Gamine style. When I go shopping, I just need to ask myself, “Does this make me look like a street urchin?” If the answer is yes, I’m good to go.
Simon is cautious. Oliver is fearless.
Oliver is loud. Simon is . . . quieter. Most of the time.
Simon questions. Oliver does.
Oliver eats everything. Simon, not so much.
Simon makes jokes. Oliver laughs at them.
Oliver thinks he is 4. Simon thinks he is 8.
Simon loves trains. Oliver is into buses.
Somehow, they get along just as brothers should: screaming and tackling, laughing and hugging, and getting a kick out of wearing each other’s pajamas.
We’ve been married nearly 6 1/2 years and had never listened to Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 18th variation, together until tonight. I’m ashamed of myself. This is the song I grew up on, for heaven’s sake.
We’ve been having some tough conversations at our house lately. It started a couple of weeks ago when Simon checked out a book from the library. I glanced at the title before we took it to the check-out desk: “If a Bus Could Talk.” Great, I thought. Oliver loves buses. This will be a fun read for us. Turns out, it was the Rosa Parks story. A great story, but not necessarily subject matter I was ready to discuss with a four-year-old. Since then we’ve been talking about why black people couldn’t sit next to white people on the bus. All I can think to say is that the white people thought that they black people weren’t as good as they were, but that they were wrong, very wrong, that white people and black people are good people.
I know Simon hears what I’m saying, and I hope he understands. But it’s hard to know. I do know that it will be many years before he has any concept of the importance of that bus ride, or until he has anything in his own experience that will give him a reference point for the enormity of what Rosa Parks did. I feel inadequate to discuss it with him, but I want to answer his questions as best I can anyway. I just have to trust that it will all make sense someday, on an emotional level as well as on an intellectual level.
Then there was the situation that came up while we were at the Cherry Blossom festival at the botanic gardens. Simon came across a plaque that was dedicated to the memory of some woman. She had died on September 11th, 2001. From that ensued a conversation about September 11th, about the buildings that are no longer standing lower Manhattan, about what a sad day that was. And then the next week Osama bin Laden was killed and as I was telling Micah about it, Simon overheard. We talked a little bit more about September 11th, about the buildings, about how sad that day was.
Simon is more interested in why he wasn’t born yet when that happened than in anything else. The fact that I was still in high school doesn’t seem to mean much to him. Part of me wishes that he had been born, that he would remember it and that we would have that shared experience. But then, there will be something else that will define and shape his generation in ways that will be different from my own. I’m sure there will be. For better or worse.
I have a longer version of this brewing in my head — something I’d like to develop a little bit more deeply and possibly publish somewhere. In my mind it includes elements of my own childhood memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the news of bin Laden’s death. This is just a small, underdone scrap of a thought, but I needed to get it started and out there so I can move forward with it.
I read in the Times last week about moms who think that their babies are perfect — handsome and intelligent looking and whatever else — and then years later, look back at the baby pictures and realize how deluded they were. I laughed, inwardly, as I read the story, knowing perfectly well that so many mothers are deluded, but that I was not one of them. Simon had always been a perfect baby. Yes, he was a plump little cherub whose many many many baby pictures attest to his angelic nature and super-model baby capabilities.
And then we got our new computer, which allowed us to put all of our pictures in one place. We spent a couple of hours this weekend sorting through old baby pictures. And I laughed, outwardly this time, as I realized how deluded I was. I mean really. Simon was a cute baby, no doubt. We got comments everywhere we went from perfect strangers who had no financial stake in his future telling us he belonged on tv, that he looked like a baby in an ad, that he was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. But you would never guess it to look at some of these charming shots.
I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw some of these. I hardly recognized him. Best use of Mother’s Day ever.
It turns out that Simon can reach the buzzer and buzz people into our building. I learned this earlier this afternoon when he knocked urgently on the bathroom door and told me I needed to get the door. Because although he can climb up onto the kitchen window sill and get the buzzer, he is, thankfully, not tall enough to unlock the dead-bolt. I turned off the shower and tried to decide what to do just as the doorbell rang. We were expecting a couple of very important packages related to Micah’s baby, and I knew Micah would hate to have to wait another day. So I grabbed a towel, dried off as best I could, and went to the door to see what I could do. Sadly, the delivery man had left, but a neighbor who was coming in saw me peeking around the door and volunteered to bring him back. So, yeah, I received a delivery while dripping wet, wrapped in a towel. I think I’ve reached some sort of milestone in motherhood.
But speaking of Micah and his baby, do you want to see some of his other nesting projects?
Raise your hand if you think Micah does good work. (You may want to congratulate him on the arrival of his baby as well. Wink wink.)
Congrats to everyone who participated this year! I really had a hard time deciding on my favorites because there were so many fantastic entries. To re-cap the voting rules: first place votes got three points, second place got three votes, third place got one vote. If only one entry was voted on, it got one point. If two were voted on, they got two points and one point. We did have a tie for second place this year. You two will have to battle it out for who wants which prize.
And the winners are:
We will Honorably Mention:
Melissa gets to pick first from among the prizes, then Abby and Stephanie can paper-rock-scissors for the remaining two. Let me know what you want and where to send it. You all know how to reach me.