Saying Goodbye. Bang Bang Pop Pop.

Me, Sheppard, Roan, Anson + Smith

Me, Sheppard, Roan, Anson + Smith

I’m not so much a fade-to-black person as I am a cut-and-roll-the-swelling-anthem-and-credits kind of person. Even so, I’ve put off writing this post. This post where I say goodbye.

Smith, Roan, and Sheppard running the F Train to Coney Island

Smith, Roan, and Sheppard running the F Train to Coney Island

Pistols and Popcorn has done everything I needed it to do. I started it at a time where Roan and I had the majority of our time to ourselves. We shared our time with New York, letting her be the third-wheel in our adventures. I would plan things to do with him with writing about them in mind. I feel like it was a way to inject some adult conversation into our very child-centric days. And the way Pistols and Popcorn caught on totally blew my mind. These small entries about hanging with my kid – people care enough to read them?? Who knew?

Smitty, Shepz + Ro with Nathan's Famous.

Smitty, Shepz + Ro with Nathan’s Famous.

Over the years Pistols has helped me make decisions, lent me support, served as a sounding board, and sometimes helped me ride my high horse. Pistols propped me up and kept me wrapped up in my readers’ strength and support during some pretty hard times. It offered up interesting opportunities I never would have come across otherwise. It started friendships with people I have absolutely come to love. Most importantly, this place has served as a record of years of my family’s life.

Ro + Anson. This pose happens more and more often.

Ro + Anson. This pose happens more and more often.

And now it’s just time for me to say goodbye. Things in this life have changed, and I’m constantly grateful for the direction they keep moving in. I’ve been able to begin working with old friends, circling back to old talents. My free time now sends me on these ravenous scavenger hunts for all the right words for my new gig. I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be having any more fun. And these writing assignments are all during nap time, so I’m still loyal to the toddler park circuit,  being the mom who lets her kids climb up the down slide without an apology. Fear me.

Spiderman, Smitty, Sheppard, Spiderman, Roan.

Spiderman, Smitty, Sheppard, Spiderman, Roan.

I still have so many stories to tell. The twins, my Smitty + Shep, leave me full-to-the-eyeballs with stories on an hourly basis. But my Roan is getting older, and that is a thing I think about. I can no longer talk about everything he does and says with the abandon I used to, when he was a child. He is older. He deserves some privacy. And it just doesn’t feel right to be telling his stories anymore. And obviously, there is no way for me to talk about this family without including him.

Smitty + Me.

Smitty + Me.

I just see the signs, really. It’s time to say goodbye. The dumb luck part of it is that it’s ending in a Hollywood-happy way. Life is good. I have everything I ever wanted. I have way more than I ever hoped for. We are healthy, this family. We love each other in ridiculous amounts. We are stupid together and fight often and laugh and eat really good food. We have embarrassingly good friends. This is a nice place to leave it.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for your emails, comments and time. Thanks for sharing in this family and our weirdness. Bang pop.

My Friend, Ilana

Ilana + Dominic, sitting in a tree....

Ilana + Dominic, sitting in a tree….

I have a friend named Ilana Levine. She’s one of those women we would all hate if she wasn’t so undeniably in-your-face loveable. I mean, it’s almost a dare to try not to like her. There’s really no point in trying though. Beautiful? Check. Smart? Check. Giving? Check. Funny? Double check. Got marriage, mothering and friendship all balanced? Checkity-check-check. Oh yeh, and there’s also this: she enjoys a successful career as a TV, Screen, and Stage actress and is married to Dominic Fumusa, star of “Nurse Jackie“. They have two children who are probably going to be kidnapped by me because I love them so.

I cannot crush on her any more or else I’m going to risk the wrath of a jealous husband. My jealous husband. I don’t think Dominic is feeling too threatened.

It is with my whole heart that I recommend reading an entry Ilana wrote for The People’s Choice Blog, describing the push and pull of balancing what a woman wants to do for herself and her career with the needs and wants of her children. Start here and click over to finish it:

“Hey guys, let’s do a test run.”   “A test run?” my two small children asked, “what do you mean?”  My agent had called to tell me I had been offered the play My Name is Asher Lev, an off Broadway hit in New York City.  “Let’s pretend it’s Tuesday night and it’s six o’clock and Mommy is about to leave for the theater. I will kiss you both and say good bye and what will you do?”

Immediately both kids grabbed hold of my legs and burst into tears, real tears, salt and all. Within seconds it turned into full on sobbing. (And I’m the actress?!)

So this was the test run. The rehearsal. Mommy wasn’t really going to work, that was still two full weeks away. But once D-Day arrived this would be the drill for at least three months.

I looked at my husband who was engrossed in checking scores on ESPN.com, oblivious to the three act Ibsen play that had just unfolded by the front door. “Don’t worry, babe. They’ll be fine. They are always fine when I leave for work.”

Yes, it’s true! Why is that? Many mornings my husband is picked up before dawn and heads to the Nurse Jackie set where he plays Kevin Peyton, Edie Falco’s TV husband. Often the kids and I wake up to a sweet note he has left on the kitchen counter. He uses lots of colored markers, writes each of our names in different colors and says Daddy will see you tonight with lots of XXXs and OOOs.

Click here to keep reading. Do it. Just click…

Photographing Strangers: Ok or Not?

Photographing strangers and posting the pictures to a public forum is creepy. Even if the picture is beautifully framed, wonderfully lit, and visually stimulating, unless the person has agreed to be photographed you’re crossing a line. Instagram has made this type of photography wildly popular and more accepted than ever. Many of my closest friends and relatives do this. Subway pictures of strangers, people waiting for a train, people crossing a street, eating food – I get it. The landscape of NYC littered with its citizens makes for compelling photographs. This is the sum + substance of why people watching here is so satisfying. But I don’t agree with the notion that just because it’s possible and popular, it’s ok to voyeuristically post pictures of strangers.

If I caught a stranger taking a picture of me, for whatever noble and artistic reason, it would bug me. Particularly if they were being sneaky about it. More so if they were taking a picture of any of my children. Honestly, that would freak me out. It’s just invasive, and that is the truth.

I think there are some exceptions. Vague pictures, not specifically showing faces but instead more of a landscape. Performers, who presumably are putting themselves out into the world to be watched. Maybe even police officers or other public figures on duty. Anyone who is not having a private moment. But the rest of us are just going from A to B, without trying to be on the stage of social media, maybe not feeling our best or looking our best or maybe we’re going through something or possibly feeling vulnerable or wearing something we thought looked great but actually looks awful.

But we have not agreed to be part of your artistic expression. By being in public, is it just implied that we consent? I don’t think so.

I’m seriously kind of shocked by how many people take and publicly post pictures of others. When did this become ok? How does it seem like a valid form of art? And if they have to do it covertly, doesn’t that just sort of negate any argument that it’s fine? In my experience, anything a person has to hide is usually kind of on dodgy ground.

I’d love to hear how others feel about this – particularly people who do it. Truthfully, I’ve done it before. I’ve seen a funny situation, photographed it, then posted it. But after seeing it done more and more, with people dancing a little too close to the line of invasive disregard, I’ve had to put the kibosh on my own involvement. It could be that I’m being ridiculous, though. What do you think?

Gratitude. Helping. Safety.

Hang on child

After one surprise week off from school, Roan is back learning and playing with his friends. Shep + Smitty are taking a nap wrapped up in their favorite blankets with their favorite stuffed animals standing guard. I’m sitting in my super warm home, steam making my radiator squeak with winter noises, and have to squint from the amazing sunlight pouring through my back windows. There is a computer in my lap, which is plugged into a wall that makes it turn on. The water in my sink pours both hot and cold. The clothes in my closet are mostly clean, and all the books and toys in the boys’ rooms are just sitting around in their perfect condition, save a few pages glued together with grape jelly. I know what we’re having for dinner tonight, and that it’s sitting in my kitchen being kept at the correct temperature in my refrigerator until it’s ready to be cooked later tonight, on our stove, which also works.

Bubbles

My family will sit at our own table, together in our own space. Safe. And later the boys will take baths, with an unending supply of warm soapy yummy-smelling water, bubbles and toys surrounding them. They have their choices of pajamas, with no shortage of dinosaur themes, superhero themes, color block patterns, or simple solids. Really, whatever floats their boat at the time, they can have. Books will be read, TV shows will be watched, and at the end of the day we will all sink into pillows that are ours, fluffed exactly as we like them and with the doors locked and cozy down comforters pulled over our ears; this family will all dream of flying or popcorn or bunnies or toys being taken away. None of us need to worry. Our needs are met.

Warmth

It has been made crystal clear to me this past week that each of these things – the thousands of things everyday that are normal to us, that we think we deserve or have rights to – can just simply be taken away. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hard worker, honest, mean, nice, healthy or a glutton. They can disappear, and then what?

I have been inspired by the amazing community of Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy. Every day there has been drive after drive to collect donations or find labor to help all the people who have lost their homes and businesses. I have to admit that I have felt absolutely overwhelmed, and then helpless. I have things to give, I have time to help, I have a few dollars to donate. But I’ve not really known where to go. Each place – the Red Hook Initiative, the Red Cross, the church on the corner, or the non-profit across the street – they all seem like they need help. I wonder if other people feel like this – that there’s just too much need, and what little I have to give isn’t going to help enough.

Love

I suppose there are different styles of giving, and of being able to help. I have been in awe of my two friends,  Jennifer Perillo and Ilana Levine who seem like they are built for this type of circumstance. (Click here for an excellent entry by Jennifer detailing ways to help – from anywhere.) They have organized coat, blanket and food drives. They have organized  lists of places to help. They seem constant in their efforts. If I were to name everyone I’ve seen who has just jumped in – this would be an entry of hundreds of names. My friends and neighbors are truly inspirational.

I am fortunate though, that an email found its way to me, detailing the needs of one family. And that is how I am built to help. With just a few texts my closest friends of course came through and then some. We’ve been able to pull together enough clothes, shoes, books, toys and legos (of course!) for this family to get through the winter at least. Now, if only one of us could pull a new apartment out of the air, we’d feel totally successful. Still, sometimes good enough has to be good enough.

I am hugely grateful for the electricity that runs through my home, uninterrupted. I am grateful for the water and warmth, and the safety that the four walls and roof of our Brooklyn home have provided for us. I do wish I could share more of it. I wish I could take this sense of safety and warmth, this comfort and wrap it up and hand it out. The sadness I feel for my neighbors who are suffering, for people I don’t know who are suffering – it probably doesn’t help anyone. But I feel it, and hang on just a little tighter to my boys when I hug them goodnight. These basic things – health, beds, blankets, safety, home – these are truly the most luxurious things we can have in life. All the other bells and whistles just seem to be of no consequence at all.

Frankenstorm Sandy. Looks Like We Made It.

Sheppard stepping out to survey the world post-hurricane

The high drama of big storms is something that we eat up. There’s a tension of excitement as we hope to hang on to power and water, a neurotic checking of battery power in our phones and computers. As Frankenstorm Sandy descended upon my family, we took the approach we always take – lazy preparation, with crossed fingers and secret enjoyment of the unpredictable weather and its consequences which were totally out of our hands.

Smitty riding through tree branches and leaves

It’s a little tricky to articulate in a way that makes sense, but I suspect it rings true for most people. It’s not that we enjoy a natural disaster, and I’m not unconcerned for my family’s safety. I’m all too aware of the suffering it’s caused, and had a sleepless night last night worrying about the hospital patients being evacuated from NYU Hospital, and all my favorite things on Coney Island being eaten up by the ocean.

After two days in-house, time to go out. Nevermind the Hurricane.

But I do enjoy the community that rises to the surface. People make eye contact on the street, homes open up. Smiles are given out freely and people no longer seem to feel threatened by one another. The bigger threat – nature – brings us back to zero, I suppose. Us vs. the world. All of us versus something much more powerful than all of us.

The day the storm was blowing in, for a last Halloween pre-party hurrah in the park

And Twitter and Facebook. Social media outlets that I use sporadically became my lifeline and information go-to sources. With Internet and Cable out, the 4G on my phone was keeping me company last night. It’s funny peculiar that the pithy “I’m thinking of you in NYC” statements from celebrities and musicians and followers and strangers and far-away friends suddenly really mean something. One after another in my Twitter timeline, people saying “hang in there.” A status update I entered on Facebook saying “I’m Ok” gathered immediate attention from my friends and family, letting me know they were thinking about it too. Thinking about me.

That feels good, when the wind is knocking on the window in a fairly violent manner.

But here in Zone B, about 100 yards from the evacuation zone, we were right as rain. We kept our power on; flickering and threatening to give up on us, but kept it nonetheless. Our water stayed on and none of our windows gave way. Our walls held up and our roof stayed on and no huffing and puffing by Sandy brought us harm. Smitty and Shep ran around the house naked making windy noises with their mouths, and Roan celebrated the two (and counting) days off from school with friends, confetti, music videos, play-doh, food, movies and much tackling of his father.

Capes are actually awesome to wear in Hurricane weather. Very dramatic.

It’s not over yet but the worst part is done. I predict that tomorrow’s Halloween will bring more kids out-of-doors than ever. With parents ready to leave their four walls, and kids bursting with pent-up energy. And a hangover of community spirit that will hopefully stick around for a while.

Running with My Son

This past weekend, I convinced Roan to go on a run with me. I have actually been waiting for this day forever. EVER. Normally I’m a person who likes to run alone. I like to listen to music and not have to keep up or slow down for anyone. I like the solitude of not speaking and not listening to anyone speak. I love being alone surrounded by New York City and her inhabitants, feeling like it’s me vs. them.

But I have been really wanting Roan to join me.

I’ve written about how much I love to run. I’ve always thought it would be a thing Roan would love too. But until yesterday, I didn’t realize he was ready. When he accepted my invitation I felt like Christmas candy. It felt that good. And when we actually went, it was even better.

We each got our headphones and playlists. I listened to a runners mix from my friend Toby, and Roan listened to – what else – Korean pop. (For the record, he was into K-Pop way before Psy and Gangam Style came crashing through.) I had gone running the day before, so I felt good about going nice and slow for Roan’s sake. Ha. I had to ask the boy to slow down more than once. Old mom.

Found this mural - not shown is the other twin from the "Shining" as well as Jack Nicholson's character. Creepy. Cool.

We ran along the sidewalks of a not all that pretty part of Brooklyn. I let Roan choose our path and we happened upon some great buildings and creepy murals I’ve never noticed before. Anytime Roan (I) needed a break we’d walk for a block, pull out our earphones, and talk. If he wanted to catch his breath for longer, he’d really talk to me. About things that were interesting to him. And that just captivated me. He’d put his music back on, find a favorite song and shoot off ahead of me running like he meant it.

At the end of our run we went and found Anson at the park, playing with Sheppy + Smitty. This day – a perfect gorgeous Autumn day – just couldn’t have been any better. Roan said he’d like to go running with me every weekend. I do believe I have a new running partner, world. So now it’s Roan + Me vs. NYC. Watchout.

Mystery, Starlux, School, Project Runway, Mondo, Breathe.

You know when that somewhat histrionic friend of yours posts vague status updates on whatever media outlet they’re addicted to? The ones that hint at something great, terrible, impending, or happening, but they won’t just come out and say, “Yo. This is what happened. It made me feel this way.”? And it bugs you, partly because the Human Being inside yours naturally curious about things that are unclear, but also because it’s pretty lame to post something and then clarify that you just actually cannot post about it.

I never do that.

Except now, I’m going to do that.

There’s a project I’m working on and due to the nature of the project, I really can’t talk about it in a public way. So normally I’d just work on it, and leave my Pistols and my Popcorn out of it, but I want to shout from the rooftops now that “Yo! I’m working on something! And it makes me feel really good and happy and productive! And it has nothing repeat nothing to do with children, parenting, me, or my family!” And that’s basically all I can say due to the dangerous nature of me being involved with it. Ok ok just kidding about the danger. But, yeh. I just thought you should know. And I’m sorry that I’ve just become that guy that does that one thing. But I hope we can still be friends.

Moving right along.

Roan - Wild

Epic past few weeks. Epic has become the most overused and totally annoying word in the jibberjabber world of teenagers and pop culture but too bad because I’m an adult, and I’m using it correctly. The end of the summer has happened, and so did our last BANG BOOM POP WOW chronology of events.

Hotel balcony, fake palm tree. Love.

First – as a family, we actually left the eight-block radius we rarely travel outside of (though we stayed in the Tri-State Area). We went on a vacation with my sister Lori and her family, to Wildwood, NJ. Now – full disclosure – at no point did I ever trade, barter, influence or hint at any type of potential review for this hotel we stayed at so our experience there is likely to be exactly the same as yours would be.

Wildwood Boardwalk

And it was totally epic. HAHAH – kidding – it was totally awesome. (Awesome is back, right?) We stayed at a place called the Starlux Hotel. It was lovely. A clean and surprisingly warm pool. A bubbly hot tub. A cool hotel suite (2 bedrooms, kitchenette, balcony, living room) for $135/night (off-season, FYI). They set up cribs for the tiny twin tyrant masters, they had free bicycles to cruise along the boardwalk with, they provided shovels, pails, and boogie boards for the beach, and even have a complimentary washer/dryer. The staff could not have been any more friendly or helpful. One morning they opened the pool early because Boone and Roan asked them to. Seriously. They gave my sister a stamp to mail her rent check. They doted on the twin boys. And always had coffee ready for us in the morning.

Delux Starlux

You’re in NYC looking for a quick beach weekend getaway? This is the jam.

Summit Street Gang, First Day of School 2012

The tragic ending is that the night we came home was the first school night of the year. Roan started fourth grade the next day. (Actually, Roan is a bit square and loves school, loves his friends at school, and was probably ready to get away from the park circuit I had him on during the summer. But still. He likes to pretend that starting school is a drag so I go ahead and help him spin his little fiction.)

Heidi Klum literally glows. She is from a different planet, here is the proof. Tell a friend.

The upswing is that Roan missed the second day of school to attend the Project Runway Season 10 finale taping at Fashion Week. Oh man my son and I love going to this thing. It’s just a little crazy to be a few rows behind Harvey Weinstein, Michael Kors, Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Debra Messing and Jennifer Hudson. Like, I totally could have nailed any one of those people in the head with a grape, had I chosen to do so. How many people can say that?

Roan + Mondo

Most importantly, Roan got to talk with Mondo, our favorite Project Runway celebrity. That guy is a supercool dude. He took a nervous 8-year-old boy and put him at ease, showing the greatest interest in the pillows that Roan has been designing. I want to fold Mondo up, put him in my pocket, and bring him with me everywhere I go.

But that’s probably illegal so I will not.

Right? So. Now it’s time to breathe, eat some goldfish crackers, watch a little Yo! Gabba! Gabba! and ask Fall….whatchu got to compete with this Summer finale, hmmmmm?

End of Summer Roan

Walking to the park this morning, Roan said he felt like we were walking to school. School hasn’t started here yet, we don’t get there until September 6. So we have one week and one day left of Summer vacation. But today the air didn’t feel as hot and the air didn’t feel as wet. It was hinting that Fall could be somewhere near – but only if you really really listen. And Roan loves his school, and is an avid learner. Still, that kid isn’t ready to say goodbye yet to this Summer.

Neither is his mama.

The Life

I’m the same as everyone else, really – I love time to myself and a good routine that carves out quiet moments that I can count on. Roan being in school will make those times more frequent which is great. But  not as great as having him around. When Sheppy and Smitty take their nap during the day (which totally is rocking my world by the way – three hours every day. Yowza.) Roan and I get some time together that isn’t centered around keeping these little firecrackers from killing each other, themselves, or us. Everything becomes quiet and calm, with the air conditioner playing a sweet ballad of white noise. Roan and I use this time to work on things. I write, he will do a math worksheet. Then we eat lunch and watch a Korean TV show together.

There's always a park in our future

Regarding this Korean fascination happening. I don’t know. The shows we watch are subtitled and so I can claim that it’s a great exercise in reading comprehension for my boy. We just finished one called “Playful Kiss” which had the worst message on the planet. Essentially if you love someone enough, they can be awful to you and then you just keep loving them and then one day, maybe in the final episode, they’ll say something nice. Still – we were captivated. We were both appalled, and we were both captivated. There’s a lot to talk about – cultural differences, colloquialisms, fashion, love. Now we’re watching one called “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho”. A Gumiho is a nine-tailed fox. And this guy’s girlfriend is a Gumiho. In human form.

Whatever. I’m just glad we’re not watching Dora the Explorer, you know? Can’t stand her shoes.

Time for a haircut?

And when our little twin friends are awake, we all get around this neighborhood together. We hit ice cream parlors, we hit parks, we sometimes just park our bodies on a footbridge over a busy expressway and listen to Shepz + Smitty scream ‘TRUCK!! CAR!! TAXI!! TRUCK!! AIRPLANE!! HUMMUS!” at rapid-fire rate (Sheppy loves Hummus more than anything and demands it pretty much all the time. He has garlic breath.) It’s funny and probably a little boring for my 8-year-old to spend an hour watching traffic but he’s not a big complainer, and usually tolerates and even sometimes enjoys these little non-climactic outings.

Finding fun

I just absolutely love having Roan around, to share all these things with; to share in the delight of his brothers learning, to share in the boredom and the excitement of every single day. When he heads back to school, probably some of my guilt will be lifted – the feeling that he’s not getting enough attention, or that he’s held back by having to do things for these little ones. When school starts, he will be surrounded by his friends and have all the proper academic stimuli around and not my homemade math worksheets and Korean television reading drama episodes.

When school starts, Roan gets to be his social self, which I’m learning is different from his home self, which I suppose is actually true for everyone. He becomes slightly aloof and cool. He taps his toe, rather than busting out his highly choreographed dance skills. He smiles more than he laughs. He holds a bit more emotion closer inside. He keeps himself a little guarded.

And I like that Roan protects himself because he needs to be protected. But I hate that he protects himself because I want this world to be safer.

I’ve worked with Roan this summer on finding his voice. He is cautious about expressing opinions, even ones that don’t seem hard to take. He is slow to express preferences about what to do with his friends, and will never ever say he likes one person more than another. Roan is cautious, in the extreme, about sharing information about anyone other than himself and is quick to say he doesn’t like gossip. So much so that I worry about him being able to tell me if things go wrong, with a friend or someone who isn’t a friend. So I’ve made him list things to me this summer. What are three things you don’t like to talk about? That went over horribly. He literally could not even say the words of the topics he doesn’t like to talk about. (Sex, swearing, and talking about things he doesn’t like to talk about). It took almost an hour to get these three things from my boy.

Summer Roan

I’m sure he’ll be relieved that his teachers will not be taking this approach with him. Ah – mothers – crazy, each one of us.

Summer is saying good-bye, it’s true. As uneventful as this one has been, it has also been one of my favorites, ever. The change in the air makes me sad even though it feels good. Having so much time to try to figure out who my son is, this is a true luxury. He’s crazy complicated and super sweet. My Roan. It does feel like we’re walking to school.

Brag Post: My Son’s Art is in the Guggenheim Museum.

Roan, Me and Smitty's Head. Carroll Street Station, on our way to Ro's exhibit.

While we all know that in the news and in our daily conversations the bad stuff gets a lot of attention, I’ve got to stand up straight and use my outdoor voice to declare my love for Roan’s school right now this minute: Brooklyn’s Public School 58 (PS 58). Obviously, I could easily catalogue my discontent here for its shortcomings, but the occasional “Water Bug” (that’s what we in New York call cockroaches when we don’t want to admit they are cockroaches) in the bathrooms, the various cases of lice, and yes, the bedbugs (or, as the letter that came home stated “a” bedbug was confirmed. Really? Only one? Should I come and smash it so the problem is solved?) be damned! I’m feeling mad love for my little dude’s school. The reasons are three-fold.

First: his teachers. I have what can only be called star-struck admiration for the lot of them. Young, amazing, engaged and even willing to Facebook Friend me (well, at least one of them), Roan is surrounded by people who know who he is, and like to challenge him to be exactly that.

Roan. Cello.

Second: The Strings Program. PS 58 has a musical program wherein each child is assigned a string instrument in the 3rd grade. They learn to play it through the 5th grade. Roan chose the cello. There is something about Roan playing a cello that makes me act the teary fool when I get to watch him go for it. And he is proud. And that makes me proud.

Shep's Head, Me and Ro in front of the Guggenheim

Third: And really, this is the point of this post – thankfully I have this forum to publish my feelings because me stopping people on the sidewalk yesterday and telling them about it was just not actually exactly what I needed – Roan has a piece of art on display in the Guggenheim Museum. Do you understand what I’m saying? Let me just say it a little bit bigger:

Roan has a piece of his own art on display in the Guggenheim Museum.

There. That’s better.

It blows me away. PS 58 participates in a program called Learning Through Art. It is described thusly on the Guggenheim website:

Learning Through Art (LTA), an artist residency program, cultivates student creativity by designing sustained, process-oriented art projects that support learning across the curriculum. The program sends experienced teaching artists into New York City public schools, where they collaborate with classroom teachers to develop and facilitate art projects integrated into the school curriculum.

Cool, right? So all year, Roan’s class has been doing art projects with people from the museum, and this final project had the chance to be chosen to be displayed. Roan’s team (Hello to his collaborators: Cecilia, Sachin and Reuben) had their sculpture chosen. I’m guessing its title alone helped: “The Colorful Party Place”, was described by Roan as “A place where you can party and have fun.” Who wouldn’t love that?

A Year with Children 2012

In the entrance of the Guggenheim.

A wing of the Guggenheim is dedicated to this program right now. “A Year with Children 2012” is exhibiting their work for five weeks. Our family went yesterday to check it out, and it is just one of those experiences that I’ll never forget. It’s not so much that his work was there, but the fact that these opportunities are open to my son. And that Roan just accepts these experiences as his life, his normal happy life. I believe that his gorgeous and innocent magical thinking will be able to survive just a little bit longer when he knows that sure – no big deal – your art can end up in a museum.

Roan's Fan Club, in front of "The Colorful Party Place"

"The Colorful Party Place" by Roan, Cecilia, Sachin, and Reuben.

Because when that’s true, what’s next?  Anything, really. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

The Jerk, Roan, Me and a Few Well-Placed (?) Swear Words

I’ve talked about running on this site – how it is my church, it is the thing that pulls me together on the weekend. I’ve always thought it would be amazing to share it with Roan, when he gets old enough and then BAM he suddenly became old enough. Sunday I convinced him (ok, absolutely bribed him) to ride his bike with me as I ran across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. We had done a short rehearsal of this once before, as he rode alongside me on the waterfront, but that was a scant two miles, compared to over double that. I was confident he could do it though, as that outing hadn’t even flushed him and had in fact prompted him to tell me that I’m not “exactly slow”. Heh. High praise, that. Punk.

Sunday was a perfect day. Gorgeous weather, and nothing on our schedule. We started out and talked as I tried to keep up with him. I chose a path that would take us a little longer to get to the bridge but was dedicated to bike and foot traffic only. Once we got to the bridge though, I knew we were a bit screwed.

Apparently the National MS Society had planned a walk to raise awareness on this exact Sunday. Its path included going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Believe me, I’m all for fundraising and walking and running and biking events for good causes. Unfortunately though,  when a huge gathering of people try to cross the Brooklyn Bridge at once, it is a huge cluster…eh…cluster. But we were there, and they were there, and it was up to all of us good people to share this bridge and make the best of it.

There has long been a war between pedestrians and bicyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge. As a Fat Cyclist’s sister, I have always obeyed, with what borders on religious reverence, the painted line that separates the two. When I’m running, I don’t veer into the bike lane unless I need to pass a gawking tourist and even then I giddy-up out of the bicycle lane ASAP. With Roan on a bicycle, I finally had a pass to be in the lane, but it was full of walkers. Bugger.

Their good cause was not lost on me, neither was the fact that they had every right to be there. So Roan and I weaved in and out of the crowd, with me leading the way with “Excuse me, coming through” and Roan sticking close. I finally came across the group of people that you just don’t want to come across. The ones who will not move, not give others three seconds of their time to step aside. I asked them a few times to let us pass, and then pointed out that they were actually in a bike lane. And here’s a kid on a bike. Wanna let him through?

And then of course, one big-mouthed slow-walking dude decided to step up to a mom and her son. This man apparently needed to show his fellow friends that regardless of his taking part in a great and worthwhile event, he could pull his terrible personality out and flash it around for all to see. He berated me for trying to get through, and spoke down to me in such a way that his aggression rattled my son.

Oh dear.

As a former badass, I couldn’t help myself. I stepped up to him and told him, yeh, I have eyes and can see what’s going on. I’m happy to share my bridge with him and am just trying to get my kid through so MOVE. I did match his aggression, but I did keep moving, not wanting to start a fist fight with an MS Walker on the sabbath in front of my son. But this guy. THIS GUY. He needed to show how awesomely dominant he was so  he kept yelling insults, kept embarrassing his friends (I hope), and I just kept my hand on Roan’s back, guiding him through. But before I was out of his life for good, I turned around, gave him a hand gesture my mom would ground me for, mouthed GFY (which does not mean “Good For You”), and in my best teaching life-lesson voice told my son in front of Big Mouth’s friends, “Some guys are just born assholes.” Roan’s face went from anxious to mischievous as he laughed at me swearing in front of him. Score.

Ok. Not the most even-handed or mature or even best approach ever. But guess what? I’m not sorry. Had Roan not been there, I probably wouldn’t have reacted in that same way. But I felt that this guy was not only being a bully to me, he was doing it to my son. I could not bear the idea of letting that slide, because I would never want my Roan to believe it’s ok for people to act like that. Still, there are probably ways that would have been better to handle this guy, including just ignoring him.

But at the end of it? Roan was proud of me. In his re-telling to his Dad, I was a hero and I was strong. His mom was fierce and stood up for him. And the bike ride was a blast, and he wants to do it again. So maybe just maybe – me acting the fool was an ok thing. I’m still not sure.

What do you think?