More Life at Our House

This morning M was snorting over one of our baby photo books. “And put syrup on Isis!” she cackled. For a few weeks when J was a toddler, she had discovered humor, and her idea of a joke (probably born during a pancake breakfast) was to add this phrase to anything anyone else said. As in, “Girls,” says Mommy, “don’t forget to brush your hair and–” “And put syrup on Isis!” J would shriek, and the girls would completely lose it.

Actually, it was pretty funny, at least for the first couple of times.

“It’s so sad,” M lamented. “We don’t say anything cute or funny anymore.”

Not true. I insisted. She demanded an example, and I had one handy.

Over Christmas break we’d invited a couple of friends over for pizza dinner. They were friends we used to see all the time, and now everyone’s so busy that we just don’t. We’d fit dinner into a somewhat tight schedule, deciding that the friends were too true blue for us to fret about how clean the house was. M had a soccer game for late afternoon, but we figured that if we hustled out right after the game, we’d be all set. We headed straight to the car, as planned, and had driven to the first stop light when I asked J if she’d remembered the book she’d brought. Nope. We looped back and J ran in. We waited. The clock was ticking. She came back out, book-less. M and I, exasperated, ran out to do a second look. M hit the lost & found while I retraced our steps to the bleachers. Nothin’. As we were heading out of the soccer place, Cute W was heading in. “We’ve already checked!” I yelled at him. And M and I headed back to the car, me muttering that Cute W thought that we were incompetent, and then swearing that I would be deeply, deeply bitter if he actually found the damn thing, but Don’t Tell Daddy.

Sure enough, Cute W strode out to the car, smirking and holding the book aloft. Dammit. Apparently J had wedged the book into the underside of a bleacher or something? I don’t know. I wailed in distress, J thanked him graciously, Cute W laughed, and M immediately threw me under the bus. “Mom said that she was going to be mad if you found it.” Traitor.

But the point was, we were now officially late to our own party. So Cute W raced along while I texted our friends that we’d be home any minute. We were still ahead of them, but just barely.

As we parked in the driveway and tumbled out, M said, “I just keep thinking about how the people on Downton Abbey spend days getting ready for a party, and we’re almost not here to open the door for people.” At which point she opened our back door while singing a Ke$ha line, “The party don’t start ’til I walk in.”

Give me a break. That girl is funny.

I am frequently reminded of that quote from my favorite essay ever from Anna Quindlen. Like her, “I wound up with the three people I like best in the world.”

They’re being extra-lovable these days, too (knock on wood!). M’s declarations of fierce hatred for her parents have dropped significantly. Part of me is over-analyzing whether she is retreating to her family because 7th grade sociability has been less reliable for her lately, but I am trying my best to stay out of it and just appreciate her generally pleasant demeanor. The other night Cute W was out of town overnight, and thus I was ignoring the really ridiculously messy kitchen in order to finish something on the computer. There was a bit of suspicious pot clanging and later, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a dishwasher unloaded and reloaded and the counters wiped down. It was. . . so very, very beautiful. I love that girl.

J, meanwhile, has been hard at work on her social studies project, recreating the steps in Native American clothes-making. How cute is she?


At one point she was trying to color small wisps of cotton black to look like ash from her campfires, but they somehow managed to look a weak grey-blue. I suggested that I could actually burn a piece of paper to create actual ash, and she looked like I’d just told her we were going to Disney World. M, meanwhile, began to panic: she still hates fire. J and I took the lighter into the other room to spare M the fretting.

J has recently been dabbling in floor hockey. She signed up for the weekly after school program, which is basically a bit of a free-for-all, but she was super-excited about it.  So then I suggested the town’s upcoming weekly program that was field-hockey-oriented skills and games for girls, and luckily it didn’t conflict with gymnastics. So she signed up. When she arrived and jumped out of the car, the first girls she encountered were significantly taller than her and were toting their own field hockey sticks, so she panicked and fled, blinking back tears. I sort of tough-loved her back into the gym, and she ended up having a terrific time. So I’m psyched.

We’ve consistently tried to get each girl interested in more than one sport because it’s supposed to help prevent injuries, and I tried to get M to do some basketball, but all I managed was one week of morning summer camp. And I think that she regrets it a bit, now, because several of her friends are doing basketball after school while she’s home, with her lame mother. But she loves-loves-loves soccer, so she’s got that. J, meanwhile, does a ton of gymnastics, but that’s separate from school, and M had so much fun on her school team this year–it just feels like a great way to have guaranteed middle school friends. Plus I’m ambivalent about just how much time Josie spends at gymnastics practice. She likes it and I wouldn’t want to make her quit, but I can’t help thinking that if it ever did get overwhelming for her and she didn’t have another sport, her poor little body would go into some kind of shock without 11 hours of practice a week.  So it’s nice to keep our options open. And of course, now her schedule’s busier than ever, with one sport or the other every day except Sunday. Or, theoretically, because tomorrow morning there’s a gymnastics meet! Of course, for a gymnastics meet you really do about half an hour of actual gymnastics and six hours of being nervous.

That’s what’s going on around here. Except, have you noticed how beautiful it’s been lately? Here’s the view from my car after a JCC class the other day:


And this is my view as I look up driving on my way to and from the JCC. That’s right. I had to pull over an take a picture. I love the spring when the tunnels of greenery come back, but this is pretty gorgeous too.


That’s right: I’m just like my tv alter-ego. I’m actually starting to love winter.


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