Mama Colada: Frankie Say Relax

Here’s my new blog. It’s called Mama Colada. It’s named after that song from the 70’s called “Escape,” the Pina Colada song. In the song, this bored couple looks for fun and adventure in the personal ads in a newspaper. That’s the ancient times equivalent of Tinder. The husband answers his wife’s ad, not knowing it’s she who was looking for someone that also likes Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain, and who’s not into yoga, but does love champagne. What they wanted was right next to them, they just had to see it. Over the past 5 years I have had to recognize that what I need, to feel fulfilled and actualized as a parent, co-head of a family, and an individual, is right here inside me. I just have to recognize it. And that’s why this blog is called Mama Colada. I never knew…

Frankie Say Relax: Don’t Bake It.

Today our twin daughters and their friends put on a bake sale to raise money for the local homeless shelter. Our son played ice hockey, and our daughter went somewhere and had her hands henna-ed. I had mostly nothing to do with any of it. And I planned it that way. I’m convinced that our kids need less attention, and more boredom.

Five days ago one of the twins came home and announced that I needed to help her bake two batches of brownies and a few batches of cookies for an independent philanthropic bake sale. I flat out refused. I reminded them that I don’t get involved in baking projects. Baking is my husband’s super-power, so I suggested she talk to him about it, or better yet, find a brownie recipe and make some brownies herself.

Our 14-year-old son, decided to take his ice skating to the next level by joining a hockey league. I literally stood there and shivered while the other parents coaxed their kids’ hands into their gloves and laced up their 12 year old kids’ hockey pants. Others lobbed exhortations at their three-year -old Gretskys for an hour while they tried to simultaneously skate backwards and in circles.

The eldest made pancakes with friends who slept over (soot-colored, Playdoh-textured, but still edible, pancakes), completed a strength workout from some kind of app I can’t even figure out how to download, and then went off to Green Fest and undoubtedly wooed the local vegan activists and henna tattoo artists.

Why do you care? Because while supporting them, and loving them more than I love the ocean, cats of all sizes, and potatoes in most incarnations, I intentionally ignored them. It was for their own good. No, really, it was.

I don’t have data or science to support my contention that kids need to be ignored more. But I hypothesize that they need to be left to their own devices daily. They need boredom, and useless pastimes. They should produce lopsided dioramas and salty pancakes. They should walk in the woods even though there might be ticks in the grass.

I’m just convinced that while Gen X offspring probably benefit from all the Mandarin lessons and $100/hour calculus tutors and travel every-sport, they also need to be ignored. We should allow them to deal with failure, and boredom, and even danger. They have to have some trial runs with a safety net. They have to be able to fill empty space in their schedule. They have to know how to solve their own problems.

So for Mother’s Day in 2016, give yourself the day off. Not because “you deserve it” (you do). Not because you don’t love your kids to Pluto and back (you do). But because they deserve a little benign neglect, and you deserve to see what kind of magic kids will make, if you just trust them for a minute.