if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense

“Mama, mama, mama!” I’ve run a bath for my son in the middle of the day; he and our kitty Mabel just spent a solid hour in our greenhouse exploring and eating tomatoes. They are both filthy upon their return. Now he’s calling for me, his voice audible over the sound of rushing water.

“I need a knife,” he tells me when I come in. He’s crouched in the tub, naked, his hair blonde and skin golden as the sun, with two of the dirtiest heels I’ve ever seen.
He needs a knife – in the bath, while naked – because the bar of soap is cemented to the bottom of the clawfoot tub. I decline the request for cutlery and peel it loose, hand it to him.
“Did you see me pee in the greenhouse?” he asks presently. This is funny. Because he knows on some level I’d tell him not to urinate, you know, right on the food we eat. He can’t figure out a way to ask me if I spied this naughtiness (I did not) without coming out and outing himself.
“Oh,” I say, declining to answer the question (this child, I’d hope to keep him in the illusion Mama is all-knowing, all-seeing).”Do you think you should have done that?” I ask him.
“Well, I put Mabel outside when I did it,” he defends.
So… pissing in the greenhouse, totally fine – as long as you don’t subject the 14-week old kitten to the sight of it.

for your consideration on Ash Wednesday

My daughter is a puzzle to me. I’ve known her her whole life (of course) but I still can’t always conjure the magic you’d think I should be able to. I want more than anything to do right by her but she’s harder for me to parent correctly. I’m not even talking about conflict between us (which everyone assumes when you say you’re having parenting difficulties); I wonder sometimes if I can feed her soul what it needs.

Today worked out, though. She visited me in the sewing room this morning as I labored over the silk gown I’m creating for her upcoming Daddy Daughter Dance (this Saturday). She saw my embroidery kit and instantly asked me to set her up with a project. In many ways she’s a typical six year old: easy to distract, putting something down only a few minutes after picking it up. In fact I sometimes wonder if Sophie is more flibbertigibbet than typical; for instance I swear not one time does she come in the house and hang her coat up (rather, she throws it on the floor), despite the fact that one hundred percent of the time I stop her and ask her to correct herself.

After she was equipped with scissors, hoop, fabric and floss she remained completely focused on the motif (a rather large seahorse she had me freehand), changing colors five times and executing it in a precise backstitch. It surprised me that she took up with perfection my special, magic knot – in fact, learned it quicker than my five college students! She embroidered in the car, in the cafe, at home. Something about the sewing soothed her and kept her agreeable; cleaning her bedroom before we left, going above and beyond carrying our swimming gear out to the car and in general being a peaceful, equable presence. “I’m glad God invented such things as embroidery,” she says to me serenely at the table as I sip coffee and overlook Aberdeen’s busy streets.

God is on her mind a bit I think. While washing hands a few minutes later, she asked me who I thought would be the prettiest girl at the upcoming dance.

“Well it depends who you ask,” I said. “I mean, who gets to decide who’s beautiful?”

“God,” she responds, surprising me.

I’m stumped for a minute. “Well God, I mean… God thinks everyone is beautiful. He made everything, you know, people, animals, so it’s all good.” I’m wandering off into iffy territory here. I’m suspicious my daughter’s theology is a heck of a lot more solid than mine.

She’s looking skeptical so I continue. “So, I mean, think of the ugliest thing you can.” I’m envisioning critters from our recent viewing of a rather excellent David Attenborough special – specifically, it must be admitted, the hooded seal and it’s inflatable nostril membrane.

My query ignites a spark, and she responds: “Oh, that’s a tough one! Hmmm… I’m going to say… Um…

“Sewage.”

Again: I’m stumped.

"look, i’m going to be honest with you. just climb in the back of this van…"

We’re sitting in the doctor’s office and waiting an awfully long time, so while the kids play hangman on a blackboard I pick up this kids’ safety brochure and begin reading bits to my husband. It’s a very earnest publication that ends up occasionally being unintentionally comedic: including a “bonus” Missing Kids poster of your very own!, a tale of teaching your kids a “magic phrase” and an Uncle who takes this safety precaution to creepy, gaslighting lengths, and a quiz that sternly instructs children, among other paranoid restrictions, not to climb trees. Ralph and I are have already had some inappropriate giggles out of all this when I read him the following from the article on child abduction:

“Abductors sometimes dress in disguise as Santa Claus or a clown, in order to inspire childrens’ trust.”

Ralph gets a furrowed brow and a frown. “That’s not right. I mean that they have to be dishonest like that.”

“What?” I ask, my intended point (that I always found Santa and clowns creepy as a child and likely wouldn’t have fallen for the ruse), lost for the moment.

“I mean they shouldn’t have to trick kids, they should be clear about their intentions.”

I couldn’t believe what he was saying. He wasn’t joking: his tone had completely changed and he was very serious. I kept digging until some comment or other of his revealed the misunderstanding: Ralph had thought I’d read “doctors” (rather than abductors) and he was thinking of the little white lies he suffered as a child: physicians being dishonest about how much shots would hurt, etc.

Once I realized the mistake I could hardly set him straight. Because I was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face and I was shaking into the little booklet.

‘Cause you know. Those abductors should really be more straight-forward and honest.

an inventory

Jennifer, Jasmine and I sit at the bar at the Deli, talking about our bad habits. Jennifer doesn’t drink or smoke and cites the deep love of good food as her sole Achilles’ Heel. Me, well, I’ve stopped drinking altogether, but I do smoke (occasionally) and drink coffee (like a fiend).

Jasmine says, “I’ve got all of ’em… Drinking, smoking, coffee -“

” – whoring around,” I add (kidding).

“Yeah!” Jasmine laughs. “Yeah, so, I guess I have a lot of bad habits…”

“Well, you don’t do white drugs,” I add, judiciously.

“Yeah,” she replies, “But… I’ll give anything the old college try.”

[pause]

“Except college,” she adds.

Gay laughter around the bar.

good flower bad butterfly

My son is brave, impulsive, good-natured, loving, willful, his energy ramped to 100% for every minute he’s awake. I guess in reading the above list I’m a lot like him. A few episodes in our last twenty four hours:

Yesterday I am forced to truncate his dessert in a diner and take him out to the car. He’s angry, yelling. I’m gentle but firm. As I straighten from placing him in the carseat and swing the door shut he looks at me with angry tears in his eyes and yells, “Everything out of your mouth is CRAP!” Of course I’m dying laughing, internally, but it’s not really funny to talk to someone that way, and it’s definitely not okay to laugh at someone when they’re angry. The door shutting allows me to keep my smile to myself. When I come back to the car with my purse, coat, other child, etc. Nels is wretched, his face tear-stained. “I’m sorry I said what you said was crap,” he mourns. I say, “Thank you for the apology Nels,” and reach a hand back to him. He and I forgive one another a hundred percent and move on.

This morning he takes me on a tour of the garden. He shows me the new cucumber, the one bean on the bush (he can spy the very first new growth of anything). He remembers, in our unsorted and untidy yard, where things were planted. “I planted an apple there,” he tells me. “The love-in-a-mist is blooming. Look what happened to the snapdragons!” “The tomatoes are having Good Times.” (yes, he actually said this). “Sweet peas, calendula…” (both blooming fresh). “The amaranth, and…” he trails off, pointing. “Nicotiana,” I remind him (a real success story – so far – as they’ve come back from near-death via slug).

This evening we play a game I play with my children (one he enjoys more than my daughter), a simple exercise in reverse psychology: I say, “Don’t come over and push me off the chair and climb on top of me and kiss me on the lips, I’m really busy right now.” He starts laughing right away, head thrown back, runs over, pushes me, and tries to wrestle on top of me. He is strong, with a spry strength in his long-bellied little boy body. What I like, what I couldn’t and don’t do, is that he devotes all his energy, balls-out, into trying to overcome me. And laughs and laughs and kisses me, finally, and he smells of the pint of raspberries he bought (with his own garden earnings!) from our Farmers Market, and ate almost every one in the car.

"She – she will help me – the housewively one. Hi, Betty!"

I’m a member of ten Yahoo groups (three I really need to leave), but this one sends a precious little bit of cargo my way every now and then:

My family has enjoyed the original – The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra – watching it a couple times a year for a few years now.

In other news, I have been given the honor of distributing an excellent publication, The Practical Pedal. It is one of my goals to spread the love of practical cycling (that is, cycling for everyone) in my little nook of Grays Harbor.