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Better Than

20140112_155544“Come sit with me Mommy,” he said. I didn’t want to; I wanted to read on the couch. But I felt guilty, as usual, so I sat down at the kitchen table to color with my son.

“Pick a color,” he told me. I chose a deep fading blue.

“Dark Blue!” he exclaimed; blue is his favorite color. I sat next to him; my arm jostled his; I’m a lefty, he a righty.

“Mommy!” he giggled. “Look what you did!” and showed me the errant mark on his paper. We sat side by side, elbow to elbow, he coloring, me writing with a deep fading blue and Benny Friedman playing in the not so distant background.

“The Mommy and Totty are going round the block,” he said as he drew wide circles and winding lines. He proffered his hands in my direction,

“Oiy, Mommy, look, look,” there were blue streaks on his palm and wrist. “Want my blue? He perked up suddenly. I declined and he frowned a moment.

“I’m gonna write on you paper,” he informed me. I raised my hand to block his marker descending dead-center on my page. He only nicked it.

“Ma! He exclaimed. “Ma!” I blocked him again. He retreated.

“Ma, Ma, look at my picture.” He pushed it towards me, covering my paper.

“Beautiful,” I said with dutiful enthusiasm, but there was no light behind my eyes.

Terrible, I know. But I was coloring side by side with him. Better than reading on the couch I told myself, better than reading on the couch.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Parenting, Writing

 

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The Lady

Her palms dug deep into her eye sockets and rubbed vigorously. The ache rose in intensity then subsided slowly, cathartically. She hadn’t yelled. Or cried today.

She had cleaned up two accidents, one number one, the other number two; bounty and bleach were getting  too well acquainted.

She had swept up one shattered bowl and the Chex and milk that it contained; little elbows aren’t the most stable.

She had mopped the floor of greek yogurt stolen from the fridge, while she was vacuuming the dry oatmeal they poured in the room. Her older one thought the texture was that of shampoo, so he graciously washed his sister’s hair.

She had separated them three times as they yanked each other’s hair for some offense or another, and gotten her snood snatched and her own hair tugged on in the process.

She had held the little one as he shrieked desperately for his own entertainment.

And now they were in bed. Not sleeping yet, but in bed. They were usually ok at this point.

Her chest expanded and then fell dramatically with each soothing breath. She had a sewing class in an hour. Up and down her chest rose and fell. Sweater smeared with yogurt and peppered with dusty oatmeal particles, she went to change. By her mirror she swiped on mascara. And then dabbed on concealer and a little foundation. Then some blush. A pause, and then she went for it, layering her eye shadow, 6 different shades. Liquid eyeliner is always tricky, but with a steady hand, and a q-tip, she achieved. Lipstick was always tricky, to go neutral, soft, bold, day look versus night look, she hesitated, then went for the red.

“Going somewhere?” one of them asked.

“You look amazing,” said another. She waved her hand easily and dusted of their comments,

“I was going to go a vort, but, whatever, I decided not to.” They nodded and found their seats. And she sat too, a lady.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Writing

 

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It’s Just A Haircut

The PeklachIt was E’s upsherin on Sunday, and I still can’t stop looking at him. My son is transformed into a new person it seems. Until of course he opens his mouth and as my grandmother said you’d realize he’s “still the same brat”. But such a cute brat. Now that his distractive (and so beautiful) hair is gone, I’m drawn to his eyes. They are soulful. Wide, asking, deep, framed by long lashes, they are the entrance to his soul and world. And I think he’s gotten more mature. Even if I know that that’s all in my head – maybe it’ll turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cutting his hair was very difficult for me. I was surprised, considering that I hadn’t wanted to leave his hair uncut and do the whole upsherin thing in the first place. But it wasn’t about the hair, it was about the person I knew to be my child. This is a transformative haircut. E doesn’t look like anything I know. I couldn’t even imagine what he’d look like afterward. While they cut his hair, yes, we all laughed that it was a shame for such beautiful hair to be wasted on a boy, but I preoccupied myself with taking pictures the whole time, lest the tears on the edge of my eyes break free of the rim. I did feel like I was losing my child as I knew him. And even though I know it’s the same E, with his finitive language, and inquisitive nature, on Sunday, he was a different person.

There we two moments where it crystallized and I had to turn my face away from the crowd. One, after all the men took their turn snipping off locks of hair, I stood in the back and looked at his hacked hair, and a loud flashing sign in my head read “It’s OVER. This stage is over”.

Naturally there’s a gradually passing from one stage of life to another, a shade of gray, or green, where the red and blue are changing, a mixing of the colors, with the shades starting lighter, fading into on another and gradually being completely transformative in hindsight. It happened in a moment here. It was hard.

And then about a minute into the real haircut, my mother in law (also the barber in this case) had trimmed away enough so you could see the curve and actual shape of the back of E’s head. It was so round and perfect. And I thought, I don’t this part of my son. I don’t know this boy.

Now of course logically, I recognize that he is the same exact person he was the day before, sans hair. He still manipulated his toilet training to get more candy, he still jumps off any surface possible, and still speaks in finite terms of, can’t and need. But he looks so different. So beautiful, yes. But so different than the child I know, that I can’t help but feel I need to get to know him all over again.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Jewish, Musings

 

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The Meaning of Art

The bathroom was scented in soothing lavender, until she flicked on the light. Chipped tiles in pale pink, a plastic cushion on the toilet seat that let out a hiss when sat on, and too many tabloids in the rack beside the toilet cheapened the scent. When she inhaled this time, all she smelled was the alcohol base. Rummaging quickly, she found a pair a tweezers and rejoined the group in the living room.

The group was hunched over in a circle examining a foot. It was a regular foot, toes possibly a little stubby, with too many prominent veins, but a most ordinary foot by most accounts, except for the wooden stake thrust through it. The girl handed over the tweezers to an awaiting hand,

“You really think getting rid of residual splinters will help the foot heal, and take to the stake?” she asked, leaning in too closely.

“You’re blocking my light,” was the terse response. The girl frowned, gave her shoulders a slight shrug and backed off, retreating to a tartan couch in the corner. She looked around the room, lips pursed, eyes narrowed. The walls had been whitewashed some years ago, but even white fades, and the edges had a grey crumbly tinge. The rose linoleum floor was curling up and dying in the corner, and the Coach bag on the table was a lousy knockoff – the pattern didn’t even match up seamlessly.

Her legs crossed and uncrossed, then shifted weight to the other hip. This place was supposed to be cool, artsy really. Blow her mind – creatively he had told her. All she has seen was a lot of blood and some idiot volunteering to put a stake through his foot and let it become a part of his being. The point was to be one with the earth, and to take what you give, at least that’s what she understood. She wasn’t sure though, because they were using a lot of big words like trancendalize, and everyone else seemed to be in awe. So maybe it wasn’t that, because, that idea is stupid and art is not.

Moans and heavy breathing, gave pace to the movement, as well as moist air of sweat.  Dirty gauze pads, and empty tubes of triple antibiotic littered the floor.

“Who was the idiot that didn’t sand down the stake?” Someone asked. There was an awkward silence, everyone considering turning on each other, when the serene voice of Sarah, occupant of the apartment and resident artist said,

“Be one, take what you give. Do you think lumberjacks sharpen their blades to ease blow to the tree? No, it’s a hack job. As is this, metaphorically or course. Sanding down the stake would diminish the integrity of our work”

Sitting on the couch, the girl frowned again. So she had understood what they were talking about, and this was it. This is what is meant to be an artist, this is what the starving artist’s life was – being an idiot and coming up with a stupid reason to rationalize it – make it seem almost intelligent and worthy? It was like being a teenager all over again, the only difference being the sequence of event: teens do stupid things then come up with a reason why they should have done it; artist think of rationales and then due stupid things to prove it.

“Where you going?” He asked, as started to make her exit.

“Home.” Was her one word response. She had time to be a purposeful idiot when she grew up, no reason to be one now when she could still get away with it all, protected under the teenage bracket.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Writing

 

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To Dr. Doomstein, 20 Years Later, You Still Lose

I have a bunch of earwigs driving me loo loo. They’re all from the same source, and suppose I should be thankful that at least I know most of the lyrics. Not like when you get an earwig, and you only know one word in the chorus and you mumbo jumbo the rest until that spot and you mentally belt out that “Help… mumblemumble…Help” (Beatles ‘Help’ anyone? Actually I know all the lyrics to that one, so never mind, but you get my drift) It goes on in a loop, all day and if you’re lucky you can infect someone else, just by humming a bar or two; make them just as miserable as you.

I have the Marvelous Middos Machine on repeat – in my home, and still in my head once my kid is sleeping and I can turn it off. Seder V’nikyon, Kaas, Guy’va, Tzar Bar L’chaim. C’mon you can all sing along with me,

“You gotta be neat, you gotta be clean, let Mommy take a break from the washing machine”

“…Like a big volcano that’s gonna blow its stack. Just stay calm and cool”

“Hey there Mr. Guy’va you think you’re really great…”

And the classic

“I’m a hippopotamus, from my top to my bottomus…”

They don’t make ‘em like they used to. I grew up on these tapes (now mp3 files on my ipod), and my kids are going to too (along with Shmuel Kunda’s “The Last Pesach”, “Talking Coins” and “Magic Yalmulke” to name a few). 20 years, and they haven’t made a better product, today’s kids are singing the same songs we did. Pretty dumbfounding, no?

With recording equipment, sound effects, computers, and people with the technical know-how in greater excess and accessibility, they haven’t been able to produce anything on the creative caliber as the original “Jewish Children’s Tapes”.

Of course a few of the oldies have regretfully disappeared – I’d love to get my hands on “The Amazing Torah Bike” “Bike, bike, Torah Rider, put us in your bubbleizer –anyone?” and “Torah Island”.

What do you think, are the originals way better, or am I being overly nostalgic?

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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And Many Miles to Go Before I Sleep

My mother tells me it’s time for a new blog post. She’s bored of visiting my blog, disappointed when she sees nothing new. I told her to set up a Google reader account to save her the agmas nefesh. Forget about setting it up being too difficult for her, she didn’t really understand its function when I tried explaining it. But never mind that.

I agree with my mother, it is time for a new blog post. And I have a lot to say – I’m just too busy doing nothing to say it. Nothing is relative of course. I spend most of my day tending to my adorable, but perpetually cranky baby. Or I’m in bed sleeping. Some old adages are right and smart – Sleep when the baby sleeps.
So the adage works with your first kid, but when you have a kid running around it’s not so easy to say,

“Ooh yay, the baby shtunker is finally sleeping – I’ll pop in for a nap – if that’s ok with you E – don’t break my china teacups like you almost did yesterday, k?”

Well, I suppose it’s easy to say, not to do.

So…I’m a little homebound and going out of my mind. I went to the park in my complex a few days this week. The other women looked at me in wonderment – what was I doing outside?!! And I was thinking, Oh G-d I can’t believe it took me this long to get outside. Seriously, I don’t think I was outdoors for a week after I had the baby. And besides cranky babies magically shut up outside – nature’s best.

It’s only three weeks, and it feels like months (well, when your night turn into days, and days nights and there’s a point where you can’t differentiate between the two because you’re too busy pacing your hallways, arms jiggling, trying to calm a baby, time seems to pass Reeeeeeeally slowly.) I don’t even remember what it feels like to be pregnant – yes, I did just write that. I don’t remember, there’s too much overriding it.

I taught Macbeth this year; I didn’t think I could ever relate to him, but I do now: Act II Scene II

Macbeth: Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!”

So bear with me, while I bear with my baby.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Parenting, Slice of Life

 

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My Kid?….Never

The longer I am a mother I find myself becoming less judgmental against my will.

The first time I ever really paid attention to kids was when I was young and pregnant. I made a lot of keen observation and said brilliant things like,

“Runny noses on kids are disgusting – my kid will never be seen with one”

“If you give your kid junk, of course they’ll never want real food. No garbage food in my house.”

“Palm trees on little boys, or little girls, look retarded, not cute. My kid will never have one, proper pinning will do.”

“Leave your kid at home if he’s going to have a tantrum when you’re shopping. And if you have to bring him along, set up boundaries before so he’s not shrieking and scaring all the women to resume birth control. Besides, only spoiled kids have tantrums.”
Suffice it to say, I don’t judge mothers in the above predicaments anymore.

  • I’d prefer a happy child with a runny nose than one wiped raw, and crying.
  • I beg my child every morning to please drink chocolate milk – he needs the calcium and calories!
  • As for palm trees, they’re still ugly as sin, but now my kid can see. And bobby pins, or sort of clip of elastic holder short of the tiny rubber ones, are untimely ripped from my kid’s hair – courtesy of my kid of course.

And the last – well I’ve only learned the opposing side of this one two days ago.

I brought my son to Wal-Mart to pick up a few odds and ends, and his Afikomin presents. He’s only 20 months, and he wanted everything. When we tried gently lead him away he started shrieking, in his high pitched voice.

“I WANNIE! I WANNIE!! I WANNIE!!!”

And he wailed, and cried, his voice went raw; I thought he was being tortured. This was my son. I never knew he was capable of this. Pathetically, I stood there, not making any eye contact, keeping my voice ultra-smooth. But seriously, he had lost it, thrashing his arms, gnashing his teeth, all the clichés.

I tried picking him up, when of course he picked his hands up and made his shoulders loose, so a proper grip was difficult. I tried again, wrapping my arms around his waist, his mantra then changed to,

I NO WANNIE, I NO WANNIE, I NO WANNIE!!!”

After about 5 minutes I was able to successfully distract him, but now I was mess.

My kid? A freakin tantrum? In Wal-Mart?

For those mothers out there, you know – It happens.

For those of you still saying “My kid will never” statements – enjoy your naiveté.

 

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Humor, Parenting, Slice of Life

 

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