Friday, September 28, 2007

Go See This Movie

Every Oscar season there is one movie I get really wound up about. Last year it was “Little Miss Sunshine,” the year before it was “Brokeback Mountain, ” and about 20 minutes into “Once,” I knew that this was my movie of the year.

It’s a lovely, lovely little film, and the chemistry between the two lead actors is so intense that I was very surprised to learn that they aren’t actors at all, they’re really musicians. Which explains why the songs in this film, mostly written by the two of them, were in my head all weekend long. After listening to me rave about the movie and the music in my head for days, My Ho, being the kind of guy he is, smuggled a surprise copy of the soundtrack CD onto the driver’s seat of my car. I found it when I left for work on Monday morning.

“Falling Slowly” breaks my heart every single time (you can hear it here). And I’m humming “If You Want Me” while I’m typing this very post. If you don’t see another movie this year, seriously, go see this one.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hello, Goodbye

A couple of months ago I had a very vivid dream. It was like one of those you have after somebody dies, when the person you miss so much is there with you, and you know it isn’t really happening, but you’re so happy to see them and to spend time with them that you don’t want to wake up. Except in my dream, the person I was so happy to see was Demigoddess the Elder, age two. She was little enough to fit in my lap, and I held her there, smelling her head and gratefully stroking her hair.

When you first bring that little newborn home, full of anticipation and new-parent fears, no one dares to tell you that someday that little person will walk out the door and down the street toward her first day of high school, with barely a look over her shoulder as you wave from the front step. No one talks about the ache you’ll feel in your chest when, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, you spy a little girl with hair almost the same, or you hear a certain familiarity in someone else’s child’s laugh at the grocery store.

I always thought that when the Demis grew older, I’d feel a sense of accomplishment. A readiness to let them go out into the world and do what they will with the things I’ve tried to teach them. And I do feel a lot of that. But saying goodbye to those little people hurts a lot more than I expected. I wasn’t prepared for this very real grief.

I don’t wish they had never grown up. I don’t want them to think that I begrudge them their maturity and independence. I’m very proud of the opinionated, creative, busy young people they’ve become. Which is why, when DemiGoddess the Younger complained a few days after the fact that I hadn’t made a bigger fuss about her first day at the senior high school, I said, “Just because people aren’t behaving in ways you expect, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with things in their own way. What you didn’t see is that I spent most of that day trying very hard not to cry.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Very Much Keeping the Doctor Away

The return of Honeycrisp apple season has become one of my very favorite things about fall. It’s an especially welcome event this autumn, during which there will be no joy of post-season play for the Twins, and no, I really don’t want to talk about that, thanks.

I bought our first Honeycrisps of the year on Monday night, and while I remembered them being delicious, the reality of these apples is sooooooo much better than I even remembered. They are so delicious that I had to lay down an allocation as soon as I brought them into the house—one per Goddess/DemiGoddess per day—because last year the Demis demolished five pounds of them in two days.

(Eat the cookies! Snack on chips! Walk up to the McDonald’s and buy yourselves a couple of Big Macs! But stay away from the Honeycrisps, you fresh-fruit gluttons!)

They're big apples. One per day is not unreasonable.

The Demis were not happy about the rationing, but clever Demi the Younger has found a way to prolong enjoyment of her daily allotment by cutting her apple in half in the morning. One half goes into her lunch, and the other half she stashes in the refrigerator for after school. She even sprinkles the after-school half with a little lemon juice so it doesn't turn brown before she gets home.

They are exactly THAT good.

But these morsels of September heaven also present a problem. The crisp, the juicy, the crunching and lip-smacking and “mmmmm-mmmmmm-mmmmm…” noises are impossible to stifle here in cubicle-land. So this morning when I arrived at work I apologized in advance to the co-worker in the next cube over. Because Honeycrisp apples are cannot be eaten quietly, and I don't think I can wait until lunch.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quack, Quackity, Quack

So there is this boy that DemiGoddess the Elder spent a lot of time with last summer. He's a year ahead of her in school, but they met when they both had parts in The Visit last spring. His only scene was at the very beginning of the play, and hers was waaaay at the end, so the two of them spent a lot of get-to-know-you time backstage in between, apparently.

Once the school year ended, about once a week they’d get together to go bowling, or for bike rides, or over to his house to play Scrabble. She pretended it was all very casual, and assured me repeatedly that he hadn’t tried to make any moves on her. But from where I was standing, the thing was walking and talking an awful lot like the proverbial duck.

Mid-summer my suspicions were confirmed when, via instant message, he asked her if she'd like to "go out." This, I have since learned, is 21st-century teen speak for becoming boyfriend/girlfriend. She replied, also via IM, that she totally did want to "go out" (while also gently reprimanding him for asking a question of such monumental import in an instant message), and we knew it was official when the boy in question changed the status on his Facebook page from "single" to "in a relationship with DemiGoddess the Elder."

I was a little bit nervous about this development, obviously. She and I talked at length about how love can cause even a smart DemiGoddess with demonstrated good judgment to sometimes make choices that are not always in her best interest. (I did not go into explicit detail regarding how, exactly, I know this to be true, of course.)

Then one day he brought over his stop-motion camera and the two of them spent an afternoon creating animated movies featuring Fisher Price Little People. How could I not approve of that? And when Ms. Elder informed me that she wouldn’t be seeing him for the next few days because he was spending a week at meteorology camp, I knew I had nothing to worry about. My daughter’s boyfriend is a great big geek, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Now that school is back in session, they're both busy with school work and extracurriculars, including the school musical. (He's in the pit orchestra this time, because he plays like nine different instruments. 'Nuff said.) So interactions have mostly been limited to the phone and the IMs. Which, again, is just dandy with me.

Last year Demi the Elder went to a couple of dances with boys, but homecoming next week will be her first one with a “boyfriend.” We found her a sparkly gold Jessica McClintock dress-up dress (at a deep, deep discount at my favorite outlet store), which she is very excited about wearing. And because I am such a smart Goddess, I had already picked up some blingy dress-up shoes and genuine faux jewels at various end-of-summer sales, knowing that we’d likely have use for them in the near future. Luckily, they all work beautifully together. She’s been wearing the shoes around the house all week, practicing her walk in heels, just like the girls on America’s Next Top Model.

Tyra Banks and me, we’ve got her back.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Can’t Quite Bring Myself to Type the “N” Word

Tiny tots were rocking the Goddess household last Thursday night, as my sister-cousin Kerry left her two children with the DemiGoddesses and me for the evening. It has been a long time since people that small occupied my home for six consecutive hours, not to mention that one of them was of the male persuasion. As we’ve established, I’m still figuring out what exactly one DOES with these “boy” creatures.

Keara is six months old now, and at one of my very favorite baby stages. She smiles and laughs and responds to funny faces with cute little gurgly noises, but is still mostly immobile and easily entertained by anything colorful and/or fuzzy.

Zeke, the BOY, at age 2½ is as delightful a child as there ever was—easygoing, agreeable, chatty and completely charming. I unearthed as many boy-friendly toys as I could find buried underneath the Polly Pockets, Beanie Babies and Barbie accoutrements in the Demis’ old playroom, and he entertained himself happily enough with that odd assortment. But the real score was when My Ho showed up with a big box of wooden Brio trains from The Youngster’s archives. Like magic, Zeke was suddenly all about constructing wooden bridges and having deep philosophical conversations with Thomas the Tank Engine. Boy toys to the rescue!

I must admit that at one point, as I pondered how to schedule the dinner, bottle, two diaper changes and bedtime ritual that would need to take place within the next hour, I wondered how in the hell I used to manage all of this on my own every day. How quickly we forget.

Another thing I forgot—that time after both children are finally tucked into their beds, fed, dry and freshly jammied. Those sweet, sweet few minutes when you finally get to sit down and breathe. Delicious.

As it turned out, my evening of hanging out with Zeke was perfectly timed preparation for the arrival of my sister Meghan’s new baby, who came into the world early on Friday morning, and is totally a BOY.

I know. Go ahead and take a moment to let that sink in.

Thankfully, the loveliness of both Zeke and Batgirl’s baby Dashiell have done much to temper what would otherwise be utter shock and dismay on my part. The baby’s name is Ben, which has morphed into “Big Ben,” since he came into the world weighing 9 lbs., 6 oz., and was 22½ inches long (oof).

Welcome to the family, Big Ben. And thank you in advance for your patience as we figure out this “boy” thing.

(NEPHEW. There. I did it.)