Strange Fruit

Part of the weekend was seeing Strange Fruit's "Swoon" show at MASS MoCA. Circus-like comedy and moves, no speech, set to music.

We were all mesmerised. My Flickr set is here. There's more info here (and some videos in their Repertoire section) Very very cool!

a pretty magical night

this morning started off with a bang with fynn getting orange juice poured in his hair, and then tripping and falling backwards into to cat's water dish, rendering his as-yet-unchanged soggy diaper even more soggy. a banner moment. so i choose to regress ..

michael got home wednesday night, a day earlier than he'd originally thought :) most lovely. that meant we could go to a free concert last night in Battery Park, where his favorite banjo player Bela Fleck was part of the Sparrow Quartet that was performing. we had to go at 5pm to stand in line for tickets, the doors opened at 6 (it was inside Castle Clinton)", and the show started at 7. a lot of waiting around with kids! we got our tickets and i hit the store for sandwiches while m trucked the boys to the playground. we headed into the venue just after 6, got a row of seats near the back (and in the shade!) to ourselves. near enough to the back to make a quick exit if needed. fynn was eating one of those candy necklaces, and happy as a clam. douglas was getting taught how to write cursive (at his request).

by the time the show started they were both tired, and the opening group was not very kid friendly at all, and they got more antsy as time went on. toys, paper helicopters, flirting with the neighbors, and playing "drop the toy" were reaching the limit of their effectiveness when my FIL called (he lives across the street) and came in and found us. at the break, he took the boys for a walk, one on a sugar high, and both tired as it was already past their bedtime.

then the bliss of listening without ansty whiny kids! the venue was amazingly sound-proof for an open-air place, meaning the sounds were pure and clean with NO ambient noise, despite the view of skyscrapers over the slate shingle roof, and the staten island ferry just a few hundred yards away. it felt like being in a fishbowl or on a movie set, not quite real. utterly clear sky, fading light, and a few pigeons swooping in the dusk.

the boys came back in time to hear the last 3 or 4 songs, and were tired and raptly attentive. fynn was on my lap, and immediately insisted that he SEE, so i propped him up enough to see the stage. he hardly let out a peep. except for the cackles of laughter near the end as he turned around again to play drop-the-pillow with an unsuspecting man behind us who felt compelled to play along.

the playing was amazing, not just bela's banjo, but Casey Driessen's fiddle especially was incredible on this song (Click on Working on a Building). delightful.

the lingering enjoyment made this morning's OJ/cat dish incident not quite the drama it might have tended to be otherwise :)

almost off and running ...

still have to pack, change cat litter, pack food, shower, feed kids, and a few other things in the next 2.5 hours. b arrived in great time, took care of fynn while D and I went to his last karate class, and will be taking stellar care of house and feline while we're gone. yay for housesitters!

one note from karate today ... D us usually paired with a little boy named Stone who's not the most aggressive kid in the bunch, and usually has even more trouble concentrating than D. His brain seems permanently on 'wander'. So they were fighting each other today, using the kicks and punches they've learned. They're supposed to assume fighting stance with hands up to protect their faces. D punched enthusiastically and rapidly, danced from one foot to the other while forgetting to kick, and Stone stood there looking dazed. The sensei repeatedly reminded Stone to "get your hands up!" which always resulted in him assuming the position of hands straight up in the air, rather than fisted and protecting his face. It was amusing and eerie at the same time. Fortunately D didn't see the humorous aspect of it and I hid my snicker. He's an incredibly gentle kid, and I don't know if he's in class in an attempt to find discipline and focus or not. It does seem to be helping D with that, and I'm going to sign him up for another session I think.

Off to pack, and will be unreachable for the next 8 days unless M's phone gets turned on, so happy spring break!!

playground disturbances

it was gorgeous today after school, and as i'd just finished a run before pickup and was feeling good, we went to the park after school. D's usual buddy wasn't there, so he hooked up with another classmate he doesn't often hang out with, and i sat in the sun with the other kid's mom and chatted. she's 2 days overdue w/number 2, and we caught up a bit.

at one point i went off to chase Fynn who was having a ball, and saw/heard a growing murmur of kids off to my right. I looked over and saw about a dozen middle school kids (10 or 11 years old perhaps?) circling two boys wrestling on the ground. i heard angry words and racial slurs, though the fighting wasn't violent but almost slow motion. i saw one other mom watching, and waited to see what would happen. i didn't like it, but didn't see anyone getting physically hurt and so hesitated to step in. after some kicking and louder murmuring, i threw a 'hey guys, take it easy!' their direction, but not really effectively at all. the boy being ganged up on (or so it seemed) stood up crying, and was further taunted. some circling/re-engaging/stalking later, and he ended up leaving. going purely on appearances, he was of a different race than the rest of the kids, but i wasn't convinced that was the issue. i felt loath to intervene, both from my desire to avoid confrontation of all kinds, but also because i felt like it was too delicate a balance to step into. if i stopped it and didn't let him 'fight for himself' he might be further labeled a wimp. i felt stymied and powerless. 3 other parents also witnessed it, and non felt the urge to step in either. i don't really have regrets, but am not happy with it entirely either. what would you do?

the other, and far more disturbing incident, was in the little kids area. some of the same-age crowd (11 or so) was hanging out at a picnic table, and one of the kids threw and broke a bottle. they were chided for it, and looked a bit guilty. a few minutes later one of the girls headed to the bathroom, and her friend suddenly ran after her, shouting "don't do it, Patricia, don't you dare!!!" and then more yelling from the bathroom. A minute later both emerged, one holding the other's arms, and then she tossed a chunk of the bottle glass onto the ground. Patricia was marched off to the bench, sat down, and hugged hard. More "don't you dare's" and passionate words, and the tossing of the glass over the park-office roof, and more comments and mutterings. Patricia raced away again, in an angry but lethargic way, and was hauled back and hugged yet again.

She wanted to cut herself. While i know this happens far more than I'm aware of, I'd never seen it that directly before. She didn't succeed, her friends were on her in a second. The love was strong between them, and the sorrow equal to it. A glimpse of something that made me far sadder than the fight and the kids' ability to hurt each other. The desire to hurt yourself. a pain unimaginable to me, at least for now.