Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Not everyone's a winner

We just got back from a few days away in Pennsylvania, the highlight of which turned out for our kids to be Dutch Wonderland. It's a child-oriented amusement park and our littles are at the sweet spot in age where all three liked most rides. {And that, dear friends, is amazing.}

G has a passion for toy snakes of any kind, and the bigger the better, and you should have seen him lose his sweet mind with excitement when he saw the snake prizes available at the carnival games. The park wasn't very crowded and I thought he might be able to win a little snake for himself at the whack-a-mole game, but the game operator wouldn't let G play as a solo player. I agreed to play, too, figuring that G would get the win either way, and this much snake happiness was worth $4 as much as it was worth $2.  

But then -- two little boys about E's age came to play. The stakes were raised, literally, because now three little boys had laid their happiness on the line, but also because with four players, the prize was upgraded from small to large.

I felt somewhat sad, looking over at those boys, but did I have a choice? No, dear friends, you know I did not. I whacked those moles with no compassion for their rainbow heads nor for those stranger boys spending their allowances to my left.

I don't love to ruin lives, but my boy had his eye on a snake. A mama has to make tough decisions sometimes.

And our boy? He's in love with a four-foot guy now named Mr. Purple-Green Snake. They've been inseparable since yesterday. 

You can't mess with true love.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels

My summer interns have arrived at work, a crew of really bright college students from Texas and Pennsylvania and California and New York. I was explaining how best to reach me yesterday to the newest of the lot. She's going to be working mostly in our DC building and I spend most of my time in one of our Maryland buildings so I was showing her how to access my Google calendar and mentioned that I'm hard to reach by phone because of my heavy meeting schedule but that I always have my Blackberry with me and suggested that she should email me as questions arise.

"Oh, yeah," she said. "My mom is just like that, too. I can only catch her by email. I understand." Now, record scratch: did that girl just compare me to her mom? Okay, wait: I'm technically old enough to be her mom. Hmm.

[She's an excellent writer, even if she thinks I'm ancient. Repeat: she's an excellent writer, even if...]


School lets out this week for my kindergartner and my second grader, soon never to be called by those descriptions again. The treasures have been trickling home all week, decorations from their lockers and their math workbooks and art portfolios, first day photos and writing samples cleverly mounted by teachers next to photos and writing assignments from this week. Those girls, they've grown.

A painting L made sometime in her kindergarten experience after studying Joan Miro. Stuffed in a grocery bag of art treasures. 

I look at these things and those faces and I think how old they look, how grown, how much they've learned and tried and risked and stumbled and accomplished to get where they are. And 'old,' framed that way, sits quite nicely.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

The language of the boy

He wanted to give the flowers to his sister after her dance recital

The boy's language is a more mysterious one than the girls'. He uses fewer words and more body gestures. His enunciation is still in development. His body language, though, is unamibiguous, and where words fail him or he can't be bothered, he has his body-slamming hugs and his body-slamming tantrums. He is a boyishy, boyishy boy.

I have been encouraging his expressive language, and where the girls have no hesitation at spilling their hearts' daily catalogs of experience, he is just realizing the application of words to these outbursts. He says now, Mommy, can I tell something? And wanting to set a lifetime's expectation, I answer always, "you can tell me anything." And he now says:

I have a feeling.

He doesn't mean it the way you or I would say it, that you have a sense that {dot dot dot}. He means he has one. He's found inside himself a feeling, and he'd like to discuss it. Or if it's come and gone, he says, I got a feeling. He's adopted the girls' language, too, for asking for private conversation, and he asks for a meeting in my office. We curl up in my bed and in the safety of a snuggle, a warm cocoon that necessitates no eye contact, he tells me about his feeling. And having expunged the feeling through the power of words, he usually concludes the meeting by jumping on the bed.

He has a poem, lately. I don't know where he learned the word 'poem' or the concept but he uses it with conviction. He says, it's time for me to do my poem.

And then it has no words, but it's melodic, mediatitive, inarguably poetic. He stands solemnly, holds his palms up and facing each other, and slowly moves one arm up and the other down, reverse, down and up. He's conducting energy, air currents, ions and butterfly effects and magnetism tweaking our orbit around his attention. And when he's done he brings his palms back to center and smiles slowly. You hear the unspoken namaste in his serenity and command for your gaze. And he smiles and asks each time, did you like my poem?

And I did, every time, and I tell him so, even when I don't understand everything he's said. Because I love the way he says it.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Year's end

This afternoon was L's tap dance recital.

Goodness, those teeny earnest tippety tappity feet were cute.

My car is going to cross the 100,000 mile mark on Friday, I think.

We have picnic plans for later this week. We had six kids in our sprinkler yesterday afternoon. There are eight more days to this school year. It's time for summer and I think this family is ready.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Summertime, and the light is bright and the kids never sleep and that's why their eyes are so big, they're dreaming awake

We said "let's get ready for bed" and G stomped his feet at us and gestured toward the window. But it's still MORNING! 

He was disgusted with our rigidity in the face of daylight yet to be spent.

We've moved furniture around the first floor of the house. The bookshelves from the family room moved to the living room, which now feels cozy and library-ish. The couch in the family room turned sideways; a cabinet scootched into a corner; the console table from the living room once laden with big art books now backs the family room couch and holds the board games. The house feels a little bit new.

My dad painted the fireplace. I'm sure he thought I was crazy at the idea but that's fine because it's surely neither the first nor last time I've made him think I'm crazy and the fireplace looks a gazbillion times better.  

We went to a bat mitzvah this weekend and the farmer's market and a bar mitzvah. We had hot dogs and we had pizza and we went out for ice cream and we saw old friends and turned on the sprinklers, not for the watering of grass but for the care and giggles of little humans. I put away six loads of laundry and I read two books. My friend Allison just started a book club and this is only our third book, but all three so far have been ones I'd never select and that I devoured, so by measurement this is a good book club. Plus, one of the other women brings bean dip. Said bean-dip woman described herself as a binge reader, and I saw myself in that phrase. I started and finished two novels this weekend because I can't let a good story sit somewhere. So now I've binge-read the book-club book and we don't meet for another two weeks. But consolation is coming in the mail: one of my favorite authors has a memoir coming out tomorrow and trusty Amazon says my copy is en route.

I like to read in the angled chair in the library-ish living room now, when the kids are awake, because they're playing in the reclaimed space in the family room. But I love the couch in the family room once they finally go to sleep; the room has become again a cozy den. We added a desk behind the couch; ostensibly for a homework spot or coloring nook aside from the kitchen table. Really it's there because the lovely husband likes to be on his laptop while watching television at night and he wanted a proper work surface. It's next to walls that were covered by bookshelves, a little naked spot in the circus of our lives, serene and quiet.

You can read there, or write, or dream, just so long as you do so efficiently. Solstice is coming and the sun rises early and with it, those children. Summer is coming and small changes feel big and long weekends are wonderful and from this corner of the couch, this old vantage point re-envisioned, the potential ahead in new books and new plans and new friends and sunny days, everything's looking good.

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