All My Kid Ever Really Needed to Know He Learned From Sesame Street

GroverI grew up on the Street. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there are exactly 44 episodes of it on my DVR. It holds the monopoly of space on this house’s little black box. But this is somewhat ironic, because when Little J was born, I swore I’d be a “good mom” and I wouldn’t let him watch tv until he was older. After all, the research warned me that children under two couldn’t understand the images and in case you hadn’t heard, oh yeah, it leads to obesity. I mistakenly thought overeating lead to obesity. But no, it turns out, NCIS can make you fat. But don’t worry, just the New Orleans one. The LA one would SO never do that. Then along came Little A. Since she demanded roughly 99.9% of my waking and non-waking hours in her first few months, poor Little J was sentenced to his playpen. And like most Americans, he wanted more. In despair, I turned to my long lost friends on PBS. I missed some of my old cohorts. Clifford and George, it’s been a while. I reminisced as I heard that curious little monkey get himself into trouble and engineer himself out like MacGyver. I secretly enjoyed pal-ing around with Elizabeth and her oversized crimson pup. And then I heard it. That unmistakable song – Sunny days keepin’ the clouds away…you know the rest. I was transported through time, through multiple decades, back to my playpen. I watched Little J’s face as he followed the furry gang across the screen. He swayed his head back and forth as they sang and he giggled as Grover (now Super Grover 2.0) tried to save the day with items from his gym sock. Admittedly, I got sucked back in, this time by the celebrity guest appearances and the eye-catching, artistic shorts. As Little A grew, so did Little J’s love of the Street. When Curious George took the stage, Little J hummed the sunny days tune in protest. He cheered when the theme song magically appeared. At first, I thought he just liked the vibrant colors, the music and the humorous, yet familiar characters (I think I’m married to Grover sans the blue fur). But one day while strolling the aisles of, you guessed it, Costco, Little J blurted out the word “octagon”. I stopped the cart. My brow raised. Being a former elementary school teacher, I’d like to brag that he learned that from me. But alas, in our efforts to get him admitted to an Ivy League school someday, we had only worked on the basic shapes. He was referring to a pendant on my necklace and I knew exactly how he recognized it. From a segment on Sesame Street. I later witnessed him make a t-ball stand out of a cut pool noodle, a yardstick and a ball. I laughed as I made the connection between his invention and an episode where Baby Bear plays t-ball with his dad. The kid was paying attention. And he was learning something. It turns out I’m grateful I didn’t heed the warnings of research this time. And along with learning complex shapes and some creative construction, I’m glad he is also absorbing some of the less overt lessons, like how to treat others and how to deal with some of the challenges he’ll likely encounter in his wonderful life ahead. I’m glad the gang is still around. And if you want to know, I can definitely tell you how to get to Sesame Street.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom 2.0

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I haven’t been at this mom thing long. At least, not long enough to realize when someone says “Happy Mother’s Day!” they could be talking to me. I still have a lot to learn. You could say I’m the Beta version. I mean, I’m still working on the sleeping with one eye open thing. And it will be years before my guilt trips are fully perfected. I’m pretty good at counting to three. Oh, and I can even do it in Spanish. I know how to soothe a good head bump cry and even a middle if the night scared of the dark cry. But I know my toughest years lay ahead. If I were in a Catholic Church right now, I’d confess that I still call my mom when I’m sick. And I’m 40. This job is just beginning for me. Luckily, my mom is Mom 2.0. She’s been through it all – the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the shapeless scribbles hung on the fridge, the lost Barbie shoes, the first day of school, fights with best friends, crushes, driver’s license tests, more sleepless nights, weekends home from college, the first day of a real job, weddings and grandchildren. She was at every chorus concert (no one should have to endure that), every parent night and everything in between. But I now know the hardest part of it all wasn’t the being a supportive mom part. It was the letting go part. Mom 2.0 once told me about the time she dropped me off at preschool and as I happily exited the car and skipped into the building, she sat in the car and cried. I get it now. And I’m only in Beta. Little J just celebrated his second birthday, and if you asked me, I just brought him home yesterday. I’m sure if you asked Mom 2.0, she would say the same about me. Thank you, Mom 2.0, for all of it. For showing me what it really means to be mom, for always holding on and letting go. Happy Mother’s Day.

5 Things NOT to Say to Your Wife While at a Conference in Vegas

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Ironman just got back from being out of town for nine days. Nine days. On one hand, I think I deserve a medal. I mean, both children are accounted for. Little J can say a few more words than before (most of them can be repeated) and Little A should be just about ready for college. Or solid foods, I can’t remember. The week started with me coming down with the plague (not the bad one, just the walking plague). It hit a high point when, not one, but both of of our air-conditioning units went out during a 90 degree hot spell. But these are just highlights. There were good parts too. When the first A/C unit retired, the Littles and I had a slumber party on the other side of the house. When the first unit was fixed and the second one went out, we got to see grandpa (though he may not have considered it as “good” as we did). He gave us a crash course in cleaning out an A/C line, which I’m sure they don’t teach in preschool, so the Littles will have an edge over the other kids. During this trying week, I came up with an exciting list of five things you should NOT say to your wife while at a conference in Vegas. We’ll count down backwards, Letterman style, for dramatic impact.

5. Ugh, I missed the morning session. I overslept and woke up at 10.
4. Ugh, I only got one workout in today.
3. Ugh, this king-sized bed is too big for just me.
2. Ugh, I really hope I don’t have to take any customers to a show tonight.

And my all-time favorite is:
1. Ugh, I’m so sick of filet mignon and red wine.

To be fair, Ironman didn’t have it as good as it may seem. He also came down with the walking plague, had to fly for four and a half hours and stay up until 4 a.m. entertaining customers, when all he wanted to do was sleep. But even worse, he couldn’t be here to see Little A go swimming for the first time, or tuck the Littles in for our slumber party. So, I guess that evens things out. But I sure am craving a good filet. And I’m hoping my medal arrives before his next business trip.