I was having a cranky day recently. Nothing major- just, nothing was going my way. And then I got an email from my friend Nancy: just catching up, this is happening, that is happening- oh and I’m getting married this summer. Boom. Better day, just like that. Nancy is awesome, and her child is funny and sweet and has a great dad too– so to add another positive to this situation just fills me with happiness.
Then, yesterday, on Pi Day: my friend Maia– you’ll remember her from Dad’s super-fabulous knitted hat– Maia, who is a math professor— announced her surprise Pi Day marriage. I had been having another cranky day, filled with stupid logistics and dumb obligations, and I had typed so many detailed comments on a series of assignments that my pinky fingers were sore. And then I discovered that love had won a second time in as many weeks.
Today is a fantastic day, actually. Much love to Nancy and Rob, and Maia and Jennifer. Long years of happiness to you all.
Super rough-looking shot from last New Year’s Eve. I think we had just been outside, shooting off unexpectedly huge fireworks; we both look a little shell-shocked.
Cam had terrible, terrible allergies as a young kid. Like, the maximum sensitivity to the allergy tests is a 6. When he was first tested, the nurse brought me his results and all I saw was, “Dogwood: 6. Cat dander: 6. Bluegrass: 6. Dust mites: 6,” and on and on. It’s been a long haul, one surgery, and years of allergy shots, to get him to the much-healthier kid he is now. And when I say “years of allergy shots,” I mean that he and I traveled weekly to the doctor to sign in for shots; wait to be called; receive the shots; wait the mandated time to make sure there is no serious reaction; and travel back home. We’ve had a lot of wait time together, Cammy and me.
For awhile we played video games together. There were a few months when we would make miniature paper footballs and take turns trying to score goals (this could only be done out in the hallway when no one was walking by. Logistics eventually made this activity impossible). Occasionally, Cam would bring his homework and finish it up while he waited. But about a year or so ago, I dropped him at the door to sign in while I parked. When I got to the waiting room, Cam was all set up with his homework and his earbuds– with only one in his ear. “Here, Mom,” he said, offering me the other one. “Listen to this.”
And that’s how we started listening to stand-up during allergy shots. We like Jim Gaffigan, Fluffy Iglesias, John Pinette. A couple of weeks ago we started listening to Craig Ferguson. We each use one earbud, our heads together, and sometimes we have to stifle ourselves because we’re cracking up too loudly in the waiting room. And here’s the truth: I’m not really into stand-up. But I am, most definitely, into sharing any interest my kid wants to share with me.
Cam was recently “promoted” so that we only have to go to shots every 3 weeks. I’m almost disappointed…. and tomorrow, he’s 15.
….Between Gabby and my brother, Mike. Mikey, as you know, did not live nearby until not too long ago- so while he heard a lot about Gabby and her Gabbiliciousness, it’s only recently that he has been deluged with it on the regular. Likewise, I don’t think Gabby was cognizant that she had a kindred smartass in her uncle– so it’s been funny to watch her discover their similar personalities. Gabby is always in charge of my phone while I’m driving- she reads my texts out loud (or scans them and says, “…Well, can I swear? -Because if not, then you’ll have to wait to read it yourself”), then transcribes my responses. She’s like my car secretary [note to self: can “car secretary” be an actual thing? Because I feel like I need one]. So, last night, I was in the car, texting with Mike via Gabby. As far as I knew, I texted Mikey a single, joking statement about who was in charge of our respective households. This morning, though, I looked at the texts and discovered an entire second conversation had gone on:
JULIE: Tell Mike there’s no way he’s the alpha in his house. That’s Violet.
GABBY [texts]: My mother just said that you are the Beta of your pack. Are you gonna take that?
MIKE [texts]: That’s erroneous.
GABBY [texts]: My mother also said that Violet is your Alpha, FYI
MIKE [texts]: She knows it. Alpha as entrenched as myself does not concern himself with that stuff.
GABBY [texts]: I see, I see.
GABBY: Mom, if I type “whose” as a possessive, do I use an apostrophe?
JULIE: No, but you add an ‘e’.
GABBY [texts]: My mother said, who wipes whose butt?
JULIE: ….Why are you asking?
GABBY: Just curious.
MIKE [texts]: Touche.
JULIE: Did Mike reply to my saying Violet was the alpha?
GABBY: He said, ‘touche.’
- I like how she cut to the chase and just told me that Mike capitulated.
- It kills me that she refers to me three times in this text exchange as “my mother.” I don’t think I have ever heard her actually say the word “Mother,” in reference to me, in her life.
My boys, on our trip to the East coast this Christmas break.
One time, when Cam was four years old, we spent the afternoon at the beautiful, recently remodeled home of a friend who (unbeknownst to Cammy, of course) was in the midst of a great deal of marital trouble. Everyone was outside, all the kids were playing in the pool, it was a lovely day. Cam told me he had to go to the bathroom; I said, “Go in the kitchen door and the bathroom is right there,” but he asked me to come into the house with him. Unusual, but whatever. About an hour later, same thing. A few minutes after we came out again, Cam returned to my side. “I left one of my Ninja Turtles in the kitchen,” he said. “Okay, honey, go in and get it,” I said- and Cam asked yet again, “Will you come into the house with me?”
I looked at him. “What’s wrong, buddy?” And Cam– who to this day has this same, otherworldly sensitivity to the feelings of others– said, “I don’t want to be in that house by myself. That’s a sad house.”
He had already had several haircuts. SEVERAL.
…was my due date with my first child, whose gender we did not know. I grew up with an adorable little brother (he’s still cute, fyi- and now he comes with a wife and daughter, which is a bonus), so I hoped for an adorable little boy to call my own. I would wait five more days before finding out that my wish had come true, in a beautiful boy who weighed a touch more than 7 lbs and had ridiculous, amazing amounts of dark hair; who screamed continuously for four months and looked just like his beloved papa Ronnie. He brings so much light and happiness to our house, and he has since the day he was born. This week, I’ll give you some Cameron stories, as he counts down the days to when he can get a learner’s permit.
Today, I’ll tell you the story of Cammy and the forklift. He loved construction equipment as a toddler- but he didn’t pronounce the word “forklift” quite properly– to great amusement of all. In perhaps his most famous example, he once announced excitedly to a roomful of adults, “There’s a fucklift by my house!! It likes to fuck things up! It’ll fuck you up, fuck me up, fuck up the house– it fucks everything up!!!”
About a month ago, Cam was struggling with something. It was nothing major, but it was a new situation, so he was new at how to deal with it. One afternoon I mentioned an idea I had, and Cam did a very teenager-y thing: he said, with great weariness in his voice, “Mom. I’ve got it. It’s fine. Okay?” I could see that he wanted to handle it himself. I could see that he wasn’t interested in having conversations about it. So, later on, I just wrote him a little note and left it on his backpack (he never mentioned the note. I didn’t expect him to mention it). He went on to handle the situation himself and do just fine.
Yesterday, weeks after the incident was handled, I brought Cam’s laundry into his room. His laptop was closed on his desk (normally it’s open, so I don’t see the top of it very often), and I realized: he kept my note.
Dave’s newest work car arrives today!!!! For those who recall Blue Steel #neverforget, I have, ever since that debacle, successfully lobbied for a car that doesn’t look like I’m driving Superman’s tights down the street. Bad news: I actually don’t know what color he chose. Good news: I’m 90% sure he went with charcoal grey. If this is the case, then the car will most likely inherit the name of its predecessor, the Grey Goose.
I’ll keep you posted.
We had such a fun party at our house on Saturday, to celebrate both Mardi Gras (still crabby that we missed it this year) and my birthday. We got up on Sunday and it was one of those mornings where the remnants of the night before are everywhere, but you’re not that upset because it was such a good time.
You know how, as you clean up after a really good party, you start finding items that your friends left behind? Days later, there will be sheepish phone calls: “Did you find my phone?” or, “I seem to have gone home without my shoes.” Well: last night, I found a gluten-free cookbook in the drawer of an end table. Turns out, my friend G brought it for my friend Ann. As Ali put it: #partyhard.
Gabby has been getting into different hairstyles lately: she comes downstairs in the morning, and instead of her typical, “put my hair in a ponytail?” or, “Nah, I’ll just brush it,” she brings hair ties and requests: “Can we do the Skrillex?” This thrills me to no end: I love doing hair. My favorite activity as a kid was to try new hairstyles on my dolls; my own hair was cut in an unflattering Buster Brown #neverforget #momwhydon’tyoulikeme, but I did- and still do- love working on any hair whose owner will sit still for it.
Unfortunately, that hair has rarely lived in this house: I have a son with a ton of hair, which is so coarse that water rolls off it like he’s a duck. And one daughter, who recently decided to cut her hair in a pixie, and another who wants as little to do with her hair as possible. I distinctly remember all the times that toddler Gabby would strategically wait until the worst possible moment, before ripping out whatever cute bow or pretty or whatever I had put in her hair. I had sort of given up: no one wanted me to do their hair, and I had made peace with that.
Until recently, as I said. So this morning, as I was putting up Gabby’s hair for her newest invention, Ballerina Bun Friday, Gabby said, “You know, my friends all tell me that you should come over and do their hair.” I said “Oh yeah? That’s nice.” She went on, “Yeah, I am pretty lucky that you’re good at it.” This was unprecedented. I was opening my mouth, to thank her for noticing and appreciating what she has blithely cared nothing about her whole life…. then she went on: “So, I have been thinking about it, and actually: I might as well let you do cool stuff to my hair. Because then people are always like, ‘That’s part of the magic of Gabby.’ Plus, if I hate it, I just take it out.”
Translation: It’s all about Gabby, all the time.
It’s actually even cuter than this.
Addie J started tae kwon do about a month ago. Not because she was particularly interested in doing anything except watching Youtube videos about Minecraft, but mainly because we continue to insist that she participate in some kind of physical activity. This has resulted in many different versions of the same scene: Addie J, tooling around in the general vicinity of a volleyball net. Or with a tennis racquet. Or (most famously) all over the equipment at gymnastics– doing this thing where she’s having a great time without actually engaging in learning the sport. You’d have to see her do it to understand– but any sport or activity for the J has always ended in Dave and me pulling her and saying, “She had a great time, but she doesn’t care.” Addie is very, very happy and easygoing. This makes her such a ray of sunshine. It also means that, while she will happily attend whatever activity, if she doesn’t care about it there is simply no way to force it. I assumed tae kwon do would be more of the same.
Last night, she had her very first belt testing. Since I have no experience in martial arts, I have to constantly ask her instructors (instructors? Trainers? Masters? –Remind me to ask them what they’re called) really obvious questions such as, “How do I tie the knot in this belt?” and, “Wait– if she’s only been doing this a short while, should she be testing at all?” (I asked that question, thinking about how she would cheerfully shrug off any attempts to learn cartwheels, just running around and bouncing off all the foam surfaces in the gym. Addie’s short-lived gymnastics experience remains one of the most frustrating parenting moments for both Dave and me– not because she wasn’t suited to it. It was the depths to which she didn’t care.) But okay: if you think she would succeed at testing, we’re happy to give it a shot.
We all watched the J as they called her forward with her beginner’s group, and walked them all through a series of forms– what my sister Jill calls “synchronized swimming on land.” She was earnest and engaged. When she was off on her form, they called out a correction and she made it instantly. When they announced her name and her new rank, the whole place whooped and applauded for her and my heart grew three sizes. Afterward, we were getting ready to leave and Addie said she wanted to go ask a question. To my utter shock, she asked her instructor if she could compete yet. He said, “Sure, there’s a tournament nearby in a couple of weeks. Anyone who wants to compete, there’s a sign-up sheet on the wall.” And then he explained to me how it works, and what she would need to do. I was literally opening my mouth to say, “Well, actually that weekend is filled with Irish dance stuff, so we’ll probably not participate this time–” when I saw my little one– the one who doesn’t care about competition and who tends to require much prompting to commit to any activity– signing her name on the sheet on the wall.
I said, “……Okay. I guess we’re in.”