Archive for September, 2014


Birthday Girl

One of the best things about having and raising kids—in addition to having someone on whom to pin all your unrealized hopes and dreams, and having someone to keep you humble by barfing at inopportune times and providing unfiltered commentary on your clothing and hairstyle —is having someone you can embarrass on a daily basis without the threat of legal action. And so, having written candidly about our son when he turned 27 last month, I am now going to shift the spotlight to our daughter, who turns 22 today.

Princess Primrose was born in Minneapolis in 1992 and soon distinguished herself as being completely different from her brother in two key ways. First, whereas El Noble spent the first week of his life in the arms of his parents and other family members after having arrived in this world in perfect health and as the first grandchild on all three sides of the family, the Princess spent the first week of her life in NICU after nearly 36 hours of labor and having drawn her first breaths with the assistance of medical intervention.

Horsey Sam

Second, whereas her brother was social and restless, and needed to be rocked to sleep because he could not stand to be alone and awake at the same time, the Princess was more introverted—for lack of a better term—and not only could be placed in her crib to fall asleep at her leisure but also could fall asleep at the drop of a hat just about anywhere. Perhaps it’s because she spent the first few days of life in a bassinette on Phenobarbital and, therefore, didn’t have the expectation of being held and sung to at bedtime that she wasn’t picky about how or when she slept, but that quality carried over well into childhood and manifested itself in several interesting situations.

Chair SamPotty Sam  Table SamCounter SamCouch SamPumpkin SamMighty SamSqueaker Sam

Although the Princess prefers arts and letters over sports and other physical activities, like El Noble, she has managed to scare me half to death on a number of occasions. In fact, excluding the complications surrounding her birth, the Princess has caused me to fear for her life probably twice as often as her adrenaline junkie brother. For example, shortly after she learned to walk, she devised a game in which she would open the front door and go outside. Eventually—that is, upon realizing that her actions were a source of distress for me and a precursor to discipline for her—she stopped merely ‘going’ outside and started ‘running.’

Even after the Jarhead placed a lock at the top of the door that she could not reach even with the assistance of a chair, the problem was not resolved. Instead, she would wait until we had our guard down—that is, just before we were about to leave the house or just after we returned—and then fling the door open and bolt down the front walk. She rarely got very far thanks to her intense joy at having escaped, which would cause her to giggle uncontrollably, lose forward momentum, and start running in place.

Sweater Sam

At one point she managed to do this just as she, I, and her brother returned from the grocery store. It was early evening—dusk—when everyone and their dog seemed to be driving past our house, which sat on a curve. As she bolted down the walk in the dwindling daylight, I had a choice to make: Chase after her and hope to catch her before she got to the street, or stop chasing and hope she stopped running. As luck would have it I guessed wrong. Although I did stop chasing her, she did not stop running. And as I watched her—convinced she was about to be killed by an oncoming car whose driver would not have seen her thanks not only to the darkness and the curve in the road, but also to the two huge spruce trees that stood at the end of our walk—I could only hope fate would intervene. Happily it did, and just as my calculations had me imagining her in the hospital in a permanent coma, she suddenly hung a left and ran up the sidewalk instead of between the spruces and out onto the roadway.

Tree Sam

It was a miracle I didn’t kill her for that. By the time I got to her—having continued toward her at a comparatively leisurely pace since it was a body I was expecting to catch up to—she was running in place again and facing me with an expression of pure ecstasy—I could hardly speak, much less punish her. And it wasn’t just my relief that prevented me from pounding the life out of her. It was also pride. Because like any parent, I enjoy my children’s victories and, although I didn’t know it then, that escape was the closest I would ever get to seeing her score a goal, get on base, or slide into home.


In addition to nearly killing herself by leaving the house and running into the street, the Princess has almost done so by other means. These include but are not limited to drinking perfume samples from the bottom of my purse, tasting wild mushrooms, and finding and eating unknown candy-like objects from a MacDonald’s bathroom floor. She has also nearly committed suicide by anaphylaxis, after deciding to play in the woods with her friend Nichole and using poison oak to apply pretend make up and to toss a pretend salad. Needless to say, we are well acquainted with 911, poison control, and prednisone.

7th Grade Sam

Back in the day, Roseanne Barr used to say that if her kids were still alive at the end of the day, she had done her job. Since the Princess is still alive after more than 8000 days, it’s safe to say I’ve done mine and then some.

Happy Birthday, Princess. And here’s to 25,000 more.


The Ones That Got Away

I was saddened upon hearing that David Cassidy had appeared in a New York courtroom last week to answer charges of felony drunk driving. At the same time, I was also relieved because for a number of years I was in love with and hoping to marry David Cassidy. Upon reading of his recent brush with the law, however, I realize I may have dodged a serious bullet by not winding up betrothed to a former heart-throb with substance abuse issues.

The news also made me curious as to my other former crushes and what sort of life I could have had if things had worked out between us. I’ll spare you coverage of what could have come of my love affairs with Teen Beat regulars, Shaun Cassidy and Rex Smith since even if our relationships hadn’t been imaginary they most definitely would have been brief. I say this not because of their busy work schedules—if that were a deal-breaker my relationship with the Jarhead would have hit the skids years ago—but because the two have been married a combined total of seven times. Not that I don’t believe myself capable of sustaining a Hollywood marriage better than your typical Hollywood wife; I’m just saying the odds aren’t in my favor.

I’ll also spare you coverage of my fantasies surrounding Donny Osmond since that relationship, too, would have fizzled quickly. For although he hasn’t been married as many times as Rex Smith and Shaun Cassidy, he has been quite vocal in his opposition to same sex marriage which for me is grounds for opposite sex divorce.

So I’m going to sail right past my celebrity crushes and start with the relationships I had with people I actually knew—starting with my first love, whom I’ll call Farmer Boy. Farmer Boy won my heart by stealing my comb. This was an incredibly daring act given that we were at Bible camp, and I found the whole bad boy aspect of his behavior charming beyond words. I’d like to say I was also attracted to his intelligence, but in truth I was drawn to him more because of his sense of humor, and because without the John Deere cap and sunglasses he looked exactly like Richard Gere. After holding hands two nights in a row during evening chapel, and kissing goodnight at the edge of the path to the girls’ bank of cabins, I was convinced we would marry and live happily ever after.

To my dismay, it didn’t last. Apparently after holding hands two nights in a row and kissing goodnight, Farmer Boy got cold feet. To this day I don’t know why, but not only did he fail to propose the day after kissing me under the stars; he completely ignored me and acted as if I didn’t exist for the next fifty weeks or so. It was like the Cassidy brothers, Rex Smith, and Donny Osmond all over again—only worse because Farmer Boy and I had actually met and swapped saliva.

That scenario would play out in almost the exact same way the following summer—and the next. And this ding dong played right along. Yep—as if to prove Einstein’s definition of insanity—I repeated the same actions summer after summer all the while expecting a different outcome. I don’t know how many years in a row Farmer Boy would have broken my heart before he grew bored of it, but I do know how many years I would have let him. Thank heaven I stopped going to Bible camp.

I don’t know where Farmer Boy is today. I’d love to look him up—if only to confirm my dual hopes that he had his heart broken over and over again by the same woman and that he no longer resembles Richard Gere—but apparently his name is too common for me to conduct an effective Google search. One day I may write a book about our annual flings. It will be the classic American love story: Farmer Boy flirts with girl; Farmer Boy kisses girl; farmer boy disses girl; Girl get Farmer Boy back by eviscerating him in fiction.

After that I dated several guys, but none were serious enough to make the list of those who got away until I met Minnesota’s answer to Woody Allen. By that I don’t mean the creepy Woody Allen who married his adopted daughter but the neurotic Woody Allen who plays characters who analyze things to death and are so insecure that at some point you want to stand up and shout, “You’re right; I COULD do better.” That was bad enough, but what finally put the kibosh on our relationship wasn’t his sense of inferiority but his fits of superiority and his tendency to be express surprise whenever I did something smart—like score higher than he did on the ACT, or get accepted by my first, second, and third choice of colleges.

On the upside, this guy did spark my interest in politics and introduced me to the music of Elvis Costello, both of which I’m still fond of today. Like Farmer Boy, and for the exact same reason, the whereabouts of this dude are unknown to me. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s working for some important government official and pretending not to care about power, or expressing concern that he doesn’t deserve the job. Either way, I doubt he would be much fun to be around.

Between Woody and the Jarhead there was only one person with whom I had a serious relationship. Like his predecessors, this fella was funny and playful—for the first couple months anyway. Then he got all possessive and violent, which is why I had to break it off. Unlike his predecessors, he was stocky and walked with his elbows bent in such a way that seemed to move sideways rather than forward like a giant crab. He also had squinty little eyes and a long torso which, combined with his skinny legs, made him look like a human crossed with a tree frog.

I firmly believe I did the world a favor when I broke it off with him. With my blonde hair and plus size figure, our kids likely would have looked like the love children of Kermit and Miss Piggy—and not even the folks who created the Muppets are interested in that.

With all of that in mind—not to mention the Jarhead’s many wonderful attributes—it’s fair to say I made the right choice not to pursue those who rejected me, and to throw the others back. Then again, for all I know they’d say the same about me. Good thing I have no idea where any of them are.


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