Two years ago yesterday I delivered a tiny goblin into her dada’s hands on our living room floor.


She is a lot bigger now. Prettier too, though you’d never guess from that grimace. (I have no idea what was going on. Maybe the sun was in her eyes.)

For reference: Sam in the same shirt.

Fear of Fire

Sam has always been the boy who didn’t know fear. I think that when he and his father had their bonding moment after his birth–the moment when they thought it might just be the two of them–Sam chose the path with no fear. Or something equally mystical and chambara-esque.

So he has never been afraid of the dark, or falling, or monsters, or of anything else you’re supposed to be afraid of. We’ve watched grown-up movies with him his entire life, avoiding anything we feel is inappropriate (he hasn’t seen a Dario Argento film since he was three weeks old and couldn’t focus on the television yet) but not censoring much. Basically, he watches what he likes, and he likes Adventure and Sci-Fi. (The fact that he thinks I am stupid for occasionally saying that Han Solo and Indiana Jones are the same person is another, much funnier story.)

The first time Sam ever displayed something akin to fear, he was three or four years old and watching the Star Wars movies on heavy rotation. Against our better judgement, we allowed him to find out about the prequels, and because children do not know any better he loves them beyond reason. He had Revenge of the Sith on, and at one point he abruptly got up and found something else to do across the room; watching out of the corner of his eye, but pointedly ignoring the movie at the same time. It was the scene at the end when Obi-Wan and Anakin fight and Anakin falls into the lava. He did not want to see them fight.

(Side note: one day last week I saw Sam pick up his Anakin Skywalker Lego minifig from the table. He whispered, “Darth Vader,” and I ruined it by loudly repeating, “DARTH VADER?” He looked at me like I am the most stupid human being ever put on the planet–don’t forget, I get Han and Indy confused–and said, “No mama. ANAKIN.”)

Fast forward to now. Grace is nearly two years old and loves the Toy Story movies with a passion my children usually reserve for milk. I know Sam loved these movies but I am having trouble believing that anyone has ever loved them as Grace loves them. “Buddy!” she cries. “Buddy, Buh, Git?” (If you do not speak Toddler, this translates to “Woody! Woody, Buzz, Jessie?”)

Because Grace is not yet two, she does not have much of an attention span. She gets up and plays while her movies are on, but she always goes back. The other day Toy Story 3 was on and I noticed that Grace was behaving strangely–she was very agitated, crossing the room back and forth and just generally acting strangely and ignoring the movie while keeping an eye on it. So I checked, and the toys were in the garbage dump headed for the incinerator. Of course!

My children. They don’t like to watch bad things happen.

I should have named her Frankie*

For a couple weeks, Grace preceded whatever she said with “no.” So she’d ask for “No Buddy” (Woody), or “No milk,” or whatever.

This week she switched from “no” to “le.” “Le Buddy,” “Le milk.”

She is obviously French.

*Get it? Because she’s a Francofile. HAHAHAHA.

Fact: Girls Like Horses.

I believe absolutely that there are inherent differences between the sexes. Physical differences, of course, and differences in the way our brains work. But I’ve always assumed that most of the “typical” differences in behavior are environmental. You know, boys liking Star Wars, girls liking horses–that sort of thing.

Here’s the thing: Sam was probably two and a half before he so much as noticed that I put him in different clothes every day; sometime after that, he began objecting to certain articles of clothing that he found uncomfortable, and when we started buying him shirts with licensed characters on them he began showing a preference–but he’s never exactly been into clothes. Grace, on the other hand, was requesting specific items by about 15 months, and sometimes asks to change clothes several times a day. She has OPINIONS about clothes. She also loves dressing up, and prefers to wear all the superhero capes at once, ideally with her flower crown and big orange glasses. Viz.

And horses. Now, Sam likes riding. He has a natural seat and also thinks he is the Lone Ranger. But Grace has, at 19 months, the horse obsession that I think I developed when I was about ten. Last night Will was out and I watched the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. Grace woke up around the time Will got home. I assumed she just needed some milk, but she sat up with me and finished the movie. Toward the end, a carriage goes by offscreen. When the credits rolled, Grace sobbed and sobbed for the “horf.” I gave her a Marguerite Henry book, and she read it with my sister for a bit and was finally persuaded to go to bed when I told her she could bring the book. She lay there, petting it, for about ten minutes before tucking it in and climbing in next to me to go to sleep.

In conclusion, what the hell do I know.

A Letter to my Darling Children, Whom I Wish Would Go Away For Twenty Minutes or so OMG

Dear Sam and Grace,

I don’t really think I’m asking too much: if I put on a movie for you, I just want you to SIT AND WATCH THE MOVIE WITHOUT ASKING ME FOR SOMETHING EVERY FIVE MINUTES.

I have spent most of today giving you my undivided attention. In just one morning I weathered two amazingly huge (loud, violent) temper tantrums. And that was just ONE of you. I’ve built castles. I’ve cooked breakfast, and lunch, and brought countless snacks. I have not eaten any of my own food without interruption. I’ve driven up to Pasadena, over to Burbank, and back home. I’ve been food. I’ve cleaned up spills, changed diapers, fixed toys.

I’m exhausted. I’m drained. I’m unable to focus. I just want the option to sit still for a few minutes and do something–anything–other than wait on you two.

So I said yes to a DVD. And then spent another half hour being harassed with demands.

I quit.



I am making dinner. Roast chicken, garlic bread, caprese salad.

Grace, who loves to identify things, points at the cherry tomatoes. “Ah-la!” she cries.

“No, baby. Not olives; tomatoes.”

She shakes her head. “Ah-la.”

I offer her a tomato, but no. She does not want to eat an olive. Just to tell me about it.

Like Water for Children

This morning, while I am rehydrating, both children descend upon me and demand my glass.

Grace: Wa-wa? WA-WA? Wa-wa, Mama, wa-wa.

Sam: Mama I wan’ wa-er.

For whatever reason, it cracked me up. Not just the way they were working together to take away my water (after that they teamed up to make me let them watch Shaun the Sheep), but also their distinct (mis)pronunciations. I swear, Sam says it just like “plane-arium.”