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Thursday, February 26, 2009

A new reprieve

C started his new preschool last Thursday. Phew. Finally.

I'm just not cut out for this full-time-parenting thing. At least I'm not cut out for it with my second, and very active boy. I was happy to learn that this preschool has NEVER kicked a kid out for bad behavior. Sure they've had um, challenging, kids before. But the undesirable behaviors are used as a learning experience, not as reason for expulsion.

Teacher Friend helped me feel less guilty for feeling a little overwhelmed with having him all day, everyday. She said, "Some people are cut out for it (full-time parenting) and some aren't. The ones that are, are called nannies."

Or babysitters. Or childcare providers. Or teachers. Here. Here.

I can almost feel the the tension seeping out of my pores.

Friday, February 13, 2009

No awards here

Here are two reasons I will never win the "Mother of the Year" award:

1) I gave my son a large bowl of Cherrios, turned on the TV, and went back to bed for nearly two hours this morning.

2) I fed my son chips and guacamole for lunch.

He didn't complain, so it can't be all bad, right? I'm sure he'd be thrilled if both of those things happened on a daily basis.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

(Almost) All the right stuff

I’m wondering if getting an agent to champion my book proposal is like playing Skeeball.

I always want to go for the slots in the upper corners. They are worth 100 points if you get the ball in. But if you miss and your ball falls to the bottom slot, you get zero points. As a result, I usually stick with the safer, and more reliable, 50-point slots. Or at least they are more reliable for me. I'm pretty good at Skeeball.

I attended an all day seminar for people who want to turn their idea into a published book. Outside of having the seminar leader tell me that she wants to take me on as a client so that she can champion my book project, I heard the best thing I could hope for at my one-day seminar on turning your idea into a published book. “You’re doing all the right things,” she told me more than once during the six-hour class sponsored by Media Bistro.

And who doesn’t love praise? It felt great to hear that my hard work has produced a sound strategy and a compelling two-minute pitch. It’s nice to hear that I’m doing the right things when it comes to writing query letters, organizing my book proposal, contacting agents who have represented authors in similar genres, and trying to get a sample chapter published in a magazine. But there is something about that sentiment that is truly disheartening.

If I were truly doing all the right things to get my book published, then I would already have an agent and a book deal and a publisher.

To be fair, she did offer a few suggestions on how to make what I’ve produced even better. I’m going to make those changes, tweak my proposal, and create an online presence around my book idea. So I guess I’m not really doing everything right. Maybe that was just part of a praise sandwich.

Getting praise and decent feedback is like racking up a respectable Skeeball score. But in the quest to get published, only getting half of what I need is like getting nothing at all. Maybe just doing almost everything right isn’t right enough. I need to stop shooting for those reliable 50-pointers.

Hopefully a few more tweaks, along with my boosted confidence, will help me land in that most coveted place -- in the determined hands of an amazing literary agent.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I prefer the real world

Today was one of those lazy weekend days when we wondered what we should do with our precious family time. Father in Chief tossed around some ideas – Coyote Point, the Children’s Discovery Museum, the Academy of Sciences. He figured today was a good day to check out one of those usually-too-crowded museums because most people (he hoped) would be home getting ready for their Super Bowl Party.

But I hate kid museums.

Call me a curmudgeon or a bad parent. But I hate them for all the same reasons I hate taking my kid to the playground. They are crowded. And they are pretty much boring for parents. Or at least I find them incredibly boring. Whenever the weather is nice and it’s light outside, I always have the babysitter take the kids to the park. At least they get to go. I’m pretty sure there is no rule that says I have to take them, right? As for museums, I avoid them too – unless I’m going to be meeting up with one of my favorite friends. Then I’ll suffer through it.

As we pondered the list of kid-approved venues, I figured that they’re had to be a better place for us to spend an hour or two without crowds, without germ-infested buttons to push, without kids fighting over the buckets and shovels in the sandbox. I wanted to go somewhere that the kids could still learn about life without it being a place specifically designed for learning about life. We decided to take the kids to the bike path near Oracle.

R rode his bike. C finally figured out how to pedal his tricycle. We stopped at nearly all of those exercise pit-stops, which are part of one of those ancient exercise circuits made of wood. We did push-ups. They slid down the one that was supposed to be for inverted sit-ups. We saw birds. We saw cyclists. We saw rollerbladers. We saw flowers, clouds, and talked about brackish water. We saw airplanes, leaves, stones, and sticks. C and I even marveled at a spotless ladybug for several minutes.

It was great. There was fresh air, no hefty admission fee, no stressful search for a parking spot. There was no line for the bathroom or the drinking fountain. There was no one demanding anything from the snack bar. It was just our family enjoying each other’s company at our own pace out in the real world.

Sure, we didn’t learn about gravity or wind in any kid-designed experiment. But we saw gravity in action as we watched the kids hurl sticks out to the marshy water and as stones fell to the ground. We learned about the rules of the road as we corralled the kids to the right side of the path to lets others pass around us. We learned about the food chain as we talked about the birds swooping down to the water as they scooped up their lunch.

It was the best.