Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pass the Pork

When the girls were first born, everything that I knew as “normal” in my daily routine was turned upside-down. As all new parents do, we had to learn to adapt to a life that now revolved around someone else (or, in our case, two someone elses). The jarring time period of readjustment felt a little bit like the proverbial rug got pulled out from under us. We were left lying on our backs gasping for air in a bewildered state of shock. Eventually, however, we caught our breath and learned to appreciate life on the floor. It’s true what they say that sooner or later you “forget” about what life was like before kids. Sometimes I try to remember exactly what I used to do in the afternoons and weekends pre-children. Nowadays conversations about bodily functions have become so natural that on occasion I will inadvertently horrify a toddler-less friend. Sentences like, “No, we don’t eat Cinderella, “Honey, teapots aren’t for hitting,” and “We color on paper not…. (you fill in the blank)” have become commonplace in my everyday vernacular. I have more than one Dr. Seuss book memorized and I am now well-versed in scores of children’s songs that get us through bedtime.

As the girls get older, we face new challenges (i.e. potty training, note previous comment about bodily functions) but we also rediscover hidden gems from our former life. Each time this happens, it feels like we have been given a special gift that we don’t take for granted. In the last few weeks, we have been offered such a treasure: eating out. In the very beginning, eating out didn’t pose much of a problem. We would just load up the diaper bag, each strap a girl to our front in a carrier and head off and enjoy our meal as they slept soundly in their little cocoons. As time drew on, this task became increasingly more difficult. They became active and needy in the toddler sense of the word. This presented an additional element of danger in traditional Korean restaurants as these establishments have a hot grill located in the middle of each table in order to cook the meat for your dinner. Delicious? Yes. Hazardous? Extremely. We attempted it a few times as the girls just started getting grabby and quickly gave up to prevent third degree burns on the girls or any incidents of cardiac arrest for the parents.

A few weeks ago, we decided to give it a go again. We nervously brought them to the table and held our breath as the grill was lighted. I pulled out the arsenal of snacks and crayons to keep their busy little hands occupied as our dinner cooked. To our delight, they waited relatively patiently and their curious little fingers only rarely reached for the fiery forbidden fruit at the center of the table. Chris and I enjoyed a Korean dinner that, compared to a year and a half ago, was a downright pleasure. The girls even had their first taste of kimchi which seemed to forever cement “spicy” into their growing vocabularies. Since this positive experience we’ve revisited a few of our favorite restaurants from our former lives and rekindled our love for Korean fare.

And so another page turns in this novel of parenting and growing up. With this victory comes the faint bittersweet twinge that reminds us that our little ones aren’t babies anymore. Questions coming in asking us about where they will go to school remind us that they won’t be toddlers forever either. And so we snuggle our little girls knowing that the days they will fit in our laps are numbered. We relish in the fun times and recognize that the bad times “are just a phase”. And we order another round of barbecue pork and kimchi.

Monday, May 13, 2013

An Important Lesson

I know that girls want to be pretty. We have some sort of innate desire to be beautiful and to be noticed. So, it didn’t surprise me when the girls suddenly became obsessed with the Disney princesses wanting to don princess dresses of their own. I was delighted when, once royally adorned, they immediately and instinctively recognized that they must spin around in circles to achieve the full potential of their tiny frocks all the while saying, “Dada, look! Dada, look! Pretty dress.” That will melt a mama’s heart.

So, like I said, none of this surprised me. I have my own fond memories prancing around with my sister singing in old flower girl dresses pretending to be Belle or Ariel. Our girls know all of the princess’ names and at least one song from each movie that they regularly request mama to sing or attempt to sing it on their own. Forgive my perpetuating gender stereotypes, but I think this obsession is cute and so I go with it.

Their fascination has taken a turn that I didn’t expect, however. A few weeks ago, we let them sit down and watch The Little Mermaid in its entirety (sorry to all the parents out there who are against movie watching at this age). They were completely enthralled with the movie and didn’t take their eyes from the screen the entire time. They picked up on the parts that I expected them to: Ariel’s song, all the fish. Under the Sea, etc. But Lucy especially seemed to gravitate toward the one character I expected to fast-forward through: Ursula. For whatever reason, Lucy was captivated by this corpulent villainess. She laughed and squealed with delight whenever she was on screen. When Ursula’s more devious nature was revealed, Lucy looked at us and explained, “Ursula is mad!” And so it began. Whenever we talked about Ariel or the other princesses, Lucy’s immediate input was, “Ursula is mad!”

The fixation didn’t stop at The Little Mermaid. We were watching a brief sing-a-long video of Snow White’s “I’m Wishing” when the evil stepmother made a fleeting appearance as she glanced disapprovingly down at the Prince and Snow White. I’m not kidding; she was on screen for probably less than five seconds. But, of course, she was who Lucy spotted and immediately asked about. “Who is that?” and so I told her, “That’s the bad queen.” For days now, all she wants to talk about is how the “bad queen is mad.” They saw the end of Snow White and were far more concerned that the “bruja” (Spanish for witch, that’s what we named her) fell off the mountain than poor Snow White falling “asleep.”

So, my psychoanalytic friends, what does it all mean? Why are my sweet princess daughters being lured away by these evil villains? Even our nighttime routine was taken captive by these wicked antiheros. When it comes time to say our prayers, the girls list friends and family members and then, without fail, Ursula and the “bad queen”. There are a few different things one could take away from this development. Are the girls showing a propensity for the dark side? I am going to choose not to think so. I am going to choose to see it this way. The girls are teaching us a very important lesson: Pray for thine enemies. May we all be so loving.