Hugh


“The first thing to know about riding a bike,” Tasha told Hugh yesterday, “is that you’re going to fall.”

Hugh got on and tipped over.

“The next thing to know is the four steps of riding a bike: take-off, going, landing, and falling down. What after happens after you fall down?” she asked.

“Take-off!”

“Exactly. Over and over again. But it helps if you sing this song, “Look straight ahead, look straight ahead, look straight ahead. Pedal, pedal, pedal! Look straight ahead!

And he was off, my two-wheeled rider, beginning the cycle of take-off, going, landing, falling…and taking off again.

bike photo

bike photo 2

When’s the last time you were home alone all night on a Friday night? If you can’t even think that far back, you know how I feel.

Tonight, Tasha is taking Hugh to a friend’s lake house. I’m going to meet them tomorrow, which means that I have the night to myself. I’ve started a list in my head of the things I might do. They range from the artistic to the mundane.

What would be on your list?

My Friday Night Solo Plans:

Finish reading, House of Sand, while eating dinner at a restaurant alone

Take my used books into trade and buy a new book

Wash all the sheets in the house

Do the Pinterest tshirt project that I’ve got all the supplies for but never started

Go to Goodwill and look for a Halloween costume

Find a yoga class or do yoga at home with a video

Finish watching Cabin in the Woods, which I’ve started three times

Buy the last season of Breaking Bad on iTunes and start watching it since Tasha refuses to see it

Take a bath

Take a walk

Take to the bed

Just me.

As Hugh edges up on four, his toddler-speak is disappearing. We relish the perfectly imperfect words and phrases that remain, smiling over his head and using them ourselves. We know they will soon disappear and one day, we’ll be listening to the surly language of a teenager asking us in whatever vogue slang of the day to quit being so emo.

Here are a few Hugh-isms left that we refuse to correct:

“Hey, Mom, check out this picture of a fulfingo!” (Flamingo)

“Why does the cat go backwith and forwith all day?” (Backwards and forwards)

And last, but certainly not least, for as long as Hugh continues to shout out in public restrooms, “Mom, does she have CHINA?” to which I can answer, “Yes, I’m sure she does,” I will never be correcting this one. (Vagina)

I was at an outdoor event last night where I knew most of the people. Tasha was chasing Hugh and his bubble wand around when a middle aged couple walked up next to me and asked whose adorable child that was. Instead of saying, “He’s ours,” indicating Tasha, I just said, “He’s mine.”

It’s true. Sometimes I choose the short-cut with people I don’t know. Also, I made an assumption about them. They were in their 60s, wearing expensive clothes, had coiffed hair, perfect tans, and old school Southern accents.

A minute later, as we chatted, Tasha walked up and they said, “Do you two work together?” And I said, “Nope. She’s my partner, Hugh’s other mom.” I only take the shortcut route for a limited time because I’m way too old and beyond caring to outright lie.

I figured the conversation would find it’s awkward pause when instead, the man replied: “Did you get married somewhere where it’s legal?”

Taken aback, I said, “Yes, in New York.”

“Congratulations,” smiled the woman with the perfect teeth.

“Our daughter is gay,” said the man. “But she works for a big corporation and isn’t very comfortable about it.”

“Yes, she’s very quiet, I guess, about it,” said the woman. “Except on Facebook. There’s a picture or two.” And we all laughed.

“Aren’t the politics here just awful,” sighed the man with his Southern drawl.

“They could be better,” I agreed.

We sipped our sangria and watched the evening sky grow dark.

Sangria contest table at the event

Tasha built a tree swing this weekend. The first thing everyone asked is “how did she get it up there?” It’s a long way up to the top of that tree branch, and the answer is not by using a ladder. The trick is something she learned from watching network technicians hang cable. The project involved heavy weights, string, rope, and a book of knots. It’s a beautiful swing, and Hugh loves it. [Side story: He loved it too much the first day and after nonstop spinning, he walked over to the mulch and puked.]

While he was swinging, I asked if he knew what Thanksgiving meant. We obsess so much over Halloween that I thought I’d see if he even knew about this holiday with its turkeys and family dinners.

“Yes,” he said. “It means giving things to boys who don’t have anything. I will give them one of my toys. And also, I will give the boys 3 matches, a flag, a rain chain, and a house.”

“Hugh,” I said. “That’s exactly what Thanksgiving means.”

I haven’t blogged in almost 3 months. I don’t have a clear rationale for why I stopped; I just suddenly didn’t feel a purpose for doing it. Partly I felt overwhelmed by all the computer and social media time in my life. This morning, in fact, Hugh said, “Why do you love your phone so much?”

But I miss writing. The writing I do now falls into one of these categories: status updates, tweets, work emails, personal emails, and professional grant writing. I feel the need to tap into my story voice, the one that’s been in my head since I was six years old when all my stories went into  a pink spiral notebook that I decorated myself.

What really inspired me tonight is that Hugh is starting to tell his own stories. Instead of books at night, we just make up stories in the dark. Last night, his story had a particular arc to it. It went like this:

“A long, long time ago, when I was just a young boy, I went to Grandma’s house in Florida. But instead of Grandma, there was a ghost! I said, ‘Eeek’ and ran away. I found a pink and orange striped alligator who said ‘tick tock, tick tock.’ I took him all the way to California where I found Grandma. We went to look at chickens, but she said, ‘Better not touch them. Their beaks don’t look too friendly.’ So instead I found a snake, a striped one, and took it home. The End.”

Also, I got this great piece of art from my friend, Ami, as a belated 40th birthday present. She gave it to me at the beach and said, “No pressure. Just write in your head if you want.” But I knew what she meant.

What a great day. I woke up to the sound of rain falling and Hugh in monkey pajamas singing Happy Birthday. Tasha said, “Happy Birthday, old girl” (grrr). Mom and dad were downstairs with Starbucks coffee, eager to help get Hugh dressed and off to summer camp.

Facebook did its birthday thing, exploding like friendly fireworks. For all its issues and annoyances, Facebook is a nice place to hang out on your birthday.

I heard from old friends that made me smile with nostalgia and new friends I met just this year.

Tonight, we celebrated with friends at my favorite cocktail bar, The Belmont. And tomorrow, we head to Paris.

Hello, 40. I am so pleased to meet you.

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