Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Do you remember being seven years old?   I do.

It was the year that I didn't learn to tell time.  Thirteen O'clock is still my favorite hour.

It was the year Eric Schmidt tried to kiss me in the cloak room at school.

And it was the year I lied and told my working mom that my teacher made me stand in a corner for no reason at all.  The truth was that I thought my teacher, Mrs. Furber, was quite fabulous and desperately wanted my mom to meet her.  I got my wish.

Now that my oldest Monkey is seven, I find myself looking at it from the other side. 

Monster-Monkey is not your ordinary seven year old.  He has his mothers quite advanced vocabulary and his fathers strapping athleticism.  He enjoys a good fart joke but can also appreciate the nuance of sarcasm a la Jon Stewart.  At times he thinks like a 30-something academic but also views the world through the eyes of a child, revelling in the wonder of all that this life has to offer. 

As I walked up the drive yesterday I came upon the Monster drawing a picture with chalk on the macadam.

"How was your appointment?"  I asked, referring to the orthodontist who he had seen earlier that day.

"It was awesome!  I get to wear this head gear thing that looks like a face mask!  The doctor said I only have to wear it at home but I'm gonna wear it all the time.  And when I'm done, I get BRACES!!!" 

I smiled curiously and looked at the Monkey-Maker for confirmation.  He nodded and shook his head, indeed the Monster was looking forward to the orthodontia. 

Such is the sweetness of seven. 

Now I know, and you know, and even my bowl of cottage cheese knows that headgear is FAR from awesome.  It is a legalized form of torture.  But to my Monkey it was exciting and new. 

If only we could bottle that enthusiasm.  That energy.  Because it is so short lived. 

It is only a matter of time until someone, probably some "big kid," tells him that his headgear is stupid. Or calls him "brace face."  Or worse.  

And such is the bitterness of seven.

As much as I desire to keep him sheltered in the innocence of his youth I know that the time is coming when he will be told in a nasty way that "only losers like to eat lunch with the Principal" and that Santa and the Tooth Fairy...well, you know.  

Monster Monkey is, among other things a wrestling dynamo, truly talented.  As a result he will have to learn at a young age to deal with ugly issues like jealousy and resentment.

Because that is the other thing I remember about being seven years old. 

It was the year that I realized that kids can be really shitty.

Over the course of the 25 years that have followed since I was seven, I have had to learn and re-learn this lesson again and again.  But these latest lessons will come at the expense of my own seven year old and that really pisses me off.

So I am going to fight to keep my Monkey in the sweet innocence of seven for a little while longer.  I am going to encourage him to think that the "walking program" at the school is "really cool."  And I am going to be okay with it if he wants to spend every, single, solitary moment with his dad.  And I am going to let him snuggle in my bed when there is a thunderstorm, even though "he's not scared." 

Because these moments are fleeting.  No matter how I try to grab them, hold them, keep them, they just fly away...and all I'm left with are words in a blog. 

I absolutely adore you, Monster-Monkey.  I could not love you more. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Very Thin Thread

Some days I am hanging by a very thin thread. 

One that is reinforced by baby smiles, bear hugs and an understanding spouse.  But some days it's not enough. 

The razor thin tether from which I dangle is frayed by every pair of pants that don't fit and every pointless work meeting that wastes my precious time.  The thread unravels with every new spot of what promises to be impetigo on my already tragic belly skin.  I cling to the end of my rope knowing that soon the weight will be too much and the thread will break.  I will tumble end over end into the great nothingness below.  I am so overwhelmed by the pressure, by the fear of falling that I don't think to look down. 

If I did I would see the sturdy supports, strong and solid.  I would see that I am never in danger of falling.  They are always there, my sisters.  Steady, stable, dependable and true. 

Sisters by birth, sisters-in-law; sisters by proximity of housing and employment, sisters who "knew me when," sisters who know me deep.  The women in my life that are there to catch me when I stumble, to steady me, to prop me back up.
When my world turned upside down after Miracle-Monkey's accident I realized just how blessed I truly was, but in the months that have followed that feeling of thankfulness has gotten lost in the daily scramble to "fit it all in."  It seemed fitting, today, to take this opportunity to remind you all just how important you are to me.  Just how much it means to me to know that I have a soft place to land. 

With every little pumice of my soul, every crying fit that you absorb in stride, every time you listen to me and laugh with me, provide council and companionship, you strengthen my thread.  I can only hope to return the favor ten fold. 

Love you all.  Every last one of you.

"Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us." ~ adapted from a prayer of Mother Theresa