Kids

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Take it from Hadley

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

My sweet friend Hadley is six-years old, and one of the wisest, funniest, sweetest souls I know. I just had to share this articulate little Hadley-ism (which she said to her mama), because it cracks me up. She already gets it.

“It’s interesting how boys are so different when they’re little and when they’re grown up. Girls are mostly the same. Like, you and I are pretty much the same, except that you are in charge of me. But the boys I know don’t act like our Daddy does.”

The three nicest things anyone has ever said to me

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

From a mom of 4 wild ass monkey boys: “I want a girl just like you in my family.”

From a mom of twins whom I’ve still never met, pre-teens at the time: “I wish my girls could know you.”

From a kindred spirit gal in Louisiana: “I like you. You’re like when little kids want to hold hands with you.”

I’m not writing these things down to toot my own horn. I just want to have a record stating that the nicest compliments don’t have to be romantic – and that parents who associate you with good things when it comes to their children is possibly the highest praise one could ask for.

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

swing

The dollhouse

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

When I was 5 years old, my grandpa built me a dollhouse. Even as a little girl, I remember being amazed at the intricate bricks that formed the two-story-high walls and the individual shingles that topped the roof. The front side had a tiny front door which, if you pulled on the tiny handle, opened on tiny hinges. A staircase with a delicate railing connected the two floors, and each of the 5 rooms was painted a different color. I arranged the house with little furniture handmade by my grandpa, and filled it with anthropomorphic animal figurines called Sylvanian Families.

It’s impossible to count how many hours I spent playing with this dollhouse. It’s one of the main icons of my childhood.

But as the years went on, I became less and less interested in make believe. As is the case with many little girls, my focus turned first to horses, and then to boys – and before I knew it, I was off to college. I always hoped that one day, I would give the dollhouse to my own kids – but until then it sat untouched, usually under a sheet in one basement or another.

In the 13 years since I graduated high school, I’ve moved 18 times. This Saturday, I will move a 19th – this time to a place with very limited storage. This has made me reevaluate just about everything I own, and it’s led to the realization that it doesn’t make sense for me to hold onto the dollhouse. I can’t keep moving it from place to place and finding a spot to keep it, only to let it gather dust – so tonight, I decided to give it to some dear friends who have daughters.

Despite my hope to give it to children of my own one day, it was time to let it go – because it’s okay if there’s a gap between the life you thought you’d be living and the life that you actually have.

And when you find the courage to release your grip on the thing you thought was so important, you might just find that the bitter is overpowered by the sweet.

A beautiful maybe

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

“Is it okay for me to jump?” he yelled.

I watched him pump his legs back and forth, swinging higher and higher until he was holding steady at a significant height. He and his brother had formed their own sort of Olympic game, gaining momentum and then jumping from their swings to see who could fly the furthest and “stick the landing.” Up until now, he’d been playing it safe, never risking too much, choosing to jump only from a reasonable altitude.

But now, I could see him wanting to push the boundaries, to go even higher, to let go even when it might feel crazy – and he wanted me to tell him if it was okay.

I watched him, wild eyed and wild haired, 7-years old and still so innocent. School has brought some exposure to the real world, with all of its ugliness and injustice – but mostly, he is unmarked. The thought of anything bad happening to him wrings my heart down the middle like a dishrag.

“I don’t know, buddy. How do you feel about it?”

He kept pumping his legs; he hadn’t lost any height. He looked at his brother swinging next to him, and then back at me. “Is this too high?”

I thought back to that feeling, swinging high, waiting for the perfect moment to leap. How do you ever know when the time is right? And how do you explain that feeling to someone else – all of the little confirmations that lead to the confident risk? I realized that I couldn’t answer the question for him.

“If you feel like you can jump from that high, then you probably can.”

His face flashed fear, courage, and a beautiful maybe. And with one more pump, he let go of the chains and sailed through the air, landing solidly on both feet, fists in the air.

I’ve never seen a smile so big.

Caine’s Arcade

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

You’ve probably seen this, since apparently it’s been viral for a while.  I don’t know how I missed it, since the internet is my most frequent stomping ground (ugh, depressing).  Anyhow, it was new to me.

Take 10 minutes to watch this short film called “Caine’s Arcade” about a 9-year old boy who built an elaborate DIY arcade out of cardboard.  The ingenuity and cleverness are astounding.

Just when I think that technology is ruining all of our brains, a kid like this comes along and renews my faith in creativity.  Caine’s sweet heart won me over.  His square root security system blew my mind.  And his reaction to the crowd made me cry.

Visit Caine’s website, throw a few bucks at his college fund, and if you’re in L.A., make my day and go buy a Fun Pass.

Which is Spanish for “Fluffy”

Friday, March 30th, 2012

We live in a predominantly Hispanic area, and I love the kids who live a few doors down from us.  They’re always outside running around in the yard, yelling to each other in Spanish – yet effortlessly switch to English when I walk past.

The other day, I was passing by with the dogs when three little boys ran up to me.  They were basically the human versions of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.

“Can we pet your dogs?” Alvin asked.

“Sure,” I answered.  “They’re nice – and look, this one only has three legs.”

“WHOA.”  Simon was particularly amazed.

Noticing the two small dogs in their fenced yard, I asked, “What are your dogs’ names?”

Little Theodore answered.

“That one is Peanut, and that one is Luis.  I MEAN, FLUFFY.”

It was kind of the cutest thing that happened all week.

Teeth

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Can – Clinic in a, peeing in a

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Mission of Hope recently acquired 55 acres of land from the government in Bercy, which is about 30 minutes north of their main campus.  On this land, they are planning to build a school, a medical clinic, a church, an orphanage, and a conference center – a planned community.  Just like Florida!

In the meantime, Mission of Hope is occasionally sending teams to the property to run mobile medical clinics.  People in the community hear that there will be a chance to see a doctor for free, and they flock to what is currently the only building on the property – a cinder block hut – to line up and wait.

Once their paperwork is completed and their vital signs have been taken, they’re sent across the rock lot to have their private appointment in this:

This is a Clinic in a Can – an air-conditioned, single-wide trailer with two consultation rooms and a pharmacy.  After they have been seen by the doctor, they head to the pharmacy to pick up any meds they may have been prescribed, as well as a goody bag filled with soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and – if you’re between the ages of 15 and 60 – 6 condoms.  Along with very explicit “how-to” instructions.

I mean, doesn’t it ever cross your mind?  Sometimes don’t you wonder who the lucky illustrator of contraceptive clip-art is?

As for me, I snuggled with this chunker for awhile.

I tested for Bieber Fever by singing “Baby” – and ALL THE KIDS SANG ALONG.

And finally, I peed in a bucket.

I did it just so I could say “I peed in a bucket” on my blog.  Feel free to congratulate me on my moxie.

Ellery says the darndest things

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I have a friend named Emily.  She is all sorts of lovely.

Emily has a little sister named Ellery, and Ellery has a blog.  Or, rather, their mom keeps a blog on Ellery’s behalf.

Please.  Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to What Ellery Says.

My favorites?

This one.

And this one.

Here‘s another.

Read this.

And yes, this, too.

I’m so glad that Ellery has things to say on the days when I don’t.

Halcyon gone wrong

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

You know how sometimes, a long-forgotten memory will make its way to the surface for no apparent reason?  All of a sudden, the scene is playing in your mind – like a film projector on an old bed sheet, nostalgic home video remembrances of life before you knew the things you know now.

The other day, that was happening for me.  I was seeing our Dalmatian, Princess, and games on what must have been the original Apple computer, and Otter Pops from the freezer in the garage, and the orange tree in our old backyard, and trips to the Dairy Queen on our bikes, and summer nights in the backyard, and getting beaten up by the deaf girl in 1st grade…

WAIT A SECOND.

It totally threw a wrench in my gears, a hitch in my giddy-up.  I was beaten up?  In 1st grade?  By the deaf girl?

(Let it be known that these days, I would absolutely, 100% use the term “hearing impaired.”  But remember, I am being transported back to 1989, when I didn’t know anything about being politically correct.  I also didn’t know that you shouldn’t swallow toothpaste – but I digress.)

The last time I checked, I do not have multiple personalities… yet… and so I’m not quite sure how this memory got repressed for all these years only to surface two decades later.  But just like that, in the middle of my work-day, I was transported back to recess in 1st grade, on the playground at Oster Elementary, scared every single day that the deaf girl from 2nd grade was going to beat me up again.

She had pigtails.  She had hearing aids.  And she had it out for me.

I never got up the nerve to tell anyone.  I just went on being afraid every day.  And I don’t know that I’ve ever been so relieved as the day when a playground aid caught the little shrew in the act, and made sure she never touched me again.

Hey, if I was forced to re-live this story, then you can be sure that I would subject you to it, too.  What else is a blog audience for?

And two more nubbins:
–    I fly to Seattle tonight.
–    My East Nasty of the Week column will be resurrected next week.