Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ohs, Socrates?

I've written before about the little words that kids say to communicate before they have the real thing. I love those words. Those words are just so very genuine and passionate and often much better at expressing just what needs to be said than the properly defined and executed dictionary version. G is right at that age when these kinds of words are pouring out of her. Too fast for me to keep up. The one that I can document is her interrogative, "Ohs?" It is used as a general interrogative word. For example:

"Ohs Mama?" as in today at the park when she could hear me and couldn't see me. "WHERE's Mama?"

"Ohs? Mama?" as in "WHAT on God's green earth are you doing now Mama?"

"Ohs? Lollipop!" as in "WHEN are you going to give me the lollipop you promised but keep forgetting to give me?"

"Ohs! Mama help!" as in, "HOW do I put underpants on over my purple tights, green velour pants, and diaper while wearing a bear hat and eating a chocolate cupcake? Help me! Hellllp me!"

Even yesterday, G asked, "Ohs Mama?" as in, "WHY on earth are you my mother? I really don't get your need to prevent me from experimenting with icy puddles when it is below zero, heights greater than my body length, and gravity in a free fall - not to mention your insistence on keeping a coat on during most of these events. You are such a drag."

Sometimes I wonder myself, "Ohs Mama?" Why indeed am I their mother? I put my University degrees to good use and pull out the Ancient Philosophers trick from my mommy-pocket of wisdom. Ancient Philosophers are the only things that seem to give my children pause of late. I replied to her, "An unexamined life is not worth living."

G's answer to this is to reply, "'xamine. Yah." Then, she sucked her fingers, cuddled with her fifi, and revisited the frozen puddle dread.

I told you, I can only hope for my children to pause these days...
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I've always said that Bug is a surf-n-turf kinda kid. Outside is best. Water or land doesn't matter. We've started swimming lessons mostly to have something to do during the dark winters here and it's been fun/funny. Up until recently, "swimming" meant "flail all limbs in the water while talking until the teacher chucks you forward 3 ft and says good job."
A teacher told him that he might swim better if he just stopped talking. He said, "Great idea! I'll try it." I asked how it was going, not talking in the pool. He said, "Fine, but the teachers aren't learning anything about aquatic life." Yes, my son says words like, "aquatic."
The swimming actually has gone better since the recommendation.

Chuffed is a British word essentially meaning proud. He received a 10m "swimming" badge this past session. He's quite chuffed indeed. Check out how he looks back at Nana/the camera when he catches her watching him swim below. I never knew hams could swim.

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My husband is in Korea and Tiger Woods' transgressions are on the front page. Even here in stuffy Britain where the slander laws make it more difficult to print gossip, Tiger Woods was on the front page. Sigh. Let me be very clear. Tiger Woods' life is not "news." His life is not even "sportsy-newsie-kinda?-maybe?" It is gossip and if his life is going to take up even an ounce of my life as I try to find the news in the newspaper that is filled with his gossip, I feel obliged to offer what I would prefer to weed thru instead. I am, afterall, not above bringing solutions to problems like Tiger Woods' gossip in a newspaper. I would like a journalist to celebrate someone like my husband in their newspaper that is filled with gossip. Please permit me to gossip about my husband:

I find him to be good-looking. At least, better looking that Tiger, though I do know that to be personal opinion. He is, surely, handsome enough for the front-page of a newspaper that prints gossip.

When he's not working overseas, he comes home every night. He doesn't find excuses not to come home even on days when we're all in terrible moods. He comes home. Every night. The first question out of his mouth is, "How can I help?" He gets that parenting is 24/7 and he's still a dad even though his work day is done.

He is a fun guy to try new things with. He likes exploring. He is a safe person with whom to learn. He does not lose his temper or crash cars. I am proud that he does not make an obscene amount of cash swinging long sticks in the air.

He has found his family in every storm in which we've been lost - real, imagined, or existential in nature. He can multi-task better than I can as he often has time to take a picture during such storms.

He's a helpful sort. He tries to find a way to balance all of our needs. He catches us when we slip.

He is a good giver of piggy-back-rides.

He never lets us fall.

It's easy to do absolutely nothing much with him.

He shares his triumphs and his defeats with us. He's not chicken to own up to exactly who he is. He doesn't need a press conference, cameras, or threats of lost sponsorship or a lost marriage or lost relationships with his children to confess his faults.

He lets us hang on to him when our moods are questionable.

He not only loves his kids, but he likes them. He takes the time to find out their individual interests and follows their leads. He listens. He knows who they are without my mediation. He is patient and even puts together telescopes when suffering from jetlag. Bad days at work are not bad days at home. Hear that, Tiger? Print that, "journalist."

He is not perfect. Cooking, for example, is still a skill he's developing. If he's "cooked dinner," he has fried it, deeply, for a very long and crispy time. He also recently brought home a two weeks' supply of "organic hummus" that will go bad within two days of purchase and because it is "organic hummus" it also cost 3 times as much as the regular hummus. But, I prefer to end on a good note. We have an extensive network of family and friends who are fathers and husbands like he is. Their lives look different to ours on first glance. But you will find that they all love and like their families and their spouses. They come home. Pitch in. Show patience where maybe none is due. Please help me celebrate those good daddies and husbands. Give them a squeeze and a thanks. Make them feel newsworthy.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why I envy my daughter...

One of the reasons I like living in Glasgow, is that I get to read The Guardian every Saturday. Every Saturday! I get to hold that paper in my hands! Well, I like it most Saturdays. On the 6th of this month, Anouchka Grose wrote why she envied her daughter, " that she is nine and already looks extremely elegant in skinny jeans, crisp white blouses and my hat and silk scarves, I begin to see what Snow White's stepmother was on about." Also, this daughter envy is apparently a familial trait in Ms. Grose's world. Ms. Grose "took care not to compete with her glamorous mother." I am still sick to my stomach. Why aren't you? As a whisper against the gales of women (and The Guardian!?) supporting a shallow valuation of my gender, I offer why I am envious of my daughter and it is not because she has "no open pores, laughter lines, or blackheads."

I envy my daughter because of her fearless nature. She loves completely and without question, whether she's wearing pink goggles outside of the pool on a midwinter's day or not.

I envy my daughter because of her fearless nature. She trusts that her loved ones will return. She has faith that we will all come around and finally understand her. She has patience until we do.
I envy my daughter because of her fearless nature. She is not afraid to cry or feel much of any emotion for that matter. She will feel what she wants, when she wants, however she wants. Be it in the middle of the woods, the glossy floor of a grocery store, or at 3:32 in the morning. She is not afraid of her emotions.
I envy my daughter because of her fearless nature. She is curious. She touches snails, slips on beach rocks, tastes sand.

I envy my daughter because of her fearless nature. She trusts her body to jump and twirl and wiggle. She does not need schooling or official education or money spent on some class to call herself a dancer or singer or painter. She is all of those things exactly when she wants to be those things.

I envy my daughter because of her fearless nature. Wide green spaces call out to her and she listens. Even if there is a cliff dropping to the Sound of Raasay just a few steps away, she runs or tumbles or skips when the green space asks her too.

I envy my daughter because of her fearless nature. She rolls up her sleeves, tries again, shares seaweed with anyone and anything deserving.

For the record, it is not fair to call someone out without leaving your name. I am Jennifer Philpott. I live in Glasgow. I do not have a "great body." But, I am beginning to like my open pores, my laughter lines, my blackheads, my stretchmarks, my pouchie tummy, my scars, my hips, my toes with toe fungus, my tired-shot eyes, my questionable hair, my sagging chin. Gosh, the list continues and is really far too boring and self-absorbed to continue. I also have a list of my personality faults and one of them is that I am not as fearless as my daughter.

But I like my faults because they show that I have lived on this earth. I like them because they show that my body and my heart does everything I ask them to do. I recover from surgery, late nights, and childbirth. I have held and comforted my children, my husband, my dear friends. I have mourned quietly on the way to work with the sun rising and danced oh-so-silly at every wedding I've been invited to, because, duh, it's a wedding! I have traveled over seas and lived on mountains. I hope I am raising my daughter not to envy others' looks, but to relish her own flaws. I'm looking forward to our next day on the beach. Please join us, if you leave your envy in the car.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

A Lion's Tale

I have been trying to teach my children to handle life's highs and lows the way that I do best. Curl up with a good book, get lost in its pages, take a nap, wake, try again. As usual, my kids apply their own twist to the lessons I try to bestow from my pocket of mommy-wisdom. How should one handle the sadness of Nana leaving after two weeks of goodness? Well, not with a book. Or a nap. One must curl up in a lion's costume and take great joy in the softness of its tail. Did I remember to tell you how very small and lint-filled my pocket of mommy-wisdom is?

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