Thursday, August 31, 2006

Roots and seeds

I've said before that I think fear is at the root of most of our problems: hatred, anger, intolerance, and my fat ass. You know, all the major stuff.

I've been working a lot on overcoming fear. By which I mean, recognizing it and dealing with it. A huge part of this has been learning to let go of the fears I have for my kids, especially for the Boy. The more I let go, the easier it gets.

So this week, we took him out of therapy. And, me being what I am, I keep worrying that decision, turning it over in my brain like a piece of glass in a river, only instead of getting smoother, the damned thing just gets sharper and splinter-ier. If I don't knock it off, pretty soon I'm going to jump head first in the river trying to dig it out, and get water all up my nose. Not to mention that drowning thing.

Here's the thing, though: What am I so afraid of? I'm afraid of a ghost. I'm afraid of what might happen if he doesn't get "early intervention". I'm afraid that one day he'll be an unhappy and unstable adult and he'll blame me. I'm afraid of losing him. But all this fear is rooted in events and behaviors that began 3 years ago, during a horribly tumultuous time for all of us. And frankly, I think they blossomed in my own depression and anxiety from that time and the year that followed. They've been watered by diagnoses and opinions and judgment, real or imagined. And they've become a veritable tangle of thorns.

I know he has challenges. He needs to learn how to deal with frustration, and disappointment, and yes, fear. He needs to learn how to get along with others without walling off or blowing up. He needs to learn how to let go of things. But isn't that what life is supposed to be about: learning how to be a human being? I keep going around and around this, but it keeps coming down to the fact that I don't think it's a disability to be born without knowing how to be perfect. I look at my strengths, the things that have gotten me through the past 3 years, that kept me from going completely insane as a kid, and at the center of each one I see a seed, and that seed is a weak spot. A weak spot that I learned to live with, to cherish, even. Who am I to take those seeds away from my child? How can he grow to be a man if all I show him are the weaknesses, and never teach him how to tend them until they become strengths?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mm, yummy crow

Man, I pity the girl who gets me for a mother-in-law.

So now a very different story has come out, and I owe Natalie an apology. Yes, the 38-year old needs must apologize for talking smack about the 7-year old. How degrading.

Last night, the Boy said, "Mom. I just can't help liking Natalie." And I said, "Honey, I understand that, and you don't have to like whom I like or not like whom I don't like. I just don't like the way Natalie is acting. I don't like that she is demanding things from you."

"But Mom! She didn't demand it, I asked her if she wanted jewelry and she said, 'Yeah, sure.'"

Hold the phone.

I asked him to tell me the WHOLE story again, from the beginning. Ah, and now a different picture appears. After the boys went and told Miss thank that the Boy has a crush on her, she came over to him and asked him if he wanted to play. And then HE asked her if she wanted to be the master, and she said, "Yeah, sure." And then he asked if she wanted him to bring her jewelry, and she said, "Yeah, sure."

So. On the good side, perhaps the Boy has not chosen the Class Shrew to be the object of his affections; I mean, there's a big difference between taking advantage of somebody who says they like you and just having the common sense to take what's offered you. On the bad side, I apparently am a total psycho.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Okay, we covered the p*nis and the v*gina, but who said anything about JEWELRY??

So. Third day of school. The Boy comes home, and he finds this costume jewelry ring that his sister has, and he nabs it.

"What," I scold, "are you doing taking your sister's play jewelry?"

"But Mooooooom," he moans, "I NEED it to pay my DEBT to NATASHA!"

Again, so.

Natasha just happens to be the sweet young thing who broke my boy's heart last year. He had the major first-grade crush on her, and she just adored him--for about a month. THEN the little hussy took up with the boy down the street. About the same time that the Boy's best friend in class (up to that point) also decided to hang out with the same other boy. Okay, such is life, and it wouldn't have mattered a speck to the Boy because hey, he liked the boy down the street, too. Except that Boy Down the Street used his power for EVIL. As in, everyone gang up and be mean to my kid. Oh, there was much deep breathing and crying and moping about, I tell you--and that was me, thank you very much. It only helped a little that Other Boy's mother was in an absolute state of mortification over the whole thing and practically started wringing her hands whenever she saw me.

Well, I guess looking on the bright side, I have a very resilient child, because it would seem that today at recess, he told some other boys that he has a crush on Natasha. And of course, those boys immediately went and told her. And somehow the result of all this, my Boy says, is that she is now his "master" and he owes her a debt that can only be paid in jewelry.

WTF??? If this is the beginning of a pattern of the types of girls my kid's going to go for, please shoot me now.

"Well," I said, "I'm not so sure I like this whole plan. First off, Natasha treated you pretty poorly last year, and I don't think I like her demanding anything from you."

"MOTHER!" he retorted, "That is SO unfair. LAST year Natasha was just a first grader! Just six! What do six-years-olds know? NOTHING. NOW she's SEVEN! Seven-years-olds know EVERYTHING!" And then he made that exasperated "sheesh do you comprehend NOTHING" noise.

I think I need a drink. It's gonna be a loooong puberty.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Kick-ass moms unite!

Beth, where the heck did you find this?
Now THAT's the way to start off the morning! Enjoy. (And check out Beth's Beth-y goodness while you're there.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

First-day-of-school-tons-of-work-too-lazy-to-do-anything-but-watch-Buffy-and-do-a-crossword Meme

As seen at Scrivener's (aka He Who Is Cooler Than I).

Not that he tagged me. I never get tagged (just like baby, waah waah) (and only the people I went to college with will get that) (oh, and Pammy, I'm the one who prank called you but I wasn't really trying to prank call you, I was trying to let you hear "Love Shack". Live!) but I'm doing it anyway.


Okay, so you go here and you look through the random quotes until you find five that reflect who you are or what you believe. And by the way, it was a real test of will not to put down the Erica Jong quote that I wrote in my diary during high school. Erica Jong! Like I'd read any Erica Jong in high school. I would've had a nervous breakdown. Come to think of it, I still haven't read anything by Erica Jong. Hmm.

Right. You don't care. Onward.
Things don't fall apart. Things hold. Lines connect in thin ways that last and last and lives become generations made out of pictures and words just kept.
-Lucille Clifton

Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.
-Mary Tyler Moore

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1, The Bible (King James Version)

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around every once in awhile, you could miss it.
-Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

Once I make up my mind, I'm full of indecision.
Oscar Levant

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Days until school starts: 1
Supplies I still need to locate, despite having searched through stores in TWO TOWNS: 4
Number of days the Boy has been home because of gap between summer program and school: 2
Inches of floor space not covered by Legos: 3.7
Sibling arguments that have ended in tears or name-calling: 1,298,400,002
Mommy Drinks consumed in the past 48 hours: 1. Okay, 2 (it was a double)
Business projects that have chosed the past 48 hours to implode: 5
Times per minute the children are asking me to come downstairs while I'm trying to put out said fires: 398
Guilt over not going downstairs: 398 to the 34th
Seconds until my brain goes, as the Boy likes to put it, BLOOSH: .0000000000001

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A drop in the ocean

The Boy is sad. Remember M, his best friend? They won't be in the same class together this year.

When he saw the class posting, he ran over to the edge of the sidewalk and sat down, in that hunched-up-boy ball that kids make of themselves, as though they can curl up against hurting. What I want to do is to forcibly uncurl the kid, with words or actions. What I do instead is sit next to him for a minute, silently, rubbing his back. Later, in the car, I'll tell him about my best friend when I was his age, Beth Williams (Beth Williams, where for art thou? I miss you, Beth Williams), who lived up the alley from us. I'll tell him that we weren't in school together or even in the same grade, but we were still best friends and we spent all our time outside of school together. And I made other friends in school, and it all worked out okay. I'll tell him that when I first met his Aunt Chica, I was sure she didn't like me, so sometimes making new friends takes time but who knows what can happen? But right now, I have to fight the urge to curl up in a little ball next to him, a mammoth rolypoly repeating a little mantra in my head: My boy will be happy. My boy will be happy. My boy will be happy.

I've always tended toward the melancholy, I think. I am Phlegm Girl. What did they do for melancholy in the middle ages, I can't remember? Hot coals, wasn't it? Leeches for too much anger, hot coals for too much sadness. I'm trying to stop with the hot coals these days. I'm trying to stop with the vodka or the ice cream or the whatever it is I bury my nose in; but I'm also trying to stop with the rolling around in my sadness until I'm all covered and stinking with it. It's not as deadly as you might think, to be sad, nor as permanent.

I've been thinking, that a lot of the Boy's anger is what he uses to cover up sadness. The Anger Bone's connected to the Sadness Bone, the Sadness Bone's connected to the Fear Bone... I've been thinking that maybe it's time to quit trying to figure out what's wrong all the time, stop trying to fix the sadness or push against it or bury it, and instead gently, gently see whether I can tell what's beyond it, what's inside it, and maybe help him to do the same.

I've been thinking, oddly, that I'm really very happy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hall of Shame

On the way home from dropping off the kids at day school, the theme song from "Titanic" came on the radio and prompted me to ponder what a sap I am. So, since I'm all about the full disclosure, here is my Hall of Shame (#1): Top 10 Movies That Should Make Me Nothing but Cynical and Yet Reduce Me to Tears Every Single Stupid Time. Don't hate me for being a complete dork, I beg you.

Note that these aren't the only movies that make me cry; these are just the ones that I'm embarassed about crying over. For example, I cry over It's a Wonderful Life every single Christmas, but I'm not embarassed about it. But crying over a dorky remake with C. Thomas Howell? That would be embarassing. Crying when I read The English Patient? Oh, but of course. Crying over the totally overblown and muddied/Hollywood-ized movie version? Oh, the shame of it.

If I listed all the movies that made me cry, you would be sitting there reading all damned day.

Somewhere in Time
The Incredible Journey
The English Patient
Minority Report
Hanover Street
Brother Bear
The Lion King

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

All I've got...

Overheard from the front seat:

B: But this card, this one I'm gonna trade as soon as I can. I don't mind Digimon, I really don't, but not this one. I don't like this one. He's all boring. He's just a guy! Just a big, big guy, with a whole bunch of hair under his arms.

G [in the Worldly Tone that only 3 1/2 year olds can muster]: But B...grownups have that. They have hair. They just do.

B: Yeah, yeah. I'm still trading him.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I was up last night working until the sun came up, and then I crashed for 2 hours while my children, in a completely uncharacteristic act that makes me believe all good things are possible, slept until 8. You would think, as they are with their dad tonight, that I would have gone to bed at a nice early hour and so recovered, but for some reason I am still awake. I have the night after the all nighter can't go to sleep now hangover.

I think I would be a good insomniac, but I lack the motivation.

It looks like the Girl has outgrown her peanut allergy. We still have to wait for the backup blood test and then do an in-office challenge, but I am feeling pretty hopeful. It will be great not to have that hanging over our heads, and will totally offset the fact that I must begin bathing the cats. Heh.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Change your channels, or, Surrender the Pink!!

Hey, if you are totally addicted to Catherine Newman's gorgeous heart-rending wacky ever-pink-lovin' column over at BabyCenter, and you're all broken up over it ending, don't totally despair because 1) she has a new monthly column in "Wondertime" magazine and 2) she is a total doll and all that despair would probably make her feel bad, and then I would have to smack you. And then I'd feel bad. And then it would be a Carnival of Badness and that would be, well, bad.

You have to look for the Dalai Mama column under the parent-to-parent section. Their navigation is a bit wacky (or else I am, a possibility we should never rule out) and there didn't seem to be a way to simply access archives of the column; I had to look under the "more in parent to parent" link to find the earlier column and I'm not sure how many they'll archive online, but there appear to be two available at the moment. So hie thee over there.

Edited to add: Oh yay! And she will also have a weekly blog column.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Heal thyself

It's early afternoon, and the clouds are coming in over the foothills. The old cat is asleep on the bed, and the fan on my dresser blows the warm air around. From my desk, I can see over the tops of trees, houses, to the hills and the mountains beyond them. Every now and then, I hear the birds fighting over the feeder in the backyard on the other side of the house: wrens, sparrows, finches, starlings, dusty brown and grey and black with only the smallest bits of color, red, yellow, purple when the wings turn, and two doves.

A few weeks ago, I felt anger on behalf of someone who was dealing with a lot of pain. She was angry, and hurt, and strong beyond belief. She said she felt that she was putting negative energy out into the universe, and I said, no, you deserve to be angry, anger gives you the strength to tell the people who are hurting you to fuck off. And that's true, but it's been weighing on me ever since, because it isn't the whole truth, and I feel as though I did her an injustice, saying just that, saying just, "Go ahead and be pissed off."

One thing about blogging that has been a real privilege has been getting to know, on whatever level, so many amazing people in so many stages of their lives. There is so much strength and wisdom floating around out here. So many people willing to extend a kind word or just let each other know that they aren't alone. And I think that's what friends are, whether or not you've ever met face-to-face. It's damned hard cracking open the old hardened wounded places, and letting light in, and yet everywhere I look, someone is doing that hard work.

There's a theory that when you're processing something difficult, you go through a series of emotions, in a certain order: anger, sadness, fear, guilt, understanding (or acceptance). You have to go through all those emotions to get to the last one, this theory goes, but it's so easy to get stuck in one--or stuck avoiding one--that you can't get through and out the other side. (One therapy that works intensively with processing these emotions is EMDR therapy, which I went through several years ago, and which I would whole-heartedly recommend looking into it if you are struggling with past trauma.)

For a long time, I was stuck with anger. Specifically, I squashed all the anger I felt down, directed in inward. It still isn't my brightest light, dealing with anger, which is maybe why I have a child who has anger issues? Kismet is a riot.

So when I went to see Dr. Zen again when my marriage was ending, we did this particular meditation in which you imagine yourself going down a path, and at the end of the path you find a cage. In my cage was a woman. She looked like me, more or less, except that she was filthy and furious and covered in blood and surrounded by bones and really wanted nothing more than to rip my throat out. So then, you're supposed to ask whatever's in the cage what it wants. Which, as I said, turned out to be my demise. Why? I asked. And the bitch said, "Because you put me in this cage."

Who doesn't love a little therapy, I ask you?

So. It turns out that whatever's in the cage is the part of you that you've been running away from. It did not take too long to figure out that the lovely Bitch in my cage was all the anger I had, but was afraid to let out. The point of this therapy is that eventually you open the cage, and eventually I did, and can I just tell you how angry I was in that part of my life? And damn, but it felt great. I loved being angry. That Bitch walked around with me in my head. She didn't want to kill me anymore, she loved me for letting her out. But eventually Dr. Zen said, "You know, anger is necessary and has its place, but at some point, you have to let it go."

And that's what I really wanted to say. After you sit with it for a while, you have to let it go. You can't let it go until you make friends with it, but then you can't hold on too tight to it or it will suffocate you.

So here's the funny thing, is that as I went farther along that path, farther into those woods, and opened my arms to the other ones who live there, and the longer I left the Bitch out of the cage--letting her know in no uncertain terms that she was always welcome, that I'd never lock her up again, but that she didn't get to run things, either--the more she changed. And I know this sounds all sorts of weird, that I had this actual person in my head for a while, but the brain is a weird organ, what do you want? So anyway, she changed. She quit being so angry, so ready to attack anyone who hurt me. She quit being such a Bitch, I guess, and she started being more a voice of reason. She started pointing out things that might not be in my best interest; she was less reactionary, and more of a guide. She became gentler, and kinder, and eventually she walked back into the woods and I haven't seen her since. But I know she's still there, and I listen when I hear her voice. She's pretty smart, and she has my best interests at heart.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Let's talk about S-*-X

So here's the thing. The Boy is turning 7 next week. Agh! S-E-V-E-N!!

He's been expressing some interest in...girls. Dear lord.

We were sitting out on the front porch a few weeks ago; he was sitting with his dad, who'd just dropped off the kids, and a family with a girl his age (or a bit older) walked by. She said "hi", and he said "hi", and then he did The Blushing Head Duck with the Small Private Grin.

Oh and did I mention? Dear lord.

Also we've had the show-and-tell during bath time, so it's now Official Separate Baths for Siblings at our houses.

Oh, and he is fascinated with "tongue-kissing". Dear God, I need to block Google off this blog. Remind me to do that, k?

So. Last night we sat down to a nice bedtime story about the birds and the bees, blah blah blah, illustrated and co-authored by Marc Brown (yes, that one) and it was quite lovely and age-appropriate and so forth and so on. And went into not terribly much depth but did cover the basics, the basics being how the babies get made. Which is a good thing to be covered, because discretion be damned, I'm going to go ahead and spill the beans that a new baby is coming into the family, and not by means of my uterus, thank you very much, but the Boy and Girl will soon have a half-sibling. Tres exciting! So.

I think he took it pretty well, and he asked some thoughtful questions, such as whether you have to cut both ends of the umbilical cord and why didn't I keep his placenta? Because he misses it! And could we get one from someone else? (Uh, no.) And do sperms come out when he pees? He did get a bit goofy in the middle, which is one of his ways of coping with discomfort, and I asked him if he wanted to put this book down and read something else instead, but he insisted on persevering.

Here was the hard part (erhem): There was no pussy-footing (again, erhem!) around about the actual mechanism for the baby making: Insert part a into part b. [I hope you realize I am being obtuse to prevent this post from turning into Googling Perverts R Us.] So after I read that sentence, his eyes got a bit bigger and he said, "Wait. What? You stick it in?" "Um. Yes," said I. "Just like that?!" "Erm, not exactly, but more or less, yes." "How? How? Do you just [with hand gestures!] shove it in there!??" And in my head, I'm reviewing and thinking, "Sadly, more often than not, particulary during college." But what I say! Is "No, no, of course not. But that isn't anything you have to think about right now, that's something you'll learn more about as you get older, because remember this is something that only grownups do."

When I was a kid, my mom NEVER talked about the s*x. When I heard the word "virgin" on tv once, and asked her husband what it meant, he said to ask my mother and she told me to look it up in the dictionary. It was obviously a shameful subject; hell, I couldn't even SAY the word until I was in junior high. I think this taboo-making made it easier for me to be taken advantage of, and I will not have that being the case for my kids. I'm certainly not going to overwhelm them with information, but there are so many things I want to be different for them. I don't want them to have hangups with their bodies or boundaries; they'll develop enough hangups of their own without me starting them out that way.

"My dad talked to me about this, too," the Boy assured me while we were reading. "He tells me everything. And he always tells me the truth. Except sometimes, when he can't." I hope that telling him the truth about some things now will make it easier to tell him the truth about other things later.