Monday, January 12, 2009

A Fun Boss Meeting

The nature of Ben's learning problems have to do with an unspecified language processing difficulty. It's not clear how much of what he hears gets processed right, although I suspect far more of it gets through than the professionals see evidence of. Ben is a gifted mimic, but isn't always sure of what it all means. He also has certain conversational defaults: he wants so much to converse, and falls back on Drummond Island, his cousin Cameron and Thomas the Train when he runs out of things to talk about.

Recently, he has made a tremendous leap forward. During my evening dinner table litany, from the setting titled "How Was School," he responded pretty completely. Then he looked me in the eye and said, "And how was your work today, Mom?"

I was thrilled. "Well it was good."

"Did you do anything fun today, Mom?" asked the solicitous son.

"Well, yes," I replied, barely able to keep from cracking up, "yes, I had a fun meeting with my boss."

"Oh!" he exclaimed, "so you had a fun boss meeting? Good for you!"

Benjamin, my love, you succeeded in bowling your momma right over with this display of conversational prowess. Far better than the most fun boss meeting.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sweet snow

If you've ever made apple crisp the old fashioned way, before food coop hippies invented the rolled oats variety, you know what the snow in our driveway is like. You take cold butter and cut it with a knife into the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg until it looks like sand. That's the snow. As we wade through it to the car, I think of apple crisp.

I love snow, really, I can't get enough until about the Ides of March. Then, enough already. But right now it is lovely. Lily comes in from each romp with white muzzle and snow up to her belly on all four legs. The floors are a mess. Our heaters are loaded with warming boots, mittens and hats.

The birds are very absent. I keep the feeders free of snow so they can come and dine. I hope they made it through the blizzard.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I can’t take the tree down yet, though everything in my Midwestern-white-person-Lutheran-raised self says it would be proper to do so. Ben and I got a new one this year, and it’s so lovely, looks almost real, and it’s loaded with ornaments, seven and a half feet tall, the paper star just grazing the ceiling. As I write, the white lights are the only artificial light on except for the glow of this monitor. This year Ben enjoyed looking at the ornaments, hearing stories about when we got them or where they came from.

This year the tree is also special because my friend Laurie came from Port Huron with Vincent, her son, and the four of us put the tree up together. They even made the trek to Kmart with us to wander down the aisle, pick out the best tree, chop it down and bring it home. We laughed and laughed, and Laurie and I stayed up until after 2 a.m. just catching up. Vincent was born on Ben’s nine-month birthday, and the two boys, both Cars fans, got along very well. I’d neglected my friendship with Laurie, and it was great to renew it, and I’m so glad they shared putting up the tree with Ben and me. Vincent got to put the star on top, and Ben got to put the traditional chicken on top. (My trees have always had a chicken on top and a pink flamingo in the upper third.)

Vincent sparked a slight debate, calling for the star to be placed on the top, his mother having been more responsible about his spiritual training than I have been with Ben’s. The compromise was that we would put both the chicken and the star on top, and the boys would split the duties. Luckily, I had a paper star in the box of ornaments—a paper star that looks more like a gold snowflake, which actually was from my childhood trees. Those were mostly always of the fresh variety, always put up just moments before Christmas and always left up long into January until the fallen needles obscured the carpet in a perfect circle beneath the gilded tree.

Maybe by Valentine’s Day I’ll be able to take it down.

My celebration of Christmas is far more pagan than it used to be—no more church choir centered holiday. Mostly for me it’s a time to pause and relish the gifts I have, know them and name them.

Fabulous ever-green trees and the tall black spruce outside our back door. Birds—chicken, flamingo and the hardy Carolina wren who still swoops down to the suet feeder. Boys who talk and laugh and run and play. Friends who bear with me throughout the winters. Stars from my childhood. The half-moon tonight so bright it casts shadows.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Pairs, pears, pancakes and eggs

This morning as we ate a breakfast of eggs, pancakes and fresh sliced pears, Ben asked, “Mamma, who made me?”

“Your birth mom and your birth dad made you, honey.”

“Mamma, who made me?” the question came again, this time as he turned to look at my face.

I smiled broadly. “Your birth dad, Timothy, and your birth mom, Vickie made you. Remember? You grew in Vickie’s tummy.”

A brief pause, as he took another bite of pear. “Was it dark in there, in her tummy?”

“Yes, I think it was dark in there.”

“Did I get to eat pears?” he asked, turning to look at me again.

“No, not pears, just whatever could fit through your little belly button.” He laughed.

“My BELLY BUTTON?” he grinned, pear juice sliding down his chin.

“Yes, when babies are in their birth mommy’s tummies, they eat through a cord connected to their belly buttons!” I laughed again.

He was quiet again for a moment. “Mom, can I have more eggs?”

I’ve learned to just follow his lead, let him ask, and always, always answer honestly.

“Yes, of course you can have more eggs!”

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Winter walk

Ben. Lily and I took a late afternoon walk today along Traver Creek, the small slip of water which bisects our apartment neighborhood. Bold chickadees cheeked around us, cardinals flashed. Lily looked like she wanted to jump in despite the cold. About an hour into our exploration, we found solitary great blue heron tracks heading straight for deer mouse tracks: both trails formed a forty degree angle and ended at water's edge. A tasty snack for the heron, no doubt. One clump of rocks looked like a lucite shelf fungus had grown around it--ice. Bare heads of prairie coneflowers were gray matches for the rows of low lying clouds promising more snow. The sunset as we headed back was perfect turquoise and apricot.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Haiku

Lopsided light, sweet, drunk smile
reclines in bare trees.
New Year’s moon in Michigan.