Dipping my toe back in. Again. Oh shut up.

Dipping my toe back in. Again. Oh shut up.

Maybe a meme will kickstart me. Courtesy of R. Comment and I’ll hit you with 5 questions of your own.

1. What’s your favorite thing about parenting a third-grader?
The fact that he can get himself up, get dressed and ready, and snag himself breakfast if need be. Also, actually being able to hold an intelligent conversation with the kid is pretty awesome too. It sounds trite, but parenting has taken a decisive veer out of ‘reactive physical caretaking’ and that is so much less exhausting.

2. If you could host a dinner party with any five people — real or fictional — as guests, who would you invite?

Jane Austen. Terry Tempest Williams. Charles Darwin. Murasaki Shikibu. Graham Elliott Bowles.

3. …and what would the menu be?

I know GE, and I would beg and plead with him to bring two things: his truffle-buttered popcorn and his foielipops. The concept of Darwin and Austen snacking on foie gras rolled in pop rocks amuses me greatly.

Other than that, it kind of depends on the season. How’s that for a dodge? But if it’s cold, dark winter, carmelized onion blue cheese and sage free form tarts, wine and port braised short ribs over mashed potatoes with rainbow chard, a big ballsy red wine, plenty of crunchy bread, and bittersweet chocolate pudding for dessert.

4. What do you hope you will have done or experienced by the time you’re sixty?
Gone to Hawaii as a family and have NOTHING BAD HAPPEN, OH MY GOD (the last two trips were business and separate and all hell broke loose each time), run a marathon, set foot on the Galapagos, cruised the Viking path, finally worked a theme park project from concept to opening, witnessed a sane and rational woman become president of the united states, raised a healthy and reasonably successful kid.

5. What are your favorite scents, and what do they evoke for you?
Cofffffeeeeeee. It’s the stuff of life. Burt’s Bees baby wash is still the only body wash and shampoo Sean can still reliably use without rashing out, so that smell will always equal kid to me. Lilacs=that dead week at Williams in late spring/early summer. Gin and Tonics with loads of lime equal hot nights on a rickety balcony in Chicago with friends.

Dipping my toe back in

Dipping my toe back in

Today at Old Navy, kid started singing along to Dynamite. When I asked where the heck he’d learned that, he said school. When I said then I’d failed as a parent, he asked how. “Because my job is to protect you from things, like bad people, horrible pop music, and the lousy writing in Twilight.”

The cashier high fived me.

Shiny!

Shiny!

Recognize this?

I went absolutely nowhere

That’s a ‘Macintosh Portable’, released in the fall of 1989. My dad had one, because he was an absolute weenie for technology. From what I understand, this technological marvel was voted the 17th worst tech product of all time, but Dad was undeterred, and his love of Apple ran true and deep, and he was the very definition of ‘early adopter’. When I was 5 we got an Apple II+ with a serial number until 1000. To this day all I have to do is hum a few bars of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ and my mom will start singing along in a little ‘beep beep beep’ and then yell ‘goddamnit!’ when she realizes I have gotten her to do so.

2MB Ram, 40MB hard drive, oh yeah baby

And this is the PowerBook 170, which came out in the fall of 1991. That would be the fall my dad landed in the hospital, as a cascade of, in today’s parlance, FAIL proceeded to wreak havoc on his body. We went in before Halloween with a hurt back from a fall; he got out 2 days before I got home for Winter Break, the nascent staph infection it turned out he’d come in with having his the wound site in his spine and the valves of his heart, his kidneys having failed from medications coupled with his diabetes, and a congestive heart failure or three thrown in for good measure.

So when my husband regarded me askance when I announced my plan to actually stand in line for the iPad2, I felt it was my heritage to do so. After all. I’m the daughter of the man who from his hospital bed- in the days before everyone and their brother having high speed internet access and wireless in the hospital- managed to score himself a damn PowerBook 170. You know, while he was being listed for a heart transplant.

Tonight, dad, on the anniversary of your death, I salute you with the newest Apple shiny.

They have to get it from somewhere

They have to get it from somewhere

Tonight, for reasons that don’t merit explanation, we found ourselves explaining the concept of life insurance to the kid. And while he’s totally cool with car insurance, life insurance- and thus, the possibility of, you know, SOMEONE DYING- wigged him out. To the extent that he stuck his fingers in his ears and began to sing when we used ourselves as examples. “Truffle!” he yelped, throwing his pet chocolate oranda goldfish under the proverbial bus. “Do it with Truffle!” The Lad and I eyeballed one another and I began gamely.

“So Mister Truffle, who works as, uh, a seaweed harvester, and his wife Ms. Truffle and their son, er, Chip.” I was quickly corrected that it’s ‘Small Truffle’ and ‘Baby Truffle’ and there was a very pointed, “Because THEY have 2 kids…” He realized the error of his ways when Truffle died, leaving both the workplace obtained life insurance and the private life insurance to his wife and kids. This allowed Ms Truffle to either pay off or set aside part of the money and pay for the mortgage on their fabulous, multi-bedroom fishtank because she might want to continue to get the mortgage related tax break, a fact which I forged on ahead with despite 1. my child really does not need to understand fucking tax law at the age of 7 and 2. the fact that he was wailing, “Truuuuuffflllllle!” as he realized we were now talking about his pet being dead and this was mighty distressing even in the face of $750,000 of mythical life insurance money. We explained that Ms Truffle could put money aside for college, and invest the rest, using the earnings or interest to help supplement her income since Truffle would no longer be bringing home a paycheck from Seaweed Harvesters Ltd. (cue more sniffling). This sort of stuff, we said, while hard to talk about, was a really important part of being a parent- planning for the possibility of unpleasant things in an effort to take care of your loved ones, and we take it very seriously so that the kid never need worry.

Dinner conversation rolled onto other things. Like Warcraft. And belt tests. Like you do. The kid seemed to be suffering no ill effects from our ‘my god, we might as well be CPAs this is so soul sucking’ dinner time conversation.

Until he informed me at bedtime that “wow mom, I had no idea being a parent sucked like that.”

Shallow

Shallow

It seems really shallow to be foot stompy about little details at the kid’s school (all is well: rough transition when his teacher had her baby early, and they abruptly had a very experienced but very stylistically different sub) when New Zealand and Japan are, to use the technical term, fucked.

Downside of technology infiltration: kid does not realize ‘tsunami warning for US’ does not mean ‘Alien invasion movie-like walls of water moving halfway across the country’ and instead means ‘Hawaii, CA, OR, WA, watch out.

For fun and profit, expose an AARP member to Eminem

For fun and profit, expose an AARP member to Eminem

I would really like to know what genius at Hall’s feels a DJ during the lunch hour was an awesome idea. Because let me tell you, explaining to my *mumblemumble* year old mother that no, no he’s not mashing up a nice girl singing with that yelly rap star, it’s Eminem featuring Rihanna in ‘Love the Way You Lie’ and yes, yes they are blasting a song about domestic violence while ladies who lunch are attempting to browse for ridonkulously expensive and ugly shoes (peep toe booties: not okay in any universe) was oceans of fun.

Shout out to the DJ: nice touch then spinning the Everly Brothers in an effort to reach out to the older shoppers and impeccably dressed salespeople. Please note my mom and I did actually locate the breaker boxes that your gear ran from. Persist in your volume issues and we won’t be afraid to use this knowledge.

When last we left our intrepid heroine

When last we left our intrepid heroine

So yeah.
It’s been a while.
Sorry, all of the three people who I think are still plaintively following this.
To be brutally honest, it was hard to write. Work has been stressful as we push towards a mega deadline. The holidays, while fun, are always a whole lot of work.

And then there was my mom. The saga that began 15 months ago, when she woke up and couldn’t breathe, and that wended through a hospitalization for a possible heart attack; a rondeau of big name specialists in Chicago who treated her like this was her own damn fault for smoking even though she quit 20 years ago; conflicting diagnoses of emphysema, copd, allergies, fungal infections, and panic attacks; took a jolly detour right about the time of my last update. A very clever doctor here, with an open mind and a nose for puzzles, figured out she had something wickedly rare and weird and, while still a sort of ‘really? holy shit!’ diagnosis, was fixable. We just had to put up with her increasingly severe breathing problems and oh yes, the possibility that she’d stroke out while they were trying to verify what the underlying cause was.

Modern medicine is an incredible thing. 5 years ago, my mom would be recovering in an cicu right about now from massive open heart surgery. Instead, thanks to a catheter wielding robot, she was out on Friday and loudly cheering for the Packers on Sunday.

So yeah.
Not funny.
Not snarky.
Not sarcastic.
But I held my breath and my words for 3 months.
And now I don’t have to any more.

More little Machiavelli than little Harry Potter

More little Machiavelli than little Harry Potter

The 2nd grade class does a home project the first 2 weeks of November. Given a drawing of a turkey, they have to ‘disguise the turkey’ to up its chances of survival during the Thanksgiving season. Sean piped up from the backseat angelically this afternoon.
“And I already have an idea for it mom.”
“Oh?”
“I’m going to disguise him as a hunter. Because the other hunters wouldn’t shoot him then.”
“Oh that’s smar–”
“And then he can shoot the hunters first. Before they can get him or his turkey friends.”
“Um.”
“Isn’t that clever mom?”

Days of Awe

Days of Awe

Rosh Hashannah crept in around 38,000 feet, the knitting stilling in my lap as I looked out the window. These are the choices of the working mother, the trips that need to get done, the clients that need to be met. What was more important to me, being there for my child when all three of us could be together because of a secular holiday, or being home for my religious one. And so I davvened over a plastic tray, a cup of wretched red wine, cinnamon graham crackers. FAA regulations preclude the lighting of a cigarette or, for that matter, a shabbat candle.

My seatmate was more than a little confused. I merely smiled at him, but didn’t explain. Despite being surrounded by 100 strangers, there was something intensely personal and private about my cobbled together observance.

“Why am I going to school today. Noah’s not.” I was pretty certain the petulant question from the backseat at 7:35 am was not about a sudden zeal for observance, but rather a desperate wish for a day off. I was not going to get into my complicated relationship with ‘days off from school for high holidays’ and why it didn’t even really process for me to NOT send him to school on RH, though if YK had fallen on a school day I’d have kept him home and we’d have done volunteer work together, because that was far to complicated for the hour. Underslept, my airborne RH flight having gotten me home after midnight, I launched into a discussion of the high holidays, and the days of awe, and the difference between making amends to people and making amends to God, and why fasting, and
“….wait I can’t eat for a whole day?!”
“If one is that observant, yes, one fasts, but even among the observant there are exceptions.” I explained about children, about there always being exceptions for health, how he falls under that rule, how I would never, ever expect him to go a day without food as a kid.
“…But will that be breaking God’s rule about eating and make God mad at us?”
And so at a stoplight, alongside the megachurch with a sign trumpeting about the only true path to Salvation, I rest my head against the steering wheel and try, again, to explain about God’s mercy and love, and how different people can make different choices and it’s okay.
“So God won’t be mad at us?”
In desperation, I resort to humor. “Do you think a nice God would want me to not have coffee for a whole day, and you and Dad to have to deal with me like that?”
Eyes go wide. “God’s not THAT mean!”
“Precisely.”
Inwardly, I apologize to God. I apologize to God yet again later that night, when we have the traditional Chinese takeout, and realize partway through the meal that I am enjoying both pork and shrimp in my fried rice.

We snuggle up in a pit of pillows on the floor of his room, me reading aloud to him. It has been 10 days. 10 days of talks in the car in the morning, of the better choices he’s making, of how happy he is at the new school, his dad’s and my pride not in the grades he’s getting- though we are liberal with the praise for the slew of 100%s- but rather the attention he’s paying to his work and the effort he’s putting in. We talk about how the new school year sort of coincides with the new Jewish year, and why that is. We talk about how it’s kind of his own Days of Awe. We talk about where I’ve been good as a mom, where I’ve been meh as a mom, and he is sure of remind me of the couple, spectacular Epic Mom Fails I’ve had. We talk about goals for the year, about taking one’s time and about patience, about quietness and temper. We make our own amends to each other. We talk about how we can be better to other people. We make plans about how to be extra nice to Daddy when there are grants due.

We didn’t set foot in a temple, yet every day, we have made our own sacred space. And for us, for now, for where we are and where his tender heart is, it is enough.