This exchange just happened between my daughter and I as she drifted off to sleep:
S – Mommy, did you know that life goes on and on for infinity? Not the kind of infinity that goes on and then stops when you stop it. The kind of infinity that goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and never stops. It’s kind of hard for you to imagine.
I mean, people die, but the life goes on. Like, you had me. Then I have a baby girl named Vinny. Then she has a baby boy named Peter, after Daddy’s middle name. Peter’s wife has a baby named Soshan, and Soshan has a baby named John, and his wife has a girl named Glora, and she has a girl named Rosie and she has a little boy named Izza. And it goes on and on. You know what I mean.
Me – You’re right, honey. That was really smart. Those concepts are hard.
S – I wasn’t even taught that. I just knew it from my own brain.
And what I meant by that ‘Oh’ was, Oh my God you’re going to be smarter than me by the time you’re in first grade. Also, she should name characters in the next YA dystopian novel.
My daughter has just hit a level of sentimentalism that I didn’t know was humanly possible. It is off the charts. This one goes to 11, folks. It all started on Sunday…
I let the kids watch a tv show, and they asked for Phineas and Ferb, which our family has newly discovered. If you’re not familiar with the show it’s about two step-brothers who have spectacular adventures to maximize their summer vacation fun. The cast of characters includes their teenage sister, Candace, who tries to get them in trouble, and their pet platypus who is actually a secret agent. Brilliant! I’m being serious. It’s really clever.
If I had known the drama this particular episode would cause, I never would have let the kids watch it. You see, my daughter is more empathetic than just about anyone I know, whether adult, child or in-between. It sounds sweet, and it is. And then you see the side effects. She accidentally hits her brother with a wooden spoon – she cries, he doesn’t. A friend’s balloon flies away as soon as we walk outside – she cries, the friend doesn’t. Somehow I still never seem to have a tissue handy.
Another side effect is that she gets very attached to things. She has a pink bunny, we’ll call her Bunny (because that’s what we call her), who must sleep with her every night or there will be no sleep. One time we were driving home from visiting my parents in Sacramento and we left Bunny behind. We were hours away before we realized it, and it was awful. The look of love and joy on her face when they were reunited was something I wish I could bottle up and give to the world. There would be no more war if we were all blissed out like that.
That bunny has been a companion to her for as long as she can remember. On Sunday’s rerun of Phineas and Ferb, their sister Candace goes to a sci-fi/fantasy convention dressed as Ducky Momo, a cartoon duck. My daughter could highly relate to Candace, who cared for the duck in plush form as a child and who has been her companion ever since. I know this because they did a sweet montage of a toddler Candace watching a cartoon of Ducky Momo, playing with the stuffed version of the duck, all the way up to Candace as a teenager with her Ducky Momo doll propped on a chair helping her pick outfits out of her closet.
When the montage was over I heard a gasp and sniff next to me on the couch. I hesitate to admit that my first ungenerous thought was “Are you kidding me?” I know that’s not the way a mother is supposed to react to her sobbing child, but cut me a little slack. We are talking a cartoon character within a cartoon show here, people.
“Honey, why did that make you cry? Are you okay?”
“Yes,” she said taking a huge breath and wiping her nose on her sleeve. “These are happy tears.”
That made me smile and give her a big hug. She ran and got her bunny and hugged it as she hysterical laugh-cried next to me. I thought that emotion was reserved for puberty, and I tried not to do the same weird, breathy contortions as I freaked out a little inside. Then she calmed down and I thought we were done with it.
Nope. Later that evening she asked for a Ducky Momo. We told her that Ducky Momo was not really a cartoon and that nobody makes a plush version of it. It’s not really a thing, Honey, we said. We hoped we were done with it.
Nope. That night, after the lights were off and she was in bed, we heard crying from her room. My husband went in to investigate. “I really want Ducky Momo!” She was sobbing hysterically.Have you ever been in a situation where you will say anything, literally anything, to make someone happy? Or in this case, to make someone stop being sad. We have. “We’ll look for one for you, we promise,” we said, just to get her to calm down and go to sleep. We hoped by the morning she would have forgotten about it. Of course, we knew it was only a hope.
As she was getting ready for school yesterday she asked me, tearily, if I had looked for a Ducky Momo doll yet. “What about Bunny? I thought that you loved her. Won’t she be sad if you cuddle with Ducky Momo instead?” Of course, as the words left my lips I wished I hadn’t said them. I think sometimes that I am not sensitive enough to parent her well.
The cries came in earnest. “I can love both of them!” I let her have cookies in her lunch. The anticipation was good for halting those tears of longing.
Yesterday evening was not as bad, because John drew a picture of Ducky Momo that she hung next to her bed and kissed before lights-out. Of course, we are aware that it might just be drawing out the pain.
We haven’t told her yet that John did find someone who makes Ducky Momo on Etsy. It’s a crazily expensive toy for a stuffed animal. Before I make the leap, I want to make sure it’s not just a passing desire. But as I said, sometimes I worry that I’m not sensitive enough for her.
I am still shocked by her reaction to a single musical montage. And you know what? Shame on you, Phineas and Ferb, for being so effective in your portrayal of the evolution of an attachment object. I may never be able to watch it again. At least not with the kids.
File this under “What on earth was I thinking?”
A few days ago, sick of my clothes and wondering how a pair of black pants and a couple of sweaters can get up and walk away every winter, I decided to spend a Christmas gift certificate. Here was my mistake: I brought my 3 year old with me.
A minor stroke must have temporarily cut off circulation to the decision-making cortex of my brain. What else explains the thinking that bringing my son with me was a good idea? In my defense, it was pouring, we had nothing to do, and I felt like going shopping. I know?! Thank God I’m not a lawyer, right?
So off we went to Macy’s, where I promptly lost him in the racks of clothes, and began to panic when I couldn’t find him. I called out to him. Though I knew he couldn’t have gone far, there was no answer. Of course there wouldn’t be. You see, Z has an uncanny ability to ignore. He does it with such resolution and determination that you begin to doubt yourself. You think, Can’t you hear me? Didn’t I just say something? Well, maybe I didn’t, then.
If a tree fell in the forest, he would most certainly NOT hear it. Not if he didn’t want to. Even if he was standing right there.
Eventually I heard the thud-squeak of rain boots on linoleum and gathered him up. I found him holding the most hideous shirt ever, retrieved from the floor under a crowded. I’m sure it was hastily tossed down there as the last person who picked it up screamed out in horror. It looked like something he put together himself. He asked if I wanted it. He looked proud of picking it out. Of course I said yes. I was beginning to realize that shopping with him was a bad idea.
I figured the dressing room would be easier. I could corrall him in there and give him my phone to play with so I could try on a few things. Just a few. Is that too much to ask? Apparently, yes.
I tried on the ugly shirt first. I will say this to my son’s credit – he did not insist that I buy it. I have had this experience with my daughter. She once picked out a shirt for me to try on and was heartbroken when I said it was not my style. “Please stop crying, Honey,” I eventually said. “Actually, I think it is my style after all!” The glitter from that shirt still haunts my dresser.
I turned just for a second. It always starts that way, doesn’t it? The parents say “it was only a second” and something terrible happens. Thankfully, this wasn’t that terrible. It was embarrassing and now, kind of funny. So I turned back and before I could say “Why are you taking off your pullup?” the clothes and pullup were off.
At first it was funny. He just wanted to be naked and dance around to the dressing room music. When he dances he likes to wave his arms and shake his booty, sticking it out. The three-way mirrors gave him the ability to see that spectacle from all angles. That’s why they’re there, you know, so you can check out what your booty looks like. Smart boy.
Then he decided to try on clothes, so he put on a red sweater and danced around in that for a few minutes. He clearly enjoyed the silky feel on his…well, let me just tell you that you might not want to try on any red sweaters on the sale racks at the Lloyd Center Macy’s.
And then he got bored of that and took off. Just opened the door and ran. Nude. Through Macy’s.
He timed it well, too. I was in the middle of changing and couldn’t go after him quickly. By the time I whipped on my clothes he was already being led back to the dressing room by a nice sales associate who had tears running down her face. I loved her. She anticipated my panic and called out to me that she had him before I even saw her. She didn’t make me feel bad about irresponsibly letting my kid run around naked. She was alert enough to see him, catch him, and prevent me from having to retrieve my naked kid from the security office where they would be calling child protective services on me.
I don’t even know if they get commission there, but I made sure to ring up my purchases with her – while CARRYING my now-clothed kid so he didn’t run off again.
The whole thing just makes me realize that I have a bit of an odd job, raising this kid who prefers to be nude. I’ll have to teach him how to do it in a fun-not-creepy way. I think we’ll look into colleges that have streaking traditions so that he has an outlet for his art.
It seems appropriate that I post this on Father’s Day. My Dad, who is fabulous in his own right, learned from one of the greats: my Grandpa Mal. Yesterday I went to a great writing workshop where we were tasked with writing a very short piece about an article of clothing. The most obvious, for me, was a certain blazer that took on a persona of it’s own at my wedding. It became an ode to Grandpa. So, to the wonderful fathers in my life, Dad, Grandpa, and John, Happy Father’s Day!!
The blazer was the life of the party. It had its beginnings a long time ago and was reborn at my wedding.
|The Blazer in Action|
On the dance floor a handsome, mustachioed gentleman appeared. He sported a blazer of the finest polyester. White background, shades of red and blue weaving together into a plaid pattern that, sadly, you just can’t find today. Silky(ish) brown lining. A wide collar that has probably come back into style and will again.