are about people

2012: Mar 7

One day you'll have to remind me to show you the decorative potted artichoke I picked up from a clearance endcap at Target. For now, I'll just present you my faux mossy rocks, equal in kitschy whimsy.


It doesn't get much more momentous than this. Because for precisely as long as we've been waiting for the day that we'd be sending our kid off to Kindergarten, for as long as we've entertained the very notion of having children, I've been waiting for the day when I'd be able to hand my summer-afflicted kid an ice cream cone, even watching it tumble sadly onto the sidewalk.  Five-plus years as a parent and that day didn't come until now with The Boy and his allergies off at school and Bear dictating her very own expedition at the zoo. She liked it.

Department of Tooth Loss


I'll dispense with the sappy truism of my too-quickly growing Boy and get right to the gritty facts. He's losing his teeth. 

Now, when I was a wee one on the cusp of dental maturity, I fought an uphill battle convincing my mom to participate in the Tooth Fairy racket. In her time and place there was none of this payout business for fallen-out teeth. Their littlefolk simply buried in the dirt or chucked upon an available rooftop their teeth to coax their permanent ones out faster and stronger (not sure what kind of gravitational pull those baby teeth yielded, but I guess it worked for my mom and her kin). For my coercive efforts, a concession was manifest in a small cache of quarters sealed up in a plain white envelope, the kind you might place a rent check in.

But even as childhood-me pled with my mom to play tooth fairy I knew it was a sham. Like I knew Santa and the Easter bunny and redemption (other popular fantasies withheld from me) were kind-hearted lies perpetrated on children partly for the amusement of the adults around them. Amusement I'd like to enjoy for myself now that my children are old enough to be lied to. 


And that brings us back to the late-night dash to create a welcome packet of sorts for the much talked-up Tooth Fairy. The Boy had managed to keep the fact of his impending loss from us for nearly a week, until caught deep in tooth waggling concentration. So by the time of discovery, preparation time for the tooth fairy's big day was already compromised, limited to materials on hand. Hence, the late-night dash. I upgraded the plain white envelope of my tooth-losing days to a cloth-and-iron-on-adhesive constructed envelope (modified from this), mimicking the look of those teeny tiny coin-sized manila envelopes. The Boy picked out the last swatches of that skull-patterend flannel for the lining and the little pocket that adorns the front of the envelope. And then to document the lost tooth, because our particular Tooth Fairy likes to keep tidy records of all her collections, I drew up some miniature dental charts to be marked up, filled out and submitted with the genuine artifact.


Which was all fine and dandy. Except that the morning after completing the packets I greeted The Boy, verified all teeth were still in his head, sat down to breakfast, looked up and saw that in the few minutes since I'd last checked, he'd managed to lose a tooth. Just plain lost it. Gone, and, for all intents and purposes, irretrievable. Likely not the last major disappointment of my tenure as Parent, but certainly a huge blow. This Tooth Fairy proxy's disappointment, however, was nothing compared to The Boy's worry that he wouldn't be able to submit a packet for compensation from the Tooth Fairy. Mr. New Media, quick on his feet, brought out paper and pen for The Boy to do up a proper portrait of the missing tooth. And he, with an assuredness that I've never before seen in his drawing endeavors, marked out the outline of your prototypical tooth, with two pointy roots and a flat top. And then he filled out the dental chart, filed it into the envelope along with his utilitarian masterpiece and set it out on a window sill where the Tooth Fairy would find easy access to his submission.


Fulfilling her end of the transaction, Tooth Fairy issued one freshly pressed fiver, tucked into what seems, to a faithful five-year-old, to the be the same envelope he submitted to her. 

And, not to worry, a few days later, a second tooth dislodged at dinner, with The Boy holding out his prize triumphantly, eager to fill out another packet.



Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the graduating class of 2011. A preschool graduation is really nothing more than an excuse to watch your kids put on a semi-choreographed production of song and dance. The girls don their fanciest gowns and clompiest shoes. The boys wear pretty much the same thing they always do, sneakers and all. This morning, while assembling the day's clothes for The Boy, I srambled through the drawers for something that might be ceremony-appropriate, and the only thing I came up with was a tea-dyed shirt that made up his newsie Halloween costume three years back. That's as formal as our attire gets around here.

Five is the new four



At the store the other day, The Boy, stooped over bottles of gummy vitamins, examining each for the promise of muscle and bone fortification, was addressed as "Little Guy" by the stockperson hoping to reload the shelves with more iron supplements. Newly-five and deep in a chatty phase, one that Mr. New Media and I agree is awesome, took offense and spent the rest of the time in the store (ok, it was Target) stalking the Legos and Hot Wheels all the while plotting out how next time he'll be sure to correct the offending party. Because he's a Big Boy. 

Five years old. It's going to be a big year. Kindergarten, after-school care, a new world of playdates and organized activities. That parenting newsletter that once compared our growing fetus to various sizes of produce, and warned us of questionable sleeping habits of infants and toddlers, has promoted us to the "Big Kid Bulletin" portion of the programming. Graduation festivities at the preschool are upon us, a special lunch having been doled out last week to our beaming boy. All necessary forms and signatures have been submitted to the school district, traded-in for official school assignments and a student identification number. It's begun.

In light of all this, it's possible we may have underplayed his birthday by a half marathon. I've mentioned that May was, and always is, a crazy month, no? And the chaos and detail-fretting of entertaining a rogue army of pre-schoolers was more than my anti-social nerves could reasonably pull off. What we could handle was a bring-cake-into-class kind of celebration. A simple "Thanks for liking our kid and making his schooldays pleasant enough that he sulks when we come for him early." And a nice opportunity to spend some time with the names he prattles on about in the car on the way home from school.


So assembling a goodie bag was by no means a requirement. I mean, it never is, right? I still don't understand why, at the end of every birthday party, there's the requisite handout of trinkets. Mr. New Media explained it to me as some kind of psychological payoff, a way to ensure that everyone leaves the party on a happy note, applying that happy-go-lucky feeling that the goodie bag temporary tattoo gives you to the entire party experience. Sounds to me like the manipulative cousin to emotional warfare, which I guess is only fitting as we're entering that age range that seems a minefield of potential childhood trauma.

Whatever. For us, ok, for me, making up the goodie bags was just a good excuse to make things with The Boy. Sure there was some stress as we neared deadline. But in the meantime, there were two weeks of solid, hand-dirtying productivity. The Boy and I are never quite as happy together as when we're hunched over a project, plotting the steps for the successful completion of a thing


And so before we baked our go-to carrot cakes into jars, we cooked up a batch of play dough for another couple dozen jars. Recipes abound on the web. We dug up a basic one, doubled it, and added a truckload of color and assorted candy oils to give it a multi-sensory punch. Each of our three batches filled eight 4 oz. jars to the brim, and featured a different scent with a different non-representative color. Why is vanilla paired with green? Because that's how The Boy decreed it should be. 


A project perfect for a rainy day fidgety fingers, a common sight even in June here, rolling out felt beads from wool roving required a couple afternoons worth of attention. Dip wads of bunched-up wool into warm soapy water, and squeeze and press and smother in your pre-schooler's palm. And magically, a tight sphere-ish object emerges. When you're done, as you've been dealing with water and dish soap, the project has cleaned itself. It's just about the easiest thing in the world to make with a four-year-old. Stringing pearl embroidery floss through each ball to make a simple necklace, and attaching it to some cracker box cards, also fall into the category of unskilled labor perfect for his attention span.


The pins were slices off an old dowel sourced from the kitchen window where it lay waiting for a warm enough day that we'd need to prop up the window for some air. Pin backs, purchased for some unrealized project some time back, got the hot glue treatment. A couple layers of chalkboard paint were slathered on by a brush-happy Boy and within the hour were ready for artwork. 


So that's how I helped The Boy put together a smattering of treats for the ol' school chums over a two-week course of little sister naps. On my own, though, I took the after-hours to spirit up the bags themselves. The muslin drawstring bags are just miniature versions of the produce bags tied up with lengths of yarn. The birthday motif came together with a simple copy-and-paste of one of my sashiko designs and a few extra keystrokes and passes of the mouse to embody a birthday boy's cupcake. Ran a laser off and put the Gocco to some late-night work. Done. 

Except for the matter of handing out the goodies. Which was the best, albeit undocumented, part. I actually do feel a little bad about hijacking the afternoon school curriculum that day in the name of not going all out with a proper birthday party. But hanging out with a roomful of five-and-unders playing enthusiastically yet calmly with wads of the scented play dough we'd whipped up for them… Well, I thought it was a pretty special treat. And, hopefully, the takeaway for the kids, for our Big Boy, is that it's an awfully nice feeling when something you made can give your friends so much enjoyment.


In the modern age, a Boy can discuss with his Oma via speakerphone the merits of a dandelion as a fun garden plant vs. weed while roaming the yard and disseminating one of his subject's seeds.


I'm guilty of throwing out the occasional smart alecky "Actually..." (accompanied by a slightly wagging finger) and needling grammar correction and irritated grunt when asked to repeat myself. And these are all things The Boy has picked up from me. He's also taken to using the phrase "I'm switching it up," whose origin we can't trace in our own home. He curses in SpongeBob and co-opts Charlie Brown's "good grief" on a semi-daily basis. He's in the linguistic sponge stage of development. When I was little I used to call these wishblows. And now The Boy does, too.