Ellen Bass 6:20 p.m., Dec. 10
I know I shouldn’t complain about the weather when I grew up Chicago, a place where the humidity could melt your face off. But it’s hot! We don’t have air conditioning because in the seventies, when my home was built, people were okay with discomfort. America had yet to become the land of indulgence that it is now. Kids did not ride around on electric scooters and kindergarteners were not pushed around in strollers. They were okay with sweaty pits back then.
In my house we suffer. My kids kick their sheets off in the middle of the night and have beads of perspiration on their foreheads in the morning. Sometimes I lounge around in my underwear and tank top. As a result, my kids may be permanently damaged because no one wants to see me in undergarments.
My Midwestern relatives act annoyed when I mention that it is over 85 degrees outside. They need to shut it. They blast their air conditioners all summer long. We spend a lot of time at the pool avoiding our sauna like home. My daughter’s hair has an unmistakable green tint to it. I am going to need to cut it.
“But mommy I have to have princess hair, you can’t cut it,” she whines.
What I want to know is where did she come from? I barely brush my hair and always sweep it up into a messy pony tail. As a kid I played in the dirt, never with Barbies. Sometimes I feel like her and I are a cosmic joke. The girly-girly stuck with a mother who has no problem wearing pajamas in public. She is going to hate me once puberty hits!
My daughter takes swim lessons at the Tierrasanta pool from a 20-something named Kyle. He has a tattoo on his torso of the fine state of California. He wears green sun-block on his face.
“I don’t like him!’ my daughter pouts after her first lesson.
“Why not,” I ask.
“I don’t like his look!”
At four my daughter is already a snob. My son did the same thing at her age. He went from having a beautiful blond swim instruction to a pudgy faced one. After his first class with the new teacher he told me, “I am never going back there!” Is it my fault that they are this way I wonder. Am I as shallow? I feel like I need to read a parenting book before they turn into complete jerks. Maybe when they are preteens and have bad skin and B.O they will pull it together and start chanting the mantra “all that matters is what’s on the inside.”
I force swim lessons upon my kids all summer long. I want them to be strong swimmers. My mom enrolled me in swim lessons just once when I was a kid and never again afterward. I think it may have been because I was an embarrassment. I was the kid in the class that screamed and flayed around in fear. When kids where bad in my class they were not rescued by their parents. They sent in the lead swim instructor, a man in an American flag Speedo. To a little person, there is nothing more terrifying than a man in a Speedo. He would force me into the water and dunk my head under. To this day I still detest Speedos.
My daughter is the kid in the class who wants to do everything first and better than the rest of the kids. If the instructor wants her to do twenty head bobs she does thirty. The rest of the parents sit in the bleachers next to me with digital cameras and words of encouragement. I might be too aloof. Maybe that’s why she is a little insane and up in everyone’s face with her competiveness. When I wave and try to behave like the other parents and say “you’re doing a great job honey,” Amelia gives me a puzzled look as if to say who the hell are you and what have you done with my real mother. For the most part I silently watch her being over the top while inwardly chuckling.
When her class is over she behaves like a child that has just attended a slumber party where she has only gotten 2 hours of sleep and eaten her weight in candy. She’s a mess. She whines that she is freezing and hungry and exhausted at all at once. She spends the next thirty minutes sitting next to me asking when her brother’s lesson will be over. It must be tiring to be her. I don’t get her mood swings mostly because I have always been such an under achiever.