By: Ann Brown
What with Yom Kippur being just around the corner, I have taken a moment to reflect upon my life. And so, in the spirit of numbering my days, I have gone back and calculated a few things.
I present to you, my Jewish year 5773 in minutes:
Minutes I spent this year telling Robin I don’t want a dog, under no circumstances should he bring home a dog, and fuck him if he gets us a dog: 287.
Minutes it took me to love Phila: 1.
Minutes to forgive Robin for bringing home a dog: I’ll let you know.
Minutes it took Phila to retrieve my brand new Wacoal bra from the dirty clothes hamper and then bury in the backyard when I wasn’t paying attention: 2
Minutes I spent crouched under my bedroom window listening to the gardeners laugh and discuss my bra when they found it under the lilac tree the following week: 45.
Minutes I had to spend hearing them say, “ai yai yai, es por una ballena”: 50
MInutes I died from embarrassment when I looked up the word “ballena” and found that it does not mean “ballerina”, as I had hoped, but instead, means “whale”: 7
Minutes I have spent this year waiting for the fucking printer to print: 5,000.
Before I realized that it wasn’t connected to my computer: 5,002.
Minutes I have spent this year in the cracker aisle deciding between regular Wheat Thins and Reduced Fat Wheat Thins: 1,250.
Pounds I have lost due to eating Reduced Fat Wheat Thins: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year attempting to balance on one foot and put one foot into my underpants and not fall over: 36500.
Minutes I have spent this year figuring out if my bra was inside out or right side in before I wrapped it around my waist to put it on: 365 x 4.
Minutes I have spent this year trying to hook my bra from the back: 400,000,000,000.
Minutes I have spent this morning hoisting my bra around to the back and then up to my boobs after finally just hooking it in front like an old lady: shut up.
MInutes I have spent this year looking for my phone to see if I’ve missed any calls: 10,000.
Calls I have returned after I see I’ve missed them: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year hiding while watching someone I know come to my front door, knock, and finally go away: 30
Minutes I have spent this year doing Pilates: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year looking for rogue old crone chin hairs on my face: a million.
Minutes I have spent this year in front of the bathroom mirror, tucking my arm flab in to see what my arms would look like without the flab: 100.
Minutes I have spent this year doing arm exercises: 1
Minutes I have spent this year worrying about melanoma: 674,344,980,000,000,001
Minutes I have spent in the sun this year: 674,344,980,000,000,000
Minutes I have spent this year in the shower not remembering if I’ve already washed my face: 3500.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about the new bathroom tiles: 22.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about my hair: 28.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about the situation in Syria: 11.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about sex: 1,000.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about food: 999.
Minutes I have spent during meals this year thinking about sex: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year ordering the same sleeveless linen blouse from JJill this year because I forgot I already had the exact same one in my closet: 4.
MInutes I have spent staring at my dog today while trying to write this post: 331.
By: Ann Brown
Oh my GAWD. Robin is such a baby.
All I said to him yesterday was, “About 50% of the time, I wish you were dead”, and he cannot let it go. All day long – at the hardware store, at lunch, at the river – he’s all, “really? You wish I was dead?” And then I’d have to go over it again: “Nooooo. I said that 50% of the time I wish you were dead. Jesus. Do you even listen?”
God. He’s like idiot.
We ran into our friend Nancy Levine at the grocery store. We haven’t seen her in a long time. I was about two seconds into my hugging her and Robin breaks us up, taps Nancy on the shoulder and says to her, “Ann wishes I was dead.”
Talk about your mellow harsher. No wonder he has only, like, a hundred FB friends. The man needs to get over himself.
Nancy smiled that smile you give someone when you aren’t quite sure if they are going to set themselves on fire or something. Robin – and I give him credit for this – quickly added, “but only 50% of the time.”
Nancy let out a sigh of relief and said, “Oh. Well, sure. Who hasn’t wished that?”
Frankly, I’m still not certain if she meant “who hasn’t wished their own husband was dead 50% of the time”, or if she was saying “who in the world hasn’t wished ROBIN was dead 50% of the time?” but I kept my mouth shut because either way, the conversation was going my way. Plus, I’ve met her husband. He seems nice enough but after a few decades, I bet he gets on her nerves and she has to work off her vitriol. I see her around the hood, running. Running. In the rain. In the heat. She’s in incredible shape.
During sex last night, Robin was huffing and puffing and he said, “don’t worry. I’m almost at, like, 70% dead right now.”
You know, I am beginning to regret ever sharing my feelings with him. Now he’s making this all about him. “Oh, Ann wants me to die”, “Wah wah, my wife wishes I was dead, poor me”. And I have to keep patiently reminding him: Only fifty percent of the time.
I am like a saint, right?
He looked at me with wounded eyes. He was probably thinking, “what kind of she-devil did I marry? Who talks like this to their spouse?” And then he probably starting thinking about his old girlfriends, none of whom would have ever thought about his death, much less say it out loud. He probably wondered where they are now, and if they might be on Facebook and what their boobs look like. Hah. Dude, we’re all rounding 60 years old. We know what their boobs look like. Let it go. I’m sure they have.
He said, “is it so you can marry another man?’”
Oh my God. I laughed so hard I almost stabbed myself with my pitchfork. Men don’t get it.
“No,” I explained. “Why would I want to do that? Another man? More pee on the toilet seat? Another blow job I have to give?”
“Then why?” He asked.
“Well, because.” I said, “You know. Just because. It would be kinda neat. For a change up.”
He considered that for a moment.
“Couldn’t we just go on separate vacations or something? Do I have to be dead?”
Well, I just couldn’t upset him any more, so I agreed to separate vacations. Fine. No death. It’s a compromise.
Because they say that marriage is a fifty/fifty deal. But I really know what that means.
By: Ann Brown
Nina and David are coming up to visit next week. And may I just say, YAHOO.
We have begun planning. Nina emailed this morning to say that all she wants to do is lie around on the back deck chaise lounges and eat sushi. I am exceedingly relieved to hear that because last year, she and David started each morning at 7AM by going to the nearest gym for a workout. Then they wanted to get out and experience all that the Pacific Northwest – and life – offers. That was a long weekend for me.
I am, however, in a water aerobics class this summer so I don’t have to feel like such a workout loser in front of them. But I’ve only had two classes and frankly, the pounds and inches are not dropping off as quickly as I had hoped. Nina and David might not even notice that I have worked out for two hours already this summer. Unless they are reading this post. Which I don’t think they do. Being so busy experiencing life and being at the gym and all. I really don’t know what I see in them.
Last year when they visited, we instituted a new tradition: Morning Fire and Truth Circle. It was mostly just sitting around the back deck, hungover, in the morning, staring at the still-burning embers in the outdoor fireplace and finishing up the hooch from the night before, but I like to give things Capitalized Titles. And calling our new tradition Fell Asleep Drunk In My Own Vomit Last Night On The Back Deck lacks a certain, I don’t know, heft.
Truth Circle needs its fake, weenie, wannabe Native American props. So I found a twig, which we christened The Talking Stick, and reminded everyone of The Rules: One may speak only when one is holding the talking stick. I suppose Native American babies are born understanding this but middle aged Jewish adults needs remediation. Our people is not a patiently waiting for our turn to talk kind of people. We are more of a pretending we are listening to the other person but really just formulating our next comment in our heads sort of folk.
My family had tried using The Talking Stick a few years ago when we were embroiled in a heated argument about using the term, “gypped” (from “Gypsy”. Which is derived from “Egyptian”. So it’s twice offensive). My family tends to interrupt and yell and bang our shoes on the table during polite discussion, so my sister grabbed the kitchen broom and declared it The Talking Stick, hoping to restore Native American grace, order and courtesy to our brawl.
It worked for about three seconds. Then one of my kids realized we have TWO kitchen brooms. And Alia grabbed a spatula. You can see where this is going. In the end, all seven of us were screaming at each other, making our points, arguing everyone else’s points and holding on to our person Talking Sticks – mop, Swiffer, you name it. My Talking Stick was a colander. Which I used to cover the face of the person who tried to talk when I had something to say. Ah, the gentle traditions of the Native Americans.
I know it sounds odd that we would have been arguing over the topic of using an offensive term. I mean, it’s not like any of us was in favor of being culturally insensitive; it’s not like when we had a family fight over whether or not it’s appropriate to interrupt someone in order to correct their grammar. Which it totally is. Because people should know. Yes, they should. Shut up. No, you shut up.
Where was I? Oh, right. Nina and David.
We will probably have to institute The Talking Stick when Nina, David, Robin and I make our daily plans, as there are issues such as which winery to visit and whether or not we’ll use low-sodium soy sauce on the sushi, and the four of us are pretty opinionated. David suggested in his email that we allow filibustering this time but I told him that I am not certain I can stand for eleven hours without leaning against or holding onto something. And then David suggested that I could hold on to his, um, Talking Stick. His exact words were: I’ve got something you can hold onto.
I generally scoff when David works blue, but I have to admit I laughed at his offer. And then I pointed out that he ended his sentence with a preposition.
Sometimes – coming out of the shower and catching a glimpse of my naked self, for instance – a great notion is born. Like, to get rid of mirrors in the bathroom. Or blind myself with an ice pick.
Last week, however, I had a new notion:
A water aerobics class at my friend Andrea’s pool! By invitation only! Members hand-picked by me!
The requirement to join was that each invitee had to prove self-loathing in a bathing suit. And I had to believe them. None of that ersatz self-deprecation hiding some, “I love my big, beautiful body” crap. Self-acceptance bugs the shit outta me. Life is too short to hang with people who are happy with themselves. Or with others. Or pretty much anyone, really.
I told Andrea, “I am going to invite a bunch of old fat women to your pool. You may not come out of your house. Your children will have to be blindfolded. And your husband better not get near any windows or I will kick his ass.”
Now, Andrea’s husband is about as buff as they come. I couldn’t kick his ass even if he were already dead. But Rich is Jewish and Korean. I knew he’d stay away. He knows better than to fuck with a strong woman.
And so it began.
Three of us descended into the shallow end of Andrea’s pool last Tuesday. Two of us came out an hour later, as I was still stuck in the deep end, wrapped around my styrofoam noodle, desperately flutter-kicking my way back, trying to hold onto the fucking useless “shelf bra” that had disengaged itself from the blouson top of my bathing suit when I was showing off by attempting to stand on the submerged noodle so it would pop itself – and me – up in a spectacular Esther Williams-esque finale to the first class. I sort of have a problem with showing off when I am feeling insecure. It never ends well for me but I never seem to learn.
We did a lot of laughing, the three of us that first morning. We did a little less laughing this morning because One Of Us made a careless comment last Tuesday that the workout wasn’t so difficult, so our teacher amped up the aerobics part of the experience this morning and we didn’t have much extraneous breath for laughter. Last Tuesday, the only time things got serious was when Roberta told Helene about the pork won tons at a new Chinese restaurant downtown. I have never seen such a serious look on Roberta’s face. And we’ve discussed the Holocaust together.
I have no idea what the instructor thinks of us. She is a cute young thing; we are, perhaps, the first Jews she’s ever met and we are certainly the least athletic students she has ever had. I would like to believe, however, that we are the most willing students she had ever had, being as she tells us to get on our noodles and start kicking and, by God, we do it. For a few seconds. Until we get tired. Or I think of something funny to say. Or Roberta has to pee. Roberta is the Bad Girl in class. She’s our Pinky Tuscadero, pretty much doing whatever the hell she feels like doing in the pool (I can only hope it’s not peeing). Helene is vying to be Teacher’s Pet, I think. She got all giggly and shit this morning when the teacher told her that she was keeping her elbows tucked in nicely during the arm exercises. She turned around to make sure we all heard that she had been singled out for commendation. Yes, Helene. You are the best student in the class.But watch your back. Roberta could fuck with your noodle.
Shit gets real in old lady water aerobics class.
By: Ann Brown
So, what’s new? Not much.
Oh wait. Right. Robin got his driver’s license suspended.
It’s not what you think, and I know that you are thinking DUI.
Robin was nabbed for speeding. And running a red light. And for totally being a dick to me when I was in a bad mood a few months ago and just needed to be left alone. Well, okay, he wasn’t pulled over for that, specifically, but I felt the police officer who gave him the speeding ticket should know what I go through. So I told him.
You’d think that a person who had his license taken away would be the contrite one in the car, right? And you’d think that person would refrain from giving helpful driving tips to the person who is giving up her valuable time to schlep him around town, and who has pretty much made her way in the driving world for, oh, forty years without his helpful tips and suggestions such as, “when you accelerate, you want to blah blah blah…”.
I can’t tell you how his sentences end because by then I am usually looking for the closest bridge from which to launch us both into the Willamette. The man cannot shut the fuck up about my driving.
The other week, after I did not accept his helpful suggestions on parallel parking, and after he pointed out that he is pretty much an expert in parallel parking and really, in all aspects of driving, possibly all aspects of life, and I pointed out that one of us who is not an expert still has a valid driver’s license and one of us who is an expert needs to have me drive him to Safeway because he is out of Preparation H wipes, and he pointed out that speeding and running red lights are not evidence of being a bad driver whereas my acceleration technique is a major red flag about my road skills, and, really, about my ability to navigate the world at all, and then I pointed out that I hate him and I have been faking my orgasms, he said indignantly to me, “I am going to get a new driver!”
And he looked at me as though he had just told me he was going to get a new wife. Which shook me about as much as if he said he was going to get a new driver.
And then I slammed on the brakes because I was about to run a red light and we both stopped fighting due to our instantaneous commitment to whiplashes while saving the Trenta iced tea I had just gotten from Starbucks, which was the topic of the helpful tip Robin had been giving me (“TWO dollars? For iced tea??? This is why we have no retirement savings”) right before the parallel parking thing happened.
Only there wasn’t really a red light. I just wanted to slam on the brakes. I like to fuck with him.
By Ann Brown
I hate this kind of shit. As if I don’t have enough to worry about already.
According to an article in Huffpo, by the age of 50, women should know how to do all the things listed below. This, of course, is complete bullshit; all a woman needs to know by age 50 is the adage, “you choose your face or your ass”, which means you can be thin (i.e. choose your ass) but your face will look gaunt and creepy and small children will run from you, or you can choose your face (eat all your want and grow your ass the size of Texas) and be gorgeous.
And by 59 (in a few weeks), all a woman needs to know is that even if she cannot see it, there is a whisker growing out of her face somewhere that is, like, four feet long and thick as a Sequoia. A whisker that was not there yesterday but is most certainly there today.
Huffpo, however, has a different list.
And therefore, below, my rebuttal:
Say “no” without feeling guilty – Yeah, um, unless you are Jewish. I even feel guilty when I say “yes”.
Book their own travel – do they mean make dozens of reservations on Alaska Airlines until the code letters you get spell out something that is a good harbinger and means the plane won’t go down? Then, yes. I do that.
Say “I’m sorry” and mean it – I totally mean it. On the surface. Where it counts.
Get around in a foreign country – Well that’s just stupid. Nobody needs to go to a foreign country anymore. Not when there is the Travel Channel. And legalized weed.
Mix at least a few classic cocktails – and by “classic”, do they mean drink tequila straight from the bottle while looking at photos of themselves when they were young and happy? Then, yes.
Make themselves and their own needs a priority – I feel I excel at this. I asked Robin if he thought I was too much of a martyr, always thinking of others, and if I need to make myself more of a priority and he laughed so hard he coughed up a tooth.
Defend themselves against an attacker with at least one signature self-defense move – I have one signature move. It’s a kind of pelvis sway and shimmy thing I learned in the 70′s at Disco Disco. You should see how fast men run away when I do it now.
Carve a turkey – I only carve it if the CPR didn’t work.
Choose their own wine – Easy. The one that’s open. And closest to me so I don’t have to sit up. Or roll over.
Examine their own breasts – Well, now, this can be problematic. What with my fifty-nine year old eyes being so near-sighted and my breasts being so much further away from my face than they used to be, a lot of visual acuity is lost. So I generally just ask random strangers to examine them for me. Sometimes I add my signature move.
Graciously accept a compliment – Yeah, okay. When I fucking GET one, I’ll let you know how graciously I will accept it.
Flip their own breaker – if that is a euphemism for masturbating, I am not going to answer.
Plunge a toilet – Hah. That would be a really gross euphemism for masturbating.
Walk away from a situation or relationship when it’s not working – No problem. Ask the myriad personal trainers, nutritionists, therapists and leg-waxers in my wake.
Say what they really want in bed – Easy: SLEEP. And, every once in a while, some privacy to, um, flip my breaker.
Apply makeup without a mirror – I can do better than that. I can apply make up WITH a mirror but make it look as if I applied it WITHOUT a mirror.
Ask for a raise – Yes. Wait, without offering sex first? Then, no.
Unclog a drain – yet another euphemism? Well, that one kinda makes sense.
Tell which direction they are facing – Don’t need a compass to tell me I am going to Hell. In a handbasket.
Make small talk with just about anyone
Know when to reveal personal information — and when not to – I consider revealing personal information and small talk to be indistinguishable from each other and essential at cocktails parties. You open a conversation with, “yikes. I did not expect to be faking orgasms this late into my marriage”, and you are pretty much guaranteed to be left alone. Score.
Paint a room – Please. I did that at five. Only without my parent’s permission. And with crayons.
Buy the right-sized bra -I am still saving up to buy the right size boobs.
Beautifully wrap a present – see above, about the bra.
Reach out to an old friend – who is falling? Yes, I would totally do that.
Show love with actions and not just words – Eeeeew. WORDS? Yuck.
Put together a real retirement strategy – You’re reading it.
Look good in a photo – Fuck you.
By Ann Brown
Yeah, I know. I haven’t blogged in a while. It’s not just that I’ve been busy; it’s that it takes so much effort to just get one thing done, you know? The universe puts out one obstacle after another.
One morning, for instance, I wake up and say to myself, “I am going to blog today.”
But first I have to brush my teeth because I heard on Dr. Oz a few months ago that nighttime tooth bacteria can cause heart attacks. I think. Or world war. I’m not sure but either way, I’m not taking chances. So I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth and I see that my Sonicare toothbrush hasn’t been recharged because I threw out the charger thing last week when I saw how funky it was all crusted with old toothpaste and shit and I didn’t have time to clean it because I was already late for my physical therapy appointment. Which I canceled on my way there, anyway, because the air pressure tire light came on in my car and I got nervous. So I went straight to the Toyota place, rolled down my window and handed them four hundred dollars. So I wouldn’t feel nervous anymore.
I still need a toothbrush. I go to the downstairs bathroom to look for one and I pause momentarily to enjoy the colorful tile work that I first thought made it look like the bathrooms at Baja Fresh, but now I love it. Which reminds me, I have a coupon for Baja Fresh. Unless I threw it out. Maybe I threw it out. I walk into the den and check out the den trash. It’s not there, but the den trash is pretty full of tangerine peels which smell fabu at first but super funky after a few days. I decide to collect the downstairs trash to take out on my way back upstairs. AFter I find a toothbrush. So I can brush my teeth. So I don’t have a heart attack. Or start a world war. I’m not sure. And then, so I can sit down and blog.
In the den, I see Robin’s computer is open to Facebook.
And I remember that I probably should send Robin a Facebook friend request. Because I unfriended him during the last fight we had. Which, btw, is just about the greatest thing you can do when your husband pisses you the fuck off. UNFRIEND! Click. I wanted to show him just how pissed off I was. Also, I was worried he would write something unflattering on my wall like, “I can fit my entire body into your underpants. And Phila, too. And also my boat.” And he’d post a photo of it or something.
I was so fucking mad at Robin.
Frankly, I wish there had been an UNMARRY button to click. There’s something Zuckerberg didn’t think of. Although he’s only been married about a year, right? Give him another decade, he’ll be staying up nights inventing ways to piss off his spouse.
You know what would be amazing? An UN-BLOW JOB button. Perfect, right? For those times when you regret having given your husband a blow job the night before because this morning he is such an asshole. Hah! I UNblow job you. Click!
My exhilaration at having unfriended Robin was decreased only slightly by the fact that he hasn’t even noticed.
And now the fight is over and we are real life friends again so I should probably take back my unfriending him. Only – and here’s the drag – I have to send him a new friend request in order to do so.
Uh-oh. I didn’t think about that when I cavalierly knocked him off my wall. I don’t want to have to ask him to friend me again. I would lose all my power if I had to do that. And then I wouldn’t be the winner. It would be a tie. Damn.
And, what if he rejects my request? Then HE would win. Ack. That won’t do.
I sit down on the den couch to consider my options. I fall asleep.
I wake up and say to myself, “I am going to blog today.”
But first, I better brush my teeth.
By Ann Brown
As I watch the inauguration today, I am proud to be an American woman with bangs.
I have been waiting for this day for a long time. Fifty-eight years.
I have never been without bangs, due to my forehead being approximately three inches high due to my, evidently, skipping the entire family epoch in Poland and going back directly to The Missing Link. And as women knuckle-draggers have known since the invention of foreheads, a short one (forehead, not woman) must be disguised with bangs.
When I was young and Mom was in charge of my bangs, I suffered the humiliation of the one-and-a-half inch micro bang. I still can’t get Mom to explain her thought process with that. Maybe it was a Cold War thing, you know, confuse and repel the Commies with my coif. Or maybe it was a Mom-liked-her gin thing back in the 1950′s. What I don’t want to believe is that it was a Mom-liked-Karen-more-than-she-liked-me thing although there is a preponderance of evidence to the contrary.
For one thing, Karen got a forehead. If giving one daughter a forehead and the other daughter two inches of fur between her eyebrow and her scalp isn’t Exhibit A of Mom Loved You Best, well, I don’t know what is.
Oh wait. Yes I do.
Mom stopped smoking when she was pregnant with me.
And if you think that is a good thing, consider this: my big sister is, like, 5′ 2” and very petite. She can fit her entire body in my underpants, I bet. I spent most of Kingergarten being mistaken for her bodyguard. I was heads taller than Karen. With a mustache and unibrow. I didn’t date a lot in Kindergarten.
Karen and Mom are pretty much alike. Blonde and small. Fit and active. I am more like my dad. Who is dead.
Still, now that the First Lady’s bangs are all out and proud, it just seems, well, American to be sporting bangs. So I will not grow out my bangs. Ever. Even if my forehead grows five inches, I will not grow out my bangs.
Because then the Commies will have won.
By Ann Brown
The bloom is off the rose.
Well, more accurately, the, um, grease is off the latke. The flame is off the candle. The wrapper is off the chocolate gelt. No wait, that would be a good thing.
What I am trying to say is that Chanukah is dead to me. At least, Chanukah as I knew it, as the story of the brave Macabees fighting for freedom, blah blah blah. Because my sons educated me about the real story. And now that I know it, and cannot UNknow it, I can barely choke down my second jelly donut.
This is not the first year my sons have brought up the issue of who, exactly, the Maccabees were. I mean, it’s not like they decided to wait until I was fifty-eight years old, ready to hear the truth. They have been talking about it since they were, like, five years old but I don’t really pay full attention to them. Evidently.
When one of my kids was in high school, he said to me one day, “if you are going to Target, will you get me some poster boards?” And I asked why he needed them.
He said, “for my campaign signs.” I asked him what campaign signs.
He said, “For school president.”
“You are running for president? How great. Good luck on the election!”
He looked at me the way I imagine Jesus would look at the Westboro Baptist Church people.
“I am running for RE-election, Mom,” he said. “I have been president all year.”
I may be a wee bit self-absorbed.
And so it has taken me a few years to finally take in The Maccabee Dilemna. Here’s the deal:
The Maccabees were reactionary, fundamentalist Jews. They were the Taliban of the Jews. They considered any Jew that wouldn’t join them to be The Enemy.
Well, you can imagine where I’d be on their list.
Will you join us?
“Oh, I’d love to, but it’s impossible. I have book club Monday nights. And I did not go to college to wind up a cave dweller, you know what I mean? Even though my degree was in Ethnomusicology of The Balkans, yes, I know. But still.
“Also, I notice that you wear belted tunics. And I am an Apple shape; I have to avoid belts or I’d look like, well, Antiochus, wouldn’t I? You men are so lucky, what with your banana shapes. No, that was not a prurient statement. Put that hammer back in your holster, Judah. For fuck’s sake.
“Oh, also? I believe in freedom of religious expression. And gay marriage. So I don’t think I’ll be signing up for your team.”
I bet that Judah Maccabee was a total hothead a-hole, right? The Sonny Corleone of the Macabees, going off apeshit, hitting everyone on the head with his big,long, strong, throbbing hammer. Uh-huh. I swear, if he had been getting laid regularly, I bet he wouldn’t even give a shit about how we chose to express our Judaism. Give a man a blow job and a then a nice bowl of treyf clam chowder and let peace reign on Earth.
By Ann Brown, Parenting Consultant
I went to see “The Life of Pi” during Thanksgiving weekend. It gave me much to think about in terms of what we choose to believe in life. It also gave me a lot to think about in terms of why, even though I do not care about candy at all – I am way more of a wine, bread, and cheese overeater – when I get to a movie theater, I become obsessed with Red Vines. I almost thought about that more than I watched the movie.
Oh great. Now I want Red Vines. Hold on while I run over to the Lake Twin.
The holiday season brings with it a lot of opportunities to bring children into moments of suspended reality and pure wonder. Life, actually, gives us a lot of opportunities to bring children into moments of wonder (although what I paint with a broad stroke as “wonder” is what some people might call “science”. In my defense, I was a music major in college. Science classes? Um, no thank you), but at the holiday season the opportunities are easier to find.
So, me, I am going to weigh in here as PRO wonder. Pro-miracle and pro-magic. (If you happen to have children who can read, you might want to keep the next few paragraphs out of their sight…)
Of course, it’s easy for me to say that I think it’s great that kids believe in Santa. I’m Jewish, and all things Christmas hold a certain unattainable, probably unrealistically Norman Rockwell kind of allure for me, whereas our family Hanukah parties more resemble Picasso in his Expressionist period. But even more than that, I am all for balancing the overly factual, overly information-laden kind of world into which your kids were born.
I believe there is a difference between telling your child a lie and protecting wonder. Keeping wonder alive for your child is saying, “I have never seen the Tooth Fairy, but I like to believe she brought you this quarter”, whereas a lie is more like, “I know her. She hung out with me after she visited your room. We watched Big Love. She ate all the cashews out of my Moose Munch.”
When my children were little, they used to love it when I cut their apples so that the seeds formed a magical star. I made up a sweet little story about it, featuring sprites and fairy dust and all sorts of crap that I used to my advantage by turning it into a morality play in which the good little children always cleaned their rooms.
Anyway, when my kids were, like, four, they figured out that magic had nothing to do with the way the apple seeds made a star pattern. In fact, my scientific children were positively concerned about my lack of, well, smarts – a concern they hold to this day, to tell you the truth. A few years ago, when I made an offhand comment about how Philo of Alexandria (philosopher in 20 BCE) probably invented philosophy, all my horrified son could say gently to me was, “Wow. The 1960’s alternative education movement really failed you, didn’t it?”
I still don’t totally understand why what I said was stupid, but that’s a problem for another day. The point is, my children were quick to eschew magic as an answer to how anything happens but I still tried. I believe there is value in a sense of wonder for young children.
Albert Einstein once said, “We can live life believing that everything is a miracle, or that nothing is a miracle.”
And he was at least as smart as my miracle-eschewing sons.