Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bedtime beatbox

Lately bedtime has gotten a lot more fun because of the beatbox.

Each night I read a story to Natalie, or she reads it to Tony and me. And then Tony tells a story.

This is how it went when I was growing up, except for the beatbox part. I’d say to my dad: Tell me a story and read me a story! And he'd always oblige. His stories were often about Spot, a bluegill, and Spike, a perch. And each story began the same way:

“This is a story about Spot and Spike. One day, the two friends were swimming in the lake.”

If I complained about the familiar beginning, he started over - the same way, of course.

Spike was the leader; Spot, the follower. That’s because bluegills have narrow heads and therefore can’t be very smart. They had all sorts of lake adventures, such as running into the leeches, who like carnies operated a ferris wheel and didn't have the best reputations.

Anyway, Tony’s stories typically involve a girl and her mother, a girl and her friends, or a girl and a princess. Often they end with a dance party, something Natalie learned about during kindergarten when the children would dress up and dance to the soundtrack of Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

When Natalie senses the story is going to end with a dance party, she sits up in bed.

“And all the girls wore pretty dresses and there was popcorn and juice … and …” His hands go up to his mouth and Natalie shrieks and the dog barks and Tony’s forehead gets red as he busts out some very special beatboxing.

It’s become the best part of the night. And a great way to motivate Natalie: “Do you want dance party? Then brush your teeth.”

Tonight on the way home from school I asked Natalie whether she wanted Tony to tell a story.

"Yeah!" she said. "Dance party! A LOT of dance party."

Peace out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Those questions

Natalie was running to meet me at the playground gate, right past the little boy who sat at the base of the tree and shouted to her:

"Hey! Why is your mom white?"

She didn't hear him, or she ignored him. This child has been unkind and aggressive to her and others before, so perhaps she smartly tunes him out.

He tried again. But this time to me.

"Why are you white and she's ... brown?"

I followed my daughter's example and ignored him. I took Natalie's hand and as she skipped along I asked whether she had heard that boy and what he said.

She hadn't, so I repeated it. And told her he was rude. That people ask questions when they don't understand things and when they see something that doesn't match what they have in their own life.

"Yeah. Some people dark, some people brown, some people light. Everybody different," Natalie said. She raised her eyebrows and shrugged for emphasis.

"My Green Team friends never say that to me," she said of her kindergarten class. The offending boy was in another class.

So as we drove home we talked about China and her birth parents and how she came to be here with us. And she listened to the story for the hundredth time and asked questions that she knows the answers to but loves hearing anyway. And then, she was all done with it. The conversation turned, as it often does, to Baby Miss Ann, who didn't want to take a nap that day despite her mother's urging.

Yet I was left to think. About how all those questions, until now always aimed at me (What's she mixed with? Where'd you get her? Is your husband Asian?), are now going to be directed at her. About how it's hard to be different. And about what do I have to draw on from my own life, except being an odd child who spent an inordinate amount of time alone, in snow forts and trees and didn't quite fit in with the rest? At the end of the day, a woman who looked like me picked me up from school.

I thought about seeking out more families like ours. I thought about making her strong and sure of herself. About coating her with a Teflon confidence to repel rude questions and comments.
But I have a feeling she will be just fine.

I caught Natalie's eye in the rear view mirror.

"You're smart and you're kind and you're beautiful," I told her.

"Yeah, I know," Natalie said. "Mama is, too."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bye, Green Team!

Natalie's dad has done it again with this video about Natalie's kindergarten class, the Green Team. In September, Natalie will start first grade.

We'll really miss the children and of course, the incomparable Mrs. Solomon. What a wonderful year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Something new

The other day on the way to my spin class I passed a room of little girls in pink leotards, tights and ballet slippers, following their teacher, also in pink, around the room.

And I thought: I must enroll Natalie!

And then: Maybe there's a ballet class for me! I took ballet as a child, and then later as an adult. But now? I realized that would be too Zelda Fitzgerald.

So I kept walking.

Still, I'm thinking it'd be so nice to take a new class. Photography? History? Writing?

Once I took a short story writing class and I wrote an awful story about a young, distracted wife of a deployed soldier who mows down a homeless man collecting cans on her street. It was my first and last foray into fiction. Yet it wasn't all for naught. I met my amazing friends Betsy and Jean in that class.

The thing is, I need new.

I'm reading Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project," and she says that people are happiest when they are learning something new. How true!

So I'm on the hunt. And you, my 11 readers? Any classes you've taken that you really liked?

Friday, June 4, 2010

What matters

I haven't been writing much here because all of my creative energy has been devoted to perfecting my resume, a cover letter and answering online questionnaires about my experience and qualifications. And then there have been two interviews. One with three people. The other was a seven-person panel (I felt like Sonia Sotomayor!). Tomorrow I have another interview, and on Wednesday, my fourth.

I think I've gotten pretty good at promoting myself without sounding like an arrogant jerk or Stuart Smalley (I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonit people like me!).

None of these leads has come from, or cocktail party networking. All of this job hunting has been within my own office. A massive reorganization is underway, and we were told: Apply for everything!

So for weeks there have been closed doors, and scheming, and jockeying, and so much constant whispering it's like the jungle in Lost. We're now in the fourth week of interviews.

It's hard not to get totally wrapped up in the drama. But on Sunday I was able to pull away. And I realized some things.

1. Work, while important to me, doesn't have to define me.
2. We might want to get a bigger pool.