So I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but something I thought I was totally okay with, no, even indifferent to, turns out to be something that makes me want to duck behind the nearest tree and lose my lunch.


Teeth. Loose teeth. Wiggly teeth. Horrible, loose, flopping, twisting, waggling, hanging loose teeth. TWO of them. Right in the middle.

I had no idea I was horrified by loose teeth. A couple of weeks ago she said one of her bottom teeth was loose. I smiled and nodded as she stuck her finger in her mouth. I thought, oh, my sweet girl is growing up. I didn’t see the tooth move. Not that I didn’t believe her, just that the foreshadowing music was playing so loudly in the background I was distracted. Then the second one turned up loose.

And then they started wiggling.

And flapping.

And turning my stomach.

I had no idea I had a thing about loose teeth. And there it is. Teeth are going to fall out. I’m going to continue averting my eyes ever so slightly. I’m going to try not to actually die. It’s likely though, I’m telling you. Before my death, I did make sure we had plenty of chocolate gold coins which is the tooth fairy currency of choice (according to RR). And do NOT talk to me about what the tooth fairy is going to DO with that tooth. Keep it? I’d like to live to see tomorrow, thank you very much. Throw it out and have someone do terrible things with her DNA? No I know, you don’t need to tell me I’m crazy. I’m okay with it. What do you do with pieces formerly of your child’s body?

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Fifth (holy shit) Party

On the eve of RR’s birthday my wife and I had our own crisis. She asked for a party. We invited people to a party. We did not actually plan a party.

Oh sure. We put a location and time on the invitation (park, Sunday afternoon) but we didn’t think much past that. It’s unlike us (well, unlike Debra) but we’ve had too much on our minds. Have. RR isn’t much of an asker of things so the most we’d gotten out of her, birthday-wise, was a “white cake with pink icing” and “Olafs for everyone.”


We don’t put a lot of pressure on ourselves generally. Last year RR had friends over to run in the sprinkler in the yard and our biggest effort went into making sure we could catch the World Cup match on the deck. We let the kids ice their own cupcake cones. They ate on the grass. We hosed them down. Winning.

So no pressure. Not even when RR came home from a party the day prior having made fairy wands and eaten fairy food and bearing wings and nets and giant bubble wands. Debra’s face was pale when she walked in the door with a happy, crazy-eyed kid. Well, so we felt a a little pressure. I know, I know. She’s five, who cares! And really, I don’t care. And she really doesn’t care. But that still left us feeling unprepared and much more noticeably. I mean, they had tuna salad stuffed pea pods.

We managed to order a cake. White with pink roses. We are generally party equipped so it was easy to toss carrots, cucumbers, and watermelons onto trays. But that left the kids. What do we do with the kids? We had them sack race. We had them three-legged race. They balanced eggs on spoons. They dressed in a goofy costumes and had a relay. They ate cake. RR, as usual, was happy as a clam (and would have been if there had been no cake, no friends, and no races). We declared it a success.

I want my kid to be well-liked. Not more or less so than anyone else, I suppose. But I admit that it gave me a bit of joy hearing her repeat her friend’s words the day after the party: RR that was the best party EVER!


Dad Continues On

Turns out, glioblastoma is an asshole no matter how you slice it. Even if you do slice it (out), it still will sit around waiting to kill you. But not right now, say the doctors. In a little while. Of course, a little while could be 15 months. It could be eight. Or four. If you believe the miracle articles or the people who know a person whose second cousin beat the odds, if could even be three years.

Or, you could be us. Both Debra and I have friends whose fathers died from this very thing. They did not beat any odds.

After his second opinion my dad seemed to feel lighter. Because 15 months IS better than four. His doctors are frank explorers willing to try anything they can, anything that has ever appeared to work, anything that won’t kill him before the cancer does. They respond to emails in a heartbeat. They talk to each other. They do everything your best version of a doctor is supposed to do.

He started radiation and chemotherapy two weeks ago with all of the confidence of a man who has never had a serious illness in his life. No side effects for six weeks, he heard. Which, I should think is obvious here, is not what I heard. Or, for that matter, the reality. The exhaustion. Side effects from the pills, from the beam. And some other fun creeping things (but not the cancer – they say it won’t creep during treatment). I can’t tell how he feels about it but I’m proud of him for meeting this and moving into it with whatever fear and anxiety and panic he has tucked into his pocket. That makes it sound like I want him to hide those things, but it’s his ability to hold them close without letting them hold him. That’s what I mean.

If I told you all my thoughts, there would be so much spilling on to the page. Ugly stuff. Selfish. Sad. Frustrated. A little angry. But I want to end on this note, the proud of my dad note, and save the rest for wallowing in later.


On the eve of her fifth birthday, RR had a crisis. She did not want to be five. She didn’t want to remain four but no, she didn’t want to be five. I’m sure this was my fault (isn’t it always your mother’s fault?) because after bedtime stories she curled up in my arms and I told her about all the things that she will be able to do when she’s five.

You’ll be able to swim and you’ll be tall and you’ll be a kindergartener and you will swing high on the swings and you will laugh harder and be stronger and you will…

You can see the mistake. I saw it, at least, somewhere in between you’ll be able to ride a bike and you’ll get to do work all day long at school. This child is not a person who wants to learn to pedal anything. Not even the promise of work all day could lessen the bike blow*. It’s more than that though. She’s our baby. She’s not an old soul. She’s not the sort of person you look at and think: this person has seen multitudes. She is fresh and wide-eyed and new, and well, bikes are dangerous creatures best observed from a distance.

But like it or not, she is five and I tell you, she is going to seize five and twist it into pretzels.




*We didn’t get her a bike. It has taken five years but we have learned at least one thing.


You know what’s really awesome? Rights.

Also, hearing someone say that my family and I are the ones who changed his marriage equality mind. You guys, you guys, the difference this decision has made for so many lives. It’s miraculous. And to all of you who couldn’t marry and to all the ones who could but couldn’t have it count, congratulations. We have fought. And we have made it. There will be more fighting but we can breathe and prepare and you guys…there just aren’t words for this kind of happiness.

The devastating things bookmark our minds. My mom remembers when Kennedy was shot. When Elvis died. Where she was, what she was doing. I remember the Challenger (in a classroom, watching the launch in a dimmed room on a small screen and not understanding, not at all). I remember September 11th (not 9/11, not where I was, in Africa in a warehouse on a sunny warm afternoon where they huddled us into the Embassy and I didn’t understand yet, not really.) I remember the elation of voting for a woman in a presidential primary (the dark booth, blue curtain, and tears too, a few) and the elation of voting for a black man (the school hallway, the anticipation, the drawing of a dinosaur wearing a safety belt.)

But the profound things, they seep through us. I remember standing on a street corner with my wife when my sister texted the news that we could marry, officially, finally. And I will certainly remember the dull room, the mindless meeting, the way every word blurred into wah wah wah, when I met my wife’s eyes and held up my tablet, SCOTUS decision blazing on the screen. We left together, not discrete in the slightest, to celebrate in the room next door. This is a monumental time to be alive.

RR is so very lucky to grow up in this world. We are so very fortunate. And happy. Blindingly happy. Here’s to all of us.

I’m Not Digging It (Five Dollar Complaint #4)

You know what I’m not digging lately?

The dropping of the civility curtain. If I’m talking to you in person, you’re likely to err on the side of assuming we’re on the same page until proven otherwise. I’m not sure what it is about the digital universe that pulls the curtain aside and permits folks to forget they are talking to another person who, in all likelihood, is not trying to be an asshole.

Speaking of the the digital universe and civility, I’m also not down with folks “engaging in intelligent dialogue” that cloaks judgement, invalidates experiences, or flat-out shares anti-gay sentiment.

Also, what makes you think that I’m okay hearing, “You know I love you but someday we’re going to have a conversation” about the marriage equality decision? Why would I want to discuss my rights with you? There’s no possible outcome that will result in me being happy or you being satisfied. I’m not down with that.

On the home front, my mother came in my house and moved all the furniture away from the walls looking for a phone jack. She didn’t put anything back but left us a half-eaten rotisserie chicken.

My daughter is a five!-year-old going on 15 and still having accidents.

Thumbs down to having to go back to therapy and my mother not going to therapy.

Fuck not being able to sleep at night.

Also, brain cancer.

I’m definitely not okay with feeling checked out (and desperate to check in) – of my garden, of my family, of my life. I’m both over-sensitive and disengaged which is ridiculous and aggravating. I’m not digging it.

For the first time in my life I’m wishing it were winter. You know, that miserable time of year where it’s just come home, cook dinner, enjoy kid, read book, go to sleep, eat breakfast, go to work, repeat.

I’m pretty sure that adds up to more than five dollars. But, as I’m going back the therapy, I’ll need to keep the change.

Even in Her Dreams

RR still has a pretty sizable personal space. She is better than she was (threat level: time bomb at circle time) and she’s usually patient with others’ need to hug and squeeze her (threat level: watch out for her fist). Debra and I have a mostly blanket exemption (threat level: watch yo’self) and she’s generally tolerant of her friends (threat level: that’s enough, now step back). Of course, she did swing a door shut in front of a few schoolmates who came rushing at her yelling HUGS while shouting, “NO HUGS TODAY!.”

All this is to say that her space even extends into her dreams. Nightmares are unusual for her right now but last night she had a weeping explosion around midnight. I heard her suddenly begin to sob and start wailing, “Get away from me! Don’t touch me! NO YOU CANNOT!” over and over. I had mixed feelings while scooping her up to soothe her: If this isn’t the most pitiful, sad thing to hear and bless her heart for staying strong even in her dreams. I hope it lasts til college…

Fortunately, she was down for multiple hugs and kisses and was grinning at me in no time. Even so, no more nightmares, please, RR. I hope you scared the bad things away.


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