Sunday, April 19, 2015

India, you're my love song

Dear India,

Today you are three! Happy birthday, my love!

We had your birthday party yesterday, and you wore your new "Queen of Elsa" dress, and there was just so much joy.
Yesterday evening you were wearing your "two" shirt and eating a hot dog, and air was warm and the  light lovely and it struck me that you would never be two again. I was suddenly and profoundly sad.
Yesterday you were two, and now you are three. It's not like there's any real difference, one day to the next, but you put enough days together...

I wouldn't keep you two forever, although I myself would be overjoyed to stop aging. But it was such a stark reminder of the inexorable forward motion of time. So often I am too caught up in the day-to-day to notice, and then suddenly I'm all, mais où sont les neiges d'antan!

Today in the sandbox you announced to a stranger who was watching his child that now you are three. And you held up three fingers.

A mom sitting near me said, "Oh! My son just turned three as well! You're both three!"

And you looked at the boy and looked back at her and very casually said, "Is he a tiny three? I'm a big three."

You are so bold. I hope as you age you learn to filter but never lose your boldness. You believe that the world is an open place, and you charge without hesitation into its embrace.

I fervently hope that you keep this strong sense of self.

You still love talking about your gagina, although you do know that the outside is called your vulva, and you say so solemnly. For the time being you've stopped bellowing about it in public, and I do appreciate this.

Oh, you love to cuddle! And if I'm facing the other direction when you crawl in my bed, I'll be given a directive. "Cuddle!" You like to take off all your clothes and then say, "I'm coldy! Pick me up!" And you hold so tight around my neck. Sometimes this is charming and sometimes incredibly inconvenient. Or both.

You generally have nice manners and have started thanking us effusively for meals, clothing, taking you to the park. It's just so sweet.

And even when you are angry, if you're offered something you will clench your teeth and growl, "NO THANK YOU, NANA!"

In stark contrast to your brother, you love brushing your teeth, and you've started asking to floss. This, while I'm still pretty much prying Jordan's mouth open to shove the toothbrush in.

This is not to say that you're never a wretched little beast, because you sometimes are.

Not to dwell on your beastliness, but bedtime often leaves me feeling hostile and battered. But then the nights you are sweet are just so delightful, and I push my nose into your hair and nuzzle the back of your neck and wish those times would stretch forever.

You know how to traumatize your brother, who is not as emotionally sophisticated as you. He's a lot kinder to you than you are to him.

The other day he came to me sobbing and when I asked what was wrong he wailed, "I told India that she's not the boss of me! And she said she is! She said she's in charge!"

I had to say, "Jordan, she's two. She is not in charge."

Although now that you're three, you might soon be.

Have mercy.

I love you love you love you.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Well, then. I'll just stick to refrigeration.

Enjoying the nature.
It is spring break, and as the kids are too young for Daytona Beach and plus I still have regrets about getting talked into going there my freshman year of college, we went to visit Leigh on her farm in Western Maryland for a few days.

We drove for approximately 87 hours, although if you don't have children then it only takes about three.

The Lego movie got us through part of the trip, but then it ended and then they began fighting over the iPad. We played I Spy for a while, although India is a little young for it.

"I spy with my little eye a truck! Right there!"

Then we listened to Taylor Swift, which typically engenders good feelings and cooperation. Jordan is now completely over Frozen, and doesn't even remember that he used to sing along.

"NOT Frozen! It's so Bow-wing!" (Suddenly everything is so boring. And he's five. He's never done Internet dating. He has no idea how bored he might be.)

And then, then...

"Are we there yet?"


"Now are we there?"

"Getting closer."

"Are we there, Mama?"

(Clenched teeth, trying not to stab myself in the ears with the nearest sharp object.) "So close!"

Yes. And I'm the person who, until Nick pointed out the practicalities and also sheer insanity, thought it might be fun to drive my mom and kids to Texas. Texas!

I think I'm a smart person and yet I come up with some less than stellar ideas.

So anyway, finally, we were there! There was more grass than my daughter had ever seen in one place! And BIG ROCKS! And a pond! Magical!

I called Leigh to tell her we'd arrived, and said I had a bunch of things I needed to get into the fridge.

(On a side bar, you cannot buy wine or beer in a grocery store in Maryland. You have to go to a liquor store. Who knew?)

She gave me the door code and said, "Sounds great. But you don't have anything to freeze, do you?"

I said I didn't think so, that we only had stuff for the fridge.

"Good. Don't open the freezer."


"My cat's in there."


"See you shortly!"

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Turns out

In high school, my dear friend Kristin used to say, "Life would be so much better if people just did what I wanted."

I would always agree; it totally would. Wouldn't it?

Which brings me to Marriage. Specifically, ours, now. Because high school was back when I believed that you got married and then you lived in a state of happiness. The end.

We currently have plans to do something I want to do. Something we agreed on last summer after a stint in the marital Fire Swamp.

Marriage, or anyway ours, is never even. You don't have the same amount of anything--love, happiness, chore doing, child rearing--ever. Sometimes it is 80-20, sometimes 52-48, sometimes 17-83. It sloshes back and forth and I believe that things generally come out even, even if they never are on a daily or weekly or monthly basis.

(And here let me tell you that I had to do math for that. Because I am the person who once asked for a 60-30 beverage mix.)

Sometimes we do what Nick wants, sometimes what I want, sometimes what neither of us wants, but we know that the kids will be delighted. And we agree that delighting our kids is a worthwhile goal. Occasionally but rarely we all want the same thing.

I mean, we want harmony and happiness. (We being Nick and me. The kids want candy all the time.) We want a strong family. Those are common goals. But what we actually want to do when we have time to choose? Those are rarely the same.

So back to the issue at hand.

We are at a decision-making point in the doing of what Lisa wants. And yesterday Nick felt blindsided because I was, seemingly out of the blue, trying to force him to make a quick decision.

But the fact is that none of it was out of the blue for me. I just hadn't involved him up to that point  because I know he's not interested.

He was mad and I was mad. Ragingly so.

And finally he said, "Stop. Yes, I'm doing this for you. And I don't understand why I'm being yelled at. You said this was important to you and I said yes, and now we're doing it. So why are you punishing me for doing what you wanted?"

Fair point.

So I had to look inside and realize that actually, I'm annoyed that it's not what he wants to do. If we get there and he doesn't like it, it's on me. And it is a reminder that one of us will always be doing what we wouldn't choose, no matter how nice it might be.

It is true that I can't make him want what I want. People just don't work that way. He'd love it if I loved sailing, for example. Or wanted to go to Maine every summer.

These are luxuries. They are nice things. A trip to Maine is lovely, truly. But it is not my desire; it is his.

Preferences are all pieces of who we are. And when we reach a point where we can do or have things that most of the time are out of reach, they feel a lot more urgent.

To me, anyway.

And so, yes. He's doing what I want. And he's not complaining. I've done a lot of what he wants. Sometimes it's been terrific. Sometimes not. Sometimes I've complained and sometimes I've not complained. And still I think he knew I was going along with what he wanted.

So maybe he felt the same way I feel now. I don't know.

Marriage is complicated, is I guess what I'm saying once again. You choose your person for a reason, or 54 great reasons, but that doesn't mean they're going to want to do what you want. And when they do, it doesn't necessarily make your life better.

Basically, you don't just live in a state of happiness because you're married.

Who knew in high school?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Please can we talk Peaky Blinders?

Have you watched Peaky Blinders? No? Then I would like you to do something, and it is this.

I want you to get past the fact that Peaky Blinders is an odd and off-putting name and go watch it.

Because it is fantastic. So incredibly compelling. Much better than House of Cards, truly. And there are only two seasons (so far). And they are short, like eight episodes each.

Damn the BBC and their high-quality short-seasoned programming!

Netflix bought it from the BBC rather than re-making it. So it is English with some hard-to-understand accents. Nick's mom is from Yorkshire so I sometimes ask him to interpret. Sometimes we have to go back. Sometimes he makes his best guess. Sometimes he just shrugs.

Through it all, he refuses to use subtitles. One day I will actually learn how to use the new and many-buttoned remote and then I will do subtitles myself.

OK, so here's the deal.

The Peaky Blinders, silly as their name may be, are a criminal gang. Tommy Shelby is the main character. He and his cohort fought in France in WWI. They've been through terrible things. Tommy is regularly faced with death, he calmly stares it down. And then has a whiskey.

He's like a 1919 British criminal version of Don Draper.

It's set in Birmingham, England, starting in 1919. Same time period as Downton! But a lifetime away in terms of social strata.

And if Sybil had met Tommy Shelby, she'd have loved him. (But who wouldn't? That boldness! Those eyes!) And THAT would've been a big, big problem for Lord Grantham. Much bigger than Branson the chauffeur. But I digress.

There is a lot of violence. I do have to cover my eyes quite a bit.

But it is so deliciously good. Please watch it and then come back so we can talk it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why, yes, that does ring a bell

When my son was little some friends of ours gave us the book Go the F*ck to Sleep.

I thought it was funny and charming, and it's got lovely illustrations. But I didn't fully appreciate the genius of it.

Because Jordan slept.

I would read to him, rock him and sing him a little song or two, and then put him in his crib. He would promptly stick his thumb in his mouth, put his little butt up in the air, and fall asleep. And then he slept.

My daughter, on the other hand. She's a sleep-wrecking lunatic.

She's never wanted to go to bed. And now she's gotten clever. It's not just screaming in protest.


Now after stories, after her older brother is fast asleep, it is, "Mama! I'm hungweeee! I'm hungweee!" So I will get her a drinking yogurt and she'll take a couple sips and be all yeah, thanks, great. That was refreshing and now I'm done.

"Now I need another story."


"I'm hot! I'm hot! I'M HOOOOOT! I need new pajamas!" We change pajamas.

"I need socks! Socks! Not these socks! I want to choose my own! There's only one pink one!"


I talk her into one pink and one other color. We get back into bed.

"I'm scared of the dark!"

"Honey, that's why you have a nightlight."

"But it makes shadows and I'm scared of the shadows!"

Sometimes, I tell you, I am pretty sure I myself am not going to make it.

And then sometimes she will get up at night. After stringing bedtime out until 10:00 pm Friday night, she was up at 2:00 am. She had a cough. Then she needed milk. "MILKEEEEE!" Nick got her milk.

She needed...I don't know. Attention. She was just awake. And awake and awake. She wriggled. She hummed. Drummed her feet on me. Shoved her skull against Nick's. Patted my cheeks.

"You are killing me, India." I said this. "Please go to sleep. I love you but you're killing me."

To let Nick sleep, I took her back to her bed and crawled in with her. It was one thing and another. I think we fell asleep around 5:00 am. 

At some point that afternoon India looked at me and said, "Mama, remember last night? When I was killing you?"

Yes, my darling. Yes, I do.