Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Puppet Master

I recently signed Sara up for a puppet making class. She thinks she has the world on a string already so I thought it would be fun for her. When Christian and I dropped her off, the instructor invited Christian to stay and participate. He was beyond giddy for a chance to run with the big dogs. He was confused when he saw a pile of mismatched socks on the table. "Mommy, did you bring our socks to share?". Both kids jumped right in, making mouths, choosing eyes, noses, ears, beards, and eyebrows. Sara's puppet is elaborate and fancy. She has a ponytail, bright red lips, and feather eyebrows. And she is not complete yet. I'm guessing she will have a whole outfit with accessories. Her puppet is named Nature Girl. She loves fashion and saves any animal in trouble. She can fly, swim and climb trees. Christian spent more time choosing, discarding and rearranging his puppet. By the end of class, they got to name their puppets and create entire personalities, including voices. Christian's puppet is named Grumpy, after my father. He is 624 years old. He is a superhero. He can fly, fight bad guys, shoot fire and make it rain and snow. Silly me, I though my dad's only superpowers were reciting random bits of Shakespeare and letting the kids stay up too late. My kids and their imaginations never cease to amaze me. They have these incredible minds that soak in everything around them. They told amazing stories with their puppets. I was concerned Sara would be upset about her little "bother" encroaching on her turf but she was so excited for him to be allowed to participate. She encouraged him, helped him choose pieces, and even made suggestions. She looked out for him in class. I was proud of her. Every time he added a piece to his puppet, he had to show her and ask her what she thought. She was very supportive and encouraging. When the puppets got to "talk" to each other, Sara picked Christian to talk with. He was thrilled. They had a long, rambling conversation. Their puppets joined forces to embark on a mission to save the world from bad guys. It was nice to see her being considerate and encouraging. He loved being a part of her world. He often gets dragged along to Girl Scout meetings, art classes and science fairs. He felt like a big kid doing something she was doing, too. The 4 year age difference can be a challenge. She is bored with things he likes to do. He has no desire to play "girly" games with her. Occasionally, we hit a happy middle ground. And it involves socks, a glue gun and alter-egos.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Friendly Skies

I like to think of myself as a positive person. I usually am. Until I get anywhere near an airport. Then my inner-what is wrong with people-self comes out. Something about air travel makes the IQ of the general public drop several points. First, you must attempt to park somewhere near the airport. All the arrows and signs give conflicting orders and suggestions. Not to mention the yahoo in the Hummer or the grandma with cataracts driving the wrong way you must swerve to avoid. And even the smallest car feels obligated to take up 2 parking spots. Then you get to lug all your worldly possessions on the grand trek to the airport. Once you enter the airport, you must dodge the family reunions and school trips congregating in the middle of the airport. Then you must wait in a 2-mile long line to check in. In front of you will be people who don't speak the language, people trying to cash their light bill and buy a lottery ticket from the check-in clerk. There is always someone who is surprised they need to produce a valid plane ticket and photo I.D. Once you prove you have a ticket to ride, you get to wait for 6 months to get through security. People now have to strip naked, unload every stick of gum and fork over every electronic. Amazingly, this process takes longer than childbirth. If you are a Type A OCD personality, you still have hours to kill so you wander around the airport shops. You contemplate paying way too much for crap you would not even glance at anywhere else. Then you lurk around your gate until "boarding time". Your fellow passengers clearly flunked out of preschool because not a single one of them will be able to follow the simple instructions given repeatedly to line up according to rows. People form a CIRCLE around the door. Then they are shocked that the ticket agent can read their seat assignment and sends them to the back of the "line". My kid, at age 7, could figure out the line up process faster than the guy next to her in the Brooks Brothers suit. And people in the middle seat always "mistakenly" hunker their over-sized selves in my aisle seat. And they are surprised when I "politely" refuse their "gracious" offer of their middle seat. Last year, Sara and I flew to Minnesota. I'm clearly sitting next to my 7 year old. We had side-by-side window and aisle seats. While I sometimes would like to pretend my kids are not mine in public, this was not one of those times. A man actually asked if I would switch seats with him 4 rows back because he doesn't like the middle seat. Excuse me, but who DOES like it? I was tempted to slip Sara some chocolate covered espresso beans and a Big Gulp and take him up his offer to teach him a lesson. Then you spend the entire flight with someone's head in your lap because they feel the overwhelming urge to "recline". When this happens, I channel my inner-Calvin and Hobbes. I need to open and shut my tray compulsively, cross my legs repeatedly, get up and down a few dozen times. I also throw in a few coughs and sneezes for good measure. Usually, I win the turf war and they decide to spend the rest of the flight in their full upright position. Sara, on the other hand, loves traveling. Everything must be explored. Everyone must be met and interrogated. If there is a delay, she is happy to wander the airport shops. I need to take a page out of her travel log book.