Nein. Neun. It cannot be. The world is a topsy turvy place right now, including the fact that you, my sweet baby beautiful boy, are 9.
Of course, this is supposed to be a letter about you, but how can I write about one topic right now when everything is happening at once? COVID-19. Incredible racial inequality. Let's not forget about Climate Change. Trump. How cute were the days when I used to overanalyze the upcoming election? How many unfathomable tragedies can we keep in our minds at once as an adult, let alone at 9?
Once upon a time there lived 10 dinosaurs. You wrote a story the other day. (You are always writing stories, books, drawing pictures, comics, making newspapers, crossword puzzles.) They were brothers and sisters, and they had names. Marsha, George, Lin, Bruce, Jack, Toby, Zack, Lori, Larry and Dale. They were at a festival with cake and fruit punch, when somethingsomethingnotquitesure about a time portal and they were transported to present day. The humans began attacking the dinosaurs. It got violent, in fact very violent, you wrote. The brothers and sisters fighted back. They got hurt. One tank shot George and he fell down, making a low growl noise. His death was very sad. His brothers and sisters were very sad. They had tears dripping down their faces, but the humans were happy.
Sweet baby Jesus. Did you have to name him George? I wonder what you take in (apparently everything). Today, like most days now, I worked at home while you did your school work. Later, when I went to get the mail, I saw you had taped a piece of paper to our front door and on it you had written: Black Lives Matter. I almost cried as I grabbled the stupid phone book-sized Restoration Hardware catalogue from the mailbox and dropped it in the recycling bin. I have tried everything to get off their mailing list, but still, they keep coming. Everything happening at once.
Your favorite movie is Cool Runnings, an inexplicable impact as we are low on movies to watch as a family (and a movie that did not age well, rife as it is with racist tropes). You know all the words and sing along to Ziggy Marley alone in your room building Legos, the Rolling Stones, The Police. I can't help but think about what I don't have to worry about because of the color of your skin, the luxury you have should you ever shoplift a candy bar.
This is supposed to be a letter about you, and it is. You are living though this awful scary tragic time the way you have lived through the last 9 years...with that impish smile, a tilt of your head, a sigh as you drape one arm around my shoulder as if we are buddies riding the rails together. "I cannot believe you are 9," I said to you the other day. "I cannot believe you are 47," you said right back. All of it. Unbelievable.
But this, I know—with your creativity, your kind heart—you will make the world a better place. As you wrote at the end of your dinosaur story, TO BE CONTINUED...BOOK 2, COMING SOON.
I love you a thousand times forever,
Friday, April 24, 2020
14 and under quarantine. There’s really no cute marketing way to spin this—it’s plain old fucked up. No birthday party, no extended family dinner. Of all the ways I feel like my generation and the generations before have messed up your generation, this takes the (birthday) cake. But I’ll save my lamenting for another day. Today is your birthday, and truly, honestly, there is no one I’d rather be in quarantine with than you.
I keep getting warned about the pissy teenage years. Lord knows I was a punk ass pissy teen! I can still be a punk ass pissy 47 year old. But so far, you are still as sweet as ever. All big eyes and bigger heart, goofy sense of humor. You spend much of your time in your room, true, but you are in there painting or drawing, and you welcome me in, ask me questions on how to shade noses and jawlines, how to add light to hair. (The only time you make me leave is when you are playing guitar or ukulele. I know you know, but I stand outside your door and listen.)
Oh Zoey, at 14 you show me photos of Timothée Chalamet and young Leonardo diCaprio because they are so cute. (You have good taste.) Whenever I go in your room you are listening to music that I have never heard but really like, so you made me my own playlist titled, “I’m a Cool Mom.” But you are the cool one, Zoey. You love surfing, skateboarding, art, music, making açai bowls with granola and a drizzle of honey. But the very best part of all is that you know who you are and are just you. Plain and simple. Not afraid of disappointing anyone really, only of disappointing yourself. A nose shaded wrong, it happens, and you stare at it while I stare at you, so proud of who you are at 14, my forever funny Petunia Faced Girl.
I love you, I love you, I love you,
Posted by Petunia Face at 12:00 PM
Saturday, December 21, 2019
Yesterday Ozzy asked me if the Easter Bunny is real. Totally off-season, after sitting on Santa's knee at the mall, writing him letters, looking for Elf on the Shelf each morning, but yesterday he said with all the nonchalance of a warm spring afternoon, maybe the Easter Bunny is the parents, what do you think about that? I was unsetting our house alarm when he said it, my back to him, punching the code into the system so I wouldn't set off the alarm when I left. Ummm, I said, like maybe I wasn't really paying attention, and then I turned around and told him there was a spider on the wall right behind him. SPIDER! Like that. And he screamed, and I screamed, and we left the room and the conversation really quickly.
That's what I think about that.
2019. I make them kneel at the tree. Closer! Directing, setting the shot. At 13 and 8, they still look tiny if you squint your eyes.
2018. The curve of the cheek, the zig zag part.
2017. The jammies.
2016. A departure that year. But your arms around each other! I said.
2015. The year he looks older, a precursor to one day when he will be taller.
2014. The cheek on this one gets me every time.
2013. Looking back, I would have done an outfit change.
2012. The naked back.
2011. Before he could stand on his own.
2010. Her last year as an only child.
2009. Missing. What happened in 2009? No freaking clue.
2008. The last of the fluff.
2007. The cotton-headed ninny muggins that started it all.
I don't believe in lying. One day I will tell him that. That the Easter Bunny is maybe yes most certainly the parents, Santa, too, that Elf on the Shelf isn't a narc, and I will show him the plastic baggie I have filled with all of their milk teeth pushed way back in my bedside table drawer because the Tooth Fairy isn't real either. There is no reason to be afraid of spiders, I will say, and then I will tell them both that lying is complicated, almost as complicated as magic, but it doesn't even come close to the complications of love. Because what is real is this. The roundness of their heads together year after year.
Posted by Petunia Face at 9:47 PM
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Oh sweet boy, you funny, smart, curious little man. I feel like all of your birthday letters have been about your sense of humor, but that's just it—you're funny as hell. Have been since the day you were born, and it's only getting better. Your jokes, quips, inflection...as you get older, you just get funnier, and I cannot wait for the day when we can swap dirty jokes.
Of course you are as sweet and sensitive as you are funny. Inquisitive, questioning, kind. A long time ago, before Daddy and I were even married, I went to a psychic who told me that I would have one girl and one boy, in that order, and that the boy would have soft energy. Now after a long day of you asking me questions over and over again, of you pushing back on me with everything, of you speaking too loudly (seriously, why do you talk so loud?), I don't know if I would say your energy is soft, per se? But I do think it is something effervescent. Bubbling and round, an energy you want to cup in your hand and keep safe.
And oh how I want to keep you safe. Bubble wrap your heart, your face, the back of your neck silky and warm. You are a looker, my love, the very best kind, the kind who doesn't quite know it. A few months ago there was a dance at your school, the auditorium filled with 6, 7, 8, 9 year olds. The boys pushed around with the boys, and the girls crowded with the girls, and there you were--doing your super special fast feet dance moves that look a little ska-like, cool, asking everyone to dance with you. The girls, they loved you that night, danced with you, took pictures in the photo booth with you, gave you notes the next week at school to say that they liked dancing with you. And I? I died a little, watching how this all unfolds. My sweet baby boy dancing with the world.
Oh Ozmatoz. Please don't ever let anyone tell you not to talk so loudly--yes, that includes me. Keep dancing, keep laughing, keep looking at me with those shiny hazel eyes always on the verge of a punchline.
Happy birthday, sweet boy.
I love you, I love you, I love you,
Posted by Petunia Face at 10:30 PM
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
It's a numbers game. A racket. It has to be, right? The fact that you are 13.
12 years ago, on your 1st birthday, I asked our family to each write you a letter to the once and future Zo. I started with 13. Somebody else got 14. My mom got 17 and didn't just write a letter, but a composition book. (That one is going to kill me to read, if you let me read it, that is.) The letters go all the way up to age 21. But on this day, 12 years ago, you were just turning 1, and the possibility of you at 13 seemed as incomprehensible as the number of stars in the Universe (3 sextillion), as fathomless as the fact that 99.9999% of matter is empty space, as wondrous as the matter that it rains diamonds on Saturn, as mysterious as a photo of a black hole, as baffling as the reality that Donald Trump is our president, as unimaginable as the truth that my mom and brother are now gone.
But here we are and you are 13, as simple and plodding as time. Oh, Zo—at 13 you are a wonder! All legs and hazel eyes and lashes. Last night we took the box of letters down from your closet shelf and read the journal I kept while pregnant with you. Before you, even. A page from April 23, 2005—14 years ago to the day—when I thought I might be pregnant but wasn't yet. Dear Soul, I wrote, and the rest is history. Sprout, Baby Girl, lists of what we called you before we knew you, Willa, Milla, Allegra, Odile, a list of names and at the bottom, you. Zoey Dimon.
At 13 you play guitar and ukulele, shutting your bedroom door to sing. You skateboard and surf. Your teacher calls you out for being an excellent writer, you're getting an A in math, doodles on every page because more than anything, you are an artist. My girl. My sweet sweet baby girl Sprout, your big eyes so much like my own mom's eyes. You know now, don't you? my mom said to me the day you were born. You know how achingly much I love you. And I did, I do, and one day when you have kids of your own, you will know, too, all of this some sort of parallel Universe of simultaneous synchronicity. Don't ask me—I struggled to get a C in math. But this much I know: time is not only pulling us in one direction, but in all directions. I loved you before you were even here, and I will love you long after I am gone. And tonight you will read the letter I wrote to you 12 years ago today, when you were just 1. Always and forever, my sweet petunia faced girl.
I love you, I love you, I love you,
Posted by Petunia Face at 5:30 AM
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Oh Oz-matoz. My Great and Powerful boy. You steal my breath with your wet-lipped smile and those eyes that give you away. Today I got a Facebook memory served up from May 30, 2011 at 12:14am. It was my status update that said simply: Here we go. And away we went.
Who was the first baby ever born? you like to ask me, and I stumble a bit with evolution and the Bible before settling on I don't know. You have a scientist's mind, always asking questions, and I have a mother's mind, always thinking I need to have the answer. But a lot of the time/most of the time, I don't, though I am hoping we have a few years before that becomes unflinchingly obvious to both of us. Who was the first baby ever born? Might as well have been you because the world cracked open new the moment you came into it.
And here we are--you are 7. Most mornings now you wake up at 6am and get yourself dressed while singing a song that goes like this: I love sunny daaaays, when anything is possible... You may have made up this song on your own, I am not sure. But I do know that when you draw, you act out every single sketch in a loud, throaty falsetto, even if you're just drawing a straight line. Woaaahhhh guys! Over here! Here we go! For a line. Just a line.
With you, a line is a possibility, something to be toed then crossed, danced across really, a horizon stretched as wide as your smile. Here we go indeed.
Happy birthday my sweet, smart, delicious Ozzy Fozzy.
I love you I love you I love you.
Posted by Petunia Face at 10:45 PM
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
I wasn't sure I was going to write this letter here, but I just kissed you goodnight and realized I had to. Because suddenly you exist in the same world as green juice, the internet, social media...you know how to pronounce foyer, who Putin is, you follow #timesup on Instagram. I realized that this letter is not some future possible something you might read someday from the backseat of your flying car, but a now, hit publish and there you might be. Hello.
Oh Zo. How are you 12? Where did the time go? A dozen years ago I gave birth to you, but you gave me life. You with your impossibly large eyes and that freckle on your lip. Next week you get braces for that one tooth that won't grow in, and it's not so much that I am afraid of change, but I am afraid of how quickly I will get used to you with braces. I am afraid that one day I won't remember how your teeth looked "when you were little," the happy round shape of Chiclets, as if a child drew them in with a very soft crayon.
Here we are where there are edges, and I am still trying to cover them with my palm so that you don't hit your head. Of course you are too tall for that now. At 12, I watch as you and your friends try on growing up like a pair of my shoes that even I am not comfortable wearing. Walking around town by yourself, posting selfies, talking about another girl's hoops as if to measure something ineffable and uncomfortable by the circumference of earrings. Some of your friends have boyfriends. Other friends are no longer really friends at all. Today you got a bad grade on a math quiz, and I know how these things can splinter. But I also know that you are unflinchingly kind. You are not afraid to be soft, and it is my birthday wish for you that this softness is unbreakable, that the boys and the posts, the crop tops and Instagram stories of places you were not invited, that these do not make you hard. That you always know that there is a center, as shy and as brazen as a magnolia, a place where you belong and are loved. And that place is inside of you.
I love you, I love you, I love you, my sweet petunia-faced birthday girl. I cannot believe how lucky I am to get to be your mom.
11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 (too pregnant and cranky), 4, 3, 2, 1 (pre-blog)
Posted by Petunia Face at 11:00 PM
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Prospero Año y Felicidad (That's another thing I did: finally found out what that other Spanish line is in Feliz Navidad, which duh, but suddenly I feel that much smarter/sexier/feliz-ier, so merry xmas to me.)
I finished my Christmas shopping. We took Santa pictures, went ice skating, Christmas caroling. I sent out holiday cards. I felt grateful. I yelled at the kids for bickering. I bought myself some presents. Polished off a tub of English toffee whilst watching The Crown and Googling Prince Phillip. We decorated Christmas cookies. I had a few ugly cries over my brother being gone. Felt grateful despite. I went to holiday parties, drank wine, took antibiotics for a sinus infection, decided I am fine with not being good at wrapping presents, stood in line at UPS, the grocery store, felt grateful some more, tried to find Christmas crackers but they are sold out, and now it is the eve of Christmas Eve, so Zoey and Ozzy stood in front of the tree, because tradition, and yes, I am so very fucking grateful.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all of the above, and so much more.
Happy everything to you and yours.
Happy everything to you and yours.
Posted by Petunia Face at 10:11 PM
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Through a series of unsynchronized schedules, I was alone in my house last night for an hour or so, and I am NEVER alone in my house, like, ever. Giddy with the expanse of the hour, I wondered, should I take a nap? Watch tv? Do dirty things, paint my toes, shop online? But no, somehow I ended up unloading the dishwasher and asking Alexa if she thinks Trump will be impeached.
It looks like you're asking about Trump, she said, and then gave me NPR headlines on his latest embarrassment.
Alexa, do you believe in ghosts? I don't have a view on the supernatural.
Alexa, are my mom and brother watching me? Sorry, I don't know that one.
Alexa, when will I die? I'm not sure you really want to know the answer to that question. In 2015, the United States' average female life expectancy was 81 years.
Alexa, what is the meaning of life? The answer is 42, but the question is more complicated.
Alexa, what is the sound of one hand clapping? It is the sound of a High Five.
All images are from this amazing post of abandoned states, postcards of better days lined up with now. As the post says: They have a surreal quality. Ephemeral, disposable, they served only one purpose—to let someone know "I'm here. I'm thinking of you."
Lastly, I still don't know what Alexa meant when she said the meaning of life is 42, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't haunting me, but nonetheless, here is a funny SNL bit on Alexa.
Posted by Petunia Face at 7:24 AM