By: Shannon Ralph
So, I’ve been
obsessing thinking a lot lately about my eldest son’s all-too-near-future foray into middle school. I’m worried about him. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Lucas, let me take a moment to describe my dear son.
Lucas is, well…he’s very much a product of his environment. Take one high-strung, work-her-ass-off, the-sky-is-always-falling lesbian, add a terminally laid-back, slacker, isn’t-that-falling-sky-a-gorgeous-shade-of-blue lesbian, throw in a couple of dysfunctional extended family members with addictive personalities, add a chubby blonde baby to the mix, and you get…Lucas!
Lucas is awesome. Really, he is an amazing kid and I adore him. But he is an enigma, of sorts. He is a math whiz, but struggles with reading and writing. He can remember the (every language BUT English) words to his entire choir repertoire, but can’t seem to remember to flush the toilet. Or change his underwear. Or bring home his homework. He gets nervous. Often. But not over the things you and I might get nervous about.
He is a sociable kid. He can stand up in front of a crowd of hundreds and sing beautifully without so much as hint of nervousness. But he freaks out if the bathroom sink drips. He struggles with anxiety. He doesn’t handle the unknown very well. He has to know what he should be doing at all times. He has to know how things will turn out. He has to know how every story ends. He has attention issues at times. He’s never been diagnosed with attention problems, but he tends to escape to his own thoughts a lot. He’s a thinker. He’s what used to be called a daydreamer. He’s not worldly like other boys his age. He’s a true innocent. Obnoxious, but innocent.
Come September, he will be thrown into a completely different world and I am worried. He has a good group of friends, so I am not so much worried about him being lonely. Or bullied. Or called names. That may happen, of course, but he has a core group of four good boys that he hangs out with. He’s not a loner.
No, I don’t harbor the “normal” parent middle school worries. My worries are irrational. Ridiculous, even.
• I worry that he will be unable to remember his locker combination and will start crying in the hallway—a turn of events that would mortify him.
• I worry that he won’t remember how to get from one classroom to the next without a kindergarten-style walk-with-your-finger-on-the-wall line of classmates.
• I am afraid that the clothes I pick out for him (because he does not care in the least about clothes and will put on whatever I hand him) will be a little too lesbian chic for 5th grade.
• I am afraid he will start speaking in lingo I don’t know and that I won’t be able to find an appropriate translator.
• I am afraid he will begin cursing and, being a less than stellar parent, I will laugh rather than react appropriately, thereby reinforcing a sailor’s mouth in my innocent little boy. And we all know that “shit” and “damn” are gateway words. Before long, my baby boy will be casually spouting the BIG ONES, and it’ll all be my fault because I reacted poorly in middle school.
• I am afraid he will not fit into any of the typical middle school cliques. He’s not truly a “geek/nerd” because he is a pretty dang social kid. He’s not really a “brainiac” because, while he is amazing at math, he can’t write a coherent sentence to save his life. He is in no way whatsoever a “jock.” He has neither the interest nor the ability to be athletic. He’s not really “preppy,” as he does not own a single piece of clothing manufactured by Hollister or Abercrombie (we are Target and Old Navy people up in here). He’s never been your typical rough-and-tumble boy. He’s just a regular kid. A good kid. I am hoping there is a group for that.
• His friends will find out that 1.) He cannot tie his shoes (seriously…he wears slip-on shoes all the time and has refused to learn to tie his shoes—though his six-year-old sister can tie hers), 2.) He still cannot ride a bike (and has no desire to learn, in part due to his anxiety), and 3.) He still sleeps with the stuffed “doggie” he’s had since birth.
• I worry that his homework is going to be beyond me. Fourth grade math is already pretty damn advanced for my tastes.
• I worry that he will stop climbing in bed with his mommas on the weekends. I love that time with him.
• I worry that girls will like him. He’s a handsome boy with gorgeous blue eyes and big dimples. He’s smart. Sociable. Kind. Gentle. He’s everything an eleven-year-old girl wants in a steady “boyfriend,” right? I am SO not ready for unworthy little hair-flipping, giggling, make-up-wearing wenches hanging on my son. See…there you go. I am not going to be good at this.
• I’m afraid he’ll get lost in the shuffle. An average kid amongst average kids. How will anyone know what an extraordinary child he is?
In the end, isn’t that what we all worry about as parents? Will the world be able to recognize the amazing potential that exists behind those radiant blue eyes? Will the world understand what a beautifully crafted, brilliantly original child we created? Will the world treat him as such?
I hope and pray.
by Tanya Ward Goodman
My Grandmother’s death has brought the family together, but my daughter’s loose tooth has given us something cheerful to do. We are united by Sadie’s tooth. When she wiggles that darned thing, we stop thinking for a moment about how hard it will be to sell the house and what a waste it would be to send that antique cameo necklace into a hole in the ground. No matter how we feel about the President, gun control or healthcare, the loose tooth brings us all together. We plot and plan for extraction when wills and accounts and phone conversations with lawyers are the dark alternative.
Sweet Sadie with her big smile and her curly hair is an eight year old in a house full of sad adults. She feeds her virtual Ipod horse and talks to the very real cat. She curls up on the wingback sofa and flips through scrapbooks hoping to find photos of someone she knows. My uncle says we should reach up behind the tooth – get a nail under the raw edge. “Move it sideways,” he says. My brother makes a lasso of dental floss and spends the better part of an hour trying to slip it around the tiny tooth. Sadie chews gum and eats the hardened caramels we find in the kitchen cupboard. She wonders if she started running fast and fell down the big hill, the tooth would get knocked out on its own. When she is tired of grown up conversation, she cries and shouts that it’s not fair to have a loose tooth. It’s painful and keeps her from eating all the things she doesn’t like, though a child at a funeral can get by on only Jell-o salad and soft white rolls. She wiggles the tooth and lets others wiggle it. Fingers yellow with nicotine have touched the pearl of this little tooth. The funeral leaves us soggy with tears and chilled to the bone in the Dakota wind, but the tooth doesn’t come out.
The tooth is wiggly on the plane and in the taxi and keeps my girl awake all through our first night at home. She rages and gnashes and I think perhaps the tight set of her jaw will push the thing right out.
At dinner on our second night home, she asks for pliers. We have guests, but they seem not to mind, so I give her a Leatherman. We watch as she grabs and slips, grabs and slips. Someone suggests a paper towel. Once again this tooth is a project. We’re in it together and Sadie is happy to be right in the middle. There is wiggling and working. There is a ten-minute bout of frustration. Tears are shed. And just when we are all feeling like it should be over, just when we’ve begun to turn back to grown up talk, she pulls it out. Her smile is broad and bloody. The tooth is white and shiny in the black metal pincers.
And then, like that, we’re back on the girl.
By Brandy Black
By: Shannon Ralph
Shannon climbed under the covers next to her eldest son and smiled at him. “I think we need to talk.”
Lucas was ten years old and had long ago adopted the habit of slipping upstairs with his mama after his younger siblings were sound asleep in their own beds.
It was their time. It was time Shannon looked forward to every night. Often, Lucas did nothing more than lie on her shoulder and watch her play Sudoku on the iPad, occasionally offering advice on where she could place her next 4. Other times, they snuggled and talked about their day.
Lucas’ other mom, Ruanita, worked evenings. She got the kids when they were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning. Shannon got them after a long day of school and work when all four of them—mama included—were exhausted and crabby and whiny and hungry. She got her three children when homework needed to be completed and bodies needed to scrubbed of the day’s dust and muck and arguments over “gross” dinners needed to play out in their entireties. Bedtime stories had to be read. Goodnight kisses had be doled out. And then given again. And one more time, just for good measure.
When all the work of the day was complete and Shannon finally dragged herself upstairs to climb into the memory-foam-covered bed she so adored, her quiet time with her oldest child was a welcome respite. A bright point of calm in an otherwise harried day.
On this particular evening, Shannon decided the time had come to have the talk she had been putting off for weeks. The talk. Tonight would be the night.
Everyone had been telling her for months she needed to have the talk with Lucas. “He’s ten years old. He’s talking about these things.” “Do you want him to get his information about sex from his buddies?” “You need to talk about sex before he’s having sex.”
Shannon could not even fathom her ten-year-old child thinking about—must less having—sex. He still slept with a stuffed “doggie” every night, for God’s sake!
Shannon and her partner, Ruanita, had decided some time ago that Shannon was better equipped to have the talk with their children. Ruanita was a mental health therapist. A professional psychoanalyst—a vocation that came in handy as she navigated the day-to-day trials and tribulations of marriage and parenthood. Though she had the very best of intentions, however, conversations of the kind that was about to unfold were not exactly her forte. She examined things in minute detail. She tended to lecture rather than discuss. And she talked a lot. Much more than was necessary. Much more than a ten-year-old could comprehend. After sitting through some lengthy and rather uncomfortable conversations in the past, Shannon and Ruanita came to the mutually agreed upon decision that Shannon alone would handle the talk.
“Well, um,” Shannon began. “I want to talk to you about something. Something you are old enough to learn about.”
Lucas’ face lit up with a dimpled smile. He liked being told he was old enough for anything and everything. “What?” he asked.
“Well, um, let me ask you a question first.”
“Well, um, have you ever heard of the word sperm donor before?”
Lucas fiddled with the blanket lying on his chest. “Umm…not really.”
“Well, um.” Jesus Christ, do I have to start every sentence with ‘well, um’? “Let’s back up. Have you ever had anyone tell you that you can’t have two moms? That it doesn’t work that way?”
He shook his head. Shannon saw a flash of fear in his brilliant blue eyes as he appeared to comprehend the direction their discussion was headed.
“Well, um.” Shit, there I go again. “You know that it takes a man and a woman to have a baby, right?”
Lucas nodded mutely, his mouth hanging open in thinly-veiled terror.
“So maybe you’ve wondered how it is that your mom and I were able to have you and your brother and sister?”
Lucas shook his dishwater-blonde head. “Not really.”
“Well, it takes a male part—the sperm—and a female part—the egg—to have a baby. When those two come together, they make a baby. Well, um… (I’m a writer, for God’s sake! When did I become so freaking illiterate?) When your mom and I decided we wanted to have you, we didn’t have any sperm, obviously, so we went to something called a sperm bank. Have you ever heard of that?”
“Umm…no.” Lucas smiled. He always smiled when he was nervous. “Do we have to talk about this?”
“I just think you’re old enough to know some things. Do your friends ever talk about where babies come from?”
Shannon envisioned Lucas’ bespectacled group of 4th grade cronies. Geeks. Nerds. Whatever noun you chose, they were your typical science-loving, Star Wars-quoting, video-game-adoring, fart-joke-rendering, girl-repelling, lactose-intolerant, asthmatic group of highly intellectual, socially inadequate boys. Three of the four, Lucas included, sang in the Metropolitan Boys Choir. Four of the four were competing in their school’s completely optional, non-obligatory, doesn’t-affect-your-grade Science Fair.
“Do your friends ever talk about…well, you know….sex?”
“Do we have to talk about this?”
“I think we should.”
“No, mom, we don’t talk about sex or babies.”
Shannon believed him. This was the child who, just the day before, had said to her, “Hey mom, Sully and I have a theory about how water molecules are held together…” These were the things he and his buddies discussed on the playground at recess.
“Okay. Well, when two women want to have a baby, they go to a sperm bank and borrow sperm from a man who donated it. That man is a donor. You have a donor out there and your brother and sister both have donors. It’s all anonymous, so we know very little about your donor aside from medical history and some basic description.”
“Okay,” Lucas responded anxiously. “Are we done?”
“Do you want to be done?”
“Okay, we don’t have to talk about this now.” Perhaps having your first conversation about sex while lying in bed with your mother is not ideal. Perhaps, just maybe, Shannon was scarring him for life; essentially dooming all his future sexual encounters to miserable, soul-crushing failure. As she considered the bill for her son’s lengthy and expensive future psychoanalysis—she wondered briefly if Ruanita’s connections in the mental health field could secure them a good deal—Shannon said, “I just want to say one more thing and then we can be done.”
Lucas groaned. He rolled over on his side and pulled the cover up to his chin, bracing himself for whatever verbal vomitus his mother intended to inflict on him this time. “Okay,” he muttered. “What?”
“I just want you to know that you can always come to your mom and me with questions.”
He nodded vigorously, obviously hoping that the harder he nodded, the quicker the conversation would come to an end.
“If you ever have questions about sex or babies or donors or…anything…I want you to come to us. You know you can talk to us, right?”
Lucas nodded again, much more earnestly than before. Shannon was concerned he would dislocate something that would prove vital to his future as a Pulitzer prize-winning physicist living in his parents’ basement, so she decided to put him out of his misery and end the conversation there.
She grabbed the iPad from her nightstand and turned it on. “So,” she said. “Should I play sudoku or mahjong tonight?”
“Sudoku.” Lucas smiled, relief evident in his blue eyes. “Definitely Sudoku.” He laid his head on Shannon’s shoulder. “Mom, can we never talk about that again?”
Shannon breathed a sigh of relief. She had done it. She had broached the topic with her eldest son; had introduced the word “sperm donor” despite his mortification. It was not done perfectly–or perhaps even remotely adequately–but she had done it. Shannon had done the bare minimum required of any responsible parent. And she found herself oddly content with the bare minimum. Like parents the world over, it was now time to sit back and observe the fall-out from her less than stellar parenting.
“Sure, honey,” she relied. “We’re done.”
By: Shannon Ralph
Was that a siren?
I’m hiding from the police. I expect them to knock on my door any minute now. See, I kind of did something bad this morning. I am not entirely sure it was illegal, but it was at least immoral and likely illegal. It could probably have been considered terroristic threatening without much stretching of the imagination. And that’s illegal, right?
Hence, my fear of sirens.
I threatened my son this morning. I did not threaten him with a loss of privileges like most parents do. I did not threaten to tell his other mom on him like many parents do. I did not threaten to send him to bed without dinner like some parents do. I think my exact words were…
Don’t make me throw you down these stairs, Nicholas.
Yes, I threatened to fling my youngest son down a flight of stairs this morning. Would I have actually done it? Unlikely. But did I seriously consider it in the heat of the moment? Absolutely.
Allow me to explain.
Nicholas slept upstairs in my bedroom last night, as usual. When the alarm went off this morning, I got up. Ruanita got up. Sophie and Lucas reluctantly got up. And Nicholas refused.
We went downstairs. The kids ate breakfast. I washed my hair. Ruanita fed the dog. Nicholas remained asleep upstairs.
I stood at the foot of the stairs yelling for him to come down, to no avail. Ruanita stood at the foot of stairs yelling louder than I did for him to come down, and he still did not come down.
I had taken the day off work to go car shopping with Ruanita. I was practically dragging her there kicking and screaming. It had taken every coercive drop of energy I could muster to convince her to go get a new car today. The kids had to go school. Today was my only shot at a new car. (And if the lousy $400 we got for our barely limping minivan on trade-in was any indication, we desperately needed a new car.) Unless he was missing a limb or there was blood seeping from a life-threatening head or trunk injury (extremity wounds would not have been serious enough), Nicholas had to go to school. It was not a day for pussy-footing around.
So I trudged upstairs with dripping hair to rouse my youngest son. I found him lying in the oversized chair in my bedroom, hiding under the covers. I pulled the covers off and asked him to kindly remove himself from the chair. He refused to open his eyes and did not budge.
I lifted him from the chair and stood him on the floor. His body went completely limp. When I tried to stand him again, he wiggled out of my grip and climbed back into the chair. We repeated this process three times until I finally realized (she can be taught!) that is was an exercise in futility.
Grumbling under my breath, I lifted Nicholas from the chair again, and this time carried him to the landing at the top of the stairs. Again, he went limp. Yet again he nimbly scrambled back to the chair.
Now, had I been a stronger person, I would have simply carried him down the stairs. I could not, however, because 1.) I have an extremely irrational but irrefutable fear of stairs, because 2.) I have bad knees and have convinced myself that they will certainly give out on me one day while walking down a giant flight of stairs and I will plummet to an untimely and ungraceful death. So carrying Nicholas down the stairs was out of the question.
I, however, like to consider myself smarter than the average first grader, so I once again carried him to the landing at the top of the steps. This time, however, I spread my arms and legs wide, blocking the doorway to the bedroom so Nicholas could not flee to the chair.
Realizing that he had been outsmarted by a greater intellect than his own, Nicholas wrapped his skinny arms around the stairway handrail and began to cry. Strangely, there were no actual tears involved in his cry. It merely included a rather odd-looking facial contortion and an ear-splitting wail.
It was at that moment—spread eagle in the doorway to my bedroom facing imminent defeat—that I made the barely conscious decision to resort to terroristic threatening.
Don’t make me throw you down these stairs, Nicholas.
Am I proud? No. Was it one of my finest mommy moments? No. Am I the owner of a shiny new Honda Pilot? Yes.
Was that a siren?
By: Ann Brown
Sadly, once again, we have been faced with terrible and frightening incidents in the news. The bombings in Boston came has a huge shock to all of us and many parents learned about it, or had to process it, in front of their children.
It can be difficult and confusing to navigate how, when and if to tell our children about the scary things that can happen around them. There is no one formula for this, of course, but there are some foundational and philosophical guidelines that can help.
Young children need to know, first and foremost, that the world is a good and safe place. They need to have that bottom layer be built of trust, security and predictability. When our kids are babies, that’s pretty easy. When they are preschoolers and older, it gets trickier because they are exposed – inadvertently, at times – to the realities of life. We can find ourselves in the position of having to explain the inexplicable to our children: that bad things happen.
It’s my opinion that we do not need to discuss terrible current events with children. This, of course, is different from how to respond when personal tragedies happen in a child’s life – for example, if a child says to me, “my dog died” or, “my grandma is very sick and is going to die soon,” I express compassion and validate how that might feel. If other children want to participate in the conversation, I carefully allow a conversation that focuses on validation and appropriate emotional literacy.
If your child had heard about what happened in Boston, there are ways to help him/her process it.
Endeavor to answer only the question asked. When a child asks us a question for which we were not prepared, we can fall into the habit of giving them the entire story. This is rarely what the child is asking, or what s/he needs to hear. For example, if you child asks, “what happened in Boston?” You can say, “there was an accident” (to a young child) or “people got hurt during the Marathon” (to an older child). Then wait. Sometimes that is all the answer your child needs because s/he had heard buzz words about it and wanted to know what it was all about.
Stress the idea that people were there to help. If your child has heard enough about it to ask specific questions, be sure that you include in every statement something about the fact that this is why we have police officers and fire fighters – to help us when there is trouble. You can also add that many people came to help who were not necessarily official first responders. It is comforting to children to know that when there is a problem, there are people who know what to do about it. In the same way we tell them that if they get sick, doctors know what to do or if there is a fire, firefighters will come, we need to reassure them that they are not on their own in a disaster.
Do something constructive with the fear. If your child has heard about the bombings (or the fire in Texas, or any of the many tragedies…) suggest doing something that helps the victims, like sending care packages or drawing pictures to send them. It is amazing how therapeutic it can be to take our own fear and sadness and help someone else.
And finally, be vigilant about keeping media away from your young children. Having the news on TV or the radio while your children are playing nearby can affect them. Kids pick up on ambient sounds, on seemingly mindless noise, and definitely on our reactions to something we see or hear on the news. They don’t always come to us for explanations so we often have no idea they are grappling with something unfathomable to them.
As children grow older, they will be exposed to more scary and difficult realities in life. With a strong foundation that the world is good and safe, they will more easily be able to handle the unfortunate exceptions.
I think I’ve talked about this before. Its always on my mind.
I don’t even know where to start with it. Even sitting down to write this I have many long pauses between sentences and thoughts.
I should probably start with I never was a big dater, even in high school. I remember clearly my first high school crush was on this boy Mike. Mike was tall, thin, curly mullet hair with a big smile and big brown eyes. But he never wanted to get to know me. Probably because we ran with different crowds, moreso I was still trying to find my place in that world seeing I had just moved to the area.
The boys I did date I always felt like I had to date them because they were interested in me, not because I was interested in them. I also felt ashamed to be dating them because they didn’t meet the match of the ‘popular’ people – the crowd at the time I desperately wanted to be a part of.
My insecurities kept me back from many things, let alone a good solid boyfriend. Even to this day, they are still around holding me back from meeting the nice guy. My frustration with them is exhausting. The questions are never-ending and play over and over in my mind, I cant believe I am actually going to say these out loud – how do I know I am doing ‘it’ right? Or is this what I am supposed to be doing – holding hands in public, saying this or that?
These foolish insecurities that I’ve been carrying with me since my teens, that probably attributed to the demise of my marriage when I was in my twenties, are getting to a point where they either grow up or move out. I can feel them surfacing now, when I am starting to entertain the idea of dating.
How can I expect to even meet someone when these stupid things are hanging around? Why at this age should I even care what other people think?
I go back and forth with these all the time. I also worry about dating takes time and that is time away from my kids. My kids are young right now and they are changing every single day, and I waited far too long to become a mother – especially in an unconventional way – that I am not sure I want to miss these days. So unless I know right away the guy is a possibility there is no point in my dating.
But then I get real lonely at family functions or especially as of late a work banquet where everyone was there with their spouse or significant other (literally I was the only person without a ‘plus one’). Talk about awkward and it is then I know for sure I want to be with someone.
So how do I do this? On the recommendation from a friend, I joined a dating site. I’ve viewed profiles, found a few interesting, took time to write a few and I’ve heard nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve received interest from what seems like the clan of Duck Dynasty, I’ve learned that what they say about black men is true (clear pictures and all were included), and know that men are definitely interested in women younger than them, like 20 years younger. It is with this I close my computer with disgust and defeat and crawl into bed and want to cry my eyes out. Though as quickly as I find myself in this funk I am just that quicker brought back to reality with the cries from the boys bedroom. As I pick up my teething infant I figure dating can wait just a little bit longer.
**picture is of Stefan, my last boyfriend. This was three months prior to my pregnancy with my eldest son.
By Evie Peck
It was an overcast morning.
“Wanna go to the park?” I asked, when I saw that my 19-month-old son Spenser had pulled everything out of his kitchen cabinet (all the stuff that is child safe like my Gladware, boxes of jello, bags of pasta etc.).
“Yeah!” he said, but he would have said that if I had asked him if he wanted to go to the doctor for a shot. He’s just enthusiastic.
So we went. We went to the nicest park near me, which is in a super rich neighborhood. This park is just a little cleaner and it’s smallish and I just convince myself it’s great because it’s surrounded by mansions.
There was no one there.
About five or six utilities trucks and one Prius stopped at the park and different men over the age of 50 tried to use the men’s bathroom, but it was locked. Creepy or smart? A little of both, I think.
Spenser and I played. We went down the slide together and I got soaking wet (from the drizzle and dew).
Then a dad and kid came along. “We love this weather,” the dad said to me. He had a British accent.
“I like it too,” I told him.
British dad’s child was 2 and so S played with her and British dad and I chatted. He seemed like a nice dad. Then he asked, “Are you going to have another child?”
OK, um, so personal!! But thank you for thinking I’m young enough to have that option (who knows, maybe I could).
“Maybe,” I said. I wasn’t going to tell him I was a single mom or anything.
Well, British dad wanted to really get into it with me. “My wife wants to, but I don’t.”
Wow. That was super personal!
“It’s hard to believe you could love another child as much as this one.” I put words in his mouth, so he wouldn’t horrify me.
“Yeah,” he said. “Right.”
“Well, everyone I know with two children says they felt that way, but they love the second as much.”
British dad nodded.
I think it would be really hard to be married to someone and have such a huge disagreement where one person might be really unhappy with the outcome. I mean, that’s part of marriage, I know, I’m just saying, marriage seems so difficult; like how are you expected to live your whole life with someone and compromise all the time??? I can’t help but think about how if I wanted another baby, I could just have one (or try to). There’s a lot of freedom in being a mom solo.
Another dad and child came along. This dad was pretty handsome -tall, rugged, athletic, lots of nice hair… his child had brought a bunch of trucks that Spenser wanted to put sand on and push around.
“Share, Patrick,” Handsome dad said to his son.
Patrick reluctantly let Spenser push around one of his toy trucks.
“You have the dumpy,” Handsome dad said to Patrick, pointing to a toy dump truck.
“Thanks, for sharing the truck, Patrick,” I called as I saw S was not going to give it back anytime soon.
“Sure,” Handsome dad said, “Patrick’s fine. He has two dumpys.” He pointed to another dump truck toy.
Ewwwww. You are calling it a dumpy, to me?
“Patrick, get the dumpy!” Handsome dad called.
Patrick pointed to Spenser, pushing his truck. His non dumpy truck, I guess.
“Patrick, there’s a dumpy here and a dumpy there. You’ve got two dumpys! Go get a dumpy.”
He must have said, “play with your dumpy,” 25 times!!!
Handsome dad was looking so much less handsome. What if I were married to a guy who kept saying dumpy and probably called other things gross names too like during sex and stuff like ”nippies,” or “yum yums” … I don’t know. I guess you can say, to your husband, stop saying that word, but once the damage is done…
By Danny Thomas
It’s St. Patrick’s Day…
We keep trying to make family traditions
for St. Patrick’s Day,
none of them stick.
In my head
it was always
a big deal with my family
We certainly always
ate a special meal.
If not corned beef and cabbage,
then something related.
Sometimes we went to see a film
an irish film
at some art house theatre.
My mom loves foreign films.
And art films.
We went to a lot of independent films
at art house theatres
when I was growing up.
It sometimes depresses me
when our holidays
do not jive with
the holidays I remember growing up.
and St Patricks Day…
I just need to give it time…
let the traditions develop…
let the family grow…
and create relationships…
with each other…
and with other families…
and those traditions will take
it takes work,
and decisive thinking,
on the part of the family,
to create the traditions.
It takes some effort.
And right now
is aimed at other things in our lives.
But there is time…
I keep coming back to this idea,
to this notion
of the difference
how we imagine things to be…
how we hope for them to be…
and the reality that they become.
This thought; that we have an ideal
or an expectation,
and sometimes the world matches it
if we’re lucky,
the world falls drastically short of our expectation.
Does it fall short,
or is it just different
than what we expected?
And wouldn’t it be worse,
to get everything you expect,
and know every bump down the road,
than rolling with
the ups and downs?
As much as it seems nice to have everything in place all the time,
the dreary monotony,
would be relentless.
I am more inclined
to find a way
my rattling cage.
My dad’s birthday is on Thursday.
it’s the first one
since he died.
The thing that
makes me most sad
is not that he doesn’t
get to have another birthday
(he was tired of them 10 years ago)
or even that I don’t get to wish him another happy birthday.
The thing that makes me saddest
is thinking about my mom
who, by default of her partnership,
and the traditions built in around
has had something to do
on March 21st
for the last 50 years
I wish we could be together this
I wish my brother could be there too…
All of us.
But this is another one of those bumps in the road.
This is one of those ways things are different than we expect…
this is one of the ways things change.
And embracing change
the stuff that
with the same
that brings us
By Danny Thomassomething that’s been on my mind
as a parent lately…
as my third baby turns one…
and the others plug along
and go through
all the things a first grader
should go through,
is how different each one of them is,
and how different each of our relationships is…
and I know
it shouldn’t be a surprise.
everyone tells you each kid is different.
and everyone talks about overcoming that expectation.
in the rational mind
it completely makes sense
I have been at a different point in my life
and thus a different person
as each of these children has come in to the world…
and each of them is very distinct
has different needs
and different ways of seeing and being in the world
each of our relationships is ever so distinct.
I can’t fight this feeling
that they should all be getting exactly the same things from me
somehow, by not relating to them in identical ways
and giving them equal and matching gifts,
I am doing them a disservice.
this is all brought to mind, of course,
by the fact that Zuzu,
the baby of the bunch,
just turned one…
and had no real party to speak of.
she got some presents,
some great presents,
that she loves.
and we went out to ice cream
which then led me to realize that
when the other two were turning a year,
not only did they get big(ish) parties…
they had groups of friends,
Lil’ Chaos had been in day care for about 4 months
and was part of a parent/baby group that we went to
as a family on a weekly basis…
‘Zilla had been in day-care from 5 weeks of age…
she was social.
Little Zuzu, all her friends are grown ups, or college kids…
and for no rational reason, I feel guilt for this, and many many other
the kid has more social stimulation within her family than the other two…
she is better than fine.
she is happy and thriving…
but because the parental reflex,
or at least my parental reflex,
I have guilt about this…
reasonably, I know…
they will all be different,
have different needs and expectations…
I guess the challenge is
to get my heart and head in sync
in this matter
to let go of that guilt
let the reasonable self