Friday, October 24, 2008

Even When I'm Mad at You

Sometimes I get mad at my son. Yes, it's true. Sometimes he pushes his friends at school or tells someone he won't be their friend anymore, and I get a talk from the preschool director. Other times I catch him in a lie. Oooh, lying to Mama makes her really, really mad.

My son knows the look.

He knows the set jaw, the narrowed eyes and the frozen look of disapproval.

"Are you mad at me, Mama?"

"Well, I'm not exactly happy with you."

"You're not HAPPY with me?" His big, round eyes peer at me in the rearview mirror. Tears are imminent.

"I'm just disappointed."

"I'm sorry Mama! I will never, ever do that again! I promise!" His entire world is collapsing around him.

"I certainly hope so."

"Are you still mad?"

"A little bit."

"YOU ARE?" Armageddon is upon us.

"You know, even when I'm mad at you, I still love you."

"You do?"

"Yes. When you love someone, you care about them a lot. When you love someone, you get mad at them sometimes, and sometimes they make you sad, and other times they make you laugh. But you still love them no matter what."

"You do?"


"You promise?"


"Okay, Mama. I'm sorry. I don't want you to be mad at me anymore, even if you still love me."

"Okay, I won't be mad at you anymore if you promise to try and do better."

"I will."

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I treated everyone as generously as I treat my son. What would that cost me? Would I lose something in being so forgiving? What would really happen if I loved like that and someone took advantage of that love.

Would it really be the end of the world?

Would I really lose anything in that?

Aren't we all just children, trying to figure it all out. Isn't the best any of us can offer is to try and do better.

Sometimes I don't think so. Sometimes I think adults are supposed to know better. But what if they don't? What then? How are any of us ever going to learn unless someone loves us like a mother? Sure, it's not my job, it's not your job. But what if we did it anyway?

What if we just went ahead and forgave everybody? And loved them. And let them fall, helped them up, brushed them off and guided them in the right direction, with only their best intentions as a guarantee?

You never know. Maybe if you loved someone like that, they'd love you back like that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why Are They Pushing It In So Far, Mama?

Because I am a procrastinator, I waited until the last possible moment to get my vaccinations for India. I have a few, grievous phobias which cause me to pass out. I've covered this before, but just to recap: Crowds and Needles. The centipede phobia only causes me to scream bloody murder, but I have never lost consciousness at the sight of one. Yet.

So I can only get an appointment at the Passport Health Clinic at 5:30 p.m., which means I have to pick up my four-year-old son first, and take him with me. Now I've gotten much better about shots in my old age, and I'm pretty much fine if I don't see the needle and they don't take blood. I got a Tetnus shot last winter and did not pass out.

I thought everything would be fine.

I sat in the chair and decided to put on a brave face for Cracky. The first shot went in and I didn't even flinch. While the second shot was going in, my son announced:


It was then that I started to hear the distant train whistle of unconsciousness, and then the roar of the engine took over my entire body.

"I think I'm going down," I announced to the two nurses, who immediately stretched me out on the floor. I awoke with a cold compress stuffed beneath my neck and two worried nurses peering at my face.

"Do you want us to continue, or do you want us to wait until you've fully recovered?" they asked.

"Get it over with," I groggily responded. My son got up from the chair where I think he'd been crying to come watch the proceedings again.

I felt the nurse pinch the flesh on my limp arms to inject the rest of the shots.

"Why are they pushing it in so far, Mama?" my son chimed in.

Note to self: Do not bring son to any future doctor's appointments.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Last Number

I drove my son to work with me this morning. He was quite excited about it, as he loves coming to work. There are elevators, bagels and he gets to watch DVDs on my laptop.

In fact, today I set him up in his own cube. He had a spread of Spider-Man comic books (or as he calls them, "MaZagines"), a couple of action figures, his Kitty (dressed in a bow-tie for work) and an orange juice. He was ready to go!

I've noticed lately that he's been mock-parenting Kitty. I now understand why therapists have kids play with some sort of stuffed toy or doll and watch then re-enact everything their parents say to them.

"Kitty, I need a little PRIVACY," he announced, and placed the stuffed tabby in a corner, far-far-away.

"I'm the boss of Kitty and you're the boss of me," he told me. I thought he was being rather Machiavellian about this, though his language was undeniably mine. In my defense, the only time I ever tell him I need "privacy" is when I'm sitting on the toilet. So hold the calls to Child Protective Services.

A half hour later or so, he went and gingerly picked up Kitty and hugged him. 

"Thanks for using your patience!" he said to the cat.

That one is all me too.

"When am I turning five again?" he asked me.

"In January."

"Next weekend?" he cocked his head.

"No, in three months."


"No, in about 90 tomorrows from now."

"Remember when I turned four and we had a Superman party in the clubhouse?"

"Yes," I said, surprised he'd retained the vocabulary word "clubhouse" all these months later.

"Remember when I turned three?"


"Remember when I was a baby in your tummy?"


"When do I turn five again?"

"In January."

"And when do I get to the last number?"


Did my son just ask me about Death?

"Nobody knows," I say and hold my breath.

"It's a surprise?"

"Yes. You could say that."

"Okay," he said, and went back to his mazagine, unconcerned with the concept of a surprise death.

Which seems the right way to handle it. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Set This on Fire

I read a book once where the characters wrote their wishes on paper and lit them on fire. They sent them up to their ancestors in the sky. Missives in the smoke.

Blogs are like that. Click delete and it disappears into the cosmos. I like that. You can write anything you want that way. Write down your wishes, dreams, secrets, rages — write anything you want, it doesn't matter. It's not real. It's not permanent.

Nothing is permanent.

Even this feeling right now. Or that feeling yesterday. Sometimes I wonder why people even bother to ask? None of it matters. Whoever has upset you today will be forgotten by Tuesday next week. The broken glass will be swept up and carried away. The ripped shirt will either be mended or tossed out.

I can write anything I want and it doesn't matter. I can write that I don't care about tomorrow. I can't care about tomorrow. I can no longer care about the economy, about my job, about the price of gas or the value of your 401K. Today I have to go home and pick up a little boy, make him dinner and sing him to sleep. All those other things make it hard for me to do that.

Today I have a job.

Today I have a home.

Today I have you.

I may lose you all tomorrow. There is joy in this. There is a sweet breath of relief. Can you feel it? Is it coming through the wires? Everything is impermanent. Nothing lasts. You and I have no control over it. We can't stop disaster.

So let it go.

Ride it out — wherever it may take you.

There's nothing else to be done. If you lose your lover tomorrow, should you spend today worrying about it? Mourn the loss in advance? My best friend is always telling me, "A fool dies a thousand deaths, the hero dies but one."

One life.

Many deaths?

One life.

One death?

I choose one. I can't fix any of you. I can't fix any of me. I can't control one damn thing in this universe. All I can do is write these words and let my heart love what it loves.

Beyond that, all is a seething cauldron of stars and shape-shifters, lies and magic. My eyes will never know the difference. So I'll write it all down. I'll settle on words to make out the murky details. I'll cry and I'll rage, I'll laugh and I'll wonder. And none of it will matter. Tomorrow we'll all forget, and play some other drama that means everything again.

Sometimes I think we should set everything on fire.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life on Cracky

My son tells me I'm beautiful at least once a day, if not twice If I put on heels or add a necklace, I am sure to receive an emphatic, "You look so beautiful, Mama!" You grown men should take note. Cracky knows a thing or two about keeping the Mama happy.

"You're the mama and that means you're the boss," he tells me.

"That's right," I nod.

"I always do what you say."

"Yep, pretty much."

"I was just kidding earlier when I said I didn't want to wear my coat," he hastens to add, remembering the incident at daycare not five minutes previous.

"Oh, okay," I laugh. It was not a grievous error. He rectified it immediately.

"I didn't mean to whine," he adds.

"That's okay, you've got your coat on now."

"I always listen to you."

"I know."

Later, we are sitting in front of the TV, looking for a video. Our noses are not five inches from the screen.

"Is that a baby being borned?" he asks, witnessing a bloody baby on the screen.

Uh oh.

"Um, yeah. That's a brand new baby."

"Did I come out of you like that?"


"Sort of, except you weren't all messy like that. You came out perfect," I say, not lying. The child was born on his due date, and the nurses barely had to wipe him off. Clearly the boy was "done."

"How did I get out? Through your belly button?" he lifts his shirt to inspect his stomach.

"No," I pause. "You came out of the birth canal."

We stare at each other.

"Okay," he says. "And I drank milk out of your boobs, right?"

"Yes," I breathe a sigh of relief. He bought the "birth canal" business and didn't require any further clarification.

*High fives self for awesome parenting*

The boy straddles my lap and hugs me while I try and put in his DVD. After a moment I notice he's not just hugging me.

"What are you doing?" I pull back to see what's going on.

"I'm pretending," he says, nuzzling my breast.

"PRETENDING WHAT?" I pull him off of my boob.

"That I'm a baby!"


"Why not?"

"Because you're not a baby."

"Just pretend!"

"No. My boobs are private."

"But how come babies can have your boob?"

"Because they're babies and they need milk."

"I drink milk."

We stare at each other.

"Because I'm the boss and I say no."

"Oh. Okay," he says, and sighs just a bit.

The little perv.

*Deduct one point for bad parenting.*

*Note to men: Don't try the "milk" excuse for boob nuzzling. You'll get caught every time.*