You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Skip to content The Great Zoo Hullabaloo! Could it be among the books or hooks? His owner can deal with those love her attitude as well as the crooks, so where has he gone, this hissing, erm … moggie, that object of her affections? Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.
But ultimately he chose simple cookout food — burgers, hot dogs, chips, baked beans, potato salad, melon. The kids and I had had a busy week and weekend, and I was solo parenting. By Sunday evening, I was tired. I had planned on making a banana cream pie for dessert Sunday night, but while picking up looseleaf chai tea as a gift for Andy, the kids and I decided to instead buy a selection of tortes from Whole Foods. Before I could answer, he took a bite and confirmed that it was. And he was happy.
He loved that potato salad recipe. I had thought about buying pre-made potato salad at Whole Foods. When you have twins, the first baby to come out is Baby A or, in our family, Owen. The second baby to come out is Baby B—James. At 4 lbs. Owen was released from the NICU first. He slept through the night first. He crawled first and he walked first. After pushing Owen out, James, who was in distress, was quickly pulled out 2 minutes later.
The Great Zoo Hullabaloo! / Scaredy Cat
I was there. I know. In that moment, I was giving birth to both. And James. With their own personalities and their own approaches and their own ways of handling the rhythms of life. Their pace differs. But so do their tastes. Maybe a little pride. They fight, of course, but never seemingly about this. At least not yet. But I tend to see more achievement in the B- that was once a solid C.
How to Overcome Fear
The first steps taken well after the first birthday celebration. He was all in, after that basket. And all smiles. It was normal. With no need for pomp and circumstance. But to James, it was everything. And much needed. For it was him coming in first for once. It was Owen giving him the high-five as they walked off the court.
It was that label, so terribly sticky at times, being peeled back. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at. Can vagueness and truthfulness co-exist? Parenting in the age of social media is terribly complex. I love the record-keeping aspect of it, the connections made and kept which I consider real, despite the counterargument and the large village one can depend on for, mostly, kindness perhaps requiring a well-curated Friends list and advice, whether taken or ignored.
Because I know that sigh well — it wells up inside of me when reading about parental pride, mostly, followed by well-meaning comments that congratulate the parent for a job well done. I understand this, deep down I understand this. I know our photo albums and living rooms are sometimes different stories. I curate my Facebook feed. We all do. Because even when you share the hard parts of life they can seem quite lovely when placed in the right filtered light.
And I sigh, too, especially when folks equate goodness with good parenting. Can simply the act of trying be good parenting, no matter the outcome? Is that, maybe, the definition of love? We try. Every morning we dedicate ourselves, while brewing the coffee and scrambling the eggs and signing the planner, to simply trying. We try and succeed and we love. We try and we fail and we love. That concept, though, is a difficult thing to share. And some things are good. Just plain good. And meant to be celebrated.
And some things are relatable. And some things are funny. And your daughter will get on her bike and ride the surrounding quarter-mile paved loop over and over. Or simply sit on the bench with your eyes closed for 10 blessed minutes knowing all hell will not break loose. But this visit, zipping around strollers filled with children and bags, I marveled at the simplicity of our trip, and how long ago life with strollers seemed. And last night the weight of growing up broke her, for a bit. Holding her we let her sit with her feelings, acknowledging them. And then we talked about the joy of growing older—and all the wonder and magic that comes with it.
Mid-August all three will be in school all day. James and Owen will be in first grade, Sophie in third. Kindergarten, last year, was half day. Between drop-offs and pick-ups I only had a few precious hours alone. This year, for the first time in eight years, I will have seven hours alone, each day. This summer has been both lovely and hard. We also yelled, more than we should have. I tried to maintain my freelance workload with only the occasional sitter here and there, which resulted in some days of more electronic time than I would have liked. Guilt can cast shadows, even on the good days.
These ages of 6, 6 and 8, when I know they know kindness and respectfulness, can be mentally exhausting. When my newborns cried I held them, not faulting them. And I grow weary, thinking, believing, I, we, should be past all of this by now. And yet, we no longer take strollers to the zoo. Sophie makes her own eggs in the morning three scrambled, with lots of black pepper. All three ride their bikes up and down the sidewalk without my supervision.
We have inside jokes, that only the five of us get. All three make up elaborate games, on their own, wrecking the house but digging deep into their imaginations. Everyone can buckle and unbuckle, on their own. At parties, they roam free, with only an occasional check-in. They choose to read to me, instead, which both delights and saddens me. I have plans. So many plans.
I plan to drop them off at school and run, every morning. I plan to keep up on laundry and organize the attic and clean out the basement and commit to yoga and blog again and go through every single piece of paper in this house. I plan to do my writing and editing while my children are at school, freeing up my evenings and weekends for the first time in eight years. The mere thought of the balance that this will bring to my life brings me unimaginable joy. And already something inside of me hurts when I think about Owen and James walking to their separate classrooms, apart for the first time in six years.
So many parents have told me that once school starts, time flies. So perhaps this is all why this summer has felt a bit off for me. At times, they all seem so tall, so kid-like, the toddler years a lifetime away. And yet, this morning Andy and I woke up only to find ourselves tangled up in Owen and James, once again. While walking into Target Sophie grabbed my hand, and held it to her cheek.
James cried out when he thought we were leaving him. Owen called me mama. A couple years ago, as I was loading Sophie into the van after a morning of half-day kindergarten, two men approached me. Their car had run out of gas on 27 and they wondered if I would give them a ride to a gas station. I believe most people are good and kind. I give the benefit of the doubt. I listen to the stories about no change for bus fare home, and I dig into my purse and hand over the quarters.
Sometimes, sure, I find the same woman standing at the same corner telling the same story—and still collecting quarters—two hours later. The out-of-gas scenario, though, gave me pause. They seemed legit. They had approached me in full daylight in a parking lot adjacent to the school. They acknowledged my wariness. I had a choice, and I chose to believe them, to believe in us. All of us. And sometimes, it does. But how often? The news stories exist because the instances are rare. People cry out, But your children!
My children are much more in danger of being physically hurt in a car accident every time I put them in a vehicle than they are of some unknown thing happening to them because I chose to help a stranger. There was a lesson for my children to be learned at that moment, and I wanted them to learn the right one. I drove the men to a gas station. The gas station had gas, but no containers. Another man overheard the situation and offered to drive to his house, just around the corner, and bring back his own container for the men to use. We waited. He came back, the men got their gas and I drove them back to their car, which was, indeed, sitting on the side of 27, empty.
18 Multicultural Children's Books about Fear and Courage | Colours of Us
Sometimes I think back on that afternoon with conviction: I did the right thing. Other times, my anxiety swells. What was I thinking? The last time we picked up someone Andy was with me. An older woman was walking up the side of again 27, in intense heat, arms heavy with groceries. Turns out she and her daughter had gotten in a fight and her daughter had kicked her out of the car. I had and have no anxiety about this. But why? Because she was a woman? Because my husband was with me?
He was just getting back into the business, it was around the holidays and he had two small children. So we paid him. We never saw the materials. Or him. We took it to small claims court, won a judgement, but he never paid. His bank account was empty. The last we heard, he was in jail.
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Another time I let a young woman into our house on an awfully hot August day. Her story: She was selling magazine subscriptions in order to earn money for college. I later looked up the company she was working for and realized the whole thing was a scam. For this, I was lucky: I was able to cancel my subscription and get my money back.
And Andy gently approached me with the idea of establishing a house rule of not engaging with door-to-door solicitors, children excluded. So sure. Not everyone is good all the time. But if we choose to live in a culture of fear, we choose to miss out on the connections we can make with other humans outside of our circles. While in Fez, a woman started following us—and eventually, talked to us. Nabila spoke Arabic and French, and was learning English. She was so happy to have the opportunity to try her English out. She invited us to her home for hot tea.
We had a choice. The next thing I remember is being linked arm in arm with Nabila, walking and listening while she chatted away, asking so many questions, while her mother we think followed behind. We felt lucky, yes, but also a bit nervous. We were served hot mint tea and cookies. She and her sisters took so many pictures of us and we of all of them. We exchanged addresses. Lucky, indeed. A couple years ago I stopped by the gas station next to my house to pick up some beer.
I was en route to visit my friend Angel. It was spring—maybe early summer—and a sudden pop-up storm hit. I saw a man run into the gas station, having ridden there on his bicycle. While we were checking out, I commented on the rain. I rearranged some car seats and we loaded his bike. He lived close—just up on North Fort Thomas Ave. He said his name was Joe. He asked me about my family, and I asked him about his. He was a father of three, just like me, but older. He talked about parenting. I was struggling as a parent that day. Somehow, he knew. His story was joyful and terribly sad unimaginable tragedy , and his words were exactly what I needed to hear at that time.
The rain was blinding. He got out, I popped open the trunk, and he pulled out his bike. I took a couple seconds to look ahead of me, and then I looked back. He was gone. It was so hard to see in the rain, yes, but everywhere I looked—no sign of him. He was just gone. For those of you who are religious, my God, I know. First of all, his name had deep significance to me. Then there was the blinding rain, the immensely personal parenting story, the words of wisdom I needed to hear, the church, the disappearance, the rainbow.
I mostly think it was all a beautiful coincidence.
The Barking Ghost
Life— living —provided me with a gift in return for simply making a human connection. And yes, it can be scary—especially when two men approach you, asking for a ride. But in a world where polarization runs deep, I believe human connection is vital to noticing and acknowledging the beauty in life that is different from, outside of, our own.
The trouble is knowing when to do so. The trouble is being smart while also being kind. The trouble is knowing when to say yes, and when to say no. The trouble is choosing compassion in a culture of fear. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Her years marked so many of our big moments, which, I guess, any year chunk of time will do. Mia came into our lives in Andy was taking classes at OSU and living with friends.
I had just started a new job at Popular Woodworking Magazine , and was living with a friend in a small townhouse in Mariemont. A man my dad worked with had a daughter who had a cat—Mia. This daughter and her husband had a child, and Mia, turns out, bit. They needed to find a new home for their cat.
Andy took her. We had no children. The idea of owning a cat was charming. Upon graduation Andy moved to an apartment in Cincinnati. The market was tough and he was working the night shift at Target. One late afternoon, after showering in preparation for his shift at work, Mia attacked him. She charged at him and clamped onto the skin behind his knee, drawing blood. Andy got a job in his field. We bought a year-old Dutch Colonial with a shifting stone foundation.
We thought we had lost Mia when so many of our friends helped us move from Mariemont to Fort Thomas on a cold and rainy day. Turns out she was so frightened she had hidden herself in the rafters of our basement. Everything frightened Mia. The Dutch Colonial had a sunroom and in it we had a glass-top table, the back edge of it lined with potted plants. One night, in the middle of the night, I heard the sound of glass, breaking.
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It was loud enough to wake me up and I saw Mia in our closet, shaking. I woke up Andy to investigate which he did, curiously, with a rolled-up bath towel as his weapon of choice. She had scattered off the table with such hurry and force she turned over a potted plant, causing the clay to break on the glass-top table. There was no burglar, only our very own scaredy-cat. Mia hated other cats. Although we could leave her for a few days without intervention, for longer trips we had to rely on family and friends. She had a heart murmur. Still, we decided to buy a black lab, Tucker.
Mostly hate. Mia would get annoyed with Tucker, raise her paw and hiss. Tucker, always the gentleman, would just walk away. And when he did, Mia would go to his bowl and paw out all the water, flooding the kitchen—daily. We had Sophie. Mia bit Sophie, hard enough to draw blood. We tried to find a new home for Mia after that. So, we kept her. We taught Sophie, and later the boys, to not talk, touch or look at Mia.
And eagerly approached all large dogs. Which is backwards, I know. That move was hard. The boys were three months old. For months I unpacked a box, pumped milk, gave the boys a bottle, changed their diapers, put them down, and unpacked another box. On repeat. I truly have no memory of how Mia fared during that time. We never saw her during the day. Often, while taking laundry down to the basement, I would find her sitting on the top basement step, listening, waiting. Once she determined every child was in bed she was upstairs, purring and rubbing up against our legs, desperate for the attention she had missed out on during the day.
And I gave it to her. And dogs. And even people, sometimes.
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Mia, often, was awful. But, like all living, breathing things, you simply had to get to know her. And, in her case, really, really get to know her. But once you did, she was a joy—until a switch buried deep inside her would flip. And then she would bite. Through the years I learned her triggers. Even the kids knew to never, ever touch her when her ears were back. When on my lap, purring, I would wait for her body to tense. In all the years of living with her, she only bit me once. Still, we had to warn everybody.
Babysitters were warned. Grandmas were given Band-Aids and apologized to, over and over again. Mia was banned to the basement during playdates. Mia was a huntress, which was apparent in the number of mice she caught in her lifetime—even near the end of her life. Mia liked to play with her mice before killing them. Like all other cats, she left the mice for us, in places she knew we would see them. One early morning I walked downstairs to find Sophie, probably 3, sitting on the couch, watching a show.
Sophie was sitting next to it. It was on the couch. Always a thin cat, she started eating a lot. She gained so much weight that we took her to the vet for tests. We feared the worst, given her age—14 plus 2 or 3 years. Her diagnosis? Mia began living upstairs during the day, even when the kids were wild. She stopped biting. She let the children pet her.
She sat on my lap in the middle of the day. Every morning while I poured Tucker dog food, she would saunter over and drink water from his water bowl. Tucker would patiently wait until she finished, and then would drink after her. But she still splashed water. Her change in disposition was clue No. This lasted several months. A few days before she died, she seemed off—more so than usual. The day before she died, we knew it was coming.
We knew in the way she sat, staring but not seeing. The way she walked the perimeter of rooms, over and over again. We knew in the way you just know these things, without really knowing why you know. We considered calling the vet. A home death, we thought, is preferable—for anyone. That evening she perked up a bit. But then she began hiding—under the couch, under the kitchen table, under the leather chair. So I curled up on the living room rug next to her, one hand under the chair, on her back.
I stayed like that for an hour. Andy had gone downstairs to play video games. Pet losses are hard on him. And again. And while Andy lacks such patience he, on the other hand, can cradle the head of a child who is getting sick, not once dry heaving at the smell. And then he can bathe said child and clean up said mess with nary a complaint or sigh.
I fail at this. After about an hour, Mia stopped moving completely, and her breathing grew shallow. Perhaps it was selfish of me but I needed to hold her. So in one quick motion I pulled her out from under the chair.