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October 2008
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December 2008

Meanwhile, I'm working hard on my biting-my-tongue muscles

I haven't been blogging that much lately - for a variety of reasons. There have been things going on in the extended family (illness and school drama and whatnot) that I don't feel free to talk about here, although they are heavy on my heart. And plus one of my children is deep in a new transition in life and I'm trying out this new "respect his privacy" concept I've been hearing so much about. He's old enough and online enough to be aware of what I've got to say here, and so I don't want to say anything that would be embarrassing or difficult for him.

Imaginary Memo from the desk of 23 year old Raphael

to: Mom

Mother, do you think you could have figured this concept out BEFORE you blogged my oodly-doodly-whapping adventures?


Imaginary Memo from the desk of an elderly me

to: 23 year old Raphael

Oh, hush. You were adorable.


Anyhow, since the afore-not-mentioned son is in the middle of all this changing, and I'm busily not blogging it, it's hard to know what to say here, exactly.

HEY! Wanna hear a totally random anecdote about Tre? When he was about two and a half, he finally hit his "terrible twos." One day he was eating his lunch and he stood up in his high chair. I said to him sweetly, "Tre, if you don't sit down, I will have to take you out of your high chair and your lunch will be over." And he fixed me with a fierce look, planted his fists on his hips, and hollered, "You will NOT!"

I was devastated. My BABY, my BUDDY, my SIDEKICK had turned on me. I wept for hours.

The GOOD THING about this total random anecdote is that when Max hit that same age, and did the SAME thing, except HE stomped his little foot and bellowed, "I WILL NEVER SIT DOWN!" And I was unphased, because I had been through this before. That is a good, totally random thing to remember these days.

Here's another random anecdote, this one from today!

We were doing school, and Tre was having a really hard time with...everything. His brothers were annoying him, math was being unreasonable, noises were assaulting his ability to concentrate, and I was an insufferable source of rules without reason. Finally I asked him to stand up for a minute. He did, and glared at me.

"Great," I said, "now drop and give me ten push-ups."


"Because you seem to have a little extra emotional energy today, and sometimes working your body can help settle your heart and mind."

He huffed, rolled his eyes, and generally showed his displeasure as best he could as he dropped to a push-up position. Max watched from behind his math book and muttered,

"Well, at least his HEAVY SIGH muscles are getting a good workout."

It's a....

I read a post somewhere, recently, wherein the writer was pregnant with her second child, and she discussed all the fascination she encountered about the sex of the baby. People kept asking her if she wanted a girl, since she already had a boy. She wrote about being confused by the question. As though it mattered. After all, she said, she didn't think about her firstborn, her son, mainly in terms of gender.  He was first of all funny and smart and kind and interesting...being a boy was only one small facet of who he was. She went in for the ultrasound without an intense need to know if she was carrying a boy or a girl. It was such a small part of the whole picture that it didn't matter that much.

I thought it was a lovely sentiment. I also thought it was kind of a load of bull.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with her that our children are far more than the sum of what's in their pants. After all, I have three sons who could not be more different from each other. As my grandfather announces when he sees the three of them marching his direction, "Well, here come three little universes!"

And they are. Although they share a gender, they each inhabit their own world, and I would be bereft without any one of their unique selves.

However, boys are not girls. They have differences, both inborn and created in this tangled world of social interactions. Boy children come with questions about circumcision, girl children come with questions about why one would want to put high heels on an infant (seriously, WHY? That sort of turns my stomach). There is not a better sex, and from where I sit, I'm pretty sure there's not an EASIER sex to raise, but it does matter.

So I WAS intensely curious when I hopped on that paper-covered table today, yanked my pants down around my hips, and reached for Clay's hand as the tech squirted jelly on my belly. The most important news, of course, is that everything looks fine. The other news...well, let me tell you the same way we told the boys - in cake.

Continue reading "It's a...." »

A few well deserved notes

To: the grocery store

It is November the freaking 8th. Stop it with the Christmas carols, or I will cut you. I mean it.

To: my body

Look, I really appreciate the way you've gotten behind the job of supporting this pregnancy. Seriously, thank you. But can we talk about the boobs? Because you know the baby won't be needing those for MONTHS, right? And it seems...unnecessary to make me carry these monstrosities around until then. If you could put some of that effort into maintaining brain function instead? That would be awesome.

To: me

Yessss, I understand, I do. The ultrasound is Monday. Hopefully all will be revealed then. Until then? It will not help you to lie awake all night, trying to determine through sheer anxiety alone if your child is healthy or what sex it is. Go to sleep. Seriously.

To: the guy at the gym

Ok, look, I know you were looking at me with a dreamy, happy smile the whole time I was wielding the free weights. I like to imagine your wife just had a baby, or your sister is pregnant, and you're all blissed out on the wonder of the gestating woman. And I know I was exuding a very Madonna-like air, what with the sweating and muttering under my breath and all. I am freaking adorable. But dude, you don't know me. Avert the eyes occasionally, wouldja? Because I'm sorry to report that my portion of irritable ire just grows apace with the rest of me.

To: Clay

You fixed the steps from the house into the garage, because it was a big step down to the garage floor, and as I burgeon at the belly here I have started stepping down that too-big step with a loud OOF. So you put up a hand rail for me, and then took out the step and built a new one, so there wasn't such a big drop off. But then I came home, and when I looked at the new step I couldn't see the supports underneath. They were there, and they were steel, and you assured me that they would hold just fine beneath me. But I told you it LOOKED insubstantial, and when you stood there and looked crest-fallen, because you'd been working on the step all morning, I told you it was just logical. Which is what I always say when I mean "it has nothing to do with logic, it's a totally emotional thought, which is how I operate."

So you put a lip all around the edge of the step, completely non-functional, except that it looks so much better to me now.

You are the best.

Drawing lines, part 2

Sorry to leave you hanging like that. I was...gestating. Seriously, it takes a lot of concentration. It must, or I have no explanation for why I poured myself a cup of tea the other day, noticed it was a bit cool, and popped the teapot in the microwave instead of the cup. Yeah. I walked away, cold cup of tea in my hand, and didn't notice the mix-up until the metal parts of the teapot started arcing and sizzling in the microwave. Haha! Aren't you glad I'm perpetuating my genes on the world?

Anyhow, as I was saying, starting fires. For months - years - the boys have been burning things with magnifying glasses. Scorching leaves, melting plastic figures, that sort of thing. But a few weeks ago Tre and Max were visiting some friends, and when I arrived to pick them up, the four of them were huddled in the gutter around a small fire. It seems they'd been playing with caps - from cap guns - and had discovered a wonderful, wonderful use for the sparks they'd coaxed from them.

And a new era dawned.

Soon the boys were spending most of their spare time outside, making small mounds of newspaper and leaves, and igniting them with their magnifying glasses. They didn't exactly ASK if it was okay, but I knew what they were doing, and I didn't exactly tell them not to, either.


I'm not sure. I watched them, and they were being very careful, always keeping a bottle of water nearby. They kept the area clear of anything that could catch fire, and the three of them would gather around one fire and just feed it and watch it. Sometimes they came inside with slightly scorched fingers (mostly Raphael, who I SWEAR needs a fear transplant), but never anything significant.

Most of all, I allowed it because they were so enthralled. They would come inside with their hair smelling of smoke, and their eyes shining. An odd side effect of exposure to danger in boys is peace. And joy. Plus, when I say I loved fire as a child, I'm not kidding. I LOVED fire. It was everything that was best about the world - beautiful and warming and magical and dangerous. I could not ever find the way into Narnia, none of the stray keys I found seemed to open doors to another world, and none of my pets ever ever talked to me, no matter how sincerely I assured them it would be okay, but with a match and a pile of splinters, I could bring to life a gorgeous, glowing monster. So I understood the boys' joy.

I did keep an eye on them, because I wanted them to be careful, but also because I wanted to be there if any adults saw them and objected. So you can imagine my irritation when I missed it.

They'd been outside, burning things in the gutter, and I'd been watching out the window while I puttered in the living room. I must have gone to the bathroom or something, because suddenly the three of them came stomping in, trying to outdo each other in scornful mockery of the woman who'd just gotten on their case.

Apparently she had driven up, rolled her window down, and said, "If you don't put that out right now, I'm calling the fire department." They drowned their fire with their water bottle, and she'd driven off, and now they were complaining bitterly.

CJ,I thought of you. And I panicked. What, exactly, would I have done if the fire department had showed up? The police always come along, you know. I DO NOT want to get crossways with CPS, oh my LORD, do I not. So I dropped the boom on the fire starting. For now all burning is disallowed, and the magnifying glasses are only for magnifying things.

I keep thinking about it, wondering if I was wrong or not. It's not easy to defend your right to allow your children to start fires, it's just not. And in this world of parenting-expert-approved answers, it's only getting harder. Maybe I did stray too far outside easily defensible lines.

At the same time, I remember the wilds of my youth and wonder how much those lines are holding out.