Token.

Yesterday, The Who came home from school and told me that he was the “Hanukkah Expert” in the other kindergarten class. A few pointed questions later, I figured out that he was invited from his classroom to the one next door to “answer some questions about Hanukkah that Mrs. K already knew the answer to, but she wanted the rest of the kids to hear the answers to.” He also told me that he had been the Hanukkah expert in his own class the day before. He seemed to really enjoy this position of honor — or at the very least, cheerfully go along with it. And, frankly, it didn’t surprise me that he was the kid chosen for this. He’s outspoken, outgoing, and pretty damn knowledgeable about a lot of things. But, it occurred to me that, while all of these things might make him an excellent “expert,” he was probably chosen because he’s the only Jew in his class — and maybe the whole PM kindergarten. Is that possible?

It had honestly never occurred to me that he might be the only one. I mean, sure. Until I became friends with some of the parents at his preschool, I was among the only Jew in my circle of friends. Our town is not known for being particularly Jewish. In fact, for the first several years that I lived here, I was hard-pressed to find a single challah for the holidays. (I now know all the Jew hotspots; never fear.) But, for the first 4.5 years of his life, he went to a Jewish daycare/preschool and while not all the kids were Jewish (and almost none of the teachers) he wasn’t alone. Everyone there was a Hanukkah expert; it was part of the curriculum.

The Who has a bit of difference in his life. He is an only child in a community where most families have more than one. A Jew in a largely non-Jewish town. A Queerspawn in a class where most, if not all of his classmates have straight parents. And who knows what else. He has a gender-nonconforming parent. He has a very fat parent. He has no grandparents living close by. And on and on. Now, please don’t misunderstand; this is not a pity party. I am neither suggesting that The Who’s circumstances are less-than, nor am I suggesting that he has it worse than anyone else. But I do recognize that in many ways, the deck is stacked against him. (While also recognizing that the deck is also stacked incredibly for him in many ways: he is a white, middle-class male, for example.)

As an adult, I don’t mind being different. I am often the only one of my sort in various gatherings (Jewish, lesbian, fat, etc.) But as a kid, I definitely spent a lot of time wishing I were more like others. I wished I had a younger sibling, wished we had a Christmas tree, wished I could wear Guess jeans, etc. And I bet this comes as a surprise even to those who know me pretty well. I was outgoing, well-spoken, self-possessed, funny, and charismatic. I probably seemed pretty well-adjusted. Just as he does.

I don’t even know what the ultimate point of this particular navel-gaze is. I guess I just wonder what it is like for him, understanding that my experiences are not his. Just because I keep having a tiny twinge of discomfort at the notion of him being “the token Jew” in his kindergarten doesn’t mean it bothered him in the slightest. And just because I don’t mind being different now, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t mind it as a 6-year-old.

I guess I could ask him.

Change.

Following the lead of a blogger I used to read a lot, Rebecca Woolf of Girl’s Gone Child, I had always said that I’d stop blogging much about The Who once he entered kindergarten. I remember her saying something about kindergarten seeming like the time where her child’s life story really became his instead of hers and it rang true to me. (Scroll to the bottom of the linked post to see the bit about this.) At the time, The Who was just a couple of years old and kindergarten seemed a long way off. And she, at the time, had two kids. So, when she phased one out of the blog, she still had another coming down the pike. Now that her middle child is in kindergarten, she has two younger twins to write about and although I think her hourglass is running out, she had so many years and so much fodder that not really being able to write about her kids when the time comes might feel ok to her. (Or, maybe she’s decided not to stop writing about them; I’m not sure. I haven’t read her regularly in a little while.)

I’ve just got the one Who. And on September 2nd, his first day of kindergarten, that last grain of sand fell and I’ve found myself at somewhat of a loss here. I do still believe in the decision that I made years ago to limit his public blog exposure. And in keeping with that philosophy, if I am going to post a photo of something he’s drawn or of something profound he’s said on Facebook, I generally ask permission. (He always grants it and although I’m sure he’s not 100% aware of what he’s agreeing to, I know he understands that it will be on the internet, on the computer, visible to my friends. He usually seems delighted by that idea and often asks me to post things on his own.)

But the blog is not Facebook. Anyone can read the blog and I’d never know it. I’ve culled my regular-posting list on Facebook down to about 40 people and so the circle within which I am sharing is pretty tight. (I’ve got my fingers in my ears and I’m singing ‘la la la’ to all of you who are thinking the same thing I’m thinking: that Facebook, no matter how tight I think my circle is, is probably just as public as the blog.)

Now, here I am. The mother to an only-child kindergartner, who writes a blog about being a mother and who has committed to pretty much cease writing about her kid. So, what now? I’d like to go back to the days of semi-private blogging, a la LiveJournal, but we all know that ship has sailed. I could password protect every post here and allow myself to get a little more real about myself. I could close up shop entirely and just put all my writing energy into the Great American Novel Memoir. Or maybe some combination of the three. The only thing I know for sure is that The Who is six years old now. He’s got both feet firmly planted in elementary school now and is starting to build a reputation of his own. He’ll always be my baby, but more and more now, he is his own person and I’ve got to loosen my grip on the ownership of that person and let him become himself without my constant public scrutiny.

Stay tuned.

Teeth.

He has decided to believe in the Tooth Fairy and I have decided to let him. Years ago, I was staunchly against the make-believes. Not because I didn’t believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa when I was a kid, but because I didn’t like the idea of lying to my kid. I couldn’t – and still kind of can’t – wrap my mind around the notion that our kids are supposed to trust us above all others and yet we willingly make up these fantastical tales of magical people and swear to god that they are real, knowing that someday, the jig will be up and where does that leave us then?

I told The Who, when he was only just newly two years old, that Santa Claus was a character in a story. He was actually scared of the idea of Santa at the time. Scared of the mall guy, scared of illustrations, scared of the thought that he might slip into our house in the night, unnoticed. It all creeped him out. So, I told him. And I also told him that lots of kids believe he is real and think it’s fun to believe that and we don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, so let’s just keep what we know to ourselves. I know. He was two. But he seemed to be on board.

A few years later, he decided that he wanted to believe in Santa. And so, being the good Jews that we are, we got ourselves a shiny little tree and set it up with lights in our living room and dammit if that old Santa didn’t come sneaking into our house on Christmas eve with bundles of Legos for our little believer.

Then, last spring, he lost his first tooth. Already a skeptic at the age of five, he asked me if the Tooth Fairy was real. Point blank. He said, “Did you ever actually see her?” I told him that I never did and I said it with an air of confidence because let’s face it – I hadn’t. I had woken up once to the distinctive sound of my mother’s thighs rubbing together in the middle of the night as she not-so-stealthily approached my pillow with a quarter. I opened one eye and squinted it at her. She squinted back. I closed it again and we never spoke of it. That tooth was a molar, I’m pretty sure, so I was probably on the cusp of non-believing anyway, but still. And I never saw the actual fairy, so it was fair game when he asked.

That first night, when he lost his first tooth, the Fairy left him a long letter in a swirly pink font with two golden dollars taped to the bottom of it. He awoke to the bounty and was fully on board. The second tooth was just as believable. And just now, round three, he woke up from a sound sleep, afraid that midnight was too late for her to come. “Mama! It’th too late! The’s not going to come!” he lisped through the gaping space where his front tooth had been. And so with tonight’s swirly-fonted letter sitting in the printer tray in the next room, I invited him onto my lap and assured him that she wouldn’t come until I was asleep.

“Why?” he asked, rubbing the sleep from his eye.

“Because,” I told him, confidently, “she prefers a quiet, dark house.” And as I said it, I was aware that what had begun as a shady little evasion of the truth was turning into a full-fledged lie. “Besides,” I continued. “I think I heard little tinkling bells outside not that long ago, so she must be in the neighborhood, just waiting.” Bells. Now she had bells.

He sat up on my lap a little. “Were they like jingle bells?”

“No,” I said. “More…tinkly.”

“Like this?” he asked, demonstrating light little squeaks tripping over his tongue.

“Yeah, just like that.” And then I kissed his forehead and sent him back up to bed, only half ashamed of the web of deceit I had spun.

More Bullets.

And, in a stunning display of “la la la I’m not listening to the predominant news stories on my feed right now” I offer you this semi-holiday-themed bullet list:

  • The Who is currently on the pot, humming loudly. This has nothing to do with the holiday upcoming, but he does seem to be humming “Jingle Bells.” So, there’s that.
  • The Giant wasn’t nearly as crowded as you might have expected at 5pm on the day before the first forecasted winter storm and two days before Thanksgiving. And they weren’t sold out of anything that I needed. Thanks for coming through for me in the 11th hour, Giant.
  • Many profs cancelled classes today. I did not. But we did play Cards Against Humanity and called it a lesson on sentence structure, diction, and knowing the appropriate language for your audience.
  • I felt a little bit of anxiety as I picked The Who up from his extended day care today. This is the same place where he spends three mornings a week before PM kindergarten, but because his school is closed for conferences, he spent the entire day for the first time. I reminded myself that I left him for longer periods at a younger age at his last school and that helped. Still. It seems I have gotten out of the habit of having him in one place for seven straight hours. Just in time for, like, the rest of his life of full-time school.
  • This is the first year that I have not made (or been served) turkey for Thanksgiving (unless you count that one tragic Thanksgiving where my grandfather decided to dispense with tradition entirely and serve pea soup.) Coincidentally, this is the first year that The Who has even given the menu a second thought. “But it’s called Turkey Day. You can’t serve chicken!” And yet, I am.
  • When The Who was born, six years ago on Thanksgiving Day, my labor nurse said, “He’ll have a birthday on Thanksgiving every six years. So, on his 6th birthday, it will be Thanksgiving again!” Pfft. He’ll never be six, I thought. Um. Yeah.
  • There will be succotash because it’s m*’s tradition. There will be sweet potatoes because it’s mine. There will also be chilled, jellied cranberry sauce, still looking like the can once it’s on the plate. Because yum.
  • M* has been away for two nights on business. In her absence, I have made 4 dozen meatballs, 4 dozen mini cookie cupcakes, 5 cups of blue buttercream, and a mess.
  • Tomorrow: birthday cake procuring, house tidying, guest-room prepping, loud music listening, and a whole lot of gratitude for a whole lot of things.
"To get a more vibrant hue, use gel food coloring." (So says Liv, the cake lady.)

“To get a more vibrant hue, use gel food coloring.” (So says Liv, the cake lady.)

Bullets.

  • Too few hours of sleep and too many hours of cooking/dishes today. Left me feeling a little like the dishrag I kept slung over my shoulder most of the day.
  • Perhaps, finally, “Simply Lemonade” is the [expensive, non-shelf stable] alternative to my old, beloved, irreparably changed Vitamin Water. (Damn you, Glaceau. No, fuck you. That’s how much I loved a cold, old-formula bottle of Tropical Citrus that I can no longer enjoy because they went and changed the sugar to Stevia. Grody.)
  • Hay Day. It’s the stupidest time-suck ever. And I totally love it. There is something so insanely satisfying about harvesting wheat with the sickle. Why? Why do we love to swipe screens with our fingers in order to “milk” bloated, mooing cartoon cows?
  • Speaking of sickles — my raincoat makes me look like the Grim Reaper. Not necessarily what you want to see approaching the elementary school midday.
  • I continue to be shocked and awed by The Who’s Visual and Language Arts abilities. The kid’s penmanship is almost better than mine, he can read upside down (so we can see the pictures, obvs) and his block letters are the envy of all who see them.
  • For those playing along at home, the bacon-and-egg muffins were a flop; seems he’s not a fan of the baked egg texture. Homemade peanut butter granola bar seems to be a winner, but he’d enjoy more chocolate chips per square inch. Who the hell wouldn’t?
  • I’d be in bed right now if teleportation were a thing.
  • And now, for your perseverance and diligence, some photos:
    Hay Who. Your penmanship's kinda awesome.

    Hay Who. Your penmanship’s kinda awesome.

    Playing cashier at the school book fair, which opened today.

    Playing cashier at the school book fair, which opened today.

    Orange Jeans.

    Orange Jeans.

    Egg muffins. Delicious-looking, right? Whatever. I like them.

    Egg muffins. Delicious-looking, right? Whatever. I like them.

    Not enough chips. Apparently.

    Not enough chips. Apparently.

    All the moms and grandparents, looking jauntily and somewhat skeptically to the side, a la the opening credits of the Brady Bunch. Also: Hebrew. A la totally not anything even remotely related to the Brady Bunch.

    All the moms and grandparents, looking jauntily and somewhat skeptically to the side, a la the opening credits of the Brady Bunch. Also: Hebrew. A la totally not anything even remotely related to the Brady Bunch.

Breakfast.

Houston, we’ve got a problem. And its name is Oreos For Breakfast.

Somehow, what happened is that The Who wakes up on his own now, nukes his pre-prepared (by me) chocolate milk, and then settles in for some indeterminate amount of tv with his milk and a snack. For a while, this was fine. He was sated and I got to sleep a little later. Win-win. But lately, instead of snacking on Pirate’s Booty or Trader Joe’s fruit strips (neither exactly nutritious, but both passable as far as I was concerned) he’s been opting for Nilla Wafers and Oreos. So this means that by the time I am up and trying to motivate him to get dressed for school, he’s cranky and lethargic and then I’m sending him off to school with no fortification. That’s some stellar parenting I’m doing right there.

I feel like I need to pause here to briefly discuss our decisions around food and choices. The Who, while a lover of sweets, is also a lover of fruits (mostly berries) and most animal proteins (you might recall that he counts frog legs and salmon among his favorite dinners.) He has always been able to limit himself when it comes to food and rarely (if ever?) gets a tummy ache from overeating or too many sweets. He can be offered dessert on the same plate as dinner and eat it all in equal parts and after Halloween this year, he willingly offered up all his candy to be shared with us and, just as he has after all previous Halloweens, basically forgot about his candy bucket the next day. So, I do believe we are doing something right in terms of choices and allowances overall. But, that said, when it comes to breakfast, we’re doing it all wrong.

He’d eat eggs and bacon and toast and cheese any day of the week if I got up and made it for him, but my dilemma is this: how do I get him to independently make his own breakfast food that is not made of fail?

My first effort is going to be egg muffins and I will cross my fingers that the texture isn’t something that will turn him off. (It’s one of the reasons smoothies don’t work, so don’t bother suggesting them; he doesn’t even really like milkshakes that much.) My plan is to make a bunch and freeze them individually so he can just microwave them himself. Next, I’ll try homemade granola bars or protein bars — the benefit of homemade being that I can control both the sugar and the ingredients so that it’s something he likes. (I’m not a fan of the Truvia in this recipe, so I may experiment a little.)

Do you have any other great ideas for healthy breakfasts that The Who can prepare himself? I’ve got to turn this morning Oreo trainwreck around.

lmgtfy.*

One of the things I love most about The Who is his inquisitiveness. He asks questions all the time and although there is sometimes a string of mindless whys, usually his questions are probing, thoughtful, and complex. And now that he is older, at least half the time, I don’t have the answers.

I have never shied away from the “I don’t know; let’s look it up” response, but it has then always been on me to follow through. Several times, even pulling over to the side of the road while driving in order to google something on my phone. But now — with the addition of the laptop at his work/art table — he can start to find some of his own answers. Which is exactly what he did tonight. Baby’s First Google. Perhaps among the Gen X-er parent’s proudest moments.

He asked me, at dinner, which was taller: the Eiffel Tower or the Space Needle. I, needless to say, had no idea. Not even a hunch, frankly. And as soon as he was done eating, he strode right over to his desk, armed with the proper spelling of the search terms and set about finding out. I have http://www.safesearchkids.com bookmarked on his browser, which returns only kid-appropriate Google results (and uses a sister site — http://www.kidzsearch.com — for images) and within seconds, he had the information he was looking for.

IMG_0205.JPG
IMG_0206.JPG
With some guidance, he brought up the calculator then, to figure out the difference in height and was ultimately so proud of his process that it was the first thing he told m* about when she walked in the door.

Say what you will about screens and kids, but I’m pretty satisfied with the way The Who is using this one these days. Technology for the win.

IMG_0207.JPG
*www.lmgtfy.com is one of my favorite sarcastic websites. It stands for “Let Me Google That For You” and it’s used for, well… you can see for yourself by clicking here.