We went to the Kalahari. Not the one in Namibia. The one in Ohio. The indoor water park. With caramel apples the size of M.J’s body.
As we drove back, Seb kept telling me he’s “cutting the cheese”. I’d like to thank all the kids on bus 34 for introducing this phrase to our family.
Seb then proceeded to sing “Party in the U.S.M.J.” (Miley would be proud), shared his opinion on lofty topics like, “Mommy, they love their bathroom so much at Chipotle they put a pass code on it!” and informed me that when we share Fruit by the Foot I do not look like this lady:
One of my great joys since leaving singlehood, Manhattan, and my career in media is discovering places like Kalahari and soaking up the wonders of weekly family night. Family night last weekend meant watching Shrek. I use the term “watch” loosely. We “watched” Shrek while MJ grunted, Seb tried out his new whoopee cushion about twenty or thirty times, and the rest of us spilled Kirkland popcorn in every crevice of our “yes, we sit on this a lot and have lots of food stains to prove it” yellow couch.
Last month, family night involved a raucous game of PIT. The greatest game known to man. Though I was saddened to learn that someone in our family, someone who shall remain anonymous herein, cheats. Trading Flax and Rye in the same hand. What have we become??!!
Totally unrelated to the anonymous person who cheated during PIT, I’d just like to just say that Eric is my GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). As the wise Justin Timberlake opined on NPR last week, when you become a parent you “re-learn who you are” – and it only makes me love my hubby more as we parent and re-learn about ourselves and each other.
Speaking of…1 of our 4 was due for a parental chat last week after what shall be called ZiplocGate. As we drove to Target, I watched from my rear view mirror as Sebby very carefully placed his Ziploc bag of saved up allowance money under a seatbelt. This was surprising for 2 reasons:
1) he didn’t have his own seatbelt on and
2) I’ve never seen Seb do anything carefully.
In fact, just last week he told me “mommy, I moved MJ from one side of the room to the other and she didn’t get injured!” He was so proud. And we were so terrified.
But this bag o’cash was treated with such delicacy that I promptly belted out “Money, Money, Money”
and then shared about David Brooks’  Adam 1 and Adam II dichotomy – our dueling natures.
Adam 1, I explained to Seb, is our greedy, selfish side that wants more Legos and “wants to conquer the world” no matter who we hurt. Adam 2, the Christ-like side, lives to give. Not receive. To lose. Not to win.
Adam 2 defines joy as the “happiness we make by sharing” (simcha in Hebrew).
As we drove down Pettibone Road I told Seb that we both should strive to be Adam 2 – it’s not bad to love Legos or snakes or even to appreciate the ability to buy those things for setting the table at night and getting The New York Times at the top of the driveway each morning – what’s bad is to love that too much.
And putting your money under a seatbelt would qualify, in my book, as loving your cold hard cash just a little too much. It reflects what Jack Donaghy once told Liz Lemon, the belief that: “money doesn’t buy happiness, it IS happiness.” Uggh.
Parenting chats usually last all of 5 minutes before he changes the subject and we start playing Connect 4 or Scrabble or make a movie in which my 1 line is to tell Seb as he holds up his helium balloon of a dinosaur: “I don’t believe you’re that strong.”
But somehow, somewhere, I think these lessons are making a dent. Because later, when MJ (she’s 14 pounds now!) cried for milk, Seb explained to her “Little Margaret, you’re not the only one who struggles. Lots of people need food, like the people at The Salvation Army. And I’m going to give some of my allowance to those people.”
He then “cut the cheese” in her face like the very wise older brother he is.
 The Road to Character