Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ice Cream Trumps Running.

Hadley recently came home with a form to sign up for the middle-school cross country team. I swiftly threw it in the trash. 

Hadley will not walk across the hall to throw her dirty underwear in the clothes hamper, so I think cross country running might be a bit of a stretch. I've watched her attempt to throw something in the trashcan, miss, and then decide she doesn't want to bend down and pick it up so she keeps on walking. I've seen Hadley have her sister, Cameron, put socks on her, because Hadley didn't want to bend over.

Running is everything Hadley hates. It requires effort. It's outside. It will make her sweat. 

Before I knew better, I once signed Hadley up to run in a child's "just for fun" run. At the time, again, before I knew better, I was really into running and wanted to share the joy with my daughter. Clearly I was suffering from an endorphin over-dose because running is horrible. But I put the poor kid at the starting line, told her to run when the gun went off.  I was waiting on the sidelines, maybe just an 1/8th of a mile into the course, when I saw her run around the bend. She looked terrified. She looked like she was being chased by a serial killer. She made eye-contact with me, glared, ran swiftly under the rope and abandoned the race. 

"What are you doing?" I asked her. "You're in the middle of a race! Get back out there!"

"It's horrible mom!" she said. "It's hot. I can't breathe. I might be having a heat stroke."

"Hadley, you have literally been running for two minutes. You haven't had time for a heat stroke! Plus it's only 75 degrees. When you have a heat stroke, you can quit, but for now, get back out there!!" 

"Nope," she said. "Not doing it. You can't make me and I'm done."

Well, the girl is decisive. 

We left & went to Dairy Queen. She needed to cool down from her heat stroke. Ice cream trumps running. 

Yet I was not giving up on her. Last year Dubois County introduced Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is a program that teaches girls about self-confidence, supporting each other, goal-setting and more through running.  Well, Girls on the Run, let me introduce you to Hadley Rumbach.

Hadley participated in the program and didn't hate it. That is a rave review from Hadley Rumbach. I love my tiny hater. She's all tightly-wound and guarded, but when she opens up, the love is mega-big. Her mega-big love would not be opened up for Girls on the Run. Perhaps Hadley could be the founder of Girls at the Diary Queen, where she promotes and encourages girls to give up and eat their feelings.

The culmination of the Girls on the Run program is a celebratory 5K. This is not competitive. This is about "girl-power." Hadley wanted nothing to do with girl power. The 5K intimidated her to her core. I get it. Staring down the barrel of 3 miles, can look pretty dangerous. Nothing dangerous about the Dairy Queen except the calories. However, she trained throughout the program for the 5k and she was prepared to run it.

The day of the race, I stood with her at the starting line. I had agreed to run along side her as her running buddy. I was happy to have the job. I figured, if I was beside her, she couldn't duck out of the race. 

When the gun went off, my tightly-wound Hadley exploded. She began sprinting as quick as her legs could carry her - in the opposite direction. 

She didn't even look back.

"Where are you going?!?!" I yelled after her. "We're supposed to be going the other way!!"

"I know," she yelled back over her shoulder while running at full speed. "I'm too scared to do it!"

"Buy you are doing it!!! You're doing it in the wrong direction!" I screamed. "Turn around."

She stopped running and I caught up with her. I'm not sure if I was out of breath or had no words, but we just stood there.

Then without speaking, we took off, together, in the right direction. We caught up with the group and finished the race.

There has been no running in the Rumbach household since that day. We had to press the pause button on the running theatrics. 

Hadley then decided to press play.

"Mom, where's my cross country sign up sheet?" she asked. "I need you to hand that in."

Oink. Oink. Did pigs just fly?

"What?!?!?" I asked. "You want to run? On purpose? I threw that paper in the trash"

"Mom!!" she said. "Why would you do that? Why would you think I wouldn't like running? You didn't even ask me! God!"

It must be really tough for Hadley to have such a stupid mother.

So, I dug through a weeks worth of garbage, dusted off the form. And signed Hadley up for the Jasper Middle School Cross Country Team. Perhaps out of a trash can on Gregory Lane will rise the greatest cross country runner the school has ever seen.

Whatever happens, however this season progresses, I do know for certain that she won't take the easy way, she will not make it easy on herself - or me.

She'll get side-tracked, side-lined and might even stop for a snack at the Dairy Queen, but she'll get there and the path she takes will be one that is all her own. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The World's Largest Gummy Bear

My daughter Cameron turned 9 on Christmas Eve. 

A Christmas Eve birthday means that she is showered with presents for two straight days. She loves every gift she receives, but there is no gift that anyone could give Cameron that would thrill her more than cold hard cash. Skip the toy aisle, skip the craft kits - put some dollar bills in this kid's hands and she lights up like a Christmas tree.

I have no problem with my children receiving money as presents.  I welcome the opportunity to raise smart, thrifty consumers: I have my work cut out for me with Cameron.

I think she might be allergic to money. As soon as it's placed in her tiny hands she starts itching.  And this is no ordinary itch. This itch is relentless, unforgiving, painful - probably like herpes or crabs. My child receives money and starts behaving like she has an std or a drug addict.

"When can we go to store?"

"Will you take me to the store?"

"Are you leaving to go to the store?"

"I need to buy a new shirt."

"I need to buy a new bow."

"Nevermind, I need to buy candy."

"When can we go to the store?"

"I think I want to buy a swimming pool - and then I want to buy a narwal to put in it. It is the unicorn of the sea, you know."

These phases are stuck in her brain on repeat. She says nothing else. She talks of nothing else until every dime is spent. When she was given $30 by her Great Grandma for Christmas, I was happy for her, but then braced myself for the onslaught of requests from Cameron. I knew she'd come at me - so she could spend! spend! spend!

And she did. 

This time, she was after the World's Largest Gummy Bear. Where does one get the world's largest gummy bear? Where else?

According to Amazon, the World's Largest Gummy Bear weighs 5 lbs and is 10 inches tall. It is 1000 times the size of a typical gummy bear. It contains approximately 1 million grams of sugar and enough dyes to cause instant autism. However, it is gluten free.

The world's largest gummy bear does not come cheap. Price tag? $30.00. Yes, $30 for a gummy bear.

Cameron did not see this as a problem but as a sign.

"Mom, I have exactly $30 so I am supposed to buy it."

I tried to reason with her that a lot of other things also cost $30, but she would hear none of that nonsense.

I offered Cameron many reasons as to why the gummy bear would be a bad purchase: it was unhealthy, unnecessary, and over-priced. But she heard nothing I said - perhaps she had tiny gummy bears stuck in her ears.

I suggested reasonable alternatives:

"Why don't you buy a few bags of gummy bears and save the rest of your money?"

"Why don't you buy that small gummy bear on a stick we saw at Wal-Mart? That looked good."

"Why don't you buy the World's Largest Gummy Worm? It's cheaper."

"Why don't you just set your money on fire?"

No. No. No and No.

I then got sneaky. I took her to Wal-Mart and suggested she bring her money in case she saw anything she might like. Though we were "officially" looking for a birthday present for Cameron's friend, I was hoping that if I took her up and down the toy aisles, she might see something else she wanted and cave. Nope. 

I realized then that not only was fighting against the World's Largest Gummy Bear, I was also fighting with the World's Most Stubborn Child.

Cameron checking out the toys at Wal-Mart. She's not taking the bait. The bread in her hand? That's a day-old loaf of French Bread that she's buying for a dollar. She says she needs it in case she goes to France?
Finally, I just said no. No to the World's Largest Gummy Bear and no the the World's Most Stubborn Child. It was ridiculous, expensive, and just plain unhealthy. I told her I didn't want to hear about it anymore, so, really, what choice did she have but to write me a letter?

It read:

Dear Abbie,

I think I have the right to spend my money as I chose. I'm more than half way to adult hood. Just cause I'm a kid doesn't mean I don't know all the things that could go wrong. I try to be mostly positive on the gummy bear. I don't care if I spend all my money! I'm doing this for all the kids that have been put down by there parents. I'm doing this for america! Please please say yes for america!


I realized then I couldn't infringe upon her right to gummy bears. So I said yes. I said yes to the World's Largest Gummy Bear. Yes to Cameron and yes to America.  

The World's Largest Gummy Bear arrived on our doorstep. Cameron ripped into the package and started in on its ear. The thing was so damn chewy she couldn't break through it - she started gnawing and shaking her head back and forth like a mad dog with a toy. Great - the gummy bear gave her rabies. I had suspected this might happen.

She took the gummy bear and hid it in her room. I have no idea where it is. This is for the gummy bear's own good.  

Though I hate the gummy bear, I've decided not to take him for granted. In a few years, she'll probably be hiding cigarettes and her boyfriend in her room and I'll wish for World's Largest Gummy Bear to be my World's Largest Problem. 

God bless Cameron. God bless the gummy bear and God bless America.