Wondrous Strange

Posted by: , August 7, 2008 in 2:16 pm

We don’t belong here.

My husband and I are constantly questioning our existence. We are unsure how we got to this place and much of the time, we are trying to find the secret door that will take us back. Take us back, where? Perhaps to the 1930-1940s, or even further, say the late-1800s. I wonder if the set from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is available? We still have time to remove our son from society. I’m sure my husband is willing to dress up in a bright red cloak, and porcupine quills. Boo!

Here’s the thing. We have no interest in iPods. The idea of Synch technology creeps us out. I can’t even imagine having a DVD player in my mini van. I can’t fathom having a husband who yearns to own a plasma television. Why remove artwork from a wall, only to [gasp!] hang up a television? In fact, we just downgraded our cable television from standard to basic. We are rockin’ approximately thirteen channels, and some of them are fuzzy. While people are snapping up iPhones and TiVos, we are slowly treading backward. I enjoy holding a cd case in my hands; I can’t hold a digital download. I love books. I don’t want to curl up with a Kindle. Books smell good. Handheld, portable reading devices do not.

I realized things were going to be different for us when I first became pregnant four years ago. Upon hearing I was expecting, a co-worker squealed, “What’s your theme?” Huh, what’s my theme? Baby. Isn’t that the theme? While pondering her questions, I realized she expected me to have chosen a specific theme around which to decorate our baby’s room. “Oh,” I said, “We’re not really choosing a theme. We’d like the bedroom to be sort of plain.” I still remember how she stared at me in disbelief; her plastic grin fading as she ingested my statement. The pressure to commit to a theme must have been too much for me, because I blurted, “I love Winnie-the-Pooh and uh, Peter Rabbit. I guess the room will have a storybook character theme.” Eased by my admission, her smile returned and she launched into a story about her own daughter’s bedroom. It seems Pooh is the Ambassador of Goodwill in the Nation of Motherhood.

Our insurrection against traditional parenting trends really took hold when Benjamin was just a gummy-bear shaped smudge on an ultrasound film. Michael and I decided we saw no value in lugging him around in one of those bucket-shaped infant carriers. You know the ones. They clang against the thigh of every new mother you see and if you peek inside, you discover a baby folded up like a kidney bean, its head wedged between what looks like a draft catcher. I saw no point to it. Benjamin weighed 6 lbs., 6 oz. at birth. He weighed less than my purse.

Playing lullabies for baby is standard practice. Right? Well, when he was only a few days old Benjamin made it clear to us that he did not intend to be subjected to such drivel. During one sleepless night, we tried tuning his radio to classical music. He cried louder. We soon discovered that he preferred falling asleep to the likes of Boston, Green Day, the Eagles and U2. A unique lineup kindly provided by our local, eclectic classic rock station. I am grateful for my son’s disdain of symphony music. He saved my sanity. If anything will induce a post-partum depression it’s listening to hours of Brahms’ Waltz in A Major.

Sippy cups. They come in every shape and size. I swear I’ve even seen adults swilling vitamin water from them. Well, I remember the day I first mentioned my desire to skip the sippy. I told a veteran Mama, “I think I’m going to try to introduce a real cup, rather than a sippy cup.” My theory: Benjamin will eventually have to learn to drink from a real cup, so why waste time with the sippy. My friend laughed and groaned, “You must enjoy cleaning up spills.” When my son was a little older, I told another friend. He said, “It won’t work. Toddlers are too unpredictable. He’ll run up to the table and knock it over.” Gotta love the support. “Well, I’m going to try it. If it doesn’t work, I can always go out and buy a sippy cup.” At 16 months old he could drink from a cup. It wasn’t rocket science. I suppose if I allowed him to run through the house with it, it would spill. But, then again, if I ran through the house carrying a cup of water, it would spill.

Our latest detour from traditional parenting is our decision to home preschool. The moment Benjamin neared the age of three, my fellow Story Time moms began asking me if he was going to school. “Oh no, he’s just tall for his age,” I’d quip. Oh. They meant preschool. This summer, I began home preschooling him. Home preschooling is a niche in the larger, decidedly more misunderstood arena of homeschooling. I’m sure most of those inquisitive, well-meaning Story Time moms are aghast when I now reply, “I home preschool.” It’s a simple concept. Each month I select and plan topics of study. One day we might study the history of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the next, the writings of Jack Kerouac. I suppose we could send Benjamin to a cookie cutter curriculum preschool, but why? If I can provide him with personalized education here at home, while giving him plenty of time to play and explore the world around him—why restrict him to the local petri dish of three- and four-year-olds? At this point, I don’t think he even knows he is learning anything. And that is how it should be.

My little family is mundane. We are normal people with what society deems abnormal interests. My husband can tell you the stage winners in the 2007 Tour de France faster than he can, the winner of last year’s Super Bowl. That makes him abnormal. My three-year-old can describe the embalming practices of the Ancient Egyptians. Yep. Abnormal. And, I spend hours typing on my laptop—writing novels, blogging and planning lessons—yet, all I really want is: to be unplugged.

In 2008, our penchant for handling hard copies of novels and our bold dismissal of cable television might just render us worthy of living in an 18th Century village. We do not belong here. Although living in a village (sans electric), I would miss watching my DVD of Green Day’s American Idiot tour. Nevermind. We are hopelessly abnormal.


3 Feedbacks to Wondrous Strange

  1. ourgazebo on August 18th, 2011 2:56 pm

    “My three-year-old can describe the embalming practices of the Ancient Egyptians.” Really? How did you teach him? My daughter’s a little over 3, and it never occurred to me to teach her things of that nature this young, not because it’s weird but because, well, she’s only 3.

    As a baby, she always slept great to Guitar Hero blasting LOL. And I love the whole “what’s your theme” conversation. I never understood that either. We didn’t have a theme for her room.

    It took me a long time to jump on the MP3 and digital camera bandwagon (though now I love both), and I still don’t own a smart phone or a digital reader. Like you, I prefer printed books. And I’ve always been attracted to Amish society. But up here in NH, none of the above is seen as odd. I think the culture here is a lot more earthy.

  2. suzyq on August 18th, 2008 6:18 pm

    It’s lucky that everyone doesn’t fit into neat little boxes. What a boring world it would be. The other day my son (5 yrs old) asked for anchovies on his pizza at a birthday party, while talking about the story of Pompeii to his neighbor. Someone commented to be that he’s very “different” and I said “thank god”. Please keep sharing your “unusual” parenting stories, they’re great.

  3. missamy@lclibs.org on August 11th, 2008 1:11 pm

    Yes,Jessica does wear black and white converse tennis shoes to Story Time and they look great!!!!

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