November 1, 2017- After her bath

*After Isobel’s bath today, she is drying off when she stops, looks up at me, and says…*

“Mom. If there were no girls, there would be no babies.”
“Right. But the girls still need boys.”

*Now, since the kid is only six, I’ve only explained the process of how a baby grows and is born- not how it actually got IN THERE. I’m sure that conversation is inescapable, but I’m not rushing into that part of the whole thing.*

“But why? Only girls can have babies.”
“That’s right. But girls need boys to start the baby- like remember, the egg comes from the girl, and the sperm comes from the boy, and they fit together, and then the baby grows in the girl.”

*She considers this a moment, her head tilted to the side, turquoise turban getting darker as it wicks water from her freshly washed hair.*

“Kind of like a puzzle.”
“What, a baby?”
“Yeah, the pieces fit together- to make a baby puzzle.”
“You got it.”

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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 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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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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July 21, snacktime

*Today, Isobel is watching Moana while I make her a snack. She’s working on a shelling a little bowl of peanuts and peeling an orange, while I make her a slice of toast with butter and jelly…*

“Wow, there’s a stingray that kills the chief’s mom… Awww…”
“Aww, that’s rough. They usually don’t kill people. Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I got hugged by a stingray?”

*She turns to look at me, interest and concern on her face.*

“But did you die?”
“What? Ha, no, I didn’t die. I’m standing here making you a piece of toast, you weirdo. How could I be dead?”
“Oh.”
“So, no, I’m okay, I just got a hug, I didn’t get killed. Although they can kill you if they sting you. I didn’t get stung. See the difference?”
“Yes. They were all circling around her.”
“Oh, that sounds crazy. There was just one that hugged me.”
“How did it hug you?”
“Well, I was at Sea World, and I was at the pool where you can feed the rays, and I had a shrimp in my hand… and a little ray swam over my hand and took the shrimp at the same time a big ray swam over to eat it, but the big ray didn’t see the little ray, because their eyes are on top and their mouths are on the bottom… so I guess the big ray bit the little ray and the little ray ended up jumping up and the big ray must have been surprised and jumped out of the pool and landed on my chest.”
“Were you scared?”
“Not really, I didn’t have time to be scared; I was just as surprised as that ray was. I didn’t want it to get scratched by the buttons on my jacket- and I was trying to shove the thing back in the water, but it was so heavy and felt so weird, like cool, wet velvet sliding over muscle… and then I saw two Sea World workers running towards me from the other side of the pool, and they looked horrified… I shoved the thing back into the water just as they reached the pool. As I looked around for my friend to ask why he hadn’t helped me, I realized that everybody behind me had scattered, and I was all alone and also completely soaked from the stingray’s big hug.”
“That’s pretty funny.”
“I thought it was hilarious.”

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July 20, Lunchtime

*Isobel is watching Wile E. Coyote cartoons on her iPad during lunch today, and I mention to her that he was my very favorite of all the Bugs Bunny characters- it was always such a treat for me when the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons came on, since you never knew exactly what would be shown during the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies show on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. Especially since they were only on once a week… Anyway, we were talking about Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner when…*

“Mommy, who would you vote for, Coyote or Road Runner?”
“What, you mean to win?”
“Yeah.”
“Well, I’d vote for the Coyote.”
“What, why? I’d vote for the Road Runner!”
“But the Road Runner always wins. And everybody votes for the Road Runner. So I want Wile E. Coyote to win. He’s my favorite, anyway.”

*Is thinks about this for a minute. And then she nails me with her impeccable logic.*

“But, he wants to EAT the Road Runner.”
“Yes.”
“But if Wile E. Coyote wins, he would be the only character left.”
“Huh. I guess you’re right. I never thought about it that way before.”
“That wouldn’t be any fun, Mom.”
“You got me there, kid.”

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June 28, 2017, first thing in the morning

*I’ve decided to go to college. It’s a bit weird, as I’m 48, but I guess there’s no time like the present? Anyway, this morning I was telling Dave how I scored on the practice Accuplacer tests I took last night, while Isobel was playing on the floor with her Hello Kitty stuff nearby…*

Me: “So, I got 100 percent on the reading comprehension, and 100 percent on the sentence structure… but twenty-seven percent on elementary algebra.”
Him: “Well, you knew you’d have trouble with that.”
Me: “Yeah…”
Isobel: “Mommy, what’s that, elementary algebra?”
Me: “It’s the math with the letters in it that makes me cry.”
Is: “Don’t worry, Mommy, I’ll help you! Do you know what four plus four is?”
Me: “Aw, thanks, Is! Yes, is it eight?”
Is: “Yes! Okay, what’s X plus X?”
Me: …
Dave: “You’re scaring mom…”
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