Thursday, January 24, 2013

When You Grow Up

Your face was rocked off yesterday when you got to Preschool and a whole new Veterinarian's office was set up for your class. Complete with needy, stuffed pets, stethoscopes, and white lab coats, you were in your element.

On the way home, you starting talking about college- it's your new obsession. College, college. We talk about your plans for 13+ years from now like it's something you'll do before the thaw. You definitely decided without a doubt yesterday that you're going to be a Vet when you grow up. You're quite sure you'll attend the same college as your father- because it's where you currently take swimming lessons and is close to home. Makes sense. Yes, you can go there to become a Vet. Or at least lay the ground work towards such ambition. Yes, you bring your own clothes, laptop, music, and learn to make your own food (but not drinks; ahem) in your room. You can have bunk-beds, you have to have a roommate, yes, she'll be a girl, and yes, without a freaking doubt, you can bring your NaNa with.

{Your mother brought her baby blanket to college; she was unapologetic about it to anyone who asked. And look at how awesome she turned out}

As I tucked you in last night you asked, What if I want to be a princess? Can I still go to college? Do they teach girls how to be princesses at Daddy's College?

You have plenty of time to decide what you want to be when you grow up, babe. Princess Veterinarian as a double major? Absolutely.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The day came.
Finally, you could say.
I bet your Daddy could say ... finally! After five years, one month, one week, four days, and 22 and a half hours ... you took to the basketball court ... a day he had been looking to since December 7, 2007, at 12:37pm.

(Even if you were a girl)

And I was just as excited as he was; I started basketball as a first grader. It was love at first uncoordinated, gangly dribble. And walking into that hot, stuffy gym on a cold winter Saturday morning sent my nostalgia into hyperdrive. I spent hundreds of Saturday mornings in a gym in Nikes.

And you were enthusiastic about your new sport so long as you could continue gymnastics- we promised. I would say this to anyone I love; if you're having a bad day, please go watch 11 four and five year olds scrimmaging on a basketball court. It made my 2013.

You're an outgoing kid all of a sudden, we overheard you telling anyone in earshot what your favorite color is (purple) that you're in gymnastics and can't be in swimming until basketball is over, and what you were doing that night (going to a Timberwolves game in your Kevin Love jersey "even though he is not playing,") so you might need to work on focus this season. When the Blue Team had 6 players and your Green Team only had 5, you followed the opponent you were guarding to the sidelines when it was his turn to sit out. You told your coach, you told me to follow my guy; this is my guy. 
2013; made.

And I have said it before and will continue to do so. I don't care what you do in life so long as it's not illegal street drugs, or hockey. I really don't. I'd be proud of a spelling bee champ. A lifeguard. A singer, songwriter, baton twirler, or peace corp cadet. It makes no difference to me what your passions are. I just want to cheer for you. I also want you to be part of a team, I think teams are essential to life.

I moved to my hometown as a fourth grader. I had a mullet.
That detail doesn't necessarily matter in this story, I just want you to know life sucks for everyone, at some point.
I moved to my hometown when I was nine. I had no friends, lived way outside of town in the woods, liked to read, and knew I wanted to play basketball at this school, too. I had the Nikes and elastic-bottomed sweats to prove it. My parents signed me up for the town's youth basketball association, and we played all winter long on Saturday mornings. There wasn't much participation from my elementary school, so my team merged with the Catholic elementary school to form one team.

It was there, in fourth and fifth grade before entering middle school, I met five of my besties, your Fairy Godmother included, on an opposing team. Back then, 24 years ago, those girls were the WORST. Their team, from an elitist, newer elementary school, was good. Like, embarrassingly good. They had chemistry, from being schoolmates since kindergarten, from having parents as coaches who had a clue about the game. I had a cobbled-together team comprised of complete strangers, plus some prep school goody-goodies and rotating and clueless coaches. Watching that team together made me jealous. Of their skill. Of their camaraderie.

When I entered 6th grade at the middle school, our district's seven elementary schools dumped into one school. The girls from the team I had just spent two years loathing were suddenly my new teammates. And, as sports and teams go, we figured it out, and fast.

As 11-year olds, we shared scrunchies in team colors, LipSmackers, silk shirts, Espirit bookbags, and lunches on cold buses on game night. We learned each other's weaknesses and strengths, knew which buttons to push, which to respect. We traded secrets and boyfriends and Algebra answers and thought we ruled the world. And we did. We made Jock Jams our anthems, wore tall socks, signed casts, ran Killers when we were late, stood up for each other, and ate JellyBellys on the bench. We made bad, bad decisions and heartfelt apologies. We had braces on our teeth baring the blue and white of our school's colors. We coordinated our outfits off the court, on non-gamedays, and sent flowers to the girls with broken hearts; legitimate or not. We crashed our cars, looked for our boyfriends and crushes in the bleachers, and made up ridiculous cheers and chants. We drove our coaches crazy, and made our parents proud. We learned how much we needed each other and how to handle all the shit in life nobody tells you about, ages 11 to present day.

I graduated from high school 15 years ago this year. Those girls are buried in my heart, and run through my veins. To this day.
We cried buckets of tears at our basketball banquet senior year, the year that was so hard for all of us on that team. We were tan by graduation that June and smiling together, arms around each other, wrists full of scrunchies, charms around our necks with our jersey numbers on them. We ruled the world.

And we still do. Ask any one of us, and we'll tell you. Even your two Aunties who weren't on the team, but became the best Super Fans of all time remember those days and that team.

So yes, longest story short. I hope for you what I hoped for me.
Have a team. Meet your people. Find your niche.
Ballet, speech, Habitat for Humanity, band, soccer, ceramics.
I don't care.
Just find it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


To most, 2013 is the year of the snake.
But to me, 2013 is the year of Kindergarten.

I was cleaning out closets, drawers, and nooks and crannies in all this January newness when I found a bottle of baby lotion I used on the lil' dude when she was a newborn. Just flipping open the cap, catching one tiny whiff ... there I was, in the winter of 2008 with my tiny pink swaddle on maternity leave. A kid who slept all day, a stack of novels, a lot of coffee, and as content as I'd ever been.

Those were the days. And yes, these are the days. I'm quick to count my blessings.

I know nothing will change when she enters elementary school. She'll still be the child the Dad and I have raised. The same child who has an iron-clad memory, already understands sarcasm, sings every song on the radio, eats CheezIts for breakfast, sleeps with 47 stuffed animals, and is calmed by ancient episodes of Scooby Doo.

And it's not a separation issue; I've spent more than enough time away from her in five years. She's been in daycare full-time since she was 10 weeks old, in preschool for two years, and spends weeks away from home every summer lounging with her peeps. I kiss her face goodbye just about every month for travel. She goes, I go, we miss, we survive, we come back. I used to miss her as a mother's purpose; I missed her weight on my chest, and her space in mine. Now I miss her as a human; as my tiny friend who tells me enough with the daily scarfs, and that my marinara sauce needs more brown sugar (and she whispers it, because it's our secret ingredient).

And she'll come back a bigger and better person than she already is. She'll come back with arcade jewelry belonging to her friends. She have the wrong artwork in her backpack she'll rightfully return the next morning. She'll lose the baby enunciation's of those last words she hasn't been able to pronounce correctly. She'll read to me at night.

2013 was the first year out of the past many where I didn't wake up on January 1st and wonder when my life was going to change. When I'd get the sign. When I'd announce the news. And it actually feels really, really damn good to wake up, start the coffee, and look for the blonde head buried in its bed and know ... my life has already changed. So all I want for this year is to live, love, and be grateful.

I'm well on my way.

And yes, Kindergarten is out there- way, way out there past several Thursday nights of gymnastics and post Subway dinners, beyond March Madness and long, long walks in the slush. It's at the end of the return of the Koi fish at St. Ben's, birthday cakes baked for the Beagle, the summer week spent in an old, red cabin, and even after new shoes and State Fair corndogs.

No matter how long or how quickly it gets here, I promise I'll be ready.