We all have quirks, our own neurosis, tics and flaws.
Without them I'd have nothing to write about.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Moving Day.. for the blog

Hi all who stumble across these posts. I've moved to a new blog. Visit me at awkwardlaugh.com. There's a brand new post as of today!  Wow, two in a week. Mark it on the calendar, because it may never happen again.

Oh, also, I guess I didn't research awkwardlaugh.com enough, because if you instead go to awkwardlaughter.com there is a hairy guy with no shirt on. That's not me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pink hair and the "chubby" insult

Six years ago my husband and I went to the ultrasound appointment where we would learn our baby's gender. I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first child,

"I don't care if it's a boy or girl, as long as the baby is healthy," I said, not for the first time, on the way there. I didn't realize I was lying until we saw that we were having a girl.

I know that this is a controversial and awful statement. Hear me out.
The first picture of our little girl.
It wasn't that I didn't want a girl - most of me really did mean it when I said I don't care about the gender. And now I can't imagine life without this amazing kid and I am the better for her. But back then the idea of a girl seemed so much more difficult. I should have been thinking of the fun of dressing up, the inherent gentleness, the tendency toward cleanliness and fewer broken bones that comes with girls. Instead, the angst of my own teenage years (and, I'll admit, the majority of my 20s) flashed to the foreground of my mind. Body image issues. Unworthy boyfriends. Mean girls. Break ups. Tears. Questionable fashion choices.

I took a deep breath and told myself to take it one day at a time. She was healthy. Plus, she hadn't even been born yet! All of this was so far in the future that it was ridiculous to think about it. That would happen when she was a teenager!

(Tires screech. Needle scratches on a record.)

It happened last week. WHEN SHE WAS 5!!

We were at her boyfriend's house. Yes, she refers to him as her boyfriend. No, she doesn't mean it in any other way except that he's a boy and he's her friend. The kids were playing downstairs, parents were having a beer upstairs, and all was right in the world. Until my beautiful daughter stormed upstairs and sulked on the couch. Like a teenager.

"What's wrong, Honey?" we asked.

"They're being mean. They said I was chubby," she said.

The two offenders, including my 3 year old, came into the room. When confronted, her boyfriend said, "yeah, I called her chubby." And it was with venom and the knowledge and the intent of being hurtful.
Every adult was silent in the room for a beat. I was surprised that they all didn't hear my heart break.

This was not supposed to happen at 5. This is not something kids this age should even know is a hurtful thing to say. And this is coming from a good kid. I know him and his parents. He's raised to be respectful and kind. And it still happened. I had to remind myself that it was not okay to punch a 5 year-old in the pie hole.

We parents sprang to action after that, and I feel appropriate measures were taken. Boyfriend and Younger Brother were given a talking-to. Stella was given a pep-talk and hugs.

That words associated with weight have become insults thrown around by young children is one of those troubling things that I feel stymied by: this is how people are, they come in all shapes and sizes and we do not make fun of any of them. But if they open their eyes and ears as they move through the world around them, they see negative images and words about overweight people. Do as I say, not as the world around you does. How do I effectively combat this? Particularly when it comes to her own self-image?

Until we could talk on our own, I used the reassure and distract method. I told her that she wasn't chubby and everyone made up by putting pink stripes in their hair.
As the kids were getting ready for bed that night, I asked my daughter if she was feeling okay after getting teased earlier.
"What?" she said, having already forgotten about the incident.
I should have known that my strong and strangely mature daughter would not let this be more than a blip of an incident in her big life. Still, now I was in a dilemma. Was it better to let it go? Or better to bring it up so that I can make sure it was properly, adequately addressed? I went with the latter.
"You know those are just words, right?" I asked. She nodded. "Sometimes people say things just to be mean and we have to remember that they are just words."

"Why do they do that?"

"I don't know, Honey," I said. And then I had to ask, because I wanted to know if it was getting under her skin the way it was getting under mine, "do you think you're chubby?"

"No," she said, "I'm just right."

"Yes, you are," I agreed. "And I am. And daddy is."

"But not Zachy. He's too skinny," she said. At least we're part way there. We talked more about how unique each of us are, and that we all have things that make us special, and you know what? Sometimes people suck, too, when they're mean.

Even though I can't stop thinking of this a week later, I'm kind of glad it happened. Partly because we got both the first body image insult and the first questionable hairstyle out of the way in one evening. It also reminded me that we are both equipped to handle those angsty years that I dreaded as I saw my baby for the first time in that ultrasound. Even if they have already started. We just need to take them one day at a time. Pink hair and all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Love Your Eyeballs. And Fire.

Last night, Z sweetly professed his love for me. At least that’s what I chose to hear. Now, with the perspective of time, I’m wondering if it might have been a warning that certain body parts are the only thing between me and a puncture wound. He delivered the love morsel via the following unintentional haiku:
Looking a little tired, but still not stabbable.
I love your eyeballs.
I love your tongue and your hair.
I will NOT stab you.
Fitting, as SJS is now going to a Japanese immersion school. His accidental poem inspired the following, also in haiku. These are actual phrases uttered by my kids. They needed a little poetic adaptation to fit the form, but not much.
Lookit! Lookit dis!
I need to show you dis! Cool!
It came from my nose.
(Get a tissue. And if you don’t stop, you’re going to get your finger stuck up there.)

Have you ever seen
a guy with a face on fire?
That would be cool.
(This is from a kid who says he wants to be a “flamer guy” when he grows up. Whatever makes you happy, dude.)
And one from SJS,
Shoes worth begging for.
I need those new shoes.
Please! I only have 4 pairs.
Well, you have a lot.
And finally, me,
No, no! I said truck!
You must have heard me wrong.
I’m sure I said truck.
(I don’t think I need to explain myself. We’ve all been there.)
Do you have any of your own?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I (sort of) WROTE (a rough draft of) A NOVEL (unfinished)!!

On a bit of a whim - which is how I tend to do most things - I decided at the end of October to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't like guessing at acronyms, that's one for National Novel Writing Month. Admittedly, before October, I didn't even know there was a NaNoWriMo. If you had asked me what it was, I may have even said "I don't care," and just walked away. Which is exactly what my husband did when I first asked him (he wasn't trying to be mean, my timing was just really bad).

Anyway, the goal is to write the first draft of a novel, the equivalent of 50,000 words, in November. I started the month thinking that I would be happy with half of that. But now I'm at 50,248 words. I won!! And in NaNoWriMo terms that means getting access to this cool button!!

Okay, at least it's not nothing.

The story isn't done and it needs a lot of editing, but here's an exerpt:
I spent the next couple of days in my room, by myself, allowing myself some self-pity, but I knew that it would be short-lived. I tried to call Peter a few times, but got the maid, who promptly hung up. Once I got his mother, who snorted before hanging up. I think I heard her say 'trollop' before she hung up. I heard the phone ring a few times, and I knew it was Peter. I think I found that I was glad when my mother or father hung up, as I was not prepared to have a conversation with him yet.

Did I mention the story isn't done and needs a lot of editing? Keep in mind that the purpose was just to get the free-flowing words out on paper. And that there was some alone time and hanging up involved.

By the way: That husband who was grumpy at the top of this post? He spent a lot of evenings putting the kids to bed solo. Not always an easy task in our house. And he was amazingly supportive. He's even started researching for me. He's the coolest and I couldn't have done it without him. Also, he's never online and not on Facebook, so I can say things like this without him getting embarrassed.

Is December NaTerNoEdMo? (National Terrible Novel Editing Month?)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Dancing Jacket

It seems appropriate that I post this on Father's Day. My Dad, who is fabulous in his own right, learned from one of the greats: my Grandpa Mal. Yesterday I went to a great writing workshop where we were tasked with writing a very short piece about an article of clothing. The most obvious, for me, was a certain blazer that took on a persona of it's own at my wedding. It became an ode to Grandpa. So, to the wonderful fathers in my life, Dad, Grandpa, and John, Happy Father's Day!!

The blazer was the life of the party. It had its beginnings a long time ago and was reborn at my wedding.
I was the first of my cousins on my Father’s side to get married. Just before the ceremony, my Mother said, “Grandpa was going to wear a terrible jacket. I told him he could not!”
I didn’t know what coat she was referring to, but I knew that my mom was misguided in admonishing my Grandpa. I was disappointed that it wasn’t making an appearance.
Later, after the ceremony, as we were making our way around the reception, Grandpa mentioned something wistful about the coat.
“Your room is close. Go get it!” The bride had given her blessing, so he did.

The Blazer in Action
On the dance floor a handsome, mustachioed gentleman appeared. He sported a blazer of the finest polyester. White background, shades of red and blue weaving together into a plaid pattern that, sadly, you just can’t find today. Silky(ish) brown lining. A wide collar that has probably come back into style and will again.  
“Grandma and I used to go dancing every Saturday.” Grandpa’s friendly tanned face pulled into a grin, white caps showing.
He wasn’t dancing, just standing with the smile. “So, let’s dance!” I said. And we did.
When he got warm Grandpa Mal needed to take the jacket off, but the jacket didn’t seem to want to leave the floor. It quickly found its way on my brother’s shoulders. He insisted it had climbed onto his back of its own accord. Todd, once wrapped in the blazer, seemed to need to dance. An uncontrollable urge took over. He danced like he was on Soul Train, with a continued performance out of Solid Gold. His exuberant dancing tore a little bit of the seam in the lining.  
I put the blazer on. It compelled me to dance like a moron and like it.
It had become magical. It stayed on the dance floor, the center of attention all night.
And when the blazer made its way back to its true owner, Grandpa Mal, that’s when I could see the real magic of it. This amazing man was getting all the attention he deserved and had earned in his long life. Sure, it was just dancing after a wedding, but everyone knew who the star of the night was.
The blazer has made its appearance at several more weddings since then. Each time the lining is a little more worn, and it smells a little more like body odor. But also, each time the coat’s magical owner has strutted his stuff and by doing so has taught us so much about how we want to grow old: Happy, surrounded by family, and still willing and able to dance.