“Yes” to Dinosaurs and Magic

One day last week, Milo’s lunchbox got left at school: a source of great angst. The next day, Jason sent him with lunch in a brown paper sack, on which he didn’t merely write Milo’s name, but drew this great smiling dinosaur. So every day since, despite the fact that the lunchbox has been located, Milo has insisted on a sack lunch, which Jason has illustrated in some new, fantastical way. Aliens. Ninja Turtles. BATLUNCH. Jason isn’t concerned that the now-located lunchbox sits unused, or that we waste paper sacks. He wants to delight Milo. The disaster of a lost lunchbox is now a daily dose of joy.

When Lucy was leaving for camp last week, she was deeply afraid of being homesick. While I was wringing my hands, coaching Lu through positive visualizations and affixing labels on shampoo bottles, Jason had the solution: talisman bracelets. He had Lu choose four matching beads — Jason and I would each wear one to represent her, and she’d wear two: like us on either side of her. And it worked: all she needed to manage was a little magic.

Delight? Magic? Who has time for that shit amid the schedules, the breakfasts, the dreaded car rides together, the daily injustice of who touched whose Legos?! [Please ask to see my treatment of a family drama loosely based on “The Wire.”]

Jason does. He instinctually says “yes." Every day.

Happy (belated) Father’s Day to the keeper of delight and joy in this joint.


Scene 1

Jason: Milo, every minute you spend asking to watch television is time you don't get to play before bed. You're wasting your time.


Scene 2

Milo: I miss Lucy so much. I don't care if she ever comes back.

Scene 3

Milo: This dinner is hot and I know it.

Kate: Milo, it's been sitting there for 10 minutes — it's not hot.

Milo: Well. It looks hot.

Kate: Then eat some watermelon.

Milo: Is it hot?

Kate: [stern look]: Eat. It.




Truth Fairy?

Lucy lost one of her very last baby teeth tonight — a chunky rear molar that twisted sickeningly in her mouth for a few days before having the grace to finally fall out.

And maybe a little of her innocence went with it. After she and I had our semi-usual nighttime pillow talk, she called Jason into her room (Jason being the keeper of magic in this family).

Lu: Dad, is the Tooth Fairy real? Because Annie says he's not real.

Jason: What do you think?

Lu: I think the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and Santa are all real, they just get help from parents. [Elaborates on the logistics of getting presents from Austin to El Paso and Waxahachie, etc.]

Jason: Do you believe in magic?

Lu: Yes.

Jason: Well, there you go.

Under her pillow tonight, this diplomatic plea for proof:

Lucy tooth fairy note


Looks like having the Easter Bunny AND the Tooth Fairy come within a day of each other has stretched the frail fabric of her ten-year-old belief. But we're proud she's held onto the Easter Bunny a mere two teeth short of the whole baby set.

Milo, for his part, is an early cynic. Upon the news the Tooth Fairy would be visiting tonight, he asked Jason, "Does the Tooth Fairy check under every pillow when he comes?" Apparently Milo has a stash of guys under his pillow for nighttime excursions, and he feared discovery. Next time he asks, we're explaining the Tooth Fairy is an interim parole officer who fills in for Santa in the off season.

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.


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.


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.


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..."