Me: What’s your favorite part of snack dinner?
Hank: … The snacks.
“They almost never blink. I’m serious.”
Hank: She’s my girlfriend, but just my friend.
Me: What’s the difference between a girlfriend and a friend?
Hank: There are girlfriends who are just when they say they’re your girlfriend.
Me: And that’s just a friend who just says, “I’m your girlfriend now?”
Me: What other kinds of friends are there?
Hank: There are friends, and then girlfriends, and then good friends, and then best friends.
Me: What about a girl you like as more than a friend?
Hank: That’s your love.
Me: Do you have a love?
Me: And what does that mean?
Hank: Nothing really. You just are nice to each other. We don’t really do any of that stuff yet.
On occasion, San Francisco cab drivers will ask where you’re going to see if your plans match theirs before they give you a ride — maybe they’re returning the cab, or picking up a fare someone has called in. A cabbie pulls over, determines that I am headed his way, and unlocks the doors.
I climb in back to find two large, white boxes taking up the seat. “Sorry, do you mind?” the cabbie asks. No, I say, not at all, and shove one of the boxes over to make room. The box has a strangely even weight to it, and I read the label.
“Is this blood?” I ask the driver.
“Yep,” he says.
“Oh,” I say. “Oh.”
I imagine us getting in an accident, and the ambulance arriving to nonsensical amounts blood. Biblical blood. Carrie blood.
“I would think they’d have a… specialized vehicle to transport this.”
“Nope. They have a contract with us. Saves them money.”
I swallow hard. I wonder if the blood is still warm. If it’s packed in dry ice? Or just in the medical equivalent of some ziplock baggies? “The Blood Cab’s here! Just throw it in a box and stick the label on it. They’ll figure it out.”
This seems awfully casual, don’t you think? Is there a black market for blood in the city? I mean, do they keep careful track of who has the blood, or does it mostly show up where it’s supposed to, because? I guess, what are you going to do with a bunch of ziplock baggies filled with blood? Unless you’re a vampire.
Crap. This cab is a vampire food truck. When I opened the door to climb in, it was like that sandwich chain that pumps out the artificial smell of freshly baked bread. The Creatures of the Night Who Lust for Human Blood were all like, “Dang! Where is that coming from? I could go for some warm O+ in a zippy bag, you know?”
At about lunchtime, we arrive at the DNA Lounge, a windowless, after-hours nightclub that’s hosting BSides SF today. BSides is a convention of information-security enthusiasts who are probably as uneasy about sunlight as I am about using the wifi in their presence. Why is everyone looking at me? Onstage they are holding a handcuff-picking competition. I do not mention that the food truck is out front.
A few hours later, the door flaps closed behind me, and I squint against the late-afternoon sun. I’m starving, so I decide to get ramen downtown. I go to hail a cab.
On second thought, I’ll walk.
We celebrated Hank’s birthday at my sister’s place, Wise Acre Farm, this weekend. She raises chickens, and this is her hand washing the eggs from her hens. Her farm is in the paper today!
Raina has always been a bird person, but for some reason I never connected a love for animals with farming until I saw her feeding all her chickens — she chats with them like they’re puppies, and chases down the hurt ones so she can take them home for rest and extra attention in the backyard.
If you’ve never had a pasture-raised egg, they’re delicious. It’s sort of like the difference between a home-grown tomato and a store-bought one. The yolks are super bright, and once you get used to them the eggs from caged hens start to taste egg-flavored, like an imitation of a real egg. Try one if you get a chance.
I’m proud of you, sis.
I’ll put mine on the inside of my eyelids. I want the full version, which goes like this:
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” -Haim Ginott (via The Happiness Project)
This is a lesson I keep learning and learning. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you realized your response would have a dramatic impact?
Many thanks to Disney for sponsoring this post. See Never Land like never before in the Peter Pan Diamond Edition , coming to Blu-ray™ and HD Digital February 5!
When I became a mom, obviously I worried about worrying too much. I didn’t want to be the kind of parent who wonders aloud whether my child should be in violin lessons, pushes flash cards on him, constantly warns him not to get dirt on his tiny three-piece suit.
I’m a rule follower by nature. So naturally, I want Hank to be the opposite of me – Flexible! Carefree! Laid back! So naturally he made constant requests that I wipe his face when he was a toddler, and now that he can read? He gets anxious when he thinks I’m parking in a way that defies municipal signage.
Still, I’d like him treasure his childhood enough that some part of him never wants to let it go. If he has to grow up (and he totally doesn’t forever and ever amen) at least I’d like him to hang on to a bit of wonder.
Over the years, I’ve found ways to put some cracks in the system so we can let the light in. Here are my personal rules for loosening things up, and introducing a little magic into my kiddo’s childhood:
1. Get sand in the car.
I get tired, you guys. Often the thought of cleaning up after mud pies, or glitter, or salt dough? It’s enough to make me suggest a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders instead of a day at the beach — followed by a round of vacuuming sand from the car.
So now if Hank wants to do something, I think about what will make a better memory later — another game of UNO, or a papier mache volcano. And then I lay down some newspaper.
2. Bend instead of snapping.
A while ago, we talked about your childhood memories, and Martha said she had always felt at home at her grandmother’s house precisely because her grandmother was so laissez faire:
“My grandmother had no rules: she threw away toothpaste caps and slept in her clothes. My mom was the type that kept the plastic on things. I loved being so free [at my grandmother's house] because it always felt like I was getting away with something huge.”
Ulp. I think about this a lot, and it’s one of the reasons why we have snacks for dinner about once a week. Hank doesn’t love meals, but he adores snacks. He gets so excited when I announce that we’re having Snack Dinner. We even have a song. Snack Dinnah! Duh-da-DUH! … You may have to be there.
3. Wake your kiddo up.
Remember how much more special things were as a kid when it was dark outside? Tiny ones have so few memories of being included after dark. I woke Hank up to carve his pumpkin, decorate the Christmas tree, and sometimes I wake him just to have tea and toast with me if it’s an especially early morning. Sometimes we light candles. Kids don’t get much access to fire either, which is probably for the best.
4. Give kids some grown-up perks.
I’ve been trying to keep fresh flowers in the house, so I started picking them up when we go grocery shopping. It feels like an extravagance even for me, so when Hank asked if he could pick flowers for his room, I hesitated at first. Then I caught myself. Five bucks. I’d spend that on a crappy plastic toy that he might not look at again. Why not?
5. Think before you say no.
Speaking of which, “Why not?” has become my mantra when it comes to Hank. If there’s a good reason why not, I can provide it. If there’s not, and I forget to ask myself, I can always count on him to Remind me.
“Can I have a cookie?”
“I want you to be hungry for dinner.”
“Can I have a cookie?”
“You just brushed your teeth and cookies will stick to them and give you cavities.”
“Oh. Can I have a cookie when I wake up?”
“… Well. Why not?”