Things I missed

Top ten things I missed while the kids were in Disney world:

10. Playing football with Mario in the family room and letting him tackle me to the floor.
9. Taking an evening walk with Ri and Rocco and getting to listen to her talk about her day.
8. Watching Mario fight imaginary battles by jumping and kicking and sparring against evil all over the family room.
7. Laughing at Ri’s crazy hipster poses and hand gestures while Jon tries to talk to her.
6. Reading books to Mario and Ri as we snuggle together under the covers.
5. Coming downstairs to see Ri babying Rocco and feeding him his breakfast.
4. Hearing Mario give commands to Rocco like “sit” and “stay” and watching his face light up when Rocco actually listens.
3. Playing Mario’s and Ri’s favorite before-bed-time game – “getting butts” – which entails them jumping on the bed and trying to escape before I capture them and madly tickle them (yes, my rendition baby prison, dad!)
2. Hearing them say “I love you, mom” every morning before they head off to school and getting a smooch on the cheek and a bear hug without any complaints from them.
1. Waking up with one or both of them in between Jon and me sleeping soundly and looking like tender fairy tale creatures that I want to stare at all day and night.


Glad to have you back kiddos!

A Mighty Girl

I have a son who at age four pulled a Maxim magazine off the grocery store shelf and proclaimed “she’s hot!”

Why? Not because I, or his sister, dress in tight clothes and short skirts. And certainly not because his dad is riding around with him whistling at women.

I have a daughter who put on a shirt yesterday morning and pronounced “my belly sticks out of this shirt. I’m not pretty.” This declaration after I have told Ri a thousand times that she is beautiful and amazing. And that has been reaffirmed over and over by her grandparents and dad and cousins. So why does she say such nonsense?

Hmmm…. could it be the magazines (Maxim is among many), the tv shows (“America’s Top Model” comes to mind), the media focus on all things thin and “perfect” and superficial, or the companies who market princesses with big boobs and size 0 waists to young girls.

When I was five and begged for a Barbie, I got Dusty. She was a flat-chested “barbie” with sandy brown hair cut in a straight bowl around her face, wearing jean sorts and riding a horse. And Ri wonders why I despise dresses to this day. She was my ideal. She’s who I played with every morning. I grew up in Clifton – I saw all sorts of women walking around town. Big, little, pierced, saggy, firm – you name it. And they were all beautiful in their own right.

But I still squeezed the fat rolls on my belly at night as I laid in bed. “If I could just lose this, I’d be so much prettier.” So even with my forward thinking, feminist parents, I still got caught in the trap.

I appreciate Mighty Girl drawing attention to Disney’s revamp of the young girl in Brave from a strong, every day looking heroine to a dress-off-the-shoulder, made-up princess. Sometimes I catch myself dismissing these pleas for action because I’ve heard them over and over again. But then I get one more plea and am reminded that if we didn’t have such over-glamorization and “sexing up” of our girls, there wouldn’t be so many pleas.

Mighty Girl is doing critical work to help our girls see themselves as soulful, intelligent, strong, courageous, opinionated people – not sex objects and eye candy.

When Ri squeezed one of Mario’s friends the other day, Mario yelled out “My sister is really strong, Quinn! She can hurt you!” And when Mario needed help on his bike, he knew Ri would be at his side (“you got it Mario; don’t be scared little guy!”). I appreciate that Mario sees his sis as a strong girl.

Most recently, Ri has fallen in love with softball. She is not the strongest batter but she has been persevering through missed swings and not giving up.

“Heile Menkedick Ionno’s don’t give up!” she chirps at me, repeating the words I have drilled into her head for years as she takes another swing.

Keep it up, Ri, and don’t worry about bellies. You are beautiful.