The TUNING FORK

tuning fork, jodi picoult, small great thingsI flew to California this summer and survived the flight by reading a big thick book: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. The book caught me, like the way we get a hitch to our voice when something hits us profoundly.

I thought I knew and understood about race. About how unfair racism is. About how I’m not racist, because I don’t see the color of someone’s skin.

For instance, I was talking to “my” Starbucks barista today about a man who had entered the café at 6 the previous morning singing a Broadway tune in a much too elevated mood for most humans at that time of day. Continue reading

Bench Review and Reflection

reflections, new year's thoughts, San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge

Truly, madly, and a bit guilty, I sit on one of my favorite benches and ponder the fates and furies that have followed me over the year.

heartburn, Nora EphronAlthough I faithfully follow a life of joy, I’m nobody’s fool. Some days give me heartburn, as if I’ve just swallowed vinegar. Some days I wonder if god is in ruins, even when the nights are tender. Sometimes I feel like a distinguished guest in my own home, but then, suddenly…. Continue reading

HERE COMES THE SUN (PUDDLE)

sun, childhood memory, sunriseDo you have a “first” moment – the moment you first remember as a child?

Most of us can’t recall the first few years of our life – the babyhood of crying or teething or ruining our parents’ sleep. We can only believe our moms when they tell us that if they didn’t give us enough attention we emptied the flower pot, then played with the dirt on the rug, or how we crawled out of our crib at nighttime and slid under the card table during bridge night, refusing to come out.

Fortunately, my first moment is not of getting spanked or being denied a second cookie.paper dolls, childhood, play Continue reading

I Want My Nap!

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/gustave-caillebotte/the-napA few weeks ago my man and I take two of our son’s three little boys for four hours of fun, fun, fun with PaPa and Pammy.

We drive the 45-mintues to pick them up, making plans along the way: walk in the park, an hour in the new playground near our house, a swim at the local pool, maybe we’d even have time to bake cookies!

After car seats are maneuvered into the back seat, the 3-year-old and 4-year-old grandsons are strapped in, and we make the noisy ride back to our place amidst:

When are we getting there?” “Where’s Henry the dog?” “Can we sit on Henry?” How does a dog get arthritis?”  “What IS arthritis?” “Can I have a drink?” “I’m hungry!” “How much longer?”

When we arrive, the 4-year-old plops himself on the lounge chair in our deck overlooking the Bay, puts his hand behind his head, and exclaims, “What a view! I’m going to sit here allll day.”

The 3-year-old has found the puzzles I store in the kids’ closet and throws the pieces of all three, together, across the living room floor.puzzle, nap, grandkids

“Man-to-man coverage,” my guy suggests. He takes the puzzle tot, I take the “unmovable boy” who now has found the bookcase in the hallway and asks, to my delight, “Read this one, Pammy!”

Six books later, the 4-year-old insists he wants to read all day.

Llama Llam time to share, grandkids, reading, books“Let’s go to the playground,” I suggest.

“No! I want Llama Llama Time to Share again!”

In the meantime, Henry the dog has a puzzle piece in his ear, and the man-to-man defense is weakening.

We squeeze in a 15-minute trip to the pool and a few bites of peanut butter and jelly, but it’s close to nap time, when we promised the munchkins’ parents we’d bring them home.

The 4-year-old begs, “can’t we stay and reeeeeaaaaaaaadddddddddd?”

The 3-year-old insists: “I want my mommy!”

So we hustle to the car and begin the ride back.

Five minutes into the drive a sound as loud as 20 chalk pieces screeching on a board emits from the back seat. My guy and I jump so high our heads hit the car roof.

“What’s the matter?” I ask, turning around to check on the distressed 3-year-old.

I WANT MY NAAAPPPPP!” he screams.

Huh. I thought parents begged children to nap, not the other way around.

The 4-year-old consoles his brother: “It’s okay, you can nap in the car.”

NOOO!” his younger brother retorts. “I need my MOMMY, then I can NAP!”

A tense ride ensues, with a strangled sound coming from the 3-year-old’s side every so often: “Naaaaaappppppp!!!”

In a record 39.5 minutes, we deliver our charming grandchildren to their relieved parents.

“You’re late!” our son exclaims.

As I unbuckle the blonde-haired, sweet-as a-snowball 3-year-old from his seat, he strokes my face lightly.

“Pammy?” he says softly.

“Yes?”

“I love you.”

Ah, I’m a good grandmother, I sigh to myself, until the little one continues: “But I’m not coming to your house ever again.”

Defeated, I give him a light kiss with a chuckle and hand him off to his mother for a long afternoon’s nap.

On the way home, my guy drives over the speed limit. I gaze at him quizzically.

“I need my nap, NOW,” he exclaims.

Which only proves that little boys never truly grow up.

nap, grandchildren, grandparents

Hmmm, is it nap time?

Why I Hated Halloween

Grinning Halloween lantern vector illustration.I wasn’t the kind of parent who produced daily  science/art/math projects for my children, or thought up of special field trips once a week, or was creative in any way.

In my mind, that meant I didn’t stack up any “good parenting” awards. I hated working on anything “arts & crafty,” which included just about everything except reading a children’s book out loud.

So when school began each year, and the air became crisper, leaner, more aromatic, I began to gnaw my fingernails.

Halloween would arrive sooner than I wanted, and any time was too soon.

Because I hated Halloween.

I just wasn’t good at it.

“What can I be this year? young daughter would ask by mid-October.

And every year, I’d respond the same: “A gypsy?”

Halloween, costume, gypsy costumeI have photos of her when she was 4, and 5, and 6 (and beyond!) wearing one of my old patterned skirts and a worn down shirt, strands of costume necklaces, a bunch of bangles, a neck scarf around her head, and lots of red rouge and lipstick.

Viola! A gypsy girl.

My little boy, however, came home with tales of his friends’ moms making them elaborate ghost costumes, or turning them into Luke Skywalker, or even worse, fashioning cardboard boxes into honest-to-goodness real looking silver rockets.

“No,” I always stated. Sadly, yet defiantly. “Your mom doesn’t do that.”papter bag, Halloween

So most Halloweens, my boy insisted on wearing a paper bag over his head, with holes for the eyes, and a pair of my old cowboy boots.

“I’m a monster,” he’d insist, year after year.

But the year our family splurged for a vacation to Hawaii, I got clever.

Not artsy crafty, but clever.

I came home with children-sized Hawaiian shirts, grass Hula skirts, and plastic leis. When I showed the kids their Halloween costume the third week of October, the expressions were less than enthusiastic, but they appeased me and wore them on the 31st.

Halloween costume

Happy Halloween…?

That was the year my boy’s best friend’s mom sewed her little guy a huge green Tyrannosaurus outfit, the kind that could win a ‘BEST KID’S COSTUME IN THE WORLD’ award. Trexbig

My daughter’s best friend’s mom dressed her little pumpkin in a glittery pink and purple fairy queen outfit with gossamer fairy wings and sparkly silver shoes that lit up when she walked.

My children came home from trick or treating early that year, claiming they were tired, no joyous shouts as they counted their candy treasure.

I suggested they change best friends.

Then I castigated myself for not being a good creative parent.

However …

            Every October

                         I read to my kids

                                    a LOT of terrific Halloween books.

That should count, shouldn’t it?

Halloween books, Halloween