The Snowman’s Nose

Today it is pissing down rain. Our relatively-newly-acquired Cairn terrier has never had to take his walk in such a deluge, but he was a brave little guy, wearing his soon-sodden red fleece coat, and after a little while, he began to discover the joys of walking in the rain, even if you have to stop and shake yourself wildly and frequently. You can chase the water rushing down to the storm drains, and have a little sip of the foamy stuff. You can still sniff things, and the rain has melted a lot of the snow, so there’re plenty of uncovered things to sniff. We walked along, pretty happy, getting wetter and wetter. I found some nice wooden animals and a very large penny (about 4 inches across) that must have dropped out of someone’s trash. And the dog, frisking up onto someone’s lawn, found the snowman’s nose. The snowman himself was pretty sad looking, but the nose was a gorgeous glowing orange, washed fresh by the rain, lurking in the sodden grass. Mister Dog  immediately sat down and ate the whole thing.

Isn’t it funny what a little context will do? He’s been completely ptui-ing any carrot I give him for dinner lately, but this was an exotic wild carrot that he’d hunted himself, people. Not some tame variety from the fridge, all cut up into little nubbins rolling around insipidly in his dish. I think I’ll invent a new saying: instead of “the bees knees,” I’m going to start saying “the snowman’s nose.”

Now we’re home, and he’s larking about in the living room, completely invigorated and refreshed. I’m feeling pretty good, too, because I got a nice piece of work done this morning, pre-walk, and I’m looking forward to lunch and more work. Then both boys will come here after school (usually Seth goes to Anne’s on Wednesdays) and we will all be cozy, with the rain pelting down. It’s the nose! (You know whose.)

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 5:09 AM  Leave a Comment  

And Yet the Evening Ended in Tears

Because Owen was put in a lower skill group than Seth (the one made up of him and me) and this precipitated a big meltdown starting with “Just once, just once, I want to be better than Seth at a sport,” moving through, “I don’t have any friends,” and sputtering to a stop only because he was in bed and falling asleep with, “I’m just a math nerd and a computer geek.” Didn’t matter that I reminded him of his awesome pitching arm, the fact that his buddy the Greek God had been over just that afternoon for a few hours of chummy togetherness, nor that being good at math and computers is a serious plus.

The saddest thing was hearing Seth’s taunts come out of Owen’s mouth: you suck, no one likes you, you’re a nerd. Which, of course, are Seth’s own fears about himself. Sigh. Today is Seth’s guitar lesson, which means I have him alone in the car which means I can (for the millionth time) have a talk with him about not being such a bully to Owen, who loves him and has his back, that when he’s mean to Owen, it affects the whole family, which loves him and has his back, and that he’s teaching Owen to find fault with himself where there is no fault, and that that kind of behavior does nothing at all for Seth’s soul or karma. Etc. I mentioned that this is for the millionth time, I know I did.

I had wanted to write about how having two houses is hard on the boys and on us in so many ways, and here’s one: I get Seth alone in the car today and I can talk with him about being shitty to Owen, which always makes him sad and defensive. Then he sleeps here and wakes up grumpy, usually, then he goes to school and then I don’t see him again until Monday (today is Tuesday). So there’s no real follow through and I can’t check up on his promise (he’s sure to promise) that he’s going to lay off. Ok, I can write to Anne about it, but there’s no guarantee that she’ll do anything about it, and it’s tricky – I try to stay out of her business when she has the boys. Her parenting style, as I may have mentioned, is very, very, very different from mine.

Well, it’s doing some kind of mixed precip out there and I’m on my way to read to Owen’s class, which I try to do once a week or so, along with volunteering at the library. I’m going to miss the elementary school! But check it out: tears or no tears, accompanied by my devil spawn or no, I’m going to keep going to badminton and learn how to boing that birdie, you just watch.

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 4:16 AM  Leave a Comment  

Update from the Femmedom

Right now, Owen and my Beau are in the kitchen doing the dishes and going crazy with their version of “Bohemian Rapsody” and totally cracking themselves up and making the dog do SERIOUS tilty head. Seth has fled upstairs and is practicing “Layla”. Now Owen has come over and is doing a Wayne dance (we love “Wayne’s World” in the Femmedom), and my Beau is playing air dishtowel guitar and “Layla” just went up a notch. They are making me laugh, which is good because I’ve been a complete terror all day and biting people’s heads off maybe because I haven’t gotten my period in about 2 months despite constantly feeling like I’m going to (periomenopause in the Femmedom). Now we’re going to a badminton thing at a local grade school sponsored by the rec department. Can you do the fandango???

Published in: on February 22, 2010 at 11:59 AM  Leave a Comment  

Proudness, or, Not Buttheads, Not Really

Today was the first real day of school vacation for the boys, I mean the first real day at home (they’d been away at a farm over the weekend), and of course they got in a knock-down, drag-out brawl. Which happened while I was on the phone with my friend Natalie who is my Wedding Coordinator, and who was very professional and kind about ignoring the escalating sound of battle in the background as we discussed guest lists, budget, flowers, and cake. After I hung up, I blew those boys’ hair back so far it’s a wonder the little brats aren’t shiny bald. Then we had a group hug. Then everybody ate lunch and got ready to go to their camp, as today is the first day (Seth is taking basketball and Owen is doing baking). As I was looking up the directions, Seth came trailing in and said, out of the blue, “Mom, sometimes when kids at school want to call other kids retarded or something, they say ‘Jew’.”

A piece of news which makes me sad, but how blessed I feel that Seth brought it up. His manner indicated that he knows that that’s not a good thing to say but maybe doesn’t exactly know why. Well, we made a start on it in the car to camp. I talked about how Jews have been oppressed by Christians from day one, about how using “Jew” like that is a hurtful slur, I guessed that often kids use that word in connection with money (I was right), and then talked about how Jews were forced to do jobs Christians considered dirty, including lend money, and then castigated them even more for doing dirty work, and how that hurtful stereotype has lasted all these hundreds of years, and that it will last until non-Jews break the cycle by educating themselves or having Jewish friends, or comes to their senses in any of the many ways that can happen.  I was about to tell them about pogroms but we got to the camp. “I’m only just getting started!” I cautioned them as we got out of the car, and both of them had that sort of I-love-you-but-you’re-really-weird smile on their faces. But I know they were listening. And I know my rants (which are really just my impassioned and compassionate observations on humans) contain good and useful and true information, the kind of information they can use as they carry on into adulthood. Pre-rant, I had just gotten through telling them how proud I was of them for coming around, apologizing, and getting right with each other and me after acting so poorly. “I know you boys are kind and smart and loving and funny and wonderful even though you sometimes act like buttheads,” I’d said.

I am so proud of them. I am so proud of them for deciding to notice injustice: these are the boys who came out of a gas station restroom a couple years ago, around this same time since we were on vacation, and asked for a sharpie so they could go back in and cross out the n-word that someone had written on the wall, and these are the boys who were as shocked and incensed as I was that our UU church didn’t even mention Martin Luther King in the sermon given on the MLK holiday weekend and so we wrote a letter together as a family, and the minister responded incredibly positively and read the letter in church the next Sunday and promised that next MLK day would be different. This is my eldest who just read Warriors Don’t Cry:A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals, and himself almost cried a few times. And this is my youngest to whom all human variation seems to be just a normal part of the mix instead of scary or weird or wrong. These are my boys – not buttheads. Not in the least.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 5:55 AM  Leave a Comment