I have always said that the cure for racism will be a generational, but this cure has to be a conscious choice. I know my parents made a VERY conscious decision NOT to allow their parents to use certain words or express certain ideas around me and my brother. Period. They didnâ€™t want us poisoned. It is one of their best gifts to me.
Here in the quasi-rural south where we live, the schools are still pretty dern segregated. This is not helping. Thatâ€™s one of the many reasons I send my kids to private school; I didnâ€™t want Sam and Maisy at a school that was 95% white, or 95% black, or 95% Hispanic/Latino. Itâ€™s not what America looks like, and either way you go---putting your kid in a school where all the kids share their race, or putting them in a school where they are a tiny minority-- it can create the mindset that your race makes you an insider or makes you an outsider. We donâ€™t need any more of that mindset here, thanks. We have plenty.
The school my kids attend is a jumble of colors and cultures, and this is so normal to them itâ€™s not worth remarking on for them. I see this as a step forward from my own generation. For me, it WAS worth remarking upon. For example, as a teenager/ young woman, if I saw an interracial couple, I had an emotional reaction, like an internal HELLZYA THINGS ARE CHANGING THINGS CAN CHANGE YAY feeling. My kids donâ€™t have ANY reaction. An interracial couple is so regular to them, it does not blip on their radar, either positively or negatively.
They react to the couple as people, not as a political statement, and like them or dislike them based on the things that REALLY matter. Such as: Will these folks let me pet their dog, do they have kids my age and can I play with them, do they now or will they soon have share-able cookies?
My children are not CAREFUL about race. I still am, sometimes. A lot of people in my generation are. I am not, for example, even a tiny bit comfortable NOW, as I try to explain the complicated relationship folks of my generation have with race issues in the New South.
gods in Alabama is in part a story I told to explore the complicated relationship GEN X Southerners have with generational racism. I was asking mself, how do you love someone, a grandparent, say, when you grow up and realize they hold a worldview that is anathema to you? And yet, can you STOP loving the person who baked you cookies and kissed your skinned knees? Neither of you will change... What's the compromise? Should there be one? Where does love bend to principle, where does principle bend to love... It is MUCH EASIER for me to exlore these things via STORY than it ever is to approach them directly and try to have a conversation about them.
I donâ€™t see this awkwardness, this need for indirectness, in my children or in the children of my friends, and I celebrate the HELL out of that.
For example---A girlfriend of mine got called in for a parent-teacher conference because her child had done something â€œOffensive.â€ The teacher was in a whispery panic, but my girlfriend kept asking questions that eventually led to the fraught disclosure that her child had done something the teacher deemed....racist.
My friend---an expat Canadian living in the south---was horrified. She leapt in her car and went down to the school to kill and eat her child, and then digest him and make him watch 14 hours of diversity programming on PBS.
The childâ€™s offense? He had drawn himself playing on a playground, and one of the pictured kids he was playing with had deep brown skin and a big 70â€™s style afro. In other words, the pictured kid looked exactly like ONE OF THE CHILDâ€™S ACTUAL FRIENDS.
My friend killed and ate the teacher instead. And yes, the teacher was off base, but I can sympathize. She is not comfortable with race issues, and she was so scared some racism got in her when she wasnâ€™t looking that she overreacted. She was trying to be CAREFUL, and she will probably be careful her whole life. Meanwhile, my friendâ€™s son was simply...comfortable. Comfortable drawing himself inside his own skin, comfortable drawing how his friend looked inside of his. Race issues did not blip on his radar.
Last week, my own girlchild came to me with an extravagant portrait of a brown-skinned, flame haired beauty wearing what looked like a ruffled flamenco dress. We had the following exchange.
Her: Here Mommy, I drew this picture of you!
Me: Oh, how pretty...Thatâ€™s me?
Her: Kind of! It is you as a Mexican Black Spain person. With red hair.
Me: Of course. Um...what is a Mexican Black Spain person with red hair?
Her: It is a person from Mexico who moved over to Spain. Except you are black. With red hair.
Her: Yeah, Momma. DUH!
Things like this, they give me hope for my homeland.
This is the boogery little something we found in the leaves we brought in to feed our Pestilent Vermins. Maisy calls him Tiny Ted but the rest of us call him Mookvonavich. Maisy says Tiny Ted is a nickname...for Mookvonavich. He must be a Russian Mafia bug. *shrug*
We have NO IDEA what he will cocoon up into and we can't find him on the WHAT IS THIS CATERPILLAR database, but he has white furs, an orange face, interesting body dots, two wavy deedlies on his head (You can see them clearly in the middle picture, where Mook looks like he just finished his floor routine and stuck the landing at the summer Olympics) and he also has one spare butt butt deedlie, for fooling birds.
He eats leaves, poops, likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, and if he is biologically slated to cocoon up and morph into 100 Brown Recluse Spiders, I am going to be deeply disappointed in him.
I am in Dallas, currently wearing a VERY fancy cocktail dress and the glossiest lipstick ever invented. MYSTERIOUS DOINGSâ€¦but Mr. Husband sent me a picture I thought you might like of our five newest family members.
I like to have little kitchen pets. They are my AUXILARY animals. Many of the kitchen pets come with short life spans, so they are not major commitments that I get all VESTED in for a couple of decades. These are little friendly friends who are not complex enough to go all out on the unconditional love like my dog, or even go HALF out on the highly conditional and emotionally pointy love of my dreadful cats.
But the kitchen pets are never-the-less charming in their own way: they do not rack up vet bills, eat my shoes, and they excrete vile wastes ONLY in the glass box they live in. They tend to like us because we never chase or snatch at them and when we coax them to us with treats they find gentle hands, and we like them right back. They are also useful in forming hypotheses for science projects. Nothing CRUEL! I mean, we arenâ€™t injecting them with ebola over here. Our experiments are more like, â€œDO GERBLS FIND THEIR WAY THROUGH A MAZE FASTER IF THERE IS A TREAT AT THE ENDâ€ (Hypothetical answer: Yes. Real answer: Not if they are as fat and spoiled as our gerbils, no.)
Some people have this crazy idea that maybe you shouldnâ€™t have reptiles and rodents bouncing around in the same area where you cook your food, but me, I say, â€œIt probably promotes a healthy immune system via methodology that does not bear close scrutiny.â€
We had the NEWT LARVAE on the breakfast bar, remember? And then after the newt larvae (who were cute and transparent and pulsing and who zoomed around the water and popped across the surface like brine shrimp to snatch food pellets) turned into fully grown newts (who basically found a rock and SAT under it, unmoving and impassive as zen masters modeling the sound of one hand clapping) we put them back out in the creek in the backyard from whence they came.
Then we went to PET SMART and got a pair of BROTHER GERBILS. One of whom secretly had a uterus. Heh. Together these brother gerbils turned my kitchen into Philadelphia. Not only did my kitchen have to contend with pets, it also was forced to experience and house the miracle of birth. Eighteen times.
I may have a certain amount of sangfroid when it comes to sharing my kitchen with little animals, but even I am too fastidious to be truly happy about the miracle of life happening where we eat. I mean, I like the miracle of life and all, but you have to admit it is somewhat gooey and fraught with placentas. No one wants to sit down to a savory meal in the presence of placentas. No one.
Anyway, after the newts, we had the gerbils, and now that the last pair of our dear old mice ladies has moved on to a better place, I am going one step down the evolutionary scale â€“ and one step down the ICK factor scale too. My kitchen aquarium is fulla bugs:
You can BUY butterfly habitats and be mailed caterpillars for 30 bucks, but these fellas came off my friend Julieâ€™s strawberry and mint plants and our big tree. They are eating leaves from the tree where we found the first one and pooping and growing. Weâ€™ve had them 5 days now, so I think the food we chose is working.
They are called Squirmy (the biggest), Whit (the pale furred one) Hookah and Mookah (Pictured above --the mythology is that they are twins and certainly no one knows which is which. I am charmed by the innocence of Maisy Jane, who has NO IDEA she has named one of her wormies after a type of BONG. In fact, so innocent is she that she would probably think Bong was a good pet name.) and Speedy. (The littlest).
We have NO IDEA what will emerge after they cocoon or chrysalis up. Maisy is hoping for monarchs. I am expecting those irksome little white moths who eat my sweaters. Is the glass half full, or half empty? And when the thing in the glass is BUGS, who is the optimist?
Yesterday, I took the day off to celebrate Easter by an AWESOME and rousing celebratory church service, followed by a slightly less joyful attempt to deep fry a pack of blue rabbit marshmallow Peeps.
It did not go well. Fried Peeps, if you must know, taste like warm, oversweetened phlegm coated in burned sugars. YOU ARE WELCOME! Maybe if the Peeps had been traditional chicks? In yellow instead of blue? But we used the chicks for epic Peep-on-Peep toothpick-sword battles in the microwave. We also tried another Peep-based culinary enterprise that was a MAJOR hit with the 12 and under set (and even Scott) ---peanut butter and Peep sandwiches. On whole grain bread. Because I am all about the nutrition.
TODAY I went back to spring cleaning --- While my child-laborers were gone, I abandoned it entirely to work on the book. But NOWâ€¦If you look under my bed, the carpet glows up, virtuous and unmolested by the presence of flotsam, and even jetsam is nobbut a memory. As the great clean continues, let my under-bed stand as a testament to my industry and ruthlessness.
The closet, howeverâ€¦. My closet is a an unbreachable horror.
Demons have infested it. DEMONS, I tell you! Tireless, priapic, writhing REPRODUCTIVE ORGY demons. Since pigs were PROBABLY not available in my closet (although I make no promises â€“ a couple hundred pigs could well be back buried in there SOMEWHERE) the demons chose to hurl themselves into my herd of shoes. They were wildly indiscriminate in their pairings and matings.
They have caused the shoes to combine and reproduce in haphazard and prolific ways. There is not another explanation I will accept for the rampant proliferation of high heeled black sling backs, some with toes peeped, some with toes pointy, that have manifested in the general chaos. A MILLIPEDE going to a wedding would not need this many black sling back heels.
I fled the closet with the bulk of its horrid corners unexplored this morning and am currently ensconced virtuously doing more edits in Starbucks. I am MOST of the way through with edits and may well STAY here in Starbucks until I am ready to turn Backseat Saints in. A good four days, I would say. I donâ€™t think the barristas will mind as long as I keep buying lattes and perfect oatmeals, do you?
JUST PLEASE donâ€™t make go back home and face the SHOES.
How did I end up with umpty thousand pairs? Why are so MANY of them so UGLY? DO I SERIOUSLY still have DYED ELECTRIC BLUE SIZE 7 Â½ BRIDESMAID SHOES in there, even though the equally hideous electric blue bow-on-the-tush dress they were dyed to match was dropped off at the Goodwill a decade ago, where it no doubt STILL is hanging, waiting for someone colorblind, tasteless, and on a two dollar budget to pick it out for a Prom? Or perhaps someoneâ€™s mother will buy it for them, believing, and rightly so, that the dress is hideous enough to serve as birth control---a butt-bowed bulwark against sin, promoting chastity by removing all chance of male attraction?
And by the way â€“ what irony to inflict something so heinous on a place called GOODwill, as if there was actual kindness behind me dumping it there, instead of a self-preserveatory desperation to poke from my brain (with a lobotomy needle if necessary) the butt-clenchingly SHAMEFUL memories of bouncing rhythmlessly with a groomsman around a parquet dance floor at some reception hall, squidgy on champagne, while a cover band murdered the mortal remains of Wooly Bully.
I have seen at least ONE of those shoes, so there is one left at a minimum. It was peering out at me from beneath a chest of HIDEOUS crew neck pastel cable knit sweaters circa 1992 which also seem to have been demonically multiplying.
The good part: I found another MAISY written bestseller on the floor. It is AWESOME. The child is brilliant. The book is called, â€œMOMMY DO YOU LOVE ME WRIITEN BY MAISY ILLUSTRATED BY MAISY.â€
On the first page is a picture of a little girl who would be pretty if she wasnâ€™t handicapped by the weight of eyelashes as long and thick and heavy as lengths of garden hose. This must be the titular Anna. She is blinking up at her equally long-eyelashed but sadly armless mother.
The text reads:
â€œMommy, do you love me?â€ said Anna.
â€œOh Anna! Of course I do!â€ said Mommy.
The next page, Anna sits with a stick figure daddy, and it reads:
â€œDaddy, do you love me?â€ said Anna.
â€œOh Anna! Of course I do!â€ said Daddy.
On the last page, a pious Anna kneels beneath the rolling clouds of heaven, her hands folded in prayer. Her disfiguring lashes have dragged her lids closed.
â€œGod, do you love me?â€ said Anna.
â€œOh Anna! Of course I do!â€ said God. â€œMore than I love the rest!!!!!!â€
God says that last bit in HUGE letters with a lot of exclamation points.
My children (like my closet) may have their little flaws, but never let it be said that they lack self esteem.
Some people hear the words, SPRING BREAK and they think family vacation, national park, camping! Or maybe they just think of school free days of sleeping in. Me too, usually. But THIS spring break, some wild and woolly and here-to-fore unseen-at-my-house form of mental illness came creeping out from under the sofa and said THERE ARE DEAD BODIES BACK HERE! CLEAN YOUR FREAKING HOUSE! And then the Mental Illness sneezed from all the DUST that the bodies had collected.
I marshalled my unwilling, foot-draggy, and whiny little work force. These children are the shining sunlamps of my heart! The dulcet spawns of my loins! But LORD can they WHINE when you wake them up at seven and shove buckets at them and tell them to drop to their knees and begin hand scrubbing the linoleum like orphans in the 1930â€™s.
Since calls to virtue were failing, I decided to try old fashioned BRIBERY. I promised untold afternoon delights to those who helped me clean out closets and muck out under furnitures in the morning. They have done fine work, and in response have been taken to Monsters v/s Aliens in TRU 3d, to have mid-week sleepovers with their best friends, and to see some other movie about alien teenagers, I forget the exact title, but it is something like Dwayne Johnson Looks Good in Tight T-Shirts. Or no, thatâ€™s not it. I think it was called, OOOOH YUM! THE ROCK!
SO far we have done both kids rooms, both upstairs bathrooms, the guest room, and the hideous pit of a play-room/media center in the basement, digging through every closet and storage space and throwing things out with mad abandon, and then CLEANING the rest of the things, and THEN â€“ most shocking of all --- putting them back in an organized fashion that means we might ACTUALLY know we have these things and USE them.
I wasnâ€™t sure what all I would findâ€¦ Spanish doubloons? A portal to Narnia? Amelia Earhart? But no, nothing that exciting. I DID discover a fossilizing thrown-up hairball about the size of a chinchilla that had CLEARLY been under the art supplies desk since Christmas. I KNOW it was a Christmas hairball because it was so gaily festooned with reams of chewed gold and green and scarlet curling ribbon.
I also have saved our family about thousand dollars over the next ten years, because we will never, in that time span run out of pencils, pony-tail holders, or bars of soap. The soap is especially odd. I found SCADS and SCORES of Ivory soap bar packages all OVER the house, behind towels, clotting up the bed linens, under the galoshes in the coat closet, beneath the kitchen sink, under beds, behind sofasâ€¦I can only presume that the build up of odd dusts and pollens have caused the Ivory Soaps in my house to become sentient, and they have been BREEDING more soaps and exploring their universe, setting up brave new soap colonies on the frontiers.
ALSO! All those SOCKS you are missing? They have been at MY house. Perhaps my newly sentient soap girls are easy? And dig socks? Because I have found about 500 SINGLE socks that have migrated from YOUR house to mine. I know they are YOURS, because none of â€˜em match the drawerfuls of SINGLE SOCKS we have waiting for the return of their one true loves in every dresser in the house. It is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, and covered in a fine patina of foul allergens. BUT NOT FOR LONG.
With a lifted mop and a battle cry that proclaims the death of filthiness, I go now to breach the untold horrors of the master bedroom closet. There may be yeti. If Iâ€™m not back in three hours, send a rescue party in. Preferably bearing chocolate.
Prefacing disclaimer: The following is a DIRECT warning for those rebels who refuse to heed the implied warning in the title, placed here lest they rush on headlong forward, all pell mell and willy to the nilly, and bang their heads hard into an unexpected profanity:
This blog entry contains A Very Bad Word Indeed.
My office is a square room, painted a pale and lovely green called Crocodile Tears. Against the back wall is my pretty cherry desk, which I got on DISCONTINUED SALE FOR ALMOST NOTHING at Pier One. The deskâ€™s placement puts my back SQUARELY to the windows, facing me away from the light, almost as if I were a pallid, mushroom-colored, blinky-eyed novelist instead of a wildly sexy international assassin, as you have always supposed.
And indeed, that desk IS where I used to write novels. Now I use it to answer emails and noodle around Facebook complaining about the STUPID new interface which is STUPID and play Pathwords and World of Warcraft.
I write novels on this laptop (and in spite of my WHINING over at Sothern Writers blog, I AM actually writing one. YAY! Well, not today. But over the weekend I OFFICIALLY began.) The laptop is much better for novel-writing because it will not RUN Pathwords. And I can take it to remote locations, like this Starbucks, where I am currently ensconced NOT writing a novel even though there I left my key logger at home and canâ€™t get INTO World of Warcraft from here. *sigh*
Anyway, Thursday night, I was sitting at my desk, facing the wall. Catty corner to me, facing his own wall, sat Scott, also playing World of Warcraft. In the empty corner between our two desks, our 12 year old son sat in an old comfy office chair watching us murder orcs with our monster plus plus swords of double dorkitude in Loerderon. FOR THE HORDE!
Sam would have dearly loved to join us and make it Dork-Trifecta, but alas, it was Thursday and he is not allowed to play videogames during the week. He likes to watch US do it after Maisy goes to bed, living virtually vicariously, until such time as weekday play does not cause him to plummet off the honor roll at the speed of sound. (I think that will be about the same day that Flappy the Pig straps on skates and flies down to hell to do a couples only whirl around the ice pond with a foxy demon.)
At any rate, Scott's little animated fella attacked JUST about as many fel orcs as he could chew. Sam was watching intently, very very involved in the fight, and all at once a whole ANOTHER squad of fel orcs spawned right on top of Scott, putting him instantly into Deep. Hot. Cheese. When Scottâ€™s toon bit the dirt, my sonâ€™s mouth opened, and two words popped out into the air, whole and completely distinct. The first word was a perfectly innocuous â€œOh.â€ The second word, oh my best beloveds, the SECOND word, I shudder to tell you, was, â€œShit.â€
Immediately, my hands and my husbandâ€™s hands dropped from our keyboards. Our office chairs swiveled in tandem, so meticulously choreographed that if there was Olympic Synchronized Office Chair Spinning, we would have instantly qualified for the American team. We turned toward Sam with all four of our eyebrows lowering, and both mouths opening up to blast him with a barrage of NON-PROFANE WORDS asking what the HECK was he GOSH DERN FREAKING THINKING unleashing the S word into the air between the two people who best remember the long past day when his mouth was pink and perfectly round like Cupidâ€™s Sunday best bow and all it could say was â€œKitty.â€
Samâ€™s eyes were practically bugging out of his head in horror. His shoulders came up, turtling around his ears and his neck retracted â€“ it looked like he was trying to pull his whole head down safely into his chest cavity. Before Scott or I could even begin, Sam hollered out, with the desperation of the drowning, what has to be the WORST and STUPIDEST lie ever perpetrated by an adolescent.
â€œSHRIMP!â€ He yelled. â€œI meant to say, OH SHRIMP!â€
There was a pregnant pause, and then Scott and I EPIC FAILED parenting and just LOST IT. I laughed until TEARS came down my cheeks. Because COME ON???? It was just so DESPERATE and SILLY. Who on earyh says OH SHRIMP! All opportunities to make it a teaching moment were utterly destroyed, but good LORD, OH SHRIMP? I died. I am STILL unable to stop chuckling every time I think about it.
We had the SPRING CHICKEN RUN this weekend, a 5K which raises money for a local shelter and food bank, and when we saw it was POURING out, Scott turned to me and said, â€œOh, Shrimp.â€ When I dropped a FULL cup of milk, wrecking my freshly mopped floor and putting the dog into a state of lapping ecstasy, what did I say? â€œOh, SHRIMP.â€
It is my new Most Favorite cuss. And Sam has been allowed to live. At least until I catch him dropping the F Bomb.
In January, I can buy my kidsâ€™ school uniforms for 20% off. Maisy was beginning to show her belly-button like a junior hoochie mama whenever she put her arms up over her head. Sam, with typical middle school manling aplomb, had one by one by one lost his shirts until he was down to TWO, both red. The serious need for new uniforms got seriouser and seriouser, and by late November had segued into DIREâ€¦EVEN SO, knowing 20% of was 5 weeks away, I refused to order new uniforms until last Friday.
Unless you have your OWN shirt-losing middle school manling, you are thinking at me, right now, HOW has he lost shirts? Has the child been coming home, nips to the wind, shirtless? How did you, his mother, not notice he was wearing only his jacket, unzipped halfway to show those nine gold bling-y disco chains that make the 6th grade ladies go maaaaad?
No, no, I thought beam back atcha. He came home every day in a perfectly respectable uniform shirt. But at night, INSTEAD of hanging his shirts up, he apparently stuffed them into the handy Port to Another Dimension he keeps under the bed. I suspect a crotchety demi-god, no longer worshipped, is spending his bitter retirement millennia there. He is a green, petty, jealous creature. He used to be called THE EATER OF WORLDS, and lithe and winsome maidens, tear stained and delectable, were brought to his flaming mountain bi-annually and flung into his fire-slavered depths.
Now no one cares about him, and so he orchestrates small but regular clothing sacrifices to remain appeased. These days, he is known as THE EATER OF SOCKS. Oh how the mighty have fallenâ€¦ when socks are in short supply, AS THEY SO OFTEN ARE HERE due to the near constant pan dimensional demi-god sock munching that goes on, he accepts school logo embroidered poly-cotton polo shirts. Which are more than twenty bucks each if purchased in a month that is not January. NEAT!
In Late November, a parental closet inventory revealed how dire Samâ€™s uniform shirt situation had become. He has four uniform days weekly, not five, as Friday is mercifully Casual Day. Even soâ€¦With only two shirts and a cheapskate thrifty mom, Sam had to put up with a HOST of new and very irritating rules. He had to eat breakfast BEFORE dressing, to avoid milk spatter. I placed cruel (I mean Nazi-level CRUEL) restrictions on lunch items with DRIP potential. (NEIN! NEIN! DER YOGURT IST VERBOTEN!) After school he had to IMMEDIATELY change out of school clothes and---this is really low of meâ€“ put his SHIRT on a hanger and then, and THEN! If that was not enough, hook the metal arc at the top of the hanger OVER the clothing bar in his CLOSET.
All this SHIRT CARE takes precious seconds away from Pokemon time. I might as well have nailed him to a door and lashed him with a cat-o-nine-tails. AND I MIGHT HAVE, too, believe me, except I donâ€™t see how door nailings and beatings would work to make two shirts last four days each week. Also, I was worried he might bleed onto his uniform.
BUT NOW! 20% off month is here! HUZZAH! Oh Frabjous day! New uniform shirts will be navigating the postal system, destination Chez Jackson, next week. Upstairs, I can hear the demented cackling of the Eater-of-Socks, sensing new fibrous treats wending their way to Georgia. I am thinking my new evil rules (with the exception of the DRIPPY FOODS embargo) will remain in place into perpetuity, or until BOTH children get finished with being teenagers.
You hear that, I ululate to the black depths under the bed. DO YOU HEAR THAT? NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. And yet he is still cackling, as if he knows all my preparations and systems and rules and defenses will be for naught, as if he knows pricey logo shirts, liberally spiced with white child-foot-smelling cotton tubes, will be working their mysterious way down into his maw for many, many delicious years.
Yeah. This would probably be a good time to buy stock in Haines.
The mills of Faster Than Kudzu grind slowly, and they grind irresponsibly as well, which means that NOT ONLY could you totally lose a finger in there, but I am still not done listing the prizes and I keep forgetting to list them. BEFORE SPETEMBER IS OVER, we shall close the â€œmailing listâ€ chapter of our lives and lace as many fingers as we have left together. Then you and I, best beloveds, will walk into the meadowy sunset of HAVING A MAILING LIST togetherâ€¦it is going to be true and beautiful and IT. WILL. HAPPEN. and you will know whenever I have a new book out because the MAILING LIST will TELL you.
Meanwhile, my delightful and talented friend Renee Rosen has added a prize to the pile: A signed trade paperback of her debut, Every Crooked Pot. Itâ€™s about girlâ€™s troubled relationship with both her own face (she has a strawberry birthmark covering one eye) and her father (a larger than life successful salesman and quasi-failed musician) Booklist gave it a starred review, saying, â€œThere's real power in the writing,â€ and the father-daughter relationship is heartbreakingly well-rendered.
You enter to win by signing up for the mailing list. You sign up for the mailing list by clicking this link which allows you to send an EMAIL to â€œMailing List at Joshilyn Jackson dot com.â€ Then Scott will ADD your email addy to the mailing list that already secretly exists, and whenever I get done PRIZE LISTING (or at the end of September, WHATEVER COMES FIRST) I will send you a mailing list TEST email that will tell you who won which prize.
MEANWHILEâ€¦Maisy is still writing her own praise songs. I like a good hymn myself, especially ones from my childhood, and I will sometimes find myself humming â€œGreat is thy Faithfulnessâ€ or â€œHave Thine Own Wayâ€ as I wander the house, not cleaning it and not writing a novel. But Maisy is not a â€œLow Hum Fanny J. Crosbyâ€™s backlistâ€ kind of a girl.
Maisy is the kind of little girl who dances around the house singing her own soundtrack all the day long. She has her My Little Ponies performed high-pitched warbling opera when she plays pretend. Sample:
Pony One: *a soprano pony with hoards of vibrato* Do you want to play with me!
Pony 2: *An even warblier, Soprano-ier Pony* No! I DO NOT LIKE YOU!
Pony 1: Why canâ€™t you be my friend.
Pony 2: Okay then, I guess I can!
This dialog, all sung, can go on for hours. And Maisy has a history of performing praise music. Old School Best Beloveds may remember her magnificent hymn to both God and phenylethylamine from The Maisyâ€™s Greatest Hits of 2005. GAH!!!! The file is refusing to uploadâ€¦Iâ€™ll try to put it up later.
She also has the VOCABULARY of praise music down, little phrases that are lifted from her memory verses or other praise songs, that sound SO FORMAL coming from her rosebud peep of a mouth. The other day, while we were in my office, she was in the den playing with toys and unconsciously meandering her way through a homemade praise song. I transcribe it for you hereâ€¦
Oh, Lord you are so magnificent!
I love you so much! You are glorious upon the earth!
And I want to follow you, and do what you say!
I will always follow your rules!
I will not murder anyone!
No one in my family will get murdered by me!
IT KILLS ME (not literallyâ€¦) that we did not have the recorder running for that one. Scott and I looked at each other and started laughing so hard we almost fell out of our chairs. When we could speak again, I said, â€œWe REALLY need to find a church.â€ He nodded. Well, at least the child is interested in the commandments. I think she has combined two here â€“ honoring thy father and mother (by not murdering them in their beds) and not murdering anyone (especially oneâ€™s family.) Iâ€™m calling it a win.
Scott and I met doing Regional Repertoire theatre â€“ a summer of George S. Kaufman plays --- in which I made best friends with him without ever noticing he LIKED-liked me, even though he had a SWORD FIGHTING scene and leapt off staircases yelling EN GARDE and thrashing about with a foil while peeping at me sideways to see if I was impressed. Itâ€™s a wonder I didnâ€™t lose my heart (or an eye) to him right there.
But I was BUSY, you understand. I was a stuttering maid with a crush on a movie star that year, and a girl giving up her drunken, moon-howler of a first love in hopes of finding a steady fella, and ALSO a young woman bringing her VERY regular Joe home to meet literally the universeâ€™s weirdest family. With all that, I didnâ€™t have much time to be me and notice that Scott being Scott was about the best thing going.
DIGRESSION: OH and that THIRD play, ugh! The hateful costume mistress put me in this HEINOUS dress that fit me through the waist and hips, but did not have the DARTAGE to contain The Mighty Rack.* It TRIED to contain the Mighty Rack, bless its heart, butâ€¦EPIC. FAIL. Not only was it TOO small, it humped the ladies together and stabbed them forward into the ODDEST shape.
I was supposed to enter and say, â€œHere I am, a vision in blueâ€¦â€ and yet I looked like a mono-boobed pointy terror. In EVERY REHEARSAL, in UTTER protest of that dress,I would enter and say, â€œHere I am, bullet tits in blue,â€ or â€œHere I am, ready to stab you to death with my booooo-sum..â€ It was truly madly deeply ugly which would have been FINE had I been playing the prow of a ship or a duckling or a claw-fronted monster, but itâ€™s hard to be the ingÃ©nue when you know your girls look like a single oppressed rocket ship. In all my years on stage, nothing other than dress ever succeeded in making me self-conscious. I could make all KINDS of a fool of myself without a twinge â€“ heck as Geraldine in What The Butkler Saw, I did acrobatics in my underpants---but DO NOT ASK AN ACTOR to play the romantic lead and then put her clothes that make her look her worst! I'm just sayin'.
Still, back to Scott, if you meet your husband in such a fashionâ€¦you ought to EXPECT that deep theatrical genes will PERMEATE your offspring. Both my kids are performance monkeys. Sam is so good that in the plays the kid choir puts on every year, they have begun routinely giving him the role that usually the ADULT assistant music director takes. Sam will have all his lines down pat in 48 hours and even in rehearsal can be counted on to ham it up like a Vaudeville pro. Here he is in the latest:
Iâ€™m proud as HECK, but I wish BOTH my kids would KEEP THE DRAMA ON THE STAGE. Alas---it goes too bone deep for that. Yesterday, for example, I told Sam to set the lunch table.
Him: Weâ€™re out of clean forks.
Me: Look in the dishwasher. Those are clean.
Him: *Wind-sucking gasp of THRILLED DELIGHT!*
I turn at the sound just in time to see him raise his fist to heaven and do a double victory pump while yelling, AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME!
Me: What? What?
Him: I gotâ€¦*dramatic pause*â€¦I gotâ€¦LAWN FORK!
Lawn Fork, by the way, is this weird fork with a vine running up the handle that does not match any of our other silverware. It is named Lawn Fork because (Yep! You guessed it!) Sam found it on the LAWN one day. I retained Lawn Fork in the hopes that it could someday be restored to itâ€™s rightful pattern brothers a neighborâ€™s house, but after inquiries made all around, no one claimed Lawn Fork, and now we have had it almost three years. Sam likes to use it. So do I. I have NO IDEA why, we just DO. Quite often he will come looking for it only to find I have employed it for my salad, so, yes he probably was PLEASED to get Lawn Fork, butâ€¦that pleased? Really?
I said, â€œSave a little something for when we win the Lotto, dudeâ€¦â€
But he wasnâ€™t listening. He was already doing Victory Laps around the den while chanting, â€œLAWN FORK! I GOT LAWN FORK! NOT YOU! ME! I GOT LAWN FORK! IN YER FACE WITH LAWN FORK! I WIN LAWN FORK!â€
And Maisy is no less over-the-top. She will do her first play this year as she just graduated from Angel Choir. We called her The Audible Angel, because while the other 3 to 5â€™s were nose picking and pulling their skirts up to show their underpants and staring off into space, Maisy would wail out heartfelt hymns with her volume set on 11 (itâ€™s one louder). Sheâ€™d glow with inner holiness and sing praise songs like they were TEARING HER SOUL OPEN, her eyes shining with unshed, passionate tears, her hands making supplicating gestures unto heaven:
She looks AWFULLY holy doesnâ€™t she? Let me tell youâ€¦I would be more impressed with her deep spirituality if I hadnâ€™t seen that EXACT same pose and expression being used while she belted out â€œUp where they WALK! Up where they RUN! Up where they STAY ALL DAY IN THE SUN!!!! Out of the SEAâ€¦.wish I could BE!!!! Part of yourâ€¦.worldâ€¦.â€
AH well, at least I am never bored. My father has said to me, once, twice, ten thousand times, â€œIf you wanted an easy life, you should have had average childrenâ€¦â€
* The Mighty Rack is copywrit to Julie. **
** copywrit is TOTALLY a word.
Yesterday, when I SHOULD have been working or sleeping or cleaning my rat-infested plagueland of a kitchen or packing my family for their upcoming travels or getting us some groceries or planning my next elaborate bank heist, I was instead sucked into a black hole called FACEBOOK, where I discovered I can try to find everyone I ever went to high school with AND make MUSICAL MONTAGES with out having ANY understanding of CODE. It is likeâ€¦an episode of WHERE ARE THEY NOW meets interwebs 4 big dumb dummies.
SO Here is my facebook page, and if YOU have been sucked into facebook, then letâ€™s be friends (heart!sparkle!diamond!) and if you have NOT been sucked into facebook due to having a life and some actual accomplishments to accomplish, at LEAST go watch my EXTREMELY cheezzzzzz-whiz laden montage that I made out of PAINT SHOP PRO and four hours of life I will never get back. HEH.
OHWAIT â€“ maybe I can post it hereâ€¦let me go to facebook and SEEâ€¦
Yeah, I CAN post it here. And THATâ€™S another 30 minutes of life I will never see again. BY THE WAY thatâ€™s one of my new author photos! Remember my publisher setup a photo shoot where I had a real alive make-up artist who gave me an upper lip and Fancy Big Girl hair? REMEMBER? I will try to post the two shots they picked later but they arenâ€™t the right size and I may be able to make blurry movies with CHEESEY FADE EFFECTS but I canâ€™t resize pictures. Maybe facebook has a tutorial for THAT, too. Maybe Facebook can walk me through making a SOUFLE that doesnâ€™t turn out looking like an outsize eggy breakfast flap with a saggy middle. If they can teach me to make a MOVIE-esque object, they can do ANYTHING.
ALSO! even if you do not have facebook you can follow that MONTAGE LINK thing and make your own montages. Itâ€™s not hard. Even Sam is going to learn how. He got a job puppy sitting and spent his loot on a digital camera to take sleep away camp next week. Assuming he returns home with the camera still in one working piece (or even with just a few dampened chunks of camera that include the memory card), I have told him I will help him make a CAMP montage to send his grandparents.
This is an 11 year old boy we are discussing, so the CHANCES of him returning with the camera in any condition seems about as likely as him coming home with a UNICORN and saying, â€œLook what I found at CAMP. His name is Rexy. Can we KEEP him?â€ (For the record, my answer would be, OH HELZYA, YOU CAN KEEP REXY!)
Sam has MANY extraordinary gifts, but like most boys his age, he is not very good at keeping track of the physical objects in his care (and it is VERY hard for me to call him to task on this because I have ZERO street cred on this topicâ€¦.for two WEEKS now I have had NO IDEA where my keys might have gotten toâ€¦tricky little things, keys. Very sly. Mine are SO very gone that I suspect they may have entered witness protection.)
Given his age and his gender and his upcoming week of NO parental follow ups on objects he is on charge of, I fully expect to have the child come home with calluses so thick that his foot-bottoms look like hooves and maybe some vines twined around him in a makeshift loincloth with NO idea where his shoes, clothes, camera, duffel bag, soap, or luckless swim-buddy have gone.
And yes, as you may have guessed, this IS his first time going to sleep away camp, and I AM sure he is going to be eaten by bears. If *I* was a bear and had a whole camp full of 11 year old kids to choose from, I would absolutely pick him to maul and eat. He is clearly the very best one.
We who are about to pack our eldest child up and send off for a week to a place that wants to ARM him (Archery? REALLY? You want to give this child a WEAPON in the vicinity of other children? And their EYEBALLS?) salute you, and if you need me I will be pretending none of this is happening by immersing myself in FACEBOOK.
Maisy: What are you doing, Daddy?
Daddy: Pulling the sheets off my bed.
Daddy: So I can wash them.
Maisy: But Daddyâ€¦You donâ€™t pee the bed!
Maisy: *despairing sigh*
Me: Whatâ€™s up, buttercup?
Maisy: I will never be as pretty as a WEAL princess.
Me: Pish. You are prettier than any hundred princesses, and more important, you are kind and smart and strong and have a good heart.
Maisy: No! I looked at myself. In my Moo-er. And saw my face doesnâ€™t look like Cinderellaâ€™s. I thought I might be lovely when I grewed up, but now I wonâ€™t.
Me: You wonâ€™t?
Maisy: *gently, as if letting me down easy* Iâ€™m your daughter. And Mommy? You are NOT as pretty as a WEAL princess.
*I look into the backseat and see Maisy regarding me with her downy brows knit into a scowl.*
Maisy: Did you STEAL me?
Maisy: I just want to know if you borned me or stealed me.
Me: Um, I borned you. I mean, gave birth to you.
Maisy: How can I even KNOW that?
Me: *laughing* I have proof! Pictures! And sonograms! And witnesses!
Maisy: You might have stealed me.
Me: No, sweetie. People who steal babies are the worst sort of evil, disgusting people. To steal a baby you have to be so cruel and selfish! Do you think Daddy and I are evil?
Me: Maisy Jane! Do you think Daddy and I are evil?
Maisy: Shhhh! Iâ€™m FINKING!
This is the first moment I have had to sit down since THURSDAY, oh best beloveds, so sorry the blog went dark, but I have not been here. I have been running around in circles with my head chicken-like-ily detached.
Chicken-like-ily is TOO a word. *glare*
Mr. Husband has left the building for nine days, and I am GRUMPY and single momming it ---May I just say, â€œON MOTHERâ€™S DAY!!!!â€ And while I say it I shall look especially aggrieved, and then you can all pick up teeny tiny violins or maybe even some mini-cellos and violas and make GENUINELY pitying eyes as you saw away at them? Because, while I have been playing a teeny tiny violin for MYSELF, it would sound better with the back up of a whole poignant-in-miniature string section.
I canâ€™t tell you the WHOLE weekend, but here is a representative SAMPLE of WHY my head is chicken-like-ily detached. (STOP JUDGING ME! THAT IS SO A WORD!)
Schedule on Thursday afternoon:
3:30 â€“ 4:30 PM Maisyâ€™s dance recital dress rehearsal
5 Pick up my parents at my house
5:30 Be at Samâ€™s school for play
I was VERY excited about Samâ€™s play, which was about PIONEERS and gold rushes and steamboats and Texas and California and Armadillos and Teepees and the great railroads, and he was excited, too. VERY! He had had a small part as â€œThe Steamboat Captainâ€™s First Mateâ€ and had spent the better part of April marching around the house yodeling, â€œALL ABOARD! ALL ABOOOOAAARD! This boat is heading for The West down the Mississippi!â€
BUT! Ten days before the play, the fifth grader playing one of the lead roles â€“ Robert Fulton! The guy who invented the steamboat! Except he didnâ€™t! He was actually the first guy who got one to really work, or made money having one or something very American like that! But still! And SAM was asked if he thought he could learn all the lines FAST and take over.
Now, Scott and I MET doing regional repertoire---met and became very best friends and never dated for seven years. I like to say he spent those years toiling in my fatherâ€™s vineyards and that Iâ€™m just happy I didnâ€™t have an old maid sister he had to marry first, but the truth is, he spent them toiling mostly on and behind stages with me. We never played romantically opposite each other, unless you count running around nearly naked in The Infamous Underwear Play
which I emphatically do not, and ANYWAY, Orton wasnâ€™t exactly a ROMANTICâ€¦Point is, my kids BOTH seem to have the theatre bug, and Sam knew the part in less than 48 hours and was, by all accounts, NAILING it and blowing minds at school with his authentic FULTON-ocity and Steamboatiness.
On Thursday morning, he Oh-So-Casually asked my husband, who was packing to LEAVE ME ALL ALONE ON MOTHERâ€™S DAY (cue teeny orchestral wailings) â€œWhat did Robert Fulton look like?â€
So we asked My Friend The Google, and the google showed us a man who spent ENTIRELY too much time carefully working his hair into artful little tousles, but who was otherwise unremarkable. (â€œHeâ€™s a little Percy Bysshe,â€ said Scott, who God bless him, has never actually PUT A PRODUCT other than shampoo onto his head and even seems to regard CONDITIONER with mild suspect) And that was the end of it.
But that casual sentence percolated around in my head all day and finally, just as we arrived harried but on time to Maisyâ€™s rehearsal, with Samâ€™s curtain set to go up in less than two and EVERY MINUTE already filled with its allotted choreâ€¦The seeds of that question bloomed into a horror-blossom in my mind and I turned to Sam with a gimlet eye scything him open down unto his very bones and and said, â€œWhy did you want to know what Robert Fulton looks like? DO YOU HAVE A COSTUME YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO WEAR???â€
Me: Is the costume at SCHOOL?
Him: No. I have to bring it.
Me; WHAT! WHAT? OH LORDY WHAT IS THE COSTUME YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BRING?
Him: *shrug* Maybe I should dress like a old fashioned sailor? Because I DID invent the steamboat. Or maybe a businessman? Because I got very rich! I should just, you know, look like Robert Fulton.â€
At which point my head exploded and the next few minutes are a merciful wash of black in my memory, but I am sure that thirty years from now my sonâ€™s therapist will be able to tell me what transpired, should I ever become curiousâ€¦
After I re-attached my sonâ€™s head (which I had lopped off in a rage) I called my mother, who was in route from Alabama, and said, â€œPlease exit in Douglasville and go to the mall and BUY A ROBERT FULTON COSTUME, I do not know, just --- he should look like an old fashioned business man. DO YER BEST!â€
Anyway, my mother magically cobbled something together, and he looked great and stole the show and whatnot, and I guess, in the end, I should just shut up and be profoundly grateful he wasnâ€™t cast as The Armadillo.
Maisy: Do you believe in God?
Me: Yes, I do.
Maisy: Do you LOVE God?
Me: Yes, I do.
Maisy: Me too. I believe in God and love him so much that when I grow up, God will make me queen.
Me: â€¦ Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.
Maisy: *pitch rising with excitement* And then I will pick the boy to marry, and that will make him KING! To marry me! And then when we get married I will KISS HIM! And flap and flap! *makes a kiss noise*
Me: I think we are watching too much Disney Princess craps.
Maisy: Mommy, when do I get wings?
Maisy: When do I get my MARRY Wings. Do I get them for being a grown up or for marrying with?
Me: Um, you donâ€™t get wings when you get married.Or when you grow up.
Maisy: Do you have wings?
Maisy: But you SAID you had wings! You SAID. When you married daddy you got WINGS.
Me: Like fairy wings?
Me: Like bird wings? Like angel wings?
Maisy: Yes, for flapping.
Me: Oh, honey, in a true and horrifically sappy way, your daddy DID give me wings. But not the flapping kind. The metaphorical kind. Honesty compels me to report that he is also the wind beneath them.
Maisy: *nonplussed silence*
Me: WAIT---- you mean on the bed yesterday???? When we watched Little Mermaid and talked about getting married????
Me: I said daddy gave me RINGS, Maisy. RINGS. See these? These are RINGS I got at my wedding to show that I belong to daddy forever, and I gave daddy one, to say he belongs to me.
Maisy: *clearly disappointed* Oh. â€¦*perking up* Is that a WEAL diamond?
It IS a weal diamond, as a matter of fact, but I think sheâ€™d STILL rather have the wings.
And now, because you asked, even though----TRUST ME----the photo cannot do HALF justice to the bizarro reality, I present to you that catheaded walrus poodle, hunching resentfully beside his dish:
The sad news: I have 3.5 toes per foot now. I wore the little one completely OFF and sanded my big one down to half its former glory hiking back and forth between Splash and Space Mountain as my son fast-passed first one and then the other. Were they all the way across the Magic Kingdom from each other? WHY, YES. THEY WERE. I am SO glad sandal season is over because itâ€™s going to take all winter, wearing out a pumice stone, and an ocean of lotion to salvage them.
The other sad news: I have completely succumbed to marketing. I have AVOIDED Disney Princess toys as if they were manufactured from the carcasses of diseased weasels for two years now. Not with the same rabid hatred that I have avoided, say, THE BRATZ DOLLS (Scott calls them THE SLUTZ) but I have been proactive about steering Maisy toward Olivia the Pig gear and Dora Dora Dora the explorer and even Hello, Kitty whenever she has leaned toward DPs.
My editor has a girl child around Maisyâ€™s age and after a protracted battle, she too succumbed to her daughterâ€™s unwavering devotion to Princess gear, but she always ends the her reading of the princess tales by saying something like, â€œAnd so the prince and the princess decided to go to different schools and get good educations and travel and date other people and THEN they got married and lived happily ever after! THE END!â€ Because, face it, these are 16 year old chicks getting married off and--- Mulan a blessed aside--- their biggest claim to fame is prettiness.
BUT! BUT! BUT! THE PRINCESSES ARE SO SWEET. You could die of it. Seriously. It doesnâ€™t help that they are played by adorable fresh faced college-aged girls. They speak in soft, high voices that are pink-wall level soothing. I think they should pipe in tapes of Princesses talking about goodness to the rooms of the criminally insane to stop recidivism. They are so patient and slow moving and kindly with the little children. AND! They all KNOW THEIR BACKSTORY, so if my son says, for example, â€œAre Iago and Aladdin still fighting?â€ they know how to ANSWER that in a way that seems to satisfy him. Which is more than I can do.
When we finally at last at last got to meet Maisyâ€™s forever favorite, Cinderella, and Maisy got so So SO excited that her voice racheted up into a register so high that only dogs could hear her, Cinderella apparently READ HER LIPS and caught every word and answered her and stayed by our table for EXTRA, and she put a pink lipstick kiss on Maisyâ€™s cheek. Maisy cried when we washed it off in the bath that night.
Here is Maisy losing her mind with happiness, my niece looking lovely as always, and my son looking hideously uncomfortable, his arms crossed defensively, his manhood impugned, as he is forced to stand by girly old Cinderella. See how he is looking off camera? Heâ€™s looking at me, and I am making a thunderous face and hissing, SMILE! COME ON SAM A REAL SMILE. PLEASE??? PLEASE???
As she was leaving, Cinderella bent down to Maisyâ€™s level and looked directly into my daughterâ€™s small open trusting bloom of a face, and she touched Maisyâ€™s nose and said, â€œAlways remember, Princess Maisy, your dreams CAN come true.â€ And she said it with total sincerity, and Maisy nodded with SUCH vigorous hope and belief that SOMEONE at the lunch table, I am not saying who, but SOMEONE had to hide their face in their napkin because they got a little watery.
That SAME someone later purchased Maisy a metric ton of Disney PINcess Princess trading pins with matching pink lariat AND a hot pink Satin Princess Gear Backpack.
â€œI needed a new backpack ANYWAY,â€ Maisy confided to the saleslady, â€œMy big fat cat FREW UP on my Dora one. It was GWOSS.â€)
This vacation was JUST what I needed. I feel like me again, except with callousy aching troll feet. It ended this way: We left the happiest place on earth and went to the CRAPPIEST place on earth, forever and henceforth defined as â€œANY airport.â€ Before we even left the hotel lobby, Maisy turned into a 34 pound snoring piece of carry on luggage and Sam was running a fever. By the time we got home, five hours later than we were â€˜sposed to, it was already today and both kids were sicksicksick as little dogs.
EARLY this morning, as we AT LAST came into the house, Maisy stirred and whispered, â€œMama?â€
I said, â€œYes bunny?â€ and put my ear down near her mouth.
â€œIn just a minute,â€ she said, â€œI want to go to go see Cindewella again at her castle.â€ Then her eyes opened a crack and she saw our front door. â€œOh,â€ she said. â€œLook. Weâ€™re here now. Never mind. Imma go back to sleep.â€
And she did.
Okay - I know about Disney. The corporate piracy, the awful dollarmongering, how Walt would be turning in his grave, how it is all one huge obscene tricksy commercial to sell action figures based on movies that will hopefully become lucrative franchises and yes, it is TRUE, they RUINED the TIKI ROOM by putting a bunch of bird puppets from Aladin and Lion King in it and MULTIPLE Johnny Depp lookalikes ---both human and animatronic --- are popping up on rides and floats and in gift shops in full-on Cap'n Jack Drag and and and I KNOW OKAY I KNOW.
It's still the happiest place on earth. Favorite moment so far: We saw Cap'n Hook mugging about, our first character sighting, and Maisy was LONGING to get his attention. She ran up behind him and tugged at his red velvet coat. He did not notice. She bounced up and down, sproingsproingsproing, saying CAPUN HOOK! CAPUN HOOK! HULLO IT IS ME, MAISY! Alas, the actor, who was no doubt sweltering in the hell of a 20 pound plastic head and a frock coat, did not hear her.
He turned around to walk toward us and almost ran her down. At the LAST second, he noticed her tiny personage in his way and and paused. He made "surprise hands" (elbows bent, palms forward, fingers spread) or rather he made ONE surprise hand and one surprise hook, and then bent down toward Maisy, reaching with his non-hook appendage to pat her head.
She saw that HUGE EVIL MUSTACHIO'ED HEAD as it came ZOOMING toward her. The LEER! The outsize black hat! The CRUEL PIRATE-Y TEETH!.....she screamed! Screamed like that little girl did in Aliens, a single toned high-pitched wail of complete terror, and then took off like a gazelle, FLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! We of course caught her up and soothed her immediately, but it was PRICELESS. We had no video cameras out, alas, but some chick standing nearby caught it on hers, so we expect Bob Sagett will be sharing it with America soon.
IN SHORT, I am having DISGUSTING amount of fun. It's EMBARRASSING to have this much fun living in a giant commercial. And yet and yet and yet...
Both my kids are FOAMING with pleasure at every new delight. NO one is getting crabby when they get overtired, and they have changed the FOOD. Sure there are still 10 dollar greasy hotdogs with limp fries, but for the same price you can also get fresh fruit and a chicken wrap, a veggie burger on a whole grain bun with baby carrots, or a VERY DECENT grilled chicken salad made with REAL lettuce (read: not iceberg) and tequila lime vinagrette. We are eating healthy and not having that overfed park bloat that can RUIN a vacation day. Eating this stuff, we parked around for 13 hours yesterday and came back to the resort tired but pleased and cheerful. Two other things set Disneyworld apart from other park-like facility:
1) The restrooms are cleaned constantly by troops of invisible and hyperactive fairies. Seriously. The toilets are cleaner than my toilets at home, the floors sparkle, the silver spigots where you wash your hands gleam like treasure. You could serve a lunch in these bathrooms.
2) NO ONE PHONES IT IN. No one. Every gravedigger in the Not-So-Scary Halloween pararde, every Princess, every pirate, every dancing zombie bride, every Jungle Cruise Guide, every SNACK VENDOR in a cowgirl outfit in Frontierland is Broadway musical style ON every second. They believe it. They SELL it. There is no irony, no sly wink-y "But of course, this is silly, and we do it for your yard-monkeys." They may be tiny prancing cogs in a huge and probably evil corporate machine, but before that, they are professionals, actors and dancers, and they ACT like it. It makes a world of difference. Their absolute commitment is permission for every adult in the park to act like a complete moron. To be eight years old again. And when Mickey stands in front of Cinderella's castle and asks us to, we affirm with absolute conviction that (as Maisy says) "Dweams DO come twue! Dweams DO come twue!"
If it makes you feel any better about my tatterered street cred, always a sketchy thing and now TAINTED with geek-o-riffic Mickey-love, let me reassure you that my cynical husband is suffering mildly, and would probably rather be golfing. TODAY = EPCOT! And lunch with FOUR REAL PRINCESSES. I am hoping like MAD for Ariel! Maisy wants Cindew-ella.
Last night, the kids got to park trick-or-treat in costume, and Scott accidentally had the camera set for a LONG expose time----so here is a little ghost pwincess, a ghost Jail Bird, and a VERY see through ghostly ninja. You can use this shot to play a fun game of "guess which child can not sit still for 5 seconds...."
After I worked out this morning, I went to find Maisy and help her pack three things that begin with the letter "a" into a carefully labeled lunch bag. The kid is FOUR, and already with the homework? OKAY THEN! I found her in her room sitting flat on her bottom, her feet out in front of her. Her nose was wrinkled, her mouth turned down and hanging open, and tears were standing out in her eyes.
Me: Oh honey, what's the matter!
Immediately her face snapped back to its usual cheerful expression.
Her: I'm not sad, Mommy. I'm practicing my feelings.
She showed me some more feelings she'd been practicing, willfully lighting her eyes up and releasing a perfect sunny-side-up smile to show "happy," contracting her whole face and making all her features seem smaller and closer together to show "mad," and then she widened her eyes and made her mouth be round and soft and small until she was palpably leaking sadness, OH! SUCH sadness. She made the face of one of those orphans or rained on kittens they painted on velvet in the 70's. Then she showed me mad again, the contraction of the face spiced up this time by a GROWL.
Her: "That face with a growl is WAGE, Mommy. WAGE is SUPER mad!"
My son, God love him, is quite a different creature. He's absolutely transparent. If he's sad or hurt you can SEE him visibly trying to squelch it, trying to be manly, but it leaks out in the set of his shoulders, in his held breath. I can read his every thought in his windowpane eyes. Sam can't shine ANYTHING on ---- he is literally the WORST liar in the history of the universe, which, speaking as his parent, I think is AWESOME.
This girl child is something else entirely. Spooky.
Karen: There is nothing to eat in this house. I am going to have to go to the Midtown Night Against Crime Walk because they have free barbecue.
Me: BAHAHAHHAHAH Oh LORD, no. Go to Kroger.
Karen: I can't face driving. It will be fine. The sheet says I am just supposed to "gather in numbers" with my neighbors and we'll walk down the road arm in arm to protest the hookers.
Me: Down Piedmont?
Karen: Yeah, I know. It's mean and possibly dangerous. But they are having BBQ ribs and Peach Cobbler after. They got the Cobbler from Mary Mac's, so it should be a huge turn out. I doubt the hookers can take us.
Me: Just go to Kroger.
Karen: It RAINED last night. The Running Off the Hookers for Free Dinner Rally did not happen.
Me: Did you break down and go to Kroger?
Karen: No. You know what I had for dinner last night? A tortilla and a pickle.
Me: You folks in town are so glamorous! With your Hooker Spooking Walks and your Mexican-Pickle Fusion Cuisine!
Karen: I love Midtown.
*Maisy Jane bends down and gazes all soulful into the one eye of our cat, Franz Schubert. He gazes back.*
Maisy Jane: Mommy! Look! I'm charming the cat with my loveliness!
Me: That's nice. But you know what? I think maybe you are also charming him with your good heart. And your smart brain.
Maisy: ...No. He says it's my loveliness.
*sigh* But on the other hand...She is ridiculously lovely.
FOUR DAYS AGO
Scott: Maisy loves her cousin Daniel so much. She looks at him like he made the earth....It's a shame she had to execute him.
YESTERDAY NIGHT AGAIN
Me: Tomorrow is Dad's birthday. 66. Can you believe.
Scott: Well you've made one just like him. It's down in the basement right now, playing Sonic Riders.
Lord, he's right though----look, I've practically cloned my father:
Happy Birthday, Daddy.
OIL UP YOUR PITY GLANDS, Oh My Best Beloveds, and prepare them to secrete great glutinous streams of sorrow upon my pitiful behalf...READY? Okay!
Sometimes when I am blogging, I get all fired ahead of myself and scribble-scrabble out several entries at once. Or if something is too long I will cut it in twain and post half one day and the other half the next. I had several entries BACKED UP waiting to post as Mother's Day approached, and so I caught up by posting them while I experienced what will NO DOUBT go down in record as the world's worst Mother's Day since Hallmark came up with the concept to increase their schlumpy May sales figures.
Let me set the scene for you.
1) Scott has left town for over a week. I am a single, Scottless parent and therefore I respond to stimili as if I have a 37% higher Mental Illness Number than my median average for spring.
2) The day before Mother's day, my son has a hideous but mercifully short-lived romance with a stomach virus. I am up all night, and by dawn, the virus has ditched him and taken up a passionate new interaction with me. In between calling for death, I am haunted by the knowledge that I will never sleep again, as Maisy is cuter than me, and Stomach Flu will no doubt leave me and take up with her.
By late afternoon, I am wrung out and sad, but stable. I am waiting for Maisy to begin being sick (and I will tell you, Best Beloveds, that she did INDEED oblige me....) and I am sitting hunched with misery in front of my computer, feebly pecking out a draft of chapter 10.
My son appears in the doorway. As you may recall we ditched our newts back into the pond from whence they came and replaced them with two charming gerbils named Snickers and Hotshot, and I was worried the massive cat might via means miraculous manage to defy the laws of gravity and physics and lumber up to the top of the counter and vivisect them. It would take a miracle, because this cat is now SO overweight that Dr. Phil is considering doing a Prime Time intervention show starring him, but I am a person of faith and therefore make room in the world for the possibility of miracles. So, I fretted about it a little. Well. Right. SO! Where were we? Sam had just appeared in my office doorway:
Sam: Mom? Remember our gerbils?
Me: *chilled with horror* I remember them, yes. Do you mean that in an "in memorium" way, or...
Me: Yes, I remember them. Why do you ask?
Sam: I saw the one gerbil, and it was sitting on another gerbil.
Me: *relieved* Sammy, those gerbils are brothers and gerbils are very cuddley with their litter mates. I am sure the sat on gerbil is FINE.
Sam: No I mean. Snickers is sitting on a THIRD gerbil.
Me: Son, I am working here. That's not possible. Gerbils do not spontaneously generate.
Sam: Well, a third gerbil got IN somehow with them.
Me: Do you think maybe it is just sitting on a piece of cardboard he hasn't chewed up yet? And it LOOKS a little gerbil shaped?
Sam: No, I really think it is a third very small gerbil. Or two.
Me: That's not --- wait. What? VERY SMALL???
Sam: I REALLY think you should come look.
WARNING: Brace yourself, Bridget, for a raaaaawther graphic scene.
I head to the cage. Brother Gerbil number one is running in the wheel. FINE. Brother Gerbil number two, however, has about HALF of a FOURTH and VERY NEW gerbil protruding from his netherous gerbil-regions, and is spinning a third moist and yicky looking very new gerbil in his hands, cleaning it.
Sam: There's another one!
Me: That's certainly very....graphic! I think maybe the brothers need some privacy!
We repaired to our friend the internet to see what Very New Gerbils might need to be happy, and what a Brother Gerbil who is apparently recovering from the worlds most complete and successful sexual reassignment surgery EVER might need to be happy. Answer: To have the cage covered by a towel and be left strictly alone in a quiet room. I LOVED THAT ANSWER!
I rechristened the half of the downstairs with the gerbil cage in it "Philadelphia." (Because Philly is the city of....? Right.) No one was allowed to go into Philadelphia for four hours, (I used the enforced quiet to draft more) at which point I tiptoed in and made sure there was fresh water and did a quick count.
Eight. EIGHT. Yes. EIGHT small squirmy jelly beans were cuddled in a heap in a nest the brothers had constructed. Did you hear me say EIGHT? Because I said EIGHT.
The most horrifying thing is NOT that I have ten freakin' gerbils. The most horrifying thing is this: As I was COUNTING the babies, I noticed the brothers were behaving in an EXTREMELY innapropriate and NON-BROTHERLY manner, even if (as I suspect) one of the brothers is NOT a brother at all (and really the evidence is overwhelming at this point). It's not like it's any more appropriate to engage in such overly friendly STACKING behavior with one's sister, but take out that aspect even and it is HUGELY innapropriate to put the moves on a lady who JUST gave birth. EIGHT times. And yet. They were undeniably engaged thusly, and both seemed quite happy about it, and as a BONUS to their happiness, they were making STILL AND YET more gerbils. SO I have ten gerbils NOW, and an infinite number of POTENTIAL gerbils already baking.
And yes, it IS horrifying....and yet. THEY ARE SO CUTE! THEY ARE SO CUTE! They are now big enough to begin being socialized for people, which means we have to take them out and give them POSITIVE HAND TIME each day, and I have to tell you, they are made of velveteen and are so DEAR and BUSY and VITAL and MIGHTY and WEE. They lift my heart, these little very new unwanted wretched gerbils. I don't know how we will break the cycle of incestuous Deliverance gerbil love we seem to have going here because the internet says we cannot REMOVE the father gerbil when there is a new litter because the mother needs his help, and they make a new litter within 2 hours of delivering the LAST litter. Bit of a Catch 22.
We are working on a plan to break the cycle, I think involving removing the father and all MALE BABIES to one cage, ALL UP FOR ADOPTION, and then moving the weaned females to another cage and putting THEM all up for adoption too, and leaving the pregnant mother in the original cage with ONE weaned daughter gerbil as a helpmeet. We'll keep those two. It's simply dreadful, and if we mess up the sexing and get ANY male in with ANY female....GAHHHH! We could end up with two-headed poisonous gerbil freaks with flippers. But for NOW....
I LOVE ME SOME LITTLE BABY GERBILS. LOOKIT!
Laume asked me about HOW I work, the mechanics of fictioning, and I haven't had time to answer, so I am blogging it, thus killing two birds with one massive shot-gun blast to their smug, tweeting faces that woke me up with their INSIPID WARBLING at TOO-DAMN-EARLY:thirty this AM. (Here you say, GRUMPY MUCH? and I say, INDEED I AM.)
But first -- to Business.
I've heard from LESLIE, our Special! Guest! Blogger! and former B4B winner who writes The Clutter Museum, and she has the seven finalists for B4B! Trala. Remember, the winner will receive the adoration of the masses™, a link from my site, the right to be a Special! Guest! Blogger! should B4B continue, and, last but MOST, a piping hot fresh autographed copy of Kim Ponder's critically feted debut novel, The Art of Uncontrolled Flight
THUS SAGT LESLIE OF CLUTTER MUSEUM: "Here are my top seven selections for this month’s Blogging for Books. It was a tough decision to make!
Thanks again for everything. I received my copy of Fly on the Wall from E. Lockhart yesterday and I’m looking forward to reading it."
And now, back to my angst, back to my sturm, my drang, AND ALLOW ME TO SAY, it's going to be ALL STURM ALL THE TIME around here because The Bad Thing is happening again...Scott has left the building. FOR A WEEK. I am SO horrified. Scott is the balast in my boat, the endorphins in my blood stream, the anti-sturm, the soother of all sad babies, and sheet changer to my bowl holder when Maisy pukes ALL NIGHT LONG (like she did yesterday).
Life without him plainly SUCKS. It sucks WHOLE HAIRY GOATS. That's right, the ENTIRE goat, it sucks the goats down to nothing one by one, as if goats were LOZENGES, and continues to suck them even when the goats say, "Prithee good sir or madam, I beg that you please stop with this! I cry you mercy, for indeed, I lack air, trapped as I am here in your cavernous pink maw!" But the goats' entreaties are for NAUGHT. That's how much it sucks goats. (PS But don't worry about them because truly, if the goats could not get enough air, they would not be so capable of all the high-falutin' BACK-CHAT. So.)
SINCE I am too grumpy to do anything but talk dirty into the phone whenever people call claiming to have JUST A SURVEY....DIGRESSION. Actual Sample Conversation from yesterday, as close to word for word as memory allows:
Chirpy Girl: HI! Don't hang up! I'm not selling anything! I promise! I'm with something-family-something organization, and we're calling families to see what they think about all the violence and sex on television. Do you have small kids at home?
Grumpy me: *sour tone* Yes.
CG: Well, a lot of folks with kids at home are wondering what they can do to help clean up TV and make it family-friendly. Is that something you are concerned about?
GM: No. I love sex and violence.
CG: *pause....breath....nervous titter.* Yoyu're being sarcastic, right?
GM: No. I love it all. Very entertaining. Especially violence. Have you seen the Sopranos this season?
CG: Um...no, but---
GM: Oh DUDE, it's AWESOME. I miss Adrianna though --- they drove her out into the woods and shot her face off last season. You know what though? As much as I love the show, I don't let my nine year old watch it. I'm kooky that way. I just tell him no, because, like, I'm the parent. It's neat how that works out. I also don't let him watch Alan Shore sexually harass Parker Posey on Boston Legal, but man do *I* sure love it! Did you see it this week, when he cleared off the desk and said, "Let's just get this over with, shall we?" Um... Hello? Hello?
Yeah, she hung up. Can you imagine? I am not the ONLY one who is GRUMPY. But I am grumpy. OH! Also...incompetent.
LAST time Scott was out of town, here is an ACTUAL conversation my son had at school with his Gifted Program teacher, as GLEEFULLY reported to me during our parent teacher conference (The gifted teacher sat in on my conference with his regular teacher, saying, as she took her seat, "I don't susually sit in on these, but I HAD to meet the mother of SAM!" And she said it in the same tone she would have used had the words "mother of Sam" been replaced by "mother of a four-armed talking sea-monkey that shoots spooky magic spangles out its nose holes and eats people." ANYWAY, here is the conversation Sam had with her last time Scott left town.
Teacher: Sam, where is your lunch?
Sam: I get to buy HOT LUNCH today!!!!
T: Are you sure? You always bring your lunch.
S: Not this week. My DAD is out of town, and my MOM doesn't know how to make lunch.
T: ....Your mom doesn't... know how to make lunch.
S: Nope. She doesn't have a clue how.
THANKS, SON! As I told the gifted teacher, and I state again for the record here: I DO know how to make a (*#|*$^&|%# sack lunch. I simply CHOOSE NOT TO. When Scott is out of town, I cut out everything non-essential for survival and we live very simplified lives, because otherwise, *I* will begin to shoot spangles out my nose holes and eat people. Scott is an odd duck, really---I mean REALLY a VERY odd duck, first on how he persists on being married to a girl who dreams of having a global positioning system (and ON STAR!) installed directly into the central nervous system so I can find the way to my own bathroom without getting lost and wandering into a wall, and secondly in that he CLAIMS TO LIKE IT. I'm like the spangley purple satin high heeled shoe of wives: I'm fun, but I'm also excrutiatingly painful and I don't go with much. I am not the practical choice. I am SO not made by naturalizer. I am made by Steve Martin. (AND IF YOU GET THE REFERENCE YOU WIN A MONKEY!)
BAH! I have to go dig a hole in the backyard and sit in it and hope rain comes and drowns me. I can eat worms to pass the time. SCOTT! COME HOME! IT IS BAD HERE WITHOUT YOU AND I CAN'T DO NOTHIN' RIGHT....
Oh crap, didn't I start this by saying I was going to answer the interview questions Laume sent me? Let me scroll up and look... Yeah. See? Case in point.
She is a surprising little person. She is such a sunshiney little thing, so pretty and prancy-aroundy and cheerful with her small but excrutiatingly CARRYING voice, so high-pitched and relentless that we have nicknamed her Duck Quacky. Somethimes we forget the inner Maisy, and can go for for days with no understanding that there is a fierce and willful thing behind the pale curls and perfectly round blue eyes. She's mighty. She is a small force of nature. She's just so fluffy that it's easy to forget. I am working hard to not forget, or this child is going to be ruling my life before she is ten. Next week, beautiful Maisy who was barely two when I started this blog will be FOUR. YEARS. OLD.
She's also--- like me, like her father, like her brother--- just a little bit...odd.
This morning we had a VERY sincere conversation. She came staggering down the steps in her pink cow long johns and crept up into my lap. I hit save and cuddled her close. She was very sleep and solemn.
Me: Good morning. I am so happy to see my little girl. I love you!
Her: I love you too...you are my favorite mommy. But Mommy, don't forget. I am on Daddy's team.
Me; Well, that's a great team to be on, because your daddy is da bomb. Isn't Daddy da bomb?
Her: No. He's a horrible beast.
Me: *somewhat surprised* He is???
Her: Oh, yes. He never lets me do anyfing. Except there is one speck of nice in his brain. That's the piece that let me droozle the honey on my own sandwiches.
And then she hopped down and trotted off to find the horrible beast and tell him good morning.
OR like last night, at dinner, we were having a chat about whose fault it is that the cat is so dern fat.
Me: I blame certain small people who keep giving him food any time his bowl is empty.
Sam: I blame the cat---he asks, Mom. He keeps asking.
Scott: Well, you don't have to say yes. He can't open the bag and scoop out more food. I blame the short people with opposable thumbs.
Maisy: I blame the French.
Me: What? What did you say? Did you say you blame the French?
Maisy: Yes. I blame the French.
Scott: Well, they do like their sauces, the French.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKAY. I have NO IDEA where that came from. But the cat IS fat, and while French WOMEN may never get fat, there is no bestselling book purporting the truth about French male felines. Perhaps some dude in a Chapeau is creeping in late at night and filling the cat's dish with foie gras and a nice cut of fillet with Bernaise. APPROPOS OF NOTHING: Did you know the literal translation for foie gras is "fatty liver?" I am thinking of heading to the courthouse and legally changing the cat's name to Foie Gras, because he is brownish and ruddy like a liver, and big enough to make three respectably sized cats.
But I cannot allow Maisy to go about blaming the cat's lard problem on FRANCE.... It used to be, whenever we saw the WARNER BROTHERS thing on a movie or whatnot, we would clap and hoot. But Warner sold Warner Books to a French company, and now we clap and hoot whenever we see anything French. Which, if we decide the CAT is fat due to French food we are going to have to clap and hoot every time he takes a bite, which means we will be clapping and hooting all the livelong day and night. Too exhausting.
I have decided to blame Germany...all the wursts, you understand.
MEANWHILE! I will have the B4B finalists for you TOMORROW. And may I say, I DO NOT envy DEBR of Red Shoe Ramblings., with 40+ entries to muck about with. I just finished reading the last one, and I could MAYBE narrow it to twenty. VIVA LA DELEGATION. LONG MAY DELEGATION REIGN!
Yesterday morning, Maisy woke up early and came down the hall and crept into bed with me.
CUDDLE ME! She demanded in her most grumptious voice. I gathered her in, a long skinny string of squirming, out-of-sorts toddler. She kept herself busy scraping her toenails down my leg and then fluffing me like a pillow. At last she got me suitably arranged for her comfort and her wiggling stopped. I lay in the dark with her folded up against me, smelling her strawberry shampoo and inoffensive baby morning breath. We had a little whispered conversation.
Me: You are my favorite little girl. I know a lot of little girls in this town, but you are my very, very favorite.
Her: *poking bottom lip out so far a bird could come perch on it* Yesterday you put your favorite little girl in time out.
Me: Yesterday my favorite little girl was naughty.
Her: .....I know. Sometimes I don't understand my heart.
You and me both, honey. You and me both.
I have a CRAM PACKED day as my son is receiving a MEDAL at school for STRAIGHT E-having....oh Lord, but I like that kid and his big spooky brain. SO my working day is cut short and I have a LOT to get done in the next 4 hours. I will shut up now and simply tell you that there isa long interview with me up on the blog of a fellow writer I genuinely admire, aka Nichelle Tramble. I tried to answer her questions seriously (which is always a stretch for me) because they were dern good questions. I mostly did not fail in this objective very much....
I am lying in the bed, and Maisy creeps in beside me and says, "Are you awake, maaMAA?" She has taken to calling em that. I have no idea where she got it. The emphasis is on the second syllable, and the "a" sound is the same as in ran, NOT the sound in car. It sounds very French Boarding School, and it goes with her haircut.
Maisy: MaaMAA, pick one fing for my song about pertecking you.
Me: Okay. What are my choices.
Me: Is that it? Can't have more choices?
Maisy: Yes, okay. You can pick, Acrobats, or normal bats, or....Skwulls. (Authors note: I think this is Squirrels.)
Me: Hmm. I pick acrobats.
Maisy: (Singing) I'm pertecking you from acrobats, because we are good friends. OH! Amigo means friend, and you are my friend and that's because amigo means friend.
Me: (singing) But not SKWUUUUULLLLLLLS!
Maisy: MaaMAA! Stop ruining up my song!
Me: Oh, Sorry.
Maisy: (singing) But not SKWUUUUUUUUULLLLLS!
Me: That was a great song.
Maisy: I know. It was amazing. Now you can rub my back, please.
That's what 3 is like.
Sam is 8. He plays serious sports like basketball and does math now that I have to make his father help him with because it bores me so (I have to actually THINK ABOUT NUMBERS to see if his answer is right. UGH!) and calls me Mom when I please him and Mah-HOM when I embarrass him. Which I do often. He's smart....talks like a 40 year old accountant, you would not BELIEVE this kid's vocab. It comes from reading Roald Dahl and J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Lemony Snicket. Also, he is on the principal's honor roll (Highest one) so he is also a good student as well as just havign the brain power to be one. He follows through.
BUT. HE IS NOT THREE.
Last week, I had a thing I had to do, so I missed taking him to school early on his Wee Deliver Day (Sam is a POSTMAN at his school---quite an honor.) which means he missed his weekly breakfast at Waffle House (a practice instituted by his father, by the way, which I am expected to continue in his father's absence, even though I am off simple carbs and have to get Maisy up at 5:30 too, and she weeps softly all the way there. Maisy likes to sleep until at LEAST seven) ANYWAY. I missed it. SO THIS week, I am on the phoe, the day before WEE DELIVER, and he comes in and hands me a note. I transcribe it for you here:
Please remembr that tomorow is Wee Deliver. Last week you caused me to be late. You have to take me to Waffle House. I do not want a repeat of last week.
Then I skinned him, ate his organ meats, and spanked what was left.
TO CONCLUDE: 8 is very different from 3.
And to my conclusion I add this pearl of wisdom-filled advice: Anyone whose age is not AT LEAST in double digits better NOT say to me, "I DO NOT WANT A REPEAT OF LAST WEEK" and still expect to live.
1) At birth, Sam weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces.
2) He was also two weeks late.
3) He OWES me.
4) He was like, babe-zilla. All the other babies were about half his size. Twelve hours after birth, he could hold his head up.
5) When Sam was born, the doctor's were de-sliming him, and Scott got this odd, puzzled, musing look on his face, like he'd just noticed the kid had five eyes or a tail. I said, "What! What? IS HE OKAY IS HE OKAY?" And Scott said, "It's the strangest thing, I've only just met him, but he looks...familiar."
6) Later Scott realized he looked familiar because he looked like Scott, in all Scott's baby pictures.
7) He STILL looks just like Scott.
8) But if you just knick the surface, a big flood of me pours out---the kid is a Jackson down to the bone.
9) He CANNOT sing.
10) He does not realize this.
11) When he was three, Scott and I were standing in a park watching him play. Scott's mother was there, and the priest who married us, Edward, was there. Sam was up in this big jungle gym climber shaped like a pirate ship, standing like a captain at the wheel, heading into some imaginary adventure. Edward called up to him, "Where are you sailing off to, Sam?" And he called back, with no baby slurring, clear as day, "TO THE LIQUOR STORE!"
12) He is fierce.
13) He is loud. He has no volume under 5. Even his WHISPER is a big PUSH of air that people in Mississippi can hear if the wind is going right.
14) Last night a bunch of the younger kids at church got candy at their class, and I found him standing outside the class, eyeing the basket and saying in FAKE, HEARTY tones to the teacher, "Well, that sure is interesting candy! Shaped like fish? How FASCINATING. Where ever did you find such a thing?" and she, of course, filled his pockets with them.
15) I wanted to pinch his head off.
16) He really talks like that. Like a 35 year old accountant. He is the only 8 year old I know who says "perhaps you could talk me into an interest in that deal" when I say I he can have a little extra Video game time if he does a good job cleaning his room.
17) This is my fault. From the time he was born, I read 19th century fiction aloud to him.
18) I also went through a LONG phase when he was ababe-in-arms where I talked TO him as if he were a 40 year old accountant. "Well sir," I would say. "My goodness. The committee feels that we shoudl select the green OshKosh overalls for today's meeting. And this onesie. This is a power onesie. You will give 'em HELL today, sir, I feel convicted."
19) He has many, many, many pernicious cowlicks that are going to make him clinically insane when he is a teenager.
20) He cannot keep a shoe tied.
21) Not even one.
22) Not even for 30 seconds.
23) He has a remarkably kind heart under his blustery little boy propensities toward violence.
24) HE READS! He reads like I read, absolutely sucked in, so you can stand there saying, SAM? HEY SAM? SAMSAMSAM and he reads on, oblivious, ten miles into Narnia's strange landscape and still marching inland.
25) He thinks Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Lemony Snicket and Ian Ogilvy should be collectively known as "Da Bomb." They rock him down to electric avenue.
26) When he was six, he sank so so deep into a Lemony Snicket book while coming down the stairs to breakfast that he plummeted all the way to the bottom, tail over head over tail.
27) A week later, he did it again while reading a different book.
28) Two days later, he did it again.
29) I made a new rule: SAM SHALT NOT SIMULTANEOUSLY READ AND WALK DOWN THE STAIRS.
30) For several weekas after, I had to help him get in the habit of STOPPING reading, coming down the stairs, and resuming. He would look up, and I could see he was PHYSICALLY having to THINK about keeping his gaze lifted from the page.
31) Less than week later, I tumbled ALL THE FREAKIN' WAY DOWN the same stairs because I was reading I think Jane Austen. Heh.
32) SAM WAS SO HAPPY. He told me a zillion times, "NOW WE HAVE A NEW RULE ABOUT NO ONE CAN READ ON THE STAIRS, MOM. BECAUSE YOU FELL DOWN THE STAIRS, MOM. YOU WERE READING, WHICH, YOU KNOW, CAN PERHAPS BE DANGEROUS ON THE STIARS, MOM, AND THE YOU FELL DOWN, LIKE, ALL THE WAY, AND WE DEFINATELY NEED A NEW RULE FOR YOU, MOM."
33) He is my faithful ally in the war of wanting a parrot.
34) When I tell him he can't DO something, for example, stand on the upstairs landing and throw everything he owns over the bannister so it crashes into the foyer and smashes and breaks, just to "See what drops fastest, Mom," he will then go and FIND his sister, and tell her SHE is also forbidden to do this thing it never once occurred to her to do, and tell her with such VIM and SORROW, like he can't believe she will NEVER be allowed this pleasure, that she will weep and come to me begging can they just hurl SOME of their stuff over the bannister to smash and break in the foyer.
35) He has brown hair.
36) He had BLACK hair at birth, thick tons of it, but it grew in blonde underneath.
37) I don't mean the black fell out--- I mean the individual hairs that were black at birth began GROWING blonde. At one point, he had an inch of babyfine blonde hair with another inch of jet black hair on top of it. He had ROOTS. He looked like he was recovering from a goth-baby dye job.
38) He likes to TALK.
39) He has always liked to talk.
40) His first word was NOT "Mommy."
41) It was also not "Daddy."
42) It was "Kitty."
43) He said Kitty in his ninth month on earth and it was the only word he had for several weeks. He never stopped saying it. He woke up calling for the kitty. If the kitty was in the room, he said kitty to the kitty. If the kitty was not in the room, he called endlessly for the kitty to come. If the kitty came, he explained and re-explained to it that it was, indeed, a kitty. When the kitty got bored and left, he would yell KIIIIIITY KIIIITTY at the disappearing cat butt, like the cat's hind end was STELLA.
44) The cat at that time was a monstrous white behemoth named Wally Mavis, and Wally-Cat hated Sam and all Sam stood for and babies in general and the earth and all living things that crawled upon it's vile surface, except me, he liked me okay, and kibble, he LOVED kibble, but he hated everything else and REVILED Sam and Sam would stand in his play pen and YEARN palpably at Wally and Wally would turn his dead flat baleful gaze upon Sam and Wally was thinking, you could SEE him thinking, "If that kid says KITTY one more time, I am going to off myself."
45) He values the experience over the thing. That is to say, he would rather GO AND DO than HAVE. The zoo trip is more important than the overpriced zoo shop toy he might get at the end.
46) He is a geek-in-bud.
47) He loves space/sci-fi/fantasy.
48) He loves Anime.
49) He loves MMORPGs.
50) I suspect he is the kind of kid who will spend prom in a basement somewhere, rolling 30 sided dice to see if he gets the vorpal snicker-snack bonus on his plus three sword of orc-slaughtering hoe-downiness when he attacks that Balrog.
51) I, for one, think that is an EXCELLENT way to spend prom.
52) Yesterday he used the owrd pernicious in a sentence. Correctly.
53) He likes the newts. He REALLY wants his newt, Spotty, to be a male, even though all the blank eggsacks that show up and fade seem to indicate we have an all girl tank just now.
54) We had a bunch of folks from church over for supper and he was earnestly explaining to them that he thought Spotty was for sure a BOY newt, and one foolish guy who doesn't yet have children asked the 64,000 dollar question: "How can you tell Spotty is a boy," and Sam said, earnestly earnestly, "Well, the other day, the newts were stacked on each other, and Spotty was stacked on top of Fig, so I am pretty sure he is the boy."
55) There was dead silence.
56) Sam had recently been given a illustrated book called WHERE DID I COME FROM that explains, well, you know, where he came from, and where baby animals come from and etc.
57) He had apparently really logged some good hours reading it.
58) At least he didn't read it on the stairs.
59) He is a good big brother.
61) He REALLY wants me to understand how to play YU-GI-OH.
62) I REALLY do not want to ever understand that.
63) I will lay you 7-3 odds, right now, that my future daughter in law is going to be a tall blonde. He likes him some tall blondes.
64) Just now, however, girls are icky. There were a whole tribe of boys playing in our house and I could hear the buzz and babble of their conversation but not what was being said, and then Sam spoke in his super-sam volume, and all the parents, sitting around my den, distincly heard him say, "WHEN I AM PRESIDENT, I AM GOING TO MAKE ALL THE GIRLS EXCEPT MY MOM AND MAYBE MY SISTER GO LIVE ON AN ISLAND."
65) My husband immediately deadpanned, "And then we'll blow up the island!"
66) Even in 2005, at 8, he retains a shred or two of his delightful innocence.
67) The other day he came home and said, "Mom there is a RUMOR at school that Santa isn't real. Kerbin says that Santa is your parents. Is that true??"
68) I said, "What do you think?" Because I was NOT prepared.
69) He thought about it and then said, "I think Kerbin's full of it."
70) He still genuinely, no REALLY, thinks "Shut Up" is "a bad word."
71) If he leaves the house with five things, he will come home with two things, and one will be broken, and one will be a completely new thing that bears no relation to the original five.
72) Once when he was two I looked away for an INSTANT and when I looked back he had popped the child safety cap on the cat's heart pills and scattered them all over the floor and we did not know if he had eaten them, did not know how many there originally were, and he had to go to the ER and they ran a tube up his nose into his stomach to fill him with charcol to try and keep the pills from being digested and I said to the nurse, urgently, but calmly, "You need to tell me how serious it is. This medication---how serious can the effects be?" And I could see her hating to tell me, but she told me, "It can be very serious." And that wasn't good enough. I said, "Are you saying he could die?" And she said, "If he he took enough, I am saying his heart will stop." And my heart stopped.
73) He didn't take enough.
74) Another time, he choked on a bean and was SO choked he wasn't coughing, just silently dying with his arms waving and his eyes SO surprised, and Scott grabbed him up and I screamed, SCOTT FIX IT MAKE HIM BREATHE SCOTT YOU HAVE TO FIX IT NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW.
75) Scott fixed it.
76) Like all 8 year old boys, Sam thinks he is immortal.
77) He has huge emotions that sweep through him in waves: He loves, he loathes, but never, never is the child lukewarm.
78) From the time he was three until the present, has had the best, loudest, clearest parenthetical YOU MORON I have ever not heard. When he talks down to you --- OH AND HE WILL --- because you have been sadly born too stupid to underastand YU-GI-OH, you can HEAR the unsaid YOU MORON so clearly, and it HANGS in the air, palpable and smelly, for HOURS.
79) When it is aimed at me, the parenthetical YOU MORON makes me want to pinch his little head RIGHT off.
80) He was born with true blue eyes. Not that cloudy, changeable newborn blue -- real blue.
81) They were my father's eyes.
82) They stayed true blue all the way until he was three.
83) I was so happy, because I loved seeing my father's eyes in my son's face, and everythign I read said that a babies eye color is set by the time they are three.
84) At four, they went relentlessly green.
85) Now they, like everything else about the kid, look just like Scott.
86) I like that, too. But I still treasure his baby pictures where he looks out guileless and pleased with my father's eyes.
87) He is good at SPORTS! Which, how did THAT happen? Except, I think he got that from my dad, which is nice since he gave up the eyes.
88) He hated the water from birth and screamed his way through bath time and refused to learn to swim until he was six, when he suddenly turned into Fearless Fish because he discovered there was such a thing as a Water Slide.
89) When he was three, he had an imaginary friend.
90) It was a cow.
91) It lived in the shed behind our house.
92) It was named, "Ontog."
93) When he was tiny, I used to carry him around and whisper and whisper into his ear, "You don't want to be a soldier. You want to be AN ARCHITECT!"
94) I have no idea what he will be when he grows up. None. Nada.
95) I can tell you this: It won't require huge organizational skills. He will immediately be fired from any job that requires him to not lose, say, important top secret documents. Or his coat.
96) I can tell you this, too: When he finds his niche in the world, it is going to be ODD, it is going to be nothing I have imagined for him, but he is going to love it and be successful at it. Because that's who he is, already. He seeks out odd spaces that suit him and he fills them up. He fills them to the brim.
97) I never knew how perilous a place the world is until Sam, my first child, the singular and living center of my heart, was let loose upon it.
98) A hideous change is coming, and coming, and coming soon: I will have to stop blogging about him. He will begin to not like it and to be embrarrased by my adoring gaze and his friends will be finding this blog via search engines and I may have to take the entire SAM RELATED loin fruit section DOWN. Maybe not this year Maybe not even next year. But soon.
99) This is because he is growing up, changing from little squirmy kid-thing into an actual person, the star of his own movie, and Sam's growing up is for me both a constantly defining miracle and the most heartbreaking thing to ever happen, all at once.
100) Luckily, the good outweighs the sorrow, because you know what? The person he is becoming? I really, really like him.
Enraged because I am TRYING TO DRAFT A NOVEL HERE (I may have mentioned that, oh, 500 million times or so??) And MS Word keeps putting up a miniature CLIPBOARD in the middle of my text, a clipboard that appears between the lines, and if my mouse inadvertantly touches the clipboard, the wretched creature asks me if I want to "keep source formatting" or "match destination formatting" or "keep text only." My problems with this are several...
1) I do not know what ANY of those options mean.
2) No matter which option I pick, the clipboard nods smugly and REMAINS SQUATTING IN THE MIDDLE OF MY TEXT, I suppose in case I change my mind later and decide I realy DO want to "keep source formatting," NOT THAT I KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
3) THERE IS NOT AN OPTION called "Send the clipboard and all who support it directly to hell to be prodded by the pitchforks of smelly deamons until it is heartily sorry it EVER showed its smug nose." What kind of a menu doesn't include THAT, I ask you?
4) In fact, the only other choice"Apply style or formatting" which opens up a WHOLE ANOTHER MENU of options that a) I do not understand and B) still does not include "send clipboard to hell."
You may not think this is a big deal, BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG. IT IS. IT IS. That clipboard is making me unable to work because when I am reading through the pages trying to catch the VOICE so I can draft the next section, I have all these CLIPBOARDS LOOKING AT ME. They are distracting, for one, and for two, I highly suspect the clipboards of being judgemental.
It's like when I used to be enraged by that horrid, relentlessly perky MS WORD HELPY PAPERCLIP who used to pop up every time I started a new chapter to say something like, "You seem to be writing a letter! May I assist you?"
I just want my SOFTWARE TO LEAVE ME ALONE and let me work. I do not want my software to have a personality or little pompous, yappy icons. I do not want my software to THINK IT IS SMARTER THAN ME. And if it IS smarter than me, I don't want to know.
On the other hand, I am darlinated. Yes. That's a word.
I recently read the galleys for a VERY funny and big-hearted memoir about a skeptical American who falls in love with a French man and marries him. It was a charming look into another culture, and the best part of the book, to me anyway, was when she brings him home, and the tables turn, and suddenly I am looking at my beloved Georgia through foreign eyes. (It's called Blame it on Paris by Laura Florand, and I will alert you when it gets close to release) SO after half a book of laughing my butt off at how VERY weird the French are, I end up laughing even harder as I saw exactly how weird WE are here, all while being hugely entertained by the story. Anyway, long story short, I sent in a blurb, and the author was apparently pleased with the blurb because she sent me a box of chocolates.
RIGHT AFTER she put the order in, she came over to read my blog and saw that I am OFF wine and chocolate, and so I get this letter apologizing, and then a day after that, this gorgeous box of the kind of chocolate that is 70% and and rich and bittery-thick with goodness arrives, and the chocolate is enveloping things like fig ganache and blood orange truffle and crystalized ginger and whipped French honey. This is the exact kind of chocolate you should NEVER apologize for. I am shamelessly eating it and pretending it doesn't count, because, trust me, this chocolate is NOT even in the same GENUS as a Halloween Mini-Twix. So far the WINNERS of taste with a CUTENESS BONUS, are the Chocolate Mice who are nestled in the box with their noses pointed charmingly up, as if asking to be dandled over my gaping maw by their satin tails and then devoured. I am SO happy to oblige them.
ANYWAY, the box came with a little BOOKLET with pictures and a key that explains in sumptuous language what sort of filling is inside the various shapes. So the other day, Maisy found the key, and she got in her "choir" position, feet together, eyes cast upwards toward heaven, and she held the chocolate booklet like it was sheet music, and began singing. Scott, that fast thinker, IMMEDIATELY hit record on the computer.
If you have a good con and a nice processor, you can hear Maisy's Song
To which I can only say....Amen.
3) It is Operation Christmas Child week at my church, and we are doing our boxes today. You better BELIEVE I have no problem finding enough shoe boxes. We'll fill them up and take them to the drop off point. . Sam and Maisy do shoeboxes for a kid their own age and sex, and then Scott and I do boxes for teenagers (because they never get enough boxes for teenagers. Even in third world countries, teenagers are hard to shop for) and then we donate five bucks per box so they can ship them. Operation Christmas Child is nutritious for the souls of my overpriviliged little American monsters---they buy things THEY would like and put them in a box for a kid who didn't win the "where to be born" lotto and ended up in some tiny village where TB killed both parents before the kid was old enough to say his own name. As a bonus, it makes me think, "WOW, WHAT A WHINER I AM, letting the fact that I have TOO MUCH TO EAT upset me, and you know, here is some kid who is going to be happy to get a little box full of toothpaste and Lifesavers and art supplies from the dollar store." It's a big fat dose of perspective in my navel-gazing little corner of the Universe.
I have 100 ZILLION more things to be happy about, but the list is going to have to stay MENTAL. Maisy is awake and climbing me like I was a tree, and YOU KNOW WHAT, she usually sleeps until 7:30. HEH. Also, appropos of nothing, I think Maisy needs to launch her own brand of EMOTICONS (E-Maisy-cons??? Nahhhhh...) She has the most expressive little face. Like here is her SURPRISED! Emoticon, and may I say, TAKE THAT McCauley Culkin, you got NUTHIN' on Miss Maisy:
And here is her ANNOYED Emoticon:
And here is her BEYOND annoyed emoticon, which I like to call X-TREME RAGE BABY:
And this is the VERY FACE I am seeing right now, which can also be called her VIPEROUS "QUIT BLOGGING AND ME BREAKFAST" emoticon. So I better go!
Maisy saw this dime-sized, dark, yicky HOLE in one of the drop ceiling tiles at church and it upset her. She likes things tidy. And pink. So she was fussing and fretting about the hole to Scott.
Scott: Holes are not bad Maisy. Some holes are useful. Why, you have some very useful holes in your face, even.
Maisy: I DO NOT!
Scott; Yes, you do. Look here is a hole. *touches her mouth*
Maisy: *indignant* That is NOT A YICKY HOLE. That is my MOUTH.
Scott: Here is another hole *touches her ear*
Maisy: Daddy. That is NOT A HOLE. That is my ear.
Scott: And you have two holes in your nose.
Maisy: My nozrils!
Scott: Yes. And do you know what those are for?
Maisy: Yes! For putting my fingers in!
And she jammed her little digit up in there practically to the second knuckle, by way of demonstration.
Maisy has just been FULL OF IT recently. Like yesterday afternoon, right before I left for Jasper, I heard her call cheerfully from the den, "Mommy! I found some lizard!"
Some. Lizard. Chilling words, but it turned out to be a lizard-part-free hairball yacked up by the cat as a clever halloween prank. So far neither the total humongous lizard nor any shred of him has resurfaced. May it always be thus.
Mir is here for the nonce -- we are doing our own private version of BlogHer with Kira who is joining us on Friday. We've spent the day doing my second favorite kind of shopping, i.e. "fingering things you can't afford to buy and googling at things you can't even afford to finger." *grin* We went to a lot of little weirdo gallery-ish antique-y shops in Midtown and then Virginia Highlands, .
Meanwhile, in case you hadn't picked up on it, we're both a little ... odd. There was this ABC show called Relativity that was on in mid-nineties; Only three people watched, so they cancelled it. We discovered, much to our delight, that we were two of the watchers. (Here's the third guy....)
We also discovered, much to our chagrin, that we both secretly (well it WAS secretly) think that Stephen Collins is sexy. Okay, well, no. Mir said cute, or maybe attractive. I upped the anti to sexy. BUT HE IS. In a strange way. As I said to Mir, he's sexy the way Ward Cleaver would have been sexy, if Ward Cleaver had been sexy at all.
Here's a little known Stephen "Smokin' Daddy-O" Collins fact: He also writes thrillers...
MEANWHILE, in absolutely unrelated news, I have this old ROBOT toy. He is about three feet tall and SO old. I got him when I was three, because my seven year old brother got one from Santa, and I wanted one too...*sigh* Anyway, I always loved that Robot. I named him "Robot" and he was my friend. Sam recently found him in my mom's attic and brought him home, but he pretty much broke the horns off of him and then forgot him. Maisy, however, LOOOOOOOVES Robot. She thinks Robot is the bomb. Sadly, she impugns Robot's personal dignity, AND she may be giving him a gender identity crisis...this is what I found in the playroom this morning:
My valiant man-child marched off to third grade today, armed only with a Batman lunch box and a extra scoop of chutzpah. Lord, Lord. They better be nice to him.
And Maisy, this long tall creature I STILL call "The Baby" is about to start preschool. Who let this happen?
Maisy has climbed up in my lap while I am trying to type this, and I'm thinking about how I used to type one handed with her tiny limp rag of a sleeping body nestled in the crook of my arm. Now having her in my lap....it's like trying to type while holding a box of weasels. With no lid. And the weasels are liquored up.
She LOVES to climb up into my office chair with me and mountain-climb my body while I work at the computer, marching over and around me. Then she'll wedge herself into the crevasse between my back and the chair's back, and dig her little fisties deep into my hair.
MAMA! She'll trumpet in her relentless, duck-quacky voice, I AM GOING TO MAKE YOUR HAIR VERY STYLISH NOW!
And then she'll yank big hunks out because, apparently, patchy bald spots are all the rage for pre-school hair this year. Yoik.
And by the WAY? When did I become MAMA? I was always MOMMY to Sam, and now of course he is much too cool and groovy to call anyone MOMMY. I am MOM. But Maisy named me Mama herself and I secretly kinda like it, even though it makes me feel a little bit like I should dip snuff and shuck corn. She says it in this weird may, like maa maa -- Both a's sounding like the a in CAN and a little pause in between the syllables. The only other word she says like that is "baby," so that it comes out as baa baa. THIS IS MY BAA BAA, MAA MAA. It is inexplicably dear to me.
But I look at Sam, so mighty and independent and already so fundamentally gone from me. Already so much his own person. And I am Mah-ohm to him now so often as I CRUELLY ENJOY thwarting his very good ideas, like, say jumping off the roof into the azalea bushes ("I would hold an umbrella, MAH-OHM. Like a PARACHUTE, Mah-ohm. And Mah-ohm, the bushes would CATCH ME.")
SO this is a short entry. In part because it's taking me forever to type because my hair is being pulled out and this little face keeps coming between me and the screen, blowing goldfish-cracker-breath up my nose and yacketing about "Busserfly catching." And in other part because I am going to stop typing and take my daughter out to mutilate harmless bugs now. I have to. In a couple of years ---years that that will pass in what seems like a span of days ---- she'll be too busy and important to want me to.
NOTE 1: I am on the road, so if you e-mailed me in the last week or plan to e-mail me in the next few days, you may not hear back for a goodly chunk of time.
Note 2: I have HELL DAY on Saturday -- oil up your pity glands and excrete some genuine sorrow on my sad, sad, sad behalf. I have to get up at about oh-dark-thirty and drive 5 hours to Dothan to do a signing that I booked when my family vacation was in DESTIN. Then Hurricane Dennis removed the house we had rented from the earth only 2 weeks before we were set to leave, so my dad called the travel agent and he found us a desperation lake house we can have with a pontoon boat and all manner of fun-ness...BUT IT IS IN THE SMOKEY MOUNTAINS. Heh. So instead of leaving the signing and driving 90 minutes to the beach house, I leave the signing, go BACK the way I came, and drive for ANOTHER 9.5 hours. I am SO unamused. The good news is, the desperation lake house has internet, so I will be blogging from vacation. The BAD news is...IT IS DIAL UP. UGH! I might as well gnaw raw meat and give up opposable thumbs.(I am a technology snob, and completely SPOILED by cable.)
I cannot believe how many of you filthy minded people have sent e-mails to ask me to tell you SPECIFICALLY what A-Very-Bad-Word-Indeed I used on the phone with my editor. AND THEN my sainted mother asked me what word it was last night. Lordy. But my 13 year old nephew sometimes reads this blog, so I ain't saying. It is bad role modeling to even admit I said it, much less break it DOWN.
Tell you what, I will paraphrase the conversation and you can figure out from context what word it was, how is that for a compromise? And dearest nephew, please note the word CRAP fits in there with grammatically correct perfection. Thank you.
Editor: But can you elocute?
Me: I can elocute the A-Very-Bad-Word-Indeed out of anything running.
Editor: You are completely off the chain. Did you just say you could elocute the A-Very-Bad-Word-Indeed out of anything running?
Me: I don't know. I wasn't listening.
That's pretty close, but I can tell it is a paraphase becausemy editor did NOT say elocute because elocute is not technically a word. But it started with an E. Also, my editor lives in the north-east and she would never say "Off the chain." I don't know what they say for off the chain up there. I do know this: Down here if you are in the market and you pass someone who has irked you and you go by them without seeming to realize that you know them or even that they exist, that's called "cutting dead." As in "I cut Frieda dead in the market today." My editor hadn't heard that one. Up there, if you have successfully cut someone dead you say, "I beat her to the ignore." Which cracks me up -- I added it to my lexicon.
Maisy climbed in the bed with me yesterday morning and snuggled up close for a talk.
Maisy: Mommy, I love you.
Me: I love YOU.
Maisy: I think you are GWEAT.
Me: I think YOU are great.
Masiy: Mommy, you are so beautiful.
Me: Maisy, YOU are so beautiful.
Then she rolled away from me onto her back, kicked her legs joyously up into the air and then let them fall back down akimbo and yelled, "OH MY GOODNESS, MOMMY! WE ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!"
And we were.
My daughter has reached the age where she wants to tell jokes.
I remember when Sam reached the joke-telling watershed. To a three year old boy, NOTHING is funnier than a notoriously gaseous dog releasing a trumpet-like toot and then staring at his own bottom in surprise as if to say, What's going on back THERE? This dog, Lord love him, was SO stupid that his own gas surprised and amazed him EVERY TIME, and the humor of it never faded for Sam. They were a pair.
So many of the jokes Sam told at 3 and 4 had *cough* similar thematic elements.
3 Year Old Sam: What did the monkey say to another monkey?
Me: I don't know.
3 Year Old Sam: BUTT! *laughs until something ruptures*
Or he would tell jokes that made absolutely no sense to anyone but himself.
3 Year Old Sam: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Me: I don't know.
3 year Old Sam: GOBBLE! SNARK! HOOPENPOOP! *laughs until something ruptures*
Now Sam has reached the age where he checks 101 joke books out of the library, memorizes them all, and then tells them ceaselessly in a long string, over and over, every time we get in the car. It's like going to Kroger with Henny Youngman.
Sam: What did the duck eat with his soup?
Sam: *laughs hysterically* Yeah! Quackers! GET IT? Because a duck says QUACK, but you eat CRACKers. Get it? Get it?
Me: I get it.
Sam: What did the ghost have for breakfast?
Me: Booberry waffles. Sam you told these exact same jokes yesterday.
Sam: *laughs hysterically* Yeah, get it? Because ghosts say BOO! Get it?
Me: And the day before, And the day before.
Sam: What did the guitar say to the rock star?
Me: Please smash me into insensate chunks before he begins the elephant jokes.
Sam: No, he said, "quit picking on me." I don't get that one.
Me: Well, see, musicians use a---
Sam: What animal talks the most?
Me: The boy-child.
Sam: No, the YAK. GET IT? The YAK! *laughs hysterically* Like, YACK! Get it?
And so on. But now Maisy wants in on the action. She doesn't quite get the concept, but she gets the FORMAT.
Maisy: I have a riddle for you.
Me: Okay, Sam, hush a sec, let Maisy have a turn.
Sam: *grumble grumble*
Maisy: What does the donkey say?
Me: I don't know.
Maisy: HEE HAW! HEE HAW!
Sam: *outraged* Mom, that's not EVEN a riddle.
Maisy: I have another riddle for you.
Maisy: What does the donkey say?
Sam: That's not a riddle, Maisy.
Me: I don't know.
Maisy: HEE HAW! HEE HAW!
Sam: No, Maisy, a riddle goes like this. Why did the elephant cross the road?
Me: *Drives us off a cliff to avoid knowing even one more elephant joke.*
But last night, when Scott was putting Maisy to bed, she abandoned her Donkey riddle (which she has been telling ceaselessly for days and days now) and came up with a new one---she;s getting closer. It may not be technically FUNNY, and it may not technically MAKE SENSE, but at least this one has that kernel of truth that resides in the center of all good riddles:
Maisy: What is gooder than a pony?
Scott: I don't know.
Maisy: *leaning in and whispering in his ear* I am!
Sorry. Things have been spooky on the home front. Remember when Maisy got to take that FUN Ambulance ride for her febrile seizure? Well. She apparently gave up "Breathing Properly" for Lent and didn't tell anyone. Instead she saved her little secret for Wednesday night near midnight, when she woke up screaming whenever she could get enough air to scream. Which wasn't often. Scott heard her by SOME MIRACLE STRAIGHT FROM GOD. We tried to get her airways open, failed, and called 911 while she thrashed and struggled and gasped and wheezed and reddened and faded in and out. Once again fire trucks and ambulances decended, oxygen and albuterol were supplied, and I in my pajama top sat weeping and singing LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO over and over again in the back of an ambulance as it wailed and sped to the hospital.
SHE IS FINE. Of course she is fine. Or I wouldn't be here telling you about it. It was a bad, sudden onset of evil croup, and once again we followed up with the pediatrician and once again he assured us this is a healthy little girl and an isolated incident which is no one's fault except mine for being a terrible mother. Then he hit me.
Okay no, that didn't happen. BUT, I am having BAD CAVEMAN MAGICAL JINX thoughts. Do you have that suspicious VOODOO gland in your brain? The one which, no matter what happens, can find a way where it is absolutely YOUR fault and clearly the result of your actions? This can work directly, in an ALMOST RATIONAL cause and effect way, as in: "This is my fault because I didn't have a humidifier going in the baby's room,"even though the REASON you didn't have a humidifier in the baby's room is because you just read this LONG LONG THREAD on your mom-writers e-mail list about how humidifiers can actually CAUSE terrible illness because they get MOLDY and DISEASEY and disseminate illness into the air, AND you know DARN WELL that if you HAD had the humidifier going on the room you would now be saying, "Oh this is because I had the humidifier going and I might as well have taken a BAGGY FULL OF CROUP AND MUCUS AND DEATH and stuffed it by hand right into her throat and lungs!"
And that's not even the worst of it, because at least that MAKES RATIONAL SENSE. The worst is the late at night when the baby is in your bed because you are too scared that she will suddenly STOP BREATHING for no reason (now that there is precedent) and at first you can't sleep because her feet are stuffed into spleen and her exploring fingers keep creeping up your nostrils, but then she falls asleep and you lie there STILL not sleeping. You listen to her lungs processing air, in and out perfectly, her whole little body the walking definition of miraculous as all her little parts pump and heave and digest and burble.
She is so lovely, smooth skin gleaming in the light of the Glow Worm bedtime pal you are squeezing so his head lights up to let you see the rise and fall of her small, sturdy chest and you think, "The humidifier had nothing to do with it. This is YOUR FAULT---COSMICALLY. You are self-involved and awful and all you think about is YOUR BOOK and you just left town for a month to do book promo and you are leaving for another 6 weeks and this is the UNIVERSE saying YOU DO NOT DESERVE THIS CHILD you TOWN-LEAVER, you BOOK-OBSESSOR. You did this, and you DESERVE THIS FEAR and what you should do is STOP EVERYTHING, your writing, your friends, your work, your sleeping, your marriage, JUST STOP and you should stand over her and her brother every moment, vigilent, you must live to watch their lungs work, because this was a wake-up call to make you understand NOTHING else matters but that those two small hearts keep pumping, the four lungs pulling air in and out, and PS you are a BAD BAD MOTHER and YOU LET THIS HAPPEN because YOU. LOOKED. AWAY.
Here in the daylight, I know that's not true. Its croup, not karma, not judgement, it's a meaningless blip of malfunction in an otherwise healthy little growing body. But my love for her, my huge and paralyzing love for her, makes me search so hard for meaning. If I can make it MY FAULT, then I can control it. I can then do whatever must be done to propitiate the croup gods and keep her safe, keep her breathing, keep her happy and unharmed in a cheerful pink world where I can control all the elements and my baby is never at the mercy of that which is random.
I am off to Nashville, but I have to tell you this JUST REALLY FAST:
Beautiful Maisy who is only two goes to a playschool two mornings a week. Yesterday, she was walking down the hall with her little friend Alex. I love Alex. He is the sweetest boy. Just sweet straight through. He is even tempered and smart with an engaging smattering of freckles. There is an odd DELIBERATENESS to Alex. He thinks things all the way through before deciding on a course of action, and he is doing this AT THREE.
I like his FOLKS, too. His dad is my lawyer, and his mom is an an astronomer---both biiiiiiiiiiiiig smarties. (His dad won 50,000 dollars and change on Jeopardy.) So Alex has great genes, and Maisy ADORES him. She will come home from playschool and say, "Ayex is my favowite fend!" If this was 1,000 years ago, Scott and I would be sending Alex's parents unblemished goats and fruit baskets and trying to work out the marriage contract.
SO anyway, Alex and Maisy were walking down the hall toward the playroom together, and Maisy was carrying her little frog backpack.
Maisy: This backpack is too heavy fow me!
Scott: Hand it here, princess.
Maisy: No, fank you.
Alex: I can carry it!
Maisy passed the backpack over, and marched on. She tossed her dad a little COY look over her shoulder.
Maisy: Ayex is MIGHTY!
Alex: *chest swells, stride lengthens, commences VISIBLE PREENING activity*
I do NOT know where she gets it. Does anyone know ANYTHING about the care and feeding of belles? Because I think I may have birthed one...
Maisy has Miscellaneous Low-Grade Toddler Fever and is languishing in my bed, breathing germs deep deep deep into the woof and weave of my pillow, watching Dee-Dee-Dora the Susplora, and suffering. I am a nervous wreck. I do not want to give her motrin for a mild case of the viral whatnots---if I give her motrin she will buck up and prance all over the house unstoppably cheerful and not let her body have ANY down time and she won't get well.
If I withhold the motrin, she will stay in bed and actually let her little body fight of the infection and be FINE in the morning...BUT. I am gun shy. That seizure, remember?? Happened because of mild viral whatnot, and I can't keep my brain from going down BAD PATHS, saying, what if what if what if...what if it spikes and she against ALL odds has another one and ends up in the emergency all day having brain scans and chest X-rays, thus sowing the seeds for a future doctor-hospital-phobia which means she will catch a double dose of my homeopathic fringe lunacy which will lead to her giving birth to my grandchildren in a water tank in an ashram while her scraggly bearded life-mate squats nearby, snorting echinacea and doing tantric pain chants to help her with the "discomfort" which will so enrage her that she'll climb out dripping and in stage three labor to kill him with the ceremonial hatchet the doula stuck under the water tank to "cut the pain in half." AND WHO COULD BLAME HER?
I better just give her the motrin.
I thought I was the only person who thinks the proper response to nasal conjestion is "jam a bunch of tissues up the nose holes." But no, turns out Mir does too. AT WORK, even. Me? I only do it in my house. OR DID. While I had that bacterial bronchitis and was SO ill for SO long, my daughter got obsessed with my trailing tissue-wads.
She ANTHROPOMORPHIZED them by declaring the tissues to be nice, funny, smart, and named them (collectively) THE PLOG. Which I think is singular, actually. Sort of like THE BORG but with mucus. She asked endless questions about The Plog.
YOU GOTS THE PLOG, MOMMY?
WHY IS THAT THE PLOG, MOMMY?
CAN I HAVE THE PLOG, MOMMY?
She tried to get it to be "fends" with her, or maybe she was thinking of it as a little germ-infested pet. She kept GRABBING for it, trying to POP IT OUT and KEEP IT. When she wasn't talking about it, WHICH WAS NEVER, so scratch that opening and I shall try again: When LUNCH would happen and her mouth would be full so she couldn't talk about it for 7 - 10 seconds at a stretch, she would sit ruminating her sandwich and POINTING AT THE PLOG. Then she would swallow and say "I SEE THE PLOG!" I bet she DREAMED about the dern thing.
I eventually took THE PLOG out and let my nose run and immediately my entire face CHAPPED OFF. I needed a little PLACE where me and my plog could BE ALONE and UNMOLESTED, but it didn't happen.
SO! Since I cannot PLOG IN PEACE, I plan to never be ill again no matter what, and I have an arsenal of products to help me. AND THEY WORK. Okay, they can't stop BACTERIAL BRONCHITIS, but they MURDER little viral things, eradicating the illness while it is pink and blind and squirming and helpless. I use them all in rotation, depending...
Halls Defense Lozenges (aka delicious candy) - Take every day during cold season.
COLD EASE lozenges (aka The Butt-Awful Death Mouth) - Take if someone with a cold touches you, enters the room you are in and their AIR touches you, or if you feel the slightest tickle of impending misery.
ZYCAM (aka Nose-Sniffy) - Tale at the first sign of a cold if you cannot bear having Butt-Awful Death Mouth--EVEN THOUGH BADM is a more effective product.
Airbourne (aka Tang From Hell) Take before a flight, a meeting, or entering a room with multiple children in it -- in short, before you get the big ride at the CARNIVAL OF GERMS.
Go Thou and be healthy, and COME BACK TOMORROW for the second installment of 3 questions!
The new working title is MAGGOTS IN HATS. Thanks, Deb.
I HAVE SENTIENT MOLD plotting world domination in my toilets because I am reading so much and writing when I am not reading, and working out when I am not reading and writing because the bronchitis KICKED MY BUTT and I need to be strong and healthy before I go on the road again and and and. I feel like a very EARNEST hamster in a wheel, a SQUEEKY wheel that goes WREE WREE WREE, and I am always DOING but never get anything DONE. But at least wheel-running is fun and I am a hamster so how bright can I be? Maybe I don't KNOW I am not getting anywhere.
MEANWHILE, I am troubled by GENETICS. Specifically, my OWN, because my ELDEST child has been thoroughly poisoned by my pernicious genes. It is a truism around here that if I leave the house with three inanimate objects in my care, I will come home with two, and one of them will be broken. BUT HE IS WORSE THAN ME. He will come home with one, and it will be attached by a string of its guts to his shoe and he will be dragging it along with no idea it is there. Of course, he IS only seven. BUT IT MAKES ME CRAZY! CRAZY I SAY!
This morning I put all his birthday party invitations in his folder.
Me: Go put this folder in your backpack.
Him: *takes folder* Last night I found the real tomb of Tal Rasha! But there were all these fakes first and it took me, Mom, five days, Mom, to find it. But then---
Me: Sam. Stop. Look at me. GO, right now. Put that folder in YOUR BACKPACK.
Him: What folder?
Me; THE ONE YOU ARE HOLDING.
Him: *Takes three steps, stops, stuff folder under arm and drops to his knees* MOM! LOOK! IT IS MY BLUE EYES WHITE DRAGON! Oh Man! I thought I loaned that card to Joe and I---
Me: SAM! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! PUT! THAT! FOLDER! IN! YOUR! BACKPACK!
Him: *acting like I am a MORON* Geez, you don't have to YELL. I WAS already. *marches off dejectedly*
Me: *calling after him* GO PUT IT DIRECTLY IN THE BACK PACK. RIGHT THIS SECOND!
Him: *mutters things under his breath, probably about my parentage.*
Me: ARE YOU PUTTING IT???
Him: *calling back to me* I am PUTTING IT.
I JUST FOUND THE FOLDER UNDER A CHAIR IN THE BREAKFAST NOOK.
Someone please explain that to me.
Oh, right. He's my kid.
So I dashed down to the bus stop IN MY SOCKS and the bus was there ALREADY so I GRABBED his scruff as he was boarding and put the folder into his backpack myself while giving him the MONSTROUS pointy eye. Then I walked home with FROZEN feet.
Me: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THAT KID???
Scott: You know what we are going to. We will keep nudging him and helping him and reminding him and teaching him and eventually he will grow up and marry someone and it will be HER problem.
HA! In other words, I need to get over it because that kid is NOT going to change.
Lord knows I haven't.
I've been at the emergency room all afternoon with Beautiful Maisy. She had a FEBRILE SEIZURE which is -- as it turns out -- very common and harmless and indicative of NOTHING BAD and just a thing that happens to little kids sometimes if their fever spikes.
But when I walked into my bedroom to check on her this morning (she had chosen to watch Dora the Explorer there) and found her convulsing and spitting up foam with her eyes rolling around independent of each other, breathing in herky gasps and unable to respond, it didn't SEEM like nothing. It seemed like imminent death and/or brain damage and horror and the whole world shrunk to a pinhole with her perfect face at the epicenter and nothing else mattered.
One. Hella. Bad. Day.
Except not, because she is FINE. She is GOOD and FINE and CHIRPY, even. I have aged 10 years, but SHE is fine and you know what? That's all I give two craps about today. Thanks.
This morning, at FOUR am, I got up and put on FOUR inch heels (although I have no one to blame for that, that was MY good idea) and got on the first of FOUR flights that would take me to lunch in TEXAS and then back home in less than twenty FOUR hours.
I have a LOT to tell you.
BUT, as I came in the door at 11 PM, Maisy was shrieking MOMMY?!?! I WANT TO SEE YOU?!?!?! SO I went to her room and picked her up and she promptly puked all down my front.
Glamorous jet-setting has OFFICIALLY left the building.
For the record,
I HAVE PICTURES! AND MANY TEXAS THINGS TO SAY!
Including a theory about how you could get your car to smell like THOUSANDS OF CATTLE!
I will say these things tomorrow.
Right now I have to go hold a bowl to catch the foul eruptions of My Real Life, AKA she who is very feverish and displeased, AKA small she-person I love to distraction.
I am happy to be home, puke and all.
2) I have to type blog entires into WORD PAD now, instead of word, or I get all those weird ??? for quotation marks. I haven't opened word pad in probably 6 years...When Sam was very small, not even 2, he liked to be allowed type nonsense into wordpad using 72 point font. When I would sit down to open the program for him, he would crow, "STAWT! PWOGGAM! SUCCESORIES! WAR PAB! And now every time I open WAR PAB! to blog, I hear his long-gone baby voice cheering me as I wend my way through the menu.
3) We got a visitor. An EXCEPTIONALLY cute a furry darling dear precious delightful visitor with trembly whiskers and bright, black eyes and a roly-poly tear-drop of a body covered in sweet gray fuzz. Same body was, I assume, ALSO covered in Hanta Virus and Salmonella and no doubt he had racing stripes of bubonic plague decorating his diseased little tongue.
He was sitting in the middle of the KITCHEN waiting for a chance to LICK MY CHILDREN. When he saw us, the adults and the cat, he ran under the stove. We pulled the stove out and looked at him as he squatted adorably on his little fat haunches, licking viral death onto his teeny-fingered pink paws and then spreading it all over his ears.
SAM: Oh! His name is Simon Michael! Can we KEEP him??
Maisy: Lookit! It a MAW-ZEE! Dat Maw-zee! He like me!
So, obviously we couldn't kill him. I mean, he had a NAME. And the good sense to like Maisy. I am not sure I could have killed him ANYWAY, I mean...LOOK at him. Very adorable for a filthy plague ridden vermin:
Several things happened then, all at once.
Simon Michael ran out from under the stove.
The cat ran at Simon Michael.
I grabbed the cat from behind and...
Have you ever grabbed a cat that was not ready to be grabbed and surprised him? I mean REALLY, TRULY surprised him, down on the cellular level? Well, if so, then you know what I mean when I say that Schubert exploded. He just went BOOM. He leapt four feet up into the air and his eye bugged out and his four limbs and his tail all FLAILED around in completely unrelated directions and he screamed like an angry peacock and then ZOOM, Schubert fled the scene.
Simon Michael went RACING into the breakfast room.
Sam yelled, HE IS GETTING AWAY!
Maisy just yelled, excited.
And Scott, THE AMAZING SCOTT, Scott who used to do close magic to charm his niece and nephew, Scott who has won pool tournaments, Scott who apparently traded HIS IMMORTAL SOUL for superhuman hand-eye coordination, picked up a plastic mixing bowl and THREW IT, threw it open side down as if it were a frisbee, sent it spinning in a perfect arc, five feet or more through the air, and Ladies and Gentlemen, as God is my witness, SCOTT RINGED THE MOUSE.
"Well then," said Scott, absolutely matter of fact, "Let me get a piece of cardboard."
"Okay," I said. "And then let's get chopsticks and you can pluck flies out of the air."
And Sam said, "REALLY?"
We slid a piece of cardboard under the bowl and then flipped it over, and there was Simon Michael, neatly trapped in tupperware. The kids fed him Honey Bunches of Oats and cornbread with butter and honey while we all got dressed. I went to check on poor Schubert and found him holed up in my office, still PUFFY and oddly large looking. He glared at me balefully and then went back to grooming, trying to get his electrified fur to go back down.
And then we drove MILES AND MILES out to this old horse trail where I used to ride, WAY FAR from the barn (and the barn cats) in this quiet portion that goes by a meadow and and a stream and where charming little birdies are contractually obligated warble, and into this Idyllic Woodland Heaven released him, far from buildings and humanity. Fare thee well, Simon Michael.
But! I do not believe in A MOUSE. There is NEVER "a" mouse. There are always...MICE. SO we have to do SOMETHING ---something like TRAPS or AN EXTERMINATOR since our one-eyed cat's morbid obesity and poor depth perception make him an EXTREMELY INEFFECTIVE mouser. So. That's problem ONE. Problem two is, the kids really want PET FANCY MICE now, the NON-PLAGUE BEARING kind. Seems SICK to actively SEEK TO ANNIHILATE some mice while putting OTHERS in a habitrail and feeding them on buttered cornbread...
Today Miss Maisy launched a full-scale NAP ANNIHILATION CAMPAIGN, and THE NAP was declared to be an enemy of the people. She introduced into a congress a BILL whereby the time previously set aside for NAP would be instead devoted to rampant lollipop consumption and cat-torturing. Congress, made up of Sam, approved. But the the president, made up of me-n-Scott said, HA HA NICE TRY---VEEEEETO! And stuffed her little buns into the bed.
We took her to bed, and she protested mightily, but her cries for mercy fell like grass seed upon the stony, barren soil of our hearts, and there they withered. She was given a doll and a drink and left there.
A few minutes later we heard her yelling HELP! HELP! HELP! at the top of her little voice. The top of Maisy's voice is like unto the top of Kilimanjaro in that it is VERY VERY VERY high, and like VOLUME KNOB SETTING ELEVEN, in that it is VERY loud. One louder than ten, in fact.
HELP! HELP! HELP! We naturally assumed she had dropped her sippy cup, and went to assist her.
She had not, in fact, dropped her sippy cup. Maisy's little bed is nestled in a bay window, and she had climbed up to stand on TOP of her headboard. Then she had inserted her entire body in between the blinds and the window. She was spreadeagled there, her little hands BRACED into the sides of the window to help her maintain balance, and her face pressed desperately into the glass. She was looking down at the street and crying out for rescue from the populace. A small crowd of neighborhood children had gathered in our yard and were staring up at her as she plaintively bleated at volume 11 for rescue from the horrors we were perpetrating upon her tiny person. Namely, NAP TIME. But the kids didn't KNOW that and I SHUDDER to imagine the dinnertable conversations going on RIGHT NOW in the houses surrounding us.
If Child Protective Services doesn't come by and snatch up my children before I can thrust them into shoes and head out to see Lemony Snicket, I am going to call this a good day.
Last night we went to the candlelight services and our congregation performed an act of faith SO GREAT AND AMAZING it makes snake handlers look like TOTAL WUSSIES: They handed my son a LIT CANDLE. The fact that the building is still standing this morning proves the existence of a Benevolent Lord.
When we got home, we set out a tray of Peanut Butter Trumpets and Fudge and Cocoa (and some insulin) and sure enough, this morning…IT WAS ALL GONE! Even Sam’s NOTE to Santa was gone (Deer Santa, We beleve in you 100 pecent, with a lot of crismast spirit, Love, Sam and Maisy.)
The fat man with the red suit dropped in whilst we were sleeping and gobbled the goodies down. In return he left enough loot to momentarily sate even the most rapacious inner chamber of the heart of Capitalism! Unfortunately, he could not figure out how to WRAP The Gift of the Holy Spirit, so Sam was out of luck on that one. Other requests were fulfilled (thanks to a generous donation of A GAMEBOY ADVANCE by the BJ and Papa Grandparent Foundation for Xtreme Child Spoilage) and there also appeared a SCOOTER and the requested MASK OF LIGHT TOY.
Thanks to the same foundation, those of us who are two and very beautiful and Maisy got to become “a really, really fairy princess ballerina,” as she told me, nine thousand times, in an excited voice that got higher with each repetition until by the end only dogs could hear her.
DIGRESSION: fellow shoe-hounds---Peep my moderately hot ankle boots!
AND AS YOU MAY HAVE GUESSED, the foundation did not stop with the GRANDKIDS, but spoiled us too---WITH A DIGICAM. WOO HOO! So this blog is about to get a bit more ILLUSTRATED! THANKS SANTA!
And of course, of course, OF COURSE, Santa left everyone in this house ALL MANNER OF BOOKS.
I can only hope he did the same for you.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
I am UNDER ATTACK! Under ATTACK, I say! Some stupid virus searches google for vulnerable code and then attacks PHP sites, and now my site keeps going down and reverting and when it came back up yesterday the attack-worm had changed EVERY ' and " to a ? so the whole site looks like it was designed by CRACKSMOKING PUNCUATION ANARCHISTS.
You can't get the virus by VISITING the site though, and my personal computer is not infected -- it's a virus that attacks the saved uploaded files on the web. Weird.
And it isn’t the blameless lambs at dot easy…I hereby apologize to my web hosts for having moderately satisfying fantasies about eating them...They are trying to fix it from their end and I am supposed to upload some HTML but getting it patched is beyond both my ken and Scott’s. SO it WILL be fixed soon….we hope. We just are not sure HOW. Meanwhile I am archiving all blog entries on my hard drive so I can stick them back up if they get eaten, and I am NOT going to spend five hours fixing catagories until I can actually SAVE RELIABLY.
I want to tell you about Sam’s letter to Santa but I already blogged it ONCE and then the WORM ate it and so trying to tell it NOW I keep trying to remember how I told it before instead of just TELLING it, BAH! But anyway, here it is:
Sam brought me his letter to Santa the other day, and the words “Gameboy Advance” appeared at least three times and then he mentioned some MASK OF LIGHT Leggo set he wants and at the end he wrote, “And I want the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
So he hands it to me and I read it and when I get to the end I look down at him and he says in THE most BUTT-kissing little PIOUS voice, I mean DRIPPING SMARM AND UNCTIOUS SAINTLINESS, “And Mom, if Santa can only bring me ONE THING…I hope it’s the Holy Spirit.”
And the Oscar goes to…me, for nodding calmly and saying, “I better go mail this,” before turning tail and running for my office where, once the doors were safely shut, I fell howling to the floor and rolled and WEPT with silent laughter.
But that is what seven-years-old is like. Seven is Political. Two is different Two works like this:
My dad loves this weird fruit salad with coconut and sour cream in it, and I made the mistake of giving some to Maisy for breakfast.
She put a bite in and then spewed it back all over the table while her mouth contorted into a rictus of AGONIZED DISBELIEF. She had the same expression you might make if a diseased RAT had just licked your tongue. As soon as she had cleared the last offending molecule from her mouth she lowered her eyebrows thunderously and said, “That’s GWOSS!”
So I gave her waffles, and she sucked them down in a sugar-syrup ecstacy and I said, “Are the waffles gwoss?” and she said, “Oh no! The Wapples are HAPPY!”
See, no guile…yet.
IN OTHER NEWS -- Just after Christmas there will be a DRAWING! TRA LA! ARCs will be involved. Stay tuned!
Yesterday at church....Sam, Sam, OH Sam, my beloved eldest child, practically my clone, myself in small male clothing....let's just say, he had a day.
Yesterday was the performance of our church's annual MUSICAL CHRISTMAS PAGEANT. Sam was a Wiseman.
They did a number from the pageant at church to whet everyone's appetite. Sam googled and flailed around all during the song, nothing unusual there, but then AFTER the song, the liturgist made the GRAVE ERROR of asking the kids what we should pray about this Christmas season.
Angelic Child One: Pray for Santa to come! *laughter from crowd*
Angelic Child Two: Pray for my family! *"awwww," from crowd*
MY kid: Pray no one comes and shoots my cat's OTHER eye out. WITH A GUN. *horrified silence*
THEN at the Pageant, in the very middle of MARY and JOSEPHS touching DUET, my son discovered a BOOGER was lurking deep, deep, DEEP in the recesses of his nose. He went after it with a will, mounting an excavation team of fingers that left sinus territory and ENTERED HIS BRAIN. They emerged victorious just as Mary was warbling, "Why me? I am just an ordinary girl!"
As Joseph sang, "Why here? In this ordinary town," my son was looking long and meditatively at his newly retrieved booger. He brought it toward his face and there was a tense moment where I was ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN HE WAS GOING TO EAT IT, but he was just bringing it closer to his eye so he could read the hidden text inscribed deep within its fascinating folds. Eventually he smeared it down his pants leg, looked up, realized he was IN A MUSICAL CHRISTMAS PAGEANT, sang three lines, and did two dance steps, and fell off the bleachers.
And so on.
I regret to inform you that Thanksgiving will not be held next year. Because I ate it.
That’s right, I ate the ENTIRE holiday. There wasn’t even enough Thanksgiving left to spread on some Wonderbread with some whole-berry cran sauce and make a decent sandwich. Sad, huh. *Burp*
TODAY I am suffering deep, deep feelings of repentful penitence and I did my usual 30 minutes of step in the morning and then went jogging after lunch and then came home and did weights and BY THE WAY, when I say “lunch” I mean “some leaves, with a side of ice chips.” And this routine shall continue until I divest my buttocks of the snarfed up holiday.
But…IT WAS SO SO SO WORTH IT. My sister-in-law made these Brussels sprouts in butter with leeks and Prosciutto that could SERIOUSLY make the most hard-hearted of atheists fall weeping to their knees to admit there is a God.
I KNOW! You are thinking “Ugh. No but…you had Fat Potato FatFat and Meatful Turkey and giblet gravy and Sister Schubert’s yeast rolls AND YOUR GREAT AUNT GLADYS’ HOMEMADE PECAN PIE with BLUEBELL ICE CREAM and you are nattering on about the…Brussels sprouts.” And to this I say. Yes. Trust me. They were the best part of the meal, and there were NO slouchers at this table. It is ALL in the butter. As long as the recipe calls for more BUTTER than actual vegetable, and as long as you follow the recipe and don’t try to muck around with MARGERINE, it’s all good, baby. Add the salted bacony goodness of the prosciutto and the mild bite of the leeks...perfection.
Appropos of nothing: Spell check CLEARLY has no taste buds and thinks that when I say Prosciutto I mean Prostitute.
Also not necessarily Apropos, but certainly worth SEVERAL thousand words, I have to show you THE CREATURE that will be returned to me should someone steal my eldest child. An AMBER ALERT will be released, and THIS PICTURE will be broadcast all over the airways. The Police will take a quick run down to South America and grab whatever monkey ate THE VERY MOST COCAINE and return it to me in lieu of my son. Who by the way? Will henceforth be known as “Calvin.”
That is all.
Okay – this won’t make a lot of sense if you do not know about the GREAT! BIG! LOVE! So click already. Go on. Take the link. Double Dog Dare Ya.
The Great Big Love faded over the summer. They just didn’t SEE each other. But then – fall came, and our family and the family of beautiful Caroline went to the movies. So we get there and it’s PACKED and there are few places with seats for all us and Sam keeps us milling out in the aisle and won’t let us sit. We try to go in the aisle and he blocks us and foams rabidly and rearranges us all in terrible, nonsensical, yet ultra-casual ways until we figured out what he WANTED. Which was to sit by beautiful Caroline. And so, once we were all arranged THUSLY, he subsided and allowed us to troop in.
And Caroline was a great sport about it, really. She’s eleven and blooming and interested in lipgloss and he is a scabby-kneed creature who spends half his time as a ninja, slaughtering imaginary bug-people. So, it’s not like I see a big immediate FUTURE here. But if the kid wants to sit by her in the movies and moon, and if it does not mortify beautiful Caroline, then fine! Whatever.
Now, Caroline has very long hair. It’s streaky and pale and falls a good five inches below her shoulder blades. After the movie, the bottom half of her long luxurious locks were … wet. More than wet. Her hair was SOAKING. So her mom asks her what happened to her hair and she doesn’t want to say, and she doesn’t want to say. Until finally she cracks and says.
ALL THROUGH THE FILM, Sam was STEALNG little pieces of her hair and stuffing them surreptitiously into his mouth. He spent the ENTIRE FILM sucking covertly on the ends of her HAIR. And she would notice and take the piece of hair BACK, and then, a few minutes later, when she was rendered helpless and inattentive by a good action sequence, his little grubby paw would creep over and get another strand and tuck it into his mouth.
And I was thinking, LORD! BUT! MEN! ARE! WEIRD! Even in tiny BABY form they are just….weird. But then I reconsidered and OKAY, yes, that is BIZARRE. But maybe it isn’t men.
See, I remembered TODD. This boy in my elementary school. Who was moonfaced and stocky and towheaded and whenever I glanced at him indirectly his fledgling male beauty blinded me and sent me plummeting, dizzy and helpless, off of playground equipment. I was maybe eight. Todd was nine, so he was about as interested in girls as he was in International Politics or discovering a really good recipe for coq au vin. In fact, he actively thought of me as one of a tribe of disgusting foreign objects, riddled with cooties.
But OH how I loved him in my Fresh! Pink! Heart!
I used to take my LITTLE DEBBI SWISS CAKE ROLLS into the restroom and FRENCH KISS THEM, and then I'd sneak back into the lunchroom and offer them to TODD in this ultra-casual, I’m-just-not-hungry way. I would creep to the side and clutch the wall to stay upright, swooning as I watched him eat my spittle.
So. Maybe it isn’t men. It’s something though. EITHER it is LOVE, and LOVE IS WEIRD and makes you do bizarre things involving saliva, OR…it’s me. And I have poisoned my darling son with bizarro spit-fetish genes.
Tick tock tick tock… I am thinking.
I blame Love.
A big fat crapulance is squatting on my house. I am not ready to look at it. I will instead focus on some tiny little crapulances gamboling about at my feet. LA LA LA I DO NOT SEE YOU, LARGE BAD THING. Instead here is a brief tour of the tiniest of the tiny mayflies swimming in my cream of crap soup:
1) I can no longer call Beautiful Maisy Who Is Barely Two by her rightful moniker. She has TURNED the corner. She is now two and a half. Still heartrendingly lovely though, so THAT’S a plus. But oh oh oh how did my tiny squirrel-pop of a baby become two and a half!?!?
There are all manner of horrific consequences to this change from “Barely Two” to “Heading for Three with a Bullet.” Not least among them: The Death of Faggot.
That is correct. You heard me. Faggot is no more. I wave a sad handkerchief in farewell and usher in the age of “Sig Fig.” Somehow, he is not the same tiger…But at least he can go to Wal-Mart.
2) Sam’s team lost their fourth soccer game in a row today. But the good news is, they lost FOUR TO THREE!!!! Usually the gap between their score and the other team’s is so wide if it were a person it could legally drive. Or even drink. Or even collect social security. Sam, who is usually the world’s MOST competitive little booger ALIVE (wonder where he gets THAT??) seems oddly QUELLED at soccer games and hangs back politely. Turns out he was missing out on a KEY bit of information that could radically change his playstyle.
On the WAY to soccer I had a BIG TALK with Sam about not nominating himself for every possible star, and asked him to notice the other kids’ strengths and to nominate THEM for a bit of glory, too. I was pleased to note he did so. After the game, we went to Publix to get milk and whatnot, and Sam saw one of his teammates in frozen foods. He waved cheerfully at the kid, but as soon as they turned the aisle he was DYING to tattle.
Sam: I nominated him for best defense. But not best sport. He was a very bad sport today.
Me: Oh no. What happened?
Sam: He didn’t wait his turn. Other kids would be kicking at the ball, and he would get in there and fight with them for it and kick it while they were trying to kick it.
Me: Um…You mean he took the ball from kids on ya’ll’s same team?
Sam: Not JUST our team. He took the ball from kids on the other team too. And that was REALLY rude mom, because our coach said today that THEY were the VISITORS.
This seems like a job for a DAD to explain.
My son is on a bad team, for soccer. It is the team where they have tumped all the nosepicking googlers who run haplessly and joyfully across the field like cheerful goats. Confused but good-hearted goats. Goats with recent head injuries, uncomprehending, just running the same direction everyone else seems to be going in. Ball? What Ball? We’re just happy to be out in the sun.
OH! Not TRUE! There is one aggressive little booger who VALIENTLY MEANS IT and seems to UNDERSTAND THE RULES. But he is, unfortunately, less than 3 feet high. He is CONSTANTLY in the very thick of it, kicking wildly at the ball with his teeny legs with the entire other team swarming and surging HUGELY around him until he is enveloped and vanishes. Then the opposing team surges forward and there he is, a sad, small smear on the grass. But he bounces back up and RUNS RUNS RUNS to thrust himself RIGHT back in there. You gotta like him.
You gotta like the rest of them too, even though they can’t play SOCCER for SPIT. They trail after the other team, milling cheerfully about. First game, they lost 16 to 0. Second game. 14 to 1. The little guy somehow scored.
The best part: THEY HAVE NO CLUE. After the first TOTAL SLAUGHTER Sam came bounding joyfully off the field saying “MOM? DID WE WIN?” I hated to tell him, but I said, no, in point of fact, you did NOT win. But he didn’t seem to care. “MOM? CAN I HAVE A SNO-CONE?” Sure. Sure you can.
The worst part: I AM SO COMPETITIVE. I sit between my husband and my friend Julie and clutch desperately at the arms of my folding chair lest I leap wildly to my feet screaming KILL! KILL THEM ALL! COME ON BOYS! KILLLLLLLLLLLL! Julie’s husband is as bad as me.
Sam doesn’t seem to care. He has the JACKSON confidence, which is huge and often misplaced in that it generally has very little to do with one’s abilities. He is years from puberty, which is usually when the equal and opposing scoop of self-loathing gets activated in the Jackson genes. So for now, low self-esteem is NOT A PROBLEM HERE.
It’s a church league, and after the game, the coach gives out stars. A red star for the best goalie. A green star for best defense. Every kid gets a star, every week. So after the first game, they all gathered around for the prayer and star awards.
Coach: This blue star is for the best offense. Who do you think did the best at offense today?
Sam: That was probably me!
Coach: And this star is for good sportsmanship – who was a good sport?
Sam: I think I was!
Coach: This white star is for Christlike behavior. Who best exemplified Christ today?
Sam: Oh that was me. Definitely. I’m JUST like Christ!
And so on like that. He was FIRMLY convinced he had rightfully earned every star, and he was UNAFRAID to say so. In his loud, loud, trumpeting Jackson voice. He got the star for best defense, but even after it was awarded him he still kept nominating himself for every star that came along.
I was ready to bury my head in the earth. Or maybe to bury his. But at some point, Sam noticed his best friend, Nick, had not yet gotten a star. One of the last stars was for best goalie. When the coach asked who the team thought had done the a good job there, my son, my excellent son, stopped campaigning for best everything, even stopped hoovering up Sno-Cone, and he said, “I think that was Nick. Nick was the best.”
He can’t play soccer for SPIT. For SPIT, do you hear me? But I think I will keep him.
Kimberly wanted to know the OTHER two most embarrassing things I ever said. HMMMMM, um no, thank you for playing. It would have been BETTER to apply a liberal measure of tequila before dropping an OH SO CASUAL request for that information. Because without 2.5 margaritas the second worst will NOT be repeated and it would take a minimum of 4 TOP SHELFERS to pry the WORST one out.
Today I had NO power most of the afternoon. THANKS, IVAN! THANKS! I now know why they call you a tropical DEPRESSION, you great big rainy DRAG. It doesn’t help that our power company is a TINY LITTLE CO-OP. Every year we get a cheerful little check for five dollars from them that says HERE IS YOUR SHARE! BECAUSE WE ARE A CO-OP! AND WE CARE AND STUFF! ABOUT! YOU! THE! SPECIAL! PERSON!
Ugh. I feel like I get power from a hairy-legged generator in a long velveteen dirndle skirt and Birkinstocks. I just don’t think I should be dependent on a CO-OP for electricity. Co-ops are more like where you get MACROBIOTIC VEGETABLES. Especially OURS -- Our little co-op is VERY EMOTIONALLY SENSITIVE. If you LOOK at it funny it gets a hurt feeling and blacks out 20 blocks. How I long to be powered by a monstrously large corporate tyrant who exploits the proletariat and sees me as nothing more than an insignificant number on a spread sheet but that, oh, I don’t know, KEEPS THE POWER ON.
BAH. I am actually just irked because I missed Jeopardy, which UPSETTING TO ME.
Beautiful Maisy who is barely two and I watch Jeopardy EVERY DAY and whenever I answer the question (with a question, natch) Maisy answers me in this VERY serious tone. It goes like this:
Me: What is Madagascar?
Maisy: I don’t know.
Me: Who is Henry James?
Maisy: I don’t know.
Me: What is the Edsel?
Maisy: Mommy. I don’t know.
Seriously. She does that for a solid half hour.
It was especially irksome to miss it TODAY because I have gotten REALLY hooked on watching the Tiny Mormon Juggernaut clean house. I LOVE that small, smart man. He knows everything and he is so SOOTHING and CALM. If I was on Jeopardy I would be SUCH a spasm.
The other day the question was something like “What famous magician and writer had their famous friendship spoiled by their interactions with a medium.”
Me: WHO IS HOUDINI AND THAT WRITER GUY WHO BELIEVED IN FAIRIES YOU KNOW THE ONE DARNIT THE ONE THAT WROTE SHERLOCK HOLMES, UM UM WHO IS HOUDINI AND THAT GUY???
Maisy: I don’t know
ME: GAH IT WAS ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE!!!!! I MEAN WHO IS ARTHUR CONON DOYLE AND PS ALEC YOU ARE SO SMOKIN' HOT IN A SMARTYPANTS OLD GUY WAY.
And that was just me playing IN MY OFFICE. I would probably stroke out if I tried to play on ACTUAL TV.
Someone hit the comments and tell me what happened with the TMJ. Because the web spoilers--- Let me pause here to pre-emptively answer the obvious questions: Yes. OKAY??? Yes. As a matter of fact I DO crawl the web seeking JEOPARDY spoilers. AND YES. THAT IS INDEED SAD --- Anyway, the SPOILERS say he is GOING TO LOSE THIS WEEK AND I IF I MISSED IT I WILL BE SO MADDDDDDD. Did I miss it??? GAH. I will JUST die. If I missed it, please tell me WHO possibly beat him and what Final Jeopardy was and what HAPPENED. WAS IT THE MYTHICAL SHARON???? FROM VENTURA??
I am not a very MUSICAL person. Really. I don’t just mean that I can’t carry a tune (which I can’t) or that I am ignorant about the intricacies of composition (which I am). I mean that I have an emotional response to less than 1% of the music I hear. For the most part, it leaves me cold. It’s like I am spiritually tone deaf.
Once, while taking a survey, I came to the question, “What is your favorite song?” And I couldn’t think of one. I was completely stumped. Finally I wrote, “I don’t like songs,” and ploughed onwards.
When I say this in public, people tend to clutch their babies a little bit closer and ask me things like, “Dead inside much?” or “Are you a sociopath then? Or just an inhuman robot?” Apparently, people really like songs. *shrugs*
Right now, I listen to only two kinds of music and only under certain circumstances.
1) Christian Pop on the Fish 104.7 in the car
2) House/Dance Remixes when I work out
I used to listen to a lot of different radio stations, but then last year, I was driving around with Sam and I had the radio playing. I wasn’t really listening to it. It was just ON. The DJ was prattling about some wacky DJ hijink or ‘nother, but to me it sounded like the grown-ups in the Charlie Brown Cartoons talking: Wahhh Wahhh Wonk Wonk Wahhh. Suddenly, swimming up out of the white noise of the morning show patter, I hear the DJ say: “I’m going to make him my ass-bitch.”
My finger leapt up like a sentient being and hurled itself at the radio button, cutting off the power supply. Too late. From the back, clear as bell, my son piped up:
Sam: Mom, what’s an ass-bitch?
Me: It’s a very bad word that means “We are about to set every single one of our radio buttons to 104.7 The Fish.”
Sam: Oh. But isn’t ass a bad word for butt?
Me: In this case, ass is a bad word for DJ.
Sam: *puzzled silence*
Me: *brightly* LET’S SEE WHAT’S PLAYING OVER THERE ON OUR NEW BEST FRIEND, 104.7 THE FISH!
And we have been listening to The Fish ever since, and it’s all very cheerful and uplifting and great and no one ever under any circumstances tries to make anyone their ass-bitch. So we listen to it exclusively. Except when I work out.
There is a HUGE difference between the lyrics I hear in my child-free work out hour and the music I hear any other time I hear music. I am surprised I don’t become schizo, blipping back and forth between things like (and here I am choosing a VERY mild example) the boyz from N.E.R.D. explaining to me that, “her ass is a spaceship I want to ride,” and then not an hour later I am hearing that “there’s gotta be more to life, then chasing down every temporary high, like, for example, rides on the good ship spacebutt.”
Okay Stacy Orrico did not say that last part.
BUT… if she ever met the boys from N.E.R.D., she would probably THINK it at them.
DIGRESSION: Don’t even LISTEN to N.E.R.D.’s ‘She Wants to Move’ unless it’s the SMOKIN’ remix by Basement Jaxx, k thanx drive thru.
It’s like a big musical ARGUMENT. Battle of world-views. And world-view-wise? I am SO MUCH MORE the lyrics on Fish than I am the vast majority of lyrics I hear when I work out. But musically? I have to say – I have spent my life being left dead fish cold by every form of music I have met (except organ concertos….NOTHER STORY) until I accidentally met HOUSE and DANCE and ELECTRONICA DANCE HOUSE TRANCE REMIXES. It makes ME want to move. I LOVE it. I LOVE IT. There are days when I want to track down Frankie Knuckles and kiss him on the mouth and say THANKS! THANKS FRANKIE! THANKS!
And yet often times the LYRICS… let’s just say it makes “I’m going to make him my ass-bitch” sound so mild you would pick for your kindergartener’s new school motto. I mean…yikes.
In the new house we are having a here-to-fore UNHEARD OF LUXERY. A guest bedroom! No more will the hapless souls who visit our domicile be forced to flip and toss on the Back Pain Futon of Unkind Humpi-Lumps while listening to my youngest child snork her noisy way through toddler dreamland.
Guests will be greeted with their own room, complete with a ceiling fan and a lovely view of the driveway and in the center they shall find….an ACTUAL BED. Comforter, dust ruffle, four posts, head and foot boards, real feather pillows and a BRAND NEW firm Sealy pillow top mattress. Heck, SCOTT AND I don’t even have a bed. We just have a metal frame holding our mattress a few inches above the squalor. SO! It’s luxurious. And the guest bedroom furniture is ALL FREE, which is the main thing. THANKS MOM AND DAD! (They are gifting us with my bedroom set from when I was a munchkin)
The only thing we have to buy is the mattress, which we did, today. Found a GREAT deal on it too. Scott and I were taking turns lying down on it to test the firmness when my 7 year old son. Sam, came up to us.
Sam: MOM! Can we get a TEMPER PENIS?
Me: Um what?
Sam: A TEMPER PENIS. Let’s get that! It has a remote control!
The little saleslady with her flippy mod hair cut and I googled at him openmouthed, both of us envisioning enraged male genitalia. Enraged robotic genitalia. With a remote, no less.
Me: Maybe you better show me this thing, eh?
He did, and then we spent a moment on phonics and exactly how to say temperPEDIC. PEDDDDDDDDDDIC. PED D D D D IC. (Let me say, the irony of telling your seven year old, “Do not say Penis, say PEE – DIC, hon” is not lost on me. I am just trying to take the high road here, folks.)
We get that straightened out, and I explain, no, we can NOT get the temperPEDIC with space foam body melding technology and remote control level adjusters for easy TV watching and even easier direct pressure and elevation if you happen to be bleeding out. WHY? Because I am not spending more on a guest bedroom mattress than I spent on my CAR. SO. We head back across the store toward the mattress I actually want to buy, and on the way we pass some furniture for sale. Including a bed.
It was a SERIOUS bed. It had a canopy frame about nine feet high and all manner of mosquito netting and romantic sheer draperies swooping all over enveloping it in a misty haze, so it looked like it had a Stephanie Powers/Hart to Hart style close-up contract and could only legally be filmed through cheesecloth.
Sam: WOW! LOOKIT THAT BED!
Me; Yeah, that’s some bed.
Sam: Is that a privacy marriage bed?
Me: (to mod-hair saleslady) I swear we are not weirdo perverts. He just read pedic wrong and as for the bed, um. I dunno. Your guess is as good as mine. But we are not weirdo perverts. I swear.
Her: (very! overly! brightly!) Okay! Why don’t we just ring you up then!
Every week, my son shows up post Sunday School with a rag-tag assortment of...well... crap. There is usually some sort of object like a styrofoam coffee cup that's been chewed into four parts and then stapled back together, and it is attached to various bits of string and damp ribbon and paper that is attached to other glitter strewn trash bits via brads and tape and spittle.
There is never any way for me to decipher what this crap-wad is supposed to be, unless I look at the crafts in the hands of the other children. They will have the same materials assembled into a paper candle, or a pipe cleaner man in a tissue paper robe, or a fish...and then my son bounds out the door with his art project looking like it has been chewed by rabid squirrels, dripping leprous chunks of itself as he yells joyously LOOK LOOK THIS IS THE BOAT THEY WERE FISHING IN BUT THEN THEY DIDN'T GET ANY FISH TIL JESUS CAME AND SAID TO FISH ON THE OTHER SIDE.
Okay, so, he isn't very crafty, my son. He has no patience for glueing macaroni into the shape of the cross. BUT WHO CARES. As long as he can explain to us how the wad of crap relates to the lesson, that's the main thing. And up until this week, he absolutely could. EVery time.
But today's crap-wad was made out a clothespin, several mangled coffee filters, and an obscene amount of paste. He had used enough paste to service all of Guam's modest paste needs for a week. My husband questioned him about the object until it was firmly established that it was meant to be a dove.
Scott: Oh! Is that the dove of peace?
Sam: No. The other kids made the dove of peace. I made the Dove of the ARMY. He has MISSILES.
OKAY THEN! I can't wait for next week, when he makes the Vampiric Fanged Lamb of Merciless Carnage!
Here is a list of things said out loud by actual people on my vacation. Sadly, almost ALL of these people are related to me by blood:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOYS AND GIRLS
Scene: Erin, a 10 year old girl who is playing a SIMs type Nintendo Game where she is a rock star, is talking to my 7 year old son. Sam
Erin: I am playing a CONCERT now Sam so DO NOT TALK TO ME! If you distract me, you KNOW what will happen.
Erin: Um no, HELLO! I won't get PAID?
OUR COLLECTIVE FAMILIAL MATURITY LEVEL
Scene: Entire family is sitting around the den talking when Erin walks through staring down at her Gameboy.
Erin: I have a monkey butler!
Everyone else: (not hearing the "ler" part) BA HAHAHAHHAHA
Scene: Anonymous relative is sprawled in post-feast abandon on the sofa
Anonymous Relative: I am so lazy I almost wish I had a colostomy bag.
I have no response to that.
Above is the world's most scattered blog entry. It should get a prize. The prize should be LITHIUM. I have terminal deadline horror.
Now--- Picture me standing on a hill with a hoop skirt on, the sun is setting behind me, and I have just finished yacking up a radish. I lift my fist to the heavens and say AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I WILL COMPLETE THE DRAFT OF CHAPTER 13 BY TOMORROW AT 1:45 PM.
Tune in at 2:00 to see if I am a big fat hoop-skirted liar!
All fetuses are girls. Then at some point, some cell or organ or brain-switch gets toggled, and either the baby stays a girl or it gets inundated with male sex hormones and grows itself some little male apparatuses and oh my friends, once your sweet and gentle fetus gets that testosterone bath, it’s all over. It may look like a brine shrimp, but what you have there, plotting world domination from inside your uterus, is a teeny tiny man.
On vacation, my seven year old son, Sam, chased a BEACH BUG out of the weeds. It was green and gold and SHINY. It had long bendy legs and was exceptionally pretty. Sam is, however, a seven year old manling. SO. His immediate response was to try and remove it from the earth via sand bomb. I said, NO NO, HE IS PRETTY, LEAVE HIM ALONE. GO PLAY IN THE WAVES. He scampered off, thwarted, and I watched this bug pant and hug the earth all flat and nervous.
The bug was just starting to toddle away, shaken but whole, when my 13 year old nephew came along. He followed my line of sight, saw the bug and ... sand bombed it. He had better aim than Sam and pegged it. I said NO NO, HE IS PRETTY, LEAVE HIM ALONE. GO PLAY IN THE WAVES. So he went down to join Sam and I dug the bug out. It seemed fine, but it was panting and hugging the earth all flat and nervous again.
It was just starting to toddle off AGAIN when I see another sand bomb land on top of it, a HUGE one, burying it deep enough to cause bug-smotheration, assuming it was not instantly crushed. QUIT IT! I shrieked, digging the bug out, and looked up to see my 63 year old FATHER readying another Bug Annihilator.
GODD GRIEF DO YOU PEOPLE NEVER CHANGE? I hollered, making my hands into a protective tent over the now eternally psychologically scarred buglet.
What people? Asked my father, mildly, packing sand into an efficient weapon.
MEN, YOU MEN PEOPLE, I said, keeping the bug in the tent. I JUST SAVED THAT BUG FROM SAM, THEN DANIEL, NOW YOU. DO YOU NEVER CHANGE???
Not really, said Daddy, and he kissed my head and went off to play in the waves.
Last night I went to see a LAWN MOVIE. Thats where they set up the big screen outside and you come with blankets and chairs and picnics and lie down in the dark of night like an all-you-can-poke blood buffet for mosquitoes.
The movie was To Kill a Mockingbird unless you are a seven-year-old boy. Then you think it is HOW To Kill a Mockingbird, which probably sounds like a much better movie to you. You hope the answer to the titular question is with mass quantities of highly unstable plastic explosives attached to ninja hurling stars thrown by some sort of mutant superhero. When that is NOT the answer (or even the title), you eat your body weight in lemon-pops and Oreos and go to sleep on the blanket.
But your mom watches the movie and remembers several things:
1) There is NOTHING wrong with Gregory Peck. Yum.
2) Harper Lee is an astounding genius. The movie is good, but it made me remember all the things about the book that amaze me and break my heart and make my brain wake up, and I sat there with my friend Amy whispering back and forth OH REMEMBER IN THE BOOK THIS IS WHERE SCOUT etc etc and we were both getting weepy and hysterical by turns over scenes that arent even IN the movie. Thats a BOOK, folks.
3) If you are a writer, and you are watching a movie made from POSSIBLY the book you admire the VERY MOST in all of life, SOMEONE is BOUND to come up and say to you, Wow. Bet you wish you wrote THAT book, huh? And then you will become six inches tall and squat on your blanket imagining all your friends around you are secretly shaking their heads sadly as they cluck and tut at your complete failure to be Harper Lee and write the best book in the universe, win the Pulitzer, and retire .
Who is it all about? Thats right. Me.
Could someone please pass the explosive ninja hurling stars?
1) Sam was over at Jans house (Home of Beloved Caroline) and he asked Jan for a pickle. Jan said, Whats the password, and he said, Please. So he got the pickle and then later he was sitting in the family room kinda mooning at Caroline and he accidentally said what he was thinking out loud. It just popped out.. (That happens to ME too sometimes, so I know how he feels.)
SO sitting right there in the room with her, he accidentally said, I love Caroline. And then he heard his own voice saying it and he froze. Jan was passing through the room and she said, What did you say Sam? And he got all flustered and backpedaled, saying, Thats the new password. To get a pickle you have to say I love Caroline. OKAY? OKAY? in this desperate voice. They all pretended like they thought that was a fine new password for pickles.
2) We were driving home through the pouring rain and Sam said, Mommy, I know what the weather book says about how it makes precipitation, but I do not think so. I think there are children up there who live on top. And when the clouds get full and they run on the clouds, that makes the rain comes out. And when the children are roughhousing, that is what makes the rain be Torrential Rain. And sometimes when they make Torrential Rain they have a big crank they can turn on this machine and the machine twists the cloud up and that is how you get tornados.
And I did not know what was more amazing, his vocabulary or his imagination.
3) Sam has taken to lurking. He sidles up behind me and creeps about in my wake and sits on the other side of doorways, back pressed to the wall, big-eyed and listening. I will be in my office and hear him breathing as he crawls along the baseboard. IT IS GIVING ME THE COMPLETE WIG.
Lily: I DIED. Im so glad you wrote that down. When Sam gets a Pulitzer Prize for literature, as he no doubt will, you can look back on his early experiments with figurative language.
Me: Yes, seriously, he is seven and already master of the metaphor. And the drama continues . Sam and I went to the park yesterday with Caroline et al. I was getting ready to leave, and Sam was down by the lake with her and he went up to her and he said UM CAROLINE UM UM CAN I UM UM and she said WHAT, SAM and he said UM UM NOTHING and went creeping away. We started walking to the car and he said WAIT MOM ONE SEC and ran back to her and said CAN I HUG YOU BYE? And she shrugged and said sure and he went charging at her and flung his arms around her and squeezed her nigh unto death and she was yelling GACK ACK I AM BEING STRANGLED and they both giggled like toddlers and then he ran to catch up with me where I was standing with Carolines mother and DYING of love.
Lily: How old is she?
Lily: That is so sweet it is just MURDEROUS. Does she realize at all?
Me: NO! OH NO! And I am not sure it would matter if she did. I mean obviously she isnt going to throw her arms around him and say AT LAST! I HAVE FOUND MY TRUE BELOVED! But she wouldnt use it against him. Shed just think it was cute. Shes sweet, that girl. Right down to her center.
Lily: It's that beautiful transparency of spirit that kills. Its SO innocent
Me: YES! He has NO IDEA what he is feeling, and he doesnt process it at all.
Lily: God help the first person that makes Benny (her son) or Sam cynical. I will murder them personally. You and I can go on a murdering trip and kill them with axes.
Me: Yes, I will have to take whoever she eventually is by her snotty hair and drag her to a dingo patch and tie her down, smeared with delicious mustards.
Lily: Ah yes, a dingo patch, good plan. What the hell is a dingo patch?
Me: A patch full of dingos. Natch.
ATTENTION: Mothers of First Grade Heartbreaking Snotty Power Tripping Egomaniac Beauties in Bud --- Lock up your daughters at puberty, OR make them be kind to my son, OR resign yourself to having them eaten by the wild dogs of Australia. Im afraid these are your only choices.
Caroline is about to bloom. Oh, you should see this girl. Long slim legs like a pony, fresh skin with a smattering of freckles, bright eyes. She's already a beauty, but she's still in bud. Lithe as a whippet, she smells a little like a blade of grass. That fresh green smell of something about to open and unfold with blossoms and color and all manner of mysterious perfumes. She is standing right on the very very edge of her young womanhood, teeter-teeter, and any second, she's going topple, right into it all, headfirst. But not yet. Not today.
And today, God help him, my son loves her. My son-- seven, knobby kneed, scabby, a constant blur of spastic motion, obsessed with weaponry and martial arts, believing equally in Jesus and Magic and The Infallibility of His Father---He's all boy. His manhood is this distant island on the far horizon, and yet he loves beautiful Caroline to distraction. With absolutely no self-awareness, with no angst or self-examination, with no understanding, with nothing. He just loves her. He just does.
In the car today on the way over for a playdate with Caroline's little brother, Spencer, my son asked if Caroline would be there.
Me: Yeah, I think Caroline will be home.
Sam: Oh Man! Oh Boy! Caroline! *happy silence* Mom, I know Caroline is older than me, but let me tell you something. She is really my friend.
Me: I know, sweetie.
Sam: No really. She talks to me. She's my friend. And I like her. I like her 100%. I mean, I like Spencer too, but, let's say I like him 99%. But I like Caroline 100%. She's like treasure. Like what some people would call silver or gold, that's what I call Caroline.
Me, I'm getting weepy in the front seat while my son waxes poetic about a girl. Not, I am sure, for the last time, but certainly for the first. And he's burbling over, so uncomplicated and honest in his adoration that there's hardly anything at all in it of the young man he will become. There is barely half an atom of his manhood there. But it's enough. It's enough to show me the future, to make me weep. It breaks my heart. And I think to beautiful Caroline---to all the beautiful Carolines to come---Oh sweetie, don't break his.
I like drama with my morning coffee. I specialize in building up the egos of molehills. I think it's fun, I think it's funny, and I quite frankly enjoy living my life in glorious technicolored hyperbole. It keeps me out of bars.
But today nothing bad happened at all.
It could have. Here are some facts:
1) Scott (Mr. Husband-of-me) went to Home Depot.
2) I called Ultimate Pizza to ask them to deliver dinner.
3) Last weekend, Scott's mother told Sam a long story about how Scott used to walk to the corner to meet HIS dad after work.
These things are not related, except somehow they became related in my seven year old son's head. Sam heard me calling for pizza and ASSUMED his dad went to get it, and the Nana story was germinating down in his loamy fertile brainfields, and lo, a wonderful idea sprouted.
Sam came up to me and said, "Can I go meet dad?"
I said SURE! thinking he meant "Can I go squat in the yard and watch for the car" when really he meant "Can I go haring up the road, leave our subdivision, and then attempt to run across a supremely busy intersetion where I will be squashed like a bug or, if I make it across, may I enter a large shopping complex and wander around seeking my father among strangers until I am abducted by a truckload of slavering pedophiles?"
SURE! I said cheerfully. SO off he went. He left the house and went hiking to meet his dad (who was way across town at Home Depot) at Ultimate Pizza...and I was blithely getting my house ready to show on Sunday and not worrying at all because Sam is seven and he plays in the yard all the time. I was thinking I would maybe peek out the window and make sure all his limbs were still attached every ten minutes or so...no biggy, life as usual, la la la.
A few minutes pass. The phone rings. It is an acquaintance from church, Misty, forever more to be known Beautiful Lovely Gracious Adored and Observant Brilliant Beloved Misty, or BLGAaOBB Misty for short, or perhaps just The Hand of God. BLGAaOBB Misty lives WAY on the other side of my neighborhood, and she was turning into our subdivision when Sam came trotting out the front of it, making a beeline for his date with Death-by-Squashing.
Misty has a boy Sam's age, and this THANKFULLY struck her as an ODD and INSANE thing for a 7 year old to be doing. She stopped and, in her role as Hand of God, put his butt in her van and called me and said, hesitantly, in a carefully nuetral and non-judgemental tone in case I was actually a BIG HEAD CASE, "Um Joshilyn did you tell Sam he could walk up to The Ultimate Pizza and meet his dad?"
At which point my head popped right off my neck and I shrieked WHAT?!?!??! WHAT?!?!?! and I ran to the yard to see it was absolutely EMPTY of any sort of perfect and beloved boychild, and my heart gibbered in fear and horror even though by the time I knew anything about it he was already sitting, whole and unharmed, in the highly safety rated Nissan Quest of The Hand of God.
Honestly, atheists make me crazy.
Maisy is 2.
Maisy lies on her back, flips her feet up and stuffs one foot into each eye.
Me: What are you doing?
Maisy: I put toe-y in my eye.
Me: Why are you putting your toes in your eyes?
Maisy: I can see I toe!
Can't argue with that, really.
Beautiful Maisy is barely two, and she is very beautiful, and she is puking. All over EVERYTHING. Every 30 minutes. All night long, ALL NIGHT, I tried to hold a bowl for her, and she screamed NO!NO!NO! And pushed it away with her feet. I am considering going out and lying in the street until a truck comes and runs mercifully over my head.
Scott is out of town for another week. My house is on the market and must be kept immaculate if I actually expect someone to buy it. It currently smells like a puke-abbatoir, like the legendary puke graveyard where all ancient pukes instinctively go to die.
She has puked THROUGH layers and layers of old towels to get puke into 4 sets of sheets and two matresses and I am on the last set of king size sheets. This last time I FINALLY convinced her the bowl was her friend, the bowl was there to help...I think with enough spin put on it, I can MAYBE work the whole "this time she puked in a bowl" thing up to be a reason not to kill myself.
I feel sorry for her and BUT -- I also have this DREADFUL RAGE AT FATE because after WELL OVER 3 WEEKS of NOTHING WORKING and STUCK BOGGED HORROR in the new novel, I finally have chaps 6 and 7 shining in my head like water bubbles, fragile and gleaming with ephemeral perfection and I had childcare set up for the next several days to write them and I got 17 pages done yesterday, 17 EXCUSE ME VERY GOOD PAGES, a MONSTROUSLY good day and a wonderful omen of the kind of week it would be--BUT! OH LORDY BUT! It will fade if I don't GET IT OUT NOW and I can not WRITE. All can do is pat a sad baby and hope to catch her vomit in a bowl because all my sheets are in the drier still, and I am all alone, with no Scott, and Scott is my good right hand and my heart and my SPINE.
Welcome to the long dark puke-filled tea time of the soul.
PS. yes I realize I am a DREADFUL HATEFUL EGOMANIAC who has a GORGEOUS WONDERFUL BRIGHT LOVELY PERFECT ADORABLE ADORED BABY, and this baby has SAD SAD blue eyes and is MISERABLE, puking every half hour and then saying "I'M OKAY! I'M OKAY!" right after each puke in this PITIFUL BRAVE REASSURING LITTLE voice, and WHO DO I FEEL SORRY FOR?
Me. Because I can't WRITE.
Freaking stupid worthless artists! EGOMANIACAL, we all are. We ought to be drowned, every one of us, we should be taken out and drowned like too many kittens.