Friday, October 30, 2015


Lately we've been making friends with lots of new babies. Some of Kamal's friends are welcoming new brothers or sisterrs,and some of my friends have recently become mothers for the first time. Kamal is so taken with these new little people, and I think in particular he's drawn to the idea of (finally) being bigger than somebody.

But I've also noticed his big, watchful eyes steady on me as I hold someone's newborn, as I stroke cornsilk baby hair or play peek-a-boo with a four-month-old. He likes the babies; he's a little unsure about how much I like them, though.

For reasons we can guess at but not really know, Kamal's been pretending to be a baby a lot lately. He crawls, he asks me to feed him, he speaks in piping, squeaky tones that I guess is his interpretation of a baby voice. And the other night he asked me to hold him like a baby as he was getting ready for bed. I pulled him up against me and he rested his head on my shoulder, just as he used to fall asleep when he was only a few months old. I patted his back, and, just like a baby, he actually burped--and then, moments later, fell fast asleep.

My sweet, strong, long-legged boy; my always-baby; my never-fall-asleep child was breathing deeply and restfully  against my heart. I stayed in the chair and didn't move except to rock and breathe, reluctant to break the spell. We traveled back in time together, he and I, for about fifteen blissful minutes before he sighed and shifted and I carefully lay him in his bed, where there is more room for all those limbs than in my lap.

There will come a time, maybe soon, certainly sooner than later, that will be the last time he falls asleep in my arms. Sometimes I feel eager for that day, because I'm sleep-deprived and I miss having grown-up time with Adam at night. But mostly I'm in no rush, because nothing in the world has ever felt as good and as right to me as my child's body close to my own.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Busker in training

Yesterday morning Kamal wanted to take his ukulele with him to the farmers' market. There's always a different band playing, and Kamal decided he wanted to play along with the band. Which sounded lovely, except for two things: 1) We didn't have any way of knowing whether the band would be amenable to Kamal playing along--and, really, I could see how having a three-year-old suddenly joining the lineup might cramp a band's style in a big way; and 2) we walk to the farmers' market, meaning if Kamal decided he was too tired to walk home, I'd end up carrying Kamal plus a ukulele.

But separating a boy from his instrument doesn't really fit with my parenting style. I figured if the band didn't want a tiny, imperious addition, we could always set him up somewhere away from the main stage and he would (I hoped) happily sing and play on himself, and I'd be the admiring audience. So off we strolled to the market, Kamal carrying his ukulele case and dressed in an oversized coat with lots of pockets looking very much like a proper busker.

When we got there there were a million things for Kamal to do before contemplating the music scene. He needed to direct me to the restroom and sit on the potty there--not because he needed to pee or anything, just experimentally. Then he needed to locate a "chocolate treat": I got him a slice of the incomparable chocolate babka from Goodman's Jewish Deli. Then he wanted to sit down in the shade to eat a little of it. Then he wanted to try to juggle some of the bouncy balls that the organizers of the market kindly put out for kiddos. Then there were hula hoops. Then his favorite babysitter showed up and while she and I chatted Kamal helped himself to his water bottle and more of his babka from inside my purse.

Then he took his ukulele out of  his case, a good twenty yards or so from the musicians, announced to the air in front of him, "This song called 'A, B, C Song' and bellowed the alphabet at unprecedented volume. This was immediately followed by "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," even louder.

A few people turned around and blinked at him. One man clapped at the end of the alphabet song. Then more people turned around. Then the band stopped playing. Then at the end of "Twinkle," about twenty people applauded for Kamal, who looked pleased but not surprised.

And this happened. The two musicians, Karl and Karla, were unbelievably great. They called Kamal up on stage and gamely played his choice of song, which was "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." He was excited but scared--he really wanted to go up, but wouldn't play unless I came up too. And up I went, dying a little inside from self-consciousness, but moved by mother-love, and sort of hid behind the speakers while Kamal did his thing.

He just shone. He is so shy in so many ways, but for whatever reason when there is a stage with musicians on it he feels like he belongs there. My mission as a parent is to not squash that thing, that confidence, that comfort with making beautiful and interesting sounds for other people. Whatever it takes to let him be his own wonderful, mysterious self, whenever it's in my power, I will do. Because then I get to see the spectacular gift that he is unfurl and bloom, expansive and delicately fragranced, nuanced and bright.

Anyways. It was a wonderful morning, mostly because of the generosity of those gorgeous musicians and the thoughtfulness of the market organizers. And I did end up carrying a happily exhausted K-small home on my shoulders with the ukulele case looped over my arm. And I didn't mind even a little bit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


This morning I was so tired that I fell asleep on the couch right after getting out of bed. Two hours later, after the foggy flurry that is every morning with a three-year-old, I was pedaling a cheerful Kamal to preschool, and I felt--happy. And not only happy, but that weird sense of full-body memory that you get sometimes when a set of conditions in your present matches a set of conditions from your past.

It took me a few minutes to remember, but the last time I'd felt like this was about a year after I'd graduated from college. I was working full-time as an assistant in a consulting firm in midtown Manhattan and also singing backup in a cover band that did play in Manhattan sometimes, and in Connecticut once a week, but mostly all over the Jersey Shore. So at least a couple of nights a week, I'd put on hot pants and heels, drive the two-plus hours to the Shore, sing along and shake my booty to top-40 songs, drive back to the shady garage I kept my car in next to the Hudson River, walk two long quiet blocks back to the apartment I shared with two roommates, roll into my futon, wake up two hours later, put on a skirt suit and take the train to the office.

I was so, so tired. And I don't know that I'd ever been that happy. Nights I didn't have a gig, I was out dancing, dating, drinking ridiculous cocktails with terrible names. Every morning I woke up and clipped into work. I rarely slept more than a few hours at a time; I developed an infatuation with coffee that has yet to lose its passion. I was doing wonderful things in a wonderful city, growing up, seeing and singing and being seen and being heard in a way I'd never been before. I felt like I was in the driver's seat for the first time, and I was intoxicated.

Nowadays, you know, Kamal doesn't really sleep. Or, well, he sleeps, but only for a few hours at a time, at best. Neither Adam nor I have gotten a full night's sleep in over three years. And our days and our nights are filled with Kamal: with the colors of his skin and hair and the inside of his mouth and the seashell of the inside of his ear; with the razor-sharp teeth that we watched grow in not very long ago; with the soft animal sounds he makes during those precious and rare hours of sleep; with the songs he teaches us and the elaborate nomenclature he devises around every new concept he learns; with his tears and boogers and paintings and rules. So many rules! He is in the driver's seat, undoubtedly, which is good, because I am intoxicated. I am so, so tired. And I don't know that I've ever been this happy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

"Kamal, what's your favorite color?"

"Red and blue. And gray. And yellow and purple and orange and green and pink and blue and yellow and green and purple and red and orange."

Monday, August 24, 2015

First day of preschool

Today my not-so-small Kamal started preschool. Adam and I were so nervous about the first moment of parting--but it all turned out ok. Kamal and I rode our bike along the creek trail, noticing crows and the wind and an easy chair randomly deposited next to an electric tower, and then when we turned off the trail onto a road we sang our First Day of Preschool song.

Then I brought him to school, braced for a hurricane of emotion. And what happened instead was Kamal saying,  "I want a hug," and when I gave him the hug, he kissed me sweetly on the mouth, wiggled to get down, and then, with his easy little smile, said,  "Bye, mama."

Just like that. And then he happily went off with his teacher to look at the school's chickens.

So no tears from him, and none from me, either. (Not at drop-off, anyway. Kamal cried a little this morning about not wanting to go to preschool yet, even though he's been excited all week, and I wept lying in bed with Adam a couple of nights ago, fearing this would be too hard.) There's relief, of course, and excitement for him and for all of us, for this new chapter. But here and there on the ride from his school to my quiet office, I felt like I was wearing my heart, bloody and dripping, on the front of my dress.

There's my love, letting go for a little while. Practicing. I'm so proud of him, and so proud of Adam and I, for I being able to let go today. But oh, man. Parenting the right way means doing this over and over again. Nobody said it would be easy.  Still, it is the sweetest and the richest hard work I've done. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sharing is hard

Kamal, apropos of nothing: Oh my gosh!
Me, agreeably echoing: Oh, my gosh. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

When you're having fun

For his first three months, Kamal and I basically lived in the Boppy breastfeeding pillow that our friend Miriam passed on to us just before he was born. 

Now our friend Dawn is expecting her own baby, and the Boppy is getting a new home. But first we had to take a quick photo to show a little bit of how fast time flies when you're having fun.

Two and a half months:

Two and a half years:

How To Feed A Toddler Lunch, in 20 Simple Steps

1. Ask toddler if he'd like a chicken-sausage sandwich.

2. Agree with toddler when he replies in the affirmative and adds that he'd like butter on that; congratulate self on knowing your child so well.

3. Prepare sandwich to toddler's exacting specifications.

4. Put sandwich on yellow plate.

5. Explain to suddenly weeping toddler that the blue plate is dirty, which is why the sandwich is on the yellow plate.

6. Consider washing blue plate to make toddler stop weeping.

7. Decide that washing blue plate is sending the wrong message.

8. Remind toddler that yellow is also a very nice color.

9. Take deep breath and remind yourself that weeping over plate colors is a developmentally
appropriate action for a two-and-a-half year old.

10. Offer to put sandwich in blue bowl, which is clean.

11. Feel relieved that you and toddler appear to have reached consensus on tableware.

12. Place sandwich in blue bowl at toddler's place at dining table.

13. Attempt to cajole toddler out of fresh weeping fit and state of apparent collapse on the floor next to dining table.

14. Attempt to decipher toddler through his sobs; gather he no longer desires sandwich.

15. Briefly, weep along with him.

16. Suggest wrapping up sandwich in a napkin and taking it with you to the playground for toddler to eat later.

17. Feel simultaneously relieved and skeptical when toddler appears to agree and stops weeping.

18. Sit down and eat your own damn sandwich, because by now you're starving.

19. Watch as toddler studiously unwraps napkin, sits down at table next to you, and inexplicably and silently eats entire sandwich.

20. Ask no questions.

This is actually Kamal eating a fairly polite breakfast at our diner date last week. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Rookie mistake

At bathtime tonight, Kamal beseeched, "Mama, come in the bath with me!"
And he asked so cutely.I was fully dressed and didn't want to get undressed, but I smiled at him, happy to be able to oblige my adorable little child, rolled up my pants leg, and put one foot in the water. 
Kamal looked just as delighted as I'd hoped. And then he said,
"I peeing. Heh heh." (I swear, he cackled.)

It's been days, and I still can't believe I made such a rookie mistake. 

You try getting mad at this face.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

First ballet class

I was so sure Kamal would love this. I was all ready to record video of him gleefully leaping around between a barre and a mirrored wall, surrounded by other, equally gleeful small dancers. I couldn't wait to post the video here, on Facebook, everywhere. I picked out his clothes--a black long-sleeved onesie and soft, charcoal-grey knit jersey pants, basically what I imagine a ballet dancer who's not trying too hard would wear to rehearsal--days in advance. I was stoked.

Instead, Kamal stayed in my lap for the entire class. Which is fine, of course--I'm not going to push a two-year-old into a situation he doesn't feel ready for, obviously. I'm about as far from a Tiger Mother as you can get and still be Asian. But I still wanted, so badly, to document this first ballet class (because, come on, what if he becomes a famous dancer and the people doing his writeup in the New Yorker call me and say, Hey, Mother of a Famous Dancer, where did it all begin? Or something like that. Um, not that I care as long as he's happy) and so I took these photos, of Kamal's reacting to, if not participating in, his very first ballet class.

Here they are.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Our bedtime "routine"

Kamal, after vehemently cutting me off after the first line of about seventeen different lullabies, as though bedtime is his own personal The Gong Show:
Yes! This my favorite.
Me: Oh, that's nice. I like this one a lot too.
Kamal, covering my mouth with his hand: NO! You not like it. It's MY favorite.
Me: Um, I can still like it too.
Kamal: NO.
Sing it.
Me: I see. So I have to sing it, but I can't like it.
Kamal: SING IT.

In other news, we got our very first blue egg today!

How Kamal rolls (literally, like, in his stroller)

One of the things I love best about our house is the creek and creek trail right behind it. Being able to pop out the back door and right onto a dirt path shaded with oak and olive and eucalyptus trees, scented with wild fennel and the freshness of running water, with wild turkeys grazing alongside in fall and baby partridges scrambling around in spring, feels to me like the pinnacle of luxury. It's made my runs richer, more meditative and definitely more fun--not to mention much gentler on my joints than concrete sidewalks.

However, ever since Kamal has been able to express an opinion, he's resisted the creek trail when we go for runs together. I'm pretty sure it's because, as neat as it is to sight ducks and turkeys and the very occasional otter, he'd much rather sight buses and trucks and trains. That's the kind of scenery my jogging partner enjoys, from his cozy seat, and since I'm often faced with the choice of running with Kamal or not running at all, that's the the scenery we go looking for.

So nowadays, instead of running along the idyllic creek path, Kamal and I typically jog through our little neighborhood, past a giant shopping mall, along a major downtown street, and finally through a transit center, where there are usually a bunch of city buses lined up. He counts them, taking the job seriously, but not so much that he forgoes his usual panache.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I kind of am

Me, after reading "Crictor the Constrictor": Hey, what kind of pet would you want, if you were getting a pet?
Kamal, with no hesitation: A straw.
Me: A...straw? Did you say, "straw?"
Kamal: Yes. A white straw.
Me: Okay. Sure, we can totally get you a white straw for a pet. If you promise to take care of it yourself.
Kamal: [beams]
Me: But if you could have any pet in the entire world? Besides your straw? What would you pick?
Kamal: You! You my pet.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Two years ago today

The bedhead! The cheeks! The time flying! I need a tissue, and also something to mop up my exploding heart.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Funny guy

"Hey, Kamal," I ask, trying to capture a teaching moment, "do you think that was rude?"
"Yep," he says. I silently congratulate myself for raising such a perceptive and manners-minded young person.
Then adds, "It was funny AND rude." And I can't in all honesty disagree

telling jokes to Daddy
Later: "Daddy! Daddy! I funny!"

"Yes, you're pretty funny, Kamal."

"I vewy funny!"

"You're pretty funny."


Saturday, January 3, 2015


Kamal vogues in the coolest tiny leather jacket of all time, at the coolest vintage clothing shop of all time (Skirt Chaser Vintage), which we are lucky enough to have nearly in our backyard.