Monday July 30th- Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

Hazel has recently entered (what I hope is) a stage where she likes her dad much better than me.  If she bumps her head she wants her dad, if the noise from the garbage disposal or blender scares her she wants her dad, and his jokes are by far the funniest jokes around.

I’m pretending not to be jealous – especially considering that I was the only person Hazel had eyes for the last six months.  Although, I’m pretty sure that being jealous is totally normal and probably healthy because evolutionarily isn’t in our best interest to care who the baby loves most?  Isn’t that why parents happily share our resources with our off spring and forgo sleep and late-night partying and trips to Greece and fitting into their old jeans? I’m sure even pioneer people who were having kids mainly because they didn’t have birth control needed the free labor wanted their kids to like them.  They probably cared about it a lot less, especially when it was time to chop down trees or churn butter or whatever, but at some point I know there was a pioneer mom who had to suppress her annoyance that the pioneer baby laughed so hard when the pioneer dad did the airplane game.  Or oxcart game (more accurately).

People don’t often talk about these dirty little secrets of parenting.  Everyone thinks they’re the only ones going through a petty personal struggle instead of vigilantly appreciating every single solitary moment of parenthood.  Occasionally you can corner some one at book club or the rare night out with friends and get some one else to talk about it in whispered, wine soaked breath.  These favorite-parent days are so important because as soon as you have a baby you realize that you are on Casey-Jones-style train ride to living with a teenager.  Eventually the moment arrives when you realize that from your body came the human being who will come to think that you are the biggest idiot on the planet.

You have created this person.  This person who will manipulate you and mock you and roll their eyes at you in a way that so reminds you of the way you roll your eyes at your own mother that you want to crawl into a hole.  This person will come home reeking like cigarettes (or whatever they’ll have when Hazel is 15) and say right to your face that she wasn’t smoking.  When you point out that she obviously was because she smells like she spent the afternoon in the visiting room at a V.A. home, she’ll roll her eyes at you.  Or she’ll lie so earnestly that you’ll look at her sweet little face, that beautiful combination of generations of people that you love, and you’ll let yourself believe her.  And she’ll think she got away with something.  Even the sweetest, most thoughtful, most loving teenager still doesn’t want to run errands with you, or laugh hysterically when you pretend to gnaw on their tummy.

I was a nice teenager, Tom was a nice teenager, so we’ve got high hopes.  Still, all the energy we currently expel on entertaining Hazel is well spent.  We’ll remember these days fondly when we’re fighting about body piercings and curfews. And if my own parents are any indication, our brains will kindly erase the memories of teenagerdom once Hazel is a nice normal 34 year old.



An Idea – Wednesday July 19th

Everyday I walk past the Wrigley mansion and think “Goddamnit!  Why don’t I have a solarium with big flowering jungle trees and a few pairs of finches flying around who are specially trained to poop in a bird litter box?”  I would never read The Enquirer or People Magazine on the extra-wide tufted chairs or put a television against the thick rounded 19th century window glass.  I wouldn’t even say swear words so help preserve the balance of the room’s energy. Not the “F” word anyway.

Sometimes I see an advertisement for Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and I think “Goddamnit!  Why didn’t I write a best selling novel about working in a restaurant and become the host of my own show where I travel around the world eating exotic dishes and maintaining my rail thin figure?”  I don’t like exotic food but I could just have the cameramen cut away right before I was to take a bite.  Figuring out how to overcome this hurdle proves that I deserve it.

In the mornings I listen to the This American Life and I think “Goddamnit!  Why didn’t I create an award winning radio program for NPR where I got to interview all kinds of personalities and authors and become sort of a quasi-celebrity and have all these cool author/artist friends”  I would channel my jealousy of the really interesting people into passionate interviews.  I would not use words like “meta” or “banal” unless I was being sarcastic.

At night, in the few minutes of quiet after Hazel has gone to bed but before she’s woken up wondering where the hell everybody is, I read a book.  I think “Godamnit. I could write a book.  Well maybe not a whole book but surely I could write a few short stories.  I could easily write an essay.”

But last night, I finally had an Idea.  At long last, this Idea is not a quasi-autobiographical trip through the follies of my young adulthood, or a thinly veiled memoir about my time at boarding school.  This is an actual IDEA.

So now what?  Now do I really have to just start writing?  Here’s a Hazel picture to look at while you think about what I should do….


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