Monday, June 30, 2008


N has been working on correcting his mispronunciations of late, and it's unbearably cute. For instance...Well, first I have to give a little backstory.

N, with all his sensory issues, is obsessed with chewing gum. He wants to be chewing on a piece of gum ALL THE TIME. I'm OK with that, in theory. But in reality, where he was going through two or three packs of gum a day, I wasn't so OK with that, because it meant I was constantly having to buy more gum. There was never enough in the house. So we instituted a rule: He gets five pieces of bubble gum each day, all at one time, and it's up to him how to use them. Half the time he eats them all in rapid succession and then is stuck with nothing to chew for the rest of the day. But he understands that that's his 'choice', and that he gets no more once they're gone, and he's OK with that. Sort of. He's not happy about it, but he gets it, so at least he doesn't spend the entire rest of the day saying, "Can I have another piece of gum?" "Can you get me some gum?" "I really want some gum!"

This may have been my smartest parenting move of all time. So simple, and yet so effective.

Now that it's summer, he gets his five pieces of gum after breakfast, rather than once school lets out. Which is where the mispronunciations come in. As instructed by his speech therapist, I've been gently pointing out to him the 'right' way to say certain words, by breaking them down into syllables and getting him to say each syllable in its turn. So, when he came and announced to me the other day that he'd had his "brefkist" and would like his gum now, I had him repeat "breck" and "fist" first, then gave him his gum.

Since then, he's decided that in order to get his gum, he has to figure out how to say breakfast first. "Don't give it to me if I say 'I had my brefkist,'" he scolded me the other day as I started to hand over the goods. "Only give it to me when I say, 'I had my BREK FIST.'"

As the days have worn on, he's started adding to the list. "Also, before I get my gum, I have to say 'helicopter' instead of 'heli-hock-ter,'" he informed me yesterday. And then, this morning, "And I also have to say 'vanilla' instead of 'banana.' And 'commercial' instead of 'mercercial.' I have to say ALL those words right to get my gum."

And so he did.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

All's Well That Ends Well

Baroy's play went beautifully. I mean, BEAUTIFULLY. I'm so proud of him, and of M and G for the incredible production values they put into it (the set alone is totally worth the price of admission), and of the remarkable cast. I wish I could drag every single one of you to see it. It's that good.

I'm also really proud of Em, who not only sat through it totally rapt, and understood how important the night was to her father, but also chatted with the cast afterwards like an absolute adult, throwing in occasional references to how she'd sat through the "dry tech" and how nice it was to see it "all come together." I'm not as poised, at 44 years of age, as my 10-year-old is. (And then, this morning, she got up, gathered up her American Girl dolls, and went to have a doll party with her friend J. She's 35 by night, but 10 by day. Which is as it should be.)

I'm especially proud of N, who not only made it through the first act behaving almost perfectly, but slept on my shoulder through the second...including the curtain calls. There's nothing so well-behaved as a sleeping child. (He also stuck like glue to the side of his betrothed throughout the intermission and the champagne celebration later on; at one point, he told me--in all seriousness--that he had to go, because he had to bring some crackers to W, "the love of my life." How could anyone NOT eat him up???)

And the best part? My friend Deb is having both kids over for a sleepover tonight, now that I'm sure N's fever was just flukey thing, and I'm going back to see the play again tonight, just me. Anyone want to join me?

I feel badly about whining so much. The fates have been kinder to me than my behavior deserves.

And, on a mostly unrelated note, so has my husband. To wit: Last night, as he was gathering up all the opening-night gifts he'd gotten for the cast and crew (framed original script pages for the various cast members, posters, stuff like that), he handed me a package with a note on it that read, in part, "...Know how proud I am of you for all you've accomplished lately."

This (except in black...and except he swears he didn't pay that much but instead got an awesome deal on it on Amazon) was inside.

Now, my camera has been on its last legs for about a year; it has never been the same after N dropped it on a concrete floor and we had to send it in to be repaired. These days, it seems to arbitrarily sprinkle white snowflakes across about half the photos I take in low light, and it only focuses when it really WANTS to. (It apparently wanted to for N, who took this self-portrait of himself two days ago; it had no intention of working for me, however, when I took a photo of Em and her beloved Mr. D on the last day of school.) So I'm thrilled. And so is Em, who now owns my old camera. And even moreso is N, who now owns Em's old digital camera, which used to be my old digital camera, which was originally Baroy's very first digital camera...a birthday gift from me to him four months before N was born.

We are about nothing if not the hand-me-downs in this family. But, hey. It totally works for us. For all of us.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Everyone Loses

Speaking of supposed-tos...Tonight Em and I are supposed to go see the opening night of Baroy's show. N was supposed to go sleep over at his best friend's house; he hasn't seen WeeyumWise in two months, and they are pining for one another.

Last night, N felt warm to me. Took his temp; right around 100. Shit. Shitshitshitshitshit.

There are circumstances under which I might have pretended that never happened. After all, he woke up this morning with a temperature so low he might actually be dead. He's fine. I know he's fine.

But here's the thing: On Monday, we got a call from the Urgent Care where we'd taken Em on Saturday, because she'd been running a low-grade fever for three days and was complaining of a sore throat. And although the doctor there had sworn to me that Em did NOT have strep throat--that he was so sure of it he wasn't even going to do a rapid strep test, but would just take a culture 'to be safe'--guess what she had?

Which does not mean that N has strep. In fact, he's more likely to have whatever's been dogging me since Wednesday. I, too, had a low-grade fever and a slightly sore throat, so I hoofed it over to Urgent Care immediately, only to find out that I do NOT have strep. In fact, the doctor--whom I will never see again because I despised him and he pissed with off with every word he uttered--laughed at me and pointed out that in order to have strep you actually have to have a red throat, and mine was not even a little red.

But still. Not only is it POSSIBLE that he has strep, but Weeyum's mom has always been one to insist on canceling plans when either boy is even slightly ill. So I just couldn't drop my well-right-now-but-feverish-within-the-last-24-hours kid at her house.

Assuming he's fever-free, however, I will take him with me to the theater. Because I'm not going to miss this on the basis of a one-time so-low-it-would-be-OK-to-send-him-to-school fever. Even if I end up spending most of the play out in the lobby; I'll at least be able to be there for Baroy.

But damn. We've all been looking forward to this for months; Baroy to having his wife and daughter in the audience on opening night, Em and I to being there, N to seeing Weeyum. Plus, I just know--in that 'best laid plans' way--that N will end up spiking a fever at around 3:00 this afternoon, and that will be that; I'll have to stay home, and I'll resent the hell out of it.

I know there are worse things that can happen to a person, but it pisses me off irrationally. All I wanted was one fucking night to be there for my husband, one night to not have to be in the back of the room or on the outside looking in. I planned it all out, I juggled all the balls, I made it all work. But no.

I'm just pissed, is what I'm saying. Just totally pissed. At no one.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm Supposed To

I'm supposed to write a post about the creepy guy who invaded our personal space at the park last weekend, but that would require cropping the hysterical photos Deb sent me, but i just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to go through the pile of junk I took from N's room and put onto our futon in the office (and next to my desk and behind my chair and under my filing cabinet and...), but I just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to plant some seeds in the front yard, but I just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to go through the seriously getting-out-of-control piles on my desk, but I just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to take a whole bunch of hand-written notes and put them into an Excel spreadsheet for work, but I just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to write two short freelance articles for a nurse-practitioner's magazine, but I just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to have written notes to both N's and Em's teachers, since I didn't have the energy to get them end-of-the-year gifts, but I don't have the energy for that, either.

I'm supposed to gather a bunch of samples of other synagogues' newsletters, because when I gave up being PTA President for the Religious School, I took on the editorship of our monthly newsletter, and I need to see what else is out there before I start deciding what I want to do with ours, but I just don't have the energy. (I'm also supposed to have written a post about how that change in positions came to be, because it was sort of funny in a mini Rube-Goldbergian way, but I just don't have the energy.)

I'm supposed to go though all of N's clothes to weed out the stuff he's outgrown and the stuff he's stained so badly it can never be worn again and the stuff he's chewed the collars off of, but I just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to think of something I can do to commemorate Baroy's play's opening tomorrow night, but I just don't have the energy.

I'm supposed to do a lot of other things as well, but I just don't have the energy to even list them all out.

I need more energy. That, or a lot fewer things that I'm supposed to be doing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Love When My BIL Writes My Entries For Me

In my email box this morning, after BIL took N out for lunch with friends yesterday:

Yesterday in the car, N and I were playing an alphabet game: I started with "A" by coming up with a word that begins with that letter, so I said "apple." It was N's turn with "B," so he said "blue"--and we went through the entire alphabet that way. I had just finished "O" with "octopus" when I handed the reins back to N for "P." It occurred to me idly at that moment that I'd have been willing to bet every cent I owned on predicting the next word to come out of his mouth. He didn't disappoint me.

It's true. Males operate on one track only. Rest assured that if Em had been playing with us and had landed on "V," we'd have been discussing vacuums and voices and violets. Girls just don't go there. They actually have lives.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

N in Love

Friday it hit 110 here--HERE, where we live, where we have only one air conditioner in our "living space," and that's in our living room. Baroy was at rehearsal. Em was sick--feverish, sore throated, lethargic, teary--so she, N, and I were basically confined to the living room for over 12 straight hours.

It sucked. I can't even begin to say how much it sucked.

So when Baroy suggested, this morning, that we pack up the kids and take them down to the theater where the play is being held, where they were finishing up the set and doing a "dry tech" (whatever the hell that means...something about figuring out the lights and sound cues without the actors there) and could use some extra hands, I jumped at the idea. (Well, first I took Em to the Suprise!-We-No-Longer-Take-Your-Insurance-So-That'll-Be-$50-
Upfront-And-We'll-Bill-You-For-The-Rest Urgent Care to make sure she doesn't have strep. Which she most likely doesn't. So yay on that. And THEN I jumped at the idea.) Because, after all, the theater is VERY VERY air conditioned, and today promised to be a carbon copy of Friday. Oh, and also I wanted to be supportive of this first-ever production of my husband's play. (But, shhh. Mostly it was the AC. Did I mention 110 degrees?)

It was my first time meeting the assistant director--a very nice, pretty woman who has 3.5-year-old twins. I liked her immediately. So did N. In fact, he liked her so much that he proposed to her. It went, she told me when I asked if the news was indeed true, something like this:

N: Do you have a husband?
Woman: No. But I have a wife.
N: But no husband?
W: Nope. Just a wife.
N: So when I grow up, I will be your husband. Do you have children?
W: Yup. Two of them.
N: So when I grow up, I will be your husband, and we'll have more children. Maybe like eight children.
W: Where will we live?
N: Duh. At my mom's house, of course!

Taking this as an acceptance of his proposal, N came running out to tell me.

"Mommy! I know what Brown Shirt's name is now!" (Remember, he has always had problems with names. The fact that he was able to call her by her name within just a few hours of meeting her is significant; usually, it takes days, if not months or years.) "It's W! And she has a boy and a girl. And guess what! When I get big, I'm going to marry her and we're going to have 10 or 11 kids all together!"

When Glen (our friend and the play's director) overheard all of this, he laughed and said to W, "Don't you think you're a little old for him?"

"HEY!" W replied, putting her hands on her hips. But before she could say anything more, a very serious N came to her rescue: "She's not old! She's pretty! Very pretty." (After a pause he added, looking over at me somewhat anxiously, "You're not old either, Mommy. And you're pretty. But not very pretty." Uh, thanks, son. I think.)

Now, there may be those of you who believe that a 7-year-old boy's crush on a 30-something-year-old lesbian is a bit of a reach, perhaps even a long shot. But I think the smart money's on N. After all, none of you saw the look in her eye when he gave her a kiss on the cheek as we left this evening. None of you saw her clutch her heart as he walked away. But I did. And when I looked back and said, "We may need to add an extra bathroom before you move in," all she could do was nod and say, "Or maybe two. Just in case, what with the 10 or 11 kids and all."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Witness Protection Program

Today was the last day of school and, as part of the last awards assembly of the year, N's teacher gave him a "Personal Success" award, for improvement and progress in writing. She gave me a week's notice, so that I could work with N to make sure he would go up and get the award. I told her it would be no problem, because I knew it wouldn't be a problem at all. What I didn't promise was that he would stand there and smile like all the rest of the kids. Because I knew I couldn't make that happen.

But here's the silver lining: If he'd stood there and smiled, I couldn't have put this photo up here on my blog!

Today was very emotional for Em. Not only is she TOTALLY her mother's daughter in her hatred of all things that involve change (and especially all things that involve endings that lead to change), but also her much-beloved fifth-grade teacher, Mr. D, is leaving the school in order to go teach in a local middle school. (It's a huge loss for the school. I've never met a teacher like him before.) And so saying goodbye to him today didn't just mean saying goodbye to him for the summer, which would have been rough enough, but it meant saying a final goodbye to him.

She was sobbing so hard by the time she reached me that I had to pull her onto a grassy area (in the shade--it's 103 right now, at 3:30 pm, and this was at noon) because she couldn't walk. And then, as the other crying girls wandered out of the classroom, I gathered them up as well. "Come join us in the crying corner," I called to them. For a small group, they generated a whole lot of tears.

I was totally sympathetic until, when we were finally able to get up and walk home, Em started crying again.

"Now what's the matter?" I asked.

"If I'm this sad about saying goodbye to Mr. D, how hard is it going to be next year, when I have to say goodbye to the whole SCHOOL!" she wailed.

No, she didn't appreciate the fact that I guffawed in her face.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On My Own

Baroy has a play--a play he wrote--opening in a week-and-a-half down in Anaheim. (There is an entire post that could go here about how I was about to post a link to the show, and then realized that somehow, while posting links to my Time article doesn't set off my Stalker Alert System, posting information that not only gives Baroy's name, but the times and dates of where he will be really and truly does. Which actually makes sense, since Stalker Girl knows my's not like I'm giving her extra information if she were somehow to find this place. But to give not just Baroy's name, but his whereabouts...I know it's been years since she's been any sort of 'real' threat, and yet I'm just not well enough for that. Still, if you live anywhere near Anaheim and would like the info, just drop me an email at ihavethings at gmail dot com, and I'll be MORE than happy to pimp his show to you!)

Anyway. As I was saying, he has this show opening. And it is a wonderful thing, because he is in all his glory right now. He's feeling useful and worthy, and those are feelings his life doesn't often engender in him.

But it means that he's away from home a lot. For the past month, they've been rehearsing three or four times a week, and he wants to be there at every single rehearsal. He's been helping the theater's owners (friends of ours) build the set, so he goes down during the daytime sometimes, too. And this week and next, they're rehearsing five or six nights out of seven...and they start early and end late.

Keep in mind that this is a man who, even when he's working, works from home. It's WEIRD not having him here. All of our schedules and all of our routines are based on the idea that he's the go-to guy, that I never have to worry that I have to be home at a certain time, because he's there to pick up my slack if needed.

So I was sort of dreading these weeks, figuring that I was going to be completely and totally overwhelmed by having to actually be solely responsible for my children. (Shudder. The horror!)

Instead, I've been completely and totally overwhelmed by coming to realize how much of a slacker I've become these past couple of years, just by knowing that Baroy has my back.

In other words, this is a piece of cake. When I *know* that I'm the one who has to pick up the kids, cook dinner, clean up afterwards, supervise all activities and homework, tidy up around the house, and get both of them to bed at night, I do it. I do it easily. Not only have I been doing it, I've been going above and beyond, deep cleaning here and there as I go, taking time out to play with N when I normally would kvetch about how I have work to do, spending time cuddling and chatting with Em. And I've even been able to find ample 'me' time, though rather than long walks during the afterschool hours, I've instead relocated to the backyard garden where I can still be available when needed. That doesn't really bother me at all. I love gardening. (Em commented to me last night, when I came inside from weeding, that whenever I work in my garden I come back in a much better mood. She's right. Gardening is definitely one of my most potent antidepressants.)

And yet, when Baroy is home and he asks me to help him out with one of what I perceive to be HIS tasks (he cleans up after dinner, he is in charge of certain activities, he tidies up around the house, he gets one of the kids to bed while I do the other), well...I'm just surprised I've never injured an ocular muscle, what with all the eye-rolling I do in response. How can I be expected to do EVERYthing around here! I'm only one person! It's not faaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrr!


I know this would be no fun to do over the long term. I'm not Superwoman, and Doing It All would get really old, really quickly. I love having Baroy here to help out. But I'm truly surprised by how a circumstance that I thought would show up all my parenting weaknesses has instead showed up my resilience. I can do this. I really can.

Just don't tell Baroy. Because I'm planning on getting him to pay me back for my HUGE SACRIFICE for months to come, once the play closes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's Up

My new piece for Time, I mean! [Insert visual of me doing a little "oh yeah, oh yeah, it's my birthday, it's my birthday" dance. Or not.]

You can read it here. If you want to, I mean. No pressure. (Read it, read it, read it, read it.) For the record, this one was much less-heavily edited. Almost as if I'm starting to get the hang of this whole writing thing!

If you like your magazines in solid form--like I do--it'll be on newsstands possibly starting as early as today, but certainly starting on Monday, when the last issue leaves the stands.

This has been a Private Service Announcement. We now return you to the previously scheduled ranting and angst.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Forth and Back

I had a long post here about how Baroy hit a wall with N and his homework the other day and ended up saying to me in frustration, almost spitting the words out, "He needs to be in special ed! He needs more help!" And you could just tell that he thought that would hit me as either some kind of insult, or some kind of revelation. I'm not sure which. But all I did was to stare at him for about three seconds and then hiss back, "Well, what the hell do you think I've been talking about all this time?"

But I deleted that post, because trying to explain why that was possibly The Most Infuriating Statement of All Time was taking more patience and finesse than I have right now. Take my word for it. Steam came out of my ears, even while I felt bad for him in some ways, because he sees so much of the world--his son included--in black and white. And, to him, the fact that everyone agrees that those IQ tests that pegged N as borderline retarded were wrong meant that N is fine. Which he isn't. And...urgh. Infuriating.

But because I can't stop thinking about it right now, I'm going to exorcise that conversation with a much-less-aggravating and yet still-illuminating example from tonight's less-annoying homework session, where N had to write sentences for his spelling words. We were dealing with the word soil, and N wanted the sentence to be a question. (He likes writing question marks.)

After thinking for a few moments, what he came up with was, "Is the soil wet? Is the soil dry?"

"You could also just say, 'Is the soil wet or dry?'" I suggested.

He considered that. "That's a good idea," he admitted. "But I'm going to say it like, 'Is the soil dry or wet?'" (Which he did, spelling soil perfectly, because this child--who can't reliably remember the days of the week or add simple numbers or pass a freaking science test--has what is undoubtedly a better-than-90-percent average on his spelling tests.)

And it's not like there's anything wrong with that. But it's just that most people don't say dry or wet. They say wet or dry. Rain or shine. Back and forth.

N, on the other hand, is all about dry or wet and shine or rain and forth and back. And as much as I want to only believe that that's what makes him quirky and wonderful, I also believe that that's what makes him quirky and vulnerable.

He definitely needs more help.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's Almost That Time

Hot on the heels of my discussion with Em about how it's OK not to be 'into' boys right now, came--today--a declaration of affection from one of the boys in her grade. She waited until we got home, looked at me with eyes brimming with tears, and told me she needed to talk to me. I'm not sure either of us will ever really understand why it was that she cried through this discussion, but she did. She didn't think she'd be in trouble; she didn't think I was going to tell her she's too young to date. (She is...but she wasn't asking me if it was OK to go out on a date, so that wasn't the issue.) I think it was mostly a mixture of shock and happiness and discomfort and fear. They weren't sad tears; they were "I'm so uncomfortable and unsure of myself that I just don't know what to do with my emotions" tears.

We had a long talk about how she can or should handle this, and I kept stressing to her how vulnerable this boy had made himself by expressing his feelings to her without being sure of her feelings. We talked about the importance of honesty and of thinking about the other person's feelings and not being unnecessarily mean, even if you're doing something that may be hurtful. We talked about how it's OK to have mixed feelings...or even to change your mind about something you said you felt just a week ago. We giggled a bit, too, as I shared some of my own experiences, though even as we giggled more tears slipped down her cheeks.

I have to say, though: In all the scenarios I expected when I thought about this day--the day she officially enters the world of boys, even if it turns out to be only long enough to say, "I'm not ready for this yet"--I never visualized tears. Having seen them, they make sense. I understand them. But I wasn't ready for them.

Still, none of this is what I meant when I titled this post. Yes, it may be almost that boy-girl-drama time, and yes, it may be very much that puberty time. But what I meant was that it's almost that time where I really can't blog about these things any more...or if I do, I need to do it in the most general way possible. What I really wanted to do here was to talk about this boy, and why I think it's so wonderful that he's the one to have approached her. What I really wanted to do here was to tell you about what he said to her, because it's all so heart-rendingly sweet. What I really wanted to do here was tell you what she said to me, and show you inside her very large, very good, very young heart so that you could love her the way I do.

But I don't have that right. At some point, her story will become hers to tell, and not mine. Except, of course, I have a strong feeling that "will become" actually has become, at least regarding this topic on this day. It is that time. I feel like I still have the right to ask you all what kind of curfew to set for her first date (not for a few years yet!) and kvell to you about how beautiful she looks when she goes off to prom (not for even more years!). And when she says something especially cute or especially insightful that doesn't require privacy-breaking background, I'll still share it. I can talk about how I feel about all of this...but not about how she feels, or what she's doing in her own private world.

My daughter has her own private world. Holy shit.

I don't know what it was about this, about today, that made me realize I couldn't write the post I was already composing in my head as she left the room after our talk. I think maybe it was the tears. I think the tears told me just how serious this all is to her, and how my putting it all out there on the internet would break the trust she's putting in me by letting me in and taking me on this journey with her, step by step.

All of which sounds ridiculously solemn, considering I'm talking about a couple of 10-or-maybe-11-year-olds. Trust me: It's not that I think the romantic intrigues of preteens is OhSoSerious. But Em does. It's OhSoSerious to her. It's headline news to her. And for me to make light of it here would be a disservice.

And so I'm sharing with you my part of this story--the part where she came to me, where we talked, where she cried, and what that means to me as a parent, how I need to handle it, how unsure I am that I'm handling it right.

The rest is up to her. I think she's ready for it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

In Which My Mother Cracks Me Up

"Em called me the other day," my mother says, after we've finished talking about airplane tickets and arrival dates.

"Oh?" I reply.

"Yeah. She told me about how she was taking a sweater off one of her American Girl dolls, and his head popped off, and she wanted to know if I thought I could fix it. I told her that there was no way I could fix it, but that we'd take it to the doll hospital at the American Girl store this summer and get it fixed. She was so relieved." Pause. "I told my friends that I was sure she'd come to you first, and you'd said, 'No way am I spending money on fixing that doll. Call your grandmother.'"

Well, duh. Of course I did. And Grandma responded exactly as I knew she would. Score!

Look. The American Girl doll thing is sweet, really it is. I love that my in-the-midst-of-puberty daughter hasn't yet thrown over dolls and such for more 'adult' pursuits. The longer she plays, the happier I'll be.

But she has eight (or is it nine? or ten?) of them now. And she's already planned out the next two or three she's going to wheedle and cajole out of her grandmother/grandfather/uncles/any stranger willing to buy her a doll. That's well over a thousand dollars' worth of DOLLS. Not to mention clothes that cost way more than I pay for my own kids' clothes (there are, apparently, no Goodwills for American Girl dolls...who knew?) and accessories that are swanker than anything I've ever owned. And then there are the many other ways you can spend money on these little plastic the haircuts they get each year the American Girl store. (Haircuts for dolls. Whose hair--I should NOT have to tell you--DOES NOT GROW.)

For me--a woman who defines all of those Jewish stereotypes--that is simply mind-boggling. It's obscene, is what it is.

But it makes my kid happy.

So, rather than laugh in her face--$50 to put a doll's head back on? Are you NUTS?--I cluck sympathetically and say things like, "Gee, I wonder if they can do something about that at the American Girl Doll Store IN NEW YORK which you will no doubt visit WHEN YOU SEE GRANDMA." And then I let the chips fall where they may.

I may be utterly and completely and pathetically predictable...but so is my mother.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Did I Mention...?

...that I've been working on my next piece for Time? It'll be on newsstands sometime in the middle of the month; the cover date will be June 23, but as I found out last time, that's the date the issue goes OFF the stands, not the date it goes on. I'm up to my neck right now in edits (much lighter this time, which really pleases me) and fact-checking queries, which is why the last time you heard from me was Friday, despite the fact that much has happened since then. FWIW, the piece is on kids and obesity, and what parents can (and can't) do. It's part of another one of those special sections, this time on kids and fitness. And here's the best part: It only made me about half as crazy as the last one did! I didn't once write a post here about how I'm a fraud, after all. I may have laid on my bed moaning that I'd never work in this or any other town again, but I kept it all to myself. PROGRESS!

...that I'm going to have to bend over and take it up regarding the whole Issue of the Stairs? Hard to understand, when I was just in full-on I'm-going-to-take-them-down-and-they'll-never-know-what-hit-them mode. But, see, late last week I took a break from re-reading my scathing letter to the principal, the school district and its lawyers right before sending it, and set it aside for a minute so that I could start composing my letter asking the principal and the school district to consider retesting N based on comments from his teacher and his OT and an observer in the classroom, all of whom think he needs more services than he's getting. And then, all of I sudden, I thought...What are you, INSANE? "Dear Everyone: I know I just threatened you with lawsuits and a public relations nightmare that I'm personally going to engineer, but would you please help me help my kid? I need you to bend some rules for me to do it. I'm sure you'll be happy to do that, since I'm sure you're feeling very generous towards me right now. Love, TC" Yeah. That shuffling sound you hear? That would be me, backing away from that particular fight. (Now, if one of my kids so much as scrapes his or her shin on those stairs, that will be another story entirely. I will eviscerate every one of the people involved in this catastrophe of a decision. But until then...Someone else is going to have to take on The Man. Or noone will. Which is much more likely. And really sad.)

...that the kids had their end-of-the-year "event" at their religious school on Sunday? They each did a collage of photos entitled "My Jewish Life," and they were all adorable. The older kids, including Em, also made up a list of their own "commandments." Em's cracked me up, ranging from things like "You shall not kill" to "You shall not eat in front of the television." But the part that had me clutching my chest from the cuteness was N's. He had apparently had a lot of help in putting his together from his little friends Zach and Lex. And so, at the bottom of N's poster, Zach had written, "By N, Zach, and Lex...The Three Dudes!" And when someone asked to take a photo of them, N got right in between Zach and Lex, and the three of them linked their arms together and grinned identical wide, happy, grins. From behind me, one of the older members of the synagogue commented, "Look at them. Those three are going to run this temple some day. And probably sooner than we think." The best part? This is the kid who hasn't had a single playdate at school, who got invited to one birthday party all year--and that of a kid who invited the entire class--and about whom everyone at school is 'concerned'--a concern expressed with serious faces and frowns and obvious questions about his future. But there in the social hall of his synagogue, my boy doesn't just shine, he leads. He may not be able to put together his own collage, but he has friends who will help him. And for now, that will do. That will more than do.

...that Em was in a recital at school the other day? She's been learning to play the clarinet this year, after a less-than-stellar year on the flute, and she's So Much Better at the clarinet. It's really fun to listen to her. So we went to the orchestra and band recital a week or so back, and then Em told me I should come listen to her do just one song for the third and fourth graders. She told me that the point of this particular recital was to convince the third graders to join orchestra next year (they're not eligible until fourth grade) and to convince any fourth graders who hadn't joined this year to join next year. What she DIDN'T TELL ME when she nonchalantly mentioned that I might like to come hear her, was that this was NOT the whole orchestra. It was a select group of kids, some playing solos, some playing in duos or trios, and Em as part of the clarinet "ensemble," which consisted of just five kids and the band teacher. I didn't even bring a video camera...I just thought it would be more of the same of what we'd seen the week before. But there she was, her first year on clarinet, being singled out to play in an ensemble! That kid is so cool, and so laid back. I hope I grow up to be just like her.