Archive for the ‘birthdays’ Category

Years old!

Today was my birthday.

Through fantastic home cooked meals, disproportionate investments by offspring, phone calls from loved ones, and yes, Facebook Wall posts, I felt as loved and celebrated as I wanted to.

And through 10s of thousands of documents that HAD to be reviewed today, and the ever-growing to-do list at work and at home (i.e., kids’ school commitments, which may or may not include, oh, i don’t know, producing a major school play????), I was reminded that 3 dozen is far from 3.  Or One Dozen.  I am old.  And my birthday does not matter all that much, except to those who are dear to me.  And I thank them for their love and consideration.

Onward !!!  (because tomorrow is Beloved’s birthday!  And I have gifts to wrap, and a cake to wrap!!!)

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My update post, and, hopefully, my last.  Our goal in this family is to stop focusing, to stop complaining, and to stop allowing this other family so much power in our own. 

We had the meeting with the principal, and Beloved and I were as satisfied as we could have been.  The guidance department is available for J when and if needed.  I was relatively pleased with the initial assumptions that J was telling the truth, and that Ex-BFF (and unfortunately, her mother at this point) were seen by more than just us as “bullies.”  

We flagged the issue, we ensured that J would be in a separate classroom next year. 

It may have helped that in the prior week, I was in 2 meetings with the principal on various administrative and volunteer matters … but it may not have, since Ex-BFF’s moms (aka – as of 6 months ago – my “friend”) has been in the same position for longer in this town, since we moved here at least 7 years after she did. 

There seemed to be a bit of peace settling over the situation.  

J had her bday outing – which was slightly bittersweet for me, since her bday last year was a joint party with the ex-BFF, with 20 something kids and Beloved running the tye-die t-shirt station.  True that both birthday girls ended the day exhausted and making plans for something smaller and more contained for their 10th bdays – but it was still fun, and joint, and generally okay.  

This year, J invited 5 girls, very carefully chosen based upon allegiances and odd loyalties, and we took them out to lunch, to the Clay Room (where we painted cups, figurines, coasters and dishes) and then out for ice cream.  J loved her day.  Her friends loved being with her.  It was a good day.

To me, it felt a little empty, a little sneaky, a little furtive.  

The day before, at soccer, ex-BFF approached  and threw an envelope at her.  It was a bday party invite.  I know her mom made her invite J, and I felt a little trapped.  

First of all, the Mom knew that we were having a small outing – we’d discussed it in a moment of cooperation and openness.  

Second of all, the girls can’t stand each other right now.  

Third of all, I know that The Mom makes Ex-BFF invite certain kids every year, based on The Mom’s ideas of tit for tat and such.

I felt that by inviting J, probably while knowing that J did not invite Ex-BFF to her own small outing, we were set up.  Perhaps I’m putting more Machiavellian motives onto The Mom than exist in reality … but I don’t think so.  

If I say no, then I’m a hater and a mean grinch-like being who refuses to allow our kids to be friends.

If I say yes, then I’m a User, who is willing to blow them off until the prospect of a fun party is dangled in front of me and my child. 

(spoiler alert:  we said no.)

In the meantime, between the girls, things were definitely calming down.  They were even able to sit at the same lunch table on one or two occasions, without sending hair and teeth flying.  I had started to suspect that J was developing an ultra-sensitivity that made me worry for her – made me fear that she was changing, as a person, and while 1/2 of me was thinking of allowing her the indulgence of her sister’s privileges, the other 1/2 was thinking “enough is enough, we’ve indulged this long enough, she needs to shake it off!”  

And that’s where I was – it is time to be done.  We can’t spend/waste anymore time with this nonsense.  They have as much power as we give them, and they deserve none, so we shall give them none.

And then, after I’d brought all of J’s friends home on the day of her bday extravaganza, my phone rang. 

I knew it was coming – a bit of a decompression, a checking-in.  The Call From The Mom.  

It was all brought back to the surface, as we talked it out.  I shared more stories – I expressed my disgust at the blame being placed at my feet – MY feet – an adult who has done nothing but welcome her child into my home, who has loved her through sideways glances at my amusement in her devilish glint.  Who has hosted the girls time and time again b/c of J’s tears at the idea of having to spend time at their house, where arguments often resulted in the girls finding solace in the Ex BFF’s tiny bedroom …. 

And then The Mom brought my stories to her child, who called both J and I liars and nasty folk who were out to do nothing but ruin her life.  The Mom rained upon me excuse after excuse (i.e., not all denials) for her shitty behavior.  She then asked me to help her find peace between the girls.  To sit down with them, and make nice.  Because after all, if we didn’t intercede soon, “they’ll never be friends again.”

Ah hah!  The goal!!

My response was written and re-written a thousand times.  It was laced with and then stripped of paragraph after paragraph of defensiveness and explanation.  

My end result:  No.  We’re done.  

We can’t do it anymore.  Of course, we could sit down, each with our kids, and we could watch J look bewildered, and Ex_BFF wrinkle her nose and glare at me through her eyebrows.  But as I said to The Mom, neither of them are going to say “Mom, I’m sorry, I lied before ….” just b/c we’re all together.  Whoever was being untruthful would dig in their heels and swear up and down that the other is from Hell.  What purpose is served? 


I thought of offering up the school’s guidance department, or an outside counselor – and if J had the goal of renewing and repairing a friendship, that’s likely what I would have done.  But since J wants space and distance – on account of the bruising that has happened throughout this long ordeal – that sentence was also deleted. 

A week after the final e-mail exchange, wherein I refused attempts at reconciliation for the girls (but re-extended my personal hand in friendship to The Mom), we were due to be at the same soccer game.  

I was a wee shakey in the guts.  But certainly went, proud of my past behavior and of my attitude (and first and foremost – proud of my daughter).  

We avoided each other a little (I was afraid of her spitting on me, since she didn’t respond to my measured but civil e-mail).  But by the end of the game, we were in a group of several parents, conversing as if there was nothing negative between us, laughing over shared knowledge of each other’s quirks and personalities.

This has been one of the hardest ordeals I’ve dealt with.  It’s been prolonged, and has tapped into my maternal instincts in a way that no other conflict has ever done before.  But at the same time, it’s become an end to a “friendship” in a way that is distasteful.  I am well-aware of the fact that over the years I’ve had 1,000 reasons to end that particular friendship.  Whether it be judgment she’s sent my way because of my divorce, or my lack of jewish-ness, my choices in raising the girls (i.e., they have too much clothes, and should not have iPods), my decision to work (even though she now does the same), my decision to hire babysitters, or my choice to ride a bike rather than drive a car (i.e., I should get out up onto the sidewalk when she’s driving her SUV, b/c by riding a bike, I’ve earned the privilege of her HITTING ME WITH HER CAR), or whether it be because of odd manipulations and prejudices that she’s given me in light of our friendship.*  I still wish that our friendship could have peacefully faded – that we could have been busy in other directions, or with other friends, or whatever.

I don’t like the conflict.  

I want everyone to love me.  (Deeeeeep Thoughts, By Zuska the Honest).

That’s what it comes down to.

But not more than I want J to be okay, and for her to be supported and advocated for.  So the bad taste in my mouth is more than acceptable.  I wish I could make this painless for J, but I can’t (and I haven’t), but I hope that at least she can learn that she is never stuck.  It’s true that there may be some discomfort required to get rid of misery, but that she has the inner strength to scrabble through the thorns to get to the other side.  

And this, I hope, concludes the final chapter of this particular theme.





*And my petty grievance:  The day that I gave 100% of my weekend, blowing off my birthday, Beloved’s birthday, a play the girls wanted to see, and not in a small part – sleep – for the sake of helping her out with her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.  I was there from 7 a.m. until midnight on a Saturday, and helped with running errands on Friday.  I blew up balloons, became familiar with a Temple that I’d never entered before, (tolerated religion), negotiated with maintenance people, set up centerpieces, greeted guests, took care of aunts and uncles, and generally did all I was asked to do – just to be offended (perhaps selfishly and unnecessarily so) by the fact that when both Mother and Father of the Girl of Honor stood up during the party to thank all of those who helped with the set up and the details, I was totally overlooked.  The Mom was thanked, Her Twin was thanked, all of the other “helpers” (hired and friend-based) were thanked (there were, literally, 4 of us, sister and The Mom included …) . And when The Dad turned to his wife and said “who else?” … she shrugged, and they moved on.  Everyone at our table was shocked, knowing that I had been The Right Hand Woman for the day, and were offended on my behalf.  I blew it off at the time, but the moment has been revisited in my head on several occasions, and I suppose that I was quite hurt.

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Usually my weekends are full of blogging.  I can finally stop and breathe – spend a little time on my couch ruminating.  Or a lot of time.

Not so much this time of year.

I’m running around like mad, attending events, preparing myself and my family for said events, buying things for the events, helping out with the events and on and on and on, really.

Yesterday was my first Bat Mitzvah, and it was a very.  full.  day.  I just can’t imagine what it is like to be a member of a thriving synagogue, where these events happen every weekend!!

The service was at 10:15; ended at 12:15.  The luncheon followed immediately, and was scheduled to end by 1:30, but people weren’t cleared out until 2.  I knew, because I was the last to leave – other than the mom of the honored girl.

I left at 4:30.

I helped set up for the party.  Then, when I had to cry uncle, so I could get home, I instead went and bought a gift for the child, which I had neglected to do until them.  Damned my status as a working mother who dared to have 2 birthdays, a work party, a book group meeting and a kid who had her first dance all in the week prior to the Bat Mitzvah!

I got home at 5:30 just to jump in the shower and bitch* my way through getting my family out the door … which we did 30 minutes late.

The party was crazy fun.  My girls barely sat down all night – they danced like a couple of fools.  They even dragged Beloved and I out onto the dance floor a couple of times.

During the party, I was jealous of the culture.  Not the religion, but the culture.  I was jealous of the dancing and the clapping and the songs.  These things that the adults had been doing since they were in their parents arms, and which were natural and fun – which they associated with parties and smiles.

But earlier in the day, when I was asked point-blank “don’t you wish you were Jewish?”  I could only stammer “the service was lovely.”  If I’d been able to gather my thoughts better, I would have said, “no, but I do wish I could speak Hebrew.”  Because the sounds were nice.  The writing is pretty.

But the prayer book included translations, and I believed not a word of it.

Like, not even one.

I guess I was a little surprised how similar it was to the things I had been exposed to in my younger years.  I have been educated more and more on the Jewish faith over the past few years, while living in a largely Jewish community, and was led to believe that the two faiths were worlds apart.  I mean, I was told they don’t believe in SIN!!  How can you have a religion without SIN?  Doesn’t sin=religion?

But nah.  The words in that book weren’t so different.  All the almighty-ness, and one-ness, and power, and source of all life and on and on and on.


I also wondered, while sitting in the service, whether my kids were feeling a hole in their life.  They watched their friend exhibit the fruits of months and months of study, practice and meditation.  Clearly, this 13 year old girl had some level of belief in all she was saying and doing.  Yet my daughters sat there watching without any corresponding dedication or belief system.

J sat between Beloved and I, and for most of the two hours, she was rigid, if not trembling.  She seemed so uncomfortable.

It was hard to translate.

I spoke with E today during our day together (post hopefully forthcoming) about the service and the experience.  She had sat with friends, but only a couple rows in front of me.  I know she was engaged in the service, and I know she read along in all the books, and I know that she didn’t talk to her friends ONE TIME in two hours (man, was I proud).

She said she did not feel at all jealous, and was not interesting in exploring whether there was a religious community which she would be comfortable within.  She listened to me (eyes rolling) about how I felt some jealousy about the shared culture, the passing down of FUN from generation to generation.  I told her how I still feel so self-conscious in my body – in dancing, in sports – and that I wondered if I grew up dancing at parties with my family if I’d have more freedom.  She said she didn’t think that the religion had anything to do with it, and she doesn’t want to go to a church.

We also sat with 100% Jewish couples at lunch and dinner, and I noticed how quickly there was community based on the shared faith.  Not to mention the built-in community within the congregation.

Of that, of the community, I was a little jealous.

But I can’t do it – not based on religion.

I have a (non-Jewish) friend who is a member of a Unitarian church (or is it Universalist?), where they celebrate and embrace everything.

I can’t do that, either.

I can’t say, “the pagans have it right!” and “The Jews have it right!” and “The Catholics have it right!” and run around hugging everyone for their rightness.

Isn’t there a church where people get together and talk about how bogus all the various faiths are?

Or where people get together and talk about how cool storms are?

Or about how Hilary Clinton is George Bush with a vagina?  And perhaps a few more brain cells?  Like 2 more?  Or 4.

How about the cool-ness of the daemons in the His Dark Materials series?

Can we talk about what it’s like to watch our kids grow up?

Why does it have to be about god?  and the absoluteness of the truth of our ideas?

Well, other than the absolute truth that Hilary is a butthead.

The answer is no.  I don’t wish I were Jewish.

I do wish that dancing was fun for me.  And I do wish I could make cool noises in the back of my throat.

That’s where it ends.

I did have a great day, and thought the party was fantastic, and I’m happy for my friends that their daughter’s day was as wonderful as they had hoped it would be.  I’m glad I was able to help, and I’m glad that we were included on her special day.  It was an honor.

* So, sue me.  I’m bleeding to death, I’m tired, I have a lot to do, and all I want to do is rest.  Instead, it’s go-go-go.  Yes, I was bitchy as a result.  I tried to make good.  I tried to be up front about my stress level and exhaustion level.  I tried to apologize when necessary (often).  But I’m not perfect.  (Understatement of the year).

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  • Oh, hey! I had 30 people over on Friday! They all fit; the house did not explode. I think the place looked awesome, and people seemed comfortable enough. The meeting went well, but can’t say more, b/c I was sworn to secrecy.
  • Went to a friend’s for a Hannukah party on Saturday – had a great time.
  • E is having a slightly tough time, being teased for going to the dance with a boy (this coming Friday). Seems that everyone else chickened out and broke their dates. She refuses, because it will make the boy (E-2) very sad and cry, and he is her friend, and she’s not willing to do that to him.
  • J is doing well.
  • Last night, I did holiday cards for 30 of our closest friends & family.  I have not done this in YEARS.  Years, I tell you.  Maybe not since I separated from the X.  Which was in the year 2000.  Oh, maybe I did them once.  But not since I’ve lived back on the east coast.
  • Beloved and the girls made the cards.  They rock.
  • Today is my birthday. I’m 35.
  • The wind chill outside is 9 degrees. Ouch.
  • Tomorrow is Beloved’s bday. He will be 46.
  • Work is good.

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I should be tired.  I have done a lot today.  A lot of work, a lot of exercising, a lot of socializing, a lot of sports practice schlepping, a lot of cleaning, a lot of chatting, a lot of cuddling.

Work still gets an A.  Sometimes I wonder what happened.  Why am I so happy, when people talk about work environments that are supposedly similar to mine in this manner?   I know I’m not in the cut-throat city, but still.  I’m just not seeing it.  And tonight, when I walked down my hallway at 5:30 to talk to a more senior associate about holiday-gift-giving etiquette, I walked past many, many empty offices.

I know, I know.  “Give it time,” or “just you wait and see.”

zuska = optimist.

I believe that my optimism makes good things happen.  It creates a better situation.  All the time.  It’s even, in the past, caused planes to take off when flights would have otherwise been canceled.  I promise.

Tonight, we all did chores.  E took out the recycling, J dusted in the living room, Beloved scrubbed the kitchen floor, I did the bathroom and 2 loads of laundry and straightened and moved furniture to get ready for Friday.

The house is taking shape.

Tomorrow I buy wine, Beloved buys beer.  I then come home (after the girls’ performance and taking the girls out to dinner) and scrub down the kitchen counters and the hardwood floors.  Then we sleep.  On Friday, Beloved vacuums the furniture and makes salsa; I work all day and then stop at the store on my way home to get paper plates and plastic cups; I wipe down the bathroom; throw the bathroom rug in the washer (how does it get dirty so fast?  it gets dirty SO FAST that I know that washing it today will do NOTHING toward it being clean on Friday.  NOTHING); take apart the kitchen table and move it to another room, vacuum the girls’ rug and the living room rug; do a final sweep of the wood floors; set up drinks and snacks; set up all the extra chairs; and otherwise freak out.

Then on Saturday, the girls have basketball games at 10 and 11.  This is okay.  Because basketball is played at the highschool.  The high school is like, 6 blocks from our house.  We do not need a zipcar.  Hell, E doesn’t even need us to walk with her.  And the games are at 10!!  And 11!!  Not 9.  Not 8.  It is downright civilized.

Then I have to make a key lime something or other ….

Anyone have any recipes????

Because that night, we’re going to an early Hannakuh party.

Sunday, I wanted to go out for mine and Beloved’s birthdays (Tuesday and Wednesday).  But I don’t have a babysitter.  😦  Woe is me.   While my kids are able to have spurts of time home alone, I’m not too keen on leaving them home in the evening while hubby and I go out on a date.  That’s a bit much.  Too much.

I really need to go to bed, or I won’t make it to Sunday.

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Date Night

The sushi was, in fact, fantastic.  Very creative and yummy.  Especially their “creative roll” which they termed the volcano.  It had scallops in it, and some sort of sauce dumped on top, and it was amazing.

We ate at 9 p.m., after seeing two movies.  Not one.  Two.

We saw:

1)  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead; and

2)  Michael Clayton.

Turns out we both liked Michael Clayton better. Interesting that while reading the Times reviews, I see that the reviewer of Michael Clayton speaks of how the director (Tony Gilroy) must have seen several movies directed by Sidney Lumet before digging in to Clayton, Gilroy’s directorial debut.  Lumet directed Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

I didn’t feel a similarity between the films.

Other than enough for us to say, “I wonder if our second movie should have been something lighter?” Because we had no lightness.  We had no humor.

But they were great movies (even the one that wasn’t our favorite), and we had lots to talk about with both later.

I highly recommend both films.  I think I recommend Michael Clayton more.

I do think, however, that you should see Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, because Marisa Tomei was topless a lot, and her boobs are really freaking amazing for someone her age.  Perhaps this is nothing other than a sad commentary on my own boobs.  But when I brought it up later, Beloved said there’s no way she’s HIS age (45, for about another minute), she must be my age (34, for about another minute) or younger (based on the boobs).  I said no … she could not be MY age, because I was approximately 17 when My Cousin Vinnie came out, and she was NOT 17 when she did that movie.  (We were assuming that it had come out in the late 80s – we were wrong.  It was 1992.  So I was 20.)

Turns out, she’s 8 years older than me, 3 younger than him.  To the day.  She shares my birthday.  His is the next day.

She looks amazing, in my opinion.

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Shopping for kids.

I took E shopping today. She’s going to NYC for a show and a fancy-pants dinner, and she is going to a dance, and we’re going to a friend’s Bat Mitzvah.

We went to Macy’s, but the stupid store didn’t have a kids’ section.

So we went to Bloomingdales, but I was scared. I’d seen dresses for her there in the past when I went with a friend, but they were all pushing $200, and I didn’t find that to be the best use of my dollars. I pay just about that for suits for myself — not for a dress for a kid who will GROW in 1/2 a minute, and whose sister is almost as tall as her (which means I can’t look forward to it functioning as a hand me down).

She ended up finding a dress (tunic?) which was $38, plus 25% off. We got some leggings, and I said, “fine.” For NYC and her school dance, I thought it would be fine. I didn’t think it was dressy enough for the Bat Mitzvah, but we have time for that.

But then we went to another store, and I saw the world’s most gorgeous dress.

She wrinkled her nose at it. She said no.

Then she showed me this black formal dress … it had a ruffled skirt, and diamond (fake) edging. She said, “if you flip this around a little bit, it’s just like [friend she’s going to NYC with]’s dress.”


I told her there was NO WAY she could wear a tunic-like-dress and leggings if her friend was wearing something like THAT.

So I made her try on the dress I liked.

I actually made her try on both dresses I liked.

Fortunately, the $316 one was too big in the 12, and too small in the 8, and they didn’t have a 10. (I wouldn’t have bought it – I swear).

But the one I really loved was right around $100, and she looked so gorgeous in it, even she couldn’t argue with me about it. She ended up loving it, too. (I tried to take pictures, but the flash kept making it too shiny, and doesn’t do it justice – so I found this one on the internet.)


It’s in my closet now. I don’t trust their closet.

Problem is – it may be too dressy for the Bat Mitzvah, although perfect for her NY evening. And definitely too dressy for the school dance. So, while I was hoping to get her only two outfits (one for NYC which could also be used for the Bat Mitzvah services and the school dance, and a second for the Bat Mitzvah party), now I think I’ll be getting, like, 4.

I need to check with my friend (mom to the Bat Mitzvah girl) to be sure that E wouldn’t appear to be “showing up” the party girl.  I’ve seen her dress, and it’s probably on par with E’s.  Not dressier, but not more casual.  E’s perhaps looks a little less dressy, only b/c the party girl’s dress looks older.  E’s empire waist, I think, makes it a little more innocent, and a little less formal.

My other major difficulty with an 11 year old with big, wide feet: shoes.

We went into Stride Rite, where they sell Borns and other fancy-pants (to me) shoes in kiddy sizes, and the woman told me, “you really can’t shop for her here, anymore. She’s too big.”

How do I buy shoes for an 11 year old? I don’t want her to wear high heels. I refuse to allow it, actually. I also don’t want to spend $100. But if I go into the adult realm, I’m struggling to find her something that doesn’t violate both of those rules.

Oh, the hardships.

In the meantime, I got J a sweet little brown dress with white polka dots, and found 15 different choices of shoes – little brown ballet flats, regular flats, Mary Janes, you name it.

But not for E.

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On the Home Front

Beloved managed the random, surprise day off quite nicely.  He is, again, my Prince.  He shuttled both girls to various friends’ houses and back, prepared for E’s bday celebration tonight, cooked E’s bday dinner, took J shopping to allow her to buy her sister a gift, managed getting E to soccer practice, and generally kept the house a home.

E’s birthday evening went fine.  It was a little anti-climatic, since her party was this past weekend.  She had gifts from her far-away loved ones, and seemed happy enough.  She is 11 now, and perhaps too mature to be all bubbly over the anniversary of her birth – because she was quite laid back.

On my 11th birthday, my uncle died.  He was 25, and he burned up in a car.  I remember the birthday as being shrouded in sadness, with my dad gone to pick up his father from a far away state, and my mom depressed in her bed.  She gave me Q-Bert as a birthday present, and I played it on the t.v. in her room (on an Atari, natch) while she hid from the world under the covers.

I was old.  I felt old.   I didn’t feel neglected or abandoned – I felt like I was initiated into life.

What’s funny is that my mom and I talked about my 11th birthday the night of my brother’s party.  She shared with me just how much she went through that weekend, and how so very abandoned she felt – for various reasons.

My 11th birthday seems to have been one of the worst weekends of her life.

E’s 11th birthday was one of the craziest of my life.  But far from the worst.


E is so old now.  11 is old.   I love watching it, but I’m scared by how fast it seems.  Pictures from just last year show a little-girl face.  Now, we look at her face, at its new angles, and the new depth to it, and we wonder – how old is she?  She doesn’t look like a little kid.  She looks … 16.  Her legs are so long, and she carries herself so different.

Before I know it, she’ll be on her way to college.  From here on out, our relationship will become more and more distant – as a fact of life.  She’s getting closer to where she should be figuring things out on her own, and letting go of my hand, bit by bit.

7 short years left ….

Well, to this phase.

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The last

It’s 12:42.  There has been no talking since I told them there should be no talking.  I am pleased.  They are asleep.

It’s our turn.

I set my alarm for 8 so I can make pancakes.

Then, my parents and sister come.

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I remember playing truth or dare for the first time in 8th grade. It was a boy/girl party. Not the “I’m in 4th grade and some of my friends are girls, and some are boys, so they’ll all come over and we’ll play baseball and we’ll open presents and we’ll eat cake” kind of boy/girl party, but in the “I will invite these cute boys and hope they come, and hope that I can kiss one of them” sense.

No one chose truth. No one wanted to tell truths. We only wanted to kiss.

And we hoped against hope that our braces wouldn’t lock, and that we wouldn’t drool, and that kissing a boy would be somewhat similar to kissing the back of our hands, or our pillow, or the air in front of the mirror.

But these girls in my living room are 2 years away from that.

They mostly choose “truth.” And they want to know “what boy do you think is cute?” And they don’t care when the Mom of the House comes in 1/2 way through the round – they say, “oh, please let us stay up? You can stay while we finish!” And they continue with their conversation about the “most annoying person in our grade” and then they ask, “what’s the most embarrassing thing your mother does when people are around?”

I swear to god – E said, “My mom really isn’t embarrassing.” After her friends shared stories (which I found fun to be around for, and mortified on their mothers’ behalves .. even though nothing was all that embarrassing, really). I laughed and said, “well, that’s just because I’m in the room.” But then I reminded E that I have yelled at her in front of at least two of her friends – when one of the others raised her little hand and said, “you yelled at her in front of me, too!”

Thanks for that, sweet girl.

[For clarification: “Yelled at” = reprimand, correct, informing child of unmet standards and expectations. “Yelled at” does NOT = raised voice; bulging veins in the neck; insults; swear words; intimidating behavior.]

But the real fun part: The dares.

Beloved and I were in our room, hanging out at our various computers. Our door was closed. The girls were playing truth or dare – having given me assurances that there would be no dares involving the removal of clothing, and no truths resulting in hurt feelings.

Suddenly, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in!” says Zuska.

Friend 1 comes in the room. “Can we please stay up 5 minutes past 11:30?”

Zuska looks at the friend quizzically. “Are you all okay?”


“Are you fighting?”


“Is anyone crying?”


“Well, I’ll come check on you at 11:30 and decide then.”

Beloved looks at me like I’m on the moon. “5 minutes, Zuska?”

“Yeah?” I’m confused. “Should I have said yes?”

“Yah!” he says.

“Oh.” I call Friend 1 back. “Beloved says yes, you can have 5 more minutes.”

Friend 1 laughs, and tells the other kids.

Beloved says, “That was a dare.”

“huh?” Says Zuska the One With No Clue.

“Zuska, 5 minutes? What’s the point in asking for 5 minutes? It’s irrational. It was a dare!”

I jump up and go out to the living room.

“Was that a dare?”

My Child: NO!!

Friend 1: NO!!

Friend 2: NO!!

Friend 3: NO!!!

Friend 4: [small voice] maybe?

She said she couldn’t think of anything better.

Then later, I come out to get a glass of water, and the girls are all giggling. “E, you are in so much trouble!” one says. I get my water. “What?”

“Look at the chalkboard!” [which is our chore board and reminder place]. Oh. All the chores are crossed out. So is my new work number. So is “{Friend 4} was here.” So is Thursday’s dinner (the girls like to know what we’re having for dinner. If we don’t write it on the board, they ask 14,000 times).

E dared Friend 3 to cross it all out.

They then told me the other dares: Ice down the shirt; Friend 3 was dared to come into our room and pretend that her feelings were hurt and she was crying — she refused. I told her it was a good thing, because I would have freaked right out. She said she refused because she thought it would get E in trouble.

They know I’m a ninny.

So innocent, still.

I think this is the last year.

So yes, I’m enjoying it.


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