Ask A Stupid Question

My sons have always been completely unable to estimate. When they'd ask what time it was, and I'd say that it was quarter after 4, they'd go look at the clock and say, "Mom! It's 4:12!" I'd explain that yes, I know it is, but that I was rounding up and they'd say, "But it's FOUR TWELVE, MAWM." Which all sounds fairly cute, until you repeat that 15 times a day, every day, and factor in pocket change, meal portions and legos.

Needless to say, I spent a good deal of their formative years banging my head against walls.

My children are just literal children. They're not one for the imaginationy games, they don't make up stories or have friends no one but they can see. They read non-fiction books for the first seven years of their lives. They are dry.

And then the girl showed up with her fake make-ups and her basket full of her brother's old halloween costumes and she brought imagination into this house. Her best friend in the whole world, the one she spends hours a day on the phone with, is Sonic The Hedgehog. Her babies all have names and favorite foods. She insists on tea parties. She lives in this world that none of us know anything about, her head in the clouds and her feet in the mud, and oh my god, it's so fucking cute I could die.

Except you know I didn't dodge the reality-bullet with this one, oh no. It just showed up somewhere else.

I've never been one for giving my children many options in life, but I do allow them to dictate their own days to a degree. For example, if they're really, really misbehaving, I'll ask them if they are going to stop or if I am going to have to stop them, and then make them chose. If they stop, great; happy fun time can continue but if they chose to make me stop them, I do exactly that. And once I have, we talk about appropriate punishments. I ask them what they'd do, if they were me, and we come to an agreement. Maybe that makes me a shitty parent, but I think it makes more of a point if they have to come up with it. I think that's part of the punishment, that it drives the point home when they're the ones making the point. It also makes the whole thing less powerless for them, which is nice because I have no desire to be a dictator. They all have to grow weird, dark moustaches and wear polyester brown pants and, ewww.

I take for granted sometimes that my old tricks are going to work on the new kid, the one who hasn't been here for a decade and doesn't know the rules of engagement, and occasionally, in her big-eyed curly -haired cute ways, she reminds me.

Like the other day when I was out front, trying to get her to come inside while my neighbor was talking to me. I told her to come inside. I asked her to come inside. I bribed her to come inside. I demanded she come inside. She totally didn't come inside. I finally looked at her and said, "Dude, am I going to have to smack your bottom or not?" and she thought about it for a full minute before she said, "Um....not" and wheeled away on her tricycle.

Because that was a dumb question, that's why. Because she doesn't know that when mom says "smack your bottom", the situation has gone from mild annoyance to DefCon 4 and it's time to run, not walk, but run in the direction mom is asking you to. My neighbor looked at her, looked at me, and Fell. Over. Laughing. I joined him. All he could say was, "At least she answered your question, eh?" and all I could do was hang my head because yeah, I've totally seen this before. We have achieved Literal Speed, and it's going to be another bumpy ride.

Funny, but bumpy.

They're Getting To Big To Cuddle, Or Jamie Foxx Can Kiss My Grits

We sat together on the porch the other night, my husband and I, and under starry skies Mr Rationally Unemotional gazed squarely into the eyes of Ms. Happy Go Medicated and asked, "When exactly did they grow up? I mean, really; it wasn't supposed to happen this fast."  And all I could muster in reply was, "I dunno, but I think it was a while ago."

Earlier that day, I'd called one of 2of3's buddies who was rumoured to be having a pool party, and after confirming with the boys mother that it was all a big big fake fake lie, she told me about a letter she'd found in her son's room. It was a letter that 2of3 had written to the girl he has a crush on, and she asked if she could read it to me, on the condition that I never tell him she had. Um, of course? Hit me, yo.

He said (and I'm more or less quoting here) that he needed to tell her how he felt, which was that he loved her, and that loving her meant that when he sees her, it's as though he's seeing an angel and when he's near her, it's as though he's close to heaven. And, of course, that if she liked him back, he'd like it if she wrote him back.

Holy poet, Batman. Not bad for nine, I'd say. But when did he learn those sorts of analogies? When did he learn to feel so strongly for another person? When did he learn how to write?

We all say things like Oh, It Goes So Fast and It'll Be Over Before We Know It but then one day something smacks you upside the head like your child being able to effectively woo and it's different from the first words or steps or loose teeth because there isn't one stinking pediatrician in the world with a chart that graphs the proper ages for sonnet-writing and zombie-movie-appreciation and cursing-in-context and breakouts. It's just stuff you never, ever see coming and when it does come, they're doing everything in their power to hide that shit from you. Because once they become independent people, internally, they don't exactly take a minute and say, "You know what, mom? You've been awesome, and really...thanks for the womb rental, it was totally cozy in there, but I think it's time for us to go our separate ways. Except, could you maybe still wash my colors and make me an occasional casserole? I'll be sure to hug you once in a while and maybe throw you the random bone in return. Speaking of which, I'm the lead in the school play. Tomorrow."

They don't tell you this because they know you'll be all, "Dude? What the barnacles? You know I was on set crew for years in high school, right? Can I help you run your lines tonight? Do you need a costume? Is it a romantic lead? Do you KISS A GIRL?" How's the set? Do you need me to run up there with my hot glue gun and some foam core..." and then they'll have to look you in the eyes and say, "Woman, you are so totally missing the point of this conversation" and then you'll start to cry a little at the unfairness of the whole thing and no one wants to see their mother cry so instead, they just sit silently in the front seat of the car with their cap pulled all the way down over their eyes and their shoulders so hunched in together, you wonder if someone hadn't installed hinges on their spine when you weren't looking and they save themselves a whole lot of headache.

And you never, ever know they've grown up, until they have. Or until you send them outside to clean the car one fine Saturday morning.

And as they clean the car, they ask for the keys which they properly get into the ignition just enough to turn on that radio station, the one your mother hated you listening to when you were little, and they sing along to all their favorite songs while they work and you listen. You listen, and you remember sitting in your room, waiting for Dick Clark* to announce the next track, which was some amazingly crafted piece of music that was clever and important and relevant, like The Humpty Dance, and so you let them have their moment. You've, of course, already had the talk with them about that Britney girl, and how though you aren't one to censor their music, that tramp just can never come into your home in any fashion. They've asked why and you've asked them to quote the hook in her newest single and they've said, "But all the boys and all the girls are dying to, If U Seek Amy" and you've asked them what If U Seek Amy spells and even let them say the word, because you've  learned that when you're trying to make A Crucial Parenting Point, a properly-placed f-bomb tends to make or break the argument. And when they sheepishly say Fuck, because they're not entirely sure this isn't a trap, and then you ask them what Fuck means and they really just don't know, so you tell them it means sex and that means that a young woman is singing into the radio that all the boys and all the girls are dying to have sex with her, they get it. They instantly hate that song and that girl because they're still just young enough to not want to have sex with anyone yet, and thank you Jebus for that.

So you listen, knowing that they'll change it if they feel they have to, and then Jamie Foxx's new single comes on the station and you grind your teeth into dust because he's not saying anything awful that you can make out, he's doesn't seem to be swearing or talking down on women and he's not screaming Fuck The Police just like your favorite group at their age did, so you feel like you've got to let this one slide even though your nine year old whom you've just realized is in L.O.V.E. is bopping around, scrubbing the wheel-wells with his still-just-a-little-pugdy fingers, singing Blame it on the vodka, blame it on the henny. Blame it on the blue tap got you feeling dizzy. Blame it on the ah-ah-ah-alcohol, blame it on the ah-ah ah-ah ah-al-co-hol. And then you're all, Ooooh, that's when they grew up, when they started listening to the fucking Peak.

And when they're done, you have them inside with their four best tweenaged friends and the six of them watch The Sixth Sense, and you kind of smile a little because you realize you've reached the point where they can not only enjoy more intelligent, sophisticated and complicated things in life, but they can effectively filter out f-bombs in movies, which means the ensuing Summer of M. Night Shymalan is going to be so much more bearable than the previous Summer Of Home Alone was, and just when you're feeling pretty damn good about them growing up, you sit down to write a blog post about it and you google the lyrics to Jaime Foxx's newest single and then you have a heart attack and fucking die dead in your chair and then you decide that you all are moving back to Dutch Pennsylvania which is really close to where you grew up and were nobody so much as thinks what that man has throngs of children across North America belting out in their suburban driveways on chore day under cumulus clouds.

*For all you youngin's out there, Dick Clark is an evil, undead zombie vampire who, once upon a time, found the perfect genome for human cloning and his very first lab test resulted in evil personified. AND SQUARED. I believe it's commonly known as Ryan Seacrest these days.

Perspective

We hardly ever get to see The Donor around these parts.  We see him get ready for work in the morning, and if we're really really lucky, we might see him come home at night. But only if it's all-nighter-zombie-movie-night.  We get him every Sunday, and we get him for dinner on Mondays, and that's it.  As in, it.

And that's why we stole him away this week. We missed him. It's weird missing someone who technically lives in your house, but we do, all of the time. And he needed it, to be honest. Sure, I work all day, too, but I don't do it in a tux and on my feet. I deal with three children under 5 feet, he deals with 40 children over 5 feet. His days, they suck. So for Father's Day, we gave him all the day, none of the suck. And instead of just seeing him blowdry his hair and chug his coffee, instead of seeing him walk in the door and collapse onto the couch 14 hours later, this weekend we got to see him relax.
Chillaxin'
We got to see him enjoy the small things.
Puppy
And revel in the big things.
Reflection
And we got to let him be someone's dad, too.
The Boys
He got new shoes, and he got to use them. Twice.
Golf By Crocs
He got to share his favorite thing in the world with his sons.
First Nine
And they got to share their favorite thing with him.
The Best Part
But best of all, I got to see my husband, he got to see his wife, and our kids got to see their mom and dad. At the same time.
Mom and Dad
And no one was getting stitches.
Mom and Dad

Satellite Comes And Goes

I found you in 1996 and I lost you in 2006. It was your fault, it was my fault, it was everyone's fault and no one's fault. None of it matters anymore, except that all of it matters still. Because without that, with none of it, we wouldn't have any of this.

Today you'll celebrate your 11th fathers day with your children. We're not giving you ties and we didn't make you clay mugs and we won't cook you breakfast in bed. What we're giving you is us. We're taking you away from the things of man, and we're just going to be with you. We're leaving the messages on the phone and the dishes still piled up in the sink and the sand that is all over the goddamn laundry room floor; we're running away from all of it to remember each other. To remember you. To celebrate you.

But I'm not just celebrating you, and maybe that's wrong on the day Hallmark tells us should be all about you, but you think I can write better than Hallmark so for today, we'll make our own rules. Today I'm celebrating that everything we have was torn asunder, that it was stripped down to the studs and once we could see everything under the surface, once we really knew what we were up against, we started laying new bricks, one by one, together.

It was two years ago on Father's Day that we laid that first brick.  It was two years ago on Father's Day that we chose to accept it all without condition, without judgement, for all that it was and everything it wasn't, and just build it back up.  We gave each other all that we knew, which turned out to be a hell of a lot less than we thought, and together we've built new walls and figured out how to make this house stand.

You're still very much this alien thing to me, and our relationship floats through the universe like a satellite in orbit, occasionally going way out there, out of our orbit, but always coming back in again. I can see that satellite every time feel a little rain and look up to realize that there are still so many holes in the roof of us yet to be patched.  I think we need to be able to see it. I think we need that rain to remind us that we have to keep working. I think we need that rain to force us to look up, to remember that sometimes it goes and sometimes it comes and we don't have it all figured out and that we don't have to.  That you can be an alien, and I can be an alien, and it will still be beautiful rain.

Horny House-Web-Copy-Writer Just Doesn't Have Any Kind Of Ring To It. At All.

I'm attempting to become more organized, dare I say professional? in my real life.  I have a Blackberry now, which has only been lost three times and has only had one near-fatal injury in the two months it's been with me.

So Not Professional



Nothing to worry about, though.  I'm pretty good at fixing broken technology.

I'm naming that phone Zoot.  Not kidding.



And I can change my own oil.

So the Blackberry is clearly not making me More Professional, but iCalendar sure is. Every night, I sit down and I plug in all the shit I have to get done the next day, and that syncs to my phone and that buzzes like a gaggle of hornets in my pocket every time I forget to do something, and if Blackberry offered a small electric shock with every calendar reminder, I'd be the most effective person in the whole world, or at least have the tallest hair.

I've started working part time, from home, which is so ludicrously impossible I can't even tell you but my daughter has figured out that when momma is "doin' hers woik*" she can pretty much do whatever she wants, and whatever she wants usually ends up being testing the laws of gravity, thermodynamics and common sense with little more than all of the good toilet paper and the only clean toilet in the house.  I suppose my income could go to paying for daycare, but it's so much more fun to fork it all over to the plumber, right?  You hardly get to see any ass-crack at daycare these days.

Taking this job has meant that I've had to give up a few other things, and obviously this blog has been one of them, but I've also put washing (insert your choice of the dishes/our laundry/my children/the baseboards/myself/all of the above) on the backburner just until I find my feet and get into the flow of being gainfully employed again.  But thank god for that iCalendar, man.  That bitch is keeping me on task.

Like, how it reminded me yesterday that I actually paid good money to go to a Storytelling seminar tonight in Gastown with, um, this guy?

D tothemotherfucking oug.



Yeah, that guy.  And those are just the books I could find in this pigsty.  And by reminding me, it reminded me to totally inconvenience my neighbor at the very last possible second by making her babysit for me.  No wonder she's moving away.

I'm just about as excited for this thing as I was a few weeks ago when I went to hear Chuck Palahniuk tell a few stories and sign a few books, which was awesome because ohmygodseriously, Chuck to the Palahniuk people, and awesomely horrifying because getting the Teen Girl Squad** together is a whole lot like mixing the most ridiculously cute baking soda and the silliest vinegar together.

Two little girls at a very big book signing



Which actually isn't horrifying at all to the people doing it, in fact it's kind of rad and we want to do it all the time, but it's apparently fairly traumatic for the 20-something angsty I-drink-soy-chai-and-smoke-cloves wanna-be writer who had to sit near us. Someday, woman, your uterus is going to betray you, and hard, and karma will remember us and your big steaming hot bag of scorn and I will be standing right there when it happens saying NEENER NEENER and also asking you to shut your kid the fuck up with my eyes and the better part of the left side of my body.

And since I've been all on this Going Out For The Night But Calling It Professional Development Because I've Duped The Donor Into Thinking I'm Kind Of A Big Deal On The Internet kick, when in reality the only person I'm a big deal to on the internet is the operator of of little eBay store where they sell my favorite and impossible to find elsewhere girl's dresses and I assure you, I am a very big deal to that woman, I'm thinking about going to the Chicks Who Click conference in Vancouver at the end of June. Because seriously, if going to a conference is what it takes for me to get out of this house for the day, sign me the fuck up, yo. Hell, I still have my Leia outfit, and they have Star Con up here, don't they?

But sadly enough, while I'm all busy trying to justify reading Fight Club for the purposes of writing corporate web copy, which now that I say it out loud actually makes a good deal of sense, my daughter is just about to get fired from the only job she's ever had. A job which, mind you, pays her in outfits.  And she's getting fired simply because she grew, so I think I'm going to demand some workmen's comp, which I imagine will get paid out in capri's and halter tops.

But lucky for us, we have two photo shoots this month and even though I'm so busy stalking crazy gay men all over Vancouver to, oh, I don't know, read the manual that came with my camera, the first of our photo shoots turned out pretty freaking magnificently, if I do say so myself.

Toes
Sand Blanket
Sandy Toes

And I got to skip out on an entire afternoon of work to take them.  I love living in a different country than either of our bosses. 

*And yes, she says "woik" because she is clearly a little old woman who lived in Brooklyn until she was 11 and then moved to Philadelphia until she was 18 and then went to college in Boston and then moved back to Brooklyn to live out the rest of her days.

**If you're cussing me out right now for killing your eardrums, well, I tell you guys all the time to hover over links and pictures first, but you never listen.