Category — Cute W
Did you know that today is International Day of the Girl Child?
At our house, I tried to kick off the celebration early yesterday, because I had something very special in the house. . .
That’s right! Our very own female anatomical model! Whoop, whoop!
. . .
As it turns out, I was the only one who was really excited about this. See, Cute W is teaching this sexuality course for 7th and 8th graders at our church, and he’d had to borrow a model for the class. When I heard, I said, “Oh, yay! We should totally have a look at that before we give it back!” J looked interested, M rolled her eyes, and then J rolled her eyes.
So a few days later I’d pulled the model out and set it on a table, just in case anyone was interested in learning a teeny bit more about her own body. M arrived and promptly ignored it. Then J walked in and approached the model right away. I jumped up to show her how we could pull it apart like a puzzle.
“Hey J,” M called. “Did Mom tell you that your mat [a late birthday present] finally arrived?” J squealed and ran down to the playroom, girl parts forgotten. M looked at me and chuckled.
Later, after we’d dropped J at gymnastics, I gave M a hard time in the car. “I can’t believe that you totally threw me under the bus like that!” I said. “J was honestly interested, and you’re trying to make her think it’s not cool to be interested in the way her body works. I don’t understand why you’re so against it.”
“Eeewwww, Mom! Just. . . gross. Just nasty. It’s nasty.”
“There’s nothing nasty about your body. It’s wonderful. It can do amazing things.”
“Yuck, yuck, nasty, nasty.”
“Seriously? Is that really how you feel about your whole body? Why?” At this point I don’t know if she’s just yanking my chain–because she loves to do that–or if she’s entirely sincere. Which freaks me out a bit.
“No, it’s not all nasty. I like my stomach because it holds food. And my fingers are useful. . . .” M is considering her various parts.
“Hello!?! A uterus can contain and nurture an actual human being!” I counter. “That. Is. Cool.”
“Blegh” is her response. Silence for a minute. I take a new tack.
“You know, boys like their genitals. Boys love their penises.”
“Mom!” She’s horrified and appalled. “No way! Yuck! They do not!”
“Oh, yes, they do,” I answer, smug. It is somehow much easier to dish on boys than to convince my daughter of anything about herself. “Boys think that their penises are awesome, and I think that you should think that your vulva and your vagina are just as awesome as boys think their penises are.”
“They don’t like their penises. No way.”
“They really do.” And even as I’m typing this now I realize that I should have told her about how the scrotum is sometimes called the family jewels. Instead, I shared a story about someone we both know. “When he was a toddler, he loved this show called He-man, and He-man would always raise his sword and say, ‘By the power of Greyskull. . . I have the power!’ and once he pulled out his penis and called it his ‘power’ and his father was, like, ‘That’s my boy!’”
“I am not even kidding. It was adorable”
“Well, that’s just weird. That doesn’t mean that boys in general like their penises.”
“Yes. They really do. We can ask Daddy. He’ll back me up.”
“Yes, we’ll ask him. You can’t ask other boys. That would be inappropriate,” I say, suddenly imagining this scenario and the ensuing parent-teacher conferences.
“Well, yeah,” M answers in a tone that leaves the unstated “duh” drifting through the car. “Can you even ask Daddy? Isn’t that inappropriate?”
“No, we’re married. We can talk about that stuff.”
We moved on to other topics, but later that evening M, Cute W, and I were finishing up dinner. “Oh!” I remember. “I forgot that I had to ask you something. . . .”
“Don’t, don’t, don’t!” yelps M. She hides under the table, covering her face, bright red and laughing with a mixture of horror and delight.
“Honey, do boys like penises?” I ask.
Cute W is understandably confused and cautious. “Umm, they like their penises. Penises in general, like, other men’s?”
“No, no, no,” I hastily correct myself. “Their own penises. Do you think that, in general, boys are grossed out by, or like, their own penises?”
“Oh, they like them,” he answers, with a certain satisfaction that makes us all laugh. “Hey,” he says, “There’s a story about [He-man toddler]. . . .”
“Yep, I told her,” I interrupt. “I was trying to convince her that she should like her vulva and vagina like boys like their penises.”
Cute W sobers up quickly. “Oh, you should like your body. Female anatomy is amazing. Really.” He says with the earnestness of a man who’s had official body image issues training. “Wait, are your friends telling you that parts of your body are nasty?”
M, meanwhile, is now fighting a two-front war: “No,” she says to Cute W, “We have better things to talk about!” And to me, in reaction to my use of the words “vulva” and “vagina”: “Ugh, stop saying that!”
Of course, “Stop saying that,” in our house, is just an invitation.
“Vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva,” says Cute W.
“Vagina, vagina, uterus, clitoris,” I say.
“I don’t even know what a clitoris is!” she’s exasperated.
“Oh, the clitoris is. . . ” Cute W begins, and “I’ll show you on the model. . . ” I begin, but we’re drowned out. She’s plugged her ears and started singing “la, la, la.”
Cute W and I smile at each other, conceding defeat. Officially time to leave her be. She unplugs her ears, still laughing.
We separate again. Cute W is off to soccer, I head to pick up J from gymnastics.
When we arrive home, J sits down at the dinner table, takes a look around, then gets up and tucks the female anatomy model into our pretty new corner cabinet. I raise my eyebrows.
“Do you mind?” she asks wearily. “It’s just. . . I’m trying to eat.”
I sigh and pack the model back into its box. I’m returning it today.
October 11, 2012 8 Comments
Cute W was out of town last night. This was a particular bummer because it was J’s birthday. They were both a little sad, missing each other. When we sang happy birthday after dinner, Cute W sang from speaker phone. Then it was time for cupcakes and bed for the girls, and Cute W was heading out to a bar to schmooze with colleagues. He was excited because this conference had him reuniting with an old friend, from our pre-kids, living-in-the-city era, when Cute W had a whole gang of whip-smart, super-motivated, and interesting co-workers. We rarely see most of them these days, so there was quite a bit of catching up to do. As the kids dove into cupcakes and ice cream, I pulled Cute W off speaker phone to ask how our old friend L was doing. She has twin boys just a bit older than J and a 3-year-old girl, and she still works full-time in Manhattan even though they’ve moved out to the suburbs. She leaves the house at 7:30 am and doesn’t return until 7 pm each day. They’ve got a nanny.
Holy cow. That just feels like a world away from me. It’s so strange to think that people who share so many other similar values would veer so widely, and so wildly, apart when it comes to parenting and general lifestyle. I try to imagine an alternate reality in which I spend my day attending meetings, poking at an expensive electronic device as I ride the train home, kicking off my heels and hugging my kids while they update me on their last 12 hours. I bet that my house would be much better decorated. And I’d be better groomed. But I can’t imagine that I’d be happier. I think I’d be stressed. But it’s not as if I think they’re crazy. Well, okay: that’s not true. It sounds crazy to me. But each individual choice seems sane, logical, perfectly understandable. The whole thing made me think about those small choices we make every day, and how they alter our paths and the paths of our families. Which reminded me of one of the Steve Jobs quotations that was floating around after his death: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward.” So we make little choices that feel right and then hope that we end up with a whole life that is right, for all of us.
Why did we red shirt J? And what is the age cut-off day?
This one made me laugh out loud. I’d spent months fretting, reading, Googling, and interviewing of friends and acquaintances (both adult and child) as we considered this. Cute W took the role of first mate to my captain as well as sounding board on this one. And by sounding board, I mean the guy who says, “Oh yeah? Okay. . . whatever you say, honey. . . uh-huh. . . .” I mean, how could he not even remember? Which made me wonder: is this just a man thing? Or is it worse for couples when one mostly works outside the home while the other works mostly at home? And, I thought, it’s all the more pressure for poor L, who presumably takes on all of these issues while also working full-time for a salary. How the heck does she manage that? I guess it’s a good way to while away that commute.
This also makes me think, though, of Michael Lewis’s article about Obama in Vanity Fair, where there was this really interesting part:
“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” [Obama] said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting.
Huh! I thought. Michael Lewis, I, too, find shopping exhausting. So maybe that’s how L handles it: because she doesn’t have to decide on whether to ignore or cave to entreaties for an afternoon snack, or whether a jacket is required for the playground because the nanny takes those. On the other hand, I’ve managed enough office situations to know that paid work is full of inconsequential decisions and whiners, too. Seriously, it’s a wonder any of us mamas can function at all.
October 2, 2012 2 Comments
As I tuck her into bed Friday night, J asks, “Mom, can I please not go to the soccer game tomorrow?”
I understand where J’s coming from, here. Monday to Friday is school, Sunday is church, and Saturdays, J is dragged along to M’s 8:30 am soccer game. Tomorrow it’s likely to be worse than usual, chilly and rainy. “Oh, sweetheart,” I say, “I don’t want to miss the game, and Daddy has to coach, and I just don’t feel comfortable leaving you home alone for that long.”
“Just think,” I say, trying to buck her up, “later this winter, we’ll be dragging M along to your gymnastics meets.” J and the girls from her gym are supposed to start competing in January or February.
This argument does nothing for J. “But, that’s not fair!” she insists. “At least M will have something to watch!”
This makes me laugh out loud. “Umm, honey? That’s what we do at the soccer games. We watch the soccer game. You could watch the soccer game, too.”
“But it’s so boooorrrinng,” she whisper-wails. “Watching gymnastics isn’t boring like watching a soccer game is boring!”
I kind of agree, but I have to defend the Team Soccer half of the family. “I think that if they didn’t have a family member doing gymnastics, M and your Dad would probably rather watch soccer than watch gymnastics.” J looks as if I’ve just told her that she’ll be growing a tail during puberty: baffled and only able to stave off horror with profound disbelief. She’s speechless. I give her a last kiss good-night.
Morning comes, just as cold, wet, and miserable as anticipated. As M ties on her cleats I realize that the next-door neighbors will be manning their garage sale all day. Lucky for all of us, they are happy to supervise a new sales associate.
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Yes, Cute W is coaching again this season, and they got off to a bit of a rocky start. M loves having Cute W coach because he’s fun and he knows soccer. Many volunteer coaches in town offer to coach even though they’re not so into soccer. This is admirable, because they always, always need more coaches. But it’s also great to have a coach who’s really into soccer. This season Cute W decided he was going to do something new: teach the kids some footwork drills early on and encourage them to drill them at home. He was pretty excited about the idea as he and M headed out to one of the first team practices. An hour and a half later they were home and with their arrival the entire house was enshrouded in a black cloud. Both of them looked half ready to cry and half ready to kick some furniture over. I missed the practice itself, but the gist I got was that Cute W’s footwork drills took longer than expected. The practice was not the usual fun-fest to which M had become accustomed. Some of the members of the team were pains in the butt, and the coach’s daughter, who is expected to be a good role model, was not a particularly good role model. Three-quarters in, Cute W knew that he and the entire team were miserable, but the tasks had to be finished or any coaching credibility would be lost for the season. Meanwhile M was despairing that her super-cool coach had become lame. By the time they got home, Cute W was ready to quit coaching for fear that he’d ruin M’s soccer experience. M, meanwhile, was thrust into despair at the notion of any other possible coach besides Cute W. M spent quite a bit of time sobbing in her room. Cute W sent out an email to parents swearing (again–he’d done so before, during, and after the footwork drills) that future practices would be different. He also produced a footwork video for kids who wanted to try footwork drills at home, insisting that they were optional only.
This happened weeks ago, and I only watched the video yesterday. The whole episode was a little traumatic, so I needed a cooling-off period first. When I finally watched it, I couldn’t stop smiling because damn, that guy is cute! And also an excellent and devoted coach.
At our house, we followed Coach W’s advice and didn’t force M to do footwork drills. Instead, Cute W said that he’d go out and do them all by himself. Of course M joined him, and since then they’ve been doing them fairly regularly. Of course, it’s wreaking havoc on our yard:
But it’s become this lovely bonding time for the two of them. So sweet. And the whole team’s doing well, too.
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Meanwhile, we’re also gearing up for “travel,” which basically means playing through the winter months through our local town club. Last week M finally (finally!) got the results back from the supposed-to-be-informal-and-don’t-mean-anything soccer tryouts for the club. The whole tryouts thing was pretty frustrating. In the past, kids M’s age attended tryouts and while everyone was welcome to play, they were placed on either an “A” or a “B” team. M did soccer with the club for the first time last year and was a bit bummed to be designated B, but she dealt with it.
This year, the plan was to have all the kids practice together for several months, and then they’d divide up into teams in January or February. There were still two tryouts a month ago (remember how M was stressing out about them?), and while most parents were wondering why we were bothering to have tryouts if the kids were sticking together, we schlepped the kids to tryouts, anyway, for fear of doing something to Harm Our Children’s Opportunities for Success.
Then, at the tryout, a coach told M that they were choosing A and B teams to start out, and he’d be letting them know “soon.” Nobody ever actually told me. There was no, like, global informative email sent to the many parents involved with the revised plan. There was only the promise of a future email, one that the coach told M would be arriving with team assignments.
Poor M kept asking me for an email update. A week after the tryouts, M started ranting.
“He said he’d let us know ‘soon’!” M said. “Do you think that a week is ‘soon’?” She sure didn’t. M repeated that line frequently, gradually substituting first two weeks, then three weeks, etc., and last Saturday, when I was on the town soccer fields, I found M’s club soccer coach from last year and asked him, when, oh please, would we hear? He pointed me toward some other coach, and I had to go talk to him, because I did not want to be one of those stage mom (field mom?) parents who insists that her child is brilliant and talented and must be on the top level of everything because I want to live vicariously through my child, and now that she’s exactly like the girls I always wished I were (see previous post), this was my big chance!
I ended up going with something like, “Hi, I’m Katie, M’s mother, and I’m hoping that you can please put these kids out of their misery and let them know about their teams?”
He said he’d send out the email “today,” and when I reported back to M, we both agreed that the chances were good for hearing within a week. We were surprised to actually receive an email that day, and M was thrilled to make the A team.
But the sense I get is that they’ll be shuffling kids around, anyway. Which means that M–and most of her friends–could easily be reassigned. So that this joy could turn to heartbreak later, and the friends who are sad to be on B now could end up switching as they improve. You know what that means, right? More soccer drama in our future.
September 29, 2012 2 Comments
I don’t know if any of you saw the GE commercial about intensive care babies in incubators. The link was pinging around many blogs I read because it shows a teensy bit of breastfeeding (yay). But watching it during the Olympics coverage made me sad all over again, and I realized that I’ve never shared the essay below. M aspirated meconium at birth, and she spent a week in the NICU. We were so, so fortunate that she recovered completely.
M is two days old and we have only touched her with our fingertips. We don gowns and scrub hands with vile-smelling soap on the hospital’s strict three-hour schedule, only to press ourselves against a plastic case. Each touch, they say, distracts her from her main tasks of breathing and circulating blood. If monitors show an abrupt change, access could be revoked.
For months I’d had my feisty little fish girl swimming within me, boisterous and yet such a shiny, benevolent presence that I’ll never understand how women get tired of the kicking. Now our distance is an obstacle course of heavy self-closing fire doors and reception personnel, past a nursery of healthy babies whose mothers have had their fill of them and then the sallow, listless forms in the NICU with M. Once arrived, we are spectators. The overnight nurse greets us kindly. We love her as she coos flattery, congratulating M on her high oxygen levels despite her mucky lungs. We endure the afternoon nurse, wincing as she croons a gruff “hey-hey-hey” and prods a monstrous binky between lips and oxygen tube until M sucks half-heartedly.
Visiting time again, and I’m annoyed that W is late. He’s trying to do too much. I scrub myself in with my mother-in-law. She’d hopped a plane from Des Moines at the first contraction—ignoring our entreaties to wait—and arrived breathlessly, luggage in hand, before I’d even managed to give birth. Ever since, she’s been torn between clinging to her anguished kids and leaving us to the extreme privacy of adulthood, hands fluttering, agitated with the desire to fix everything. Now I bear the brunt of her caged concern while I steel myself to face the “hey-hey” nurse.
We enter, and the nurse issues a curt directive: “The doctor said that you can hold your baby.” Sodden legs buckling, I collapse onto a waiting chair. The impact makes rippling concussions, and I wonder fleetingly if I’ll bleed again, pass another jellyfish clot.
“But. . . my husband. . . .” I begin feebly. “W. . .” A flicker of approval crosses W’s mom’s face, and my head clears. “Can’t we call?” No cell phones allowed here. But even as I fret, the efficient nurse has extracted M, removed some sensors, and encased her in institutional flannel.
“You’re wasting your time with your baby,” the nurse chides.
W’s mom mobilizes: “I’ll find him.” I watch her go, stomach churning. The nurse pushes M into my lap and bustles away.
M is warm and surprisingly light, a loaf of bread from the oven. I grip her and try to remain still through internal convulsions. Where is he?!? I should have waited, why isn’t he here? I am watching the NICU window for him, afraid that he’ll freeze, shocked at my betrayal, at the sight of us alone together. Minutes pass, each of my vertebra lifted to hurry him, like when you stand to urge an athlete toward a goal. I look at M for us both. Ruddy in spite of her Apgar, she has freed a fist from the swaddled blanket. Her mouth opens and closes, eyelids flicker. Her nose swoops with an unimaginably graceful lilt. . . .
“Okay.” The nurse again. She waits a beat, then retrieves her baby from my incompetent arms. Empty. And still no husband either. My throat aches, nose tingles. I can’t stay and watch this woman whisper to my girl, rub her scalp so coarsely. The nurse ignores me, checks baby holding off on her chart. I shuffle alone through NICU reception and down a long hallway.
The elevator pings behind me. W. Hustling like a doctor to an emergency, still believing that he has a chance. “W!” I try to yell, but it’s a defeated, tear-choked croak. I follow, call again, but he is so single-minded. He’s disappeared into the NICU. Pushing aside first-time mother fears that wide strides might cause my insides to spill away, I launch myself into a ginger and bow-legged run.
He is scrubbing with that foul soap. Hasn’t even paused to look through the window. “W–” I strangle around it, horrified by his speed and diligence, the expectancy in his movements. He turns and sees me, his face crumples, and we are together, wailing. Another nurse pokes her head out to see the commotion and discreetly backs away. There’s always drama here. We cling to each other, grieving for what we’d been waiting for: when mommy and daddy first greet baby, cuddling, examining toes. The moment, missed at delivery, that now eludes us forever.
July 30, 2012 8 Comments
Many years ago, Cute W met up with my sister Jane and while greeting her, he said, “You look tired.”
Jane, who speaks with great passionate and vehemence on any number of topics, admonished him. “You never tell a woman that she looks tired. Or, if you do, you have to follow it up with a compliment. You have to say that she looks pretty or something.”
From then on, for years, Cute W would say to me, “You look tired. . . but pretty.” We’d say it to each other so often that it’s become a family idiom. At this point, for example, if Cute W saw me looking like this:
He’d say, “Wow, you’re looking. . . pretty.”
Today we were all looking pretty. J spent all morning doing gymnastics camp at Cartwheels, M was doing Farm Camp at Vinewood Acres, and then we all spent the afternoon at the pool, J with me at the town pool and M and a crowd of friends at the Schenectady JCC. By the end of the day, Cute W declared that we all looked quite overwhelmingly pretty.
And I’m too pretty to post. So here are some links:
- I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Collins Lake is closed for the season. That’s a super-bummer.
- Adrienne over at Albany Kid reviews Great Escape for the toddler-and-preschool set.
- All Over Albany reports that you can learn to play the ukelele in Troy.
- The TU’s Tablehopping Blog offers Everything you want to know about dining at the track.
- Flavorwire.com offers the Ten Greatest YA (Book) Series of All Time (Not counting obvious ones like Harry Potter).
July 17, 2012 No Comments
At dinner, we were laughing about some political remark one of the girls’ classmates made. M tried to explain that this child simply didn’t know what he was talking about.
“Oh, I know,” Cute W said. “Most kids your age don’t really follow politics. They just sort of parrot whatever their parents say.”
“Including you guys,” I put in.
“Well, yes, but I was trying to be diplomatic,” Cute W agreed.
Cute W was right. Insulted, M declared “I follow politics!”
“No you don’t,” I answered.
“I do, I DO!” she insisted.
“Really? Then name someone Rick Santorum beat last night,” I answered.
She looked at me blankly. Then, determined, she leaped from her seat and rushed over to my computer.
Cute W and I looked at each other, chuckling. Sure, we’d proved our point, but we appreciate her determination to win the argument with a bit of research.
. . . And that’s when I realized. “Oh, my gosh! She’s Googling Santorum!” I yelped.
Cute W ran to her side to intervene before she found something inappropriate.
Our immediate horror, followed swiftly by red-faced, hysterical laughter, almost made both girls die of curiosity. It took us a few minutes to compose ourselves, but then we refused all inquiries and changed the subject to dessert.
FYI, it is now safe to Google Santorum. Apparently his recent success has improved his results. And if you missed why we were in a panic in the first place, here’s an article with a quick explanation.
March 14, 2012 5 Comments
We’re coming off a whirlwind five days with Grandma & Grandpa, who were visiting from Kansas City. Prior to their visit, I fretted that we had “nothing special” planned, except that we had Cupid’s Cabaret on Sunday, where Cute W and M were performing. I hadn’t realized that our regular routine, when you throw enthusiastic grandparent spectators into the mix, is surprisingly full and exhausting.
On Thursday, they went along to J’s piano lesson, transforming it into a makeshift recital.
On Friday, our whole entourage visited school to volunteer at the library during M’s class in the morning, ran some errands during the day, went to watch J doing gymnastics, and went out for dinner (mmm, Van’s Vietnamese).
On Sunday, it was the cabaret (little J was “better enough” to attend, although we skipped out on church and skating for her) followed by M’s ice-skating lessons, then card games and order-in Mexican (mmm, that Mexicana Grocery place).
On Monday, the kids went to school, but it was library day for J, plus an in-school assembly, so we still had plenty of quality time. Plus, we swung by the district offices to see M’s artwork on display before they headed to the airport.
Predictably, today’s late-afternoon homeworking got a teensy bit ugly, but we got through it.
Now it’s time to get ready for the parties and put the house back together. Part of this cabaret thing that Cute W did involved numerous costume changes. So along with the accumulation that occurs when you’re busy and have house guests, we have things like this just lying around the house:
If you are too young to recognize The Bill, I don’t even want to know. Go watch the Schoolhouse Rock video. We’ve explained to the girls that when we were kids, you couldn’t just watch anything you wanted whenever you wanted. You had to wait for a specific time, like Saturday morning, for something special, like cartoons. Man, I feel old. Anyway, The Bill was Cute W’s most successful Halloween costume ever (the first time he wore it, I swear it almost killed two young women in Brooklyn, who ran shrieking across Atlantic Avenue to get to him without looking out for cars at all). So he trots it out whenever he possibly can. He even wore it to Capitol Hill once. We were with friends who were completely making fun of him, and then tourists started approaching to ask to take photos with him, so suddenly our friends thought he was cool. And then he was told to leave by security guards because if you’re showing words, then it’s considered a formal protest, and you have to get a special permit. You can imagine what he said to them, can’t you? . . .(wait for it. . . .) “I’m just a bill! I’m only a bill!” They were not amused, and he was escorted off the steps.
But I digress. It was one of the costumes. Another was Elvis, which has led to quite a bit of confusion in our house for the last week. Because here’s the wig lying on the seat next to Cute W’s computer:
We kept thinking that it was Isis, our cat. You can see the resemblance here, with a sample photo of our actual cat, trying to prevent me from folding laundry:
In her defense, it’s very cozy on those freshly-dried clothes. I’d like to curl up with her. In fact, I’m going to go curl up. The weekend’s left me with a pharmaceutical-resistant, splitting headache. Possibly due to exhaustion and excessive eating. Whatever it is, I’m going to lie down.
February 13, 2012 1 Comment
Before the post, I just wanted to remind everyone that if you’re considering going down to New York City for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you should read my post from last year. Anyway. . .
While J was in Disney World, she fell in love. Like many great love stories, it came as a surprise. I never would have predicted that she’d become so enamored with. . .
. . .
I mean, come on, who even considered that plush baby Ewoks even existed somewhere?
Okay, umm, now I just feel stupid. Because I wrote that last sentence, and then I decided to Google it, and apparently you can go on ebay right now and order up a veritable crapload of baby Ewoks in a variety of colors, styles, and genders.
I stand corrected.
Really, I’ve just never been that interested in Star Wars. I think I saw, oh, I don’t know, maybe the first one growing up, and I was like, whatever. I believe pretty much my entire family had the same reaction, so I’m not sure if it was a nature or nurture issue, but in any case, Star Wars just didn’t rock my world. Grease, on the other hand, made quite an impression (it was also the first movie that I ever watched on a VCR, at my friend Cathy Goldenberg’s house).
After we were married, I tried to be a good sport and learn to appreciate the splendor of Star Wars. Because my husband–in fact, his entire family–loves Star Wars. Very much. I did my best to remain attentive, but my mind would always wander. We sort of gave up. I mustered a bit of enthusiasm years later when Natalie Portman jumped into the mix, but even then. . . eh.
Poor Cute W had screened Star Wars with the girls a while back to a tepid reception. And then. . .
Enter the Baby Ewok.
Of all the choices in all the gift shops in all the many parks of Disney, somehow the Baby Ewok was the one item that J simple Could. Not. Live. Without. We put her off the first time she asked for it, saying that she should wait to consider her options. Days later she was drawing sketches of the elusive Baby Ewok in the hotel room while Grandma planned her quest to obtain her quarry. Finally, J and Baby Ewok were brought together.
J has been lovingly caring for her Baby Ewok ever since.
New babies can shift your whole perspective on the world, can’t they? As a caring adoptive mother, J feels it is important to understand her baby’s birth culture and unique place in the world. That’s right: she arrived home from Disney World yearning to watch Star Wars. Within a week they’d watched Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back.
Cute W was thrilled. M, less so.
Today J stayed home from school, recovering from a little cold. When I asked her if she’d like to watch a movie, it was an easy choice. She and Baby Ewok wanted to watch The Empire Strikes Back.
I reported her movie choice to Cute W, expecting him to be pleased. His reply?
“She’s watching WITHOUT ME?!?!?!”
November 22, 2011 5 Comments
We celebrated our anniversary over the weekend with an Anniversary Eve Date, but for the day itself, we didn’t do anything special. Instead, there was quite a bit of puttering, laundering, and organizing. Ever since my recent triumph with storing the games and DVDs, I’ve been attempting to get different sections of the house under control.
As it turned out, all of that organizing was a particularly appropriate way to spend our anniversary.
I took the girls down to the basement to help sort through boxes that contained a mix of anything I’d deemed memorable over the last few years. They tore through the collection of greeting cards, birthday cake toppers, and piles of art: endless coloring pages, paper stiff with nursery-school glue, some very original work (including J’s pretzel, which was brown paint with actual salt glued on it: her idea!). My personal favorites are the abstract-looking art that were actually attempted figurative works. If your kids are still teensy, I highly recommend asking them about their art and writing notes on the back.
I didn’t spend much time on nostalgia, too busy trying to keep the girls on task as they sorted into “keep” and “toss” piles. It was only later, when I headed upstairs to re-make our bed, that I reconsidered the whole mess down in the basement. Each box seemed deluged with pure kid stuff. But there were also little notes that we’d written to each other, fragments from jobs loved or loathed and almost forgotten, pictures of our friends and their children growing older. Even the stuff that I’d saved to remember the girls as babies were artifacts of our own growing-up as parents together. J’s photo in her pumpkin costume was taken right after we’d argued over whether to take her trick-or-treating as an infant. The little blue bear has a picture of Cute W with red-rimmed eyes because he was finally allowed to hold M at the NICU. The story of our children growing up is our family story, as we struggled and cried and stayed awake through the night together.
Just like parenthood can seem to crowd out the love that came first, the artifacts of our romance were half-buried amid the messy jumble of ripped Chuck E. Cheese photos , crumbled macaroni pieces, glitter, and all the detritus of daily parenting life. There was plenty that I happily threw away. Some stuff had lost its meaning over time, while other pieces foretold the future, if only I’d known. Each object with a story, part of a history together. Suddenly it wasn’t just the princess paintings that seemed imbued with romance.
Alone upstairs later, I put the summertime duvet cover on the bed. A day or two ago I’d pulled off the heavy winter comforter and pulled out the cover, only to find new, large splotches of purple marker. So sad! But after some stain-remover-scrubbing and another wash, the purple was gone and it was fresh and pretty. As I buttoned the cover over the duvet, I chuckled. I always do. Long ago (12 years, maybe?) I’d complained to Cute W that I wish he didn’t have any opinions about home decorating, because sometimes I just wanted something frivolous and girly. “Like this!” I’d jabbed at a Pottery Barn catalog.
A couple of weeks later, that very duvet cover appeared at our apartment, although it was too expensive. When it arrived I explained that now we’d have to buy a duvet, too. Cute W was surprised and slightly appalled.
I smoothed the duvet over the bed, inspecting it. The purple spots were gone entirely, but there were other stains, faded but lasting. Suddenly all of these objects, tucked away in basement boxes or splayed out in front of me, felt like symbols of our 18 years.
Like the duvet cover. Not as crisp as it once was, with a few stubborn stains.
Still it’s cozy. And beautiful.
May 31, 2011 8 Comments
So, I felt like slacking off today, post-wise, so I thought that I’d link to a Mother’s Day post I did back when I was doing the CBS 6 blog. But it’s gone. I think they gave up on that venture shortly after I said that I didn’t have time to contribute. . . coincidence?
Luckily, I’ve got a copy of this post (although, alas, not of many others that were there), so I’m popping it in below. I’ve probably linked to it before, so I’m sorry if it’s old news for some of you. There’s a new cutey-patootie photo, though!
As parents, we struggle to tackle all the items on our daily to-do lists while fitting in the snuggles, special moments, and family dinners that create a joyful childhood. These efforts often seem unappreciated or forgotten entirely, but pausing between tasks can yield unexpected gifts.
A couple of years ago, my husband spent Mother’s Day hanging a tree swing in our front yard. I’d been lobbying for this project among the many others that beckoned from every crumbling corner of our old house and lawn. By evening it still wasn’t done, but he was determined. After tucking the girls in bed, we both went out into the dark. Wearing a goofy headlamp, he sprawled high between ladder and tree adjusting ropes while I assisted below. We couldn’t help noticing that our five-year-old had climbed out of bed to spy on us through her front window. We’d glance up at her room and her head would dip down quickly. But it didn’t seem worth pausing to try to enforce bedtime. We were eager to finish for the night: I had laundry to fold, and my husband had a work presentation to prepare.
Finally, the swing was done. We took one look at it and another at our daughter’s moonlit face shining out of the dark, and we called her to come test it out.
Recently, I was out front with my now-eight-year-old big girl. Just as I grabbed her lap for an underdog push, she confided, “You know, I was the first person to ever swing on this swing.” I stopped, holding her, and nodded. She closed her eyes and leaned toward me to recount her story. “I was so excited, and I was in my footy pajamas but it was warm, and it seemed so late because it was really dark. Actually, I remember. It was 9:03.”
The 9:03 detail got me. This was her authentic memory. Intent on my task, the time didn’t occur to me, but someone who had just learned to read a digital clock, up past her bedtime, would remember. Just looking at her, it was clear how special that night had been: parents conspiring to break a rule, the warm springtime, soaring into the leaves and stars. It is just one short scene from my daughter’s childhood, but knowing that she cherishes it, too, was my best Mother’s Day gift ever.
May 4, 2011 5 Comments