Thursday, March 31, 2011

Advice on teaching comma usage to a 2 year old?

Grammarians among you may remember the book _Eats, shoots and leaves_.

In a similar vein, Winton is throwing at least one tantrum daily over the following punctuation problem. 

He says "No Mummy do it!"

Sometimes he means: "No, Mummy do it" [ie not Daddy, not Clara]
Sometimes he means: "No Mummy do it" [ie I'll do it myself]

This is occasioning some serious communication glitches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Winton, emotions

Winton, when not furiously, tearfully, red-facedly,  and again FURIOUSLY, trying to "do it  MYSELF!!" has discovered empathy:

Hardie: whine sob sob whine whine whine [accompanied by droopy basset-hound eyesearslips]
Winton: Oh, Hardie!  Why crying?  Have a hug, Hardie.  It's Ok.  I love you.

And he always been good at affection:

Winton: Mummy!  Kiss! [as he leans in to kiss me on the lips, misses slightly and puts his runny nose between them].

Ah germy love, my sweet sticky boy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The ideal curse

Far more effective than a major cataclysm, wish upon those who have wronged you a series of minor delays as they try to get to work on time:
departure 5 minutes late on a teaching day
car keys dropped in puddle, and then dropped again
hungry children crying in child seats
english muffin for children lost in cavernous backpack
slightly open water bottle, also in cavernous backpack
every red light
arrival at preschool during the class's transition from one building to another
every red light
arrival at daycare to find parking lot full.  wait for a spot.
arrival at work with just enough time to use bathroom before class
bathroom closed for cleaning.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tether, end of

It should be marked, like receipt paper, so that I know ahead of time that I'm getting towards the end of my tether.  Intstead I feel like I'm already dangling off the end before I know that the tether's end has been reached.  Today? Dangling. Already.

Here's how you can tell:
I just phoned the daughter's preschool to apologise for being rude on drop off.  I try to avoid getting there when her class is making the transition from "the big building" to "the carriage house," but they were running late today, and my window of time is small as I have to be here to teach, and still have Winton to drop off en route.  So we (Clara, Winton and I) waited in the carriage house, and then, with me impatient, went to the big building and met the jumble of 4 year olds on the stairs, and I interposed myself demanding a sign-in sheet, muttering under my breath about the time, The Time!, and Clara cried, and Winton cried.  And I have now been crying.

And there are only 7 minutes till class.  Must pull self together.

[Breathing . . .]

And now only 4 minutes . . .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Exit, pursued by bear

William Shakespeare includes this as a stage direction in The Winter's Tale, a play I was riffling through this morning after one of my bright students (one of the ones that makes me feel happily as though there are fireflies in my brain) started asking about Shakespearean allusions in a Tennyson poem.

Anyway: bright student (yay!), skim of a play originally read 16 years ago (surprisingly also yay!).  In addition to the bear, WT features an abandoned baby (only Shakespeare can pull this off in a romantic comedy) and, apparently, an animated corpse/ statue.

It also features these lines in a song by thief/ villain  Autolycus:

Lawn as white as driven snow,
Cypress black as e'er was crow,
Gloves as sweet as damask roses,
 . . .
Pins and poking sticks of steel
what maids lack from head to heel!

Come buy of me, come, come buy come buy (IV.iv. 219-230)

Is this not strikingly like Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market"?

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces
Lemons and oranges
Plump unpecked cherries
Melons and raspberries
. . .
Come buy, come buy (1-19)

Gosh it sounds like an allusion. 

I'm sure that in the last 150 years, some other scholar has noticed the link, but right now it's a private delight to think that only I have been brilliant enough to see this (and thank-you, again, to my bright, sparkly-minded student).

I am in my office, chased here by bears (aka fellow faculty with things they need me to do asap).

As I write, I eat my lunch of rice and beans with collards.  I'm sure it makes me, by the second, duller of wit and more like A.A. Milne's bear, in other words Winnie the Pooh, a "text" I also studied this morning, early and with Winton and Clara, with particular attention to the scene in which Pooh gets jammed in rabbit's doorway. 

Soon I will feel sluggish and corpulent (though happy--I like the full/dull feeling), with my ass jammed firmly in a place I don't want to be (in my case a nest of paperwork/ busywork) while my head is stuck idly watching the world go by.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring, nothing to report

Except that last night I dreamt of being taken off an airplane because I had a drowned Japanese baby in my carry-on luggage.

1) Damn you 60 Minutes and your interview with an elementary school teacher in a tsunami-struck village.
2) Damn you the international upbringing that has left me: a) feeling permanently displaced and b) completely unable to compartementalize international disasters as "remote."  Japan, after all, is a long plane ride away but one could certainly be there in less than 36 hours.  That's SO CLOSE.

And the trees are just putting out blossoms here--that most Japanese of symbols. They already smell sweet, I noticed this evening as I ran out to get Winton's yogurt-covered blanket from the car (where I had left it in hopes that he wouldn't notice its absence.  It, unlike the blossoms, smells foul).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Table Manners

"Cheers!" says Winton, brandishing a porkchop in his right hand so that his sister, also manhandling her pork, can "clink" it with his.
We shall never be able to eat in public.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Claraism du jour

Clara: I want to see the ri-ver! I want to see the ri-ver! I want to see the ri-ver! I want to see the ri-ver!
Me: We will, but only if you keep it together, Clara.
Clara: I don't want to keep it together.  I want to take it apart.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Early afternoon, day "off" with kids

I know that in about 2 hours, I'll be in the afternoon doldrums feeling like Coleridge's ancient mariner when his "painted ship" gets stuck "upon a painted ocean."

And, in about 3 hours I will be exhaling slowly through my mouth to avoid losing my temper at Winton (at age 2, he's new to the art of defiance) and Clara (at age 4, she's new to refined manipulation in the form of strategically timed statements like "I love you, Mommy").

And, I know that in 4 hours I will be so tired I will be dragging myself around by my elbows.

BUT, right now (kids both in hour 2 of their afternoon nap, morning successfully wittered away over cappuccino for me and lemon bites for them followed by "dancing" outside) things are wonderful.

Why can't I be a stay-at-home Mom, again?  (When did I become the woman who wanted to?  Sometime after Clara was born, and not in her first 6 months when I clung to work as preserver of some kind of pre-kid identity.  Pfaw!  Pre-kid identity?  It's been gone so long I no longer miss it.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Harmony of the Spheres

Remember that old Pythagorean bit about a symphony of planetary movement?  I love Pythagoras, and Heraclitus, and all those really bizarre ancient Greek thinkers, and not just because their names are fun to say. 

I have my own theory of Spheres and Harmony.  I suspect it of being dysfunctional, but here it is:

There are Three Main Spheres in my life:

Work (including teaching and the book with its Aug. 2011 submission deadline)

Children (Husband gets folded into this one--in a more subsidiary role than he deserves)

Social Interaction (yoga classes, hiking and squash games get folded into this one on the grounds that they are communal activities)

I can juggle only TWO of the three options.  I can only do TWO of those three:
Work and Kids, Kids and Work.

For life is long, right?  And right now my commitments are to those small people who want me, and those other folks who pay my salary.

(but a small, petulant bit of my brain keeps thinking about yoga schedules)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

100th post: On leaving the house

Do your children/ pets stage dramatic meltdowns on the threshold of departure? 

Mine do.  Every. Single. Morning.

This morning as we were getting ready to leave Clara said "I've been to Ireland" to which I responded "No you haven't" and then she lay down on the floor with her pink blankie and wailed, left hand curled melodramatically by her left eye (always her "tell" if she's bluffing).

Her crying set off her brother--whose upset when his sister is upset is pretty genuine.

And Hardie, as he does every day, dog-wept in a higher pitch through it all.

"Why are you upset that you haven't been to Ireland?" I ask, trying to be sensitive while also trying to lassoo her brother and get his shoes on him and ignore the dog, and remember to pick up the blanket the boy needs to bring with him to daycare otherwise he won't nap, and remember the two blocks he stole from daycare yesterday so we can return them, and simultaneously endeavor to pass a coat in Clara's floor-writhing direction.
"Be[sob]cause I like leprechauns!"

Do other people have departures like this?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Claraism du Jour

"Daddy, your bits puff out."

(I think she meant "bulge." He was wearing some rather clingy PJs at the time.  There was nothing untoward going on.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

On claymation, wererabbits and fear

Clara: No.  It's not scary. It's a movie.  It's not real.  It's made of pretend.  It won't eat you.  It's a rabbit.
Winton: Don't like it.  It's scary.
Clara: Then go sit on the steps.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Left my car with the damp men (see below)  in lieu of messing around with removing a child seat so that 3 adults could ride in it, only to have to get the seat back in (in the rain) so that two children could ride in it.   Husband can take Scientist home and then get the kids. 

I walked home from the mechanic's in the pelting rain, fording rivers of storm water that have formed over the last 18 hours.

I guess the good (haha, bloody ha) news is that the roof of our house is only leaking a little.

Damn.  Curse of the Bloody Thursday strikes again.

Never ever

Never ever document moments of euphoria: the universe will immmediately smack you down.

Today?  Thursday.  Big prep day for Friday classes and Friday afternoon seminar (this week's seminar's on Sarah Bird's The Yokota Officer's Club: 350 pages).

Husband's Car?  The one we just paid $400 for yesterday so that its brakes work?  Yup.  That one.  It died in Annapolis today (apparently in a big show of green fluid and curiously minus a drive belt) and is now being towed back to the shop at great expense, with Husband and an important scientist that Husband is responsible for today both crammed damply (did I mention it's been raining monsoon style all day?) into the tow truck's cab.

I'm off to get the damp men now.  Gonna be a long night of reading and both Clara and Winton are gonna complain about what Winton bemoans as "long long long time! Mummy" if I get he (him?) and his sister late.  Sigh.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Mummy, Hardie has a big penis.  So does Daddy, and Winton.
Girls don't have penises; they have bits.


Oh, I know.  You're thinking "here we go, another catalogue of ill-timed poop and vomit."  But no. 
Today: unexpected euphoria.

I am late at work because we spent too long dancing this morning.
Vigorous flailing, arm-waving, hip circling, ska-jumping.  All of us, including, for a few minutes, be-suited and ready for work Husband (which, given that we were dancing to 1990s Russian techno in our living room without any lights on, gave the whole the feel of a nightclub attended by the Russian mafia and their offspring).

Feels good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


1) Sometimes, I don't understand what the children are saying:

In car, Winton pointing at his sister's flowered pink leggings: "Hey, Mum, Cashews!"
Clara's response: "Let's rubberize!"

2) Sometimes they are just a little off what they mean to say:

Winton, looking at a picture of an owl in the Baltimore Zoogram magazine: "Hey, Mum, a Towel!"

3) Sometimes I don't correct other people's misunderstadings:

The babysitter last night, on being given a crayon sketch roughly depicting Clara and flowers (actually requested of and drawn by her father over breakfast): "Oh, Clara!  What a lovely drawing you did.  Can I really have it?"

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Enthusiastically, messily, eating orange segments:
"Mm.  Disgusting!"