Something Out of Nothing

Sometimes it works.

You remember to set up the coffee the night before, so in the morning all you have to do is press a button.

You bought frozen hash browns during the weekend food shop, and feel smugly virtuous as you serve your children something other than cereal on a school morning.

You remember what day it is and who is going where. You remembered to write the check, sign the permission slip, sew on the button, buy rinse aid, re-stock toilet paper.

You find a moment to write, to weed, to walk through your gardens.

The laundry is not only folded, but put away.

Things are where they are supposed to be.

You have time.

Your family is relaxed. Your stomach is calm.

You have game.

It all works.

And from two potatoes, two onions and a bag of frozen corn, you make soup. You whip up a box of Trader Joe's Birds' Nests. For kicks, you assemble a salsa of halved cherry tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, red onion and more corn.

And everyone eats it.

I love days like these.

I'm going home with a what?!

Friends of ours have a month-old baby and regularly post pictures to their website. Jeeps and I were looking at them last night and among them was that classic picture of mom and dad leaving the hospital with the newborn in the carseat. Remember that?

This is a universal moment of new parenthood which only happens with your first child. You remember it. You dressed the baby, which took half an hour. You put the baby in the carseat, which took another half hour. You signed miscellaneous papers and got your shit together and made your way down to the lobby. All the while thinking:

They're not really letting us go home with a newborn, are they?

But maybe some nurses accompanied you down, and they smiled and cooed and waved. And you smiled and cooed and waved back, all the while thinking there was no WAY they were REALLY going to let you leave...with a newborn baby. You were sure that the minute you put a toe outside the automatic sliding doors, a cacophony of security alarms would sound and a steel cage would slam down, trapping you within. The nurses would release the cage in hysterics, high-fiving each other in the glee of having caught another sucker. Then you'd be off for vigorous training and certification before you'd be allowed to take custody again.

But no, they let you go home. With a baby.

And you drove home at 20 mph, frequently checking the rearview mirror, or probably one of you rode in the backseat, who are we kidding. And you arrived home and brought in your precious bundle in the carseat (thinking damn this thing is heavy and klutzy).

And you looked at your spouse. And looked at the baby. And looked at your house. And you said:

"So now what?"

I remember saying "I guess I'll go upstairs and unpack." And then I looked down and picked up the carseat with Panda and added, "And I guess I'll take you with me..."

In Case of Emergency: Add Water

Redman was pitching a fit tonight about dessert. Or lack thereof. Whatever. You ever just reach the limit? The well of patience is dry? The tank of tolerance is empty? The needle on the Give-a-Fuckometer barely moving? I walked by where he was sprawled on the stairs, with, it so happens, my bottle of water in hand. I made a last polite request for him to go get into pajamas and brush teeth. He gave me a double-lungful of grief.

So I dumped the bottle out onto his head.

Wow, was he mad.  He howled, "Hey that's not nice!"  I didn't say anything because I was biting the inside of my cheek hard to keep from laughing.  But hey, he got up off the stairs and got moving and a minute later he was laughing through the tears and in another minute it was all laughing.  And he brushed his teeth and I told him to get three books and meet me in my bed, and he got three books and met me in my bed and we read and he's asleep up there now. So all's well.

But tell me I suck?

All I Want for Christmas

"So I've been thinking about what to ask Santa Claus for," says Panda as I'm washing her hair. "Let's hear it."

"Well, I want a Calico Critters house," is her opening bid ($99). "And a bedroom set for Julie."  Julie being Julie Allbright, her American Girl doll ($118).  "And some pajamas for her ($22) and the matching ones for me." ($40)  "Oh, and I really want an iPod!" (Whew, done deal, she's getting mine when Santa Hubby brings me an iPhone)

"What else?" I ask.

"Well, I have some questions. Y'know. Things I want to know..."

"Like?" I prompt

"Well, just if he could tell me if Heaven is real. And what it's like. And if I get to be a mermaid. But mostly what it's like and if I'll go there because then if I know, I won't be so scared."

"Ah," says I, "those are excellent questions." I'm just trying to actively listen, not take over the conversation and see where she's going with this.

"Oh, and if he can tell me what happened to Mr. Bierman, I really want to know."  This is my great-grandfather who abandoned the family and was ne'er heard from again so that branch of the family tree just ends cold. Panda is very bothered by this.

"So do I," I said, "I don't know why I never thought of asking Santa, I wonder if he knows..."

"He knows everything.  Oh and one more thing, I want to ask him to let me fly."

"Fly? You mean in an airplane?"

"No. Fly. For real. In the sky. It's my dream. I want to ask him if he'll let me and my cousins fly when they come visit us."

"...Rinse off, now," I say, and close the shower door so I can just sit down on the bathmat and think all this through.  Jeeps and I always leave a note from Santa on the dining room table, next to the plate of cookie crumbs and half-drunk glass of milk.  I'm blogging this half to preserve the moment and half to take notes on what Santa needs to cover in his yearly missive.

By the way, Redman wants a snowmobile for Christmas.


I've got to write some of these down, they are just too funny....

Scene—driving to daycare

Redman: Hey, look at the car over there, Mom

Me: Oh...yeah, that's a blue car

Redman (with disgust): No, it's a Honda...

Scene—breakfast, talking about Lindsey coming to sleep over and there will be pizza and root beer floats

Redman: Oh yeah, root beer, I love root beer, you don't love root beer, Dad, do you, no, you don't because it has too much sugar, right, but I love root beer, I love root beer more than I love chocolate malted milkshakes that Nino makes... (Sometimes he has these stream of consciousness monologues)

Scene—driving to daycare, I have forgotten to bring my Ipod so he is bereft of his Backyardigan songs

Redman: But I WANT them

Me: I'm sorry, honey, I don't have my Ipod

Redman: I WANT THEM (clenching fists, kicking the back of my seat) Me: I know you want them but I'm sorry, I don't have them

Redman: Sorry is for bad things!

Me: What?

Redman: "I'm sorry" is for bad things like punching people! When I ask for music you say YES!

Scene—long time ago, dinner table, among other things we are having mixed veg and biscuits for dinner. Redman is listing and demonstrating all his good behavior skills.

Redman: ...and then I sit at the table. And then I eat my vegetables (eats spoonful of veg). And then I eat my...(has biscuit in his hand but clearly does not know what it is called)...I eat my crunch.

Since then, from time to time, you'll hear one of us sing-songing "...And then I eat my VEG-tables....and then I eat my CRUNCH...."