3.30.2008

My Awesome Son

There are times when Little Dog will say something that makes me say, "Man, I really do have a teenager now." You know, the requisite eye rolls and responses of "Fiiiiine Mommmm"

But then there are other times when he will say something that reminds me I have raised exactly the kind of young man I wanted to raise; the kind that makes me burst with mama pride. Like recently, on the way to school, he said, "Mom, is it okay if I go make sandwiches for the homeless before school Thursday morning?"

This was not something I had particularly pushed, but merely an opportunity he came across. Never mind that, in the back of my mind, I had always wanted to find an opportunity to somehow do something hands on to help the homeless. He has a friend who spends Thursday mornings before school making sandwiches to be distributed to our city's homeless population and he wanted to help too. Yay him!

I have always tried to live a life that exemplifies giving back. He knows nothing different than donating outgrown clothes to charity; picking a cause each holiday season which will help support someone less fortunate; and standing up for what he believes to be right. He has paid for his own membership to Street Cats, a feral cat rescue organisation, since he was 8 years old and began receiving an allowance. He is a champion gift giver who always thinks of the recipient and chooses accordingly. When the annual Autism Foundation fund raiser rolls around he solicits donations and volunteers to work the race - without even being asked. He has never passed a collection jar without pausing to read what it was for and more often than not, to drop some coins in.

Though I am Buddhist and have long believed in Karma, I have never forced Buddhism upon him. His father, however, is a born again Christian who regularly encourages him to adopt the same belief system.

But I have a thinking child, who possesses the intelligence to seek answers and to process what he sees for himself. When he came to me a few years ago and proclaimed (as so many teenagers do at some point) that he was "Not religious" I told him only that it would be a very difficult life he led if he had no spiritual belief system by which to process the events of the world. I think it is important to have a belief system which will comfort you during times of grief or sadness.

I have never prevented him from exploring any religion, although I do have really really strong beliefs about evil and negativity thus there are certain things that are not allowed in my home.
Just a few block from our home is a new-age bookstore owned by a self proclaimed Satanist. It is almost unheard of for me to NOT go to a bookstore, but I have avoided that one my entire life. As such, I have explained my reasons to LD and he agrees. Better to steer clear of such places than to invite a negative energy unawares. He has a recently developed a fascination with Ghosts and (supposedly) haunted places. He also knows how I feel about such things and although he laughs at me for my fears, he respects my views.

It's not just an "evil" energy I avoid. It is a negative energy period. For example TV. I look at shows like Jerry Springer or Cops and all I see is someone's misfortune being presented as entertainment. Reality shows like Survivor or Big Brother revolve around not just competition, but greed. That is simply not what I want to call entertainment.

But back to the sandwiches. On Thursday he made sandwiches and the next day he found $5 on the ground as he walked into school. When I picked him up he was so excited to tell me about the Karma he had experienced. I stopped at the bank to deposit a check and he noticed that they were taking donations for the Heart Association. Without a second thought (or any suggestion from me) he gave them his found money as a donation.

Isn't it easy to see why I am so proud of my son?

3.24.2008

Jesus, the Amish and Gun Laws: Just a Typical Easter Dinner

I have mentioned that my family likes to eat, but I forgot to add that we also like to have really heated discussions while we do so. Yesterday's Easter dinner was no exception.

Before everything had even been served my dad had initiated a discussion of the current presidential candidates and claimed they were all worthless. That was not surprising at all as my dad has never liked a single candidate - or president for that matter - that I can recall. The sole exception was Ross Perot, whose campaign signs dad displayed liberally in his yard for almost a year. Go figure.

Bojo, who has been the leader of the elect Hillary parade since before she even announced her candidacy has the annoying habit of never participating in political debate with me. Therefore, she sat mostly silent throughout this portion of the meal. She didn't even bust a vein when dad announced that Hillary was unfit to be president because she is a woman. I was left in the very awkward position of defending Hillary Clinton. Gah!

The discussion then moved on to the morality of abortion. I don't know how this happens, it just does in my family. Abortion flew by and capital punishment became a brief topic. I must say I was impressed that my usually opinionated father was actually pausing to hear the responses of others. Not that my stoopid family was being very participatory in the discussion up to this point. (Yeah, I'm talkin' to YOU Bojo!)

Then, somehow we arrived at the subject of gun ownership. Now "my dad and guns" could easily be the focus of hours of therapy for me, but for now let's just say that he has always had one ... some ... er, probably a lot. For over 40 years he has worked in law enforcement ... sorta. Anyway, Bojo suddenly woke from her stupor and decided to loudly proclaim her commitment to shooting anyone who came in her house uninvited; which led me to express outrage (all over again) at the fact that she has a gun in the house with Furry; which led all of my NRA -card- carrying-trigger-happy-gun-freak family members to begin all at once touting the virtues of handguns. At one point my dad asked, as an aside, what kind of gun Bojo had and without missing a beat in the general debate she answered in an equal aside that she had a 38 special.

Okay, I do not, have not and will not ever own a gun. I find it logically, morally and spiritually wrong for me. For one thing, I know enough about gun rules to know that you never shoot unless you aim to kill and I could never do that. At least I am not as idiotic as the stupid (mostly women) I have heard say they would shoot someone in the leg or even worse, fire a warning shot. Gads. Even pacifist me knows the only warning sound should be the cocking of the hammer and by then it's already all over.

Anyway, back to our Easter dinner.

As I was proclaiming the above my step-mom was asserting that they had guns in their home their whole lives and their kids never found or messed with them. ( I could have pointed out that those children also no longer speak to them, but it didn't seem entirely relevant to the topic.) This led to a convoluted discussion of just how cunning and capable children really are and my dad claiming that Furry could never reach, for example, the top of the china cabinet in Bojo's dining room. At that point I threw out a hundred dollar bet that he could and dad and I were just about to call the toddler in and send him scurrying up the built in bookshelves - or at least see just how far he could get. Thankfully (in hindsight) we got distracted within our heated debate because in response to "what would you do if someone broke in" I said, "I'd let them take whatever the hell they wanted because no material possession is worth a human life."

Here's where it gets really insane.

Dad invoked, not the constitution, but the Bible as authority on the matter and said (No shit, I couldn't make this stuff up) that Jesus said to protect your home and your possessions.

"With guns?!" I shrieked.

"Yes!" my dad asserted.

"You're telling me Jesus said to shoot people?!" I asked incredulously.

"Yes! It's in the Bible!" and here he quoted some scripture I have NEVER heard that involved Jesus whipping people. I kid you not. Then he told some other biblical story about Jesus having gone into a den of sinners - maybe gamblers - and driven them out with whips.

"But did he then steal their stuff? Or shoot them?!" I asked.

"Of course not," my dad said.

"So what does Jesus have to do with robbers and guns?!" I asked, my voice just as loud as everyone else, which was by now quite loud.

"They used to STONE PEOPLE," my dad said.

"JESUS?"I asked.

"Yes! They STONED and WHIPPED....."

At this point I heard my nephew, who is currently studying to be a minister crack up. He knows more about scripture than the entire rest of the family combined, but he had wisely chosen to avoid this whole conversation by watching basketball in the other room. That is, until our shouting drowned out the game.

Anyway, somehow we all calmed down and caught our breath, which gave me the perfect opportunity to step up on my Amish soap box and make a case for the admirable pacifist virtues, peaceful ways of the Amish and their respect for human life. At this point Bojo made her escape to her laptop to look at pictures of her latest internet pred...er, I mean boyfriend. My sister had been absent for some time by this point and was somewhere in the house injecting herself with insulin because she ate all the things she shouldn't eat... yet again. Furry was following Nigel wherever he went and looking at him with big ole moon pie eyes of idolation. My step-mom sort of half climbed over my dad in her attempt at escape. That left just me and my dad who promptly discounted my whole Amish lecture with, "Hell, they don't even have TVs in their homes!"

And the next thing you knew we were all in the living room eating pie and arguing about what brand of digital camera is the best while Furry ran around with his new Disney underwear on his head and chocolate all over his hands.

Before I left I made sure to hit up every single member of my family for a donation to the Autism foundation's fundraiser. Then I thanked them for all the candy and the donations; hugged Furry almost too tight and thanked Bojo for the wonderful meal. The last thing I saw before closing the door was Furry licking his spilled yoghurt off the floor and the beginnings of Bojo's freak out about the same.

*sigh*

Just another typical family holiday.

3.23.2008

Easter Stuffing

Do you ever eat ....I want to say do you ever eat so much that, but that's not really the point. Do you ever eat and then feel so freaking stuffed that you feel as if you will never ever need to eat again? So stuffed that even though you really do care about the hungry people in the world you still don't bother to save the other half of your spaghetti dinner? So hungry that you don't even have room for Jello?!

Yeah, that's how I felt after eating last night. I don't know if it is my meds, or the weather, or my stress level, but I am increasingly finding that a little goes a really really long way. Not that this is a bad thing, as I could stand to lose a few (or 50) pounds. It's just weird to get so full on so little.

Plus, I am due at the family Easter dinner in only a few hour s and I swear I still don't have room for even a single hot roll, caramelized carrot, slice of ham or chocolate egg. And at my family's gatherings there is really not much to do but eat. We're big on the cooking and eating we are! Holiday meals usually consist of days of prep work and the use of additional tables.

Also, even though I never did the whole Easter Bunny/Santa Claus/mythical figure-leaving-presents thing with Little Dog , now that he is almost all grown up I feel compelled to do it for the kitsch value. So, last night I stopped by the candy store my own mom always went to and bought him an armload of various marshmallow eggs and chocolate bunnies. I put these, along with the sour candy he picked out a couple of weeks ago (in anticipation of his self imposed no candy until after lent rule) in a wire basket I grabbed from the cupboard at the last minute. Then right before I went to bed I sort of half hid it under his pillow. As I drifted off to sleep I vaguely remember hearing Little Dog brush his teeth, turn out his light and then exclaim, "What the hell?!"

Happy Easter everybody!

3.04.2008

People Are Starving in Our World and I am Making Apple Rabbits to Get Furry to Eat



Furry has mastered language and is talking non-stop these days. That's pretty normal for a three year old, but what is unique about him is his "Bringlish" accent.

See, his mom was born and raised right here in the heartland of America. As such, she speaks with a sort of familiar southern twang. His dad, on the other hand, was born and raised across the pond in England and speaks with a delicious English accent.

Therefore, Furry's dialect is a mix of colloquial English and British slang. The other day he told Bojo that what she was saying was "rubbish" and he was quite adamant about it. He also loves the big green "oh-guh" called Shrek and recently told me he was "gonna git a 'ti-guh'"

It's a lot like living with new-Madonna - after she decided she was British and adopted the accent. Or maybe Brittney: post breakdown. You know, kind of like he's faking the whole British personae.

What he is not faking is his pickiness when it comes to food. This kiddo only likes to eat cookies, candies, yogurts and ...McDonalds. And that is only when he is willing to eat at all, which is rare.

So, aunt Yellow Dog, champion of the organic food, enemy of the preservative, Whole Food Market's bitch, decided to step in and help. I've been planning recipes and toddler cooking lessons and trying my damnedest to get Bojo to join me for a Sunday vegetable puree party.

I have also been working on a healthy foods Easter basket for Furry - filling it with organic alphabet pasta, gluten free muffins and dried fruits rather than candy. I love the challenge of getting a child to enjoy healthy foods.

Little Dog never ate processed foods until he was 4 and Nanna moved in with us, bringing her arsenal of Cheetos, Dreamsicles and fruit loops. I love my mom dearly, but I am not sure I can ever forgive her for getting my child hooked on junk during that year she lived with us. I would prepare of breakfast of corn flakes with honey or yogurt sprinkled with brown sugar and there she would be, lurking with her Eggo Cinnamon waffles or strawberry flavoured Pop Tarts. She was like a dealer behind the fence, only the fence was the doorway which led from our kitchen to her living area.

I would send him to play with Nanna while I cleaned house and then when I checked in on what my mom (the loving grandma) and my son (the attachment parenting raised organic fed child) were doing and I would end up busting their wild little junk food parties. After I washed the orange Doritos stains from his hands; wiped the artificially flavoured banana pudding off his faced and brushed the caramel from between his tiny teeth I would attempt to lecture my mom about healthy foods. She would poo-poo my objections and counter that he had eaten half her microwaved pasta before she gave him "dessert" and so he was, in her opinion, quite well fed.

It was only three days after we all moved into our own houses that Little Dog had his first ever full blown tantrum. It was so ugly that I will never forget that evening. It was all about Oreos.

Little Dog had refused to eat dinner and instead demanded Oreos. I promised him an oatmeal cookie if he would eat a few bites of his meal. Nope. He wanted Oreos and he wanted them bad. The tantrum escalated into screams - including plaintiff wails for his beloved Nanna because daddy and I were apparently mean mean people. He ended up in time-out in his room where he ripped off all his clothes and threw himself across his bed screaming at the top of his lungs. The only intelligible word during this rant was ... you guessed it: Oreo. RB and I stood in the doorway amazed, and a little scared, at the demon our child had become.

The tantrum passed, but his love of junk food remained. He became the pickiest eater in the whole world and it is only now, over a decade later, that he is finally willing to try some new things. We recently went to a hibachi grill and I did a double take when I saw him eating fried rice. Knowing the rare miracle that I was witnessing I was very quiet and pretended not to notice. When the chef's flying spatula delivered shrimp to each person at our table I accused my older nephew of eating Little Dog's 4 fried shrimp (which I had planned to procure for myself.)Little dog quickly affirmed that not only had he eaten the shrimp, but he wanted more.

::Thud:: You have no idea what a shock this all was. The next time we went to the store I bought about a million different kinds of rice and he has been willingly trying them all. He has also opted for organic wheat cereal and even asked for fresh fruit. That night I kept opening the fridge just to look because once again I am finally happy with the contents of my fridge and pantry.


But back to the problem of Furry.

The basket sits half filled on my dining room table. I have several pages of fun toddler friendly recipes typed up and WS is willing to start trying them out on Furry next week while Bojo is out of town.

And then, I find
this. I feel like a complete loser now because I KNOW I will never be the kind of mom (or aunt) who makes such awesomely cool lunches as this. In fact, I want this woman to adopt me and make me cute little lunch boxes every day.

Seriously. *Sigh*

Okay, I must admit I have ordered some of the accoutrement's shown - like the cute little
condiment containers and the multi coloured multi-shaped bowls. And yes, I did even order the tiny picks with animal heads. I even studied how to cut the apples into the bunny shapes.

I am such a sucker.

I am going to attempt to make some of these toy like lunches. I just hope Furry doesn't deem my efforts to be rubbish!

3.02.2008

Latest Bookstore Damage

This week's damage:

Bad Dog, a Buddhist memoir

A Lover's Discourse and The Pleasure of the Text, both by Roland Barthes, whom I have recently discovered and think I may be in love with.

A couple of fairly recent Chomsky tomes

The stuff of Thought, by Steven Pinker

All of the above are currently in some stage of being read by me. For reference I also bought a Harvard Press text on Sociolinguistics and two other linguistics reference books.

Grad school is really going to be hell on my budget, but will result in an expanded (albeit very nerdy) library!