Posted by Mihal Levy
Father’s Day has been difficult for me for the last ten years, since the passing of my father. The pain has lessened somewhat since the birth of my son by allowing me to celebrate my husband. Every year I still struggle to make peace with the day, find joy and let go. This year it was even easier with the help of my son.
We decided to celebrate with some close friends and their four-year-old son. A day at the beach? Brunch? Barbeque? I wasn’t sure what we would do. Then they suggested – Magic Mountain. How better to celebrate my conflicting feelings about Father’s Day than by turning my cliché into reality and celebrating with rollercoaster rides. So, of course we agreed. My son was excited about the idea of celebrating with “fast rides,” even though he had never been on one.
We headed to Magic Mountain, where I haven’t been since the creation of other roller coasters that make Colossus look not so colossal after all. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then as I expected, but the metal detectors at the entrance were an unexpected surprise. (Not that I was sporting weapons, but really?) Was it safe to even go? Of course it was, because there were metal detectors. And besides, our friends had annual passes and were frequenters of the park who brought us along as their guests. They are quite the non-violent type, so I figured we were good.
We spent our time in Bugs Bunny World and Thomas Town for the kids. (How else would we celebrate, of course.) Then my son asked to go on a kiddie coaster. I gladly stood in line with him until the ride operator remarked, “Ma’am, this is for kids only.” I would have to send him on a roller coaster alone, at the age of four? I guess the mother standing next to me waiting for her even younger child to get on must have seen my hesitation. “We all have to let them go sometime,” she joked. And she was letting hers go at least a year or two before mine.
My husband convinced me along with our friends that our four-year-olds would be fine. How could we disappoint our sons who were holding hands and jumping up and down asking to go on the ride together? (At age four, two boys holding hands does not merit much attention, but it changes somewhere along the line. At five?) How could we say no? I didn’t want to become that parent. Or was I already that parent?
Our sons got on and I stood close to the gate, only after I was told that I couldn’t stay within the gate. The ride operator was probably right. What good would that do me anyway? Would I leap onto the track to stop the coaster from derailing in case of emergency? I don’t know what I was thinking, but wanted to stay inside “just in case.”
So, the ride began and my son was cheering as they headed up their first hill. He didn’t know what was coming, but could not wait to find out. I watched my son as he followed the other children and raised his hands fearlessly in the air as the coaster speedily raced down the track. The ride lasted all of thirty seconds, but felt more like thirty minutes to me, at the least. I entered the gate (and was the only parent who did) to help my son out of the train, to which he replied, “I can do it alone!” I thought at that moment – “Yes, you can.” He and his friend were giggling as they left the ride, “That was fun and scary. Can I do it again?” And he did. Again and again and again… Each time got a little easier for me…as does each passing Father’s Day.
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June 16, 2010 | 11:29 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
There is no such thing as a coincidence…which is what I believe, anyway. Everything happens for a reason. And I received a friendly reminder of this recently from a “reminder friend,” (Someone who serves as a constant reminder about what is important in my life.)
My “reminder” recently returned to my life seems to show up with precise timing. She is a wanderer, a searcher. Always seraching for the next best thing. (It is a wonder we are still friends. I am sure there are a lot of better friends that she could have.) Ironically, she is married with two children. Her children despise her and her husband has left her more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, but always ends up going right back.
We reunited a few weeks ago and all I kept hearing was who she met, who she knew and who the people that she met knew. (As if this somehow was supposed to impress me.)
During our last conversation, she spoke of what was important to her: status, wealth and freedom. I told her about the things that were important to me in turn: love, health, family, and feeling connected. She talked about her new car. I spoke of my son’s accomplishments. She even called from a vacation spot and caught me in the middle of a family function.
We are completely different, but she is always there to remind me of the things that are important in my own life. Why we remain friends, beats me. I know she must be in my life for a reason, the same way I am in hers. Everyone must have a reminder and she is mine.
June 15, 2010 | 11:30 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
After weeks and weeks parading around my living room with a spoon in hand as a microphone and singing at the television set every Tuesday night, I don’t know what to do now that Glee has ended…until next season. What do I do now that Glee is gone?
I know I probably like Glee a little more than a mom should or someone at my age (over the age of thirteen, in general). I had no choice other than to watch it, since I am not a fan of blood, vampires, or watching people stranded on an island (by the way - hasn’t that already been done - Gilligan? Professor?). I am also not interested in watching overweight adults belittle themselves for camera time with a not so overweight woman in spandex talking down to them, nor am I interested in seeing has-been stars who can not dance but do so for a boost in PR. Glee was the only thing left on television. Ok, and it reminded me of my high school days in musical theatre.
I know Glee will be back, but just not soon enough. How am I supposed to relive my uncomfortable high school days now without Facebook (see one of my previous posts about why I quit Facebook; The Status Update That Pushed Me Over The Edge) and Glee? I could pull out my yearbooks, but that just wouldn’t be the same.
I will miss you, Glee; the auto-tuned remixes and mash-ups of old faves and new, the great singers and non-singers and dance numbers that remind me of my days in community theatre. Now all that is left is a memory and anticipation for the next season. I guess my Tuesday nights will involve making dinner now. (No more take-out.) I am sure my son will be happy as well; more DVD watching time for him - Tuesday night viewings of Disney/Pixar’s “Cars.” But then again, there are always reruns on Thursday nights until next season.
June 14, 2010 | 11:29 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
There are not many things that are fun to do alone. But one thing I know I can usually enjoy on my own: go to a movie. And so I did and headed to see Sex and the City 2 alone.
I was not exactly alone, since there were a total of ten other people in the theater with me. (I should have known from the crowded theater not to expect an Oscar winner, but then again, I knew that going in). All eleven of us were clustered in the middle section of the theater. There were two mothers with three young girls all probably under the age of seven (note to moms, if “sex” is in the title, it is probably safe to assume it is in the film as well). A few rows up from the moms was a man in his early twenties who probably was not there to see Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest fashion getups. Two seats over to my right was a young couple. And why in an uncrowded theater must someone sit right next to someone else? Leaving a single seat vacant in between me and them does not matter. She probably dragged her boyfriend over after having seen some of his testosterone-filled flicks and he owed her one. And finally, directly behind me, three BFFs who I am certain lived vicariously through the Sex and the City girls. Then there was me. I was there for pure research alone. No, seriously. I was interested in a mindless chick flick-filled afternoon. It was definitely mindless and I would not have minded missing out on it.
I am a fan of cinema in general for the whole package; from watching someone’s imagination and vision come to life on the big screen to escaping for two hours from reality and a sink full of dishes. I should have chosen the dishes, however, which were waiting for me two and a half hours later anyway.
I knew I had not picked an Oscar winner to watch, but when my mind kept wandering back to the sink full of dishes at home, I knew I picked the wrong movie. It was worse that I had low expectations to begin with. I probably would have been better off seeing something with vampires in it, or at least Miley Cyrus.
I could easier suspend reality for boys that turn into wolves, women falling in love with bloodsuckers and Miley Cyrus as an actress than I could during the Sex and the City getaway to the Middle East. Far different than the experiences I have ever had on my trips out there. Granted, I have only ever been to Israel and Egypt, but still. I did learn a lot about Abu Dhabi, however. For one, I did not know that the dress code in Muslim countries for women were either burkas, Aladdin-esque costumes or those that resemble Indiana Jones. Looks that belonged in an Aladdin/Indiana Jones musical revue in Las Vegas or a cruise ship. And the girls’ camel ride in the desert and visit to a Bedouin tent were nothing like I remembered on my camel ride from Israel to Taba, Egypt, but maybe Abu Dhabi is just that much more over the top. There was no camel spit blowing in the wind or sand storms in the movie. Perhaps my experience was less glamorous because I hadn’t been wearing heels on my journey. I will know for next time. I did learn, however, that if I ever ended up in Abu Dhabi (was thinking about making it my next vacation), my iPhone would have perfect reception in the most secluded desert areas. I have to say this made me jealous that they were just a little more tech savvy than good old Los Angeles, where I can not even get reception in my own home.
Another great thing to know about Abu Dhabi is that while all women have to cover themselves with burkas by law lest they be punished by public hanging, I believe, the Sex and the City girls were somehow excused and able to parade around in their barely there Aladdin/Indiana Jones-esque musical revue costumes. Didn’t they truly want to experience Abu Dhabi at its finest? (Even I wore a burka once in the blistering sun for hours, not because I was a Muslim woman in a past life, but because I was trying to earn my SAG vouchers while on the TV series JAG. Same difference. A burka in the sun is a burka in the sun. Sarah Jessica Parker should try it some time. Seriously.)
My ADHD thoroughly kicked in when one of the girls said she was going to have to have an “inter-friend-tion” and was upped by another one of the girls who said, “I will turn this inter-friend-tion into an inter-fun-tion.” I truly wanted to leave, but did not want to wake the sleeping couple on my side when I left the aisle. I was also hoping to stay and cover the little girls’ eyes and ears every time there was something inappropriate on the screen, which was quite often, as you can imagine…for a seven year old.
The movie finally ended (not soon enough), but no before the girls sang a karaoke version of “I Am Woman” in a country full of feminists, I am sure. The young pre-pubescent girls clapped and hollered as the credits rolled. I am sure they were just as happy as their moms that for the price of a movie ticket they learned more in two hours than they would have learned in their college years. (Saving their moms lots of money and hours of uncomfortable conversations.) They were happy, as was the man that sat alone, who apparently WAS there for the fashion. In the end, Sexfor one was not fun.
June 7, 2010 | 11:44 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
After much contemplation, I have come to a conclusion as to why I hate parks, playgrounds or anything that has a slide, a sandbox, kids and mothers with Bluetooth headsets permanently attached to their ears. I thought it might have had something to do with a traumatic childhood playground experience that for the life of me I can not remember or have chosen to block out of my life. I was fearing that I may even need hypnotherapy, so that I could regress into toddlerhood and relive that traumatic experience just to figure out why I avoid parks and play dates at the park like the plague. But luckily I figured it out on my own. (That Masters degree in psychology does come in handy every so often). The realization hit me after a park day last week.
My son and I headed to our neighborhood park to meet our play group (most of whom I don’t know, might I add). On the drive over I already began cringing and it was not just from the extremely hot bright sun that could’ve burnt a hole in my windshield. I dreaded going to the park (as I normally do), but couldn’t really figure out why. Ok, some of the moms really annoy me. (As you may know from previous stories I have shared.) I also am not a fan of “One Park Stands.” (An earlier story I wrote about meeting the perfect mom and child duo, hanging out and never seeing them again.) But other than that, I could not really think of a reason I dreaded park days.
With dread aside, I arrived at the park with my son in one hand and a huge basket of sand toys in the other. “Are you sure you need ALL of these sand toys?” I asked my son, since we looked like we were headed to an archaelogical dig with all of our equipment. Yes, he was sure. If I wanted to, I could put back the smaller orange shovel I was told. But as if that would really lighten the load. We headed to the sandbox and met our group.
As usual, the moms were too busy chatting to notice we had arrived or to notice one of their daughters pulling another girl’s pony tails because she “stole” her pail. I pointed this out to the busy moms, for which I received a nod and a wave in the midst of pony-tail-pulling-girl’s mom shout out to her daughter, “Honey, don’t do that. Thanks,” before she returned to her conversation with the other ladies. It was an important topic at her circle, however, I am certain. Why else would she not be able to leave the conversation to physically walk over to her daughter?
Since I was not invited into the “Circle o’ Secrets,” nor did I try to make the effort to join in, I decided to do what I normally do at the park with my son, which is to play with him. So, I grabbed the archaelogical dig equipment, a.k.a. sand toys, dumped them in the sand and began our work. As soon as we began, other children came around and grabbed our shovels and pails. Some asked if they could join us, others just did. And much to my dismay, little pony-tail-pulling girl joined in and grabbed one of our shovels. I included the children in our process and made sure all was fair in the pail and shovel sharing world. I realized I had started a trend and a babysitting club. I became “default mom.” One mom even took it as a cue to get up off the park bench she had warmed up and step away even further to make a call, since I had it under control. This was a mom I didn’t even know. Then what took the cake was when a nanny who was playing with the kids nearby told the kids to come join our castle building area and she went to join in some conversation with the other mothers. I am all for nannies taking breaks, of course, especially when they are there with the kid’s mother (which I always think is odd to begin with. But that is a whole other blog…)
Then things got out of hand. Kids were fighting over pails, shovels, dry sand, wet sand, space in the sand box and whatever else they could think of and I was there to referee the derby dig. Where were the mothers? On the park bench, where else? Just when I thought things were bad enough, they got worse. Pony-tail-pulling girl smashed my son’s castle, grabbed the shovel out of his hand and started running with my son close behind her. My son finally stopped her and pulled his shovel back out of her hand and said, “Next time you need to ask if you can borrow my shovel before you grab it out of my hand.” Timed just perfectly, the girl began to cry as her mom finally walked over. With her iPhone in on one year, she told the person “Can you hang on for a minute?” And knelt to her daughter and said, “Let’s go Sam, some kids don’t know how to play nice,” she said while glancing at me. I wanted to say, “Like mother and daughter.” But all that came out instead was, “You’re welcome.” The least she could have done is thanked me for babysitting for the last forty-five minutes so she could take her call.
We gathered up our things as the nanny came over to pick up the children
I was watching as well. And so officially ending my mommy duties to all the other kids in the group. Once again, I was default mom.
Maybe with all the money I saved on therapy trying to figure it all out, I could pay off my student loans wasted on psychobabble or better yet build my very own secluded park where I can be the default mom for my son alone…or maybe I will just bring one shovel and one pail for our next dig.