When school is out for the summer, you’ve been outside all day with your fair-skinned inside kids and you just can’t listen to the Paw Patrol theme song anymore (but let’s be honest, nobody is getting tired of this pop punk masterpiece anytime soon), here is a fun and easy art project. Put a little water in a plastic cup, let your child squirt shaving cream on the surface, then with an eye dropper have them drizzle drops of washable watercolor paint on top. As more paint collects it starts to rain down into the cup and looks really cool. It reminds me of those drippy colored glob things from Spencer Gifts in the mall when I was growing up. It’s a relaxing activity, and at the same time a lesson in the Earth’s water cycle. Just don’t eat it.
Most of the time I feel like a kangaroo without a pouch. As soon as my son falls asleep in the stroller, I make a bee-line to the nearest coffee shop so I can read. But even in his sleep he can tell he’s not in my arms, and wakes up crying after a few minutes. I pick him up and he nurses for a second, then falls asleep on me. About 15 minutes later as he starts to sleep a bit more deeply, his little teeth clamp down and I yell some sort of expletive. Everyone stares. I don’t blame them. I imagine it would confusing to see a loving mother and son moment interrupted by spastic cursing. But that’s how we roll. He doesn’t wake up of course, being a city kid and always nodding off to the sound of police sirens and fire engines. He sleeps like this for an hour, then wakes up so happy. So much happier than he does when he naps in the stroller. With a big toothy grin and drowsy eyes he looks up at me and wraps his arms around me tight. He says, “HUG!” or if I’m really lucky, “I love you, mommy.” He’s way too big for a moby wrap by now, and it makes me want to invent a huge kangaroo pouch for toddler humans. This boy is all consuming, but nobody has ever loved me this much.
We have all these mass shootings. All the time. And everyone thinks they know why. Too many guns. Too little mental health funding. Too much religious extremism. Toxic masculinity. Terrorism. Violent video games. Bullying. Our culture of homophobia and racism. Too few thoughts and prayers (no wait a minute, that’s the one thing we have plenty of). Well I have no solution. I’m smart enough to know that I’m not smart enough to know why we have so many shootings all the time. My only thought when this happens is, “That boy’s mom didn’t hug him enough as a child. She didn’t make him laugh enough. She didn’t tell him enough jokes. She didn’t show him enough 1970’s Sesame Street. Because I don’t care how much childhood trauma you’re working through or still lashing out about as an adult, shooting up a public place would never even occur to kids who grew up on old school Sesame Street. Maybe his family went to the church whose preacher droned on every Sunday about how “homosexuals are going to hell,” and not the church whose choir joyfully sang, “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” Then I think of a bunch more reasons, and none of them are the right reason. Then I get frustrated and think to myself, “This isn’t my job! Why am I working so hard at thinking of reasons for this madness? It should be SOMEONE’S job, though. Why is this not a job? Why as a human race can we do so many amazing things, yet not make it some highly intelligent person’s sole purpose in life to figure out this mass shooting nonsense? Yeah it’s complex and could take decades of research, it just seems it should take priority over lots of other things. Like EVERY other thing.”
Mom, 4:39 am:
Hears toddler saying, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mooooommy. Mommy! MOMMY!”
Distributes morning hugs.
Goes to fill sippy cup.
It looks a little crusty, better wash it.
Looks in fridge. How are we out of bread?
Packs lunch for school.
Searches the cabinet for some kind of fun treat to make up for the heel-only sandwich.
Glances at pile of mail on the kitchen counter. We only have a week left to renew our health insurance. That’s always a whole thing.
Chooses outfits for kids.
Chooses different outfits.
Sniffs daughter’s sweater.
Gets the Febreze (please don’t tell anyone I spray my children with chemicals).
Mentally reviews Trader Joe’s With Stroller And Toddler plan of attack for later, precisely mapping out which subway stop has the elevator, noting that the line going back downtown is under construction so you need to give yourself extra time to get back before your oldest child gets out of school. Isn’t that a funny saying, “give yourself extra time?” As if everyone has a magic time wand to be used in case of emergencies? Poof! Now I have an extra hour that did not exist before. God I love my magic time wand.
Hears older child waking up. “MOMMY! COME GET MEEEEEEEEE!”
Suddenly gets pulled toward the window by a small person yelling, “Garbage truck! Digger! Bus!”
He is upset that he missed seeing the bus he just heard outside. To cheer him up and / or distract him you start singing, “Wheels On The Bus.”
Instead you become the distracted one as you stop singing and think, “This song is kind of outdated. It seems like it would be called ‘Wheels On The Hybrid Bus’ or ‘Wheels On The Bike’ by now.”
You notice that you still aren’t dressed.
Dad, strolling in while checking his email:
“It always takes you so long to get dressed.”
Everyone is always like, “I love walking around New York, but there’s never anywhere to pee!” Personally when I’m out and about in the city and nature calls, I always choose Banana Republic. Did you guys know they have bathrooms there? Well they do, and they are way cleaner than the ones at Barnes & Noble. I stopped in yesterday and tried to go into the women’s room. The door was locked, so I tried the men’s. That was locked too. A few seconds later I heard the hand dryer, and the men’s room door opened. A woman came out. As she held the door for me, we looked at each other and laughed. “It’s the men’s!” she said. I replied, “Ha! Oh well, the men always get a shorter line don’t they?” We laughed again. A minute later as I was leaving, a man came out of the women’s room as I was coming out of the men’s. We looked at each other and smiled, then went on our separate ways.
“Wipe off that coffee before you put it in the fridge, it’s all drippy. Did you notice I cleaned the fridge?”
“It looks great, baby.”
“But did you notice?”
“I noticed. It looks great.”
“Did you notice before I said that, or just now after I told you?”
“Um…just now…after you told me.”
We like to think of ourselves as modern, progressive people, but our big secret is that we are actually 1950’s sitcom stereotypes.