Thursday, July 30, 2009

Still Recovering from BlogHer

I came home from BlogHer to a garden overflowing with green beans and wax beans and Juliet tomatoes and watermelon vines overgrowing into my garden fence in a way I'd decidedly discouraged them from doing just before I left town. (But you know, I was gone, and their Dad was watching them, and so I guess they thought they could get away with anything.)

I came home to an inbox overflowing with email from people I'd met and people I'd re-met and old friends I'd made plans with.

I came home to a husband who was just finally, thankfully getting over a terrible respiratory virus (that the doctor insists is Not Swine Flu) when I left and overdid it playing SuperDad while I was gone by taking the kid to the pool and the mall and a birthday party and is now coughing rather pitifully again.

I came home to a kid who DIDN'T MISS ME and ISN'T WORRIED ABOUT STARTING KINDERGARTEN IN TWO WEEKS and REALLY, REALLY ISN'T TERRIFIED OR IN ANY WAY SENSORY OVERLOADED RIGHT NOW BY SWIM CLASS and is showing all this lack of worry or concern about anything by attaching himself firmly to my hip and glaring at me whenever I get near a computer.


I have some serious thoughts on BlogHer, and some interesting stories to tell. But I've been busy the past few days picking up the pieces of my trip. I hope to have time to write much more here tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Girl Trouble, Part Two

He was reading, silently. As he read, it seemed, he came across the word "bell." I heard him whisper.

"Bell. Like Bella. Bella. That's what Isabella likes to be called."

"Did you say something? Are you talking to me?" I said, pretending I hadn't heard him, in case he hadn't meant me to.

"Oh, I just said something about-- about--"

Then he leaned toward me, and whispered in my ear, "About Isabella."

"Isabella?" I said. "You mean your friend Isabella, who you met in summer school? The one who likes to sit next to you on the bus? The one who taught you how to do a jump shot with a basketball?"

"Yes," he whispered.

"But why are you whispering about her?"

"Because Grant said girls are bad."

"What? A boy in your class said girls are bad?"

He nodded.

"Why did he say that?" I asked.

"I don't know. He just did. He said girls are bad, and no fun to play with. He said they're boring, and they can't play sports. And he said boys couldn't be friends with girls."

"But you don't think that, do you?"


"You have lots of friends who are girls, right?"


"And I'm a girl. You don't think I'm bad, do you?"

"Oh, Mommy. Of course you're not bad."

"Well, that kid doesn't know what he's talking about. It's okay to be friends with girls," I said. "Don't let anyone stop you from being friends with a girl if she's nice to you and you like playing with her. Girls aren't bad. Girls are just as good as boys are."

But I wondered, how many times will I have to say it to him?

And I wondered, even if I convince him he is right to treat women and girls with respect, how will all the other boys who have been taught otherwise treat him if he acts the way I teach him to?

And I wondered, with so many voices fighting for his attention, will mine, one day, be drowned out?

Friday, July 17, 2009


As a crowd flowed from the surrounding neighborhood, past the bright red municipal fire truck specially buffed and polished for the occasion, into a park already filling with picnic blankets and lawn chairs and children waving glow-sticks and flags, two families who had never met before spotted each other across the crowd, and began moving toward one another subtly, inexorably, through the sea of people. One family party was composed of a mother, a father, and a five-year-old child; the other, two parents and twins aged two or three.

Sharing only the briefest of glances, the two groups moved without any overt appearance of intention until both families settled, side by side, in a little grassy hollow to just the side of the main crowd, an island to themselves.

The newly formed circle remained silent while unpacking their camp chairs and blankets and snacks. Then, once everyone was seated, the father of the twins said, joking, "Boys, that's not your brother over there." The parents of the older child laughed.

All three of the children had ivory skin and brilliant, copper-colored hair.

And as the stranger families sat together, isolated, together, as they were, in anticipation of the fireworks, no one asked the blond and brown-haired parents of these redheaded children "Where on Earth did that red hair come from?"

No one half-jokingly accused the children's mothers of dallying with a milkman (and really, who has a milkman to dally with these days?) .

No one gushed loudly and incessantly about taking the children's hair color and bottling it. No one insisted upon rubbing the head of a child they had never met for good luck. No one threatened to play connect-the-dots with freckles.

No one called the boys fairy changeling children, or brought up elves, or attempted a bad Irish joke. No one confused the boys by winkingly insisting they must have been left out in the rain to rust.

No one made a crack, in front of the children, about the parents being guilty of kidnapping.

No one asked, in front of the children, quite seriously, whether they had been adopted.

No strained, compressed explanations of the rules of basic Mendelian genetics or vague references to Scottish great aunts or lamely delivered jokey replies or cold stares were necessary.

No, indeed -- after that first remark acknowledging the reason for their sudden compainionship, the two families sat in amiable silence, quietly admiring their children's similarity.

Two families who had never met sat together on the Fourth of July, applying the old adage of safety in numbers, and gained two hours of rare, blessed silence from strangers about their children's red hair.

It was nice.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Conversations with a Husband: BlogHer Bacchanal

WIFE: So, I think I might get my tattoo recolored while I'm at the BlogHer conference. Or maybe get a new one. I don't know. I bet lots of people will be getting tattoos there. I heard there's even a tattoo place giving a discount.

HUSBAND: What kind of conference gets you a discount on tattoos?

WIFE: My kind of conference.

HUSBAND: What else will you be doing up there? Who are you driving with again?

WIFE: I'm going with Kelli. And Kelly. In a convertible. We've agreed to wear Thelma and Louise shades and headscarves. Oh, and there's this other blogger who is going with us not for the conference but just for the parties . . .

HUSBAND: There are people going to Chicago just for the parties?

WIFE: Oh, sure.

HUSBAND: . . .

WIFE: I intend to engage in all manner of drunken debauchery. It's really too bad you can't come along. Maybe I should bring you next year.

HUSBAND: . . .

WIFE: You'd have fun! You'd be surrounded by hordes of hot geeky chicks with laptops.

HUSBAND: Are you sure that would be . . . safe?

WIFE: Are you afraid we'll go into a frenzy and tear you limb from limb as a sacrifice to Dionysus?


WIFE: You'd still have fun.