Tag Archives: play

Ready I’m Not

Carlos invited me to play Hide and Seek in his room yesterday afternoon. “Mumma? Mumma? I count to ten and you hide, Mumma.”

Ten? That didn’t give me much time to find a hiding spot. I tip-toed across the hall and hid behind the open door of my bedroom.

“Seben, eight, nine….TEN! Ready….” He paused then shouted, “Ready I’m not…Here I come!”

My son, trying out a new game and trying to remember how the words are supposed to line up. And BOOM–his version was even better than what was supposed to be. My heart cracked open with a little more love for him than I ever thought possible. There we were, filling up a Saturday afternoon with playing. Him using new words. Me letting him boss me around. Shrieking and giggling and tumbling around, together.

Ready I’m not…Here I come.

Hide and seek

Hide and seek

That’s how we head into parenting. I don’t care if you’ve been a big sister to twelve kids, or spent 10 years as a nanny, taught second grade, worked as a NICU nurse–not one of us goes into parenting READY. For the first couple of years of Vivi’s life, my therapist’s main message to me was “You don’t have to be perfect, just good enough. Good enough parenting is what parenting is. Stop trying for an A+. Shoot for ‘Satisfactory.'” You’re in it, ready or not.

I had spent the first part of my life hiding. Hiding anything that I messed up. Hiding from anything that I might mess up. Hiding my shame. Hiding my own needs. Hiding myself because I had become absolutely convinced, somewhere along the way, that I wasn’t enough. Good enough, kind enough, smart enough, pretty enough. So I hid. Ready I’m not.

But here I come. Parenting is urgent and tedious, immediate and theoretical, all in one moment. It’s incessant. Still, I keep showing up. Less hide, more seek. I get up every day reminding myself that my good enough is enough. We’ve gotten this far and we’re having a pretty good time of it. I pour the milk and I add a blue bendy straw because blue is his favorite color.

So, today? Ready I’m not…here I come!

Don’t Forget to Play

Many years ago, when Fartbuster and I had been married about a year, Daddy and Gay came to town. They took us to dinner downtown at East/West Bistro–a rare treat for us because the fanciest outing we could afford those days was a half price pitcher of margaritas on Tuesday night at Mexicali Grill.

I accompanied Big Gay when she went out to the sidewalk for a cigarette, thus abandoning Fartbuster to solitary conversation with my dad, which always ended up with Daddy exclaiming, “They don’t make graduate students wear jackets and ties to class anymore? In my day…”

Once we were outside, Big Gay leaned in close and said, “So how’s married life REALLY going?” I confided that we were enjoying ourselves for the most part, but there were…moments. Those times when I was the one commuting two hours to work a job I hated so that we would have money for rent…and he skipped class because he just didn’t feel like going. Or times when I did the cooking and the cleaning and the churning and the milking so he could study…and he didn’t. Or times when he didn’t feel like he should have to “jump through hoops” like the other students. Y’know. There were some things. But I wasn’t ready to be 100% honest with anyone.

“I know you love Daddy, but…. do you ever… have a day when you can’t even stand to listen to him for another second?”

“A DAY?” Gay blew out a long plume of smoke and hooted. “A day? Try WEEKS. Honey. I love your Daddy more than anything but sometimes he gets on my nerves so bad I want to tape his mouth shut.”

“What do you do?”

“Read a book. It passes. Eventually, you remember why you thought they were charming in the first place.”


She reminded me that it was possible to love someone even when you couldn’t manage to like them for a while.

G and I have been together for nine years, three kids, and all the ups and downs that come along with that. Let’s just say, there have been days when we have run out of nice things to say to each other. It’s been a snappish couple of weeks around here.

Then at Vivi’s birthday party, we had a chance to play. We went to Pump It Up, one of those SUPER FANTASTIC BIG FUN INFLATABLES places. We schlepped the cake and the balloons and the presents and the extra socks and the glow bracelets and the gluten free options and the organic grapes and the Capri-Suns with no high fructose corn syrup. We did all the adult stuff. After 15 minutes, Carlos had adjusted to the noise and chaos and all of us were done with our task lists.  So we played.

I got in the foam ball shooting range and taunted Jeff, “You can’t hit ME!” while bending over and showing my butt as a perfect target. The kids loved it. Victoria and I took over the inflatable basketball court and did some ridiculous dunking. I went down the slide (which creates a lot of friction when you are a grown ass woman in capri pants). G tried to do the Wipe Out style obstacle course, which requires leaping from one giant purple ball to the next, gecko-style. He busted it. We hollered so loud that all the dads started doing it. Then all the moms had to give it a try (except for Susan, who has some sense). G came out of the maze unbowed.He stopped where the moms were laughing and assembling glow bracelets to preen and pose for us. When he started rubbing his belly and pretending to unbutton his shirt, I yelled, “BACK OFF, LADIES! He’s taken!”

And I meant it.

We got a chance to play, despite the kids. We’ll be back to sniping at each other soon enough, but it sure felt good to play.

I would post pictures of this hilarity, but my phone just wasn’t fast enough to catch the blur of our prowess. Just picture a grown man trying to leap across this:


Seven Signs of Spring

1.  A dog named Bunny who likes to hop.  Hop on top.

nana bunny

2.  Broody hens who listen to Billy Joel in the coop.

nana chickens

3.  Lenten roses.  Helleborus orientalis that all grew from two plants.

nana hellebore

4.  Is that flowering quince?  Oh, and Bunny.  Nana says it was cute at first but now it’s getting a little annoying.

nana hop

5.  Scampering.

nana run

6.  Papa may have gone a little overboard on the tomato seedlings.

nana tomatoes

7.  Rows of tulips all lined up for the Easter parade.

nana tulips

The Swinging Bridge

I saw my baby do something today that threw me right back to a tense conversation I had with Fartbuster a dozen years ago.  Then I saw my other baby do something that catapulted me right back to this life and the joys that I have found.

The kids and I went out in the backyard to play today.  I know, I know, we should do it more often, but there is dog poo and mosquitoes and a river and some nails in that thing that rotted and all.  Carlos is too young for me to cut him loose out there without supervision, so he is still unfamiliar with the massive playscape that we have in the corner of the backyard (courtesy of my brother, Joe, who built it for his children a decade ago then passed it along to us when time rolled on).  Chanting “Climb!” in his chirpy little voice, Carlos scaled the ramp up to the first platform, which Vivi had accessed via the climbing wall.  He looked out over his kingdom with delight.  There were leaves to crunch, a ship’s wheel to spin, sticks for poking stuff–everything a boy could wish for was up there on that platform.  But there was more.

On the other platform, his sister was sliding down a fire pole and slinging pine cones down the yellow slide.  Huh.  The only thing standing between him and the pleasures of the second platform was a swinging bridge.

swinging bridge

Awfully wobbly, it is.

He hooched down as low as he could and stuck one foot out onto the bridge.  I was standing on the ground beside the bridge, cheering him on, reassuring him that it was safe.  But his foot told him otherwise.  He tried a couple of tentative forays, but the bridge kept wiggling.

That’s when I thought of Fartbuster, and a conversation that we had in a marriage counselor’s office during that year when we were trying to put things back together.  Fartbuster said, “I think our problem is that you don’t trust me.”  Well, duh, dipshit.  You had an affair.  You lost your job.  You lied to me over and over and over again.  Some crying woman calls my house at night.  Why should I trust you?  But what I said in that room that day was, “Trust between us is like a bridge.  I want to walk across it, but every time I’ve stepped on it, it’s lurched and swayed and dropped me on my head, so why would I step out on it again?  I think it’s up to you to rebuild the bridge.”

We all know how that one turned out.

Back to today.  I recognized that look on Carlos’ face–that concern that he was placing his faith in something wobbly.  And even though his mother told him it was OK, and his sister had proved that it was sturdy…all he felt was the wobble.   Then this happened:

carlos gets a pep talk

A pep talk

Vivi put down her pirate cutlass and spyglass long enough to give Carlos a pep talk.  That look on his face.  You can’t hear their laughter through these words, but you can probably imagine it if you look at his face.  I told him it was OK, but she took the time to show him.  She used herself to demonstrate that it was perfectly safe to trust the bridge.

So he did this:

Steady as she goes, mate.

Steady as she goes, mate.

Look at the concentration, the daring, on that tiny face.  Trust.  One foot in front of the other.  

I hope all of his bridges lead to greater adventures.  And that even if they sway, they are held up by steel cables his family built, way before he was born.