Party of 4 » Parenting http://partyof4blog.com one family's yearlong dare to live their dreams Tue, 27 Dec 2011 15:54:46 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.1 What to Do the Day Before Armageddon /2011/08/what-to-do-the-day-before-armageddon.html /2011/08/what-to-do-the-day-before-armageddon.html#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2011 12:54:27 +0000 Michael /?p=856 Tree smashes car during stormSaturday very much had an end-of-the-world feeling to it. Hurricane Irene was cruising up the East Coast at a stately 14 miles per hour. It would hit us the next day. Filling stations were running out of gas. Supermarket shelves were emptying. Parts of New York City were being evacuated.

I decided to take Amelie to the county fair. Unfortunately the folks running the place were shutting it down. Hell, I thought, there’s a full day left before the end of the world, why end the fun prematurely? I squinted up at a glowering sky. It hadn’t even started raining yet. Amelie was howling with disappointment.

So I took her out for pancakes. See below as she demonstrates proper pancake-eating form. She had a stomachache afterward, but it was worth it. Just the sight of those pancakes and that pastry cheered her right up. This, I thought, this is how to spend the day before the end of the world.

We shopped for toys and books, and then we hit the movies with popcorn and ice cream and then took a turn on some coin op rides at the mall. Rain was spitting down on us as we left, but we were feeling no pain by then.

Amelie demonstrates the proper way to eat pancakes. Don't forget to drink your syrup.

The wind tore down some tree limbs in our yard during the night, but thankfully did no further damage. The power went out throughout our town around five in the morning. We got a flat tire driving through the debris-filled streets after daybreak.

Three days without power, running water, or a flushing toilet have tested our patience, but I keep thinking of those pancakes and Amelie’s delighted laugh as she hoisted that mug of maple syrup, the first-grader’s ale.

By this morning, power had been restored to the town, thanks to help from utility workers imported from Kansas (I felt like cheering when their trucks rolled in like the tanks of a liberating army). We still can’t flush the toilet at home or take a shower, but at least now we can work at our office. We’re back in business. I have a backlog of work to do, but I’m writing this post instead.

How would you spend the day before the end of the world?

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Leaving the Kids Behind, but Keeping the Heart Connection /2011/05/leaving-the-kids-behind-but-keeping-the-heart-connection.html /2011/05/leaving-the-kids-behind-but-keeping-the-heart-connection.html#comments Fri, 20 May 2011 15:26:15 +0000 Wendy /?p=606

Hello, Party of 4 readers! The party goes on, though we are so busy with new adventures that we hardly have time to blog about them lately. As I type this, Michael is completing his 9th straight day of silent meditation at the Vipassana Meditation Center in Shelburne, MA. Okay, so it’s not exactly a party over there, but it was Michael’s long-held wish to experience this retreat. Our Party of 4 live-your-dreams project gave him the push to finally do it. I can’t wait to hear about it when he returns on Sunday.

When Michael left last week, he drove down our country road with a big grin on his face. I couldn’t help but marvel at the ease with which he was able to say goodbye to his children (and of course, to me!). Contrast this with my hand-wringing anguish as I prepared for my 17-day trip to India last month. Perhaps it goes to prove that after all our talk of equality and 50-50 parenting, there are still so many differences in our emotional landscapes as mamas and daddies.

And yet, after my journey I realized that my anguish was needless. (Isn’t all anguish needless?) At the dark root, I fretted that my absence would create a rift in the child-parent bond that knits our family together. Of course that did not happen. Like all kids, mine are winningly resilient. They danced gracefully through more than two weeks without me, and upon my return our intense attachment was as alive as ever.

Which brings me to my Ah-Ha Moment. I realized that it’s okay for moms and dads to step out of their roles for a brief spell. No, not just okay. It’s healthy. Even fabulous.

Before I go, here are a few tips to ease the heartbreak of parting for globetrotting parents.

1. Plan a special parent-child outing before the big trip. The weekend before I left, I took Amelie out for British high tea. We bonded over finger sandwiches and our mutual love of all things sweet. And we both savored the exclusivity of one-on-one time together before the goodbye kiss.

2. Get some lockets. With a silver heart around her neck, my big girl knew mama was always close. Little girls love lockets, and mothers enjoy the chance to flash their children’s smiles at anyone who will indulge them with an admiring glance. For boys, perhaps a pocket-size or bedside photo of the departing parent will do nicely.

3. Remind yourself of the brevity of your journey. Two days after you return it will seem to everyone as if you never left. So you might as well give in and love the adventure. Parents travel every day. And you know what? They COME BACK. (Most of the time!)

4. Use your mama (or papa) superpowers. Oceans away from my children, I imagined myself like Hanuman, the monkey god of Hindu legend who famously leaped from the southern tip of India to the island of Lanka. A mother’s heart can stretch over continents, beyond sunsets and thunderstorms and vast deserts. Yep. Love can do that.

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Tips for a balanced life from Marc & Amy Vachon /2011/05/tips-for-balanced-lif-marc-amy-vachon.html /2011/05/tips-for-balanced-lif-marc-amy-vachon.html#comments Tue, 03 May 2011 15:11:51 +0000 Michael /?p=563 I spoke with Amy and Marc Vachon, authors of the Equally Shared Parenting book and blog, about a way of life that has made my family’s year of living adventurously possible. Marc and Amy’s work is pitched to parents, but their ideas apply equally well to any life partners who want to bring more joy and balance into their lives. Call it equally shared living.

What is equally shared parenting?

Amy: Equally shared parenting is a term that clinical psychologist Francine Deutsch out of Mount Holyoke coined as the best way to describe this thing. The thing is a lifestyle for a couple with children that builds on an equal partnership [to give] both partners…a chance at a balanced life. And so that means that they share in the four different domains of their lives together. They share equally in their importance as breadwinners in the family. They also share in the housework. They share in raising their children to the equivalent depth and approximate time spent. And then they each have approximately the same amount of time to have fun, individual lives.

Why do it?

Marc: We both want to spend time with the kids. We’re not trying to avoid them and push them off on somebody else. We both want to maintain our careers. We don’t want to avoid having to go to work. We want to embrace that as a part of who we are, and just have it fit into our life as opposed to be an all-encompassing endeavor. And same with recreation and taking care of the home.

What are the challenges?

Marc: I think it takes a leap of faith. Society is set up in a way to reaffirm the male’s role as the primary or sole breadwinner. Yes, women have come into the workforce in much larger numbers. But to totally embrace this model may call into question some of the long-held beliefs that we all grew up with, which is the man is in charge of bringing in the paycheck. To risk that in any way, I think is scary for a lot of people. It takes some courage.

Amy: Same thing on the woman’s side. I think the depth to which a woman has to let go of her society’s definition of motherhood is under appreciated. We often say on the surface, “Oh, I love when my husband helps around the house. I don’t mind if he doesn’t quite fold the towels the way I do.” But that’s just the beginning of what you have to let go. You really have to believe in the depths of your heart that your husband or your spouse or your partner or whoever is as equally capable of coming up with the best way to do anything as you are. That’s hard stuff.

Tips from Amy & Marc on starting an equally shared life

  • Get on the same page with your partner; agree that you both want to do it.
  • Start slowly.
  • Ask yourself what you want more of in your life, and what you want less of.
  • Ask you and your partner what you want out of your relationship.

Tips for keeping it going

  • Enjoy each domain of your life equally (parenting, career, housework, and recreation).
  • Don’t save the good stuff for later; have it all now—time for fun, time to work, time with loved ones.
  • Pursue meaning for yourself both in and out of the home.
  • Accept imperfection as the nature of life.
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ESP for Fun and Profit /2011/03/esp-for-fun-and-profit.html /2011/03/esp-for-fun-and-profit.html#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2011 12:07:16 +0000 Michael /?p=519 There’s a movement afoot that doesn’t have nearly enough traction, but it should embraced by anyone who wants to be a parent and also have a life. It’s called Equally Shared Parenting, or ESP. The book of the same name by Amy and Marc Vachon is its manifesto.

ESP busts some myths about parenting and it’s what makes my and Wendy’s year of living adventurously possible.

Myth: Moms are natural nuturers, not dads. This is just an excuse for dudes to avoid diaper changes and sleepless nights. Sure moms have boobs and wombs, but dads are just as well equipped in every other respect to care for kids. Just ask any pair of gay dads.

Myth: A parent can’t do equal justice to a career and parenting; your choices come down to having kids and a truncated or nonexistent career, remaining childless, or outsourcing childcare—either to your  co-parent or a nanny. Typically the mom is the one who ends up ditching her career to care for the kids, while the dad remains a wage slave. That’s a shame because the truth is you can have it all.

Myth: The hard work of maintaining a household as well as raising kids has no monetary value. Sure, society tells us this, but it simply isn’t true.

Wendy and I divide all of our work–home and otherwise–equally. Even our checks get made out to both of us. That means the one doing housework and childcare at any given moment is getting paid the same as the one working at the office. We know that the at-home backup is essential to getting client work done, even if our clients don’t.

All of this adds up to a lifestyle that allows both of us to pursue our passions while spending equal time with the kids.

On April 8, Wendy will board a plane to India. This week and next she gets to focus full time on preparing for her trip, finishing off her work obligations, packing, and doing last minute planning, while I hold down the home front. I’m her coach each day, getting her out the door early while I get the kids dressed and fed and ready for their day. And I’ll be her backup and support here at home while she spends two weeks following her bliss halfway around the world. Next month our roles will switch while I spend a week and a half on a meditation retreat.

ESP makes it possible. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Travel Breaks the Heart Wide Open /2011/02/travel-breaks-the-heart-wide-open.html /2011/02/travel-breaks-the-heart-wide-open.html#comments Wed, 23 Feb 2011 04:30:30 +0000 Wendy /?p=430 “Mama, don’t go.”

The words, breathed by my five-year-old after I told her about my trip to India in April, lodged themselves in my heart. She wrapped her peach-fuzz arms around me and squeezed – as if my insides didn’t hurt enough already.

In about six weeks I will board a plane for the other side of the world. I’m excited about what awaits me there. Yet as my departure date approaches, I find myself swerving into bouts of sheer anguish at the thought of leaving my small girls.

Michael asks why I worry. I try to explain that it’s not worry; it’s anguish. Anguish at the thought of missing even two and a half weeks of their tender little lives. Of course my sweet peas will be in good hands. Daddy will take care. Grandma and Grandpa are moving in while I’m gone. My girls will be much too busy and excited to miss me. There will be nothing to worry about, nothing at all. I know this.

Yet living adventurously and globally, if only briefly, seems to go against every good maternal impulse. I find myself talking about this with almost everyone I meet, in search for some kind of solace. Many friends have chimed in sympathetically. Other mothers have told me with the pride of a lioness that they couldn’t leave their kids at all. One friend confessed that even going to work part-time is a hardship; when she comes home at night she might spend an hour just sitting in her sleeping baby’s room, listening to him breathe.

The scent of motherly one-upmanship is everywhere in this age of family bed and Olympic-level breastfeeding, of attachment parenting and make-your-own baby food (and by God, make it organic!). It’s hopelessly out of date – so 1970s – for a mother like me to confess a desire to see the world. And then to actually do it! Well, then.

Outside influences aside, a mother’s love is strong stuff. Car-lifting, bullet-dodging stuff – the stuff of adventure movies. Planning a journey has proven this to me like nothing else I’ve encountered so far. The knowledge that I’m leaving has thrown my love for my children into bold relief. Everything they do glistens with an aura of impermanence and heightened importance. Their morning mama calls. The chilly school-bus drop-offs. Their fish-slippery limbs after bath time. The bedtime story snuggle.

I haven’t gone anywhere yet, but I’m someplace else already. Thanks to my near-future journey, I’m living inside a big, Technicolor love. And for that I am grateful.

Meanwhile, I’d welcome fresh perspective from you, fellow sojourner. Thank you for your comments, which breathe life into this blog.

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Tiger Mom gets bitch-slapped—but is it deserved? /2011/01/tiger-mom-gets-bitch-slapped%e2%80%94but-is-it-deserved.html /2011/01/tiger-mom-gets-bitch-slapped%e2%80%94but-is-it-deserved.html#comments Fri, 28 Jan 2011 19:14:21 +0000 Michael /?p=312 Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy ChuaOne of the favorite pastimes of us parents is to criticize other people’s parenting. It makes us feel better, since we all secretly wonder whether we’re doing the hardest job of our lives right. These little people don’t come with instruction manuals, you know, and even if they did, who the hell has time to RTFM, anyway?

Well, Tiger Mom, a.k.a Amy Chua, Chinese American author of The Battle Cry of the Tiger Mother does, that’s who. That’s because she makes the time. Even though she has a demanding career as an academic at one of the top schools in the country, as well as a career as an author. She makes the time to propel her two daughters (often kicking and screaming) through 5 to 6 hours of piano and violin practice a day, tutor them to straight As in school, and pound into their heads day in and day out the discipline and obedience needed to behave as no children naturally do.

No wonder the blogosphere and the print media are up in arms over this book; Chua makes most of the rest of us look like slackers. And in her book, she rubs our faces in it, too:

“Unlike my Western friends, I can never say, ‘As much as it kills me, I just have to let my kids make their choices and follow their hearts. It’s the hardest thing in the world, but I’m doing my best to hold back.’ Then they get to have a glass of wine and go to a yoga class, wheras I have to stay home and scream and have my kids hate me.”

I’m not going to try to rehash all the outcry about this book. The currently most-emailed article in the New Yorker, “America’s Top Parent: What’s Behind the ‘Tiger Mother’ Craze?” by Elizabeth Kolbert, does a good job of that. Suffice it to say, I went out and got her book (well, okay, I downloaded it) so that I could jump into this debate and do some properly informed bitch-slapping of my own.

Thing is, the more I read of this book, the more I found myself liking and even empathizing with Chua. Not only that, but this thing is a damn good read. Chua is refreshingly honest, even where it she knows it will make her look bad. She even let her now-teenaged kids and her husband read and give corrections on multiple drafts of her manuscript to make sure she didn’t get away with embellishing the truth. I can tell you as an author, that takes guts. And it allows for nuances and a remarkable perspective on the author’s own character that I’m not sure she could have gotten any other way.

What this book is not, is a parenting book. It’s a memoir. She’s not telling the rest of us how to raise our kids, she’s just telling us why she made the choices she did, and how. What it boils down to is that she believes that her brand of parenting gives her kids the best possible preparation for the future.

So much for the book as a book. I have to give it an “A.” What about Chua’s parenting style? Well, there, I do think she’s misguided. Her whole approach to pushing her children to succeed is based on rout learning and discipline. “Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America,” she says.

Chua, who was also raised this way, reveals the pitfalls of this parenting approach along with her own shortcomings. When she was in law school, she says, “I…wasn’t naturally skeptical and questioning; I just wanted to write down everything the professor said and memorize it.” Her lack of initiative, not to mention social skills, trips her up the first time she tries to land a teaching position at the school where she now teaches; the interview took the form of an informal lunch, where she “was so tongue-tied that two professors excused themselves early.” In her own words, she “flunked the lunch.” It’s only when her evaluation doesn’t depend on personal interaction that she finally gets the job, some seven years later.

Point is, rout learning and mindless obedience is good preparation only for a certain kind of future. Maybe the future of the 1940s, when success meant landing a good job with a good company, and maybe working your way up a corporate, academic, or government ladder, and then retiring on a nice pension. Not gonna happen that way any more, or only for a very few.

No, today’s kids are coming up in a world where everything’s up for grabs, not least the work world. We now live in a world where companies shed employees like last year’s fashions, where whole new industries are popping up like mushrooms and companies are born and live and die like mayflies, at superspeed.

The future will favor the quick, those who can think on their feet and improvise—exactly what Chua says she’s not good at, and what she hasn’t prepared her kids to do. So there, Tiger Mom, slap-slap, take that!

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Shh! Tiger Mom Is Sleeping /2011/01/shh-tiger-mom-is-sleeping.html /2011/01/shh-tiger-mom-is-sleeping.html#comments Sun, 23 Jan 2011 04:51:47 +0000 Wendy /?p=300

I’m often just a tad bit late in catching up with the news. But a few days ago I finally heard Amy Chua’s call to battle. It was time to rally the troops. It was time to get serious with this parenting stuff. No more frivolous play dates, no more Disney movies, and God forbid, no more pipe-cleaner-and-pom-pom crafts for my girls. It would be music lessons and math homework from here on out. Did I want them to succeed in this world, or what? The playdough stopped here.

And so the Lax Western Mama in me called upon her inner Tiger Mother to come out of the den, put her tiger paw down, and lay down the law.

But there was one little problem. My inner Tiger Mother was sleeping. I mean dead asleep. Not even the deafening roars of Tiger Papa and Cubs could wake her. It was hopeless. The TV was on. My five-year-old’s BFF was on her way over for a play date. And we didn’t even own a piano.

And you know what? I liked it that way.

I don’t have a carefully mapped-out style of parenting. I’m certain that I tend toward the lax, unkempt, coddling brand of American mothering that Amy Chua apparently disdains. I feel my way through this dark terrain like a miner without a head lamp, or even a helmet for that matter. I stumble forward with my girls, give kisses for boo-boos, and hope for the best.

I may meander quite a bit with my parenting, but I do have a destination in mind. I know what I want for my children, and like Amy Chua I will do whatever it takes to get them there. I want them to like themselves. I want them to live with joy and ease. I want them to breathe in love and flower open in whatever way they are meant to flower open. I want them to be true to whatever it is that makes them unique, that makes them sing in exactly the way they are supposed to sing.

Unlike Amy Chua, I don’t pretend to know what will make my children flower open and sing. I don’t think I have a lot of say in the matter. The way I see it, my job is to show them possibilities, to help them grow wings, and then to watch those wings flex open and take to the skies amid applause so deafening, it will be hard not to wake the Tiger Mothers among us.

But for now, let’s let those big cats sleep.

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Leash to the Wall, Face in the Feed Bag /2011/01/leash-to-the-wall-face-in-the-feed-bag.html /2011/01/leash-to-the-wall-face-in-the-feed-bag.html#comments Thu, 13 Jan 2011 02:32:36 +0000 Michael /?p=198 horse with feedbagI’ve got a problem with Elizabeth Gilbert. Don’t get me wrong; I loved her book Eat, Pray, Love. Couldn’t put it down. Neither could Wendy. But the underlying premise of that book, as well as Gilbert’s attitude toward family life, are part of the reason we started this blog.

In case you’re one of the 15 English speakers who hasn’t read the book or seen the movie starring Julia Roberts, Eat, Pray, Love chronicles Gilbert’s adventures as she tries to find herself in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Nothing wrong there. But it’s her underlying assumptions along the way that irk me.

The book opens with her in an absolute panic, hysterical, over the fact that if she stays with her husband, she might become a mom. And then her life will be utterly ruined.

So, she splits, kills the marriage dead, and flees the country. Okay, so lots of people need to get out of bad marriages. But it’s the kid thing that really gets her ass in gear. In the end, Gilbert hooks up with a dude who’s already had kids, thank you, and doesn’t want more, and who’s had a vasectomy to boot. Whew! No chance of bringing rugrats into the world with this guy! Bullet dodged, Gilbert lives happily ever after.

Now, I don’t have a problem with folks who don’t want kids. I don’t think anyone should have kids unless they really want them. It’s just about the biggest commitment you can ever make, and you can’t exactly return them if they don’t work out. What I take issue with is Gilbert’s assumption that you can’t live for yourself if you have kids, that if you have kids, you can forget every selfish dream you’ve ever had.

Gilbert’s interview in O, the Oprah Magazine last year clarified her views.

“When I was in Mexico when I was 20, I remember meeting this American couple who were in their 60s, and they said, ‘Oh, it’s so great that you’re traveling now, before you have kids, because you won’t be able to then.’ I know this is a thing that people do; they go traveling for a year, and then they hitch their leash to the wall and put their face in their feed bag and that’s the end of it. And I thought, ‘But I might want to keep doing this,’ you know?”

In other words once you have kids, you can forget about traveling around the world, or doing anything else that’s particularly interesting. I know a lot of people have this idea, that you can’t live for your dreams if you have a family and responsibilities, and blah blah blah. I’m just picking on Gilbert because she’s so damn articulate about it, and so widely read. She’s issued such a public challenge that I just can’t let it go.

Elizabeth Gilbert, I’ll see you two kids, and take your India, too. Wendy and I are doubling down and going for broke.

(Well, at least Wendy is. She’s the one going to India. I’ll be home with the kids while she does that. I never really wanted to go to India anyway. Oop. Gotta go now; I think I hear a Klondike bar calling me from the feed—er—freezer….)

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All Joy and No Fun? /2011/01/all-joy-and-no-fun.html /2011/01/all-joy-and-no-fun.html#comments Thu, 06 Jan 2011 13:05:21 +0000 Michael /?p=195 Photo by Jessica Todd Harper for New York magazine

Photo by Jessica Todd Harper for New York magazine

I heard two harried-looking moms talking about this New York magazine article on a playground in New York’s East Village. “I love my kids, but I hate my life,” one of the moms was telling the other. She said this article summed up her feelings exactly. The other nodded in agreement.

All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting by Jennifer Senior  has hit a nerve. There are 654 comments on the piece, and counting. A book-length version is in the works. It’s because its one of the very few mainstream articles out there that speaks with complete honesty about the experience of parenting.

Not only is Senior a parent herself, but she also interviewed researchers investigating the experience of parenting, many of whom are parents themselves. Among the findings:

“While children deepen your emotional life, they shrink your outer world to the size of a teacup, at least for a while.”

…and

“They’re a huge source of joy, but they turn every other source of joy to shit.”

But does it have to be this way? I don’t think so. And Wendy and I have dedicated this year to proving it. We submit that you can have your joy and your fun at the same time.

This applies not just to parents, by the way. I think must of us have challenges that seem to prevent us from living life as fully as we would like. Maybe it’s an illness. Perhaps financial difficulty. A lousy job. A bad marriage. Or, yes, young children.

These are all excuses. Hell, Christopher Reeve lived a full life while paralyzed from the neck down. We can all do this. Start right now. Bring more fun into your life. Smash open that teacup.

There are two keys to this, as I see it. Misery loves company, but misery tends to feed on itself too. Therefore the first key is to stop complaining. No whining, as Wendy put it in our Manifesto. We expect our kids to keep whining to a minimum, and we should expect no less of ourselves. I’ve been working on this since we started our project, and it’s amazing how that one simple intention—to stop complaining—has improved my outlook.

The other key is to have a plan. In his book Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzales cites having a plan, a sense of purpose, a mission, as one of the biggest determining factors separating those who survive challenging situations from those who don’t. Working on our plan gives me more energy, improves my mood, and makes the everyday challenges of parenting and making a living, and all my other responsibilities much easier.

Of course another of Gonzales’s keys to survival is to accurately and unflinchingly assess your situation. Senior’s article helps us parents do that, and I thank her for it.

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What Is Your Superpower? /2010/12/what-is-your-superpower.html /2010/12/what-is-your-superpower.html#comments Fri, 24 Dec 2010 06:33:13 +0000 Wendy /?p=180 Everyone has a superpower. Mine is insomnia. Since the fifth grade I’ve faced bouts of sleeplessness, and in college, poring over books, I learned to turn my protracted nights into an academic coup de grace. I came to accept and even love the solitude and starry peace of the nighttime hours. Sleep is for sissies, haven’t you heard? It’s kryptonite.

And so I am awake in my blissfully quiet house on this eve before Christmas Eve. I am awake and thinking about the uber-ambitious project that Michael and I have on our hands with this 2011 Year of Adventure, which begins in (gasp!) just over a week. How will we possibly do everything we are setting out to do, along with the usual demands of a life filled with deadlines, dishes, kids, laundry, dinner, diapers…did I mention kids? I think the insomnia will come in handy.

A few readers have asked recently about our kids, and where exactly they will fit into our Grand and Ridiculously Far-Reaching Scheme for 2011. We plan to take them right along with us on many, though not all, of our adventures. It was Amelie who chose French as the language we will learn, and she is angling for a trip to Paris this summer. This same five-year-old is eager to join me in guitar lessons. She will not go to India with me, nor would she be caught dead meditating for 10 days with her daddy in the Berkshires, though she will jump at the chance to fly an airplane with him.

Jade, just 21 months old, has her own goals and dreams. It will be difficult to pull this wee child away from her most diligently executed toddler project: the complete destruction of our possessions and home. She is making steady progress daily, having broken several glasses and ripped apart many an artful pop-up book. She is now working hard on dismantling the door of the TV cabinet. Thankfully, Jade has another job that she also happens to be very good at: Being adorable. This has saved her butt on many occasions.

But really, this entire plan involves our children, at least tangentially. For they will be seeing their parents do ambitious things. They will see that it is good for the soul to have dreams and to move doggedly toward them. They will, I hope, learn to think large-scale about their own potential for self-realization in (to borrow from Mary Oliver) this one wild and precious life.

How else will they discover their superpowers?

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