Grandma and The Mighty Atom

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I’m so bad.

With the birth of my 3rd child things around here got really complicated. Trying to time everything just right: handle all the schedules, keep it smooth sailing for the older kids while balancing the needs of a newborn… I wanted life to be seamless. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. They are all still alive and DCF hasn’t been to the house. {Happy Dance}

Unfortunately, I’ve let other things slide. Me time (yeah, right… what’s that), personal friendships (I’m sorry friends, I swear I’ll call soon), and the most important thing of all… the rest of my family, more specifically, my grandmother.

I am so blessed to still have my grandma in my life, on this earth and living only 30 minutes from me. She’s a quick-witted, 91-year-old fireball and the only thing larger than my love for her is my respect for her. It’s been 11 years since she lost my papa (they dated since she was 14) and although I know she misses him terribly (we all do) Grandma still lives her life. Everything I need to know about love, humility and commitment can be learned from GG (her nickname, as she is my kid’s Great Grandmother).

With a houseful of kids it really is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and because Grandma is in fine overall health, I hadn’t made a lot of time for her, until yesterday. Grandma came over for dinner, played with the great-grandkids, swam in the pool, and even read my blog. Yesterday was a great time and a real eye-opener. It’s easy to forget that my grandma was once a 37-year-old mom too, and a girl, and an adolescent, and a public school teacher. It’s easy to just look at her, the way she is now, at 91, and forget that she lived a whole different life before me, before my mom, before now. Thank G-d I have Grandma to remind me.

After dinner last night GG said,

“Do you have On Demand?”

{Complete shock} Sure we have On Demand, I can’t believe you even know what that is… What would you like to watch?

“Well, my friend, Moshe, is on America’s Got Talent… do you know that show?”

Of course I know that show. What are you talking about, “your friend” is on it. {Now I’m getting a bit worried… is GG losing it?}

“My old friend, Moshe, he’s the “Mighty Atom Jr.” His father was the “Mighty Atom”. He pulls a car with his teeth. I missed the show and I’d love to see it.”

Of course, through my love of pop-culture and Americana, I’d heard of “The Mighty Atom”. He was a popular (and world renown) 20th Century Strongman. Guess what? GG grew up with his kid.

Mike Greenstein, or Moshe, (as GG has known him forever) grew up with Grandma in Brooklyn. They are still friends today, talk on the phone all the time, and he’s even come to visit her in Florida. He is also a Strongman, and at 93-YEARS-OLD, pulls CARS WITH HIS TEETH. I know, take a minute and let that sink in.

His father (Joe Greenstein) used to pull cars with his hair. Grandma says he’d do it in the street for the kids to see. What? My kids are impressed if a neighbor invites them over for a barbecue… times really have changed.

So we pulled up the video from America’s Got Talent so Grandma could see Moshe in all his 93-year-old, strongest-teeth-ever, car-pulling glory.

The insane part is that while watching this video, with Grandma, I could see her as a young woman again. I could see Moshe as a young man too. That strength: the bravery it takes to age, in a society which throws our elderly out the door without a glance. I’m in awe of them. All of them. Grandma has always told me she still thinks she’s 18-years-old in her mind. I can totally understand that now as I’m looking 40 in the underbelly.

I told GG that although I’ve never seen her move a 5,000 pound automobile with her teeth, her presence moves mountains.

At least it does for me.

 

 

 

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It’s a Small World After All

Ahh…

The epic and famous Disney World ride. When we made the pilgrimage to Disney during my childhood, I’d insist on repeating that ride on loop. My parents joked about the earworm of a song which played over and over again in their heads for the remainder of our vacation. Did I care? Nope. Not one bit. Kids are assholes like that.

Last week we took our children to the Magic Kingdom. We were in Orlando for a soccer tournament, so the theme park would be a one day event. My Husband and I had prepared ourselves for the absolute worst. Hot weather, exhaustion, a 5-month-old, 2 older children with conflicting interests and a 5 year difference in age, plus tantrums. Due to the fact that Magic Kingdom doesn’t serve alcohol, we readied ourselves like soldiers going to battle. Bad behavior would not be tolerated at any level. Even though tickets to the Disney parks now cost an insane amount of money for a family of 5, we were willing to haul ass if anyone lost their shit, including the adults. No one was going to end up like Clark W. Griswold today.

Maybe it was our attitude going in, take no prisoners, if-this-isn’t-fun-we-run attitude, that made the actual events of the day so surreal, but I’m still having a hard time believing it wasn’t a dream.

The kids were AMAZING. They were on-their-best-behavior BRILLIANT.

We actually had… wait for it, wait for it… FUN.

I know!! Family fun!! It’s like the fucking Loch Ness Monster to most parents. We walked the park, picking and choosing what we would and wouldn’t do as a unit. Many situations involved Hubby and the older boys hitting up and attraction while I fed the baby, rocked the baby, tried to keep the baby from melting. This was fine with me. Watching my sons agree, and enjoy their precious time with their father was breathtaking. “And who knows when they will ever behave this well again?” kept echoing in my subconscious. That bitch always knows how to ruin a party.

With all the new rides at Disney (completely unlike the trips of my youth), combined with the “Fast Pass” system and the insane amount of other people at the park, It’s a Small World, was never even discussed. The 3-year-old didn’t know it existed, the 9-year-old couldn’t have cared less, and me? Although it was my childhood favorite, I wasn’t about to sacrifice our fantastic vibe for a personal trip to yesteryear in 98 degree heat. That was a non-issue. As we walked past the legendary portal, I gave it a second glance. Hubby saw it in my eyes, but he knew my motives to keep on walking. They were his motives too. Harmony.

By this point in the day it was hot. Actually, hot is the understatement of the year, it was abysmal. Even as year-round Florida residents we were suffering. The baby looked a great deal more than his genetic half-Irish at this point. While looking for some shade I found the Holy Grail of the theme park… an air-conditioned, covered alcove with misting fans… HOLY SHIT!! Is this heaven? “No, it’s Iowa” quoted my inner bitch in her sarcastic tone. We’ve obviously watched Field of Dreams too often. Note to self: Don’t let the inner bitch pick movies anymore.

With my ideal spot secured, I sent the big boys along to their next ride. Our day was almost over and I was happy to have a luxurious place to feed the baby and rock him to sleep. I stood there, pushing the stroller, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. When I looked up, a woman of Asian decent had locked eyes with me from 20 feet away. She too, was pushing a stroller but with adorable, identical twins. I gestured that there was room in paradise, and she made way into my happy place with a nod of her head that sounded like thank you to my brain. We rocked our children while reading our phones, and sometimes our eyes met and we smiled. You know, that knowing mom smile? It’s the smile of being in the same boat, usually up shits creek without a paddle. I reveled in the fact that even though we couldn’t communicate verbally, we did, mom-ally.

The alcove had open air walls. People could see inside. Moms are the most resourceful and resilient bunch to ever walk the earth. When other moms saw us, and our strollers, they knew this place was comfy and safe. In the next 45 minutes we were joined by another Asian mom, a mom in a sari, and a mom in a full traditional Berka covering all but her smiling and thankful eyes to have a cool spot for her children.

That’s when it hit me like a ton-of-bricks. As an English-speaking American, I am in the minority of the ethnic pie-chart that makes up the world. That doesn’t bother me, not one bit, but as Americans, it’s easy to forget there is a whole globe of other people out there too. Other moms. Just like me. Who only want our children to be safe and happy. I’m sure that’s what Walt Disney was trying to project with It’s a Small World back in the day. Before ticket prices were exorbitant, before lines were 7 hours long, despite wars and politics dividing people. As a kid, I KNEW THAT.

Although I didn’t get to ride the actual attraction that day, I was reminded though the connection of motherhood, it’s a small world after all.

 

The Evil Queen, Chicken and Dumplings, and Snow “One More” Bite

The boys started asking for chicken and dumplings two days ago…

Asking?  Not really.  More like begging.

But it’s summer and we’re in Florida.  It’s freaking hotter than Hades up in here.  I was hoping they’d just forget about it.  Nope.  Not that lucky.

I get it… shredded chicken, creamy sauce, yummy dumplings. Amazing. I make a mean Chicken and Dumplings.

So tonight (when they were at soccer practice) I began the process.

It’s not that chicken and dumplings is difficult to execute.  It’s not even that chicken and dumplings is super labor intensive… under normal circumstances.  But I have 3 kids.  And there is nothing normal about having 3 kids and trying to make meals from scratch.

The 9-year-old loves and eats everything.  Always with a please and a thank you.  I would travel the world with Boy Wonder.  And my first stop would be Japan or India.  Boy Wonder would make us proud in any culinary situation.  His love of food is the reason I learned to cook.  And he’s pretty appreciative of my skills.

The Middle Monkey isn’t a fantastic eater.  Compared to other kids his age he eats wonderfully… but by our family standards?  He’s a shitty eater.  Unless he wants to eat…  and since he’s been asking for chicken and dumplings for days I thought this was a no brainer.  But now… now??  Not so much.  I get it.  He’s 3.   It’s all about power and control when you’re 3.  3 year old’s are like mini Napoleon.

We are all almost done with dinner and of course, Middle Monkey is starting his normal shit “I don’t like chicken.  I don’t want this bite.  I don’t like vegetables.”  It’s enough to make a sane man crazy.

My poor Hubby.  He is the sane man.  He’s rational, he’s all heart and he loves his family.  And while he’s sitting next to Middle Monkey saying “Have two more bites and then one more bite.”  This is our normal coercion eating tactic with this child.  I’m in the kitchen doing the dishes (already fed up) saying

“Just have him eat.  Stop spooning it for him… Jeez.  If he doesn’t want it that’s fine.  No desert then.” 

I’m not the sane one.  I’ve lost my patience long ago.  I’m the Pink Floyd parent… “If you don’t eat your meat you can’t have any pudding.”

I guess everyone has a breaking point. Cause that’s when Hubby broke.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen him angry..

“I’m tired of you not eating!  I’m tired of Mommy being mad!  You can just go to bed RIGHT NOW!”

And with lighting speed Daddy hauled Middle Monkey off to his room and put him in a time out.  You could hear the 3-year-old scream as he closed the door.

He saw the look of unhappiness on my face right away…

“What? This is ridiculous! You’re right. I get it.”

It’s not about being right. It’s about us not babying him.

“That’s why I finally said screw this.”

I know that babe, but you blamed it on me.

“I what? That’s insane!”

You said, “I’m tired of mommy being mad!”

“Well, I am. And you most definitely are.”

Yes, you are right on that, I am over this dinnertime bullshit dance he does. A dance that we let him do. But one minute you’re helping spoon-feed him and playing Lets Make a Deal, and the next… the next you banish him.

“Jeez, I did do that, didn’t I?”

Yup. So now I’m the Evil Queen and he’s Snow “one more” Bite.

“Good lord… I get it. I’ll go get the prince.”

Fingers crossed that dinnertime goes a bit better tomorrow evening.

The story of Snow White has been retold a million times over.

I’m not really a fan of fairy tales.