Tag Archives: parenting

i has a tween!

I find it exceptionally hard to believe two things:

  1. ten years have already gone by
  2. the 4’8″ 67lb creature that just tornadoed through the house in search of pants is the same entity who used to be this little angry meatloaf here:

Granted, we do actually have a photo record of him getting larger.

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Also, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t swapped out anywhere along the line because at this point, he literally looks like my face on Paul’s body.

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It is, however, slightly disturbing to think that I HAVE A TWEEN.  This creature is literally a tween.  He is ten.  He is his own person, although that person seems to be a class clown.

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Thankfully, these two awards (received yesterday, 6/18/18) balance each other out.

It’s a weird thing being a parent.  The best description I ever read of it was that it feels like your heart is walking around outside your body. This is my son.  This is the being who is the most important thing in the world to me, whom I would literally do anything I could to protect.  And here he is becoming his own person who is able to walk around in the world without any oversight or protection from me.  Worse, he’s becoming a totally different person all the time as he grows up and becomes whoever he truly is in there.

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Still.  I have a tween now, a boy who is halfway to being a man, a creature who will spend the second decade of his life building the foundation of the person he is meant to be.  My job is to support him as he becomes that person, and then boot him out into the world, because he is a terrible roomate (underwear everywhere, eats all the cereal, leaves dishes out).  It is strange to think that I have been doing that job without any formal training, because helping to create and then raise another human seems almost meta in its vast responsibility.  And yet, we have been doing that job, and we have, so far, produced a fairly decent human being.

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We have a tween.  Ten years ago, when they handed me my son in a bundle at Cedars-Sinai, I could not have imagined getting to this point.  I’m sure I’ll feel the same way when I look back at Mister Class Clown here from his junior year of college.

The author my son and husband BOTH dislike

Image result for perdido street stationOne of my favorite fantasy series is China Mieville’s “New Crobuzon” trilogy: Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council.  This is the steampunk and magic laced world with a corrupt capitalist government, where social, racial and cultural differences are exploited for the political and fiscal gain of the corrupt upper echelons of the city (a familiar story).  The city of New Crobuzon itself is an alternate existence of London, dense with neighborhoods that spiral out over time from a central point on its Thames, the Gross Tar.  Each neighborhood has a history, each neighborhood has its races and cultures, each one is distinct.  New Crobuzon, as a world, is as much about urban history and urban geography and urban sociology as it is a fantasy realm.

I love cities.  I love the stories of cities, how they grow, how neighborhoods are built and change over time.  Therefore, I threw myself wholeheartedly into Perdido Street Station.  I saw, in my imagination, the descriptions of each neighborhood, from the scientific quarter of Brock Marsh, to the abandoned projects of Dog Fenn.  I understood the backstories of how neighborhoods came to be occupied by specific immigrant groups.  I especially loved reading about some neighborhoods went from mansions to slums and back again, keeping tenements as museums to past poverty in their midst (we have one of those!).  And I especially appreciated that, as in all great cities, New Crobuzon grew along its trains, its El, the trains the commuters still take each day, the million ordinary people of a fantasy world, traveling to and from work in a universe full of monsters and magic, between their version of the Outer Boroughs and their white-collar jobs.

Paul was not as much a fan of this concept.  He’s fine with world building – he has slugged through King’s Dark Tower series, which I don’t have patience for – but not an urban studies textbook disguised as a steampunk fantasy.   His response was that Mieville spent too much time city building and writing a Lonely Planet: New Crobuzon and not enough time actually developing characters or plot.  I pointed out that the character development is great in New Crobuzon, it’s just that each character also has to function as a representation of their class, race and culture almost as much as they are a separate being in their own right.  Each character has to also either exemplify their people, or illustrate their community through their outcast or outsider status.  Nothing tells us about a people and their culture like those they choose to exile among them.

Therefore, I should not have been surprised when Ben flat out refused to engage with the children’s version of New Crobuzon: Un Lun Dun.  We’re attempting to read this right now as the nightly bedtime story, and I’m just not getting anywhere with it. There’s a lot of eye rolling, especially when I have to explain the English language:

Image result for un lun dunME: Binja!  Get it?  Bin…ja?  They’re bin ninjas?
BEN: They’re garbage cans with legs and nunchuks
ME: English people call a trash can a bin.
BEN: *eye roll*

I also love Un Lun Dun.  It’s not the flip side of London that Kraken is, but it is a travelogue through a London’s dreams, a city built of London’s cast offs, both material and thought, a city of random buildings and people, traditions and creatures.  There’s ghosts and monsters, creatures of all  shapes and sizes.  There’s houses made from M.O.I.L. – Mildly Obsolete In London – which means typewriters and cassette tapes.  There’s even a November Tree, a tree made of solid light from Guy Fawkes fireworks.  And my favorite part of Un Lun Dun is how it flips the heroine’s journey around, changing how we think of destiny in these kind of children’s stories.  Perhaps it is time that the world gets saved by the “funny one”, not by the chosen one.

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The ab-city, with its houses and dwellings made of everything, in every shape.

Ben, however, is not nearly as charmed and interested in visualizing the ab-city.  I therefore blame Paul for this.  My husband is less into world building that I am.  I want all my books to come with an expansive geography.  I own a copy of the Dictionary of Imaginary Places.  I love maps, I love places, I love cities,  and I love imaginary worlds that come complete with entire sociological histories..  Paul, however, would like his books to be less of an atlas of a mythological land and more of an actual plot and character driven tome.  I suspect our son has taken after his father because attempts to pull Ben into the fantasy books with the best, most memorable and detailed worlds have been met with resistance.  According to Ben, Narnia is boring.  Earthsea was really boring.  (Middle-Earth we are still working on).

I’ll keep working on this.  I want my son to have that sense of expansive imagination, to be able to imagine other worlds, with their own history and mythology, their own rules of physics and magic.  We’re going to flip into Neverwhere on audiobook over the  break.  I’ve got twenty-plus hours to fill with Gaiman and Tolkein and Lewis…and we are going to get through the rest of Un Lun Dun if it kills me.  I just have to figure out how to get my son excited about exploring these imaginary worlds with his mama.

 

March 10th, 2014: spring!

20140311-205229.jpgIt’s another beautiful day today, so here’s the view from my bedroom window, at left, looking across to other homes on the next block over.

It feels like spring today: the air is soft. Walking home last night, I could just pick up on the smell of the park, with all the grass exposed again after a month under snow. It smells like spring is coming. I missed this moment, in L.A., where there were no seasons. I missed the moment just when a northern city starts to see spring appear.

It is so nice out there that I actually walked to Staples and back to pick up construction paper for the Scout opening craft tomorrow. It’s just nice to be outside again, in soft, cool air, instead of the OMG face melting cold that we’ve had this winter. It’s nice to walk for pleasure again, and be able to smell the grass and leaves that have been under the snow for months.

Finally, I finished CrossFit Foundations this morning. I’m now clear to actually start taking classes. This mornings mini-WOD was really tough, and I still hurt from it (that, and learning “the clean” weightlifting technique), but I am probably going to go back and keep training. This is the kind of muscle building training I was looking for, that I knew I needed in order to shift my fat/muscle ratios.

And since I’m blogging again, I may as well start writing up more of my diet and exercise in my blog posts:

Sleep: 5h, which is pretty terrible. Need to get to sleep earlier tonight.

Exercise: WOD was AMRAPs, with a partner. We took turns doing a 130m sprint, followed by 12 wall balls (squat and medicine ball throw). I did four rounds, and I know I maxed out on effort, so go me.

Meals:

Breakfast: eggs with cabbage/broccoli/carrot shred mix; paleo banana bread with grass-fed butter
Post-Workout: plantain grain free tortilla with half a chicken breast
Lunch: chicken salad (paleo mayo, curry powder, apple, celery, collards, the rest of the chicken breast) and garbage soup (beef broth, turnips, yam, carrot), with three quarters of an apple. Ended up eating the salad at lunch and the soup and apple with a few almonds after getting back from meetings at 3.

(Also, I brought two servings of soup to work which I am reheating in a mini-crock-pot at my desk because I am THAT BROOKLYN)

Dinner: Cowboy chili (made with stew beef and butternut squash) with spinach and avocado, a few lamb meatballs, and a plantain tortilla with avocado.

Evening snack: another apple and some raw almonds. I am not supposed to be eating evening snacks, since it’s teaching my body to rely on more glucose after dinner when I’m supposed to be winding down, but I was desperate for energy so I could get back up and work my “second shift” (finish work for the day & prep for tomorrow’s Scout meeting) I was exhausted when I got home, and had to take a half hour nap before I was able to get up and function again, and then I just wanted that apple because I desperately wanted the fruit sugar to jumpstart my body again when I woke up.

And now, it’s time to go work that “second shift”: finish the work I didn’t get to complete because I had to leave early for a parent teacher conference. Prepare for Scouts tomorrow, by preparing the opening craft/activity and revisiting marching band commands for parade practice. Tidy the kitchen and set up meals for tomorrow (Paul is back at work, since he had to take the afternoon off to keep an eye on Ben, who had a half day due to parent teacher conferences. Therefore, I want to do something nice to help him, which will consist of kitchen cleanup)

But first, I’m going to drink a cup of tea and chill out for a few minutes. It’s spring. I’m going to open a window and enjoy that for a few more minutes.