BlogHer Reviewer

MeKate's got a new Etsy store. Gorgeous paintings!

A dear friend is selling ADORABLE handknit baby clothes. If you're in the market, have a look!

free counters

New Thing

Anyone who is interested in following “the artist previously known as Sprogblogger’s” new blog–you can find me at www (dot) susanjett (dot) com

(waves hello! yeah, that’s me!)

Hen will still make ‘cameo’ appearances on that blog, but there will be no further photos of him–the cat, dog, and garden will likely still be represented visually–likely more than you care about! I’ll be posting more recipes, more gardening (and chickens!) stuff, and more about the writing, weightloss/exercise, and philosophical wonderings. I lean way-liberal in real life & I might be talking political-stuff more often than I let myself do over here since it is a big part of my life, so be warned.

And to everyone who has read this blog over the years, whether or not you choose to follow the new blog–you were my salvation during the darkest time in my life. Your support–and in many cases, reading about your own ongoing journeys–helped me more than you can know, and it was a privilege to ‘know you’. I’m feeling that this is the right thing to do, but it doesn’t mean I’m not feeling nostalgic for everything this site & its readers have meant to me throughout the years.

Thank you.

Small Things 1-11-14

I have found myself reluctant to come here, for a couple of months now, and I think it’s likely that I need to change my blog somewhat.  To focus much more on boring-old-me and much less on adorable Hen.

You see, he’s of an age where privacy is getting more and more important to him.  And while I’ve always tried to be respectful of his physical person–I don’t, for example, post (or really take) unclothed photos of him–& while I would never try to embarrass him, I have to be aware that some of the things I detail about his day-to-day life might be too personal for a boy whose 12-year-old-obnoxious friends will someday be able to hunt this down on the never-dying internet.

And while up to this point, I’ve felt just fine about talking about him in MY life, as his presence relates to MINE, (and because, seriously, if a kid of mine gets his nose out of joint as a teenager because poop was mentioned in a post I wrote when he was three months old, well, he’s going to have WAY BIGGER problems than the embarrassment of knowing that anyone who reads it knows now that he’s merely human!) but these days I’m feeling less comfortable in general with putting him out there when he’s not really able to consent or understand.

And, granted, this blog is probably reaching about 4 people outside of family these days.  Happy, healthy child-rearing doesn’t even come close to the compelling reading that life-draining TTC stories make!  But there it is.  I’m feeling more and more like they’re not really my stories to share anymore.  That since my child is old enough to ask for privacy in the bathroom, and even sometimes when he’s playing alone, that now that he has interests & friendships I am not a part of, that perhaps telling the world about the intimacies of his life at home is just not entirely ok anymore.

Which means I can shut the blog down entirely which I’m oddly loathe to do.  This space saved me in more than one way.  I can honestly say that the community I found here made me much easier with the non-conventional story of Hen’s beginnings, and I am-and-will-always-be deeply, intensely grateful for that.

I might move this away from this being so devotedly a Sprog-Blog though, and towards more of a Mom/Wife/Writer/Gardener/Cook/Craftsperson blog, which, honestly, I’m pretty sure the world has enough of.  Or I can try to specialize a bit more. (Either that or generalize a bit more.)  Do I go more for passing along relevant articles written by others, mostly, that speak to me; or do I try to craft beautiful, thoughtful essays about trying to craft a beautiful, thoughtful life?  I’m not really sure what makes the most sense right now in my life.

I guess I’m really not sure what function this blog serves–except as a way to update important people in our lives on Henry’s day-to-day life.  And, as detailed above, I’m getting less comfy doing that on a public forum.

And making it be more about me might be challenging–and way less compelling.  Because really, my life is happily, contentedly dull on the surface.  Incredibly rewarding for me, but dull nevertheless.  I cook, I clean, I child-mind, I write, I garden, I cook, I clean, I child-mind, I write, I garden…  And the deep need I had for this space when my life was shit simply doesn’t exist anymore.

But I can’t seem to bear the thought of closing it down entirely.  So.

If I change blogs, you all will of course be welcome to read all about the exciting life of a SAHWriterMom, with an emphasis on the ‘mom’.  Henry’ll show up, but it will be general rather than specific, and the photos–always sparse–will become pretty non-existent.  I’ll talk more about meal planning, gardening, preserving, trying to bring us more in touch with local, homegrown food. I’ll talk about gardening until you’re ready to scream.  I’ll probably talk more about crafts, and about trying to find a new exercise regime since toddler-chasing just isn’t cutting it anymore.

I’m certainly going to be taking a bit of time off to think about what I want to change about this space–and I’d love to hear from you all.  How you’ve managed similar transitions in your blogging life, how others you’ve read have handled them, and most importantly what you think–in a general way, of course!–of the issue of children’s privacy as chipped away at by their too-loving parents…

Small Things 12-30-13

1.  Oh the holidays.  Santa was good to the little boy, as were Mom & Dad, all his sisters & bros-in-law, his grandparents, aunts, cousins, and oh my heavens, we have a lot of trucks around here.

He did pretty well with the exhaustion & the never-ending gift-giving.  Didn’t help that he’s been fighting off a cold for a week now.  But it was fun being around a kid who was really living his first anticipated Christmas, and I don’t think he got too too spoiled.

And, oh, the trucks…

2.  The exact day that I said out loud that my computer was running out of space, & I was tired of not being able to run any updates because its ancient (6 years old) OS wouldn’t support them, etc., my computer started making the grindy noise of death.

Having once lost an entire body of work–novels, short stories, etc.–to the sudden onset of ‘grindy noise of death’, I’m pretty paranoid.  Happily, I’ve been squirreling away money for just such an occasion, in the hopes of making an unhappy event (dead computer) into a happy one (new computer!)

Had a pleasant experience at an Apple store in the local mall, walked out of there with a computer in hand, and the thing transferred/updated all my files without me having to do anything besides plugging in my back up disc.  Love apples.  Love the ease and simplicity and–oh goodness gracious, I love how pretty they are.  Also love that I found a smaller computer than the beast I’ve been working on for the last 6 years.  A computer I liked, but that was fairly exhausting to carry around.  I think I’m going to like this new one.  I think she needs a name…

3.  Seed catalogs have started arriving en force.  Does anyone who knows me need a reminder of how very happy this makes me?  This year’s garden is going to be awesome.  No hardscaping at all to put in, just little bitty plants.  About a zillion of them…

4.  Henry’s been truly adorable lately.  Had a few rough days when his sleep was wrecked by travel/sickness/sheer excitement about life in December, but now that things have calmed down, he’s been his usual happy self again.  Which is lovely.

He’s been playing pretend a lot more–asking me to role play with him, so he can teach me to do thing I’ve taught him.  He’s back to giving spontaneous hugs.  He still loves sitting on my lap and patting my face and saying, “I love you, little mommy!”  in a silly voice.  In fact, I’d say ‘silly’ is his favorite descriptor for everything and everyone.  Kiddo likes to make people laugh.  He’s growing up, learning new things every day.  (Putting on his own socks!  Putting on his own pants/coat/mittens/hat/slippers!)  He loves inviting everyone to play with his new gear.  “Would you like to play with me?  I don’t mind.  You can even play with the logging truck.  It has a grabber claw!” And selfishly, I’m delighted he’s graduated to real Legos.  Playing is a lot more fun when I can break out the Legos instead of just pushing trains back and forth.

Also, in the last few days we’ve started hearing “When can I go back to school, Mommy?”  (YES!  He likes school!  YES!)

5.  And now I’m going to go set up a seed buying spreadsheet on my new computer and settle in for some serious deliberation on the important question of just how many plants I can cram into my (admittedly enormous) garden.  This summer is going to be fun.

And if I don’t get to it, Happy New Year’s everyone!  May 2014 be the best year ever for you and yours, and may your future be merry and bright.  (I just love New Year’s, don’t you?  If it’s been a bad year, New Year’s is a time to fervently wish for better days; and if it’s been a good year, New Year’s is a time to fervently wish for more of the same.  It’s good either way, I guess.  New beginnings are just fun even when things are already great.)


Small Things 12-22-13

1.  Holiday season has been pretty fun for the kiddo.  Polar Express party at school, and a newfound love of dreidels.  He’s still refusing to sing in groups, but he & I sing Jingle Bells together most days, and his advent calendar means he knows the date better than I do, because he remembers which number we’re at on any given day.  How sad is it that I’ve caught myself–in all seriousness–asking my 3-year-old the date more than once this week?

2.  The Whole Foods nearest us just started carrying Hatch’s green enchilada sauce.  Chicken enchiladas just went from a 2-hour process to a quick 1/2 hour dinner.  Woohoo!

3.  We started him at gymnastics classes after he was invited to a friend’s class and he had so much fun he burst into tears when it was time to leave, which isn’t actually like him.  He had his first ‘real class’, and had a marvelous time.  The teacher is very good with him, is happy to have a kid who throws himself around without fear, and he gets to tumble and jump and (try to) balance to his heart’s content.  Happy kid.

4.  Death worries and concern about where things will end up are still a hot topic of conversation around here.  He seems less worried–more that he’s just checking (over and over again) to make sure he really really knows where everything’s going to end up eventually. Which I think is probably ok, since he’s always been extremely interested in the process of everything–where the pipes in the house lead to, where the garbagemen take our trash, what happens to the veggie scraps I put into the compost, what poop’s made out of.  I think he might just be trying to sort things out in his head as best he can, fitting live things into his landfill-centric view of how the world works.

Case in point: he got very interested in a cemetery the other day while we were driving.  (New England, remember.  This area is riddled with small cemeteries.)  I think someone must have been talking about them at school because he was asking very probing questions about what was under the headstones that I was trying to palm off as ‘pretty statues’.  So I told him as best I could–keeping it as unthreatening and unscary as I could–and he actually seemed less upset than worried he just wasn’t understanding something he was interested in–he hates that.

Since he’s also been asking questions about things we’ve talked about that happened before he was born: he specifically wants to know where HE was when all this was going on… so I used the opportunity to start talking about beginnings, middles, and ends, and how everything has all three of those, (now is NOT the time to introduce space/time to my 3-year-old, thank you very much!)  and that seemed very reassuring to him.

Now when he throws death-questions into conversation it seems like he’s just seeking confirmation about something he already knows.  So maybe it’s working itself out?  Hope so.

5.  Watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on DVD, as we’ve done more nights than not this December, and by this time we practically know it by heart.  We’re finishing up the movie where all the little Whos are singing their Who-songs, and The Boy and I are reiterating to Henry how the REAL Christmas isn’t about gifts, it’s about being with and thinking about our families and how much we love them and how that’s what Christmas is all about, really.

Little boy beams contentedly, nods his head in complete agreement and adds, “Also…playing with all the toys Santa brings you!”  (gleeful giggling ensues.)

Um, yeah.

That wasn’t quite the message we were going for, but it’s definitely where he’s at these days.  Henry is giddily, joyfully, oh-so-excitedly looking forward to Christmas.  And because of that, so are we.  (And some of the toys Santa’s bringing him are awesome, so as Hen’s #1 playmate, I’m kind of looking forward to the new toys, too, I have to say.)



Small Things 12-13-13

1.  Development stuff is picking up like crazy now that the arm & hand are getting back to normal.  Getting dressed/undressed, eating on his own (yay.), dancing, etc.

He’s also turning into a counting fiend.  Kid counts everything, and his songs tend to be variations on a counting theme:  “1 Christmas Tree, 2 Christmas Trees, 3 Christmas Trees, 4 Christmas Trees….”.  I was also able to (finally) get him out of the grips of a nightmare/night terror episode by counting sheep with him.

But even better? He’s able to read three-letter words now!  He has very little interest in doing it spontaneously–he loves being read to, and will be read to for as long as he will hold still for it–but if I pause in my reading at a short word, or write out something like B-A-T on a piece of paper or with refrigerator magnets, he’s perfectly happy to tell me what it spells.  Yowza!  And so it begins!

(Needless to say, book-geek mommy is very very excited about this!)

2.  The forecast is calling for maybe a foot of snow this weekend.  Henry’s already looking forward to the snow-shoveling on Monday, but everyone else is dreading the confinement over the weekend.  Cat’s been attacking the bowl of mixed nuts, bringing them all around the house because she’s bored out of her skull.  Dog hasn’t left the bedroom/bed/bottom of a pile of comforters in days, and we anticipate not really seeing her at all until April or so…

3.  Hen and I went to a holiday party thrown by the mother of his best friend at school.  The adorableness of 12 preschoolers who are all nice kids, playing with each other, fueled by candy canes, green icing, and chocolate chip cookies was not to be believed.  Also, she sent the kids home with a treat bag that had a wonderful ‘paint with water’ book of drawing numbers–she couldn’t have found him a nicer present if she’d spent $200.  I’m pretty sure Hen’s going to fall asleep clutching it–it allows him to trace 1-20 over and over and over again.  He’s in preschool-mathematics heaven.

4.  _DSC0778

Because, yes, this photo–bumble bee ride-on toy, striped pjs, toy pliers, eye patch, and a fireman’s helmet–IS the best approximation of what it is to live with a sweet & joyful 3-year-old that I’ve ever managed to get into one picture.  I believe we had just been ‘paged’ and were on our way to rescue a kitten who’d gotten stuck in a tree.  I love the games he finds to play.  I love that he’s so focused on helping others–even when he’s playing.  This is not a kid (at least not yet) who crashes his toy cars on purpose, or even wants to compete in play.  It’s all about stories and rescues and helping others and it delights me.

5.  And he’s been in a very very sweet mode lately, which is nice.  Makes the sugar meltdowns/holidrama  a lot more manageable for me when the drama fits are immediately preceded by sweetness and silliness-induced giggling fits.

And I’m looking forward to Christmas even more than he is, I think.  Don’t let anyone tell you different–three might be a ton of work, but it sure is a whole lot of fun!

Small Things 12-10-13

1.  So I finally went to a dermatologist, even though I’d pretty much healed up from that exploding skin thing I had going on a few weeks ago (which flared up again after 10 minutes exposure to Hen’s albuterol)  Turns out I’m a mutant!!!

No, really.  Even though this rash was mostly centered on my forearms, the doc asked to see my palm, and when I asked if he needed me to cross it with silver, he didn’t get the joke.  He didn’t even look at the remnants of rash, just looked at the wacky lines I’ve always had on my palms (the girlfriend of the captain of the ship I worked on once told me it just meant I was a very interesting person, but she was obviously just trying to get on my good side–which would have been impossible, because I didn’t like her, she annoyed me beyond reason, she pretended to read palms, she spelled her name Suezinn, etc–all in all, I think I like being a mutant better.) and said that my body has a weird mutation that means it doesn’t produce enough of a protein called ‘filaggrin’ which allows the skin to hold onto moisture.  Also, you’re more sensitive to irritants, and likely have a family history of glaucoma.

Um, yeah.

So it turns out that almost all the everything that’s ever plagued me skin-wise comes down to having atopic eczema–which translates to ‘weird itch’.  Um, yeah.  That pretty much sums up my life.  Cracking hands in the wintertime–oh yeah.  Weird blisters on my hands when it gets too cold?  Yeah.  Fingers turn white & go numb when handling anything cold, like snow or frozen meat for more than 10 seconds at a time?  Yup.  He gave me a steroid cream that wiped out the last of the rash almost at once, told me to use it as needed on my hands this winter & to refill that prescription when I ran out.   He basically told me I was an idiot never to have gotten this treated before–most people grow out of it when they’re teenagers, but those of us who aren’t lucky should just medicate it & be done with it.

And now I’m itch-free.  My hands have no cracks deep enough to bleed.  This is how normal people feel in the wintertime?  No pain?  This rocks!

2.  Henry is sorta kinda DELIRIOUSLY OUT OF HIS MIND excited about Christmas.   I think if he could go without sleeping from now til the 24th, he’d seriously attempt it.  It’s cute, but also sort of exhausting.  I’m very excited to see how excited he’s going to be on Christmas morning, but I’m less excited to wonder how he’s going to be by oh, say, 5pm on Christmas day.

We’ll be driving from NH to NY on Christmas day, after our small family xmas, so maybe he’ll sleep in the car.  (please oh please oh please oh please)

3.  Hen had a bad day at school.  A friend said something mean to him.  He was silent and broody when I picked him up–where usually he’s happily chattering.  He finally told me that he was sad, and I dragged the rest of the story out of him bit by bit (though I still can’t find out what was actually said.)  Apparently someone else in the class is a little overexcited by the holiday, because she’s usually one of his best friends.  She was, apparently, being mean to everyone, and she wouldn’t stop until they brought their teacher over to intervene.  He was really shaken up, but as soon as he got the story out, he cheered right back up.  Poor kiddo.  Does not like it when people aren’t nice.  Can’t blame him, but I hope he can move past this phase of tender-tender feelings a bit more quickly!

4.  I believe I am finished with Christmas shopping.  I’m done with making presents, I’m done with purchasing.  Not quite finished with wrapping, and I’ll probably find something else I need to buy for someone between now & then, but if xmas were tomorrow, it would be ok.  And it’s not tomorrow, which is even better.  Whew.

5.  The cat has been bringing in prey from outside, and letting it go inside so she can pursue in the comfort of a heated house.  Having eliminated all of our house’s vermin, she’s apparently bored.  Missing the rodent population.  Happily, she’s not been raiding the neighbors’ stashes of housemice, but has been concentrating almost exclusively on wood voles, which are slow moving and sort of adorable.  I’ll see one trundling across the floor with Mattie in languorous pursuit, and have plenty of time to go get a plastic pitcher, or a box or something to scoop the critter up in & chuck it outside.  Sigh.  Glad she’s a hunter, but really–catch & release, Mattie?  Really?

(Only imagine it’s my living room in the background, instead of strawberry leaves.)  Heck, for all I know the vole’s decided it’s nice and toasty inside.  Maybe they’re pals?  Another few captures & I’m just setting up a Habitrail for the critter & calling him a pet.

Small Things 12-4-13

1.  The breathing treatments are definitely working.  Hen had a cold over Thanksgiving that never progressed to wheezing and gasping for breath.  And instead of lasting for a week, it was over in about 2 days.  Yay for modern medicine!

2.  Just roasted jalapenos + cheddar cheese + bacon in the oven for some amazing spicy lunchtime goodness.

Doing that again sometime soon.  (Like maybe tomorrow.)  Mmmm.  Spicy….

3.  The Velveteen Rabbit is really quite brutal.  I remembered the general story line, but hadn’t remembered that the rabbit’s name was Real.  My husband was reading it to him the other night, and poor Hen worked himself into hysterics over the worn-out-ness of Real-the-velveteen-rabbit  “He has no whiskers! (sob)  His legs are all in one piece!  (sob)  His pink ears are gray!  (sob)”  Since his Real Bunny is about as grubby and whiskerless as ever a bunny could be, I’m not sure what the grief was all about unless it’s just the grief of impermanence.  Sigh.  Sensitive little boy.  Wouldn’t want him to be any other way, but I worry for him in the big wide world.

4.  Hen’s almost-BIL brought him a hot-wheels sized garbage truck & trailer truck from Germany.  Henry took a nap with these treasures, and they are currently on the couch with him while he has a post-nap snack.  He keeps looking down at them and stroking them with one finger.  Very contented kiddo right now.

5.  It’s Rudolph-night tonight after dinner.

Cannot.  Wait.

I think Henry’s looking forward to it, too.

Small Things 12-1-13

1.  Dinner seems to be the time Henry chooses to talk about the scary things.  Blindsided me tonight with insta-tears while asking more questions on death out of the blue.  Sounds like he came to grips with the ‘mommy will die someday, but not anytime soon,’ and he seemed to be ok with the idea that daddy was in that category of someday-but-not-soon, too.  But then he wanted to verify, “But little boys never ever die, right, mommy?”

Oh, too-perceptive child, please let go of this for a few more years!

I did my best, promising him that while everyone eventually dies, almost all little boys don’t die for a long long long long long long long long long time, and reminded him that both his granddaddies are still alive, and can he imagine how far away it will be when he’s older than his grandparents?  (He couldn’t.)  And then I made crazy cross-eyed faces at him and pretended to steal all of his brussels sprouts.


Parenting.  Is.  Hard.

2.  But then sometimes, you get it right.  My 3-year-old is officially able to pull up his own damned undies and pants after peeing.  Wahoooooooo!!!!!!  We were almost there before The Elbow, but I was beginning to despair of ever getting back to a place where I wasn’t the One in Charge of pants-down/pants-up.  Life is good.

3.  Also?  The serious praise he’s gotten for taking this step toward big-boyhood is renewing his interest in pooping-on-a-potty.  Life might be about to get VERY good.

4.  Hen burned himself on the woodstove today–as good a burn as I could hope for(?)  As in, he’s KNOWN for a long time that stoves are hot, but I’m not sure he’s ever really understood just why mom & dad are so crazy about him + stove.  But he burned his fingertip this morning, enough to blister, but not enough to slow him down from pain.  And I’m sort of pleased.  Better this than a big burn, obviously, and I’m hoping it was enough of a lesson to make him respect The Stove a bit more.  Sigh.

5.  Whiskey + store-bought eggnog.  I’m not a hard liquor person.  Wine is my vice-of-choice, and I rarely indulge in more than a glass.  But every year when the grocery store starts selling that sicky-sweet eggnog stuff, I start dreaming of Real Eggnog.  Too lazy to make the real thing, I simply add enough whiskey to down a horse to my glass of sicky-sweet and sip it through the night in a haze of sugar and alcohol.  I figure I have two more nights of indulgence left in my quart-o-sweet.  Mmmmmm.   Eggnog.



On Gratefulness and Happiness and Fears of Mortality

(Part 1 written in September)

Parenting is hard.  Anyone ever hear this refrain before?  I’m here to say it’s true.  Absolutely true.

See, I make a deliberate effort to look for the good, to find things to be grateful for, to try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Not because I’m some sort of Pollyanna-type.  Hardly.  It’s purely selfish–I’m happier on all levels when I’m not spending time dwelling on anger, fostering resentment/sadness, or worrying about whether or not someone’s sincere.  This works for me as a life-hack, and it’s brought me back from some pretty dark places.

And if I could wish one thing for Hen, it’s not that he’ll grow up to be a genius or uber-wealthy or anything, really–except for happy.  The ability to be happy is a crucially important one, and one that goes hand in hand with having a compassionate heart, I think.  You can’t be happy if you’re angry all the time; and it’s hard to be angry at someone if you’re feeling compassion toward them (or at least trying to give the jerk who just cut you off on the highway the benefit of the doubt.  “Maybe he’s rushing to the hospital to visit his sick grandma,” I grit as I slam on the brakes.)  It helps, and it makes me remember my own dark days, and my promise to myself to treat others as gently as I am capable of, in case they are enduring their own hell on any given day.

So I do think compassion is good–is healthy, and even promotes personal happiness.  So yay.

Except Hen seems to be taking the compassion thing to extremes.

Hen has been, for a long time, very concerned with ‘meanness’.  Why mean people are mean, what they’re thinking when they’re being mean, etc.  He’s always had an overdeveloped sense of empathy which–great!  He’s not a sociopath, hurrah!  But that sense is getting a workout these days.  He sat bolt upright the other day while he was trying to fall asleep, in order to tell me that he thinks that Cruella from 101 Dalmatians isn’t really mean, but that maybe she’s just wearing a Halloween costume that made her look mean.

He was dead serious, and wanted confirmation that his ‘way out’ for her to be actually nice at heart was valid.  So yeah.  I gave it to him.  “Very likely,” I said.  Realize he’s never actually seen the movie–two months ago, he deemed it too scary to watch once Cruella entered and we turned it off.  He’s never been exposed to anything other than preschooler-tv — and I screen that for violence and mean-kid-ness.  And don’t get me wrong–I’m happy he’s so empathetic that scary stuff IS scary to him.  Better that than the opposite, yes?

But he’s concerned about the meanness of sharks these days, and so I do a lot of ‘that’s just what sharks do, they’re not really mean, just predators’  (scary-ass, keep-me-out-of-the-water predators, I don’t say, which figure way too prominently in my land-locked nightmares!)

Which leads us to death.

Yeah. Really.

I knew conversations about death would be inevitable with kids–I remember being pretty wigged out by the concept when I was–I don’t know, in early elementary school?  But now he’s made the connection between chickens that go ‘cluck’ and chicken meat that he loves to eat.  Between mice that eat cookies in books and the ones Mattie-Cattie crunches up on the kitchen floor before we wake up sometimes.

(I flubbed his first experience with death–well, I’m still not sure how I should have handled it.  His friend’s dog died back in January.  A dog we liked and used to go on walks with.  When he asked why we hadn’t seen her in a long time, I mentioned it–I thought casually.  But he latched onto the information that ‘N’s dog is dead, and N & her mommy are sad because they miss her.’ and he asks for follow up about how long the dog will be dead for, and how old she must have been.  He reminds me of this chain of events every week or so.  It looks ok on paper, but I feel like I should have been able to slip that information in a little more subtly so that it wouldn’t be so firmly entrenched in his psyche? I don’t know.)

Then this last week,  Someone–probably at playgroup–introduced him to the concept of ‘soldiers’, and he needed to know today if soldiers are mean. If they hurt people.  If they kill people.

Oooof.  Talk about your out-of-the-blue question.  Realize, we don’t watch TV news.  Or anything ‘adult’ where Hen can see it.  Not ever.  My husband owns a shit-ton of war strategy games with soldiers on the cover, but they’re stored up high, and haven’t really been noticed yet, I think.  I have been on tenterhooks for the last couple of weeks, desperately hoping for a non-military intervention in Syria.  Soldiers have been on my mind a lot lately, to tell you the truth.  Soldiers and politics and the intersection between them.  But it’s nothing we would dream of discussing around Hen.

And then on the way to OT, Hen wanted to know if soldiers are mean.  (sometimes) If they ever kill people.  (yes) If the mean soldiers get killed.  (sometimes, but not always) If good soldiers ever get killed.(sometimes)  If they’re killed, do I think that he, Henry, could make them all better.(No, but oh, how I wish you could. I definitely wish you could, child of my heart)  And possibly explain to the mean ones how to be nice. (Oh how I wish you could make everyone be nice and alive.  And ok again.)

And trying to answer this child honestly, but not graphically?  Deliberately, but not heartlessly?  Truthfully, but not brutally?

This is really really hard.  I feel very strongly about not lying to kids–not about things they are interested in learning the truth about, anyway.  Santa Claus will continue coming to town until Hen gets serious about needing to know ‘the awful truth’.  But this.  He’s interested, he’s asking thoughtful (well, for a three-year-old) questions, and is he already using my answers to shape the person he’s going to become.

Yikes.  No pressure now.

I’m going to go buy a book.  A book about explaining death to kids.  Oi.


The above was written a couple of months ago, and I didn’t post it because I thought we’d dodged a bullet–so to speak!  He stopped talking about it, and I certainly wasn’t going to bring up the subject again!

Then tonight, at dinner.  He saw a cut on my hand–no big deal, a little raw place.  “Is your hand going to fall off, Mommy?”  Um, no.  Definitely not!

Then he had to crawl up in my lap.  “Will your hands ever fall off?”  No, absolutely not.

“Not even when you die?”  Um, no, even when I die, my hands will not fall off.  (And no, I am not ABOUT to go into the natural decay of dead mommy bodies with my 3-year-old.  Don’t even suggest it.)  (Tears standing in his eyes.)

“Mommy, I don’t want you to die.  Are you going to die?”  Well, everyone dies someday, but I’m not going to die for a long long time.  Your mommy’s mommy’s mommy is still alive, and that means I will likely live a very very very long time. (And then his tears started to fall.)

“But you’re going to die someday?  I don’t want you to die ever.  Are you going to die someday?”

How do you promise your child you won’t die for a long time?  You cross your fingers behind your back and pray to every shiny hope of a benevolent Universe that you won’t make a liar of yourself.  But to promise that I’ll never die?  I can’t tell him that, can I?  Not even at three.  That would be such a huge lie that it could really destroy his world if he decides to latch on to that promise.  So I didn’t promise that.  And now I’m second-guessing myself.  I mean, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, ‘Dead Mommy’ will be at least as traumatic as ‘Mommy lied’, right?  Except, ‘My dead Mommy was a liar’, is probably the worst of all those scenarios, right?

Ugh.  Any thoughts from wise parents who’ve been here before at what feels like way too young an age?

I did, actually, buy a beautiful book about ‘Lifetimes’, which is in line with how I feel about death–it’s natural, it happens to everyone, some lifetimes are long and some are not as long, etc. without any religious declarations.  But damn, I’m seriously considering breaking out an old safety position to try to steer these conversations toward heaven or reincarnation or something simple his mind can cling to instead of just this existential fear.

One of his sisters remembers being shaken–utterly shaken–by first getting a grasp on the notion of mortality when she was 3 or 4.  And she’s certainly the sister Hen is most like.  But what do I do to make this ok–or at least to get his mind away from it until he’s older and mature enough to actually deal with the big difficult thing?

Oh, my sweet boy.  It’s a hard, scary world, but I’ll confess that death is not something I spend much time worrying about anymore.  I’ve always tried to live life so that I will regret nothing, rather than as if I would live forever.  And I’ve never wanted to live forever.  Better to live well.  But this child makes me want to cling to life as long as Methuselah, simply so that he will not grieve, so that I will not have to leave him alone in the world without a Mommy.  Ever.

A friend who also had children ‘late’ in life posted a poem on FB about this very thing recently.  The last lines being something along the lines of: “For you, my child, I would live forever.”  And that poem has been haunting me.

For this sweet boy I would live forever and I would remake the world into a kinder place where any question he asked me would be easy (and possible) to answer.  And it breaks my heart that neither one is possible.  I think I just found my inspiration for taking better care of myself.  And I suspect we’re going to be doing a lot of volunteering-as-a-family when he gets a little older.


And on that note, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Anyone out there reading who’s still in the IF trenches, you’re in my thoughts this week.  And everyone who’s living a life they wanted, I hope it’s a perfect day of turkey or veggie-alternative deliciousness, surrounded by those you love most.


Small Things 11-19-13

1.  Annnnnnd….his eyes aren’t doing as well as we’d thought.  Well, actually, his right eye isn’t crossing as much as it used to, but his vision in that eye is definitely being impacted.  Which means PATCHING in order to strengthen that eye, and remind his brain that the signals coming from Right Eye are just as important as the ones coming from Left Eye.


Try three hours a day of taking away your kid’s good eye.  Such fun.  Oh, and keeping him as still as possible, because, you know, no depth perception + demonstrably klutzy family = new broken bones?!?

The good news is that his eyes aren’t actually that bad.  ie: she changed his prescription, but told me not to fill it until he broke these glasses and needed a new pair.  Sadly, he needed his eyes dilated to tell her this, and because of his dark dark brown eyes, needed to be dilated twice.  Oh, my.  Not a happy boy.  Not at all.  Of course, he’s getting a bit of chocolate (or garbage truck YouTube videos, which he seems to prefer) twice a day, once after each 90 minute session and that takes some of the pain away.  Honestly, my whole life these days is charts and chocolate and YouTube.

We’ve pretty much stopped OT, his hand is so much better, and it interferes very little with real life these days.  We might try to start up again after the holidays if he doesn’t continue to improve on his own/with me as taskmistress, but I’m pleased with where he’s at.  Compared to where he was even 2 months ago, he’s doing fantastic.

And he’s been wearing his “pirate patch” for about a week now, and he’s being so much better about it than I had any reason to expect him to be.  Feeling grateful, but also feeling rather desperately hopeful that this poor child won’t have to do any more stuff for a while — geez, physical ailments!  Give us a break for a while!

2.  In happier news, Bunny is now getting very proficient at pooping in the potty.  Hen came to find me this afternoon after his nap and we just missed his own window to pooping glory.  Maybe tomorrow.

3.  An old man at the grocery store complimented my outfit.  I was wearing what amounts to my uniform.  See, my mother-in-law has given me a couple of the best jackets ever.  They’re kantha, beautiful old saris quilted into the most flattering loose jackets ever.  I wore the first one–literally–to rags, and am currently in the process of replacing whole panels so I can eke a few more years out of it.  Henry loves these ‘soft coats’ as he calls them, and asks me to change if I’m not wearing them.  And truly, I  love them too.  Soft, comfy cotton, in pretty colors and a flattering fit.  Pockets.  Warm, but not too warm for inside.

Plus, people–usually youngish hippy types–take me aside in grocery stores to compliment my clothing.  But this old guy was a first.  He seemed embarrassed, it was very much not a come-on (or if it was, it was the lamest come-on I’ve ever been party to.)  He just liked my ‘soft coat’ so much he had to tell me.

4.  I have the most amazing case of winter eczema on my arms. My fingertips always split in the winter, and then I slather on lotion, and then it happens all over again, because if I wear too much lotion, my skin breaks out.  So I got the balance wrong, or I tried a new lotion/laundry detergent–or possibly, I’m having an allergic reaction to his nebulizer steroids!  Whatev.  I look like a poison ivy victim, I’m living for the 2 scalding showers/baths I’m taking every day to calm down the itchiness, and I’m really ready to not be dealing with this any more.

Um, springtime?  Where are you?

5.  Grandbaby is coming for a visit on Friday.  OMG, the excitement!  Really looking forward to this, I have to say.  Now if only I don’t look like I’m going to give her the creeping crud, so I can hold her to my heart’s content!