I have my new laptop! I have my new laptop! Oh, happy day. I feel so much better typing on a keyboard than on a touchscreen phone (ask me how many swears I've shouted and muttered at auto correct over the last month or so...I can type 70+ words/minute on a keyboard. Typing 101: the most useful class to technology-driven humanity EVER).
So the writing can commence. Right now. Immediately.
First, I'm going to write this blog (because writers don't eeeever procrastinate).
I grew up in Kentucky, and so the Kentucky Derby is a Thing each year. I totally missed it this year--I usually try to pick a favorite and then pay attention, casually, to the race. California Chrome won the Derby this year. And then the Preakness! He's not your typical racehorse--just a regular old horse who's become a star. I love stories like that, and underdogs, and rooting for people and things that seem unlikely to make it. And then to win the Preakness and possibly the Belmont? That's so huge! (Affirmed was the last horse to do it, in 1978.) (I didn't know that off the top of my head--Google told me.) But, sadly, it was not to be. Sorry, Chrome. You are still loved.
It's been years since I've been on a horse, but I love them. Next to dolphins, I can't think of an animal I love more. I once knew how to bridle and saddle a horse. I could ride Western, English, side saddle, bareback (don't ride a horse totally bareback--put a blanket on those things. Their spines are...uncomfortable. In that region). And all the commands. If you're from Kentucky, you HAVE to--they take away your Kentucky card if you don't learn horses. (Kidding. Sort of.)
Trivia fact: Kentucky really does have bluegrass. If it gets long enough, the sun's out, and the wind is blowing? You can look at Kentucky bluegrass and go: That grass looks blue! (It actually looks greenish blue.) Here's why: Kentucky is full of massive cave systems underground (Mammoth Caves--go spelunking, it's fun!). Caves are formed by lime eroding into the soil. So the lime goes into the soil, and that's what turns the grass blue-ish. Lime happens to contain a lot of calcium. Horses come along and eat the bluegrass/calcium. And that's how Kentucky got to be so well-known for its amazing thoroughbreds--big big horses on stick-thin legs that run like the wind. Because of bluegrass/lime/calcium. Thus concludes your useless trivia for today.
Speaking of bluegrass, the house I grew up in (which had a lot of bluegrass) backed up against a cow pasture. I can't tell you how many Saturday mornings I'd wake up to excited shouts of parents in the neighborhood trying to capture yet another cow that had jumped the fence.
As children, living with cows as neighbors was idyllic. We'd feed the cows grass clippings our dads had mowed, or pull down tree leaves for them to eat. Every spring, there'd be new babies and we'd name them after our favorite TV shows: Fantasy Island, Love Boat. Diff'rent Strokes, Punky Brewster, Dallas... I'm not sure we realized what would, one day, happen to these cows. But we loved them immensely, and sometimes, if you fed them long enough, they'd let you gently pet their soft, wet, velvety noses. Cows are gentle creatures. I hate that they make such tasty steaks. (For a very long time, from junior high all the way through college, I refused to eat them. I still have to really will myself not to think about it, don't think about Fantasy Island's sweet face back in 1982. Just grill the thing.)
We'd also jump the fence and walk around the pasture when the cows weren't there. We liked to stick sticks in the cow patties to see what they looked like on the inside (totally green. totally, totally green). We were odd children.
Speaking of odd children, I took Miss M to get her hair done at Miss Z's yesterday. I'm okay doing biracial hair now (thank you, google and youtube!), however my parts are always a mess and my braids just never quite smooth enough. And I lack patience. I lack a lot of patience. I once saw, on Thandie Newton's twitter page, a link to an article her sister (I think) wrote. In the article, her sister wrote about how their mother would spend hours and hours just gently detangling their hair and they never, ever cried. Not so at our house. I don't have hours and hours of patience for detangling. I do my best to keep it from hurting, but I have been given a melodramatic drama queen. Sometimes, I'll hold the comb over her head not even touching her hair and ask, "Does this hurt?" And she'll scream (with REAL tears, you all), "YEEEEEEES! YOU'RE HURTING ME! STOP HURTING ME!" And then she gets all mad when I tell her I'm not even touching her hair because that's tricking her.
So there are tears. A lot of tears...and that's from both the detanglee and detangler. I'm told this is supposed to be a bonding experience. I'm not seeing that yet. Melissa and I bond over nature walks and books and music and movies. Hair? No.
However, I refuse to feel bad about this. (1) I can barely do my own hair and (2) I didn't go to beauty school. Hair and make up are clearly not where my talents lie. I also know that, one day, she will grow and find a faaaaabulous hair person (as I have) who will know exactly how to make her hair do and be its most awesome. She and her fabulous hair person can bond over hair.
But it's a cultural thing, my husband tells me, and it's one of those little things--in every marriage, I think there are those little things--that are constant sources of contention. I couldn't give a flying crap about hair. It's just not something I spend a lot of time worrying about. But apparently, others do. And hair is a Thing.
We also disagree about the point of childhood, though. I think childhood, particularly summers, should be spent swimming, reading books under trees, eating ice cream, and just generally hanging out. He thinks summers should be spent preparing for Harvard and a sports scholarship. (I'm being hyperbolic, but not really.) I have exactly zero interest in being a soccer mom--carting Melissa here and there to a million different things on her schedule. I had a lot of free time as a child, and I turned out okay (quirky, but okay). I loved my childhood--I can honestly say, other than some family dysfunctions and etc--I had a good, happy childhood. I spent a lot of time with my imagination or my nose in a book. And today? I don't rob gas stations, I pay my taxes, and I'm a thoughtful citizen of the world. And generally kind, if slightly judgmental occasionally. This is the kind of human being I'd like to raise--someone who's kind (if slightly judgmental), thoughtful, and happy. Melissa has a kind, thoughtful heart. And she's very judge-y. I think I'm doing an okay job so far.
I also think because I work in the public ed system, I want her to be a child as long as possible. They don't want children to be children anymore, you know. They want little PhD scholars running around, citing evidence to their thinking processes. It's ridiculous, and I won't have it. I think you should have a good 12 years to do nothing, BE nothing, exist completely in a world of pure imagination before you have to go fight in the arena. If she wants to spend all summer with wild woman wolf hair singing "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?" and "Let It Go" 100 billion times (in all languages--holy god, you all, youtube has these songs in every human language imaginable), then I say: have at it. You don't have to explain to me what your thinking processes are about that. You're a kid, and so clearly you're crazy. Kids do crazy things that make sense only to them. Do they have to explain EVERYthing?? (According to Common Core, they do.)
I feel okay about all of this because I do try to balance. We're at the public library once a week. We read books together. I try to teach her, on the sly, how to sound out words/notice patterns (aka read). We talk; we talk a LOT. A friend of mine (Patresa, amazing musician/storyteller) wrote a blog piece about this with her son, about how she tries to balance TV and books and conversation, and I felt so much better about my mothering after reading it (that's the power of writing--that connection, that message that we're all in this together).
So I think we're good over here--Miss M knows her abc's and sounds, she knows rhymes and patterns, books figure prominently in her world...she's literacy-ready. And we talk. So many people just don't talk to their kids these days. Please talk to your children. Please talk to them and let them know what they think, how they feel, what they have to say is important. Please tell them how much they're loved, please let them know they are your very best blessing(s). Please do this, world, so we have less dysfunction. And please read to them once in awhile, because reading and writing will help them survive in life. Math will only take you so far (I'm sorry, Mathematicians, but it's true...proof: half of you can't spell).
How did I get from Kentucky Derby to cows to hair to kids? I can't even think of what to title this blog entry, it's so everywhere. Welcome to my brain. (Go get some ice cream and read a book under a tree somewhere.) (And don't hand feed cows--their sweet faces will just haunt you at every barbecue.)