Wherein I try to keep the seams from ripping apart, and fail.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
Henry James

The Boy was riding his scooter, I was pulling the wagon. For nearly a mile the Girl had been screaming. One thing after another, just screaming because life is unfair. The world is totally unfair if you’re six. Or thirty-six. We waited at that terrible light, the one where the roads are shaped like a T, and we need to go from the top of the T across one of the arms to the base. And a man in a rattling POS went to run the red and then thought better of it, stopping with his back wheels on the crosswalk. A woman with her baby and I shared a knowing look from across the street.

Being in the box doesn’t matter to HIM, because all the cars need to turn.

But my son, who just starts going, my Boy needs to go around him, in front of the car like I’ve taught him–so that the car can see him–and is riding his scooter into traffic. STRAIGHT into the oncoming headlights.


I scream, and he hears me, my Boy stops, SOOO close to being a smear in the intersection.

MOVE BACK! You’re blocking the crosswalk.

I yell at the driver. He gives me a little wave and starts backing up without turning around.


The woman (with the baby stroller) yells, two inches from going behind him.


“I’m sorry,” I say, “I didn’t see you, I thought everyone went in front.” I didn’t mean it the way I can see NOW that it appears. I really was just terrified and could only see those headlights coming right for us. They are still there, my son a shadow between them. I am still waiting for the sirens.

“You would have killed us!” She was so angry at me, never looked at the car again. I don’t understand how I would have, since my foot was not on the gas.


I thought maybe now she was talking to the driver, but she was staring at me. I sputtered. I was still in shock. And the driver met my gaze. “You still need to back up,” I said. He sneered at me. It’s the sneer I’ve seen everywhere. On the news, in the paper. It’s the sneer that all men lately seem to be making at every woman. It is the sneer that says, you are worth shit, and at least that other woman knows it. (You can pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. But before the election old men kept telling me “you’re what is wrong with this country,” with that same expression.)

And so I pulled us onto the sidewalk, near my favorite part of our walk, the part where we can look over the bridge into the water and throw leaves to watch them drift down stream, over the little waterfalls.

And I cried.

And my little Boy was scared, and my little Girl was eating her lunch which she is too slow to eat at school, and I couldn’t stop crying. And then I did. Because as I tried to think of my Boy, who kept holding my hand and trying to rub my back, I tried to think of how to explain what was going on, and somehow it made it better.

“I thought you were going to die,” I said. “And I was so afraid.

“That woman was afraid, too. And so she was very mean. We are all so very afraid right now. Every one of us is just terrified.

“Being afraid is not an excuse to be mean to each other. Having someone be mean to me does not mean I should be mean to someone else.

“Right now, especially now, when we are all afraid, we need to be as nice to each other as we can.”

And it was the first time I’ve ever meant one of those crappy Hallmark-card things I’ve said to the kids. And I am trying SO HARD not to be a bitch (which another mom called me last week, for asking her to turn down her music at the park) or an asshole. And I am trying SO HARD to make sure that I was not awful in these situations. But, honestly, I’m so socially challenged that I have no idea. But two moms, calling me these names, in front of their own young children and mine… Please, let’s be nicer to each other.

The Boy just looked at me and said, “are you okay now?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him no.

Geez, I wish he could remember to clean out his backpack

Church has been great for our family. We’re all loving going together, and the kids think it’s fantastic. I have things I want to say about it soon. But…

We’re setting Lev up for the therapist. I’m hoping that she’ll have suggestions for us, and that nothing will be … geez, what do I say here? Unfixable? I think he’s wonderful. But … he gets into trouble at school on a daily basis, he has no friends, he can’t let sentences go unfinished, he rushes through his work… The teacher told me I needed to work on his reading so that he’d be able to get through picture books at the first grade level while he was reading chapter books at home!

So, as I’m trying to explain all of this to the therapist we’re going to see first, I realize that the one thing I’m trying to get through is his ability to remember everything. Because how do I explain how frustrating that is? How do I explain how happy when I realized that wasn’t how Leni is? How much I wanted to kill my friends for promising to do something the following week, because my three-year-old would show up expecting that thing to happen. Of course they didn’t get it, because their child would forget about it within two minutes of it being promised. People would tell me that at the store they could put asked for things on a “wishlist” and prevent meltdowns. For me, it was just putting off the inevitable.

Four months ago there was a substitute who told Lev’s class he would bring in fruit by the foot for each kid if they behaved and finished their work (I know! I’m not super happy about this motivation style, but whatevs). They did. And I would hear about it every week. At least three times. He didn’t sound obsessive, just that he was being reminded of it somehow, the way I sometimes remember that I need to start the laundry while I’m at a friends house or grocery shopping.

And the teacher came back and Lev asked him about it. The teacher and students had no idea what he was talking about. I get the impression he needed to explain it for quite some time. You better believe that teacher brought in candy the next time he subbed. Thank goodness it happened, otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d hear about it for the entirety of the summer and next year.

And this was me. I still remember how I used to bug my aunt (Ah-nt, not Ant) for the $10 she promised me if I’d finish a puzzle she didn’t believe I could finish, but truly just to shut me up while she babysat.

And I don’t think it’s possible to truly explain how awful all this is. Especially because some kid stole his fruit-by-the-foot. And then two girls made fun of him for it the next Monday. And no one did anything until he threatened to punch them at recess. Because he wasn’t allowed to move from where he was. And I sort of get that. I lash out when cornered too.

But we need to help him. Because it’s hard enough to navigate getting older as it is, and he deserve a better map.


Is my kid suffering from anxiety?

I’m having a hard time with my son. My awful neighbor has asked “what’s wrong with him” and now I really just need to accept the fact that his reactions are a bit outside of the norm. He cries a lot. He flips out. He’s a bit of a firecracker. He’s just … sensitive. Seriously I really just need to do something.

But of course it’s my fault. Because it is, right, always the mother’s fault. And maybe it is, because I am ACOA and don’t know how to do this. I don’t know what normal parenting looks like. And I need to figure that out.

It’s a vicious cycle. I know he’s worse when he doesn’t get enough attention from me, but when he’s like this I really don’t want to be around him. Which is unfair, since I’m the adult. But I need space. And the thing with having kids is that you never get space again. So in working with him I really need to work with me: force myself to do the things I don’t want to do. Like play with a kid who has been screaming at me and telling me how much he hates me and throwing rocks at cars and telling me he’s “fine!” I need to accept that it’s just what needs to happen.

So I’m reading this book, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias, and hoping it will help. Anyone have any other ideas? I could seriously use something other than my nosey neighbor telling me to make my seven year old nap.

Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

I stood up for my son today. It was hard, and embarrassing, but I still did it. And in the end it felt good and right and proper. It was the school’s open house night. And we saw in his classroom that there was a “calm down castle” which is just plain awesome. It’s a cardboard box that reminds me basically of the solitary confinement in The Bridge over the River Kwai or The Great Escape or something like that. But, it really was great, it had things to touch and focus on. And we’ll probably make it for ourselves.

So Levi was having a difficult time later on in the evening, it was well past bedtime and it was a long day with swim class and no real downtime. And a dad from his class turned to his son and said “looks like that boy over there needs a calm down castle.” Yes, okay, that’s right. The boy looked up and said, “who Levi?” “Yeah, Levi.”

And this was totally unfair. Yes, my son needed some way to calm down. But he has a difficult time sometimes in his class. He is an emotional kid. And we all work on it. We use meditation and talk about saying “yes” to “no.” And no one tries harder than Lev.

And the last thing he needed was some dad reinforcing the idea to his son that there’s something wrong with him. And so I told him. I told him it had been a long day and we just moved, and the last thing he needed was someone to point out that he needed a calm down castle to one of his classmates.

And he apologized, which I thought was pretty big of him.

I am all for pointing out the actions of others as teachable moments, ACTIONS. Not feelings, or dress, or appearance or anything else but actions. And only with strangers, unless it’s a class or something, and in such a way that no one hears that’s involved with the person. I overstepped this the last time I did it, thinking they group had passed us by, which was embarrassing, but … it was still an action, a kid not sharing. And I did it to point out, “when you are not taking turns all the time, this is what it feels like to be on the other side of that.” I got called out, but seriously, I wasn’t trying to be loud enough to overheard.

And when the kids notice someone having a difficult time I do my best to tell them we all have tough times. And I want everyone to cut my kids some slack. At least when it comes to being able to controlling emotions.

Am I wrong? I would love to “fix” my kid to make it easier on him, but I love him just the way he is. Being emotional is so hard. And it will only get worse as life goes on. He didn’t hear what the dad said, but what if that boy went into class tomorrow and told Levi what his dad said? What if he passed it on to his little friends?

I know it’s just that it reminds me of all my friends talking when I was little and no longer being able to come to my house because my dad drank too much at my party. And it may have been fair for them not to be allowed at my house, but their parents talked so much about my family in front of them. There were so many secrets, so many whispers, and so much talking about things that kids just don’t understand the true meaning of. And none of it was necessary. You do not ever need to gossip in front of your kids.

… I totally made it so they’ll gossip about what a blowhard I am, didn’t I? Made it even worse?

Can I just take my two little loves and live in the woods and never take them around people again?

It’s nice when the ER doc compliments your child for being awesome.

Spent the evening in the ER with Levi. He has never been around coffee tables, so of course when he saw one in the home we will close on tomorrow, he decided to try to put his head through it. I have to say that we are so lucky to live in a great place where emergency care is available so easily and relatively quickly.

I swear I could see his skull…

I don’t actually think that he was up to nefarious things, I think he just tripped on the rug, but man, it was hard to not know how he fell.

In which I relive my childhood, when no one liked me, through my kid, who doesn’t give a rip. Oh, and RANT. A lot.

So, Thursday I find out I have a precancerous condition. I have spent a great deal of time convincing myself that precancerous does not equal cancerous. Important to know, but on Thursday I was really just flipping out.

You also need to know that I have lost about 25 pounds since Christmas because it hurts to eat. And that sort of sucks. As much as I need to lose weight, it really sort of sucks to be losing weight not on purpose.

And scary.

And I have talked about this with the moms I see all the time, partly for support from those I love, and partly to get the ones I don’t love (okay, one) to stop mentioning how awesome I look, because y’know, I’d really just not be reminded every single day that something is going on and up until Thursday no one really knew what. In other words, please just shut up about my weight loss.

And Thursday was just hard for this reason. I’m imagining not living to see my kids grow up. Which, while possible, is really no more likely than any other person in my neighborhood. It did not feel like that on Thursday. On Thursday, it felt like I might have 5 years to live, if I were lucky.

Enter that One I spoke of up above, y’know, two paragraphs ago. Let’s call her Ruby. No offense to people named Ruby.

So, Ruby comes in and starts talking about how she was working on losing weight, because I’ve inspired her. My fucking precancerous illness has INSPIRED her to lose weight. My sitting on my ass and not eating has INSPIRED her. To what? Get her own illness? To go to the ER for stomach pain at 3 AM, dragging two kids along in tears and pyjamas?

So now I’m scared and more than a little miffed. I also, as most days recently, am hurting. Because I hurt almost constantly. It’s better than it had been, but it’s still there.

But not a good mood.

And it’s time to leave. And Leveret wants to bring this disgusting dog bowl home that he found. But our rule is that we don’t bring anything that isn’t ours home from the park (thank goodness, because it was so gross). But he’s not having any of it. And Ruby’s annoying son, Ian, grabs it from where Lev placed it and starts running around. He’s 4. So, yes, that’s not his fault. Except that I’ve been annoyed for some time at the lack of respect his mother is instilling in him. But I try REALLY hard not to judge other people in their parenting. REALLY hard. But it’s especially hard when the kid is hitting OTHER PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS and MY KIDS without being told not to by his mom. Especially when, if we call it to her attention, she tells us that that’s how they play at home or denies that it happens, or asks him and believes HIM over ADULTS. And, so, I think it’s my right to not want to play with your kid if you’re not going to tell him not to hit.

I could go on and on about the things that annoy me about this woman. She has no respect for herself, she ends every suggestion to her kid with “okay?” As in, “don’t hit the little girl with your stick, okay?” … okay, I already am going on and on… boring!

Anyway. Thursday. Bad day. And Lev is now flipping out. Because this stupid bowl was GOLD. It was AWESOME! It was made of fucking TIN! And had been at the PARK! And… well you could put WATER IN IT! Who knows why this thing was so awesome. But it was. And I wasn’t letting him take it home, and then someone else came and basically “Na na na naanaa!ed” all over it. So I picked him up and was hugging him while we walked out of the gate and Ruby comes running out the gate and yells “Wait, wait, I have a penny! Do you want the penny?” And it’s like, no. He doesn’t want the penny, or maybe he does, but you know what? He’s flipping out and we don’t reward that behavior. I don’t stop you from giving your kid a cookie after he beats the shit out of mine, so don’t come interrupting me when I’m trying to take care of mine.

And I lost it. I fully accept that fact that I was out of line, but, well, it was a bad day. And I should have better control, but it’s taking a long time to get that. And I don’t have it yet. “Stop! I do not want this behavior, I am trying to get him to stop it, please stop rewarding him for it!” I yelled. And I shouldn’t have, but I’ve had enough of this crap. And she told it was the first time she’d done it…which is true. For that day.

And I have felt TERRIBLE since then. I am not a religious woman, but I have basically been praying since Thursday to be forgiven for this and to not have cancer. Equally. Because this isn’t me. I don’t like to yell at people.

But I’m also ashamed and couldn’t bring myself to say anything about it. And I kept trying. But I’m  a child of an alcoholic. We ignore the problem. We feel ashamed and keep the secret. And I’d say hi. And I’d wave, but I wouldn’t talk.

And today we went to this crappy little sand park (and brought half of it back home with us), and no one ever goes there and we never go there and yet somehow, out of the 12 families normally at the big park and out of the 3 that showed up at the damn little park, we both happen to be there. And her kid uses a giant shovel to throw sand at mine. And then says, “I’m gonna throw sand at YOU!!!!” And gears up to do it. I wait. And then he says it again and steps much closer. And so I say “Ian, please don’t throw sand at my boy.” Because honestly, it’s better to prevent than take care of fucking sand-in-the-eyes-itis. God I hate that.

And here she comes over. And I try to apologize, to tell her it had been a bad day and she interrupts me and doesn’t let me talk. And she tells me not to talk to her or her kid anymore. Not to tell him what to do. To tell her first. Because she has been nothing but nice to me. She has talked to people that don’t want to invite my boy to their parties and convinced them to do it.

And suddenly I don’t care anymore. I think she’s a moron. But who is lying to me about liking my kid? Who was forced to invite my kid? I think that’s terrible! No one should need to have my kid over if they don’t want him. Especially for a party. I remember so many bad experiences that could have been prevented if people weren’t forced to invite me over for their party.

And here I come to rant. And see if anyone else has any ideas. I don’t care about saving this relationship, I think I can keep it together whenever I see her. But seriously I’m in tears thinking about how someone doesn’t like my kid or me and I might be forcing myself upon them. And I feel like crap. It isn’t that I think everyone should like us, we’re hard to like. But you shouldn’t lie about it.

Of course, everyone else thinks she was lying, but why would you just make up that shit?

Boring through the rings of the universe

ImageI am watching my five-year old snap legos together. I have been allowed to help, to find the needed pieces. He has told me I need to stop kissing him; “It makes me all sweaty.” These hands so adeptly maneuver between spires: I never expected to call these chubby fingers “nimble.” He does a double take and sees one piece is just slightly out of position. This boy. Where did he come from?

I still remember teeny fingers grabbing at mine, missing. Waving a rattle around to hit the broad side of the laundry basket. Missing.

That smile is still slow to come. Those eyes still stare for a million years before he answers with a grin, or a word. There’s still the occasional drool, reminding us that he’s got some something with a weird name. Motor planning, deficiency. Nothing you’d notice.

Memories flood back with every smell, every movement, every time he looks at me. Is this what it is to be a mother, to continually hold four or five, or ten, memories for every second? I relate this day to a day he was a baby, to a day he was a toddler, to when I was a child, to the moment he was born. Blink of an eye and I have traversed decades, back and forth across the last few years most of all.

I rub his back. I keep from kissing him, though it’s a struggle. I want to convince myself that this day is now; separate it from the others I can see with the same clarity. Give it prominence, allow it to be the focus, knowing it will come again, the connection to this day, years from now, when he shows me his next marvelous, miraculous creation and I barely remember the miracle in front of me.