Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Another baby woman

I'm an aunt!!!

My brother in Florida called this morning to tell me my sister-in-law had her baby. They've mystified our relatives by refusing to find out the gender ahead of time, but it kind of slipped my mind to ask; I was all about the birth story and whether everyone's okay, since the baby is 2-3 weeks early [they never did get a straight answer about the due date]. My brother assured me that everyone's fine, in fact labor went really fast and my sister-in-law was fully dilated by the time they got to the hospital, and now they have a little--

"So she didn't have to have drugs or anything?" I broke in. "Oh! A little what?"

"Baby!" said my brother all deadpan. "A really little baby. Yep, a baby!"

"A baby what? A baby what? A baby what?"

They have a girl, a little 5-pound 1 ounce girl. Sarah has a baby girl cousin, her only first cousin. She has a second cousin on RW's side and some fourth [really!] cousins on my side she's close to, but this is her only just regular cousin, no qualifications, no removes. She's been excited about this for months. She's gonna be totally thrilled to hear. I think I'll wake her up and tell her in a couple minutes.

We can send them all those teeny tiny dresses in the basement! We were gonna have to send only the androgynous clothes if they had a boy.

A niece! I have a niece! [Or is is neice?] Now I have to learn how to spell that damn word.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Where would she get that idea?

More from the Indulged and Adored Child Chronicles, from later this morning: 
Sarah made this huge concotion of a playdough birthday cake, like a huge multicolored mountain with candles stuck all over the sides at right angles. "It's for Mama's birthday," she announced, and RW dutifully beamed through a basically-on-key rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."
S: "Now, make a wish."
RW: Thinks hard, then closes eyes and blows out imaginary candles with a truly blissful look on her face, as if she's really making a wish, not faking.
S:"What did you wish for?"
RW [gazing mistily at Sarah]: "I can't tell, or it won't come true."
S: [looking bashfully pleased and slyly knowing at the same time]: "Did you wish for... everyone in the world to love me?"

Closed Hand, or Holocaust Literature for Preschoolers

"She has a bra to cover her nipples." that was the first thing I heard this morning. Sarah was awake in her room next door. [RW had gone off to the other room to sleep in peace and quiet and solitude.] "Mommy! she has a bra to cover her nipples!"
Me: "What?"
S: "This doll. She has a bra on." She burst into the bedroom with said doll, a fancy porcelain high-couture one from France that her grandparents gave her a few months ago. Way back then, we'd discussed how this doll's clothes didn't come off, but apparently if the undresser is determined enough, they do. There was no bra. The doll's breasts, it turns out, are made of small white pom-poms.
Me, stupidly: "You took her clothes off."
S: "Not all her clothes. Just her dress. She's in her underwear. It goes under her other clothes, that's why it's called underwear."
Me: "Hmm, yeah. That makes a lot of sense."
S: "She has a seed in her tummy. She's going to have a baby. There's a dad, too. He's taller than her. Wait!"
Short break while Sarah runs back into her room to find a doll taller than Mlle. Pompom-Hooters. She returns with a huge pink baby doll, and stands the two dolls up next to each other. Huge Pink Baby is just barely taller, though of course grossly differently-proportioned.
S, in tones of great satisfaction: "This is the dad. He's taller. He's a boy. She has a seed in her tummy, but not from the dad, from a different boy."
Me, obviously missing the point entirely: "If she's having a baby with a dad, couldn't the seed be from him too?"
S: "Oh! Yes! The seed's from him too. And she's going to born the baby today. It's the baby's birthday. And the baby's not Jewish 'cause the mom's not Jewish."
Me: "How do you know the mom's not Jewish?"
S: "Cause she's not wearing a star. I'm pretending it's a long time ago and all the Jewish people wear stars."
Me, sitting bolt upright, fully awake at last:"What!? Where did you hear about that?"
S, matter-of-fact, like, come on, silly, everyone knows about that: "From a story."
Me, still in shock: "A story!?"
S, helpfully: "Sure, a story. In a book. Come on, I'll show you."
Sarah takes my hand, leads me to the living room, and points up at a high bookshelf. "That book, up there. Get it!"
I do. It is Brundibar, a picture-book collaboration between Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner, based on an opera originally performed by the children of Terezin concentration camp. My friend Ellie gave it to me for my birthday. I sort of remember someone reading it to Sarah at my birthday party, but I wasn't paying much attention. 
S: "Read it!"
I read, grateful for a brief respite from the rapidly-accumulating list of things I don't feel like discussing with Sarah first thing in the morning [Sex, breasts, reproduction, interfaith families, the Holocaust, the fragility of porcelain French-couture dolls... how long have I been up, anyway?].
Except, of course, it's not much of a respite. I've read the book before for my job, but not out loud, and not to a kid. It's one of those books that can be read on many levels. On the surface, it's the story of two children who outwit a bully with the help of friends. It's got a nice empowering message about working together. But the pictures have lots of Holocaust allusions, little hints for the sophisticated that there's more going on here.
"They're Jewish," she points out, spotting a few characters with yellow stars. "How come they're wearing those stars?"
"There was a man in charge of a big country, and he didn't like Jewish people, and he was really mean to them, and things were really hard for them," I gabble, working for a gold medal in the Most-Whitewashed-Ever-Explanation-of-the-Holocaust event in the Parental Olympics. "But then there was a fight between that country and other countries-- a war, remember we talked about those-- and he lost, and things got better. It was just for a few years, that time. Um, it was a long time ago."
When the young heroes sing their climactic song, which is about babies growing up, parents growing old, and empty cradles, and there's a full-page spread of children flying away on black birds and parents below weeping bitterly into their aprons, I struggle to keep it together. "The parents are sad," Sarah observes, "Because their children are going away."
"Yeah," I say. "I guess that's why." I have a feeling she knows there's more to it and is waiting for me to tell her, but I'm not going there.
I close the book rapidly after we read about how bullies can be defeated if you work together. "That's the end!" I lie cheerfully, knowing from my previous reading that there's a final page we're skipping, a last little menacing message from the evil Brundibar: "Nothing ever works out neatly--/Bullies don't give up completely./...Though I go, I won't go far.../ I'll be back. Love, Brundibar."
I am a wimp. I'm exhausted from hypocrisy and withholding information, which goes against my librarian's nature. I'm ready to go back to bed. Not Sarah, of course. She spots a deck of cards next to the couch.
"I know! Let's play Crazy 8's!" she says, grabbing for them. "Closed hand, so you can't see the other person's cards. [She just learned how to play closed hand. She sticks her cards in the edge of an aluminum-foil dispenser so she can see them but we can't.] I want to be the dealer."

Yeah, well, at least in Crazy 8's we'll both be keeping a few cards to ourselves. Though who knows what she was holding back during that whirlwind interaction?

A Short Literary Note

Of course all the rhapsodic references to "Bat Mitzvahs" below refer, in general, to Bar Mitzvahs too. [Seeing the Bar Mitzvah boy doing his stuff, etc.] 
Just thinking about the perils of non-inclusive language.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Today I am a fountain pen

There's nothing quite like a Bat Mitzvah. Not even a wedding. Nothing like seeing an early-adolescent kid officially coming of age up there on what's essentially a stage, strutting her intellectual and Jewish stuff, reading a scroll in a few-thousand-year-old language and then spouting some theory she wrote herself, surrounded by beaming relatives all the while.

In this morning's case the Bat Mitzvah girl was N., a smart, no-nonsense kid I've known since she was 7. Just a few weeks ago I heard her mouthing off to her friends on how she didn't believe in God. This morning she accepted ownership of the family Torah, which was brought to this country by her great-great grandfather when he was 17. There were 4 Rabbis up on the bimah [stage, basically]: her grandfather, her uncle, and her aunt, all in from out of town, who did a sort of round-robbin officiation, with the synagogue's official rabbi diplomatically laying low until near the end of the service. Her grandmother made a moving speech about the Torah's history, N's special place in the family as the oldest grandchild and first Bat Mitzvah ever to read from it, and the honor and responsibility being passed on to her. Then they passed it across the Bimah, from one family member to the next, down to N., who held it and brought it over to the podium for the reading. It looked heavy in her arms.

Half the congregation, including me, got all choked up. Wow, I thought. What an honor. What a burden for a kid who doesn't even believe in God. Doesn't really matter, though, come to think of it; her family believes in her. God is sort of a side issue, really.

In nine years or so, if Sarah hasn't thrown the whole thing over, we'll be having one of these. I hope we do. Only two of her ten [count 'em, ten] grandparents/great-grandparents are Jewish, but they're schmaltzy enough to carry the whole thing themselves.

I have to admit there's this little part of me that doesn't want to be "alternative," doesn't want to be trailblazing, doesn't want to be the sole conveyor of Jewish identity to my kid. Way back in college psychology, I learned that people are hard-wired to think in archetypes; i.e. if you say "bird," the average person will immediately think of, say, a robin redbreast, not a penguin. Sometimes, like at the travelling-Rabbi show this morning, this sissy corner of my brain gets tired of being a penguin. It would be kind of nice, I can't help thinking, to be that archetypical family: 2 Jewish parents, Jewish-looking kids [not that I'd want to change a hair on Sarah's blond little head or one bit of pigment of her sea-blue eyes], no awkward conversion or Christmas-tree issues.

I think Sarah feels kind of the same sometimes: not about Judaism specifically [she occasionally tosses off comments like "I don't want to be Jewish, I want to be like Mama[RW, that is]," and I get all worked up and have to remind myself that she's just 3 and I should breathe calmly], but she's a kid who recognizes and gloms onto archetypes.  I think there might be a part of her that wants that regular mom-dad family so she doesn't have to field questions about it all the time; not that she'd trade me for a dad any more than I'd trade her for some brown-haired kid. I mean, I know it's true that no one is purely archetypical when you dig down, that the point is to live your own life, not fit into some mold, to thine own self be true, etc.  Like a lot of dumb-sounding pop-psych bromides this kind of thing is hard to actually keep in mind continually. I hope RW's example*--not to mention her own "I-am-the-Queen" entitlement--will help Sarah maintain a more insouciant attitude about it all than I seem to have at the moment.
*RW, like most of her family, doesn't think much of organized religion of any sort and feels in general like wanting to fit in is, in fact, for sissies.
P. S. In non-introspective news, I have solved my Blogger-editing problems by updating my version of Internet Explorer! All by myself! O Techno-goddess moi! [Actually I just scrabble along the surface of technological literacy, so this is a really big deal.]

Friday, July 16, 2004

Bad Mommy, No Link Button

This blog is now renamed "Travels in Booland," after Sarah-boo, which is what we used to call her until she put a stop to it. In this blog I get to call Sarah whatever I want, but in real life we are commanded to only call her "Sarah." Just plain Sarah. This morning I called her "bunny" and she snapped at me. "Don't call me bunny! It makes me think you think I am something to play with on Halloween. Call me by my regular name." We're not even allowed to call her "sweetie."

Actually, Sarah has snapped at me a lot in the past couple of days. Here are some things I've done to offend her lately:

1. I came 5 minutes too early with the car to pick her up at a rendezvous with RW. [She screamed and screamed until I pulled over and refused to drive any more until she could calm herself down. Though she did say "Thank you," unprompted, in a gulpy kind of way when I gave her her sweatshirt to wipe her eyes with.]
2. I neglected to have anything for her to drink during said [10-minute] car trip.
3. I took the video out of the VCR myself instead of letting her do it: "Did you forget and think I was a baby?!?"
4. I insisted that she didn't need a band-aid for a mildly-banged thumb, just ice and a kiss. ["But it HURTS!"]
5. I stepped on her tiara and broke some of the comb-things off of the side, and then forgot to tell her about it until she noticed several days later. I do actually feel pretty bad about that. On the other hand, the tiara was just lying in the middle of the living room floor.
6. I told her that if she didn't eat her [day-old] pizza, I would eat it. [She wanted to save it for herself until some hypothetical time when she might want it. We end up with a lot of shrivelled-looking plates of leftovers that way.]

I'm sure there's more, but I've blocked it. I just can't remember all the terrible things I do.

To be fair, though, she does have inner resources beyond complaining. She was very mature about occasionally letting me jump one of her pieces when we played checkers this morning. And when she wants me to stop reading and pay attention to her she's usually pretty polite about it. At one point a few weeks ago she grabbed a nearby piece of paper, stuck it in the book, chirped "Here's a bookmark for you, Mommy, so you can stop reading!' and deftly took the book out of my hands and put it out of immediate reach before I entirely understood what was going on.

Oh, we're not going down to Eugene this weekend after all. I'm kind of grumpy about that.

Also: there are no links or italics on this post because Blogger took the buttons away. Not too happy about that either.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Remember the Pancakes

If I remember nothing else from tonight's concert, I want to keep that mental snapshot of Sarah and Josie and Cecelia, dressed in bright pink and yellow and blue, dancing around on the lawn to Nanci Griffith singing "It's a Hard Life" and "If I Had a Hammer." They took big gracious bows as each song ended, and they were just so joyous and gorgeous and hammy that us besotted parents applauded and applauded.

Sarah caught sight of her friend Kaia from preschool [Kaia's in the Dragonflies, the oldest group--what glamour!] and they spent some time running around and rolling down the hill together. We saw our next-door neighbor and her little baby. I kept feeling like I was seeing other people I knew too, in that general way that happens when you've spent a long time in one place. There were lots of groovy-looking parents there, about our age, towing around their brightly-clad preschoolers. Probably a lot of the same people who were at the Nanci Griffith Bumbershoot concert I went to about 12 years ago. Now we're older and have kids, that's all.

And then RW pointed to a woman a few rows ahead of us and said "isn't that Cricket?" And it was! My old housemate! I brought Sarah over to meet her-- and, it turns out, her sweetie Lorin and their 16-month-old cutie, Maddie. We started to exchange e-mail info and then I blurted out "I have a blog!" and Cricket said "I have one too!" We got very excited about it. 6 degrees of blogosphere!

When I got home I actually read Cricket's blog and was happy to see that it includes a write-up of this story. When she told it in our old kitchen so many years ago I laughed so hard I couldn't speak. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

how not to do errands

You know, it's probably just as well that I am the parent who goes to work most of the time. I am no good at this errands-and-chores-on-my-own business. Especially when one of the errands is going to the library.

The low point today was when I left my bag-- the one with the library books and cell phone in it-- in the Fred Meyers parking lot. And I didn't even buy anything! Just drove down from Ballard to get to Fred Meyers-- no picnic, let me tell you, with the main artery clogged by road work all summer-- parked in the lot, took out the bag, put it in a shopping cart in the lot, looked at my grocery list, realized I didn't need anything at Fred Meyers, got back in the car, drove halfway across town to Trader Joe's, turned to check the time on the cell phone [since I don't have a watch], discovered that neither the cell phone nor the bag was anywhere in the car. Did a squealing u-turn almost directly in front of Sarah's day care center, which I was passing at that moment, drove back to Fred Meyers cursing all the while, discovered the bag no longer in the parking lot, cursed some more. Finally entered Fred Meyers, waited in line at the Service desk, asked for my bag, and thank God, got it back. Drove back to Trader Joe's in a mood both foul and grateful.

Bought food for our next camping trip. [About which Sarah reportedly said, when RW reminded her of it this morning, "Oh, my God! Not another camping trip!"] Drove home, trying not to get sucked in by my new library book. Did laundry. Put camping dishes in dishwasher. Left voicemail message for potential catsitter. Looked around the wreckage heap that our home is becoming [and how, I have to wonder, has it gotten that way, considering that we've hardly even been here for the past week?]. Threw up hands in despair. Turned on computer.

RW, if you are reading this, just know: I am turning off the computer right now. Now. Really. I mean it. And picking up Sarah so we can meet you at the zoo concert.

Really turning it off now.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Keep on pushing my love over the borderline

One thing I have to write down about our trip before I forget was the border crossing. Crossing in and out of Canada is always mildly stressful, even for those [like us] who do it a lot. Aside from the traffic jams, there's that feeling that suddenly your life is in the hands of an Official Bureaucracy, in the form of one single border guard, who can totally screw up your trip if s/he's in a bad mood. It's never happened to us [ptui, ptui] but theoretically your car can be searched from top to bottom, you can be delayed, questioned, or even turned back from Canada. [They can't turn you back from the States if you're travelling-- as we always do-- on a U.S. passport. But they can make things very unpleasant if they don't like you.] Not a big deal in the larger scheme of things, but a relatively rare experience for us 2 middle-aged pale-skinned Americans. RW has a lot of history with all this, as a dual citizen with hippie parents, so she sets the rules: don't volunteer anything; make things simple; don't mention relatives, only "friends" [or they start to wonder why you have relatives in Canada].

Tonight I was driving back, which was making me nervous as RW usually handles this transaction, the car was stuffed to the gills with camping gear and dirty clothes which would be a huge pain to unpack and pack again, and we had bought a lot of stuff in Vancouver which we would have to declare. As we approached the border we had this big debate about whether to mention the $200 worth of books [mostly for my school, but never mind] first or last, and then started stressing when we saw we were once again in the slow lane with the pissed-off-looking border guard who was making the guy in front of us open his trunk.

RW handed me the papers--we always carry all our U.S. passports when we go, plus Sarah's birth certificate--and I handed them over to the guard. He asked where we'd been and for how long and the purpose of our visit and I got all flustered, because we'd been in two places doing two different things and I suddenly blanked on the name of the place where we'd gone camping, so I was sure I sounded like an idiot who was trying to hide something. Also, the guard was slurring his words and was really hard to understand.

Then he said something like "Do you have a note from your husband giving permission to travel with the child?" And I opened my mouth and gaped because I wasn't sure where to start with that one; usually they just ask something like "Whose child is that in the back?" and we say "Both of ours" and that's that. [Though last year, for the first time, the guard asked Sarah directly, "Who are these people with you?" Fortunately she didn't choose that moment to get silly, just smiled brightly if somewhat bemusedly and chimed "Mommy and Mama!"] I know they feel they have to check for parental kidnapping but the whole thing is still unnerving.

Anyway I sat there looking stupid until RW leaned over from the passenger side and said, "We're both her parents." Then I found my voice and added helpfully, "We gave you her birth certificate. Both our names are on it." He looked totally weirded out and carefully unfolded Sarah's very-well-travelled birth certificate and squinted at it, then opened up her passport, which was issued when she was about 8 months old and has a picture of her looking like a stunned baby convict, and squinted at that, then gave us all a hard look and gave me the papers back and said in a shaky kind of way, "Okay, go ahead. Have a safe trip" and I revved out of the border station and onto the highway, forgetting to change gears until RW reminded me.

The great thing is, that hostile, homophobic, suspicious border guy was so freaked out by Sarah's 2-mom situation that he forgot to ask about the piles of stuff in the car and we didn't have to declare anything. Now I wish I'd bought more books.

What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall of that guard's station next Sunday and Monday when all the dykes and their camper vans and their kids come back from the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. He ain't seen nothing yet.

We're baack!

But not for long. Really just a 2-day pit-stop before we leave for another camping trip on Thursday, this one to the Oregon Coast, with a side trip first to pick up the much-adored almost-10-year-old Lilly [known around our house as "Big Lilly," despite her string-bean-like qualities, to distinguish her from Toddler Lily, who lives in Boston], who is coming with us while her mom crams for a big test. Sarah is totally excited to see Lilly again--she keeps saying cheery things like "Lilly will be so happy to see her little cousin Sarah," even though Lilly isn't technically her cousin--and at least equally excited to see Lilly's house, which is out in the country near Eugene. We went there last summer at around this time and saw deer, and swung in the tire swing, and swam in the pool which they amazingly have-- it is not a fancy outdoor-pool kind of place at all, in case you're getting that idea, really more of a miniature intentional community with Lilly and her mom and 2 other households all sharing the same land and garden and stuff, but they have this pool that was there when they bought the place, and you swim around in it and look out at this incredible view of the mountains and it is totally idyllic.

But even more than the deer and the pool and the tire swing, if that is possible, Sarah is looking forward to seeing [and, I assume, using] the trapeze that hangs in Lilly's bedroom doorway. RW and I occasionally feel guilty that we haven't rigged something like that for our girl--star of Cirque de Sarah, performing nightly in our living room--but if you saw the weird way our house is configured, with no hallways and rooms all opening into each other, you'd understand why we don't do it. The poor kid would bash her nose in the first time she swung out.

But wait! I have to tell about the trip we just got back from! But I can't because there's too much! That, as my sister-in-law likes to say, is the way of things. Don't you hate it when someone's just come back from someplace like France or Nepal or Guatemala and all you can think of to say was "So... how was France?" [Or Nepal, etc.] and of course they just say "Um... great!" What can they possibly say? Every day of a trip is like at least a week of regular life in terms of noteworthy stuff happening. Of course it's great. Even a little camping trip like ours was so great that we are all going to be incredibly grumpy when we have to get up in 7 hours for work/daycare.

OK I am just going to make a list of the trip-related things I want to write about later. They are in no particular order. If you want to comment [please comment!] you can vote for which item you want to hear more about and I'll try to get to those. And if I never get to them, well, at least you get a general idea of what our trip was like.
1. The ferry to Nanaimo, with the bookstore [on the ferry! does that rock or what!]in which we discovered the Vinyl Cafe books
2. How Sadie and Sarah got on like a house afire 95% of the time
2A. The other 5%
3. RW's birthday, with the Nanaimo-bar cake
4. The Play Tent
5. Leapfrog
6. The wonder that is the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre [warning: long download]
6A. The water slides at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre
7. The Parksville Playground, the likes of which I have never seen before in my entire life
8. How Connie kept raving about how Canada kicks Washington State's [and the United States's in general] butt
9. The sleeping arrangements, and how Sarah almost pushed me off the mattress
9A. The [semi-]inflatable mattresses
10. The Pit Toilet [really probably not much to say about that
11. The rain, and RW's surprising [for a diehard Northwesterner] reaction to it
12. Grocery shopping in Parksville with Connie, including our freakout in the bakery aisle
13. The wands, crowns, and fairy dresses that Sadie and Sarah wore around the campground
14. Sending Sarah alone to put the recycling in the container halfway up the walk-in campsite, and the intimations of the End of Childhood brought on thereby
15. The bunny
16. The mama and baby deer
17. The Daddy Deer, why Sarah is scared of Daddy Deer, and her theory on why animals don't want you to stare at them
18. The utter coolness of our food-storage and cooking arrangements
19. The walk-in campsite itself, and why it's so much better than regular campsites
20. The night Sadie and Sarah tried to run away from bedtime
21. The beach... oh, did I forget to mention the beach? We did actually go to the beach, when it stopped raining.

And that doesn't even get into the last day of our trip, which was spent in Vancouver visiting various relations and near-relations, checking in with our friend the Baby Beluga and his relatives, walking in Stanley Park, eating Asian food, and treating ourselves to Canadian and British children's books and new clothes for Sarah [including the first shorts-and-T-shirt outfit Miss "I Only Wear Dresses" has willingly put on in over a year! And it was on sale!].

RW brilliantly packed White Car so that the camping stuff can just stay in there until Thursday. So now we are home in our own little beds. Well, not me, but I'm getting there soon. And the New Yorker came while we were gone. Should I save it for the next trip? Maybe I can just read one little article before I go to sleep...

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Links! Links! Links!

This is actually Take 2 of this post... Blogger claims to have posted Take 1, but there's this weird message about the browser not being able to find it... could this be some of the Blogger drama of which I've read?

All day I've been supposed to be getting ready for our camping trip, and all day I've been in an unproductive fog. I think it's driving RW crazy but she's being polite about it. I did: go to Trader Joe's for supplies, do some laundry, wash some dishes, go to a store on a Secret Errand for RW's birthday, pick Sarah up from day care, and hit the library to pick up our holds on the way home. But I haven't packed Sarah's stuff yet or really dealt with the food, which is my main job. And I spent what seemed like long stretches of time lying around rereading Watership Down. I could tell I was really frantic and procrastinating when I found myself Googling random people I knew in high school and at summer camp. I wasn't being productive but wasn't having any fun either, at which point you have to wonder what the evolutionary purpose of procrastination is.

In any case, one way or another we'll be leaving tomorrow morning and will be camping on the beach in Canada for four days, so at least I won't be obsessively blogging or checking my e-mail during that time. If anyone is actually reading this [is anyone reading this?? Feel free to comment. Honest.], don't expect another gripping, enthralling installment until Monday at the earliest.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Someday her prince will come

Miss S. is our little femme girl. Tonight I was putting her to bed and I'd read her a story and sung her a song* and she was all tucked in and cozy with the nightlight on, and this conversation [or an approximation thereof-- it was a couple of hours ago] ensued:

"I really am going to be a princess."
"Okay," I said, with this vague image of Princess Grace of Monaco popping into my head as I wondered if she'd send a private plane for Renaissance Woman & me to come visit her on her island.
"I am. No kidding. [she might not have said that right then but she's been saying it a lot so I'm taking poetic license and putting it in here.] I will find a prince who is looking for a wife, and I will put a big hat on my head [a veil, I think she means] and we will get married."
"Um, okay," I said, thinking, Disney really has a lot to answer for-- why did we ever let her get Cinderella out of the library? We've got to stop letting her play in the Fred Meyers playroom with all those noxious videos...
"Or I might just marry a, a regular dad," she continued. "Not a prince, just a regular...boy."
"Okay. You could do that." But since I am a card-carrying lesbian parent I had to ask, "Are you sure you want to marry a boy?"
"Yes, a boy." she sounded really definite.
"Not a girl?" I couldn't resist.
"No. Because I want to have a baby."
This is like the time she and her best friend Josie were playing wedding and Sarah insisted that they each had to marry boys. This from the girl who had been a flower girl at her own moms' wedding just a few months earlier! Go figure.

*The song was "For Free" by Joni Mitchell. I am so proud of Sarah that she likes her Joni. "Morning Morgantown" was the first song I ever sang to her, when she was just one hour old. When she was little--two or so-- she liked "My Old Man." Her version went "He's a walker in the drain, he's a dancer in the dark..." Yesterday when I was driving her down in the car on the way home from the park, she asked for "some quiet music-- like Joni Mitchell." What a girl!

Monday, July 05, 2004

Sleeping in the car

Sarah's napping in the car, again. Shy Kitty's stretched out in front of the porch, washing himself in a highly undignified way. Renaissance Woman's asleep inside. I'm stationed on our postage-stamp front lawn, looking at the blue flowers and the roses and listening to the wind-chimes from across the street and the birds on the telephone wire and the cars on the big street at the end of the block. Our neighbors are hammering on their house as they've been doing for the last 6 or 7 years. Renaissance Woman says that when she first moved in here she thought it was just a project and they'd be done soon, but after a couple of years she realized that home improvement for our next-door neighbors is a lifestyle that will never end.

When we were in L.A. my uncle kept offering to let Sarah nap in his room at the assisted living place where he lives now [really it's a nursing home, I guess] and I kept having to refuse, politely. She can't sleep where there's anything exciting going on, I said, and it was the truth. I took her out in the rental car every day and drove her around to let her rest.

She's like me and RW that way: a sleep-resister. Always has been. I remember reading baby books that reassured us that newborns will drop off anywhere, anytime, if they need it, and wondering why our little baby seemed to be so crabby and fragile. One day it hit us: she was exhausted! But she wouldn't go to sleep when we were out and about. She hated to miss a thing.

Now she naps in the car, usually, or not at all, and the mom on call sits on the porch or the front lawn and reads or opens mail or talks on the phone. Apparently she will nap at day care--usually. Probably the collective sleepies of all those other kids, combined with the assurance that absolutely nothing is going on, enables her to let go. But with us she's always on edge, certain that we're about to break out the party treats and good times as soon as she's asleep.

On the one hand, it's a good thing, in that attachment-parenting kind of way: forces us to slow down and rest too. On the other hand... well, we have a lot to do and would like to be able to go to the back of the house and wash dishes sometimes. And often it's rainy. And the mom on call can't really nap properly herself, watching over the little car-napper. And so often we would like to. Especially when we've been up reading. But I guess we brought this on ourselves with our decadent sleep-resisting example, vicious circle that it is.

Although I am grateful that once she's out [especially at night] she's out. I'd rather have a sleep-resister than an early riser if it comes to that.

In which we come home, and I set off

Why blog?
1. I've been reading and admiring a bunch of blogs for a couple years now. It's time to stop just being a consumer.
2. Summer's here and I get to stay up late for almost 2 months before school comes down on me again.
3. I used to write. Stories and everything. Then Sarah was born and I stopped literally in mid-sentence. Now I have almost 4-years worth of writing-itch in my typing fingers. So here goes...

We got back from L.A. last night, a three-day trip with just me and Sarah, and I spent much of today on the phone bragging to everyone about what a good traveller she is--staunch, cheerful, game for anything--and how much fun it is to go places with her. I know parents who won't even go to a restaurant with their kids. We drag Miss S. everywhere, and she thrives on it. Even when she was a baby, she was on her best behavior out in public or at a party, saving her meltdowns for private time with her parents.

We don't even have to leave our house to travel: as my spouse* the Renaissance Woman has pointed out, we're all time-travellers anyway: Me, RW, Sarah. Miss S. loves the They Might be Giants song "Older" ["You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older... and now you're even older..."]; she thinks it's a happy song. She's even older now! and now! and now! Closer to being 4, to kindergarten, to being a teenager, a grownup... time travel might spell mortality to RW and me [and probably you], but it's Sarah's ticket to freedom.

And I travel with Sarah even when I'm apart from her. At work, where I just hung the picture she gave me for my birthday; at the movies I get to go to by myself sometimes now we've hit the 3-year mark; even up late at night the way I am now, indulging myself in my favorite vice, text [online and print], she's tucked in a corner of my head.

We have three more big trips planned this summer, not to mention all those exciting little ones to the park, the library, and down to the corner to see what's happening. I cleaned the Santa Monica sand out of the suitcase today and set it on the porch to air. Connie's coming over tomorrow to plan the camping trip next week. Summer is icumen in, loude sing yippee. As RW's mom used to say to her when she and her best friend were 4 and rattling around the back seat of the car in those heady pre-carseat days: Hang on, girls!

*according to the Province of British Columbia, and presumably recognized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a few other localities, and the New York Times