ever since the day you were born, you’ve been a child of wonder. you’re curious about insects and dinosaurs and how letters go together to make words. you pepper coach alex with 50,000 questions at each little olympian class. you take things apart; you destroy anything your sister hasn’t hidden. and every night, you ask the same question: what are we going to do in the morning?
you’re a brave, brave boy. yes, you whine and cry any time you are scheduled to go anywhere, whether it’s school or a class or to the supermarket. (you don’t whine when it’s target time because you think you’ll be getting a toy. guess again, little man.) you are completely apprehensive about these experiences. but once you’re in them, you flourish. you’re thrilled you went. you don’t provide the same color-commentary that your big sister does whenever she does anything (well, i take that back: she doesn’t describe her trips to the bathroom; you, on the other hand… well…), but you beam. i’m trying to help you remember that feeling: remember these feelings maybe will help you the next time you need to go and do something and you don’t want to go. these feelings will buoy you; and there are times in life that you really need a buoy.
i still remember the first time i heard you laugh. you were 2 months old, asleep on my shoulder one summer night, while your father and i watched some evening TV. i was still anxiously awaiting sounds from your mouth that moved beyond a cry or a burp; your sister was an early talker and i was hoping you might be, too. at a funny point in the show, you, sound asleep but completely on cue, started to laugh: your hearty, little man giggle that i now hear every single day. but that night, i heard a preview of the happy guy who was emerging. it took my breath away.
and i relish every single day with that happy boy. soon, you’ll start kindergarten, and our tuesdays will end. you’ll be sad, i know, but probably not as sad as i’ll be. but if you can be brave about it, i will be, too, deal?
i love you, beautiful boy. happy birthday, darling darling darling darling jools.
jools has a spiral notebook. he has impaled some of his artwork to fit inside it (his idea), nestled beside some sheets of notebook paper (my idea.) lately, we have been playing a game where he rattles off some letters, then asks: what does that spell, mama? since the words are usually consonant-heavy, they usually sound mostly like words from some eastern european language where vowels appear sparingly. they also often resemble those letters you need to copy when trying to post something but the site wants to make sure you are a person and not some automated spambot, like WTK4O.
last night before bed, we continued our game. it had been a long, exhausting day together, and i frankly wanted him to put the blasted notebook away so we could read and get to bed. but the dude is persistent, and he picked up his pencil. mama, he said, what does this spell? and he scrawled W T E L E.
nothing, honey, i replied. let’s close the notebook.
no, no! the dude was not compliant. typical for him, of course. so i took the pencil. i never write in the notebook, so this was a minor mommy revolt.Â i wrote the letters M O M. don’t know why; i guess i wanted consonants and vowels, living in perfect harmony. do you know what letter that is, i asked, pointing to the M?
he scrunched up his face. considering the only C i ever received in my elementary school career was in handwriting, this is not exactly a surprise. it’s an M, i hinted.
he smiled. M O M, he said. MOM.
how did you know that spells MOM, i asked, surprised.
i dunno, he replied. i just put them together.
i used to weep because BC’s first spoken word to me was Bye Bye!, which is what i said to her every morning before i went to work. and i don’t even remember jools’ first word; i think i wrote it down, but somehow, you begin to forget everything subsequent children do. it’s not fair; but it is what it is.
but only dementia will ever make me forget jools’ first word read.
those of us ladies of a certain age — and we know who we are, don’t we, now? — were big fans of the partridge family (aka the pretend cowsills) back in the day. sure, even at age 5 i knew that no one was playing their instruments — duh! — but i didn’t care, cos i had my very first crush on this man:
yes, there i was, a preschooler, deciding that david cassidy was the cutest guy alive. (well, second to paul mccartney, of course, back when he still could be called cute… although i suppose you can refer to some older people as cute, but then it means something entirely different.) even then, i knew i had to keep a thin veneer of cool about me at all times; but i had a few of their albums (thank G-d for Hal Blaine, huh?), a few comic books, and a scary knowledge of the shows.
the latter doesn’t seem remotely interesting except for one little detail: this was in the era before VCRs. in fact, this was the era before prime time shows were syndicated, much less repeated, save for 1950s gems like i love lucy. i had to depend on my photographic memory to remember the songs, especially since not all of them ended up on the albums.
one in particular was my favorite song of all. stephanie was actually from a very special episode guest starring (say it with me now)…ooohhh. ahhhhh. bobby sherman!!! (nope. bobby didn’t do anything for me, either. while i am sure sherman is a good person, even at age 5, i knew i didn’t like anyone who might call me little woman.) after some breaking and entering that would normally land a dude in jail, bobby sherman and a dorky, tone-deaf guy named lionel poindexter (whose mother obviously didn’t love him when they saddled him with that sucker) end up getting their music and lyrics together (courtesy of the partridges, of course.)
what amazes me to this day (if i may say so myself…and i will) was that after hearing that song during that one episode in 1970, i never forgot it. in fact, i did what any self-respecting preschooler freak of nature wunderkind little kid would do: the minute we got a piano, two years later, i sat down and figured the song out. only, too bad for me: the only parts i remembered were: stephanie, whose eyes are blue/what would life be like with you… skip ahead to the chorus: and i’m doin’/all i can do/all but the growin’/that’s up to you. yes, i was mystified as all hell trying to figure out what growing had to do with anything, but i was even more frustrated that i wanted to hear this song again… and i couldn’t, except for in my head or through my fingers on the piano.
thank G-d for youtube.
so dad, if you’re out there (and i know you are), now you know why i just had to sit at the piano and play a stupid set of chords, over and over. this may sound familiar to you now.
and i’ll dedicate this guilty pleasure monday to my beautiful cousin stephanie, even though her eyes aren’t blue. and she doesn’t need to grow.
can someone please unglue susan dey‘s fingers from the keyboards?
oh, it’s nearly the end of may, all right.
as we ate dinner tonight, we noticed a bunch of the rolling thunder folks who have once again invaded our area, as it is memorial day weekend. i ranted a bit about rolling thunder last year and i don’t think i could do much more on that topic. except maybe froth at the mouth a bit.
but make no mistake about it. i am related to four living veterans. i immensely appreciate the sacrifices that men and women in the military have made and are making even at this very moment. and it pains me especially to think about all the people in iraq, risking their lives to chase george w. bush’s tail. not to mention the people who live there who have been paying a tremendous price as well.
and all the while, 9/11 terrorists continue to roam the earth. and plot.
we have a lot of people to remember out there. the fallen heroes. the innocent victims.
the presidential candidates.
see, i must confess: for the first time in my life, i have not been thrilled with any of the presidential candidates. sure, sure: both democrats are against the war. but as someone who believes firmly in never wasting my vote, i have been struggling. i’ve read plenty of impassioned posts by people i respect. i’ve been trying to reconcile my ideals and hopes for the country with those of the candidates. i’ve been pondering whether even to vote, something unthinkable to me up until now. but there is one thing that may move my big scaredy-cat butt over to the polls:
the idea of who mccain will pick for a running mate.
i like each one less than the next.
so, perhaps it isn’t completely for the right reason, but i will not dishonor the men and women who died so that i could continue to have the ability to cast a ballot. by november, i will vote.
and i will vote for someone who will bring some sort of finish to this endless war.
every morning, i drive BC to school a little before nine. we hear my favorite DJ, weasel, who was a mainstay at the old, much lamented and missed 99.1 WHFS and who now hangs mornings at The Globe. most mornings, he asks a trivia question, and i never call even though i know the answer. and BC says: aw mom, why didn’t you try?
this morning is the first SOL (standards of learning, though some fool definitely made for one unfortunate acronym) for BC, and she’s nervous. she ate a good breakfast, and we packed some solid snacks for her. but she was still nervous. as the good mom i am, i always deal with my feelings by making a joke out of them.
so we’re driving to school, and i’m telling her: BC, honey, whether or not you pass the SOLs does not determine whether you pass the third grade. you would have to go and do something crazy, like burn down the school at this point to not pass third grade. and that would be a stupid, stupid thing to do.
BC grinned. mama, that’s the craziest idea i ever heard!
exactly. then we heard weasel about to announce the question of the day. i generally do not dial and drive, but i figured, aw, what the hell. i’ll dial and pull over. it will make the kid laugh.
the question: sheryl crow sings my favorite mistake and now claims it is about some philandering ex-boyfriend of hers. we know who it is really about, though, right? call me and tell me who it is and you’ll get a pair of tickets to her show.
duh. if anyone was paying attention a few months ago to my clapton/harrison binge, they’ll know that if i wondered whether it was true before, i know it’s true now. while clapton never out-and-out admits it, based on his past track record and doing the math, it is not hard to figure out. weasel mentioned that he could not understand how the two of them tour together after breaking up.
anyway, to make madame smile, i called. and… i WON. yes, jaxx, yes BS, yes everyone out there who thinks i’m the luckiest girl alive, i won two tickets to next week’s show. unfortunately, it is a wednesday night, the last night of religious school and a night before another SOL. can’t get a sitter. can’t take the girl.
(anyone wanna go with me? i have no earthly idea how to get to the venue, of course. so you’d be driving ðŸ˜‰
but the grin on BC’s face as she walked out of the car was priceless. and that is exactly how i wanted to send the chick off to school. mama’s a doofus, but her aim is true.
ah, the things we do for love.
speaking of love, here are the former alleged lovebirds.
i know why the caged bird sings, weasel: it’s good business to tour with a legend.
as a writer, i am always sucked in tempted thrilled to find opportunities to challenge myself online, especially between the hours of 10 pm and 4 am (barring those nights when people under the age of 10 decide not to sleep due to illness or just plain cos.) for example, there was a time i wrote abstracts because describing articles in 100 words was more fun than delousing my daughter’s hair. (sadly, that opportunity — the abstract writing website — has gone belly-up, at least for now. the lice, mercifully, are still in louse heaven, living on a giant head.)
but now, i’ve discovered smith magazine, a place where you can be challenged to write about anything… in just six words. considering just how verbose i can be (note entire blog output since 2002) about a whole lot of nothing, well, this screamed try me!
so i did.
recently, i tried my hand at the MOMoirs section. you may have guessed that i have a little experience in the MOM department, having been one for nearly 10 years. and of course, i possess all the answers on being a MOM. for example:
Q: mommy, why can’t i see whether jools will eat this [fill in the blank with anything disgusting, inedible, or poisonous]? wouldn’t it be fun?
A: because mommy doesn’t want to make you personally pump jools’ stomach. you don’t know how to do it, as you have not watched that episode of Trauma: Life in the ER yet.
so when i noticed there was actually a contest on this, well, of course i was going to give it a go.
lucky me. i am a winner.
i had to summon all my powers to think of how i could describe this crazy roller-coaster ride called parenthood in six words. all the joy. all the heartache. all the leftovers. it was not easy to convey that in six measly, economic words. but, it suddenly came to me, as if summoned by a dream:
Can I pee in private, please?
anyway, i would love it if you folks would try your hand at this fun exercise in the comments section. i shouldn’t be the one having all the fun.
i tell you what-what, doo doo doo hey what-what
don’t bring me down.
i tell you what-what, doo doo doo hey what-what
don’t bring me down.
i just thought i’d let jools, who was two at the time he uttered those inimitable words, introduce today’s:
yes, my clever son takes after his gram’s unspoken musical motto: if you don’t know the words, make ’em up. there was a time when the formerly-known-as-a-classic-rock-station-now -a-station-that-pretends-to-be-progressive-station seemed to play ELO’s don’t bring me down every hour. at least, it was on every single damn time i was driving with the boy in the car. and no matter your age: it can, and it will, take over your brain in a powerful way, much like my number one earworm for all time, bittersweet symphony.
(you can thank me later for that last link.)
and symphony is where it all started for this band from birmingham (england, not ‘bama.) at the dawn of the 1970s, jeff lynne (probably one of the biggest beatle worshippers of all time) formed a band with roy wood of big-in-Britain group the move. only, too bad for wood, as he wasn’t happy and left the band, leaving lynne to take over wood’s vision of immersing classical music into rock.
yes, it’s a long stretch to go from symphony to xanax xanadu, but there was a time when the music ELO put out was actually interesting, at least to youngish me (who was trying to figure out how my flute lessons fit in with my beloved rock.) (and no, don’t tell me jethro tull. most of tull leaves me yawning.) i was probably reeled in first by can’t get it out of my head, a beatlesque ballad that. has. strings. face the music is one album that, if you play it backwards, actually DOES have a message for the intrepid listener, and it’s not paul is dead. (i know. i used to do it when i was younger and had a working turntable.) roll over, eleanor rigby, and tell mccartney the news. do ya is simply a dashboard-thumping anthem.
and rockaria clinched it with such lines as:
she’s sweet on wagner.
i think she’d die for beethoven.
she likes the way puccini lays down a tune.
and verdi’s always creeping from her room.
she’s sweet on wagner.
i think she’d die for beethoven.
she likes the way puccini lays down a tune.
and verdi’s always creeping from her room.
sure, they put out plenty of crap. but i give them a ton of credit for attempting to mix classical with rock. they tried to do something novel, at least novel for that period of time.
and anyway, how often can you say that classical music has a good beat and you can dance to it?
stealing from jaxx, who also stole it. because this is for a brain-dead friday.
The top 100 or so books most often marked as â€œunreadâ€? by LibraryThingâ€™s users. Bold the books you have read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didnâ€™t finish.
this will show you just how illiterate i am — though to be fair, my period in english lit is american, 1920s. so phooey. in truth, there are several of these i have never read but HAVE seen the movie… or i’ve read the classics illustrated ðŸ˜‰
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Pride and Prejudice
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel – saw PBS special
War and Peace
The Time Travelerâ€™s Wife
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway – saw movie
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales – had to memorize in middle english. do i get extra points?
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
One Flew Over the Cuckooâ€™s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the Dâ€™Urbervilles – i was tested on it. i do not remember reading it. but apparently, i did.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune – i tried only because sting was in the movie. my monosyllabic title? YAWN.
The Sound and the Fury
Angelaâ€™s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A Peopleâ€™s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
Watership Down – books about bunnies? not my thing.
The Hobbit – books about fictitious little people? also not my thing.
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences – books about real psychos? my thing.
Tagging all who dare… Especially my reader pals KellyO, Nylonthread, and MamaBird. surely your bookshelves are littered with things better than mine.
the thing about modern medicine is that we, modern citizens in the modern world, assume it cures and completes everything. you take a pill; a malady ceases. you inhale a puffer of medicine; you breathe again. it’s simple and it seems to work most of the time.
yet BC continues to struggle with her coughs. the child is on symbacort, nasonex, amoxicillin (20 days, thanks very much), prevacid, and zantac. (she’s also supposed to be on zyrtec, but it doesn’t seem to do anything for her, so we’ve taken that one out of the lineup.) the cough has improved a bit, but her stomach aches, in spite of the yogurt i attempt to put down her gullet to counteract the antibiotic destruction of good bacteria. she isn’t sleeping well. and she’s a bit miserable at night. in fact, last night, she wailed: i wish i wasn’t on all this medicine. i was happier when i was coughing all the time!
there are those times when you wonder whether you’re doing the right thing.
it doesn’t help that i’m only finally coming out of a tough IVIG experience. understand, i ADORE/ LOVE/ WORSHIP the nurses who take great care of me. but accidents happen. i go through three bottles of Gammagard, and i sit for about 4-5 hours because it needs to drip slowly or else i get ill. unfortunately for me, the second bottle dripped so quickly, it finished it in record time. the clue, of course, was that for me, finishing two bottles in two hours is unheard-of. i stood up to let the nurse know i was ready for bottle #3.
and it all started when i sat down. my body felt fluttery and weak. my head started to ache. my stomach felt nauseous. (note that i do not barf. i am only nauseous when i am seriously ill or when i’m pregnant. i knew it wasn’t the latter.) in short, i was having a reaction to the IVIG.
see, i’m allergic to IVIG. i need it every four weeks, so i get it, but not without premedication. when i had it for the first time in the hospital two years ago, the nurse ignored my brother-the-doctor’s suggestion that she premedicate me with benadryl prior to giving me IVIG since i have such a history of allergies to so many things. it’s not written on your chart, she muttered without interest. let’s give it a try without.
within 20 minutes, my entire body was shaking violently. it was after midnight (why do they always try things in the dead of night when no one is around?), and i struggled to actually push the help button. when the nurse finally arrived, she looked at me deadpan as i was shaking uncontrollably and having what i can only guess what some sort of a seizure and said, gee, i guess you do need some benadryl.
(there are times when i wonder whether i would have been prosecuted for kicking her once my body settled down.)
once the benadryl was added to my IV, it was as if i achieved nirvana in 30 seconds. peace reigneth. probably the first time in my life i understood why some people inject themselves with drugs. there’s no wait. instant karma.
[kids: i am not endorsing injecting yourselves with anything. do not try that at home or anywhere else.]
i always have a reaction to IVIG. at first, even premedicated, i ran a temperature, had terrible chills, and was exhausted. i’ve moved on to the place where i usually just come home and go to bed and wake up fine. but for some reason, the headache i developed from the latest reaction, along with the exhaustion, followed me for days. i can’t imagine it was the IVIG the entire time; i suspect it triggered something that just went from there.
but we never went camping. i had an awful mother’s day. and i didn’t really start feeling well until yesterday.
i guess i better remember that neither my kid nor i is invincible.
there’s a strange yoga/martial arts session taking place in my house as i type. BC is teaching jools to stand with his hands together (though when i looked at him and said namaste, master BC told master jools not to say that.)
BC, fed up with jools’ (typical for a nearly-five year old boy’s) behavior, has decided to create a reward system. (never mind any of the disciplinary systems i’ve set up over the past two or three years.) SHE gets to decide whether he’s behaving. SHE gets to make the rules of this little world, including warnings and stickers. for my part, apparently, i get to contribute $1 to a fund for a reward for the dude if he does what he’s told. by HER.
i understand her frustration. raising a boy is infinitely different from raising a girl. where BC was an amazing listener and a child who behaved in a seemingly perfect way from a very young age, jools is an active little dude who doesn’t have a ton of patience for sitting and listening to anyone for a long period of time. he’s quick to whack her, punch to her judy, and make things physical fast.
but he’s also infinitely easier in other ways. the boy laughs when he gets shots, unlike the girl who needs to be physically restrained when anything needs to pierce her skin. the boy is incredibly merry and light hearted, unlike my tween girl, who is perched, cautiously looking over into the hormonal abyss.
she can’t grasp that he’s different from her. and i bet she’ll be a mystery to him as soon as he becomes more aware of her. but i’ve got both of their numbers. still, i let them explore each other’s personalities, their inner light. in between the never-ending fights, they have these crazy moments where they start to meet each other as people. its delightful as long as it lasts.
so i’ll let girlfriend set up this new “disciplinary” system, peaceable as she wants to make it. he seems willing at first blush, to submit, if only because he loves the time he has his sister’s undivided attention. forgive me if i’m a skeptic. it’s not like i haven’t tried this before. but as long as no yogis are harmed in the process, i’m cool.
they’ve laid out my exercise mat and she is instructing him to do some move that involves a soccer ball but which looks like some funky calisthenics. it won’t last. after all, he’s looking longingly at his bright green Star Wars light saber.
this is a stretch, but i’m guessing that darth vader probably doesn’t have a mantra.
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