Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Disturbing On So Many Levels

We had a full house today, with N's friend WeeyumWise staying for a few hours having a playdate while his mom went to a poetry reading, and with Em's friend C hanging out as well. It was a beautiful day after several days of damp, overcast, coolness, and so I gathered up the boys and took them outside to help me weed my garden. When Em and C saw us coming, they made a face.

"Oh, no you don't," I said. "They have just as much right to be out here as you do."

"It's not that," Em replied. "It's just that we're playing a pretend game that probably isn't appropriate for them to be hearing."

I raised my eyebrows at her.

"No, no, we're not doing anything WRONG," she said. "It's just that we're about to tell our boyfriends that we're pregnant."

For the record, it is now approximately eight hours later, and I still don't know how I want to respond to that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Now that I'm working from home, getting out of my pajamas before the time when I have to go pick up Em at school is optional. I heart working in my pajamas.

Today, I had an appointment on campus at 4, well after Em-pickup time. So I remained happily pajama'ed, did what needed doing until about noon, and then was faced with a dilemma: Should I change into jeans and a sweatshirt to pick up Em (early dismissal day is Thursday, and they get out at 1:30), or should I just bite the bullet and get into my work clothes? My hatred of having to pick out more than one outfit in a day overcame my hatred of wearing work clothes, and I chose the latter. Except, of course, for my shoes; I like to walk to pick Em up, and I wasn't going to smush my feet into shoes that would hurt me while I strode along. So I put on my sneakers.

Do you see where this is going?

It wasn't until I had already dropped by my old office, gone over a few still-outstanding projects with them, and was on my way across campus to the building where my meeting was being held that I suddenly realized: My feet felt fine. Great, in fact. Which was, of course, due to the well-worn-and-slightly-stinky pair of sneakers still adorning them, if you can call what well-worn-and-slightly-stinky sneakers do to feet "adorning."

My work shoes? At home, nestled in their little shoe house in my closet.

You apparently not only can't take me anywhere, you can't dress me up, either.

[The people I was meeting with were, of course, immaculately dressed. I made a joke about my footwear and got a laugh, but I don't think I made any great strides for the image of the work-at-home mom today. I guess I should just be grateful I'd remembered to put on a bra...]

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mark This Date

Today was the day when Em officially passed me in math; the first time she ever came to me and said, "Do you remember how to...?" and I just looked at her blankly.

She is in third grade and hasn't yet turned nine years of age. I am 42, and have always been told that I'm "gifted." (Though when I was a kid, they called it being a genius, and they said it with a sneer. But that's beside the point.)And yet, here we are.

Partial-product algorithms? WTF?

That was then followed by a question from her social studies homework that I couldn't answer, either. (That one didn't surprise me, though. I never was a history whiz.)

I'm getting older AND stupider. It's so unfair.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Playing With Fire

I talk a good game, sure. But my follow-through? It sucks.

As I think I mentioned (but can no longer find where, because I am apparently a complete Blog Bimbo), I weaned myself off of Neurontin when I quit my job, so that I wouldn't have it on my list of current meds when I applied for private health insurance. When this other job came through, and I realized I wasn't going to need that private insurance, I started popping those puppies again because, well, they help keep me sane, and I'm no idiot.

Except for when I am.

Which is to say that I went off my Neurontin again, a couple of weeks back, for no better reason than that I rapidly gained a good five pounds within maybe two or three weeks of starting up in the first (second, really) place. I am hypocrite, hear me roar. And, of course, that logic was made even less logical by the fact that two days after taking the last of my little yellow capsules, I went on a week-long cruise and spent each day eating my weight in caramelized onion tarts, butter-drenched lobster tails, chocolate souffles, and whatever they happened to put on the midnight buffet table.

I suppose the fact that I only gained two pounds in those seven days is impressive, considering. But, really. If I'm going to put myself in the line of imminent insanity, shouldn't it have been in the pursuit of actual weight loss, rather than maybe-not-quite-so-much weight gain?

[Those of you whom I've lectured about the importance of maintaining a drug regimen even when you think you're feeling better are more than welcome to taunt me in my comments, stick your tongues out at me, and strip me of my Personal Depression Consigliere title. I deserve no less, considering how much glass my house is made out of, and how many stones I've been lobbing from inside.]

Friday, April 21, 2006

Notes From A Trip, Part III

[I'm just going to pretend that my comments aren't working, and that, really, you all WANT to hear the final installment of my trip. Lalalalalalala.]

She found a friend today, and instantly turned back into my Em. Thank goodness.

If I had ten seconds’ worth of strength left, I’d write about how much fun today was, with the cooking tour and the shopping, and the dipping of toes into the water, and the tequila tasting/educating. Not to mention the big dance party by poolside and the 11 pm buffet and the comidian/magician act in the Masquerade, which was hilarious. I’d recount a few stories about Em, such as the man in the jewelry store who thought she was so smart because she knew where the sapphire counter was. (There was a sign overhead.) As I told him, “She sure does know her gemstones, but I’m not sure that’s such a good thing for me.” I’d talk about how proud of herself she was that she knew how to make guacamole even efore we ‘learned’ how to do it in cooking class. Or about how all day long, people just kept giving her things, and not just at the stores that offer a freebie to get you in the door, but also from the little marketplace booth owners who were impressed by how she was buying souvenirs for her friends with her own money.

But I don’t have the strength. So instead, here’s the lowdown: I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day with my daughter, who was more or less perfect the entire time, even when we had a little chat about her jealousy over her brother. (When I say little chat, I mean just that; not a scoloding, a talk. We worked some stuff out, I told her how much more fun I can have with her than I can with N at this point in our lives, she gloated, all was well.)

The next two days, the last days aboard te ship, are at sea only. I’m hoping they will be relaxing, now that Em has this girl M to play with at the kids’ club, and so is no longer fighting the idea of going. But I’ll miss the ports of call and the adventures there. It feels like the vacation is almost over, and that makes me very wistful.

It is a sheer and utter impossibility that the child I saw tonight, that little, irrepressible boy who got up on a stage in an honest-to-god theater in front of more than just a couple of hundred people, talked to a lady with a microphone and then danced center stage while his fathr sang, the child who I picked up from the day camp on board this afternoon who was playing with two other boys like there was nothing to it, this making of friends out of minutes-before strangers...I cannot comprehend how that child can be the little boy I had evaluated over and over again for possible autistic features, about whose future social life I have spent so much time obsessing. I simply cannot wrap my head around the idea that this is the same child. Hell, I have a hard time convincing myself that he’s even in the same species as that other kid.

It should come as no surprise that Em just fell apart after the show. She wanted to go up with Baroy, but he told her only one kid could go up, and N really wanted to, so...She held up beautifully thoughout the show, right up until the time that they gave N a trophy along with Baroy (everyone was a winner tonight), and then everyone stopped by our seats to ruffle N's hair and chat with him. Add to that the fact that her friend M left during the show and she had to say goodbye to her, the fact that she’d already had to say goodbye to all her favorite waiters and other staff along the way today, the fact that she’s going back to school in two days...and top it with the fact that every other singer was asked to give a shout out to their family members in the audience EXCEPT Baroy, because the emcee was too busy chatting away to and about N...Frankly, if he weren’t my son, and one of the two lights of my life, I’d have been jealous, too.

[She and Baroy are, as I type this, off having a celebratory drink together while I put N to bed. I hope that helps take the sting out of the evening, if only just a little.]

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Notes From A Trip, Part II

Oh, all right. Stop begging for more vacation stories; you're embarrassing me. Here you go, just what you never wanted: more minutiae about someone else's cruise.

Now THIS was a cruise evening. All of us dressed up in our finest. A wonderful dinner. A show in a gorgeous theater, with huge, leather, cushy seats. Then off to dance to a band for half an hour or so, where I got to watch my son basically charm a room full of people, and watch my daughter’s face light up with pure joy when her father got up and did the twist with her; plus, I got to slow dance with my husband. And then. Then. Then came the best part of the evening: Karaoke Idol. I sat back, prepared to laugh. What I wasn’t prepared for was my husband standing up and saying, “Should I give it a try?” What I wasn’t prepared for was for him to get up and belt out “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” sounding better than I’ve heard him sound in years. What I wasn’t prepared for was hearing the audience cheer, hearing some guy in the back yelling, “Go, Dean-o!” What I really wasn’t prepared for was him and Em to come back to the room at around midnight (I’d brought N back about half an hour before; 11:30 is definitely past his bedtime and he was starting to show it) to announce that Baroy made the finals on Saturday night.

Now THIS is fun. And there’s more to come

[And as an aside, may I just say, God bless sea bands. They’re not helping Em that much, but they’re making all the difference in the world to me.]

We had dropped Em and Baroy off for their snorkeling trip (word is that Em ate up the whole snorkeling thing as if she'd been doing it since she was an infant), and were sitting on the dock waiting for our Land’s End tour catamarran [how do you spell that, anyway?] to dock. There were a number of young men in miliary-type outfits, probably coast guard, but maybe not, with these four-foot long rifles strapped to their backs. N was entranced, and when one guy came within earshot, he yelled out to him, “Hey, you know how much I like guns, dontcha?” The guy refused to engage with N, but you could see his shoulders haking with laughter as he walked away.

Entering Mazatlan this moring, N looks out our stateroom window at some rocky hills we’re passing on the way to port. “Those are the more humungous rocks I ever saw in my whole life!” he exclaimed over and over.

It was an interesting day for kid-watching round these here parts. My sensitive girl was really disturbed by the views of poverty we saw as we traversed the countryside outside of Mazatlan. Her eyes were first opened when we passed through some of the shantytowns, or whatever they are called here. (Our tour guide spoke of the people living in these conditions as “homesteaders” at one point, which seemed unnecessarily quaint to me. But she mostly called them squatters. Truly, though, all I could think of was the favelas of Brazil. These 'homes' might not be made of cardboard, but they were no more luxurious.) What got her, of course, were the dogs: so scrawny, all just wandering the streets of the towns we were in. For me, it was the children begging at the adobe “brickyard” who about killed me. Or, rather, it was one little boy in particular, holding out a handful of bouganvillea flowers mutely, just hoping for some money in exchange. Not only was it that symbol of poverty, but its simultaneous statement about the stupidity and inanity of tourists, the idea that we will buy anything. (We will.) It made me sad and embarrassed to be passing him by, boarding an airconditioned bus on my way back to my Cruise de Decadence.

The long ride back was the occasion for a definite first: N was playing peek-a-boo and then some all-boy shooting game with two kids in the back of the bus. You could just see Em yearning to talk to someone other than a grownup. Finally, she went over to N, and was teasing him and talking to him, and eventually I heard her making comments to the boys. And then I realized what had just happened: N, my 'quirky' boy, my fresh-out-of-a-stint-of-socialization-classes child, was facilitating a social interaction for Em. I wouldn’t have believed it if I weren’t sitting right there.

I’ve been concerned about Em this trip. It’s so unlike her, or at least the her I’ve been parenting for the past eight years, to hold back the way she has around a ship full of kids in and around her age. So when I saw her talking somewhat shyly to a young girl at the pool this afternoon, I went over. I thought I recognized that girl as the kid who had performed some amazing backflips for no reason whatesoever before karaoke the other night, so I asked her if I was right about who she was (I was) and complimented her. Then I asked her a few things about her gymnastics and how long she’s been doing them, and asked her how old she is (9), mentioning how Em is a pretty good gymnast, but not yet able to do backflips, and how Em is almost 9 herself. Satisfied that I'd done my best to ensure they had something to talk about, I returned smugly to our beach chairs nearby.

The smugness only lasted about a minute or so, until Em came sauntering up, raised her eyebrows at me and said, “You know, I was conversing just fine over there without any help.” And turned right on her heels and walked away.

Busted. Totally busted. Now THAT is my Em.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Notes From A Trip, Part I

Baroy helps me put the kids to bed on the first night of the cruise. I am far from having found my sea legs, and all I want to do is go to sleep, so I suggest he go out and check out the casino, have a drink at one of the bars, listen to the band play, whatever.

“All right, I’m off,” he says, fumbling with a few things, gathering up his key card, his wallet. Then I hear a clink, and see a band of metal bounce off the dresser and hit the carpet. He picks it up and starts to put it in the room safe.

“Hold on a minute,” I say, laughing incredulously. “Tell me you didn’t just take off your wedding ring on your way out of the room to check out the night life on our cruise ship.”

He looks at his hand, at the ring, at me. “I always take off...I wasn’t trying...” he trails off, laughing. “This looks a lot worse than it is.”

What it must be like to be N. All day, people smiling at him, giggling at him, outright laughing at him. At one point, after yet another woman had come over to comment on just how adorable and funny and good (a momentary lapse, of course) he was, he sighed and looked at me wearily. “Not another one,” he said. “How come everyone always thinks I’m so cute?"

Em is, rightfully I must admit, beginning to get sick of all the N-love. I could tell her that she got a good four or five years of this same treatment herself, when people at Disneyland would stop us to talk about how bright and mature and funny our little girl was (right there in the Land of Children, which I thought to be quite the coup). But that would only serve to make her more resentfuly. Luckily, there are some special moments for her in this trip, moments that are hers alone. Our maitre d’, for instance, dotes on her, calling her by name and insisting on hugs before she leaves dinner each night. And when she’s alone with one or the other of us, she still attracts attention: her level of maturity, her vocabulary, her sweetness shine through.

But I can see her changing, losing the capacity for pure joy that she used to have, and I think that’s what’s making me sad this trip. Everything has a down side: the pools are filled with salt water, which stings her eyes and gets in her mouth; the daycamp counselors won't give her free choice, and she doesn’t like the games they offer; and this afternoon, she was feeling all hot and sweaty on the tender boat back to our ship, and so was pouty and irritable, despite having just spent two hours alone with her dad, on her first-ever snorkeling trip.

And the worst part? I can’t just make it stop by giving her a talking to, or by telling her to cut it out. She is only going to become more disagreeable by the year. They’re ending, the happy-girl days. Which pretty much means I’m on the fast track to kissing the happy-mom days goodbye as well.

Hang on, kiddo. We’re about to hit some rough seas, and I can only hope that I’ve given you what you need to find your way to the calmer waters on the other side.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cruisin'...On A Sunday Afternoon...

We're off for a week aboard a cruise ship that will be making the classic Love Boat stops at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarte. I'm simultaneously excited and terrified. The pessimist in me keeps imagining all four of us vomiting for seven straight days, which is why I brought enough Dramamine to drug a small nation.

Baroy is bringing his laptop, so I may find the time to blog from the high seas. (Are there low seas? Where are they?) But don't count on it. I'm hoping to spend most of my time in a lounge chair with my nose in a book and my hand wrapped around a cool drink. I may occasionally look up long enough to watch my children frolic idyllically in the pool, but I make no promises.

N wanted to know if we were going to hit an iceberg. I knew letting a 5-year-old watch Titanic was going to come to no good. Baroy explained to him that there are very few icebergs off the coast of Mexico, and he seemed to accept that explanation, but frankly, I think he's a little bit disappointed. I think he's convinced that hitting an iceberg would mean getting up close and personal with policemen, firemen, ambulance drivers, and maybe even a tow truck, and that is his absolute fantasy.

Em, on the other hand, was quite relieved to hear that there was little chance we would ultimately be plunged into an icy ocean. After all, that would mean she might not get to wear her new shoes (with their "high, high" heels), and her very fancy new dress. She has been counting the days until she gets to dress up and strut around in all her 8-year-old glory. I've been counting the day until I get to watch. My kids slay me.

See you all next week, if not before!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


We had my office going-away party today...except I'm not really going very far, and certainly not away. It was fun. There was beer, pool, and this:

They were so excited for me to open it. "We kept looking at stuff and going, 'No, that's not TC,' 'No, that's not TC,' 'Well, that's only a little bit TC,' and then we saw this one and we just knew."

They were right. Isn't it gorgeous?

Edited to add: Krista asked who the artist is. Her name is Ayala Bar, and she's apparently a very prominent Israeli jeweler. I went online and looked her up, and her stuff is pretty much gorgeous all around.


When Baroy came home last night and told me about our friends' dogs having to be given away because the friends are no longer home enough to care for them, the first thing I said was, "Oh, no. Em is going to be devastated when we tell her."

I should have known better. I've known this man for a dozen years and lived with him for 11 of those--in sin, gaspgasp, the first year. I know him. Better than anyone else.

One of the things I know about him--one of the things I exploit about him regularly--is that he has no ability to delay...anything. Gratification, the inevitable...anything he knows he needs to do or say or feel, he needs to do or say or feel NOW.

Sometimes, this comes in useful. When something needs to be done, I know that all I have to say to Baroy is, "You know, we should start thinking about getting some quotes on having those trees trimmed," and I will have three quotes the next day. Our friend G, who often works as a director with Baroy on plays Baroy has written, does the same sort of thing. He will say to Baroy, "Now, this isn't something you need to decide on right now, but I really think this scene needs a little work..." and Baroy will grumble and argue and G will repeat, "Well, just think about it," and the next morning he'll have an email from Baroy with the rewritten pages.

Of course, there is a downside. Sometimes I will forget who I’m dealing with, and muse aloud, “Gee, it would be great to repaint the house, wouldn’t it?” and then I’ll find myself at the paint store the next day, repeating over and over again, “I don’t KNOW what color I want for the living room! I was just thinking it might be nice to repaint SOME day, not TOday!”

All of which leads to that what-I-thought-of-as-innocent comment last night about Em hearing about these two dogs she loves being given to another family. I had every intention of telling her; I am not one to shield my kids from bad news. But I would have considered the circumstances (today one of her best friends on our block is moving to Colorado, and she’s been really broken up about it) and the time (7:30 in the morning, half an hour before school starts) and the potential for hysteria and heartbreak (extremely high). Baroy? Not so much.

And so it was that I found myself, this morning, cradling a sobbing 8.5-year-old on her bed as if she were an 8.5-month-old, and considering cutting out my husband’s larynx. And there he was, looking bewildered at the level of emotion from his daughter (“all this about some dogs?”) and the level of anger from his wife (“what’d I do wrong?) and just shaking his head in confusion. “But you said we were going to have to tell her...”

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lady of Not-Anything-Even-Resembling Leisure

Friday was my last official day in my PR-office job, and I have to admit, it felt weird. Weird in one way--in the fact that I knew I would be back there Monday for most of the morning, and hence would be able to tie up loose ends. And weird in another way, too: going through drawers and drawers of files and remembering all those stories I wrote and the varying amounts of effort I put into them. Looking at letters from the medical school's previous dean, and remembering how he'd obsess about a particular topic, filling more than one folder to bursting with information for, drafts of and memos about a 500-word story for the weekly campus paper. Scientists with whom I had good working relationships who have since left the university; there were quite a number of those, actually, more than I had remembered. I felt oddly nostaligic, and yet there wasn't anyone around the office who would have known or remembered these stories, these incidents. That pretty much squelched the nostalgia right there.

At one point, I felt like I was starting to have a panic attack, which I thought was odd. But now that I look back at it, I realize that no, it was more of a simultaneous sense of loss and sadness: Loss of both friends and years, loss of enthusiasm and excitement in my work, loss of that feeling of making a difference. And sadness for all of that. Sadness for seven years' worth of files, most of which required effort to fill, but very few of which made any kind of real difference to anybody's life. That's sad, that I spent seven years not really making a difference. I like to think that those days are now at least partially over, that I'll be doing useful, fun work for the parenting website, stuff I'm really interested in. And the new job at the university, well, every time I write something that helps in fundraising, I'm helping the school, rather than writing articles to stroke scientists' egos and nothing more.

It's better. It's all a step forward. I'm excited about it. I can hardly believe that I've taken that step, that I've made the move. Me, the only girl in school who would cry on the last day of school, because I just hated change so much, hated goodbyes, hating moving on (or back or sideways). Of course, the fact that I was back there on Monday and have another meeting Thursday morning, not to mention my official "going away" party Thursday afternoon, helps. It's hard to miss anyone when you don't actually go anywhere.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Well, At Least He Knows His Limitations

Baroy: N, come on, it's time for your bath.
N: Wait, Daddy, I have to spit out my gum.
Baroy: That's OK. You don't have to spit it out.
N: Yes I do. I can't take a bath and chew gum at the same time.

[You know you're a mother when...you hear this story and the first thing you think is NOT "Oh, how funny that he used a well-worn metaphor in such a literal way," but rather, "EWWW. You were going to let him take a bath with gum in his mouth?"]

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