In a shocking turn of events, it was confirmed that they love the nightlife, they got to boogie.
Five-year-old: “Mama, can I help open Ellie’s medicine?”
Me: “Sure baby, just hold it upright. Don’t let it spill.”
Five-year-old: “Mama, I can’t open it. The cap just spins!”
Me: “Oh, right. That’s because it’s a childproof cap. And you’re a small child. Someday, when you’re an adult, you’ll be handed many keys to adulthood, and one of them will be the classified formula to opening the childproof cap. (Whispering:) Actually, if you promise never to tell anyone, on a day even well before you become a proper adult, Mama will privately divulge to you the mysterious, ancient secret to the childproof cap…”
For all the difficulties of raising young children — the tedium and trauma and expense and years spent in hostage negotiations over cartoon-character plates and plushies and particularly colored glitter markers — each of us, I think, savors more the Things That Make it All Worthwhile. Perhaps it’s the cuddles, or the tax deductions, or the way their tiny fingers seem manifestly created to clean gun barrels and sew knockoff designer bags for export.
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This week the ladies had class portraits taken at school — not individual portraits, which are taken at the beginning of the year, but a picture of the entire class with the teacher, and which are infinitely cooler than the ones taken when we were kids because a) they’re digital (meaning most of the kids can be caught unblinking in at least one frame) and b) they come pre-printed with every child’s name, so now you can forever Google-stalk the kindergarten harridan who pulled your hair or the three-foot troglodyte who daily stuffed your favorite pencils up his boogery nostrils. Progress!
The girls love having photos taken and I wouldn’t have otherwise given such a pro forma event a second thought were it not for the small fact that last year, my eldest photobombed her kindergarten class portrait.
In two years, she hasn’t missed a Spirit Day: Pajama Day, Wild Hair Day, Hippie Day, Wacky Hat Day, Crazy Moustache Day — a sea of sartorially silly days. (She’s at an outlying horizon of extroversion, and when there is a contest and prizes involved, monomaniacally competitive. She is, in both these ways, precisely my opposite… and so I find both qualities fascinating and bizarre and glorious, like the beatific face of the recently-discovered Lesula, or the delicate, lethal beauty of carnivorous flowers.)
This week brought Dress Like a Teacher Day, which was a poser: what sort of schmuck subjects their seven-year-old to a day of pantsuits or business casual? I briefly considered outfitting her with an “ON STRIKE: FAIR CONTRACT NOW!” placard and slam-dunking the whole contest, but scrapped it for fear of putting the entire school at risk of crossing her one-child picket line.
So we did this:
Disturbing Item 1: Excepting the boots, those are all items from my closet that I wear with some regularity, and that — far from the “little person in grown-up clothes” look I was seeking — look to fit her appallingly well. Even the shirtdress. Even the belt. (Outcome: she loved it; how often does a little girl get to wear Mama’s clothes to school? And she was photographed for the yearbook, and earned a prize. Our work is done.)
Disturbing Item 2: All the art direction that went into the above photo was me snapping, “Okay, be a teacher!” The theatricality and authoritarianism are 100 percent, innately Child 1 (and the ready delight in playing her sidekick and comedic foil so explicitly Child 2), and so fantastically distinct from my own nature.
She is my reminder that children are not an act of reproduction — little I’s and Our’s recreated in our image — but essentially one of production… of an altogether singular personality.
You know how some evenings you’re in the kitchen, lazily sautéing a thing or three and remembering the gold-sand beaches of Mykonos, when the cat sets to wailing at the back door and you welcome his rain-sopped howls with, “There he is, here’s my man,” mopping at the sodden fur with a dishtowel and rising above his mewlish complaints with, “Yes, yes, here comes my man,” shoulders and hips swinging into a lazy samba, the music and the moment overtaking you, and the next thing you know, you’re singing and dancing at the top of your lungs and legs…
And precisely then, the heretofore silent small children absorbed in homework at the dining room table rupture into laughter, and the seven-year-old (recognizing she’ll be in charge once you’re institutionalized) demands to know, “What are you doing?”
And you reply, “Obviously, I was singing to and dancing with the cat. Because Leroy Brown LOVES to dance. And the Pixies are his favorite band. Like you don’t do it ALL THE TIME.”
(And then you quietly note to yourself: singing to and dancing with the cat… cause for concern. Talking to myself on end: still kosher.)
My oldest and wonderful-est Seattle friend, Rudy Yuly, just released his new band’s eponymous first CD, Empire Way.
Rudy fronted the venerable Seattle ’90s nine-piece, swing-ska band Tiny Hat Orchestra, co-wrote the title track to 2004’s Naked with his pal Joan Jett, and has assembled and participated in loads of other music projects when he’s not not being a rock star, or raising his gorgeous son, or publishing acclaimed crime-fiction novels.
Empire Way is his acoustic alt-country duo with the terrific Leslie Dietz, and it shimmers. Much of it wrestles with themes of longing and loss, and the release is dedicated to Rudy’s mother, who, just prior to its recording, was diagnosed with Stage-4 breast cancer; that’s Dixie on the cover as a teenager, as brash and spirited as in the days that remain.
Empire Way is available on iTunes and Amazon.
The longest, dreariest days of winter make me long for the hottest, most miserable days of summer last.
This particular one was so noteworthy, my handsome, delightful husband and daughters LED the 5pm, 6pm and 11pm news.
Some time back, my friend Amanda sent me Buzzfeed’s wrapup of “The 40 Most Insane Things That Happened In Florida In 2012.” I replied that, technically, only 38 of the items qualified as “insane.” Firstly, Busch Gardens is the greatest theme park on the planet (safari! phenomenal rides! and free beer!), and tiger tug-o-war is unquantifiably brilliant. For years those lazy carnivores have had it easy, padding from straw bed to hand-tossed eland carcass, slumbering on sun-baked boulders… where do I sign my children up?!
Secondly, they don’t mention what type of hot sauce that dude attacked his Mom over. Tabasco, Tapatio? By all means, certifiably insane. But I, myself, have a chronic fixation on one particular hot sauce… available in only one grocery here, and frequently out of stock, so I’m forced to ration it vigilantly, to hide it from hapless guests, to glimpse a long-missed and too-loved friend innocently pluck it from the cupboard and liberally splash, splash, SPLASH their plate with its precious nectar and think, “You selfish, rat-faced tosser…”
Let’s just say I could see where the gentleman may have had a point.
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