This is How Menageries Start: A Tale of Two Goldfish

Here’s the setting: It’s Friday night, and we’re at a big Oktoberfest celebration on the grounds of the Carlisle Army Barracks in Carlisle, Pa. This is a tradition for us (there are lots of carnival rides and games and food trucks and beer here, so of course it’s a tradition. Prost! ) Here’s the scene: My girls run into some good friends of theirs, and there’s a big happy celebration. They ask to play the game with a goldfish as a prize. Now, David is off with Cian, chaperoning as he rides a kiddie ride, thereby leaving me unchaperoned around tiny little homeless animals (fish count as animals, right?). The girls only have to ask once before I’m forking over the five bucks for the family-sized bucket of ping-pong balls, and by the time David returns with Cian to discover his calm little world upended, Quinlan and her friend have both won a fish. The friend asks her dad if they can keep the fish, and because he’s a responsible adult, he says no. That leaves us, the irresponsible ones, with one adopted fish and one foster…

They All Said, Don’t Blink: A Farm Market Causes an Existential Parenting Crisis

Our girls don’t have soccer games scheduled for the upcoming weekend, so most of their practices this week were cancelled (wait, do you hear the choir of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus, too??). We’ve been running nonstop this fall with soccer and school and family activities (I’m preaching to that choir, surely), and I was SO EXCITED to have a week with my kids home in the afternoon. HAHAHAHAHA. Nine years of parenting and I’m still delusionally hopeful. The reality is they’ve been fighting (with each other) and bickering (with me) and hollering (name your person) nonstop in almost every single supposed-to-be-peaceful moment we’ve had. Because real life is so not like the pretty, pretty pictures in my head. Monday afternoon, Cian and I picked the girls up from school, and I surprised them with a little trip to a local farm market. We haven’t been able to make a lot of the fall-festival rounds, which is one of my most favorite times of the year, so this was our first excursion. You know the drill: crunchy leaves. Fresh apples. Corn pits…

Well, I Know What’s Right: Las Vegas and Ethics and Being a You Liberal

My little guy is sitting beside me, drawing, and his tongue is sticking out of his mouth in concentration. “Mom?” He looks up from his coloring sheet, one covered with superheroes and villains. “Why is Ironman called that when he doesn’t do any ironing?” I answer him, trying not to laugh, and notice that his eyes look green today. They reflect the dinosaurs marching across his pajamas. He was wearing them when we dropped the girls off at school, a little homebody who’s relieved to spend most of the day with me, away from the rest of the world. Superheroes have powers, but what about us? What are ours? I try to keep telling myself that the best way to start changing the world–because yes, we need to, and no, we’re not overthinking it–is to begin with my own family. Show each person in this house unconditional love. Grant a little mercy and grace more often. Make each kid and adult feel like he’s someone good, someone worthy, someone capable. And then somebody smears toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror and I lose my…