Posted in A Day in the Life, movies, Thor

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pads


I went to see G.I. Joe with the boys today, and was fortunate enough to have my dinner upset my stomach badly enough that I had to miss about 10 minutes of the movie.  You know a movie is bad when you prefer gastric distress.  I knew it wouldn’t be great, but I thought it might at least be enjoyable.  Sadly, The Rock kept his shirt on for the whole thing, Bruce Willis was woefully underused, and that really dumb, cute one died in the first act–also without ever having taken his shirt off.  Storm Shadow took off his shirt, but his pants were so unattractive it didn’t matter.  (I’m not even someone who cares about looking at half naked men, so for me to have been actually disappointed that The Rock kept his shirt on should give you some more depth into just how bad the movie was.)

While I was washing my hands in the restroom, I noticed a woman crouched in front of the sanitary napkin/tampax dispenser, cranking that dispenser knob like she was a lab rat and it had given her cheese every other time.  She bounced the heel of her hand against the metal door a couple of times, then went back to twisting that knob.  I always carry a spare tampax, so as I was walking by her, I slipped it to her as discreetly as possible.  Passing the baton of sisterhood.  We did not speak, but in that moment, I know I made a lifelong friend.  If my life were a movie, in the third act, this woman would appear at some critical juncture to offer me a spare something-or-other that would be the key to my success.  That would make sense.  Unlike anything that happened EVER in G.I. Joe.

It’s funny how embarrassing feminine products can be when you are young.  I remember buying pads at Winn Dixie, when I was in high school, and lurking around the check out lines until I could dash forward into a line with both a female cashier and bagger.  The worst thing in the world was winding up with a boy bagging your Kotex.  And I wouldn’t buy tampons for the longest time because I was afraid of the stigma of them*.  I wouldn’t even buy Midol.  Someone might guess I was having cramps.  The most embarrassing, though, was having to ask my grandfather to go to the store for me.

Now, I don’t think twice about slapping down a couple of boxes in and among my fruits and vegetables.  Granted, now I could buy condoms without blinking.  Something I could not even do when I first got married.  And that’s something I think we should teach our kids to feel okay to purchase.  Instead of raising them to believe it reads, “I have the morals of an alley cat,” we should raise them to understand that it truly means, “I am responsible for my health, my partner’s health, and I am taking care to avoid unwanted pregnancies.”  Just changing that one perception would save lives.

Just ask Bill Gates, who raised himself even further in my esteem with his offered grant for the inventor of the next generation condom.  The grant offer challenges:

We are looking for a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use. Additional concepts that might increase uptake include attributes that increase ease-of-use for male and female condoms, for example better packaging or designs that are easier to properly apply. In addition, attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired.

We have to de-stigmatize barrier protection so that sexually active people aren’t so embarrassed or shamed by the product that they end up with life threatening, or life altering diseases, and bad cases of the babies.  I mean, I would certainly rather my child wait until he is old enough to be mentally, emotionally, and financially capable of handling all the potential fallout of sex, but if he’s going to become active before he’s 45 years old, I want him to feel comfortable going down to the CVS to buy some Trojans.  And I want his partner to be equally as comfortable.  Both XY and XX pairs should feel like it is as normal as buying mouthwash.  They shouldn’t have to sneak singles out of the jar in the nurse’s office.  Do nurse’s offices still have that jar?

To  bring this back around to the opening paragraph of this entry, I wish the makers of G.I. Joe had worn production condoms, and saved us from this travesty of a film. **

*This also had something to do with an encounter I had on a McDonald’s Playland as a child.  We had just moved to Texas, so I was not quite 11.  I was playing on the equipment, and some older boys wanted to be where I was.  I refused to budge, so they started bullying and name calling.  One of them yelled, “You need to go inside and change your tampon, Nasty, because you smell like dirty c—!”  I wasn’t sure what c— was, but I could infer that it had to do with ladybits because I was vaguely aware of what tampons were.  I did go inside after that because I was horrified.  I did not tell my mother exactly what was said to me because I knew I’d never get to go outside and play by myself again–and I would have to go visit her in jail after she threw the offending boy over the fence.

**Thor loved the movie.  He came out grinning and pulling Snake Eyes moves, demanding to be photographed in action.  It was worth it to see him so happy.  I’m still glad I missed a chunk of it.

My little ninja.
My little ninja.
Posted in parenting, pets, Thor

Snips, Snails, and Puppy-dog Tails


I got my first dog when I was around three.  My parents brought home a fuzzy, little Shih Tzu to be my Only-Child companion.  I was delighted.  The dog?  Not so much.  As I recall, Sweet-Sue-the-Shih-Tzu (so named because every time I told my Grandma I was getting  Shih Tzu, she would tease, “A Sweet Sue?” And I finally got tired of trying to explain–I remember this so clearly–and said, “No, but that is her name, so that’s fine.”) wasn’t crazy about Lane the Pain. 

I wasn’t hurtful to her.  I just wanted to dress her up, stroll her around in my baby buggy, and sleep with her.  She only wanted to chase my house shoes, nip my heels, and hide from my exuberant love.  I was a girly-girl with doll-baby fantasies of pet ownership.  Susie was a feminist and wasn’t having any of my Madame Alexander doll dress and bonnet madness.

Frosty, our Samoyed Husky, joined the family when I was about 9.  Her owners were allergic to her, so she came to live with us.  Frosty, and I bonded and she was my best friend for years to come.  I would put on my roller skates, put her on her leash, and she would drag me around the neighborhood.  I would perform circus acts with her, having her (my white lion) jump through my hula hoop.  When I cried, she would offer up her warmth and support.  She was my furry soulmate and I loved that dog.

After Frosty died, when I was 16 (Sweet Sue had kicked it not long after Frosty had joined the family), I bought Tuxedo Sam in a pet store for $50.  He was a beautiful Border Collie mix, and just as smart and sweet a dog as you could hope for.  Dad brought Pete, a lab mix, home one day, and they were pretty good buddies.

I found Wart on the side of the road, nearly hairless, one ear chewed up, crawling with red ants.  That little guy was pretty devoted to me, and used to ride around in the car with me.

All three of them were gone by the time I was 22.

When Grandma and Boom came to live with us, they brought their Boxer, Rusty, who was on her last, wonderful leg.  Bryan and I brought another Boxer,  Ella Bella Bon home, when she was 5 weeks old. She extended Rusty’s life with good companionship, and my grandmother adored her.

Ella was four when Thor was born, and he fell in love with her gradually.  She died last summer, and he’s been mooning for a dog since then.  B and I have said no, and maybe, and one day, and no, and never, and Thor (as little boys do) has persisted.

“What would you do with a dog?” I have asked.  “Love it,” he has answered.  Good lord.  What do you say to that?

This is what you say to that.
This is what you say to that.

Friday, I was sitting in the car, waiting to pick him up from school.  NPR was detailing new information about the number of children who had been murdered.  20 children who were all my son’s age.  I watched through tears as my son ran up to a man who had walked his dog up to the school.  He appeared to be chattering to the dog, loving his head and petting his rump and stroking his ears–tip to tail.  He laid himself across the dog’s back, hugging and kissing him, rubbing his cheek against that stiff Boxer fur.  You can’t buy that kind of love.

We were out at a friend’s lakehouse on Saturday, watching Thor play with someone else’s dog.  I was thinking about the last conversation Thor and I had shared about one.  He had said, “I’m so lonely, Mama.  I just want a dog for a friend.”

Our friend said something about how much her son loves their dog and I looked over at B.  I said, “We have to get him a dog.”  He said, “If it is free and lives outside.”  I said, “Okay.”

The next day, I went over to Mom’s to put together a Christmas present that required assembly.  We made a run over to the vitamin store and the new makeup store (getting stuck in Cowboy traffic–go ‘Boys!) and peeked in at the pet place next door, where it seemed like a hundred pups were up for adoption at half price.  Kismet.  My mom paid the $40.

Right now, a beautifully tempered, cracking smart, snuggle bug of an Australian Shepherd mix is hiding out at my Mom’s house, waiting for Christmas morning, when he will meet his Boy.

I asked Thor this morning, “If you had a dog, what would you need to do for it?”

“Clean up its poop,” was his first response, and it came with a laugh.  Then, “Feed him.  Take him for walks.  Play with him.  Teach him to do stuff.”  As he rattled off his list, his face got brighter and brighter.

I agreed with him.  We talked about training dogs and what makes them happy.  I cannot tell you how forward I am looking to his face when we present his new friend to him.

If his connection to this pup is anything like mine was to Frosty, we’ll have given him the best gift possible, outside of the older brother he’d like to have–and that ship sailed!

Posted in A Day in the Life, Thor

Baby Names and Poor Babies


I had a funny conversation with a lady yesterday.  She had written down her daughter’s name, which was very long and spelled creatively, and I asked how it was pronounced.  It was really a pretty name, and I said so.  She rolled her eyes and said, “I hate it.  I didn’t give it to her.”  So I asked who had. 

She said, “My mother, my sister, and my aunt.  I was knocked out, and when I came to, they had named my baby.  They gave her that first name and four more.  She got five names, and I was so mad!”

Maybe that’s what happened to Uma Thurman’s most recent baby.

I’d have been mad, too!  You do all that work to grow that baby, and then you do all that work to get that baby out, and you don’t even get a say in what to name it?  No thank you.

But, I think I’ve hit upon why second time parents (and third, and fourth, and more) are more lenient with all the children after the first. 

 

That’s Sandra Bullock taking her son home from a playdate.  He clearly doesn’t want to leave, but it doesn’t look (from the other photos, at which I stared for way too long making myself a horrible hypocrite about the paparazzi because that baby is just the most darling thing ever) like he’s throwing a fit.  He’s just sad to be leaving. 

I looked at that little face and it reminded me so much of Thor, and it reminded me so much of how sad he used to be when we would leave the park.  All chub and sweetness, suddenly so sad because he had no concept of time, and leaving the playground meant leaving!the!playground!forever! in his vernacular.  He was never horrible about it, but he would be so sad.

In that instant, earlier today, I wanted to go back in time and let Thor play for just a little longer.  And I wanted to squeeze his fat, little legs, and I wanted to kiss his little pink cheeks and love on his squishy little baby body, and I was telling my past self, “You let that baby stay out there and play!  It isn’t going to kill you to let that baby play ten more minutes!”

I imagine if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would know more of what to sweat, and what to swat aside.  That’s why only children and first children have it the hardest.  Because their parents have no idea how anything works, and they err to the side of caution.  At least, that is true of me.

But my goodness, I can’t wait to get home to my boy tonight, and tickle his long, skinny legs, and kiss his sweaty face, and hug his bony body.

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Family, Friends of Mine, parenting, Thor

What Kind of Pizza do You Like?


I see pizza a something of a perfect food.  You can eat it with your hands, or with utensils.  You can load it with veggies, with meats, with cheeses, with sauces of all variations and nutritional values.  It’s easy to cook.  It’s easy to serve.  And, as a bonus, most people really enjoy it.  Nothing in the world wrong with a pizza.

That said, I won’t touch one that has sausage on it.  I hate sausage.  I’m weird about meat, and if there is any potential for gristle, or fat, or anything that resembles where the meat comes from (like tendons, veins, you get the idea), I won’t eat it.  Sausage is a gristle fest.  So, no matter how good it smells, how much the gooey cheese makes my mouth water, I won’t touch it.  I don’t even want to pick the sausage off because inevitably there will be a little ball of it hidden somewhere under all that delicious cheese, and I will be the one to bite into it, and it will be a hidden ball of gristle, which will ruin the entire experience for me.  I just-say-no to sausage pizza.

One of my sweet friends called the other night, worried that her daughter was dealing with a pre-school mean girl.  Meangirl was taunting our Princess, saying she hated her, didn’t want to play with her because she didn’t like her, and (more worrisome, even though they are all 4 year olds) that she’d like to kill her.  She asked me if I would tell the Princess to confront and challenge the Meangirl, or if I would tell the Princess to try to come to some peaceful understanding with the Meangirl.  My advice was to tell that little Princess about pizza.

When Thor was about that age, he had a boy he wanted to play with, and that boy kept telling Thor he hated him and insisting that Thor go away.  When I was trying to figure out how to approach it, I wanted to do a few things:

  1. Explain to Thor that there was nothing wrong with him and help him maintain his self-esteem and self-confidence.
  2. Explain to Thor that other people have the right to avoid contact if they want to.

The first because he is my boy, and I want him to feel good about himself.  I want him to be able to make good choices in the future, and good choices start with healthy self-esteem.  The second because I never want to get a phone call saying that my son has forced himself on someone–get my drift?  So I’ve wanted him to understand that no-means-no from an early age.  He has the right to say no, and so does everyone else.  I talked to him about pizza.

We all like pizza, I told him, but we all like different flavors.  We laughed about my sausage issues, and how he hates veggies on his, but we agreed that any pizza is ultimately good pizza–just sometimes the toppings get in the way.  I said that people are like that.  We’re all good and worthwhile, but some of us have toppings that others of us don’t care for.  You can’t argue with taste.

I told him that if Little Johnny didn’t want to play with him, that was okay.  Little Johnny liked cheese pizza, and Thor was a pepperoni pizza.  I told him that he should leave Little Johnny alone, to stop trying to force him into friendship (or trying to change to be what Little Johnny wanted in a playmate), and to go find himself some people who are into pepperoni*.  And, I told him I bet if he left Little Johnny alone, Little Johnny might see that pepperoni pizza isn’t so bad, and maybe Little Johnny would want to come play later.

Imagine my surprise–and I’m being honest here–when that worked.

Imagine my surprise when I realized it worked for me, too.

In Dianne Brill’s book, Boobs, Boys, and High Heels, she talks about the art of creating the perfect social donut.  Everywhere you go, there are cliques, or donuts of people.  At the center of every donut is the social cream.  The idea is to make friends with the center of every donut so that you end up as the social cream of the most awesome donut in the place–and end up as friends of all the donut rings by proxy.  You can’t be that awesome donut cream if you are a follower, if you are easily led astray by peer pressure, or if you lack self-confidence.

I want Thor to always be confident in his worth as an individual, and not seek to find his validation through the approval of others.  That’s why it is important for him to understand that it is okay if someone else doesn’t like him**.  That’s normal.  That’s the world.  He doesn’t have to conform.  He doesn’t have to change.  All he has to be is respectful of other people, respectful of himself, and 100% Thor.  The same goes for that Princess.  All she needs to be is herself.  It’s okay if Bullygirl doesn’t like her–Meangirl probably just doesn’t think she likes pineapple on her pizza.

What kind of pizza are you? 

(I am a half cheese, half pepperoni with pineapples and green olives.)

 

*Note that this isn’t a situation where another child was actively seeking to hurt Thor.  It was just a kid who didn’t want to play with him, and only became vocal when Thor tried to insert himself.

**It’s okay if people don’t like you because you just aren’t their taste.  That is normal.  If you never meet anyone who likes you, then there might be a greater issue at hand. 

 

Posted in Thor

My Kid


This is one of those days when I am missing my boy, and would love more than anything to just go get him out of school and head for the zoo.  I adore that child.  I talk a lot about how smart and good I think he is.  I’d just like to add that he is generous, conscientious, and cares for people.

We were trick-or-treating last night, and his new friend tripped and dropped her bucket of candy.  Before I could suggest that he might want to help, he was down on all fours saying to her, “I’ve got this.  I’ll take care of this for you.  Are you all right?”  And, when she thanked him, he said, “Anything for a friend.  Any time.”  He gave her back her bucket, checked her out to be sure she hadn’t hurt herself, then took off running for the next house.

A bunch of studies say that your personality is pretty much set by the time you are finished with your early elementary years.  Other studies say that while your personality foundation is laid, your youness evolves continually.  I’d be likelier to believe the latter.  Either way, this kid…  Y’all.  Yes, there are the parenting moments when I just want to give him a great big swirlie, and yes, mornings before school are like I’m forcing him on a death march, but everything in between is the greatest pleasure imaginable, and I would keep his company over anyone else’s in the world (except his father, who tells better jokes.)

I love, love, love who he is as a person.  I love the sweet, snuggly baby he was, the funny, friendly toddler he grew into, and the bright, engaged, happy boy he has become.  We were riding on the train the other day, and he was on my lap.  He turned around and hugged me, and I sat there with my face in his hair for a long time.  I thought that there could be no one in creation who suited me as exactly as that little guy.  No one in creation whose being so perfectly delights me. 

I am extremely fortunate and grateful for his health and his happiness.