Rainbow Fish

Zoe has the book Rainbow Fish, by Mark Pfister. It’s a very popular book. I think it came out when my brother was young because I remember him having it, although I have no memory of reading it to him, possibly because I was expected to read The Lorax full time. But Zoe loves fish (just like her namesake Grandma Sally (sniff)) so she sometimes asks that it be read to her. I have to say, I sort of hate it. It’s one of those Important Message books, which I don’t object to on principle, although they do tend to be less fun to read than books without Important Messages. But I’m not sure I like the Message. The book has Rainbow Fish, with very shiny, pretty scales, feeling superior to the other fish and unable to make friends. When another fish asks Rainbow Fish for one of his pretty, shiny scales, Rainbow Fish says no. So no one wants to be his friend. Then he goes to the magical octopus or whoever and the magical octopus tells him to share his scales and then he’ll have friends. So he gives all his scales away and then people want to be friends with him.

I understand, it’s bad to feel superior to other people, especially when your only claim to superiority is not really your fault (like your looks). And I understand it’s good to have friends, and it’s good to share. But I feel like the underlying messages here are also, “People will only want to be your friends if you give them stuff,” and, “In order to make friends, you have to give away what makes you unique.” I don’t really like either of those messages.
Maybe I’m nuts. This is a very popular book, and so far the only other person I know who doesn’t like it is Jason, who thinks it’s perfectly fine to feel superior to other people.


I just want to clarify what I said to my sister-in-law regarding same-sex marriage and the state. I do want them to get married without the approval of the government, and mainly it is for, yes, selfish and superficial reasons, like, I want to celebrate their commitment to each other now, and I want to be able to refer to her fiancee as her wife or her spouse or whatever they are going to use now instead of whenever either California or Illinois gets off its ass.

But also, I do not believe that what the state grants is the “true” marriage. She said she thinks sometimes about having a “fake” wedding, but, in my opinion, the commitment you make in front of your family, and your friends, and your God or god(s) if you believe in them, and to each other in a ceremony with meaning to you is the real marriage. The state merely agrees to register you as married for their own purposes. I am sure there are many, many human beings in the world who have signed a state marriage license whose relationship is not anywhere near as real as the one my sister-in-law and her fiancee share. In fact, I think the same-sex marriage movement should change its rhetoric from “The state won’t let us get married” to “The state refuses to recognize our marriage.”
I do realize that I get to feel that way – that the marriage is the “real” part and the state license is the “fake” part – because I have the extraordinary privilege of having both. I really do get that and I don’t expect my sister-in-law to accept the state’s lack of recognition for her relationship lying down. I also don’t expect her to have a wedding ceremony because I have a different opinion than she does on this topic. I just wanted to clarify that my position is not, “Fuck marriage,” and “I want to see my daughter in a twirly dress.” Or at least it’s not entirely that.

More Stuff I Forgot

The other word she says that isn’t a real word is “Yoo-wah!” which she seems to employ as a sort of war cry. I also forgot splish-splash and choo-choo on the original list. She also identifies Noddy, a British children’s book character, by name.

Things Zoe Does That Are Cute

First of all, I think we can add “Don’t touch!” and “Thank you!” to the list. And I think we may have successfully changed “Shit” to “Shoot.” Which could be a whole post in and of itself, about how I don’t want to be the kind of mother who cares if my daughter uses curse words, but I also don’t want to be the kind of mother that gets a reputation in the kindergarten for teaching her daughter to curse. But that’s neither here nor there.

And now, for posterity . . .
Zoe makes out with me. I’m serious. She puts her mouth on mine for several seconds at a time, and sometimes moves her head back and forth. It’s pretty funny.
Zoe plays “Mine!” It seemed that it would be foolish of me, when I noticed that during a play date she was grabbing things out of the other children’s hands and saying, “Me!” to first teach her that it’s “Mine,” not “Me,” and second, to engage her in a game wherein she grabs a book or something of mine and says, “Mine!” so I grab it back and say “Mine!” and we do this for a little while. But I think it was not foolish. For one thing, I did not encourage her to do this with her friends here; at that point, I instructed her to share. For another, she now almost exclusively does this as a game with me, and means to do it as a game. She sort of wants the book, but mostly she wants to grab it back and forth with me. How do I know? Because she keeps doing it – once she has the book, she again declares “Mine,” and then holds it so that I can easily grab it back. And she’s almost entirely stopped doing this with objects we genuinely don’t want her to have, like the remote, because it doesn’t produce the game – if she grabs it and says, “Mine!” we grab it back and say, “No, it isn’t,” and put it out of her reach.
Zoe loves her sleeping Daddy. When Daddy is asleep, Zoe climbs on top of him and gives him lots of kisses. Sometimes, she gives his arm or back or head long, gentle pats and says “Nice!” Sometimes she cuddles up into his arm and rests her head on her shoulder. Okay, so sometimes she starts smacking him and pulling at the hair on his head, arms, and legs. But the other stuff is pretty adorable.
Zoe reads like we do. She’ll take a book, either one of hers or one of mine, and sit on the chair or couch, not on our laps, like a big girl, open it, and start “reading” – babbling and pointing to the words like she knows. Or she’ll just silently examine the pages and flip through them carefully – even if it’s one of my books, with no pictures. If she does this in bed, she’ll also pull the covers up over her legs and make herself extra-comfy against the pillows.
Zoe blows raspberries on our bellies. She’s been doing this for a long time now, maybe eight or nine months. It’s even cuter now because she says “Belly!” and then does it.
Zoe announces when she’s going to hurt me. You may have read in my previous post that she says “Oof” and “Ow.” It should be noted that she does not say these things when she is hurt. She does these things when she’s about to hurt me. She says “Ow!” when she’s about to pinch me or pull my hair, and “Oof” when she’s about to jump on top of me. Let it never be said the girl doesn’t understand context.
Zoe likes to help. As I said before, she likes to wipe up her messes. She also likes to sweep and swiffer (but not vacuum, understandably). And she likes to do things for us that we ordinarily do for her. Like brush our teeth or our hair. Or feed us. I can barely get through a meal these days without her grabbing my fork and directing my food into my mouth. Oh, and she also helps make the bed by tucking the sheets in. And, as many of you know, she helped me cook for Thanksgiving by throwing spinach in the pot and then stirring it with the wooden spoon. She also helpfully shouts “No!” and “Down!” at Beaches.
Zoe likes to call her “Uh Mo.” This whole week, she’s been picking up the phone, handing it to us, and demanding “Uh Mo.” Today when we called him, she then snatched the phone from me and walked around with it up to her ear, telling him very important things that, sadly, only she understands.
Zoe remembers. Yesterday when we went to the doctor’s office, she started screaming the minute we entered the room. Then again when Jay (the guy who gives the shots) entered the room. It was awful. But, less awfully and more adorably, last week at Hebrew School, we went outside to say hello to Dr. Levin, who is the mother of one of my kids. While we were out there, a doggie passed by and Zoe got very excited and made many comments about the presence of a doggie. Later, when we went out to walk to our car, we passed by the same spot, where there was no longer a doggie, but she pointed to the spot and said “Doggie!” and went through her usual panting and woofing routine.
Well, that’s just a smattering of adorable things she does. I’ll try to keep updating this.

Already an Addenda!

I forgot about “Whee!” and “A-Boom!”

Also, I think she says “Swish!” which is what I say when I successfully throw her diaper into the garbage can in the garage, and “Catch!” I’m not positive about “Catch!” because I don’t recall that either Jason or I say it to her much, but she is using it in the appropriate context. That is, she says it when she’s about to throw something at one of us. So that counts, right?
Does it count if she makes the same sound in the same context, even it it’s not a word we recognize? Like, she hands me a book and says, “En.” It’s always very clear, but I don’t know what it means, except that clearly it means, “Read me this book now.” But none of those words sound like “En,” and she knows the word “book.”

Words Zoe says (as of 1/18)

Words Zoe says (1/16/2010)







Uncle Mark (Uh Mo)















(sniff) (for a flower)

Mis! (Kiss)






Millie (cat)



Hoppy (What a bunny does)





Whoo (sound an owl makes)

Moo (sound a cow makes)



ooh-ooh ah-ah (monkey)




Oh! (cuddling a baby)







Down (dog command)

What’s/Who’s this?




Body Parts/Clothes:



















A Date (with a restaurant and a movie review)

Jason and I went on a date yesterday! Hooray!

Jason found it odd and disconcerting to be out without Zoe. I found it delightful. I of course love her to death and enjoy every moment we spend together, yadda yadda yadda. But it was nice to eat at a restaurant without picking up forks off of the floor one dozen times, or begging her to stay in her high chair and then relenting and eating most of my meal with her on my lap, while Jason shovels down his food so that he can take her. And it was nice to sit and watch a whole movie, beginning to end, in the dark, cuddling with Jason and no one else.
We ate at a new restaurant called The Lucky Monk, the concept of which is home-brewed Trappist-monk-style beers and burgers. I thought it was pretty good. You can choose a lot of different toppings for your burgers. I myself enjoy a fried egg on top of my burger. And we got white truffle-parmesan fries. Delicious. The “thin pour” was very reasonably priced and quite a lot of beer for the price and name.

Avatar was exactly what I expected. It looked absolutely breathtaking. The plot was utterly forgetable. The one pleasant surprise was that I though Giovanni Ribisi did a really excellent job with his corporate asshole role. But I mainly remember him as Phoebe’s brother on Friends; maybe his performance wasn’t a surprise to people who have seen a lot more of his movies.

I wish I had more to say on these topics but it was just a very pleasant time. Burgers, beer, big-budget movie. A good date!

A Little of This, A Little of That

First of all, I have made a comprehensive list of all the books Zoe already has. As soon as I figure out how to make that widely available, either through here or through our Mobile Me gallery, I will.

Second of all, I want to reassure the none of you who read my last post about not being an adequate girl that I feel a little better now. The hairdresser I went to the other day said she can’t blow out her own hair either. So I feel better about my girl skills, although not so confident in her hairdressing skills.

And finally, while I was doing some cleaning up, I saw that I had started a blog when I started trying to get pregnant and there were some interesting posts in there, at least to me, so I’m republishing them here:

December 7, 2007:

I’m trying to get pregnant. I feel like that should start a blog wherein I am 46, not 26, and there’s something more to “trying” than “having sex with my husband.” But none of that is true. At this point, there’s no reason to suspect that the traditional method of trying to get pregnant won’t work. Ptooie. (For those of you who are not Jewish, I just spit on my hand to ward off the evil eye.)

This is my second month of trying. Last month, I was absolutely convinced that I’d get pregnant right away. I woke up every morning for a week feeling very hot and slightly nauseous. It meant nothing. In fact, I was probably getting excited about non-existent symptoms. My period was due the day before Thanksgiving, which seemed so exciting to me, to be able to tell my family over Thanksgiving weekend. When it didn’t happen, I was more upset than I really should have been. Most people don’t get pregnant their first month. So I’m trying not to get all excited this month.

This is also the end of my first quarter of my last year as a grad student. I attend UChicago’s Divinity School, and I’ll be finishing my MA in June. And then I’m done. I’m not applying to the Ph.d program. I’m simultaneously massively relieved by this, and a little bit edgy.

Not applying for the Ph.d program means that this year, I can be supremely relaxed. No begging for professors’ affection. No writing sample to worry about. And I can just enjoy my classes without really being concerned about the grade I’m going to get for them. It’s blissful.

On the other hand, I feel like kind of a sellout. And this, of course, speaks to my ambiguity on the staying-at-home-to-raise-kids thing. Plus, I know I can’t be a stay-at-home-mom forever, and I’m afraid I won’t be good at anything. I was going to say, “anything else,” but that’s assuming I’m a good graduate student, which I’m evidently not.

So these are the themes this blog will be exploring! Hooray!

December 8, 2007:

I am feeling terribly nauseous again this morning.

It doesn’t mean anything.

It doesn’t mean anything.

It doesn’t mean anything.

December 20, 2007:

I don’t have my period yet. It was due Wednesday.

But guys, it doesn’t mean anything. I know that. I’m regular like clockwork, but one day is hardly . . .

I’m not excited.

I’m not excited.

I’m not anticipating sly hints and winks at my grandparents this weekend.

Or taking the pregnancy test Sunday morning when my friends are all there.

Because it doesn’t mean anything. My period will probably come while I’m out this afternoon.

December 28, 2007:

I took a pregnancy test last week. It came up positive. I’m going to see the doctor today.

Well, that’s not true. I’m going to see a lab technician, who will do a more sophisticated (I hope) version of the pee-on-a-stick drugstore test, and probably charge me out the ears for it, and then my insurance probably won’t cover it for one reason or another.

But who cares? I (maybe) am pregnant!

So that’s interesting. For those of you a little slow on the uptake, or reading this many years in the future, I was, in fact, pregnant, and that pregnancy became Zoe.


Sometime, somewhere, they gave classes on being a girl. And I was absent. Like the day they taught right and left.

I can’t do my hair. Both of my sisters are excellent at hair. I can’t seem to manage it. How do I get to the back of my head, and how do I do it without burning my hand on the curling iron? What do I do with the pieces I’ve already “done”? What product should I use, how much, and at what point in the process? And where are all my hair products, anyway? I swear I used to have some hairspray somewhere.

I have always been a bit of a failure at being a girl. Growing up, it was the thing my stepmother and stepsister were good at, not me. I was good at school. When I was in college, I got a job at Aveda, and my family kind of laughed at me. “You?” was the general consensus. “What are you doing working at Aveda?”

I think working there helped me a little. I learned how to apply eye shadow. I started washing, moisturizing, toning, and exfoliating my face regularly. I kept my nails polished and neat instead of biting them because customers would see my hands when I showed them our products. I used to marvel when I got ready to go to work that I could go from looking like me to looking like a girl who wouldn’t have talked to me in high school in the space of about ten minutes.

But I never mastered hair styling. Even when I was working there, if a customer needed help with hair products that went beyond the hair product descriptions printed on little cards on the shelf, I went and found another salesgirl. And I remain totally hopeless now.

It’s the new year, and so I’m feeling a little reflective. I’ve always been sort of nerdy, scruffy. And, in high school at least, that meant scorning the other kind of girl, the kind of girl who blow-dried her hair to perfection even when she was just putting it up in a ponytail. And I went to college with a bunch of other nerds. That meant that, while I was not nearly the most fashionable person in the room at any point, I was also rarely the scruffiest. But I’m a grown-up now, and I’m feeling a bit torn about the whole thing.

On the practical level, I can’t really look like a fashion plate every day. I have a 16-month-old. If I don’t have someone else in the house to watch her, in some other location, I can’t turn on the blow-dryer, because it’ll scare her, or the curling iron, because she’ll find a way to burn herself on it. My clothes will be covered in drool, snot, or spilled food ten minutes after I put them on.

But on another level, I’m feeling a little low due to my scruffiness (which is part and parcel with my weight). Growing up, it was okay with me that I wasn’t good at the girl stuff, because I was good at the school stuff. But I’m not in school, and I only have a small, part-time job. So the scruffiness is both worse than it usually is and more bothersome to me because I have little else to feel like I’m doing well.

That sounds too depressing. Let’s reframe it. Maybe it’s just the only thing I feel I’m not doing well. I do my job (pretty) well and I like it. My house looks pretty nice. It needs a lot more decor, but I’m fine with taking that slowly. I may not be in school, but I read an awful lot. I am a good cook and I’m getting better. My daughter is doing just great. I try to keep myself from resting too much of my self-esteem on how she’s doing. It’s dangerous for me and for her. But for now, I suppose I can take a little bit of maternal pride in the fact that I have the most wonderful, adorable, beautiful, smart, curious, and capable child in the whole wide world. 🙂 It’s just my hair. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to manage it in the next few months.

Happy New Year!