Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Spring!!

Latest quotable quote from my eldest: "Mom, I ate too much at breakfast. I have a feast in my tummy; a colony of food."

Another good one: "Dad, I won't be able to turn you into a king for two whiles." In other words, Eliana figures that if you can say, "I'll do it in a while," that must mean taking longer than that requires "two whiles." I plan to use it at work ("I won't be able to get that report written for two whiles," or "It'll be a lot of whiles before I'm able to do a simulation at 11:30pm for the India office.").
On another note, it's Spring!! Yay!! We kicked it off with an earlier than usual March Easter, complete with freezing cold wind and lots of snow. But that didn't stop us from having a lovely morning full of Easter eggs, pretty dresses, and happy family time. Well, most of us were happy:


In case you're curious, here's the deal: I can never get my two girls to smile for the same picture at the same time. It's logistically impossible. Either Eliana is smiling while Meron looks devastated or furious, or Meron is smiling and Eliana looks like she will be taking the short bus to school in the fall (I just delete those pictures, so I have nothing to show you as evidence). Separately, though, they are quite the photogenic pair, so maybe they just aren't interested in sharing the spotlight.



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kindergarten, Parenting, and Mike Mauseth

The countdown is on - we registered Eliana for kindergarten. It's an emotional time for most parents, I think. Their baby is growing up, it's the start of a new era, and so on and so forth. For me, it's not really so much that she's growing up. I actually love it, because as she gets older, I enjoy parenting more. We get to have conversations, share our thoughts, she even coaches me when I'm being hard on myself during a mom-daughter craft project ("It's OK, mama, it doesn't have to look just like the picture").

No, the emotions I can barely hold back have to do with my own experience of elementary school. To put it bluntly, grade school was hell. The worst 7 years of my life, bar none. It all started in kindergarten, when I realized I had no social skills. Or rather, the other kids realized I had no social skills. It's amazing how quickly little people catch on to that sort of thing. I didn't know how to break into groups of children playing. I had a hard time understanding the rules of their games and figuring out where I could fit. In short, I just couldn't connect.

In the middle of first grade, my family moved to a new part of town and I had to go to a new school. I was given my first nickname on my first day at the new school. As most of you know, my last name was Elofson. Say it out loud and you realize - as did the very clever Mike Mauseth - that it sort of sounds like Elephant. Mike chose to yell out his brilliant revelation while I was still standing with my mother and new teacher: "Elofson? Hey, that sounds like Elephant. Ha! ha! ha!" And what better way to begin one's career at a new school than with a nickname like that?! The writing was on the wall. Mike, and grade school, would torture me for the next 6 years.

By third grade, things had gone from bad to hopeless. Not only was I socially inept, but I was also very tall and very smart. Did I mention we were pretty poor, and so most of my clothes were from Target, long before Target clothes were cool? Oh, and I had ginormous glasses and long, stringy hair because I hated washing it and my parents were all about letting us make our own choices. So, let's see: no friends, tall, smart, huge glasses, greasy hair, bad clothes. Yeah, I can't imagine why things didn't go so well for me back then.

I don't intend to write an autobiography here, but I wanted to give you a bit of my background so you can understand my nearly posttraumatic reaction to Eliana starting kindergarten. I cannot bear to watch a person I love as much as her go through something that devastating and truly (and negatively) life-altering. We already got feedback from her preschool teacher that she's getting into fights with some of the other kids because she wants to join their games but does not want to follow their rules. She doesn't understand how to adapt, she gets frustrated, starts crying, and when I hear that, I want to start crying, too. She has an amazing preschool teacher who is helping her learn how to be more flexible, and we're doing our best to model that behavior at home, too, and help her practice. But what if she ends up like me? What if she has no friends by third grade and comes home crying all the time, confused and lonely? What if she feels sick every day because school is so chronically stressful?

To be honest, I think I'll home school her if things go that poorly. I know, some of you probably think it's best to make her deal with it. But I'm not sure I agree. Maybe if I am there to school her but also provide more structured social opportunities to allow her to learn in a more guided fashion how to navigate the social parts of life, maybe she would be spared the trauma I think forever altered my ability to adjust to new situations and new people. I don't want to overreact, and I don't want to assume that just because she's having a few problems now it means she is turning into me. After all, many of the circumstances are different, and she is not me.

Hopefully, all of my fears are unnecessary. Hopefully, Eliana will never lose the amazing self-confidence, sense of humor, and love of people that I'm not sure I ever possessed, and maybe that will serve as a buffer for anything life - and other children - will throw her way in the coming years.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hair

Here's Meron today:


Here is Meron's hair:


And here is Cosmo Kramer's hair:






As far as I can tell, if I don't figure out how to style Meron's hair soon, the only way you'll know the difference between Meron and Kramer is if you look at the color of skin and the number of wrinkles.


When we announced our plans to adopt, every black woman we met asked us the same question: "Do you know what to do with her hair?" Being the over-confident woman that I am, I'd always respond, "Oh, I'm very good with hair, I'm sure I'll figure it out when the time comes."


Well, people, the time has come and I have no freakin' clue what I'm supposed to do. Part of the problem is that Meron screams when I so much as attempt to put one stupid barrette in her hair. Imagine how well she'd enjoy having me tug and pull on her hair for hours at a time! There are classes, I think, and websites, but that leads us to problem #2: I'm way lazier than I ever thought I was when it comes to my children's hair. Check this out:


Sure, that's first thing in the morning, but if you think I manage to get it all perfectly laid down flat and styled with cute clips and braids and what not, you are sorely mistaken. It pretty much looks like this all day long, only with one lone little plastic barrette trying desperately to keep enough hair out of her face so that she can eat peanut butter and jelly without wearing half the sandwich as hair product for the rest of the day.

So my new task is to get with the program on styling Meron's beautiful yet unruly loose black curls. And to find some pediatrician-approved sedative to knock her out while I practice.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Flagrant self-promotion

Hello everyone! I have no idea who is reading this blog, but apparently it's someone other than me, because I promise you I have not logged in 6,000 times. So thanks for checking in, whoever you are! That is, unless you're some creepy child predator, in which case you most definitely do not have my thanks.

Anyway, I'm writing a quick post to encourage all of you environmentally friendly, or environmentally curious, folk to check out my new blog: jollygreenmama.blogspot.com. I've been wasting so much of my time at work (don't tell my boss) reading about all that is Green, I figured I oughtta share what I've learned with anyone who cares. So check it out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Eliana: preschooler, dancer, total diva

I'm going to put this on record, because surely my friends and family will not believe me later on when my predictions come true: I did not - I repeat, DID NOT - encourage Eliana to be a performer. I have never pushed her toward dancing or acting, and have never encouraged her to be a total upstager. I have never rewarded her exhibitionist behavior, and have never punished her for not performing on command. And yet, mark my words, this kid is headed toward show business, whether I take her there myself or she bikes herself to the nearest theatre to audition.

The other evening Eliana and I went to a small theatre where several local acts were performing 10-minute samples. I knew she would enjoy the ballet school performance, and hoped she might enjoy watching the Suzuki guitar players (kids) and maybe the magician. Sure enough, she thought it was all pretty great, including the host of the event - a goofy amateur comedian who made very funny faces. While we adults found him a smidge off-target, Eliana thought he was a laugh riot. Of course, he appreciated having a little fan sitting right on the aisle close to the stage, so we weren't 5 minutes into the show before the whole audience knew her name. To make a long story short, by the end of the show, the cheesy country-western patiotic lounge singer had invited Eliana up to the stage with her, most likely because Eliana had been upstaging the poor woman by shaking her groove thing next to her seat like she was at a Hannah Montana concert. Eliana loved being on stage. She was appropriately subdued (she chose to march along to the woman's song, don't ask me where that inspiration came from), but hardly scared.

As we were leaving the theatre, Eliana turned to me and said, "I really loved being on the stage, Mom! That was great!!" She was so wired for the next hour or so, bouncing off the walls and talking about her stage debut without so much as pausing to take a breath, I knew she had been bitten by the stage bug. Not sure what I'm going to do about it, but there's no question there is a part of her that is seriously drawn to performance.

I just wish I had some idea where she got it from.....