Boy In A Drawer

The boys ran up to T’s room and seemed to be occupying themselves without threat of imminent injury so Z and I took advantage, sipping our coffee and chatting in the family room. Z sat on the sofa, I crouched on a heating register that never quite gets hot enough to burn my butt. Not nearly as satisfying as the one next to the fireplace. Eventually Z hollered for the boys to come down for Super Hugs, part of our silly family routine when Z leaves for work. I quickly ran to the bathroom as Z gathered his things. T thundered down the stairs, but C did not. I heard him calling out and after finishing I ran upstairs to grab him. I threw open T’s bedroom door and saw this:

crazy c

“Help! Help! I’m stuck!” he cried. The huge grin on his face assured me he wasn’t in actual distress, so I yelled for Z to come upstairs-this was too good to miss-and I snapped a picture.

How did he even get in there? How did he not pull the whole dresser on top of himself? Why have we not attached every piece of furniture we own to the walls? How long is it before these wild boys actually give me a heart attack?

After Super Hugs were successfully executed and the goodbye wave happened at the window over the sofa (seriously, we are people of involved ritual) I called my parents to tell them the story. Since I’ve become a parent they are who I call nine times out of ten. I call when one of the boys has done something wonderful or hilarious or insane or awful, I call when I’m struggling, or when I’m worried I am a terrible Mother. I sincerely don’t know what I’d do without them. I get to laugh with them, they listen to me cry. And when I feel like I’m in over my head they believe in me. This different closeness with them is one of the biggest and best surprises of becoming a Mom.

Dad checked out the photo I’d posted on instagram on his phone as we chatted and he and Mom got a major chuckle from it. “There was a very tall dresser in my room when I was little.” Dad started. “It was about six feet. I would climb to the top of it and jump off onto my bed. My Mom told me that if I kept on doing it I would catch polio.”


“She said I’d catch polio.”

“Um. Why didn’t she say that it could fall over and kill you?”

“Because polio was a really big deal then. There wasn’t a cure.”

“Dad. There isn’t a cure for death either.”

These little glimpses into my father’s childhood are another bonus of our evolving relationship. My Grandmother sounded like a real character. I never knew her. She died shortly after my parents got engaged. My Grandfather died when I was two, there are pictures of the two of us, but I don’t have any memories of him.

My Mom’s Mom will be 93 this June. She is one hell of a lady, my sister and I have always adored her. She is a great storyteller, and we eat those stories up. How she and her siblings used to stoke the stove though they promised not to when her parents went to church in the evening so they could make taffy. How the chickens and garden in their backyard kept the family from starving during the depression. How Grandpa saw her outside of church when they were teens and told his friends he would marry her, the ensuing secret courtship of an Irish Protestant girl and an Irish Catholic boy. These stories are part of my family’s DNA. We’ve heard them a million times and would happily listen to her tell them a million more.

Throughout our lives my sister and I have nagged our Dad for stories of his childhood. His parents and his upbringing are largely a mystery to us. But since I’ve had the boys I’ve noticed he lets stories like this one slip. Is it because we aren’t actively pestering him? He only had girls. Are his wild grandsons making him remember his own boyhood?

Who knows?

I simply am grateful. For the stories and for my parents.

doorway climber

He got up there himself. As Z was taking the picture T said, “Will you send it to Grandma?”

T first communion

Big T’s first communion. It is crazy how much the boys look like my Dad.

Fred and Helen Cordano

Fred and Helen Cordano. So many holes in our knowledge of them. We don’t know if my Grandfather’s given name was Alfredo or Frederico-one name was my Grandfather’s one was my Great-Grandfather’s both anglicized to Fred. The pictures give the date of their marriage as November 28th, but the year is missing. Sometime in the 1930s I believe.


No, Seriously, We Are Thankful

There is a french door of sorts that closes off the tiny wood paneled vestibule that is the entrance of our home. It was open when I came out of the powder room making it easy to notice that the second pane from the bottom on the right side was cracked. I hollered for Z who hollered for the boys. They were playing by the door in our hallway moments before while Z made the dough for rolls and I decorated gingerbread cookies.

broken glass

Z asked T what happened. T stood on the stairs taking stock of the situation–the cracked glass, the furious parents. “Well.” he started, “Well. You see, it was a squirrel…”

“NO!” Z spluttered. “Do not make up a story! Do not lie to us! TELL. US. WHAT. HAPPENED!” Z noticed I’d turned my back to T, unable to stop the shaking of silent laughter. “Go to the kitchen.” he hissed to me.

I fled, thankful to get out of T’s line of sight. T eventually told his father C’s head made the crack. T pushed him into the door.

I’ve never seen Z so angry at one of the boys. T is up in his room and he’ll be staying there for a very long while. He has lost his bedtime routine-no story, no songs, no cuddles until he goes back to school on Monday. It’s the biggest punishment we have doled out thus far. But dude, (and we did explain this to him) C could have been seriously hurt.

As Z pointed out we do have much to be thankful for–we could have spent the day in the emergency room.

piece of work

What a piece of work this kid is.

Rewind 33 years or so. I was T’s age. It was summertime and the screen door was letting a breeze into our kitchen. My folks had left me alone at the table to finish my meal, perhaps they were putting my sister to bed. The stick of margarine sat in front of me in the butter dish. It looked delicious. Yellow and soft and I just had to try it. I reached out my finger and skimmed it along the top. It was even better than I imagined. Five minutes later and there was an enormous divot in the middle of the stick. I was filled with dread, there was no way to hide what I’d done. Eventually Mom and Dad returned. My Mom, who notices everything, saw the margarine right away. “What happened?”

I panicked. “A bear came through the door and ate the butter. I was really scared.”

My punishment was no treats for a week. Both Mom and Dad were able to hold it together until I’d left the room before they burst out laughing.

Bear. Squirrel. This kid, man this kid is a carbon copy of me. Only vastly improved. I mean, a squirrel is a million times more believable.


Thanksgivukkah cookies.

One more quick story and I’ll stop imposing on your holiday time…We had a Friendsgiving this weekend. More than 20 people at the house. A table made from an old hollow core door and sawhorses joined the beautiful dining table Z made back in grad school. The kids ate on a blanket spread in the living room, picnic style. It was a fucking awesome night. So awesome I didn’t take a single picture.

Everyone had gone home save our closest friends who were packing up their gear. T was holding on to the leg of one of us (I will not sell out which one) and that person let a lovely, loud, and resonating fart rip. We all laughed. T collapsed onto the floor and laid rigid on his stomach with his hands by his sides. “I’m a turd!” he proclaimed. I do believe it was the funniest thing he has ever done and it was definitely the most perfect end to Friendsgiving imaginable.


Told Z I needed one more picture for the post. He agreed, but then pulled this shit. Eh, it’s more honest than one of us smiling would have been. Happy Thanksgiving, folks. My wish for you: may none of your children slam their sibling’s head into glass today! Yup, that’s how much I love you.

Morning Maladies

Fainting. Never done it. Always been freaked out by it.

This morning I’ve been frighteningly light headed. Thought the time might have come for a first faint. Wondered how we were going to rearrange our day to accommodate a bizarre fainting illness. Got really terrified. Slumped on the sofa as I watched Z rush around making eggs for the boys.

As he was leaving for work I found the words to explain what was going on in my head. “I mean, it could be vertigo. It could be anxiety. It could be a migraine.”

Z, “Karen. Karen. Don’t you think it is anxiety?”

Me, “Well….I guess it could be.” Yes, after twenty years of a chronic anxiety disorder I still need to be convinced that I am having panic attacks. I know, I know.

Z, “Perhaps it is your side cancer.” Did I not mention that to you guys? I got side cancer a few weeks ago. By which I mean I made a self diagnosis. I also invented the disease of side cancer.

Me, “No, I’m in remission.”

Don’t worry about Z folks. We have couples therapy tonight.

t smile

This is what constitutes a smile from T these days. Sigh.

c building

Little man building a truck.

Bathtime Gets Heavy

T was arranging toys in a line on the edge of the bathtub when he looked up at me. “I tell people that you and Dad hit me and poke me in the eye.”

Me, “What?”


Yup. That is what I thought he said. But I was stalling for time.

After a very long pause in which I attempted to collect my thoughts…..”Do Dad or I ever hit you or poke you in the eye?” (Poke him in the eye??? Who are we? The Three Stooges?”)


“Here’s the deal. You cannot say stuff like that. Do you know why? Someone could hear you and they could think you were serious and they would be really worried that we were hurting you. They might call the police. And the police want to help. So the police would come over. They might believe your story. And if they thought Daddy and I were hurting you they would take you away so you could be somewhere they thought was safe.”

He was listening so carefully. I saw he was scared and I felt like I fucked up. Shit. I did not want to scare him. But how do I explain this? How do I let him know how grave this topic is without terrifying him?

“I won’t say it again.”

“Baby. There are things we can joke about and things we can’t joke about. You being hit is serious. It isn’t funny. We can’t make up stories about it. And listen. Police are the good guys. You need to go to them for help. But they trust us to be honest. If we tell them stories that aren’t true they will probably believe us and try to help us. Here’s the deal. If someone is hurting you you do need to speak up. And we will get you help. But you can never ever make up stories about being hit.”

Jesus christ. Deep, relaxing breaths. I am sorry he got scared. I do not want to threaten my child. He was testing limits, seeing what would happen when he made up a story. But this kind of make believe can backfire badly. Ugh. Some days I really feel like I am not equipped to deal with this job, this responsibility of raising another human. My blood pressure was through the roof. I needed a laugh or a stiff drink. Of course he provided me with the former just moments later.

He laid in my lap wrapped in his towel as I brushed his teeth. Yes, I insist on brushing them before his turn. He is not as thorough as I would like. His towel fell open and like every male in the universe his hand went right for his junk. “I want to make babies.”

“What?” (Again, I was stalling for time.)

“I want to make babies!”

“Um…….with whom?”

“With the little things in the big thing below my penis!”

Oh. Several weeks ago he was asking about making babies and the hows and whys and all that jazz. I told him that someday he will make sperm in his testicals that could combine with an egg in the belly of a woman to make a baby. It was his consolation prize after I had to break it to him that he couldn’t get pregnant.

“Sweet boy. You cannot make babies with those little things yet because you don’t have any little things. And you couldn’t support a baby right now. Babies are expensive. Where would you get the money? I want you to have babies some day if that is what you want. But not for a while. Your body isn’t mature yet.”

“But Mommy!” he wailed “I’m sure! I’m sure!”

I had to bury my face in his hair so he wouldn’t see me choking back the laughter. Of course he didn’t understand what mature meant. He is only four. But is my pronunciation that bad? Does it really sound like “I’m sure” when I say it? Maybe C’s speech therapist needs to work with me….

Also, parenthood should be renamed “Emotional Whiplash”.

sleepy boy

This sweet kid. He challenges me every day. Then he makes me laugh.

weird dad

So does his crazy Dad. Back off, ladies. He is all mine.

no eyes C

This little monkey was aimlessly wandering around the kitchen. I was hastily collecting stuff so we could head out the door and finally looked over at him. I did pull the hat off of his eyes after I took the picture. Because, you know, I care.