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We’ve been playing Michigan Rummy and talking about poker. “Every kid should learn how to gamble. Good practice if someone says ‘die or gamble with me.'”

I wanted Natalie to see “Hidden Figures” about the black women mathematicians who did so much for NASA. “Never seen it, don’t want to! I don’t like horror films.”


Natalie lied that her laundry was all put away so we could watch more episodes of The Simpsons.  I really should have checked out her story, but I’d decided to believe her. When I entered her room, I found a pile of clothes on her Indian pillow seat. I was amazed at the brazen lie. “I couldn’t get it done tonight,” she said. I asked why. “You know that thing called ‘not wanting to’ – right?” she said, snottily. I was torn between laughter and anger. I chose both. The next half hour was rather dramatic.

I tell Natalie that I pooed three times in one day. “I pooed once today. Well, once and a half. Once here and a half at school. It was one of those teeny little nubs that barely count as poos. Luckily, I flushed.”

Dad: Are you hoping for Wizardry camp to be in the morning, or in the afternoon?
Natalie: Morning.
Dad: Why?
Natalie: It’s when I’m fresh, perky, and am the least sweaty.

“Oh, I thought you said ‘Don’t eat THEM junk.’ I heard you and I was like WHAAAT. I thought you were turning into one of those yahoo cowboy persons.”

Driving, and Daddy’s loving the scenery. Natalie, not so much. “If there were a little less trees that made your mind hurt, I’d like it more.”

“I’ve never been to Norway, as far as I’m concerned. Unless I was in your stomach…”

Mom says no Reese’s Dip on the trip to meet cousins for the first time. “Why? We got car snacks for a reason. Not to leave them there to rot. Can I please eat something.”

Mom: Nice Mommy and Daughter Day.
Natalie: Yup, with an exception of a couple of ladies and a man.

Natalie doesn’t think much of my ability to dress my self appropriately for public consumption. “I mean something that’s not the Fuck You shirt.” Ah, my FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCK tee, the one I saw on Legit. Love that thing.

I finally figured out which Angel scent was the right one: Eau Sucree.
Mom: It’s perfection.
Natalie: You sound like a car company, modeling a new Nissan.

Cookie was going after her own tail. “Oh, I love it when she does things that doesn’t – don’t get her life anywhere.”

“Look at this paw. It’s made of human…stuff. Except humans are made of good. And dogs are covered in cray-cray.” Actually it’s the other way around.

“I feel bad for people your age. You didn’t get to decorate your lockers.” Complete non-sequitur.

To Cookie: “Compared to a molecule, you’re the biggest thing on earth, except the earth.”

“It’s not that I don’t like it, but I don’t like it.”

“Oh my god Mom. Look at the car behind us ish.”

“I soothed myself by complaint. Complaint always soothes.”

“You got along even in the hatred of your harmony. Words of the song.”

It’s little Ruby’s first sleepover here, October 7. Natalie shows her how it’s done: “The fashion show shall be held early due to us being ready early.”

“And I’m going to make a humongous fuss. And I think that’s good for you to know. If you think it’s bad.”

Cookie growls. “Oh Cookies. You don’t know what you’re up against. You’re up against me.”

“Mom, it was only 7:50 when you started making fun of me. And usually it’s much much much later. Why?”

Mom: We have everything we need. We’re very lucky.
Natalie: The only thing we don’t have is an extra supply of Happy Hippos. We only have one box.

Natalie was glad the class would be going on the Indian Trail at Thatcher Park. “So it’s not the eight or nine mile long trail. I hated that. It was like child labor.”

Natalie isn’t going to tie-dye at Fall Family Fun Day: “Maybe if there’s some other craft I can do…eating is fun.”

Mom: You’re mine.
Natalie: I’m glad I’m yours. Even when it means begging for Claire’s. Or listening to long tiring explanations that I get tired of within two seconds.

Sunday, Nov 20 – Kayla is sleeping over on a Sunday for the first time. I put Vitamin E ointment on Natalie’s chapped lips and ask if Kayla wants some. “No,” she says. “My lips are on fleek, girl.”



During a major room clean-out and organizing, I held up a light plaid jacket I’d just bought. Natalie began to take it to the closet in the entryway. I asked if she wanted to hang it in her room. “Mhm,” she said, “I don’t think it would match the setting in my room.”

“Daddy, what’s the second-most place you want to go in your life? That you haven’t been?”

Cindy brought canned olives for July 4. “I get tempted with black olives.”

Natalie finds out some unpleasant current events from the Macy’s July 4th celebration montage during a live performance of “What The World Needs Now.” I tell her there was a bombing in Turkey. And she thinks it’s even worse that Paris was bombed. Natalie wants to go to Paris. And “I don’t want to go to Paris and accidentally fall in an explosion.”

A few items on the floor should be picked up before watching The Simpsons. I say it should be kept as a sanctuary. “Well, why can’t it be a messy sanctuary? That’s available. When we went to a Buddhist sanctuary on a field trip, the walls were messy, the floors were messy, and it was still a sanctuary.”

Daddy did or made something nice.
Mom: “Oh, Josh.”
Natalie: “He’s a good man.”

Q: What does a broom do when it’s tired?
A: It goes to sweep.

I read about a heartbreaking problem, albino children being killed. I called out to Josh, asking if we should adopt an albino from Malawi. My wise child spoke up to talk some sense into me. “I don’t want to put up with any more snakes.”

“There’s no such thing as millicents, so what is that?”

Natalie likes using the handicap stall, as I do, but for different reasons. “You have room to dance around in the stall after a poop because you got relief.”

Natalie’s only willing to consider sharing a birthday party with Kayla when I mention that with combined money, the parents could afford more activities at the diner, like maybe Kidz Art. “What’s wrong with being interested? Call me fickle.”

“I just did Yankee Doodle at the speed of thirty miles an hour in there.”

On WHMS camp: “I have a feeling it’s gonna be a lousy day but with good activities. You ever have that kind of day, where there’s good activities, but you’re in such a lousy mood you can’t enjoy them?”

Q: What did the boy say to his friend while he was eating a fossil?
A: Trilobite!

On the trampoline with Kayla: “If we were doing Winning, I totally won, but we’re not.”

Tim is going to take Kayla and Natalie to lunch and then outdoorsing. Creek, swimming hole, crayfish, that kind of thing. I tell them they’re almost done with the Wii.
Me: “Only a couple more minutes. You need to get ready. You’re going to have a day full of fun.”
Natalie: “And what’s it going to be full of?”
Me: “Fun.”
Natalie: “Yay.”

When Natalie is grown up, and “million kind of rich,” she’ll hire a stand-up comic to come to her home. That comic will be Dad.

I told Natalie I understood why she wants a braid today, now that she’s explained how Rose and Maggie keep touching her hair. She’s making it not so easy for them to do that. “Not so easy whatsoever. …There’s one thing they could play with, and that’s the end of the braid, but boy, I’m not giving them any hints.”

Second week of France and world art-themed camps. “Yogurt cake. It’s one of the first things a usual French kid would make.” Dense, very nice almondy flavor. N says there’s no almond, just vanilla yogurt.

Natalie asked me what company I would close if I could. I said Halliburton and explained why. Her contribution: “Since I’m still not into politics, I’m going to have to go with Fuccillo.” The local idiot car salesman whose sales are YUUUUUGE.

“But I want to! Your stuff is good.” This seemed  very funny to me at the time, but I didn’t write what came before, so it’s no longer funny. 😦

“Is it okay if I give myself a butt-nicing?” That would be the warm air setting on the bidet.

“I don’t see why we don’t have gallons and gallons of gummy bears in the house.”

Natalie’s internal dialogue, like prayers for atheists, is her talking with a voice that sounds like a grandma. “Gravelly but sweet but soft but nice.”

“I just wish dental cleanings were more often.”

“I’m actually cold. How are you alive?”

Natalie doesn’t love oranges, but I made her watch me peel one and we shared it, enjoying the sensory aspects of the pulp. She did get into it, big time. She used the f-word. I suggested that she save the ‘fucks’ for worse things. Maybe call the orange pulp awesome. “No, I’m saying fuck for the good kind of fuck. It’s not like you can run out of them. …I;m not joking. …Don’t you dare post that.”

“It was just this day at all.”

Daddy made a thing out of wood to go across the tub that will hold a book or tablet and drink and everything. It’s fantastic. Natalie’s reaction: “Oh my god, what is that. Oh my fucking ass god.”

“Mom, which is worse, the GOP or the Republicans?” They’re different names for the same thing. GOP means ‘Grand Old Party.’ “Oh. That’s amazing. Not.”

This week was Travel Camp. On the last day, they went berry picking. It was hot and awful and the counselors didn’t let the kids bring anything to the field, so they’d have their hands free to carry the pint containers. The kids were thirsty. Many of them went on strike, sitting on the side, and eventually broke out in a “Water! Water!” chant. The counselors weren’t happy. Natalie and Kayla told me the whole story while I drove them home. Natalie said they’d had to scoop bits of water out of their bodies because they were so thirsty. I was curious as to how such a thing might work. They finally offered that it involved swallowing one’s own saliva.

Punishment for going to the computer to look up Kayla’s comic website after being told not to: No computer for the rest of the weekend. Plus I’m choosing her outfit for today. I choose the green Tanglewood t-shirt she begged for but never wears, and macaroon leggings from Target that she’s only worn maybe three times because they itch. Things get ugly over the itching and resulting negotiation attempts and misery. Put on your thinking cap, I say. Why don’t you use your brain and realize that Mom didn’t say I couldn’t change my pants at Kayla’s? Kayla’s moving into our neighborhood today and that’s where Natalie’s going. But it’s hard for Natalie to be strategic right now. “I’ve lost my literal thinking cap,” she says, miserably and angrily. “And I only have my opinion thinking cap.” A few minutes later, she’s still trying to get out of the pants. I agree to let her wear a skirt she doesn’t like, but I nix wearing black pants underneath. She’s outraged. She tries another negotiation out in the dining room, a different shirt, complete with rationale – it’s her puppies and love shirt that used to be a nightshirt, but won’t fit her much longer. I stick with the punishment. “My agreeable phase has ended and I feel like slamming my door,” she says. But she doesn’t slam the door.

“Right now it’s more about having your body up against a Mommy directly or against a Daddy. But right now it’s more about Mommy!”

Me: “Do you think you’d be so into fashion if I hadn’t bought you such fun clothes?” Natalie: “I don’t know. But I don’t want to see.” I interview her about fashion. I ask about how people can express themselves through clothes and hair. She talks about how the hair doesn’t cover up a necklace. I think she’s referring to a fashion plate she created from a kit. I ask for more specifics and she talks about how there’s literally almost endless possibilities for different hair cuts and colors. “Unless you have no hair at all. But other than that, there’s always hope, and that can express you.”

“How come people don’t use swords any more to kill anybody, and just use a knife?”



It’s time for guitar practice.
Mom: No more wheedling.
Natalie: Technically it’s called “making a deal.”

Mom: “Look at her. She’s got legs forever.”
Dad: “She does. They go all the way to the bottom.”

Natalie cuddles Cookie in a towel after a bath. “This is good practice, if I ever own a baby.” Then she said Cookie was a bundle of babyness.

Natalie puts my perimenopausal pimples at infinity. “I can see them, and I wish I didn’t.”

“That’s the only good thing about romance. There’s chocolate involved.”

Taught Natalie how to play Boggle the other day. Tonight, Natalie looks horrified when I say we’re going to find five-letter words together. “You know I’m incapable of doing that–such…thing.”

“It’s me. I hate the hot weather, so I wear one month behind.” (Something like that, to explain wearing something far too hot for the weather.)

“Shitty shitty fuck fuck bitch bitch bitch.” I think she was talking about Riona.

Me: “You’re talking too much.”
Natalie: “Have you ever heard yourself in the car when I ask a simple question?”

Natalie’s getting me a Buddha ice cube for my water. “I’m going to make a peaceful one. And whenever Mom drinks out of it, she’ll remember: Oh right. I’m supposed to be peaceful.

We’re showing the first season of The Simpsons. In the last episode of the season, Bart writes on the chalkboard: “I WILL NOT YELL FIRE IN A CROWDED CLASSROOM.” We explain how free speech is limited: we’re allowed to speak freely in this country, but you can get in trouble for yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater. “So, you’re allowed to say ‘fuck’ at a ‘no fuck’ area?”

Reading A Wrinkle In Time together. The Happy Medium’s planetary ambience in Orion’s Belt is described as “grayness.” As I read aloud, Daddy makes me repeat it, twice, says that he finally understands but thought it sounded like something else. Natalie cheekily agrees: “Grayness. Is that like G-Rated Anus?” The two of them crack each other up.

“What did you like worse when you were a children?” (The choices were being told my room was a mess and having to clean it up and then being late for school, or having to wear my brother’s hand-me-downs.)

“It’s not going to smell like baking, or soda, is it?”

That week of having lice wasn’t the worst thing ever, was it? Natalie says the worst thing is that you’re going to die. “And then you’ll never be able to establish what was the worst thing ever.”

Natalie switches over from razzberries on my belly to sucking a small bit of flesh. Don’t give me a hickey, I say. Then I have to define ‘hickey’. “Don’t you want to show a resemblance of love or whatever?” she says.

Natalie wants to know who coined the term “Couch Gag” for The Simpsons.
Mom: “It’s not a name so much as a description.”
Natalie: “But who descripted it?”

It’s about 9:30pm. Natalie wants to know if it’s too late for a bath. I tell her it’s fine. “Not a wash off kind of a bath, but more of a ma-a-an, this is rela-a-axin’ kinda bath. I’m warning you now so you can’t deny it later.”

On the dog: “She has multitudinous opportunities on where to sit, but she chose right here. And that’s bad.”

“Yeah. It’s not like I have a choice but to follow my personality.”

Me: “We’re going to hang your towel up.”
Her: “I can’t fucking ass reach!”

To Dad: “As much as you’re funny, sometimes you’re hilariously unhilarious.”

“Is ice flammable?”

“But of course, after watching Chopped, Master Chef, and Master Chef Junior, even the fire that goes way over the pan never catches fire. …The pan doesn’t catch fire.”

Heather calls to see if it’s okay to leave Pam and Natalie home while she shops for baking items for them. She says Natalie told her: “My mom is always trying to get me to be alone for 10 to 15 minutes.”

Playing Ben Folds Five’s Song for the Dumped. Give me my money back, you bitch. “That’s a way to put a good influence on kids.”

Natalie’s starting two weeks of Medieval Times and Puppetry camps today. She and I are wearing purple, and she notes how rare it was back then. “Mom, if this was medieval times, you’d be greatly honored for wearing that. You’re wearing about a gazillion snails right now.”

Yesterday we watched the episode of The Simpsons where Homer finally really punishes Bart by not letting him see The Itchy and Scratchy Movie. Marge had convinced him to do it because if Bart is never punished, he’ll turn into a sleazy male dancer, but if he’s properly disciplined, he could be a Supreme Court Justice. They see it together, 40 years later, when Bart is a Supreme Court Justice. Tonight, while washing Natalie’s hair, I said if she said “WHAT?!” one more time about only seeing two or three episodes tonight, I’d cut it back to just two. And then I told her I wouldn’t let her see The Itchy and Scratchy Movie. I thought she’s get the joke, but she kind of didn’t. “There’s no such thing as an Itchy and Scratchy Movie. And there’s no such thing as a Supreme Court Justice. … …There is?”

We paint the nails with a pink metallic base, then a purply translucent coat with shiny confetti shapes. “That looks so cool and yet so wrong. It looks like I have some glitter infectious disease.”

“Sometimes I wish that the earth was just a teeny bit less beautiful.”

“Who invented the hair clips? Whoever did is a hero.”

Natalie is wary of eating a huge, wide organic grape that looks like two or three grapes melded together. “Or, scientifically saying, I’m afraid of the chemicals and preservatives that might have made it a mutant grape.”

“No. I get emotional with things I’ve won more than ten times.”

“Yoga balls make me feel better. Especially when my butt is numb.”


“For a while, I’ve been asking myself: how did I evolve from you two? I look totally different.”

“Have you ever been so wrapped up in a book that you don’t realize that it’s fake.”

Ving Rhames on the Arby’s commercial: “Your mouth feel pretty good?”
Natalie, who eschews beef: “They assume too much. Just like Riona.”

Mom: “You’re getting together with Georgia tomorrow.”
Natalie: “Great! How was that determined?”

In the bath: “I’m having quite the equivalent of luxury in here.”

On Spanish class: “…parts of our face, and what we wear in the winter…make them sing songs about it, and try to make us practice at home, but what are the odds that we’re actually going to?”

So, Miss Natalie, did you have a nice day? “I should hope so.”

I spray from a sample of Olympea by Paco Rabanne. I ask the girl what she thinks. She loves it. I ask her to sniff again ten seconds later. “It’s…okay. It smells a little like stank.”

I said eating snow (crushed ice) would ruin things. I was referring to the fluoride rinse. But Natalie didn’t know that. “Snow doesn’t ruin brushing. It’s just crispy water.”

I agreed to watch some trampolining out back. After many forward tucked somersaults (three successfully landed!) I congratulated Natalie and said she needed to end on a high note. She asked if I would push her on the tire swing. I said it was getting too cold and I went back in.

A couple of minutes later, I looked out the kitchen window and saw the simple beauty of the child playing alone: throwing a tennis ball around, trying to send it through the moving tire, running, avoiding getting banged in the head by the tire. I had one of those I MADE THAT moments. I was enthralled.

I got my jacket and shoes and met her as she was halfway between the swing and the house. I told her I’d come back to push her. She looked like Oliver Twist getting a bowl of ice cream.

I pushed. She swung. Push, swing, repeat. Jokes, laughs, high spirits. “I was going to ask if we could go to Kurver Kreme, but after this, I think we don’t really need to.” That blew me away and I told her so. “Love can’t be bought,” she said. “Even in ice cream.”

“…Which is a big amount of love,” she said later. And she added soda and fried to the list.

Natalie’s enjoying her new haristyle, a ponytail on top and the rest cascading down. I ask if Natalie would let me do a braid. Instead of a ponytail. She declines. I say it used to be a popular hairstyle. “Well, that’s Used To Be.” “Ow! It very hurts.” I loosen it, saying beauty sometimes hurts. “Beauty sleep hurts, unless it’s a nightmare.” She meant doesn’t hurt.

Natalie says the Urban Decay eye shadows I’m demonstrating for her at Macy’s make me look like I was punched in the eye two weeks ago.

Natalie picks a weird wobbly note on her guitar. “Doesn’t it sound like a weird Spanish murder?”

Natalie wanted to know if I’d done any Shakespeare in parts of my life. “I’m guessing his handwriting was veeeeeery tough to read.”

Natalie says Riona’s family is terrible people. “IQ of a moldy sheet of paper.”

I made Natalie draw on my back with a pen. It’s the only way I can get a decent scratch. “I’m using one of your pimples as an eyeball.”

Natalie isn’t happy about getting no dry cereal at breakfast, only fruit. “I’m tired of that nice, fruity taste in my mouth for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks…”

“Mind if I sigh? It has nothing to do with you.” No, I don’t mind if you sigh. “>sighhh< I needed to do that.”

Natalie wants a pink streak in her hair because Kayla got teal/purple streaks, and Kayla got her own website to start a comic strip because Natalie has one. “Copying each other. In a mannerly fashion.”

Natalie likes French better than Spanish. “Because it sounds so scrumptious. You know?” Scrumptious was sort of said fancily.

I wonder why anyone would put up a restaurant where Delma’s was, next to Kurver Kreme. It’s the cursed spot. “Of yumminess.”

Natalie wants to paint “Riona Is An Asshole” on our front door with the paints I bought, but she’s afraid Riona will drive by and see it and she’ll get in trouble.

“I like Liesl, but I’m not one for Gretchen.” That’s Liesl’s mom.

Josh has a very very short, groomed beard. “That whole beard and thing you’re growing…that’s disgusting.”

“Gimme a sec. I’m killing a villager. … …What’s wrong with that??”

Mom: “I love you more than Cindy loves your hair.”
N: “Wow. That’s pretty impressive.”

Minecraft: “This is Riona’s dungeon.”

Natalie is scared that Trump will be elected President, and he’ll go after tacos and devil sticks.

I brought home two pieces of art from a young man named Tyler who was out on his lawn on Main, selling many pieces. Natalie got a crazy-colorful piece that says “Read between the lines.” She loves it. Art feeds us, I said. “Yup. It feeds us but not through the mouth.”

N: “How can you make everything so unfunny?”
Dad: “It’s a skill.”
N: “It’s not a skill, it’s a horror.”

“I wish you were one big kiss, and I was just a teeny little molecule. So you could just put me to your lips. But that’s not available. Which is why unicorn tears are needed.”

Mom: “What would you do with a twin?”
Natalie: “Give it to the neighbors.”

Natalie appears around the bathroom doorway as her bath is filling and I’m on the toilet. “Um, Mom…” She pops out and shows herself. There’s a pillow stuffed under her camisole. “I’m pregnant.” Oh! How did that happen? Whose baby is it? “I adopted it and ate it.”

Natalie ponders what the end of the world might be like. She wonders if humans will still be here or if bunnies will have taken over. It’ll be like Wall-E in 2000 years. Animals and towels rule the world, and light bulbs wage war on pancakes, and pancakes use shampoo and t-shirts, but there won’t be t-shirts. There will be Google shirts.

Natalie says that as long as there are cinnamon buns, the world is at peace. I ask about people fighting over the cinnamon buns. She says they can eat while they fight, and that’s peace. And when they’re done, the war is over. …”Is that the last one?” Yes. “Ohh…everything’s bad.”


“Yeah, I just want you to have a successful day at work, not a day field with car repairs.” I got a new battery for the ’98 Honda Civic. All is well.

Me: “Do you want to play guitar before she gets here, or during?”
N: “After.”
Me: “I gave you two choices.”
N: “I’m making a third choice and I’m using it.”

I let Natalie have all three malt chocolate eggs in left over from the milk chocolate coconut nest Cindy got me, at Krause’s. “Thank you! You’re a great mom. Even when you’re not much of a great mom. Even when you make me angry, you’re still a great mom.”

Girl is told to clean her room.
N: “It’s my room.”
Me: “No it’s not, actually. It’s ours.”
N: “I’m the one who dwells in it.”
Me: ” Hahahahahaha, oh my god. I’ll pay you a dollar to let me share that with everybody.”
Me: “Yeah.”
N: “Okay!”
Me: “Go get your dollar.”

Just talked to N about a Facebook friend having her child confirm that she is in fact “he.” I told her we’d react just like Andrea did, with acceptance and coolness, but that it would be hard to switch pronouns at first and stop saying “Natalie.” She says her name would be Evan, since that was our chosen name for a boy. But I said it’s been pretty clear that she’s a girl. Although — “Sometimes I’m as stupid as a boy.”

Natalie had something important to say. “Mom, if we ever redo my room – and I’m not saying I want to, but if my room ever got blown up, or anything,” then she wants to redo it in a Londony-Parisy kind of flower pattern – do I know the kind? – I pretended I did. “Like with all the green lotus flowers and the soothingness.” Got it.

“Cookie, sorry I scared you. It was not meaningful, but it was veddy, veddy meaningful. Heh. Heh. Heh.”

Natalie promises she’ll wear the purple pants with the blue sequin stripes tomorrow, which I had laid out for her today. “I’m pretty sure. Unless they somehow get lost. And I don’t know how they would.”

“We had to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There was way too much skin in that thing. One guy wore only shorts and a hat. Some men wore sashes that went across their chest…and they’re really bad at women. Either they’re really trying to replicate stupid Shakespeare times, or they’re being really offensive to women.”

Natalie wanted to know why she and Georgia were told to come back inside after they were waiting – and playing outside for 45 minutes – for their parents to pick them up after school. I said it has to do with safety and not being able to monitor kids outside with no adults around. I said: “It’s just over-protectionism in this country.” Natalie’s response: “I hate – whatever you just said.”

Daddy’s in Seattle for a few days on business. Natalie’s complaining to Cindy. “He took his tablet with him! That’s the thing that keeps me alive. Except oxygen. And my parents.”

Cold firm peanut butter on a spoon this morning. “Sen-so-ryyy! Just push in your nails and wipe it away. It’s so nice and sensory-y.”

Andrew’s class apparently has to sit still and quietly and read at times. “It doesn’t seem very much like a Montessori school. It seems like Public.”

Me: “Please put that rock away.”
N: “Give me a minute.”
Me: “It’s always a minute.”
N: “Give me an hour.”

“I just wish he’d come home! I’m not saying you’re a bad caretaker or anything…”

It’s hard to miss your Daddy, I said. “No, it’s easy to miss him, hard to not have him.”

Never before had I ever detected the vile herb in Panera’s Thai Chicken Salad. Today, things went very wrong. Natalie feels bad for Cindy and me: “I want you to have the goodness of learning that cilantro can be okayable.” Well, it can’t, honey. DNA’s a bitch.

Natalie doesn’t like that I joked with Cindy that I “won” because Natalie decided to go home with me. Cindy won last night after The Jungle Book, and I won today. I tell her I was just joking. Not good enough. “Just because you’re joking doesn’t mean I can’t deny things.”

She loves you, Cindy. She doesn’t care about who’s me when it comes to you.”

Natalie’s tired of the teachers telling kids to try this and try that about Riona. “What if we don’t want to try those things? What if we just want to  break up and hate?”

You’re not unbetter at…not cartooning. Uncartooning. You know. Nonfiction drawing. You are. You’re really good at it, I must say.”

Q: What kind of food is crazy?
A: Nuts.

Trump had several failed marriages. “Well, I can see why people would break up with him.”

“Yesss! Pleather! Best substance in the world…other than oxygen.”

New professional-looking red and black hound’s tooth jacket with a high ponytail, bangs pulled back with barrettes: “This might be what I wear for the sixth grade photos. I feel very productive in it.”

The ear piercings are doing very well, 2+ weeks in. I was squirting the cleanser on them and remarking that they don’t cause her any trouble when I’m not touching them. Natalie doesn’t see why her ears would hurt: “They’re just adornment.” Someone’s been reading her Shakespeare dictionary.

“Mm. Nice carpet. I always forgot to tell you that. Whenever I saw you. Just sitting around.

“Daddy, I’m gonna give you a softer one. Softester one.”

“If I die for it, I never get to see it again.”

“…it’ll be even funner! Or more fun, as I should say.”

America Fair project: Native American Storytelling. “Mom, look what I did, for the first time in my history of life. I printed two pictures! I’m very excited, peoples. Very excited!”

“Oh no, I’m toast with jelly and a little pear on the side! I always try to make it more fancy than just ‘toast’.”

“I want to get Daddy’s opinion. Yes, I know. I am using a bit of bigger words lately. And I know what bigger words mean. Like accumulate.”

“I’m tired with a side of crabby.”

The class is going to Lenox today to see Macbeth. “We’re leaving at eight-thirty sharp. Although I don’t know why we can’t be leaving at eight-thirty and one second sharp.”

Natalie wants to wake up at around 4AM with me this Wednesday to say goodbye to me, because I have to take a 5:05 train to NYC. “Dad says I won’t be able to do it. But he knows nothing of my. Loving. Slumbah.”

I warn Natalie about the crumbs on her bed, because warm weather’s coming, and the ants will too. “If the warm weather’s coming, why aren’t the ants outside playing ball?” I have no answer for that.

“Life got bored without you.”

Bringing the papasan pillow back downstairs. “Think dragging a big fluffy pillow is easy? The answer is surprisingly yes. I mean no. …You’re surprisingly good at carrying a pillow.”

We talked about how not everyone asks the big questions. Natalie agreed that she and Kayla, her current best friend, think very differently. “I’m a philosopher, and she’s a weirdo.”

Natalie has been using her sleeping bag on her bed every night. This morning after getting water, she tried to get back in with me. “Life is confusing. Especially mattresses.”

Highlights Magazine maze question: “Author Samuel Clemens was better known for his pen name: Dr. Seuss, or Mark Taiwan?”

N: “This thing asks what item we’d want to take intp space, if we were taking a trip. Guess what I would take.
Me: “Your mother and father aren’t items.”
N grins: “Kind of. They’re little items, dancing around my heart. That’s why I would take you and Dad.”

“I see the good. I’m very good at finding the negative.”

Natalie doesn’t want a dry ponytails this morning. “You know I don’t like dry hair. You know it more than a monkey knows how to climb.”

“Snow equals light fog. It’s a particular type of fog the looks especially white.”

Natalie is doing her part in today’s “Unfuck the DR Table” effort.
Me: “I’m so proud. You’re rocking it!”
Her: “Thanks. I hope I’m not mineraling it.”

An Army commercial on TV: “Why are they asking you to join for the opportunity to probably die?”

On the short drive back from the podiatrist (where Dr. Hune says she doesn’t need new orthotic inserts quite yet) we compare cute giggles, the kind where we cover our mouths and do a little-girl high-pitched tee hee hee hee hee. Natalie says hers won: “Yours sounds like a constipated deer.” I tell her I must share that, as it’s very funny. She is adamant that I mustn’t. I tell her I’ll honor that, but I’d pay her to post it. She asks how much. I tell her this one is worth fifty cents. She sighs. “I guess. I’ll do anything for a nice extra fifty cents.”

Natalie needs to let her nails dry while we do math problems on Adapted Mind. “I’ll do the putting my hands on the table and giving you the right answersing.”

“Mostly older. The tine-siest bit younger.”

Natalie had Kayla for a sleepover. Then she stayed at Kayla’s house, and the next night was spent at Pam’s, with only a couple of hours at home in between. She had a great time, but missed us. “It was awful. In a good way.”

We went for the first ice cream of the season at Kurver, then got Daddy some dinner. Pulling out of Panera with his turkey and kale panini with chicken noodle soup, Natalie asked what the Hooter’s across the street is. I had to explain how I used to boycott Crossgates Mall for having a Hooters, and how I respect their right to exist but don’t approve of families going there and their little boys learning to view girls and women that way. Then I had to make sure to say how our body parts are fine, and fun, and perfectly okay to play with, with a girlfriend or boyfriend, when we’re old enough. And that boobies are comforting and maybe men are always just trying to get back to the booby after they didn’t get enough as babies. I note how soft and blobby and comforting they can be. Natalie seems to agree with all of that and even has some insight about her own: “If they’re like that. Mine are still growing. They’re too pointy to be useful as comforting.”

Natalie was preparing to read to the therapy dog, Glinda, for the first time in quite a while. Dad suggested a Harry Potter book since that’s her obsession right now, and she’s on the fourth volume. No, she said; Glinda wouldn’t understand any of it.

Me: “Is that poop or chocolate on the pj top?
N: “I don’t think so. That would be totally disgusting. But with chocolate, it would be undisgusting at all.”

Me: “Where’s the bird?”
N: “Probably in the cage. Gah-duh.”
Me: “Um, she’s not here…Gah-duh to you.”
N: “Hey! That doesn’t feel very nice!”

We’re setting up a United States puzzle. I note that there’s a lot of small states in the Northeast. “Yeah, all the other ones get to be big and nice, but we just have to cram in.” “Right above Mississouri.”

She sees my freshly colored blue-black hair. “Okay.” She puts her hands up and backs away. “Okay, I’m going to be avoiding you for the next month. Seriously, that’s scary. I don’t like it.”

The bedtime routine apparently involves a choice between fashion design and bothering Mom and Dad, then a dance party.

“So now, I’m still, my stomach hurts from hugging so much.”

We bought a 75″ TV and had to have some talks about how we didn’t need it, but we wanted it. Mom agreed we have a happy life even without it. Natalie said: “We’re living happy lives here, except when you’re having your period.”

We just signed up for Adapter Mind’s math game program. Natalie understands why the program will come back to topics in which she showed “strength”. “So that I don’t un-get used to it.”

Natalie got excited that I’m willing to go to the rock show with her this year, the one where she got her ocean jasper last year with Skyler. “You would? Although, there is one problem. You’ll probably run into someone you know and start talking about embarrassing stuff.”

Mom: “You’re my daughter.”
Natalie: “You’re my grownup.”

Mom posted on Facebook:
If you’ve seen Inside Out (and if you haven’t, please Unfriend me now because it’s not going to work out…and if you have but you didn’t cry, please seek immediate mental health treatment for your strong sociopathic tendencies) then you know the characters in Riley’s head: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.
Coming home from school today, Josh asked Natalie how school was, and she told Josh she felt empty. She didn’t have any emotions. It was like all the Inside Out characters in Natalie’s head were busy eating dinner. Then Daddy and Daughter saw the remarkable sunset. And Natalie said: “I guess Joy finished her dinner.”

Natalie gives me a unprompted kiss. As usual, I make a lot of grateful noise about how that’s the best kind, and use the opportunity to define “unsolicited” because I’m annoying like that. I explain how people who go door to door selling things are soliciting. And Natalie says: “More of SELLiciting.” I like that.

“The thing you have to do with salad is make it a little bit messy. Then it actually looks somewhat like a salad.”

Natalie now WANTS to do math, on Adapted Mind. She’s eager. “Who are you?” I ask. “Natalie, Child Genius,” she says.

“Do you like math?” Yes. It’s either right or wrong. It’s clean. It’s cool. “It’s shimmery.”

Natalie’s gym teacher is doing the Jump Rope For Heart thing as usual this year, and she wants 100 friends to give ten dollars each so she can get an Android tablet for raising $1,000. She wants to know how much I’ll give. I said, vaguely, twenty-five dollars? Her face lit up. “If I had to choose an amount to give, but it’s probably not reasonable, I would give two billion dollars.”

Natalie tells a story with her spelling words, as we often do, and she comes across a word she doesn’t know: condemn. “What’s a condom?”

Girl is sketching out the characters and rules for her comic, Wussypillows, for ages six and up. “One day, if I’m famous, this paper is going to cost millions.”

I explain what “tortoise shell” glasses look like and remind Natalie that an older camper once had the very same tortoise shell glasses as I had. She looks at her new purple metal Skechers frames with the plastic earpieces. “Is this leopard shell?”

“The work you to to help companies, it’s called restraint and seclusion, right? Well, I feel like I’m restricted from happiness and secluded from love. And no one cares.”

Natalie felt like her butt had forks stuck into it after a difficult poop. I showed her how to use zinc oxide ointment. “Thanks, Mom. You saved my butt.”

Golf on the Wii: “Keep up the good work, Natalie. Keep it up, kid.”

“Wearing real sneakers…it really makes you a golfer.”

Auf Wiedersehen: “It sounds like some kind of French antibiotic…don’t you think?”

Natalie doesn’t want to attend Drama Kids this summer because the girls always wear teeny shorts and teeny tops and she hates seeing it. “Some teeny things I’m okay with. Like teeny noses. Teeny noses are cute.”

I burp. “Disgusting, Mom. A disgrace to humankind.”

Natalie: “Mom, what did you want to be when you grew up?”
Mom: “A lawyer, or an actor or a medical researcher.”
Natalie: “I didn’t know you wanted to be a lawyer. You never told me.”
Mom: “Yes I did. People would tell me I should be a lawyer. I was good at making arguments…”
Natalie: “Yeah. You’re good at shouting.”

On the phone to Uncle Alan: “Dad is trying to make french toast…and succeeding.”

Natalie’s home from school with an achy stomach due to having a cold. She slept very late and then accepted a bath. I made it too cold, and later I ran the water too hot. “Not hot like stylish.”

Natalie is unhappy that the earth will eventually stop spinning, and time will stop. She likes a night party, but not all the time. “Someone couldn’t lasso the earth and keep spinning it. They’d get tired eventually. There’s not even string that long. Fifty pounds of string couldn’t do it.”

On the current big project in school: “I wish Cindy never found out what an autobiography is.”

“What does prahzihmobly mean?” Presumably.

Monday is MLK day, no school. I ask what he worked for. Natalie says peace. I remind her that peace was secondary to his main goal of racial equality. Natalie wants to know why we have to have so many holidays recognizing people. “The thing is, it makes the normal people feel bad about themselves, as if they’re not doing enough.”

Daddy: “Come over here.” He’s got a game set up on the Wii.
Natalie: “Why, what’s wrong? Yay, nothing’s wrong, everything’s great!”

Kayla’s here, working on a school sculpture project. Natalie says: “It’s very falling-overy.”

Natalie hates Trump. “What’s wrong with Mexicans? They’re bringing over some of the best food of all time.”

“Ready for sensory, Natalie? Yes I am. I’m ready for sensory.” She loves cleaning the toilet bowl.

She doesn’t want to leave our new bed. “This bed is what I sometimes call comfy.”

On romance and stuff: “Don’t worry. I’m not into that stuff yet. I’m still into fun and rainbows and unicorns and India.”

“It’s a teeny bit impossible for me.”

“We have what some people call a washing machine.”

On being mad at Perry: “It’s a tough nighttime relationship.”

“Oh Perry, oh Perry. And I don’t mean it in a Cindy-lovey way.”

“My heart is telling me I’m glad I told you we could fix my vision, but my brain is telling me: You can stop this instant, young lady!”

“I’m an America citizens, and American citizens have freedoms. Give me my freedom.”

On playing Morrissey’s Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want to wake her up:
“Stop, Mom! What did I ever do to you?”

“I’m scared. And I’m happy. For once, joy is here.”

On wrestling: “That’s what it takes to do it with a dog.”

To Cookie: “Your legs are in the air like you just don’t care!”

A blanket: “This thing is indestretchable.”

On Cookie’s first snow: “I know, I know I’m overreacting, but I have to, with this love.”

Mom: “Do you remember when you were little and wanted to hear about cords and smoke detectors over and over?” Natalie: “Of course I do. Those were the bad days.”

Mom: “Go bubble and read.” (Bubble means use fluoride rinse, because she started with a bubble-gum flavored one.) Natalie: “And get a drink of water because I am terrifyingly thirsty.”

“It’s a bit way too big.”

“It looks so short and stubby, in a good way.”

“I can’t believe I used a smelly old sock that made me half able to not breathe, when there was a patch on Dad’s nightstand.”


I made the mistake of using gel in the hair this morning. I said I thought Natalie wanted it less bouncy and grabbing up, and gel would help with that, keeping it looking longer. “But I’m okay with it being bouncy. It makes me feel adorable.”

To a tiny doll: “Your hair, scientifically, is as black as it can be.”

Natalie came to our doorway late at night and said she’d swallowed string. She’d been talking, and her mouth was open, and string fell into her mouth from the upper bunk.

Watching How It’s Made: Peace Pipe. “I don’t smoke, but that’s cool.”

Natalie’s still being tugged in all directions by various girls who want to be her friend, and the stress is mounting. “It’s not easy being amazing. To people.”

Natalie’s upset that I’m looking at a pretty house online. She knows I want to move. She doesn’t. “I want to at least have broken up with all my friends before you move. So that it’s okay with me.”

Dec 8: Natalie bettered herself at this year’s Spelling Bee. Last year she spelled “blink” and flubbed “salsa” (salasa). This year she spelled “puddle” and “people” and flubbed “sonar” (soner). Daddy gave her a Mabel balloon as a bravery prize. She earned it.

Natalie took the Amigurumi extracurricular with Wendy this fall.
Daddy: “Wendy seems very nice.”
Natalie: “She very is.”

“She’s so corn chip! I never thought corn chips and cookies went together. I’ll have to try them when I get home. Do we have cookies in the house? …Grr.”

Daddy: “Who pooped?” It was Natalie. “Poor soul, wanting forgiveyness.”

She doesn’t like the veggie spring rolls from Van’s. “It’s spicy and sickening.”

“Ack. How come my bangs are so annoying, but I love them? And how come some people say bangs are ugly?”

We’re arguing about who owns the art Natalie makes and whether a particular piece (an image of a pink stuffed poodle) can get thrown away or recycled as Natalie wants, versus being saved, like I want, although the bird pooped on it. I tell her when you work for a company, they own everything you make while you’re with them, and the same goes for everything she makes while she lives with me. “So if I play with my toys, you get to decide the plot.”

“Mom, can I use one of your pens or pencilses?”

A kid’s magazine has a thing making the kid guess who Samuel Langhorne Clemens was. “I thought it was Mark Taiwan. I thought it’d be more of a Japanese person in a blue suit sitting at a desk. Doesn’t it sound kind of like a Japanese-Chinese person? Mark Taiwan.”

We’re in the bathroom. I ask Natalie to play one more song for her guitar practice. No sighing, I say. “No no. I needed a big breath. I don’t know how most people get by on–” And she models a normal breath.

I’m helping with Natalie’s autobiography and typed that Dotty used to knot instead of knit. Natalie thinks that’s a funny mistake. “Especially for a profeshiahnial typer.”

We couldn’t find any of Natalie’s three eye patches last night. Dad found one this morning. “I can’t believe I used a smelly old sock that made me half able to not breathe when there was a patch on Dad’s nightstand.”

“Mommy, is it just the sweater, or do I think you need to go back on the treadmill? Just in case.”

Walking Natalie into her room after a shower. “Ow. This is  very hurtingy.”

Natalie doesn’t want a hair gel tutorial. “I just don’t want amazing little things in my hair today. I want to be normal.”

Natalie’s desperately trying to get me back into the bathroom to watch a trick where she blows a green plastic Candyland character out of her mouth into a Fisher Price figure to knock it off the side of the tub. “Mom. I’ll do anything but kill myself. I’ll even scratch your back for five minutes. Straight!”

Late entry for Mother of the Year:
On the evening of 12/28/15, close-up mirror clattered on the bathroom floor. Natalie was hanging around the toilet as I did my thing at the sink. I whipped around.
Natalie: “Sorry!”
Me: “Oh my god. Pick it up.”
Natalie: “…For fuck’s sake?”

12/29/15: Watershed. Girl made her own dinner tonight. Crackers, half an everything bagel, hummus and baby carrots.

Daddy asked Natalie to close containers in the kitchen. “I close bags. They unclose.”

Natalie dislikes opera: “Too low, yet high. It’s like the highest low feeling. You know that feeling?”

“Not spiderwebs, just cob.”

We’re making Natalie watch The Bad News Bears from 1976, and she hates it. But she makes a couple of memorable remarks:
On how the coach is convincing Amanda to come pitch for his team: “That’s reverse theology.” She says she learned that from a Bad Kitty book.
Natalie knows very little about baseball. She knows that they go around the bases, and “…one pitches and one throws.”

The Smiths Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want:
“This song gives me growing up worries, plus his voice could use a little straightening out.”

I was washing Natalie’s hair and I reached over to turn on the radio while she scrubbed. I accidentally made a shampoo bottle fall off the bar and it hit Natalie’s tow in the shower. Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I said. Which one? The right one? She pointed to the left big toe. “The one that’s not strong enough to survive it.”

New vocab:
Offensering (Mom told Dad to so something without being polite. “You didn’t even…that was very offensing. Offensering.”
Thingamurg (On Cookie: “She’s such a…thingamurg.”) Natalie immediately acted ashamed and said she’d never say that again.

To the AG dolls: “You girls are nappin’? Nap time’s over. Now it’s time for some fun and talkin’.”

On cleaning: “Dirt isn’t falling out all over the place, and that’s good.”

“We were watching a disgusting movie that Cindy made us watch. About caveman times.”

“Oh. I guess it’s just like the olden times when women did all the work.”

“Who has two thumbs and feels offense? …Feels offensed?”

On reading all Peanuts strips from the beginning: “Ah, the beginning. Unusual comics that I’m barely acquainted with.”

“You look good. Although it might get messed up after your nap.”