Don't Rain on Her Parade

Lucy is an exuberant creature: artistic, passionate, sensitive, wild. BIG in all her emotions and sounds. She has no inside voice.

This makes me immeasurably proud...but also really, really uncomfortable. Maybe because I was raised in the "children are to be seen and not heard" tradition of good manners and supplication? A few dozen other good reasons? So there are so many moments when I tell her to be quiet and polite, but I am trying hard — as a mother, feminist and recovering pleaser — to resist. My current parenting motto: Don't rain on her parade. Can't you see why?

 

How We Spent the Last of Summer Vacation

I know my last post was about how long it had been since I last wrote. And instead of a litany of excuses for my continued inattention to the only record of my children's existence, I offer simply a photo and brief overview of our end-of-summer trip to Northern California.

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We made it up to Sonoma to see the fair-haired Ferris-Wayne clan and had a splendid time doing quaint things like picking pears, jumping on the trampoline next to the orchard and getting beaten at board games by the three-year-old Maud. Something about Sonoma...the very air up there is purer and prettier than you, but in a welcoming way. Sonoma feels bad you can't live there all the time, too. What made it especially sweet was the Ferris-Wayne family, beloved friends who live too far away.

We were pretty exhausted and off schedule by the time we headed back down to Muir Woods. To say we didn't enjoy it was an understatement. None of the people within a 50-foot vicinity of our tantruming foursome enjoyed it either. Good thing all those bosky layers of ferns and needles have great sound-dampening powers.

When we got to the hotel in SF, we rested, played in a nearby park, then tried to venture out for dinner only to surrender and have (very good, very hip) Chinese takeout. The rest of the trip went along those lines: insistence that we have a good time dammit,  then disappointment and frustration on being reminded that the kids' differences in age, interest and stamina level would make it hard to keep them both happy.

Lest I complain too much, we did have many fun moments: the new Exploratorium, a visit with sweet Kelly, Henry and Valletta, a long walk and dinner with Susan, cozy nights with the boys in one bed, girls in another. We had finally settled into a regular SF routine — and gotten the kids on West Coast time — by the time we had to come back to Austin to start school.

Unintended Summer Hiaitus

Hello, gentle readers. 

Sorry it's been almost all summer.

We're good over here in LucyandMiloLand.  I will write some full posts soon. Until then, I leave you with a some slices of summer life.

Lucy has been gone for five of the eight weeks of summer, which was both great and hard for all of us.

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She can knit (well).

She can surf (somewhat). 

She has a vocabulary for describing the complexity of her emotions that I can only think of as writerly. 

She got her first real sunburn on her nose (which I find quaint, given that I spent my young summers with a full-on sunburned scab on mine).

 

Milo has been enjoying only childhood.

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He talks constantly (airtime, at last). 

He has a very loose relationship with the truth, describing his misdeeds variously as the work of a giraffe, Flash (his imaginary friend, who is five and has his own car), the Green Goblin, or the Green Goblin's baby brother.

The adults don't know what happened.

The past eight weeks have been a blur. We sent a kid to camp(s). I spent a month as a state and local political activist. We married off a beloved cousin. Jason and I turned 40. We went to El Paso (where a grandfather turned 91). And the beach. We should have been doing more laundry and organizing and eating of vegetables in between some of those activities. Instead we had as much fun as we could (and worked when we weren't having fun). We'll be shaking the sand out of these past eight weeks for a while...

Thug Life?

I worry Milo is headed for a life of crime.

He is obsessed with bad guys. The other day on the way out of school, he said, "Mom, I wanna have a party, but only for people who are evil. It is a BAD GUY PARTY." When I asked about inviting any good guys, he said, "No, it's just for BAD GUYS." When I reminded him that I am a good guy and dad is a good guy and Lucy is a good guy, he said, "Well, you can't come. Lucy is a bad guy, but she still can't come."

And the violence. We don't allow shooting (pretend or otherwise) of any people or dogs at our house, but he wants to know, "Can I shoot the wall? Can I shoot under the couch? Can I shoot outside?" There is a sword that has been in time out so long, I think I can safely throw it out without him noticing. That's okay, he's moved on: two massive, shoulder-mounted water guns that are essentially assault rifles.

And yet, he is a charming and affectionate little thug. Just this morning, after shooting me with one of his many spaceships, he cocked his head, shot me a dimpled smile and said, "Are you mad at me? I love you, Mom..."

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A Bike Ride

Saturday morning, while Jason played golf, the kids and I lay in bed deciding what to do. I ticked through the undone chores, the piles of tasks cluttering my home and my head. Escape was the only option.

"Let's go on a bike ride," I said.

"Yes! Bike ride!"

The outing became a mission. Tires? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Guys? Check. Helmets, sword, water bottles, lunch money? Check, check, check, check.

The sun was out, and the air was metallic and cool from the rain the night before. We rode to the park past happy grass, the neighborhood clean. At the park, Lu climbed and spun, while Milo brandished his sword at playground dragons. I read a book in the shade, until Milo climbed into my lap to take a break, content to sit with me for a rare moment. He said he didn't like the mud, but I told him the rain had made the mud and rain was good, so mud was good too.

When we were done at the park, we rode off to have lunch. I held the handlebars lightly, my body and the bike supple over the road while Milo bumped along in the trailer behind me. As we coasted down the hill, Lu shouted, "Mom, wait for me." I said over my shoulder, "I'm here. You'll catch me."

What was making me so happy? I'd narrowed all my worries into only the actions needed to get my family safely and happily to our destination. I felt the wind and sun on my face, the road under my tires. I could hear the shouts of my children.

"We are going over a train," Milo proclaimed as we mounted the bridge over Mopac. "We are so high. Isn't that amazing?" And it was.

Nocturnal Animals: Installment 2

The raccoon family has moved on. The pest control guys confirmed it today, sealing up the attic so the raccoons and their rodent brethren couldn't get back in. (For the record, raccoons not rodents at all -- they are part of the bear family, and therefore classified as vermin and not pests. And you can sleep a lot easier when they're carrying on overhead. Oh, no wait, you can't, because they sure seem like effing pests in the wee hours of the night.)

One of the things I would do as I listened to them scratch and chitter is imagine the Disney version of the story...

A beleagured single mother raccoon (raccoon dads are notorious deadbeats) finds a place to shelter her newborn brood (our attic). They are happy there for a time. They frolic and grow into precocious children: Pepe, the spunky one, Rocky, the intellectual (who hated his cliched name) and Serafina, the protective older sister who takes care of the family when Mama goes out gather food. Their only worry: the dreaded trap the Evil Humans had placed in the attic. They know to avoid it at all costs.

One night when Mama is out, Pepe can't resist the Oreos that Pest Control Villain had used to bait the trap and SNAP, he is caught! Mama comes home to find Rocky and Serafina beside themselves, and they fight together valiantly to free Pepe from the inside of the cage.

The humans below here the mighty clatter of the raccoon family's struggle to free Pepe. They are certain of their victory over their enemies, the misunderstood raccoons. When Pest Control Villain comes to check the trap, the humans look on smugly to find...nothing. No trace of the raccoons, nor of the Oreos. 

Meanwhile, the night before, the raccoons pack up their meager treasures —  richer a few more Oreos and some important wisdom — and scuttle into the moonlight. "Come on, kids, we'll find a real home someday. I just know it."

Based on the true story of the raccoons in our attic, who evaded capture and moved along.