Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Can Do Yoga with a Yak all Year in my Yard

EXT: Grey station wagon pulling out of suburban driveway onto a busy road.

Cut to slightly frazzled looking MOM in the front seat, adorable 3-year-old LITTLE A in the backseat, looking out the window. BABY G is sitting in her car seat next to LITTLE A., only barely visible. All is quiet, except for the radio and the little jingles of the baby's toy. But then....

LITTLE A: Why do we go this way every day Mama? Why do we wait our turn? Why did Daddy leave before us? Why did you put on your blinker? Why is baby G chewing on her hands all the time? Why do you drink coffee? Why did Brad go to the train station last night?

MOM: Well, A., that's because --

LITTLE A: Why do we go frew the toeboof? Why we give that guy a dollar? Why does that guy have tattoos? Why isn't the lady working today? Why does Daddy work on cars? Why do some people get lasers after? Why are they fixing the bridge? Why did you pack me a snack for my Sunny Days? Why are we going on the highway?

MOM: We have to give them a --

LITTLE A: Why we stopping now? Why we waiting our turns? Why is it bad to have an axtident? Why do we have to wear buckles? Why is Baby G looking at me? Why is it starting to rain? Why is that truck red? Why does it have wheels under? Why is it not good for me to poop in my underpants? Why is Nat-Nat in Florida?

MOM: If the car gets --

LITTLE A: Why is that squirrel died? Why did our black cat die? Why is grey kitty not died? Why does Miss Missy have a blue shirt? Why does Baby Jacob sleep in his swing? Why do we have to feed Fifi-fishie two times? Why does Floyd pee on the rug?

MOM: Sometimes people and things just --

LITTLE A: Why you go to work after 5 minutes? Why you pick me up? Why does Baby G go in her car seat that way? Why she have fweet potatoes for breakfast? Why is it so stinky when I poop in the potty? Why did you stop now? Why are we waiting our turns? Why did Daddy go in the different car today? Why are we having fish cakes for supper? Why do you have your hair in a bun?

MOM: (unintelligible mumbling)


She sits back again, content. Looks out the window at the passing scenery. Just as she begins to open her mouth again, the screen goes black. 


Con muchos besos,  A

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I See You

Little A. wants to go higher, higher, higher all the time. Can you do an underdogs? she pleads. I want to go SOOOPER HIGH! I'll only do the coveted underdog move when she is in the toddler swings, but it still makes me nervous. When did she learn about underdogs, and when did she start loving to swing so high? Just weeks ago, she would panic over anything more than a 15-degree arc. 


I never chose my girlfriends wisely, or was an inadequate friend; I was never certain, but I never could hold on. Once I reached middle school, I gradually dropped my sweet, loyal elementary school friends because I wanted to talk about boys and wear OP and do theatre and listen to the Beastie Boys and they weren't quite there yet. This was, I hope, painless for all involved: we simply grew apart, but were always friendly.

Just once, I was the mean girl: renouncing Julie, my best friend the previous year at camp to hang with the cooler girls in the shack. We teased her and made her cry. The power was intoxicating: just like I would feel later when I smoked or drank too much, giddy and sick at the same time. Admittance to the cool crowd was tenuous for everyone but one or two founding members. You never knew when it was your turn to be the chum. Nerve-wracking, to say the least.

Of course I never would have mentioned this to my mother. She never seemed to notice (or perhaps just didn't mention fearing my hormonal wrath) when my best friends at home, the ones I talked to for hours on the phone, wrote notes to each period, and hung out with every weekend -- first Reshanna, then Michelle, then Ingrid -- suddenly stopped calling or coming over after some disagreement that never, to me, seemed like grounds for ultimate dismissal. I'm not sure it would have made me feel any better to talk to her about it. So I never did, and eventually just presumed that best friends for life were not something that actually happened. Or that if it did, it would be a boy.  So I put all my eggs in the boyfriend basket, and hung out with HIS friends, who stopped being friends with me when I (thank the gods) realized that I was not meant to be Mrs. Todd Murphy, class of 1992, after one semester at college. My mother did notice that, and told me several times that we were too serious. How was she to know that I considered him my only friend?


A group of tween girls is wrestling with the gate to the playground. Either they are pretending to not know how to open it, so no one will look too eager to get inside, or they are just purposefully too skinny and malnourished to get it open. Little A. is shouting instructions to them, and to me: PUSH HARDER! NO, PULL! COME ON IN BIG GIRLS! COME ON THE SWINGS! HELP THEM MAMA! When they finally figure it out and tumble in, gangly puppies outfitted by Justice, Little A. jumps off her swing, tell me I want to play with the big girls and proceeds to follow them around. For the most part, they ignore her and move to other parts of the space when she approaches. I don't think there is any malice; they seem more awkward than cruel. They are just supremely uninterested in the advances of a toddler girl. But after they leave Little A. runs back to me with a huge smile on her face. Those big girls were so nice! she exclaims. One of them said "Hi" to me! I fwinged next to them! Do you have any more space fishies for snack?


After several years of therapy, yoga, and realizing that my first impression can be as welcoming as a hedgehog, I have somehow made a handful of wonderful, loyal, amazing women friends. After years of trying to crack through the veneers and speak the language of aloof trendsters, I lucked out and found a tribe (albeit a small one, and mostly too far away) of gorgeous, goofy, perfectly imperfect ladies who love me back. Dear Lord and Almighty parenting books, how will I teach my daughter to be a good friend, a kind and loyal friend? How will I encourage her to stay sweet, not put up walls and pretend at cool, like her mama did and maybe still does? How will I teach her to discern the ones to keep, the ones for the moment, the ones forever?


She makes a game of running away, but not too far, and never in parking lots. I catch her, call her my gingerbread girl and and kiss her curls and tickle her still chubby, perfect belly. As we sit reading before bed, she turns to me and says Mama, we are best, best friends! My other best best friend is Nat Nat and Launa. And Phoebe. And Max. And Baby Warren. But not Pop, he teases me.

I will always be your best, best  friend, my silly bean, I tell her back. And say a little prayer: may she always, always have so many best bests, and always, always, talk to me.

Con muchos besos, A