Monthly Archives: February 2013

When Life Gives You Corn Tortillas, Make Nachos Instead

I knew that disaster loomed as soon as I saw the package: Premium Blend flour tortillas – with “a touch of golden corn” (in kid-speak—at least my son’s— a somewhat grainy and funky texture).
I decided to hope for the best and continued to prepare the rest of the fixings for our burritos. My
9-year-old made his usual pre-dinner pass through the kitchen to survey the goings-on. He looked in horror at the package on the counter.

“What?” he cried. “I hate this kind. Why did dad get this kind? Why can’t we just have tacos instead?” he protested.

“You actually haven’t had this kind. You’ve had the ‘artisan’ kind. They’re different,” I tried, although deep down I knew my attempts would be futile. He grumbled some more and I sent him out to the driveway to shoot some more hoops.

A few minutes later he sat at the table with his burrito wrapped up neatly, as his brother delved into his open-face style. I, on the other hand, settled in with my taco salad. I stared out the window, mesmerized by the tall trees that were silhouetted with the final minutes of daylight glowing behind them. It had been an extremely tired-feeling day—I’d told my sister how I wished I could go to bed at 4, read for three hours and then fall asleep. But instead of retiring early, I just stared blankly at the near-dark surroundings and chomped on my salad.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my 9-year-old attempt to eat his flour-with-a-touch-of-golden-corn burrito. It startled to crumble and tear.

I crunched. I chewed. I stared outside.

Refried beans and gooey cheese soon dripped from his fingers as he tried to eat.

Visions of springing forward danced in my head.

Crunch. Chew. Stare.

His burrito soon fell apart completely, ripping at the sides.

I did not help. I did not suggest. I did not advise. I did not offer a solution. I did not get a jar of peanut butter. I did not move.

I simply sat, looking out the window, crunching my salad.

Crunch. Chew. Stare. Crunch. Chew. Stare.

He piled the remains of his tortilla shell on a napkin.

He stood up, grabbed his overflowing heap of beans, meat and cheese and did some fiddling in the kitchen. He put his creation in the microwave.

“I made nachos,” he said as he returned, resorting to using some of the chips I’d scattered on my salad.

I nodded, impressed by his creativity, and finished my salad.

“This is actually pretty good,” he surmised. “Not the best, but good.”

He solved it. He ate it. He survived it.

And figured out —without a peep from me—what to do when life serves you up a plate of dreaded flour-with-a-touch-of-golden-corn burritos.

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Even Worse Than The Leprechaun’s Day

My 9-year-old son has deemed this “holiday” his least favorite by far (although I informed him that, technically, it’s not a holiday, since he doesn’t have the day off school).

Sure, he’s fulfilled his Third Grade obligations, albeit begrudgingly so. He slapped together a Valentine “mailbox”: an oatmeal box with an explosion of bright paint, a lone puff ball and button, topped off with crumpled-up, paint-covered streamers that look like they turned up under the couch after a five-year-old’s birthday party. He addressed his NBA Valentines and taped Tootsie Pops to them. He’s helped roll out cookie dough, made some hearts and even enjoyed adorning them with sprinkles.

But what’s different this year is the air with which he’s done them. There’s a coolness about him, almost a sense of bored detachment. Gone are the childlike wonder and fun; they’re replaced by a sense of let’s-hurry-up-and-get-this-done. A sense of disinterest in a day that’s overrun with red hearts, cupid, and frivolity. It’s quite obvious that Valentine’s Day ranks at the bottom of his list.

It’s another step away from childhood into young manhood.

Another step from Curious George to Harry Potter and the Hardy Boys, and he’s teetering on the brink.

A step in which he draws his own conclusions and forms his own opinions. Like checking the time/date stamp on the Christmas Eve pictures on our digital camera, seeking proof about the authenticity of the Jolly guy who resides at the North Pole.

Which means that it’s another time for me to take a step back, like it or not, to let him become who he’s going to become. To let him draw those conclusions and form those opinions. To let him wholeheartedly believe that a day that celebrates Shamrock shakes and a magical munchkin is way better than one that celebrates love.

Yes, I fear for his future girlfriend. I ache for his prom dates.

But as he sets off with his dilapidated mailbox and homemade cookies on what he views as a silly, superfluous day—one that’s “even worse than the leprechaun’s day”—I wish him a top o’ the morning in my heart.

Running To Remember

This morning I, like many, participated in a Virtual Run for Sherry Arnold, the Montana mother, teacher and runner who was kidnapped and killed in January 2012. Last year, my sister and I ran together through the streets of downtown Seattle to honor her. This year, I ran solo in my neighborhood to remember her. I printed out my bib, which reads:

2nd Annual Run for Sherry
Courage. Strength. Grace.
Be Safe. Run On.
Never Forget.

To be honest, courageous is not something I’ve been feeling lately. Quite the opposite. Wimpy, insecure, doubting, questioning, struggling and uncertain are more like it. I’ve also been babying an IT Band/knee issue which has left me feeling totally sorry for myself and the fitness I’ve lost since the marathon training.

But this morning was different. As I pinned on my bib front and center, I left that Kira at the door. I took off with the spirit of Sherry. As I ran, I thought about teachers. About the ones who showed up on a Friday night to hand out books at my son’s Bingo night. I thought about his glowing report card, and the words written with such great detail, love and commitment to his success. About teachers who give their all, heart and soul, for our kids. I thought about and prayed for Sherry’s family. For that massive, unfillable hole. For the life lost. For the ache that doesn’t go away.

I headed up a hill and heard someone running behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw a guy in a beanie. I picked up the pace. I wouldn’t let him catch me.

I ran with shoulders back, with courage.

I ran without stopping, with strength.

I ran without self-pity, with hopefully a little bit of grace, and a whole lot of gratitude.

This morning, I ran with purpose.

This morning, I ran for a person.

Thank you, Sherry.

We are running on.

We are not forgetting.