Thursday, June 30, 2005

Guess what I got for my birthday?

(Really it's for all of us. But I got to open it and play with it first.)

Maybe I'll join Ten:Ten!

Hmm. I mean, after I figure out how to download stuff without putting it all on my desktop.

UPDATE: I did it!!

I feel myself being drawn ever more inextricably into the coils of the Spanglemonkey Robot Army...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Anniversary of Me

I'm awake, and RW's gone to work, and Mermaid Girl, my date for the day, is still asleep, so Good Morning, Internet! It's my birthday! I'm 39!

I wrote in somewhat glum and understated terms about my planned day here, squandering my inaugural powers and responsibilities as a Guest Author at the Brand Spanking New Spanglemonkey Non-Stop Birthday Party Delight Blog which the magnificent Jo Spanglemonkey has just set up, and on which you too can celebrate your own upcoming birthday! But everyone's being very kind about it so far.

The truth is, I'm psyched about my day. Last year for my birthday I tried treating myself to a day home by myself in the house, but it kind of fizzled; I was jumpy and restless and kept thinking "I should be Doing Something! It's my Birthday!" This year I'm keeping Mermaid Girl home with me and we'll do errands together and make cupcakes, the kind of day I almost never have. And she will be sure to wish me a happy birthday approximately every five minutes, which is about what my ego seems to demand.

For lunch we're going to the Tiny Diner, best diner in town. You can't go on weekends because there are crowds out the door, and they're closed Mondays so I can never go on school closure three day weekends, so I haven't been in years. I plan to have the Slacker Special in memory of my youth.

My old friend Emmie, who moved to Seattle the same summer I did, will meet us there, with her daughter Little Latke, last seen in this space back in December as a scarily early and tiny preemie in the NICU. Now she's a healthy, spheroid, bouncy baby (literally-- I saw her bouncing merrily along in her frontpack as her other mom ran alongside the stroller drill team at the Pride Parade), 3 months' corrected gestational age. She'll grow up (ptui, ptui, ptui) and no one will know the drama and intensity of her beginnings, except us boring old grownups who were there.

My own start wasn't quite so dramatic, but there was plenty of excitement for my mom just the same. Thanks, Mom! Thanks, Dad! It's a pretty good planet to be on, this one. Lots of air and water and everything.

Updated to mention three more nice things:

1) My mom gave me a pencil sharpener for my birthday! It was just what I wanted, in fact it was just about the only thing on my birthday wish list. Up till now we only had one of those tiny ones that comes in a kid's pencil box. It never really sharpened the pencils and they sat around all stubby and annoying. This one screws into the wall and you turn the handle and the pencils come out satisfyingly dagger-pointy.

2) RW surprised me at 12:05 last night with a plate of raspberry-festooned Nanaimo bars and birthday wishes. She is really nice to me. Well, a lot of the time. I don't think I've mentioned that much here lately (or at home either, come to think of it).

3) The Danish Cousins are coming here on their road trip! MG is in ecstacy. They called yesterday to ask if it was okay for them to show up tonight, a day early. So we will have a small party after all. Cupcakes and Danes! What more could anyone ask for?

Monday, June 27, 2005

I tried, Grace,

I tried to post about the Pride Parade. But the truth is, the fun of the parade was overshadowed, not by any right-wing political nonsense thank God, but by the loss of Jessie's bag. It disappeared sometime between when we left the kids' area at the festival at the park and when I stopped a block and a half away and cried out in alarm at not seeing it. A sweet little denim backpack, and all the stuff her mom had packed for her trip to the Parade with us: Jessie's hat, her jacket, her little towel (for the wading pool at the park), the flower lei headband and bracelets she got for her birthday last week.

Worst was losing all the parade swag: the rainbow necklace RW bought for her, the candy she gleaned, the sparkly rainbow tattoo, the shiny whistle noisemaker, the stretchy rainbow bracelet, the confetti-filled egg a nice lady gave her (she had baskets full; she was giving them to everyone). Mermaid Girl was sad for her, but didn't volunteer any of her own loot. (Jessie herself is preternaturally well-behaved and generous, and if the shoe were on the other foot she would definitely have given up some of her stuff to MG, her Best Friend. We tried guilt-tripping MG but couldn't bring ourselves to make her hand anything over. Maybe we should have.)

RW ran back to the festival and looked all over, but there was no sign of it among the thousands of milling and flirting and partying queers. So it was a mournful little group that dragged our rainbow-streamer-festooned wagon back to the car. I bought ice cream for the girls but it dripped. Jessie, the Good Child, was stoic and quiet. MG was whiny. We were all tired and sad.

But up until then, it was a wonderful day. The girls wore matching tie-dye dresses and sat in the wagon as RW pulled them (I offered to take over, but she insisted she liked it), waving at the crowds. A dozen people must have taken their picture, matching rainbow friends. (though the photo-op prize must have gone to the two men just behind us in the Rainbow Families Brigade, feeding their new 12-day-old baby in a sling and pushing 17-month-old twins in a double stroller.) Even the hardened old politicos and the 20-something party boys with their groovy hair and spandex smiled at our girls.

And it really felt like they were both our girls. I couldn't help thinking vague hopeful political thoughts about how it's the Jessies of the world, as well as the Mermaid Girls, who will be one reason things will maybe be different in 20 years. If you were in and out of your best friend's house for years, and her moms helped you brush your teeth at sleepovers and gave you juice boxes at outings and you all went to the beach together, if your classmates' dads sent in cookies at his birthday and chaperoned your field trips, how could you grow up to think they were weird and sick?

Though maybe people still will. Who knows. And of course if Jessie's parents believed all that crap, she'd never have a chance to come to our house. So there you go; it's self-selecting, as usual.

So the sun shone, and there was a bouncy thing for kids at the festival afterwards, and the kids splashed in the pool, and I saw my (straight) doctor and my old roommate and someone I used to work with, and we got to walk up Broadway to the park and get cheered just for being who we are. And as Jessie's mom kindly said about the bag, "it's only stuff." And even though our camera's on the fritz, they were taking polaroids for some reason at the AIDS vaccine booth, so we got two matching ones taken of the two girls together in their rainbow dresses.

I can't reproduce them here but will pull this one up from the Booland Archives:

Here is our own Rainbow Family one year ago. We looked about the same yesterday; just a little older, all of us.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Day After the Last Day of School

Classes: Done!
Students: Gone!
Grading: Done! [Note: However much you as a student or parent hate grades, trust me, teachers hate them more]
Dress Code Today: Shorts!
In Work Bag: Lucinda Williams CDs
Mermaid Girl: Still asleep, getting taken to preschool by: me!
Tasks Still to Do Before I Can Check Out for Summer: Many, alas
Number of people who will care if I waltz in at 9 today: 0

That Summer Feeling When I Woke Up This Morning: Priceless

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Yup. She's ready.

It's taken a week to get around to writing about it, but last Wednesday marked the long-anticipated Smartypants Yuppie School Ice Cream Social! At which our girl held up remarkably well despite the whirlwind afternoon (early pickup from preschool, friend's birthday party, last swim class of the session, all accompanied by changes of clothing and frantic drives across town) and despite the zooiness of the Social. It was in the school gym, and the walls resounded with the childish screams of forty-odd future kindergarteners, not to mention big and little siblings and PTA reps' kids.

The kindergarten teachers dished out ice cream and politely answered silly/anxious questions like: what kind of backpack is best to get? (Doesn't really matter, as long as you can fit a pocket folder in it) and, Can my mom, who will be visiting and doing childcare that week, ride the school bus with MG on the first day? (No, but she can meet her at school if she wants, and there will be people there especially to make sure the kindergarteners get to their classrooms okay.)

Then MG got to poke around a kindergarten classroom and at the afterschool-care room where she'll be spending a couple of hours most days. (There's a loft! and a hamster!)

A few days later I was putting her to bed, and out of the blue she asked, "What's twenty and twenty?"

So I went on about how twenty and twenty is forty, and it's like two tens and two tens, and she already knows about two and two being four...she tuned out the blah blah and said, "So, it's forty?"


"Okay, now ask me again," she ordered.

"What's twenty and twenty?"

"No! Pretend we're in school and you're the teacher!"

"Um...all right...[*slow and slightly condescending teacher voice, probably not too different from the one I use at work*]: MG, what's twenty and twenty?"

"No!! Not that way!! Ask the whole class!!" She gestured out to the invisible class that apparently surrounded her in her bed.

"Oh-- right--ahem: Class, who can tell me what twenty and twenty is?"

MG's hand shot straight up. I turned my teacherly gaze on her. "Yes? MG?"

"Forty!" she declared.

"Very good, MG," I nodded.

MG lay down and snuggled onto her pillow. "I'm gonna knock their socks off," she murmured happily.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Summer is Icumen In!

Sound the trumpet! The Booland High Holidays have begun! And they won't be over till Labor Day!

First we have the Fremont Solstice Parade & Fair. That was this weekend. The parade route is just a block from our house, and it is a Big, Big Deal. I came home Friday night and the streets were already parked up, with residents leaving their driveways open for friends. Saturday morning was the parade, featuring naked bicyclists festooned in body paint (I liked the ladybug woman. And the guy covered in little flowers. And the foursome painted up like the Incredibles). I went down a couple hours early to stake out our spot. I lay on the blanket and read. It was heavenly and very peaceful.

There are three rules for participation in the Solstice Parade: 1) No live animals; 2) No motorized vehicles (except I think wheelchairs); 3) No words. The last one makes things very, very interesting, as all messages must be rendered through art and/or symbolism. Not so much clever metaphor this year, though I liked the giant dustball being chased by the vacuum-cleaner brigade. That's what a lot of my life feels like these days.

The piercing/physical ordeal people who were pissed off at being excluded from the parade (last year their group pulled a float by ropes attached to their nipple piercings, which freaked some people out) had a protest contingent, all dancing around with gags in their mouths, brandishing flags that pointed out symbolically (with those circular "no" symbols) that if you start by banning their group, you could end up forbidding other freaky things like nudity and pro-pot messages and art. Hmm.

MG and Jessie were all dressed up in fairy wings, waving and cheering and scrambling for candy and swag at every opportunity. RW and I both noticed that our girl got extra loot, apparently for being blond. That was weird. Another aspect of the nerd-parents-of-alpha-girl experience.

Afterwards we retired to our house and set MG up with a lemonade stand, whereupon she proceeded to make out like a bandit selling lemonade to paradegoers heading up the hill. People tipped wildly, in spite of her lack of such service-ethic basics as saying "thank you" or "have a good day." In two hours she'd made enough to buy a string of tickets to fair rides and get a wooden-fairy-doll-clothing thing up at the toy store. It was kind of obscene. I was actually sort of relieved when business wasn't quite so brisk today; she had to work a little harder and actually be friendly to people in hopes of getting them to buy.

That about sums up the our neighborhood's experience these days: neighborhood residents capitalizing on the freaky Freemont image to make a buck. We're right there in the thick of it!

Two nights of fair food for dinner. Yum. And the usual assortment of funky crafts, only more so. Blocks and blocks of them. And dozens of art cars. And the Hula Hoop Guy, on whom I think MG has sort of a crush. He picked her as a volunteer to hold the tennis racket (long story, you kinda had to be there) and she's talked about it all day.

I'm sure there's more but MG needs her hair washed. Enough!

Coming up in the next three weeks: Gay Pride a/k/a the Rainbow Parade, my birthday, RW's and my getting-together anniversary , and RW's birthday.

Then a little break for vacations, parental visits, and the Vancooover Folk Music Festival.

Then in August we'll have MG's birthday party (at the pool!), MG's actual birthday, RW's and my wedding anniversary (two weddings, five years apart, one anniversary), or Big Weekend Away while my mom watches MG, and then, before we can catch our breaths...kindergarten!

Hang on, Gentle Readers. It's going to be quite the ride.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bathing Suit Sisterhood, Part 3

Three pictures from the Golden Weekend, courtesy of Camille's mom. That's Camille on the left, her little sister on the right, and MG in the middle.

[For some reason Hello! (this comes out sarcastic in my head: like, hello!) will only publish one picture per post. But I'm just pretending this is one post instead of three with one picture each.]

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello
If you look carefully you can see that they are washing some of the many sand dollars in the tidepool.

The Ransom of Mermaid Girl

I was full of posting ideas last night but spent my blogging window wrangling with the Aleeska Air online reservation to get us tickets to Los Angeles over the 4th of July Weekend. It took an hour and a half. On the flight down, we have three seats in three different rows; that's all that was left. What if no one wants to change seats, like in that David Sedaris article in the New Yorker last week? Well, I hope whoever's sitting next to Mermaid Girl likes chatting about butts and poop and nursing babies, because that's a big chunk of her conversational repertoire these days. Maybe we should encourage her to talk about extra-disgusting things; her seatmate would gladly agree to move to my lousy center seat, just to get away.

Seriously, someone will change seats, don't you think? I can just see MG sitting all alone, intently coloring at the tray table, politely telling the drinks service flight attendant that she'd like a cup of milk, please. She'd need help with the little bag of pretzels, though. She can't open those things by herself.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Bloomsday Night

101 years ago in fictional Dublin, a middle-aged Jewish guy named Leopold Bloom spent a day wandering around, bumping into people, his thoughts and random associations clanging and swirling into theirs.

Tonight, driving home late, I turned on the radio and heard the same kind of cacophanous exciting barging clanging chorus of voices as you can read in Ulysses, or in a particularly felicitous blog-surfing binge. And darned if it wasn't an homage to both: excerpts from a day's worth of blog posts from all over the world, brought to my happy ears by from Open Source Radio.

So, happy Bloomsday! Happy Blogsday!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sisterhoood of the Bathing Suits, Part 2

It was a golden weekend. All four girls--Mermaid Girl and her three friends from babyhood, Jessie and Camille and Sarabeth, all on the cusp of five, all going to kindergarten in the fall--played together harmoniously, like girls in an old-fashioned storybook. Even when it rained, they gathered together in one of the yurts and played and colored. When they started to get wild, RW brought out a bag full of beads and everyone strung necklaces. They went to the beach in their two-piece bathing suits, holding hands in a row as Camille's mom led them along the path in the afternoon sun. They ran through the warm water--the Pacific ocean! warm!--shrieking and laughing.

The two-year-olds--Jessie, Camille, and Sarabeth all have little siblings about the same age--were cute and charming and funny, imitating the big kids, picking things up and moving them around, contributing to the general hum of good feeling and mixing in a little benevolent chaos.

We parents all got along. We hadn't planned to share meals, but somehow we all ended up gathering at Camille's family's site the first night, having hot dogs and chili together, and then roasting marshmallows. The four girls sat around the fire, holding sticks and comparing marshmallow-roasting tips. The grownups drank margaritas and poked the fire and talked, easy and happy. Then the dads (including me, the Honorary Dad) put the kids to bed, while the moms, old prenatal-yoga friends, did dishes and stayed up very late drinking and gossiping and reminiscing.

That first night, Jessie slept in the van with us. Jessie is MG's very, very best friend. They've already had a few sleepovers, but this was her first time in the van. I read them a chapter of Betsy-Tacy (Jessie's a few books ahead of us in the series, but she deigned to hear an earlier segment again) and then I went down to the lower bunk to read while they giggled in the pop-top bed. Every few minutes I'd call up, as mandated in the Parents' Sleepover Handbook, "Time to be quiet, girls!"

After a while, they were quiet. I was quiet too, reading by flashlight. Then I heard Jessie's hushed voice from up in the pop-top: "I think we're alone in here," she said.

"They left us by ourselves," MG said.

"Hey!" I called. "I'm here!"

"Oh!" they giggled again, relieved.

It was a golden weekend. We took turns keeping an eye on the kids. People got to spend time alone or with their partners; I read two books, and even took a nap in the van on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday we went to the beach again. It was uniquivocably warm and sunny, finally. I kicked at the sand dollars scattered on the beach; I'm always on the lookout for a good one, ever since I accientally stepped on the sand dollar MG found last summer. Usually they look good from the bottom, but when you flip them over it turns out that the top's been broken at the center.

But this time I found a good one, unbroken, right away, I ran to bring it to MG, who was splashing in the ocean, and she held it tight. I walked over to the right, where the tide was washing in and out in a long, shallow, flat ribbon of shore, and saw dozens of white disks. Sand dollars. I picked one up: it was another perfect one. And another, and another: a jackpot, a bounty, a treasure trove of perfect sand dollars.

RW joined me and we gathered enough for all the kids to have one, one for me, one for her, a few extras in case someone's broke. MG claimed two. RW picked one that was golden in the middle. We saved some for Jessie and her little brother, who'd had to leave early.

We took the leftovers and arranged them in a circle around the post that marked the path to the campsite, for someone else to find.

"You must have seen them just as they came in from the sea, before they could get broken," RW said. If I believed in such things, I'd think it was a sign, a gift, a forgiveness for all the things broken or neglected: the sand dollar stepped on, the hair pulled while brushing, the sharp words when I've lost all my patience. A gift to be able to pass them on, to family and friends and complete strangers. A test: will I get greedy, gather all I can hold? Or take just enough for each person to have one as a keepsake?

But I'm not really mystical like that. It was lucky, fortuitous, like the weather; like the chemistry and temperament of our four girls, our four families; like the library volunteers who came Friday morning so I could leave early and be part of it; like the fluke of mood that made me think I could handle so much togetherness after all.

I'm not mystical like that, but it felt blessed. A golden weekend.

One pinecone at a time

Only two and a half more weeks till MG's last day of preschool. I think she's starting to feel too old for it, but I'm going to miss it terribly. She's been at the same childcare since she was 10 months old. It feels almost like another family, with teachers and parents and kids we've known for years. I'm already nostalgic in advance about the free-form atmosphere and the hippie teachers and the mysterious art projects made of recycled materials, not to mention the vegetarian lunches they feed the kids so we don't have to pack a lunch.

Yesterday morning at preschool dropoff (I had the day off and got to do dropoff! Yay!), Mermaid Girl was shy and sulky and wanted me to sit with her by the fence. The other kids were running around in the sunshine, swinging on bars, playing soccer, digging in the sand, building things and knocking things down and climbing the low climbing tree, all in a peaceful anarchic muddle.

MG's friend Ginger was intently picking up these little green pickle-y tree droppings and putting them in a mesh bag she found somewhere. I didn't see why I had to snub her just because MG was, and we had the following lovely exchange:

Me: You're collecting those things?

Ginger: Yes. I'm gathering nature. I'm going to fill up this whole bag.

Me: That's a pretty big bag.

Ginger: Yes, it is! Luckily, there's a lot of nature.

Sisterhoood of the Travelling Bathing Suits, Part 1

Sorry to disappear. We've been out of town. I didn't mention it because, well, because I didn't think I was going.

It went sort of like this:

Conversation #1 [a month or so ago]

Renaissance Woman: You know how you were going to take Mermaid Girl to Los Angeles that weekend in June? Well, the Girls' families [three girls who MG's known since she was a baby, actually really since before she was born, when RW took prenatal yoga with their moms and the four of them became friends despite other differences, yes, just like in Sisterhooood of the Traveling Paants] are all renting yurts on the coast that weekend, and it just feels like we should be there too. We can sleep in the van. They hardly ever all get together any more, and I want them to keep that bond.

Me: Grumble, sulk, wanted to see my uncle, meet Anna, go to the beach...fine, okay, I can see it's important to you.

Conversation #2 [between then and last week, repeated several times]

RW: So, do you want to come with us to the coast in June?

Me: I dunno, I like having the house to myself, I'm not that social, I always feel like the outlier with the Girls' Club moms, and the dads are guys, and I hate getting sand in my feet, maybe I'll stay home and read. Or go to L.A. by myself...hmm...checking airfares...okay, maybe I'll stay home and read. And do housework!

Conversation #3 [Thursday evening]

RW: So, are you coming with us tomorrow? I'm getting off work early. You don't have any classes in the afternoon, right?

Me: I probably better not. It's the end of the school year, summer reading lists are kicking my butt, the used book sale starts right at the beginning of next week and I have to get it set up, I'd just be stressing out the whole weekend.

RW: It's the real ocean! You're always complaining about being so far from the real ocean. [This is true. Seattle appears to be vaguely on the Pacific Ocean if you glance casually at a map of the U.S., but hah! Hours and hours of driving in real life. Puget Sound, to me, is not the Real Ocean and does not count.] But if you don't want to go, you shouldn't go.

Me: Let me see how it goes tomorrow morning. I'll pack a bag just in case. I guess. Do you think I'll get to have any time alone?

RW: It'll be a pretty social weekend.

Me: *stashing weekend bag next to work bag* I probably won't go.

Conversation #4 [Friday morning, via email]:

Me: I can go!!! Volunteers came to help with the book sale! I'm feeling more sociable! The real ocean! I can take three hours of personal time! Wouldn't get anything done at home anyway!

Can you pick me up at work after lunch on your way out?

To Be Continued...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Going so fast

Fifteen years ago tomorrow, I came to Seattle to live.

I took a train. Two trains, really: one to Chicago, and then another one all across the great plains and the mountains to the Pacific Northwest. I'd researched it and concluded that for what I wanted (get settled in Seattle for a couple of weeks, then hit San Francisco to visit Rosie for Gay Pride weekend), Amtrak was cheaper than a three-legged flight, if I had the time. And back then (*sigh*) I had nothing but time.

So I sat on the train for three days. I slept in my seat, since a sleeper car, however romantic, would've eaten up all my savings. There was a woman behind me with two little boys, one about two and one about four. The four-year-old was all over the place; she was constantly scolding him and calling his name. I can't believe I've forgotten that name now; I thought it would be permanently burned into my brain. At one point, one of the other passengers called his name for some reason: "Tyler [let's say]" he said as the kid wandered up the aisle, "I think your mom wants you." Tyler looked up sharply and asked, "How'd you know my name?" and everyone laughed.

One night the boys were cuddled up with her; the younger one was already asleep and she was trying to settle the older one down. I remember how tender she sounded, telling him about when he was a baby and she used to rock him to sleep. So different from the way she usually was with him. I'd been thinking of her as this mean, scolding, harried mom, and I realized that night that there was more to the story. That there must be more to a lot of stories.

She must have been so tired and worried, I think now.

We pulled into King Street Station early in the morning. I knew where I was going-- a sublet from a woman I'd met the year before (Renaissance Woman, as it turned out), who was travelling in Europe for the summer with her girlfriend. I knew something about the buses, and knew which one I had to catch. So I strapped on my backpack, and dragged my duffel bag about five blocks north to the bus stop.

I stood there waiting for the bus, looking at a huge pink and green sculpture of a flower across the street. That sculpture's still there, downtown; I think of that first day every time I see it. I waited for a long time, maybe half an hour, maybe an hour. Then I rode the bus to my sublet, found the key in its hiding place, and let myself in.

It was a cold and rainy June. I kept waiting for summer to start. the weather threw me off-kilter; on the East Coast it would be hot and humid already. One night I was watching a newscast and they showed a segment about a march on Washington, maybe a March for Women's Lives (remember those?) and it hit me like a slap that I couldn't just do a road trip down to DC, that I was three thousand miles away.

But I stayed. And I'm still here. I'm not sure if I could ever go back, even if RW wanted to, which she emphatically does not. You get used to things. The East Coast weather alone would knock me back.

I was almost 24 that June. A different person, really. Who knew?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Opening Night

One cold and cloudy day back in January, the Mermaid Girl and I went to the playground.

"I miss gymnastics," she said, balancing along the long skinny bench near the monkey bars. We were just getting used to the Renaissance Woman's full-time job, and we'd jettisoned all MG's formal activities except preschool and Hebrew school.

"You can do one thing starting next month, either gymnastics or ballet," I said. "So think about what you want to do most."

Her answer was immediate: "I want to dance on a stage."

And now she has. On Friday, MG had her dance performance, her very first time on a stage. Her older cousins Emma and Lila (and her toddler cousin Eli) were there to see it, as was her teacher, Donnica, who'd schlepped her from school to dance class every week. (Uncle Skaterboy couldn't come; he had a dance performance of his own out of town.)

The whole performance lasted less than an hour. MG's class, being the youngest, opened the show. Their part took 17 minutes; I know because that's exactly how much tape I had left in the video camera; it ran out just as the class, having finished taking their bows and chanting their "thank you very much" and presenting a bouquet to Ben the drummer, held hands in a line and disappeared one by one into the darkness of backstage.

She got to have her hair in a bun edged with fake flowers, courtesy of the Bun Moms (thank God cause we can't do buns to save our lives). She got to wear lipstick and a little blush. When the class burst onstage, it took a moment to spot her among the dozen little girls (and one boy in white T-shirt and black pants) running in all directions. I've gotten to know them all, or at least recognize them, in the course of seventeen weeks of peering through the window during class, but they were all transformed into near-identical storybook ballerinas in their buns and pink leotards and the coveted, only-worn-during-performance pink skirts.

That morning, RW asked her what she thought were the most important things to remember for the performance. "Listen to the teacher, and don't do anything wrong," she said. "Well," RW said, "it's good to try to do your part right. But it's even more important to enjoy dancing. Then the audience will enjoy it too." And she did. She listened to the teacher, she hit her spot right every time, and she radiated happiness.

My favorite moments:
  • The class chanting "Plié-means-to BEND. Plié-means-to BEND. Plié is a word that comes from FRANCE. It is a word that we use when we DANCE."
  • MG's folded arms and glower of disapproval as the chassé-ing circle fell apart and her classmates tumbled goofily on the floor.
  • The finale, in which the dancers pretended to go to sleep after their adventures with the fairies and the unicorn and beanstalk and the circus rabbit (they helped write the script for the performance): they lay in a line, each child's folded-up legs making a pillow for the head of the dancer next to her.
  • MG blowing a gracious kiss when she spotted me crouching up front with the video camera.
Afterwards, the audience sprinted for the stairs to the studios where the youngest class was waiting while the older dancers performed. I burst through the door carrying flowers, so proud of my girl. MG looked in my direction, her face lit up, and she ran right past me to her 10-year-old cousin Emma and jumped into her arms.

It's the end of an era, all right.

The next morning, MG woke up and started to cry. "I want to do another dance performance!" she wept.

We're stocking up on videotape.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Bada Bing, it Ain't

Had to take a break from reviews because this cannot be passed up:

Scene: the Booland house
Time: After Bedtime

Mermaid Girl, in her room: WAAAAAAAHHHHH! WAAAAAHHHH!

Me, frantically typing reviews: What's up with her?

Renaissance Woman, shoveling food into her mouth after a long evening: She's mad I won't stay in her room with her. Would you mind going in?

Me: And do what?

RW: I don't know. Get her to stop crying?

Me: Huh. Well, uh, sure.

Scene: MG's room

Me: What's up, kiddo?

MG, flinging arms around my neck like a drowning person: WAAAAAHHHH! Mama didn't say goodnight to me! WAAAAHHH!

Me: I'm sure she meant to. You're fine. I love you. Blah blah blah blah blah I have to go write my reviews now, remember?

MG [piteously]: Please can I have something of yours to keep? Like your dress? [She requests this often. She has a whole stash of our shirts at the bottom of her bed.]

Me, pulling dress over head in the least sexy strip scene ever: Sure, here ya go. Now go to sleep.

MG [instantly chipper and delighted]: Mommy!! I forgot you have tie-dyed underpants!