Lasker Pool

Lasker Pool
Central Park, summer 2011

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mini Mogul

Jesse has always absolutely loved money. He used to beg for coins in infancy and then sit happily playing with quarter for hours.
In preschool, he spent much time counting coins over and over.
Since neither Mick nor I seem to have much of an interest in, or, sadly, a knack for, raking in the green, I'm not sure where this passion came from.
So, the other day at school, a mom stopped to tell me that Jesse was, essentially, trying to extort money from her son. Apparently, the boy (let's call him Freddie), had, upon leaving the house that morning, muttered "Shoot, I forgot my seven dollars."
When his mom queried him further, Freddie spilled the beans. Jesse and an accomplish had told Freddie that Jesse's mom had started a blog about him.
To gain visual admittance to the aforementioned blog, Freddie needed to pay Jesse $7.
Freddie's mom wisely put the kibosh on Jesse's plan.
When I asked Jesse, he, of course, denied all knowledge of the $7 request. Then he blamed it on a friend. Finally, he gave in.
"Oh, alright. I did it!" he said. "But he agreed. So what's the problem?"
Spoken like a true capitalist.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Query Weary

I know all too well never (NEVER!!!) to ask my children if they have any questions. About anything. Because what I'll get in return is bombardment with multiple, rapid-fire queries on topics ranging from the man in the moon to chocolate milk to parking lots.
"Mom, is there really a man in the moon? How do we know it's a man and not a woman?" Has anyone met the guy?
"What kind of chocolate is in chocolate milk? How do they get the chocolate in there? Do they melt it? Why does the chocolate in the container look all pebbly?"
"Do you have to pay to put the car in a parking lot? Why can't we keep a car in our apartment? How about a pool? Can we have a pool in the living room?"
So, never do I solicit questions. It's a matter of self-preservation.
Our lovely pediatrician, Dr. C., however, doesn't apparently know this.
So after Seth and Jesse's eight-year-checkup, which involved two naked boys hiding under the table crying while she attempted to give them their shots, Dr. C., made the fatal error.
"Any questions, guys?"
There followed a 20-minute session that had Dr. C., at its conclusion, literally holding up her hands and backing out of the room in surrender.
I can't recall them all, but a couple of the gems were:
Seth: "How long can a penis get? How long will my penis get?"
Jesse: "How are babies really made? You can tell me. I promise I won't talk about it in school. Mommy told me I'm not allowed to."
Seth: "I know, I know! You bump your privates together and it has something to do with this (points to his bare, eight-year-old chest)."
Jesse: "Does your butt ever hurt? Mine does. But why?"
Dr. C., wiping the tears from her eyes. "I love my job."
Sigh. Makes a mother proud.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fashion Victim

Seth informed me last night that I am in need of a wardrobe makeover.
"Mom," he said as we strolled home from a playdate. "You don't really have any style."
When I queried him further, he explained boy-style to me: "It's jeans, sneakers and cool T-shirts. Easy-peasy."
But my look? "I don't mean to make you mad," my second-grader told me. "You just don't have any pizazz."
Truth is, Seth is the boy I ask fashion questions of from time to time (with four males in the house and me, I get kind of desperate for feedback).
And he's usually pretty on-target.
So, I asked the fatal question: What would give me more pizazz?
Seth's recommendations:
*Red, red lipstick
*Big black boots
*Lots of jewelry
*Exercise every morning
And, for the piece de resistance:
*"Can you do something to make your butt smaller?"
Perhaps I've been letting him watch What Not To Wear too often.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


With three boys in elementary school, I'm pretty well acquainted with the school nurse. To wit,
"Hi, it's Nurse Marcia (name changed to protect the innocent, of course). It's not an emergency. Jesse got hit on the head by a ball at recess. He says he's fine, but he has a rather large bump on his forehead. I gave him a Band-Aid and sent him back to class. You might want to make sure he's not slurring his words tonight."
"Kyle tripped over a chair in the cafeteria at lunch when he and some of the other 5th grade boys were dancing to Lady Gaga. It's not an emergency. He's fine, but his braces might need a bit of tweaking. Hope you have coverage for the orthodontics!"
But in almost 11 years of raising boys, yesterday's message from the nurse stands out.
"Hi, it's Nurse Marcia. It's not an emergency (are you seeing a pattern here?) Seth is in my office and he says his eyes are itching and his nose is stuffed up. He thinks he may have pollen allergies. He spoke with another second-grader (I kid you not) about it and figured out that his symptoms match those for pollen allergies. He's fine, but he thinks you should take him to the doctor to get it checked out. I think he might be right about this diagnosis."
My work here is done.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Moral of the Story

So, you know how you try to instill good values in your kids?
In our house, the more sophisticated stuff is a bit beyond our grasp at the moment. But we're constantly working away on the basics of civility: be kind, be fair, take turns, share, say please and thank you, tell the truth, be a gracious winner and a good loser.
I'm thinking that the truth-telling aspect of this is not taking so well with Jesse.
He, Seth and I were sitting in their favorite fancy pizza place the other night (Dean's, where the wait staff brings thin-crust pizzas on big silver trays) when Jesse asked,"Do you think the boss here makes a lot of money? I mean, look at all these people!"
Indeed, the joint was packed with Upper West Side families, all chowing down on the yummy pizza and family-sized salads.
"I have no idea, Jess," I replied.
"Well, I'm going to sue this place," he said.
"For what?" I asked.
Jesse: "For throwing pizza at me."
Me: "But no one threw pizza at you."
Jesse, grinning: "I'm going to cover myself with pizza sauce, then call the cops.It's a trick."
Me: "Umm, but it's not true."
Jesse, grinning even more widely: "I know."
Me, trying to decide whether to pinch my child, scold him for thinking dishonestly, or try to explain the depth of the problems associated with frivolous lawsuits: "No one will believe you."
Jesse: "Why not? Would you tell them I was tricking them?"
Me: "I might, if you tried to be so dishonest. And you'd never be able to come to Dean's for pizza again."
Jesse: "No more Dean's? Okay, I'm not suing."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Carnival Economics

Today, there was, improbably, an Easter carnival in the town next to ours.
After holding the kids off until 6pm, when the carnival opened, with pizza and promises, we headed for the promised land.
It was, possibly, the cheesiest carnival I've seen in many years. And growing up in New Jersey, I've seen an awful lot of cheesy carnivals, fried Oreos and all.
First off, they had one guy running all three kiddie rides.
The slide was closed because of the cool weather. "You wouldn't really slide on it," the gap-toothed woman in the ticket booth explained.
Suspicious, no?
And the rides, which cost up to $5 a pop, looked a bit too rusty for my liking.
Still, I paid my $60 for 56 tickets, feeling pretty grumpy about shelling out so much for such a pathetic little affair.
But the boys were absolutely ecstatic, in the way that only three little guys can be. Running, jumping, twirling in the air.
So, they sat in the front car on the mild little dragon coaster (except for Jesse, who still harbors bad memories of another dragon coaster from long ago, when he and Seth were utterly freaked by the thing).
They twirled on the twirling strawberry ride.
Kyle and I even shared a bench on the Ferris wheel, where the guy smiled at a mom and son riding together and let us spin around for what felt like forever.
As we were leaving, Kyle asked if he could use his own money "the next time."
"Oh, I don't think we're going back there," I said. "It was really kind of a ripoff."
"Yeah, but look what it's doing for the economy," he said. "It's bringing money into the state and giving people jobs."
I hugged my serious little freckle-face.
"You're right," I told him. "You really know how to look at the bigger picture."
Kyle grinned. "I know, Mom," he said. "And I really know how to talk you into things."

Monday, March 29, 2010

How to Make a Fish Robot

My kids love animals and robots, not exactly in that order. And ever since my 10 year-old, Kyle, went to robotics camp, the creation of robots has been a lively topic of conversation. So this morning, as I was attempting to find something unwrinkled in my closet, Seth gave me the rundown on how he would make a fish robot. It was sort of one big, long, hold-your-breath-as-long-as-you-can-and-talk running quote.
"Okay, mom, here's what you have to do:
First, kill a fish.
Then, you pull out all the bones. But you have to be really gentle and careful.
Then, you have to make sure the skin is not ripped.
At the end, you put all the robot parts in. And you have a fish robot!
So, can we go to the pet store now?"
Sounds simple, doesn't it? Perhaps we should alert MIT.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birthday Snake

Today is Seth and Jesse's eighth birthday, and I consider it an amazing feat that we've all gotten to this point and are still
a) reasonably sane, or at least able to appear that way in most situations
b) able to remember to sign most of the permission slips, remember to send in most of the after-school playdate notes and get 80 percent of the homework and days-off from school correct. (It's really annoying to drop the kids at school, only to discover that that the teachers and staff are all attending a day-long off-site workshop).
c) feeling content once a week or more

Seth, for his birthday gift, desperately wants a pet. He talks about his animal love nonstop. One day it's fish, the next it's a snake. Sometimes he gets onto hamsters or chinchillas. But snake love is a running theme for him.
I keep putting him off, telling him that Daddy and I have to discuss the issue. But this morning, after breakfast, Sethie said, "Now that it's my birthday, let's go get my pet snake." He pointed out the window, to the conveniently located pet shop across the street. "It's lonely in the pet store. And I will love it, love it, love it. I'll even pay for the snake, but you have to buy its tank and food."

We've been loathe to reintroduce live animals into our family, given our frenetic lifestyle and scant space. Fish are easy, but they're not very satisfying to cuddle. Hamsters bite, gerbils are cannibalistic and, well, a dog is just too much of a commitment and a hair-shedder for me.

So maybe later today, we'll go and check that snake out. And perhaps we'll have a new member of the family.

Lather Up

I've been noticing lately how intensely my three boys seem to embrace their passions, from fish to football.
When they care about something, it's deeply and without reserve.
To wit, Kyle has discovered the fine art of soap carving.
Not sure where that one came from, but two days ago, he asked for a bar of soap and a knife and asked if he could whittle. Because I, apparently, am the kind of mother who allows her children to do such ridiculous things, I agreed.
His first piece was Sponge Bob and kind of cute, I must say. Now, he's asked for better soap ("I need it to be really square, Mom") and a pocket knife with which to create, and I'm finding soap chips all over the floor.
I have no idea how long Kyle will follow this particular artistic path—and a very specific path it is—but I have to think that, like origami and Legos, his interest in soap sculptures will come and go over time.
In the meantime, we'll always be able to wash our hands.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Things That Happened During The Latest Snowstorm

1) School was canceled in New York City for only the second time in about five years.
2) My children, upon hearing the news, ran around in circles in the living room, shrieking "whoo hoo!"
3) My husband went to work.
4) My children watched Tom and Jerry, several episodes.
5) I searched for snow boots for an hour before finding them.
6) We went sledding in Central Park; the snow-laden trees made me very happy.
All pretty normal so far, right?

OK, try the next one on for size:
7) Seth put his hand in the toilet and Kyle's BFF, Giancarlo, videotaped it.

Granted, this was quite late in the day, when everyone was snow-weary and a bit wild. The boys were in the midst of making their new adventure/comedy video, the name of which I'm not yet allowed to reveal. But if you go to You Tube in the next few days and type in Fadoodle, you too may get to see the wondrous sight of one of my second-graders plunging his pink little paw into the toilet.

But it's OK. As Kyle explained to me after I screamed out loud post video-viewing, "Don't worry Mom. The toilet was flushed.""

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Emotional Rescue

Jesse, one of my almost-eight-year-olds, is by nature a socially precocious kid. He has an innate sense of how to conduct himself with other kids in order to maximize the attention he gets and minimize any teasing or exclusion.
Hence, he's as comfortable with the fifth-graders at school as he is with his fellow second-graders. Just this morning, one of the fifth-graders handed him a big lollypop, for the heck of it.
The Peanut has even befriended some of the teens that sometimes huddle in groups in the back of our school playground.
One day, as he rode the uptown bus with his babysitter, Juana, she heard his name being called through the open window.
"Jesse! Jesse! Hey, yo!"
Jesse scrambled to the window. "Hey! There are my friends!" he exclaimed.
Juana glanced out the window, where a pack of hoodie-wearing teens gathered.
"Jesse, man, how goes it?" one of the kids called out.
Jesse grinned in triumph and turned to the other passengers. "They know me," he explained proudly.
Resounding laughter from the other passengers.
But as socially aware as my little Jesse burger may be, he's equally emotionally self-protective. Take, for example, this small vignette from last week, as he and his buddy K. played baseball on the Wii.
"Well, you know," said Jesse in between swings, "We always get along. That's why we're best friends."
Then, realizing that he'd just let his emotional guard come crashing down, Jesse stopped short.
"Well, kind of best friends," he added.
K smiled. "Of course we're best friends," he told the Peanut.
Jesse let out a deep breathe, clearly one of relief. "Yup, of course."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anatomy Lesson

Gotta love it when kids ask those unanswerable questions. Today, during a visit to Barnes and Noble with Seth, he spotted a book cover bearing a photo of a skeleton half buried in the dirt.
He stared at it for close to a minute, then leaned into me and whispered, "Mom, do your testicles (not the word he actually used) have bones?"
"No," I answered, then asked the fateful question. "Why?"
He pointed to the skeleton's sacral bone. "Look," he said. "That's a bone."
"That's in the back," I explained, patting his tiny little tush. "Not the front. It's called the tailbone."
Seth stared at the book cover again. "No fair!" he exclaimed. "How come he get to have a tail?"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Little Foodie

While Kyle and Jesse are pretty well diet-restricted by choice (Jesse is on the all-white-food, all-the-time plan, while Kyle sticks with smoothies and pizza), Seth, thank goodness, is at least a wee bit adventurous when it comes to culinary choices. Today, he ordered a green salad (!) for lunch.
Then, we stopped by the local farmer's market, which offers pretty slim pickings in late January. And he fell in love with the smoked duck breast that was being sampled by an upstate farm. He gobbled down 1,2,3...6 samples of the smoky, fatty stuff, turned to me beaming, and said "Mom, it's great! Can we get some?"
Fifteen dollars later, we brought home a (very) small package of the duck breast, which Seth singlehandedly plowed through at dinner.
My foodie in the making. I'm so proud. Now if I can only wean him from the GoGurts and chicken fingers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Nerves Wracked

My oldest child, Kyle, is a bit of a worrywart. He comes by it honestly, what with the worrywart prevalence on both my side of the family and my husband's. Last night, he saw a blip on TV about Alzheimer's Disease. Here, the conversation that followed:
Kyle: "Mom, what's Alzheimers?"
Me (mostly ignoring him because I am trying to type up his realistic-fiction story for school) : "It's a condition where you lose your memory."
Kyle (eyes wide): "Am I going to get Alzheimer's?"
Me: "It happens mostly to elderly people."
Kyle: "What if I get Alzheimer's when I'm older? I don't want to get Alzheimer's!"
Me: "Honey, by the time you're old, there will be a cure for Alzheimer's."
Kyle: "But then I might have to get a shot for it!"
Me: big sigh.