Sunday, February 26, 2017

Remarkably Cute

As a culture, we seem to find children appealing from birth through about age nine. Then their enchanting qualities seem to fly with them into a Bermuda Triangle for children. There is very little word coming from parents about the kids, very little word coming from the kids themselves, and very few of us asking their parents about them during this time.  
Image: Teece Aronin

This is typically true until they start actually achieving something beyond the usual infant-toddler milestones. This happens at around age 17 when they emerge from the Triangle with a free ride to Stanford, inclusion as an alternate on the US Olympic Swim Team, or some other accomplishment guaranteed to save their parents thousands or land them on television for reasons having nothing to do with drug busts or car thefts.   

Nine-and-a-half seems to be the cutoff for cuteness unless you have to be around the child, in which case you probably continue to find him cute, just not cute enough to comment on to anyone outside the family. Then of course, once he becomes a full-blown teen, he's not cute at all until the accomplishments phase kicks in at which time he is once again golden. 

Grandparents on the other hand, talk about grandchildren prior to the wee ones' conceptions. I doubt that even their own deaths shut up proud grandparents for long. I'm imagining my mother in Heaven, chatting up the other angels over cards, and regaling them with stories about her grandson starting driver's ed, and her granddaughter's riding lessons.  
"She's learning - I forget what they call it - English style; that's it - you know, where they ride the horse and only have the reins to hang on with? I don't know how she does it, but she has me on extra angel duty, let me tell you. If she fell it would be the second death of me. And of course, once Jon starts driving, I'll be watching one or the other of them all the time."

I'm not sure why children seem less "remarkable" - literally - once they approach their tween years. It might have something to do with adolescents becoming sullen and anesthetized delinquents - temporarily. 

But whatever it is, we parents see them safely into the Triangle, cross our fingers and hope like hell, then greet them when they come out the other side.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


I have a history of eating dog treats, and I never seemed to find them; they seemed to find me. 
Image: Teece Aronin

When I was two, our next-door neighbor plunked me down in the grass of her back yard, face-to-face with her cocker spaniel, Reggie. Then she shook some colorful and crunchy-looking dog treats into my tiny, cupped palms. 

"Reggie loves treats," she said, and walked away. 

I looked at Reggie. Reggie looked at me. I took one of the treats between my finger and thumb and held it in front of Reggie's black-lipped, drool-y muzzle, at which point, he tilted his head, leaned in, and gently took it. Cheerfully he crunched it up, then looked expectantly at me.

He must be waiting for me to take my turn, I decided, so I put one of the treats in my mouth and chewed. The dog looked crestfallen. 

Then, I gave a treat to him, and the dog cheered up. When I took my next turn; the dog looked devastated. 

And so it was that Reggie learned to share. And a little child shall lead them. 

One Friday night a few months ago, my daughter's best friend spent the night. Both girls are "dog people," and since I ate enough dog treats with Reggie that day to become part dog, my daughter might have earned her dog person status partly through genetics. 

It was early Saturday morning when I stumbled into the dimly lit kitchen, yawning and rumpled. Both girls were asleep in the living room. On the counter were these cute little ginger snappish-looking things, and without thinking, I popped one into my mouth. It turned out to have come from a box of treats my daughter's friend had brought over for our dog. 

"Rule Number One:" lectured a friend," If it's in your kitchen but you did not buy it, do NOT put it in your mouth."

Actually, it didn't taste that bad, and it brought back happy memories of when I was plopped down in the grass and told that Reggie loved treats.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

It's Just That This is How it Feels

I'm trying to maintain a more serene mindset and a healthier outlook, and I'm finding it helps me get through unpleasant but normal things when I accept that these things are just the way they are and though uncomfortable, they're being the way they should be, and that I am too.  
The other day, two snowflakes landed on my  
shoelaces in that very same parking
lot where just last month I pictured death 
stalking me in the cold. Photo: Teece Aronin.
Let me give you an example: I get out of my car at work and have a long walk ahead before reaching the building. It's cold, and I hate being cold, but when I remind myself that the cold is normal, and that this just happens to be how cold feels when it's doing it's thing, it's not as miserable anymore. 

I know what some of you are thinking; it was just last month, in this very blog, that I described myself shuffling across a parking lot in bitter cold, swearing the entire way and imagining Death shuffling behind me, unable to catch me only because he was just as cold. 

Well, I've grown since then, so let me have this! 

But seriously, stop and think. Would a Midwestern winter day with 70 degree temps be normal? No. It was the cold that was normal, just winter being winter. And given that I'm lucky enough to have a coat and gloves and a nice, warm building on the other side of the lot, I really should stop complaining. Winter is behaving as it will, and I knew the deal when I moved back to Michigan five years ago. 

Maybe this is a better example, or at least makes me look less mentally unstable: When my daughter was having surgery and dreaded the IV, I told her there's a difference between something hurting you and something harming you. The IV, I explained, would hurt, but it wouldn't harm her. The pain was part of a process intended to keep her safe.  

And lo and behold, I just now asked my daughter if what I'd said had helped her that day and as it turns out, it did. And I told her the truth was good no matter what because it would either prove my point here, or could be turned into a joke for the blog. It was a win for me either way, so I really wanted her to be honest. 

But I like this win better than the win I would have turned into a joke. It means I'd said something that helped by daughter through a tough situation, and maybe it will help you, or your child, or even me someday. 

Ripples, people, ripples.