It's not that the kids refused to try Judo, but they were hesitant. Elan was anxious ahead of time. We were in the car, and I found myself saying to him, "Listen up. I'm going to tell you the secret to life." Once that came out of my mouth, it seemed necessary to pull over. I parked under a tree and turned around to face them, my two beautiful boys, their perfect skin, their eyes - brown and blue - pools reflecting liquid light.
"The secret to life," I said, "is that 95% of the time, no one's paying any attention to what you're doing. They're too busy worrying about themselves to notice you." As I said it, it sounded kind of sad, yet freeing.
"What about the other 5%?" Elan asked, his brow furrowed between his eyebrows. His eyebrows are thick like mine. Emry's are thin and arched, like Mikhail's.
"The other 5% won't happen today," I said, channeling the sureness of Mom with a capital M. He was reassured, and so was I. I piloted the car back onto the street.
Emry was excited about Judo, but when we get there, ... more
My then-shaggy boys in the Mojave desert where I grew up, December 2014
Sometimes I fear that I'm doing my kids' childhood all wrong.
Not enough forts, for instance.
When I was a kid, we had a corner of the living room devoted frequently to forts. There was a living and a family room. Plenty of space for forts.
Our house here in Berkeley is little. We make forts, though we haven't made one in a while. The giant camo blanket, lightweight with strings sewn into the edges, is perfect for fort-making. We tie ... more
Boys in redwood roots, Big Basin, September 2015
This is the first year I have taken Elan with me to Yom Kippur day services by choice. I decided he's old enough to come with me, and for me to still be able to pay attention and get something out of the service. He wore shorts and crocs, and we went (him by scooter, me walking) to the "super-reform" service held outdoors alongside the playground at the JCC. But even during the times that he took a break from listening by swinging ... more
End of summer, San Diego, August 2015
There's a poem in my head and I don't know how to write it.
Riding my bike home, I hear the bing-bing of two metal things hitting. I decide to not stop. The sound is rather pleasant.
A man is installing a rain gutter in hopes of El Niño. A woman in white pants trims something in her garden, as I pass a large van with a bumper sticker on the back window that reads WITCH.
Two old cars rot under a plexiglass carport. Across the ... more
Kauai, February 2015
When a day gets sloggy, or I've got too much to do, or I'm stressed, my kids are used to me saying, "I want to go to Hawaii."
It's also my go-to line whenever the whining gets a little much.
Them: "I wanna have some [INSERT NAME OF SUGARY TREAT HERE]. I really really really want it!"
Me: "I want to go to Hawaii."
Them: "I want to watch [INSERT NAME OF FAVORITE SHOW-OF-THE-MOMENT HERE]. I HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO watch it!"
Me: "I want to go to Hawaii."
And ... more
Elan, September 2014
When Elan realized he left the stuffed penguin at home, his face fell. It was PJ-and-stuffed-animal day, and he was wearing his Avengers pajamas, the ones I had to buy specially for the last PJ day, since this kid who I could never get out of his sleepers just a few years ago no longer wears pajamas to bed, just clean clothes. If we hadn’t already been inside the schoolyard, he would have cried. Loudly, in fact. But we were at school, so no tears. Just the ... more
Several months ago, my sister and her dear friend Kristina took their families on a camping trip. Around the same time, Mikhail and I decided to take our kids on their first trip to Yosemite as a Rosh Hashanah celebration.
I believe that is where the similarities between our two camping trips end.
We have taken our kids camping numerous times before, starting when Elan was only eight months old, but always with a large group of Mikhail's family members or on one-night trips with other families with young children.
Elan's first camping trip, August 2007, Swimmer's ... more
5 minutes after the kids got home
This is where the kids get clean.
This is where they get dirty again.
This is where I say to Emry for the thousandth time, "No drinking the bath water" in tones either patient or not-at-all patient, depending on the day.
This is where I cook.
This is where I stand, checking email on my phone, or looking out at the hummingbird, checking whether she is in her nest or whether she has taken herself off for a meal. She is never gone long.
This is where spring ... more