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A conversation about stuffed raccoons with my teen girl

11 Nov

First – did you know that the plural of raccoon isn’t raccoons? Or maybe spell check just never expected there to be more than one raccoon per sentence. Who knows?  (ETA – spell check keeps red underlining “raccoons” even though raccoons is the correct spelling. I know, I googled it.)

But I’m currently reading “Furiously Happy” by The Bloggess herself – aka Jenny Lawson – as she’s coming to town for a book reading/signing – and yes, I have plans to be there.

Now, the teen girl, Miriam, had a teacher last year who hated raccoons. So of course, being eighth graders, her class came up with an idea of stalk their teacher with raccoons. This is how teens show love. The teacher had a love of Johnny Depp, so my daughter used her school issued laptop to find pictures of Johnny Depp and transplant his head onto a raccoon’s body – or vice versa – and dubbed the creature Johnny Coon. Then made a bunch of copies of Johnny Coon to tuck all over the teacher’s classroom.

And you wonder why I want to give wine as teacher gifts.

So I’m reading a book with a happy stuffed raccoon on the cover, right? Surely this is a great way to bond with the girl.

“Hey Mim, fyi, I’m going to this book reading/signing thing. Want to come with? The book’s about a taxidermy raccoon named Rory.”

“What’s taxidermy?”

“When they stuff a dead animal.”

The girl’s eyebrows shot up. “WHAT?”

“Well, the book’s about other things too…but here! Look at the cover! Isn’t it cute?” <thrusts book cover at daughter>

look how happy he is

look how happy he is

The daughter frowned at  me. “It looks demented.”

“But happy demented!”


I opened to inside cover, which has drawings of the raccoon riding an orange tabby cat. “See here? It’s a depiction of the time the writer tried to pose Rory on her cat…then her husband yelled at her and the cat took of running and the raccoon stayed on!”

Now my teen daughter is just eyeing me like I’ve lost my damn mind, so I went back to reading the book.

“Oh hey! There’s actually two of them!” I stated, turning the book so my teen can see the picture of the two Rorys.

“They killed TWO raccoons to stuff??” she exclaimed in that horrified tone only teens can use.

“Oh no…they didn’t kill them…they died of natural causes.” I explained.

“Oh.” the girl said, relieved.

“Yeah, like by a Ford. Maybe Chrysler.”


“No, they didn’t. Someone else did. Then the taxidermist came and scraped them off the road and gave meaning to the raccoon’s death.”


I don’t think the girl’s going to go with me to the book reading…

Anything can happen when you call me…

20 Oct

“I’m sorry, did you just tell your son not to lick the cat?” my friend Jen asked me once as I was babbling about something else.

I paused. “Oh. Yeah. I guess I did.”

Sean was a toddler, and going through a licking phase. He’d lick the tv, the screen door, me. As I sat on the couch talking to Jen about nothing, the cat curled up next to me (most likely for his own safety), Sean toddled over. Eyed the cat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw in slow motion how Sean’s mouth opened, then his tongue came out as he leaned in towards the cat, who had a “Oh please God, no, help me!” look on his face.

“So yeah, I was at Target and they had this thing that would be perfect – Sean! Don’t lick the cat! – for your living room. It’s so cool…”

I’d spent weeks telling Sean to not lick things, it didn’t occur to me that an outsider might think that was a little weird.

Luckily, it was a Jen friend, so she thought it was hilariously weird. It was her favorite story to tell people for years I think – and that was okay because it was hilarious.

Fast forward fifteen years or so…

I was on the phone with same friend Jen last week. Miriam was cooking dinner, and I went to investigate how it was going, which led to me pausing my conversation with Jen to let Miriam know that I’d rather her follow directions and not experiment with things. Which was more like “Um, according to directions, you’re supposed to do things in THIS order. They’re there for a reason. And why are you cooking while riding a scooter?”

Miriam just looked at me as she stood on Maura’s scooter. “Because I can?”

Jen, who has been on the other end of too many conversations like this, asked “Wait, she’s on a scooter?”



Maura has a three wheeled scooter that she’s decided works best in the house. It’s become a thing with the kids to just scooter about the house. Even one of the teen boys came down the hall on it.

“Really?” I said, eyeing the almost-grown male.

“Why not?” shrugged said male.

But scootering while cooking? That’s where I draw the line. We have standards in this household. Weird, low bar, standards, but standards none-the-less.

And then they do stuff like this - "Look Mom, she's Magenta!'

And then they do stuff like this – “Look Mom, she’s Magenta!’

Living on the edge

11 Jun

After running a quick errand the other day, I came home to find my fourteen year old putting on her choir gear.

“Um, do you have a concert tonight?” I asked.

She looked at me, mirroring my “Oh crap” look.  “I told you last week….”

Shoot. I forgot. And to be completely honest, I’d been having a long week at that point and the last thing I wanted to do was sit through a concert.

“Oh, I have a solo in one of the songs!” she piped up.  “If you come…”

She babbled on excitedly about things but I had stopped at the word “If…”  My girl was giving me an out.  So of course, I doubled efforts to be there.  I dropped her off, went home, and decided to grab Maura.  Maura, who had decided dirt would make a good facial.  Five baby wipes and a sundress later, Maura was presentable.

We got there just as the choir was about to start.  Knowing Maura’s unpredictability, and not wanting to be that person who clambers through half the audience to get to the free seats, I decided we’d just hang in the foyer.  Maura wasn’t too thrilled to be there, but as soon as the choir started singing, she stood still, listening.

Music really does soothe the savage beast.

After the first song, Maura let out a whoop, and I saw her sister’s head peek out from her row with a smile.  Maura yelled “Mim!” at her sister, who I could image just rolled her eyes as she smiled.  Maura decided now was a good time to stomp about, and I had to remind her that even her feet needed to be quiet, even if the acoustics in the foyer were awesome. The singing started up again, and once again, Maura stood, transfixed by the music.


And so we spent another thing where we stood just on the edge of the action, slightly in the outskirts.  Just close enough to enjoy, but just far enough away as to not disturb anyone and make a quick exit if need be.

So much of my life with Maura has been on the edges of things, in foyers and aisle seats and nearest to the exit.  Sometimes, it’s because I want to make sure others aren’t disturbed by us.  Other times, it’s because it’s the best place for Maura.  Most of the time, it’s a compromise – “Maura, if you let me sit through this, we’ll just stay out here so you can actually be happy too and I can actually see what’s going on instead of spending half my time convincing you to be quiet/still.”

We live on the edge, but not in the way the songs go on about. That night, at the choir concert, I stood out there with Maura in the foyer for the sake of her sister, so that Maura didn’t do anything horribly embarrassing.  Everyone would know it was her sister since Maura tends to shout for her whenever she sees her beloved big sister.  Case in point – when it came time for the soloists, the group of four stepped down to the microphones to start the song.  When their part was done, they turned to take their places discreetly…and Maura spotted her sister.

“MIM!” she shouted. And her sister just smiled, as she does when this happens. I’m sure at some point she was all “Oh, that’s just my sister, she does that.”

We may live on the edge of things, but we are not quiet about it.


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