conversations

My Name is Susie by Susie Lubell

a selfie with my translator

a selfie with my translator

My name is Susie. 

That's all I knew how to say but it turned out to be enough to get us started.

We went on a hike on Saturday with a small group of Israeli families from the area where we live. Joining us were three Palestinian families from the same area, but the other side of the checkpoint. We all met at a gas station that's in a kind of no man zone and together we crossed the road and headed down a path toward the springs in the village of Hussan. I found out about the walk via Facebook and some activist friends of mine who are involved in a group called Path of Hope and Peace. I had met one of the organizers at this same gas station a few months before. We have a common friend. And another organizer belongs to our synagogue. 

Fewer Palestinian families joined than expected because on this particular Saturday there were ten weddings in Hussan. The walk was beautiful and I struck up a few conversations with our hosts/guides. Ali is a gardener and works for several families in our town. He has a permit to work anywhere in Israel, he told me. He also told me that Israelis tell him he looks like Israeli singer Eyal Golan, which he kind of does. We laughed about that. Ameen also joined and brought his two girls Meervat and Mayeece, ages 10 and 7. He is a tour guide from Tekoa and speaks English very well. 

When we finally got down to the spring, I noticed other families there, not part of our group. The adults kept to themselves but the kids seemed curious. There were about eight kids who all looked to be between nine and eleven years old. Spindly bodies, dripping wet with spring water. Frenetic conversations. Animated gestures. The teasing tone of fifth graders, universally understood despite any language barriers. I can spot fifth graders a mile away. It's my favorite age. They noticed me too and shouted HELLO! GOODBYE! SHALOM! 

I turned around and walked right up to them and said, Isme Susie. My name is Susie. Sadly it's about the only thing I know how to say in Arabic. I pointed to myself and repeated, Isme Susie. 

The boys went crazy. Shrieking their own names. Laughing. 

Shwe shwe, I said. Slow down. Isme Susie. Then I pointed to each one. 

Isme Mustafa
Isme Osama
Isme Mohamad...

I had their attention now so I started to say ONE, TWO, THREE in English. Soon all the boys were shouting the numbers in English up to ten. Then they waited for my next move.

ECHAD, SHTAYIM, SHALOSH...

They all chimed in on the Hebrew numbers too.

Then I said, Arabiya?

Immediately they started screaming the numbers in Arabic.

Shwe shwe, I said. Then the boys counted slowly from one to ten so that I could count with them. At that point my nine-year-old daughter joined in. She knows the numbers in Arabic too. The conversation continued. I understood they wanted to know how old is my daughter and her grade in school. Most of the boys were indeed in fifth grade. I told them my son is in fifth grade and motioned for him to join us. I introduced him and the boys were careful to repeat his name. Ameen's daughter Meervat knew a little English and helped with some translation. They asked where I was from. AMRIKA!!!! I also managed to convey that I live in Tsur Hadassah. They know it's close by. Then one by one they wanted me to watch as they ran and jumped in the spring again. SUSIE!! SUSIE!! I hooted and hollered for them and gave them my hearty approval. 

As we were leaving I said goodbye to my young friends and passed out high fives and fist bumps. My son asked how I could talk to them if I don't know any Arabic. I just told them my name, I said. That's all it took. 

Life goes on by Susie Lubell

In process
Code Red has moved on too.

Life does go on as made sparkling clear by my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Between the posts about missiles falling and where, Israeli Air Force strikes, meetings with UN officials and heads of state, and images of children running to bomb shelters, houses turned to rubble, blown-up buses and Hamas thugs dragging suspected collaborators naked through the street from the back of a motorcycle, I discovered that the Twinkie factory closed down and lots of people were freaked out. And I guess General Petreus had an affair. Shocker. And a lot of people are  feeling the Thanksgiving spirit, grateful for health, family, friends. The Very Brady Christmas special aired on Wednesday. Traffic in LA is still awful. Shocker. A few friends got haircuts. Pretty good ones too. A few went to Disneyland. Some of you read some good books or made a new apron or baked cookies (in your new apron). One of you chipped a tooth. Ouch! A few of you had dim sum (and my heart ached for California). And Fiona Apple cancelled her tour to be at home with her dying pit bull.

The rest of this post is at The Times of Israel.

Happy Thanksgiving America.

Conversation by Susie Lubell

Mt Hood
Mt Hood from Trillium Lake

Him: Do people die from the lava on Mt Hood?
Me: No sweetie. Mt Hood isn't an active volcano anymore. It stopped spitting out lava a long time ago.
Him: Then why do people die there every year?
Me: Nobody dies there. Who told you that?
Him: Danny told me that people die on Mt Hood every year.
Me: thanks Danny... Yes, people try to climb Mt Hood every year and sometime a few of them die up on the mountain.
Him: Why?
Me: Sometimes there are storms and people slip on ice or they fall a really long way and hit their heads or it's too cold.
Him: Why do people climb it if you can die?
Me: Some people really like to climb mountains. They like to climb all the way to the top and then say they climbed to the top.
Him: Why?
Me: Because they're stupid.

The end.

The case for maternity leave by Susie Lubell

Milk Brain
Above: picture of what nursing does to my son
Below: transcript of what nursing does to my brain

This is my first time being self employed after having a baby so it's been somewhat challenging staying away from work. Mainly because no one is currently paying me. And even though I've let it be known that I'm mostly on maternity leave, I'm still kind of taking orders but mostly not. So when a potential client called me the other day asking about a ketubah for an August wedding, I understood why maternity leave is so critical, especially in the first few months. This is how the conversation went:

her: So how does it work exactly?
me: Well, basically once you decide on a design and make your buy, I mean buy your transaction. I mean make your transaction, then I will send you the different texts to choose from and something to write in your information. Like a form. On the computer. A pdf.
her: You mean like an in-take form?
me: Yes. that. And then you fill it in with your details and tell me which text you want for the inside. That I can flow in. For the Hebrew part and the English too. which you can also write yourself. But you don't have too. I have texts. Jesus, someone take the phone away from me.
her: Can you send the texts now so I can get a head start?
me: Sure, no problem. Just send me your email address in an ETSY convo.
her: How about if you just write it down since we're on the phone.
me: Right. good idea. I'll just write that down.
her: Great. I really appreciate your taking this order even though you're on leave.
me: Yes. I appreciate you too. I mean *it*. I appreciate it. The order. And you, too. Thanks.

Remind me not to go on the radio or on any talk shows in the next few months since I sound like a moron.

Everyone has a butt by Susie Lubell

Bottoms
It took every bit of restraint and good judgement to not post the picture of my daughter at age two wearing my knee high boots up to her naked tush. Instead a picture of her with her cousin with their Saba.

These conversations never get old. The ones about vaginas and penises that you have with a four year old. And when you're pregnant and pretty explicit with your kids about how baby comes out, then conversation returns to this topic very often. The other day I was driving my daughter for her ear check-up and she starts in about how only girls have vaginas and only boys have penises. And our baby has a penis because he's a boy. But everyone has a butt. Then she listed everyone she knew who has a butt.

Ben has a butt.
Jonah has a butt.
Sienna has a butt.
Aba has a butt.
Mommy has a butt.
Grandma has a butt.
Shalev has a butt.
Saba has a butt.
Savta has a butt.
Saba has a butt.
Talia with the long hair has a butt.
Dr. Murray has a butt.
Aunt Jenny has a butt.

So we're all the same in the back! (her words).

How awesome is that? Why can't we all just get along since we all have butts? I'm going straight to the UN with this revelation.

Talking shit by Susie Lubell

Potty

I have a secret. I encourage potty talk in our house. Poo and pee are funny and everyone knows it so, for instance, when my daughter slips on a stray sock in the hallway and bumps her head, we point our fingers at the sock and say in earnest you're a poo poo sock! And then we turn around and stick our butts out at the sock. And my daughter is no longer crying.

It's childish. I know. And largely inappropriate. And many things about excrement are not funny at all. But many things are hilarious. Now the dinner table is another story. The rule is that if we talk about potty stuff at the dinner table then we have to talk about chicken fingers and salad while on the toilet. That makes them laugh every time and the distraction causes them to forget what they were saying.

There are times when we take shit seriously. Like the other day we were hopping trains for the afternoon and ended up at Sunnyvale station when I was suddenly gripped by the runs. Thankfully and not a moment too soon I spied a public bathroom at the station. It had a keypad which worried me, but then we saw someone exit so we ran and caught the door. The kids came in with me and after warning them about what was coming, they huddled in the furthest corner.

Him: Do you have diarrhea?
Me: Yes, sweetie. It seems so. Did you ever have diarrhea?
Him: Yes. I don't like it. It's like the kaki flies out of your tushy at light speed.
Me: Exactly.
Her: You stink mommy.

But back to potty talk. I urge you to incorporate potty talk into your arsenal of distraction techniques. Kids are fighting? Go up and smell both of their butts and say, who made a poo poo? I guarantee they will stop fighting and fall over laughing. This is probably only worthwhile if both are out of diapers.

I'll understand if you don't want your kids to play at our house any more.

Cat's out of the bag by Susie Lubell

Kitty

It started with my son asking if he'd ever had a pacifier, to which I answered no. Not for lack of trying though.

Him: Did I ever suck my thumb?
Me: No. You sucked on the ears and tail of your Kitty so I had to cut them off because they smelled horrible.
Him: No you didn't. His ears are right here (pointing to the sides of his face, which kind of stick out, but are not ears).
Me: Those are Kitty's cheeks. His ears were here (pointing to where I cut them off).
Him: (Whimpering) Why did you cut Kitty? (sniff sniff)

Oops. I mean I just figured he knew that I'd cut off Kitty's ears because there were no ears and no tail and it's very clear where they used to be. But suddenly he was grieving for his disfigured kitty. The cat that he'd slept with every day since he was born. Well that's not true since this one was actually the one we got when he was six months old because my husband had lost the original and as a first time parent I was certain that kitty was an integral part of our sleep system and I was not willing to forgo another second of sleep because we didn't have the damn cat. The point is this is a very well loved kitty. But the ears and tail had to go. They were biohazard.

So then he demanded a new kitty. He has this thing with everything being just right. He doesn't want unwanted food on the side of his plate; he wants it off. Or to keep his empty juice box next to him in the car. He wants it in the front with me so he doesn't have to see it. Used goods. And it made me sad that suddenly Kitty was a hideous creature to him. I told him I could sew the ears back on but he wanted a new one because he'd be able to see the white thread. Brother.

But I found some mustard color thread and sewed back one ear good as new. Which I might add was no simple task since that ear spot was all full of thick seams and such. He was pleased. So was Kitty. But when I looked for the second ear to sew back, it appears to have gone missing. Which was a big problem tonight at bed time. He was very unhappy to sleep with a one-eared cat. Very unhappy indeed. He was sobbing about it. He wanted me to take off the ear I'd already sewn on. When pigs fly kiddo. I worked hard on that ear and there was no chance I was taking apart all of my work. I just let him cry and cry until finally he quieted down. I almost clocked his ear but I kept it together. I was torn between wanting him to feel some empathy toward the one-eared cat and just wanting him to go to bed. I opted for the latter and spared him the lecture. I find that the less I talk the better. But when will he learn to love thy one-eared neighbor?

I am so screwed if I can't find that other cat ear by tomorrow.

Favilla by Susie Lubell

For the last year my son has been kind of learning how to read. Meaning he won't ever read a word when you ask him. And after a particularly annoying session reading Hop on Pop I decided to stop asking him. In school they taught his some "site" words. So he can read yes and no and his name and my name and a handful of other very important things. Although he claims to not be able to read the sign on my door that says GO AWAY. Just kidding. About the sign. No sign.

For several months he wanted to spell everything. And at first we had to do each letter at a time but soon he could spell whole words after me. And then he'd ask how to spell sentences. Mommy how do you spell, can we go to Starbucks and get a morning bun?

But until now he has not really been interested in reading. In fact his latest interest is in words that rhyme.

Him: Mommy, what rhymes with purple?
Me: Nothing.
Him: It has to have a rhyme.
Me: Murple.
Him: Is murple a word?
Me: No.
Him: So what's the rhyme?
Me: Nothing.
Him: It has to have a rhyme.
Me: Gurple.
Him: Is gurple a word...?

And then this morning, out of the clear blue, while I was sending an email and he was playing with my dad's old ukulele I overheard this:

Ef A Fa
Vee Eye Vi
Fa Vi
El A La
Favilla

And so it goes the first word he ever read was the brand of my dad's old ukulele. Favilla. Owned and operated in New York by the Favilla Family (pictured above) from 1890 to 1986.

Thirty minutes by Susie Lubell

The other day I was putting my sneakers on to go to the gym and my son asked when I'd be back.

Me: About half an hour.
Him: Is that how long you're supposed to go to the gym?
Me: It's a good amount of time.
Him: Is that because the lady in the exercise video told you?
Me: No, but that's how long she exercises too.
Him: How long is half an hour?
Me: 30 minutes.
Him: 30 minutes is a long time.
Me: It's not too long. I'll be back soon.

Pause. I actually thought the conversation was over.

Him: It's longer than 29 minutes.
That's when he flashed me a giant grin.

Toddler Election by Susie Lubell

You’ll forgive me if I’m a little giddy. I’m still enjoying the post-election after-glow.

I’ve mentioned this before but it warrants repeating on this historical day following an outstanding presidential campaign and win by President elect Barack Obama. Using some tricky site metering magic I can see what terms people are searching for when they end up at my site. The most popular term by far is “toddler erection”. So I alternately feel thrilled to be able to offer some comfort to parents shocked by their little boys’ unpredictable wee wees and freaked out to think that maybe people without little boys are searching on this term for reasons I don’t even want to consider. A distant second to “toddler erection” is “toddler mariachi costume”. Odd, but true.

So where is she going with this…? I was mainly just free associating. Election. Erection. I actually intended to write about my experience watching as Brian Williams on NBC called the election last night at 8:00. I was sitting on the couch with my little boy. This was his second presidential election but we won’t count the first one since he was only a month old and we elected Bush. That one’s a throw-away. He took a little bit of interest in this election. In the last few weeks we’ve been talking a lot about Obama and McCain. Or rather, I’ve been brainwashing him to think like me.

Me: We like Obama
Him: We like McCain too.
Me: No, we only like Obama.
Him: Who likes McCain?
Me: Other people, but not us.
Him: We like Obama.
Me: Right.

And while we were waiting for Obama to take the stage my son got bored and wanted to go to sleep. So I read him his stories and tucked him in just in time for me to watch our new president make his acceptance speech. And what a speech. I especially loved when he channeled his inner preacher and got a little cadence going in his voice. Yes we can. And how he wove in the story of Ann Nixon Cooper. Yes we can. And conjured up the spirits of Lincoln and MLK Jr. Yes we can.

I mean the Republicans may have Joe the Plumber but darn it all if we don’t have our own Bob the Builder.

Can we fix it?
Yes we can.

Oh God by Susie Lubell

Last week on our way home from the children's Rosh Hashana service (which by the way is definitely the way to go since it's only 45 minutes long and includes a funny skit) my son says, what's Adonai?

Me: Huh?
Him: What's Adonai?
Me: Adonai? (I'm buying time here).
Him: Yes, Adonai. What is it?
Me: Adonai is God.
Him: What's God?
Me: God is something that's inside of people that helps them make good decisions and be good to each other. Like sharing toys. And being honest. And helping mommy. Everyone has Adonai inside them.
Him: What about the bad man?
Me: What bad man? (Oh jesus. I mean, Adonai. Where is he going with this?)
Him: The man who rides the giant lawn mower at the park.
Me: He's a bad man?
Him: Yes. He makes a lot of noise with his lawn mower.
Me: That's why he's a bad man?
Him: Yes.
Me: (with a sigh of relief) He's actually a good man and has Adonai in him because he helps keep the park nice for us to play in even though it probably hurts his ears when he does all that mowing.
Him: Okay.
(pause)
Him: What's Oh, Adonai?
Me: Oh God.
Him: Okay.

Nice way to start out the year. Having an existential conversation with a three year old. Pretty cool.

By the way, today is his birthday. My son is four. I remember soon after he was born I took him with me to go vote. And as we watched in horror as Bush was re-elected, I thought ADONAI, my son's going to be FOUR by the time we'll have a chance to get rid of this clown. And here we are. My son is four. The bad man's term is dwindling. Maybe by the grace of Adonai we'll have reason to celebrate in a few weeks.

Airport Absurdity by Susie Lubell

A few weeks ago my husband and I took a short trip to Vancouver because I was attending a conference so we figured we'd maximize on the free hotel room and take a much needed vacation from our darling children. My mom and aunt came to watch the kids for five days while we loafed around one of the coolest cities I've been to in a long while.

But it feels weird to write about sitting in cafes, reading books, walking around, seeing movies, listening to Celtic street music (it was St. Patrick's Day) and generally enjoying each other's company. I mean, what do you care right? Who wants to hear about boring happy times, except our mothers. So I'll spare you.

I will however take a moment to comment on airport security. How is it that nearly seven years have passed since 9/11 and we STILL suck at airport security? It's shocking to me every time. My husband's Israeli and I spent a few years living there myself and I am telling you the Israelis know how to do airport security. And yes, it's a relatively tiny airport with relatively little traffic when compared to SFO or JFK or whatever. And yes, the Israelis use racial and ethnic profiling. Bad Bad Bad. Shame on them. But it is the most secure airport in the world and you can still bring a bottle of water on the plane. And you don't have to take off your jacket, your belt, your shoes, disassemble your stroller, and drink your own expressed breast milk to prove you're not a hijacker. Last time we were there we pushed our double stroller right through a side gate. No need to wake up sleeping babies or rip them from their precious kitties or softies or wubbies to send through an x-ray machine. That's part of why this trip to Canada was so enjoyable. I mean just being in an airport without kids feels completely decadent. Throw in a latte and we're talking near nirvana.

But even without the kids I was still annoyed (which may just mean that I need to practice meditation). Maybe in fact BECAUSE I had less to worry about without babies to shuttle and more time to critique what amounts to, at least in my unimportant opinion, a total security circus.

After we finally got through possibly the slowest line I have ever stood in, my husband and I sat in some chairs on the side to put our clothes back on and just watch the other people file through. I swear I felt like we were on one of the candid camera shows (that are actually filmed in Denmark but then set to music for syndication in the US. Like Menthos commercials). They pulled a guy to the side and told him to take off his belt. Then hold his belt over his head. What? That's when we started to giggle. What was the TSA dude telling this guy?

Sir, could you please remove your belt?
Could you please put your belt over your head?
Can you please remove your shoes?
Can you please put your shoes over your head?
Sir, could you stand on your belt please?
Can you please stand on one foot and hold your left shoe and belt over your head?

I once went through security with my daughter and they actually asked me to take off her little Robeez shoes. Good grief. If they were looking for explosives, they should have checked her diaper.

The IKEA Incident by Susie Lubell

Yesterday was a beautiful day but instead of spending it with my husband and my daughter on a hike with our friends, I decided we needed to buy my son a twin mattress, a comforter and some sheets. And we needed to do this at IKEA on the busiest day of the week. He'd been sleeping on the floor in either his room or our room for the past six months and I just wanted him in his room. His toddler bed was too small and he didn't like sleeping in it anyway and since his sister is now sleeping through the night I just decided it was time. We talked about it and he was excited about his new mattress so we set out on what would turn out to be the worst day ever or at least since last Thursday when we flew home from Israel (a story for another time).

We arrived in good spirits. I found the comforter I wanted, he picked out the comforter cover and sheets, all we had to do was go upstairs to look at the bed, find out where to get it in the warehouse, buy it, and drive home.

Next to the stairs going up I ask my son if he wants to take the stairs or the elevator. Big mistake for we soon spiraled into an epic session of toddler remorse. He picked the elevator. So I get a cart to put our things in, put him in the cart and we take the elevator. We are not out of the elevator more than a minute when he starts to whine that he wanted to take the stairs. I have a "no re-do" policy now having suffered through months of toddler remorse tantrums so I try to redirect his desires. I spy a stuffed turtle. Do you want to hold tiny tim while we're in the store and then we'll take the stairs on the way down? He scoffs at the turtle idea. I point out the slide in the kids section, he forgets his troubles and goes to the slide. Tantrum averted.

After two slides we find his bed and he starts whimpering about wanting tiny tim. So we go back and get him, I take the stuff out of the cart so that we can take the stairs as promised, we get to the bottom and I put the stuff in a new cart. This is when the drawbridge comes down on the MOAT (Mother Of All Tantrums).

Him: I want the cart from upstairs
Me: Sweetie, we're not going upstairs to get our cart. All of these carts are the same.
Him: I want my cart from upstairs.
Me: But you said you wanted to take the stairs so we had to leave that cart upstairs. We'll just take another cart.
Him (sobbing): I want to go upstairs to get the cart!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Son, if you can't stop crying we are going to leave the store.
Him (shrieking): I want to go upstairs!!!!!!!!!!

So I pick him up and he's kicking and sobbing and shrieking so I have to hold him sideways with both hands like a ramming post and walk out of the store while he's screaming I want to buy my mattress. No mattress for you muchacho.

By this point I am livid because we have just wasted two hours, we have no mattress, my son is basically having a seizure over a shopping cart. So I throw him in the car and slam the door and get in on my side and turn on the car as if I'm about to drive even though his seat belt isn't on and he starts to FREAK OUT. I'm not safe! I'm not safe! which of course I know but I want him to feel extra bad for making me hate him. So I put the car back in park again and put on his seat belt and then I go into my quiet voice. I am not buying your mattress. I am never taking you to any store. You do not know how to behave. We are going home.

He's still begging for his mattress and in my head I'm thinking I really don't want to have to spend any more time at IKEA. I've already wasted one day of my weekend. So we drive to an empty part of the parking lot and stop and I wait until he stops crying. And finally we're at a point where we can talk about what all went down in the store. He promises to behave so I lay out exactly what our plan is when we go back in the store including an explanation of shopping carts and how they are ALL THE SAME (FUCKING) THING. He understands. By now it's lunchtime so the return visit also includes a stop at the cafeteria for some Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce (I love that stuff) and some macaroni and cheese for the kid. All is well again. We buy our items and he falls asleep in the cart. A wave of peace washes over IKEA.

But the IKEA incident doesn't end at IKEA. More later on inaugural night with the new mattress.

The Stove Pipe by Susie Lubell

One of my son's favorite books is a story, based on the three little pigs, called The Three Little Javelinas. It's a terrific book. I would know since I've read it about 900 times. My husband's brother and his family live on a Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona and bought this for my son since it kind of has a southwestern/multicultural twist. Plus the illustrations are awesome. Anyway he loves this book.

Toward the end, the coyote (not the big bad wolf in this telling) can't blow down the adobe house that the sister javelina built (as a third child and only girl I closely identify with her ingenuity and forward thinking) so he climbs up on the roof, makes himself really skinny and tries to slide down the stove pipe. And so beings my cognitive journey into the mind of a three year old...

On this particular page of the book, the coyote is standing on one foot in a prowl posture with a big sinister and toothy grin. I noticed that every time we would read this book my son would roll onto his stomach and look away. Then one day my son ask to wear his "skinny" red shirt.

Me: What?
Him: With the skinny!
Me: With the what?
Him (pulling down the shirt): With the skinny alligator.

He shows me his red shirt with an alligator on it and the alligator is showing all of his teeth so my son says Mommy, he's doing the skinny! with kind of a nervous, yet enthusiastic giggle. And now I get it. Sort of.

For weeks he continued to ask for this book but then roll away when the skinny coyote page appeared. Then he started asking me to turn the page back so he didn't have to see the "skinny". Okay. Then we went on a hike near our house and he saw a water drainage pipe and he pointed and shouted It's the stove pipe! And then he showed all his teeth and said he was the skinny which sent him into hysterics.

And since then every time we pass by something that's tall and cylindrical or even just cylindrical, he points out the stove pipe. In the airport on the way to Israel we saw about 57 stove pipes - lots of exposed architecture in airports. Yes, sweety, there's another stove pipe. Imagine that.

Then it gets even more interesting. We get to my in laws and there's a picture of his aunt Jenny (my mother-in-law's sister) in the office and she's got this big toothy grin and my son asked if we could turn the picture around because aunt Jenny was acting like a skinny coyote. What I wouldn't give to spend some time in his little brain...

But our journey came to a climax later that week when something blew up at the potash factory where my father-in-law used to be a project manager. They asked him to come down and figure out what to do so he went with my husband and my son for some generational male bonding time. This place is literally a gazillion stove pipes all welded together. I only heard the story second hand but apparently my son was in total shock when he went in there and saw these giant furnaces and pipes and lord knows what else is in that factory.

Me: Where did you go?
Him: To Saba's work.
Me: Where does Saba work?
Him: In a stove pipe!
Me: You went to Saba's factory?
Him: No, his stove pipe where he burns the skinny coyote.

So I give a big smile and he says, you're being skinny mommy. And I say, thank you. Who doesn't like to be called skinny? Even if, in his world, it means sly and toothy.

Scarred by Susie Lubell

We spent the night on Saturday at my husband's aunt's house in Santa Cruz. It was great actually because my son LOVES Aunt Jenny so we dropped him off with his sister and then went to my sister-in-law's 40th birthday party. They also live in Santa Cruz. Can't beat free babysitting from a favorite auntie.

And if Aunt Jenny were a blogger she would write her own account of the evening but from this end of the wine bottle, it was a really fun evening.

The next morning was less fun namely because while I was in the other room putting on my clothes (I swear, the minute I turn my back...) my son tripped over himself and whacked his face on the brick fireplace. OUCH! So I heard the ominous thud, then the eerie silence, then the wailing. And there was lots of blood but I couldn't really tell where it was coming from because for the ten minutes before the accident he was putting Aunt Jenny's rouge all over his nose and forehead.

Did he break his nose? Crack open his forehead? In fact I think he bit through his lip. Hard to say. But it was bloody and scrapey. So I held him and pressed a washcloth against his mouth and rocked him and sang songs until he caught his breath. And once the bleeding stopped I washed off all the make-up to get a sense for the real damage which thankfully was limited to the right side of his mouth. He looked like he'd been in a playground brawl.

This morning he commented that his boo boo is brown now and not red.

Me: That means it's getting better honey and it's going away.
Him: Ya, it's going away by himself. To Aunt Jenny's.
Me: Your boo boo's going back to Aunt Jenny's?
Him: Ya, to the fire where I got it. It's going back there.

So THAT'S where the boo boo's go when they're all gone. I learn new things from this kid every day.

The Duckie Towel by Susie Lubell

I haven't been blogging lately and I can only blame it on my having gone back to work, albeit part time but work nonetheless, and literally having no time. Zero time. Which is best illustrated by the fact that for the last three days everyone in my family, including my husband, has been using the duckie hooded towel meant for my daughter with the little googly eyes and the orange feet hanging down. Why don't we have other towels? Fair question. And the truth is that we have plenty of towels but they are either in the washer, the dryer or folded in the guest room and I have not found the thirty seconds it takes to bring them into the bathroom so that we can dry off with normal sized towels. I mean that is RIDICULOUS. I walked into the bathroom and saw my husband patting dry his privates with the duckie beak and I thought, this can't be good.

And speaking of privates and privacy, the topic came up when my son asked to be by himself in his room the other day.

Him: I want to be by myself mommy.
Me: You want me to give you some privacy?
Him: Yes, I want some privacy. Gimme some privacy.
Me: You say, Mommy I'd like some privacy please.
Him: Mommy, I want some privacy please.
Me: Okay, I'll leave and give you some privacy.
Him: No, I want your privacy!
Me: Okay, I'm going.
Him: No, give me the privacy!
Me: Sweetie, privacy is when you are by yourself.
Him: No, give it to me. I want it.
Me: I can give it to you only if I leave.
Him: DON'T GO!!!! I WANT THE PRIVACY!!!! WAHHHH!!!
Me: Bubba (term of endearment), privacy isn't something you can hold or eat. It's not a toy. It's just what you get when you're alone. Why am I explaining this? I should just get him a toy and call it privacy and be done

This conversation continued along the same vein for about a half hour until I finally said, do you want some chocolate milk instead? And he said yes.

We'll have to revisit privacy. Maybe when there are enough towels to go around.

Like mother like daughter by Susie Lubell

I think it's safe to say that my mother is my biggest fan, which as it turns out is both fabulous and irritating. Because we all would rather Oprah or Bill Clinton or Sting was our biggest fan right? That would mean we'd really arrived. Alas, none of those people have heard of me yet (unless Sting has been googling about potty training lately). So it's mom. Which is fine. I totally appreciate that she thinks I'm great. I have always felt her love and support and for that I'm grateful - at least now anyway. It wasn't always the case. There were many years that her unconditional devotion and blind admiration was no match for my self-doubt and insecurity. For every compliment I had a snarky response.

Her: I wish I had your hair.
Me: My hair is disgusting.
Her: I wish I was tall like you.
Me: I'm not tall.
Her: I wish I had your creativity.
Me: I haven't had an original thought in years.
Her: I wish I was as organized.
Me: You mean neurotic?

Every time I came home to visit, she'd want to know where I bought whatever I was wearing. When she came to visit me, she'd look through my goodwill pile and want to take things home. It felt like she was trying to be me. Which of course I hated. Why would anyone want to be me after all?

And then I had my own daughter. Baby girl is only six months old but I can already see the beginnings of total devotion and admiration. I actually found myself asking my hair stylist to make my hair color match my daughter's. Her hair is so dark and shiny. Make it like that. I just think everything about her is so perfect. And of course I would - I made her.

So now I get it. Thanks ma.

MAC happy by Susie Lubell

Is it wrong that I'd rather be playing with my new 20 inch iMac than hanging out with my kids? I haven't used a Mac since I was a sophomore in college15 years ago. The first computer I ever used was a Mac. Actually it was an Apple 2e and I remember that I wrote a paper for 12th grade english on it. Before that I basically wrote everything by hand. I have nice handwriting. But I digress...

The computer belonged to my friend Andrea's mom. Then she upgraded to the little grayish beige box called a Mac and it had a little floppy disc drive which I always thought was so odd since the disc that went in their was not at all floppy. But it wasn't until I went to college that I had to start writing a lot of papers. Totally clueless I asked my Rhetoric professor (who was SOOO cute and named Noah) where the computer lab was and he gave me directions and gave me a diskette and sent me on my way. At that time there were only ten Mac stations and about 30 PC stations in all of the labs. There was always a line for the Macs. So one day I just bit the bullet and hopped on a PC, where I stayed for the next 15 years.

The Mac has changed a lot since the days of black and white screens in a little beige box. This thing is BEAUTIFUL. I'm basically in love. There are a few things I miss - my right click for one. And the photo program, iPhoto, is a little idiosyncratic. But I'm adjusting.

And while I do obviously enjoy spending time with my kids, these last few days what I wouldn't have given for a babysitter. Instead I do everything in my power to make them nap at the same time so I'll have a few precious hours playing with my new toy. My son is on to me I thnk.

Him: Why is baby crying?
Me: She's taking her nap.
Him: But she's crying.
Me: She'll stop soon and take her nap.
Him: Is she ti-yud?
Me: Yes.
Him: Then why is she screaming?
Me: She doesn't know that she needs to sleep but she does and so do you.
Him: So you can use your big, white computer?

Foiled.

Milk brain by Susie Lubell

My maternity leave is quickly coming to an end. I'm actually very grateful for the extended leave (six months!) and I'm only going back three days a week which is delightful. But I'm sad to leave my baby girl. That, in addition to the fact that I detest pumping, my daughter won't take a bottle from anyone but me, or tolerate being held by anyone but me, and there are seven other runny-nosed germy kids at the family daycare where she's enrolled. How I hate snot...

But I'm especially nervous about being a professional again with responsibilities outside of the domestic domain. Because I tell you my brain is mush. And it's not so obvious at first glance. I don't say things like, "I'll be in the meeting in a second; I have to make poopy." I just can't remember anything and the wiring in my brain is a little wacko.

An example:
I took the baby to my mom's house in southern California for a long weekend a few weeks ago. I knew that my flight home was at 8:00 pm so we got to the airport at 6:45 but San Jose (my destination) is not on the monitor so I ask the curbside guy to go inside and see when the San Jose flight is leaving. He comes out and says it’s been delayed until 7:20. This makes PERFECT sense to me for some reason. I figure I have a little extra time. Baby is screaming and now I've leaked through my bra and shirt so I need to change in my mom’s car. By now it’s 7:00 and I bring her inside to nurse her before we check in, knowing the plane is leaving at 7:20 (!) but also knowing that my flight is at 8:00 (?!). At 7:18 I jump up panicked with the baby hanging off my boob and run up to the counter blabbering about having probably missed my flight to San Jose. They look up my name and I’m not even on the flight, which is currently taxiing down the runway. This makes no sense. Then they take my credit card number and look me up and apparently I am scheduled to leave at 8:00, as I thought, but to Phoenix! I booked my return flight to Phoenix! So they put me on the flight to San Jose for the 8:00 am the next morning and my mom comes back to get me at the airport. We get in the car and drive to a Chinese restaurant for dinner (15 minutes from the airport) and I realize my suitcase is not in the trunk. I left it outside the airport on the sidewalk. Praying that they haven't called in the bomb squad to blow up this "suspicious item" we drive back and it’s waiting for me at the Southwest desk. The woman there was about to send it off to Phoenix.

I asked my mom, did it make sense to YOU that my 8:00 pm flight had been DELAYED to 7:20? She said of course not, but apparently so much of what I say makes no sense to her that she just decided to go with it.

There was a study once which showed a statistically significant correlation between lactation and loss of brain functioning. I'd quote from it right now if I could remember where I put it...

Toddler Remorse by Susie Lubell

I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology which I feel entitles me to coin psychological phenomena as I see fit. My toddler suffers from what I like to call "Toddler Remorse", a quizzical little syndrome whereby the afflicted chooses option A and the very next second regrets this choice with every fiber in his/her being wishing only for option B. Until option B is granted and then suddenly A becomes the favored option. This scenario has played out several thousand times in our household.

For a while, between age 24 months and 30 months, this back and forth was a regular part of every single day. Every action or choice was wrought with indecision, regret, remorse, and frustration. Something as simple as taking off pajamas turned into a heated exchange and finally an FBT (full blown tantrum).

Me: okay sweetie, please take off your pajamas
Him: No, mommy do it.
(I go to unzip)
Him: (hysterically) No, I do it!
Him: No, mommy do it!
Him: No, I do it!
Me: (leaving the room)
Him: (hysterically crying) MOMMY!!!!

Nighttime is the worst. He wanted a bath, he didn't want the bath. He wanted mommy to sing him songs, he wanted aba. He didn't want to go pee pee on the potty, he wanted to go pee pee but only with aba, ONLY WITH MOMMY, ONLY IN MY PULL-UP, WAAHHHHHHH!! You get the idea. The condition is worsened by sleepiness.

Even this evening, he asked me to take him to the bathroom to go pee pee but then he didn't want to go back to his room. I said he had to back so he insisted I carry him. I said he could hold my hand and walk with me. He insisted on being carried so I gave in. I carried him back to bed and then he said, "No I want to hold your hand!" So I had to then carry him back to the bathroom, specifically to the bath mat (you stand there mommy) so we could reenact the transaction that had occurred only one minute before. It's unnerving!

This pattern had gone on for many months (decision, remorse, reenactment) until I finally decided that the "do over" was fueling his remorse. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too. And I was his enabler. I actually made it possible for him to have it both ways. So I stopped giving into the "do over". And over the past few weeks I've seen a significant improvement in his "condition". Of course, today I acquiesced his need to reenact, because I was tired and it was late so naturally tomorrow he'll be filled with Toddler Remorse and I'll have only myself to blame. I tell you though it is a powerful tool, to be able to go back and set the record straight. Unfortunately it's not something that gets to happen a lot in the adult world. Better to learn that lesson early. Sometimes I could use a parenting "do over". I would have nipped this little behavior in the bud months ago - save my son and myself a lot of future therapy.