and it’s all right, we never met a person we didn’t like in the museum. we never see ’em…
today, we had a delightful visit from my BIL, our two nieces, and my MIL. we went downtown for lunch and then hit the spy museum which, for those of you out-of-towners, is a lot of fun. i loved the aston-martin that was kitted out like a bond car, with guns in the front, a wheel cutter thingy, and the works. (wish i had one some days when i am driving the beltway.) there were all kinds of exhibits. i liked the 1960s camera that copied documents when you rolled it over them. and i was fascinated reading about the east german woman who bravely spoke against the repressive government, only to get jailed, with a husband who stood by her until the wall came down. then, she ran for parliament, passed a law so that all former east germans could read the files gathered on them by the stasi, read her own file only to discover that the informant who squealed on her was… her husband. (they ended up divorced. i’m sure you’re surprised.)
somehow, though, in this world of buildings dedicated to the knowledge of particular subject areas, we have gone down a road where it’s not simply enough to look at the items and possibly read a bit about them on the walls. now, museums have to be entertaining. they have exhibits where you do things on a computers, or you make things, or you are actively participating in a show. i find it a little disheartening that kids now seem to have little attention span for actually looking at the actual items in the museum but rather race toward the stuff they can do. it’s like they start out with these please touch museums in young childhood and expect all museums from here on out to be places where it’s about their fun and activity.
i think i’ll keep trying with my kids anyway. i’ll just have to make sure to go alone to the things i really want to see in the meantime.
sometimes the truth is more wonderful than fiction.
every year, our elementary school has a movie night. the kids all huddle on the cafeteria floor on blankets and in sleeping bags to watch what is usually a pixar movie. this year, we gathered to watch rio. the boy has had a tough week at school; it’s hard being different and the kids seem to get less empathetic and increasingly nasty. and yet, the boy wanted to go. i hope i see M there, he said to me as we hopped into the mommobile.
sure enough, we did see M. M, you should know, is a wonderful little girl who has been in jools’ class since kindergarten, though this year, they are sadly separated. since kindergarten, when they vowed they would marry when they were grownups, the two have been tight friends. somehow, waching them together is like watching an old married couple; he is always doing goofy things and telling jokes to make her smile, and she pinches him when he is misbehaving. M has a wonderful, warm heart. i genuinely adore her.
last year, the boys started teasing jools. julian and M, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes jools in the baby carriage. and so on. mom, he told me, how do i tell M that i like her but she’s not my girlfriend?
i don’t know, i replied. do you still like her?
of course i do, he had replied.
well then, be friends. don’t worry about what everyone says. be nice to her and she should be nice back.
so tonight, jools sat on M’s sleeping bag with M and her sister. M’s dad bought a big box of Nerds and they all shared them. M’s sister kept taking the weird lollipop jools had, which was part lolly and part flashlight, and lighting it up throughout the movie. M got up a bunch of times to find her friends, jools told me, but she always comes back. (that’s okay, mom, julian reassured me.)
so tonight at bedtime, i asked the boy how his evening was.
you know mom, he replied, M is probably my best friend. she is the one person who is always nice to me and comes back to me.
i smiled. we all need that person who comes back. no matter what.
second verse, same as the first.
henry the VIII is one of those random songs that gets stuck in your head once and then pops up at the darndest times. for me, it pops up during those blank and dreary moments where you need something to make people smile and get re-energized. there have been countless times when i’ll start singing it and the kids join in. (yes, we’re that family.)
the song was one of the hits for the band herman’s hermits (including, as BS would imitate from the TV, peter noone from my generation!), a british band that became huge in the heydey of the beatles. in fact, they apparently were the top selling pop act in the US in 1965, toppling the beatles from that post. all this, in part, thanks to famed producer mickie most, who would select their songs and often wouldn’t let them play, using session musicians like john paul jones and jimmy page instead. they had hit after hit for several years, but of course one day, they broke up and tried their own stuff which was never quite successful. (peter noone had one minor hit covering what ultimately became a bowie classic oh! you pretty things.)
but i’ll keep it simple so that no one chops my head off. henry the VIII is bouncier and a lot more fun than it’s subject matter would imply. and it’s actually kid-safe, unlike plenty of my musical fodder. but yeah, i would get laughed out of a lot of places for this one.
ripples never come back.
last night, we tried a new chi chi pizza place. BC, approaching 13, is pretty open to trying any new place, although this being a pizza place, there’s not any problem with her discovering and trying something new, in this case, a pannini sandwich. jools, firmly planted as an 8 year old dude who doesn’t eat fruit so don’t even try, okay?, was content to share a white pizza with me so long as they took off anything remotely green (basil, which he usually likes, spinach, which he also likes, so why are we removing green things again?) my half was supposed to included additional broccoli and mushrooms, but his side was to remain pristine. and of course, BS ordered a calzone with something porcine that the rest of us, red sea pedestrians, could not and would not eat.
this restaurant cleverly had some board and card games for families to play while they await their food (which, i would add, is sufficient time to finish two games of uno. at least.) as we sat around, playing cards and arguing over the rules, i managed to glance over at a family a table over from us. their oldest, a girl, looked no more than about four. their younger child, in a high chair, could not have been much over two. their kids stil in pre-game-playing mode, they looked over at us, slightly wistfully, as if they wished they were playing a card game as we were.
i smiled back at them. it will happen soon enough.
we were that family once.
it’s official: i have become a suburban cliché.
yesterday, the kids were off from school because it’s election day and apparently, the schools haven’t figured out how to run polls and a school day simultaneously. (okay, so i kid. a little.) but considering that they will be off again friday for veterans day, i wish they had decided instead to take thursday off and make it a big old weekend where we could actually go somewhere. but no, instead, we have tuesday and friday off, and our half-day wednesday is now a full-day of school for one day only, thus insuring chaos with the boy’s ability to complete his homework, which comes before everything else (including hebrew school, which happens about 45 minutes after he will get home from school.)
but i’m not bitter.
so anyway, back to yesterday. my relaxing day home with the kids, the day after my intensely delightful IVIg session where i was poked 13 times. the one where i returned to a house on the verge of chaos and a body full of type two reaction to the Ig. the girl had wanted to sleep over a friend’s house, but with all her plans for tuesday brewing, i could not add yet another thing to the plate. and even though i may sound like a spoilsport, i really didn’t think a sleepover with several other girls on a monday night could end well. so she stayed home, not complaining about her mean-ass mom. (the girl is very smart.)
i woke up with my IVIg headache, the one that lasts until it decides it’s time to take up residence in someone else’s head. it’s a dull sort of headache, not like a migraine. but it’s there, and it’s heavy, and it feels like someone placed some very large bees in your head. you can function, but the pain in your head makes you a bit grumpy. the three of us got it together and dropped the girl at play practice at 9:30. the boy and i then were off to target, where i hoped to do some minimal food shopping while getting the boy to write down his holiday gift list while walking through the toy aisle. throw in a return plus a few other things needed that would be unavailable in a grocery and voila! tar-jzhee is the place.
two hours later, after meeting one of jools’ friends there and arranging a playdate for 2:30, we put away groceries; i fed the boy; and then i told him he should go play outside. mommy still had a deadline for work. so i worked, met my deadline, and then took the boy over to his playdate. then, at 3, i had to pick the girl up. the girl had gone from play practice to a friend’s house, where she and her friend were completing their science experiment for the school science fair. after dropping the boy off, i sneaked off to… vote. and then, off to BC’s friend’s house. woe is me; while i was out driving the boy, i missed the call that said that BC’s friend’s mom could drop her home.
so i found myself on the friend’s porch at 2: 50something, and no one is answering the friend’s door. of course, the minivan is in the driveway and is open, so someone must be home. but the sound of droning leafblowers (far less pleasant than the hissing of summer lawns, i assure you) is making those bees in my head angrier and angrier, push harder and harder. i pound on the door, figuring that the doorbell must be broken and hoping that someone can hear me over the lawn men. eventually, BC’s friend comes to the door, smiling. and i hear BC’s voice trailing from their kitchen mooo-ooom, didn’t you get my message? J’s mom is going to take me hoooome.
so after they clean up their experiment, i drive her home to get a quick change, as she’s off to girl scouts at 3:30. i run her over there and run home, thinking a glass of water or a coffee or SOMETHING might pacify those damn bees. and after realizing it’s just a little after 4, i remember that my eye medicine has been languishing at Walgreen’s since Friday. i decide to run to the giant to get cornbread mix (to go with the chili i snuck into the slow cooker at about 2), do the drive-thru pharmacy thang, and then rush over to jools’ playdate’s home, where he should be picked up between 4:30 and 5. good, i think, i will get there about 4:45 and life will be awesome.
only too bad for me. my doctor has changed the prescription, which doesn’t make my life happier in insurance land. i am sitting in the drive-thru line for literally 20 minutes. tick tock tick tock. a car that is behind me in line gives up and drives away. (i can’t move aside or else i would. i have been that car.) finally, it is 4:56, and i pray that BS will pick up the phone. he does. and he races over to pick up the boy.
my prescription straightened out, i race over to the boy’s playdate’s house to apologize for my lateness. when someone tells me pickup is between 4:30 and 5, i aim for the middle time. i am not a mom who leaves her kid til the last second. and now, i have that rep.
but, no time to stop. i must pick the girl up from girl scouts at 5:30. i stop at home for another drink of water, another chance that the bees might be appeased. but they keep buzzing. and i go.
i bake cornbread, i make dinner, we eat. i do dishes, i finish the laundry i had started, and i am done. i take a few motrin, and the bees go away.
until this morning. the girl has called from school. she has forgotten her lunch.
i’m back in the driver’s seat.
…because breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
jools never used to be the pickiest eater on the planet. in fact, he will eat (and enjoy) random things, like salmon tikka. but the boy will not eat fruit, nope. and the boy refuses to down yogurt. while he will sometimes eat a scrambled egg, options start to get limited here. and i was tired of feeding him cocoa krispies, which is what the boy really wants.
so i let my fingers do the walking, and i found a recipe for double chocolate pancakes from the site feeding my kids better. yeah yeah yeah, i know. feeding them chocolate chips for breakfast is not exactly health food. but there are good things, like eggs and milk in there. and any time the boy goes to school with a full belly, well, fist pumps all around.
anyway, i made some yesterday afternoon and set them out to cool. (and yes, i used my beloved guittard cocoa rouge powder in them.) the boy came home from school and was famished, probably because i put the kibosh on his buying cookies (to go with his lunch, which consists of a few snacks that all are acceptable — this week — on this list.) so i warmed up a pancake.
he loved it.
he asked for more.
BC came home from school on the late bus. girlfriend tried one and ended up eating THREE.
okay, okay, so i’m not feeding them sugar-free, natural perfection. but i think we have a keeper.
sadly, i don’t have a picture. (people kept on eating them.) so close your eyes, and imagine a brownish pancake with chocolate chips…
yes. it floweth out your child’s backside. yours, too.
as parents, we all think the world of our children. why wouldn’t we? they are all amazing creatures, each one a special flower annointing the earth with a special glow.
of course, your child is more special than the rest.
your child is a kind and gentle person, ever-so-talented academically, ever-so-agile in sports, ever so social and perfect.
and that is why you cannot believe that your child said anything threatening to my child. you cannot fathom that your child called my child stupid, he called him dumb, he told him he ought to kill himself.
and that is also why it isn’t surprising that you invited a few boys over for a playdate while they all stood in a group with my son… only too bad for mine — he was the only one not invited by you, all in front of the others. i was standing there; i heard it all. or how about the time you cancelled my son’s long-awaited playdate at your house so that another friend of his could come over instead? of course, my son wanted to know why you did this. you can’t imagine how fun it can be to have to come up with a more palatable reason why an adult would be mean to a kid.
this, of course, isn’t one particular person; this is just a composite of some of the bullshit my child has had to experience in the past 6 months.
now see i am the biggest fan of each of my children. that much is true. but i also don’t believe that the sun shines out of their backsides. i’m well aware that my son, for example, occasionally engages in behavior that isn’t stellar. and when i know about it, i call him on it. it’s simply not acceptable behavior.
but not every parent participates in his child’s upbringing as i do, apparently. because there are plenty of parents who are not willing to believe that some pretty harsh things come out of their kids’ mouths. they cannot conceive of their child engaging in hurtful behavior. shoot, so many of them cannot see how they participate in this behavior, so how can you expect them to see it in their child’s?
i’m tired of lazy parents who live in denial about their kids.
she gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse…
when our kids were born, we never assigned godparents. see, i never grew up with godparents, so it never occurred to me to select anyone in particular to be godparents to our kids. besides, i thought hopefully, all my brothers, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law will hopefully take some liking to our kids and that’s pretty cool, right? (lord knows i am extremely crazy about my nieces and nephews.) not only that, but as i have no biological sisters, i have some friends who my kids have called aunt so-and-so and who have always been very kind and generous to them, treating them as their own and even looking after them at critical junctures.
when BC was young, my friend M2k (or aunt M2k, to be specific) fell head-over-heels for my girl. somehow, M2K got the whole girly-glitter-pink thing that i never did (probably due to the whole i grew up with brothers thing.) over the years, M2k has gotten BC all sorts of wild and crazy stuff from her travels; she has visited the girl whenever she’s in town; she even watched the girl while i was in labor with jools. and BC is just as crazy about M2k, for mary loves the lamb you know. one day, little BC announced: mommy, aunt M2k is my fairy godmother.
i loved the image of M2k floating around with wings and a wand. it suits her generous and loving self so completely.
anyway, we were talking about M2k the other day, as the girl is excited for the day when M2k becomes a mommy herself. and somehow, our conversation turned us to thoughts of a mutual friend of M2k’s and mine, David. David doesn’t get over here too often; he lives a continent away. But when he visits, he always has paddington bears for everyone, or GOOD chocolate bars that you can’t get here, or even foreign coins for the boy’s collection. he is big-hearted and a dear softie and someone with whom i wish i could spend more time in real life.
David, you should know, also happens to be gay. it’s not something that has ever mattered to me, the girl, or anyone in my house for that matter. it certainly became clear the first time he and i ever went shopping together — Best. Shopping. Buddy. Ever. (outside of my mom.) but in general, he isn’t my gay friend. he is my friend who happens to be gay. he never said anything to the girl about this, as it really isn’t something that came into the conversation. (his kilt, of course, is another story. the girl was FASCINATED by the kilt he has.) but the girl knows, and the girl doesn’t really care.
why am i spending so much time belaboring this point?
the other day, BC and i were talking about music. somehow, we got on the topic of a singer named Adele who has a gorgeous voice. i mentioned that David had met her once, and she was wildly impressed. we ended up talking about how David was doing, and then she lo0ked at me and, with a straight face, said: mom, if Aunt M2k can be my fairy godmother, can David be my fairy godfather?
at first, i had to stifle a chuckle. the girl clearly had no idea of the weird double entendre she had made. then, i had to resist the urge to slap myself for even thinking such a thing. wow, things get awfully ingrained in your head. did you really say that? i asked the girl, thinking she was being extra cheeky.
you don’t think he’d want to be? she asked, straight-faced.
i got over myself quickly and realized that just because that stupid idea flashed through my brain, i didn’t need to flash it through hers and continue down the path.
you can ask him, i replied. i bet he’d be delighted.
i told the story to David later. bless his heart, he didn’t seem offended by my tale. in fact, i hope he wasn’t drinking anything when he read my message, as i can picture the beverage spit all over his keyboard. (and wot a waste of wine that would likely be.)
true to form, he said he’d be delighted. you know, how could he possibly refuse?
so it has been a thrilling day.
i’m still fighting some upper respiratory thing, finally with some ceftin since it’s the next antibiotic in my rolling list of meds. i’m feeling stellar, and that alone, makes it a great day. then, i knew it was trouble when i heard my cell phone play “darlington county” — that’s my ringtone for our public schools. seems i had to pick the boy up from school because he was whacked in the tooth on the playground by a metal piece of playground equipment that another boy was bouncing on… then, he threw up, so i took him home. after an initial rest period, he seems okay, so i’m just going with the no-concussion track for the day. hope i’m right.
you know, mom, there goes the whole idea of adam and eve.
exactly right, i replied.
9/11. a day that shall also live in infamy.
i’ve written before about what happened in my little world on 9/11. i think it’s safe to say that the day was the most terrifying day of my life, shepherding my then-two-and-a-half-year-old while panic-stricken in the flight path while wondering where on earth my husband, my aunt, my family could be. everyone who was alive and old enough can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing that day.
and we have a tree in our yard, one of the 182 planted all around our county, in memory of the pentagon victims. every day, i look at that tree, now tall and very leafy; and when i’m not cursing the fact that it needs a trim because it’s branches have overspread and sometimes whack my car in the driveway, i smile wistfully, thinking about a lady i never had the chance to meet, a lady who was my co-worker and friend’s wife, a lady who was on that plane. a lady whose daughter recently wrote a column that moved me. in that column, the daughter talks about how her mother, a clinical psychologist, would note that the last stage of grief is acceptance and renewal. instead of asking her to basically attend her mother’s funeral every year, she writes, why not instead make it a day to look ahead and to look inside at ways we can understand and behave better toward one another?
i must admit, the media lead-up to 9/11 is overwhelming. someone must be very afraid that americans will forget the day, as if it were some minor blip on the radar; and so we get panelists after panelists discussing foreign policy. we get memorials, we get survivors, we get audio and video from that fateful day. it’s all very compelling, like a car crash; but all these things are seared into the national psyche, and it’s as if we are looking backward and not forward.
perhaps it benefits a generation of kids who were not alive or not at least old enough to know what actually happened; but then i look at my daughter, who was a toddler at the time and know better. unlike me, she has had to practice emergency drills at school for terror attacks. she knows how best to hide in the coat closet and squish down along with her classmates in case a gunman is coming. you steer clear of the classroom door, she tells me, and you stay down. even my son, born after 2001, knows full well that sometimes, you need to practice in case a bad person is in your school. i remember when they had to figure out danger plans at my son’s daycare in case the children were on the playground and an attack took place. all these plans, and it all starts with protecting babies in daycare, children in schools. there’s a whole different culture of awareness now, since 9/11, at least down here in DC and, i suspect, in the NY metropolitan area. and it extends all the way down to our littlest citizens.
friends sometimes ask me whether i wish i could move away from this area. and after 9/11, i desperately wanted to. i live in the flight path of national airport and dulles, and the sound of planes overhead jarred me for months after the event. i would look into the sky and pray that the airplane overhead stayed suspended and continued soundlessly to it’s predetermined destination. i became afraid of planes, too, and flew infrequently. in short, i felt powerless in the face of horror, and i wanted to somehow get out of its way.
but the truth is that horror can be anywhere. and so can beauty be. after living here for over 20 years, i have grown to grudgingly love this area, a place that belongs to the whole nation. it’s a beautiful place, especially during the early spring, when flowers bloom amidst the urban world. every day, i can drive by the capitol, the national mall, abe lincoln and thomas jefferson, and see important visual statements about our nation and it’s values. it’s far from nirvana, of course, but it’s really a beautiful, important place.
i want to protect this beauty.
i want to be a part of the citizenry that says no to terror; i want to be a part of the group that lets terrorists know that while they do harm us in serious, painful ways, that we respond. and yes, we respond in grief at first — but we eventually get past that crushing weight and move into acceptance and renewal. my city’s not of ruins; it’s of people who fight terrorism simply by being here and living their lives. i have accepted that i am here, and i have accepted that, while painful and frightening as it can be to live here, i am going to live here as long as i can stand it. i am going to live here as long as i can love it.
and i intend to love it as long as i can.
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