Anarchist 2.0 and the Goldfish

Children are masters at wrecking stuff.

I’m not even talking about their mothers’ bodies, peace of mind or plans for Friday night. I’m just, shallowly, talking about stuff.

Stuff like potted plants, picture frames, yoga mats and painted walls. Stuff like chapstick tubes, favorite coffee mugs, screen doors and brown sugar bears. Stuff like glasses, bowls,  plates and your favorite figurine you’ve had since you were a kid.

If you’ve got it, they can wreck it.

And three year olds? Three year olds are wreckin’ it masters.

When Clara was three, John named her The Anarchist.

The universe, finding us cute in our naivety, sent us Jane.Jane crazy eyes

Jane, Anarchist 2.0, puts Clara’s attempts to shame.

Or, *sigh* to be perfectly honest, it’s that with Jane, the third child, came a reduction of her mother’s brain cells. Leaving her poor mother with a memory and attention span that not even a goldfish would envy.

Sadly, that’d be me.

I routinely get distracted somewhere between “Why has Jane been so quiet for the last ten minutes?” and “I better go check on her.” This gives Anarchist 2.0 more than enough time to ply her skills around, say, the bathroom while she, could possibly, empty all the lotion, conditioner, shampoo and stick the band-aids to the toilet, hypothetically of course…

So, if you come to visit and you wonder why we use mason jars as glasses, have band-aids stuck to odd items and finger holes in the screen door. Just remember, an anarchist and a goldfish mom are not a pretty combination, you might want to save yourself while you still can. Jessie and JaneHeaven knows I won’t remember to warn you about the slippery bathroom floor!





It is a different tin, different buttons but the sound of buttons pouring out onto a wooden table is just the same.

Immediately I’m back at my Granny’s side, eagerly dumping out her tins of buttons. Running my fingers through the pile as I sort. Finding my favorites, dividing by color, talking with Granny, endlessly fascinated by the collection. Always, I am reluctant to undo my “work” and sweep them back into their circular home when the time comes, only slightly mollified by promises that they’ll be there next time.

But sometimes next time doesn’t come soon enough and I am mystified by the reluctance I see in Granny’s eyes when I mention the buttons.Buttons

Today I dumped the buttons on the table, and though the tin has spent the last year inside a moving box, the girls were drawn to the sound as if by magic. Buttons! Can we play with them? Can we pile them? These are mine! Oops- I dropped some. No- THESE are mine! Can we put them on string? Oops!

The girls and I crawled about on the floor finding buttons and the look I remember in Grannys eyes is no longer a mystery. But I’ll leave the buttons out, just for tomorrow.

It’s a small magic, that of button tins and memories, but there it is, running through the generations, connecting us in my mind like buttons on a string.



Behind me I hear a rustling noise.  Already scared, I turn my head up toward the darkness…

But that’s all the further I can trust my own memory.

In my mind’s eye, I can see through the shadows at the top of the stairs to a wooden door with a small circular hole for cats to climb through cut down low.

I believe I saw a dark dog’s nose poke through that hole,  just for a moment, before disappearing again.

I know from stories that the dog rustling around in the upstairs of the barn belonged to my uncle.

Sometimes I think I can remember the blur of him, black and white, headed down the steep wooden stairs toward me.

But I have no memory of my own of hitting the cement floor of the barn between the rows of cows.

Then fragments, strong arms lifting me up, the glow of light through the side of a blue feed cart, a wooden handle.

Is the memory my own, or simply what my brain imagined after hearing time after time of the dog knocking me down the barn stairs where I had been set to watch, safely out of the way, while the cows were milked?

Beyond the fear and the noise in the darkness I can’t say.

But for years, long after the cows were gone, I would pass below the old wooden stairs in grandpa’s barn and glance up, with just a hint of fear, through the dim light to the door with the little round hole.

I Need More Dark Chocolate

It’s true what they say.

As my children age I am getting less intelligent.Ivy black and white

Or as my eldest says, “YOU’RE JUST STUPID!”

Sadly that was as I was asking her to do something totally outrageous like get in the car for swim lessons and not after one of our dreaded circular conversations when it might (in a nicer manner of course) have been warranted.

Ivy has two snack times now and, my feelings on that aside, I needed some clarification on exactly how it worked.

“Do you need to bring a snack for milk break too?” I ask.

“No”,she says as she laughs, “They pass one out.”

“Oh, so you only need to bring one snack.”

No!“, and she laughs harder shaking her head, “There are two snacks!”


“Mom…” she laughs as she shakes her head.

“No really. When do they pass out snacks?”

“MOM! At snack time!” -giggle, giggle-

“But, then when do you eat the snack you bring?”

“At snack time!”

“So you do need to bring two snacks?”

And so the conversations goes round in circles while the first grader laughs at her oh-so-ridiculous-mother that doesn’t know a single thing about snack time.

Clara is more patient with me.

She knows that sometimes I just don’t get it. When that happens she raises her eyebrows, look to the heavens and says, “Actually Mom…”Clara black and white

Every now and then Ivy will pipe up with a gem like this: “How many ten minutes.”

And I, admittedly, panic.

It’s early in the morning. I have no idea what we are talking about. The question makes no sense to me. Is it better to pretend I didn’t hear? Or do I ask for clarification and risk the circular conversation before I’ve finished my cup of tea? Will she find my stupidity this morning amusing, frustrating or will it bring on tears?

“Actually Mom…”

“No Mom, mini-corn dogs are a healthy lunch.” Ivy says laughing at my disbelief.

“Actually Mom..”

And then Jane chimes in.Jane black and white




What, who me?!





Then, just like that, in the midst of the chaos I can practically feel it happen -poof- there goes another batch of brain cells.Clara and Jane black and white

Fortunately I’ve done .45 seconds worth of internet research on sub-par sites and discovered that dark chocolate is good for your brain.

Unfortunately we are out.

Somebody forgot to get more…