Friday, July 29, 2011

Haiku re: Clara's crappy morning

We arrive during
the preschool fire-drill.  Oh no!
Routine disrupted.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Winton Said

Me [fastening his car seat belts]: "I love you, Buddy"
Winton: "I don't love you, Mummy!"

Winton: "Mummy, in the car I told you I don't love you."
Me: "I remember."
Winton: "Oh, OK then."

Gross things, OTHER people

It generally feels like I am the epicenter of all that is disgusting and requires onerous clean-up.  Perhaps that's narcissism.

I feel happily peripheral just now, for last night it was Clara, not me, who slid messily through a large, viscous puddle of dog vomit, landing on her back in the midst of it and winding up with semi-digested kibble in her hair and between her toes.  Granted, I had to clean Clara.  But still, ordinarily it would have been me lying in the puddle.

Also, remember the Iguana Playground covered in glass?  Husband called the city about it (I was too defeatist to bother).  We went by to check this morning and, behold!  Cleaner.  Still glittering with small pieces of glass, but the large shards were gone.  "Yay City!"  I thought.  "Go Baltimore!  You have exceeded my expectations."

Or at least that's what I thought until the hipster dad we see there sometimes showed up. Turns out this young man in his owlish 1950s glasses (all the rage right now: wish I was bold enough to wear them) and Tokyo T-shirt swept up the glass himself (and it was a lot of glass--many many bottles' worth) with his 16 month old son on his back.  Glittering bedamned!  His kid was crawling around the grass there in seconds while he drank coffee out of a sake flask (my kids had been told they could use the slides but nothing else because of the remaining glass fragments--thousands--I was slowly picking up and putting in a baggy).  Good for him.  I'm awed.

Still too much glass for my comfort, and Baltimore still sucks.  But that man cleaned the f*ing playground!
I'll be back with more ziplock and gloves to do small shard duty in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


1) Yesterday: A tick in Winton's ear, one of the variety with potential to bear Lyme disease.

2) Over the last weeks: though I'm playing at "calm," my stomach won't let me drink coffee anymore and I think my hair is falling out.  Stress, anyone?

3) I am equally scared of not finishing the third culture lit book by my deadline and of finishing it, because what if I finish and it's crap?

4) It is far more manageable to stress about Winton contracting Lyme disease than it is to close this page and confront "Chapter 4, aka conclusion."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winton, self-diagnosis

Me: Winton, you sound like you've caught your sister's cold.  How are you feeling today?
Winton: Uuuuuumm.  Naughty, Mummy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Heatiness, Testiness, Tenacity

A Singapore "Singlish" thing, heatiness is: any ill-defined malaise resulting from being too hot, from eating foods that are too rich and generate "heat" in the body, or from becoming emotionally agitated.  Underwritten of course by Singapore's climate: hot hot, equatorial, hot.

The mood that characterizes Clara's teachers these days as the contrasting organizational and aesthetic styles of the two of them clash repeatedly.  Also a mood that results from heatiness.

Something Clara excels in.  viz. the two hour long yelling/ crying/ singing/ combative laughing jag that characterized last night's bedtime.  OMG.  When the kid is still aggressively yelling "Down by the Bay" when it is past my bedtime, after a variety of punishments clearly more exhausting to me than to her, it has been a bad, bad, evening.

More positively, Clara also continues to be tenaciously attached to Henry.  His attendance at summer camp has been sporadic, though he is there for this 2 week session.  Agonizingly, he is in a different class, so the two don't get to play together.  Clara, tenacious as ever, needled me so extremely this morning (I am feeling heaty and am still emotionally hung-over from last night) that I agreed to ask her teachers if she could play with Henry for part of the morning. 

I hate being the Mom who wants special dispensation for her indulged children . . . but I am that Mom today.  To my surprise, the teachers agreed . . . testily.  Which makes me think Clara has gotten away with something very much against the rules and that the teachers are letting it happen as a way of baiting each other.

When I left, Clara and Henry were examining a handful of ripped up grass closely, scientifically, her blond head the same in profile as his raven one.  I can't believe that after a year in separate classes, with scant chance to play together, she still considers him her best friend.  O tenacity!  I am immensely relieved that Henry is willing to requite.

Friday, July 22, 2011

In lieu of dog walk

We stayed in this morning, out of the heat (already almost 90F at 8 AM) and danced to Tatu (Russian techno from the 1990s) and Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.  I love my children for their taste in dance music.

It makes up for having to watch two episodes of Dora the Explorer every morning on roku (an experience which will, in time, result in my brain slowly leaking out my ears).  But hey, I'm even thankful about Dora: she's not a princess or a barbie, she has never mentioned wanting to be married to a handsome prince, and she wears shorts that are orange.  Insipid?  Yes.  As terrifyingly gender stereotyped as some?  Thank god.  No.  I just wish I didn't know the words to all the jingles.

On Writing

There's a line from a poem that I can't place:  "Her dark is a bag/  with a man in it"  Possibly Matthew Sweeney.  Can you help?  It's driving me nuts.

I'm thinking of it today because it so effectively captures nighttime anxiety: darkness becomes like fighting with someone in a space that itself seems to be clinging to you.  There's a hint of kittens in  bag dropped into a river about the lines too.  Darkness, Struggle, Menace.

I feel like that about having to face the next chapter of the third culture lit book.  I'm in a bag with Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible and my lap top.  Darkness, Struggle, Menace.

Let's see who's alive at the end of the month, shall we?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inflation, Winton style

There's lots in the news these days about how terrible it would be if interest rates rose here in the US.  I am financially clueless, but apparently Winton is all for inflation.

Winton: Mummy, 5 kisses?
Mummy: OK.  Mwa, one. Mwa, two.  Mwa, three.  Mwa, four.  Mwa, five.
Winton: And one more Mummy.  One more is five kisses.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

City Life

A few weeks ago neon graffiti appeared in the alley behind our house.  I was relieved, on inspection, to discover it said in a childish hand "Trevor Loves She'ana" rather than something like "RIP Devonne"(which would have been gang related, and we have had gang graffiti in the alley before) or "Hatin the white-Ts" (racial, and I'm just waiting for the day we get some of that).  Anyway, nice innocent boy loves girl in what looks like fluorescent orange paint stolen from a BGE gas pipe marking crew.

Better than the day a boy (nineish?) set fire to garbage in the alley.
Better than the craps players who were hanging out in the alley last summer.

But city life doesn't let you get too relieved.

This morning I took the children to what they call "The Iguana Playground."  Clearly part of a neighborhood improvement project, this is a vacant lot which has been transformed into a surprisingly nice preschooler playground: slides, climbing frame shaped like an iguana, fancy recycled tire flooring material. We often go there in the mornings because Hardie dog can come, so it is dog walk and kid outing all in one.

This morning?  Iguana playground covered in shattered wine bottles.  Evidently someone decided to use the contents of a recycling bin for smashing and crashing fun.  But this renders the playground utterly unusable.  Even if I go down and sweep, there's glass embedded in the rubbery tire flooring.  There's glass in the grass around the perimeter.  Not just a little.  Perhaps a dozen wine bottles worth.  It needs a professional clean-up crew to be crawling-child safe again and chances are there's no money for such a thing in the city budget.  It needs a monster street vacuum to hoover everything up, and then dedicated handpickers to remove remaining shards.  Aint gonna happen, I bet.  I might try a bit of cleaning on my own, but . . .  how depressing, daunting a project clean-up is.

It makes me just want to leave.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's been a while

since I ranted about the cats.  You must be dying to know that Pepita (the stray kitten, now about 7 months, who infiltrated our home in June) now insists that Clara nuzzle noses with her when we get home from school.
Also, Winton still calls her "Black Catty-Oh."

She purrs now, which is lovely.  And her coat shines. And she is an utter b*tch with her love.

EG Last night Husband and I were watching Midsomer Murders on roku while the airconditioner roared and the cats draped themselves strategically around the room.  Pepita walks up to Pumpkin (big, orange, male) and begins to lick the inside of his ears, vigorously.  This looks like affection.  Pumpkin seems to take it as affection.  But then Pepita slides her front leg over the back of his neck and begins to bite him, inside an ear.  And Pumpkin shakes his head to get her off.  And Pepita slides her body down so she can bite his jugular.  And Pumpkin propels himself, ungracefully, up and out of Pepita's embrace, lands heavily, dishevelled, and stalks off towards the kitchen.

That is how it is to be loved by Black Cat.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Winton, Weeping

Things that make my boy cry, a lot:

1) Changing his bedsheets.
2) Changing his bedsheets to Winnie the Pooh bedsheets (previous ones were plain green).
3) Having a runny nose (inevitable once he is on a good teary tantrum about the sheets).
4) Getting snot on his hands.

*As you can see, bed time last night was an ever-escalating series of traumas.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bathtime Heroics

Clara [playing]: "Oops, everybody!  I'm sinking!"
Winton [extending arm around his sister's waist]: "It's OK, Clarrr. You're safe now."


1) End the "let's try putting the children to bed half an hour later" experiment: they are irritable and grey under the eyes and, with shocking symmetry given the chaos of our mornings, I'm getting to work exactly half an hour later, which I don't like.

2) Figure out a way to keep Pepita off my feet at night because it SUCKS that even though I have children who sleep through I'm woken 3 or 4 times by a small cat gnawing lustily on my feet.

3) Develop a plan for night time anxiety so that I don't fall into the habit of (as I did last night) imagining if/how I would cope if my children died.

4) Make the heartburn go away so I can drink coffee.  My head hurts for want of sleep and caffiene.  My stomach hurts from trying to drink the caffiene my head wants.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Clara, PS

[I have a tendency to what I refer as "post-scriptionism": if I could add a post-script to every social encounter, explaining what I REALLY meant, and how I had INTENDED to act, and apologizing for bits I got WRONG, I would.  Email means that I sometimes do.  The intensity of relating to kids, and the various ways I am too irritable for the job, means I feel PS-y all the time.  Here is my PS for Clara today]

PS, Clara.

Sorry I was cranky this morning.  I shouldn't have made such a big deal out of you getting a heavy winter blanket to take to school, even though I had specified that you should take a light summer one.  You are, after all, only 4 and a 1/2.  Likewise, I shouldn't have been so irritated when you only put on one sock and one shoe and then waited for me to put on the other ones.

And at drop off: did I look annoyed during our goodbye ritual?  If I did, it wasn't at you.  I had been eavesdropping while a teacher from another classroom ripped your teacher a new one over playground schedules and your teacher's disinclination to adhere to them because of the code orange and red air quality alerts that have been a feature of our week.  I was annoyed at the teacher from the other classroom. I love you, and I want our goodbye ritual to leave you knowing that.  I like that we stick our tongues out at each other as I leave--going to school should seem like fun most of all.  I wish Winton didn't fuss so as we are trying to say goodbye.

Anyway, it was a less than perfect morning because my mood spilled over it like foul effluent backing up out of a sewer pipe.  Perhaps, however, you remember listening to jazz scat in the car on the way to school?  That bit was nice.

Love you,


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What the children said

Clara: [keen botanist, trying to remember "Crepe Myrtle," and point out one in full bloom]
"Mummy, look, the Al Qaeda tree is all pink and flowery!"

Winton: [making trenchant observations in the back of the car on the way to daycare]
"Mummy, you have a big mouth."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Animal House

I'll restrain myself from a major rant about American healthcare.  Let's just put it this way: I had a check-up this morning and Look! It's already almost 1pm.  (I thought the expense, paperwork and convolutions were supposed to mean excellent service for those of us with the privilege to afford health care?  And then there's the "if we don't call, your tests were fine" policy which works great  until you find out that last year's tests went missing so they may or may not have been fine.)

Moving on: it's 1 pm and at 2 pm I have a meeting with my writing buddy at a cafe nearer home than work, so I'm here, home, in the middle of the day.  The ac has been turned to a low setting, so it's hot. The blinds are all drawn to keep the sun out, so it's dark.  The kids are not home, so it's quiet.

Quiet but for the whimpering of Hardie, who keeps circling anxiously ("Where's the kids?  Where's the kids?  Where's the kids?").

Calm but for the intrusions of Pepita (whose ass is on this keyboard more often than my fingers are).

I realize that the three animals I have been responsible for bringing into our home (Hardie, Pumpkin, Pepita--though I generally blame Winton for having brought her home) all feature exactly the same shade of orange fur (Pepita on her chest, Hardie on his head, Pumpkin all over).  And they all follow me around when I am home alone.

I'm tired, so this all seems like it should be loaded with significance.  (Why so tired? Well, there was this morning, about which I already ranted despite saying I wouldn't, and last night, during which Pepita repeatedly attacked my hair and earlobes.  I could shut her on the other side of my bedroom door, but then she'd shove Clara and Winton's door open to hassle them.  It's better she hassle me.)

So.  And off to talk writing soon.  I can recommend having a writing buddy, by the way.  We exchange work (she reads my literary criticism, I read her fiction--clearly I have the better deal there as reading fiction is actually fun). It keeps me going to know I have to produce something for her.  Also: we meet at a congenial Baltimore cafe (go away Pepita's ass, I'm trying to type) so there's a social component.  As the months have gone on, I've started to rely on my writing buddy for therapy as well as advice regarding structure and clarity.

Pepita is prising apart the blinds now.  Must go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things Awry

They must be for I argued all morning with Winton over a pair of thick red fleece track pants which I have insisted are too hot to wear today (90F and 90% humidity).  He cried for more than 40 minutes about those damn pants.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Book That Makes This Blog Redundant

Seriously.  Everything that catalyzes momosyllabic, all the reasons I write momosyllabic, all the desperation and self-loathing and tiredness that have me collapse at the keyboard in the evening hoping for catharsis, are stated succinctly and illustrated lavishly in Go the F*ck To Sleep.
To any parent with potty mouth: read this and laugh your head off.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Clara and Winton share a room.  Ever since our trip to the Poconos in June (honestly, it started way before then) they've been keeping each other awake in the evenings.
"Clarrr, Wan talk?" asks Winton
[Maniacal laugh] responds Clara.

Because this can go on for hours, I have separated them.  Winton is now in a pack and play which he outgrew about a year ago, in the room in which I sleep.  He's yelling, at top volume, "Swiper no swiping!"

Clara is gargling with her own spit and laughing maniacally.

Efforts to shut them up escalate rather than calm (that counts for me too--I get ever angrier).

Suggestions?  Anyone?

In the meantime, to the tune of "Trailer for Sale or Rent":

Children, for sale or rent.
Cheap as 50 cents.
Blankies, and toys and pets.
Buy them with no regret.

But truth is:

Two hours of screaming loom
in their darkened bedrooms.
For they're loud and restless, screamers.
Kids get my goat.

Stormy Weather, Math

Humidity + moderate exertion on dog walk= rampant sweating
Humidity+ dogwalk= uncooperative children
3 day weekend+ return to school=fits of "I don't feel like it, Mummy"
Rampant sweating+ uncooperative children= cranky Mummy
fits of "I don't feel like it, Mummy" +  school drop off= cranky Mummy
Rampant sweating+ cranky Mummy= Yelly, Stinky Mummy, Crying Clara, Clingy Winton

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hardie Party

Clara and Winton both have birthdays within the weeks after Christmas, so I have resolved to host a small annual summer birthday party (ostensibly for the dog).  So.

Today we had Hardie Party.  The dog received a cooked bison bone for his fourth birthday, and I hosted a mere 3 extra children and three extra adults.  We had store-bought cake, cheese and crackers, watermelon, lemonade (the latter two brought by adult guests).  We played on the porch with bubble-blowers and sidewalk chalk.  Winton got the Dora doll he so badly wanted, Clara an Angelina Ballerina.
The living room is full of tiny, torn, pieces of tissue paper (evidence of happy child destructiveness).
Winton got to run around naked and managed to poop on the side of, in and next to the potty in the space of half an hour.

There is no reason for me to be as tired, greasy and haloed by hair-frizz as I am now, given the small scale of the day and occasion.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What Winton Said

To his sister, who was chasing him around the living room, flapping a large pair of pastel butterfly wings (left over from her Halloween costume) in his face:
"Sod off, Clara."
Me: "Winton, did you just tell your sister to 'Sod off'?"
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."
Me [chastened, for this implies more dire things about my vocabulary at home]: