My 4 year old son Cash has a way of finding trouble. The fact that one of our rugs and an entire bathroom were covered in slime and glitter just a few days ago is only the latest in a ridiculously long litany of spirited things he had done over the years.
But sometimes, it’s really not his fault. Like when he stepped on glass a few years ago.
(The very short back story: After two surgeries, doctors finally got the glass out but he would no longer step down on his foot. So after three months of physical therapy and three orthopedist consultations, he was in casts for 6 weeks to fix his walking. And it did. For a couple months. And then, he started walking on his toes again. I mean, OMG.)
So now he has to wear braces on his feet for 6 months. Which I can handle but it means he has to wear shoes two sizes too big in order to fit the braces. Which meant a trip to the shoe store to buy new shoes.
I found a great pair of sneakers on sale.
I also found a great pair of light up, super cool, totally not on sale sneakers. And as you know, sneakers can be expensive.
I was vacillating between the two.
And I finally decided that any kid who had two surgeries for glass in his foot, endured 3 months of physical therapy, wore two casts on his feet for 6 weeks and now had to wear braces for 6 months certainly deserved LIGHT UP, SUPER COOL, TOTALLY NOT ON SALE sneakers.
Even if I still can’t get the slime out of my rug.
So I went to the counter and waited while they rung up the sneakers.
But the manager (who overheard me discussing which sneakers to buy with my older daughters) did a little magic at the register and suddenly the light up, super cool, totally not on sale sneakers were much cheaper.
She said, “He deserves these sneakers and you deserve some money off!”
I was like, “Really?!”
I graciously thanked her.
Wow. That was really nice. And smart too. Because this lady with the 5 kids (me) will invariably need to be buying more shoes.
And where do you think I will always go now? Yup. That place.
(Which was DSW by the way.)
Being nice. It’s such a simple idea. And it can dramatically alter people’s day.
I often see the kids getting off the school bus at my twins’ elementary school when we are walking in. They are greeted by a school official with an extremely cheery “good morning,” high fives and even hugs.
Whatever is happening at home, these children are getting the warmest greeting when they get to school.
It’s beautiful to watch.
Yes, we can all be tired. And grumpy. And busy. But exerting kindness (even just a little kindness) has an unbelievable impact. It lifts people up. It encourages them to then do something kind for someone else. It’s a constant reminder of all the generous, amazing people in this world.
And that’s what I’m going to choose to think of every time I look at the braces on Cash’s feet.
Not the surgeries. Or the the physical therapy. Or the casts. Or that dumb piece of glass that started all of this craziness in the first place.
I will think of that nice woman at the shoe store. I will see kindness. And I will try to pass it on.
If you just had a baby, I’m going to give you a heads up on something. You are now “mom.” And I know what you’re thinking, “Of course I’m the mom! I have a baby.”
But let me clarify, people who are not your child will start calling you mom like it’s your actually name.
Yup. Your name was Jessica. Now it’s “mom.” Of course your friends and family will still call you Jessica. But everyone else apparently had been granted some kind of permission to now just refer to you as “mom.”
At the pediatrician. At the dentist. At the dermatologist. “Please fill out the paperwork, mom.” “We need your co-pay, mom.” “Here’s your receipt, mom.”
OMG! I’m not your mom.
I realized it’s way easier saying “mom” than looking down at previously mentioned paperwork and using my last name. BUT… how about then just not calling me anything. Or calling me, “Smart, fabulous, glamorous lady!”
I mean, doesn’t, “We need your copay smart, fabulous, glamorous lady” sound good? (Okay, we can work on something shorter.)
Plus can you imagine if we walked around all day referring to people as some generic title?
“Thanks Receptionist for making that appointment for me!”
“Hi Teacher! What day is our conference?”
“Thanks for the directions Security Guard!”
“Have a great day Doorman!”
In most cases (with some exceptions like “Doctor”), it would be pretty ridiculous.
So maybe we could all simmer down a bit on the generic mom title.
Unless someone is your actual mom. Then go for it you smart, fabulous, glamorous lady!”
Remember when I was just writing about the horrific hurricane in Houston and my own hurricane woes a number of years ago in New York?
And then all of a sudden I was like – wait, what? Hurricane Irma is a category 5 hurricane barreling towards Florida? Dammit.
Yes, hurricane Irma did arrive with too much force and too much destruction. We did okay here in Fort Lauderdale. We had some damage but nothing completely overwhelming. Our power was out for about a week which gave me a reason to throw out 13 different kinds of mustard and hot sauces (Did they even needed to be refrigerated in the first place?!).
Since Rick was working night and day in Miami at CBS, I took the kids to my sister’s in Memphis during the hurricane. Well, (due to lack of flights) first we had to drive to Orlando so we could get on a plane to Atlanta and then drive to Alabama, spend the night in a hotel and then drive to Memphis. But sort of the same thing.
I was so relieved and grateful to get out of South Florida.
As soon as we arrived, my sister said we should go to her in-laws lake house. Since it had taken me 36 hours to get to Memphis, I wasn’t exactly jazzed up for driving two hours to a lake house. But I had to entertain these children somehow – so we went.
And it was gorgeous. The kids tubed, knee boarded and waterskied. It was the perfect diversion from worrying about their dad and our home in South Florida.
I even waterskied for the first time in a really long time. And apparently I can still do it.
It turned out that we spent my daughter Dylan’s 13th birthday and my wedding anniversary in Memphis too. My sister and I thought we would take her ziplining. Until I called and found out you’re 40 feet in the air. And I’m thinking – that’s about 40 feet farther from the ground than I’d like to be.
But my desire to make Dylan’s birthday super special and my sister’s pleas that it would indeed be “super fun” finally convinced me.
And that’s pretty much how I ended up 40 feet in the trees, ziplining across lakes and actually thinking, “You know what… this is fun.”
Here we are during our “training.” We pretty much all look like we’re the second-rate team that showed up to fix the electrical problem in your garage or something.
And then we got to it.
And it got me thinking (in that Carrie Bradshaw way) that if I could spend 36 hours getting 5 kids from Fort Lauderdale to Memphis, slalom waterski and fly across a lake despite my fear then maybe I could be doing more cool stuff.
Life can be so predictable. I do a thousand things for other people every day. Usually the same one thousand things. So I’m vowing now (and please hold me to this or even join me) to do something different every week.
I’m not going skydiving or learning to basket weave. But something in between.
Does making dinner for my kids count? Wait, no.
I’m going to need some ideas.
Let’s get to it.
I hate watching the Harvey hurricane coverage. But I can’t not watch the Harvey coverage. The devastation is unbelievable and it’s quite a flashback to 7 years ago when Hurricane Irene dumped 10 feet of water in our house.
We (along with our 6 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old twins) evacuated before the storm but our neighbors were rescued by boat. This was my neighborhood…
We were forced to move out for three months while we rebuilt our home. My 3 year old kept telling me she just wanted to go home. I know, I would say. Me too.
For months, it was a steady stream of building inspectors, insurance adjusters, FEMA officials, electricians, plumbers, politicians, contractors. It was extremely financially and emotionally stressful.
On the bright side, I was elated that all that water finally shut up this incredibly annoying, talking Elmo.
Houston families, affected by the hurricane, face an uncertain, difficult future. More than 100,000 homes have been damaged. And approximately 70% of the home damages won’t be covered by insurance. That’s because standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover damage from rain or flood waters.
My heart just hurts for these families.
And obviously, we all can and should give from afar. But I can tell you that the actions of their friends and neighbors close by can do so much to lift them up.
I remember virtual strangers showing up to do whatever they could. They dropped off toys and meals at our temporary housing. A friend picked up our nearly destroyed double stroller and somehow nursed that thing back into pristine condition. Another friend helped us find and bring back our playset which had been dragged by hurricane force down the street.
Before finding our own temporary housing, we stayed for several days with a friend in town. The poor guy would come home from the office and find me, Rick, our 4 kids, my sister and her son (who were visiting) and sometimes even my mom! Can you believe he didn’t just sleep at the office? But nope, instead he bought home cupcakes for my girls.
It’s that type of kindness you never forget.
Sometimes life is so overwhelming, you don’t know what to do. So when people show up and just start doing something, it is incredible.
Oh Texas, we send you love. Thanks for reminding us what America can be.
Resilient, strong and most of all, kind.
My 4 year old son loves dogs. Like he makes a lot of dog friends. For instance, here he is with his Jersey shore dog buddy Lincoln.
Cash also spent a ton of time with my mom’s dogs this summer… feeding them, walking them, picking up their dog poop in the backyard. It was like my mom had hired a not terribly competent but very energetic dog assistant.
So one afternoon, Cash grabbed one of the poop bags and headed outside. My mom asked what the bag was for (since they had already cleaned the yard). Cash was a bit vague but within a few moments, my mom had single handily solved the caper.
Cash admitted to pooping outside.
Just like his dog friends!
Let’s give him some credit on this. He knew it had to be cleaned up. And he was on it – if only his pesky mom and grandmother hadn’t gotten involved.
He didn’t seem too focused on the immediate need for toilet paper but at least he was trying to keep the yard tidy.
I’ve told this story to a couple people. I would have told more but it’s harder than you think to work “my kid pooped in the backyard” into conversations.
One friend thought that I made the whole thing up. I clarified that if I ever say… “I just got hired at Vogue to be their new middle aged cover model” – that’s probably a lie. But under no scenario would I ever fib about my son pooping in the great outdoors.
My friend Adam seemed impressed. He texted me…
I’ve since spoken to my son about the invention of indoor plumbing. He’s definitely considering it.