Sometimes.

Sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you have the whole day free and the sun is just shining like crazy and you make a plan and then you execute it and you have patience all day and then sometime in the middle of the day, you find yourself walking hand-in-hand with your boy and he looks up at you and says, “Mama?” And you say, “Yes, baby?” And he says, “I love you,” and lays his cheek against your forearm and you think, is this moment for real? And it is. Sometimes, it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbie.

This morning, my kid and I are watching Strawberry Shortcake and yesterday, he saw a commercial for a Barbie dog toy and said he wanted it. I was inclined to buy it. Barbie. Me. Buying it. What?

So, there’s some hypocrisy for you. If I had a little girl, I think I’d dissuade her from watching insipid, pink-and-purple animated shows about teenage girls and I’d be really hard pressed to buy her Barbie, despite having grown up on it myself. But my son? Asking for a doll (even a doll as aesthetically and morally disturbing as Barbie)? I’m knee-jerk all for it. Does gender non-conformity really change the rules that much?

I’ve had a similar discussion with myself before, the first time I bought The Who pink jammies. The argument was different, then, though. That day in Old Navy when I was faced with “girl” jammies being the only ones available in his size, I found myself having a hard time buying them — worried about what people would think. Worried about what I would think. Fast forward to today, when his favorite jammies are pink, flowered Dora ones and a set of pink Elmo ones with hearts.

The Who’s older now, though, and “peer pressure” is bound to become an issue. Will his friends make fun of him for having a Barbie toy? And do we even care if he gets made fun of? I’m fairly certain that we should be directing our energy toward helping him feel secure in his choices than toward avoiding peer criticism, right?

Funday.

I am stunned by autumn every year. (Spring, too.) It’s like a strange sort of seasonal amnesia. I forget, every single year, that hot, muggy, hazy summer days are going to fade into brilliant sunshine and crisp mornings. The sheer delight of waking up next to an open window is like some crazy, new thing every year. But that’s how it is. It’s amazing, this weather. And it’s going to get better before it gets worse, which is even more amazing. I wonder, every year, why we don’t live somewhere else so we can have this weather every day, but I guess it wouldn’t seem so dazzling if it wasn’t novel every time it came around.

Today was genius. It was nature at is best. It wasn’t ever too cold or too hot — not even for a second, which is saying a lot because I run hot. We spent the whole damn day outside and came home beat. We’ll all sleep well tonight.

We started the day at the playground with pals, picnicking. (I swear I didn’t intend that corny alliteration until it was too late and I had to follow through.) You don’t get a picture of that, though, because I only took one and it was full-face and I’m too tired to edit. What you do get, though, is our next stop: Super Sunday. This is basically a bunch of flea market vendors (plus local food vendors) set up on our street. We met up with friends there and bumped into two other friends randomly. Between today and tomorrow, The Who will have seen pretty much every friend he has.

After the playground and Super Sunday, the sun was still shining and we still had energy, so we went to the local pop-up carnival. I am not terribly trusting of these rides, but figured the carousel couldn’t be a big deal, right? Little did I know that, as soon as the ride tickets were purchased, The Who would be saying, “roller coaster, here I come!” Granted, it was the kiddie coaster, but still. It was his first time on a roller coaster, but he was eager and brave. As soon as it started, though, he put his head down and didn’t pick it back up until it was over. Despite that, he burst into a big smile when I picked him up at the end. He reported that he “loved it, but the going up parts were scary!” He is 6th from the left in this photo.

The choppers were more his speed. I assured him this ride was made “just for three-and-a-half-year-olds” and he watched one go-around before deciding that he wanted to ride. I caught him making motorcycle noises throughout the whole thing. Big hit.

What’s a carnival without a sno-cone?

His favorite ride, by far, was the Monkey Maze, which is a narrow network of doorways, arranged with mirrors to trick little children into smacking their heads into walls. It ended with a staircase and then a swirly slide down, with which he was totally enchanted. After the first two run-throughs, I let him go through the maze himself (“hands in front!”) and he did remarkably well (doing best when there was a bigger kid ahead of him to lead the way.) While I stood outside, watching him in the maze, I heard a kid (not mine) smack into the wall every minute. “There’s another one,” the carnie said. He didn’t laugh. I did. He’s a better person than I.

God.

We decided, before The Who was born, to raise him Jewish. To me, that meant that he would receive a Jewish education and that he would have a Bar Mitzvah. I guess this also meant that we would join a synagogue and enroll him in Hebrew school, but that felt so far off at the time. (More far off than a Bar Mitzvah? Somehow not. Don’t question it. I was a little crazed during those months.)

Tiny Yarmulke. (Getting his Hebrew name at about 6 months old.)

I have never been totally solid on my belief in God. For a really long time, I couldn’t believe in something I couldn’t see and know. I wasn’t willing to believe that anything had more power or control than I. Letting go of the reins has not been easy for me. I have, however, always believed in the power of the universe, insomuch that it could make paths easier or more complicated — open doors to what was meant to be. (Like, for example, getting pregnant with The Who. All of it fell so easily into place that I have always known it was meant to be. The timing was right, the health issues all aligned, it only took two tries, etc.) But the universe is not God. God is heavy duty. God is religion and religion is divisive. I have long seen organized religion as a problem in our society — a fortress behind which people stand as they hurl out icy snowballs. (I think, perhaps, I am beginning to re-form my opinions on this, but that’s another post.)

So, Rosh Hashanah is coming up and The Who goes to a Jewish preschool. Much to my delight, they had a “shofar factory” program the other day where a rabbi came in and showed the kids how to make and blow the shofar. He also talked to them about the holiday and what it means and, after school on the ride home, for the first time, The Who talked to me about God.

Who: The shofar sounds like a seagull! Aarr! Aaaar! Aaaaaar!
Me: You’re right! It does sort of sound like that! Why do you blow the shofar?
You blow it up, up, up right to God.
Oh, cool. Who is God?
God is almost like a giant that’s up in the sky.
Do you know God?
No, I don’t really know him, but I know about him. He lives in the sky.
Is God a man or a woman?
God is a man AND a woman!
So, how do you talk to God?
You cry to him.
You cry to God?
Yeah, we cry like babies to God and he helps us have a good year and we help him have a good year and next week we’re gonna blow the shofar up to God for a good year.

We have never talked to The Who about God. In part because he’s three and he hasn’t asked about it and in part, I’m sure, because we haven’t gotten on the same page about it. I loved hearing his take on it, though, and I think I know what m* and I will be talking about over dinner on our date night this weekend!

 

 

 

This is Political. And Personal.

The Who was born 23 days after we elected Barack Obama into office and I remember how excited and delighted I was to bring a baby into a society I was proud of. I felt proud. I did. I felt this enormous spirit of togetherness and trust and a common desire for something good. That’s the kind of place where I wanted to raise my kid.

The Who and I had our own little inauguration party. Deep in the throes of post-partum depression, it was the happiest I had felt since he was born.

The novelty of having a president that I could actually support and get behind didn’t wear off. I loved that my kid was going to be able to say, for the rest of his life, that he was an “Obama Baby.” I didn’t even know what this president would do. I didn’t know then that he would pass universal health care reform, pass the stimulus, pass Wall Street reform, end the war in Iraq, repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, pass “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” pass the Hate Crime bill, come out in support of gay marriage, or any of the other praise-worthy things he has done in the past four years. All I knew was that my people were going to have an ally in office. (And by “my people” I guess I mean gays and women, but I also mean anyone who is an ally to gays and women, too. Because, frankly — and I know this is not a friend-making statement — supporters of Bush (and now Romney and Ryan) are not allies to gays and women.)

I was sad when we had to retire this “Obama Baby” onesie that was given to him when he was born.

And then, y’know, I got complacent. Because Obama was in office for years and I was occupied with bringing up my kid. Working hard on doing my job and trusting that the president was doing his. But, now it’s election season again and I’m scared. I’m scared that now instead of raising my baby in a peaceful, hopeful place, I’ll be raising my preschooler in a hateful, despicable place. A place where women don’t have the right to choose and his moms don’t have the right to marry. A place where richness and whiteness and smugness rule — just the opposite of the place I was hoping for.

Politics has always meant a lot to me. As Representative Ed Markey said last night, “In Massachusetts (where I spent my first 30 years), you are born a voter and a Red Sox fan.” I proudly voted for Bill Clinton in my first election, just after I turned 18 in 1992 and I have never missed an election since, no matter how small. But there’s something about having a kid that really ups the ante. There’s so much more at stake now. It’s no longer just about me and my family and friends and neighbors and our rights, but it’s about the kind of worldview that my child is going to grow up with.

I hope we get at least four more years.

Holiday.

By the end of yesterday, m* had really reached the end of her rope and needed a stretch of several hours of quiet, which I totally understood. So, I put myself to bed early last night (to make sure I’d have enough energy and patience) and planned a solo day with The Who. Nothing hugely special because it is Labor Day, after all — and a rainy one at that — so our choices were really limited. But we made it work and had one of the chillest days we have had together in a long time.

Some looking around online last night alerted me to an antique car show that was happening rain or shine at a diner over the bridge, so I figured — breakfast PLUS cool cars? Ok. That’s where we started our day.

I always have a Take-n-Play Thomas set (among other things) in my “backpack o’ fun” that comes to restaurant outings with us. We are very rarely caught without at least a few things with which to pass the time between sitting and eating. Today was no exception.

Once the train novelty wore out, I pulled a few other vehicles from the backpack and we made our very own car show like the one setting up outside our window. The Who drew the parking spots and I labeled them. He named the show: “The C’mon In Car Show.”

He chose grape juice as his drink and ordered challah French toast. Halfway through the meal, he said, “Hey! This is like shabbat! Challah and wine juice!”

Despite the rain having all but stopped while we were inside eating, by the time we were done and ready to look at some cars, it was practically pouring horizontally. The Who, bedecked in his totally weatherproof windbreaker wanted to soldier on, but I just couldn’t.

By the time we got back to the car, this is what my pants looked like. That light spot is the only part that wasn’t soaked through on both my pants and shoes.

In the car, The Who took off his shorts, underwear, socks, and shoes and hung around nudie booty, listening to his namesake book on CD while I blasted the heat, trying to dry my clothes. Once that was over, he slipped into the dry clothes I had brought for him (and neglected to pack for myself) and we headed across the street to the mall for a while. The Who has pretty much never been to a mall, so this was pretty novel.

Although I did bring dry clothes, I did not think about dry shoes. ShoelessWho threw some pennies into the fountain, probably wishing he had some shoes to wear. (But, on second thought, probably not. He kind of loved walking down the mall without shoes. I drew the line at escalators, though, and made him sit in the stroller.)

(We did find shoes, which was my plan. JC Penney totally came through with $5 sale Keens knock-offs, so he wore those for most of the day.)

We hit the Halloween Store and tried on many masks. Perhaps the reason it took him so long to fall asleep tonight is because he was scared by the Romney mask he made me try on after he sported Obama.

As we were leaving, I saw him standing quietly by the Obama masks. When I got closer, I heard him whispering, “Bye, Obama.” I hope it wasn’t a foreshadowing…

We stuck as close to the side as possible so as not to piss off the hoards of back-to-school shoppers, slipping into Abercrombie. One lady was audibly frustrated behind us, so I convinced The Who to let me share the wheel.

Our final mall stop before venturing back out into the deluge was the kid’s shoe section in Nordstrom’s. It was right by the door and had an aquarium in it, so The Who asked to take a peek. Then he noticed the polka dotted seat. Then the collection of cute books. We read “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” a couple of times and I might have bought it if I wasn’t so skeeved by pigeons in general.

And that was mostly our day. We drove home, The Who took a quick snooze, and then we met up with m* for a late afternoon movie. (The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, which was kind of weak when compared to Pixar-type kid movies, but he was engaged for the whole hour and a half and was singing along by the end, which is definitely better than when I took him to see Ice Age, which was over his head.)

Tomorrow, The Who starts Pre-K, which is the oldest classroom in his school/day care. He started there at 13 months old and now he’s like a senior in high school. Crazy big. Just crazy.