you realized the tooth was in your hand, the look on your face was a three second reel of a horror movie–sheer fear followed by anxiety, sadness and exhausted joy. You’ve never seen anything drop into a ziploc bag as fast as that tooth. There was no way we were losing it now.
That night was a highly anticipated night for you. You put that tooth right under your pillow and were certain you were going to see the tooth fairy. I tiptoe into your room when I can hear you snoring from the bottom of the stairs (yes, you snore like a truck driver) and I was ready to make the transfer. Just as I slipped my hand under your pillow, you rolled over and whispered, Momma? Oh shit, ABORT! ABORT! With my hand still under your pillow, I wrap my other arm around you and hug you. Good night, Olivia. I’m just coming in to say good night. You close your eyes again and go back to sleep and for a moment, I think I can slip the bag out from under your pillow but you in turn, roll your head over on top of my wrist blocking me from making a clear exchange. Meanwhile, I’m starting to sweat a little bit. There’s alot of pressure on parents to keep these lies straight and I’m one flick of the wrist away from ruining the tooth fairy. I slowly remove my hand and decide to wait another hour. I return where I gently push you over, slide my hand under your pillow and very quietly, remove the bag with one swift motion. I returned to your father feeling like I just detonated a ticking time bomb. All done in the name of childhood.
Christmas is another time when I lie to you constantly. Let’s begin with our elf, Tasha, who when we actually think about it, is creepy as all hell. The story goes: each night when you go to bed, your elf flies back to the North Pole to give Santa a behavior report and your elf returns to our house before you wake up–your job in the morning is to find where the creepy thing is hiding now. People get really into it. I’m not one of them. There have been so many close calls–you’re really quite lucky that our elf changes location each morning.
The biggest holiday lie came on Christmas Eve when the level of excitement was peaking and you were actually shaking with excitement on your way to bed. You announced that you were going to wake up super early with a goal of being the first one downstairs. I in turn decided to tell you the story about how our elf along with several others, set booby traps to prevent kids from accidentally seeing Santa thus spoiling the magic. Booby traps are a big deal for you right now after just having seen ‘Home Alone’ for the first time. The elves are supposed to clean up the booby traps once Santa leaves but occasionally they forget about them so it’s the parent’s job on Christmas morning to go downstairs first to make sure all the booby traps are cleared. Once the ok is given, then kids can go downstairs. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that story would work so well. You woke up very early and in turn, stayed in your room playing with toys until you actually heard me say, all is clear, come on down. Sometimes, my stories even impress me.
There were a lot of great memories and events with this most recent holiday season but unfortunately, there was also a devastating loss. Your father and I learned that our beloved friend and former art teacher had passed away suddenly right before Thanksgiving. It was a total accident that nobody saw coming and in these moments, you can’t help but blame yourself for not having reached out to that person more often. Bill was a wonderful man who is prominent in many wonderful memories. Endless stories of when we traveled together to Paris and London and not to mention all the dinner parties he held. You met Bill before on several occasions and being that you love art as well, we made it a point for you to talk to him. I remember on one specific outing to his house, he had his art displayed for a show and we walked you around to the various pieces and asked you what you thought about them. With Bill standing right next to you, you said, they’re alright. I wish you had more moments with him because he could have taught you so much.
Bill was a very big proponent for bringing people together. He was a huge advocate for human interaction. This social media craze held no interest for him. He enjoyed meeting his students, talking to them and building relationships. Something that is proving to be somewhat of a lost art these days. There came a moment for me a few days after his service that will prove to be one of those moments that hang on to you forever. You’ll experience these moments and understand what I’m talking about but there are these moments that happen every now and then that comfort you, like a warm blanket and leave an everlasting impression that maybe there is something bigger in this life. I was at Michael’s craft store a few days after Bill’s service and I was being checked out by a young man, maybe late teens or early twenties. I had a big order so to fill the silence, I’m trying to engage in small talk–asking him how the black friday rush went the weekend before. He’s a little ho-hum talking about the weekend and the crowds and then he mentions that it was a strange weekend for him for just having learned about the unexpected death of his art teacher. Without even having to ask, I said, your teacher was Bill. He looked at me with such sadness and confusion. He asked me if I were a student of his and I mentioned how I have been friends with him for years now and we both acknowledged how shocking it was/it is to say that he’s gone. As I’m picking up my bags, he puts out his hand and says, I’m Jacob. It’s nice to meet you.
I stepped through the doors of the store and began crying. That moment may not seem big or special to someone else but to those who knew Bill, you knew that this was what he lived for. He brought people together. He brought two strangers together in that most random moment. I cried there for the first time since hearing about his passing. I cried because he was gone but I also cried because I knew a piece of him was still here–in all of us who have had the most fortunate pleasure of knowing him. Look for these moments for they were certainly help you in times when you desperately need them.
2015 is here and I very much look forward to the year ahead. I’m not a huge advocate for change but having children has forced me to accept the fact that change is inevitable. With children, it happens every day. If we’re speaking about Miles’ mood, we’re speaking in terms of minutes. Regardless, a new year means a new beginning and hopefully a planned vacation in the near future. Happy New Year, my Olivia. I know you’ve been waiting patiently all year so I can officially declare that it’s now ok for you to start officially planning Valentine’s day because we all know how much you love love.