Archive for the ‘BABY BABY’ Category

The Secret Lives Of Parents…

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

So he enters the bedroom and you both wake up the second his little feet cross the threshold because your toddler-radars are, for once, in total synch and you both start with the utterings: What is it, baby, come here, baby, get in bed with us, baby. And you fit him between you where he lasts for 2 seconds because, as you both well know but are still in denial about, he is not the cuddle-in-the-parent’s-bed type of child, never has been, busting out of his bunting those first months, thrashing his way out of the snuggle-nest you both flanked each night so hopefully, the nest enabling you to keep him so close, so that you could oooh and aaah over him constantly, at any minute, any hour, any second of the night, between feedings. Nope. He wasn’t having any of that then and now he leads the way to his room and you settle him on the big-boy bed—only to feel an odd wetness on the sheets and then his back is arching and he’s getting rid of the rest of his dinner.

The Early Days: Asleep! For 5 seconds…

So you rush him to the bathroom and he shocks you by lifting up the toilet seat as though he knows, at 2 1/2 years old, exactly what to do, even though he’s never barfed into the toilet before, but he does, does it with perfect aim as you murmur encouragements and by then your husband is in the bathroom, too, catching up on events, and you both wet washcloths and wipe your child down and you both pat your child dry and one takes care of fresh toddler-pajamas while the other quickly changes the toddler-bedsheet, silently cursing buying only 1 fitted toddler-bed-sheet instead of a year’s supply for ER’s just like this one, but suddenly you find the toddler-flat-sheet works just fine and your husband settles on the bed next to the little guy and you flip off the light and stagger back to your bed and 45 minutes later the entire process is repeated, only this time you take the ailing babe into the living room once he’s cleaned up, cuddle him on the couch while your husband replaces the toddler-flat-sheet with a Queen fitted sheet he found in the hall linen closet by emptying the closet’s entire contents onto the floor and when your husband enters the living room in fresh boxers and tee shirt, arms outstretched, eyes half closed, ready for sleep, to try it again, you stand to transfer to him your mutual, precious center-of-all-universes, only to find you’ve been sitting in cat gak and didn’t even know it.

Little 5 second snoozer!

So you hand over the barfing babe and rush to do some kind of swift body rinse and when you are dry and changed into a fresh nightgown, you find the toddler back on the couch, wearing yet another pair of toddler-pajamas, sitting by himself with an expression you can only define as “patient”. He sits on the towel covering the cat gak, your husband swiftly changing the big-boy bed for the 3rd time this long, strange night-into-morning and you throw your arms around your child and rock and cuddle him as your husband rushes by, heading for the laundry room again with barfed-on sheets in his arms, and just then your child leaps up and demands his toy jets, which he finds in the next second and you watch, in awe and dismay, as he dashes around the living room, waving his jets in jet-flying-simulation, making those funny jet sounds that include spit and dribble, and when he sees his weary father shuffling out from the laundry room, he demands he stop and play jets and your husband waves you off, back to bed, but before you go you think to put a movie in, “Stuart Little”, delighting the toddler, who consents to sit (with both jets) next to his Dadda on the gak-stained couch, both of your loved ones wrapped in velvety throws, or whatever they’re called these days, those blankety things that only live on couches…

Snooze, snooze anywhere (for 5 seconds)…

So you leave them, father and son movie fanatics (like father like son) and stumble to bed, Geena Davis’ faint protests in your ears as your head hits the pillows and you think—because you know, really know this time, now that you’re out of the constant State-Of-ER worry that goes with the first few months of parenthood, or rather the first year, and you’ve been through the first fever, colds, the flu and you’re not totally freaked and ready to call the paramedics at the first sign of a cough or vomit—your head hits the pillows and you think (with relief and love and a deep, profoundly beautiful agony and that constantly returning sense of awe)—THIS is being a parent, this, this, this.

Beautifully awake–although possibly drowsy!

www.pbrippey.com

The Toddler Plants A Cypress…

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

He insisted on wearing his red boots in summer. Of course he did! He’s a toddler.

Right off the bat he let us know he was in charge of every aspect of the planting of the Father’s Day cypress tree.

Oh yes, I will plant the tree with Dadda!

Digging! In DIRT! (said in his little, rough pirate voice)

I know exactly what I’m doing, Mama!

This is how we do it!

Back to work!

He did pause to fiddle with his navel and contemplate Dadda’s work—but just for a moment.

I will fiddle with my navel as I take a break–but only for a second!

This had nothing to do with planting the tree, but we’re just his parents, so who were we to question?

Doing this has nothing to do with planting the tree, ha ha!!!

And then: Success!

Planting completed, Mama! I did it!

And then: Time to strangle the tree.

And now I will strangle the tree!

Really? Zzz…

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Two and a half years later:

T sleeps until 7:00a.m. (vs. 4:30/5:00a.m. Maybe even a 3:40a.m. something or other frisky number that goes like this: MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA!!!—followed by a tip-toe-tap-dance only toddlers can execute that early—or ever)…

Then, for several consecutive days, our son sleeps until 6:20 a.m. S and I are agape, totally disoriented, muttering bits like: “Rabbit hole? Us? Down it? Quantam Physics? Da Vinci Code! Miracle? What is going on!”

Then (gasp!) 7:40a.m.—a new record! I kept peeking in T’s room to see if he was breathing, if the cat was on his head, if if if. He looked happy, utterly content in sleep, in his all-nighter-well-into-the-morning snooze. I closed his bedroom door and raced (quietly) to the kitchen, where my husband had the morning pancakes on hold. We covered our mouths, jumped up and down (quietly), obviously expressing joy, hope. “I can—maybe, of course, just maybe, if this keeps up—work out in the morning again!” my husband whispered. “And you–you can GET MORE SLEEP and? And, pb, and??? You can write!” “Shh!” I responded with clearly spastic gestures. “For the love of Diego’s baby jaguar, don’t say anything else! Shh!”

There are some around here who get sleep…

There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a method of torture.

There is a reason poems are not written, novels not edited, words are dolloped on pages vs. forming sentences entire cultures might comprehend. There are no words, or there is one word typed on a blank Word document and it’s all wrong; I can’t read my own handwriting; my hard drive burns out without my backing it up first; I use dictionary.com when I never needed to before (before becoming a mother).

There is a reason why my cell phone has dents, we have 3 loaves of bread in the fridge, the sprinkler was left on for 2 hours, the dashboard of the minivan is so coated in dust I sneeze as I drive T around, I can’t remember names of people I’ve just met or my house numbers. There’s a reason why when 3:00p.m. arrives and I haven’t napped because T hasn’t napped someone might as well have frozen me in carbon like Harrison Ford in not “Star Wars” but that other one and thrown me into a bottomless lake. There is a reason why I am not Louise Hay most days, or—any day(s), except weekends (when co-parenting explodes beautifully and we are a magic trio—and I can sleep in). There is a reason why Dora, or Shrek or Curious George DVD’s can make me cry, or that one toilet paper commercial featuring human and animal babies.

Yet—some clarification: Each second of sleep lost these past two and a half years? Better than a lifetime of eight hours of sleep a night. Or rather: BETTER THAN A LIFETIME OF EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT. Yes, I shout it out, and I mean it. Because even at my tiredest, my most thereisarhinocerosridingonmyback, I have dug deep, then deeper and grasped dregs of energy that got my a** off the couch, T in the car and us on our way to an outdoor adventure—or maybe the Disney Store. So that one day, when my son is 18 and I am staring at him in awe, wondering when he grew up, wondering how it is he can be telling me he’s entering NASA’s revamped Space Program, or going to try his hand at growing pinot noir grapes, or declaring he is leaving the nest to devote his life to the fine tuning of deep sea submersibles that will one day link to deep sea state-of-the-art aqua stations where he will study deep sea extreme environments, like those deep sea smoking chimneys that amaze the world and hatch freaky, squirmy otherwordly life forms obviously related to the Tasmanian Blobster, when my son is 18 and in the polling booth next to mine, I can flash on these early years and feel good about myself, know that I tried my best to be present in our family, no matter how hard it is to keep going sometimes. nomatterhowhard…

Does he look sleepy to you? I think he might be sleepy…

I wonder if one’s memory returns in force after one gets more sleep—like a flock of homing pigeons, a parade of boomerangs, gas…

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Mama’s Day, 2010

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Stopping to smell the May roses gone wild…

This year, Mother’s Day started the friday before, around 6:30p.m. From my post at the kitchen sink, scrubbing dried ketchup from T’s food tray, I watched my dearly beloved pull up and extract a huge white cage from the passenger side of the car. I slid back the kitchen window so hard it banged. WHAT DID YOU DO! I shouted quite rudely.

Cat-safe cage hanging!

I’ve had some experiences with birds. More than one wild house finch has required my rescuing services, the last one just a week ago, when I pulled a youngster from Al’s mouth and T and I rushed it to the Wildlife Waystation in Calabasas. One wing was tweaked, I think tweaked before Al’s mouth tasted it, which is why he was able to catch the finch at all, because when you look like THIS, you don’t move very bird-catcher-cat nimbly. Mostly you lie around licking your large pink belly, when you’re an Al.

WHAT DID YOU DO!

Back when I was a single woman in Los Feliz, I opened my security gate one morning and there he was, Mr. Peabody, my new love, collapsed on the ground at my feet. I rushed him inside, revived him with drops of tap water on his beak and popped him in a cage I had from saving a wild finch who’s leg had been damaged by a pop-up sprinkler and who I’d nursed back to health. In went Mr. Peabody for 3 or 4 years. He died right before I moved in with my (then fiancee) husband, destroying me. I kept him in a small box in our freezer for two years (yes, creepy shades of “A Rose For Emily”), until we moved here, to the Ponderosa, and I was able to give Mr. P a proper burial in our back yard.

WHAT DID YOU DO!

For 2 years my husband couldn’t get over having a dead bird in his freezer—still can’t. He brings it up to friends and colleagues and me, when I mention my missing-of Mr. Peabody…

WHAT DID YOU—oh whatever. Givehimtome, givehimtome, givehimtome now.

Regardless of his whole frozen bird complex, S obviously took to heart how much I miss Mr. Peabody and so he got me Julian for Mother’s Day: a very young, green parakeet I plan on taming and giving free-fly time around here. We’ve hung his cage up extremely high (meaning away from cats) and in a central location, so he can see us coming and going, hear us, hear the TV, the birds outside, can be in on all the wild action in these parts.

THANK YOU!

Our son calls him “baby bird”, said with a mixture of shock and awe every time he stops and looks up at the cage, which is often. “Baby bird!”

THANK THANK THANK YOU!

So for once I didn’t save a bird, but was given a bird and it’s such a different feeling. Part of me feels, well, rude: Oh god–another animal to feed, water and worry about, NO NO NO!!! But that panic passes when I watch Julian explore his food bowl by plopping down in it, or tussle with a rock-hard piece of bagel, or when he emits those cheerful chirps and delights my son. I’m glad he’s here. I look forward to coaxing him onto my finger one of these days, when he decides I’m worth trusting.

Julian!

Welcome to the Ponderosa, baby bird. Just—live a long time, okay? And prosper.

Seriously, though: Thank you.

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Tylenol Recall…

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

As you probably know by now. Nevertheless, here is the link:
TYLENOL RECALL 2010

Since we gave our son doses of one of the recalled Children’s Tylenol last week, I had a mommy freak-out today when reading about the recall, especially the bit about possible “particles” in the liquid. Let’s interview me for a second:

PB–how do you feel about having just given your son a s***load of potentially toxic, harmful, particle-filled, very bad stuff posing as medicine to your one and only beloved toddler?

Hm. Let me see. I feel—–*@#*%!!!!!!! I feel as if I should never, ever have purchased Tylenol, but done my research and found some wonder-organic fever and pain reliever. I feel as if my investigative diligence is seriously lacking when it comes to what’s best for my toddler. Since the recall was announced, I have silently screamed, snapped at my husband, privately wailed and Googled holistic and homeopathic topics incessantly, downloaded lists having to do with pesticides in fruits and vegetables, growled into my pillow, FB’d my concern and eaten obscenely thick wedges of brie. Any questions???

Yes, just this: does your son show signs of illness, rashes, odd behavior, excessive fatigue, listlessness or anything, really, that might alarm?

What are you getting at? You sound like my husband!!!

Surely your son is fine. Sit back, have a glass of wine, call the doctor in the morning and step away from Google, PB. Just step away.

Listen–you can’t possibly be a parent, because if you WERE you wouldn’t offer such ^$%*@ advice! Why don’t you go stick your questions in a firecracker headed right up your a@#!!!

Night, night, PB.

Grrrrrrrrrrr….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….

Blog Break #17,000,000…

Friday, April 30th, 2010

As I experience the flu AND caring for an absolutely non-sick toddler bored with Blues Clues, Thomas, Cars, Little Einsteins and basically any dvd in his collection, bored with puzzles and bubbles indoors and sticking playdough to the walls, I offer this blog break w/picture, taken from my sick chaise-longue in the backyard, where I can be found reclining in sun and wind on the thinning brown mattress, moaning lightly as he digs passionately in the dirt pile.

Mud!

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LodylodylodyROCKINTHEWATER…

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Last week I sat deep in a canyon next to a rushing creek. I was amazed by the emotion this busy bit of nature created in me. All was concurrently canyon-serene and utterly riotous. The creek was thunder and Zen, a zealot’s feverish telling and a whisper softer than bee-speak. Mind-tweaking. Very.

rock1.jpg

I sat on the flat, sun-infused boulder, watching T toss pebbles into thunder-bubbles, into the catchy, incessant water-laugh, water-rage. LodylodylodyROCKINTHEWATER, shouted my son. I glanced downstream: more boulders, domed as lazing turtles, pond-greens, canyon shadow so Chumash, so cave and tearing, water precious, dappled skin stretching into slap and roil and rage.

rock.jpg

What were my feelings? Loss and bounty. What were my thoughts? Knots and gold beach. Focused, anyway—funneled. What was my name? My son held it in his little hands, felt it, shook it like dice, tossed it to eternity. His eyes found mine and he laughed.

rock2.jpg

We held hands and climbed up the trail, back into the sun and poppy fields. When he said, Dadda, I knew we’d both been on the same wavelength. Where else would my mind rush to after experiencing such a roughing up? Home. 75 miles South. T was checking in. I nodded at him.

And we moved amicably on to the beach. Low tide. Sweet shush, shush, shush.

rock3.jpg

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And Then I Scrub The Toilet…

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Married 3 years, parent 2 years and 4 months, homeowner for less than 1 year: these simple facts are still sinking into my everyday reality, like a shoe going slowly down in a thick, bubble-popping bog. I will glance out the kitchen window, marveling at house finches perched blithely on scary-thorny stalks of the rose bushes, or I will study the front lawn the rains have given us, or I’ll clown for my son barefoot in the backyard on that new, luscious lawn and BAM, the shoe is sucked under by bog and I’m left wasted and trembling, thinking: that’s my lawn, my rose bush–I planted it. That’s my rock and my tree root and my leaf dappled walkway. Huh (I muse shakily). I’m married. That’s my child singing the “Little Einsteins” theme song as he waters the beachball. That’s my cobwebbed beam in my living room, my clunking garbage disposal in my kitchen, my birch flooring. I have birch flooring and it’s mine. I am a birch flooring sort of homeowner. I am not renting! (I muse, palms sweating, chills scuttling down my spine) I am not renting! I live in a house, my own house, I own the house. I am happily married and I have a child as wondrous as comets or spring tulips. Wow. Somebody throw me a banana.

Messe room to room…

The shoe sinks, reality hits and I, a writer, a poet, come up with: Wow. Somebody throw me a banana.

Messes, messes, messes…

And then I scrub the toilet. Wash dishes. Wipe fingerprints from windows and computer screens. And then I fill a blue plastic bucket with water, place it on the sand and water table outdoors and watch my son go wild splashing. And then I change his diaper, take him grocery shopping or to a playdate or a park or the endlessly fascinating aisles of Target—or I’m teaching about escalators or I’m making him meals I pray he’ll approve of—or I’m riding the exercise bike or I’m paying bills or I’m waiting for him to fall asleep at night, collapsed with a glass of wine and 3 loads of laundered items needing a Puritan folding as “Chariots Of Fire” fills the TV screen and my husband utterly explains his day…

Tweet!

And instead of reeling from stunning, earth renting insight, I start feeling as though we’ve always been this little famly of 3 in our house in pleasantly shushed suburbs we used to scoff at when we were dating and doing radical things like seeing movies in theatres and eating at restaurants. Oh how far we’ve come.

Messmessmessmessmess…

Shoe? I know you’re bogged down, but maybe resurface to sink again if you happen to notice I’m becoming too complacent, too stressed or impatient—because finches on rose bushes, their tiny claws precisely spaced, deftly avoiding thorns sharp enough to be amputation devices—or my son in March light, cometing, vibrant—or my husband enthusiastically mowing our new lawns—such bits should never go unnoticed, never deserve a glance, but a pondering of at least a minute, enough time for a passionate savoring before housework trumpets like a runaway beast and I sink into acquired domesticity.

I don’t care about messes. Sad, but true.

www.pbrippey.com

Blog Break: Spring Beach Escape

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

California on its best, most magical behavior. Or, rather, Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara. We were way overdue for a dose of gusting sea air. The light! Spring herald. I’ll be quiet, now. Unless, of course, you pass your cursor over the pictures.

March Beach. !!!

Ah, possibilities.

Rocks!

Who’s looking at who?

Time to go home! I beg your pardon, dear lady? What did you say?

See ya, suckah!!!

www.pbrippey.com

Fits And Starts…

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Must be the March winds—my mind air on the fritz, air exploded, gallavanting without reason, method, or a wristwatch. My new nickname is Fits-And-Starts. Not, Gaps-In-Hair-Weave, or even, Gaps-In-Mind-Weave, but Fits-And-Starts. Or maybe: Fits-And-Starts-And-Fits-And-Starts…

O Lavender!

O March! You’ve usurped May’s darling buds and July’s thuddy heat. You’ve also cleared the air with your winds—scoured the sky—revealing the sort of clarity that makes Southern Californians famous for wearing sunglasses. We protect our eyes from your telescopic quality, your unnerving, dazzling zoom. We avoid mirrors, perhaps work out more, have extra glasses of wine with dinner. We plant poppies and sweet brooms and star jasmine, both giddy and migraine-ish from color-exposure and pervasive scents. We plant lavender and cover our ears when the bees arrive for they, too, are loud and clear, loud and clear. March? Your monster-scope is so bright we become addled, perhaps a little afraid, and wander inside with our sunglasses still on, stepping on cats’ tails, rebounding into chairbacks, shoulder-crashing into refrigerators, scaring or delighting our ever-watchful toddlers. Or we are still—so still—so perfectly, utterly, exquisitely unmoving—sitting well into the patio chairs with their dubiously stuffed, bird crap spattered cushions, staring numbly through our sunglasses at exposed world, our back yards transformed into little March Edens because of all the rain and all of your light on all of that rain’s workings. O March! Your light-abundance numbs, though not unfavorably. Such clarity—the hummingbird a foot from my face, it’s ruby feathers flashing, its angst-hum, its eyes—so not for the fainthearted.

O Freaky March light!

This March I have discovered that despite having no energy around each day’s 3:00p.m. due to T’s consistent 5:00a.m. wakings and ever-shortening naps, despite watching my energy drain from my body and shuffle lethargically and unromantically down the hall and into my bedroom and into my bed without me, I discovered I can still Windex off mud and outdoor gunk from the living room floor, flip the living room rug by myself (revealing a vaguely un-battered/un-mud-stained, other-side-of-rug, who cares?), bake a red velvet cake, frost it heavily, remove fingerprints from quite tall windows and clean/plunge the toilet, finishing just in time to ponder prepping the toddler’s dinner. All this I can do while my energy snores on as if I’ve never existed.

This March, I’ve discovered it’s amazing what I can accomplish in fits and starts. My husband says I should take it easier, maybe bake a cake one day, was a dish the next—but I like how the light comes through the unfingerprinted windows and kisses the spotless floor, creating a birch-gleam I deem attractive and then I glance up, see the freshly planted sweet broom and lavender in the garden, and I notice the aroma of just-baked red velvet cake—and I’ll be damned if I (despite my energy’s god-snores from the bedroom) don’t feel like writing. And just as I sit down at my computer, remove my sunglasses and pull up Word, just as the incredibly pervasive March light penetrates the very bones of my psyche, just as I type “Fits-And-Starts” and tap the return key while uttering a merry, “Ah hah!”, the UPS guy bangs on the screen door, the giant picture falls off the living room wall and both the toddler—and my energy—awaken, with disparate moods.

O March toddler!

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Several Senses Of Late…

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

WHAT I HEARD…

Obstacle Course Part One

“When my mom was 23, she had 4 kids, a kid with kids, and the second we were 18 she was all, Okay, outta here, you’re on your own, make your own way, don’t expect help from us and if you have kids? Don’t call us or expect us to do anything about it. We’re done! And it bums me out because, you know, I want my kids to have grandparents in their lives…”

A woman in Trader Joe’s who looked to be in her 30’s was calmly saying all this into her cell phone as both of us perused the cereals/cereal bar section. I hate it when people talk on their cell phones indoors in public places. Like the time the guy in front of me in the Albertson’s check-out line shouted into his cell phone (as he handed the checker money, then scrounged his wallet and pockets for more): “You’re going to need your toothbrush and underpants. Do NOT forget underpants. When they show up at the door to cuff you, tell them you KNOW you’re allowed to bring your toothbrush and underpants. I’ll meet you there.”

Obstacle Course Part Two

But this woman’s story struck home. I was glad she was speaking to someone she could even tell it to. A few seconds later I heard her utter catchwords like, ‘therapist’ and ‘self-healing’ as T—ensconced in the shopping cart—demanded another chunk of fresh kalamata olive bread to appease his loathing of going into stores (unless the store is Old Navy with its toddler and big kid mannikins and faithfully-sitting- motionlessly-by-with-a-frozen-grin, dog mannikin—doggikin?). This woman did not shout into her phone. She wasn’t irate, bitter, snarly, or even sad. She seemed to be simply relating what was, as though she’d been working, internally, on this ‘was’ for quite some time. And I just happened to be there to hear it.

WHAT I SAW…

Obstacle Course Part Three

T was alone in the front yard—meaning I was watching him from the front doorway, meaning I was unseen from the pavement in front of our house, where a woman jogged by—slooooooowly. She glanced at T playing with my inherited, heavy pewter ash tray I keep on a tree stump for crude decor (where else does one put ashtrays these days?). The woman glanced at T and shook her head as though disgusted by seeing him “alone” in the yard. But instead of coming to my front door and saying, Hey! Parents! WTF!, instead of checking to see if I was dying of a heart attack on the kitchen floor, instead of checking, SHE CROSSED HERSELF and carried on jogging. She. Crossed. Herself. I walked to the pavement and watched her jog down to Lull Street and around the corner, my mouth, I suppose, slightly agape. Part of me wanted to run after her, screaming: YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT I FEED HIM, LADY! BURNT CRAP AND MCDONALD’S! And how silly. How silly is that. Come on. How utterly, cavewoman-ish silly. Although a cavewoman would have been far too busy for a reaction like mine. She would have had a baby on her back and a baby at her breast as she foraged relentlessly for food, dreaming of refrigerators, Trader Joe’s and gods that understand the importance of an occasional pedicure for a busy mother’s psyche. I’m pretty sure stuff that shouldn’t be is growing along the gaps between the left and right sides of my stove and kitchen walls. Weeds threaten the newly pruned rose bushes. A pile of hard cover books need their covers replaced from T’s book-denuding episode two months ago. I, like the cavewoman, do not have time to dwell on the insensitivity of a stranger. But it felt as if she’d thrown poo at my house and I just happened to see it…

WHAT I SMELLED…

Obstacle Course Part Four

T and I came home from Lowe’s today with lavender plants. He “helped” me put them in the earth in the front yard’s confusing jungle-mixed-with-baldness. I have this idea of planting lavender all over the ponderosa and calling our house “Lavender House”. Yes. I am currently utterly hormonal, emotional, teary-eyed over bees in the blossoms or sobbing over Tide commercials and should probably be fenced in like a poor zoo creature…So we planted the lavender and came back inside and T rushed out back to engage with the sand and water table and I took the opportunity of his absence indoors to vacuum, only there was a SMELL, an awful, choke on your bile type of smell dogging my every move and I thought, It’s T’s diaper, but of course he was outside and then it finally dawned on me that the smell was coming from ME, and I broke out in a cold sweat, looked at the sole of my left shoe—and there it was. Cat poop. I glanced over my shoulder and saw I’d tracked it all over the living room as I was vacuuming and wondering about THE SMELL and blaming my son.

Which all goes to say that I should really look to my own person before judging others, before taking the time and energy to send bad juju to a stranger or blame others for things that happent to me or hate people for talking on their cell phones in public—even if I don’t want to hear it. If you need your underpants and toothbrush because they’re coming to cuff you, it’s pretty awful. If you want grandparents in your life and you can’t have them and the only time you can talk about it—because you’re a busy mother—is in Trader Joe’s on your cell phone, okay. I do have time to forgive someone who doesn’t know me or my son for a rude transgression, but I don’t have time to blame the universe when it’s my own foot meeting cat poop.

And I always, should always have time to count my blessings.

Obstacle Course Part–oh I can’t remember…

You know? O Lavender House–you are coming along.

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The Problem With Going Home…

Monday, January 25th, 2010

That officially unrecorded song by anon (performed only a few times in dark, semi-smoky locations reeking of spilt beer and wrinkled pimientos before anon’s band became snarling strangers to one another and broke up) plays constantly in my head as we’re hitting the beaches, the harbor, the courtyards, the parks in the early a.m.—parks, beaches, playgrounds 5 minutes from each other—running him, showing him, running after him, strolling him:

Shoreline Park before 7am.

Heading into Santa Barbara on a 1/4 tank of gas. Dollar in my pocket, you don’t have to ask me if I’m happy. It’s written in my smile. So the highway captured me, well I turned around. Moon is at my back tonight.

SB Harbor, late afternoon.

Harbor lights are glowing, there’s a sunset in your eyes. With not a mile between us, you don’t have to ask me do I love you. Loved you all this time. Had a fight with the last horizon. I turned around. Moon is at my back tonight.

Sky to Ocean.

Ledbetter.

Feel my future open.

More Ledbetter.

I have run from this. Leaving you behind. Had a fight with the last horizon. Turned around. Moon is at my back tonight.

And I want you to know: I’ve loved you all this time.

Shoreline Park. Same early morning.

I want you to know: I’ve loved you all this time.

Little guy.

Cheesy little song. Though apt.

(lyrics reprinted with anon’s permission, because even though she forgets to water plants or remove bagels from the broiler in a timely manner, she actually remembered to copyright her songs)

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Happy New Year! 2010201020102010 etc….

Monday, January 4th, 2010

1st morning. Swell, gulls, surfers, boogie boarders. 72 degrees. O Southern California!

Dana Point, CA Jan 1st 2010

And while I continue working on my next blog post, here is an archive from last year when we were barfing like maniacs and wondering how on earth to handle it with a 1 yr. old, also barfing. That was a time indeed.

LAST JANUARY BARF FEST

And don’t forget to read my poems on Chaparral —because of course you have time to read poetry in your busy day, who doesn’t? Ha ha (uttered with more than a tinge of hysteria).

CHAPARRAL

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Christmas Break: Pre-Christmas Haircut…

Friday, December 25th, 2009

This is what happened today. My fault. I panicked as I trimmed. With Christmas family get-togethers just around the hour—I panicked. Voila:

Egad.

Luckily a Fantastic Sam’s of Reseda is close to us. I couldn’t go. Nerves. So S and his dad took T for his first formal haircut while I stayed at home. Vacuuming. Worrying. They did this:

Well…

And this:

Okay, okay.

The first (inadvertent) Big Boy haircut is hard! I’m glad he can see without tilting his head back to look out from under his bangs (my little sheepdog!!!), but—where is my baby? Oh, the 2’s are filled with a zillion fine lines.

Hoping the grandmas won’t be disappointed. MERRY — MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

Blog Break: Tree Ornaments…

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Stuffed snowman! Felt mice! Wooden apple! Ummm—vinyl gold balls!!! Vinyl silver pear!!! Uh—-oh, oh, I know: angel made of shiny material!!!

Er—things, or rather: Christmas ornaments that won’t break when your toddler yanks them from the tree and throws them at your windows? Or the cats? Or your face?

That’s it! Yes! You have won the $20,000 Pyramid!!! (of goldfish crackers—if you’re lucky–now scram, would ya? Mama needs a nap…)

O Small Tree!

www.pbrippey.com

Zoo Parenting 101…

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

When you make an excursion to the zoo on a saturday and the weather is gorgeous and it’s the San Diego Zoo so in addition to locals you are in the company of a gazzilion off-season tourists taking advantage of cheap off-season vacation packages—when you are all (tourists, locals, families, random human herds) packed together in a zoo that won’t allow you to walk your kids or strollers on the wide streetways because of the double-decker tour buses constantly motoring by—when you’re forced to walk on narrow sidewalks past the animal exhibits, each exhibit creating instant gridlock, the sun increasingly hotter than the weatherpeople predicted and then there are those gnarly hills, there, at the SD Zoo, red-cheek-creating hills—let’s face it: there are going to be scenes.

O Elephants!

My husband and I witnessed many variations on the parenting of uber-hyped-out, tantrum-throwing children of all ages. We paid most attention to toddlers acting out, many by toddling deliberately away from their parents, goofy, gleeful smiles on their faces. Some parents controlled toddler-wanderlust by attaching them to leashes resembling tails of monkeys or elephants. Others had cleverly brought along extended family assigned to race after escapees. The biggest fear at the zoo for parents with small children was not the pacing lion and whether its cage bars were sturdy enough, not the elephant lolling its massive, child-attracting weight against fencing, not whether the foamy-mouthed camels lurched within spitting distance of babies, but whether a toddler was going to dart under the wheels of one of those on-coming tour buses, or vanish forever into the hot-tempered crowds. Many times we heard the following:

GET BACK HERE!

or

GET BACK HERE NOW!

or

WE’RE NOT GOING THERE! WE’RE GOING HERE! HERE! HERE!

or the more frustrated version,

NO! NO! NO! NO!

And, eventually, as the heat bore down, as the hills grew steeper, we heard:

GET BACK HERE OR (plus a threat)

or

GET THE HELL BACK HERE OR (plus a threat)

or

ONE, TWO, THREE—(with the threat of counting to 5—and then what?)

or

IF YOU DON’T LISTEN TO ME, I’LL (plus a threat or stuttered gibberish as the parent melted down inconsolably, irrevocably, before God and Man)

The most disturbing meltdown occurred in the Lost Forest, a shady pathway winding past the slumbering hippos in their fantastic 3D pool, up to the tigers (though we couldn’t see them because of the gridlock) in their shady-rocky abode, past the turtles in their glassed-in-pond—hundreds of thousands of swimming turtles—past amazing, colorful birds you’d never see in my backyard (despite the two popular feeders). A woman approached us as we threaded through the crowds. A child was vice-gripped in her arms, a boy (3 years old?) curled to fetal, who knew he was in the vice, had ceased struggling because he recognized struggle was pointless. His mother’s face was bent over his. She was going downhill, we up and somehow this created an eerie time-slow effect so that I heard, clearly, every single word she imparted to her son. As the mother passed me with her large, slow-motion steps, my head turned in slow-motion, my mouth dropped in slow-motion and I watched her land on a bench and keeeeep ooooooon taaaaaalking to that boy as my brain screamed nooooooooooooo in deep, scary, slowed-down-speak. Nooooooooooooooooo.

If you don’t f***ing shut the f*** up you’re gonna f***ing make me f***ing crazy and do you know what the f*** that means?
Like at Granny’s? (responded the offending son)
Oh, you remember Granny’s, huh? YEAH like at F***ING Granny’s, that’s EXACTLY what the f*** I’m F***ING TALKING ABOUT—

And there was more, but I couldn’t listen. I fell back into real-time and sped after my husband and son.

What’s up? asked my husband when, after I made sure T was rapt before the gazzillion turtles, I turned and hugged him—hard. Did you hear that? I stage-whispered into his neck. Did you hear that woman? Hear what? my husband asked and I let it go, told him later, at the hotel, when T was into his pasta and DVD. Oh wow, my husband said and we were quiet, munching our dinner in a shared moment of sadness—and self-reflection.

O Turtles!

Because no matter what you witness in other parents, or what horrifying stories you read concerning other parents, stories centered around some type of baby-neglect (like the guy who left his 3 month old in its carrier beside the treadmill in his gym when he was done with his workout and drove on home like he was a single guy and had never been a parent, la dee da, until a phone call from the gym had him screeching the car into a U-turn)—being a parent and therefore experiencing challenges you couldn’t possibly have dreamt of prior to having children precisely because you didn’t have children and couldn’t know, but now that you do know, you totally “get” how a breaking point such as the one I witnessed in Cursing Mama can been reached. You know what it’s like to approach the precipice of a mental-break, to teeter on the complicated cliff’s edge of your sanity, and then scrabble for an alternative—because that’s what you do—you scrabble for the alternative, find it, use it even if it is VERY, VERY HARD to do so, even if it means you CUSS AT A SLOTH instead of your child. I admit that at that awful zoo-moment I wanted Cursing Mama fenced, fenced in, securely, with electrified bars, away from her child—I wanted the zoo’s on-call Parent Meltdown Psychotherapist to whoosh in with her bag of sanity-restoring tips and a zoo margarita sold throughout the grounds. At that moment, I hoped Cursing Mama’s child would make it to 18 yrs. unscarred, because the power struggle occurring between mother and child was too intense and apparently a close second to Granny’s house and whatever the heck went on there. O Cursing Mama! How you scared me, angered me, left me feeling wasted and shaky and grateful for my parenting books—and desperate for a zoo margarita…

We headed for the exit and miniature train ride instead.

And now——this bit more:

Connection Parenting, by Pam Leo
Playful Parenting, by Lawrence Cohen
Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm And Connected, by Susan Stiffelman

Books. They don’t hurt. They can’t help but help, MOST LIKELY.

Tattling Mama over-and-out.

O giant fake tortoise!
www.pbrippey.com

Birthdays…

Monday, November 16th, 2009

T’s first birthday was interesting. S could actually take the day off back then, back in the dark ages of simply 1 eon-ic year ago when he also came home for lunch. Every. Single! Day. We took T to an indoor playground and paid for that later by having a sick baby for the rest of the holiday season and into the New Year. That evening, we presented T with a pint-sized birthday cake he scream-cried about because of the lit candle. Then S and I argued because S didn’t want him to eat cake and have the then unspoiled-by-sugar or french fries tot experience a first sugar high when we all so desperately needed sleep. Me? I wanted a photo and argued that since caveman days babies have eaten a first birthday cake with everyone surviving the damn sugar business. S slammed a door for the first time since I knew him as we experienced our first fight since T’s birth. And I was like, yeah you do that, buddy, you go ahead and SLAM THAT DOOR WHILE I BREASTFEED OUR CHILD AND GET UP 25,000 TIMES DURING THE NIGHT AND—S reappeared and we made up and agreed not to give the kid any cake since he was terrified of it anyway. I think we were relieved to go to bed, even though it was another night of broken sleep.

Scary birthday cake

This year, T couldn’t wait to get his fingers—literally—into his birthday cake. He would have rolled in it if we’d let him, slept with it, slept on it. It was a beautiful thing to witness and a scary thing and what you’ve seen in movies and on YouTube and discovered featured on mommy blogs incessantly and suddenly it was our turn to live it. And not only did we live every single moment so passionately we almost forgot to take pictures, but—we enjoyed the whole experience. Not a door slammed in the house. Not a concerned word was uttered about the wrongness of putting a kid on a sugar high. We didn’t fuss and quibble and relate horror stories about hives or chocolate-seizures and we didn’t mention the possibility of a sleepless night. We. Just. Lived.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Yeah, I can eat that!

www.pbrippey.com

Boo Break: Belated…

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Speaking like a giraffe.

Giraffe for: I want my cookie!

And last year: Arrrrrrr! Our little pirate/poet with mega un-sealegs and hair that had no idea which way to grow!

Arrrrr! Just learned to walk!

And this year in addition to being a giraffe, a pirate with hair that has figured life out. (same costume! only 12 months later he can wear the pants)

Arrrrrrrr! Big boy pirate!

Same goofy parents, though. Poor kid. Arrrrrrr (said like sigh).

Arrrrrrrr!!! cough cough cough

www.pbrippey.com

Blog Break: Beach Cure For Colds…

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

So over sneezing, I decided my son and I needed a Santa Barbara beach cure. I took most of the morning packing: food, clothes, sweaters for the cold, cold North, enough supplies for a week though we were gone only overnight and still I forgot the goldfish crackers, but luckily not the arrowroot cookies and backup sippy cups and extra socks.

Torn umbrella on deserted beach.

In October, my beach is pretty deserted, especially on a weekday. It’s an interesting place to be with no one there—like stumbling into paradise, even though of course I knew exactly where we were going. But the beach is always full of surprises and surprise thoughts and all that beauty—who has time to remember sinus blockage, poor writing habits, pressing goals, housework. All fades when faced with the urgency of beach business.

O Beach Cure!

Rock busy-ness.

So much to do here!

T busied himself with the rocks we camped next to, later utilizing buckets and a watering can, and then he sat on my lap, snug in a beach towel and munched cream cheese sandwiches as we both gazed at the ocean.

Shade time.

Pelicans dive-bombed the swell. Dolphin fins came and went. Occasionally a beach-walker passed us and smiled our way. The sun inspired a razzle-dazzle from the water. Utterly exciting: all of it.

Next thing I knew over 2 hours had passed. I loaded T into the stroller and we took off up the beach for an hour’s walk. We passed maybe 3 people. The tide was receding into a minus. Starfish were exposed on low, moody-black rock. A small, faintly pink sea urchin was alone in a shallow, sun-warmed tide pool. Crabs shifted in their dark crevices, hidden from the gulls.

Stroller ride extraodinaire.

Infused with air and sun, I never sneezed. T, already mostly over his cold, sang in his seat. By this time of day both of us are usually passed out in our beds. It was obvious neither of us was going to nap and that neither of us cared.

What a day to be cured.

We stayed until almost 5:30p.m. It’s the best playground in the world, full of constant exploration and the only playground I’ve discovered so far in which my son will come to me for a break, cuddle, content to sit, eat, watch. Beach Magic. I wish it was my backyard.

www.pbrippey.com

The Mama Comes Close To Tattling…

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Recently I took my son to an aquarium. He says the word fish now, recognizes different types of fish in books and those in the framed pictures on his bedroom walls. He says seahorse, starfish (yes, I KNOW it’s politically correct in aquariums to say SEASTAR since the starfish is not a fish, but COME ON NOW—the whale shark is not a shark, but who wants to say The Great And Awe Inspiring Whale Fish—the seahorse not a horse, the jellyfish not a—-etc.), and he says an entertaining version of octopus, so I thought it was time we hit the fish-stocked tanks to see those words up-close and swimming around.

What my son preferred more than viewing the marine subjects, however, was pushing buttons on the giant squid that made it squirt water at passersby. He could have done that all day. All. Day. alldayalldayalldayalldayallday…

Squirting squid

I was grateful when he agreed to a lunch break.

T never ceases to amaze me: I bought a sandwich and the second we were outside at the picnic tables he zipped into a chair, snatched half the sandwich from me and chowed down as though high chairs and lovingly prepared bite-sized pieces of food have never been a part of his life. I took a chair next to him and marveled over eating lunch with my son. Maaaarveled at his big boy bites that included lettuce, marveled that he never eats this way at home, my mind click-clicking away on new ideas for home mealtimes for my normally finnicky son—like, make EVERYTHING sandwiches!!!—T pointing at the pigeons and finches surrounding us, talking excitedly with his mouth full—when suddenly I noticed: Them.

Similar to the zoo with its Silverback’s Cafe grilling meat within smelling distance of the gorillas in their little exhibit, the aquarium’s Cafe Scuba sells fish and chips. So you can walk around and view the lovely fish and then——eat fish. A group of barely-teens boys sat at the table next to ours, inhaling their cooked fish fare, until they decided it was more fun to throw their fish and chips at the birds, kick at the birds with their feet and make a big fuss squealing (yes, squealing) about the birds milling around our tables. One boy wadded up a piece of bread into a tight pellet and beaned a finch so hard it peeped in shock and no doubt pain.

“No, you don’t hit the birds with your food or kick them, okay? You do not do that.”

The boys avoided eye contact with me. I’d probably humiliated them. I looked around. A table of elders was nearby, totally ignoring the boys. Should I have told their elders? Should I have gone inside and fetched an aquarium security type? Should I have tattled vs. take action? I glanced at my son. He was finger painting his arm with a dollop of mayo and uttering pleasant gibberish. I knew that if it wasn’t for his presence, if it wasn’t for the fact that one day he would be as old as those bird-abusing boys next to us, I would have confronted the boys more directly, in a manner I would never want my son to see or think his mother capable of, as in:

1. Get the f*#% away from the f*%@ing birds NOW! Okay? NOW!
2. You know what, dude? You know how you look, beaning a tiny bird? You look weeeeeeeeak, dude. Weeeeeeeeak. Now get the f*@% away from that finch!
3. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (the blood curdling kind of scream that brings the whole world running, emitted while standing atop a chair, fists clenched and shaking with rage)

I’m currently trying to teach T not to pull the cats’ tails or sit on Al The Naturally Large Cat’s enormous belly. I’m trying to teach him the joys of live fish and gorillas. All over the aquarium, dedicated volunteers speak daily, tirelessly to the crowds about conservation and respect for ocean inhabitants. Enter: The Bird Beaning Boys. What to do? How to react? How to prepare my son for field trips in his future? How to point out injustice without humiliating young, developing minds? But why are the developing minds committing injustices anyway? Why aren’t they listening? Why aren’t they practicing what they’re being taught? Why will boys be boys? What the hell does that really mean? Why the HELL do I ask why? How can I be a mother and be this clueless?

T and I packed up and went for a walk to the park outside the aquarium, the one with the view of the Queen Mary and that pretty lighthouse. T can say lighthouse. And oose iner for cruise liner. But he wasn’t interested in those things or the kids racing around the lawn, 10/11-year-oldish kids running off their lunches. T was interested in sitting under a shady palm tree and ransacking my backpack. As he did so, I watched the children, unable to imagine my baby that old. Hey, a girl running with a pack (pod?) of other girls declared loudly. Who dares me to kick a pigeon?

Oh dear god, I muttered, glancing around for elders, but my intervention wasn’t necessary this time. The elders blew whistles and children immediatley formed lines and marched off towards the lighthouse.

I confess I don’t ever want my son to bean finches with his food or to kick pigeons or shoot elk or polar bears or 3-legged wolves or take out any aggression on any animal. I want him to love Al The Naturally Large Cat and the entire animal kingdom. I may snuff the occasional cockroach or ant legion, but I have always championed for animal rights, saved birds, dogs, cats, mice, squirrels, or tried to. I know children need to flex control and power muscles—but probably I need to read up on teaching limits, or teaching the benefits of not kicking a pigeon or harpooning a whale. Right? Still, I thought, helping T put everything back into the pack. I’m glad I told the bird beaning boys to cut it out, even if my tone wasn’t—the nicest. Maybe there is no “nice” way of stopping such things, or not from a stranger.

I watched my son find the only mud patch in the park and grind his shoes in it gleefully. I cheered him on. Nearby, a pigeon watched us, head cocked, as though really, REALLY listening.

T