Third Grade

Because I recently wrote about Brodie, my second-born is now desperate to be the topic of a blog post. He won’t let it go, or for that matter, GO TO BED. He insists on reading over my shoulder at this very moment to prove that I am, actually, writing about him.

“OK, mom. I’ll go upstairs now.”

Having read the opening sentences, Teddy is appeased and off he goes… moonwalking to the stairs, then catching a glimpse of himself in the hall mirror, giving quick finger guns to his striped pajammied image. If I stop him now to remind him to brush his teeth, he’ll turn around with a raised eyebrow and say in his best Jackée,

“Gurrl… I was just going.”

Teddy’s never seen Jackée, and we have no idea where this half Asian third grader picked up the mannerisms of a sassy black woman… but that’s Teddy.

Yesterday, I eavesdropped on a gaggle of kids watching mine on the tennis court. They were wondering whether my boys were twins or brothers. Just last summer, Ran’s sweet little girl turned her blond-ringlet head toward me and asked in all earnestness, “Mrs. Lee, how can you tell them apart?” It’s true, these two Bernie clones are Pete and Repeat, nearly Irish twins, and often mistaken for each other. But they couldn’t be more different.

While I’ve been worrying about Brodie and the endlessness of Fourth Grade Torture, Teddy is cruising through Third with nary a care. Teddy is a good sport about his athletic shortcomings, knowing he’s destined for greater things: the fame of a multi-platinum rapper/zoologist. He dances without provocation or embarrassment, suddenly channeling Michael Jackson, but really looking more like a frenetic Bill Cosby. Teddy knows all of the words to a catalog of (inappropriate) songs, and few things are funnier than his sultry rendition of Beyoncé, “…surfboardt… surfboardt… grainin’ grainin’ on that wood.” Bernie and I are forever trading those oh, dear head-shaking looks as this skinny kid in a Star Wars t-shirt croons, “Oh, I’m drankin’.”

Teddy has an unquenchable thirst for explanations, and our appetites were curbed at the dinner table last night as he insisted on details about the spaying of animals and particulars of menstruation. Poor Brodie suffers through these embarrassing discussions, but I think benefits from the fearless inquiries of a little brother who Needs to Know. Fully debriefed on monthly female physiology, Teddy turned to me, aghast,

“Ugh, Mom! This happens to you?”

“Well, no… chemo kind of zapped it all out of me.”

“Oh, phew! Hey, high five!”

And then turning to his 22-year-old cousin, with grave alarm:

“You need to get a boyfriend NOW. And get married and have babies so you can stop bleeding.”

We didn’t take a moment to address all of those ideas, still snort-giggling about the inspired High Five for the awesome convenience of chemical menopause.

When asked in polite conversation, “How are your boys?” I light up with uncontainable joy. These are hilarious, touching, soul-warming days with my still-innocents who smell good and love me most and never lie. Teddy is right to insist I capture them now, particularly him of course, in all his glorious nine-year-old-ness. Teddy who doesn’t stop talking from the moment I pull him from warm covers until droopy eyes won’t let him finish just one more page. Teddy who occasionally swings his butt side to side doing his “supermodel walk.” Teddy whose tearful queries about why parents “get un-married” reveals a fear that rattles his belief in a safe world. Teddy who thinks anything below 94% is “failing” and wants to discuss tampons at the dinner table and wore a lion costume every single day for two years. Teddy who wants me to show everyone this ridiculous picture.

Teddy Tut

Teddy Tut

And this one.

This lion costume. Every. Single. Day.

This lion costume. For two years. Every. Single. Day.

And this one.

Lacking neither cuteness, nor confidence...

Lacking neither cuteness, nor confidence…


Personalities captured perfectly by

Personalities captured perfectly by

Delicious moments sit right alongside the heartbreaking ones. Brodie’s soulful introspection contrasts daily with Teddy’s infectious silliness. I’m astutely aware that I’m swinging in the sweet spot of parenting. It’s hard to imagine I could like and love them more than I do right now at these fun ages. And recording their blossoming personalities and peccadilloes and perfections here may be more valuable than what gets banked in my undependable memory.


Ode to a dishwasher

Burly, smoky men have arrived to install my new dishwasher. I love capable men who lift shiny, new appliances with ease and prattle on about grounding and drilling and electrical boxes and such. Oh, dearheart, I don’t give one Cascade pellet about all of that. Just get on with your sexy wiring and plumbing feats of wonderment!

Bristling excitement over a new dishwasher says many things about this girl. The first is, evidently, that actual, bristling excitement may be lacking in my everyday. But merely whisper, “Bosch!” to any French toast slinging mom and you’ll hear breathy sounds of encouragement normally reserved for other rooms of the house. And although the chief boast of this appliance is its ability to scrub a load of filthy dishes with all of the racket of a butterfly alighting on a cotton ball, it will just be sort of nice not to have an entire rack of coffee cups land on my toes, or not to be sliced by the jagged edge of the part that wasn’t ever screwed in properly, or not to retrieve the melted wheels that prevent the machine from vomiting pans across the granite floor. These things will be nice, indeed.

Now that Mr. Clean is installed and burly men have absconded with my old, reviled torture tank of pot-vomiting terror, I still can’t go anywhere. I have to take a few, flattering photos of this handsome fella, and then find dirty dishes to feed him, and then sit around status updating about how I can’t hear my dishwasher running.

Hello, handsome.

Hello, handsome.

The obvious drawback to the awesomeness of Mr. Clean, here, is that now I want everything shiny and new and cabinets that are that greige color and a ‘fridge that can accommodate both a turkey and a sheet cake whist still promising to crisp kale and delivering me sparkling soda on demand. I want a cooktop without a single can’t-scrape-that-shit-off spot, and knobs that stay on, and one of those giant, decorative islands that house enormous cookbooks and mortars and pestles and other accouterments of culinary glory. Mr. Clean deserves these quality bedfellows. But because Mr. Clean cost as much as a bauble in a blue be-ribboned box, it might be a while before he acquires more sophisticated companions.

In the meantime, Mr. Clean is my saucy saucer washer, my dish-doing devotee, my power-rinsing raison d’être. Happy early Mother’s Day to me! Excuse me now as I dirty all of the plates for the joy of not hearing them get clean. And God bless burly, smoky men everywhere—men who know how to install pluggy-inny things, and who pretend not to notice that I might have no idea how to make Mr. Clean do anything other than sit there looking handsome.