Blast Off


As we tick down to the autumnal equinox, I am left reflecting on what this most-recent summer has dished up.

For one: hecka lotta togetherness. Mostly, I like it, but I’ll be the bold parent here who admits that I live for the hours without kids. Groom? Now he can always be around. His presence is no work for me; he just busies himself with a crossword, marinates some flank steak, and paints the light post out front. In between activities, he conversates with me and kisses me and laughs in all the right places.

But the kids? They don’t always know when to laugh. And they certainly don’t always know when to hesh up. Yea, yea, yea: I adore them. I like them better than any other kids anywhere. But sometimes I have to admit that I’m a parent who’s really, really cut out for “the school years,” when they will go away for a few hours during the day. We’re still on kindergarten-countdown with the Niblet, though, so daytime hours sans both kids remains but a misty dream. In the meantime, as we count out twelve more months until Girl and Niblet hop onto a bus together in the morning, and I sob uncontrollably over the steering wheel in the mini-van as I follow their bus to the school, well, we will do a lot of science “conspiriments” with Niblet, a four-year-old who maintains that Einstein is clearly the best scientist ever because of his bold hair, but who also gives Galileo some props for a cool name and bringing the telescope into use. Niblet does savor a good telescope.

This week, Groom and Niblet made lenses out of jello jigglers. If you pour and congeal the jello into anything curved, like a ladel, it can be really nifty to look through once it’s sprung free. I know this because I inserted two jello-jiggler lenses into my glasses, and the world is suddenly teeming with magic. I never saw the elves before now. But there they are, dancing around my new navy-blue Born wedge slides.

Last week, the boys made guitars out of shoe boxes and rubber bands (good job putting to rest the notion that hillbilly is limited to the South, fellas).

At any rate, we still have like 11.5 months until kindergarten.

Not that I’m counting.

At least most of the neighborhood kids have been off to school these last couple of weeks…

…speaking of too much togetherness this summer.

Love the neighborhood gang. Love the constant playdates. But, three months into the daily free-for-all of a hoard of kids at loose ends, I’m of the mind that they now should all go away for some hours each day. Indeed, now that it’s September, I am reveling in stepping out the front door without being accosted by Young Master from across the street, he who seemed, all summer, to rely upon our family’s presence, plans, and actions for his sensory input. Young Master’s beleagured father generally followed in his son’s wake, hoping, too, that we could help them find ways to pass the hours.

I’m all for 2nd grade helping Young Master with his need for attention and a daily plan. Don’t miss your bus, Young Master! Chase it! Sprint, lad!

Secondly, this summer offered up some chances for us to bring the world to our kids, a part of parenthood that is most gratifying. A major piece of my personality is run by a manic lady named Hostess; Hostess does so like to bring people together or to match someone with a resource or to lay out a platter of pita chips and hummus. I like to take all those little threads out there in the world and knit a shaggy tam o’ shanter from them.

Taking the kiddles places and exposing them to a variety of realities pleases Hostess Jociepashmina.

To that end, this summer, that meant we had a three-week trip around Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

I tossed the Little Tugboat into a river in Yellowstone Park. He refused to let me set him on the back of a wild bison for a photo (great shot for the Xmas letter and all!), and a consequence was called for.

Additionally, the kiddles got to work at a farmer’s market, weighing tomatoes, and go to the Minnesota State Fair for the first time.

As they viewed the butterheads there, whole new vistas beckoned. Holy Land O’ Lakes, if sculpting a beauty queen’s likeness out of churned cream is possible, what isn’t?

As well, they ran and kicked balls. Some organized sport or ‘uther.

Even more, Girl experienced for the first time the utter joy of cranking on two wheels–no training wheels!–which, seriously, is life-altering in ways I’d not completely fathomed. Riding a bike independently means that our girl child can now go nearly anywhere in the world and get around. She is not bound by gas or license. I was floored by the unexpected feeling of her having become more of a global citizen, just by mastering this skill.

Of course, as I played around with these profound musings, I was nursing a cocktail we like to call The Humidor, so it’s an eensy bit possible that the shot of rum in it might have lubricated my thrum of harmonic convergence.

Moreover, by dipping canoe and paddles into the water, we showed the kids how easily perspective and rhythm can shift, how the town they are accustomed to seeing from car can appear new again from the water, from an angle out and away. They also noted how the malt shop is still easy to get to by boat.

Good information, that.
Of course, we made Girl jump and swim for her malt, if she was so set on having one. Actions prove depth of desire is our household motto.

It’s not really. I made that up. Curses on the truth serum that controls me.

We don’t have a household motto, outside of “Duck! It’s Young Master! He’s trolling! Not a sound, children! Not a damn sound. If you have to sneeze, stick your head in the begonia! But remember: stealth…stealth is the order of the day as we try to get to the car without detection!

At any rate, from ducking and covering, to riding the two wheeler, to not capsizing the boat, the summer saw us engaging and attempting and mastering.
Thirdly, and probably most importantly, this nearly-finished summer reminded us how the kids will bring the world right back to us. Their interests are already leading me to places I had never thought to venture.

I love the fact that all of the intentions and statements and thoughts I had for my kids before I humped them out have dissipated. In many ways, it’s not so much for me to prescribe who they will be but rather to recognize where they’re going and see what I can do to tag along.

Pokemon has pounded this home.

Wholly and entirely, our summer has been about Pokemon.

I hear ya. Your groans are audible, you know.

I didn’t really know what Pokemon was, myself, three months ago. Vaguely, I knew it was something I would never, ever have an interest in, and Manga Forbid my kids would ever take an interest in those little weird Japanese cartoony characters who did dueling or needed training or something. Dumb, dumb, DUM was such stuff.

Then Niblet caught the fever. Girl followed suit, along with all the other kids in the neighborhood.

As it turns out, I really like to talk to Niblet and Girl about what excites them; I like to see how every little thing that catches their fire can expand the family vibe. If they think something is cool, I can suspend my disbelief.

Thus, we have become a happy family of purposeful Geekdom here on the edge of Lake Superior. ‘Cause, honey? My kids currently have three-ring binders full plastic sleeves that organize their constantly-evolving collection of Pokemon cards. They carry these binders everywhere. When their little arms get tired, I help them carry their binders. I would buy them wheelbarrows for their binders.

And I’m a little tempted to get my own binder.

I kind of want to start trading cards and all. What if I could strong-arm the seven-year-old down the street (“Cough it up, or I’ll tell your mother”) to obtain the ultra-rare Flying Pikachu card, after all?

If I could manage such a coup, then the summer would have real meaning for me–it would have been about something lasting, something special.

Otherwise, when all else falls away, and the kids have grown up and come out of the closet and are on their meds and have found good therapists, what will I be left with?

It’ll be just me and Groom and a crossword puzzle and a blunt pencil with no eraser.


So as the summer of 2007 gasps its last, and the Girl heads off to school each day, and Groom and Niblet pass an hour by MacGuyvering an air rocket out of the bicycle pump and a plastic bottle full of water, and my blogging countdown of summers past rounds out,

I realize that I don’t really need anything,

so long as I have my three-ring binder with my Flying Pikachu card

And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need.

I don’t need one single thing else–

except my crocheted poncho
and my floppy hat
and my bus pass
and my half-eaten pack of Wacky Wafers
and my remote control

…and this ashtray and this paddle game. That’s all I need.

All I need are my binder and my card and my poncho and my hat and my bus pass and my Wacky Wafers and my remote control and this ashtray and this paddle game. I don’t need anything else–

except these matches and this chair. But that’s all I need.

Oh, and this lamp. But I don’t need anything else. These are the only things I need, are these.





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28 responses to “Blast Off”

  1. yinyang Avatar

    Only this last summer you found Pokemon? Seriously?! I’ve had to deal with all this stuff for years. Fortunately, nobody I knew really got into the card collecting and trading; we just watched the cartoon show until the dubbing got too bad. I think they’re on season 11 or 12 – not to mention the 8 or 9 movies – so have fun catching up.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    O I thought I’d be first to leave a comment for once. You Jerk, you!

    The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here!


  3. Voyager Avatar

    Pokeman, and butter sculptures, and canoeing. Could there be a better summer? You are blessed.

  4. my4kids Avatar

    You’ve had a very full summer and Pokemon cards to boot? I love your writing by the way I can’t stop and do anything else until I’m done with your post.

  5. susan Avatar

    Yep, you had a long and fruitful summer. Now it’s time for the little darlings to go away. Oh, wait, you have 11.5 months to go…Sorry…

    (just wait until they turn into those monsters called teenagers!)

  6. susan Avatar

    Hmmm….I hope that doesn’t sound bad, it was supposed to be humorous. It’s hard to tell as it is waaay past my bedtime. And the wine doesn’t help either.

  7. Theresa Avatar

    You are absoulutely hilarious! I can just imagine Niblet and his conspiriments. He sounds a lot like my middle girl, she’s always conspirimenting behind my back, and the conspiriments are usually gratifyingly messy (well, they are gratifying for her, for me, not so much). We have a Young Master and Young Mistress living right next door (twins), and I am ever so thankful that they have gone back to school (my cats are also very thankful for this). Terriffic post…oh, look, it’s Young Master…so duck!

  8. Jazz Avatar

    I thought the whole Pokemon thing had died a well deserved death. Obviously not in Duluth… go figure.

  9. Grundir the Implacable Avatar
    Grundir the Implacable

    All I need is my steed and a good broadsword.

    And my steel gauntlets.

  10. Lone Grey Squirrel Avatar
    Lone Grey Squirrel

    I think I would like to have been your kid. You are a fun mom. I like your creativeness. I am off to make jello telescopes. Bye mom.

  11. Logophile Avatar

    I homeschool, if ever you need someone to sympathize and deeply understand that you love your children and yet sometimes long for them to not be anywhere near your personal space for finite periods of time…that would be a homeschool mommy.
    Looks like a great summmer and you’ve made me wish we had a cool family motto that involves begonias

  12. velvet Avatar

    Sounds like you had a summer of superior parenting. Good job!

    I’m also one of those parents that love my kids, yet can really see the beauty of spending time without them. We choose to homeschool, though, so I’m counting the years until they go away to college, not kindergarten. Only 13 more years and I’ve got the house to myself! Woohoo!!! 😉

    Fun reference to The Jerk, btw.

  13. lime Avatar

    i have really loved your summer series. i’ve laughed, i’ve cried, i’ve sat in stunned silence, i’ve thought, ‘damn, i wish i came up with that line!’

    it’s an eensy bit possible that the shot of rum in it might have lubricated my thrum of harmonic convergence.

    i think my thrum needs lubricating. hit me, baby!

  14. velvet Avatar

    Oh, wait… that would be “one of those parents who loves their kids”. Or something like that.


    Yup, me homeschool real good.

  15. furiousBall Avatar

    Don’t forget the paddle ball game…The ashtray, this paddle game and the
    remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all
    I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this!
    The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the
    matches, for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you
    think I am, some kind of a jerk or something? And this! And
    that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle
    game, this magazine and the chair.

  16. Diana Avatar

    Beware the slippery slope that is Pokemon, for it leads to Yu-Gi-Oh. Which leads to the even more vile Digimon. All with cards. Trust me, I know. (But this can then lead to the rather good Samurai 7 which has no cards.)

    #1 son carries his cards in the lighter, more portable ziplock baggies and spreads them out on any remotely horizontal surface. Doesn’t have to be cleared of stuff. Better if it’s in the middle of the living room or the kitchen counter or the bed as he’s pretending to go to sleep.

    I now curse the words: I choose YOU! Pikachu!

  17. Tai Avatar

    “i’ve laughed, i’ve cried, i’ve sat in stunned silence, i’ve thought, ‘damn, i wish i came up with that line!’”

    Yeah! What lime said!
    What about your darling Free. You need him, too. Can’t forget!

  18. frannie Avatar

    a beautiful summer… imagine next year’s……….

  19. kimber the wolfgrrrl Avatar
    kimber the wolfgrrrl

    I’ve only just found your blog, and I must admit, never have I been so enraptured by someone’s “What I Did This Summer” essay. How do you manage to elevate canoeing and pokemon into a gorgeous, poetic epic?

    Thanks for the afternoon diversion! I will visit again!

  20. Star Avatar

    Your summer sound idillic. I am surprised to hear that Pokemom still lives. I thought that craze was long over. Or is it back again in a retro way?

  21. Stepping Over the Junk Avatar
    Stepping Over the Junk

    I love reading your posts. I generally save reading them for when I can sip a big cup of tea or I can even eat my whole dinner while reading. I am cracking up at the thought of you following the school bus to school in your car…I would so do that,every day…I am in the same boat as you…in 11.5 mos, I will walk both girls to school at the same time and come home emptyhanded. Not sure if I will cry or do the happy dance. Probably a little of both.

  22. urban-urchin Avatar

    Buttered Pokemon? We are under the domain of Webkinz here in the house of Urchin.

    “I love the fact that all of the intentions and statements and thoughts I had for my kids before I humped them out have dissipated. In many ways, it’s not so much for me to prescribe who they will be but rather to recognize where they’re going and see what I can do to tag along.”

    If ever you needed proof that you’re a good mother, honey there it is in black and white.

    PS- You have a lovely smile and purty hair, and kids.

  23. Em Avatar

    Ain’t summer grand?!?! Such a wonderful season…and now we all come home and settle in for the fall and winter. But those are good too!

    May the force of Pokemon be with you.

  24. MyUtopia Avatar

    I am so ready for the fall. I can’t wait to go home and see the leaves change colors.

  25. actonbell Avatar

    Great post! Your kids are incredibly lucky to have you as parents.

  26. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    A great spin on the “What I did on summer vacation” story!
    I’m surprised the pokemon fettish just emerged now too.
    (I love “Jocepashmina”!)

    This year will go fast and next September, you will no doubt be bemoaning the fact that Niblet is leaving the nest with his lunchkit!

  27. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    You forgot asparagus.

    I always have so many responses to your posts, but then they swerve flawlessly into a new tangent, and I can only remember something lame, such as that you like asparagus.
    (and now Pokemon is added to that roster)

  28. Glamourpuss Avatar

    Butterheads? You have got to be kidding me. America is strange.


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