Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Reason Why I Love You So Much.

Another in a Long Series of Reasons, That Is.

Here I am, thinking I'm going to crack you up--that you're going to be like: "Birthday gift. Birthday gift. Birthday gift. Black brassiere! Ha ha ha." And I thought we'd all have a laugh a little bit at the expense, I'm sorry to say, of the folks who used to give me such a hard time about the dolls, the pink, the whatever it was they imagined we were giving Ben: mascara? crotchless panties? a brazilian wax?

And then instead you all made me laugh. So much. Besides the nursings and the Victoria's Secret outing (both brillian guesses), I had totally forgotten about the accidental boob pinata! What's that expression? You know me better than I know myself. (Note to new readers: it was supposed to look like a heart. I swear. But the red pompoms Ben added later really didn't help. I admit we all felt a little creepy when the kids took a baseball bat to it. But still: Candy-filled juggs! It's the wet dream of every fourteen-year-old boy in America.)

For old time's sake, I offer you this, with my deepest, most grateful affection:

And p.s.: I got the spirograph on ebay--the exact kit my brother and I used!--and it has been a tremendous hit. Not that the bra wouldn't have been a great gift in its own special way.


  1. Anonymous10:39 PM

    You know, the funny thing about that quiz down there was that it totally confused me.

    And then everyone kept talking about the nursings for Ben's birthday and I felt stupid for not knowing he had asked for nursings for his birthday.

    And you look like you're eighteen in that photo!

    I tried to tell the pinata story to my husband and the funny thing was I couldn't remember what you were trying to make before they asserted themselves as breasts. What the hell was it, Cath?

    But he thought it was funny anyway.

  2. Anonymous11:34 PM

    Maybe for his 14th birthday you can make that pinata again.

    All the best to you Catherine!

  3. OMG - too funny! I remember that pic, it's hilarious. It's so funny too when your kids catch you making lewd faces like that and they get there's something weird about it but not what it is? I guess that's what's so funny about disney movies these days - they're for kids - but so much of the comedy nuance is strictly adult oriented you know? I still can't see how that started as a heart........LMAO

  4. Another funny thing: I was as confused as Raehan. I actually kept thinking that possibly the doll was odd man out, and everything else had belonged to you. That Spirograph threw me off. Well, and the fact that I am old enough to remember Hello Kitty the first time round. And oblivious. Er.
    But happy birthday to Ben!

  5. I love that pic! It's great. I laughed so hard when I read that original post, about Ben being confused as to why you had that expression on your face. :-) Great stuff.

    I agree with what Raehan said, you DO look like you are about eighteen in that photo. Thank you for sharing it again. It's even more funny big!

    PS... My 8-year-old son has a soft, fuzzy, pink blanket that he was given before he was born, he still loves it, and he is still in a place where his favorite colors are red, purple and pink. I think it's awesome that you let Ben enjoy the "girly" things that he likes. You are such a great mom.

  6. HAHAHAHHA you crack me up. You really do. :)

  7. Anonymous6:12 AM


  8. Anonymous8:22 AM

    Um, I'm probably showing my incredible out-of-it-ness, but can someone tell me what LMAO means?

  9. Anonymous8:23 AM

    Oops, never mind - just Googled it.

  10. I really think that is the picture you should use on the back of your next book.

  11. And a "vintage (are we so old now that our old toys are vintage--the horror!) spirograph from ebay. How cool. The new ones just aren't quite the same, are they? I may have to copy you as my dd's 7th bday is next month....

    Anyway, as always, thanks for the laughs!!!

  12. THERE IT IS!!!! The best homemade pinata ever--for a dirty bachelor party, that is. STILL cracks me up. ESPECIALLY the look on your face!! Priceless!

  13. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Oh just GREAT! Now all the gusy I work with want to know what the heck is so funny! This is why is sucks to be one of the very few women in a man's world! And I'm not telling those dirty boys why I'm laughing!


  14. Catherine,
    As usual, you have made me (like so many of your readers) laugh out loud, causing my almost 5-year-old son to run over to the computer to see what is so amusing. So he is looking at the picture of you and the booby piñata and I am explaining that you are a mommy that writes about her kids/life and here is a picture of you and a piñata. And he says, "yes, but it really looks like her chest, doesn't it?" I actually *shouted* with laughter!
    Thanks for the laughter...

  15. Anonymous11:52 AM

    You are just too awesome for words. I LOVED your article in Oprah!!! I forwarded Ben is 7 article (made me and about 15 other people cry, a good cry) to my dear friends and printed it off for some co-workers as our oldest ones are now 6. You capture motherhood so beautifully!!!

    This is the only Blog I read and I adore it (and you, but not a stalker like those other stalkers... ha ha ha).

  16. Now, try to find a black bra to hold that pair!

  17. Anonymous12:19 PM

    OMG!! I laughed so hard when you reminded me about the pinata! LOL I remember you were upset that it didn't look like a heart..but that Ben didn't seem to notice or mind at all! LOL You should be proud of me though...I knew the first three were for Ben but I thought the bra was for you celebrating his birthday too! LOL Kind of a case of "three for for me". LOL Well I hope he had a great birthday and I hope Michael enjoys that bra! LOL

  18. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Hey...I meant to add a P.S. to my post....

    Are you going to attempt to make a pinata for Birdy's next birthday?? LOL If Ben's was a "heart" better be careful making one for Birdy! Hopefully she won't be going through a hot dog loving phase at the time!!!


    Take care and post again soon!!!!

  19. Anonymous12:37 PM

    A baseball bat to the heart isn't that great of an image either! :) I absolutely adore you Catherine! Thanks for the photo.

  20. OMG...I snorted my water a couple of times...the picture was even better the second time around, and some of the comments! I love the idea of putting that picture on the back of your next book!

  21. Too too funny. I laugh again and again at the picture. Your face is too much. I am, too, in favor of that photo for the next book. I have some suggestions for the title of the French translation : "La vie inavouable de Madame Catherine" or "Bienvenue chez Madame Catherine" or "Madame Catherine vous reçoit".
    Think about it: you would reach yet another slice of the reader's population...

  22. what i love about tha photo - almost more than your creepy mammary pinata - is your totally lascivious leer! fantastic

  23. ok, it's really quiet here at work at 7:42 PM. And when I just snorted and laughed hysterically at your picture (It was just as funny the first time) people actually stood up and wanted me to share the joke.

  24. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Been reading your columns for 4 years and you always make me laugh. Waiting for Birdy is one of my all-time favorite books. I, too, tear up over the tiniest thing.... washing those little socks, brushing that little girl hair, finding three year old Cheerios under the couch cushions... I'm glad I'm not the only one:) You're great!

  25. Oooo! The pictures are so much better over here!

  26. Anonymous10:09 PM

    yeah, I guess those pink ladies wouldn't quite fit into that black bra.

    Spirograph rocks!

  27. Love your posts Catherine...especially the one about Ben's birthday - HOW can he already be 7? Time goes by TOO fast!

    Happy Birthday to your sweet boy!

  28. Anonymous5:15 PM

    Your article on Birdy's tantrum could be my life at the moment. My second son just turned two and has been having tantrums since 18 months. When I read about the "not being able to remove your own fingers", I laughed until I cried. It was so much like my Gus. I never know what will provoke the storm. I can laugh about them when I'm not in the middle of them. It's nice to know I am not alone.

  29. Hi Catherine,

    A little late to the party but boy was I having trouble getting to your comments yesterday.

    How could you forget about the pinata? It is a classic. At any rate I loved the walk down memory lane.

    Again best wishes to Ben.


  30. I was thinking of you yesterday when my two year old son HAD to get the pink Hello Kitty toothbrush. The other people near me didn't care so much, but I think it may have been because I was holding my daughter as well. But she has no teeth!

    Also, congrats on the Wondertime article. I was in the pediatrician's office yesterday and I saw it in print!!!! I told my husband, "You have to read this. It's great. I'm so happy for her." I think the other parents in the office thought that I knew you.

  31. So funny! I'm so glad you have this blog... it is a joy to read.

    I hope you have the best Thanksgiving ever!

  32. Anonymous6:17 PM

    Thanks for the reminder of the Boob Pinata and the great photo. I will go back and reread that one if I can because I remember it made me laugh til I cried. My husband was quite bemused...
    Your affection is most definately returned.

  33. Anonymous8:55 PM

    Well, as usual you left me laughing so hard I'm wiping tears away -- I think the heart pinata was one of my very favorite columns of all time. I'm going to have to go re-read it for the millionth time after this. The picture is great!
    And, by the way, my husband gives me a terrible time about a sit n spin I bought from ebay -- vintage 1973. They just don't make them like they used to!

  34. I feel weird posting here because it does seem so stalkerish when I sometimes see you around town. But thanks for the article on Birdy's tantrums. I think reading it saved my Sanity tonight when my 22 month old was screaming and performing the death scene from Hamlet because...well I dunno, something about a string and a toy airplane not fitting together. Love your writing, love your honesty.

  35. Anonymous12:02 AM

    I love that you're getting Ben the old but classic toys. My MIL Is a pack rat, so still has all of her kids' old toys from the late 70's and 80's. I introduced Will (6) to the original Lite Brite last week (with no on-off switch), and he happily made pictures of Garfield from the vintage templates that came with it.

    I am jealous that Ben is forming his own decisions and not bowing to the peer pressure from the other boys in school. I'm not so lucky, so everything I hear coming out of Will's mouth these days is about Star Wars or Pokemon. He's not allowed to watch these, yet is an absolute expert on all facets of both series (including all Episodes 1-6 of Star Wars). He came home with a handful of Pokemon Cards last week that were given to him by a friend, so this weekend was a lesson in tolerance of other parents and their buying habits for their kids.

  36. Anonymous4:20 PM

    The look on your face holding the boob pinata is priceless.

    Amy, Evan & Aidan's mom

  37. Anonymous5:27 PM

    I just read "A Little Understanding" and I KNOW I TOTALLY GET IT!!! Exactly what you said, every single word. My kids stand outside the car every day like they've never seen it before and the ask questions that make no sense at all and THIS is why I love you!

  38. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Ah, the boobalicious pinata!

    Last week, I meant to share with you my brush with gender bias and Hello Kitty. When my Sam was 3 (he's almost 6 now), we visited a McDonalds while on vacation in Halifax. Happy Meals that month came with a choice between Hello Kitty and GI Joe toys. Feeling uneasy about exposing Sam to GI Joe at such an innocent age, I blurted "Hello Kitty, please" when asked which toy he wanted. So he got this Hello Kitty toaster - this fantastic little thing that came with bread-shaped paper to "toast". Sam just thought it was the cat's meow - so much that he howled when he lost it in a bookstore. The next day I went to the same McD's and asked the 16 year old behind the counter if they had any more Hello Kitty toasters. When she said yes I was all, "Oh, thank goodness. My son lost his yesterday." "I'm sorry," she said stunned. "Did you say his?"

    Sigh. So that's my silly Hello Kitty story. Ben was never alone!! And what a great suitcase, BTW. Here's to a new generation of boys who are not completely appalled with pink.

  39. You are amazing! *lol* And that picture just proves it. Hilarious!!

  40. Anonymous12:03 AM

    Ooh, la, la! Bravo, Catherine, as usual. We love you too, in case you haven't noticed. And we need more moms giving their boys Hello Kitty instead of toy guns. I'm just sayin'. Keep it up.

  41. Anonymous11:57 AM

    "Erase that one," he says. "I just look like a little kid in that picture."

    That's only the best line ever.

  42. Love this weeks doesn't get better, the 13 year old still does that stop and get lost in thought thing every morning, too. And I spend hours every day translating for the almost 4 year old.

    When my kids make those comments ("erase that one, I just look like a little kid") it breaks my heart. I understand it, but I wish they understood that them looking like a little kid is the point :) Great article (as usual) Thank you (again and again and again!)

  43. Oh, so much of the same thing is going on over here. My Ben, the Star Wars aficianado, sometimes has my husband and I completely baffled. Something about the things that Chewbacca likes to eat? Apparently gum. "Well, they DO call him 'Chewie'" my husband offers. Now we're laughing, and my son is baffled...

  44. You know, it's totally freaky how you describe exactly what goes on in my house with my 6-year old son. Every morning, rush! rush! out the door, then just STOP. He's right by the car, just mesmerized by the weather, the neighbors, whatever. I don't understand how he can forget what to do every morning, but I'm so glad to hear you go thorugh the same thing. You had me in stitches.

  45. Anonymous12:29 AM

    Oh, I also wanted to say something about the after bedtime tv, but I couldn't remember what it was I wanted to say when I was writing my last comment.

    Here It is:

    My husband often watches tv in bed while I'm in my office at night. My office is adjoined to our bedroom. Rachel goes to the bathroom in our room at night.

    Anyway, one night I come out from my office. My husband had gone downstairs but the tv was on. Rachel was on her way back from the bathroom, blanket in hand, staring at the tv. On the tv was what looked like a very rough and tumble sex/getting into bed scene.

    I kind of froze. Then Rachel gave a little 'heh...that's funny" and walked away.

    You know what? She was actually right. It was Scrubs. (a comedy) It was supposed to be funny.

  46. It came to me this morning while sitting in some traffic on the way to my son’s school (so very L.A. of me); it came to me that I wanted to say Thank You. I’m one of those people who found being a new mother frighteningly isolating, what with my family being kind of far away and me being the first of few female friends to dive into motherhood. The combination of being physically isolated, overwhelmed with immense love, awe and responsibility – and hormones (oh, and the whole existential crisis thing of ‘who am I now anyway?’), shook my very foundation to the ground. One of the things that reassured me that I was not completely losing my mind, or if I was, then I at least I wasn’t the only one, was stumbling across “Waiting for Birdy” and the weekly column that started it. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way…I see a sea of thanks and praise for your writing every time you post, and I can imagine that it can sometimes feel like a lot of responsibility, like all these moms are depending on you to be the glitter glue of our fragile craft paper chain; but it seems to be your gift to be sparkly and sticky, and I am thankful for that. Your column/s and blog have been an example of the internet at its best….allowing for a meaningful connection where before their might not have been, and helping people not feel so alone in the world. Thank you!

  47. Anonymous12:14 PM

    I second that emotion!

  48. Anonymous11:48 AM

    I think the pinata story is my favorite, and it was so great to be reminded of it. Then reading the comments, it made me feel like I was sharing memories with old friends, which I always love. I am so grateful for your blog and all of your great articles, you make me laugh, and cry, sometimes at the same times. But it is the ones that make me spit out my coffee that I am especially found of. I don't read as often as I would like or as often as I used to, and I am a little behind.... so Happy Belated Birthday to Ben!! And Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your other fans. Keep up the great work.

  49. Anonymous11:59 AM

    I almost forgot. I too agree with Erin above, and wanted to say thank you. Thank You for keeping me afloat during the early years. Bringing Up Ben and Birdy was my saving grace especially at the time I came across it, and it also helped me to not feel so alone. And Thank You for continuing because we all seem to enjoy reading your thoughts.

  50. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Erin (above) said it so well, I won't even try. Thank you! And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  51. Anonymous9:12 AM

    I want to say "ditto" to what Erin said. I want to say I can't believe Ben is 7, but my baby just turned 9 and has started shaving her legs! (Please don't give me a hard time, we are French, and very hairy!) I loved being reminded of the booby pinata, although I did laugh out loud at he fact that Ben added red pom poms. too funny. I will add that my favorite past Ben story is when he was so intrigued with working a paper mill, as my husband and father-in-law both work in one. Thank you thank you thank you, a million times over. Catherine, sometimes it's you alone that make me feel that I am not going copletely insane as a Mommy!

  52. Sparkly and Sticky...I think that has to be one of the best compliments I've ever heard!

  53. Anonymous2:53 PM

    Just read the new Wondertime post.
    I want to come on over and give both of you a hug.
    I think we all feel every pain that our child feels physical or emotional.
    It's not easy being a kid, then we grow up and re-live the whole thing through our kids.

    I'm writing this as my 3 year old is having about her 5th tantrum of the day. This time it is over her mattress pad, yes you read that right. She wants to use her mattress pad as a blanket in the living room and I will not let her because I don't want it to be dragged through the house before I put it on her bed. She already took the old ripped mattres pad and is using it to cover our foot stool in the living room.

    Anyway just wanted to say we all feel your pain. Maybe next week will be more of an "America's Funniest Videos kind of week.
    Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

  54. ok, well today you really touched something. Here is the thing. My Ben is so like your Ben in that he is gentle and kind and I want him to grow up and be that person too. I read stories about boys that mothers can't understand with their violence and such and I just can't relate. I love the gentleness in my boy and I fear that all those other little boys are going to hurt him. Yours is already 6 and mine is nearly 3 so they have a lot of life left to live and hurts to suffer through and what you describe is certainly how I am going to feel when kids hurt him. But how do you prepare your wildflower picking boy for that game he has no choice but to play?

  55. Anonymous5:31 PM

    I read your new post and I (as usual) know exactly how you feel. We are so wulnerable and skin-less when it comes to our children. We do not want them to get hurt in any way, but how can we protect them against being hurt? As you write, you can't put a band-aid on hurt feelings.

    My 7 -year old had problems as well, I had to talk to the other children's parents and the chat really helped! The other kids just were thoughtless and didn't realize that my boy was hurt. When they were confronted with the episode(s) they looked really, really shocked and sad, and immediately apologized (without being told to do so) I'll never forget they face of my son's best friend when he realized what he had been part of, it almost made me cry as well.

    I guess we just have to make our sons and daughters strong enough to be themselves, just as we teach them to wash, eat, draw, ride a bike, swim, read and all the other things we teach them to become self-confident, emphatic, nice persons.

  56. Regarding the newest Wondertime entry - wow. That's intense stuff. I can remember with disturbing clarity the lunch period in 7th grade when my best friend and Christie (the 'new girl') were sitting on the outdoor stage with their backs to the wall and as cold as ice they told me that they were no longer my friends. Sadly, I can also remember, with equal clarity, the day that I broke a boy's heart. I was awful, he was crying, it was completely stupid (on my part) and now, 20 years later it still makes me wince. I can only hope that I haven't set my boys up the pay up on that Karmic debt!

    It sounds to me like you do all that you can to make sure the boat of Ben is strong and swift and that his inner compas is strong enough to navigate the stormy seas of (pre)adolescent friendships. I'm thinking that's about all you can do really, build a strong boat, teach them to navigate with the stars and offer safe harbor.

    Sorry for all the lame sea-fairing metaphores...what's a pisces to do?

  57. Oh, honey. I just wish I could crawl right through the cable connected to my computer and give you a big hug. Of course that's got to be one of the worst things for us, seeing our child experience pain, the deep inside kind of hurt. I too remember so well the left out, not invited to the party adolescent kind of cruelty. Poor kid. Poor you. But he is so lucky to have you, even - no ESPECIALLY with you feeling so torn up about it. It just shows him and everyone else that he matters in this world.

  58. Such, such, such a beautiful piece on Wondertime today, Catherine.

    The thought of Gretta experiencing that emotional pain we ALL experience at some point just kills me, makes me feel like I've been sliding down a big giant cheese grater.

    The beautiful (and heartbreaking) thing is that it is that best, sweetest, most sensitive part of them/us that allows them/us to feel that pain at all. And who'd want to cover that bit up, ever? Even for a minute?

    I enjoy the 'america's funniest' posts, too, but this one was just lovely.


  59. Anonymous7:40 PM

    I can tell you I know how you AND Ben feel. You see, I've been on the receiving end of the "excluding" more times than I can count. Not so much anymore, but in school, it was very hard for me. I was, like Ben, a very gentle kid and always gave in like when Ben handed over that knife. It was not a big deal to me. But, my parents felt bad. They always just treated me like I was the best kid in the world and I have since blossomed into healthy self esteme. But, those years, like you said, are your life right now. I am now a parent of a beautiful 4 year old girl and she is quite a darling, if I do say so myself! She is very caring and sweet. She does stick up for herself, so that makes me feel a little better, but just a couple weeks ago, her friend just decided she wasn't in the mood to play with her and just walked away and played with the other kids. It doesn't sound as bad as it really was. So, then I told her that we can just go find her other friend. We went over to that girl, but she's a couple years older and doesn't always pay a lot of attention to my daughter (But I don't blame her because there quite an age difference between a 4 yr old and a 6 yr old.) Anyway, my daughter was heartbroken and just broke down. I felt so bad for her and VERY mad for her. I felt like the mama bear that has been stired. So, I went over to that first little girl and told her that Tori was crying because she wouldn't play with her and how would SHE like it if Tori wouldn't play with her? Well, she came around and even appologized. I think if you confront in a very nice and non-accusatory way, it might help. I am sending you a virtual hug and one for Ben, too. He is a wonderful person and you are a wonderful mother! These years will pass and he'll be a great husband someday just like his father. I am wishing you a quick ending to this unfortunate chapter of life. You are the best!!!!

  60. Anonymous10:18 PM

    Your current Wondertime column really resonated with me. Our 6 year old daughter Rowan went through a similar experience with some of her friends earlier in the school year, and the feeling you described captured exactly how I felt, and still feel. I knew the exclusionary thing was inevitable, especially with girls, but I guess I irrationally hoped that somehow my kids would be magically exempt. And of course they won't. And I know this is just the beginning. And sure, it's part of growing up and all that. But it is such a painful thing to deal with as a parent--indeed more painful for us than for our resilient little kids who are so willing to forgive, forget and let it go. I think the pain stems from a feeling of helplessness, of having to let go little by little (and not totally wanting to) as our kids navigate through their worlds apart from us. It's a tough gig, this parenting thing!
    As always, thank you for sharing your life and making us all feel more connected.

  61. Anonymous11:01 PM

    The latest Wondertime article is great, Catherine. You so accurately expressed how awful it feels to see your child being treated unkindly. It made my heart ache.

    I'm a new reader--still catching up by reading a few 'Bringing up Ben & Birdy' posts every night before bed. They always make me laugh, sometimes until the tears are streaming down my face. I'm going to go through withdrawal when I'm finished and there is only one article a week to read!

    I almost fell over when I saw your picture in 'O' magazine a while back. I realized we had gone to college together, and I was so excited for you, and so impressed with the amazing work you are doing.

    Hugs to you, Catherine. And if you haven't read it already, "Raising Cain" is a great book about helping boys to prepare for the unkind behavior they may face as they get older. Now if I could just find a book to help us mothers prepare for it...

    Thank you for your writing. It's a gift to us all.

  62. Anonymous9:47 AM


    I read the Wondertime post and wanted to come over and offer some comfort... and I see that many others have had that same thought. I hope the knots in your stomach have smoothed by now. I hope you are reading this with a sort of vague memory about how much you hurt and the apprehension that comes with knowing the hurt will come again but still not really remembering how bad it was at this moment.

    Anyway, my oldest son turned 7 a few months before Ben did. And I (like others) frequently thought how tender he was, how loving, and how sensitive that to this day he won't watch Finding Nemo or Peter Pan much less anything PG because he finds them too unnerving. Yet I will confess that when he encounters unkindness in his friends, he reacts negatively, calling names, and at home, yelling at his brothers and telling them what to do. You and Michael have been able to give Ben perhaps some extra time to be confident in himself before the hurts began and I hope you appreciate that. It's even harder when you hurt for your child but you must discipline him because his response is understandable but inappropriate. I don't have any bright ideas, just a lot of hope that continued care and love will see him (all of them, really) through it safely.

  63. What a wonderful article. I remember the feeling of exclusion from my own childhood (I was the new kid many times, and it wasn't usually a good thing) and I've lived through it with 1 1/2 kids so gets worse when they are teenagers!

  64. Anonymous2:33 PM

    this has nothing to do with the current post, but I just finished reading this week's Wondertime bit and I cried...maybe it's just that I only got 4 hours sleep last night, but as the mother of a sensitive son who, at 2 and a half, has yet to experience that pain of exclusion, I can see it coming and my heart aches because of it. A beautifully written piece. Thanks.