She sings

Sitting down to read a bit this morning, I hear my daughter start to hum. She is taking her bath. I keep an ear on things, because lately she’s taken to kidnapping one of the household pets for ‘company’ in the bathroom, and I hafta listen to make sure the grumbling of today’s victim stays on an aggrieved and inconvenienced pitch, instead of elevating to the yowl or yelp of terrified distress, because that means either a) Sierra’s actually tried to induce one of them into the bathtub/shower or b) he/she is having one of my girly supplies applied to its fuzzified person.

All was pretty peaceful this morning. Gracie-the-cat was today’s chosen victim (I’m astounded she doesn’t spazz when she gets carried into the bathroom). There was just the occasional, plaintive mewl of a pet whose been emotionally orphaned from any hope of rescue. I was trying to compose a reply to an e-mail, when suddenly the tune she was humming pushed through my preoccupation, and I froze for a second, listening.

It was the lullaby. The lullaby in the music box of my old, battered bear when I was a child; an old tune that still lingers in certain memories, but one that is in little circulation in real life, overtaken now by ‘rock-a-bye baby’ (that horrifying little Grimm’s fairytale) or more contemporarily, by Elmo ‘n’ crew.

This was the tune I made up words to, to sing to her when she was very small. I haven’t heard it since.

When I was a child, battered bear was not my favorite. I didn’t pass him down, for he was retired to a high shelf before Sierra was born. Not that he was a bad bear, mind you, he was just old-aged, even when I got him: A venerable fellow, the musician of my plush nightly-comfort crew. When a night particularly called for more than Kwalt tucked under my chin, and Blankie laid across my pillow, when a night was a real humdinger of strange nightmarishness, then battered bear would be wound up, and the tinkling sound of that familiar tune… old, authentic, with some pauses where the music box lagged, …that song would play.

And later, I sang it to her.

And now… does she remember that? Does she remember being held and rocked and sung to? I cross the hall. Stop. Listen. I can almost feel Gracie’s energy on the other side of the door, tensed for escape from her steaming purgatory.

Mark another mystery down to this endless wondering thing which is parenthood. If I open the door now, all she’s going to think about is the unforgivable release of Gracie. The song, if it is a real memory, something she can access in her head, will turn off in favor of complaints and accusation. If it is a remnant though, a sound her heart knows but her brain can’t manufacture, it will be gone like a dream when I open the door.

So I sit down right there in the hall, my back propped against the doorframe. I listen, marvelling at the strange shapes that life takes. A little white paw pokes out beneath the bathroom door, and I touch it so it curls upward like it’s trying to take hold of something, something that might not be there.

You and me both, Gracie.

You and me both.


Birthday Bits & Anhinga’s Meme

Look, a lengthy odds and ends post! This is like the unwieldy weekend edition of Stop & Wander. I just won’t charge a buck fifty for it.

Birthday Bits-

There were some fun things about Sierra’s b-day that I didn’t share in the last post cus I was in a more introspective, sentimental sort of mode. These are a bit less sentimental. Life tends to be, doesn’t it?

1) Most every year, I wake Si up at 2 a.m. on December 9th to tell her the story of her birth. That is the moment that she was born. We curl up together, and I tell her the story, then wish her a happy birthday and she goes back to sleep. For the most part, she has gotten sleepily into the spirit of our little ritual, but the year she turned six years old, she simply wasn’t having it. I attempted to rouse her from her uber slumber, and after several seconds she opened her eyes really wide and gave me  the most fiercely cranky expression ever composed on a six-year-olds features. She told me to “Go Away, Mama, I AM SLEEPING.” flipped over on her other side, and promptly fell back asleep. Since my startled laughter didn’t provoke the slightest reaction from her sleeping frame, I decided to give her a break, and we skipped the story telling that year. I have this to say for my child: She may be shy, and cute and little girl and everything, but she can put her foot down when the situation warrants.

2) Sierra’s b-day loot from her friends and family were replete with Littlest Pet Shop toys and these things called ‘Webkinz‘ (???). I often play littlest pet shop with her-those are the little Bobblehead critters, and they make good imagination aides. She has like a million of them, but one of the things she got, was a large (ugly) plush littlest pet shop with a code on its collar.

A code. That’s pretty much what the Webkinz were, too. They looked to be pretty plain and uninspired stuffed animals to me. The excitement generated by the kids at the party seemed to be over the code. You take this to the computer, enter the code in the Webkinz website, and- (this is copy from the site) “you enter Webkinz World where you care for your virtual pet, answer trivia, earn KinzCash, and play the best kids games on the net!”

So. It’s like a secret password to this virtual universe. We sure didn’t have that sort of thing when I was a kid. It disturbs me on some level that the idea of ‘virtually’ caring for a pet is exciting to children. The whole ‘sims’ bandwagon, where you do life-like things in a computer universe- that’s a bit bizarre, isn’t it? Real life chores becoming recreation in a digital environment. Er, k. The point of this virtual labor would be…?

Can’t really knock the modern toys too hard though- I still remember getting unbearably excited over My Little Ponies and Rainbow Brite

3) I told Sierra she could get any kind of cereal for her birthday breakfast. (We stick to the high-fiber goat-fodder sort of cereals usually, and try to steer clear of ‘junk’ brands. Which is nice, cus that means getting a junk cereal is sort of an occasion.) So Sierra told me she wanted Cocoa Puffs. Only, when I went to the store, I didn’t know if she said Cocoa Puffs or Cocoa Pebbles. It seemed to me she meant Cocoa Pebbles. I mean, it has a cute little red headed girl on the front, and the other one had a kooky-ass bird on it. I used my logic to deduce, since Sierra makes so many food decisions based on the visual, that it was probably Cocoa Pebbles she wanted, so that’s what I bought.

It is impossible for me to convey the degree of reproachfulness my daughter mustered in both look and tone when she informed me with sorrowful disappointment, ‘I said Cocoa Puffs. You bought Cocoa Pebbles. I don’t LIKE Cocoa Pebbles.’

I really wanted to know how she knew she didn’t like Cocoa Pebbles. She only really knew she liked Cocoa Puffs because she had it at one of her friend’s houses where they exercise an open door policy toward junk cereal. My theory was she probably never tried Cocoa Pebbles, and would like it a whole lot if she just gave it a chance. I had her try them, even though she didn’t want to. That’s right, I made my daughter try a sugary bowl of chocolate flavored rice detritus. I’m sorta stubborn sometimes.

She’s *more* stubborn. I maintain that she was unfairly predisposed to hate Cocoa Pebbles merely because they showed up to disappoint her when she was anticipating Cocoa Puffs. If you actually try Cocoa Puffs and Cocoa Pebbles, you’ll probably notice that Cocoa Pebbles are way, way better. And I’m not just saying that cus they have 3 grams of fiber and (bizarrely) several fewer grams of sugar per serving than Smart Start cereal.

Nope, not at all. I’m saying that because that kooky-ass bird looked triumphant when I went to go buy a box of his stupid cereal after striking out with the Cocoa Pebbles. I can’t stand a smug marketing gimmick, so henceforth, I simply hate, hate, hate Cocoa Puffs. 

Anhinga’s Meme

I don’t really know that this meme is Anhinga’s. She probably got it from someone else, but I got it from her so now it’s the Anhinga Meme. What you do is highlight in bold those things on the list that you’ve actually done. Interesting for me to see what anhinga had experienced, and kinda cool, too, to see what my tally was out of 100.

1. Started your own blog 

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (clarinet)
Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland 

8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (at church, while in highschool)

11. Bungee jumped 
12. Visited Paris (I wish)

13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (scrapbooking)

15. Adopted a child 
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (on purpose?)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (someday)
29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke. 
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (homeless fella, hamburger)

44. Visited Africa 
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (but i wasn’t the injured one)
47. Had your portrait painted 
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (snorkeling, Bahamas)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (do home movies count?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a busines
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies 
62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades 

75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (someday?)

81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (with help)
88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person 

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a mobile phone

99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (several times)

I think I my total was 48, but kinda went cross-eyed tryin’ to count them.

Proposition 8: You said ‘When’

Lazy Buddhist posted this on her blog, and I’m taking a page out of her book because I was moved, and I think Olbermann’s words made me truly consider what it means to take away someone’s right to marry.

Here’s the thing: I am not a vocal supporter of gay rights, never have been. I am not a hugely vocal supporter of much of anything, except a few local environmental issues. Nope, I’m a quiet advocate, and I think a lot of people in this country are the same way. We see people as people, and we are saddened by the discrimination, the efforts to create a perception of ‘us’ and ‘them’.

In personal ways we try to live so as to demonstrate acceptance to our children. I try and foster critical thinking so that when my kid comes up against an arbitrary line drawn by someone who says “This person is unacceptable, and they are bad”, hopefully she will have the skills to recognize this as nonsense, and to see that someone is trying to impose a value set on her that is not her own. She doesn’t have to accept it.

But you know-

there comes a time when the quiet have to speak; when people who weren’t looking for a conflict end up having one. And this issue has been taking on momentum with every measure designed to discriminate, with every special interest group who thinks the victories of this country’s history: Women’s liberation, racial equality, championship of the 1st amendment, the right to choose… groups that think these precedents won’t determine the outcome of yet another fight for human rights.

They are wrong.

In America, freedom prevails. The fight may be long. It may be a long time coming, but you- you who voted to support this measure, and countless other measures like it across the country, you who said, “We will make these people feel like less than us, because my way is superior, and they don’t *deserve* the things that I do”, you have chosen the time. And you have chosen the fight. And you have forced the issue. And now we will defeat you, because in America the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will always, always prevail.