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Archive for the ‘about’ Category

In 4th grade I had a crush on a boy named Jason. We lived a few streets apart and had been playmates since we were small. Our parents would joke about how someday we’d get married and after awhile I found this speculation rather comforting. I felt very proprietary toward him although I don’t think he ever really returned my feelings.

One afternoon in science class, our teacher thought of a demonstration to show how 2 pieces of matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time. She asked Jason to sit in a chair at the front of the classroom and then asked someone to volunteer to sit on his lap. I wanted to be chosen so badly but I knew I couldn’t raise my hand.

Too sensitive to put up with the teasing that would follow and too proud to give Jason the satisfaction of knowing I liked him, I sat in my seat, hands demurely in my lap and stared. I mustered all the attention and focus at my 10 year old command and in a Matildaesque moment of glory, my teacher and I made eye contact. She picked me! I rose from my seat primly and as though I could barely be bothered to, walked to the front of the room and found my place in my beloved’s lap.

Today is the first day of 4th grade for Mitten. I’ve had an astonished “I can’t believe you’re in ___ grade” moment every year since preschool though this year feels different because I remember my own 4th grade year so very vividly. I was on the cusp of adolescence and all the social trials that go with that time occupied my full attention. Mitten is no different. I’m hoping I can guide her through this with a bit more grace than I had. It would help if she inherits my psychic powers.

(p.s. Jason married his high school sweetheart. They have 5 kids. They named their first daughter Katherine.)

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Two anecdotes proving that I am well on my way to decrepitude.

Coming from the park, I was turning on to Maple Road when two of these guys jumped out into traffic. They were aimed at a bar on the other side of the street. Annoyed that they were too cool to use the crosswalk provided, I paused and then went around them. Through the open window of my mini-van I heard one shout, “……soccer moms!” I gave them a “hand signal” as I stopped at the crosswalk only a few feet away.

My mother looked at me in amused disapproval.

“Sorry” I said. “But he called me a soccer mom! He gets the finger.”

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Later that day I was talking with my dad about the guitar lessons he’s offering to members of his church youth group. In an effort to engage the kids, he asked them for the names of current bands whose music they might like to learn. Since names were not forthcoming, my father mentioned a few bands he thought they might like. He also told them a horrible groaner about Kurt Cobain and “decomposing”.

*crickets*

Probing why his “hilarious” joke had fallen flat he realized that not one of them had ever heard of Nirvana.

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My mother in law and I were destined for one another. She may not have seen it at first but I think she’s coming around. From the proprietor of our favorite sushi/bibimbap joint telling her that she and I have a similar bearing to our mutual love of shopping – all signs point to “daughter you never had”.

If only I could speak Korean…

Today we had lunch at Steve’s Deli (Husband, Mom, the kids & I) then we went shopping at a boutique stuffed to the rafters with really cute and correspondingly expensive European children’s clothing. Thanks to Halmoni’s munificence, no one went home empty handed. I appreciate her generosity – but even more so, her happiness with constantly holding the grandson who is now approximately 1/5th of her total body weight.

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paul frank skullie

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ten years ago…

Around this time, ten years ago, I was living alone in a little apartment in Charlevoix. I was about 4 months pregnant with Mitten and I saw my grandmother every day. I would drive or walk from my apartment, along Main Street, over the drawbridge that spans Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix to her condo. I’d help her get out of bed and when her first bout of coughing was over, we’d sit on the porch and have coffee. It was an intensely lonely period of my life and our visits kept me afloat. Being able to help take care of my grandmother during her final months on earth was probably the largest benefit of having a surprise!baby, other than the baby herself.

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exceptional

I’m a young mom. Mitten was born when I was 19 and a half, but I always round up and tell strangers or new acquaintances that I was 20. I think I’m understandably defensive. Most people equate parenthood before 25 (or hell, 30) with poverty, low educational attainment, questionable morals and Britney Spears. Sure, I have good credit, a B.A in Philosophy and am a great fan of underwear but not everyone takes the time to figure it out.

I can feel, if I pay close attention, the point during the “your age v. your kid’s age” conversation when my metaphysical label changes in the mind of the mid-thirties female suburbanite I’m getting to know, from “Mitten’s mom” to “reformed (?) harlot”.

Last year, I volunteered to help at a few of Mitten’s Brownie meetings. During one such, the girls I was working on a craft with asked how old I was. “28”, I said, inwardly cringing. A chorus of surprise rang out. I think 2 girls simultaneously said, “My mom is soooo much older than you!”

“Great”, I thought. “Way to endear yourself to other parents”. I could all too easily picture these girls going home and relating this information over dinner. I like to believe the best of people but I can’t help thinking that there might be a few, who upon hearing this, would be pricked by the comparison and easily soothed with a little condescension. If I’m lucky, I’m often regarded as a little sister. If not, well, play-dates are not forthcoming. To be fair, most of the people in our neighborhood fall into the former category.

A Girl Scout meeting isn’t the only time when being a youngish parent makes life “interesting”. After hours of worst-pain-of-my-life back labor with Toot, I burst into tears after being told I hadn’t dilated further. The nurse who was attending me laughed and said, “Honey, it isn’t a race!” As if the reason I was upset was unrelated to the horrible pain I was experiencing. Rather than ask, she assumed I had unrealistic expectations of the pace of childbirth because I was young looking. When Mr. Baby was born I finally got the satisfaction of answering a patronizingly cooed, “Is this your first?” with “No. My third.”

When I’m not feeling all brave and fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke about it, I look forward to the time when Toot and The Boy will be in school and my age will be completely unexceptional. A time when women can dislike or mistrust me for reasons I’m comfortable with, like being better looking and more interesting.

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