Monday, June 28, 2010


For months I have been reminding my children to wear shoes when they are running through our back lawn, which, thanks to a field of flowering clover, has become a festive gathering place for honeybees.

My kids usually refuse to put on shoes, and I have stopped trying to make them, because, Christ, they're not my feet. I have better things to do than chase down preschoolers as they yell "hide!" and race away at the sight of me holding their sneakers. (I don't always do those better things, but I could be doing better things. It's more the principal of the thing.) My thinking is, a good sting might persuade them to listen to me in the future.

But it's been dozens of hours of bare feet and bees, and no one has gotten stung. Until I slipped my shoes off the other day. My feet were bare for about 45 seconds before I felt a slight pressure on the underside of my right foot. Thirty seconds later the pressure had turned to agony, and it was all I could do to resist unleashing a string of profanities that would have made my grandmother cry.

Instead, I grinned tightly, told my kids I was fine, and hopped into the kitchen for some ice. I suppressed my own sobbing for fear that I might frighten the babies. It felt like a good parent moment, putting their need to feel safe above my need to roll on the ground shouting, "Oh, f***," over and over again.

And then Henry came in.

"Mom?" he asked, his eyebrows scrunched in concern.

"Yes, honey," I said, rocking back and forth as I held the sandwich bag of ice over my arch.

"That bee spent all day collecting pollen so it could make honey for the baby bees, and you killed her," he said, crossing his arms and scowling in condemnation.

Now I'm thinking I could start a career of talking about my kids to teen pregnancy prevention classes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I think I was just never a baby person.

I loved my kids when they were babies. I loved the gurgling and the cuddling and the toothless grins. But I could have done without the multiple nap-times and trying to guess whether the cry was related to hunger or wetness or an aneurysm. Also the spit-up and the smooshed food all over everything. And various rashes from the smooshed food settling into skin folds. And the night waking. And teething.

But suddenly, my children are no longer babies. They still scream about tooth brushing. They still push (Henry) and whack people on the head with trucks (Amelia). They still whine and demand. But they also talk, they hug, they tell jokes. They can carry their own dinosaurs to the car, pick up their own Legos, and put their clothes in the hamper. They often say "please," "thank you," and "I love you." They have become people, these shorties of mine.

Just as suddenly, these years that just six months ago stretched so long before me seem precariously short. In September, both kids will be in part-time preschool. A year later, Henry will be in full-time kindergarten. Three years from now, they'll both be school kids, and I'll have a job and possibly time to go to the bathroom by myself, and we'll continue slipping towards the day they take wing and I become a tiny speck behind them.

But for now we have time together to lie on the grass and see what bugs we can find. We have self-serve frozen yogurt after a doctor's visit. We have a game we play where they say they want to go home even though we already ARE home, and I get the diaper bag and the car key only to say a second later, "Wait a minute..." and they explode into laughter.

I told this to my mom last night, and she smiled and said, "It gets even better," which is wonderful news, but for now I'm just grateful that it's this good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Anxieties can come true

Last Saturday was Henry's birthday party at Children's Fairyland. It was, to hear the talk in our house, the most anticipated event of the year. The talk went like this:

H: "Is my Fairyland party today?"

Me: "Not today!"

H: "Is it tomorrow?"

Me: "Not tomorrow! Soon! Very soon!"

H: (stamping, shouting) "I want it to be today!"

And this went on EVERY MORNING for the two weeks leading up to it. Toward the end I was threatening to cancel the damn party if the tantrums didn't stop.

I am a terrible parent when my children whine.

So I knew this was a big deal to Henry. It would likely be the highlight of his young life until he starts science camp at Habitot in July. The pressure, for me, was intense. I was on the phone to Fairyland every couple of days. First to follow up on our party application, then to follow up on the invitations, then to increase our head count, then to follow up on the increased head count. Fairyland party planners appeared to be about as dependable as cartoon pixies.

And then I got an Evite reply from a mom that said "Cool! We're going to a party at Cinderella's Shoe at the same time!" And so I was back on the phone to Fairyland. The pixies assured me that Cinderella's Shoe was indeed reserved for Henry, they had the paperwork right there.

You see where this is headed, right? Of course you do. I saw where it was headed, too, but I also have years of psychotherapy under my belt, and was thus able to dismiss my increasing feelings of doom as the product of my dysfunctional upbringing.

Towards the end of the pre-party puppet show, I noticed people I didn't know carrying balloons and presents to Cinderella's Shoe. I raced to the first person in a Children's Fairyland T-shirt I could find. "WE'RE supposed to have Cinderella's Shoe!" I cried, stamping and shouting.

A flurry of activity followed. First the Fairy Party Department confirmed that we did have the shoe. Then they returned and said that the other party had brought their paperwork confirming their ownership of the shoe. Did I have my paperwork? I did not. I had thought that my repeated communications plus close to $300 was sufficient to reserve the shoe. It was not.

By then the puppet show was over. Henry skipped over to me, beaming in the golden crown the puppets had bestowed upon him in honor of his birthday, and said, "Let's go to the shoe!" When I told him we were not going to having the party at the shoe, he began to wail.

And that was when I lost it on the fairies. I don't remember my exact words, just the tears in my eyes and the word "unacceptable" shouted again and again and again. It was both exhilarating and sorely humiliating as I realized the parents of Henry's friends were all watching my very public fury. When I was finished, the Fairyland party staff assured me that I would be receiving a complete refund.

"Thank you," I smiled, sweetly.

We moved the party to the Japanese Tea Garden, which was pretty, but, as Henry pointed out, had no shoe-shaped slide. He remained doubtful until a few minutes later, when Pirate Luna arrived with her box of balloons and face paints. Henry was blissful, making hiring the pirate the best $120 I will ever spend.

For nearly $300, the Fairyland fiasco was an abomination. Once it was free, it was really quite lovely. And in the end, I felt strangely triumphant. In terms of party planning, the worst had happened, and I had survived. Better than survived, I got my money back.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Henry is 4.

What does this mean, this 4? It means the big-boy bunk bed will arrive in a week or two. It means I lay out the clothes and he can dress himself (it doesn't mean he always does it, but sometimes he emerges from his room ready for school and to me it is no less amazing than Superman in the phone booth). It means he talks on the phone with Grandma and then hangs up, because they no longer need me as an intermediary.

Today I went to Babies 'R Us for summer sleep sacks for Amelia, following a poop-smearing incident that convinced me that we will require sleep sacks for some time to come. I was browsing the sale clothes, and could find nothing in Henry's size. It took me a minute, and suddenly, blindingly, I realized that Babies 'R Us no longer applies to Henry. Henry's babyhood is officially over, from both a chronological and retail perspective. Those hours trolling the aisles for bottle liners, binkies, baby food, and diapers while Henry cooed from the car seat that never quite fit in the cart are scenes from the past.

Henry isn't the only one moving on and up in the world. I had an interview for a long-term, part-time contract position at a pharmaceutical company today. I think it went well. Which means I could have saved myself the frantic sobbing last night and this morning that I was so severely under qualified they would laugh me out of the building. When I grow up I want to find some self-esteem.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What keeps me up at night

1. Three months ago, I said yes to cohosting a bike party/fundraiser for Henry's preschool. I love saying yes. I love that moment where everyone loves me and I feel like a good and charitable person for something I don't have to think about for another 12 weeks.

I hate throwing parties. I hate the tiny details like number of forks and how many jingle bells for the kids' craft table. I hate the unpredictability of using a public park (Will there be anyone else there having a party? Will that bearded guy be bathing in the drinking fountain? Will there be vomit in the sand?).

But I went for the immediate glory, and now I'm left with throwing a party that has netted only about $30 after the money I've spent on food and supplies. The worst part is that I'm throwing another party next Saturday for Henry's birthday. I get so caught up in the "yes" moment that I fail to consider things like my son's birthday.

2. We're having Henry's party at Children's Fairyland. And hiring a pirate. And there will be 20 kids there.

How did this happen? I used to scoff--I still scoff--at stories of over-the-top preschool birthday parties. A pony? Ha ha. Hired a bartender? Hilarious! Now I'm throwing a circus for a 4th birthday party.

3. I am going bald.

About three weeks ago I was diagnosed with androgenic alopecia. Female pattern baldness. It's hereditary, except no one in my family, male or female, for at least three generations, has ever lost their hair.

I don't know what else to say about this except that I spent the first week wanting to die. I am doing much better now, but at 4 in the morning I often lie awake wondering how long I have before I have to live out my life in a wig.