Archive | Children

Liam Looks at Magazines

body.jpgLiam (getting out of the shower): Mommy, can I tell you something?

Mommy (ears pricking up lest she miss An Important Mother-Son Moment): Sure, anything.

Liam (looking at mommy sideways to gauge her reaction): Today, at Barnes and Noble, in the magazine section, I saw a magazine with a lady on the cover who was … completely naked.

Mommy (aware of the potential irony of this conversation occurring while she is drying off her son’s naked post-shower body): Really. Hmmm … So what did you think about that? 

Liam: It was weird, Mommy. And there were other magazines like that, too and I saw –

Mommy: You saw her breasts and –

Liam (giggling): and everything. And I saw another magazine that said “hot guys inside” and had a picture of a guy with no shirt on.

Mommy (wishing that the magazine racks were higher off the ground or that her son didn’t know how to read): What does “hot” mean, do you know?

Liam (striking a pose and flexing his muscles): it means really, really good looking. But this guy, I don’t know mommy, he wasn’t that hot. He had a big moustache and stuff.

Mommy (wondering when and why the 1970s ‘stache came back into fashion and what, exactly, Liam means by “stuff”): Really. So hot means good-looking? But you didn’t think this guy was good looking?

Liam: No. It was just weird. Why would someone want a magazine like that do you think?

Mommy: Well… I guess some people like to look at naked bodies. So they make magazines that they think people will buy.

Liam: Like they do with legos. Always making things so you want new stuff?

Mommy: Same idea, I guess, right.

Liam (pjs on, teeth brushed): Can I play Wii now?

Clearly, in the battle between “gadgets” and “naked” that rages constantly in the male brain, electronica is winning – at least for now. I wonder how much longer?

Continue Reading · on May 4, 2009 in Children, Kids

Redefining PDA

iphone.gifI have an iPhone. It’s a calendar, note pad, map, camera; I can use it to get my email, listen to music, or play games (or I could, except that I refuse to download them, much to my children’s chagrin). It’s actually not that great a phone but I love it anyway, my little palm-sized PDA.

And now, thanks to the folks at, these new-fangled PDAs can tell you when to get yourself some old-fashioned PDA: you can now sign up for a service that will send you text messages telling you when you’re ovulating. Yep, that’s right. Now your phone can be a bonk-alarm – or, as calls it, a “booty caller.”

Once you sign up for this service and plug in the salient information, you can expect a series of three messages per month offering you such brilliant tips as “stress gets in the way of conception so relax and get a massage, meditate, or take a yoga class.” Well that’s just great. So now in addition to everything else I might be worried about (like getting or not getting pregnant), I have to listen to my freakin’ phone nagging me to relax?

Why such faux-friendly advice? Why not cut straight to the chase: “Your eggs are hot, lady, so get busy!” Given this level of mechanical intimacy, one wonders what other services one’s phone could provide? Are there downloadable apps for those services? 

When I wanted to get pregnant with Caleb, after one preemie birth and one miscarriage, I borrowed a friend’s copy of Take Charge of Your Fertility, although initially I wasn’t interested in following the book’s method, which primarily involves daily temperature taking.  I balked: who wants to be sticking a thermometer “down there” every morning? After my friend recovered from her fit of hysterical laughter, she gently pointed out that I wasn’t cooking a turkey. All I had to do was take my temperature orally and plot the measurement on a graph.

Even so, however, the process was more work than I wanted it to be. All those charts and graphs and timed intervals – reminded me of story problems from math class: if an ovulation cycle lasts three days but the partners in question are too busy to have sex more than twice in that three-day window, how many times do they have to have sex and at what time, in order to conceive? Or, for those of you in an advanced class: if a woman is trying to have a baby without a partner, how many times does she have to visit the clinic in order to conceive and how much will it cost?

Maybe this sex-text service would have been just right for me, were I still in the baby-conceiving business (which I’m not). But somehow, I find this family planning via text-message both hysterically funny and a little bit … invasive. Do I want information about my fertility floating around in the ether alongside sports scores, CNN headlines, and Perez Hilton?

How P do we want our PDAs to be, anyway?


Continue Reading · on March 23, 2009 in Children, tech life

Thugs? Or just some guys in turbans?

Thumbnail image for pakistanturban.jpgCaleb brought in the paper this morning, very excited.

“Look mommy! Fuggies!” (Which in Caleb-speak means “thuggies.” Caleb hasn’t quite gotten his mouth around the “th” sound. I blame the pacifier – and thus, of course, my spineless self).

“See! Fuggies, fuggies!” He thumped the front-page photo for emphasis: a group of Pakistani men returning to their village. One of the men wears a turban; all of the men wear blankets wrapped around their shoulders.

“They are probably going on a hunt for jewels,” Caleb went on, nodding wisely. “Dat’s what fuggies do.”

I looked at the photo, looked at Caleb, looked at Liam, who was nodding agreement with his brother. “How do you know they are thugs?” I asked.

Caleb, exasperated: “Mommy! Because of Indiana Jones!” 

What he’s saying is funny, of course, but slightly troubling, too, particularly because when  Caleb and Liam look at pictures from their grandfather’s childhood in Karachi,  they will see men dressed very similarly to the men in this photo. I’d rather they didn’t think that all men in turbans are fugs. I mean thugs.

Unfortunately, I think Indiana Jones carries more weight with them than I do.

Fanks very much, Mr. Spielberg.


Continue Reading · on March 6, 2009 in Children

Boxers or Briefs? Caleb goes to the Met…

IMG_0116.JPGCaleb was on vacation from nursery school this week. Liam was on vacation last week. Mommy and Daddy are very much needing a vacation from these vacations…

On Wednesday, I decided that despite my general feelings of ennui (caused, doubtless by the fact that February manages to be both the shortest month on the calendar and the longest month in my psyche), I would take Caleb to the Met. 

Mind you, I didn’t really want to GO to the Met, although mid-morning and mid-week isn’t a bad time to visit, but I’ve been worried, lately, about what the world looks like for Caleb, the second child. With Liam, of course, we were all “oh, let’s take him here, take him there, do this, do that, classes, and lessons, and long excursions…”  By the time Liam was four, he’d been to Paris twice, London once, Vancouver once, and various spots in California. He remembers almost nothing of these adventures, but the point is that they happened. We’ve got the photos to prove it. 

I know, I know, one trip to the Met isn’t going to change Caleb’s life, won’t turn him into a world traveler, but a person has to start somewhere, right? 

Besides, isn’t this why we raise children in the city? So we can introduce our children to these world-class cultural institutions – for the theater, the art, the galleries, the restaurants?  Or at very least, the possibility of these things – because, of course, when you really get down to it, what do I want to do? Pay money for restaurant food that my children won’t eat – or pay for a babysitter so that Husband and I can have a civilized meal together (and try very hard NOT to talk about our children)? And don’t even get me started on the price of tickets to so-called “children’s theater.”

So I decided to give Caleb “an experience,” instead of distracting him with legos and coloring and stickers. We bundled into our coats and zoomed uptown to that alternate universe known as the Upper East Side.

We “skipped to my lou” from the subway to the Met, dodging past the glossy ladies who live and lunch in the 80s, between Park and the park. We moved at Caleb’s pace because it seems like so much of his life is dictated by having to be somewhere on someone else’s schedule – usually his brother’s: pick up your brother, drop off your brother, go to your brother’s swimming class, soccer game, baseball practice…

And when we got to the museum, we hit only the four-year old hot spots: armor, weapons, Egypt.

Our final stop was the Greek and Roman gallery, where I think Caleb was expecting to see Asterix and Obelix, which he and Liam have been watching for the past few nights. Instead, we saw a chariot, and lots of statutes, including a statue of Hercules holding a lionskin.

“Did that guy kill that lion?” Caleb asked. I nodded yes.

“With his penis out like that? … I mean, did he kill that lion wearing no underpants?”

And that’s why we take our kids to the museum. They know what really matters.

Continue Reading · on February 27, 2009 in Children

Snowy Suburbs – and a little zen – on the 15th Floor

childehassam.jpgIt’s snowing today in New York and as always that first snow turns the city into an Impressionist canvas: the hard edges are softened, noises are muffled. It’s lovely. (Eventually, of course, sometime in late January, the romance of “first snow” will be gone and we’ll be left with piles of filthy slush, but we won’t think about that today. Yes, there’s probably a relationship metaphor in here somewhere).

And snow, of course, causes delirium, veritable paroxysms of joy, in the small fry. Caleb doesn’t go to nursery school on Fridays, so I bundled him up in all kinds of weather-appropriate gear (thus creating the particular kind of waddling run that can be achieved only by combining snowpants that are slightly too big with snowboots that don’t quite fit) and went out on the terrace of our building. By virtue of being on the fifteenth floor, the terrace offers a wonderful snow-day opportunity: the snow is relatively clean – and thus edible, as long as I don’t think too hard about the filthy air through which the snow falls – and because no one else goes out there, the kids have the joy of being the first to mark that smooth white surface.

terracesnow.jpgToday’s snowfall was particularly delicious for Caleb because he didn’t have to share the snow with his older brother, who, truth be told, has a penchant for “accidently” pushing his brother face-first into a snow pile.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about city living versus suburban living – in part because of the low-grade stress over where Caleb will go to kindergarten, but also because of all those Things That People Say: more outside space, slower pace, more closets, owning versus renting, mini-vans versus strollers. And while I know that moving “out there” isn’t a magic bullet for anything, and that my friends who live in various NYC ‘burbs don’t think they’re living in PerfectLand, still…I wonder.

A guy named Leo Marx wrote a book in the late 1960s called The Machine in the Garden, which is about the constant tension in US culture between the technology of the cities and the pastoralism of the country as illustrated in the work of a number of early 20th century novelists, particularly Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Marx doesn’t talk about kids, of course – his book is “serious” – but the tension he describes still exists, only now it also gets played out in the ongoing parental debates about the best place to raise children. Marx talks about literary characters being able to drive back and forth from city to country, or doing like Nick Carraway does, in The Great Gatsby – figuring out how to “rusticate” in the country on the weekends while working in the city (without having a big salary).  

For those of us without ready access to a country house, however, “rusticating” is a more illusory condition. We need to find our country house (or suburban yard) wherever we can find it – perhaps a terrace on a snowy day (although in the time it has taken me to write this, the snow has changed to freezing rain, about which it is almost impossible to wax poetic – and thus we see the fleeting nature of first love snow). Judging from the grin on Caleb’s face as he tromped around, however, he doesn’t care where the snow falls – city, suburb, country – as long as he can be out in it.


calebcarsnow.jpgI guess my lesson for this snowy day is that I should be equally zen, right? Less angst and worry, more “be here now,” as Ram Dass would say. Even if “here and now” is face down inside a snowy police car, high on the 15th floor.

Non-zen postscript, unrelated to snow: I’m now also contributing to the NYC Moms Blog (and shamelessly used this post to link to my first post for that site): Follow this link, or click on the NYC Moms Blog button on this page.

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Continue Reading · on December 19, 2008 in Children, NYC

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