Monday, April 28, 2008

Month Thirteen

Dear Grayson,

If you could proclaim anything from the rooftops right now, other than the ever-popular and good-for-all occasions exclamation "Quack!" you would announce that this has been the month of solid foods. Your oral fixation knows no ends now that you've discovered that, lo, you have teeth (seven or eight of them to be exact), and that, lo, these teeth can chew foods which taste much more exciting than Gerber's 2nd foods peas or Gerber's macaroni and cheese (which your mommy thinks resembles in both texture and smell soggy rawhide bone after the dog has chewed on it or dropped it in the waterbowl). Yesterday at Grammy's birthday brunch buffet, you finished off your own piece of bacon crumbled into tiny bits, and several spoonfuls of scrambled egg, and an English muffin, and some bites of cinnamon roll, and some hash brown potatoes. It was a feast. And you carefully mouthed every last bite and banged your hands on the table for more (or rammed your fists together in the sign language equivalent of "Dammit, woman, get me something else to eat.") Tonight you apparently finished off the local Italian restaurant's signature spaghetti and bread. I have yet to see you turn away food.

However, this oral fixation, this newfound fascination with different textures has also extended itself to gnawing on your mother's arms as you balance carefully when she sits on the floor. I now have tiny teeth mark bruises on my upper arms and neck. I'm reluctant to wear short-sleeved dresses to work, lest anyone think your father is grabbing me viciously around the arms and leaving fingermarks. Of course, that bite on my clavicle came dangerously close to turning a deep maroon and before long the neighbors are going to start whispering that your father is marking me with love bites (Note to your high school self from your mother: Grayson, hickies are not cool. And if you ever start wearing turtlenecks unexpectedly in your teen years I will figure it out, and the excuse that you just burned yourself with a curling iron will be refuted in a New York minute. Not that I would know anything about that paltry excuse.) I've been working on giving you the "mean face," when you bite and saying, "No! Ouch! That hurts Mommy!" Your face usually crumples and then I feel like a terrible parent and have to refrain from rushing in immediately and offering you my forearm to gnaw on to make up for it, "I'm sorry, baby, here...there's a nice raw spot right there below Mommy's elbow, show Mommy what strong white teeth you have..."

You are standing like a pro, balancing carefully and learning the laws of gravity. You remain a cautious baby, afraid of falling, afraid of landing anywhere with a thud. I love that about you. You're not a daredevil. This provides comfort to parents who wear their seatbelts even when driving to the mailbox and who always drink a full glass of water with their vitamins. That's the nerdy family you were born into..."Safety First!" we proclaim, as we adjust our pocket protectors and pack our Star Trek lunchboxes.

I continue to stare at you in slack-jawed wonder as I remember the baby you were just a short year ago. I sense I'll do this for the rest of your life; watch you with wonder and awe.

I love you, sweet boy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Truth Comes Out

I suspect you've known it for awhile.

I've been giving those charismatic speeches. I touch your arm just so, in that way that doesn't assume too much but which lets you know that I care about you. I look deep into your eyes in ways which insinuate that I, only I, can truly understand you. I started wearing a certain kind of Nike shoes and then told you all to wear them, along with the black sweatsuits. I referred to that spaceship that would soon be visiting. And then I offered you that kool-aid.

The truth, my friends, my followers, my disciples, has come out.

I am a cult leader.

Or at least this is what one of my male students has accused me of being. Or rather, he believes that he is "gettin [sic] somewhat of a sexest [sic] cult vibe from this class." And since I teach this college class, this college class in feminist theology, I assume I must be the cult leader.

I shouldn't take his critique too seriously I suppose, because I am really gettin somewhat of a vibe that he's sort of uncertain of what feminist theology entails. And, he also sleeps through a bulk of my lectures.

But, there is still that niggling voice within me. A voice that says, "Maybe you're not a good teacher. Maybe you're not being fair. Maybe you're too strident. Maybe you're too aggressive. Maybe you're offensive."

And this student ends up, then, representing the very patriarchy I speak against. The patriarchy which insists that when women speak their truth, their theological truth, that they are deemed "cultish," that when women work at empowering themselves they are called "sexist." How well I have swallowed the lessons of the patriarchy, even as I teach my students to question it. How quickly I allow one young privileged white male to batter me back into place with his (misspelled) words.

And how do I raise a son, a white privileged son, to not take his position for granted? How do I teach him to listen to women, to listen to his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, to listen to those of different colors, and to those of different classes?

I don't want my anger at misogyny to ever be laid at his feet. And I don't want him to be raised, ever, as the enemy. And I don't want my cause to ever be his responsibility.

The truth comes out. And the truth is this: we still live in a world where sexism exists. And our world will be a better place, and our children will be healthier children, if we name it and attempt to deconstruct it. And there is no better time than now.

Now, come here and drink this kool-aid.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Oh, and the first birthday...


Boy and cake.


Recently R. and I went away on a "Parent's Getaway." It's a commitment we made early in our marriage. Every so often (we weren't anal-retentive enough to specify how often [at least one of us wasn't]) we try to go away sans children and reconnect as the marital therapists might say.

Given the fact that we have very little extraneous cash reserves, and incredibly modest incomes we opted for a getaway to the state park approximately 45 miles north of us for, uh, one night rather than a week long getaway in Cabo.

It was delightful in all the nerdy ways that both R. and I are delightful. We, gasp, went shopping at an outlet mall and found pajamas for Grayson for next winter at a mere $1.99 a pair. Wowee! And then, we ate at, gasp again, a predictable family restaurant where we ordered our favorite predictable meals and drinks. And we, get ready...napped. And we, brace yourselves, drank tea and coffee at regular intervals. And we, mourned the loss of good cable television in the state park (probably more than we mourned the fact that the fog and rain and 40 degree temperatures kept us indoors).

But we stayed up late (at least later than parents of a one-year-old often do) and talked...and talked...and talked. We caught up on over a year's worth of talking. We talked about current events, and parenting, and step-parenting, and summer vacation plans, and where we should spend our tax refund check, and we finished most of the unfinished conversations of the past year which were lost due to sleep deprivation and the accompanying amnesia of it.

And occasionally we would talk about something and I would say, "Remind me to blog about that later...I had forgotten that story...and it would be nice for the blog." And I said this maybe three or four times.

And damn if I shouldn't have had a little notebook with an attached pencil like an old dance-card from the 1950s to write down these insights. Because now, well now, the moment is lost and both R. and I find ourselves flummoxed when we try to recall those stories.

But maybe, just maybe, there are stories which are not meant to be documented. Just as there are experiences with your beloved which are just meant to be lived.

Even in state parks less than an hour from your home.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Beefcake: The Personal Ad for Eligible Babies

Me: Your common young bachelor, looking for a fine person (between the ages of eight and fourteen-months old) to make me complete.
Likes: Walks on the beach (in my stroller), sunsets, a fine dinner (of strained carrots and Gerber's Hawaiian delight), the quiet moments in front of the fire (watching Baby Einstein DVDs in our matching baby swings), the simple pleasures (imitating one another as we practice our spit bubbles), expressing myself freely (cringing loudly as my face turns beet red when I have to poop) the joy of a nice, sturdy cardboard box, and the heady seduction of a soothing Peter, Paul and Mommy CD.
Dislikes: Loud noises (the vacuum cleaner, dogs barking, hair dryers, mixers and/or blenders), being alone for too long, "tummy time," feeding myself cheerios (rather than having them gently placed on my tongue by an elder), someone who doesn't understand my moods and needs, the constant frustration of the cat walking away from me just when I want to give him a nice, long squeeze.
Needs: A partner who can overlook my slight Oedipal complex...developmental books say I'll surpass this soon.

If you could be the person for me, if you've been looking for that special twelve-month old, I'm ready and waiting.

My name is Grayson. And I approved this ad.

And in about eleven years, I'll probably pierce my nose to get even with my mother for blogging about it.