“I can’t believe you’ve never read Anna Karenina,” I said to my husband. “It’s life-changing.”
We were driving back to Brooklyn from Philly — a rare car trip free of children, which is why we were able to discuss Russian literature rather than, say, the merits of Descendants 2 over Descendants 3. I wore a large, unsightly medical patch over my left eye because I’d had surgery the day before and I was cheerful and optimistic, having just been the recipient of a minor miracle. …
Here’s something I never thought I’d miss until Covid took it away: getting a tour of people’s houses.
I’m talking about the kind of informal walk-throughs that happen when you drop your kid off at a new friend’s house to play and the host asks, ”Do you want to a tour?” and you say, “Yes, sure,” every time. Perhaps is it just my overly voyeuristic nature or maybe it’s an idiosyncrasy of city living, where you never have enough space and every square foot costs roughly a gazillion dollars, but I never tire of exploring other people’s living spaces. Part…
Some days, what you get is human fecal matter underfoot. In case you’re wondering, that’s the best case scenario for encountering human fecal matter. It’s also possible to encounter it underhand, as my sixteen-year-old son discovered one afternoon during his commute home from school. Never since Lady Macbeth, or the year 2020, has someone washed their hands with such desperation.
A few days ago, I gave my 16-year-old a trumpet.
He does not know the first thing about playing the trumpet — or playing any brass instrument for that matter. When he was younger, he dabbled in guitar briefly, and that’s been the extent of his musical training.
A few weeks earlier, we’d both been snacking on cheddar cheese and water crackers past midnight, which is when we conduct ninety percent of our conversations. I asked if he might want to get back into playing guitar over the summer. Or singing, maybe? …
Contrary to popular belief, parents do not ruin everything. They do, however, ruin many, many things — and topping the list are freedom, fun and adventure. Parents — caring parents, at least — will do everything they can to keep kids safe, which is great in real life, but terrible in literature.
This is why so many middle grade stories get rid of parents.
The easiest way to do this, of course, is to make them dead. Long-dead, ideally. It is no coincidence that a preponderance of great heroes and heroines have been orphans.
Anne of Green Gables. Heidi…
Last summer, my eight-year-old got trapped inside a couch. Under the couch, technically, in its undergirding. It was complicated, the way scenarios involving children often are, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
See, this is a story about a kid in a couch, but it is also an allegory.
It was August, a time when, normally, our family of five would be undertaking epic summer adventures, casting off from Brooklyn to shores unknown. But like everything else — school, sleepovers, birthday and holiday celebrations — summer adventures had been canceled. Both of our attempts to visit my husband’s family…