Oct 10 2013
More than any other article of clothing, my children’s shoes have borne, for me, emotional weight. This started before they were born.
When I was pregnant, too superstitious (pu pu pu) to populate the apartment with nursery furniture and too nauseous to think about a layette, I allowed myself a single indulgence from among the hand-me-downs that I otherwise kept stashed in the brown paper bags in which they came through our door: Evil eye be damned, I placed a pair of rabbit-eared booties on the nightstand next to my bed.
Tiny and surreal next to the growing stack of pregnancy books left unread, the shoes seemed a stand-in for the hope lodged in my swollen belly, the embodiment of a promise that by some miraculous combination of effort, modern medicine, and fate, my 40-year-old body would bear fruit. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 3 2013
Last autumn, nestled near my preschool daughter’s scalp and obscured by her thick hair, were lice. Our immediate desire was to rid her–and the household–of the pesky critters. Out came the clippers. Her hair was buzzed short enough to glimpse her scalp.
From birth, she’s been admired for her dark hair, which never fell away. Instead, it grew fast, first curly, and then it pitched itself right down her slight toddler back. More recently (when the formerly equally longhaired brother got lice, then a buzz cut) she sported a sassy bob. Post-buzz, she may have had less hair than at any time in her entire life. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the sudden buzz cut revealed how primary a role her hair played in people’s perception of her. What surprised me more was her own reaction to her self-perception. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 11 2012
My son loves garbage trucks. Every morning, without fail, he keeps his eyes peeled. When he finds one, he says, “Mommy, Ga-bage Tuck! Watch it?“
Having raised three girls before him (and another girl after), this vehicular fetish is a bit new to me. The novelty of his request is a big part of why I am so willing to indulge my waste-dump-loving little man whenever possible. Plus, I never tire of seeing his wide, saucer eyes light up as the stinky garbage cans get dumped into the truck and crushed by…whatever that crushing thing is. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 28 2012
I had to laugh when I read Ariel’s post from yesterday about not finding out the gender of their child. Similarly, we are also very superstitious and waited until over 17 weeks to announce our pregnancy with my firstborn and over 14 weeks with this one. We don’t tell anyone what we’re naming our children before they are born and never refer to the unborn child by said name. Those are pretty much the only secrets I’ve ever kept in my entire life. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 22 2012
I wasn’t one of those people who wanted to wait until the day my baby was born to find out the gender. So the day Lila was born was exhilarating–and exhausting–but the birth drama never included the doctor’s calling out, “It’s a Girl!” The delivering doctor didn’t need to, since we already knew. And since that time, I’ve made an effort to ensure everyone else knows, too.
Last spring, I invited pink and purple into our home in a big way. I know another mother who is glad she had a boy, so she doesn’t have to live amidst a pink explosion, but I rather like it. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 1 2011
Liz and her two sons.
“I see your daughter’s enjoying the tractor today,” said an overcompensating stay-at-home dad whose son was busy zooming around the room on the back of the plastic fire truck.
My daughter was 2 and we were at a toddler class. There were a bunch of toys huddled in one corner and the rest of the room was left open for a handful of play cars, grocery carts, and doll strollers. The dad and I stood on the sideline having one of those conversations parents of toddlers have: attention divided, no eye-contact necessary.
“Yeah,” I said. “She loves those ride-on toys.”
“You’re lucky most of the boys aren’t here!” he called out to my daughter, Hot Shot, cupping his hands around his mouth. “You’d never get a chance if they were.”
My daughter was out of earshot; his message was really for me. And I was livid. Because it was true what he said. She was getting a longer turn than usual that day. And there were a number of boys who monopolized the ride-on toys. But more to the point, there were a number of parents who let their boys monopolize the ride on toys. He being one of them.
But I didn’t take him on, because you can’t win that argument, not when you don’t have a boy of your own. I’d learned that by then. Parents of boys insist their sons are hardwired for hording and destruction, and since I had no exhibit B to disprove them, I knew they would continue to dismiss me. So I held back my judgmental parent tirade and threw a half-hearted comeback pretending, like him, that the rolly toy shortage was our children’s problem, not ours.
“I think she can hold her own,” I shot back. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 18 2011
My son started preschool last Spring, and the more we learned the more we couldn’t believe our luck.
One of his teachers is an African American woman. That wasn’t luck. That was planning. Like we moved 700 miles so we could live in a town with a significant African American population and then chose a Montessori preschool with a significant number of African American teachers. That kind of planning. But the fact that she has dark skin was luck. Because my kids have fairly dark skin. And I know you don’t have to have dark skin to be African American. But my boys are still little; they don’t have it all figured out yet. And now that we moved all this way so we could live among their people, I want them to know we made it.
Anyway, his teacher’s a middle-aged, black woman with dark brown skin. Already scoring tons of points, but then it turns out she has a gay son. And not just any gay son. He’s a professional ballet dancer. (My son, I’ll call him Moon Boy, loves to dance). And he has the same birthday as Moon Boy. And, she’s the co-chair of Columbus PFLAG. So she reeeally likes Moon Boy. And we are feeling pretty proud of ourselves for facilitating all this good luck. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 8 2011
Our boys are starting to pick out their clothes in the morning. Sometimes they change multiple times a day. Recently our 2-year-old, Ankle Biter, grabbed a yellow construction equipment t-shirt out of his drawer and held it triumphantly over his head.
It was, of course, only moments before Moon Boy, big brother by one year, arrived streaming hot tears and screaming for the same shirt.
I tried explaining that the shirt is really too small for him now, and was just about to move on to a lesson on kind and respectful requests, when Ankle Biter lost interest in the shirt and handed it over with a quick, “he you go.”
Moon Boy took a deep breath and put the shirt over his head. By the time his eyes emerged through the neck-hole, Ankle Biter was jumping up and down waving a second shirt: lime green with a fuzzy pink gerbera daisy covering the belly. The lettuce finish on the waistline and sleeves really makes it work.
“Me flowah shoot! Me flowah shoot!” Ankle Biter yelled with delight. And immediately (of course) Moon Boy was writhing on the floor, his cry, “I want the flower!” muffled only slightly by the digger shirt now pulled back up over his head. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 4 2011
Liz and her son.
Of all the parents who used to tell me I’d change my stance on the nature vs. nurture debate once we had a boy, the only one that ever mattered was Sister Feminist. The others I could dismiss in a self righteous second. (Like the mom down at story hour, who used to chuckle when her son would poke the tractor on my daughter’s t-shirts. “I just don’t know what boys did before the invention of the combustion engine!”)
I met Sister Feminist at synagogue when she and her partner were trying to get pregnant. A year later, they had a son. Like us, Sister Feminist guarded well the tower in which she kept her first babe. She let in no bulldozers. No big plastic dump trucks. Not even little toy cars. “The only thing we have with wheels is a plush turtle!” she told me, arms raised in exasperation. And still, before her son could talk, he kicked his feet with wild excitement and made engine revving sounds whenever they passed a 16 wheeler.
“I don’t know how else to explain it, Liz,” she’d say in disbelief. “I just don’t.” Read the rest of this entry →