Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

May all of your Christmas DREAMS come true and may your Christmas REALITY be wonderfully crazy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

the bubble

I was driving First Born Son home from school on Monday and we had a conversation about local repercussions from the horrific massacre that occurred on Friday in Newtown, CT.

When the world darkens
and the sharp objects of tragedy, fear and gut wrenching woe
pierce the collective human spirit, 
can I encase you in a bubble?
Or carry you by the scruff to my bear's den
and stow you away until you are old enough, wise enough
with claws sharp enough
to fend for yourself?

Probably not
You protest attempts to shelter and safeguard
You despair with the rest of us 
but you question
What has really changed aside from a deeper well of sadness?
You recall the night we were driving in a dicey neighborhood
and heard the unmistakable pop
and recoiled at the lightning flash
of gunfire
panicking to turn our car
in the other direction
We weren't in our neighborhood
but we were near your school
you knew it was close enough
it was real
it was always a possibility 

When your Superintendent
orders the mandatory waving of the security wand
over each and every high school student 
entering a Buffalo Public School building
You tell me how even the most brilliant and balanced junior in your class
carries a knife to school
That he threw the knife in the bushes when he heard of the security wands
and fretted all day about reaching the end of the day
when he may not be able to find it
and what he might encounter on the way home

You show me once again that your empathy
has stretched achingly wide
beyond a tragic event that afflicted a nation
you acknowledge your fellow students
who live with the burden of  fear daily
because their neighborhoods 
more unstable than your own
are always shrouded 
in dark shadows
where the threat of violence looms over them 
on a bus ride home from school
a walk to the corner store
across the threshold of their homes

You tell me that to beef up security in our schools
as an answer to the question
How do we prevent what happened in Newtown from ever happening again?
seems as futile as trying to buttress Earth
to prevent an act of nature from inflicting harm and damage
The ideas of safety and security are a thin and fragile veil- 
so too are the membranes of a bubble
I realize that you are old enough, wise enough
with claws sharp enough
But, I will always feel like I am throwing you to the wolves 
each day you walk out that door

Monday, December 10, 2012


There is warm infusion of euphoria
which softens the sensibilities of a new parent
You marvel at the little baked potato bound tightly in your arms
no limbs flailing
no legs running
no mouth spouting off words to counter back on your requests
Only a perfect full face
as close and  familiar as the back of your hand
as distant as the face of the man in the moon
Do not matter
The grandparents, aunties and uncles descend upon the baby
and exhale sentiments which drift carelessly around your head
'Just you wait until he's a teenager'
'Enjoy this time. It goes by so fast'
You caress the words off of his forehead
There is so much space between this moment
the next milestone
You carry with you an idea of what certain numbers will mean
within the context of this new life
At one there will be walking and words
At two there will be tremendous growth, potty training and tantrums
At five there will be kindergarten and the first of many moments of letting go
At ten there will be middle school and a muddle of hormones and new independence
At 16 there will be wheels
But 16 is     so                    far                   away
In those first wee moments
time has stopped
You have a handle on it all
You will never blink
and open your eyes to find
a man standing before you
as close and familiar as the back of your hand
as distant as the face of the man in the moon
Yet there he is
and he's saying something about the car keys

Friday, December 7, 2012


These have been days of getting nothing done
My heart is twisted into a Gordian knot
tangled in needs vs wants
pining for light
and jolly- merry
holiday cheer
yet soaked in
a stickiness
which strangles a sigh
'bah humbug'

My little mouse was curled upon the couch
so uncharacteristically still and silent
Worried that she was falling ill,
I checked the forehead
the belly
the chest
the ears
the throat

'Mommy, I'm fine.
I just want to snuggle you.'

The pinch in my tangled heart
leaned toward the inclination to remain
the thief
stealing more time
Just one more minute.
I'll be there.

But they do not wait
They stretch and grow
and no longer fit
into the wee corner of the couch
When mother beckons
they serve just desserts
I'll be there in a minute, Mom.
I'm busy.

I looked at my little mouse curled upon the couch
I folded a blanket around our bodies
She put her little arm around my neck
her copper head on my shoulder
sighing sighing sighing
in a way which made
all the lights on the tree
come into focus
The Gordian knot began to unravel

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chriftsmas Craps

The Baby is a glue junky. It started with the innocent discovery of a single stick of purple tinted Elmer's Washable School Glue and ended with one last broken promise, "I will make somefin' this time, really! I promise!" I was an enabler. I knew she had a problem, yet I kept finding more glue for her. The evidence of her addiction was painted all over: rough shreds of construction paper covered her face like a mask in carnival season; ten plastic barrels, skillfully emptied of their entire contents and discreetly tucked into the corners of the couch- without proof of an actual art project anywhere in sight; smears of "washable" purple  imprinted on the walls. I cut her off cold turkey and hid every last glue stick. 

But, I had illustrating projects that I was working on and I needed her to be occupied. So, I bought a container of bulk foam snowmen with hats, sparkly carrot noses, stick arms, scarves and just enough tiny foam circles to form the eyes and mouths. The pieces came with sticky backs, so, there were no worries of igniting old vices. 

She loved her little snowmen. But they didn't fulfill all of her needs. "More? Crabs, please!"
"Sure, we can go to the store tomorrow and look for a crab to make."

She looked at me quizzically. "Not crabs." She paused and spoke louder and more slowly this time. "C  r  a  b  s."
"Oh, do you mean crafts? It's not crabs. It's crafts."
"Yes!" Her eyes brightened. "Crabs."
"No, say it like this: C-r-a-f-t-s."
Oh, no.
"No, no. C-r-a-f-t-s. Crafts."
"C-r-a-p-s. Craps. I want more Chriftsmas craps."
"Never mind. I'll get you something tomorrow."  

The next day, I went to the store and found a host of holiday foam delights. I decided on a charming little Christmas cottage with Santa and reindeer on the roof. 122 interlocking and sticky backed foam pieces. I knew she was too young to assemble it on her own. It would be a nice chance to pause and get into the holiday spirit with my little one. 

But it wasn't. She has inherited from her mother the displeasure of following directions. From the moment the pieces were dumped on the table, it became a lesson in futility. The interlocking pieces were cut irregularly so that nothing quite fit together and the little house kept collapsing in on itself. Before I could take an inventory of the stick-on pieces, she had begun to pull off the backs and adhere them to the sides of the house. Santa's jolly cheeks adorned a window, an amputated reindeer antler stuck out of the bushes and a random shard of white foam jutted out of a reindeer snout like a giant fang. This was supposed to be smooth; but, there I was swearing like a sailor at a stubborn Santa who would not stick. After 15 minutes, I gave up trying to construct the house so that it resembled the creation on the packaging.

Chriftsmas craps for sure.

The Baby continued to remove the sticky backs and smash them onto the little shack. She brought the dilapidated house to me, "Mommy do you know what we need?"

"What, kiddo?"

A wry smile washed across her face, "Glue."