On Sunday, Jack Peter and Tim went to a "celebration of Dave Friedman's death" as Jack Peter called it. The Rabbi told a parable about how important it is to honor your parents after which Jack Peter gave his dad a hug and sat on his lap for the rest of the service. People were getting up and telling funny stories. Before Tim knew it, Jack Peter popped off of his knee and sauntered to the front of the room. He said, "I have a joke to tell. Dave Friedman didn't tell me the joke; my mom puts jokes in my lunch box every day, but I think Dave would have liked it: What trembles at the bottom of the ocean? A NERVOUS WRECK!!!!" Tim was appalled and thrilled at Jack Peter's ease and comfort with getting up in front of a group of adults.
In the vein of honoring parents, I have to post images of my mom's latest knitting projects. She's moved on from the time-consuming skirts for me and my big-hipped friends. Susie's pricing is on a square-inch scale, so I don't know why she's complaining about XL skirt commissions, but she's doing entire ensembles for American Girl dolls instead. "Sunny" pictured here is not, in fact, an American Girl doll. Why would Susie spend $120 on the real thing when she can get a knock-off at A.C. Moore for $20? ($17.50 with her coupons)
The knitting and colors are thrilling, but what's crazier is her photography. I'm starting to imagine an all-white gallery in SOHO with 20 of these images blown up to 4'x6' mounted on the walls and art critics fawning over my mom. Whenever I show these pictures to people, their jaws drop as they scroll through them with looks of sheer amazement. Susie sent an outfit to Jen's daughter, Willa. Jen helps me sell pottery every year at my craft show, so she and her daughter are high on Susie's list for gratuitous knitting. Jen had to respond to Susie's images with the following picture. (When I asked the name of the doll for my blog, Jen texted me Rebecca Rubin. She's the Jew from Brooklyn. I got her text long after I'd asked. Out of context, a text reading: Rebecca Rubin, the Jew from Brooklyn, was baffling.)
Susie's critique, "I wish Willa would pull up the tam a bit. It looks very geeky pulled down tight like that. Otherwise, the outfit is very cute even with the purple cast."
Is Susie worried that Rebecca is going to be picked on at school for how she's wearing her hat? or is she worried that the beret-like treatment of the tam isn't flattering to her craftsmanship? I'm stunned that the American Girl doll company has tapped into every girl's desire for a broken limb. Casts were so damned cool in grade school. You can also pay $10 to get a pair of glasses for your intellectual American Girl doll, or if you're Liz Kinder, you get them for $6 on ebay and then pay some absurd amount for shipping. I got them because Steel has been desperate for glasses for herself for 3 years now. Demanding glasses is like demanding cellulite, grey hair, and age spots in my world. Although I do remember being disappointed that I, too, did not need glasses and braces like my brother. Merry Shuwall, my childhood friend's elusive older sister, had to wear head gear in addition to her braces, AND she had boobs, so head gear was so hot in my little brain.
The girls and I did not get to go to the service for David Friedman. We were at Lorena's birthday party. I'm always flummoxed when it comes to birthday presents for kids. I don't want to buy them crap. I also don't want to spend a ton of money buying them something they probably won't want. I decided on "Trader Joe's organic fruit leathers" because as I packed Toby's lunch the other morning and threw one in, she asked, "Can you put one in for Lorena, too? She loves them." I responded, "No, I'm sure Lorena's mom would rather Lorena eat what's in HER lunch." I was masking my stinginess. Those damned things are dear to me. They are $.50 each, and they are the only thing passing for a "healthy snack" that all 3 of my children will eat. When I was 3 I got a book of Life Savers candy for my birthday. It was one of the highlights of my existence, so I figured Lorena would be happy.
The contents of lunch boxes are also a delineation of cool in school and pre-school. Back when I was in grammar school, we were allowed to trade. There is no trading of food at Green Woods Charter School; I suppose imminent death from allergies is a good reason, but it still seems uptight to me. I remember being so excited when I got home-made chocolate chip merengue cookies. My mom's meringues were like her knitting and her pancakes…perfect. They were chewy on the inside, hard on the outside and completely regular in shape and size with a perfect peak on top. (Virgos are amazing.) I could trade those peaked piles of fluff for ANYTHING. I'd invariably go for some processed Hostess item that I wasn't allowed.
Lorena's mom is Brazilian. Members of her Brazilian family had flown in to Philly for the party. It was a blowout. I was a little concerned that the Brazilian mom might think I was trying to say something about her lunches. I opted to make light of it at the party. I needn't have worried. She said, "Oh great! I was just sending in the same granola bar day after day with her lunch. Jane (the school director) had to pull me aside and tell me that Lorena doesn't like granola bars." That woman has no idea what it is to be a neurotic freak about what her kids eat. I'm almost as jealous of that as I was of Merry Shuwall's headgear and boobs. Brazilian mom almost spent all of the Liz Kinder capital she'd earned by serving mimosas at the party when she put horns and Pop Rocks in the gift bags. I had taken the girls to the party in the stroller despite the fact that it was an hour away. Tim tried to get rid of the stroller last week in a purging attempt to make our place presentable for a potential partner. I fought hard for the stroller, so I'll be walking it to Zimbabwe for spring break to prove its productivity. The girls were honking the horns at pedestrians during the entire walk home. They could manipulate them to sound like drowning camels or angry cats. It was pretty fun, but had we driven, Lorena would be off the birthday party list.
Steel had the genius to use the stapler to get the fruit leathers onto the picture; thank God someone in this family is practical.
Our life has been a tyranny of birthday parties lately: 2-3 every weekend. Obviously my kids are attracted to Pisces. I wrapped up a pyramid-shaped touch light for Saturday night's party for boy Sage. (How can there be two children of different sexes named Sage in Jack Peter's class? There are also 2 Maeves and 3 Nicholas's) Jack Peter liked the lamp, so I thought Sage would be cool with it. OK, it was the free gift from ULine after spending $500 on bubble wrap, and it did say ULine on it, but I DID put in the three AA batteries in to make it work. Maybe I should have gone for the steak knives. That party was at a climbing gym. It was utter chaos. They ran out of food, and there wasn't anything for either kids or adults to drink. I know boy Sage's mom, she's a big wig in the nursing school at Jefferson Hospital, so I've grilled her about nursing on behalf of my niece. I went ahead and ordered a couple pizzas. I figured she wouldn't be offended. We had the following text exchange after the party:
Sage's mom, "Embarrassed to ask but gifts got combined..lamp or Pokemon from the Kinder McDonald collaborative?"
Me: Super fun party, thank you. People who a. Keep track of who gave what and then b. have the GAUL to send thank-you notes are just trying to make the rest of us feel shitty.
Sage's mom: Fine. I will not make my boy send you a thank you, but perhaps we shall send something else…LIKE PIZZA REIMBURSEMENT
Me: Please Stop!
Sage's mom: OH Liz Kinder, you will get yours
What does that mean? She's probably going to get Jack Peter a set of 1000 dominoes with Jefferson Hospital written on them. Gifts with multiple pieces are THE WORST unless they are edible.
Tim is gone for the night. I can usually handle it, but apparently my kids did not get the "honor thy parents" memo. I was late to get Toby because I'd forgotten to change the clock at the studio for daylight savings. Toby was mad that I arrived during story time, so I let her sulk at me from across the room and listen to the story while Lorena snuggled with me instead. I couldn't help but ask her if she liked her birthday party. She responded and got chewed out for snuggling with the wrong mom and talking during story time. I felt wretched. I then let the girls convince me to go to the park with another mom while I got Jack Peter and the stuff. He told me about his science project on the way to get the girls. They are creating hybrid animals. His is the "Batasaurus Cock" (part bat, part T Rex, part peacock) We've just had a run-in with the science teacher, Ms. Skladitis, because last week he'd been unable to resist the temptation to talk about poop throughout her class-specifically about a Chinese man pooping and then walking through the poop. Before I'd gotten home to the Skladitis e-mail, Jack Peter had responded to my query, "How was your day?" with "My day was a tiny bit not good." I cannot express my relief in discovering that the Batasaurus Cock was the result of a group project and not Jack Peter's personal brain child.
We got home and I tried to manage dinner and homework. Somehow Steel ended up slamming Jack Peter's neck into the counter because he was gloating about all the sweets he got to eat at the funeral (while she and Toby were eating Pop Rocks and cake) She got her dessert rescinded and threw it at me while kicking me in the back. I finally put up my clogged foot to avoid another attack and got her right in the gut where she'd impaled herself during a fall off her bike on Saturday. She hysterically howled, Toby vociferously defended her while Jack Peter was complaining about his dessert...just as Tim called to say good-night.
They are in bed now, and I am drinking vodka and writing a blog. Steel finally pulled herself together to ask me, "If a person is dumb and can't speak, do they make a sound when they burp?" Somehow that redeemed her. People always talk about how sleep-deprived parents are. I'd always thought it was because kids are waking them up all night. That's not it. Parents are so excited to not have kids around that they stay up past midnight every night to enjoy time without their kids. A lot of people who slog through my blog are, surprisingly, not parents. I'm convinced you read it to confirm the genius of your decision not to procreate. Here's a little gem for all of you: when we finally lurch down the stairs to bed, we peek in on the kids. That is when we love them the most WHEN THEY ARE ASLEEP.
Last week 2 people who read my blog who do not have children told me that my son is gay. They were responding to the following photo in particular:
Jack Peter asked to wear a tuxedo for picture day. We don't have a size 7 tuxedo, but I told him he could try and work something out with the suit he wore to Uncle Johnny's and Aunt Tiff's wedding 4 years ago. He rocked it. I guess a kid who wants to wear a tuxedo for picture day could be gay. He has also been spending a fair bit of time perfecting his bow for the piano recital this month, but the jury is still out for me.