Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Egg Baby

Yesterday at 6:40 am, my eighth-grader paused in his waffle consumption to sweetly say: "Mom, I need your help with something this morning."

His tone was so pleasant. "I need to make an egg baby."

I must have looked confused. "Do you know how to make an egg baby?" he asked. I did not. "You just use an egg and a pin. You put a hole in either side and blow all the insides out of the egg. It's due today."

I had a vague memory of my father trying this when I was a child, maybe for Easter? I remember him actually sucking out the raw yolk because the blowing method did not work.


My son had to leave for school in 40 minutes. I took an egg out of the refrigerator and found a large needle. I put the needle on one end of the egg and drove it through. The egg cracked. One dead baby.

My boy took a look. "Do you have any white eggs?" he asked.  He was supposed to name the egg baby and carry it around in a safe container for a spell, take care of it like a parent. I only had brown. No problem. We decided that his baby could be biracial or adopted. 

This time Dale put the pin through both ends without cracking the egg. Using a combination of running water and blowing, we cleaned it out. He drew a face and hair and named his progeny Ovi Juan Kenobi. 

We lined a tissue box with bubble wrap and off he went. This was a project for health class. The point, I guess, is to deter teens from having children? I have no idea. 

But an eggshell is a good metaphor for a child. An eggshell is fragile. It will break unless you take precautions. Yes? 

Likewise, everything you say to your child can make or break them. I could have snapped at my son when he sprung this project on me at the last minute, made a comment about planning ahead. But I didn't. Because the previous night, out of nowhere, sitting at the table eating a snack, he gave me one of the most important parenting lessons I've ever received, way more valuable, probably, than carrying an egg baby.

It was quiet. My daughter was asleep and my husband, out of town. "Do you know when I am happiest?" he asked. "When you're happy with me." 

At the end of the day, the egg, miraculously, was unbroken. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Wrong Soccer Field

Yesterday, at about 1:15, I drove my son to Fortunato Field for a soccer game. I pulled into a spot down the block.

 "Dad always drops me off in front and then parks," he said, with great irritation.

"Dad's in Nicaragua," I replied.

He stormed off to the field, and I sat in the car for a few seconds. I hate driving, I hate parking, and if you really want to know the truth, I hate soccer. I'm a tennis gal. I felt like crying. Instead, my daughter and I got out and walked to the field.

A lacrosse team was warming up. I checked my phone. Ugh. Dale's game was at the OTHER home field, Pittser, at Montclair State University. So he would be ten minutes late for the warm-up.

"Try driving faster than 10 miles per hour," said my precious little boy, the one I carried for nine months, birthed after a 20 hour labor, and then breast fed for a year and a half. I sped up to 25 mph. This time I dropped him off prior to parking.  He jumped out of the car before I had completely stopped, which did not foster my good will.

It was a spectacularly beautiful day. The sun shone brightly and it was hot but not too hot, as long as you were nowhere near the field. Something about artificial turf causes the temperature to rise exponentially.

One thing I don't like about being a soccer mom is the lack of climate control. I have certain weather requirements. Nothing too picky: I just can't stand it when the temperature falls below 60 or rises above 80, or if there is any kind of precipitation. Also, I don't much like humidity. And I need to be in the shade.

The other team arrived. They were from Union City. Everyone--players, parents, coach--was speaking Spanish. Violet's friend, the sister of one of Dale's teammates, arrived. They went off together.

I found some shade, which was available several yards from the sidelines in a little gazebo. The temperature was just right! I pondered the graffiti that the college kids had left. I would just sit this one out.

Though I have been watching my kids play soccer for 10 years, I still don't have a strong command of the game. Once, my husband called me while he was working and I was on the sidelines.

"How is the game going?" he asked.


"What is the score?" he asked. I did not know. "Well, how is Dale playing?" he asked. I had no idea. "What can you tell me?" he asked.

"Well, there are a bunch of people," I said, "and they are all chasing the same ball."

So that's how it is. I wouldn't say I am the worst soccer mom in the world. The worst soccer mom in the world is the one who berates her kid from the sidelines. I don't do that, because I don't care.

As I sat peacefully waiting in the gazebo, blissfully disconnected from the game, three people approached me with a bible. The leader said he wanted to talk to me about the mysteries of the bible. I am a churchgoer; in fact, we had just left our church two hours earlier. And yet, I know from experience that you should never be polite to people who approach you wielding a bible. It took me months to shake the Jehovah's Witnesses who kept showing up on my doorstep.

But now I was trapped. The three of them entered the small gazebo. The talker showed me bible passages that he said proved that there was a God the Mother. He was very long-winded, but  I listened quietly. What choice did I have?

Five minutes passed. He was still yammering. I started wondering if this was some scam to steal my wallet. "The Holy Spirit has a name," he said. "If you do not know the name of the Holy Spirit, then your baptism was not valid. " My patience was wearing thin. "I actually don't think that makes a difference," I said. "Anyway, what is the Holy Spirit's name?" I was sort of curious.

He wouldn't tell me, or get to the point, which--I'm just guessing here--was to tell me I would burn in hell unless I switched to his church. At least, that is how it went with the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Finally, I extricated myself by explaining that I had a soccer game to watch. The blazing sun would be less torturous than this. The boys were losing 3-0. I remember enough high school Spanish to decipher the gist of what the other parents were yelling, which translates roughly as "continue to kick the ass of these boys."

Our parents were saying something similar in English, but in reverse. The dynamic is very unsettling, come to think of it: two groups of parents urging their children to kick the ass of other children. I think the final score was 6-0.