Archive for the jools (also a beloved child) Category

girls, girls, girls

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child) on January 28, 2010 by wrekehavoc

mommy’s six-year-old heartbreaker…

we’ve been horribly remiss in setting up playdates for jools for awhile now. part of this stems from the fact that our house has been a complete disaster from the ceiling caving in; but part of this has just been probably laziness on my part. see, back in my day (when dinos roamed the earth), you just went and knocked on a neighbor’s door to see whether they wanted to come out and play. sadly, there are not a ton of people jools’ age or temperament nearby, so the boy usually ends up home playing wii or trying to go and play with BC’s friends (which seldom ends well.)

this past weekend, i decided to get of f my ass and be proactive. as the weather was not going to be bone-freezing, i figured i would take jools, BC, and any friends they could find over to a nearby park to play for an hour or two. first, i called up jools’ main squeeze, mo. mo and jools were in the same kindergarten class last year and became fast friends. mo is lively, sweet, and absolutely adorable. best of all, she is a great friend to him. (once, mo tried to talk jools out of a meltdown he had at soccer practice when the other boys weren’t sharing the ball.  if anyone was going to reach him, it was her.) i suspect when they are teens that jools will be lucky if mo is still talking to him, as she is going to be an absolute knockout when she’s older. in the meantime, though, both mo and jools have shared with their respective parents that they are going to get married when they grow up. it’s heart-meltingly sweet.

unfortunately, mo’s mom wasn’t answering the phone; and thanks to the short timeframe we had, i didn’t leave a message. instead, i asked him which friend i should call next, and he picked his newest best friend, a cute school newcomer named L. the previous evening at the school ice cream social, jools and L sat together at a table inhaling a few bowls of ice cream. when they were done, jools was a gentleman and took her bowls as well as his to the trash while BS and i looked on in shock. (i can barely get this kid to bring his dishes to the dishwasher some days without nagging him two or three times.) the two of them looked like they were on a date; it was a bit surreal.

i called L’s mom. sadly, they had plans for that saturday, but could jools come over and play monday after school? sure, i replied, wondering if i would be able to get the boy to do his homework once he came home. so jools was booked for another day, but we still had that afternoon to think about.

who to call next? jools had no hesitation. call P, mom! he announced. i figured if things didn’t work out with P, we were going to have to punt for the day. P, you should know, was also in jools’ kindergarten class. a bright and precocious little girl, P likes to sit on the schoolbus with BC, who is four grades ahead of her. BC, being good-natured, often lets this happen, even though there are kids her own age she’d rather be joining on the bus. last year, this worked to my parental advantage, as P would report on all of jools’ antics, good and bad, at school… which BC of course would then share with me. P kept me better informed than the teacher did. i missed that this year, now that P and jools were in different classes.

so i called P. it’s tax season, so i won’t be seeing her accountant mom for probably a few months, i suspect. but P’s dad gladly let her join us. so i picked up P and off we went to the park, where P and jools played beautifully together (my favorite moment: they decided they were on aircraft in an airfight: he was going to be luke skywalker, she was going to be hermione) while BC ended up practing her mother’s helper skills by befriending a toddler and her mom, then a preschooler and his mom. (she is still the baby and toddler whisperer, i swear. i wish i had her skills with young children. too late for me, of course.) afterwards, i took them for ice cream (it would have been hot chocolate, but all three kids said that dunkin donuts’ hot chocolate was awful, and when a kid passes up hot chocolate, you know it must not be very good) and then returned P home.

jools apparently prefers hanging with the girls in his world than with the boys for the most part, save for a few of the guys. i’m not entirely sure why this is, but at this age, i guess i’m glad he’s playing with anybody that isn’t in a video game. and i must say, the girls he has as friends are really all lovely people, so i’m just glad he has found some kindred spirits who love to play tag, pretend they are fighting evil-doers, and simply giggle a lot.

of course, this comes at a price. on saturday night as we drove to a restaurant, jools was troubled. what am i gonna do? he mused out loud, shaking his head sorrowfully.

what’s the matter, honey? i asked, perplexed.

well, Mo is my girlfriend, and she’s gonna be mad at me because i played with P today and have a playdate with L on Monday.

i thought for a second. you know, honey, it’s okay to play with other friends, and you don’t really have to report about your playdates to Mo anyway if you don’t want to.

the boy looked alarmed. but mom, he protested, i’m her boyfriend. and boyfriends have to tell the truth to their girlfriends. i have to tell her!

BS, who was driving the car, looked at me for a second, probably mirroring the same confused expression that i offered back to him.

is this boy six or 16?

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pablo picasso

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child), music on January 12, 2010 by wrekehavoc

pablo picasso was never called an asshole.

i have two children: one, BC, who will tell me anything and everything about her day from a minute-by-minute perspective; and jools, who may occasionally share a nugget or two beyond my day went okay if the sky is a certain shade of blue, the moon is in the seventh house, and jupiter might be somehow aligning with mars. i usually get my best info from jools while walking home from the school bus in the afternoon if he hasn’t decided to run ahead with other children or hang back, picking up sticks or plodding along with our neighbor’s mellow, slow-trudging lab.

it was one of those wonderful days when i just had to pick the boy up from the bus and he held my hand the whole way home. (well, almost. sometimes, the snow on the side of the road is too hard to resist.) as usual, i asked him about his day; whether classes went well, whether this one bully continued to torture him by telling him he had a small head, that sort of thing. he had had art that day; and i asked how that went.

well, he mused, i have decided that i am not going to get upset anymore whenever art teacher tells me that my work is scribble-scrabble. i’m going to like my work anyway.

hold the phone?

did art teacher actually tell you your work was ‘scribble scrabble’? in those words?

yes, the boy replied. he doesn’t like when people color outside the lines.

i have almost had enough of this art teacher. BC, who is creative and imaginative as the next kid, who normally LOVES art, especially when she has had art teacher #2, used to come home in tears last year because of this teacher. he would berate her for not drawing the way he wanted people to draw. he would criticize her every work. mom, she once told me, he only likes you and your work if you are an actual talented artist. i’m not.

i still remember his one line comment on her report card. and i quote: BC seems to like art.

yeah, well she did before she had you as a teacher.

so now, while BC has the nice art teacher, jools is stuck with the less-than-supportive art teacher.  and he has been taking it on the chin for a few months now, trying his best.

i think this art teacher might be laboring under the impression that he is preparing these children for the sorbonne or something.  maybe my thinking is a little too basic, but i like to think that an art teacher’s job is to try to get kids excited about art — to see art all around them, to provide them another way to communicate to the world their vision of what they see and how they feel. absolutely, there are technical ideas that they need to convey about colors and perspective and such.

but not every kid will be pablo picasso.

it doesn’t mean you have to make that child feel like an asshole.


world aids day 2009

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), CVID, FAMILY, health, jools (also a beloved child), miracles of science, political animal on December 1, 2009 by wrekehavoc

(no awful ’80s earworms today. promise.)

today is world AIDS day, a day started in 1988 to bring awareness and education to the plight of those living with HIV and AIDS. years ago, when i worked at the US Dept of Education, i had the privilege of putting together two years’ worth of WORLD AIDS Day commemorations plus helping to develop training materials for fellow employees so that they would understand how to deal with employees who were HIV+/AIDS patients. (in short: treat them as you would want to be treated. you won’t catch the disease from working with people.) i was proud to volunteer the Department’s building to house part of the AIDS Quilt, which was at the time laid out on the National Mall for all to see.  while sadly, the quilt has gotten larger, we seem to be learning more about slowing the disease and helping those afflicted live longer.

i know people who have died of complications from AIDS. i also know people who are living with HIV/AIDS.

yesterday, i was talking with my kids about AIDS, which is not easy to do when the kids are 10 and 6. i explained that it stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. BC looked at me a little scared. don’t you have immunodeficiency, mom?

in fact, when i was first diagnosed with CVID, some people thought i had AIDS. i do, honey, i replied, but that’s different from AIDS. the A in AIDS means “acquired” which means doing something to get the virus. i didn’t do anything to get this immunodeficiency; i just was born with these particular genes. and you can’t catch it from me unless you have the same genes, too.

hellboy wasn’t getting this, really, but girlfriend was. and she continued. so what do you have to do to get AIDS? she asked.

well, basically, you can get it from other people’s body fluids.

she crushed up her nose. you mean, like pee?

once again, i am the one with the fun topical conversations, not BS.   well, things like blood, for example. before they knew more about HIV, they didn’t know much about the blood supply, so people who were hemophiliacs who got transfusions sadly ended up dying of AIDS.

what are hemophiliacs?

people whose blood doesn’t have the stuff in it to help them stop bleeding. a little cut could kill a hemophiliac if not treated properly.

girlfriend was connecting dots again. you mean, like when you had no platelets and were bruising? she looked sad.

that’s a different problem, and i’m better now. but sort of. (time to divert the attention in order to get her away from the thought of my demise.) anyway, people who share needles when they shoot up their drugs can give it to each other. so don’t do drugs and that’s one problem solved.

ewww! who would do that!!!! she exclaimed.

not anyone with any sense, i said. anyway, another way of getting HIV is… i looked over at the boy, who was probably busy thinking about star wars and continued cautiously…through sex.

girlfriend’s eyes now got HUGE.

we can talk about that part away from your brother right now since i don’t think he understands this the way you do. but know that there are things you can do to keep yourself as healthy as you can be.

girlfriend seemed satisfied with that answer, only stopping to note: mommy, isn’t that guy on EastEnders a guy with AIDS? (we’re so far behind in our episodes here in the US that Mark Fowler is still alive.)

yes, honey. and he still is living like everyone else on the show.

i got a nod from her, and then we moved on.

it’s never easy talking with your kids about AIDS, but i figure if i start early at ages when they can understand and in words that they can comprehend, maybe i’ll help them out somewhere down the road.

then again, maybe somewhere down the road, there will be a cure for this scourge and moms won’t have to have these sorts of conversations.

san francisco (be sure to wear flowers in your hair) : part one

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child), music on October 7, 2009 by wrekehavoc

it was 1998 when i last went anywhere just as me, myself, and i, rather than as somebody’s wife or mother. this idea gnawed at my soul for a long, long time, until finally, my best bud murph and i figured out that this would be the year we would go away somewhere. since she had moved away, we never got to spend much time together anyway, so why not? besides, murph had some frequent flyer credits to kill, so as long as we selected a place where her plane would take her, we were golden.

we settled on san francisco. san francisco is home to many, many things, some less printable than others.  for our purposes, it would be home to the free hardly strictly bluegrass festival in golden gate park. now many of you faithful readers (and i know you are out there, you people besides my dad) are familiar with the fact that i am not exactly the biggest country fan on the face of the earth. this, as we all know, is true. however, i have an appreciation for classics, like emmylou harris, who, i think displays a startling beauty in her work. i also took note of the hardly strictly part of the title. i saw names i adored on the list of performers, like aimee mann and nick lowe. and, in short, i was sold. besides, one of my other dearest friends, m2k, lives there, a lucky strike extra indeed.

now, you might think that that would be that, and i could simply say i got on a plane and off i’d go. but nothing in my life ever goes quite like that. for starters, i am a bit frightened of flying, a la isadora wing. sure, i have flown plenty in my life; i’ve been overseas and i was a regular in the 80s on people express to florida. but somehow, since i’ve become a parent, flying freaks me out. i guess the thought of potentially not being there to see my kids grow up makes me freeze. but i have also learned in life that i have to step up to the plate and just face the things or people i fear and get past them.

so i do.

i was slated to leave on friday, october 2 at 5:15 in order to catch a plane at 6:40 a.m. i packed during the week during fleeting free minutes. by wednesday, i was nearly ready, putting final touches together while BS and jools were out at a cub scout meeting in the evening. they returned home late, 9ish, so i stopped my packing and put jools to bed. then, as he was standing by the sink, rehashing the evening’s events to me while drinking a glass of water, BS suddenly grabbed his throat, then his side, then toppled to the ground, hitting his head on the hard kitchen tile floor. i ran over to him immediately, patting his cheeks and calling his name. no one was home. then, his eyes opened and went back into his head. this is not really happening, i thought. (you bet your life it is, a little voice sang.)

i wedged BS on his side against the dishwasher, jumped up and ran to the phone. only too bad for me (as my heroine junie b would say), that glass of water BS had been holding had spilled all over the floor. i slid and fell on my ass. that hard tile floor contact seared along my legs and backside, but as my ass has plenty of cushion on it, i knew the floor had probably hurt BS’s head a lot more, so i struggled up and grabbed the phone, dialed 911, and slid back to BS, cradling his head in my arm while keeping him on his side.

911 operators, for those of you who have never spoken with them, are rather tough cookies. calm down now, ma’am the lady kept saying to me. i am not one of those people who likes to be told to calm down; it makes me more frantic. but i looked at my husband’s face and knew i had to keep myself together. so i described what had happened, where we were, that sort of thing. as i looked at him, my husband’s eyes opened again, and this time, i saw a glimmer of recognition. i’m fine, he said to me, over and over. i’m fine. i had the feeling that he did not want to trouble the EMTs; that’s the sort of guy he is.

too bad, i thought. i don’t take direction from people who have been unconscious in the past five minutes. the EMTs are coming.

he looked like he was coming to for good; and when i heard the firetruck, i ran to the door to open it, then ran back to my husband. EMTs and firefighters filed in. one took me aside while several hung with BS, asking him all the usual questions to ensure his noggin was still in working order. after lots of questions, the EMTs decided that he probably somehow messed with his vagus nerve and gave himself a brain freeze to remember (or not). he was probably ok for now. fabulous.

i spent the night watching him sleep, as i was afraid whether he’d have a problem again due to whatever happened or perhaps even a concussion from whacking his head on the floor.

the next day, i tried to calm down and finish packing. by the evening, though, i was terrified of the impending flight. i was upset by the idea of leaving my formerly unconscious spouse alone, especially with two kids to look after. in short, i was afraid. i went to bed that night, unable to sleep.

now everyone occasionally hears things that go bump in the night. and, as little miss non-sleeper 2009, i heard two knocks in the night, pounding sounds like when water goes through the upstairs pipes. curious, i thought to myself: no one is running the tub. but i sat there, and i pondered. that is, until i heard the sound to end all sounds.

BOOM!

at around 3 am, a thunderous noise literally pushed my husband and i up into the air (it seemed.) ohmyG-d, ohmyG-d, ohmyG-D! was all i could mutter as i ran down the stairs to find out what the hell had happened. i didn’t have to run far. the ceiling of the living room, AKA the room beneath my bedroom, had fallen. the 60 year old plaster and drywall concoction had finally breathed its last and decided to fall atop a table the kids use to do crafts and play games on. amazingly, all of the toys that were underneath the heavy ceiling were relatively undamaged, though the ceiling did rip a hole in my pullout couch. but no one was injured. (after all, no one else was awake save for insane jane moi.) i checked on the kids, who had no idea what the hell had happened.

and then, i proceeded to stay awake and fret. after all, i had to wake up at 4:15 in order to get myself together for my 5:15 cab. how the hell can i leave you? i shrieked at BS. this is like a sign from G-d — i should not be going anywhere!!! BS told me i should get on that plane and not worry about signs — i needed to go and besides, murph would be very upset with me if i blew her off.

by this point, BC was up for the duration. in between telling me what i needed to wear (you’ll be cold if you don’t wear this jacket, she told me, handing me a windbreaker. she was right, incidentally. glad i listened to the 60 year old in the 10 year old suit.), girlfriend was crying her eyes out. don’t gooooooooooooooo, mommy!!!! oh, i didn’t want to. i really didn’t want to.

but i got in that cab, blew a kiss to the little girl who was sobbing at the window, and was off to the airport.

once there, i stood outside northwest airlines’ entrance. and i sobbed. i called BS. i don’t want to go, i cried.  what kind of wife and mother leaves her family after these things have happened?

BS, who by this time was probably one step away from a one-way trip to whothehellami land, very calmly uttered: just GO!

so i did.

guilty pleasure monday: let’s hear it for the boy (deniece williams)

Posted in FAMILY, guilty pleasure monday!, jools (also a beloved child), music on September 21, 2009 by wrekehavoc

because he’s a hellboy, but he’s OUR hellboy!

i remember when i was a young mom with a little girl who looked like a precious moments figurine and who behaved pretty damn well, no matter what situation.  i attributed it all to our complete preparation: crayons? check. distracting toys? check. never-ending stash of cheerios? check! i read my books and i was on top of things. but of course, all of her model behavior was simply because we were such awesome parents.

of course.

anyway, BC was about 18 months old when we took a trip to visit my dear friend wah and her family in wisconsin.  wah and i have been friends since we were teenagers; i love the fact that we have been friends so long, we don’t need to sugarcoat anything. this is a girl who will tell you that your butt looks big in that outfit. of course, she will also give you ideas about something else to wear. no malice, just truth with a dose of warmth.

for this and for so many other reasons, i love this chick with all my heart.

anyway, we went to visit wah’s family on two occasions and had a great time with them. but i still remember the first trip. we visited a noodles and co for dinner — my first — and sat down, our family and hers. wah has two wonderful boys, and at the time, i think they were probably about 2 and 4, though i could be wildly wrong. we sat down to wait to be served. i say we, but i mean BS, BC, and me. BC was perched daintily on her booster seat, coloring with crayons and smiling like a little angel girl.  cue smugness here: my, but once again, aren’t we such awesome parents?

wah’s boys, on the other hand, were happily racing around the table, playfully shouting, and basically, not sitting still. i must have looked over with that face with which i am now so familiar — the why can’t you control your child face. the i’m a superior parent face. i. can. make. my. child. sit. still. i. do. it. with. sheer. will. and preparation. why can’t you?

wah caught me. she shook her head, and she said words i never forgot:

wait til you have a boy.

…………………………………………………

fast forward a few years. i do have a boy; and while he doesn’t run around in restaurants, i can see the lesson she was trying to teach me: different children are built differently. you don’t have to be a piaget or steiner devotee to know this: you need only be a parent who is wise to the ways of her kids. each child is wired differently, and it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you’ve read up on child development or whether you go with your gut. the truth is, different children require different approaches.

and different children should be appreciated for the gifts they are.

so today, here’s one for my boy.  my energetic, spirited, rockin’ little jools.

my beautiful boy.

guilty pleasure monday: frank and ava (suzanne vega)

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), FAMILY, guilty pleasure monday!, jools (also a beloved child), music on August 17, 2009 by wrekehavoc

frank and ava. embedding is borked, so you have to click here to hear it. bork bork bork.

you know those toys you loved as a child and then tired of? those toys are like the artists you enjoyed in your youth. you still love listening to their hits (or classic albums, if they weren’t exactly a top 40 act) — but have you given them a listen lately? sure, some of them will not be producing great stuff, but you might be surprised at the ones who are.

i feel this way about suzanne vega.

suzanne vega has produced consistently engaging works. she’s so much more than luka (or tom’s diner, which i can’t stand in the smashed-up DNA version) and thank Dog for that. her voice is so clear, so evocative, kind of like a female lou reed but one who actually can sing (with some apologies to reed, who probably could care less.) i cannot understand why she is not more celebrated in the world when she creates the kind of music in league with heavies like aimee mann (at whose altar i worship daily.) some of the imagery in selections from songs in red and grey, an album that is a morose yet wistful product of her divorce, is riveting: she explains to her child:

Daddy’s a dark riddle; Mama’s head’s full of bees. You are my little kite, carried away in the wayward breeze.

i was glad that her next release, beauty & crime, moved away from that topic. frank and ava, she once noted, is the story of a couple who can’t live together and who can’t live apart. in the end, like the real frank and ava, they end their relationship and never see each other again, though they never forget each other. it is a song with an incredible hook; i’m surprised it wasn’t snapped up for use in a movie or starbucks or SOMEWHERE.

we love this song. my little cherubs sing knowingly it’s not enough to be in love. i wonder whether they will really understand that later on in life. i guess i’ll have to content myself with a different image for now: the image of BC, who, in the proud tradition of her grandmother, mangles the lyrics to the song. unintentionally. for girlfriend, the song starts out this way:

on the way to the bidet is where the trouble used to start.

(well, for people of a certain age, this could be a problem, right?)

anyway, maybe suzanne vega doesn’t light your lucky as she does mine (musically speaking), but perhaps you should check out someone you liked years ago. their latest stuff may not put them in heavy rotation on the radio (especially if you live in radio wasteland as i do), but it might merit heavy rotation on an mp3 player near you.

peace train

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child), political animal on July 1, 2009 by wrekehavoc

both BC and hellboy have started camp this week. so far, the only casualty involved would be hellboy’s swim trunks and rash guard, which he lost the very first day and which are not present in any of the lost and found bins. i’ll chalk it up to his inexperience and try to not fret, considering he was growing out of that set anyway.

hellboy lucked out. his best girlfriend from kindergarten, M, is in his group at camp. on the first day, i hid behind a tree, stalker-helicopter mom that i am, watching the group get organized. hellboy had a deathgrip on M’s hand, which another little girl didn’t like very much. the other little girl, who i found out later was M’s friend from preschool, was very much interested in tearing this couple asunder. ultimately, though, they’ve all apparently settled their differences. besides, hellboy has made friends with one very nice-sounding little boy and another little boy, who curiously started out their friendship by kicking hellboy in the nuts while in the post-pool shower portion of the day. (i have had friendships start in even odder ways, so i guess i will take a deep breath and see where this one goes.)

madame, as is typical, knew no one in her group when she started. [how wonderful for the moms (and dads!) who get themselves organized enough in january to get their kids together with other children at camp. this was not a year like that in this house.] fortunately, you could drop BC in a crowd of millions and she would make a life-long friend (if not several) by day’s end. (this of course would be thanks to my gene pool contributions.) so i don’t usually worry about BC in new situations. she goes through the same motions i do — she frets that she knows no one, then she just finds someone who looks like they could do with a friend, and voila! instant social scene.

this year, BC has already made her friend for the session. per usual, i asked BC which local school her new friend A is from. mommy, she replied, A is from saudi arabia. we have lots and lots of people from all over the world in these here parts, so i figured, sure, she’s from there, but where does she live now?

she lives in saudi arabia, girlfriend replied, getting irritated. her family is here for the summer and they sent her to camp.

alrighty. well, that’s got to be interesting, huh? has she told you anything about saudi arabia? i asked.

yes, she was born in philadelphia, but her family is from saudi arabia. that makes her american because she was born here, right?

i replied, yep. how lovely — you might make a new penpal, i replied, hopefully. where is this going?

she’s muslim. i helped her out today and told her that she shouldn’t eat the pepperoni on the pizza they gave us for lunch. she can’t eat pork, either, but i don’t think she knew what pepperoni was. so i helped her. i remembered DiDi (BC’s beloved friend from daycare, who is really named kareem and who is apparently still the man she wants to marry) can’t eat pork because he’s muslim. so i figured she couldn’t, either.

i scratched my head a little. my parents never had to navigate these sorts of situations. well, that’s a mitzvah that you helped her keep with her beliefs, honey. and besides, her beliefs aren’t that much different than yours are. does she know you’re jewish?

sure, BC replied, i told her. but she doesn’t know what jewish means.

should i chalk it up to youth? should i chalk it up to purposeful omission? i don’t know. but i believe that peace happens, one person at a time. i have to be positive and hopeful and not make assumptions, not jump to any stupid or misguided conclusions. because peace no longer just starts with me.

it starts with my kids.