Thursday, November 26, 2009


It's my mom's birthday tomorrow and I haven't made plans to see her. I tried calling her yesterday, no answer. Today, still no answer. This isn't unusual so it no longer bothers me. I've grown too old to throw a tantrum when I can't find my mother. So I'm going to try the old-fashioned way we used to communicate - think hard about her until she calls me. No, we don't come from a line of witches, although my children might disagree with me on that.

As I was growing up, my mom would often use the line "You must've read my mind" when my sister and I made our beds out of the blue, washed the dishes voluntarily, or did something that really pleased her. I always thought of it as a joke. Later on however, when the three of us lived in three different countries, my mom would call at odd hours, at the very moment I needed her. It makes me wonder now whether my daughter and I have this connection.

A few nights ago, while I tucked her into bed, she blurted out something I had not shared with anyone it left me a bit perplexed. "How did you know that, hon?" I asked her in the calmest tone I could muster. "I can read your mind, mom," was the very matter-of-fact reply. Hmm...was all I could say. Two days later, after I wrote my last post about my son, my husband and I were talking about how I finally finished writing it after not being able to save the first draft. After listening intently, she asked "What's it about mom?" then proceeded to ask if I wrote about her brother. She is into writing her own stories now. You know, things like "One day, Isabella came to my house for a sleep-over. We played until mommy said go to sleep. The End." That kind of stuff. I don't know if our "writers' minds" were colliding at a certain point in space that she's able to read my mind, but the next thing she said floored me. "Did you write about how he likes to be a puppy?" There was no way. No way she could have known this. My kids don't have their own computers, cannot turn on our computers, and will not dare so without permission. I wrote that post after I brought her to school, forgot to save it, reconstructed and finished it just before I picked her up, edited when we got home while she did homework in her room, had a snack, and played until it was dinnertime. There was just no way!

So my husband and I looked at each other, then at her. And I had to ask again "How did you know that?" to which she answered "Remember, I told you I can read your mind?". I stopped asking. But it boggles MY mind! When your mother tells you that you can read her mind, it's amusing. When your seven-year-old daughter says she can read yours, it's alarming. But hey, I'm not complaining. Come to think of it, I just might ask her to send a message to her grandmother tomorrow. Then I wouldn't have to ride my broom all the way to the other side of town.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Puppy Dog Tale

I was organizing some bills on the dining table yesterday when he started circling me as he often does. Then without warning, he jumped on me, with his nose just an inch away from mine. I tried to ignore him but he doesn't give up that easily, so he licked my arm and stuck out his tongue panting just as any dog would do. Except that, we have no dog. This is my son who thinks he's a dog. He is adorable when he's in this mood. I must admit, I find it quite entertaining.

A year ago, I wouldn't have been amused. I would probably have dug up one of my child psychology books to look up "Crisis in Toddlerhood: Why Your Son Thinks He's a Dog". These days though, I feel a bit more relaxed having a boy around the house. I remind myself how God created boys to be different from girls and so I try hard to understand those differences and respect them. It is a bit difficult for someone who never had a brother, and didn't really get to play with boys growing up.

Having a son now, I am learning so much daily. He needs so much space to expend his boundless energy. He loves things that move, particularly those with wheels. He likes to go up, go down, and go round and round. The dizzier he gets, the better. He likes to take things apart so he can try to fix them, or not. He likes books that have short, crisp lines and real pictures, ideally with flaps that close and open to hold his attention. And when he's hungry, he wants his food NOW, not later, not even in a minute!

And yet. And yet, he likes to hold and cuddle, snuggle and hug. He is gentle when he needs to be. He smiles and greets everyone he meets, it's disarming. And he can make you laugh without meaning to be funny. Our home is much brighter, and livelier, because we have a son. Our daughter is happier because she has a brother.

And so as I looked at this little boy pretending to be a dog, I thought about that old nursery rhyme. Sure, girls are made of sugar and spice. But no, this boy is not made of snips and snails. Certainly not of puppy dog tails! But smiles and cheer, and everything dear, that's what my little boy is made of. Woof!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Musings on a Quiet Monday

I have these words in my head. They come to me when I'm driving alone, with no one screaming "Mom, look!" every other second. They come at night when all I hear is deep breathing from sweet angels who are fast asleep. They come when I'm not deliberately thinking about anything in particular. Like now.

It's a Monday and the kids are in school. My husband had left for work. I should be doing the groceries but the car assigned to me has a rear tire that needed to be vulcanized. So I'm stuck at home until that's done. I feel blessed. After a hectic weekend, I have time to rest while most people are on their way to work. I had prayed for this time many years ago when life was just way too busy. That I could spend quiet moments reading, thinking, writing. Then writing some more. And now it has come to pass. Not that I am any good at it. I know my limits and there are plenty. But there are words in my head and I've had them since childhood. They float past--- like the bubbles my children blow on a lazy weekend morning --- so slowly that I'm able to catch them. Then there are days they come in torrents and want to be expressed all at once! They pop as soon as they are formed.

I want them to linger just a little bit more than usual today. I'm trying not to think about what time the car will be fixed or how I should be packing away all the birthday gifts my daughter had received over the weekend. I'm trying not to panic about the candles I need to buy so I can prepare our family advent wreath in time for Sunday or when I should call my mom to schedule her birthday lunch this week. When I think about these little things among the many I need to do on a daily basis, the words fly out of my head. There. I did it. They are gone. And so my day has just begun.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fancy Shoes Goes to Town

And so the saga continues... On the eve of her birthday, Miss Fancy Shoes was all dressed up to go on a date with her dad, Mr. Fancy Suit, who put on his best suit like he was going to dine with a very important person. Earlier, he had booked a fancy restaurant in some fancy hotel downtown and told the manager he was coming with his seven-year old girl to celebrate her birthday there. Sweet man, this dad.

So there she was, in a salmon-colored ruffled number, wearing lip gloss, and what else...her fancy shoes! She didn't want to smile too much when I was taking her picture because her lip gloss might smear! Then, she walked ever so carefully to the car, acting like some kind of royalty. I made a mental note to make her wear this enchanted pair of shoes on occasions when I need her to behave.

The first Sunday after I bought them, she asked permission to wear them to church and I reluctantly agreed because we were running late. Who would have thought that something I didn't want to buy would turn out to be so helpful! Not only did she keep still, she actually sat like a lady and participated in mass. God must have really blessed those shoes! In my family, we were told to always wear our new clothes to church to have them blessed on the first Sunday after we acquired them. I had forgotten about this ritual until she wore them that day.

Anyway, at the restaurant, the maitre d' greeted her by her first name followed by the wait staff. "Dad! They know me here. Everyone knows it's my birthday! I'm speechless!" she told her father who was texting me a blow-by-blow account of what they were doing. "Can I order iced tea please?" It was her first full glass of iced tea. Before this year, she didn't know what that tasted like until I started making her sip and eventually split a glass with me. What can I say, my children are deprived, and I'm afraid they will blame me for being icedteaholics when they grow up. But then again, I thought it added to the specialness of finally turning seven and being able to drink something "grown-up" for the first time.

I wish I could tell more but the rest of this story is between her and her father. For some reason, something went wrong with my cellphone connection and I didn't get any other message until they were on their way home. So be it. What I do know is that this particular night will forever be in her memory bank filed under "Why I Love My Dad".

I know this because hours after they had arrived and she had changed into her pajamas, she couldn't sleep. She kept hugging her dad like he was her man. The last time she did this, she was probably four years old. "Thank you for taking me out tonight, Dad" she whispered. I had a lump in my throat as I watched her, and a new admiration for my husband. Then flashes of a debut... and a wedding in the distant future with Mr. Fancy Suit dancing with Miss Fancy Shoes. Sigh!