Saturday, June 30, 2007

it's a boy thing

You may have read about our affinity for salvaging things. When Isaac was still pretty little, Mike came home from one of his second-hand adventures with a little foam-filled kid's couch for Isaac's room. It is covered in blue material patterned with baseballs, footballs, basketballs, and baseball, football and basketball players. I didn't really give it much thought at the time, especially since Isaac didn't, though I knew for certain that I'd never actively seek some such thing out and purchase it new.

Lately, he's taken more interest in the drawings of uniformed men passing and swinging and slamdunking.

“'N' dis?” he questions me, pointing at the baseball player.

“Baseball. You know baseball.”

“Bayball,” he says.

“'N' dis?” pointing to the basketball player.

“Basketball. It's the game you play with the hoop,” I tell him, referring to the little Nerf hoop closed into one of his dresser drawers.





“'N' dis?” he demands finally, looking to the padded quarterback.

“Football,” I say, keeping any other commentary to myself.

He looks at me curiously and holds out his right toe. “Foot?”

“Uh-huh. Foot. Ball.”


There's a pause.

“Yeah, me, football?”

“You don't have a football, Iz.”

The brow furrows deeply as if to catch rainwater.

“Yeah, me, football!”

“We'll work on it, Izzy.”

Later that night he was out looking for various essentials with his dad, things like a gallon of scented bubbles, when he apparently again took up his campaign for a football. Inexplicably, he requested a “small, small football!” and, inexplicably, Mike found a bag full of tiny superballs in the shape of footballs.

“He must have been excited,” I said when Mike told me the story.

“He danced,” my husband responded.

My house is now confettied in thumb-sized footballs which can look at first glance like little turds lying about, and in these days of potty training, it's not really what you want to see.

My concern is not that my son may develop an interest in various sports, but rather that his myriad interests will be corralled into only what looks acceptable for a boy.

Isaac adores gardening too. Spends inordinate amounts of time planting and watering with me. Weeds at parks before heading for the slide, steps carefully over seedlings, and rescues cutting from the compost to plant them so they'll grow “tall-tall, up da boon!”

Recently, I put my name down on the mailing list at our local cuttings fair, forgetting about it almost immediately, until a week or so ago when I got the call. It was on my voicemail. An invitation to a fancy hat luncheon at the dump.

How can I, in good conscious, expect my son to continue with an activity that culminates in old women sitting around in straw brimmed numbers topped with feathers and sipping chai? (BTW, I'm inventing here, I didn't actually go to the luncheon so I don't actually know what the old ladies' hats were made of or topped with. I don't want to be associated with these groups any more than I imagine Isaac will.)

Short of the idea to get him a loveseat covered with hoes and spades, I feel kind of hopeless. Like all this is already in motion and way beyond my control. Why do “boy” things seem cool and “girl” things seem...girlie? Why can we even understand what that sentence means?

As for the fancy hat luncheons, it's like when you have someone on your side that you know will bring the cause down.

I ask my two-year-old who's driving his truck.

“Um, a guy,” he says.

“Oh. Do ladies drive it sometimes?”


“How about this truck? Do any ladies drive it?”


“How about your plane? Can a lady drive a plane?”

“No!” he says, impatiently raising his voice. “Guy!”

Show me to the country, the neighborhood, the patch of grass where I can retreat to and rewrite
this script.

Friday, June 29, 2007

play ball

After a mere few innings of watching baseball played on the diamond across the street from the sports center where Mike takes Isaac swimming, Mr Baby has fallen in love with the game he calls “Dough, Bump, Nun.” (First someone doughs the ball, then someone else bumps the ball, and then you have to Nun!!!)

Several times a day he demands I pitch him his squishy orange ball or one of the whiffles that have come over the fence so he can swing himself into a vortex, then run wildly in any direction.

There is a small problem with this affinity for baseball. I am from New York and my husband is from Massachusetts. If people don't know the sincerity of the rivalry, let me tell you that I once attended a game at Yankee stadium with a woman wearing a Boston hat. The only reason we escaped without injury was that she spoke with a British accent and acted confused. On our recent flight to Boston, the flight attendant announced our flying time, the captain's name, and that any Yankee fans on board get off.

My son spent his infanthood in a Boston Red Sox onesie (a gift from my brother- and sister-in-law) with a Yankee bib over it (a gift from my sister – a Mets fan, but she acquiesced.). There is only one known picture of Isaac in the Red Sox get up and its blurry. Color me passive-aggressive.

I think I should win this tug-o-war since until recently, I've watched the Yankees faithfully for a really long time. I remember when Willie Randolph was team captain before he ever thought about standing around holding guys at third base. I know what Phil Rizzuto did before he did commercials for the Money Store. Then there's Mike who's somewhat shaky on the rules.

When Isaac tires of swinging at the air and collecting the whiffle from under the coffee table, he usually resorts to imaginary ball. Something he loved before he ever knew of a bat to bump it with. Imaginary balls are easier to throw, easier to catch. My guy makes a click of his tongue as he swings with perfect timing and his invisible bat makes contact with the invisible ball, sending it far into the seats.

Perhaps Isaac can survive this insurmountable division in his family by suggesting invisible ball be the team we all play for. (Don't forget to click your tongue.) And then maybe we can play imaginary war with invisible bombs. It's a slippery slope, one I'm ready to find myself at the bottom of. It'd be only a matter of time before we'd all tire of that too, and ask to read books.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

you know you're a...

I'm currently fighting hard against the urge to write a “you know you're a parent when” piece.

Still, some days, I desperately need confirmation that out there in the world there are others like me - the days of spelling things out to your partner, the anguished cries from the shower, plastic boat sails imbedded in feet, colorful ducks nipping at ankles, the moments of glancing through the entertainment section and thinking, “What am I not taking advantage of any of these cultural events?...Oh yeah...”

Please, the jobs I have - teacher, writer, mother - are isolating at best. Tell me: Are there more of us who linger in friends' living rooms when picking up our children from playdates, so that we can stare into the frames of the wedding pictures on the mantel, look at the couples in those pictures and imagine how they fell in love: his dimple and clear blue eyes, her soft shoulders and wide laugh, and wonder if they wonder, how they got here?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

do you remember when mom could fix everything?

Isaac and I are playing the front yard when he halts mid-run and stares at the walk.

“Bee,” he says (bee being his generic word for all bugs).

I come look. It's a dead moth being consumed by a swarm of ants. Nice.

“Yeah, baby, it's a bug,” I confirm.

“Down boom,” he next informs me.

“Yup, it looks like it went down boom.”

“Fly away wings?” he inquires.

“I don't think that one's flying anywhere right now, sweetie.”

“Yeah,” he concludes. “Need mama.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

remember me?

I always check the box.

When I sign in to my blog site with username and password, I check off "Remember me." But sadly, these days with yawning gaps between entries, my computer rarely does. "Oh, did you used to write a blog?" it seems to say, spinning its little hourglass at me. "Okay, let's see here..."

On Sunday, with still one more week to go of Isaac's break from preschool and early deadlines for the paper looming thanks to that bloody (literally) fourth of July b.s., I decided there would never be a good time and so I'd just commit now. Commit to writing a blog entry every day for a full week. So there. Yeah. Mmm-hmmm. C'mon, I'm every woman.

No, your refresh button didn't let you down, I'm afraid there were no entries for Sunday or Monday.

I mentioned to just one other person besides my husband that I was planning this ambitious project, and he talked about blogs that use too much filler and spend too much time referring to other blogs. He maintained that a couple well-written essays a week (i.e., my articles for the paper) were enough for any busy, distracted mom.

And yet, I couldn't help but dip into that unconscious belief honed over sooooo many years against my will that I should be able to do it all - all of it - ALL OF IT. As a man, my friend can't quite appreciate the sincerity and fervor with which society has stoked the fires of such ideals, or how, despite all our talk, advances, my midwife's bumpersticker calling all Uppity Women to Unite, the white noise behind being female hasn't changed much in a whole lot of decades.

In fact, it's grown. We've taken over. We now make choices to do it all, snap our own whip.

I know, I was just talking about a dumb blog for godssake. And now we're knee-deep in the women's rights movement and the mommy wars. As usual, there is likely more in the way of connectors going on in my brain than I have time to spell out here.

When I was little, I had a huge fight with my best friend, Patti, over what the first day of the week was. It was the most significant disagreement we had in our eight-year friendship (from age 2-10) . She said Sunday was the first day. I said it was Monday.

Since I'm currently in a review class of childhood mentality, I'd like to propose that Tuesday is now the first day of the week. I'll be writing a blog every day for this week that begins today - Tuesday. And if you don't think Tuesday is the first day of the week, then I just won't share my playdough with you.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

what's in a name?

So there we are, trying to get Isaac to sleep for the night. It's a delicate process that involves a nice exhausting afternoon at the park, a nighttime snack, a long debate about which toothbrush to use, a lot of luck, and the right books. An easy bedtime is the difference between parents who get to enjoy a couple hours of each other's company before collapsing and parents who just collapse. In other words, it's huge.

As the president of PADST (Parents Against Daylight Savings Time), I'd like to say that bedtime is that much harder these days. Not to mention, the routine of bedtime can be mind numbing. We have recently jettisoned our pile of dedicated bedtime books and been testing out new material in an effort to liven things up.

It was time. The tension around whether the duckling will be reunited with his family has long since drained away and so help me, if Corduroy has taken a bath once, he's taken that bath a thousand, freaking times.

It's important in a bedtime book that there not be any flaps to lift, any textures to sit up and feel, any dinosaurs roaring too loudly. We've gone with the sure thing. We've turned to Pooh. Trying to stave off the boredom that will eventually, inevitably come with this new selection of books as well, and being general cute and goofy, Mike plays up the voices. Not known as a man of many accents, my husband does the best he can.

Rabbit, it seems, is from somewhere around Mexico City by way of Moscow. Owl, and, now that I think about it, pretty much all the other occupants of the Hundred Acre Wood minus Eeyore speak in an accent that falls between an Irish brogue and a cockney guy who's just been punched hard in the mouth.

On one particular night recently, I was holding Isaac's hand and Mike was reading along from his odd little UN cast when Eeyore suddenly came out as “Igor.” I shook Isaac's little toddler bed trying to hold in silent laughter. Igor, the depressed donkey, had lost his tail you see, but now Isaac wanted to know what the hell was wrong with Mama and, well, we had to go back to square one on the road to getting him unconscious. I could feel my evening slipping away.

But the Great Story Teller wasn't done.

Peter found Igor's tail hanging as a bell pull outside Owl's house. Yes, that's right, the famous Bear of Very Little Brain? The one with his nose in the honey pots? That one. His name is Peter. Winnie-the-Peter. Suffice to say, that was it for our evening.

When, at well after 9 we left Isaac's room, I cautioned an inquiry: “Peter?? PETER?” “It was dark,” Mike defended. “You're pathetic,” I told him and kissed him goodnight.

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