It feels like full disclosure is important here — just so no one thinks that my brilliant theme-day week was without consequence. Yes, we had a wonderful four days of one-on-one palling around. And yes, without notable exception, we had an easy breezy time together. And also yes, we soaked up the whole week of spring sunshine. But, by midday Friday sort of, and in full force by Saturday, he wore. out. his. goddamn. welcome.

It doesn’t need to be said that I adore my child, right? This is not even up for debate, right? We know this. And we also probably don’t need to reiterate that I love the things about him that make him who he is — the inquisitiveness, the silliness, the sense of humor, the intelligence, the love of learning, the articulateness, the energy — all of it. I wouldn’t change any of it if given the chance. But, holy moly is it draining sometimes.

And by sometimes, I mean most of the time.

It didn’t help that I was sick all week and kept going  anyway (because, really, what was the alternative?) or that we stayed indoors all day yesterday (except for his brief foray into the yard to weed the raised bed.) It’s also not ideal that now my cold has turned into a full-fledged barking cough that damn near makes me wet my pants every time it explodes out of me or that I’m currently host to a delightful case of the PMS.

What does help is the remarkably kind offer from a friend to have him over for a play date for almost four hours this morning/afternoon and the robo-call from our school principal reminding us that school is back in session tomorrow. (Because I could have possibly forgotten?) Of course, my school is also back in session tomorrow, so maybe I should take a look at my syllabus in the few precious minutes I have left before he bursts in the back door from his play date, all hyped and ready to charge through the remaining five hours of this Spring Break.

(Not that I’m counting.)

Sports Day.

I wanted to show you people some photos from Sports Day yesterday, but it turns out that I couldn’t seem to muster up the energy to edit photos and post them. This cold I’ve been nursing all week is now making me sound like Debra Winger with consumption. I fell asleep on the couch last night at 9pm, missing the end of Jill and Jessa: Counting On, which was really disappointing. I love me some Duggars. (I mean, not all of them. Probably not any of them as actual people, but I do like the show for reasons I can’t really explain and choose not to explore.) Aaaaanyway…

Sports Day!
Sports Day turned out to be way better than I expected, mostly because I had a brilliant idea in the morning that worked out beautifully. So, we started with an extra-long game of table-football, which he followed with watching the Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution game that we had recorded last weekend while I hopped in the shower.


Have you ever played table football? It’s actually not terrible. I chose to be the Bengals because I enjoy their helmets. And because he had already claimed the Pats.

Then, we headed into South Philly for lunch at Chickie’s and Pete’s, which neither of us had ever been to, but which The Who has now declared to be his favorite restaurant. (He’s basing this solely on the fries, I think. Maybe also the multiple television screens showing every sporting event ever.)


He did not opt for the crab fries, though he was pleasantly surprised by how much he liked the cheese dip. Calamari in ketchup — as usual.

And then my idea: a tour of Lincoln Financial Field (where the hometown NFL team plays.) I was able to figure out a way for his buddy to meet us at the stadium and I accompanied them both on the exhilarating tour. He only talked about Brady and the Pats a few times (and his pal only mentioned his favorite team, the Jets, once.) At least I got him to wear his Eagles shirt. And he does report that, although the Pats are still his favorite team still, he is a much bigger Eagles fan since the tour.


We got to go into the press box, the club suites, the media room, the locker room, and on the field — in addition to seeing the team’s entrance tunnel, the mascot’s room, the coaches’ meeting rooms, and broadcast suites.

After the tour, The Who and his buddy came home and played a little basketball inside before we all headed to the tennis courts to play outside for a while.

Another successful theme day in the books. (Tomorrow I will blog about Yes Day, which was another great one. It has helped that the weather has been amazing this week. It’s hard to have a bad day when it’s 65 and sunny.)


We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to announce that we are, officially, sick. 


I’ve been nursing the beginnings of a cold all week, but it caught up to me today and now it’s 2:20am and maybe I’m dying. (Ok, I’m probably not dying.) But it is that day of a chest cold that feels like dying. 

Two more days and this Spring Break is in the books. It’s actually been great fun, but it would have been better if I weren’t dying. (Ok, I’m probably not dying.)


He plucked Philly Day from the hat this morning, and although we got off to a little bit of a rough start (sort of underslept, the both of us) we made it truly banner. The weather, while a little cold in the shade, was perfect for what we had planned and we hit almost all the things on our list.


We didn’t take a train.


He said, “Ever since I have known that it existed, I have wanted to go to Chinatown.” This was news to me, but still as good a reason as any to make this the first “hop off” of our hop-on-hop-off bus tour.


It is not news to me that he loves mu shu chicken, but I was delighted that he gobbled up all the cabbage and mushrooms I threw in there with it. Lunch in Chinatown for the win!


We hopped off at Love Park next, which was actually just the Love sculpture sitting in front of City Hall while the park is renovated.


And while we had hoped to be able to run around the park a little, we found some open space perfect for that just a block away. The timing was right for this sculpture garden because he is so into board games right now. “I captured the rook!” he shouted from up there.


Jumping out of chronological order for a second to compare the view of this same spot from about 500 feet above. That’s the rook where he was standing moments before.


Running and jumping is an essential midday activity for this kid.


There are definitely better politicians than Rizzo to emulate, but there are also way, way worse.


Signing the register as we waited for our personal escort up to the top of the City Hall Tower. Only four people were allowed up at a time.


Taking this photo felt sort of like upskirting. Except not. Obviously. Still, it was cool to be so close to the statue of William Penn atop City Hall after having seen it from afar for so long.


He loved that the directions of the city were printed on the windows. A holdover from his not-gone-yet obsessions with maps and compass roses.


We had a few minutes to kill before hopping back on, so we squeezed in a quick game of Crazy 8’s with our new deck of Philly cards.


We did the second half of the tour under cover on the top deck. All of the view, none of the wind. We timed it perfectly, as it turned out — having gotten to see all the things we wanted to see on the front end so that we could sit back and enjoy the back end of the tour without hopping anywhere.


Well, our timing was almost perfect. We arrived back at the beginning at 5:10pm, ten minutes after the Liberty Bell closed. Fortunately, he was content to view it through the window.

We are halfway through theme days; tomorrow’s either “Sports Day” or “Yes Day.” Stay tuned!


If there’s one thing I love, it’s a theme. Theme parties, theme decorations, theme gifts… A good theme is like a joke you can riff on forever — like that one time a friend and I spent all night retitling songs, replacing the word “love” with the word “boobs.” Sophomoric, to be sure, but some of the titles continue to make me chuckle when I think of them. “Boobs Lift Us Up (Where We Belong.)” Joe Cocker, no less.

Anyway, themes. Limitless, yet challenging. And if there’s another thing I love, it’s a challenge.

Last night, before I went to sleep on the eve of Spring Break, a solid week of no school and no plans, I devised a plan. Theme Days. You guys. It’s a win-win-win. He loves it. I love it. And we both love how much in love with it we are. When he woke me this morning to suggest we plan our day and I revealed my idea, he took a page right from the improv handbook and ran with it. He took my list of themes, jotted them onto slips of paper, shuffled them around in his Sox hat, and plucked one out. Lego Day. Today was Lego Day. All Lego, All Day.


Each theme day lives in its own note on my phone. We didn’t get to everything on the list, but we hit highlights.


We hit the Lego Store first. I am charmed by the fact that there are wizard hats in the “make your own minifig” bins.


Then we built and raced cars. He totally won, every time.


No one should be surprised to learn that we lunched at Panera. Nor that we busted out the small, free gift set the Lego Store gave us with our purchase as we ate.


We stopped on the way home to procure Lego cake ingredients. And also to hide in shopping carts.


I insist on scratch baking and natural colors most of the time. Except not this time.


While the cake was in the oven, we worked on this beaut. He’s finally old and dextrous enough to really love the detail work of the “Technic” series. When he finished this pull-back off-roader, he exclaimed, “I can’t believe this is Lego!”


And then there was cake.


Blue, blue, wicked blue cake.

Can’t wait to see which theme he pulls tomorrow. Keep an eye on this space to find out.


In retrospect, everything is clearer. Hindsight. 20/20. Sometimes it takes a lot of space between the event and the reflection for me to find clarity. Sometimes just a few minutes.

I laugh when emotions get too big sometimes. Especially, it seems, when it’s The Who’s emotions. I can handle most of it, but sometimes his anger goes over the top and I have to hide my face behind a book or something. I don’t know if he notices; I hope he doesn’t. It’s rare that anything really gets by him. He has never called me on it, though. I’d have to find a way to explain it to him, if he did. Because I don’t want him to think that I find his anger trivial or funny; I don’t. It just that it sometimes sneaks up on me in a way that takes my breath away and my fight or flight response is to laugh. I hate that.

He had a hard night tonight, small injustices piled on top of one another. He had to practice piano and do his homework before playing basketball, which he generally doesn’t have to do. Usually we let him set the schedule of the evening, understanding that it all needs to fit in before bedtime. But we wanted to finish dinner and pay some bills and so doing homework and piano first made sense. To us. Of course, as he was finishing piano, I found myself bent over the kitchen sink, willing the gurgling sink to drain (pro tip: don’t put cabbage leaves in the disposal.)

It didn’t help his anxiety about getting enough basketball time when we yelled at him for continuing to ask when we could play basketball as we were trying to figure out what to do about the cabbage-y water spewing from the laundry hoses. (Don’t even ask.) We gave him a lot of loud business about empathy and tuning in and selfishness and he later said that it felt like his “ears were bleeding.” He’s sensitive; remember we just figured that out? What seems not-so-loud to us or maybe just a little firm, sounds LOUD and HARSH to him. My little poet is so good at accurately describing what things feel like. (In his poem about football at school for example, he described tackling as “a rock tumbling into water.” Yeah.)

When the basketball game did finally happen, he lost. He’s sort of a sore loser on a good day, but tonight…with the bleeding ears and everything? Later we realized we should have let him win. We don’t always do that, but sometimes the day just calls for it. Unfortunately, wrapped up in my own stuff these past few days, I had little patience and kindness to offer as we headed up to bed and when he gave me the business about not being able to find pajamas he liked, instead of helping him sort it out, I threw a pair that I knew wasn’t a favorite onto the bed and demanded he put them on.

20/20. I can see it now. I refused to do the fun thing with the shower water that I sometimes do. I threatened a loss of reading time if he didn’t get into the bathroom in three seconds. Piling and piling and piling it on to his little 7-year-old self, tired before bed, and having walked through five different challenging scenarios since dinner (which he hated and never gets a say in what it is going to be.)

After all of that, he found it hard to settle for reading. He had more to say to me, but instead it came out as insolence and rudeness and a refusal to let me read to him. I had to call m* in for backup. And then the anger. So much anger. Hiccuping tears, assertions of my status as a horrible parent. He was furious at the injustices that seemed to just keep being hurled at him all night. And I was unable to really hear it, an angry scowl undoubtedly on my face as he ranted. At least m* was there; she’s really good at that stuff.

A few minutes past lights out (after we turned it around with some Harry Potter, sweet hugs, and an apology from me) he appeared at the top of the stairs. “I take back what I said about you being the worst parent ever,” he said quietly. “You’re not. You’re really good.”

20/20. There’s always tomorrow.


Leprechaun traps. When did this become a thing? Has this always been a thing? Was it just a thing for Irish kids? Because I can tell you that the little Jews were not trapping leprechauns in the early 80s. But it’s 2016 and my little Who is trapping leprechauns. It feels like maybe it’s racist. Or appropriating? It also feels like I might have had this same dilemma last year…

I’m choosing to focus on his ingenuity this year instead of all the rest of it. He was really bummed that the leprechaun escaped last year from what he was sure was a foolproof contraption. He can’t remember where he left his basketball ten minutes ago, but he remembers that last year, an imaginary tiny man climbed out of a mason jar that we left on the dining room table, full of a ragtag collection of my old gold jewelry. 

“While I’m at school,” he instructed me this morning, “look up leprechaun traps online. When you find the one that you’re sure will work, go to the craft store and get the supplies and we can make it after school so it’s ready for St. Patty’s.” (He actually said ‘St. Patty’s’.) I agreed because craft store, that’s why. 

The day got away from me, of course and even though I had actually looked up some viable traps, no crafting supplies were procured. And that’s when the genius idea of a Lego trap came to me. (I’m lying. I saw a Lego trap on Pinterest, which is where all the ideas ever had and all those yet to come reside.)

Miraculously, he went downstairs to the Lego cache alone (he never does this anymore) and spent nearly an hour devising something with a net. There will also be Vaseline and Cling Wrap involved at some point. He quoted Dr. Seuss to lure in the hapless leprechaun. He filled the cavity with Trader Joe’s “Coins of the World” and he fully expects there to be a small man dressed in green tails and top hat lying in there, resigned, on Friday morning.    

Good thing Pinterest also linked me to a “Sorry the leprechaun escaped” printable. 


  • The whole “animals that look like food” meme on FB right now?  The chihuaha/muffins was cute. The little dogs/bagels one was not horrible. But the sloths/chocolate croissant was a bit much. And, now corgis/loaves of bread? Take a note from Idina Menzel and let it go.
  • There’s no reason that Uno should be as compelling a card game as it is. It’s just a glorified Crazy 8s. And yet…
  • I sat at the table tonight to accomplish so many things. Many refreshes of FB, videos of POTUS slamming Trump, and “Cute Baby” Vines later, all I’m getting done is this bulleted blog post. And that wasn’t even on my agenda to begin with.
  • Misty rain makes sad nights even sadder.
  • Last year’s Pi Day was epic. 3/14/15. This year? Not as epic. Still, I had pie neither this nor last Pi Day. Why do I keep letting these opportunities slip through my fingers?
  • My To-Do list, despite my continually checking items off it, is growing exponentially. The end of the school year is no joke for a PTG mom.
  • I am in denial about The Who’s upcoming Spring Break. We have zero plans.
  • If my bed were on the first floor, I’d probably go there a lot sooner each night.
  • I love taking things out of my head and putting them to paper. Writing, blogging, posting, drawing, painting, doodling. Things like food and water aside, I think I could exist for the rest of my life with only a pencil and paper.
  • That’s all I got. I’m ready to put this day in the books.


I read that as kids start to grow out of regular tantrums and extreme emotional reactions to things, it becomes more apparent when a child is “highly sensitive,” which is a term I had never heard before. I mean, of course, I know what the words mean, but I had never heard it as a thing. A fairly common thing, as it turns out. And it’s around age 6-7 when it really starts to become clear.

Yeah. I think we’ve got one of those.

What little I’ve read so far (really, just what I found from a cursory googling tonight) says that highly sensitive children feel physical and emotional pain more intensely than others. They are very inquisitive. Very smart. Have a hard time making decisions because they analyze the choices so intently. They cry easily. They seem to be dramatic. They have difficulty with things feeling unfair. This all sounds remarkably familiar.

Increasingly latel, I have been classifying him as dramatic. Often ungrateful. Infuriating. Stubborn, selfish, and — frankly — spoiled. He literally throws himself onto the ground in the middle of play dates when he believes that rules have been broken or that unfair consequences have been levied. He whines with indignation when he believes that a friend is ignoring him or disregarding him. To me, his responses have seemed over the top — the result, perhaps, of being an only child and having everything handed to him on a silver platter. And the physical pain aspect of it is interesting, too. He shrinks away from having his hair washed if I’m not incredibly gentle. He has been known to scream like I’m stabbing him in the eyes if I so much as go a little too far back with the toothbrush. And he regularly collapses into tears and moans over a stubbed toe. It never occurred to me that he actually felt pain differently — only that he was over-reacting to it.

But I’m no longer certain that’s the case. If what I’m reading does really apply to him, then he actually feels these slings and arrows more intensely than most of his peers do. More intensely than I ever did. More intensely than I have ever understood. And although we have always been very conscientious about his feelings, encouraging him to feel them and talk about them and get comfortable expressing all of them fully, it’s this bit that we have struggled with — recognizing that he is what they call “tenderhearted.”

This isn’t to say, of course, that he has a free pass for assholery. But rather, a reminder to me that it’s probably not usually actual assholery and instead an actual thing. Like, a real, definable, not even uncommon way of experiencing and relating to the world around him. And it’s on me not to simply apply consequences and lectures and frustrated ultimatums, but to instead try to remember how he is experiencing things. And to remind him regularly that I understand (or am at least trying to.) And to help him navigate relationships in a way that honors both his way of experiencing the world and others’ feelings and experiences also.

It’s a weighty responsibility — this whole parenting gig. But this understanding makes it feel just a little bit lighter now.