Friday, February 26, 2010

Going (almost) "commando" (Updated: the winner is...!)

Once, while getting my hair highlighted, I announced to my stylist that my husband "doesn't let me wear Spanx."

The woman sitting in the salon chair next to me, who apparently decided that if you are getting your hair done at the same time then you are entitled to participate in each other's conversations, piped in with: "Oh honeeeey, and you let your husband tell you what to do?"
Now, anyone who knows me...or more importantly, knows my husband...would scoff appropriately here.
Fortunately, my hairstylist did.
It's not that Hubby does or doesn't "let" me do anything. That's not the kind of relationship we have (nor the kind of people we are), but it is true, that there are certain things he feels really, really strongly about, and Spanx is one of them.
Do you know Spanx? Perhaps you own several and are already planning the persuasive comment you will leave for me after reading this post, telling me what I'm missing out on. For the rest of you who may not be so sure what I'm talking about, let me give you the short version. It's a high-end designer girdle. There are various styles and they all do essentially the same thing: suck, smoothe, and shape. Every time Kim Kardashian steps out for the night in one of those incredibly tight and slutty dresses of hers? She's got one under there. For sure. They really are supposed to be magical: they suck everything in (think: cycling spandex shorts made for any and all parts of your body) and eliminate all lumps, bumps, dimps, and rolls. They make you look thinner, tighter, leaner.
So why, I am sure you are wondering, wouldn't I want to wear one of these contraptions for Hubby so I can look oh-so-much-hotter in my date night dresses?
"Cause when I come home and want to take that dress off I don't want to be confronted with something a 60-year-old would wear. I don't wanna find a wet suit. The flaws you all obsess over? Trust me, we don't see 'em. And the ones we do? We don't really care about. Men know what you have under there, and we're just damn happy to be spending time with it."
Hubby doesn't ask for a lot. He's not a demanding kinda guy. But he does ask that if I don't feel that I can wear the dress without something "minimal" (his word) under it, then just don't buy it.
Esentially, if my outfit and my lingerie got into a fight, Hubby would be rooting for the undergarments.
As much as this guy does for me, I can live with this. Believe me, I have been tempted. I have stood in the dressing room, a hot dress clinging to my 37-year-old Cuban Mommy body, and I have thought: "Oh, almost... If I could vacuum myself into one of those Spanx things, it just might work..."
But then I remember his requests. And I remember my drawers full of lacey, flimsy, wispy nothings, and how the truth is, I do feel pretty sexy in them, especially on the days I don't stand too long obsessing in front of the full-length mirror. (And, if you've ever tried one of those things on, you know that whatever it's sucking in has gotta go somewhere, so you tend to have a bit of my-cup-runneth-over-effect, and I don't think I'm willing to create back cleavage in order to make my ass look smaller).
So flimsy it is. And fortunately, I've recently found a whole new realm of flimsy: Cosabella. I'm not usually into the whole random product review or giveaways, but really, when a high end lingerie line that has a collection inspired by "Sex and the City" contacts me, I'm not about to say 'no.' And when my thong arrived in the mail that was promised to be the lightest, thinnest, best no-panty-line panty in the market, Hubby was not about to say 'no.' This thing was like the anti-girdle. And Hubby likey. And since it was comfortable, me likey too.
Source: Cosabella
So I sacrifice celebrity-red-carpet-like perfection (as if!) so Hubby is happy when he comes home. I may be missing out on a whole lot of amazing outfits that I could've worn if only I'd given in to the miracle of Spanx, but at the end of the night, I don't think he's obsessing over my lumpy thighs or my still too-soft least not in a bad way.
Giveaway! If you'd like to dare to strip away the shapewear and give some flimsiness a try, here's what to do: 1)Visit the Cosabella site and check out the goods; 2) Come back here and comment on your favorite item/s; and 3) Tell me why you should win a Cosabella Aire Set (Thong OR Hotpant AND matching Bra, valued at over $70). Deadline: March 4th.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You're just saying that 'cause I'm wearing make-up

So according to my friend, colleague, and newly blogging buddy, Maria at Mom of "Three Seeks Sanity," I am a "Beautiful Blogger." Cool.

Never one to turn down an award, I officially thank Maria. Never one to break a rule (okay, not never...usually), I will do as told and share 7 things you might not know about me. (This is gonna be tough...I'm pretty sure you all know waaaaaay too much already.)

1. I love the show "Lost," but often feel really, really blonde when I'm watching it.
2. I am deathly, irrationally, ridiculously afraid of lizards.
3. I love, love, love living in South Florida. Yes, there's traffic and chaos and ridiculously overpriced real estate. But there's also people from all over the world, beautiful beaches, clubs that open 'til morning, quiet family-oriented neighborhoods, and some of the best shopping in the world.
4. My ultimate life dream is to have a vacation home in Hawaii.
5. I feel I am my most true self when I'm running or drinking (no, not water).
6. I get pissy the minute the thermometer dips below 70 degrees.
7. In my closet is a signed picture of the cast of "Sex and the City" and a mini chandelier.

So, there. Now you can add those to the list in your heads entitled "Useless But Hopefully Slightly Amusing Information About The Girl Who Writes The But Then I Had Kids Blog." Now go check out Maria...she's new around here and pretty damn clever.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sure, go ahead...make me feel worse

Recently, I shared my first true motherly heartbreak when my oldest son was mean to another kid on the playground at school. Hubby and I were pretty firm and really thought we'd done everything to make this a "defining moment."

Uh...apparently not.

Our playground bully struck again.

Only a week after the first incident, we picked Ben up at school to learn that he'd punched another child. What can I say? I was devastated. And angry. And again, sad.

He took full responsibility:
"I hit him first."
"Because I wanted to."


Now, you have to understand my child: he is really, truly a pretty neat kid. He is funny and sweet and a rule-follower. He asks permission before he uses his dad's sports bottles. He helps his team mates up when they fall on the soccer field. He says "please" and "thank you" without being prompted. But he is strong-willed. He is stubborn. He is scary-smart. And apparently, he still has not figured out that two Alphas in this house is more than enough.

So...Hubby and I sat down and made a very difficult decision. We decided that in addition to the last set of consequences (no books at bedtime, no outside play, no TV, and apologies to all involved), he would also miss his best friend's birthday party. And, to make even a greater impact, he'd stay home with Dad while he watched his little brother and I go.

And I would take pictures.

And I would bring home only his brother's goody bag.

And I would tell Daddy aaaaallllll about how greaaaaaaat the party was.

Yes, I know, we sound cold and uncaring.

That might've been what was going on on the outside. Inside? I lost sleep for 2 nights. I woke up the morning of the party dreading the coming day. And when I saw the ponies, the bounce houses (yes, plural), the real-live Spiderman? I cried. Not teary-cried. I mean, full-blown-bottom-lip-trembling-have-to-turn-away-to-hide-my-face-boo-hooing.

This was the point during the party when the mommy of the birthday boy (who also happens to be one of the greatest friends a girl could ever have and has known me forever) stopped taking pictures of her own kid to reassure me: "Stop it. You did the right thing. It will pay off. We will laugh about this at their college graduation."

The rest of the world? Not quite so supportive.

Can somebody please tell me why mothers judge each other so damn harshly? Why I was called (to my face) "cruel" and "harsh" and why people gasped (audibly) when they found out that we did, in fact, follow through with our threat and not take him to this party? Why is it that instead of supporting each other, we sit in judgment of each other? Isn't this job hard enough already? How can someone know what my kid really needs?
How is it that we live in a world where you can't tell someone when a haircut has gone completely awry, but it's totally okay to tell someone when you think their parenting has?

So here's the deal: if I don't ask you what your opinion is on a subject as sensitive as this, don't tell me. Okay?

I have no issue with the fact that our parenting style may not match others'. I have no issue with the fact that you might not agree with my parenting decisions. I may not agree with yours. That's cool. But the judgments? The name-calling? The gasps and eye-rolling and blank stares of shock followed by rapid, confused blinking? Unnecessary.

Even on a good day, I am not always 100% sure we're doing the right thing as parents. When a stressful situation like this happens, I think it's only natural to doubt yourself. So there is absolutely no need to throw some more doubt in there, trust me. I'm beating myself up over this just fine all on my own. When I stood there, watching what my boy was missing, imagining the shrieks and giggles that could've been, I was heart broken. I was angry. I doubted myself. I didn't need anyone to make me feel worse; that would've been nearly impossible.

When the weekend was over and the grounding had been lifted and we were ready to start fresh, I still wondered if we'd done the right thing. I wondered if he'd really gotten anything from the whole experience. I admit I was internally cringing on Monday afternoon when it was time to hear how his day had gone. The teacher said that not only had he had a great day, but she'd eavesdropped on one of his conversations with his playground partners-in-crime. He'd decided to come up with "a plan": when someone was making a "bad choice," the rest of them would tell that friend it was a bad idea. If the friend didn't listen, they'd "go away" from that friend or tell the teacher. And only if someone was "making a good choice" then they'd do it..."but only if they really wanted." I guess this plan went over pretty well with his buddies, because they decided they should share this plan with the rest of the boys in the class.

Well then...1 point for the parents.

Bottom line? Parenting is hard. Really, really hard. Most days, we're all just wandering around, a little bit lost, a little bit in awe of how we are solely responsible for these amazing little people we've made. I truly think we are, for the most part, all doing the best we can, and we all struggle with this job at least some of the time. I just don't think everyone admits to that. I know I'm just muddling through, trying my damned best to bring up two independent, happy, strong, caring men. And even when I'm pretty sure we're doing the right thing, it can be tough on all of us.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ten years, another life, a different person

Ten years ago today I walked away. I left.

I was done.

I walked away from a life I had built with another man, a life I thought I was supposed to want, a life I thought was appropriate and expected for a girl my age, of my culture, my neighborhood.

I walked away from a marriage that was, according to most, not bad enough to leave.

I think most people thought I was supposed to be satisfied with that.

I think, for a long time, I thought I was supposed to be, too.

He never made my toes curl. He never made my heart flutter. He never took my breath away. But when I met him, he was nice and mature and most importantly at the time, immediately accepted by my family. He was my sister's type. He was my parents' type. I knew, even then, that he was certainly not my type.

As the years went on, I followed the exact blueprint my sister, my cousins, my neighborhood friends all followed: date, college, marriage. Even my wedding looked like everybody else's. And as I neared my mid-twenties, I found myself suffocating. Almost literally. I couldn't breathe. And it wasn't in the good way.

Our marriage wasn't exactly an act. I did not purposely set out to make people think we were perfect. I think, in fact, I set out to make myself think we were perfect. I have finally figured out, just now, that I just could not bear the thought of settling. I couldn't imagine having to spend a lifetime with a man I was not desperately, frighteningly passionate about. And so now I realize that all the years people accused me of pretending that I was happy, I was, in fact, pretending, but not for their sake. For my own.

When I told people I'd left, almost everyone's response was identical: "But why? He was such a nice guy." After a few of these, I regained my balance enough to respond with: "Yeah, I'm pretty nice too." This made people uncomfortable. And at this point, I realized I didn't care that much if people were uncomfortable anymore. I'd spent nearly 9 years uncomfortable. It was time for me to remember who I was, what I wanted, and flip off the world.

So I left.
It was the scariest thing I ever did.

Being brought up by parents who did not let me cross the street (literally), I did not get many opportunities to be brave. I never had too many opportunities to make decisions, especially not difficult ones, so I have never been particularly good at trusting my instincts. This was the only time in my life when I made a decision completely and utterly on my own. I wanted no input from anyone. I didn't want anyone to persuade or reassure me. So I told no one. Until the day I left. And then, all hell broke loose.

I was criticized for wanting too much, for expecting too much, for leaving without having a tangible reason to do so.


Fortunately, as time passed, many things came to light about him and about me that made people understand, much later, that what I had done was the absolute right thing. But then? On that day, 10 years ago today? Even I wasn't so sure that I wasn't a little bit crazy.


It was the best thing I ever did.


Go figure...the one time I made a decision on my own, it worked out. Big-time.


I wasn't sure, then, what kind of life I wanted. I just knew that I didn't want That. I didn't want Him.


Leaving that life behind, I was able to find a new one. New friends. New man. New life. Me, again. It is hard to even remember that girl...who I was for a while, in that marriage, with that person.


Ten years.

It feels like a lifetime ago.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Partying over at my other neighbor's...

Shortly after I started this whole blogging thing, I met another girl who happened to be a Mommy and also thought she might have a bit to share with the world. I think it's safe to say that we hit it off. And so now I think of Becca as a friend...enough so that Hubby knows her by name. The coolest thing about Becca is how much she has allowed herself to let go through her blog. I can honestly say I've watched Becca's blog grow up! So I was quite excited when she invited me over to guest post as part of "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Go over there and check out one of my most honest archived posts on how parenting totally sucks...yeah, it was one of those days. And while you're there, take a few minutes to get to know Becca and her brood. I'm pretty sure you'll like her instantly. Oh, yeah, and make sure you meet Ben's future wife, Hannah. Becca and I are sure our oldest are meant to be. Of course, their first date will only work out if one of them ever stops talking...(like their Mamas???)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So this is what it feels like when your kid disappoints you

My 4-year-old can be a lot of things. He can be stubborn. He can be impatient. He can be manipulative. But up until now, he had never been mean.

Another new experience in the World of Parenting: when your kid does something that is really not nice, it breaks your heart. And makes you question everything you've done so far as a parent.

I picked Ben up from school yesterday and made sure to check in with his teacher on my way out. As per Hubby's and my suggestion, she put him on a progress report. He'd been having some trouble following directions (he has a habit of suggesting alternate plans instead of doing what he is told...example: "Stop playing tackle football, Ben." "I'll do it more slowly/carefully/quietly instead."). Turns out Ben's first bad progress report day wasn't because he was negotiating his options.

"During playground time, Ben and another boy were punching a third boy. The third boy was crying his eyes out."

Long story short? My extremely verbal child explained that his buddy suggested the two of them punch this third little boy. And my kid, who is known for never falling to peer pressure (or adult pressure, for that matter) decided THIS was the area in which he would allow himself to be led. This is a time when I'd love to say that my kid didn't know better. That he wasn't sure what the right thing to do would have been. But when prompted, Ben did know all the right answers:
"What would have been a good choice instead?"
"I should've said NO. I should've said I wasn't going to punch him. I should've helped him. I should've told the teacher."

This is what kills me. He knew better. He just truly chose not to do the right thing.

Now I know what some of you might be thinking: he is four.
I know what some others might still be thinking: he is a boy.
And I know what yet some others might be thinking: he must've learned this somewhere.

Yes, I know he's four. I don't care. He knew better. This is when it starts.
Yes, I know he's a boy. I care even less here. "Boys will be boys" is probably the most disgusting excuse for bowing out of parenting when it gets tough. Yes, boys are different than girls. Believe me, I figured that one out quick. Yes, boys are often louder and more active and rougher. But to excuse mean behavior because there's a penis involved? It's part of the reason little girls grow up to be women who sit around complaining about their husbands' inabilities to be sensitive and caring.
And finally, no, he didn't learn this from us. Or anyone around us, for that matter. And this is where the horrifying realization kicks in: As a parent, you really have to teach, teach, and teach. And then pray. Pray that the lessons stick. Pray that what they see at home is translated into their own behaviors. Pray that they make the right choices.

All I can think is: My little boy did a mean thing. Is my little boy mean?

And then all I can think is: I'm so sad.

Yes, sad. I mean, I'm angry too. I'm pissed off as hell and frustrated and disappointed. But mostly, I am sad.

When I had to sit there and tell him that we weren't doing his classmates' Valentine's cards together because he did a mean thing and Mommy and Daddy didn't want to be around someone who did mean things...that made me, I am sure, sadder than it made him.

"A defining moment."

This is what my most brilliant and wise friend (who once cancelled her now-grown daughter's trip to Disney when she was seven because she stole 35 cents from her father's drawer) called it: A defining moment. "Kids test," she said. "He made the wrong choice. Now it's up to you guys to decide what's going to happen with this. He needs to learn this lesson. He needs to learn that even more important than how cute he is or how many soccer goals he scored on Saturday or whether he can count to 100 is whether or not he is kind."

I have always said that there are two things I absolutely can not tolerate from my children: disrespect and meanness.

So here I am, a teacher for 13 years and a bit of a know-it-all... I thought the kids always behaved a certain way because of the parents. I thought if you put in all you had, if the father and the mother worked together, if you really did the "right thing" as a parent, then your child would, at the very least, turn out to be a well-behaved kid. I thought even the ones who were tougher to discipline could be controlled as long as the parents were consistent and firm and loving. Apparently, there are no guarantees. Apparently, you really do just have to give it your best and then pray.

Tomorrow my four-year-old will go find the boy he punched, look him in the face, and apologize to him. He will promise never to do that again, and he will ask that little boy to be his friend again. We have made sure this will happen because the teacher will follow up on it. Hubby and I have teamed up on the entire situation. We have come up with the consequences which we felt would make the most impact. We have sat him down and spoken with him, honestly, firmly, gently, and made sure he understands why this is important, why this will not be tolerated. But throughout it all, Ben hasn't exactly seemed incredibly remorseful.

And I worry that this is just a sign of what's to come. I worry that I will not be proud of this little boy as he grows up. I worry that no matter how good our parenting is, it will not matter.

And yes, I know...he's four. I know I may be getting ahead of myself. I know I may be making this bigger than it is. I hope so, actually. But to hear that my little boy was mean...well, this is probably my saddest moment as a mom so far.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Private Love Letter for the World to Read

Dear "Chris,"

When Momalom put out a challenge to write a love letter, you immediately came to mind. I hesitated, though, because really...what would people think...that I am choosing to profess my love to my husband? And on the Internet?? Seriously, how corny and codependent is that? I thought of so many other clever "loves": my stilettos, my cocktails, my pillow. Even writing a love letter to my children, although very predictable, would have been more acceptable, I suspect.

But I chose you. I think I owed it to you and to Us to be honest. To put it out there. You have never been afraid to shout it from the rooftops. And as loud as I usually am, I think you deserve a little more noise from my side.

Plus, our love affair started on stapled shut, letters on notebook paper...the lines impossibly and frantically filled with confessions, promises, and fears.

So let me just say it...the cliche...the thing so often found inside greeting cards this time of year: I don't know how I got so lucky.

I don't.

I look around and find it impossibly delicious that you are mine.

There was something about you, from the beginning, that made me stop breathing. Literally. I would stop breathing when you walked into a room. What is that? Really. What is that? And although I can say I think you're hot as hell, and although I am sure you'd love to hear that it was your amazingly rugged good looks that did it to me, it wasn't. It was something else entirely. Although, even now, ten years later, I still can not name it.

The absolutely most amazing thing about it is this: when you walk unexpectedly into a room, and I look up and am surprised to see you, in that moment when the realization hits that it is You, I still get a flutter...there is still a very slight, very shallow, very sudden intake of breath. Oh. It's you.

Some of my love is shallow and silly. Sometimes, when we're out on a date night, I scan the room. I look at all the men there and I pretend I don't know you and I am always amazed that you are the only guy I would want to buy me a drink. And probably take me home.

Some of my love is the kind that can only grow from the everyday: raising children, paying mortgages, real life. When the children are sick, you wake up right alongside me (sometimes without me), you take the temperatures, you clean the vomit, you hold them close until they fall asleep. You make them feel safe. When the house needs cleaning, when the dinner needs cooking, when the laundry needs doing, you just do it. You don't point it out. You don't ask for props. You never call it "helping."

But even more than my partner at home, you're my partner in crime. There is no one I have more fun one I'd rather get slammed drunk one makes me laugh as much as you do. How is it that I have married a man who can be at a club with me til 4:00 in the morning, partying like a frat boy, and then be Daddy the next day, so often better than I can be Mommy?

You love like no one I know, yet you don't offer it easily. It's hard to get to you. It's hard to matter in your life. As sensitive and passionate as you are, you reserve that for a very select few. You simply don't have time, you say. And, as you so honestly put it, just don't care. You don't care about being politically correct. You don't care about what others want or expect. You answer to nearly no one. Yet for those of us who have been lucky enough, your loyalty is frighteningly intense. You will go to the ends of the earth for someone you love, but always expect the same in return.

From the beginning, you put me first. That was our deal. Above everything and everyone, we would make Us our priority. And even after the kids came, even after life became more and more difficult to juggle, you've held me to that. You've held Us to that. When I get caught up in Life: the bills, the responsibility, the kids, the general noise inside my head, you call me on it. You want to talk. To drink wine. To listen. To love.

I love you as much for this constant desire to make time for us as for your absolute refusal to put up with my shit. I can be tough. I can be clingy. I can be whiny. I can be bitchy. You call me on that, too.

Yet despite your total and complete commitment to me, you have your own life. You have your passions outside of Us. You need your time away, your time alone, to be your own self, separate from being mine, or ours, or theirs. Your love for the outdoors, for your bikes, for testing your limits, makes me love you even more. You are, without question, your own person, apart from your family. And so you understand why I need to have my own things, too. It is what makes you understand all of blog, my friends, my interests, my latest crazy idea.

That is the best thing about you, I think, if I had to pick one (other than those forearms of yours): you understand me. Really, and truly, you understand me. You've seen my absolute best and, embarrassingly, my absolute worst, and everything in between. You not only accept who I am, but you want me to be more of it: you are the one who constantly reminds me to stop being afraid of myself.

So, no. I don't know how I got so lucky. I don't know what happened or how it happened or why it happened. Sometimes I look around, at you, at our kids, at us, and I still can't believe this has worked. I can't believe we are this happy...this in sync. So, yes. My love letter had to be to you. Because there is nothing and no one I love the way I love you.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Partying over at the neighbor's...

I'm sorry, but I'm not home right now...

I'm visiting my neighbor, The Kitchen Witch, who so graciously invited me over to be a guest writer on her blog as part of "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" I know I risk revealing my dorkiness here, but I was truly, sincerely honored that she asked. She is my kind of girl: in-your-face, funny, sarcastic, and blunt. And she can write. (She can cook, too, but since the only thing I like to make is a pot of coffee or a cocktail, I can't say we have that in common.)

Anyways, please go read my post over there. And then make yourself at home. Look around. Snoop in her medicine cabinet. Stay a while. I'm sure she'd love to have you. Maybe she even made one of her special recipes for the occasion.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Parenting is NOT an Olympic Sport

While sitting on the sidelines of my 4-year-old's soccer game this Saturday, I was eavesdropping on two moms talking. (Yes, I was eavesdropping. And don't pretend like you don't do it, too.)

I was fascinated by how the conversation developed. It went straight from "Hi, I'm so-and-so" and "Which is your kid?" to "Well, I do a curriculum with him at home, and it really is the most sound of all those available out there."

Curriculum? At home? How could you be talking about curriculum when you just met? I mean, you just met! What happened to the weather? Nice shoes? How long has your kid been playing? You know: small talk?

This mother went into an incredibly detailed and lengthy explanation of all of the curricula she had purchased for her 4-year-old and how long she spent researching the different ones out there and how they use a phonics one and a math one and a thinking one and it's all very organized and structured and scheduled throughout the day.


Now, I'm a teacher. I've been one for 13 years. I even have a background in early childhood. I take education quite seriously. I know all about curriculum. I know the importance of a good foundation. My kid is in preschool. But there was something about the way this woman was throwing the word "curriculum" around when talking about her 4-year-old that made me want to cry. Her face was pinched. She was very serious-looking. Focused. Intense. Kinda scary. Something told me that this little boy wakes up every morning with his Mommy to face a day filled with objectives and word lists and tasks. There was no mention of library time. No talk of snuggling with stories. Museum visits. Coloring. Play. But that c-word came out at least 8 times in 3 minutes.

I don't understand these parents. It's almost as if parenting has become a competition. I know women who started looking into preschools when their kids were infants, for fear of being left out of "the good ones." I've been warned that if I want my kid to be able to compete in sports, he has to start soon. He can't miss a season. He can't try other things. He needs to "specialize." I know parents who are running their children ragged with schedules fuller than their own: ballet, violin, karate, tutoring. There is no time for play. There is no time to just exist. Parents are raising their children to live the same kinds of hectic, harried lives they do.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had read about playing classical music for my growing baby. I was skeptical, but as tired as I was, I'd use any excuse to sit around, a set of stretched out headphones on my belly, rocking some Baby Mozart. I figured, it couldn't hurt, right? But now, I've seen ads in magazines for stuff categorized under "prenatal education." Are you frickin' kidding me?!? I thought that woman on the soccer field was bad; you can buy a curriculum for your embryo!

I just don't understand the urgency, the stress. "I just want to give him every advantage possible," I heard her say. The other mom nodded emphatically, and I wondered if she was thinking 'I wish this woman would let me watch my kid play' or 'I can't believe I am so behind on little Johnny's curriculum!'

My question is: An advantage over what? The other 4-year-olds in the block center? Or does she think that somehow, this magical curriculum she is using now will get her kid into the best college?

I want my kid to be smart. I want him to do well. I want him to get ahead in life and be successful. But mostly, I want my kid to be happy. And nice. Is there a curriculum for that? 'Cause I figure I have plenty of time for academics and instruction. Right now, I want to make my 4-year-old laugh and play and learn about how not to hurt other people's feelings and how to make friends and how to be a friend. I want to read the next chapter in his latest superhero book at bedtime and watch him as he figures out that if his little brother gets 2 of his cookies, then he is left with 2 also. I want to be his Mommy. I do not want to be his teacher.