What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

To Believe or to Not Believe...

The Tooth Fairy really screws Santa over.

Let’s face it; the moment your kid starts to question a tiny fairy collecting teeth in the middle of the night in exchange for currency is the same moment St. Nicholas himself comes into closer examination. And I’m sorry-but the tooth fairy should feel really bad about that. Think of the longevity Santa could have if we didn’t have to pretend the tooth fairy was a thing. 

This dwindling childhood magic hit me hard recently when Daughter lost another  cavity-ridden tooth. As far as I was concerned, enough money had already been sunk into said tooth and she certainly was not deserving of payment for it. But yet she still excitedly detailed the moment-to-moment extraction and then tentatively began to cross examine me with regards to it’s reward. Her eyes grilled me silently from the passenger side of the car and I began to sweat a little as she questioned the authenticity of the tooth’s banker. 

I slowed to a stop and she pulled my face to hers and looked me square in the eye and said: 

Mama? Some people at school say Santa isn’t real. I say he is but some people say no. He’s real, right? Tell me the truth. Tell me the truth, Mom.

What followed was not some sort of beautiful explanation about the spirit of the season and the essence of Santa living on inside of us and how giving is always better than receiving….nope. Not at all. 

What followed was more of a stuttering, half-assed, caught off guard response of yeah…I mean…totally…like…what do you believe? Who cares about those other (jerky, keep your mouth shut) kids? You do you, Daughter.

And then thank god the light turned green and I diverted her attention by turning on Party In The USA and we sang it loud and proud with the windows down, just as Miley intended. 

I know Son slipped silently from Believer to Non-Believer. He never asked me about it and I didn’t want to confront it with the hopes of another year of magic on the line. But Daughter questioning this so boldly and me so ungraciously failing at an answer…well…needless to say…I blame the tooth fairy. 

Regardless of who believes what, I know The Children will discover that there is always magic crackling in the air this time of year. Towering Christmas trees, sparkling light displays, laughter with friends, a chill in the air and generous hearts are what rule December. And they will learn the lesson we all eventually do: extraordinary magic lies within the ordinary. 

That is the truth, Daughter. Kris Kringle told me so. 




Monday, December 3, 2018

And Then He Was 12...

Dear Son,

I always hated the piñata part of the party. Alongside the squeals of delight from the terror toddlers was my reoccurring fear that you wouldn’t get a chance to take a whack if I didn’t push you a little into the line. And I knew you wanted to so badly. I mean every kid wants their chance to at least have a shot. There you would stand, twisting your hands nervously, eyes big, patiently waiting. And then some asshole kid would shove his way in front of you. And some absent parent wouldn’t even notice. And then another kid would do the same. And then another. And I would forcibly hold myself back, willing you a silent message….don’t let them do that, Son. Please. Stand up for yourself. Your eyes would fill just a little as you let them have their chance and I would walk over and gently nudge you forward while resisting the urge to trip those kids but it was almost always too late as the sudden explosion of candy would fall from the sky. I would try to distract you from this great disappointment of not getting your chance by encouraging you to get some candy GET SOME CANDY and you would run and always be just a half a second late and I would then find myself snatching pieces away from greedy little hands just so you could savor a few pieces to help heal your broken toddler heart. 

But it wasn’t the candy you wanted. 
It was the chance. 

What’s going to become of this sensitive soul, I would wonder to myself. I ached to protect you from life’s piñata disappointments, but I also knew I couldn’t shelter you from them. I wanted you to be more assertive but I also appreciated that you were that kid who didn’t cut the line just because he could. I wanted you to be independent of me, but you had such a hard time saying goodbye…sweaty, small, desperate hands clinging to my neck, declaring my betrayal. I loved your sensitivity because it made you more thoughtful about many things, but it also led to intense fears of wind and water and darkness because it was as if you already knew inherently that wind could knock a house over and water could swallow you up and in darkness you couldn’t see light so…instead of running into the waves, we would tiptoe. 

What’s going to become of this sensitive soul?

At 12 years of age now, I see that boy slipping away and the teenager slipping in. I see that you still want a hug, but you don’t always take one. I see that you don’t care about what I say, but you still want my approval. I see that you like to be left alone, but you always ask me when I’ll be back. I see that it’s easy for you to say goodbye to me but you love seeing me again. I see that you don’t need me, but you still want me. I see that I am clinging to you with sweaty, desperate hands begging the boy in you to always stay forever with me. And I see that I must let you go and discover who you are going to become. Because behind that ever-developing teenage dismissiveness, I still see you, Son. 

What’s going to become of this sensitive soul?

He’s grown from baby to toddler to big kid to adolescent. And now, God willing, he’ll grow from adolescent to teenager to twenty-something to man. He loves baseball and music. Football and books. Hanging out with his friends and staying home on the weekends. He could tear apart a piñata with one swing, but he’ll still wait his turn. And if someone cuts in front of him, I know he doesn’t need his Mama to help him out. 

But I’ll still fuck someone up if they mess with you, Son. Don’t get it twisted.

Because I still see you, Son, and I know you see me.

I love you more than I did the day you were born. Each day I love you more. Even when you’re being a dick because then I just ignore you until you ask me to scratch your back, which is your absolute genius way of apologizing to me. I’m just a sucker in a grown up suit.

See? 

You see me.

Happy 12th Birthday, baby mine. 

Love,
Mama


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Common H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks

Common Core Math Brought to You by Satan: 

Question:
10 times as many as _______ hundreds is 60 hundreds or ______ thousands.

Wait. What? Let me read that again. 

10 times 6 is 60. So….that’s 60 tens which is….I mean 60 tens is 600….60 tens is 600 but what in the fuck is 10 times as many as….like what? I mean 60 hundreds is 6 thousand…so 10 times as many as 6 hundreds is 60 hundreds which is 6,000? Is that right? Hold on. The actual m’f’ing question is what’s 10x600, right? Which is 6000. Correct? Oh my God. Just go get my phone. 

The first step to figuring out the answer in Common Core Alleged Math is figuring out what in the actual hell the question is. 

The second step is to read the problem 27 more times to make sure that you are right in your assumption of what Alleged Math is asking. 

The third step is to begin to calmly explain to Offspring what in the actual hell they are actually asking. 

The fourth step is everyone cries and yells and slams doors which inevitably leads to the forced alcoholism that likes to kick in right about the time a math book is throw to the floor and a Daughter loses her shit and a Mother is rocking in the corner saying things like…carry the one….add the zero….this isn’t math…this is the devil’s work…THIS ISN’T MATH!

Okay…I’m being dramatic. There’s no rocking in corners, but there is wine. And there is cursing. But don’t worry; my kids know all the bad words already so it’s fine. And obviously there is door slamming. I mean…this is Daughter we’re talking about. 

I think we can all agree that the only ‘common’ thing about Common Core Math is  EVERYONE HATES IT AND WE ALL WANT IT TO BURN IN HELL WITH SQUISHES AND SLIME. But burn slowly so we Parents of the World can really take the time to cackle and high five one another while tears of joy spring from our eyes knowing that we can now explain how 10x600=6000 BECAUSE THAT’S THE ANSWER. It will always be the answer. You add the zero! I mean…come on! YOU ADD THE ZERO.  I mean…is making an array with 6,000 dots really a better way to explain that? I DON’T THINK SO. Also, that takes a very long time. Also if you don’t know what an array is, you should go Praise Jesus right now. Go ahead. We’ll wait. 

This is by no means a knock against the Teachers of the World who by the grace of God are somehow surviving this Math Apocalypse as we know it. I know they can’t crack because they have to teach it and pretend it’s super and makes total sense even though Children go home crying every night while their Parental Units drown their sorrows in Cabernet screaming JUST LET ME READ IT ONE MORE TIME before resigning to the most miraculous of apps on their phone named THE CALCULATOR to determine that yes of course 7x4 is still 28 even though Esmerelda and Joaquin are trying their darnedest to confuse the snot out you with this many puppies and that many lollipops and then Joaquin sells a puppy for an alligator then four lollipops are gone because the alligator ate them now Esmerelda is crying so if she has 7 tears 4 times how many tears does Esmerelda have? 

28.

She has 28 tears.

Because that’s the answer. 

This is also not a knock against those strange people who somehow understand Alleged Math because one of those people actually lives in my house. He is 11. He is in 6th grade. And for fun, he will sporadically ask me for help with his math homework simply to watch me sweat and nervously laugh and sputter a …yeah…sure…let me see it…before he’s all…oh my God, Mom. I’m just kidding. 

That’s enough about him. 

I know what the teachers say: Alleged Math is trying to teach the Children why the answer is the answer and to feel comfortable with large numeric problems naturally. But we’ve all come this far without needing to know why. We just accepted it was. I mean…honestly. This just feels like another page in the Everyone Gets A Trophy handbook.  So now Everyone Gets to Understand Math? Bullshit. I don’t want a trophy unless I win and I do NOT need to understand Alleged Math when I have an $800 phone that can tell me everything I need to know. Take your place value charts and your number lines and your arrays and your purposely tricky, verbose “math” word problems with four syllable proper names and be gone. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a YouTube video to watch so I can adequately prepare for 4th grade math homework.


God help us all. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

New Digs

It struck me the other day that the house I just moved out of was the longest I had ever lived in one residence. This might be evident to The Children who find it amusing that I still call 28th Street “my” house. But to be fair, I still call my childhood home “my” house, so maybe it’s just that I have a harder time letting go than most. (Or have control issues.)

But the truth is…I know a part of me will always live on 28th Street, just as I know each place I’ve lived will always remain inside me; each home living and breathing as if I am still existing in it’s walls. 

I relish in the yearly long, slow drive down the old Iowa street and I’ll be damned if I can’t see my 8 year old self rollerskating up and down the cracked sidewalks. If I can’t envision the night games that dominated summer months. If I can’t smell the pile of crunchy, freshly fallen leaves, raked up only so we could jump into them. If I can’t feel a chill in the air at the thought of those dark, early, winter evenings.

I visit my family in Texas and I remember the early days of living in a new place, so far away from everything we knew at just 14 years old. I see my mom painting those wretched blue walls white; I see myself mowing that huge lawn then jumping into the pool fully clothed in the 100 degree heat. I see us figuring out how to live, to breath in our new home. 

Each chance I get to pound the pavement in my beloved New York City, I walk down that long stretch of 79th, from Broadway to Columbus and remember the jolt my 18 year old self felt each time I realized I lived there. I remember coming home as the sun came up, a smile on my lips, sleep on my eyelids, knowing that I was exactly where I wanted to be doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. The thrill of young adulthood is an impossible high to catch once it’s gone. 

And then there is California. It was meant to be a temporary stop, that thrill of young adulthood taking a detour to the sunshine. But 17 years and a whole lot of life later….I guess this is where I live now. 

And now I got me some New Digs once again.

And having come so recently from such a long stretch in one place…I have to admit it’s been a little challenging to figure out how to just…live in these New Digs. Every routine, each neighbor, every car, each room…it’s all changed. The sounds are different, the traffic is different, the dogs are different. As I sit here and type these words, the melody of the high school marching band practicing just down the street is wafting through the air, reverberating throughout the neighborhood as a gentle reminder that summer is almost at an end. The sun is setting and the rehearsal is coming to a close and I wonder how it will be to live here on Friday night football games and each afternoon as the bell rings and teenagers take over the streets, mindlessly messing around on their precious mobiles. I wonder how life will look once the haze of summer has lifted and it settles into the routine that a school year brings.

It is for this thirst of routine that I am looking forward to the close of summer. I don’t want it to rush by; I like our lazy mornings and my kids are having great adventures alongside lazy afternoons, but I feel as though I’ve been lost amongst the drifting. I feel as though I haven’t had the chance to connect with these New Digs; to sit alone and figure out how it breathes, how it lives. We are still strangers figuring one another out. And these chaotic, boring, fun, lazy, monotonous months of summer have prolonged me from not feeling like a guest in my own home. 

Home is where the heart is, they say. These people who say stuff seem to be right a lot of the time. Because nothing makes me feel more at home than Two Children fighting over my personal space on the sofa while we all yell at one another about what we want to watch. So perhaps it still feels foreign; perhaps I am still pondering what goes where and how it fits and who does what and how do I just….be still in these New Digs….but I know that one day down the road, I will pass by these New Digs and close my eyes and feel all the life that was lived inside it. 


But for now…I just gotta get living in it. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Little House on 28th

I have named it The Long Goodbye. 

There were times when I tricked myself into believing it would never come and there were other times when I begged for it to arrive. A year ago…six months ago… this goodbye was the gentle ticking of a watch not meant to be found-only heard sporadically for a subtle reminder that time was moving forward and I would have to as well. And then it would be quiet; the ticking buried somewhere unknown. But now it is the Big Ben of a tock; it reverberates between my ears; it wakes me at night and pulses throughout the day. It is here now, this goodbye.

It is time to close the door to this house for the last time and leave it for someone else to open. I love this house. I loved that house. 

It’s a strange experience to take your house down, frame by frame, dish by dish, day to day. I tried to pack everything I could not physically see first, therefore prolonging the sight of empty walls and bare shelves. But turns out you can’t just stop packing when you actually have to move, unless it’s that random closet in the garage because I don’t know what the fuck is in there and I’m going to just go ahead and leave it alone and consider that my housewarming gift to the new owner. I’m pretty sure everyone can use like…5 half-empty cans of random paint colors, some outdated lightbulbs and a rusted utility knife. I mean…you’re welcome. But the time has come now when I’ve run out of closed doors to pack so the smiles on the walls must begin to come down. Each morning as I make my way to The Blessed Coffee, this bareness startles me; the blank canvas not an inspiration but a reminder. A reminder that it is coming fast now, this goodbye. It is unstoppable now, this goodbye. 

I’m not prepared, but I’m ready. 

I’m ready to say goodbye. 

I’m ready to say goodbye to this house where the doors were always open and the food was always shared. I’m ready to say goodbye to the familiar sound of the neighbors playing ball outside, to kids wandering in and out searching for their buddies. I’m ready to say goodbye to the competitive summer parking, the-oh shit I forgot to move my car-street cleaning, the Japanese cherry tree in the front yard, it’s growth astounding me. I’m ready to say goodbye to waving to my neighbors through our kitchen windows, ready to say goodbye to the smell of their barbecue challenging the smell of my chocolate chip cookies. I’m ready to say goodbye to the little spot on the wall dedicated to the Children’s Growth. I think of how it will be painted over. I think of the person who’s job it will be to erase that part of this house. Will they stop and look at it? Will they stop and read the dates? Will they run their fingers over it and think of who these Children were who’s growth was marked upon that wall? Or will they not even notice? Have they seen too many such things to stop and take a look? Or perhaps, sensing how special it must have been…perhaps they avert their eyes, almost as if they have stumbled across a journal entry, a private moment that wasn’t meant for them to see and take special care to gracefully run their paintbrush over the pencil marks of 11 years. 

My chapter has ended in this house and someone else’s will begin. I hope their doors are always open and their food is always shared. I hope they make their own pencil marks and roll in the neighbors trash cans every Monday afternoon. But most of all, I just hope we won’t be forgotten. Because we won’t forget any one of you, 28th Street. 

It’s not long anymore…it’s just goodbye.

We’ll see you around.






Saturday, May 12, 2018

One more minute.....

Each evening as I say goodnight to Son, I climb up to the top bunk like always and lay with him for a few minutes. It is a ritual that cannot be missed, no matter how late or early it happens to be. I cannot simply wish him a peaceful night’s sleep from the ground-no that will not do. For if I try to skip this step, it is met with his Super Power Stubbornness and I find myself in some sort of ridiculous argument and end up just climbing up the bunk and planting my goodnight kiss resentfully upon his forehead and this is not how I like to end the day. So I’ve learned to….just….climb the ladder.

No matter how long or how short the time, it is never enough. He begs me for one more minute without fail. Some nights I oblige happily and other nights I just really want some space and some sofa and some housewives. But last night as he begged for his last minute, I was feeling indulgent so I put my head on his back, my ear turned onto his shoulder blades, my arm loosely hung around him and we laid like that for a few minutes, just being and breathing, my head raising with each breath he took. I could feel his heartbeat; the same heart that used to beat inside my body. I closed my eyes and all I could see was eleven years of bedtimes past flash before me in an instant.  I see Him all swaddled up, his newborn grunts and little fists finding comfort in the protective womb of those blankets. I see Him at 2 am, his legs pumping through his sleep sack, ready to greet his Mama. I see Him being rocked to sleep by a tired me with sore nipples and lazy eyelids. I hear Him talking himself to sleep in that sweet toddler voice. I see Him in his room asking for one more book; one more verse of Baby Mine. Him refusing to go to bed unless he has five grapes. Him refusing to go to bed unless the house was afire with light. Him battling his night terrors, trembling from head to toe, me scared not knowing it was just a dream he wouldn’t even remember in the morning. I see Him with piles of books we both knew by heart, each word ingrained. I see Him not ask me to read him books anymore. I see I am somewhat relieved, this freedom seemingly a victory yet a punch to the heart at the same time. Then He doesn’t ask me to sing again and I hate myself for every rushed verse, for each time I just wanted to close the door and be done. I hate myself for not knowing it would be the last time. We never know when it will be the last time. 

But there I lay with Son last night, his heart beating against my ear. There I lay soaking in every second of this precious moment I know one day will also no longer be asked of me. I forgive myself of all the bedtimes I rushed, of all the bedtimes I cursed, of all the bedtimes I’ve missed….because I am here. I am still allowed in this bed. I am still allowed to give back scratches and make jokes and ask about his day. I am still allowed to be his Mama for at bedtime I am always Mama and never Mom. Soon everything will change again; it slips by unnoticed, these little habits fading bit by bit until you realize they are gone…and it is only then how your heart aches for that last verse of Baby Mine. I take in this moment and I am grateful to realize how special it is, no matter how ordinary it may seem to Him. 

To Him, my Son and to Her, my Daughter: thank you for all the bedtimes, no matter how ugly or beautiful they have been. I cherish you both.  

Now go the f*%k to sleep.



Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dirt and Dandelions

28.

The number of years I lived before March 25th, 2009 changed my life forever.

28.

The number of years I lived before I became a mother, second time around. 

28

The number of years I lived without the gift of you, Beautiful Daughter. 

To think I lived a full 28 years never knowing anyone who could make me laugh quite like you. A full 28 years never knowing someone so full of silliness and confidence and beauty and strangeness all wrapped up in one delightful package.  28 years wandering around just living my life, not knowing that one day you would barge in and make me wonder if I have lived only that so you could as well. I don’t say that to dismiss the pure, true love I have for Son…it is just that he was not complete without you. I was not complete without you. And one day you and Son will recognize all the ways in which you complete one another, but for now, please go ahead and continue to fight incessantly and beat the crap out of each other because you know how that thrills me. 

I recognize so much of myself in you, Daughter. We both have an active imagination which I think lends itself to our shared collection of vivid, colorful dreams. I watch you through the window as you wander the neighborhood in search of a friend, or simply on an adventure all your own and I can’t help but see my girlhood self, sitting in the middle of my backyard lilac bush, lost in my own daydream. We are both content to be alone, happily engaged in any number of activities that need no companion to be enjoyed, but also need the jolt of life that only companionship with others can bring. We share an affinity for eye-rolling, inappropriate jokes and quiche. And although I am not saying that I encourage this, I, too, love a good door slam and nobody does it quite like you, Daughter. It’s a grand gesture of passionate displeasure and while you can certainly overuse it at times, I can’t help but like the spirit behind it. 

But you are so much more than anything I could be lucky enough to posses. You have a raging confidence that cannot be denied and a thirsty curiosity, always begging to be quenched with rapid fire questions. You have an effortless ability to make friends and to all those who are lucky enough to cross your path, an impression is made. You are, hands down, the funniest person I know. Why, even Brother himself can’t help but enjoy a good belly laugh at your antics. And while it doesn’t say much for me, you often wiggle yourself out of some sort of mischief simply by making me giggle and I like that about you. You are the extra in extraordinary. You are glitter and grit; dirt and dandelions. You are never anyone except exactly who you are and it is my greatest hope that that is who you will always be. To be so young and to already own such a sense of self….well…let’s just say that most of us take much, much longer to evolve to right where you are already living. 

Perhaps that cashier at Old Navy that one day not too long ago said it best about you; she said-“I’ve only just met her two minutes ago and she just gave me life.”

Happy 9th Birthday, Beautiful Daughter. We gave you life so you could keep giving us the same.

Love,

Mama