Wednesday, July 30, 2008

At Golf Class

Not only is he half the size of everyone else, he's also twice as good. And that's a completely objective opinion.

That About Says It

Yesterday I went to the memorial service for a little boy who would have turned 8 today, and the earth literally shook in protest at the injustice of it all.

I have never before seen or felt anything more fitting.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

If You Give a TC a Computer

It's 8:50, and N has camp tomorrow. I need to get him into bed early; these 10 pm bedtimes aren't going to cut it when he's running around in a park from 9 til 4.

"N...Go get in PJs!"

Oh, right. I need to Goggle Map the park the camp is in, because it's not around here, and I've never been there before.

Firefox opens up to my homepage, which is my work web-access email box. There are three unread messages. The first one requires a response, the second one requires filing into a pending box, the third one requires me to go into our administrative tools and fix a problem.

Oooh, I really should go check the other two work-related inboxes I'm responsible for.

One of the two is empty, but the other has seven messages that need to be dealt with. I deal with them.

That reminds me; I never did get an email back from that customer support place I'd dropped a line to yesterday. Or did I?

I switch over to my personal email account, which is an entirely different application. One friend has sent me a link to a funny video, which I click on and watch. Another has sent a long note that requires a reply, and so I write that up. Her note reminds me that I needed to touch base with another friend about plans we have for next week, so I write that one up, too.

And, oh, I never sent Bill that invoice for the freelance work I did.

I write up the invoice, attach it to an email, and go to send it off to Bill. But Bill's email address doesn't just pop up on my screen when I start to type it; I realize that I've never added him to my address book. So I search around for one of his emails to me, grab his contact info off the bottom of it, and make up a contact card. The name above his reminds me that I wanted to check my friend's blog, so go over to my dashboard and hit the Bloglines widget there, which takes me to my Bloglines feed, where I click on her blog so I can see if she's updated. She hasn't, but I notice that a few of my other favorite reads have, so I go to check those out.

Eventually, I close up my Firefox and start to rise from my chair, but then I see that that email to Bill--the one with the invoice--is still sitting on my desktop, so I finish filling in the email address and send that off. I see that my friend has replied to my earlier email, so I go to read that, and end up sending off another reply to her. Then I notice that my email box is really full, and I decide I need to clear it out a bit. I start clicking and filing away, when suddenly I hear Baroy from the living room:

"N, you really do need to be in bed already."

I look up at the clock. It's 9:52, more than an hour since I'd come in here to get directions to camp in the morning. An hour since I remembered that I was supposed to put my child to bed. An hour, to be honest, since I remembered that he exists.

"N! Go brush your teeth, and I'll be there in two minutes," I call out. "I just need to print out some directions."

As I start to open my Firefox again, I think to myself, "What an idiot I am," followed immediately by, "but this would make a great blog entry..."

The good news? I did walk away from the computer and put N to bed before sitting down to type this. But those directions? Still haven't made it over to Google Maps. And the smart money says I never will.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And Yet I Cried

I don't know Vicki Forman, although we have more than one one-degree-of-separation connection. She's been on my mental 'to do' list for some time; a number of people have told me I needed to get to know her, but I've just been too shy to take that first step. One of those people, my friend Kristen, even suggested to Vicki that she and her son, Evan, should join us at a playdate in park we had last Wednesday.

Evan died, unexpectedly, early Thursday morning.

When Kristen told me, I was shocked at how gut-punched I felt. I wanted to come here and wail about how unfair it all is, about how 7-year-old boys shouldn't die, not EVER, about how there have been all too many child deaths of late, about how I can't take it any more, about how much my heart just hurts these days. But it just felt like it was too much about me. This is not about me. This is about a family dealt a blow I don't even like thinking about, much less writing about.

Still, blogging is how I process, and my kind of blogging is inherently selfish. Besides, the idea of writing about anything else--how hot it is, the cute thing N said to me yesterday, our plans for the weekend--seems even more wrong than writing about the pain I'm feeling for a woman and a man and a sister and a little boy I've met only on a computer screen.

So there it is. I may have no right, I may not know these people. And yet...I cried.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ADD Blogging

Last night I heard rustling outside the front window, and looked out to see one very large adult raccoon climb up into and then back down out of our tree...followed by SIX still-pretty-small offspring. I know I'm supposed to be horrified and freaked out, but they were so cute! Even Baroy was "aaaawwwww"ing all over the place.

It's 7:30 at night, and I cannot decide what to make for dinner. N didn't eat lunch until almost 3, so I'm OK for another half hour or so. But still. I really need to get a handle on this parenting thing. Apparently, nearly 11 years at this gig hasn't been enough.

I'm listening to The Brief, Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao on my iPod these days. This is how I know a book is totally kick-ass: I make up excuses to go for more than one long walk a day, just so I can listen to more of it. I can't tell you why I'm enjoying this book so much, but I am absolutely swept up in this story, and more than a little sad that I'm on the last disc. I hate when good books end.

It's easy to feed me; I eat anything and everything. It's my two guys who are a pain in the butt when it comes to dinner-making.

My new volunteer gig at my synagogue is putting together the monthly newsletter. To say that I'm already enjoying it more than I did heading up the religious school's PTA is a vast understatement. But there's an odd side to it. We're such an exceptionally small synagogue that I know the names--and, more often then not, the faces, the addresses and phone numbers, the children and/or parents of--every person who is on the lists of birthdays and anniversaries, thank yous and donations, condolences and yahrzeits. I now know who needs to light a candle for his grandmother in three weeks, and I know who gave a generous donation to the sisterhood fund. It all feels a little...voyeuristic, somehow

Speaking of yahrzeits, my first one for my father is fast approaching. In fact, his name was near the top of the yahrzeit list I just finished editing. This year, his yahrzeit falls on August 8 (because, as with all things Jewish, you don't commemorate a death based on the Roman calendar, but on the Jewish lunar-based calendar). This means I will be lighting the candle for him at sundown on August 7...which would have been his 70th birthday. That freaks me out a little, but mostly because it gives the whole thing a much larger significance and import than it's likely to have for me, to be honest.

Maybe I'll just make some fish sticks for N. Baroy and I can fend for ourselves.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I know. I've been quiet.

It's not because I have nothing to say.

It's because I have nothing I *can* say.

Pretty much everything going on in my life right now is not bloggable. It's all stuff that would break confidences and/or other basic blogging rules. And the little everyday mundane things? When your mind is chewing on Big Stuff, it's hard to concentrate on anything else. I tried to write about a mildly funny incident earlier today, and as I read it over, I did laugh out loud...mostly because I had, in my current state of mind, managed to suck ALL the funny out of it. And I wasn't even trying! And the more I mucked around with it, the less funny it got...until I couldn't remember why I'd thought it was amusing in the first place.

And so, instead of writing, I'm working and worrying and playing volleyball with N's new beach ball in the backyard and agonizing over which type of fish to buy for dinner (fresh or frozen? farm raised or wild? imported? and which type is it that isn't going to kill me with mercury or god only knows what else?). When you start to tear up in frustration at the fish counter in Ralph's, you know you really need to get a hold of yourself.

I really need to get a hold of myself.

And, to top it all off, Baroy is deeeeeeeep in post-production depression. Hell, I might as well call it postpartum depression...he's literally been working on this production since October, making it a full-term theatrical experience. So here we are, Baroy moping and me all anxious, and poor N wandering around lost without his big sister to get him involved in the social scene on our street.

Yes, it actually is just as much fun as it sounds. Our summer vacation: Having a great time! Wish you were here!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Maybe It's Me

That's the treehouse Baroy built for N (and Em), which he had mostly completed, but totally finished last night after we got back from New York. I would never have expected N to be willing to climb up there--it's HIGH--but he did, and he loved it. That's him reading to Baroy. If that isn't the sweetest thing ever, I don't know what is.

There's been this niggling feeling at the back of my brain for a while now...a feeling that maybe the only real 'problem' that N has is me.

No, this is not me looking for sympathy and cries of, "Oh, no! You're a wonderful mother." That's not what I mean. I know I'm a wonderful mother--as wonderful as I, an inherently flawed human being, am capable of being. Which half the time means I truly suck at this. But no more than the next person.

What I mean is that I wonder if I just kept my mouth completely shut--didn't talk to his teachers at the beginning of the school year, didn't ask for assessments, didn't constantly 'explain' his quirks to other people the minute they appear (or even before they do), didn't even spend a ridiculous amount of bandwidth talking about this issue and that issue right here on this blog--how many people would notice anything being truly amiss. If I didn't tell people there was something wrong, give them something to look for...would they even notice?

I started thinking about this a lot more near the end of the school year, after having a conversation with the mother of a boy who N had really become friendly with--so friendly that he was actually playing at recess, rather than sitting on the bench all by himself every single day. I said something to her about much I appreciated what Joey was doing for N, and she said, "And vice versa, of course." And I just automatically poo-poo'ed her, saying something along the lines of, "Well, yes, but with N's issues, it's been hard for him to..." and trailed off as I noticed her looking at me like I was speaking another language. Because, of course, I was talking about her son as if he were some kind of occupational therapist who had identified N's social deficits and was instituting a carefully considered plan to integrate him into classroom activities...when all he really is is a kid who likes to play Indiana Jones with N after lunch. Period. He doesn't know N has issues. As far as he's concerned, N doesn't HAVE any issues. (Well, actually, that's not entirely true. Their teacher told me he asked once or twice about why N always needs her to tell him what he's doing is OK, and why N won't read out loud and things like that. But that only muddies my point, so let's pretend that's not the case, OK?)

There have been a couple of other incidents as well. Friends who have treated him differently after I talked to them about my concerns, when otherwise they might have never considered him as 'different' or needing more than they're capable of giving. That sort of thing. But it all really became worrisome to me during this recent visit to New York.

We had a wonderful time, I need to say right here, because both my mother and sister read this, and I don't want either of them thinking we didn't. Or that I was unhappy about way things turned out during our week there. Everything was perfect. So perfect that it made me think.

See, the overriding comment about N last week was this: "He's so much better than I thought he'd be." And, of course, the only reason anyone would think he'd be "not better" is because of what I say and what I imply and how much I talk about this and that and the other thing. But maybe that's not true. Maybe I need to let everyone figure out who N is and what's going on with him on their own, in their own way. Maybe I need to shut up and not speak until spoken to.

Maybe I need to let N learn how to just be N, without me interpreting who he is for the world around him.

Yeah. Like that's ever going to happen.

A complete aside: As I type this, Baroy took N to the golf course for his first lesson of the summer session. We weren't sure if he would get the same coach he had last session, an older African-American man named Al who is just wonderful for N, and who takes absolutely NO CRAP from any of the 7- to 14-year-olds in this class. We were hoping for him, because N learned so much from him last session and because he takes N very seriously as a golfer.

Anyway, I just got a series of three text messages from Baroy.

The first: "N got Al again. Al asked me if N had grown."

The second: "Actually, what he said was, 'He don't look so short anymore.'"

The third: "Gotta love Al."

I totally love Al. Al rocks. And, better yet, Al just made me smile. I needed that smile.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New York, New York

I'm much too busy playing with my nephew and chatting with my mom and laughing with my sister to do any blogging right now. But, in lieu of actual substance, I'm going to put up a picture of an absolute MIRACLE in the making: Em getting N to try roller blading. This, for the record, would be my little boy who refuses to even LISTEN to the idea of having the training wheels taken off his bike, he having only recently felt safe enough to stop insisting on riding his tricycle. This would be my little boy who has refused even LOOK at the regular roller skates we bought him years ago, ever since the day he got up on them and they...gasp...ROLLED.

And then Em got a pair of roller blades from us for her upcoming birthday--she wanted them early so that she could use them during the summer, since her bday is right before they go back to school--and we found an old pair in the garage that N could fit into, and she asked him once if he would like to try them and he cried, but then she asked him again the next day and he said, "Sure." And by the end of the day he was actually creeping forward on them WITHOUT HER EVEN HOLDING ON TO HIM.

Miracle, I say. MIRACLE.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pimping Out His Sibling

Because Em is going to be gone for a month, and because almost-11-year-old girls are like that, there was much wailing and hugging and protestations of love and missing-to-come when we got together with The Gang on Sunday for our weekly Music in the Park session. Well, at least there was all that among the three girls. J, the lone boy in the upper-age echelons of our group, is age-appropriately Not At All like that.

Our conversation on the ride home went something like this:

Me: So, you guys were a little emotional tonight!

Em: Yeah.

Me: I saw you saying goodbye to J. Did you hug him?

Em: No! J's not like that. He's not a hugger. He's more of a put-ice-down-your-shirt [the kids' usual end-of-the-evening game] kind of guy.

N: Em, if J ever asks you to marry him, you should say no.

Em: Why?

N: Because he puts ice down your shirt too much!

Baroy: That's sweet! You're standing up for your sister, huh?

N: I guess...

Me: Well, who do you think Em SHOULD marry?

N: I dunno...

Me: You don't think anyone we know is good enough for her?

N: Well, I think when I get to be older, and I hang out with some cool guys, then I can tell one of the cool guys that he can try out my sister.

Baroy, Me, Em, in unison: WHAT?

N: If I hang out with lots of cool guys, I can see which one Em likes, and I can tell the rest of them to go away, but I can tell the cool guy she likes to try out my sister.

Me, trying not to either laugh myself into a coma or swallow my tongue: N, what does 'try out my sister' mean?

N: See if she wants to marry him. DUH!

Duh, indeed.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Just So Wrong

I walked to the Farmer's Market this morning, and brought home a really HUGE cucumber for my cucumber-fanatic family. Baroy and Em left for the day before I unpacked it, leaving only N to gape at it's awesomeness when I pulled it out of my special Farmer's Market tote.

Except he did more than gape. He picked it up and began cradling it, cooing to it and, finally, walking around the house saying, "Hello there, my girlfriend. You are so beautiful, my girlfriend! How are you today, my girlfriend?"

I didn't even know where to start explaining just why that is so, so wrong.

(Oh, come on. I can't be the only one who had a "24 Reasons Why Cucumbers Are Better Than Men" poster over her bed in college, can I?)

And for anyone who was wondering: I stayed home with N last night. Part of the reason was because I've been feeling sort of low-energy myself these last few days, after a frenetic week. But part of the reason was that I wanted to make sure he had a special night...and while Baroy is a gem of a dad in so many ways, his idea of "a special night" is to watch a movie on TV. (That's also his idea of a Monday night. And a Tuesday night. get the idea.)

So, I barbequed sausages (for me) and burgers (for N), which we ate with fruit and stringbeans picked right off the bushes I have growing in the backyard. We played with some of N's toys and then, when it got dark, we walked two blocks over to watch the big fireworks display right down the hill from us. It was fantastic. On the way back, N said, "I want to have a party!" When I asked him what we needed to do for it to be a party, he said, "Dance! Duh."

And so, when we got home, we brought out my laptop and boogied to one kids' song and one grown-up song (Shiny Happy People), playing freeze-dance throughout. At which point I put on my Mean Mom pants and said that boys with fevers needed to be in bed, seeing as it was already past 10. Of course, Baroy and Em returned from our friends' house just at that moment, and Em and N needed to tell each other about all the fun they'd had. The fact that N had just as much to share as Em made the whole evening worthwhile.

Friday, July 4, 2008


I'm supposed to be writing something thoughtful and patriotic today, I know, but I just don't have it in me. Instead, I'm feeling pouty and out-of-sorts. Frankly, I'm having a teensy little internal temper tantrum...except, since I'm writing about it here, it's not quite so internal now, is it?

See, I'd been looking forward to last night for days: Baroy was going to be at a pickup rehearsal in Anaheim, Em was invited to a sleepover/backyard campout at her friend C's house, and N was invited to Weeyum's house to make up for the missed-due-to-fever sleepover of last weekend.

Except that, on Wednesday night, he started running a fever again. It's like his body is rejecting the idea of a sleepover.

So, instead of a night full of little self-indulgences--I was going to try out a new recipe, soak in the not-hot-hottub in the moonlight, have a couple of martinis, watch a movie on the actual TV instead of on my computer screen--it was a night full of little N-indulgences, things like fishsticks and Spongebob and a rousing game of stack-the-buckets. Which is fine. He was sick, and sad about missing *his* fun, and making him feel better is my job. But inside, I kicked my little psychic feet and pummeled the ground with my little psychic fists at what was supposed to have been.

Today, with a low-grade version of said fever still hanging on, the day again isn't going to be what I wanted it to be. One of us is going to take Em to our friends' house for swimming and barbequeing, and the other of us is going to have to stay home with N, and I don't like either of those choices, the staying or the going. I want to be together...all together. With my friends, with my husband, and with both of my kids.

And so I'm not going to wish anyone a happy birthday today, not even my country. Because I'm pissy and pissed off and feeling petty and spiteful.

Wah. Wahwahwahwahwah.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Proud Mama

Em got a bit huffy last night when--after I'd cut up and sauteed that beauty above in some olive oil and garlic, throwing in a huge handful of the stringbeans I'd also grown in my garden, peeling some tiny little carrots for N to eat, and chopping up a bunch of cilantro and parsley for garnishes--I declared that it was more than likely that I was prouder of growing that zucchini than I was of growing her and N.

Why, yes, the committee *has* bantered my name about for the Mother of the Year award. Why do you ask?

Still, it's a little bit true. Who knew I could actually GROW stuff? I mean stuff from the ground? It was sort of a given--the spectre of infertility aside--that by virtue of being female, I would have a better than even chance of birthin' babies. But growing edible foodstuffs? We are not a agrarian family, to put it mildly. This idea that I was able to take some soil, a few seeds, one or two seedlings, and water, and turn them into a bunch of green things I can feed to my family...well, it feels about as miraculous as that whole water into wine thing. If I wasn't a Jew and I actually believed in that stuff, I mean.

(Was there anyone I didn't manage to insult during this post? My children: check. Infertile women: check. Christians: check. I am on a roll today!)

Anyway, I figure that all I need now are a few chickens, a cow, and a small wheat field, and I'll be Caroline Ingalls! Go me!