Sheryl and Sons

Sheryl and Sons
I told you they were big.

Monday, June 25, 2012


     When my son was 5-years-old, he liked to wear a life jacket around the house.  He'd wear it to play with friends, eat dinner, or to watch television on the couch.
     What was that about?
     When I asked him, he said he just liked it.
     Was he cold?  Did he like the swaddled feeling of security?  Was he afraid of drowning?  From what did he feel he needed saving?
     In my 3:00 a.m. fret-fests, I feared it was me.
     He seemed happy and well adjusted in every other way, but I worried that the life jacket was a symptom of something, or the beginning of something worse.  I watched him closely, and waited.  I read books.  I asked the pediatrician and other mothers if anyone had ever seen this before.  No one had.  It seemed ominous.
     And then one day, without discussion or fanfare, he was done.  He took off the life jacket and lost interest.  Problem solved.
     That was one of the many parenting moments when I wished I'd had a crystal ball.  If only I could have seen into the future, I would have known that it turned out fine.  Hell, I could have bought him some flippers.
     I've always wished for that crystal ball.  There were so many moments raising my sons that if I'd  just known it was going to turn out okay, I could have relaxed.  But I just never knew.
     But now I do.
     This morning was an ordinary morning. I sipped my coffee and read the paper as my two sons got ready for work. It occurred to me that it has been a long time since anyone lost one shoe.  It has been even longer since I had to smell a boy's breath to make sure he brushed his teeth.  If, on a frantic morning in 1998, I could have seen us in the crystal ball on June 25, 2012, I would have wept with relief.
     Of course I'm not finished worrying.  I think that comes part and parcel with the job.  My 91-year-old mother-in-law still frets over her 60ish sons, watching for signs of improvement.
     Mothering is never over. But childhood is.
     And the moment I wanted to see in the crystal ball was this one.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thanks, Honey

     It's been a banner year for my old boyfriends.
     One guy, (let's call him X) a lawyer, has been seen on several local news broadcasts giving opinions about various criminal trials.  Another old flame just had his latest book reviewed by The New York Times.  (It wasn't a great review, but still.)
     In the meantime, My One, the man I married, has quietly, without press coverage or appearances on The Colbert Report, been working his ass off.
     My husband has a career that doesn't get a lot of press.  But on Father's Day, I thought I might give him some blog coverage for the job he does at home.  After all, I haven't exactly been raising these two amazing boys alone.                                         
     My husband is a nag, in the best possible way.  He tells the boys to clean their rooms, put their dishes in the dishwasher, and help their mother.
     He would win the Nobel prize if they gave it in these categories: Letting Your Wife Know You Think She is Beautiful, Respecting and Loving Your In-Laws and Showing Kindness to Annoying Neighbors.
     He loves the Chicago Bulls, a good bottle of red wine, playing golf in any weather, cooking Sunday  dinner and reading every inch of the newspaper.
     He hates parties where he doesn't know anyone,  restaurants that charge $11 for a cocktail, and having to do the organized dances at Bar Mitzvah parties.
     He thinks you can be a social liberal and a fiscal conservative (wrong) cats are the preferred pet (also wrong) and that I don't know anything about science (this is true.)
     I know this barely scratches the surface, but he wouldn't want me to reveal much more.  The most important thing is that he has been my constant and unwavering partner in loving our boys as hard as he can. He is an exceptional father.
     Thanks, Honey.  Happy Father's Day.  I love you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tooth Fairy Tale

     The Tooth Fairy was not scheduled to stop at our house.  I had read all the parenting books that advised against telling my child a bald-faced lie.  I had promised to always tell my five-year-old son the truth, not realizing he would some day ask if I'd ever smoked a cigarette or cut class.  But just like smoking and ditching, eventually I bowed to the peer pressure.  "Everybody's doing it!" my friends said.  They were right, everybody was--and secretly, I wanted to be a Tooth Fairy too.
     Once I fell, I fell hard.  Our Tooth Fairy not only left my son a dollar bill, but she also left candy so more of his teeth would fall out.  The candy left a trail from the window to his bed so he could imagine the Tooth Fairy crawling in through the open window, carrying a bag overflowing with mini Snickers and Hershey's Kisses, and fetching the lost tooth from under the pillow.
     And one more thing.  There was a Grandma Tooth Fairy who came to my mother's house, and she left twenty bucks.
     The last part was not my idea.  My mother is just the kind of grandma who takes spoiling very seriously.
     Like any small lie, this one grew like Pinocchio's nose.  As teeth fell out, my children (now two boys deceived) began to see this as a cash and carry business.  When someone wanted baseball cards, he started wiggling.  I began noticing that in the fall, both my children were yanking out teeth that had never been loose.  My younger son told me that it was better to get all your teeth pulled out before Grandma and Papa left to spend the winter in Florida.
     Occasionally, mistakes were made.  Sometimes the Tooth Fairy fell asleep while watching the news and did not make her appointed rounds.  She learned that a laundry basket provided a clever disguise when faced with a wakeful child.  One time our Tooth Fairy was out of singles, and her rate was mysteriously raised to five dollars--of course there was no way back.  And once when the Tooth Fairy was on a diet and unprepared for a sudden tooth loss late at night, she was forced to leave a trail of Jenny Craig Chocolate Calcium Chews.
     You may have noticed that my husband is nowhere to be found in these nocturnal wanderings.  Somehow, the job of Tooth Fairy has been declared women's work in our house.  Other moms confirm that it is quite rare for dads to assume the title.  I know it seems silly, but if we want more men to equally share these responsibilities, perhaps we'll have to call them something other than Fairies.
     Eventually, my older son heard the whispered rumors on the playground, and the questions began.  Is there really a Tooth Fairy?  If I stop believing, will she stop coming?  Do I have anything else that falls out and pays cash?  I consulted my girlfriends for advice.  One friend decided to confess that She Was The Tooth Fairy.  Her daughter reacted to the news with delight, and said, "Oh Mommy!  Can I see your costume?"
     Somehow I never got around to telling.  My children have come to understand who enjoys this game the most.  They now call the Tooth Fairy on her cell phone to remind her to stop at the ATM.  They have found her stash of chocolate in the winter coat closet.  They have discovered their long lost teeth in her jewelry box amongst her other precious things.
     My mother came over last night and my sixth grader yanked out a molar (she leaves for Florida in two weeks.)  It could be a permanent tooth, I'm not sure.  Anyway, my son did negotiate a higher rate based on the size of the tooth and the silver filling.
     The Grandma Tooth Fairy thinks he's going to be a lawyer.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Boys are Back

     We were empty nesters for exactly nine months.
     The house was quiet, clean and orderly.  While I missed my boys, I did not miss their wet towels on the  floor, their dirty dishes in every room, or their STUFF.  Rob has graduated college and Jesse is home for the summer, so naturally there is a George Forman grill in my foyer, a night stand in my living room, and  seven baskets of clean laundry lined up in the hallway that will never make it into the drawers.
     At high school graduation, parents cry because their children are leaving.  At college graduation, parents cry because their children are coming home.
     Now there is a good chance my boys are reading this, and I don't want them to think I'm not happy to have them--I LOVE having them home--but it's going to take a little adjusting.
     I was never the neat one.  That distinction goes to my poor husband whose head is going to explode like my laundry room full of dirty socks. But it's not just the mess.  My car keys are not in my purse.  My computer charger is not in my office.  The kitchen scissors will have to be re-named.
    Every night I clean up my kitchen after dinner and put everything away.  I go to bed.  When I wake up in the morning, I find that there has been a dinner party in my house overnight.  Every pot and pan has been used.  Every plate and bowl is out.  A pound of lunch meat, a loaf of bread, a half pound of cheese, two bags of chips and a box of ice cream bars have vanished.  Whatever was leftover from dinner has been consumed, a bag once containing 42 potstickers is in the trash, and the rice maker has burnt residue on the bottom.
     It has been my life's work to keep the refrigerator filled for my big boys and their friends, I'm just out of practice.  It's a task that requires daily dedication and religious zeal.  I worship at Costco.  I am often asked by chuckling strangers what I feed my boys, and I tell them my secret: I feed them everything I have.
     How many people, you might ask, are eating at Chez Solomon between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.?  I only learned recently that our house is the preferred destination after midnight.  Although our house isn't big, it's a ranch, so the bedrooms are far from the living area, unlike a two story where parents can hear everything going on right below.  I woke up at 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom the other night and opened my bedroom door to see if the boys were home. There were a lot of people in my house.  I heard someone playing the piano, and PEOPLE WERE SINGING.
     It might be difficult to imagine I could sleep through all this, but it's true.  When I go to bed around 11, the boys aren't home yet.  When I wake up in the morning, the boys are asleep in their rooms.  Who knows what shenanigans have occurred in my house over the years when I assumed my sweet boys were asleep in their beds?  (If you know, I beg you not to tell me.)
     The only bright side is that I am sure that my boys will never have a party when we aren't home.  I know you are raising your eyebrows at this bold statement, but I know this for a fact:  In order to prevent us from knowing that a party occurred, they would have to clean up after themselves.
     Never gonna happen.