Thursday, August 22, 2013

Then out of the box came Thing 2 and Thing 1!

More than one commenter has commented on the rather odd nicknames I give my children.  Why would I call my beloved children "Things?"

 When I say "Things," I do not refer to random stuff--

but rather to these cute little Things:

But first, a little background into why I've chosen these creations from my favorite doctor (and I don't mean The Doctor).
In 1957, Theodore Geisel, an already prolific advertising illustrator and children's book author (who went by the pen name Dr. Seuss) was approached with a proposal: write a children's book using 225 of the most common sight words taught to primary-aged schoolchildren.  (In all fairness, this was the age of the now-discredited whole-language movement.  Queen Mom remembers her old Dick and Jane readers somewhat less than fondly).  The result was a zany little volume entitled The Cat in the Hat.  For the past 56 years, children all over the world have laughed along to the adventures of the mad-cap, chapeau-clad feline and his adorable, blue-haired, red-suited, mischief-making comrades in a red box.
Fast forward to 2008.  Thing 2 is a couple of months old, and I'm researching homeschooling every spare minute I can.  I soon stumble into the world of homeschool bloggers.  Then I think--why not write one?  So, for the next year, over at WordPress, I had a short-lived little blog called The Cat's Hat.  My original idea was to give me and my family names straight out of The Cat in the Hat.  So, I was the Cat, Builder was the Fish, and my little babies became Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Although it never went anywhere and I eventually abandoned it, I never dropped my desire to blog.  So, when I started Tifrosh Min Hatzibur, I kept the kids' pseudonyms.  I'm not that creative with nicknames.  And, they still sort of ...worked, at least in the context of Dr. Seussian Things.
However, the first rule of public forums applies to blogs--anything you say can and will be used against you.  So, Builder, this is for you.  Since you've been referencing my blog in your custody petition, I know you're reading this.  Thing 1 and Thing 2 mean the world to me.  And, even though you were seven when The Cat in the Hat came out, and even though we owned pretty much every Beginner Book that Dr. Seuss ever wrote, you either don't get the reference or are being dense on purpose.  But I don't care anymore.  This is my blog--my safe space.  I will still reference my favorite little blue-haired, red-suited mischief-makers whenever I can.

Monday, August 19, 2013

When there are no easy answers

Today, I was coming home from Barnes & Noble in Union Square on the F train (browsing is free).  A young man with a black lab boarded and began panhandling.  Normally, my rule is to give only to street performers and not panhandlers because I can't afford it.  However, this kid broke my heart.  He was dressed in such shabby clothes that the heels of his sneakers were worn down into a diagonal line.  He looked like he hadn't had a decent meal in days and smelled like he hadn't showered in weeks (hard to stay clean on the street).  And his dog didn't look much better--it was skin and bones, and too listless to move.  The kid was begging so that he could buy something for his dog to eat.  An older man on the train asked the kid "Why don't you get a job?"
Right.  Because the Employment Fairy is going to tap him with a magic wand and turn him from a down-and-out street kid into a professional with a middle-class salary and benefits.  Because companies are falling all over themselves to hire someone without an address, phone, clean suits and access to a shower.  Because the economy DOESN'T suck right now so that even middle-class, college-educated, experienced people aren't struggling to find and keep jobs.  All of this ran through my head at this sanctimonious pronouncement.  And, since keeping my mouth shut has never been my strong suit, I responded with the only thing I could say:
"You can't get a job without an address."
Suddenly, the train car came alive.  People who didn't know each other were suddenly discussing the dearth of social services available in what is supposedly the richest country in the world.  I even volunteered a bit of my own story--that I was fleeing an abusive marriage, and that there was very little available even for me.  Sure, there is shelter space--sort of.  Most shelters are full.  Sure, there is Section 8, and everyone assumed that an abused woman with kids would get to the top of the list.  Yeah, right behind the thousands of OTHER abused women with kids on the list.  And, unless Builder ponies up tuition like YESTERDAY, I will have no childcare and will end up homeschooling again by default.  This, of course, puts the kibosh on my plans to get a job and be self-supporting.
And then I thought how narrow the chasm is that separates this young man from myself.  If it weren't for the grace of G-d and the court system, I could be homeless too.  Sure, I'm sitting there in clean clothes, with a wig and scarf on my head, jewelry, makeup, manicured nails, an Anne Klein purse and a smartphone.  I look like any other middle-class person.  But who can tell?  Builder is only paying half his court-ordered child support every month.  I'm living in a house that isn't really mine.  The wig and scarf were bought prior to my marriage.  Queen Mom paid for the purse and smartphone.  The makeup is drugstore grade, and I do my own nails with Sally Hansen polish.  And the jewelry is street-vendor costume, all bought before I came to New York.  I'm no stranger to the condition of having the thinnest veneer of middle-class prosperity separate me from the streets.