Saturday, April 30, 2005

In Case You're Wondering

This is my son's interpretation of the Heat Miser from "A Year Without a Santa Claus," and those yellow lines are arms, but the blue triangular appendages are ears. (I'm saving you the minor confusion I experienced earlier today!) The red part is the Heat Miser's flaming hair. At least I got that. ;^)

As the kiddo was drawing, he told me excitedly that we needed to save this one, too, so I could "put it on the Web site." I'd shown him his boat picture from the prior entry and he doesn't miss a thing. He's still fascinated with PC Paint, which is fine with me because it's not a video game! (Do not get me started. Seriously.) Maybe when he grows up he can be a graphic artist...after he learns a few more programs, of course. *ahem*

In other news, I'm sure by now a lot of you are aware that the missing bride-to-be in Duluth, Georgia, has been found alive about 1,420 miles from home, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I fell asleep on the couch tonight with the television on and awoke at about 2:00 a.m. to see the live news reports. Obviously there are a lot of questions to be answered, but I'm just so relieved to hear good news after feeling somewhat dragged down lately by stories of abducted people turning up dead. May Jennifer Wilbanks have a long and happy life.

That goes for all of you, actually.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Well, Anyone Can See That

"Do you know what it is, Mommy? Can you guess? It's a BOAT, and the blue stuff underneath is WATER!"

My son's latest fascination is PC Paint. He's really proud of himself, and I'm proud of him, too. ;^)

The Humerus Side of Things

Lately my four-year-old son has been learning the names for his bones, thanks to his super-duper LeapPad. Just now he came upstairs and told me, "I know what part of my body I just hurted when I tripped." Which one? "My themur," he said very seriously.

That kid cracks me up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Are They Edible?

Are They Edible?
Taken at the Bowers Museum Annual Art of Adornment Bead Bazaar.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Rainbow Connection

Rainbow Connection

I find this very reassuring:

"Whenever I get a part I immediately get sick and nauseous and don't want to do it and want to hide under a rock. So I spent the entire 'Desperate Housewives' pilot reading thinking only about 'Transamerica,' going, 'Oh my god, I can't do it. I can't do it.'"

— Felicity Huffman in Salon

Friday, April 22, 2005

Yes, This Is What We Talk About—
Conversations With My Son: April 21, 2005

Last Night

Him: (after passing gas, grimacing) "Whew! What's that smell?"

Me: "You tooted and some gas came out of your body. That's what it smells like."

Him: (sniffing the air as the gas dissipates) "Well, I guess I can't smell it after all, because boys' noses aren't as sensi-tiz as dogs' noses."


This Morning

Me: "Come on, let's go upstairs so you can empty your bladder before Daddy comes."

Him: "What's 'bladder'?"

Me: "Oh, inside your body you have a kind of little bag that holds your pee for you until you're ready to go potty. That's your bladder."

Him: (sitting on the potty and thinking) "Mommy? If a bladder is for holding pee, then what's the bag called that holds poop?"

Me: "Wow! That's a good question! I'm not exactly sure what the proper word is for it. Bowel? Let's see..." (picking up dictionary and looking up "intestine," "bowel" and other related words)

Him: (watching me page through the dictionary) "Mommy, is that book all about the bathroom?"

(Note: My desk is right next to the bathroom. The dictionary was not in the bathroom. Honest!) :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

If Could Paint Him, I Would

Wondering at newness and growth.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Poppins Power

In my ongoing quest to give my son a range of wholesome activities, videos, places, etc. to experience, I rented Mary Poppins to show him. I'd forgotten the movie starts kind of slowly, with the suffragette mom and stuffy dad babbling on, and my son was getting a bit bored, but I kept talking up the good parts and hoping he'd hang around for the nursery scenes, the penguins and Ed Wynn floating and laughing. He did, and loved it, and fell asleep as it was ending.

Life is sweet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Stranger Danger

Last month the trial started for Alejandro Avila, the man accused of kidnapping, molesting and killing five-year-old Samantha Runnion three summers ago. The murder happened when my son and I were living with my parents; Samantha lived a few miles from us. The story was on the news quite a lot, despite events happening relatively quickly—Samantha was kidnapped on July 15, 2002; her body was found the next day; Avila was arrested on July 19, 2002. A memorial service for Samantha was held at Crystal Cathedral and thousands of people attended. She became, as some murder victims do, a symbol of goodness and innocence.

So lately I've been thinking about Samantha and wondering how to teach my son about "stranger danger." Samantha knew about stranger danger—she fought against Avila and cried out, "Tell my grandmother!"—but was overpowered. Still, I want my son to know about stranger danger without losing the belief that people are mostly good.

I don't know if this is possible.

Last night I took my son out to dinner and to the store. I'd parked the car head-in against an ivy-covered hill separating the parking lot from the street. I was carrying a few bags and holding onto my son, and when I opened the trunk to put the groceries in, he dashed around the front of the car and hid in the ivy. Mere seconds had passed. I closed the trunk and couldn't see him and I panicked. He appeared immediately and I blew up. He was angry. I was furious...and scared shitless.

I packed him into the car and we drove away as I lectured him about not running away or hiding from Mommy. I told him there are some bad people who want to take kids and what if I never saw him again? I knew I was being clumsy about the whole thing and possibly scarring him for life...or something. He told me, "Mommy, I'm sad about you being angry at me." I started crying.

I told him I was really scared when I couldn't see him, and I'd thought he was lost. He told me, "Mommy, don't worry, because there are no bad people in the town." I told him most people are good, but there are some bad people and that's why he has to stay near Mommy when we're in the parking lot. I've been telling him for quite a while that "Big cars don't see little boys" and that's why he needs to hold my hand in parking lots, but this was something new and he wasn't buying it.

Naturally he wants to think everyone is good. Naturally he can't fathom what can happen to kids. I also know that kidnappings and murders are the exception, not the rule, but I want him to be safe and I don't want to scare him too much. When my siblings and I were kids, my dad told us that people who do bad things to kids often look like someone's dad or someone's grandpa, or someone's mom, etc. He showed us a picture in the newspaper, of a convicted child molester/murderer who looked like a plain ol' kindly older man. He told us the guy had left some kid in pieces in a trash can in the mountains. None of us ever forgot that. Sometimes I questioned my dad's heavy-handed teaching style, but he did get his point across, I will say that.

My son likes to run. He likes to run ahead of me when we're out, and sometimes he remembers to stop when I say "stop" or "red light" (our little "game"). Sometimes he doesn't remember. Last night before we got to the parking lot we were walking down an outdoor corridor of sorts and a guy was sitting in his car up ahead. My son wanted to runrunrun and all I could think was that I wouldn't be able to run fast enough to grab him if the guy up ahead pulled him into his car.

I know most people are good. Maybe I'm the one who's too scared. But want to be responsible and teach my kid how to be safe, and I know even then that doesn't guarantee his safety. This is troubling me.

As we turned onto our street, my son said, "Mommy, this is so useless! You're making me nutso and you're just being so wrong. There are no bad people! Maybe tonight when you go to sleep you can have some happy dreams."

I would love that.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Typical Conversation #317

Just now my son came upstairs with no clothes on.

"What happened to your clothes?" I asked.

"I took them off."


"Because they were wet."

"Well...why were they wet?"

"From the big, wet spot."

"What big, wet spot?"

"The one on the floor."

Can you see where this is going? I don't even want to ask the next set of questions...


After I mustered up the courage to go downstairs, it went something like this:

Me: "Why are my papers [including pink slip for my new-used car] on the floor?"

Him: "Oh, I was cleaning them up."

"Uh, you were cleaning them up how?" (now noticing wet places in the carpet)

"I was washing them."

"Did you wash this piece of paper??" (picking it up and determining pink slip is still dry—thank goodness)

"No. Just some other ones."

"Which ones?"

"I threw them away."

(after checking to see that nothing important was thrown away) "Why is the kitchen floor wet?"

"Oh, I spilled water there."

(noticing dishtowel is sopping wet) "Did you get the water from the kitchen or the bathroom?"

"Um, the bathroom."

"But you spilled it in the kitchen?" (still confused about what's happened)

"Yeah, I guess."

(sigh) "Where are your underpants?"

"Over by the piano."

"Okay, put your underpants in the laundry basket and go get some clean ones. And no more water." (still not clear on what he was doing)

"Okay, Mom. Wanna play soccer with me after I get my underpants?"


And yes, this is totally typical. ;^)

Friday, April 08, 2005

After the Fire Comes Growth

Flower in the Fire
Taken at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
A thousand thanks to Catherine Jamieson for working her magic on this photo.

I had an interesting experience recently. When I was at a friend's house, she was feeling sad that she wouldn't be able to have a fourth kid, and she told me that as weird and potentially offensive as it may sound, she comforts herself by telling herself she's being greedy—after all, as she said, "I have THREE and you have only one!" ;^) Last Friday I went to another friend's house; she has to stay flat on her back for two weeks, as she just underwent an insemination procedure and wants to give the swimmers a chance (and needs to recover)...and I realized I probably seem infinitely blessed sometimes to those trying to conceive their first child.

Although I'd like to have more kids someday, I do feel incredibly blessed to have my son. It was thought-provoking to see myself through my friends' eyes somewhat and notice the difference in perspective.

Perspective counts for a lot. After I moved out of my son's dad's house with our son, I felt lost. I longed for what had been my vision of family: a mom and dad living together, married, waking up with their kids each morning, working together to raise them and seeing them every day...instead of shuttling the kids from house to house every weekend. I felt like a failure, although I'd done everything I humanly could to hang on to that vision and make it work somehow. The trouble with my family vision, though, was that I couldn't realize it on my own, and my son's dad didn't share my dream.

I started taking Mommy and Me yoga classes with my son, and occasionally I'd chat with the other moms. I loved that class until my son got big enough to toddle around the room, yanking on wall decorations and playing with the stereo. During one chat with a younger mom, I mentioned that I was without my son every single weekend and I hated it. "Wow," she said, "I wish I had that sort of arrangement."

Like I said, it's about perspective.

Going back to blessings, though...I took my little blessing to Balboa Park recently, to the Rueben H. Fleet Museum (science) and Natural History Museum. We really spent only an hour in each (late in the day) but it seemed like longer. My kiddo loves to play in Kid City (it has various gizmos to play with, and a pretend store!) at the Fleet, and to press all the buttons he can find in the whole place. Let's not forget the supercool periscope! At the Natural History Museum, we saw the wildfire and chocolate exhibits. My boy was disappointed by the chocolate exhibit—I think he'd expected it to be like a candy store, where he could actually get chocolate. Hey, I tried to warn him. Why don't kids like to see ancient Aztec grinding bowls, hmm? ;^) He was, however, fascinated by the looping video (macro) of various processes in a chocolate factory, but the wildfire exhibit was much more interesting for him. He got to play in the dress-up box and try on butterfly, firefighter and flower costumes, and play with puppets shaped like racoons, skunks, porcupines and other animals.

October 2003 was the time of the wildfires in Southern California, and although my son tells me he has no memory of the helicopters that scooped up water from our nearby lake, I haven't forgotten the choking ash and dark skies that seemed to last for months. Ash covered everything on our deck, we kept the windows closed so as to keep the indoor air breathable, and I wept as I read stories online about people who were caught unaware by the fire and died. I also packed up our baby photos, clothes, and other items I considered important, and when the worst of the fires was over, my neighbor generously hosed off my deck after she cleaned hers. A new start.

That's just what I need.