offspring


In the car last night, our 7 year old announces “Sierra’s got a boy toy!”

David and I grinned at each other, and he said “Now that’s something I didn’t expect to hear for at least another ten years.”

I listen to NPR a lot. My friend, Nancy, first got me started on it when I’d hear their World Cafe show in her office in the afternoons. They’d play music from around the world, some funny (to us), some bad, some delightful. Then I got hooked on their All Things Considered show. It’s not like news, not depressingly geared toward highlighting the nastiness that people inflict on each other. It’s about interesting things that people do.

So anyway, I listen to it in my car, when I’m not carpooling, and I always hear something interesting. The other night I heard the Tavis Smiley show, and he was interviewing a guy called Deepak Chopra. I’d heard the name before, but really had no clue who he was. At first I was just enjoying his lilting accent (I just love to hear people from India speak) as they talked about the movie Love Guru that was inspired by him. They segued into promoting his new book, Why Is God Laughing?, but then he said some things that just really resonated.

He said that depressed people look at laughing people and say “well if I had a good life like those people, I’d be laughing too.” But he said that it’s really just the opposite. If they were laughing, they’d have a good life. The laughter and the positive attitude draws the good life towards us. He talked about how laughter distinguishes us from animals, how we’re the only creatures who can look at a situation and completely change it by looking for and laughing at the absurdity of it.

We’re the only creatures who can laugh! I think he talked about some other stuff while I was still absorbing the thought of changing a situation by laughing at the absurdity of it, and thinking of examples. Then I heard him talking about exercises in gratitude, how if we think of things that we are grateful for, it’s hard to remain depressed. So the idea is to keep a grateful state of mind, and look for absurdity to enjoy. Sounds good to me! I like to be grateful, and I love absurdity–I just didn’t know it was good for me.

Things for which I’m grateful today:

I’m grateful that I got to look on the beautiful sleeping faces of my daughters this morning. They’ve had a whirlwind of sleepovers this week. I realized when I passed their empty beds how much I missed that early morning glimpse of them in their warm, sweet repose, kissing their faces and feeling my heart swell as they burrow back into their blankets and their dreams.

I’m grateful that we have the means to give our girls a good life, that our worries are more on the order of “are we giving them too much?” than “how can we cover their basic needs?” My heart goes out to those who are losing their homes or never had homes to lose, and who struggle just to keep their children fed.

I’m grateful that my husband is also the father of both of my daughters, and that I never have to deal with custody issues or torn loyalties. I know a lot of people manage good lives with shared custody and a new spouse, but I also know that they go through some pretty hard times to get there. I’m so grateful for David and how he balances my quirks.

I’m grateful for harmonic in-laws. It’s pretty absurd to live across the court from your parents and expect your husband to get along with them. But we do, and he does! Oh sure, he’ll get annoyed over things from time to time, but it’s never anything major. Any time he is into something cool, the first one he runs to share it with is my dad. How rare is THAT? And my in-laws live in the gorgeous redwoods of northern California. I’m so grateful for the opportunities they’ve given us to absorb the beauty there and to experience greener lifestyles than we typically see in Ohio.

I’m grateful for flowers. It’s so miraculous to me that I can take these tiny seeds from a dead flower along the alley at work, let them sit in a baggie all winter, and then put them in the dirt and watch them grow from a hangnail-sized speck into something bigger than my kids in the space of a few months. Well, my zinnias are still not quite knee high at the moment, but they’re getting there, and they’ll be huge and bursting with peach-sized, jewel-toned flowers in another month. I LOVE that about flowers!

As to absurdity for today, well, I think we’ve covered that with worrying over whether we give our kids too much and living across the street from my parents!

I’m sitting here listening to Aja announce into the fan all the things her sister can’t call her. Remember that? Laying on the floor in front of one of those big square fans and making all kinds of weird noises to hear how much weirder they sounded chopped up by the fan? I had forgotten. I’d also forgotten the sibling name-calling. “You cannot call me ding dong,” and “You also can’t call me weiner. You also can’t call me wee wee.”

“How ’bout Henry Tinkler?”

“Hairy armpits!”

“Oh, now it’s ON!”

(*stomp*stomp*run*swiiiiishhh*giggle)

“Hairy butt person!”

“I farted on youuuu! That’s what you get!”

Ah, the seven and eight-year-old wit.

Now they’re singing a song they made up. Wait, did she just say “junk in her trunk??” I’m not even sure I know what that means, but it sounds kinda, umm, not-so-elementary, my dear Watson.

Note to self: Unless your goal is to provide your eight-year-old with a healthy dose of morning hilarity, it is not advisable to slather your poor dried-up feet with lotion immediately prior to slipping on your wedge-heeled sandals. Yes, it is important to hydrate those tootsies so that they won’t look nasty in said sandals, but let’s just do that at bed time from now on, ‘kay?

Why is this inadvisable exactly? Well, self, just so you won’t forget, those lovely wedge heels that look kind of dressy but are quite comfy and slip on quickly and support your foot with nary a wobble, when slipped onto a well-lubricated foot become a luge through which said well-lubed tootsie slips, with the apparent goal of wearing it around the ankle. Now try walking. Mm hmm.

You’re welcome, Sierra. I’m glad you had so much fun seeing mommy off to work this morning.

Okay, two stories. Wait, make that three.

First, many many moons ago, when my little cousin, Erinslick, was in either high school or early college, (Ow! Okay, not that many moons ago!) So anyway, as I was saying, she was just about that age when she was testing out whether she might share a naughty joke with the elders in her family. Well, I don’t remember the joke, but I DO remember that it featured “Bowm chick-a WOW wow!” in it, and we all totally lost it. It was so totally unexpected out of little Miss Erin Slick from Punkin Crick!

Second, not so many moons ago, we were all over at my parents’ house, the little ones were all tucked in upstairs, and the grown ups were all joking around and cracking each other up like we do, and I was trying to remember that porno sound effect from Erin’s joke. It was one of those silly moments when I just HAD to have that onomatopoeia (wait, is that an onomatopoeia? oh yeah, it’s an onomatopoeia of a 70’s porn guitar. now where was i?) Okay, so I just absolutely HAD to hear it. NOW. So I was like, hey Mom, Erin wouldn’t mind if I just called her up out of the blue and asked her to do her porn sound effect on speaker phone to a whole roomful of people, right? And Mom says, ya know, I really don’t think she would.

So I called her, explained my dilemma, and asked whether she’d mind if I put her on speaker phone. Being Erin, she did not. Being Erin, she took it all totally in stride, as if cousins calling out of the blue and asking her to make porn sound effects on speakerphone were, if not a common occurrence, not at all unexpected.

And thus, “Bowm chick-a WOW wow!” became a shortcut to that moment, to a giggly frame of mind. And for this, and many other things bright and shiny (if less pornographic), we love Erin.

And that leads us to tonight, and our drive home from one of the giggliest meals we’ve ever shared with our little ones. So the girls are singing and making the inevitable fart jokes and acting goofy in the back seat, and we’re all laughing, and one of our girls, whose name shall not be mentioned because if she ever reads this I will surely suffer, starts singing “Bowm chick-a WOW wow!” (Um, little pitchers? Big ears?)

I’m sitting there next to Cabana Boy in the front, face forward, trying to control some serious guffaws as the “Bowm chick-a WOW wows” multiply in volume and intensity, not to mention creativity, wondering how I can not react to this. I mean, we all know that to crack up at something a kid does is tantamount to an invitation to repeat it ad nauseum, ad infinitum, right? And then to like, go try it out at school and at friends’ houses. And you know, what parent wouldn’t want other parents and teachers speculating on how, exactly, this little girl knows porn music so well? Cabana Boy got the best of me though. He gave me one of those sly sideways grins and told the girls, keep it up! I think Mommy’s gonna explode!

And I did. The End.

Woo hoo! One week from today marks the end of the school year!

  • No more rushing through dinner to get the girls bathed and in bed in time to get up for school.
  • No more scrambling to get three people up, de-dreadlocked, and de-morning-breath-ized in the morning.
  • No more interruptions to my girls’ apparently treasured mirror time, when they make faces at themselves, apply copious amounts of lipgloss, practice dance moves, make their hair stick up, and generally do everything they can think of except brush their (damn) teeth!
  • No more bed-time belly aches, headaches, leg aches, or ache-aches.
  • No more checking temperatures in the morning to prove that, yes, they must go to school.

As of next Wednesday afternoon, their daily grooming shall be the responsibility of Cabana Boy! Um, wait, that actually hasn’t worked so well in the past, since Cabana Boy seems to think that a dip in the pool for seven days running passes for bathing. But wait, I’m armed with UltraSwim! The wonder shampoo that actually gets the green out of Sierra’s hair without a need for a plastic cap or a borrowed hair dryer!

Woo hoo! I’m free! Well, almost. Five more school days… and then it’s dreadlocks and morning breath for everyone!!!

At dinner last night we were down a kid. Sierra, our big girl, was sleeping over at a friend’s, so Aja got Mommy and Daddy’s undivided attention. She was prattling on about tomatoes being fruit, and how most people don’t grow fruit in their gardens. I told her that we did–we have a good crop of strawberries setting up right now, next to her sandbox. David said “At least until the bunnies get them we do.”

Aja looked thoughtful for a couple of seconds and then, so sweet it was all I could do not to dump her on my waffles, came out with “Well, I want them to be for the bunnies, because they’re always out there looking looking looking for food and it’s  really hard for them to find food so I want to give them our strawberries.”

I love to watch how her face goes from goofy seven-year-old to ageless sweetness and light. As a goofy seven-year-old, she’s likely to have her cheeks sucked in and clamped between her teeth, green eyes crossed, and emit some of the most heinous noises. Then suddenly, it’s as if an angelic light washes over her, and she glows with it, her dimples demure, a gentle goodness radiating from her eyes, the sprinkling of freckles across her nose adding a certain poignancy… And then I’m lost. All I can say is, thank God her front teeth have grown in, because when those were missing, her cuteness factor was nearly unbearable.

Of course, we’re never in that much danger of losing it over the ol’ sweetness and light version, because inevitably goofy kicks in with a fart joke and we’re saved.

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