She was unsure for a moment as she looked around the technicolor classroom. We hung her new Minnie Mouse backpack on a hook, washed her hands and then she hugged me and said "Goodbye mother," as solemn as a priest offering last rites. She did the same for Brad and we left. No tears for anyone.
Two hours later we picked her up. She was all smiles. I asked her if she had fun. "Yes!" she said. I asked her if she was excited to go back on Monday. "Yes!" she said.
And that's when I got teary. Because she was so confident … so ready for this first step to independence, and I had this realization that she wasn't all mine anymore. That the days that I witnessed all of her doing -- her eating and reading and playing and fighting and laughing and yelling and crying and cuddling -- those days that used to belong to me are going to start dwindling. Sure, right now it's only six or so hours a week … but it's only a matter of time before it's 30 hours a week. And then gone. Excuse me, I need to snivel for a minute.
With Lily's 4th birthday coming up this week, I amused myself by imagining what the girls would say if they did an annual performance review of me as a mother:
Annual Performance Review for Mom
|In case you need a reminder of how far I've come mom, this is me, Lily, on the night I was born. |
Remember that? It was 3:40 in the morning. I've always been an early riser.
Well mom, another year down at Lily & Jovie Inc. It's hard to believe it's been almost four years since you first came on board to what was then Lily Inc. We've been relatively pleased with your performance and contributions to our organization and look forward to helping you grow in the year to come.
To start with, let's discuss the many victories you had this year.
Notable accomplishments include:
|Here's Jovie on the night of the big Lily & Jovie Inc. merger back in 2012. |
She's pretty cute, too, I guess. If you like squishy cheeks, dimples and big blue eyes.
- Identifying that rancid smell in the trashcan -- I know you weren't able to crack the code as to what that tarry gooey substance hanging out on the bottom of the bin was, but we're grateful you were able to scrub it out. The aroma in the garage entrance is much less pungent now.
- Mastering the appropriate voices for Melman and Luann the fishy puppets. We've been highly entertained recently by the fish puppets antics -- especially Luann's loud and insistent refusal to eat yogurt and Melman's propensity for screaming when we wake him up from his naps. We would like to note that we don't think the game of fishy puppets should be over when we start pretending to be sharks and bite the puppets and by extension your hands located inside the puppets. We're just demonstrating our knowledge of the food chain and feel you should embrace our methods of creative and educational play.
- Removing Play-Doh from various tubes, toys, floors, furniture, and -- on one occasion -- Lily's nose. We would again like to submit our request that Play-Doh be kept accessible at all times -- as we never know when the urge might strike to smoosh tiny balls of it into the grout on the sunroom floor. (See note above about creative play.)
We feel this is one of the strongest areas of potential growth for you. We both feel that you need to re-prioritize how much time you spend on various duties. For instance, we think you spend far too much time focusing on janitorial responsibilities (i.e.: laundry, vacuuming, de-cluttering, etc.) as well as meal preparation and not enough time on providing the proper stimulus for us.
We propose (and by propose, we mean demand) that you spend less time cooking and cleaning (unless, of course, we want macaroni and cheese or chocolate chip cookies, or Lily's Sofia the First pajamas and Jovie's Cookie Monster shirt need to laundered) and more time focusing on our growth and development, by engaging in games of our choosing until we become bored, start needlessly beating each other or it's snack time again, whichever comes first. Our game preferences include:
1. Monster: You chase us around the tree in the backyard roaring occasionally (with gusto!). And no, we don't care that the endless loops around the tree make you nauseous and dizzy.
2. My Little Pony: We flop around on Jovie's bed pretending to morph into various ponies while you act as Princess Twilight Sparkle, occasionally making up songs about us on the spot and chasing away the monster (i.e. Snacks)
3. Mickey Mouse: You pretend to be Goofy while Lily as Minnie Mouse and Jovie as Daisy Duck prepare for Minnie Mouse's birthday. Note, this is the only time it is permissible to use a voice other than your own. We really must emphasize your use of a Scottish accent during story time made us uncomfortable and angry. Please stop.
We don't mind putting together puzzles or coloring pictures, so long as you witness the placement of each individual piece or the drawing of each individual line while marveling at how amazing we are. We know you think these quiet-time activities are an opportunity for you to take care of your other duties, but we really feel all other duties should be delegated to between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., when we are sleeping. You can handle that, right?
We understand that despite the fact that we are adorable, hilarious, sweet, intelligent, energetic, inquisitive and all-around amazing people, who any other person would be elated to spend their days with, that sometimes you experience stress during your day. We are going to go ahead and assume that we are not the cause of your stress, but rather that "other job" you do which requires you sit in front of the computer typing words rather than watching that creepy episode of My Little Pony where Princess Twilight Sparkle wants to marry her adopted brother or Parry Gripp music videos, (which is what we'd prefer you do on the computer, by the way). We know it can be difficult to juggle multiple responsibilities -- trust us. Just the other day, in fact, Jovie had to decorate cookies for Lily's preschool class while simultaneously tasting the icing and eating all the sprinkles -- multitasking is difficult work, yet she managed to do it with a smile. We know it's impossible to smile all the time (especially when we require that you open your mouth and say "ahhhhh" while we shove the otoscope down your throat during our many sessions of "checkup"), but we do request that you limit your heavy sighs, eye rolls, annoyed grunts, foot stopming, heavy-handed buckling and all-out ranting for the moments that really require such extreme reactions -- like when the dog knocks over Lily's block tower or Jovie spills applesauce on her shirt. We're often confused at your dismay and frustration while performing your child-rearing duties -- did anybody ever tell you parenthood was easy?
We know you've expressed that it's more practical and comfortable to stick with your rather shabby looking uniform of jeans or shorts paired with a nondescript, ill-fitting solid colored T-shirt. We'd like to use the opportunity to encourage you again to wear more dresses, sparkly jewelry and tiaras to work. We'd be happy to act as wardrobe consultants each morning if that would help. In the past you've said dresses aren't really suited for chores like scrubbing the kitchen floor -- we'd like to point to Cinderella, who managed to scrub the foyer of an entire chateau while wearing a dress (and a smile, we might add!).
Recently, you've been refusing to purchase items we've requested during our frequent trips to Target. While Lily appreciates the 25 cents allowance you started giving her each week, and really enjoys playing with the coins in her piggy bank, we don't believe these little play circles should serve as a replacement for the items we really, really want at Target. You've told us that you're trying to prevent a sense of entitlement in us and teach us how to value a dollar. We're not really sure what any of that means, but we want to assure you that we aren't entitled. We just really, really want the toys we see and feel that we should be able to have them the moment we see them for no other reason than we really, really want them.
While we know you feel pressured by society, the pediatrician and all those moms whose kids eat things like sashimi and foie gras, we believe you should focus on making things we will actually eat. Let's face it, you can put green beans, carrot sticks and baked chicken on our plate all you want, but you know and we know we're not going to eat it. So why not just go ahead and make a week's worth of macaroni & cheese every Sunday night (after 8 of course!). We'll just supplement that with yogurt and cereal and call it a day. Haven't your stress levels gone down already? It's really a win-win.
We'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that we'd prefer you allowed us to make all decisions as to what sort of music we listen to while in the car. Our preferences here include:
1. The soundtrack to "Happy Feet 2"
2. "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" music
3. Dad's Jimmy Buffet mix
Don't feel that you constantly have to switch CDs -- we're perfectly content with listening to the same album several days in a row. And we ask that you limit your singing to only those times we request to hear it -- so basically, no singing. At all. Ever. Please. It's awful. (Unless, of course we need a repertoire of songs before bedtime.)
|Here's an AV aid in case you need a reminder of how to be happy|
(and how to appropriately dress the dog).
Mom, we see so much potential in you and really think the upcoming year could be your best yet! Thanks for all your hard work this past year -- especially all those times you took us to get ice cream, let us watch extra cartoons and resisted the temptation to sing along with the soundtrack of Disney songs you grew up with. For 2014/2015 we hope to see you smiling more and worrying less, which will ensure maximum profitability of Lily & Jovie Inc.