Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl

Those who know me know that our battles with Cate, our youngest, over drawing on the walls are numerous and frequent. No trick or reward or punishment or lecture or tears works. She draws on the walls (I say "draws"--she actually draws, colors, scribbles, stamps, places stickers, glues paper...) every chance she gets. (Here I am reminded of something she said in the doctor's office after drawing picture of herself and making sure to include a knot in her hair: "I knot my hair. Anywhere. Anytime." With a devilish grin she said this.) So Brian and I have given in (despite our strongly held parenting belief that given clear boundaries and ample opportunity for self-expression, children will not draw on the walls--clearly Cate was sent to us to poke holes in all of our strongly helf parenting beliefs) and lined her room with drawing paper. The picture above is Cate just after Brian finished the first part of her wall. She immediately grabbed a marker, jumped on her bed and started scribbling. "I'm making crazy art," she said. "When I'm done, it will make you smile." The hat came later because artists where hats. If you look to the left, you can see evidence of the wall art the paper is now covering up.

And here is a picture of the finished project. Cate is just out of frame, knotting her hair. We found her in bed that night looking at all she drew (pictures of all us, superheroes taking the bus home, a turtle, a meat bug, among other things) and trying to cover up the fact that, in addition to drawing on her new wall, she had also drawn all over legs, ears, and scalp. "I wanted to be fancy," she said. And so, having, hopefully, conquered one problem, we embark on another.

Fun with Zane at My Local Library

I think I've blogged here before about my new research project. I'm writing about contemporary black popular/market fiction--those books that are in face out displays at the bookstore during AA history month. The ones about baby mama drama and urban angst and freaky threesomes. I've been reading a ton of this stuff all summer and have finally come to Zane's work.

In typical academic fashion, when I decided it was time to read Zane's work, I decided it was time to read *all* of Zane's work. As her particular brand of erotica isn't exactly the kind of thing carried by my university library, I turned to the public library. I requested all the Zane books in the system and had them delievered to my local branch. Last Friday, I go the library and check out Twent-Six Princesses for Cate and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing for Frances. At the desk, the librarian says I have four books on hold and brings me the ones pictured above. There was awkward silence as the librarian looked at me, then my children, then back at the smutty books I was checking out. I tried to be adult and rise above the embarassment I was feeling, but wound up just scooping up the books and rushing out the library.

We are in that library all the time. All the librarians there know my children by name. There are three more Zane books (with equally provocative covers, I'm sure) waiting for me to pick up. Can I say to them, "This is research. Really." I think I'll have to send Brian.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Want My !@#$% Fruit Roll-Up

This morning, Cate woke us up at 7am to request a fruit-roll up. We told her she couldn't have one and should have some real breakfast instead. She insisted, we resisted, until finally she banged her little fists on the bed and yelled, "I want a fucking fruit roll-up." We immediately sent her to her room for a time out and to think about why you shouldn't use bad language; and when she was gone, Brian gave me the "You know, this is all your fault" look.

It's probably true. Frances is a bit of a puritan when it comes to cursing and other bad habits, so she never repeats the myriad curses that come out of my mouth. but Cate--cate loves to curse, almost as much as I do. And I do love it. Actually "love" doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how much I enjoy saying "fuck" in any and all situations. It's one of the most satisfying things I do, actually.

But clearly, we can't have Cate telling her pre-school teacher, "I want my fucking fingerpaints," so something needs to be done. But as I've given up sleeping in, buying new shoes whenever I want, vacations alone with my husband, Saturday mornings spent reading (instead of watching soccer games and playing ponies), it seems really wrong that I should give up the pleasures of a good curse word.