Chicken Cheeks


SUE The mother

BEN The father

NORA The toddler

SCENE   In the car. NORA sits in her car seat, holding a nearly dried up marker.  BEN and SUE are chatting as BEN drives.  NORA catches their attention.

NORA   I’m drawing a chicken on my cheek.  I’m drawing Sally Turtle.

SUE [turning around in seat]   Nora, you can’t draw on your face.  I have to take the marker away. [Pries marker out of NORA’s hand.]

NORA   No!  I need my marker!

BEN   Good for you, Sue.  Good follow through.

SUE [to NORA]   We don’t draw on our skin.  You can have your marker back later.

[BEN and SUE resume chatting.]

NORA [interrupting]   Mommy, can I have my marker back?

SUE   Why did I take it away?

NORA   Because I drew a chicken on my cheek.

SUE   Why do you need it back?

NORA   To draw a rooster on my other cheek.

[Fade out]


Asparagus Nora

Last night at dinner, Nora made a representation of our family in asparagus.  There were two tall pieces for Ben and me, and a half-eaten one for her.  She held the little family up for me to see. 

 “This is us!  This is daddy, and this is you and –”  the smallest spear slipped from her hand and onto the floor. 

 “I want that!” she cried!  “I want me!”

I swooped in and plucked Asparagus Nora off the floor just as our dog, Hoover, was moving in to eat her.  Strangely, I felt heroic.

Seeing our family in everyday objects is one of Nora’s favorite pastimes.  We are toothpicks, candles, pieces of cheese. 

Nora sees herself as a character in every book and makes me replace the character’s name with hers.  If she tells me she is Swiper Fox, I must read the story using her name in place of his — and she calls me on my every slip of personal pronoun.  She is also fond of flipping story lines.  When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry becomes When Sophie Gets Happy, Really, Really Happy.  At the end of the story, when Sophie returns home, instead of the house being warm and smelling good, I must say, “the house was cold and stinky.”

I realized that she is having great fun figuring out her place in the world and then trying to flip that world on its ear.  I’m hoping she puts this tactic to good use as she grows older.  Or I’m in big trouble.

Wordless Wednesday

Yoko’s Big Yes

I love the story of how John and Yoko met.  Yoko had a show at an art gallery.  John got a private preview (because he was bigger than Jesus).  One of the pieces was a tall ladder.  John climbed the ladder and the word “YES!” was written in tiny print on the ceiling.  For John, it was a big “YES!” — he loved how un-cynical it was.

No matter your feelings for Yoko, John and Yoko’s story is a love story.  And every love story must have at least one big “YES!”

Ben gave me a big “YES!” twelve years ago when he took the risk of loving me.  He was young, he was scared.  But he said “YES!”.  And he gave me another big, scary “YES!” when I wanted a baby.

We are trying to foster an atmosphere of “YES!” for our daughter by sending her to Waldorf school.  The school she’ll attend in the fall is one of the most un-cynical places I’ve ever stepped foot in.  Little shoulders are not slumped, hiding from rejection.  Little faces are tilted upward, reaching out and drinking in.

We want our daughter’s life to be guided by “YES!”  I can do that.  I will try that.  I’ll give.  I’ll love.

Birthday Interview

A few notes, for posterity:

  • Nora had no prior knowledge of the questions.  This is the first and only take.
  • To my knowledge, Nora has never eaten a marshmallow.  A few hours after this was recorded, she asked me, “What’s a marshmallow?”
  • I have no clue what she means by liking when “hippos get meat.”
  • Those who know Nora will be shocked that Otto is not among her list of friends.  I was a bit shocked, too.  I believe it’s due to the fact that she just moved to a new classroom.  Otto is a few weeks younger, so he has not yet joined her.  When I asked for her friends at school, she was being quite literal and only listing kids in her class.
  • She is not wearing pants or underwear.  I had to throw a shirt on her for the interview.
  • Nora loves watching herself.  Everytime I make a video, she stops what she’s doing whatever it was I wanted to film and asks to see the video I have just started making.  She wants me to be done with the questioning, because I told her before we started that she couldn’t see the video until I was done asking all the questions.

There is a radio program so good, so compelling, that it took me months to realize it’s about science (an area I have only a passing interest in.) It’s called RadioLab.  Recently, they did a program called Limits, and one of the vignettes was about a man with a remarkable memory.  A miserable man.  He could remember every detail of every scene he had ever witnessed, every person he’d ever met, every conversation he’d ever had.  He was constantly barraged with memories he couldn’t get rid of.  His life was a kind of hell.  The host explained his predicament this way, “The act of forgetting is crucial to create preciousness.”

Think of that! Frustrated that you can’t remember someone who sent you a friend request on Facebook?  Fret not! Your forgetfulness of such trivialities makes the memory of your child’s birth even more dear.

The moments we treasure are special because our gorgeous brains can distill life down to its essence.  The name the plumber you used for your last clogged up sink escapes you and a spectacular thunderstorm you foolishly drove through is retained.  You can’t quite remember which summer you went to camp, but you remember the joyful night you all sang songs and told ghost stories around the fire.  You forgot to sign up your child for cello lessons by the deadline, but you nearly cry when you recall the first time that child was able to reach her own foot.

The next time you can’t remember what you promised to bring to the potluck, don’t be discouraged — stop and savor a special moment from your past.

::A sleeping girl in my lap::

::Sitting in the half-dark, having a deep, yet non-dramatic conversation with my husband::

::An impulsive toddler kiss to my cleavage::

::Singing George Harrison songs in a car with my siblings::

::My daughter attempting to pick up a chicken::

::The whole family laying in a big bed::

::A voice mail from my husband, expressing profound gratitude for his breakfast burrito::

::Picking a cucumber from the garden on a warm August day::