Tag Archives: O

After School Mango

I come into the kitchen to fix a snack for little O. J is balancing on the counter, his knobby nine year old left knee up on the granite, right toes in their gym socks dangling close to the floor. He reaches with one arm and steadies himself with the other.

“Can I get that for you?” I ask him dryly. He turns to me with a toothy grin and pushes himself down, landing on the hardwood with a thump.

I take down the paper lunch sack from the shelf, opening it to sniff. The faint, grassy tang of a not yet ripe mango rises up.

J peers into the bag, looks up at me quizzically.

I take it out, give it a squeeze. The skin is smooth, green, just blushed with rose and gold. The flesh underneath firm, but not hard.

“Is it okay?” J asks.

“I think, for us, it’s perfect,” I answer.

“Okay,” he says earnestly, “I was worried it was too late.”

“Get me a plate?” I ask, and he gleefully complies, humming under his breath, mangomangomango.

I grab a cutting board, knife, my familiarity with this kitchen superior even to my own. I have been using this one longer.

Two slices, straight through, alongside the broad seed, two quick pares to pull the flesh off its outer rim. I slice the skin from the slim arcs, dropping the pieces onto the plate J slides alongside me.

Three slices, diagonally, left to right, three slices, diagonally, right to left, cradling the oblong bowls of fruit from the sides, careful not to split the skin. Invert the flesh, slide the knife along the inside of the skin, and the pale yellow chunks drop onto the plate.

Hands sticky, I snag a cube. Still a hint of crisp under-ripeness, a sour note to balance the cloying, fragrant sweetness.

J looks up at me, eyes bright, smile anticipatory.

“It’s just right,” I say. He grabs the plate, taking it out to the table where his homework binder waits.

His little sister cruises into the room with her Polly Pockets in tow. She spies the plate of mango.

“Can I have some?”

“Nope,” grins J. “It’s not ripe. You don’t like it. C and I like them crunchy.”

Remembe(red): describe your favorite fruit or vegetable: the first time you tasted it, where it came from, where you were, what memories it brings.

Confession: mangoes are not my favorite fruit. But when I thought about fruit and memories, this little scene came back to me, a little moment with a child who, while not of my body, is certainly of my heart.

In Which the Double Standard is Revealed

I have a son. A rough and tumble, goofy boy, who instinctively knew the sound a car made when he got his first toy car at six months old.

Pixar Cars, Thomas the Tank Engine, all varieties of diggers, dozers, and construction vehicles, garbage trucks, and school buses populate my house. The majority of the children I’ve loved over the last twelve years are boys; Miss E being the glaring exception, and even Miss E and I often had trouble relating to one another. We were magnets with like polarity.

So, we know he’s all boy, my Felix, but I am not a pusher of “traditional” masculinity.

His best friend right now is Betty, a girly-girl of the first water. An owner of sparkly shoes, tea sets galore, tiaras, dolls, teddy bears, and no less than four tutus. Not surprisingly though, Betty likes to play cars with him sometimes. Equally not surprising to me is that he likes to don a tutu and some sequined sneakers and dance with her.

He likes her headbands and her hair clips. He does, however, prefer blue, green, or red when given the option.

And I don’t give a damn. Some days, when my bosses come home, both kids are twirling in tiaras, with hair clips and sparkly footwear. They chuckle, but I sense an uncertainty in them, as if they’re not sure whether to encourage it. It’s my issue as his mother, and they follow my lead – they tell him he looks great.

Somehow, though, both kids have stuck to their respective sides of the gender-color divide when it comes to table ware. Felix prefers the blue and green sippies, plates, and flatware, and Betty typically chooses pink, purple, and yellow. I don’t fuss about it.

(I don’t sweat the small stuff in general with preschoolers. I’m trying to teach good citizenship here, people. Be friendly, use your manners, pay attention to adults, hold hands when you cross the street, sit and eat a meal like a semi-civilized human.)

And we come to this morning, when Felix, disappointed because his favorite blue and green sippy was dirty, asked if he could have the pink and green one. I said yes without thinking. Betty burst into tears. “I want that one!”

I allowed as how Felix had asked, and that she could choose any other one, but not that one for this meal. She moved on eventually, but off-handedly commented during breakfast that she thought it was “silly” that Felix picked a pink cup.

Her mother replied, “Yeah. It is a little silly, isn’t it?”

 

I Am The Luckiest

A haiku from February of 2006. I’d forgotten I wrote it. Given the delightful response to my last post? Especially still true.

Haiku on Soup and Ben Folds

ev’ryone should have
a blog. mine makes me happy
like soup and ben folds.

It’s been a long week in my real life, and after the last few posts, I need to recharge the creative batteries. It’s late, too late for me to be awake, and tomorow, Saturday, I’m off to spend the day on Lake Sunapee with Big Brother J, Miss E, O, and Felix.

Those kids. They break my heart. Big Brother J emails me occasionally, just to say hi, or invite me to crash his holiday weekend. Because he misses me, and maybe more importantly, he misses Felix.

An eleven year old boy who still wants to spend time with the preschooler who worships him?

I am more proud of him than I can properly express.

And O? gets on the phone to me every now and again, and just chats away, as if it were just yesterday that he and Baby Felix and I were stopping on the walk home from preschool to get a snack in Starbucks and talk about his day.

They’re just a little bit mine, and they own me. Not exactly like the owning between my son and I, but so close. The line is razor thin.

This pride? This huge love that I carry around for these children of my heart? This is why I struggle with my current job. Maybe all my huge love has been given out. Maybe all I can be for these new children is a glorified babysitter.

In the dark, spiderwebby bits of my heart? I don’t want to love these new children that much. I’ve loved other people’s children so hard it broke my heart to walk away. I was shattered. To leave them, without letting any of the rage and pain of the separation seep through into our conversations in those last weeks, squeezed my entire being dry. The fallout left me bruised and wary for more than half a year.

These late night ramblings clearly show that I am still somewhat bruised. Somewhat battered. No longer the brittle shell I was during the winter, though. So, I can happily pack up the minivan and head north to bask in the huge love again. And only be a little blue when I have to leave them.

I don’t want that huge love again.

But to have had it?

I am the luckiest.

London (Not) Calling

Or, why I don’t ever tell Felix about an event until we’re 5 minutes from it happening.

I was up promptly at seven Monday morning, with lingering dreams of a preternaturally tall man in a cloak and mask, weeping over my late grandmother’s dead African violets.

I had a date. A Skype date. A skype date with three children. A Skype date with three children and Felix. A transcontinental Skype date with three children and Felix.

At 7:30 AM, Monday morning, when Big Brother J, Miss E, and O, presumably lunching in London, would be available to chat with Felix, whom they miss terribly.

I was at my desk with Skype running by 7:18AM. At 7:48AM, I gave up, Felix none the wiser.

Second Look Saturday: Something Pink In Her Eye

While I’m off getting my hairs cut, and destroying a piece of my soul shopping for a minivan (don’t lets talk about that yet), here’s one from the nannying archives…
2nd Look Saturday Button
There Was Something Pink In Her Eye
Originally posted March 12, 2009

Apparently, on Monday, O told his Dad that his friend Ava had stayed home from school because there was something pink in her eye.

Why no one mentions these things to me is a mystery.

Yesterday, when I went to pick O up at preschool, his teacher let me in on the big secret; 4 kids were out with something pink in their eyes, and O had white goop oozing out of his tears ducts.

Le sigh.

I called Dad and the pediatrician, and went home to preach clean hands, and no eye touching.

This morning, we’re all gunk-free for the moment, but O still needs to be seen by the Doctor before he can go back to school. Yay.

MoMP’s lesson du jour: if your preschooler says someone had something pink her eye, don’t dismiss it.

Of course, this whole thing makes me giggle a little, because, back when I was the CIT Director at camp, and pals with the camp director, when we were having a bad day, she would joke that we should hit the infirmary, find a kid with pink eye (because with 100 kids in camp, there was sure to be one), touch their eyes, touch our own eyes, and have to go home for a few days until the contagion passed.

Oh, that that were the case now. Now I have to wash my hands and hope that there’s nothing pink in Felix’s eyes. Or mine for that matter…

*******

When I got him to the doctor, the PA looked him over, got down to talk to him, and asked him, “Honey, do your ears hurt?”

O shook his head no.

She looked back at me and said, “This kid has the worst double ear infection I’ve seen in a long time. He should be howling in pain.”

Who knew white discharge in the eyes could be a symptom of ear infections?

All I could say was, “Hooray for antibiotics.”

Remember When We Cut Felix Out of His Shirt?

**If baby poo and dirty diapers ain’t yo’ thang, just skip to the gardening posts, or the cupcakes. Trust me.**

It’s a question Big Brother J has been known to ask me from time to time.

When first-time Mom I follow on Twitter announced her first diaper blow-out, I immediately thought of the worst diaper fail I ever dealt with. Poop everywhere, trying to extricate a wiggly baby from clothing that had become a cotton slip-and-slide of ick. After surviving three babies, I was no stranger to–neither was I afraid of– blow-outs, or poop-explosions, as the kids called them.

This diaper? This one was a doozy.

And this doozy? The work of my son, my fourth baby. Of course. He wasn’t very big, but I was back at work with him, and he was in the bouncy seat in the living room with the big kids. J and O were playing MarioKart on the Wii, I was making dinner, and Miss E was reading on the couch. Homework was done, all was well with the world.

When dinner was safely in the oven, I went in to check on the kids, and Felix seemed agitated.

I bent down over his bouncy seat and OOF! the smell wafting up from the child was unholy!

I pulled him up out of the seat to reveal a poop smear on the seat itself. Ugh. I opened up his tiny romper to reveal his onesie, with exploded baby poo up the back, up the front, and down both legs. It. was. epic.

Miss E, who is very girly, and averse to super smelly, gross things, hightailed it to her room, groaning in disgust all the way up stairs and down the hall. O was, as usual, unphased. Big Brother J, who had a nine year old boy’s enthusiasm for all things eew, hung around.

Good thing. Since I drafted him into service.

I sat there, with my poop covered baby on his changing mat HAZMAT site, wondering just how I was going to get him out of it without ending up with poop on his face, in his hands, in his hair? I said, mostly kidding, to Big Brother J, “We’ll just have to cut him out.”

J lit up like Christmas! He was gone in a flash. He returned with the purple handled safety scissors from the craft box. The gleam in his eyes was positively joyous.

He handed me the scissors with a flourish.

And I did it. I cut the shirt off of him. J looked on, laughing like a loon, but kind of impressed with me. The whole incident was worth it just for those few giddy moments J and I were co-conspirators. I also have to admit, it was kind of liberating to just peel the destroyed onesie off, with no regard for thrift. I had J bring me some old plastic grocery bags for the trashed shirt, and managed to get Felix out of the bottom half of the onesie with relatively little drama, given the vast tracts of poo.

With the seat cover and the romper in a hot water laundry cycle, we sat down to dinner. When the Bosses came home, J gleefully related the tale, with special emphasis on his participation. Lots of giggling all around. Poop is pretty funny, when you get right down to it.

Yes, J, I do remember when we cut Felix out of his shirt.

Beek: A Lovey Story

As I type, my son is stretched out on the sofa, watching the ever asinine “My Friends Tigger & Pooh,” indulging in fishy-faced sucking on his blue blanket, whom he has named Beek. We call this “Beeking Out.” It means he’s weary and overwhelmed, and needs some quality time with his one true lovey.

I feel like loveys have been a recurring theme in my adult life. I mean, I had (still have) one myself, a bunny puppet I named Beth, but loveys have been a significant part of my adult life in more meaningful ways.

I’m a huge fan of loveys. To me, a small child, even an infant, showing a preference for a toy (or other objects; loveys don’t discriminate) is a miraculous thing. That physical and emotional comfort, usually gleaned from beloved people, can be transformed, anthropomorphized into an everyday object is wonderful. Big Brother J has a bear called Nick (which he named), Miss E has both a blankie and a soft purple pajamaed baby doll, called Blankie and Baby, and O has his “guys,” a revolving collection of miniature stuffed animals which almost always includes an 8″ Wally the Green Monster, but his one true lovey is still his pacifier, which he calls “NuNu.”

Those items and the kids’ relationships with them tell me a lot about them. Big Brother J is an old and uncluttered soul, he likes order and structure, and he has a lot of type A, elder brother wisdom. A single bear, unfrilly, with an oddly adult name, who lives quietly up on the top bunk in the boys’ room, makes perfect sense. Nick is always there, but doesn’t draw unwanted scrutiny. Miss E is a middle child and a drama queen, constantly seeking approval and attention, and so needs multiple items, without too much individual identity, so as not to move the spotlight off of her. They play a distinctly supporting role in her personal drama. O, the baby, is very self sufficient, secure, whimsical and imaginative, and a bevy of friends suits him. His attachment to a baby item keeps him firmly rooted in his position in the sibling hierarchy, well cared for and given free reign to dream.

I once gave an elephant to my infant godson. By whatever accident of fate (I don’t think G could tell you who gave him his Hort), that elephant became his lovey, and their lovey story is epic in nature. Hort got a companion; they became the Horts. Now that he’s a big boy, the Horts are less of everyday players than they once were, but I still feel strangely blessed to have been part of the original Hort’s genesis.

The there’s the lovey closest to my heart. My son’s. For his first year I despaired. He never formed that magical attachment with a random inanimate object. I laughed at myself for being so upset by it, but the truth? I was crushed. His lovey was me. He was a fantastic nurser once we got the hang of it, and preferred nursing to sleep. He didn’t need a prop, thankyouverymuch. Rationally, I knew I should break the habit, but what’s sweeter than a sleeping baby in your lap? His first birthday came and went. He was a standing, babbling, milk drinking, cheerio clutching human, and still, he declined any stuffed toy I tried. At fifteen months, I was pretty much done with nursing, and so I stepped up my search. I wanted him to have something to turn to if I wasn’t available. I wanted him to have something his own. I noticed that he liked the feel of the terry robe I often wore when nursing, and would rub his hands on it as he nodded off, so I searched the boxes and drawers for something that replicated the texture.

(left: photo of Felix and Beek together at 6 days old – when will they ever meet again?) What I found was a secondhand blanket that felt exactly the same as said robe, and – bonus! – it had the satin edges coveted by so many little ones. Eureka! I’d used it when he was tiny, but we had so many baby blankets that it had ended up tucked away in a closet. It was like something out of a novel. (The first time they met, he barely noticed the blanket. A year later, he fell in love.) I started slipping the blanket between us when we snuggled. I left it in his crib when he slept, and I watched him fall in lovey.

A few months later, he developed the “Beek” moniker, though neither myself nor my husband can figure when. He initially called it “Dee,” but then he changed it and never looked back.

It’s been about a year now. A year of Beek. A year with a lovey. And I’m glad. My boy has his blanket. Perhaps someday, like Kevin Henkes’ “Owen,” he’ll need it made into pocket squares, or I’ll be fashioning it into a throw pillow for his dorm room bed. A Mom can dream.

There Was Something Pink In Her Eye

Apparently, on Monday, O told his Dad that his friend Ava had stayed home from school because there was something pink in her eye.

Why no one mentions these things to me is a mystery.

Yesterday, when I went to pick O up at preschool, his teacher let me in on the big secret; 4 kids were out with something pink in their eyes, and O had white goop oozing out of his tears ducts.

Le sigh.

I called Dad and the pediatrician, and went home to preach clean hands, and no eye touching.

This morning, we’re all gunk-free for the moment, but O still needs to be seen by the Doctor before he can go back to school. Yay.

MoMP’s lesson du jour: if your preschooler says someone had something pink her eye, don’t dismiss it.

Of course, this whole thing makes me giggle a little, because, back when I was the CIT Director at camp, and pals with the camp director, when we were having a bad day, she would joke that we should hit the infirmary, find a kid with pink eye (because with 100 kids in camp, there was sure to be one), touch their eyes, touch our own eyes, and have to go home for a few days until the contagion passed.

Oh, that that were the case now. Now I have to wash my hands and hope that there’s nothing pink in Felix’s eyes. Or mine for that matter…

Free meat has become a weekend highlight….

Sunday: I caught the local Stop & Shop in a mistake at the register that equaled a free pot roast. It was a $12.53 hunk of beef. With my savings card, it was marked down to $6.45. Nice deal, huh? Well, as I was checking my receipt on the way out of the store… Eeeek. Full price! So, I marched my little self back into the store, and politely showed my roast and my receipt to the beleaguered cashier at customer service. She proceeded to refund me the entire cost of the roast because it was their system error. Cool!

Of course, I do have to face the fact that getting free meat has become a weekend highlight….

Other highlights included catching up on a month’s laundry, cleaning up and seeding the front yard, planting a hydrangea, my Saturday morning trip to the dog park with Maurice, and dinner at the local teppanyaki joint. Oh! and I made three nights worth of dinners yesterday afternoon. Way to make my own life easier 🙂

In home improvement news, Mark spent the rainy days trimming out the doorways and window in the LR, and sanding the filled nailholes in the DR. Painting time is coming! I bought a color sample of the color I like and put up a square on the wall. It’s gonna rock!

On the kid front, turns out O was cutting his first molar last week; thus all the crabbing around… We all feel terrible that we didn’t notice, but molars are way the heck back there, and he’s also cutting a front tooth, so we figured it was that. Bad parents/caregivers! This morning he headed off to his music playgroup with his Nana, and is now back and having a tremendous buffet-style snack (raisins, cheerios, pineapple, watermelon, and leftover foccacia). Cutting teeth is hungry work. He could stand to bulk up a little, so I’m encouraging all this (relatively) healthy snackage.

As for me, I got back to my C25K routine. Details here. I’ve also kept up with the majority of my FLYlady reminders, and the house is starting to look pretty good. Mark’s concerned about impending Housekeeping OCD. He might not be wrong…

We’re Very Very Busy and We Have A Lot to Do and We Haven’t Got A Minute to Explain It All to You

Rarely do I run around like I did this past weekend.

Saturday began with a WW meeting (so-so results), a trip to BJ’s (spent my Guilt Money), then home to my kitchen to create tasting cakes for my friends Al & Kara:

Golden Butter Cake with Chocolate Creme Patissiere and Buttercream with Ganache
Persian Genoise with Vanilla Whipped Cream, Strawberries, and Buttercream
Lemon Genoise with Lemon Curd Cream, Strawberries, and Buttercream
Vanilla Bean Genoise with Vanilla Whipped Cream, Strawberries, and Buttercream

In the end, we scrapped the existing combinations and invented a new one for them. Yum!
I drove up to Concord, NH, for dinner, cake tasting, and catching up with them and our mutual friend, RGS Guy, and the Elusive Colleen’s Double, his girlfriend. I ended up staying over and going for bagels with Al & Kara before heading back to Framingham. Then, I made red sauce, crawfish stock, and cranberry-peach sorbet, before we headed up to Maynard to visit the Morgans with Maurice. We ended up staying for Chinese take-out. At 9, I met my old friend, Om, for ice cream in Westborough before collapsing in an exhausted pile at 11 PM. And all this with one less hour of weekend to work with!

Back at work this morning, the kids have gone back to school, and O and I celebrated by sleeping away the afternoon. ::yawn::
Home tonight to roast a chicken and grill a pork loin. Tasty.