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I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating: I sneak into my kid’s room every night after he falls asleep so I can look at him and maybe kiss his forehead. (I don’t usually pull the blankets up over him because he’s a hot sleeper and he gets sweaty enough without being cocooned.)

Non-parents may be scratching their heads at this point. Maybe some parents, too, are thinking, “Aren’t you just glad when he finally passes out and you can go relax? He’s six and a half! What’s the deal?”

Here’s the deal: I miss my infant. Not that I enjoyed the sleep deprivation, but I mourn the simplicity of those days. Feed, change, play, sleep. Or sometimes, change, feed, change, sleep, play. But you get the idea. Nothing involving negotiations, or spelling words, or saucy new expressions learned on the school bus. Visiting his room when he’s sleeping is a way of visiting that time when things were simpler.

On the other hand, infants don’t like to play checkers, or make up silly songs, or ask, “What’s Harry Potter’s owl called”? These are definite advantages to having a six-year-old.

One night not long ago, he half woke up when I came in, long after bedtime, and reached out to me. I took his hand and held it for a moment, and then he relaxed back into sleep. He didn’t remember in the morning, but it’s interesting to think about what part of his brain knew I was there but didn’t store that memory.

Does it detect my presence every night?

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Warning: This will not be an in-depth book review, because A) my kid is going to wake up soon and B) this is not the New York Times Book Review. Just so you know.

I recently read George Orwell’s 1984 — or I should say re-read, because I’m sure I read it in high school, but have no memory of that whatsover. I’m sure it made some sort of impression on my teenaged brain, but many more important and interesting things are being stored there now. Like, I REALLY need to get to Target today to get candy/a witch’s hat/dish soap/toothpaste. God, what will I DO if they don’t have a witch’s hat? I really should have taken care of that last week.

So. I recently re-read 1984 for my book club, and I have to say, wow. Orwell had some BIG ideas. Huge. Crazy, even. The book was published in 1949, 1949 for crying out loud, and he dives deep into revisionist history, the mechanisms of war, thought control, secret police — a whole bunch of things that were way ahead of the times (or so I assume).

But here’s the thing that’s really staying with me: I believed the whole thing. I was there in the grimy, scary places with Winston, willing him to be cautious so he wouldn’t get caught by the Thought Police (oh well) and rejoicing in his relationship with Julia (as weird as that whole thing was). And that, to me, is the biggest achievement of the book.

Also: I really don’t understand if he’s dead at the very end, or a few pages before the end. I really should look into that before my next book club meeting.

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I am a writer, I tell people, and yet, outside of work, I haven’t been writing much. In all honesty I don’t always write much at work either but that’s another story for another day. Corporations, amirite?

Anyway. What with NaNoWriMo coming up, this seemed like a fine time to start one of those “I wrote a blog post every day for a month and you won’t believe what happened” things. And rather than wait for Thursday, when I will surely be suffering the mother of all candy hangovers, I am starting today. Shazam!

My only agenda is to write and publish something every day. No working ahead, except in my head. I make no promises about topics, quality, coherence or length. The point is to show up and do the work, push out first drafts, and see what happens. If I entertain you, fabulous. If I bore you, well, at least you’ve managed to stay off Twitter for 90 seconds. See? Silver lining. Every cloud.

This morning is a good morning to begin because my son, a/k/a The Boo, is at my mom’s house. He spends the night there every week or two and it is a huge treat for me in that I get to get up and do what I want/need to do all by myself. I love him to bits, but being six and a half he needs things fairly frequently, and lately he’s also been coming to find me at 5:45 a.m. Usually I’m up by then but last week my sleep was hacked to bits for various reasons, so getting woken out of a dead sleep when I still had 45 minutes left to sleep was not cool. Also, it made me crabby and had me weirdly craving simple carbs.

Yesterday afternoon, the Boo was dead set against staying at my mom’s for no rational reason he could or would explain. A tragic turn of events, from my point of view. Then I introduced the new Morning Policy: if he wakes up before 6:30 and sees that I am not up, he is to stay in his room. He asked if he had to go back to sleep and I said no, books are fine, but no waking up Mama.

And lo, in a delightful and unexpected turn of events, he decided he did want to spend the night at Grammy’s after all.

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It’s my birthday. I’ll do what I want.

That’s a statement. How would you make that into a question?

I’m sorry.

How do you spell “rock”?

There are kids who don’t have enough food to eat. Really.

I’m tired of reading Star Wars books.

I love you, even when you’re being obstreperous.

What is a number bond?

I’m not interested in arguing with you.

I love you.

There are parents who hit their kids. Really. Yes, on purpose.

I’ll be happy to answer all your questions when you’re done getting ready for school.

Brush your teeth, or get cavities. The choice is yours.

Less talking, more getting ready, please.

Just keep in mind, it rained so the street is really slippery.

Oh honey, looks like you have a few scrapes. Let’s get you fixed up.

Dirty clothes in the hamper please.

Socks in the hamper please.

Socks. Hamper. Please.

It’s fine, I have wine for later.

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We don’t need a hose repair kit, we can fix it with epoxy.

It’s been precisely calibrated.

I’m flying an X-wing. You’re in the Millennium Falcon. Is your rear gun charged?

What day is it?

How many days until the next holiday?

How many minutes until it’s 6?

Can I watch YouTube since you’re down here with me?

Have you seen the key for my tool box lock?

Mom! Mom! Mom!

I was reading about BB-8 on the bus.

First grade is EASY!

The librarian said I need to practice reading on my own since I’m in first grade.

I don’t! Need! A shower!

I didn’t do it! I promise! I’m honest!

I don’t want any of that. How about Cheerios?

It isn’t fair!

You’re the WORST!

I love you.

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You are six years old.

You have lost two teeth, and three more are loose.

You believe in the tooth fairy, but are a little uneasy about her coming into your room while you’re sleeping.

You are not sure if you believe in Santa, because “flying reindeer just don’t make sense.”

You know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., segregation, and miscegenation.

You are super into your Ninja class, and get really excited when you watch American Ninja Warrior clips.

You love playing Uno and Uno Attack; you often ask to play with Mama before school. And before bedtime. And before and after supper.

You want to play with just one or two school friends. That doesn’t surprise Mama, as she was the same way. And still is, pretty much.

You’re a great reader, though you prefer to have Mama and Daddy read to you at home. Writing has been a challenge, but is going better since your teacher asked you to write about Ninja class. You love math.

You recently decided to ride the school bus, much to Mama’s surprise and delight. You get on with a neighbor buddy and say that the number of stops is “not too bad.”

You enjoy watching “Moana,” “Sing” and “Frozen,” and sing the songs from the movies, usually while doing something else.

You refuse to try fish sticks, chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, mac & cheese or hot dogs.

You think you are still too young to watch “Star Wars.”

You have learned how to make yourself burp. You swear you’re not doing it on purpose.

You have become interested in WWII because of a documentary about what’s hidden under London that you’ve watched three times because “it’s SO good.”

You LOVE ice skating but don’t want to take lessons.

You still react badly to unexpected changes in plan.

You yell at Mama if she tries to help with your math homework.

You celebrated your birthday with the usual assortment of family plus a few preschool friends. You helped pick out the decorations (red-and-white check) and plates and flatware. You insisted on making your cookie cake from scratch.

You enjoyed opening presents so much that you kept asking for more presents.

You had a half day of school on your birthday, so after Mama helped your celebrate at school, you decided what to do with your afternoon. You wanted to see the babies that were born on your birthday, so we went to the hospital where you were born (we only saw a few babies; they must all stay with their moms now). You also wanted to see the NICU (where you spent 12 hours as a precaution), and the office where Mama went for her checkups. We visited your old preschool, and got to see your teachers and check out recent changes to the space. We also went to Mama and Daddy’s office, where you met some of our work buddies, saw our workspaces, and drew on Daddy’s whiteboard.

You are six, and every day, you live up to what we say about you: “he’s five going on 50.” Though now it’s six going on 60.

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We signed the Boo up for a series of kids’ have fun/be healthy races, and the first one was two weeks ago. Friends, that one race alone was worth the entire registration fee, because little kids running equals Super Hilarious Fun Times. 

It’s a very sweet organization, staffed by very sweet college students. Prior to the race, the kids are split into their age groups and go with a set of coaches for warm-ups. We walked the Boo over and he said goodbye to us happily — a positive side effect of having a month of kindergarten under his belt, perhaps. 

From afar, we could see him doing what he was told, or trying to — we haven’t taught him how to do jumping jacks, so that was giggle-inducing. Red light/green light was no problem, though.  He spent some time holding the hand of one of the female coaches, and soon it was time to line up for his age group’s race. 

A few younger groups ran before the Boo’s group, and again, super entertaining. If you’ve never seen three-year-olds running a race, you haven’t lived. Or laughed. 

The distance for the Boo’s age group is a quarter of a mile, which turns out to be once around the soccer field, plus a tiny bit more. He lined up with the other boys (girls run separately) and was looking off to the side somewhere when they said, “ready set go!” so he got a late start. We think he was expecting them to say “on your marks, get set, go” like we do at home, but it’s also possible he was just spacing out because a) late afternooon goofiness, and b) he’s kind of distractable. 

He smiled and waved at us going into the first turn. He seemed to be flagging about halfway through, but a coach running with the stragglers (of which he was one) encouraged him and he kept plugging along. 

He went off-course coming into the home stretch. 

He finished second from last. 

He was beaming after the race and said he had a lot of fun. 

Mission accomplished. 

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You started kindergarten. 

You enjoyed the poem and magic sleep confetti the teacher sent home the day before school started, but asked if it would really help you sleep or it was “just silly.” (You put a few pieces under your pillow anyway.) Mama said we’d have to see in the morning, and then put some under her pillow too. She woke up at 3. You slept like a champ. 

You said you were nervous when Mama asked how you were feeling at breakfast. When she asked what you were nervous about, you expressed concern about how soon you would get to visit the playground. Mama told you to ask your teacher. 

You also said, a bit later, that you were worried you would miss Mama and would cry. Mama told you it’s fine to miss her, and fine to cry. Then she said she would miss you too, and even if it was a tough day, she knew you could do it. 

You were distressed that Daddy couldn’t walk in with us (he had to park the car super far away). But Mama convinced you to go in without him by promising that he would catch up with us. 

You put your lunch in your cubby, found your name tag on one of the tables, put it on, and sat down. 

You were so involved in chatting with a classmate that you didn’t notice daddy come in. 

You were happy to do the special kindergarten goodbye with Mama, (three hugs, three double high fives, “Let’s do this!” and “I love you! Bye!”) You did not get upset when she walked out. 

You said you had a “medium-ish good” day at pickup time. This was due to some kind of misunderstanding about washing your hands at lunchtime. Later you upgraded the day to “great.”

You said everyone was really nice, and that you made a best friend. 

You wanted to play on the big kids playground after school, so we did that, and then you ate voraciously in the car on the way home. 

You were pretty goofy between suppertime and bedtime, but nothing out of the ordinary. 

You started kindergarten, and we are very proud of you. 

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You are a natural born maker; this is a recent creation.

You are five years old.

You make emphatic gestures with your hands when you talk about something that excites you.

You love watching This Old House with Daddy and have a hard time understanding why there isn’t always a new episode to watch.

You also love watching car repair videos posted by Chris Fix, and consequently you recently asked Mama if she had a closed system transmission, which made her laugh, which made you a little bit angry.

You enjoy saying “wonky.”

You adore visiting Menard’s and Home Depot to spend quality time with the grills, snow blowers and washing machines. Halfway home from our last such excursion, you got upset that you forgot to visit the giant saw they use to custom cut lumber.

You insist on Mama chanting “happy dreams” right before she leaves your room at bedtime.

You want to know about how family and friends have died. Consequently you know what a stroke is, and that cancer is largely a mystery.

You love going to the symphony, and tried playing cymbals the last time you went.

You recently told Mama to use her words instead of yelling. Mama replied that she tries very hard to do that every day, but when she’s been asking the Boo to get his socks and shoes on for ten minutes, well…

You are already sad about leaving your best friend behind when you go to kindergarten.

You once again requested cake, and family to share it with, for your birthday party.

You get mad if we don’t let you help do things around the house.

You know the names of our both our old and new presidents.

You needed new shoes the week before Christmas, and were delighted to be able to look for, choose, and order them online.

You like watching Design Squad Nation, where teams of teenagers compete to solve specific engineering challenges. You were shocked to learn that the teenagers are not grownups, and you are quick to notice which teenager has an attitude problem.

You enjoy cooking with Mama, and increasingly want to be completely in charge of the process.

You know what “mise en place” means.

You spend a lot of time at your work table, often pretending to run experiments you’ve seen on Bill Nye the Science Guy or mumbling things about how to fix an engine.

You still enjoy a largely beige diet, though you are now more willing to try new things.

You shocked the pants off Mama by insisting on bringing broccoli for the class snack. You were upset that one kid told you never to bring it again; you haven’t.


You are five years old, and your curiosity knows no bounds.

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Image courtesy of MoWillemsDoodles.blogspot.com

It’s rare that I find a book I have no quibbles with, but this one is damn near perfect. I had no idea it existed until it called to me, loudly, from the Staff Picks shelf of my favorite library branch. 

You may know Mo Willems as the author of the super funny “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and associatled children’s books. Turns out he’s been publishing small runs of sketchbooks every year for over 20 years. This coffee table book contains 20 of them, with cartoons ranging from hilarious to heartbreaking. There are also essays from his famous friends, but those don’t hold a candle to the simple genius of the man’s work. 

If you are an artist or writer, this book is for you. If you are a doodler or noodler, this book is for you. If you love cartoons, like to laugh or prefer your comedy smart, this is definitely the book for you. 

You get the idea. For more info, go here: http://mowillemsdoodles.blogspot.in/2013/05/dont-pigeonhole-me.html?m=1

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