Monday, June 28, 2010

The Sudan

So there we are, wandering through the produce aisle, and Marin spies a couple of tall dark women dressed in the really colorful traditional African dress and headscarf. Marin laser locks on these women and insists on talking to them.

Turns out they are from Sudan, but when they learned Marin was Ethiopian, they said they were from Addis. So I asked "Wait a minute, I thought you just said you were from The Sudan?" (and, by the way, they looked way more Sudanese in appearance than Ethiopian) Big mistake my asking. Now we get the whole Sudanese refugee story.

The women speak: "We are from Sudan, but conditions there are terrible terrible. Soldiers are killing our families, burning our houses, and stealing our livestock. There is no jobs, no food, no water. This women here, my sister, and me, we packed our belongings on a donkey and walked to Ethiopia. We can travel only at night to avoid the soldiers, but we can travel only in daylight to avoid the lions and hyenas. It is very dangerous. Many of us were lost. Once inside Ethiopia, we found a bus ride to Addis. Once inside Addis, we must do unspeakable things to earn money to go to London and then to America. " And on and on and on.

Normally, I would be fascinated and heartbroken by such a life history and would have invited these women someplace for dinner to get the time to hear all the details. But in front of Marin? Shheeeesh. I could see her little head about to explode. So now we are in the car. Marin..........

"Why did soldiers burn them house down?"
" What did they eat when they walked a long time?"
" What does the word unspeakable mean?"
" What did they do that is unspeakable?"
"Daddy, tell me the truth, is this what really happened to me and Emmy?"
" Were we in Sudan and had to walk to Ethiopia before you found us?"
" Daddy, did the soldiers have guns or knives?"
" Did they hurt kids or just grown ups?"

And about a million more questions. I am exhausted.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


So there we are, Marin's first track practice.

The coach asks the kids to run at medium speed twice around the track to warm up. Marin is walking.

The coach divides the kids into relay teams of about 20 runners each, and tells the kids to sit down after they have run to help her keep track of who has run and who has not. Marin, about 5th in line, casually looks around, sneaks her way to the back of the line, and sits down before having a turn at running.

At water break time, I ask Marin if she is having fun.
Marin: An enthusiastic "Yes, Daddy! I love this track game!"
Me: Then why aren't you running?
Marin: Huh? I'm running really hard.
Me: Marin. I watched you. You walked while the other kids ran and you sat while the other kids raced.
Marin: Really, you were watching me?
Me: Yes. So what is it you love about this track game?
Marin: (looks around carefully, leans in, and whispers) I get to talk to all the boys.

Thinking quickly, I informed Marin that boys like girls who run fast. The faster the girl, the more the boy likes her. Marin looked cynical. Thankfully, one of the Mothers had overheard the entire conversation and piped in "Oh yes, Marin. I learned in third grade that boys like girls who run fast and I started practicing my fast running and always had lots of boyfriends."

Well, that was all Marin needed to hear. She burst back on to the track and instantly became the Usain Bolt of third grade!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Emmy's newest weapon of tantrum is to threaten to kill herself.

So there we are in the kitchen, she asked for something ridiculous (I honestly don't remember what it was) and I said no or not yet.

Emmy: That's it. I'm really going to kill myself now.
Me: No you're not. I'll miss you too much and I love you too much. And Mama will cry.
Emmy: Yes. I'm going to sit in the road and wait for a car to run me over.
Me: Emmy. The car will see you and stop.
Emmy: Oh. Then I have another trick.
Me: Emmy, please just stay here with us.
Emmy: I'm going to wait for the leaves to fall from the trees and the hunters come. Then I'll go in the woods and pretend I'm a deer and they will shoot me.
Me: Emmy. How do you pretend to be a deer?
Emmy: I'll put on a big red nose from the dollar store and walk like this (prancing leaping motion) and go 'beep! beep! beep!"

(I think she was trying to be Rudolph the reindeer)

Dear God. OK - I know she's goofing, but at what age do we have to start taking these conversations seriously?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lighten up on the Sarcasm

This morning Marin came down to breakfast in a foul mood.

Me: "Marin, why are you so upset?"
Marin: "Mama said 'Ooohhh, you're hair looks soooo nice today'.
Me: "Why is that upsetting? Mama is telling you how pretty you are."
Marin: "No, Daddy. Her words were nice, but her tone was mean. She wasn't telling me the truth. She was teasing me. Grown ups do that all the time. They think they are tricking kids but we no for real when they are being mean."

Wow. That was a mouthful. Even though Colleen was being sincere (I learned afterward), the fact that Marin faces sarcasm so often, and has now caught on to it, has compromised her ability to differentiate sincerity from sarcasm. I am really bummed by this. Colleen and I took the anti-sarcasm pledge. The most difficult challenge will be another close relative - who has a highly acid tongue even when she is being sweet.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Decisions Decisions

So there we are at the voting booth and there is a giant candy dish. Emmy stares at me with this pleading look in here eyes. "OK, Emmy, but just one piece." She took a peanut butter cup.

Fast forward ten minutes I am getting ready to drop Emmy off at daycare.

"Daddy, I want to take this inside. No wait, then I will have to share it with everybody."

"Daddy, I want to leave it in the car and eat it tonight after dinner. No wait, it might melt in the car."

"Daddy, I want you to hold it for me. No wait, you might eat it first."

Then Emmy plops down in the middle of the daycare parking lot and starts sobbing. She can't figure out what to do with her peanut butter cup. Finally I said, Emmy, why don't we go sit on the bench for a minute, I'll unwrap this for you and you can eat it now.

"Really, I can eat candy this early in the morning?" She sat down, ate the candy, licked her fingers, looked up at me with a big smile and said "You know, Mama's gonna kill you for this."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My pee is red!

I was preparing dinner today and beets were on the menu. The kids have never eaten beets before and they had a ton of questions. Marin said "Hey, William (her cousin) told me beets make your pee turn red. Is that true?" I said it can be true if you eat enough beets.

Fast forward, the kids are wolfing down the beets. They didn't eat anything else. Beets everywhere. Colleen, who was not in the room during the whole beets conversation, asked "What are you girls doing?" The answer "Making our pee turn red!"

As soon as they were excused from the table, the kids bolted to the bathroom. We could hear them in there>

"Hurry up I want a turn"
"Look, I think I see red"
"No its not"
"Yes, look right there, see?"
"Flush that, I want to try"

So, parents, now you know how to get your kids excited about beets.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Political Animal

It's Primary Election season and there's a lot of talk about it on the radio. Today, I'm driving Emmy to preschool and she asks me "Daddy, what's a Democrat?" (OMG - the opportunities to go nuclear on the editorial scale!)

I explained "Emmy, you know when we go to vote? Well, there are usually two teams trying to win. One is the Democrats and one is the Republicans. They are two teams playing against each other trying to win the most votes."

Emmy "Oh, who usually wins these games?"

Me: " In Maine, usually the Democrats win"

Emmy: "Which team do you like?"

Me: "Usually I like the Republican team."

Emmy: "That's because the Democrat team makes you pay too much money to the man, right?"

Awesome.....Is it possible Emmy has the only Republican preschool teacher in the whole state?