Playground Uprising

Grunts and Grimaces
January 31, 2007, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Children, parenting


Charlie, who over the last five weeks has mastered the Zen art of just being, meaning he has been perfectly content to observe his own inner world and workings, has broken free. And it all happened in the package of a grimace. It is as if all of a sudden he has decided that just maybe these spastic family members that invade his sleep just might be worthy of interaction, I have been told he will reconsider this delusion upon reaching his teenage years.

The experts, and I am a bit unclear who these ostentatious individuals are but am keenly aware I have been denied membership, say that babies start to smile around 6 weeks so we are on Target. It is humorous how we as parents celebrate wildly when our child reaches a milestone, the same one reached by 10 million other children around the same time; I suppose we feel we have actually succeeded at something when really the only person we have to thank is Biology. But I will take anything that helps to balance out my growing stacks of well meaning but clearly damaging mistakes I am collecting in my messy closet (this is a metaphorical closet of course because my actual closet is quite neat).

So back to the grimace. Yes, I realize that most children smile at 6 weeks but mine grimaces. He curls the left side of his mouth up as if he is about to break into an Elvis interpretation and just as quickly reverts back to a slightly annoyed stare signaling that this communicative things is tiring and he is ready to return to his Happy Place, which is void of mommies making goofy faces, even if this is my normal expression, and other adults that would all benefit from a small dose of Prozac.

As for now I have decided to keep him and since he has not reached the milestone of walking I imagine he will stay.


The Bounce
January 30, 2007, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Children


The Bounce

Mac does not walk. He runs, he flails, he crawls along the floor like an “army man,” but most of all he bounces. And, I do not mean the occasional, subtle jumping up and down in anticipation of an ice-cream cone jump, I am talking about a hurdle power, three feet in the air, return with a blow that awakes the elderly from a deep sleep bounce.

Each morning begins with a bang. Parenting books tell us that over time we come to recognize and understand our children’s cries, well in our house it is The Bounce we must come to know. Each morning begins with BANG, boom, boom, boom, down the hall. That is The Bounce of Mac catapulting himself, his stuffed Tigger and Curious George, and yellow blanket out of his bed in a desperate race to our bedroom. This bounce most frequently occurs at 4:15am but been picked up by tired and distressed ears at 12, 2, and 3am.

Our footstool is then transformed into a catapult that airlifts Mac over the warm covers and onto my head so that he can inquire, “I forgot my pillow can I just have yours?” And I am thinking, “Well of course you can have mine. After all it is the reasonable hour of 4:15am, you have just taken away the only quilt that separates me from the frigid cold, and I have just returned to bed at 3:30 from feeding the baby, so please, by all means take my pillow. I am planning to sleep shortly after sending you to a military academy in the Fall.”

Now it is downstairs to breakfast and The Bounce is now accompanied by a running commentary on the “bad soldiers and their ominous fate.” The breakfast Bounce is often performed in sock feet and includes the added bonus of one or two face plants into the wall. The wails are met with compassionate parent advice such as, “I told you to stop bouncing. This is what happens when you forgo your God given right to walk.”

Now I am off for a morning run, leaving the inmates in the care of daddy bear, only to return to the desperate cries of “MAC STOP BOUNCING” as we are already out of patience and the clock has just struck 8am.

This ground rumbling existence might explain why I felt as if I had just received the greatest gift of mankind as I sat in the gym parking lot last Sunday afternoon in complete quiet.

Goodwill to Man
January 29, 2007, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Family, Life

Goodwill to Man. This is how I would sum up my desire to let go.


Another interpretation.

Where is the insulated coffee cup?

Think, think, think, remember my New Year’s Resolution to always be truthful (damn!). Well, I threw that away. You see, (borrowed sentence starter from four year old son Mac) it leaked on me three days ago when I was attempting to drink coffee, feed the baby, and check my e-mail. I followed to throw away two other insulated cups because leaks are of course contagious. This behavior frustrates unnamed family members but I think it should secure me a guest spot on the tidy show, “Clean Sweep.”

Fortunately for the Goodwill, my material world detox is not relegated to the kitchen. In the last month (I am too sleep deprived to give yearly statistics), I have unloaded a baby bathtub (cleanliness is overrated); snug, loose, and otherwise unappealing apparel (anyway I have been wearing the same yoga pants for five weeks straight who needs a closet full of clothes); ties (this one is Greg’s fault), and maternity clothes too ugly to give to my fashion conscious pregnant friend.

Introspection tells me this is less about “cleaning house” as it is about cleaning one’s spirit. Giving away makes me feel lighter and that is important coming from someone who is trying to shed the last bit of 30 pounds, a gift from the little man in the bouncy seat.

I am yet to give away any immediate family members but I have a couple in the wings. I will keep you posted.

What Could Be
January 26, 2007, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Family, Friends, Life



What does the word Family mean? These spurious thoughts arose in my scattered brain last night during book club or “dork club” as my husband fondly refers to us. Our growing and shrinking group is made up of a flexible ten. We have been together for almost three years, have read around thirty books, and have challenged each other’s world view. Our conversations are diverse. For example, last night over burritos, bagels, and Starbuck coffees (our appetites are also diverse) we discussed religion, recent hair cuts, the war in Iraq, global warming, diapers, and even touched on our focus book Faith Club by Idliby, Oliver and Warner. This month’s selection features the poem Epitaph by Merritt Malloy. She reminded me that as a family our job is to let go of those things and those people that darken our mornings and focus on the possibilities that come with a willingness to look at our world in terms of what could one day be our legacies.

by Merritt Malloy

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,
Give me away.
I’ll see you at home
in the earth.

Advice? Anyone? Anyone at All?
January 25, 2007, 7:44 am
Filed under: Children, Family

Advice? Anyone? Anyone at All?

OK, this is somewhat humorous. I mean it is not too humorous at this torturous moment in time but I can see that someday (perhaps around the age of 85) I will look back upon this and chuckle.

First a little background.

We have sleeping issues. Now granted when I say we have sleeping issues you probably assume that I am talking about my 6 week old but you would be mistaken. I am referring to Mac the Terrible, known in some circles (giving a whole new meaning to circle time) as the Dean of Destruction, Master of Disaster, and Tower of Power.

Well two nights ago he decided he no longer wanted to retreat to the quiet respite of his room for the evening hours. We worked through it. Well kind of. We (meaning Greg, Mac, and Myself) discussed, screamed, cried, threatened, and finally came to some understandings.

I thought we came to the understanding that when he is asked to do something that he agrees to do it in a respectful manner …. But evidently Mac came to the understanding that his mission, over the coming years, is to push his parents into some kind of psychiatric support group (Know of any? We are starting to investigate).

So here I am. It is 2 in the morning and I have been driven out of our own bedroom.

Recap of the unfolding of events over the last two hours ….

12:30am Mac enters the room and asks to get in bed with us. We remind him that he cannot come in our bed until after 4am, which we are aware is absurdly early for normal folks, but we get up at 5:30am for work anyway and this arrangement seems to work (well it use to work).

12:35am Screams, stomps, tears from everyone involved.

12:45am Greg escorts DOD (Dean of Destruction) back to his room.

1:30am DOD is back. We tell him if he returns he will not be able to get in our bed at 4am. DOD is unfazed.

1:35am Screams, stomps, tears from everyone involved.

1:45am Greg escorts MOD (Master of Disaster) back to his room.

1:50am MOD returns with a vengeance. We tell him if he does not go back to his room he will loose his “den toys” for 24 hours.

1:55am TOP (Tower of Power) refuses to leave. I go downstairs and pack up his toys. I go upstairs and give him an update (like what am I thinking). TOP could care less. I state that if he is no going to leave my room than I am going downstairs.

So here I am … downstairs … pretty sure I have lost a good 15-years of maturity over the last two hours.

Vote for your favorite:

•    A = My dear friend is living outside of Amsterdam and is starting Language Classes next week. Perhaps she can teach me how to talk in a language Mac will actually understand.
•    B = Our house is over 100 years old and there is not an interior lock in sight. Go to Home Depot. What time do they open?
•    C = Move my room to the basement.
•    D = ________________________________ (your call)

January 24, 2007, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Life


Obsessions. I imagine we all have them. Some, like people, are more normal than others.


Presently I am on maternity leave. When I was working full time I think I kept these somewhat under-wraps or at least channeled into productive endeavors such as reviewing student projects, preparing lesson plans, and making sure my desk was stocked with chocolates.


But, today I find myself worrying about things that in themselves are a bit worrisome. Lets take my car. We live in the city and we have two coveted off street parking places; mine unfortunately happens to run under the Verizon phone line. And do you know who hangs out on Verizon phone lines? Well besides the abandoned shoes thrown up by rogue college students, birds hang out on those lines.


Though their residence is not new their presence is more pronounced since my car sits under those wires now for hours at time as opposed to taking me up 95 to teach. The next logical question is, why am I so attune to the resting spots of these neighborhood yappers? To sum it up in one nasty word, POOP.


These feathery friends are no friends of mine since they started ambushing my silver car with scope-like precision. What’s more is the dread of these dailly attacks have caused me to to stock up on paper napkins, confiscated from local bagel and coffee hot-spots, in preparation for the daily wipe down.

I even find myself waking up each morning thinking if the weather is conducive to dew, not poo, so that I can more easily remove natures’ graffiti.


Mac also exhibits signs of his mother’s obsessions. Just this morning, while I am sitting here writing to you, he has taken the liberty of removing all of the plastic letter magnets from the refrigerator door along with the one’s that say catchy family slogans like “stop annoying me, I am running out of places to hide the dead bodies” and put them in a long line that stretches mightily across the kitchen floor.






Now I just need to get baby Charlie obsessed with sleeping through the night and his father obsessed with changing dirty diapers and all will be right with the world.

January 23, 2007, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Children


“OK Mac …. build with your blocks for two more minutes and then it’s time to go to bed.”

6 minutes pass (we take advantage of the fact that he can’t tell time as we finish watching the nightly news…. kid friendly television indeed… should we worry that he knows more about the war in Iraq than Barney?).

“Lets head on up.”

The familiar sounds of teeth brushing, water running, and toilets flushing parade against the background.

“Bang, Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

The dust up begins.

Dad comes down in a huff. I inquire, “Should I alert Social Services.” Not amused he responds, “This is now your problem.” As all great things eventually become.

Greg is in the camp of, “Do it now because I say so or I will make you”… I, on the other hand, am in the camp of, “You have a choice, you can do it because I say so or you can live with the consequences …. the choice is yours.”

Last night both camps staged a revolt, leaving the Generals bewildered and in a need of a drink.

Mac creeps downstairs and emerges in the doorway to the den.

“Go to bed.”


My camp is up.

“You have a choice, you can go to bed now or in the morning you will have to go to your room after breakfast (I know carrying punishments to the next day is a bad idea but I am covered in spit-up from his younger accomplice and desperate).


“OK (as if any of this is OK), go to bed or I am going to take your blocks away for 24 hours (granted he can’t tell time so this means little but it’s all I got).


I start to systematically take down his spectacular early evening construction and place the block box in the adjoining room…. feeling guilty but somewhat vindicated.

“Go to bed.”


“Alright, if you do not go to bed than I am going to take Quincy (the beloved stuffed bear) away.

“Are you going to give him to another little boy? Evil look. Whaling tears.”(I resist the strong urge to scream YES …know any?)

This approach is clearly not working but I am prepared to continue (arguments with four year olds tend to rob me of my reflective ability).

Greg steps in and takes the little man upstairs (an advantage of having two parents is you are less likely to be driven to a felony).

He inquires, “What is bothering you Mac?” (Why didn’t I think of that). “Was this all worth it?” (Mac says no but the glint in his eye says…. perhaps). Greg gives him a kiss and a back rub.

ZZZZZZZZ …. the little tyrant sleeps.

The morning comes.

“Mac, you know that today you will not have your blocks or Quincy because you made poor choices last night.”

I then busily try to figure out a plan that allows me to follow through with my ineffective consequence without getting our day off to a bad start.

“How about this, get dressed, brush your teeth, comb your hair, go to your room for five minutes (I might as well have said five years) then we will come downstairs, have breakfast, and start anew.”

And so we do. A new beginning. A clean slate. The promises offered through childhood.