Monday, August 17, 2009

Stepping off a cliff backwards: thumbs up or thumbs down?

From the beginning of time flies have been congregating in this very kitchen for the lofty purpose of finding a mate and getting it on. They fly from all corners of the earth, even of the universe, and beyond, from Europe, Antarctica, the Horsehead Nebula and other unknown dimensions for to swarm in unholy orgies within my cornbread and my compost bucket. Why such eternal and sacred events should bless my particular kitchen, I know not. But I feel chosen, like the Blessed Virgin, to bare this fly-cross.

All former aspirations toward Jainism finally vanished as I purchased my mighty hot-pink fly-swatter. An unholy backhand takes out 12 at a time, plus two light bulbs and a glass of water. The fly tape impotently dangles from a ceiling fan, empty, whilst the flies daringly mate upon it's holder. Why are the young of this invasion so terribly ugly and frightening? What will become of us? How will we survive, after the Great Fly Plague of 09? After they have eaten all our stores of food? And how will I blog, when I cannot see the screen behind the flies? August farm.

I sent Blue to a rather expensive rock climbing camp as she loves knots and climbing and it's not a camp where going CHEAP is a good idea. Nonchalantly, I signatured papers and checks and trotted off for my first two hours of me-time of the summer. I returned to find her at the VERY TIPPY TOP! Nauseated, I ran back out to the hall and told her instructor to call me when she was down. As her mother, I shouldn't have seen that.

One day, after camp, she crooned, "Do you know what my favorite thing in the whole world is?"
"Stepping off a cliff backwards."
"Oh my god."
"What's you're favorite thing?"
Quickly, the answer rushed from me, "NOT STEPPING OFF A CLIFF BACKWARDS!"
"No.. really, mama."
Well, I don't think it's appropriate to talk to your kids about that sort of thing. So I picked my next favorite thing: a really good meal.

There was a 10 year old in her class who had been born a girl, but was asking people to refer to her as a boy. Blue tried to honor this as best she could saying, "She's a boy," and "She climbed up that wall. But I'm the only girl in the class."

We've had gender-bending friends and babysitters, so the concept wasn't new to her. It was a while before I knew T's gender, but that didn't stop me from enjoying her company. When we met her she was overweight in a way which accentuated the ambiguity, with a shaved head and a shirt that read, "Chick Magnet." She was a nanny and we frequently took the kids bowling.

So Blue wasn't too confused by little T. And I have to say that T had a boy's body and a boy's physical sense of movement and a boy's attitude. I've never met a kid SO completely fitting the gender they weren't born in to, in a essence sort of way. The only confusion came when little T started talking about the things he felt made him a boy. Wrestling with his dad. Blue noted that she likes to wrestle with her dad. And they debated types of wrestling and whether a girl could REALLY wrestle or not. Little T rattled off a few more activities: climbing trees, soccer, baseball. Blue said she also plays soccer (she doesn't, she stands in the field and picks daisies) and climbs trees (she does, she goes ALL THE WAY UP and I cry at the bottom). Perhaps, I posited, being a boy is more about what a person feels on the inside, not what they do on the outside. Admittedly, it's confusing. What is it to be a boy? Is it so different from being a girl? Is the boy/girl divide THAT great? I guess I just have to take little T at his word. I don't understand it clearly, which makes me want to just take his word for it even more.

Meanwhile, Coyote attended Enchanted Garden camp and made pink sparkly fairy costumes. And I took naps, apparently.

Last Friday, Coyote asked us to remove his training wheels. He's just a month past five, and we groaned. When Blue was 6 and a half, we had to cajole the wheels off her bike and then spent two weeks of intensive training.

The first day Coyote tried to ride, I tried to help, but it was his usual state of affairs. Crying in a ball next to the bike pleading for help, only to slap away my hands, scream at me and order me not to touch him and not even to LOOK at him, and he returns to crying for help. I quickly gave up... what was the hurry? It was his idea, NOT mine.

Tuesday he asked to show me something. And there he was, trucking down our road. Thursday, he declared to me that his bike was absolutely MADE for jumping and Huck produced just such an accessory. The week was really more than any mother should have to bear in heart-pounding, nausea-inducing, kid antics.

And then my parents spent their 40th anniversary with us. After a week of touring their favorite NW hotels, they spent the actual DAY separately, my dad hauling Coyote off to ogle classic cars, and my mom whisking Blue and I off for a back-to-school shopping blast. And we each strongly identified with our genders of origin all day long... although I do have a 45 minute shopping expiry and my mom bought me a red baseball cap that says "FARM BOY."

They also babysat on their anniversary evening so Huck and I could go out. We had fun... and then simultaneously awoke at 2 am, he rushing to the red Ace hardware bucket and I to the loo. Ah... food poisoning and a bad movie, our traditional date combination consistently tormenting us since early 2001.

1 comment:

  1. I have stepped off of a cliff, or building to be more precise, backwards. In college I had the most wonderful academic advisor, Roland "Ort" Ortmayer. Ort taught some very creative classes like throwing (students learn to throw all manner of things from frisbees to javelins) and climbing (students walk on stilts, walk ladders, and rapell off of the Science and Education building).

    My daughter is 19 and planning to move out on her own in December. She will be living with a friend in Ellensburg and attending Central Washington University. It feels like both of us are stepping off a cliff backwards.



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