Right

There are hundreds of black boys and men dying as I type this, at the hands of another. Maybe the killing person is white, maybe not.

Do I have the right to hug my son tighter? There are so many families who can’t do that tonight. It feels wrong to purposely seek out and do what they no longer can.

I think of the mothers and fathers and families and friends who cannot hug their loved ones tonight because they’re gone. Maybe they defied police. Maybe they did something wrong. Maybe they were in the wrong place at the all too wrong time. Maybe.

Maybe.

It’s fun to give benefit of the doubt, isn’t it?

What right do I have to look at my boy as he sleeps, to hope that I, we, teach him well enough to keep him alive? Do you know how frightening that is? Do you know how all consuming it is, how the very thought gets inside your head and winds its way around your brain and seeps into your shoulders, pulls down your neck, hunches your back, affects every muscle inside you until you are on your knees begging, praying, please. With your head on the floor because it’s too heavy to lift. The very thought of lifting your head, opening your eyes, seeing someone who looks like your child dead, again. And you try. You try to shake those images out of your head. You try to stand up, fight, refuse to be bowed, refuse to succumb to the senselessness plaguing us, surrounding us. But all you can do is whisper, please. Please don’t let him die. Please don’t kill him. Please.

My boy. He likes to run and jump. He plays by himself, saving us from bad guys we can’t see. Ironic, huh? What about the ones we can see?

I am already consumed with worry about MY killing him. Will I give him too much medicine? Will I trust he’s able to bathe alone before he is? Will I forget to buckle him in? Will he get sick? Will I listen to him when he says he’s sick?

And then I remember. It’s not me I have to worry about.

This House Needs a Mouse – A Review

We’ve been reading it for over a week, every few days or so. He’ll ask me to read the mouse in the house book.

House-Mouse-book-cover

He’s using the word ordinary a lot and I must admit his desire to sweep has increased dramatically, because crumbs!

The story of three families, This House Needs a Mouse is a charming story of realizing our needs are sometimes not what we expected or considered; even mice serve purposes in our lives. (I believe this in theory and as the premise for cute children’s books, but not in real life, not in real kitchens, not in MY kitchen.)

Admittedly, I tried to change the words the first time I read the book to my son. For instance, the author uses the word “proclaimed.”  That first read, I hesitated. It was late. I wasn’t up for questions. So, I read it as “asked.”  Then I got to “skittered, scuttled, and scurried” and I sighed. I realized in that moment that I was about to skip those words and essentially dumb down a book for my child because I was tired and didn’t feel like explaining the meaning of each. Who was I?

Thankfully, he helped me come to my senses. He pointed to the words and asked what they were because “you didn’t say any “s” sounds.” Scurried is his word of the week, apparently. He’s used it to describe a squirrel outside and himself after sneaking a cookie from his sister’s snack. My point here is this book uses large words, sure, but if we don’t give our kids an ordinary vocabulary and explain there’s no such thing as using too big words as long as you know what it means, we’re doing them a disservice.

C. Jeffrey Nunnally has done an excellent job of melding two worlds, for that’s how I see vocabulary: words kids are used to, supposedly age appropriate, and words that open the door to an entirely different place. The illustrations are childlike and engaging, corresponding to the words used to describe them. The book is funny (the toddler’s outbursts!) and fun and your child will enjoy the mouse, the subsequent cat, and each of the families he encounters.

This House Needs a Mouse is available now on the book’s website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Big Tent Books.

I was given a copy of This House Needs a Mouse to review, but no one paid for my words.

One On One

I’d forgotten how good it feels. I’d forgotten being with just one child, how mentally, physically unencumbered it can be.

I took my middle daughter to see a movie tonight, Into the Woods. It was just the two of us, a rarity. Two weeks ago the same thing happened when I took my oldest to the doctor. I wound up agreeing to additional tests that day simply because I was in no hurry to get to work and because I was enjoying her.

They are funny, these girls. They are insightful. They remind me to look at things differently and challenge me to see myself through their eyes. I won’t always do it justice, I know, but at least I’m committed to trying.

At the doctor last week I kept staring at her, trying to understand how we’d gotten to nearly 14. I kept marveling at how easy it was with just her, concentrating on just her, talking to just her about her needs, her wants, her likes, her dislikes, what’s funny, what’s not.

Tonight I noticed that ease again, that lazy comfort. We both adored the movie and she whispered silly comments to me, asked equally goofy questions after. She is so fully of fun. Whimsical is how I described her to a friend earlier. It was easy and fun to be with just her. And it happens so infrequently, it’s unfortunate.

Because I like them.

I like the people they’re becoming. I like their thoughts, their questions, their convictions, even the things we disagree about. But I wish. I wish there was more one on one time. I wish it happened more. I wish there weren’t saddened faces when I try to make it happen because everyone wants to go.

Sometimes the others have to be left in order for one to make the mommy and me time quota.

I wish it happened more often.

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Closing out NaBloPoMo lazy style with a recycled post. My husband and I went out last night for the first time since June. I danced so hard I wanted to take off my heels in the middle of the party. I would never, so I didn’t, and I danced through that thought like I always do. I see women go out dancing and take a change of shoes. It’s so smart. But. I only own one pair of flats and they’re too big to fit in my clutch.

I wanted to write about dancing, but I knew I had before. I searched the archives and I was right. I wrote this in 2011. (I’m going to post it below, too. I have no idea how to incorporate the old photos, though, so you’ll have to actually click the link to see me dancing in 4.5 in heels while perilously close to the floor during a soul train line.)

I love going out, especially with my husband, because it reminds me of when our relationship was still new and we partied all the time. It also reminds me that I am so glad to be out of the dating scene. It’s brutal.

Here’s the post on how much I love dancing (which totally makes me think of my friend, Angela, whose dancing in her kitchen videos make me both laugh and dance along), written after my 20 year high school reunion three years ago.

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My 20 year high school reunion was last weekend. I giggled wholeheartedly this week as I read Scary Mommy’s I’m Not Gonna Dance and I’ll Throw My Drink in Your Face if You Try to Force Me post. You see, I am the opposite. I love to dance. And although I am friends with quite a few classmates on Facebook, I haven’t seen the majority of those people in person since we graduated. I don’t think they knew I would never leave the dance floor. Until I never left the dance floor.

This is how it is with me, though. No matter where I go, I am so unashamed at dancing the night away. I don’t need mah man on mah arm. I don’t need friends by my side to cheer me on. I hear the music and it’s on. Unless we are dance-like-minded, you are left midsentence at the door because I’ve already hit the floor. I will leave long enough to get a drink or five, but unless the DJ slows it down (or plays something absolutely undancetoable, or worse, plays Kool the Gang’s Celebration instead of Prince’s 1999 at midnight on New Year’s Eve of 1999 WE SHOULD HAVE SCRATCHED HIS RECORD!), I’m not even stopping to pee until it’s time to go.

The infrequency of my going out does play a small role in how hard I dance (because I’ll likely not be out again until the summer of 2012). But, it’s more about my love of dancing overall. And I have infected my children. We dance after dinner. We dance while making dinner. We try not to dance while eating dinner, though, because that’s just not acceptable table behavior.

I proved the beat will always move my feet at the reunion and I am not embarrassed that every comment on every picture on Facebook says something like, “She was gettin’ it! All night.” Because I was. I had a ball.

I always have a ball. Someone would have to play something besides Prince’s 1999 IN 1999! COME ON, WHAT KIND OF DJ ARE YOU? in order for me to not have a ball. In order for me not to dance all night. Milli Vanilli? I’m dancing. Madonna’s Vogue where I have to keep stupidly posing? I’m dancing. The Macarena? I won’t like it, and I won’t be doing the Macarena, but I’m still dancing. Maybe just side to side until the DJ realizes he needs to quickly mix something new in OR MAYBE THE DJ IS TOO STUPID TO KNOW THAT YOU DON’T PLAY ANYTHING ON NEW YEAR’S AT THE END OF 1998 EXCEPT PRINCE’S 1999! I’m a little bitter still. He was stupid.

Maybe you don’t understand. I’m the one person still on the floor when the DJ plays Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It. Yup, that’s me. Na na na na na na na.

At the end of the night, I didn’t remember any more people at the reunion than I did going in, but there were so many smiles, so much genuine happiness, that it didn’t matter.

So, shall we wind up at a party together, you and I, know that you will always be able to find me, always be able to tell someone where I am (in case you need help getting to the bathroom because you’ve been sitting and drinking, not dancing it off and OMG DO NOT CLOSE YOUR EYES, IT’LL ALL START SPINNING!

You’ll never have to scan the crowd to see what table I’m sitting at, or find a corner to see if I’m holding up the wall. I will always, always be on the dance floor. Sometimes smack dab in the middle of the floor. The one for whom “party over here!” is being yelled. The one getting more and more hyped by chants of “Go! Go! Go!” I promise to not pull you onto the dance floor to humiliate you in a broke-down reenactment of Kid n Play’s kick step.

But, I will likely secretly wish to yell over the thunder of the bass: You be Turbo, I’ll be Ozone!