02 April 2009

a fair question

Mrs. G, what's that thing on your face? the seven-year old asked. I knew exactly what she was referring to. It was large enough to have an economy larger than that of the Czech Republic and sustain a standing army.
It's a big zit, I replied calmly. I don't have any cover up, and it was so painful that covering it up at 6:45 a.m. would have hurt much more than letting it die a natural death.
What's a zit? she inquired further.
It's a thing that sometimes grows on grown-ups faces, I explained, still smiling serenely at the child. I hate being a teacher sometimes.
Oh, okay. She skipped down the hall.
I popped it on the way to my car.

17 February 2009

"want more fuck" or "no shit mama!"*

*Note the quotation marks. I have not said a swear word in several months. I did not say these swear words. My not quite two year old did.

I'd heard the stories about small children who make the f-sound instead of the t-sound and how it leads to dirty looks from people whose children were obviously raised properly with a grasp of phonics upon leaving the womb. Since Mr. Independent has been calling trucks "rucks!" for months, I assumed I was safe from dirty looks related to my child's dirty language. This weekend I had an inkling that I might be wrong.
We were in the car. I don't remember where we were going or where we were coming from, but I thought I heard an excited "fuck!" from the backseat. I turned my head slightly and asked, "What's that, baby?"
"Ruck!" came the excited reply. I felt assured that I'd imagined it.
I didn't imagine it today. Driving home from daycare we saw a truck.
"Look, Mr. Independent! It's a truck!"
"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" he squealed wriggling with delight. His arms waved and his entire body shook with joy as we passed the truck.
Then: "More fuck? More fuck?"
"I don't know, sweet boy. Maybe we'll see more trucks." I honestly didn't know if I wanted to see more or not. I didn't know if I was more amused or mortified by this recent trend.
"More FUCK! WANT MORE FUCK! WANTMOREFUCK!" He became more and more agitated and less and less inclined to accept my insistence that I am not, in fact, in charge of whether or not we see trucks on the drive home. Luckily an airplane distracted him, and he forgot all about the trucks.
But he didn't forget about sitting. Mr. Independent has definite ideas of who should sit, when they should sit, and where they should sit. If I'm sitting, and he doesn't want me to be sitting somewhere, he'll say, "Get up, Mama!" When several "Get up, Mamas!" don't work, he switches tactics. "No shit Mama! No shit!" His volume increases until I am caught in that parenting no-man's land of letting him get what he wants (me getting up) or listening to him yell "No shit Mama!" at Bible study. Tonight, I opted for getting up and leaving.

11 February 2009


This is who I married.

08 February 2009

24 January 2009

Is this the end of bubble-neigh?

For me, one of the best parts of having a kid is watching him acquire language and new abilities. These days it seems like his brain is exploding with new words and sounds and knowledge. We can show him a picture of something and tell him what it is, and he'll repeat it and often remember it.
On Tuesday we talked a lot about Obama, and he can now say Obama and point to Obama if he sees his picture. It's really amazing to watch how he just tests words and sounds and retains them or forgets them.
His words are becoming more refined, as well, and he's losing that toddler incomprehensibility that I've found so endearing this past year. Again is no longer ga-ga, and want to dance isn't uncle dad anymore. I about cried the other day when he pointed to the cat in the hat and said cat-hat, rather than meow-yat.
Out of everything I've experienced being a mama so far, I think this is what I want to hold on to and this is what I will long for. I don't miss the days of holding a sleeping baby or nursing a baby to sleep, nor do I miss that time between about 6 and 9 months where he started learning that he can manipulate his environment, and he can move from place to place on his own. I remember being awed by it, but I don't miss it.
Today, at the zoo, Mr. Independent saw a zebra. Husband asked him if he could say zebra, and he did. He smiled and cried, bye zebra! as we walked to the next exhibit. Until then his only exposure to zebras is his wooden zebra from Africa, placed on a shelf in his room next to a jar of bubbles. Each morning, and occasionally in the middle of the night, he gleefully cries bubble-neigh! and points to the zebra. One day soon, he'll wake up and point, and say zebra! bubbles!

23 January 2009

nothing changes

I had a strange experience at the gym yesterday. All during my time on the treadmill and walking back to the locker room I thought about how I was going to record all the witty thoughts I've been having lately about the trials of having to change clothes at a gym that's frequented by my students' parents. But then the 8th grade girls barged in on me in the locker room, and all my brilliantly funny thoughts died.
My shirt was halfway over my head when a giggling girl tugged on the curtain of my changing stall. Excuse me, I'm sorry to bother you she giggled. Can you please tell her-she nodded her head at the giggling, much shorter girl next to her-that she's not fat?
I studied both of them, one short, like my height, the other a head taller, lanky, not quite grown into her limbs yet. Neither of them had a visible ounce of fat on their bodies.
I smiled and told them, Neither of you is fat. You're both lovely.
See, the first girl said to her friend, then turned to me. She's like 90 pounds and she's in eighth grade, and she thinks she's fat. I was like 90 pounds in first grade. If anyone's fat, it's me.
Yeah, I replied. You're really not fat. I wish I had known that when I looked like you. Now that I'm a bit lumpier than I used to be, I wish I'd enjoyed it more when I wasn't.
Oh my God! she giggled. You are not lumpy at all! Thanks for telling her she's not fat. We're sorry we bothered you!
No bother!
Thank you! Bye!
They ran off, giggling and arguing over who was fatter.
I wasn't at my loveliest yesterday. I say that as objectively as a female can. My hair was a disaster since I'd gotten up late and couldn't fix it the way I normally do on a Thursday. My shirt fit too tightly, and when I exercise my entire body turns red, as does my face. I'd forgotten my contacts and a hair tie. I am on the lumpy side. Obviously I have the excuse of having a baby, but I think the statute of limitations on that one runs out after a year.
I have a picture taped to my desk at home. I'm looking at it right now. It's me, on a beach when I was 11 or 12. I'm wearing a two piece bathing suit that's not a tankini and striking a pose. My stomach was flat. I had no idea.
In some respects I think I have a healthier self-image than a lot of females because I can leave the house without make-up and I don't think about the way I look a whole lot, but when I do it's a poo-storm of disgust and self-loathing (although, with me, what's not a poo-storm of disgust and self-loathing?).
Yesterday, in that locker room, I knew my words to those girls were useless, but I had to say them anyway. I could have told them all sorts of things that I've learned about being fat and being not fat that I've learned in the fifteen years since I've been in eighth grade. It wouldn't have mattered, though. In eighth grade, and ninth, and tenth, and eleventh, and twelfth, and all through college and graduate school and the early years of marriage, I had that conversation, the no, I'm the one who's fat; you're not fat conversation. No amount of people telling me I wasn't fat, that I was beautiful made any sort of difference. I believed what I saw, skewed though it might have been.
My words to those girls have disappeared. They won't come back to them for years, when they've put on a few pounds, maybe had a kid or two and see someone who looks like they once did, someone dissatisfied with their weight and looks. They'll remember. They'll remember they weren't fat, they were beautiful, and they didn't know it.
It's the circle of life.

for you...

I have to share this link. It might be my new favorite.