Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Upcoming Rainbow Families Conference

Our neighbors across the street called the other day to ask if we were going to the upcoming Rainbow Families Conference.

Luckily, BioMom and I are of like mind on the topic: we're just not that into it.

Sometimes I think I am homophobic. I, frankly, cannot think of something I would like to do less on any given weekend: processing and hanging out with hundreds of glbt folks because they are glb or t. As an aside, this line of thought has driven me nuts for quite some time. Why should we presume that we have anything in common just because our sexual preference/orientation is similar?

Of course, I've never been to a Rainbow Families conference, so I can't even speak from experience, so at the very least, I am being judgmental.

We have, however, been to a few Rainbow Families events. Basically, the organization is for gay and lesbian parents and kids. You get together, you talk about being gay/lesbian parents, share your stories, grievances, etc. etc.

In theory, this is great. Any group, let alone a socially degregated one certainly has shit to process. Hell, that's what this blog is for isn't it?

And, to be honest, I certainly went throught the I'm-Here-I'm-Queer-Get-Used-To-It! phase in college. You know, that separatist see-me-but-don't-treat-me-differently rally that gets underneath people's skin and has nothing to do with the being gay part of it at all. I drove my family nuts with my own discomfort:

Brother: Do you want some extra hot sauce with that enchalada?
Me: But I'm a lesbian!!! Why won't you accept me for who I am?

Ahhhh, the twenties. . .

Now, however, even though I still enjoy Gertrude Stein, I question the need for such separatist space.

The neighbors said they thought that such a group will be an excellent source of suppport for their two boys as they grow up.

BioMom spent the afternoon yesterday thinking about this. We agreed that it is a bit like a chicken-and-egg argument. If you live a separatist life--a disproportionate amount of glbt friends as compared to the general population--then it would feel strange to find yourself one day as a heterosexual adult without a heterosexual role model. Of course, this feels all-too-familiar to the glbt parent.

Presumably, most of us are spawn of heterosexual parents and then navigated our way through adolescence fumbling with our own strange and alien sexual desires and emotions. Maybe that's the deal: we expect that their lives will be like our own.

That's the flaw in the logic, I think.

Although these kids will face some issues that separate them from their heterosexually-parented counterparts, they will probably be heterosexual themselves and therefore fit in with the rest of the world quite nicely.

Furthermore, I wonder if we (as glbt parents) live our lives with friends that reflect the sexual-orientation statistics of the general population, will be giving our kids experiences that see that as normal. Of course, my parents never talked about any glbt people, so it all came as a relative shock to me.

With the sort of experiences we're providing the FYO, maybe the Rainbow Families stuff will seem strange or overkill or something.

In any case, I think the message is simply: be true to yourself. Fortunately for us, that means not only being happily lesbian, but also happily Conference-free.

Article on Parent-Bloggers from NYTimes

January 30, 2005
Mommy (and Me)

AS stomach bugs go, the one that hit the Allen family of Redmond, Wash., this month certainly got a lot of play. Barely an hour after Jaxon, 5, showed his first miserable symptoms, his mother was posting her satirical account of Pukefest 2005 on her Internet blog, Catawampus. By bedtime, after the virus had clobbered Neve, 7; Veda, 3; and Luka, 18 months, Dad was logging on to type his own send-up of the insanity in his blog, the Zero Boss. And Grandma Bunny weighed in a few days later with a 1,000-word treatise called "The Flu From Hell" on her site, Bunny Beth's Bargains.

The world's most thankless occupation, parenthood, has never inspired so much copy. For the generation that begat reality television it seems that there is not a tale from the crib (no matter how mundane or scatological) that is unworthy of narration. Approximately 8,500 people are writing Web logs about their children, said David L. Sifry, the chief executive of Technorati, a San Francisco company that tracks Web logs. That's more than twice as many baby blogs as last year.

While it is impossible to know if the reader of Good Housekeeping circa 1955 would have been recording her children's squabbles on, had the Internet arrived half a century earlier, it is hard to imagine her going head to head with Ben MacNeil, who has chronicled his year-and-a-half-old daughter's every nap, bottle feeding and diaper change (3,379, at last check) on the Trixie Update (

Today's parents - older, more established and socialized to voicing their emotions - may be uniquely equipped to document their children's' lives, but what they seem most likely to complain and marvel about is their own. The baby blog in many cases is an online shrine to parental self-absorption.

"People who get married, especially people in their 30's, and then have kids, are used to being the center of attention," said Jennifer Weiner, whose candid, motherhood-theme Web log, Snarkspot (, led to her novel, "Little Earthquakes," a tale of four new mothers. The blogs, she said, are "a primal scream that says, 'Hey, I may have a kid, but I'm still here, too.' "

Daniel J. Siegel, a psychiatrist on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain and Development at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-author of "Parenting From the Inside Out," said that what is being expressed in these Web sites "is the deep, evolutionarily acquired desire to rise above invisibility, something parents experience all the time." He explained, "You want to be seen not just by the baby whose diaper you're changing, but by the world."

With a new blog popping up every 4.7 seconds, according to Technorati, it is no surprise that there would be parent blogs, along with those for dating, politics and office life. But what makes them interesting is the way that blogging about parenthood seems to have become part of parenthood itself.

Heather B. Armstrong of Salt Lake City credits her blog,, with saving her sanity, if not her life. When it began in February 2001, Dooce was a collection of anecdotes about Ms. Armstrong's single life in Los Angeles, with provocative entries like "The Proper Way to Hate a Job" and "Dear Cranky Old Bitch Who Cut in Front of Me at Canter's Deli." After someone sent an unsigned, untraceable e-mail message about Ms. Armstrong's blog to her company's board in 2002, she was promptly dismissed, and "Dooced" entered as a term for "Losing your job for something you wrote in your online blog, journal, Web site, etc."

A year later Ms. Armstrong married, moved back to Utah, gave birth to a daughter, Leta, and was soon after hospitalized for severe postpartum depression. Her moving, confessional entries from that time generated thousands of e-mail messages and, she said, helped speed her recovery.

Now about 40,000 people log on to read about Ms. Armstrong's efforts to break her daughter's binky habit and of her concern about swearing in front of Leta. Like most parent bloggers, Ms. Armstrong steals time at the computer when the child is napping, after the baby sitter arrives and late at night. She said she blogs at least 15 hours a week. "Dooce probably saved my life," she said. "The writing and voice I had let me hold onto part of the original and old Heather, something that being a mother and the depression couldn't take away."

It is a theme that recurs. Parents have never waited longer nor thought more consciously about having children, yet time and again the bloggers voice surprise and sometimes resentment about the unglamorous reality of bringing up baby.

"Honestly I had a lot of illusions about motherhood," said Eden Marriott Kennedy, who was 37 when she had her first child and now writes about him at "You get settled in your ways. Until it's here, you really don't know how dehumanizing and ugly parenting can be sometimes. The blog's a place where all that stuff can go."

Exposing the dark underbelly of parenthood is not exactly new. Books like Anne Lamott's "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year" and Andrea J. Buchanan's "Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It" have made it clear that raising children is not all sunshine and sippy cups. What is remarkable is that being a parent has inspired so much text and that so many people seem eager to read it.

"If there's a parenting issue out there, somebody's blogging about it," said Julia M. Moos, a managing editor at the Poynter Institute, a journalism education organization in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the editor of Dot Moms (, an online collective for mothers that blog. Her Web site has links to more than 500 mom blogs and about 100 dad blogs.

Mr. MacNeil, of the Trixie Update, said he doesn't understand why more than 1,000 people a day visit his Web site ("I was even recognized at the mall once," he said), but his own motives are clear. "Parents have been parenting for hundreds of thousands of years, but this is the first time I've ever done it," he said. "In its simplest form, the blog lets me chart the void."

And this being an age in which publicizing the private has never been more rewarded, a fair number of parents are hoping their blogs will attract the attention of book publishers. Mr. Allen said he hopes the Zero Boss ( will help him sell a manuscript he has written about being a father, which is perhaps not too far-fetched.

Early next year HarperCollins is planning to publish "The World According to Mimi Smartypants" (already available in Britain), a compilation of posts by the popular blogger who writes at "If you only went by what the magazines and parenting books said or what your relatives told you, you'd think you were a neurotic freak who was doing everything wrong," Ms. Smartypants said. (She declined to reveal her real name.) "Blogging makes parents more relaxed."

But the question is, at who's expense? How will the bloggee feel, say, 16 years from now, when her prom date Googles her entire existence?

"Fundamentally children resent being placed at the heart of their parents' expression, and yet I still do it," said Ayelet Waldman, whose blog, Bad Mother (, describes life at home with her four young children and her husband, Michael Chabon, the novelist. Ms. Waldman, a novelist herself, has blogged about her baby Abie's recessive chin and gimpy hip and the thrill of the children's going back to school after winter break.

"A blog like this is narcissism in its most obscene flowering," she said. "But it's necessary. As a parent your days are consumed by other people's needs. This is payback for driving back and forth to gymnastics all week long."

At some point, however, parents may find themselves at a crossroads. Molly Jong-Fast, who has been a frequent subject for her mother, Erica Jong, said, "There comes that inevitable moment when parents who write about their children need to choose between their writing and their children's privacy and honor." Ms. Jong based a children's book on her daughter as well as a pilot for a Fox sitcom. "There's no compassionate way to do both, so either the parent or the child will end up feeling resentful."

Incidentally, Ms. Waldman's mother, Ricki Waldman, 64, a hospital administrator in Paterson, N.J., said she does not quite understand all this blogging business. "I think parents today know so much about all the things that might conceivably go wrong that they overreact and can't stop talking about them," she said. "We didn't know what we were doing either, but look, our kids survived."

The anxiety and uncertainty so commonly expressed in the baby blogs definitely make for good reading. ("He likes cars and tutus with equal passion," Melissa Summers writes of her 2-year-old, Max, on "I think he might be gay.") But it also shines a spotlight on a generation of parents ever more in need of validation, an insecurity that doesn't necessarily serve the cause.

What the blogs show is that "parents today are focused on taking their children's emotional, social and academic temperature every four or five seconds," said Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee." "It deprives us of having a long view of development. Kids do fine. The paradox is that the way to have them not do fine is to worry about them too much."

Maybe that is so. But perhaps all the online venting and hand-wringing is actually helping the bloggers become better parents and better human beings. Perhaps what these diaries provide is "a way of establishing an alternate identity that makes parenting more palatable," said Meredith W. Michaels, a philosophy professor at Smith College and the co-author of "The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women." "You're turning your life into a story that helps answer the question, 'Why on earth am I doing this?' "

As Alice Brady, who writes the popular baby blog "Finslippy" ( out of her Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, apartment, put it, "I'd be a lot angrier if I didn't do this."

And of course the more parents blog, the less likely they are to get the attention and validation they seem to crave. "If every parent in the world has a blog, then maybe it really will be about the child rather than the parent," Ms. Waldman said. "Because at that point the child is the only one who's going to read it."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Let's Piss Off the World S'More!!!

Dick Cheney, Dressing Down

Parka, Ski Cap at Odds With Solemnity of Auschwitz Ceremony

The Four Year Old's Story

The following transcript was found among a pile of sent-home materials created at Montessori school.

This is to say that it was not pointed out to us particularly by either the Four-Year-Old or her teacher. And, having said that, it could have just as easily gone unnoticed.

It is written on large-lined (even with the little dashes in the middel to help with lower-case letters) off-white 9'' x 12'' paper. It has a cartoonish picture at the top drawn in pencil of the FYO's version of a woman in a dress and her cat (you should see it!).

There was an old princess that couldn't go anywhere.

Except not when she sang.

But no one heard her.

The end.

So many questions.

How "old" is the princess? I mean, if she's really old, then why is she still a princess? And why couldn't she go anywhere? Was Queen Mum just a huge bitch? (And if so, then what does that imply for BioMom and I?). Why did singing make all the difference? And, of course, why did no one hear her? Was it like clapping hands in the forest? Was she doomed to innertness?

Gotta save this one for her future therapy sessions.

Officially Back with More Mundane Observations!

O.k. I'm officially:
a) no longer jet-lagged and,
b) finished with my first week of school so

back to blogging my unique-but-mundane observations of every day life!!!

This morning The Four-Year-Old crawled into bed with BioMom and I with her usual:

Is it a schoolday? Can I watch cartoons?

We don't let her watch t.v. during the week and since she hasn't yet graduated to the cognitive development stage in which we understand chronology of monday through friday, she asks this every day.

Or, maybe she understands the week but asks in the hopes of wearing us down. This is probably more likely, and, clearly, has greater possibility for her.

Anyway, I've been noticing just how big she's gotten lately. She's really a kid now. Since her last birthday (3/4 of a year ago) she has grown more than 2 inches and with her current obvious increase in caloric intake, it seems that she may be attempting another inch before her next. So when she hopped in bed this morning, I said (with an audible ting of nostalgia):

Wow! Here's our soon-to-be kindergartener!

She responds: Well, do you wanna hear the good news about that?

What? (Thinking: How could there possibly be good news about that?)

Well, I'm on my way to living my own life!

My internal response: !!!!!!. . . . "own life?"

I am so shocked by this that I move into my own protective blanket of intellectual speak.

What do you mean? Aren't you already living your "own life?"

Pause. No response from the FYO.

I mean, when you were a baby and in your crib you had to cry out and we had to come get you out of your crib. Now you just get up when you please. That's living your own life, isn't it?

She didn't buy it. I get more intellectual.

This seems awfully Catholic of you. Why the discrete changes? I mean isn't this already "your life"? Isn't life continuous?

Thursday, January 27, 2005


The Lawrence Summers debacle has spurred the expected flood of discussions about the differences between men and women.

This is one of my favorite diversions: what is biological and what is social?

One New York Times article "Gray Matter and Sexes: A Gray Area Scientifically" By Natalie Angier and Kenneth Chang, Published: January 24, 2005, points out that while differences exist (obviously) it is unclear as to how, and to what extent such differences are important to modern life.

The authors go on to cite some of the evidence:
>Women's brains are 10% smaller
>Women's brains have more gray matter than men's brains
>There is little difference in cognitive development between the ages of 5 months and 7 years
>There is evidence that in many countries men to better than women on the math portion of the SAT test (30-35 points on average: a significant but relatively small difference)
>In Japan, women perform the same as men at math
>In Iceland, women outperform men at math

>In all countries, women talk about math and their abilities/interests in a more negative way than do men

Other evidence cites the importance of culture:

Yu Xie, a sociologist at the University of Michigan said he wished there was less emphasis on biological explanations for success or failure, and more on effort and hard work. Among Asians, he said, people rarely talk about having a gift or a knack or a gene for math or anything else. If a student comes home with a poor grade in math, he said, teh parents push the child to work harder. "There is good survey data showing that this disbelief in innate ability, and teh conviction that math achievement can be improved through practice," Dr. Xie said, "is a tremendous cultural asset in Asian society adn among Asian-Americans."

In another New York Times article, "Different but (Probably) Equal" Olivia Judson (evolutionary biologist and author of a fascinating book Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex) states her hypothesis:

Males and females are typically indistinguishable on the basis of their behaviors and intellectual abilities.

She goes on to say that this is certainly not true for many (most?) species. She gives three examples, the most interesting of which is the green spoon worms.

This animal, which lives on the sea floor, has one of the largest known size differences between male and female: the male is 200,000 times smaller. He spends his whole life in her reproductive tract, fertilizing egges by regurgitating sperm through his mouth. He's so different from his mate that when he was first discrovered by science, he was not recognized as being a green spoon worm; instead, he was thought to be a parasite.

The hypothesis is obviously not true for humans either. I am currently at a coffee shop and, get this, I can tell which humans are men and which are women just by looking at them!

But, as Judson points out, although its true that men and women are different, its probably not fashionable to point it out what with discrimination and all of that.

She goes on to postulate about why there are sex differences at all. She claims that bigger differences between sexes are observed when there are major differences between the males and the females in terms of survival. The implications for humans is that it is not ludicrous to strive for a more equal society because we're not that different.

With regard to the SAT math test, 30-35 points is just a couple of questions. So, to (ironically) paraphrase Deirdre N. McCloskey*, size matters in love and statistics. Yes, men do better on the math score of the SAT and it is a statistically significant difference. But is that difference big? No.

*Deidre N. McClosky, formerly the famed Harvard economist, Donald NcClosky, is famous for, among other things, publicly transitioning from a man to a woman during the mid-1990s. Her autobiography Crossing is an interesting read.

Monday, January 24, 2005

U.S. News

Of course, it is common knowledge that US news sources are biased; especially when it comes to the war. The following link from the Irish Times shows a gruesome picture that was all over the BBC news in Europe last week.

I wonder if Americans saw more news like this if we'd still support the war (to the extent that we do).

A Gloomy Welcome

"CAMBRIDGE -- The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H.
Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he
said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason
fewer women succeed in science and math careers. Summers also
questioned how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of
female professors in science and engineering ..."

Monday, January 17, 2005

Is it really necessary?

I am currently at the airport. (The next time any of you hear me complaining about my job, poke me as I'm on my way to Budapest for *work*).

What is ridiculous is that at this very moment, from my perspective, i can see two television sets and no less than 15 people on their laptops. As I write, my cellphone rang (BioMom) and. . .

I am blogging.


Anyway, just a few wrap-ups before what might be a brief hiatus (to Cousin's dismay). (Its not that I won't have access to the Internet--obviously--its just that I'm meeting my next-door-neighbor from grad school for a conference and, sans kid and partner, there is sure to be some debauchery involved in the next few days which may limit the *ahem* creative flow).

Wrapup #1: Aunt-On-Mom's side claims to not be able to remember either of her two daughters ever calling her anything but "Realname."

Wrapup #2: Cousin thinks we're thinking too much.

We had dinner at a kitchy pizza place last night with Fo4, Mo4, 2o4, 3o4 and 4o4 (all but 1o4). As a result, expect future posts on the following:

1. familial outsourcing

2. expectations around chores

3. allowances

Over and out from the states.

Friday, January 14, 2005

On Getting Nowhere

So I just had a little discussion with the FYO about the Biomom/realname thing. I just wanted to let her know that I don't really care what she calls me and that I'll love her no matter what.

Then I suggested some version of "Mom" for both of us (upon the suggestion of a bunch of people).

The FYO, in her characteristically mature humor said:

What if I call you [BioMom's realname] and I call Mom [blog author's real name]?

Banana Fana Fo Fana Fee Fi Mo Mana

BioMom talked to a psychologist friend yesterday about the name game that the Four-Year-Old is playing, calling her by "Realname" instead of "Mom".

As is usually the case, she thinks we're over-thinking it all and that the FYO is not that complicated. In other words, she is probably not doing it to protect me or whatever.

She hypothesized that maybe it was just to complicated; when she'd call me "mom" and I would wonder who she was talking to.

More likely though, she's just experimenting with what to call anyone. This rings more true as she often demands that we call her different names.

Call me Mia!

God forbid you slip up in those cases.

NO! CALL ME MIA (in raised voice)!!

What she did say though, was not to correct her. BioMom can have and express her own preferences, but to leave it at that. Don't try to change her, correct her, or manipulate her.

I don't think we do enough of that as adults: respecting kids for the people that they are.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

You Know Its Cold When

They reference the temperature in simple terms like X above or Y below. No need to even say "zero."

Also, when they use terms like "arctic" and "frigid." Or when there are warnings about exercising outside, or suggestions for how long it is safe to be outside at all.

Or. . . when your car doesn't start.

Will Your Marriage Last?

One of my favorite radio programs is This American Life.

If you've never heard it, go. Go now. Seek it out.

It is usually broadcasted by your local NPR station through WBEZ Chicago. You can also check out episodes through the link above, or you can purchase past programs through

Anyway, on one recent program titled "The Sanctity of Marriage", host Ira Glass explores marriage. The first of the three parts to the show was about a marriage researcher named John Gottman. Here's the description of the show from the Website:

Act One. What Really Happens in Marriage. Ira visits marital researcher John Gottman, who's part of a generation of researchers that have revolutionized the way we see marriage by observing successful and unsuccessful marriages and trying to figure out what the successful happy ones are doing that the ones who end up in divorce are not. Marriage research and links to marriage education programs for couples are online at

This sort of thing is right up my alley. I've always been interested in what couples argue about. Unfortunately, economists are way behind the curve on marriage research. They only started to really focus on the economics of the household in the 1970s, which is ironic because the term "economics" originates from a Greek work "oeconomicus" which essentially means "the management of the household."

This initial research was pioneered by (or at least credited to) Gary Becker. he applied the international trade model to the division of labor in the household. Basically, his conclusion is that women are suited to household labor and men to wage labor in the market due to both biological and social factors. Because of this, they should each specialize in their own separate spheres and exchange the fruits of their labor.

He gives a nod to homosexual couples saying that they cannot exploit the natural differences in comparative advantages that heterosexual couples have and, therefore, are inefficient.

Of course, there are a kazillion holes in this theory, not the least of them are that there is a power dynamic in the household and that couples negotiate the division of labor.

Enter game theory. Etc. Etc.

During grad school I did some qualitative research on the division of labor in lesbian households, but was never funded for the research, so I then considered writing my Ph.D. dissertation on the change in the division of labor in households in formerly socialist countries as they navigated the transition to market economies.

Anyway, this is all to say that I am interested.

The research discussed on This American Life was fascinating. What they do is invite couples in to discuss some contentious topic. Usually couples fight about sex, work and money (this conclusion was made by one seminal study by Philip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz in 1983 when the researchers interviewed 600 couples). While discussing the issue, the couples are videotaped and scrutinized for everything that they say and do. Every comment receives a code: hostile, forgiving, angry, disrespectful, respectful etc. etc. What they have found is that their system can predict fairly accurately whether a couple will be together in 5, 10, 15 years.

The Ira Glass (This American Life host) asked about gay marriage.

This is where it got interesting. The researcher said that in his limited experience of the gay couples, their communication styles were better than the best heterosexual couples.

They included a snippet of one interview with a gay couple discussing sex and who usually initiates it. One guy said something to the effect of

You know, your body style is not really my preferred body style.

And the other guy replied

I know but... blah blah blah.

They totally got past that with respect and love and moved on to the main point. There was no trace of insecurity or anger or whatever. The researcher was astonished and refused to speculate as to why this might be without further testing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The World's Best Dad

Today is Sidekick's Dad's birthday.

At dinner, Sidekick's Mom said that her Dad was "The World's Best Dad."

Sidekick then said

Yeah! And there are lots of other best dads too!

Who else?

Suzie's dad, Jenny's dad. . .


[The Four-Year-Old]'s Girl-Dad.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A Rose by Any Other Name

The Four-Year-Old has taken, recently, to calling BioMom by her real name.

This started a few months ago, and we figured it'd be short lived, and she was doing it for fun, but it seems to have stuck.

At first we noticed that she'd call BioMom "Realname" in front of me and "Mom" when they were alone. Then it seemed that she'd use "Realname" a lot of the time, with or without me there.

So now, I'd say that she calls me my name about 85 percent of the time, and "Mom" about 15 percent of the time. And she calls BioMom "Mom" about 50 percent of the time and "Realname" the other half.

BioMom and I have been trying to figure out why she's doing it and have come up with a couple of theories. Maybe she is just trying to protect me or is doing it out of respect or something. Also, maybe she is trying to protect herself at school. So, instead of explaining why she calls two people "Mom", if she calls them both by their real name, she doesn't have any explaining to do.

Generally though, we were just going on with our lives, figuring that she has a reason for doing what she does and that we should respect it.

This weekend, however, we spent time with the Grandparents and one of BioMom's three sisters and they reacted quite negatively to Four-Year-Old calling BioMom "Realname."

REALNAME? She won't respond to Realname! She's MOM!


She is your Mom, not Realname!

BioMom's Midwestern parents are too polite (or passive) to actually bring up the topic, so it took her sister, over lunch to ask

Why does she call you "Realname"? And what are you going to do about it?

An actual *gasp* conversation ensued to the discomfort of Grandma. Essentially, they think we should correct the Four-Year-Old for fear that other people will misunderstand and think that BioMom is not her mom. I'm not sure if they're worried that Four-Year-Old will think that I am her mom or that she is in some kind of a divorced situation. But the concern was about WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WILL THINK.

You shouldn't allow her to call you "Realname" just to protect [the author of the blog's] feelings!

We're not. [Blog Author] doesn't care one way or the other what Four-Year-Old calls her.

BioMom is doing some soul-searching to figure out what she thinks about the whole thing. On one hand, she wants to simply respect Four-Year-Old's wishes and ideas. On another, she doesn't care. On a third hand, she misses being called "Mom" in the same way she misses when Four-Year-Old, then One-Year-Old called her "Mama." That is, she regrets the inevitable maturation of her baby. She does have some desire to have Four-Year-Old refer to both of us with parental pseudonyms.

For me, I don't really care about any of it. As was the case in my inaugural blog I don't really care what she calls me. I'm one of her parents, for better or for worse, and that role doesn't change with the title.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Children's Books Aren't Kid Stuff

I often get blown away by the stories told within kids books. And no, this isn't some cheezy reaction to the Polar Express (although that post will be coming soon).

I just read a book called Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks to The Four-Year-Old. We picked it up at the library this evening by total random chance. I don't do it justice without the gorgeous pictures, but here's the story. Why don't adult books have pictures?

Through the charred forest, over hot ash, runs Dog, with a bird clamped in his big, gentle mouth. He takes her to his cave above the river and there he tries to tend her burnt wing: but Magpie doesn't want his help.

"I will never again be able to fly" she wispers.

"I know," says Dog. He is silent for a moment, then he says, "I am blind in one eye, but life is still good."

"An eye is nothing!" says Magpie. "How would you feel if you couldn't run?"

Dog does not answer. Magpie drags her body into the shadow of the rocks, until she feels herself melting into blackness.

Days, perhaps a week later, she wakes with a rush of grief. Dog is waiting. He persuades her to go with him to the riverbank.

"Hop on my back," he says. "Look into the water and tell me what you see."

Sighing, Magpie does as he asks. Reflected in the water are clouds and sky and trees--and something else. "I see a strage new creature!" she says. "That is us," says Dog. "Now hold on tight!"

With Magpie clinging to his back, he races through the scrub past the stringy barks, past the clumps of yellow box trees and into blueness. He runs so swiftly it is almost ass if he were flying. Magpie feels the wind streaming through her feathers, and she rejoices. "Fly Dog, Fly! I will be your missing eye, and you will be my wings."

And so Dog runs, with Magpie on his back, every day, through summer, through Winter.

After the rains, when saplings are springing up everywhere, a fox comes into the bush; Fox with his haunted eyes and rich red coat. He flickers through the trees like a tongue of fire, and Magpie trembles.

But Dog says, "Wecome. We can offer you food and shelter."

"Thank you," says Fox. "I saw you running this morning. You looked extraordinary."

Dog beams, but Magpie shrinks away. She can feel Fox staring at her burnt wing.

In the evenings, when the air is creamy with blossom, Dog and Magpie relax at the mouth of the cave, enjoying each other's company. Now and again Fox joins in the conversation, but Magpie can feel him watching, always watching her.

And at night his smell seems to fill the cave--a smell of rage and envy and loneliness.

Magpie tries to warn Dog about Fox. "He belongs nowhere," she says. "He loves no one." But Dog says, "He's all right. Let him be."

That night, when Dog is asleep, Fox whispers to Magpie, "I can run faster than Dog. Faster than the wind. Leave Dog and come with me."

Magpie says, "I will never leave Dog. I am his missing eye and he is my wings."

Fox says no more that night, but the next day when Dog is at the river, he whispers to Magpie, "Do you remember what it is like to fly? Truly fly?"

Again Magpie says, "I will never leave Dog. I am his missing eye and he is my wings."

But later that day, as Dog runs through the scrub with Magpie on his back, she thinks, "This is nothing like flying. Nothing!"

And when at dawn Fox shispers to her for the third time, she whispers back, "I am ready."

While Dog sleeps, Magpie and Fox streak past coolibah trees, rip through long grass, pelt over rocks. Fox runs so fast that his feet scarcely tough the ground and Magpie exults, "At last I am flying. Really flying!"

Fox scorches through woodlands, through dusty plains, through salt pans, and out into the hot red desert.

He stops, scarcely panting. There is silence between them. Neither moves, neither speaks.

Then Fox shakes Magpie off his back as he would a flea, and pads away.

He turns and looks at Magpie, and he says "Now you and Dog will konw what it is like to be truly alone."

Then he is gone.

In the stillness, Magpie hears a faraway scream. She cannot tell if it is a scream of triumph or despair.

Magpie huddles, a scruff of feathers adrift in heat. She can feel herself burning into nothingness. It would be so easy just to die here in the desert.

But then she thinks of Dog waking to find her gone.

Slowly,jiggety-hop, she begins the long journey home.

Reading Lists

The moment I have even a perceived break, I always plan too much reading. The books at my bedside sound like that Christmas song:

"Twelve books of fiction, eleven book reviews, ten magazines, nine books on welfare, eight books on tape, seven short stories, six textbooks, five jour-nal articles" and so on.

I am currently on an Ann Patchet jag having read the book The Magician's Assistant (on a suggestion from Aunt-On-Mom's-Side), and Truth and Beauty. I'm in the middle of The Patron Saint of Liars and yesterday having unsucessfully searched for a travel book on Budapest and not wanting to leave the bookstore emptyhanded, I picked up Bel Canto. For Chirstmas I received: Middlesex, The Best American Short Stories 2004, the Best American Non-Required Reading 2004, and a book called Five-Minutes Mysteries. These do not include the many books I purchased for my job in anticipation of this break including Liberating Economics: Feminist Perspectives on Families, Work, and Globalization; The Working Poor; Reorienting Economics and American Dream. ALSO, I chose a new book to use in my upcoming intermediate microeconomics class and I am reviwing a book for an upcoming issue of a journal.


Having said all of that, what I have been reading is fluff. No. Uber-fluff. There's a great column I just discovered in the New York Times called "Modern Love." It appears to be written by different writers on different topics each week. This week's article was written by Rich Cohen and is a darling account of a man's first foray into parenting. The articles aren't all cutsie and sweet. Last week's article was a woman's account of her inevitable breakup. Anyway, enjoy this fleeting link to this week's article, "How My son Got His Name" or, the root of my procrastination.

Stars Upon Thars

BioMom said I could have like a million stars because I stayed dry on vacation!


Four-Year-Old running into the room where I am.
BioMom says I can have a WHOLE WEEK!

I hesitate to say it.

I won't. I don't want to jinx it.

I think the or-fea ear-yea old-yea is un-dea ith-wea otty-pea aining-tra.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Nontrivial Pursuits

BioMom and I had challenged each other to a game of Trivial Pursuit, '90s version. I was attempting to avenge a higher-staked loss of the previous night, and the Four-Year-Old was cuddled up (read: distracted) with The Little Mermaid. But not for long. Naturally, she wanted to be included in the game. So, we hooked her up with the grunge guitar player icon and let her roll. We attempted making up questions that aligned with the categories: Pink = headlines; Yellow = technology/Internet; Brown = movies/t.v.; Orange = trends; Green = real news; and Blue = leisure time.

Orange! What purple television star sings "I love you, you love me"?


She was thrilled.

When it was my turn to come up with a question, I wasn't as creative.

What is your cousin, Danny's favorite sport?

Thinking that would be really obvious to her. She got it wrong: Basketball! But then went on to say:

How come everybody has a cousin named Danny?


I wanna be as smart as her when I grow up.