Can you hear me *now*?

In our house we often ask the six-year-old Peanut if he can hear us. We repeat requests *a lot* and have many ways of asking him to make eye contact so he can actually connect his ears to his brain, a link that seems detrimental to six-year-old existence and is therefore bypassed as often as possible.

I have no doubt that the two-year-old Butter is listening, though. He’s fascinated by words and wants to use them all.

Especially if they get a laugh.

At breakfast the other day, Peanut announced that, through some fault of mine in the cutting and cream cheesing of his breakfast, his was a poopy bagel.

Butter laughed so hard I feared for his safety.

He’s been repeating the phrase ever since. Except that, since he doesn’t know the word “poopy,” he heard “poop pee.” And he’s reversed it in his mind. So several times he says, “Mom. Pee poo bage-o! Hahahahahaha!”

And I can’t stop laughing. Sooooo wrong, I know. But I can’t help myself. It’s so completely ridiculous to have pee poo bagels (though maybe now, because of the wild popularity of this blog, Trader Joe’s will introduce a sprouted pee poo bagel…)

This morning during my shower, the door opened and a little face worked hard to belt out “pee…poo…bage-o!” and shut the door quickly. I laughed, quite against my will. And for a long time. He repeated it three times and then was done.

I find it fascinating that his comedic timing includes a willingness to let a joke go after three or four tellings.

I’m sure that will change in a few years. Right about the time he stops listening.

Age isn’t about numbers

Our culture is obsessed with age, and I’m beyond sick of it.

I’m irrationally angry with people who judge others by the numbers on their birth certificate. With people who hide their age or lie about their age. I’m disgusted by the marketing and demographics research that is pivoting on what we should want based on age, and how to play to our age-related insecurities to get our money.

I want to harm, just a bit, those who say things like “The big three-oh” or “over the hill.”

Age is a mythology. Numbers are misleading and indicative of very little. Why? Because the amount and quality of living poured into each day, each month, and each year is wildly different for each person.

A man whose parents die in his teen years is substantially older once he gets to college than most boys who’ve been out of college for years.

A girl who was abused by a loved one is both wise and scared beyond her years.

A man who looks up as his life proceeds, making decisions about what he wants and how he wants to be is older and wiser than a man who puts his head down and does what he’s expected to.

A woman who falls into requirements set by someone or something outside herself is infinitely younger than women who make difficult choices.

Twenty with the decks stacked against you? Forty and never had to do a thing for yourself? Sixty and following your dreams? Thirty and stymied by all the options? Eighty and fighting hard? Fifty and scared? In each of those combinations, the number mattered very little. What I see is decks stacked, inexperienced, passionate, confused, engaged, and scared. Who cares how old: those are very, very different people with different lives and basic human needs, none of which care about birthday candles.

Everyone has different experiences: joys, sorrows, expectations, hopes, deaths, surprises, disappointments. There is a delicate balance of what happens to you and what you choose and I’m not here to argue that everyone has the same chances or that people need to do things differently than they are doing right now.

What I’m saying? Is that none of it is about age. It’s about the life that fills your years that colors who you are.


Much of my day is spent telling small people to use their words, and my evenings are spent bending words to my professional whims. So a Five for Five topic titled Words is my idea of a blissful respite in the sun-drenched meadow I know so well.


I have an unreasonable affection for archaic words that offer the positive for a common modern negative.
I love finding ruthful people,
and feckful friends,
kempt hair,
speakably bad films,
concerting ideas,
friends with peccable taste,
corrigible scamps,
sufferable books,
terminable lectures,
bridled passion,
flappable colleagues,
furled flags,
ruly children,
thinkable results,
and wieldy furniture.

It’s the contrarian in me, I think.

I also adore coined words. Not the Faulknerian togethercobbledwords that just show how alcohol addles the human brain, but genuinely new words that desperately need to be included in our language. The best coined word ever from my eldest child is yestertime. He used it whenever something happened longer ago than yesterday. Because, and he is correct in this and should be inducted into the lexicography Hall of Fame, many, many things did happen in yestertime.

I want to see a painting of yestertime.

Most people react to the sound and sensation of words. I love to say ping pong over and over again. Makes me happy. So does spork. In fact, a spork might be my desert island companion, because it’s both useful in varied culinary instances *and* delightful in conversation.

My friend hates the word moist. But she loves the words slacks and pork. I’m plotting to have her birthday cake read “Moist Pork Slacks!” so she’ll have to choose repulsion or reluctant acceptance. And so we can be featured on Cake Wrecks.

So. To entertain me and give me fodder for your birthday cake, please use your words to tell me your favorite and least favorite words.



Panic sets in whenever I have a blog topic assigned to me. Today’s Five for Five topic is Change.

The parent in me wants to talk about how children change: how each day with a newborn is completely different, how infants can be the same for a week and then pivot in a new direction, how older children change in little ways every day but you really notice new words, new skills, new moods…

But the human in me wants bigger change. I’m tired of talking about children. I’m tired of thinking about only them. I want to change my focus. I want an evolution for myself and my writing. There are so many tactical things I need to change: the way I eat, the way I treat myself, the way I handle my day, the way I react to flashpoint moments with my children, the way I bill clients, the way I spend time on the Internet.

I’ve done a lot of work to become more mindful in my work, both writing work and parenting work. New Year’s Resolutions have become ongoing projects that I evaluate weekly and change as needed. I’m trying to balance priorities and passions, align my needs with the few minutes a day I have to myself.

The process of change, then, is changing, too.

I want my day to change so I can focus on the things that are important to me. Reading. Editing. Writing. Friends. Good food. Joy. Exercise. Sunshine. Blueberries. There has to be a way to blink in the 13 hours of full-time, unceasing child-rearing so I can get some of these. Sunshine and blueberries should be easy. Reading and exercise sure aren’t.

One of the things nobody can really tell you about becoming a parent is how the day’s rhythms, timing, and flow are completely and totally out of your control once a child comes into your life. The timing of when my body goes, stops, eats, and thinks, is in the hands of someone else. Someone whose very important job is being entirely selfish and not caring what I want or need.

Part of me thinks I need to change my expectations. Another part suggests I need to work harder to eliminate the time waste and focus on what’s important. Another part says enough already with the organic food and the “eat your protein” and the “I can’t I have to work because they’re asleep”: we need to play hooky in this family and watch movies and eat popcorn all day. Organic cheese popcorn, of course. It has more protein.

Maybe the change I need is to slow down and hope things don’t change. Because as tight as the moments are, I do stay present to focus on each moment. I do try to be and do my best. I do try to just love and live and learn.

Why the hell would I change that?