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27 Jun
2014
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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Perspective

Today is Wombat’s last day of preschool, and I’m having one of those dumb moments where I know it’s the right time to move on yet it seems like he just got started and wait! I’m not ready! slow down! just give me a minute! I’m embarrassingly terrible (embarrible) at goodbyes, so I’ve been fogging up my sunglasses during drop-off and pick-up for a few days now, and at least in that way I’m really ready for it to just be over, by golly, so I can stop giving myself a migraine from trying to hold back tears.

(We all know well how I held it together when he left daycare: not at all, unless weeping for two weeks beforehand falls under your definition of “breezy.”)(I should not have just re-read that post because now I’m doing the ugly cry, even though Fox is there right now and I see Daycare Lady five days a week so it’s not like I miss it/her or anything.)(And there’s an interesting point: What am I sad about missing from preschool? The place? The people? Or moreso the person Wombat is/was in that place and with those people?)

Of course I’m going to miss all of it, and of course there’s a part of me that’s worried kindergarten will take some of the magic out of him, that it won’t give him the time and freedom to draw me too many pictures every day, that this is the beginning of the end of when he is mostly mine instead of completely his own. I’m usually wrong about that sort of thing, though, so let’s just skip right over that puddle and pay it no attention at all because I already have quite enough on my brain-plate, thank you.

(But, oh, my heart, I know for sure I won’t pull up to kindergarten on hot Indian summer days and find all the kids tearing through the playground in their tiny-butt underpants. That I will miss A LOT.)

When the big things feel scary, I find comfort in the little things, and today I find comfort in Wombat’s cubby full of sticks and rocks and pine needles and flowers and loquat seeds (no, pits! no, seeds!) and woodchips and sand (whyyyyyy???) and bits of string and gigantic tangly wads of string and stray marker caps and other assorted odds and ends that look like junk but turn out to be very important things like tickets to this evening’s performance and, oh!, MAGIC BEANS. (Better in his cubby than in his pockets, though, amirite?)(Dammit. Now I’m crying again.)

cubby

For sure, preschool has been great, and I hope Wombat remembers his time there as he grows older. It hasn’t been the wondrous fairytale land daycare was, where he learned concrete, useful, measurable, impressive-sounding-at-parties things that made my type-A parts spark and tingle, but the thing I was most worried about–the loosey-goosey structure at a play-based preschool–turned out to be fine, just fine. They didn’t focus on teaching him all the traditional things a kid might learn in a traditional preschool (and which he picked up anyway, as kids do), but the most valuable thing he learned there is the most valuable thing any of us can learn anywhere, I think: he learned himself.

Sure, he learned to cut and paste and tape and tie and build and make a kite out of paper and a string and binoculars out of TP tubes and a magic board that has wheels for land, a fin for water, and hover powers for the sky. (Don’t be fooled just because it looks like a ratty old rectangle of cardboard.) In his flat-out amazing pre-K class, he learned what to feed a walking stick and how lungs work and where wind comes from and what makes an outstanding teacher. But he also learned how to be the little kid and how to be the big kid and how it feels to help a friend and how it feels to love more than one pretty girl at a time and how it feels to love someone who drives you crazy and how it feels when two bossy people want to play different games but with each other and how it feels when someone says “I get you” and then shows you that they really, really do.

Maybe I’m mostly sad because I know I can’t possibly express to his teachers how lucky we’ve been to have them support our kid as he learns about the world and how he fits into it. A gift card is nice but…lacking.

preschool-first

preschool-last

I had to do a first day/last day photo comparison to convince me that it really has been almost two years because I can’t quite believe it. The problem with these two pictures is that he actually looks about the same size, if not smaller, in the one I took this morning. One part of that is probably that his backpack is still the size of a Galápagos tortoise shell, but the other part is purely perspective. I’m seeing him from above instead of below. He’s bigger by five inches and five million vocabulary words but he takes up less of the frame. He’s a big fish but in a pond that’s expanding every day.

As our kids get bigger, so does their world, the frame of view that surrounds them. A baby heavy who fills up your arms can feel so much larger than a four-foot-tall man-child who can scale the climbing structure like a jet on steep ascent and then shoot out into space on suddenly-feathered wings, dangling in the sky like a hummingbird for only a second before he swoops low to the ground and zooms off into the distance, never quite touching the ground, going, going, going until he’s just a speck. He’s a bird, he’s a plane, he’s super. Man, oh man.

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Preschool: We’ll miss you like crazy, but we also know you’ve given us the best, most important parts to take with us.

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4 Jun
2014
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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Emergent

Come have a laugh with me as I calculate that it was less than two weeks between posting about letting kids live dangerously that one of my kids ended up in the emergency room to have his head glued back together. Ha ha ha ha HA.

No, really, it’s okay to laugh. It wasn’t that bad (the equivalent of two stitches), and by the rules that govern the Bizarroworld that is having two small children, it wasn’t the crazy, fearless child who almost brained himself but the other one. The one who said afterward, “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to your safety rules, Mom.” The one who was deemed the Calmest Kid Ever by the ER doctor (a male doctor! they do exist!*), who gave Wombat a sticker and a worksheet and a pair of surgical gloves and a set of professional tweezers and a gratuitous ride in a wheelchair (plus a bunch of superglue on his gouge) and yet still kept looking for something “more special” because a kid who can just lay/lie there with a head injury like it’s no big thing should be rewarded with something “more special.”

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*Wombat still thinks only women are allowed to be doctors. Was one so wrong ever so sweet?

While Fox was in the care of my in-laws, who were at the house at the time of the accident (irresponsible twirling on the backyard tire swing too close to the very pointy corners of the patio furniture), Simon and I took Wombat out for a post-trauma cheeseburger instead. (“Now, don’t think bashing your brains out is a good way to score a cheeseburger, mister.”) This is what it looks like when you eat a cheeseburger after having had your blood-soaked hair clipped back in your mom’s barrettes for a few hours.

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For the past two weeks he’s been wearing magical band-aids that seem to have taken away both the pain of a self-inflicted flesh cravasse as well as the sting of missing two weeks of swimming lessons. If he ends up with a gnarly scar, it’ll just make Harry Potter all the more exciting. (We’re thinking age 7 would be a good time to start? Yes?)

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I’m pleased to report that I was as cool as a frog’s belly during the entire affair, but now, of course, I can’t help but look at everything in my children’s vicinities as potential hazards to their health/pretty, pretty faces. Can someone tell me: Why is the world so sharp? The good news is that I’m still firmly of the mind that it would be ridiculous to attempt to pad every surface my kids might come in contact with, and thus it is that I’ve resolved to simply pad the children. You heard it here first: Summer 2014′s fashion breakthrough is triple-ply quilted bodysuits with matching helmets. Order yours today!

28 May
2014
Posted in: Regular Entries
By    18 Comments

Eleven Things

Sometimes you discover someone online and think they’re the bee’s knees, and then sometimes you get to meet them in person and they’re even better and your only improvement on the relationship would be that they didn’t live two hundred miles away. Janet is one of those people. I want to be like her when I grow up.

She tagged me in her Eleven Things meme, and it’s just what I need right now despite the fact that because I have a list three pages long of important things I should be doing instead. It’s amazing how I can always find the time to procrastinate.

You know how people are always getting all wistful for the old days of blogging? If you go back farther than personal blogs of people sharing their Important Stories outside the auspices of corporate sponsorship, this is pretty much what you got: memes and quizzes, memes and quizzes, memes and maybe a shared video (scroll down for that). I’m glad we’re bigger than that now, yet I have nothing but fond memories of being online in the early aughts, before smartphones and Twitter and before weblogs were full of “content” instead of just random stuff we wanted to share with random people. Adjust the drawstring on your velour trackpants and read on.

1. What is your favorite type of cheese?
Manchego is always a delight, but my eyes tend to roll back in my head for pretty much any kind of goat cheese because mmmmmmm, creamy. Tangy. Goaty. (Not to be confused with “goatse,” of course, which I’ve still never seen. *heroic pose*) (DON’T GOOGLE THAT.) (Right now we have a goat cheese log (ugh, LOG) rolled in blueberries and it’s to die for on a boring old salad.

2. What are you excited about?
Everyone has heard of stage moms, and I’m a little worried I’m turning into a kindergarten mom. I’m SO EXCITED for Wombat and I probably need to tone it down. I just loved school so damn much, and I know how ready he is to be finally done with preschool. He’s also going to camp for the first time (and my first time too), and it’s almost too much excitement (for me). Riding the bus! Swimming lessons! Library visits! Theme dress-up days! I need to go lie (lay?) down.

3. How did you celebrate your last birthday?
My birthday was earlier this month and Simon asked me last night if I’d had a good one and I honestly couldn’t remember what we’d done. S brought home two little pieces of cake and there were candles and singing, and then we probably watched a movie or something because it was my birthday but it was still a regular Thursday night with two kids. I’m one of those people who says, “It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday!” all week but actually means it when she also says, “I don’t really want to do anything special.”

4. What is on your bedside table?
Pictures of the boys, books I’m not reading (those go in the bathroom, since I pretty much only read while I’m drying my hair), lotion, glasses, stuff I’ve taken away from Fox (things that are fragile, swallowable, sharp, etc.). And so much dust.

5. What do you order from the movie theater concession stand?
I was always a popcorn and Diet Coke person growing up, but now that I’m an adult and realize theater popcorn is NOT the healthy choice, I’m all about the frozen Junior Mints. Not that those are the healthy option, but at least I’m not fooling myself. Besides, we only go to the theater about once a year, and no one should feel guilty about one box of Junior Mints every 365 days.

6. Do you have a garden? What’s growing?
We finally got the last bed planted over the holiday weekend, so we’re basking in the fresh glow of potential, which should carry us through a few weeks or so before we lose things to some combination of overwatering, underwatering, over-/under-fertilizing, crazy temperatures, an overenthusiastic toddler, general neglect, and @%$!ing squirrels and jays and possums and raccoons. Right now we have rosemary, oregano, collard, five kinds of tomatoes, rhubarb, patty pan squash, lemon cucumber, arugula, Cinderella pumpkin, corn, green beans, fava beans, snap peas, asparagus, strawberries, blackberries, and ornamental artichokes. Plus the fruit trees (Meyer lemon, lime, orange, and four kinds of apples). If only we had some idea of what we were doing with all of it.

7. Any summer plans?
Wombat’s going to camp (CAMP!), but he’ll have a few weeks of stay-at-home-with-mom time in between sessions, and I’m really looking forward to it. There are things I enjoy about newborns and babies and toddlers and preschoolers, but I’ve finally found my groove, and it’s with a kid who can read and do math and play games and work on more complicated projects. I have a million activities planned and it’s going to be awesome. Whole-family-wise, we have some parties in the works, and we’ll take a handful of weekend trips (camping!), but overall it’s going to be fairly low-key and that’s just what the doctor ordered.

8. Which TV couple(s) are you rooting for?
Well, I’m rooting against Sarah and Hank and Amber and…What’s His Name because although they’re all lovely people in their own ways, they’re WRONG WRONG WRONG for each other. As ever, we’re a season behind on Mad Men, but I kind of need Megan and Don to chill out because they’re dysfunctional in exactly the right ways for each other. I mean, if Don could just keep his *ahem* business at home for once.

9. What’s the last thing you bought?

Yesterday I received an exciting Amazon delivery of Avon Skin-So-Soft bug repellant, vitamin B1 (supposedly also a bug repellant; I’m being eaten away right before your eyes), and a three-pack of Tide Stain Sticks. This feels like the online equivalent of going into Victoria’s Secret and coming out with giant tummy-support beige underpants. Such a (panty)waste.

10. What’s one thing you are passionate about?
My job. I’ve had two books reviewed in big-deal papers recently (SF Chronicle! NEW YORK TIMES!) and I’ve received some really flattering feedback from both new and long-time clients, but it’s the day-to-day stuff that really gets me going. I love untangling sentences and making people sound more graceful with language than they did before. You get runner’s high? I get editor’s high.

11. What are you grateful for this week?
I’m grateful we have a guest room so we can host family for the weekend. I’m grateful the two-alarm house fire across the street on Monday didn’t hurt anybody. I’m grateful that even though money’s tight we can afford things like food and new clothes and Tide Stain Sticks and summer camp. I’m grateful we have health insurance because it only cost us $75 to have our kid’s head glued back together in the emergency room on Saturday. (GUESS WHICH KID?)

I tag eleven (plus one) more: Alison, Amanda, Amanda, Jessica, Jessica, Kristin, Christine, Jennifer, Megan (gosh, do you think we are children of the 70s/80s?), Margosita, ElizabethT (brand new baby what?), velocibadgerGRL, and anyone else who wants to play along. (Let me know if you do!)

And now for something completely unrelated, I thought this was awesome: