Sunday, March 28, 2010

And then, when you kiss, your cheeks explode.

This is what it is to have a son, I think. A three-year old son. Or maybe even a forty-year old son.

When I put Finn down for bed tonight, we were kissing good night and he instructs me to fill my mouth with air, cheeks puffed out, and we crash our inflated cheeks into one another crazily. We both fall over laughing on the bed and I wonder where the heck that one came from. So I ask Chris.

"Oh yeah," he tells me laughing a little bit, folding laundry, not in the least bit surprised, "that's the kiss where when you hit, your cheeks explode."

Oh, that one.

This is me in the Country for New Men. I am a visitor here, me a woman raised by women, the mother of a daughter, the sister of one sister, the friend of a hundred women, a girl's girl. I am traveling in a foreign country and I had no idea this place would be so, well, foreign. And so beautiful. As well as fart filled.

Boys are all about farts. There is no conversation with a small boy that does not involve some sort of potty talk.

And when we are not talking about farts, things are exploding. Things are flying. Things are running. Things are being stopped up and stopped down. There is water in places there is not supposed to be water. There is hugging that is really, really tight and looks sweet but might not be. There are a lot of corndogs. There are eight million balls, never ever enough of them though. We need more balls. Many many more are needed.

There is also so much sweetness. Infinite sweetness, but to catch it and hold on to it is impossible; it's in and out like light. Try holding onto light. You can't. You must just watch and remember.

There is also singing. He is standing in his bed, on his stage, lit only by his nightlight, his mouth and heart wide open.

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine. I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of miiiiiiinnnneee. I'm gonnnnnnnnaaaa let it shiiiiiiiiine. Let it shiiiiiiiiiiinnnne. Let it shiiiiiiiiiinne. Let it shiiiiiiiiiinne. "

It's a shooting star across my sky in my new country. My Country of New Men. Where both men and mothers are being made daily.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Three is the new two.

My son got married today and I wasn't even invited to the wedding.

Granted, it was at pre-school. Finn married Stella, a brown-haired sweetheart of a three-year old with a older brother named Gene who is five. The whole thing happened this afternoon and somehow, Finn ended up with the ring. I know this much because when I showed up today to pick him up, there was this little copper circle on his middle finger. He was holding it tightly, his hand a fist.

He didn't really want to talk about it, his wife that is. He wanted to do a "job" - that's Montessori speak for a special learning activity - but we couldn't because he'd already lost the priviledge to do a job way back last night when he kept slugging his older sister, my six-year old daughter. He'd lost the priviledge to do jobs, or pick out a book at bedtime, or pick out a special toy in the morning; I had been at a work event and by the time I got home, my husband informed me that he'd had to strip the kid of pretty much everything but his underwear after the night he'd had.

This boy, a love of my life, he is giving us a run for our money.

He is smart and charming and handsome. He's got a smile that would melt your heart at 100 yards. He can whistle. He can write words. And do simple math. He loves animals. He's funny. He's sociable with everyone. Loves parties and dancing. He'll sit for hours with his 87-year old great grandmother and dance and sing for her, or just do a puzzle over and over. He loves tiny things and builds elaborate art installations, ones with real thought and structure and imagination. He skips. He pretends he's a frog. When his sister was crying tonite, he sidled over to her sweetly with a little square chip from the Scrabble game, an "E" and handed it to her: "For you, Reese. An 'E' for you."

Because he knew it would make her feel better and it did.

He is also the boy who argues with every single thing we say. His heart is NOT beating. He is NOT hungry. He does NOT like pizza. He does NOT want to get dressed. Or comb his hair. Or get in the bath. Or get out of the bath. He doesn't want to share. Or be shared with. It's his turn. It's not his turn. There is so very much angry crying. Lots of stomping of feet and breathing loudly out through his nostrils; a tiny, mad dragon in Converse, stomping on my hardwood floors. Then a moment later, he skips by:

"Look at what I made, Mama! It's a tower! It's an interesting house! Look at my tiny things!"

"I love you, Mama."

Looking up at me, all curly blond hair and long eyelashes. And I am disarmed, not ready for the next meltdown over who got their teeth brushed first, who got to pick out which book. And I try to remember: when did all this start? Sure, he's always been spirited, my boy, always an entertainer, a show man, a fiery love child. But this? A cantankerous grump, I don't know when he moved in.

Of course I blame myself. I went back to work six months ago. He probably is acting out, I think. He needs more love, more time, more vegetables. Maybe it's his diet: too many carbohydrates. Maybe we're giving him too many Cheerios. Or too little sunshine.

I know that my husband and I give our children every drop of love in our hearts; Chris is the best father a kid could have. I know that we send them to loving schools. Surround them in a modest but warm house filled with books and good toys. Play all kinds of music. Don't watch too much TV. Eat dinner as a family every night. Have dance parties in the living room, just us. We sing to them. We rock them. We hold them. They are the reason we exist. The whole point is the four of us and they know it. They also know that the world outside the four of us exists and that's it our responsibility to help, as much as we can. To care beyond our four walls. We give them the world and ask them to love it well.

I can only hope it is enough. I can only hope my sweet angel, my little boy finds his sunshine again. That if what he needs is to test the boundaries to know they are there, that we can be strong enough to hold them up, even as our hearts are breaking just a little. We wait for some light to shine through.

Chris says that I just don't remember: Reese was like this at three also. Intense. Feisty. Argumentative. What?, I say, I can't believe it. Don't remember it. But then again, what I had for lunch today is foggy. So there. Maybe there's hope.

I know this:

Tonight, Finn wanted Chris to do bedtime, not me. But then he asked if I would just lay with him until Dad got there and I did; he buried his face and his favorite blanket into my shoulder, his breath hot on my cheek. I felt his arm slide over across my chest, hugging me, both of us breathing, together. And I didn't question a thing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Did you win, Mom?"

Yes, I did, baby. Here's what I won during the half-a-half marathon (my first race ever) I did today with my beloved:

A more tender attitude toward humanity.
On the course today, everyone was trying so incredibly hard, the runners and the supporters and the water giver outers and the lady who cleaned up all the cups thrown out by the runners. And especially this one little old guy, who of course passed me, and was trucking along like nobody's business, one foot in front of the other.

A belief in the next generation.
A girl all of six was planted on the side of the course, her hand out for high fives for every passing runner. Her mom was standing behind her proudly, looking on and even though I was too far left to get a five from her, I felt a burst of energy just from her being there.

A reminder to go at home.
Really, really long lines for the restrooms. Longer than the line to park, or leave the parking lot, I may have spent more time in line than actually running. But I met this really neat lady who had kids the same age as mine, so it was all OK and reinforced #1 yet again.

A rekindled love for the beauty of my adopted hometown.
There is nothing more beautiful than the early morning light on the river here. And the gorgeous trees. And this morning, with every step, I remembered the first time I ever saw this place, how I couldn't believe my luck, it was so much more lovely than I ever expected. And today, Sacramento snuck right up on me again, pinching me with it's sweetness.

A respect for my body.
It felt great today. Never once did I think I couldn't make it the six miles - further than I'd ever run. My breathing, my legs, my chest, my knees, they were all there for me, I was so incredibly grateful for the lot of them. And, I surprised myself with running a minute faster each mile than I'd dreamed of. Listening to Stevie Wonder helped too. Thank goodness for Stevie.

And thank goodness for Chris. And thank goodness for Finn.
And thank goodness for you Reese, my sweet: I can't wait to win again, next time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Toothless wonder.

"Can you believe it, Mom," my six year old asks me, rhetorically, "can you believe your little baby is losing her teeth already?"

No, I can't believe it, Reese. Really, I can't.

This tooth thing came up unexpectedly. OK, it had been loose for weeks but then the actual coming out part happened in a millisecond, on our way through the school yard. Reese had her mouth open, showing her former preschool teacher the tooth in question, and before I knew it, that sucker was out and what do you know, a large, raggedy big kid tooth was right there, already popped through and waiting to take it's rightful place.

It seemed like an inappropriate amount of grieving time.

Since then, the Tooth Fairy's come and gone and I find myself thinking about this little tooth of hers, now in a plastic bag (whatever do you do with the things?) and it's just a microscopic tiny bit, just a seed really. However did she eat with that speck? How was her first chewing gum chewed? Her strained sweet potatoes strained?

Then I realize that lower left tooth was probably what kept me awake months three through six of Reese's life, while she teethed and fussed, drooling like a French bulldog. That tooth was probably the one Reese used to gum her first Cheerio, gnaw on her beloved bunny, Bubba - maybe it was the one she used to bite me once on the changing table, making me yelp and raise my voice and scaring us both. And I'm sad for that. I'm sad that tooth is gone, even though I don't wish go back to those days because I love where we're at now: field trips and birthday parties and reading and making up stories and having sleepovers and talking about important things like why can't whoever wants to get married get married. I love my girl with the world view and a perspective that comes so pure of heart.

But still, I'm sad for that tooth. Because when one phase is done, it's done. And it's bittersweet. The doneness of it all.

By the time braces hit, I'm going to be a pro at this, right? Maybe.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The longest sixty-eight minutes of my life.

And 27 seconds.

That's how long it took me to run five miles today. I say run, but I mean: run, walk, crawl, creep, hobble, drag, limp, jog, wander and hop along. It was HARD. I'm not sure if my body is meant to go that far in one stretch, unless by car or other motorized vehicle.

Nonetheless, I did it. Mainly because I couldn't face going home and telling my adorable husband I didn't do it. He was so excited for me, unlike my six year old who said: "I thought you were supposed to run six miles, Mommy?"

Like running six miles is something easily switched up, instead of running five miles. Like, oh, you know what, I'll have the beef, not the fish. Six miles, not five, thanks but no thanks.

Anyway, I did it. After trying to get that five done on Saturday and pooping out after two, my legs hurting, not injured hurting, just like miserable, tired, out of shape hurting. I gave them a rest and then went back at it today with a modest improvement. I would categorize survival as improvement. The worst is I'm not even out of breath or anything; my heart is OK, it's just these damn legs of mine - they keep screaming out at me, " you think this is easy? you try carrying around six years of spinach dip and Noah's bagels and see how you feel!"

At least that's what I imagine they're saying.

So next weekend is the 1/2 marathon relay Chris and I are doing. I am doing six miles, he is taking seven. Right now, I cannot imagine walking one more step, let alone hundreds more. But at least when it's over, it will be over, so there's that.

The good side? Due to my lameness Saturday, I got over my 10.9 mile goal for the week, hitting a crazy 13 after today.

This pic is of my sweet Reese, the taskmaster after me about my six miles. This is her at the doctor this week. The pediatric group is moving to a new building and I just felt so sad about it. Reese and I were leaving and we saw a tiny newborn on her way in to the office, all in pink, and I looked down at my beautiful, big six year old and all of a sudden I realized how fast the time has flown. The two of us kept looking at the baby's little pink hands and impossibly tiny feet and neither of us could believe anything could ever be so small.

Next Sunday, I will be able to say to my girl, yes, Reese, six miles, yes Reese, I did it. And she will not be surprised. She knew I could do it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Nothing to do with running. This is about how it's Penis Morning around here.

Finn, my three year old, is on the potty and launches the question:

"Why is my pee pee different than other boys' pee pees?"

Seeing as it's 5:25am, I figure I can get away with fudging.

"Everbody's different," I say, wishing Chris wasn't at the gym. After all, he is the VP of Pee Pee Convesations.

But he's not buying it.

"But it's MY pee pee. It's different than Clifford and Tyler's pee pee's."

The boy's got case studies.

I explain the difference between a circumcised penis and a non-circumcised penis, in terms a three year old can hopefully understand. I mostly use terms like "big circle" and "little circle". And how everybody's different; I throw that one in again for good measure.

Then Chris walks in and answers for himself: You have a Murray penis, that's why, he says with no small amount of pride.

Finn seems happy with that one. A Murray penis, that's why. Like eye color or curly hair, we hand out a particular brand of penis around here, apparently. The boys smile at each other knowingly: the Murray penis, that's right. You can practically smell the testosterone in the air.

Then Reese, my six year old, decides to throw in a curveball when no one's looking:

"I want a sister and don't tell me you're not planning on it."

We're not planning on it, we say. We're not having any more kids, we tell her. We love the two we have and we're very happy, thank you very much.

We try to sell her on a cat, to no avail. According to her, cats might scratch whereas babies are harmless.

Considering the topics we've covered so far, all before 7 am, I decide to leave that one alone.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Keeping me level headed.

OK, the second week of 10.9 miles is complete.

I survived.

But just in case you're worried I'm getting a big head over here, all impressed with my mileage, there's this:

I get home yesterday after my longest run ever, four and a half miles, and I am in the house, feeling pretty good about myself, assessing my Olympic chances and probably goofing off with something or another - the kids are playing outside with my husband - when I hear major commotion outside. Our barky, but friendly, dogs had escaped out the back gate and are going nuts out front, jumping all over our neighbor's new dog and generally making a nuisance of themselves. The kids, not to be outdone in the noise department, are screaming wildly, running around trying to "catch" the dogs. I run out the front to door to save the day, still wearing my running socks, and promptly slide off the top step and come down hard on my left quad.

See, I can say things like that now: quad. Prior to eight weeks ago, I didn't even know I had such a thing. Or, if I did, I certainly didn't talk about it.

Anyway, don't worry: my Olympic hopes haven't been dashed. And, I recovered in time to go to the Kings game last night. Nothing a Chicken Tender Basket with Fries couldn't fix.