Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back Seat Singers

One of the things that makes me not mind all of the errands, school drop offs and pick ups, and endless travels here and there, is singing in the car with my girls. It makes our trips more pleasant for all, seriously cuts down on the backseat fights between String Bean and Peanut, and reminds me of my own childhood. During road trips with my sister and mother, we would rock out in our ’71 Volvo wagon (yellow, with fake-wood interior and black vinyl seats), and whichever kid got to ride shotgun would hold a boom box on her lap, because the am-only radio wasn’t too reliable. We were singing Abba, the Grease soundtrack, The Bee Gees, John Denver. My girls are more partial to P!nk, Fergie, The Fray, with a little bluegrass thrown in to make their daddy and grandpa proud—primarily Crooked Still (I think their version of “Shady Grove” gets more backseat requests than any other song I’ve ever had in the car).

The girls are unaware, as they break songs down and try singing different parts, that they are learning about melody and harmony, or that they are carrying their mom down the happiest of memory lanes, or that they are building for themselves the exact same memory that I cherish. There’s a nice feeling of having come full circle, as I ferry them from place to place, with their sweet little voices singing song after song on the CD I’ve burned just for them. And it makes it just a little easier to get reluctant kids into those car seats to remind them whose turn it is to request a song. They’re always game for some back seat singing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

House Hunter

String Bean was introduced to those house-hunting shows on TV by my in-laws, who watched House Hunters on HGTV during their last visit. At first her reaction was worry that we’d move someday, like her friend across the street did. After reassuring her that we were not looking for a new house, I finally got to the bottom of her concerns: that she’d lose her princess decals that cover her walls if we moved. When I explained that we have more, because I didn’t use them all, she made me dig the unused strips of removable stickers out of the closet and show them to her. Once that concern was addressed, she flipped her stance completely, and now desperately wants to buy a new house and move.

I’m not sure what she thinks a new house would offer that our current one doesn’t, but she’s a natural shopper and collector of things, so I’m not surprised that she’s fantasizing about open homes the way other kids day dream about a new toy. She’s had me record a few episodes of House Hunters, and she likes to comment on the homes being shown: that she likes the kitchen in this one, the bathroom in that one, the deck and view from the other one. I’ve told her that when homes around us are for sale, they have open houses, and you can walk through and see if you like the place. So now she now wants to go to an open house or twenty. In her never-ending consideration of careers (this week we’ve had doctor, writer, nurse, and fashion designer), her fascination with “pretty things” and house-shopping shows led me to suggest interior decorating. So today, that’s the career of choice. I’d let her start with our house, but that just means we’d have princess decals on every wall. After all, we do have that whole unused strip of them just calling to her from her closet now.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Peanut’s easy at the dentist. She switches into her rare no-talking mode, but is a very good listener, super cooperative, totally unemotional about the whole thing. She lies down with her mouth wide open and keeps it that way, never flinching or fussing until the lady with the mask says she’s done, and then she’s off and running, for the sticker roll, the toy box of reward treasures, the balloon pick-up station. She keeps her eyes on the prize the entire time, suddenly finding her voice as the dentist tells her what a good girl she was, requesting a blue balloon for herself, a pink one for her sister, and glittery bracelets, if they have any, from the toy box.

For String Bean, it’s entirely a different story. She’s nervous in the car ride over, complains of a stomach ache as we wait for her name to be called. By the time the hygienist parks her in the reclining chair she’s near tears and terrified of everything: the spinning tooth polisher, the water-sprayer, the suction thing. She cooperates, holding her mouth open and all, but her hands are clenched in fists and her little jaw trembles the whole time, and she flinches every time there’s a noise or someone makes a sudden movement. And it’s not that she’s had a bad experience at the dentist before. She’s never had a cavity and only had X-Rays once. When it’s all over, she’s perfectly happy to collect her stickers, her toy, her balloon, and asks again and again if it’s really, really over and we get to go home now. On the ride home she’s a different kid, relieved of anxiety, chipper and chatty and full of tough talk about how well she did and how it wasn’t scary at all. Which each time makes me think that next time she won’t be so scared. So far, no luck on that one, but maybe one of these days.