Thursday, June 21, 2012

Two If By Sea

This is the third part of a sequel started on my blog, chronicling my two year old’s voice.  Go here here for Talking Two.  And then, for part two, Talking Two-and-a-Half, go  here.

Eating yogurt with his stuffed Barnaby Bear:

Cayce: Hello!  I’m Cayce! Want some yogurt?
Cayce (as Barnaby, deep voice): Oh Yes PLEEZE. I’d LOVE some.


In bath, his hair lathered with shampoo:

Cayce: Do you like my hat?
Me: Yes, I do!
Cayce: No!
Me: Oh- I’m sorry. You’re right. That’s not the way it goes. (Trying again) I do NOT. I do NOT like your hat. Goodbye!


At the ship’s wheel at the playground with a girl who told him she’s from New York.

Cayce (pointing out to the harbor): There are crocodiles.  There are crocodiles out there.


At Crosswinds Restaurant, watching the line cooks prepare his pancake.

Cayce: Who are those guys?
Me: Those are cooks. They’re chefs.
Cayce: Those are not chefs. Those are people.


Sharing a hot dog with his little friend M at the ACK Shack:

C: This is scrrrrr-UMP-tious!
M: Hahahahahahahaha!
C: This is REALLY scrrrr-0UMP-tious!!!
M: Hahahahahahahaha!


After buying a roll of wrapping paper:

C: I want to use it as a telescope!


About his miniature animals scattered on the floor:

Me: Put these babies away, okay?
C: Those are not babies. They animals.


Laying down on my lap to nurse with Barnaby Bear under his arm:

C: Barnda-by wants some too.


Down at the water’s edge, looking at the smooth, steel blue water with small bobbing boats, water going on and on as far as the eye can see, thinking of Mickey in batter In the Night Kitchen, thinking perhaps of the boy swimming naked in that giant bottle of milk under the stars:

C: I’m not the milk, and the milk’s not me. I’m Mickey!


Me pulling the car out of the drive, having finally packed it with everything we need for our outing.

Me, starting a line my mother used to say when I was a child: And we’re off--

-- like a herrrrrd of turrrrtles, my child finishes.    

Monday, May 21, 2012


At the supermarket: It’s very delicious in here.

After taking oral medicine:  It sounds like cherry. It sounds like candy.

You have to come and see.  You have to come and see this tower I built.

May I knock it over… with my tongue?
[Walking over to block tower on toy box, sticking out tongue, knocking blocks over with it]

About the pretty cirrus clouds: May I catch one?  May I catch one, Mommy?

As we’re walking toward the path to the woods: Maybe we see deer. Maybe we see butterflies. Maybe we also see dinosaurs.

As I’m strapping him into the car seat:  Are we going for a drive?  Will you text Holly?


On our way to help daddy, who’s truck has stalled on the side of the road.
ME: We have to go give daddy a jump.  His car is stuck.
CAYCE: Are we going to get daddy out of a hole?

Singing, singing constantly. Songs from nursery rhymes, songs from cartoons, theme songs, Christmas songs, especially Christmas songs…It may be near June, but my wee one is still enchanted with Frosty the Snowman, was a jolly, happy soul… Rudolph-a-nose-a-reindeer…had a very shiny nose… You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch… Lately he’s been picking up sticks and putting them in his mouth, saying he needs a corn cob pipe… I haven’t been too fond of that… Of course, Frosty is old school, before the days of political correctness…

The made up songs are the best… last week, on our way to music class downtown, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.
ME: Look at those big pink trees, Cayce.
CAYCE: They cherry trees.
ME: You’re right, Cayce. They’re cherry trees.
CAYCE: I need to sing a song about cherry trees… I’m singing a song about cherry trees… I’m singing a song about cherry trees…[he sang all the way to town].  

After Daddy takes [something] away from him: Hey, wait a minute. We need that for our contest.

Holding up a broom handle diagonally, squatting beneath it: Let’s do lumbo.  Let’s do lumbo.  

Putting the easter basket upside down on his head:  I am a knight in a-shiming armor. I am a knight in a-shiming armor…

Handing me the basket: Will you be a knight in a-shiming armor?

Whenever we come across a lone person, be they male or female: Who's that guy?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Mom Wars: One Mother's Perspective

As a mom who still nurses a toddler well on his way to three, I had mixed reactions to the controversial cover to the new Time Magazine. A three something boy is standing on a stool, next to his svelte mom, onto whose exposed breast he is firmly latched.

I confess I haven’t yet read the article, but I have read a vast array of responses, from the often enraged and repulsed comments on facebook links to the article, to the more comprehensive open letter response from Mothering Magazine here……. to the refreshingly funny take from comedian Jason Good here.

While I was glad to see extended nursing getting news coverage, the provocative title, “Are You Mom Enough?” is divisive in ways that do no good to us moms. At first I was glad that if it was going to be divisive, it at least appeared to come out on the side of extended nursing. But in the end, I feel that such an extreme cover image is only about selling magazines, and not about building communities of mothers. In fact, it would be useful for us moms to remember that people are profiting by putting us at odds with one another.

 What’s wrong with the picture on the cover of Time? Nursing a toddler doesn’t look like that. I have never seen a toddler nursing standing up. A mom and her nursing toddler do not look like an exhibitionistic, infatuated young couple walking down the street immersed in a slurping, smooching public display of affection.

 Generally, a mom nurses her toddler sitting or lying down. The child may curl up, assume a fetal position to nestle into the warmth of mother’s body. While it may not be very common to see moms nursing their toddlers in public, when you do, it’s not nearly so blatant or audacious. If you look, the toddler will not look back at you looking at him. Most likely, if a child approaches out of curiosity, the nursing toddler will unlatch and go about his merry play. At least that’s what my child does, since he never wants to miss out on any of the fun playing with other little people.

 I remember years ago, I was walking through a Whole Foods store on Houston Street in the East Village. It was before I had my own child, or even knew that becoming a mother would soon be my fate. My friend and I were making our way to the bathroom at the back of the restaurant area. Right in my line of vision, as we walked toward the east wall, a woman was sitting at a table with a large toddler boy on her lap, nursing. I looked. Or, I should say, I didn’t look away.

 “It’s called breastfeeding,” she snapped, with that oh so New York, talk-to-the-hand attitude.

The mom in the Whole Foods might be surprised if she could see me now, fast forward a few years, looking much like her with a long-legged toddler sometimes dangling from my lap while he fuels up.

It saddens me to think that I may lose friends, and worse, that my son may lose friends, because people are turned off somehow by what to us is the most natural thing in the world. Whatever choices we make as mothers, it seems that every mom is on the defensive these days. I guess that’s because moms in general are under attack. We are constantly being judged. It is always, it seems, Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Women are judged if we don’t have any children, and we’re judged if we have too many. We are judged if we don’t breastfeed our babies, then we’re judged again if we breastfeed them too long. We are judged if we put them in day care, and we’re judged if we stay at home. All this judging tends to put moms in separate corners of the boxing ring, when we should be holding hands in the center, saying “Ommmmm.”

 I recently wrote about the messy house factor in my life as the mom of a toddler. I wrote that I hoped visitors would be so enchanted with my friendly and engaging child that they wouldn’t notice by bad housekeeping. Well, I would also hope that my community of moms and dads and nannies and teachers would forgive us our brief public transgressions into the private world of mama’s milk, and notice instead that my son is happy and well mannered and loves to sing and play and treats them and their children and their pets with kindness and respect and something more, something just a little bit more… something in fact more like reverence, more like love.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Ever So Brief Type A Moment

Good morning. This is just a quick post to say, sorry for my absence, to have been "remiss", "aloof", whatever it feels like when I don't get on my soap box and blog a bit.

I thought it would be cute and Martha-esque of me to post a pic of a Type A moment. I don't have them very often, you know, or if I do, I don't tend to brag about them.

But alas, here we are, with this photo-worthy berry muffin.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to boast my baking skills. Our baking skills, I should say, since the two and three-quarter year old helped me with it, standing on a dining chair C pulled over by himself. He beamed with anticipation, pouring and mixing ingredients I measured in a cup, saying things like Cima-mom. I love cia-mom.

Poor kid. Lately he's been getting the short end of the stick on childhood delights like pancakes, muffins and cookies, since all of it was putting my gut into a tizzy.

After numerous tests, two visits to the doctor's office and a Sunday trip to the E.R., I learned that the horrid sounding diverticulitis that I thought was raging inside me was in fact the more ridiculolus and nerdy sounding splenic flexure syndrome. [Spell check, please?]

While I'm reassured that I'm not going to die, I'm not so keen on learning that I'm officially an old, nerdy mom whose body does embarrassing things in public. It will bellow it's wind and C will ask, What's that sound? and I will borrow a line from his paternal grandfather, whom neither of us ever knew except through his famous one liners, Low flying geese.

C will laugh a wonderful, hearty laugh.


 Hopefully, by the time a few years roll around that may teach him to be ashamed of such things, I will have become a greens devouring diva whose colon won't cause a scene at school events, one who has mastered the art of a long and joyous life.

 But may that life olease include a blueberry muffin or two.

 I'm happy to be writing again. I'm also so glad to announce that I'll be writing for an exciting new Nantucket community website,, which is going live this Monday. So look for me there, as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

City Music

Roar of trains.
Din of traffic.
Seas of people and live
lions, tigers, bears
monkeys. The iron
chimps on the clock
turning as the bells
chime. Seals
clapping and playing
whiff of hot dogs
mustard pretzels
steel drums
of calypso
blair of car
stereos. Eagles
classic Slip
Sliding Away
or Clapton’s
Some strain
bright as new
as rain.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Going Outside

Early spring, and life suddenly takes on a third dimension. We turn outward, shed layers, and lift our faces to the sun. We penetrate distance, pull the old dead leaves away from the green shoots pushing up through the soil. Babies, babies, my wee one bleats and points..

With the assembling of C’s new old play fort, down in a nook among the trees, we have literally been ascending upward. In two short days our toddler has mastered the stationary ladders and the climbing wall. He hurls himself down the slides with a new sense of daring and prowess. Almost overnight, his two year old torso's grown pecs and abs. Even though he’s still in diapers, he is suddenly a little man.

I can sense him expanding, unfolding on the inside as he masters these physical skills. He has crossed a threshold. My little destroyer has become a creator.

Perhaps it began down at the fort with his dad during the construction phase. He sat on one of the platforms with a monkey wrench in hand, cranking a real bolt into the real wood. This was a far cry from his toy hammers and saws. But more real, and palpable than anything, I know, was the sense of his father’s nearness as he took in the gentle, guiding tones of his voice, breathed in his earthy, masculine smell. Perhaps it was in that moment that he acquired this new pride of ownership. May I help? has become his question of the day.

And suddenly, instead of knocking down the tower of blocks before you could build it with him, he’s calling you into the room, taking your hand, pulling you over to the coffee table where he has constructed a tower ten blocks high. He wants to put his dinosaur puzzle together, and admire the complete picture it makes, maybe even count the number of flying taradactyls, or tell you which dinosaur is the daddy.

An old friend of Daddy’s stops by to pay a visit while we are down in those woods, pulling up roots, raking up the chopped down shrubs to make a smooth surface for the mulch. Our little C begins, in monkey fashion, to climb the high tower. Look at me, he says. I do-nin it all by myself. I stand behind him, supporting him ever so slightly, just in case. Then he whizzes down the high slide, takes Sam by the hand. Come and see, I want to show you something. Little man leads the big man to the edge of the play area. These for our greenhouse, he says, pointing to the framing poles stacked in a pile. Leading Sam past the pile, C adds, And this our garden [a little weed grown place that is still filled with promise] And this our watering can.

It’s as if our small child already knows the secret to life—that we build our happiness from the inside out. That when we tend to our environment, our yard, our flowers, our forts, we are creating the space for that inner joy to make its appearance. By cultivating a strong sense of place, we lay the groundwork for our true wildness to emerge. We create a safe, sound haven in which to fully and freely live.

Smart kid.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Where The Heart Is

A spiritual crisis is at hand as I spar on Facebook with my friends and neighbors about plans for yet another development, this time a forty-six lot development, in the undisturbed wooded land across the road from our home in Surfside, on Nantucket Island. It will sprawl across nine acres of land, abutting another development, both of them surrounding an Indian Burial Ground.

We are finding out about it at the eleventh hour, a month before it will come before the Town Meeting. I’m finding out because the FinCom just voted it down, amid rising concerns that such an immense project could bottom out an already soft real estate market. The voters still get to decide it’s final fate later this month at Annual Town Meeting.

We knew of plans, but we didn’t know the details. We never received a mailing even though we are right next door.

In some ways it felt easier not to know, not to try to find out. We had a baby now, we were exhausted all the time, busy living our lives, and we were frankly emotionally exhausted by the idea of yet another onslaught of development in the neighborhood, another psychic battle as loud, stinking trucks and machines are brought in, as trees are raised and grass is sprayed on and tar, lots and lots of tar, is poured everywhere.

We watched as first a bike path was put in. Then senior living facility was put in, soon followed by a Forty-B, each time pouring more tar, tar, tar across the rustic dirt roads. We heard the constant cutting and sawing, the whir of machines. We watched as the senior living facility filed for bankruptcy. We watched as the Town voted to increase the taxpayer burden to deflect the hard effects of what has amounted to almost disastrous overreaching in planning. We watched as the nearby Plum Village “affordable” housing development up the way was left to languish and become a ghost town of unoccupied buildings and more aquifer spoiling tar.

And now, while we were living our lives, focused on new parenthood,
another affordable housing project comes along, this one monstrous in size—almost twice the size of anything that’s been done before. Forty-six houses built, to justify the existence of maybe a dozen.

We live in a small community. We know everybody. And it’s really hard when friends start fighting and pointing fingers and accusing and pushing back and forth. It’s YOU…No, it’s YOU…. No, it’s YOU. It’s hard to sense so many feeling shoved out and victimized, and no one seeing eye to eye. It’s hard to feel that you were not consulted…that you were not brought into the conversation…never a mailing…and yet, to hear it claimed that “there is no neighborhood opposition.”

It’s hard to have people imply that you are being selfish, or worse, hypocritical, when you consider yourself a fair and honest person.

It’s hurts to hear people scoff because you raise the concern of property value. They don’t understand, or consider, that maintaining the value of your home means making sure that your investment pays off, that what you have sweated and toiled and sacrificed your life[in my partner's case, try twenty plus years] to keep remains an asset. It's the glimmer of light in your eye when you think that one day, at the end of all this toil, you will be able to pass what you have worked for onto your son.

I’ll tell you about our home value. It comes from the fact that, despite all the crazy development that has already besieged our neighborhood, we still have some vestige of open space left. In our backyard we are treated to birdsong, blue jays, cardinals, finches, doves, you name it, crows… can’t forget the crows…And the woodpeckers with their funny staccatos. We get bunnies hopping through, although, truth be told, we used to see many more, before so many more cars started joining our once quiet roadways. We still have a family of deer that wander through our lot. Our chances to glimpse them out the window with our two year old, or examine their fresh tracks in the dirt drive, have been the magical moments we live to experience again. Like the sight of the sun setting over the treetops on the southwest side of the house, while standing at the kitchen window, while setting the table for the evening meal. Or standing outside in the blackest of nights and drinking in the starry brilliance of the Milky Way, so close overhead you can almost taste it, as you trace Orien’s sword, or the shape of the Big Dipper, and think of the sweet pouring of endless sustenance.

That swath of land over there where some people are pushing to build a new village is the last patch of land that’s left for the animals to hide in. The deer venture through our yard because they know they can still feel safe, and scamper off, in a moment, among the pines. Once those woods are gone they'll stop coming here. The geese too will make their semi annual pilgrimage honking to and from the pond no longer over our house and that swath of once open space, but seeking out some other, calmer route, before eventually they, too, stop coming at all to the place once referred to, way back in some distant dream, as home.