A Four-Year-Old That Doesn’t Stop

August 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Adoptive Families, Family

By Meika Rouda


My son has a lot of energy. I know most 4-year-old boys have a lot of energy, everyone out there with one is going “oh, you should see MY son.” But my son has more than the average 4-year-old. He is loud, without even realizing how loud he is. And he talks or sings or chats constantly, a continuous stream of sound. Sometimes I feel like I am going mad and I realize it is because I live with noise pollution. It isn’t horrible, I love hearing his songs, how he makes up lyrics or asks insightful questions. He is exuberant, expressive, and lives life to the fullest…volume. He has no filter yet, no self consciousness to halt his feelings, he goes from happy to sad in an instant, celebrates the smallest things like getting hand me down shoes that have laces – laces! What a concept. He can have a full school day, ride his bike for an hour after school, and then go swimming for an hour and still NOT BE TIRED. He is also able to calm himself, playing legos quietly by himself in his room or looking at books but that is not his natural state and never lasts long. His natural state is excitable, high, and full of life.

And sometimes what we love the most about someone is also what drives us crazy. My husband and I struggle with managing this whirling dervish of a roommate, who runs through the house never walking, who has no volume control and has no autopilot switch. Many times we use a hand motion to remind him to lower his voice, I turn an imaginary knob and he will quiet down, from volume 10 to volume 7. He is like a race car always revving. And there are times when managing this bundle of energy, his natural mass of combustable excitement is too hard. I don’t want to squash his spirit, be the parent always yelling at him to be quiet. I love his enthusiasm even when it drives me crazy. But silence is nice too and knowing when to be loud and when to be quiet is actually a learned quality, not innate for everyone. So I try to help realize when to be more quiet, that telling me a story at the dinner table, at volume 9.5 isn’t necessary, I can hear it at volume 5 or even 4. That you don’t have to scream when you sing. That sometimes being quiet offers you a the ability to hear wonderful sounds like birds and crickets. But that isn’t my son, and when he is quiet, it actually makes me a little nervous. I always ask him “are you feeling OK” instead of enjoying the quiet. And ironically, the quiet is only nice for a little while before I start missing the noise.

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Love Bites

March 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Adoptive Families, Family, Meika Rouda

By Meika Rouda


I had something shocking happen yesterday. Asha and I were in music class, happily singing “Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care”  in a circle with the other moms and toddlers. Asha usually meanders during class, dancing around in the center of the circle, walking over to sit on other moms’ laps, or to hug other children. During the middle of the song, just as we were getting into the crescendo chorus, Asha walks over to a little boy, younger than she, and gives him a big hug.  I felt a surge of joy in my heart watching her love this little boy. Her hug kept going and she started to squeeze tighter. The little boy was no longer enjoying the hug. Our song continued “Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care…” and by now Asha had wrestled the boy to the ground and he is lying on top of her. She would not let go of him. He was crying now but her hug continued; she was unphased by his discomfort. His mom and I jumped up, attempting to release Asha’s iron grip and just as I was prying her arms off him, she turns her face to his cheek and bites him. Yes BITES HIM. The boy started to cry.  His cheek was bleeding. I was in shock. “Did she just bite him?” I ask the other mom, as the song continues in the background, “Yes” she says matter of factly.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Asha is crying, livid that I have released the boy from her grip. I take her out of the class and into the lobby. The other mom is in the bathroom cleaning the boy’s wound. I tell Asha, NO BITING. She stares at me blankly. She is 16 months old and expressing emotion in any way is a top priority, even if it means biting. I calm her down and check on the little boy. The mom is nice and reassuring “These things happen, I know she was just trying to love him.” I sort of felt better but I was also embarrassed and I had to go back into the class with my daughter, the biter, and finish singing. Yikes.

The other mom returned to the room before me, with kleenex attached to her son’s cheek to stop the bleeding. After a few more minutes I return with Asha. I sit down, away from the little boy, and resume my singing, trying to contain Asha and keep her on my lap. She will not sit still; she needs to wander. She headed right back to the little boy. The mom picks him up to protect him from the biter -aka my child. Asha walks over to another little girl and the mom delicately picks up her daughter. “Shit”, I think to myself. Her reputation is ruined, no one wants their kid near the biter. I continue to sing and act as normal as possible. Whenever Asha wanders off I follow her and pick her up. I spend the rest of class monitoring her every move. After class I apologize again to the mom and boy. She is understanding but I also know she will never let her kid be near mine again. My only comfort is that the class ends in two weeks and I don’t think I will be signing up again. I see the teacher and apologize for the interruption. She assures me biting is a normal process of development and happens all the time. She reminds me that toddlers just don’t know what to do with all the emotions they feel. She also says Asha is a very smart girl and very loving and I shouldn’t worry at all. The bite was not malicious, it was just an emotional surge. I feel slightly better.

Our biggest job as parents is to protect our kids so how do we do that when you feel like they are being maligned? What makes it worse is that Asha can’t talk, she can’t tell me what she is feeling, she can’t directly apologize or acknowledge that what she did was wrong. I hope her biting isn’t a habit, it is hard to watch your amazing child physically hurt someone.  But it wasn’t on purpose and I know in her heart she wants to express her love, she just needs more tools for that. I am not sure what music class will be like next week but I am not going to worry about what the other moms think. If they don’t want Asha near their kid that is fine, I can’t say I blame them but I also think as a group we can do a better job of helping one another teach our kids and act like a village instead of alienating a toddler for acting like a toddler.

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My Mom, My Best Friend

May 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Sheana Ochoa, Single Parents

By: Sheana Ochoa

 

In my family of five siblings you can imagine all the trouble and worry we put our mother through.  She has always provided for us, bailed us out, and held us together.  Without her forcing us kids to be there at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don’t know if I’d see my older siblings as much as I do.

I’m the youngest and because my parents divorced when I was seven, I think I had the least direction and stability growing up; consequently as an adult I lack self-discipline and have needed my mother for direction.  In the process, she has become my best friend.  She’s the only person I gossip with, whose feet I massage, watch old movies with; she’s my favorite travel companion because, like me, she’s game for anything –from bathing with elephants to tasting questionable food.  She’s been my champion throughout my life, and without her, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

Case in point: I graduated high school at 17 and planned to backpack across Europe with a girlfriend who ended up reneging at the last minute.  I was inconsolably disappointed.  My mother found me on my bed crying when she came home from work. I sniveled, “Now I can’t go to Europe.” She sat on the bed and asked the simplest, most obvious question: “Why not?” She was the reason I went solo and became a fearless feminist in the process, experiencing the world on my own two feet.  And, many years later, when I failed to find Mr. Right and my bio clock was ticking and my mother and I were traveling in Thailand and I broached the subject of having a child on my own, without a thought, she pulled out a pad of paper and started writing down the pros and cons to see if my idea was even viable.  My mom is not a dreamer; she gets things done.

I knew as a girl that I wanted to be a writer and there was never a time that my mother discouraged me from following my dream.  She never suggested majoring in something more practical (translation: lucrative) than comparative literature.  She never hinted that I have a Plan B.  I had learned to be self-supporting by her example; I was young, with boundless energy and so she never had to worry about me taking care of myself financially while I pursued a writing career. I put myself through college and graduate school working and with scholarships.   But in my 30s, I contracted a baffling disease and ever since I’ve been struggling with not being the superwoman I was.  Still, I continued working till I collapsed, and it was my mom who would nurse me back to health, sometimes for several weeks before I could work again.  Those were precious and scary moments: a mother and her temporarily disabled daughter barely able to lift one foot in front of the other.  Before it got too dark, she would take me outside and hold me up and we trudged down the driveway and back to the house.  By the next week we’d make it all the way to the end of the block. Then all of the sudden I’d be better, skipping out of her house and back to my life. There is no way to thank her for those moments of healing in the dusk.

Back to my mother’s role in my family: perhaps other families have the same phenomenon, but there’s an expectation of my mother to be perfect.  I imagine because my mom has always been there to bail us out and listen to our woes, it seems we siblings expect my mother to be a sort of savior and when she doesn’t live up to that status, resentments abound as if she’s fallen short.  My father is not subject to these expectations.  I’ve participated in this patriarchal exception of the father’s role, which invariably comes from an American, puritanical view of an aloof, breadwinner who’s not to be bothered, and the hearth warmer whose day is never done cooking, cleaning, coddling.  But in my family, my mother was the breadwinner. The question begs what came first, the chicken or the egg?  Do we expect mom to be perfect because moms are supposed to be perfect, or because she herself has perpetuated this myth by striving for perfection, bordering on martyrdom?

Now that I’m a mother, I know how imperfect motherhood is.  I planned and fanatically researched the birth process and babyhood to the extent that when things didn’t go as planned, I took it out on myself. The failure and stress of breastfeeding compromised my already delicate health postpartum.  I became bedridden the first year of my son’s life.  Again it was Mom who came to the rescue, caring for my infant those first few precious months of life as I healed.

I’m getting married next weekend and it must be a relief for my mother to know that I will have a partner in life, other than her, whom I can turn to.  (She would say she misses me, but I know it’s also a relief.) Still, it is she I cry to when life gets me down.  She’s the one I call to share a new, funny thing my two-year-old, who we absolutely idolize, did that week. We went wedding gown shopping, and afterward, we stopped at our coveted bakery to gobble down our favorite chocolate cake.  We have fun, like two girls laughing and joking and holding hands.  I never had this with another woman in my life, and I don’t think I will unless, perhaps, someday I have a daughter of my own.

I could end it here, but there’s a coda.  I adore my father.  He’s quirky and eccentric and generous and sensitive.  But he lives to the beat of his own often-egomaniacal drum and after telling me he’d come to the wedding rehearsal dinner, he has changed his mind because something better came up.  I almost want to have my mom walk me down the aisle.  Still, after all the disappointments, I’m still daddy’s girl.  The thought of hurting his feelings and not letting him walk me down the aisle feels wrong, because I know he’s looking forward to it.  So, I’ll be holding on to my dad’s arm, but in my imagination, to my left, my mom will be holding my other hand.

 

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The Littles

August 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Our annual camping trip has been going on long enough that no one can remember how long it has been. We spent a fair amount of time rolling through past events (big birthdays, new babies, friends who joined us and then never returned…) trying to pin this trip more securely on a timeline. Five years? Four years? Who knows?

What we know is that the little kids in our group are the last of the little kids in our group. What we know is that from here on out (if the big kids are any indication) we are in for more eye rolling, more deep sighs and more complicated emotions.

When we started the camping trip, we had only little kids. Though we slept less and worried more, we were rewarded with the uncomplicated joy of the three year-old.

That first year, all the kids danced to the cover band playing “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Mustang Sally.” That first year, they played air guitar and threw their arms around each other and we allowed ourselves to be pulled from our seats on the grass to dance along.

Now, the almost eight year-olds want to go into the gift shop and buy something – anything, they want to ride their bikes at top speed on gravel roads through the dark night. These almost-eights look at us like we’re crazy when we ask them to dance.

At the beach, the almost-eights hurl themselves into the waves. They ride boogie boards for hours and wear wet suits and rash guards and shout orders as though they are weathering a storm at sea. They stop briefly to chew through sandwiches and devour bags of chips. They stop briefly to feed and then, again, they are off.

The little guys sit on the sand. They dig deep holes and their faces light up when they see the bag of sand toys.

“A bucket!” they shout with delight. “A rake!”

It is amazing to be right in the middle of where we have come from and where we are going. It is amazing to see the way a new set of front teeth can change a smile, the way a summer’s worth of growth can broaden a set of shoulders and lengthen a pair of legs. All this forward motion makes the sweet curve of the three year-old cheek more precious. Their slightly drunken gait, a remainder of toddler years, is more wonderful. We all watch these, the last littlest, with love and wonder magnified by the knowledge that they too are growing fast.

Tanya is a writer in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at You Dearest You

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The Wild

August 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Still riding the high from my weekend away with The Husband, I packed another bag.  This time, it held swimsuits, goggles, sunscreen, hats, tiny plastic, pastel-colored ponies, a stack of Scooby-Doo DVDs.  We were headed to New Mexico to spend five days with my family.  Just me and the kids.

The Husband stayed at home with visions of take-out Chinese dancing in his head.

Going home to New Mexico means going home to my Mom and my Step-mom and the house my father built.  It means going home to my brother and his wife and their daughter.  It means going home to the biggest, bluest sky and the whitest, fluffiest clouds.  It means that my lips will crack from the sudden assault of dry air and my eyes will feel parched from bright sun.   Going home to New Mexico means I will eat green chili and drink Tecate and kick red dust up with the toe of my shoe.

No matter how long I stay away, New Mexico always feels like home.

To my kids, New Mexico, is “the wild.”  When we visit, they get dirty and forget about a bath.  They wade in the stream that runs behind my Step-mom’s house and follow animal tracks in the arroyo mud at my Mom’s.  On this trip, we saw bear scat and the big round paw marks of a bobcat.  My son climbed a fallen tree and got an ankle full of cactus prickles.  My daughter trailed big, black beetles and picked wild paintbrush flowers.  We saw four different kinds of hummingbirds and in the evening, bats swooped low and silent around us in the yard.

For two nights, we camped beside Navajo Lake and the kids climbed huge sandstone formations and swam in the cool water.  They leaned over the dock to see sunfish and carp darting just below the surface and learned to cut a worm into thirds to bait a hook.  My son drove a boat and my daughter and her cousin paddled through muddy water like little frogs.  I let them run wild.  I let them walk by themselves down to the beach (though I watched them carefully from above.)  We sent them on errands to the dock for ice and ten-cent bubble gum and watched as they walked farther and farther away.  They felt powerful in their little group of three. They are growing comfortable in the wild.  They are growing brave and confident and certain.  My trust in them helps them grow.  It is a wonderful thing to see.

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NaCl

August 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Ann Brown, Family

By: Ann Brown

I’m done with supermarket sushi. It’s expensive and it always makes me sick.

Of course, it could be the shitload of wasabi I put on it. Or the fact that I often eat it only hours after having my morning coffee, which does me in anyway. Strong coffee is the sharp, bold bad boy lover I cannot leave. And wasabi is hot, unprotected sex with him that leaves me sweaty and unable to breathe and wanting more.

I come from a bland cuisine people. We had to be. We are wanderers by nature, and couldn’t be held back by sensitive colons needing “just ten more minutes” in the bathroom tent, or we’d never get any wandering done.

On the other hand, maybe that’s why it took us forty fucking years to cross over a couple of miles of desert.

“Okay, let’s go, people! Moses is getting pissed.”

“Um…Aaron? Can you stall him a little longer? Hide his staff or something? Some asshole put cayenne peppers into the matzo last night and, oy, am I gefucked up.”

And that’s the story of how Jews wound up with a nice piece of boiled chicken and a few steamed carrots as the dinner we will eat for the rest of our lives. Except at passover, when we commemorate our liberation from slavery by stinking up our houses with gefilte fish. Because, I guess, as free people, we can. Although in my opinion, eating gefilte fish is more like something Pharaoh would have forced us to do when we were his slaves. As a punishment for slacking off on the pyramid construction site or something.

Leave it to my people to finally be free and what do we choose to celebrate with? Boiled fish. Party on.

My mother didn’t know from spices, didn’t even know that salt was used for cooking until about ten minutes ago. Growing up, we had the same blue cardboard carton of Morton’s for at least eleven years, from Kindergarten to high school. My mom didn’t know what to put it on. All we ever used it for was to perform horrific death experiments on slugs. Karen and I were the junior Dr. Mengele’s of the slug world when we were young, something – I am certain – that is going to come back to bite me in the afterlife. My luck, in the afterlife slugs are king. And vengeful. I fully expect to be sentenced by slugs to spend the afterlife under a mountain of salt. Which will be kinda tasty at first, because I was raised with such a dearth of it, and especially if I can find a baked potato or something around there. But then my blood pressure will go up and I will have no potassium with which to counteract the sodium. And I will die. Again.

Note to self: pack a banana for the afterlife.

“What makes this broccoli SO delicious?” Mom asks me when she visits.

“Salt.” I say.

Then she looks at me in a way that I imagine Prometheus’ mom looked at him when the first spark of fire appeared in his hands.

“Salt.” She repeats reverently. Ah, yes. Salt.

And then she goes home to LA and forgets about it until she comes up to visit me the next time and I wow her again with my secret ingredient.

The bar is set pretty low for culinary excellence in my family. I am not a good cook; in fact, my kids are probably the only ones who went away to college and raved about the delicious food in the dorm commons.

I bet those cooks knew about salt.

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Of Dead Bunnies, Facebook and Nazis. Again.

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Ann Brown, Family

By: Ann Brown

So I was listening to NPR the other day and I heard something that made me think.

Generally, it’s not a good idea for me to listen to something that makes me think while I am driving because it is getting more and more difficult to focus on any one thing at a time, and if I have to choose between paying attention to the road and, say, eating, pouring EmergenC powder into my bottle of water, looking for cash or fixating on the spot of thinning hair that is showcased in my rear view mirror, well, it’s pretty much a six of one kind of thing.

Still, so far (knock wood, spit three times and swing a live chicken) I’ve managed to arrive where I am going without much collateral damage but I know it’s just a matter of time. Which should serve as a warning for those of you on the greater Portland metro roads.

Still, it’s hard to keep the mind from wandering. Or maybe it’s not wandering at all; maybe I am mentally on my way to something HUGE, something life-changing, a cure for cancer, and every time I start to get close I shake my head and yell, “snap out of it!” and concentrate on driving.

Hunh. Maybe it is the actual daydreaming that we are supposed to be doing, and the real life shit is the distraction. Go fill the bong and think about that for a while.

Back so soon?

Mostly, I think about what’s not going right in my life. I cannot get behind the “count your blessings” movement because that kind of shit leaves me with a “so, now what?” aftertaste, like after I finish what other people consider a normal portion of food but for me is merely an amuse-bouche. I mean, fuuuuck, is ONE cup of cooked rice enough for anyone?????? I spill that much onto my clothes when I eat.

And then, admittedly, I pick it off my clothes and eat it. I do it as an act of solidarity with those who have no rice. Or clothes.

I have recently, however, come across a plan to help me be more appreciative and less negative:

The bar is now set at, “there are no dead bunnies in my yard.”

Go ahead. Say it to yourself. Don’t you feel better about your life already?

I didn’t just pull this declaration out of a hat, so to speak. My friend Rich wrote on my Facebook wall that his summer was going okay, save for the dead bunnies in his yard.

That might be the most awesome thing anyone has ever written on a Facebook wall.

I mean, if one can set the bar there, if dead bunnies in your yard don’t even stop you from saying your summer is going, all things considered, OKAY, then pretty much nothing is going to harsh your mellow.

It’s like Anne Frank writing on her Facebook wall, “well, other than the Nazis finding us behind the bookcase and sending us to the death camp, it was a pretty kickass autumn.” And maybe she’d add an “LOL”. And we’d want to click “like” but we’d worry that she’d think we liked that the Nazis found her, not that we liked her status update.

God, Facebook would have been so complicated during the Holocaust. Can you imagine?

I am going to get in my car and drive to the market so I can really think about it.

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Road Trip 2010: Tale #2 – In Which I Am Egregiously Maimed

July 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Ann Brown, Family

By: Ann Brown I was injured in Isla Vista and it was all Robin’s fault. That’s my version, of course, but this is my blog. Be advised that you are expected to side with me because I was your friend first. To fully understand my complaint we need to go back to the morning of The Incident. I was in deep despair, having awakened in our obscenely expensive luxury beachfront room in Pismo Beach to cloudy morning skies. As you can imagine, this turned the entire morning, day, trip, world, to  utter shit, and I had no ability to do anything other than rock and keen and moan about the tragedy of my life and to pick irrational fights with Robin. I am sure you can understand. We decided to leave Pismo and move on to sunnier southern climes. Well, “we” decided inasmuch as I stood on the misty beach like a lover waiting for her man to return from the sea, and told everyone around me about my life in this veil of tears while Robin packed the car and, most likely, wondered why people like me so damn much when, in reality, I am a pain in the ass. Keeping with my spring/summer policy to dress according to the calendar and not according to the thermometer, I wore a tank top and shorts. By the time we got to Isla Vista, my teeth were chattering and when we stopped for lunch, I went around to open the back of the car to get a jacket. (cue music from “Jaws”) My million pound suitcase came careening out of the back of the car like a fucking scud missile, tearing into my shin, crashing into my leg and knocking me down. I was very very very brave as I crawled, Lamaze-breathing, up to the sidewalk and found my way back into the car. Whimpering, I reclined the seat so I was flat on my back with my legs elevated on the dashboard and then I was very very very brave while I cried inconsolable, bitter tears of pain and injustice. And I was very very very brave when I started to feel all woozy and light-headed and wondered if I was going to die and I closed my eyes and wouldn’t answer Robin’s questions (“are you alright?” “Ann? Ann?”) because I needed to conserve my energy in case my organs shut down. I cried and fought death and refused to look at my leg, which now (according to Robin) has a “nice-sized goose egg” on its shin because I needed my strength to carry on. I dug deep into my being, as I learned from watching “Alaska Experiment” and “Dual Survival” on the Discovery Channel. I searched my soul for stoicism and calm. And it came to me. Through an epiphany that sent waves of velvety bliss spreading through my body as warming as a slow hit of Peppermint Schnapps on a winter afternoon, I found my strength. I was going to survive. I had a raison d’etre, my story needed to be told: This was Robin’s fault. I could actually feel the universe breathing life back into me, filling me with the mental acuity I would need to make my case. Robin had packed the car while I was on the beach that morning. Robin carelessly, haphazardly – negligently! – arranged the suitcases in such a way that an egregious injury was inevitable. Of course, Robin was to blame!  Negligence was the least of his transgressions, in fact; this might have been premeditated! Aha! Robin had been a little bit too solicitous of me that morning, come to think of it. His long-awaited plans for a beachfront room, Jacuzzi tub big enough for the both of us, porn on the cable, hotel sex and mini bar debauchery had been cut from the agenda due to the lack of sun sending me into the fetal position with the covers over my head, and yet, and yet, he never complained. He offered me spa services; I refused, due to the lack of sun, of course, and he just nodded. He offered room service breakfast on the private balcony and I refused, due to the lack of sun, of course, and he shrugged. He finally offered me the brass ring, the Door Number 3 of life’s best things – sex with him – and I snorted but he never got upset. Verrry suspicious, indeed. Clearly, instead of getting pissed off at my ridiculousness, he arranged to have my suitcase fly out at me three hours later in Isla Vista when I suggested we stop at this incredible restaurant we found last year that serves the most delicious salad Nicoise with fresh ahi tuna, and he arranged for the weather to turn nippy (or, as my friend Erika calls it, “tit-nipply”) so I would need to get a jacket from the back of the car. And his nefarious plan worked exactly according to plan. Except, except, I figured out that it was no accident. Other than the one alternate theory that this was yet again another recently discovered design flaw on Toyota Highlanders, it had to be Robin’s doing. Because of the not having sex in Pismo. I rest my case.

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Summer School

June 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

A week has passed since my mini-vacation and I’m still relatively serene. (Of course I may be so tired that I can’t muster the energy to be much of anything else.)

The kids are officially out of school and our schedule has changed again.  True to form, they greeted this change with tears, rage, and extended bouts of silliness. All weekend, they cycled rapidly (and repeatedly) through this emotional range.  We are all exhausted.

Today, we started to re-build the structure of our day.  A half-day of summer school gave them a reason to get out of bed.  A half-day of summer school gave them a reason to look forward to lunch.  My theory was that a morning spent learning computer programs and science facts would balance a long afternoon of running in the park or throwing the Frisbee in the back yard.

I’ll admit I was nervous about sending them to summer school two days after the end of regular school.  I worried that I might not be perceived as “fun.”  In fact, I kept calling it “camp.”

This morning, when we got to school and were shown our classrooms, my husband gave me a look that meant, “the jig is up.”  But the kids were excited by the newness of the place.  It might have been school, but it wasn’t their school and that made it okay.

A half-day of summer school means I can read the paper and make my nine o’clock yoga class.  I get a little time alone. And this means that when we are all back together, I can be fun.

“Today has been 100% past great,” my son said.

My daughter gave today two thumbs and two toes up.

Now, she floats in the tub, happy and calm.  I feel this way too.

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Saying No To Saying Yes

June 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Ann Brown, Family

By: Ann Brown

Did you see the cover of O Magazine last month? Check it out.
“Say YES! to life!” it screams in life-affirming electric blue letters against an energetic neon lime green background.
I might get a subscription to that rag just so I can fucking cancel it.
“Dear O,” my letter will read, “get off my ass, okay? I say YES! to life plenty.”
Not that I owe O any explanation, but:
I say YES! to all social invitations before deeply regretting it and lying to get out of them.
I say YES! to the March of Dimes lady on the phone when she asks me to be the neighborhood canvasser and donations collector. And I say YES to Robin when he accuses me of sending the March of Dimes two hundred dollars of our own money just so I don’t have to canvass my neighborhood. Well, first I say NO to Robin in a highly indignant manner, but then I confess and say YES.
I say YES! to the pharmacist when she asks me if I’d like to save money by getting two month’s worth of my Prozac by mail order.
I always say YES! when a saleslady asks, “do you need a larger size?”
I say YES! to guilt. To fear. To regret. To poisonous envy. To unabashed coveting. I do not need O to give me shit about it served with an exclamation mark at the end.
And you know what? The exclamation mark is starting to piss me off.
The exclamation mark is the motherfucking pep squad leader of grammar; big-toothed grinning, baton-twirling, motivational-speaking bursts of positive energy, as welcome a surprise at the end of a sentence as a family intervention. ExMark is the manic, coked up asshole who follows you around at a party, tapping your shoulder and saying, “this is a FREAKING AWESOME party, right? Right? RIGHT????”
You know who I wanna hang with at a party? The parenthesis. I imagine the parenthesis would speak in understated, snarky asides all evening. I’d so dig that, leaning in close to hear his mean-spirited bon mots all night long. Everyone else would say, “what? Sorry I missed that” but Parenthesis and I would shrug and murmur, “oh it wasn’t important.”
Yeah, if people could hang with grammar, I would totally be a parenthesis hag.

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