Saturday, October 21, Big Ducks

*We go to a Japanese restaurant in New York City sometimes, now, more often since I’ve had my hips fixed and can get out and about. Tonight, we met some friends there for dinner. This place amazes Isobel- she not only loves the food, but the bathroom is covered in graffiti. We were there once and she wasn’t eating, so I told her she could write one thing on the bathroom wall if she ate her dinner- and now it’s a thing we do every time we go. Tonight, after dinner, she motions for me to take her to the bathroom, and asks if I have my Sharpie.*

“You got it, Mom?”
“Yes, I remembered…”
“Okay.”

*We go in the bathroom, and as Isobel is choosing a spot for her artwork, she starts to read the walls. I was afraid of this…*

“Mommy. It says, wait, it says, ‘I love big ducks.'”
“Um, yes.” **THAT IS NOT WHAT IT SAID.**
“But why would someone write that on a wall?”
“No idea, babe. Maybe they’re really into ducks, like you’re into flamingos.”

*She stands back and stares at the wall for a moment. I’ve got to distract her before she figures out it says DICKS and not DUCKS, and the next question comes at me.*

“Hey, Is, look at this weird sticker. What are you gonna write?”
“Oh, I got it all figured out! I’m gonna write WE WILL ROCK YOU.”
“That’s perfect. Let’s go.”

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October 18, 2017 – Problem Solved

*Isobel is in first grade. In class, the kids sit grouped together by fours and fives- there is one girl at Is’s table who, sometimes, just isn’t that nice. Today, Is reported that this girl grabbed a boy’s math work and threw it on the floor. Then she turned and said to Is, “Why are you always staring at people?”*

“Mommy, she always says I’m staring at her.”
“Are you?”
“No, I’m just looking around.”
“Okay, did it bother you that she said that?”
“Well, yes.”
“Huh. Well, you could really, really stare at her, like this…” And I stare at Isobel, really hard, and when she starts to smile, I turn my head a little, but don’t smile back, kinda creepy-like.
“But, Mom, that’s not how we do things now.”
“Oh?”
“No, when there’s a problem, we don’t just do something back to someone. Like when you were in school. Like in old times.”
“Huh. Like old times.”
“Yeah. It’s much gentler now.”
“It sounds like it. That’s nice. Okay, so what do you do now? How would you handle it?”
“I already told her I’m not staring at her.”
“Good! That should do it, right?”
“I’m not sure… she says it all the time.”
“Huh. Well, what else can you do?”
“Well, I don’t want to get clipped down, so I could just tell the teacher.”
“That seems like a good idea. Will you do that the next time she bothers you?”
“Yeah! Thanks for solving all my problems!”
“You really solved your problem, Is, if you think about it.”

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October 11, 2017, with ninjas

*We’re talking about family at dinner, and Isobel asks if there are people in the family she hasn’t yet met. Among others, I mention a cousin who lives in Japan. He’s an artist, does amazing cut paper work, and is also a new father. I jump up and pull a magnet off the fridge- it’s a picture of one of his pieces- a slinky black rabbit in motion, paper curling like smoky ribbons around his body. Is is impressed.*

“Mom, so, my cousin is an artist?”
“Well, he’s my first cousin, and so he’s your first cousin, once removed. And yes, he’s a professional artist.”

*Her eyes get big, and I can almost smell her thinking.*

“Mom. Wow.”
“I know! He’s amazing. He does all this work by hand. Pretty cool, eh?”
“It’s very cool! Hey, is he a ninja?”
“What?”
“A ninja. Because he lives in Japan.”

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October 6, 2017- After bedtime

*We’ve been reading Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. We’re just getting to the part (spoiler alert) where Dumbledore and Harry are in the cave, about to get the Horcrux. I’m a bit concerned reading this part before Isobel goes to sleep. I stop right before Harry puts the goblet in the water.*

“We’ll finish this part tomorrow, I told you, these books get scarier now. We can read it in the afternoon, we’ll do some Eloise or something else before bed, okay?”
“I think I’m going to have bad dreams anyway!”
“I hope not. Let’s do our good dreams on the monitor.”

*I hug her and stroke her nose a few times, like I’ve done since she was an infant, then go grab the monitor.*

“Want me to go first?”
“Yes!”
“Okay, um, it’s a three day weekend! So, no school on Monday!”
“Ooh! Really?”
“Yep. Your turn.”
“I’m too tired, you just do the good dreams.”
“All right. Let’s see. We got to see Grandma for dinner, that was nice.”
“Yes… …”
“And maybe we’ll go to the beach on Monday, it’s supposed to be good weather.”
“The beach! We can go to the beach, instead of school! I can play in the sand?”
“Sure, baby, it’ll be fun. So, dream about that, okay?”
“Mommy, I think we just came up with the medicine for bad dreams.”
“I sure hope so.”

P.S. She had GOOD DREAMS last night! Not one nightmare. The medicine works!

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October 3, 2017, after bedtime

*She’s supposed to be sleeping. It’s been a busy day- school, swimming lesson (in the big pool today!), and dinner with a friend. Plus, I am rockin’ my new ‘always patient mom, goddamn it’ self. I’m trying to, anyway. Then, on the monitor…*

“Mom. I made up a word.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. Wanna hear it?”
“Sure.”
“Twickerninge.”
“Okay. What does it mean?”
“I’ll tell you when I find out.”
“Haha, okay babe. Go to sleep, it’s getting late.”
“Okay. Good night.”

*Some time passes, just a little.*

“Mom.”
“Yeah, babe.”
“It means an animal eating. Like, look, twickerninge over there, standing up. See, I used it in a sentence.”
“That is amazing.”
“I know, right?”
“Good night, babe.”
“Good night, Mommy.”

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September 27, 2017- at night

*On the way home from dinner with some friends in the city…*

“Mom.”
“Yes?”
“Nights are my favorite.”
“Why?”
“Well, you get to sleep. And you get to see the moon. And the colorful lights on the buildings. And you can see the stars- they look like little lights inside the sky. And we can play the game with the eyes.”
“Oh, the game where we pretend lights in between the trees are creepy creatures?”
“Yes! I love that game.”
“Me, too. I guess night is also my favorite.”
“It’s the best.”

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September 24, 2017, New York City

*We met some dear friends for lunch in the city today- we don’t often get to see them because they live in California. It’s 90 degrees today, hot and sticky. On our drive down the West Side Highway to meet them in the West Village, Isobel notices something…*

“Mom! I saw a half-naked man! He’s on a skateboard!”
“Huh. Well, it’s hot as hell outside, so that’s not unusual. And we’re by the piers, I’m sure you’ll see more half-naked men…”
“Ooh! Let’s play I Spy for half naked men!”
“Uh, okay… Look, there’s one on a bicycle!”
“EWWWWW”

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Friday, September 15, 2017, after school

*After school today, Isobel is watching “Magic School Bus.” She turns off the show to ask me about flamingos.*

“Mom.”
“Eh?”
“How do flamingos protect themselves?”
“Uh, well, they can fly, so they can get away from anything trying to eat them, and they can peck to protect themselves… and they’re usually together in a flock, so there are a lot of them, and they can protect each other.”
“Do you think they use camouflage?”
“Camouflage? But they’re pink.”
“Yeah! They blend in with other pretty pink things.”

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Sunday, August 13, 2017, after bedtime

*Isobel had a busy day- this morning she helped me clean, then we spent the afternoon at the water park with her friends, then she had a nice, relaxing bath. Dad came home after being away for a few days on tour in time for dinner, and then Grandma came over for a bit. On the way home from the water park, we heard the Don Henley song ‘Boys of Summer’ on the radio, which has been getting a lot of airplay lately. About ten minutes after Is went to bed…*

“Mom?”
“Yeah, babe?”
“What does it mean, ‘I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac?'”
“Well, the Grateful Dead are a band, and the people, sometimes hippies, who follow the band, are called Dead Heads. And a Cadillac is a luxury car, really expensive, and hippies don’t usually drive luxury cars, so it’s kind of unusual, like it’s something you wouldn’t see very often. That kind of sticker on that kind of car. Get it?”
“Why don’t hippies drive expensive cars?”
“Well, they don’t usually have lots of money, and Cadillacs cost a lot of money.”
“Do hippies have long hair?”
“Yes, sometimes.”
“Huh.”
“It’s bedtime, Is, go to sleep, we can talk about this tomor…”
“But why don’t hippies have money?”
“Because money doesn’t matter so much to hippies.”
“But why?”
“Because other things matter more than money. Art, music, peace, being kind to each other, taking care of the earth- these things matter more than making and spending money. So, money doesn’t matter much to hippies.”
“Oh, their hair does?”
“Hahaha, yes.”
“Okay.”

*Silence for a few minutes. And then…*

“But they need to have a tiny bit of money, the hippies…”
“Yes, babe, the hippies are fine.”
“Oh okay, good night.”

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