Dancing around the edges…

My child is 7. He actually pays attention to the things he hears and sees and asks A LOT of questions. Recently we gave up cable TV. We use a Roku box to access a variety of online content, like Netflix and Amazon Prime. One day when he had watched all of the Big Time Rush there was to watch in the history of the internet, we began to surf around looking for something less mindless and I landed on a Discovery Channel show called Mammals, hosted by Sir David Attenborough.

Of course the show had to discuss the mating and reproductive habits of all of the mammals. Oh look, there is a water buffalo giving birth. Look at how that kangaroo’s baby has to crawl up into the pouch when it looks like nothing more than a large maggot.

Mommy, what does mating mean?

Mommy, what does going into heat mean?

Sir David has a lot to answer for. I am wondering if he is available to have the birds and the bees talk with Cooper because we are dancing around the edges of the conversation regularly now.

Yesterday we were on our way to ice skating lessons, and as usual I had NPR on the radio. It was a TED talk broadcast, and it happened to be performed by a Mali woman who was describing the rite of passage she had to endure. As I was driving I was only half paying attention to the radio, but all of a sudden I realized she was about to describe, in detail, female circumcision. CLICK and now we are listening to 92.5 our local independent music station.

Mommy, was that story over? Why did you change the station?

Yes, the story was over.

Don’t lie mommy. It wasn’t over. She was about to have a baby.

Really? What makes you say that?

She was talking about her leg and another woman opening up something and that usually means having a baby.

I think you are right. Hey, what was your favorite animal at the zoo today? Mine was the snow leopard. And the bats. Did you know that bats can eat three times their body weight in insects a night, and that some plants are only pollinated by bats? They wouldn’t exist at all if it were not for bats that feed on the nectar at night. And some bats help plants grow by eating their seeds, and then pooping out the seeds somewhere else in the forest. HA. I said POOP. (An endless supply of facts and statistics and a finely honed sense of what is funny to a 7 year old boy can come in VERY HANDY when trying to change the subject.)

He knows I had a cesarean section to deliver him, and that this involved cutting my belly open to deliver him. Apparently that was the only point of reference he had for interpreting what she was saying, and I am OK WITH THAT RIGHT NOW. He knows that women have eggs inside them that become babies, but he has no idea the mechanics of how that egg becomes a human being. And I AM OK WITH THAT RIGHT NOW.

But I know that it won’t be long before someone has to have The Conversation with him. Someone at school is going to say something, and rather than Cooper running around with a bunch of misinformation in his head about how babies are made, one of his parents is going to have to man up and explain it. I just wish it could wait a little longer. I remember very clearly having this conversation with my mother. I was in 3rd grade. I have no idea how horrifying it was for her to have it. I am sure once she reads this she will let me know. Hi MOM! While I am enjoying having a child who is older and more in charge of himself, I am not at all prepared for him to enter into the phase of life where there are hormones and bodies doing things and all that comes after this conversation.

But it is inevitable. I take seriously my job as his mother to deliver him to this world as a person who is well educated, well trained, respectful and caring. He needs to understand how things work, what is acceptable behavior and what will get him grounded for life even if he is 30 when it happens. So the conversation will happen eventually. I wonder if Sir David has an email address…

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Speaking your truth…

So here’s the thing…I know this young man. His name is Duncan. Duncan McAlpine Sennett to be exact. He has recently garnered himself a great deal of attention, both good and bad, by speaking his truth.

Duncan was recently Bar Mitzvah’d (not sure that is the appropriate tense) and as part of this celebration he had to give a speech on his Torah portion. As I understand it, you don’t get to choose your Torah portion, it is assigned to you based on your birth date. His portion dealt with the marriage of Jacob. Duncan used this opportunity to very maturely, eloquently and bravely state his views on the current state of marriage equality in America. You can see it here.

This video went a little viral. The count on youtube has the views at over 140,000. He has been on MSNBC. The speech as been in articles on Huffington Post and Yahoo, to name a few. It has been featured on websites in Europe. His speech hit a nerve.

Marriage equality is a hot topic. It is an important issue. I am a straight woman who is married to a straight man. But not too long ago in our history I would have been branded a jezebel, a whore, a fallen woman, because I was married once before, and we divorced. That alone would have put me on a path that would have me shunned in many social circles. The idea that I could then go on to get remarried would have been unthinkable.

But we don’t live in the dark ages, or 1950, any longer. I am fortunate that I am no longer limited by outdated and patriarchal rules. But marriage equality doesn’t stop there. There is a large percentage of our population who currently cannot legally get married in the state in which they reside because they want to marry a person of the same gender. I get to live in Massachusetts, the first state to recognize the legal right of two people of the same gender to marry. As far as I am concerned, when two legal, consenting adults want to bind themselves together legally, in front of God and everybody, they should be able to do that. AND they should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as a heterosexual couple.

People will argue with that, for a variety of reasons, and that is OK. We can disagree. People will say that the Bible says this, or it says that, or it doesn’t say this or that. There is a lot of room for discussion, and ultimately you will have missed the whole point of Duncan’s speech if you get bogged down in THAT particular discussion.

The point he stood up for, and I stand with him on, is people deserve equal rights, in the eyes of the law. And when he spoke this truth, there was an amazing outpouring of support and admiration. There was also an amazing outpouring of hate and anger. As someone pointed out, the closer to the truth you get, the more hatred it can engender. But when all is said and done, this is a 13 year old young man who felt so strongly about something that he stood up at an alter and spoke it. I don’t know if he realized exactly what could happen, probably not, and I am not sure how he feels about it now. I know his mother and father and step father (my brother, in full disclosure) are there, supporting and defending him. But it has to be hard. To have put your truth out there, and to have people write hateful, threatening things in return has to make you question if you did the right thing.

Here is what I would have Duncan, and all of the Duncans of the world know: You did the right thing. Never ever ever let the threat of hatred and anger stop you from speaking your truth. I admire your strength of conviction and am proud to know a young man who is so smart and loving. I know good things will come from you being on this planet. Good things have already come from it.

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Needs more twinkle…

first christmas tree 2013

This is our tree as it looked the first time I finished decorating it the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We bought a new fake tree this year, as our previous one had been pre-lit and unfortunately after 7 years it several sections of lights that wouldn’t light. This time we went with a non lit tree, but we decided to get some new lights. Why not a real tree you ask? Because I like to breathe.

RANT: Hi there, people who think incandescent bulbs are the Devil’s handiwork. You are single-handedly RUINING CHRISTMAS. Those new fangled LED lights? HORRIBLE. TERRIBLE. They vibrate. There is a visible vibration to the light. If the entire country has an epileptic seizure all at the same time, we know who to blame.

We bought these lights, with the slightly larger, old fashioned bulbs, but they were sad. I plugged the tree in and it was saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. No twinkle. No shine. No SPARKLE. For two weeks my tree made me feel sad.

Christmas trees are not a Biblical thing. I get that. They were made popular by Queen Victoria and her German husband Albert. I LOVE THEM. I would have a tree in every room if that were practical. I love the ornaments, the lights. I love the way the room glows when all that is on is the tree. So when my tree was sad, I was REALLY SAD.

I was going to see if I could get the white lights I had stuck in a box in the attic, but that meant getting in the attic. Then I was rifling through a bin in the basement sorting through mittens and gloves and found two boxes of lights our friend had given us last year. There was one box of colored lights and one of white. They have slightly larger candle shaped bulbs, but they SPARKLE. I plugged the colored ones in and almost did a dance. Then I spent two hours undecorating and redecorating my tree last night. And it is so much happier. I am so much happier.

christmas tree 2013

And now I will spend a great deal of time searching out, buying and hoarding all of the non LED light strings I can find.

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The one in which I discover the true nature of physical therapists…

My ankle isn’t broken and my rotator cuff does not appear to be torn. But I did manage to badly sprain everything on my right side so my doctor said “I’m sending you to physical therapy.” I said YAY I have never been to physical therapy, although my sister in law is one and she seems nice enough. She HELPS people. This will be helpful. 

This is the little trick no one tells you about. The niceness. It hides a dark, sadistic side that you cannot possibly suspect until it’s too late and they have you on one of their tables, bending you this way and that, and digging their friendly looking fingers into your wounded muscles. 

Sophia. Such a friendly, soft, caring name. She is THIN, can’t weigh more than my 7 year old, and has the build of an elf straight out of the Lord of the Rings movies. But my theory is that physical therapy evolved from the medieval study and practice of torture. They have studied anatomy extensively, and they know EXACTLY where to press to cause the most amount of pain. OK, it helps that you walk in there already in pain. But they know how to maximize it. Sophia has obviously trained with the best. She smiles, she says OK let me try this and then BAM she is pressing down on what is apparently a knotted muscle, which is angry because I caused it a good deal of trauma, and I am hard pressed to remember ANYTHING we were just talking about and have to remember to breathe. “The pain should dissipate in a bit” she says, pressing INTO that knot. Whimper. 

In the end though, IN THE END, you feel better. Your shoulder doesn’t ache as much, and you have a bit more mobility than you had yesterday. So you willingly subject yourself to more of this treatment. You also wonder if bringing a round of donuts and coffee next time might buy you a little mercy…

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Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…

So I am back from the land of perpetual rain. I was in Oregon for 9 whole days, not including travel days, and it rained for 8 of them. And pretty much all day. That’s November in Oregon. The last day I was there was cold but clear. Of course that was the day I decided it would be really fun to hurt myself and make my mother drive me to the urgent care place to get my ankle x-rayed.

I fell down the steps into my parents garage. I misjudged the second to last step, I guess, and turned my ankle hard, and fell on top of a pile of boxes. I think. All I know is I didn’t fall face forward into the cabinets at the foot of the stairs, or directly onto the concrete floor from a foot off the ground. Because nothing was broken. Badly sprained, yes. And I am going to my doctor today to discuss my shoulder because the tendon across the front of my shoulder joint argues with me about whether or not wearing a bra to leave the house is absolutely necessary. (IT IS.)

This is going to slow down my progress in karate. And yoga. It certainly has slowed down my progress between point A and B for quite a bit. It has made me also want to ask WHAT THE HELL ANKLES? This is the third time in about 4 months I have fallen down because my ankles roll faster than a dog being offered belly scratches. It doesn’t matter what I am wearing on my feet. Sneakers, flats, clogs. If a rock manages to find its way under my foot and challenges the stability of my ankle, chances are I am going to fall down.

It is a family trait. My fathers mother, my Grandmother Ella, had the same problem. But I am not interested in spending the next however many years of my life worrying about falling down. I would like to find a solution to this that doesn’t involve never leaving my house again. I like walking. I like being part of the world. Oddly enough I have yet to fall while walking the dogs in the woods. If I was going to trip or lose my balance anywhere, you would think a woods full of roots and uneven surfaces would be it. But no. Walking the dogs on a paved flat road, yes.

I will be seeing my doctor to ask, in addition to “Did I destroy my rotator cuff?” to recommend strategies for strengthening my rebellious, completely untrustworthy ankles or other supporting structure so that maybe I can safely walk across the gravel driveway at the CSA without risk of ruining another pair of favorite pants.

But if he tells me that the solution involves doing burpees I’ll know he is in cahoots with my karate instructor. She likes to sneak cross fit activities in under the guise of “fitness.” Pretty sure she is a black belt in torture too.

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Observations in flight…

People seem in a really big hurry to stand in line at airports. Even when you have a very specific seat assignment, and you are in the 5th boarding group out of 5, people will rush to stand in that line.

Some people get way too dressed up for flying. I get it if you are on your way to a business meeting and won’t have time to change, but other than that, I think high heeled boots and a yellow mini dress are excessive.

You know how you sit there, vaguely paying attention to the safety demonstration and instructions – in the event of a water landing do not follow your normal instincts, which will be to scream hysterically, thrash about and plow past every human being to get to the door, but use the wholly inadequate seat cushion you are sitting on as a floatation device, blahblahblah and they eventually demonstrate how to buckle and unbuckle the seat belt, and you sit there wondering who in the world over the age of 3 doesn’t know how to use a seat belt? I was sitting next to that woman. The one woman who has made it to the age of 50 or so, who apparently has never had to use a seat belt, maybe has never flown before for that matter. She was complaining about how hot it was as we sat on the tarmac, and turned to me to say she was going to ask them to turn the heat off over her, would that make me too cold. “Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. Open the little nozzle above you and it will get better in flight” I responded as non judgmentally as possible. I am not convinced I succeeded. You see, when I got to my seat, on the aisle, I found she and her daughter eating salad. At 9am. They had to be told to “return their tray tables to their upright position” before we took off. So after the seat belt and salad, the heat comment kind of made my brain twitch.

That was the first leg. The second leg involved a very nice elderly couple on their way home from visiting family, and a whole college basketball team in VERY PURPLE sweatsuits. I generally don’t wish to be over 6 feet tall, although having the ability to become temporarily tall would come in handy A LOT in my life, I don’t mind admitting, but when you observe a 6’5″ young man trying to contain all of his legs and arms inside of an economy sized seat on a 737, you tend to be very content being 5’4″.

Now I am in Oregon, visiting the parents, planning things like painting the kitchen ceiling, helping to replace the light fixture in the bathroom, and sorting through things to determine what is precious or not precious in preparation for the day when these items need to find a new home. There has already been much laughing and I may have given my dad another pirate name. He already has had the name Scarbelly, from two different surgeries in his life, but now he is Bread Beard. The pirate who always has a snack for later. Gar.

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It’s all in your perspective…

The world is a noisy place to me. Everything makes a sound it seems, and I am very sensitive to it. It is even noisier when I am in the presence of my child, because sound comes out of his mouth at a pretty constant rate. He is either talking at/with me or his father, at us both, making noise that is the soundtrack to his activities involving his super hero action figures, singing along with some theme song on TV. It is not frenetic, but it is always there. He also is learning and relearning the concept of NOT interrupting. It is a work in progress.

On Friday his school had its annual Halloween party, and I was one of the co chairs. This is a large undertaking that starts at around 10am with preparations, last minute purchases and decorating and end around 9pm. We had a costume contest, a cake walk, a haunted hallway and a variety of games and crafts set up for the kids. 

For the costume contest we invited the mayor and the candidates running for school committee to participate as judges. The election is a week away, so we thought it would be a good time for them to visit the school and meet some of the people who they would be working for. One of the candidates currently sits on the school committee and she originally decided to run because her daughter has the need for special services from the school system. One of the issues her daughter faces is she was non verbal for a long time and is still reading below class level. 

So there I am, as the party is starting at 6pm, dashing about finishing up the last minute things like putting numbers on the chairs for the cake walk (Think musical chairs, only when the music stops, you sit on a chair with a number on it. Then the person running it selects a number from a bowl and the person sitting on that chair wins a cake) and my child, my delicious lovely talking all the time child is following me around, asking me 12000 questions, mostly about my costume which he had not seen until 10 minutes ago. The kid loves a good costume.

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Think Elvis Presley cross with Dame Edna…anyway, he is talking and talking and talking, and I am already exhausted by the day, and need to keep track of numbers as I am writing them down on cards, and I finally turn and say “You need to stop talking to me now.” To which he says OK and runs off with his father. I doubt he gave it a second thought. This school committee member though, had been standing about 8 feet from me, and as I turned I realized she had heard me, and her face looked so sad as she looked at my son. And in that moment I realized what I take for granted in my child, am even annoyed by on almost a daily basis, the talkingtalkingtalking, is the very thing I think she would probably give all the money in the world for in her daughter. 

It is a very interesting experience to have something like this, something so innocuous in our lives, something that we take for granted reflected back to us as something maybe we should take a small moment to appreciate and be grateful for. I am sorry I was short with Cooper, and I am thankful for that nano second in time that helped me see a little more clearly how awesome it is to have a child who expresses himself so enthusiastically.  It’s all in your perspective. 

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