Sunday, April 27, 2008

Health Class

Remember health class? You took it along with PE. It was where you learned about S-E-X. You know, the real biological details. Fallopian tubes. Ovaries. Penises.

Well, today, Demon Baby was very happy and excited. Demon Baby is a pretty sensory kid. So when he gets excited, he has to externalize it. He jumps up and down. He claps hands. He pinches. Yes, pinches. Me.

I have an arm and hand full of bruises, but I don't get too mad. It's not an "I want to hurt you" thing, but a "I'm so excited I don't know what to do so I'm going to have this wild moment." And I get pinched.

Anyway, I was talking with a friend at church, Demon was excited. "Pick me up!" Pinch. "Please!" Pinch. Smiles and giggles. But pinching, too.

And it dawned on me. Demon Baby should be required babysitting. One day. Eight hours. For every teen couple even CONTEMPLATING having sex. He's not a Demon Baby. He is Birth Control.

I'm all for safe sex. But I think the current administration's focus on abstinence is all wrong. Demon Babies should be REQUIRED in all Health Classes. The teen pregnancy rate would drop to zero.

Let me be the new Surgeon General.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Moon Child

Demon Baby has one of the more extraordinary imaginations I have ever encountered. It is rich with dragons and monsters and swords and fighting. But also mystical elements.

Yesterday, Demon Baby said he was going to paint himself silver from head to toe. Then he was going to find a very tall ladder, go up into the sky and BE the moon for a few days.

I would never have thought up such a thing as a three-year-old . . . and it really makes me wonder about what great things he is going to do when he grows up.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Taming the Demon

As a novelist, my office is filled with books and manuscripts and galleys and cover designs. And Buddha statues. And a few saint statues. And an altar. And candles. It's a place I meditate, a place that speaks to my spirit.

I try to raise my kids with a sense of compassion. I try to raise them to be spiritual . . . and to have a strong sense of social justice for the homeless, the poor, the marginalized. I have taken them to Washington to protest on the Mall, and I have brought them into some pretty impoverished areas to work with me. They have seen me teach English to immigrants at our kitchen table, and they have seen my Significant Other go through his own closet to give the clothes he wears to a few homeless who used to live in a parking lot near where he worked.

I presume Demon Baby will eventually absorb these lessons. But for now, he is about shooting things, fighting things with swords . . . about monsters and violence.

Yesterday, he and I gardened. We tended the flowers. I had him set out the seedlings. "Let the sunshine kiss them," I told him.

"They are kissing sunshine," he told me.

But then, as is inevitable with him, he found a stick. "This is a SHOOTING GUN! POW! BAM! POW!"

We don't watch violent TV. I watch him and wonder, WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? Why does he make his way through the world fighting instead of kissing sunshine?

But then he finds worms in the garden and carefully lifts them and deposits them on my lilies of the valley. And I think . . . as long as I am breathing, there is hope this little guy will see the world my way. A peaceful way.

It is my mission to tame the Demon within.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Took Demon Baby to Florida to visit my parents. We went out for dinner with them and my best friend. Lovely meal. Wine. Appetizers. Breadsticks. Salad. Italian meal.

And then . . . in the middle of the meal, for no reason Demon declared . . . "DUMB FART!"

Not at any person in particular. But just to say it. Loudly.

And then he repeated it. Ten times.

My father, age 74, asked, "WHAT did he just say?"

Now, to be clear . . .

When I was a little girl, I could not say the following words; stupid, shut up, idiot, dumb, stupid, hell, damn.

Let's not EVEN get into the really bad ones.

As a mom, I have always insisted my kids ALSO not say any of those words. Until Demon Baby of course arrived seemingly like a bat out of hell with his OWN precious vocabulary.

So, I gasped.

Demon Baby repeated himself.

I watched my parents.

As they broke down into laughter the likes of which I haven't seen EITHER of them break into in ages. It went on. More laughing.

And for the rest of the vacation, that was both of their favorite expression.

And somehow . . .

I guess it's only right that grandparents find Demon's antics amusing.

Even if I want to pull my hair out.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Demon Tackles the Big Question

Bright children = Big questions

So Demon Baby was mad at me and said, "I think you should DIE, Mom."

"Well, Demon, that's actually not a very nice thing to say."


"Because if I were dead, I wouldn't see you anymore. I would still be your mommy but I wouldn't be here to hug you . . . and death . . . well, it's forever. "


"Because that's what death is."


"Because we're born and then . . . someday we die. We all do. Some sooner than others. I hope to one day be an old lady holding my grandbabies."

"So are you gonna die?"



"We just went through that."

"Where will you go?"

"Heaven." (Seemed the simplest answer at the moment. I thought of launching into my "Why I Want to be Cremated" speech, but . . . )

"Where's that?"


"Who's there?"

"Other spirits and angels and God."

"What do you do there?"

"Not sure. Be with God. Maybe watch over our family."

"Why would God want you up there? What's HE going to do with you?"

"Don't know, Demon."

"Will you play games?"

"Don't know."

"Read stories?"

"Don't know."

"Feed the dogs?'

"Maybe. I think dogs go to heaven."

"But I need you."

"Well, yes. So hopefully I won't die anytime soon."


"I'll make an effort."

"Don't die."

"I'll try. But you see, that's why you shouldn't say things like that."

He wandered off, then came back five minutes later. "Can we call God and ask him about this?"

"No. We can't. But we can pray."

"Okay. So pray."

So we did.

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you, Demon."

"No, I REALLY love you."

"Well, I REALLY love you."

And off he went. But somehow, I know that's not the end to his questions. They're too big. And I don't really have any good answers.

Not really.

It's all a mystery.

But maybe someday I will feed the dogs in heaven.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Little Rabbit

He has moments of pure adorableness. Given how much of a Demon he is, this is a good thing because he tries the patience of the entire family, and we all need these "Aw, he's so cute moments" so we don't kill him.

Today, "monsters and bears" were apparently roaming my house. He was fighting them with imaginary swords, and he came running into my office.

"Come with me so I can keep you safe."

"What, Little Demon?"

"Come!" (He was clinging to my legs for all it was worth.)

"I'm okay. Monsters don't like my office."

"No, come with me, My Little Rabbit."

"Little Rabbit?"

He put his head on my lap. "Yes, you are my Little Rabbit and I love you."

Of course, my heart melted. "Why don't you go see Older Sister?" (She was in the next room.) "Maybe she can come with you. I have to finish this chapter. She can be your Little Rabbit too."

"No, she can't."


"YOU are my Little Rabbit. SHE is my Little Turtle."

I just love him.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Demon and Zen

I had a revelation today.

The whole point of my spiritual practice is to simplify my life. Be in the moment. Simplify until it is me, my breath, the moment, my prayer. This makes life easier. I worry less (well, I'm working on that).

In Zen-ing my life, I am trying to de-clutter. Same principle. Simplify. I am trying to do things (like filing or organizing my closet) that allow my life to be calmer, less frenetic.

And then there's Demon. Here was tonight's dinner argument.

I set down one of those cutesy plates with a spot for his chicken, his rice, his vegetable. I got him juice. I gave him a fork and a spoon. ONE spot on the plate was empty. (i.e., there's a main dish spot and three sides, and we only had two sides).

He saw that empty spot.

"I want chicken in there."

"Fine." I moved two pieces of chicken to the empty spot.

"No. New chicken."

"Older Brother, give Demon Baby two pieces of your chicken." (Because I don't eat meat, I didn't have any to give him and Older Brother had a HUGE piece--growing adolescent.)

"No!" (Shrieking.) "I want my OWN chicken."

"But you haven't even eaten a BITE yet. Not one bite." (I am trying to waste less food and he already had PLENTY o' chicken . . . ).

"I want new chicken for that spot."

"Finish the chicken you have."

"No. I want my own. From over there." (Points to stove.)

"Eat the chicken or go upstairs and take a time out."


He gets up, goes upstairs, stomping his tiny feet the whole way up. I took the opportunity to move Brother's chicken to the spot rather than cutting into a new chicken breast. A few minutes later, I called him down. "There. Chicken in every spot."

"I can tell it's not THAT chicken." (Points to stove.)

By this time, since I only ate rice, I was done with my meal. I sighed. Got up. Started cleaning from dinner. He sat there and refused to eat.

"I want juice now."

"One minute."


And I realized . . . my entire day is spent like this. Nothing, not one single thing from waking up until he shuts his eyes is EVER greeted without an argument. Not one thing.

"I don't like this shirt."

"I don't want to wear shoes."

"I want these shoes not those shoes."

"I don't like this blankley, I want that one." (When he cuddles up with a blanket.)

So I had a lightbulb moment. I stared him down. "Demon . . . this is a very difficult way to go through life. Life can be easy, or it can be hard, but you don't EVER take the easy way. You fight your way through your whole life. That's not good, Demon. Pick your battles."

"I want new chicken."

And so . . . when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Demon is here to teach me how to master Zen. Because God knows, he makes it difficult.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's Not Even Sunrise

Demon Baby woke up at 4:45 a.m. In the pitch dark.

He wanted juice.

I got him juice.

He wanted to be naked. He took care of that himself, and stripped out of his pjs. He climbed under the covers in my bed and, I thought, fell back to sleep.

Ahhh, sleep. At 5:00 a.m. this now eluded me. I had an hour until my alarm went off, and so my mind was already calculating "why bother?"--so I got up.

I came downstairs, brewed coffee, sat down to work on my other blog and answer emails. At 5:15, I heard the pitter-patter of Demon feet.

Stark naked in my office, he wanted to curl up on my lap. So I gave him a hug, then suggested clothing, a blanket, some cereal and quiet cartoons on TV. That seemed like it was a thumbs up.

Took care of that, came back to work. Within five minutes, he wanted more juice. Then a hug. Then different cereal. Took care of that. Sat down.

It was not yet 5:25.

The morning pretty much progressed like that. Within ten minutes, he was no longer shaking off the last bit of sleepiness and he was chatty. It never ceases to amaze me that his preschool says he can go an ENTIRE morning and not say one word. He was soon, here, launching into his Demon Manifesto.

I tried to settle him down with a sibling. No such luck.

Next thing I knew, he was in my office again, naked once again, and asking me to say cheese. I turned my head. "Why?"

"This is my camera."

He had taken apart the carpet steamer (we have to have one for obvious reasons) and found a part that sort of resembles a camera with a hole in it for the lens. I have no idea what this part does, but I can tell you, it does not take pictures.

I smiled. I said "Cheese."

He disappeared, I presumed to develop the film.

He returned. Still naked. "This is my knife."

He had found another part that could, vaguely, seem like a scabbard or something.

Now . . . me, a person of peace, sighed. It wasn't yet 6:00 a.m.

"Why do you feel the need for violence?"

"Woohoo! It's my knife!!"

"Again, Demon . . . violence is wrong. Peace is good. Why do you feel the need to HAVE a knife?"

He looked at me, still stark naked, like I was a complete imbecile.

"So I can slice up the monsters in your closet like an apple."

It's not even dawn.