Love my girl

I was talking with a friend the other day about how hectic her mornings are with her tween daughter. 

“I have to get her up, make her get dressed and brush her teeth, fix her breakfast, and beg her to get to the bus on time.”

I shook my head and comforted her. I told her I was sure she’d get in the swing of things as school progressed. She went off to a meeting. I looked down at my phone at a picture of Ri. I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for my girl.

My girl – who I found in the kitchen this morning after my run – putting a spoon of Rice Krispies in her mouth as she dumped leftover quinoa salad into a container to take for lunch at school. She had alsomade Mario a bowl of Fruit Loops and had let Rocco outside. I’m telling you, she was my mom in a past life. Or someone’s mom. She has the routine down pat.

I sometimes take it for granted. 

“I’m biking to soccer practice, mom. See you in an hour and a half.”

“I looked up the recipe for sugar cookies and got them started.”

“I found workbooks on line for Mario and me this Summer.”

“I’m going to be late for school mom. You can’t take another picture of me!”

She might as well be 30. And her carefree, let it go, attitude about life sets a good example for all of us. Last night, she played a soccer game until 7:30. She was starving but I made her go to Kroger’s to pick up food before we ate. She pouted as she got out of the car but as soon as I kiddingly tapped her side and smiled, she livened up.

“I’m getting a crouton from the salad bar since you dragged me in here!” She skipped over to the salad bar with a mischievous smile on her face. 

I caved in and got her Chipotle afterwards. She got a burrito bowl filled with rice and beans and cheese and sour cream. With a big dollop of guacamole on top. She knows how to live. When I told her that I was gonna take 90 percent of the guac to eat with my chips, she grunted.

She carried the bowl in her right hand and a grocery bag in her left while kicking the soccer ball up the sidewalk to the house. When she got to the steps, she kicked the soccer ball super hard with the hopes that it would bypass all the steps and land near the door. Instead, it ricocheted off the second step and collided with her burrito bowl, which flew out of her hand and all over the ground. 

She looked at me. I looked at her. 

I expected either (1) tears or (2) a demand that we get her another bowl at 8:45 at night. But neither reaction occurred. 

Rather, we both cracked up. And then she bent over and scooped up the sloppy mess of cheese and beans and tossed it back in the cardboard bowl. 

“It’s all good. Besides, I get more guac now because it’s all mixed into the cheese and beans!”

I can’t love this girl anymore.


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Go, go, go, go. 

This is my default mantra. I have invested in many a self-help book to help me stay, stay, stay, stay but they have not worked. I’m hoping this year may at least bring one “stay”. Plantar fasciitis and a hamstring sprain will likely assist with this goal. 

And I wonder why Ri can’t sit still for too long … except to play barbies. She fidgets when she reads a book, which she really despises doing at this age. She chows down her food and is ready to move away from the table within ten minutes of the start of dinner. And Mario is even worse. He can’t wait until the commercials so he can wrestle with me until the show resumes.  And if we can get three bites of food in him before he pops up out of his chair to run around, it’s a miracle. 

“You did too much with them when they were little. It’s no wonder they always want to move.” I hear this from numerous friends and family. And I ponder “hmmm, should I have stayed home and read more to them on the weekends? Should I have not trekked over to Pittsburgh with them and showed them all over the city in a 48 hour period? Should I have made them have an obligatory hour rest period in their rooms? Should I have not walked down to the river with them every Sunday and trucked rocks home for us to paint all day? Should I have made them sit in the grocery store cart rather than let them roam the aisles and explore?

Ri and Mario headed to Boy Scout camp last weekend. My neighbor graciously took them on Friday night and I met up with them on Saturday. When I arrived in the morning, Ri was playing with two other girls and Mario was playing ping pong with a gang of boys. My friend approached me as I trekked through the door; she couldn’t stop raving about M&M. 

“They are so polite and listen to me more than my own kids! And they had a blast with all the other kids – they didn’t cry or get sad about you not being here at all!” 

She proceeded to tell me how they had no fear; they both hopped on their sleds and zoomed down the hills; helped prep for dinner; took on challenges in ping pong; and engaged with everyone. As we were talking, Mario jumped in front of me and gave me a hug. Then he was off for more ping pong. I didn’t see Ri until I took my bags into the girls dorm room. She was jumping back and forth on the bunk beds giggling with her friends. She was the ring leader. 

After a few rounds of s’mores late into the evening, I laid myself down in my bottom bunk bed. I stared up at Ri sleeping caddy corner from me. Her head was inches from the edge of the bed and there were no guard rails. I leapt out of bed and scooched her body all the way over to the wall. I laid back down and chuckled. Here I am worried half to death about her falling from the top bunk yet I allow her to run free at the grocery store and barrel down the steep neighborhood hill on her scooter. 

The next morning, the kids continued their sledding fun. As we ate breakfast, they asked what’s on the agenda for the rest of the day. “Nothing at all,” I report to them. I see their pupils float up towards their eyelids, deep in thought. 



Never grow up

I got to stay home with the kids until 11 am yesterday because they got another day off of school due to the frigid cold. We made our typical Sunday morning breakfast on a Thursday morning – awesome! Mario really wanted to make his own egg since he’s seen Ri making them for the last few weeks. He decided that he wanted to make one for Ri. He made it sunny side up, which is the easiest way to make a cooked egg, thank goodness, because I know Mario would have been so pissed if the egg didn’t turn out right.
He placed the egg on a plate when he finished cooking it and handed it to Ri.
“Taste it, Ri.”
She took a bite and swooned over him.
“You are the best cook ever! This egg is awesome. I want you to cook for me always!”
Leave it to Ri to gush over him – she does this so well. And Mario soaks it up like a sponge. He has to hear praise after he does something for someone or else he becomes extremely disappointed (something we need to continue to work on with him so that he’s not relying on that feedback anytime he does anything!).
Next I let him make pancakes for all of us. He was in heaven. He loves doing things by himself. After he made his first batch, he brought one to Ri. She was busy making a smoothie video, and he kept poking her to eat his pancake. She finally turned to him as he pled to her to eat. She grabbed the pancake and squeezed his cheek and chirped “don’t you ever grow up little man. You are so cute!” She is a hoot.
He made another ten pancakes (please, just one more batch mom?), waited to hear me swoon over my pancake, and then closed up shop.
We cleaned up the kitchen and then Ri read her MLK book while Mario drew comics. Can I just say that’s pure heaven? Having both kids off the computer, and actually enjoying a book and drawing?! It lasted a total of 15 minutes but hey, I’ll take it.
These two are my most favorite little people ever and – taking off what Ri said to Mario yesterday morning – I wish they’d never grow up….



Taking care of business

I came home from running this morning and there was Ri and Mario eating Lucky Charms. Ri had poured a bowl for her brother and herself. Thank the heavens I have a self-sufficient girl. I can avoid getting up at the crack of dawn in order to be home by 7 am to get them ready and instead get up at a reasonable hour when the sun is rising and it’s not jet black outside.
She also has absolutely zero desire to have me walk her up the street to meet her friends. She wants to walk all by herself. So, I could wake up even later and make it home solely for Mario who doesn’t have to leave for school until a half hour later than Ri; but that would entail me missing a goodbye kiss and hug from my girl. She still humors me with such love when I ask her. And I will lap that up until it is no more.