Archive for December, 2011

I woke up Christmas morning and snuck into the guest room to grab the four-foot tall sock monkey I’d bought our son, Eddie. He’d seen it in our local drug store two weeks ago and squealed every time he looked over at it, but we decided not to buy it. Last night, when I ran out to buy cat food, I grabbed the monkey before I went to the register, even though it cost $30, and I had to mend a little hole in it when I got home.

I crept into Eddie’s room with the monkey behind my back and walked up to his crib. He was awake and standing at the bars. “Ta da!” I said, pulling the monkey out from behind my back. Eddie looked at me, and then at the monkey, and then back at me, and then like any other morning, he reached his arms up toward me as if to say, get me the heck out of here.

He preferred a bottle to a present

I changed his diaper and then carried him into our bedroom, dragging the sock monkey behind me. My husband, Bruce, was sitting on the bed. I sat down next to him and put Eddie on my lap and gave him a bottle. When he was done, I propped him up on the bed and handed him a gift, which was neatly wrapped in striped paper and burgundy ribbon. Eddie dropped the gift and picked up his empty bottle and began sucking on it. He then pulled it out of his mouth and started playing with the nipple of the bottle with his finger. I don’t remember if he kicked the gift box away with his feet or if it just felt that way.

I grabbed his gift, peeled off the ribbon, and tore at the paper, slowly, waiting for Eddie to take my lead. He just sat there fingering his bottle. I took his hand and closed it on the paper and started tearing it off the box. He grabbed a piece of the wrapping paper and sat back and stuck it in his mouth, as if his work was done. I continued to rip off the paper until I got to the box of Lego’s inside. I opened up the package and dumped the Lego’s on the bed. Eddie looked at them, smiled briefly, and then stuck the piece of wrapping paper back in his mouth. I handed him a red Lego piece. He stared at it for a moment like it was an ancient relic and then grabbed it and plunged it into his mouth.

He eats wrapping paper

“Those are nice Eggos,” Bruce said to him.

“Did you just say ‘Eggos?’ “ I asked.

“I did,” he said.

Bruce gave me one of my Christmas presents – a pair of earrings in a blue jewelry box. As I opened the earrings, first the large box in which Bruce had put it to conceal what it was, then a smaller cardboard box, and then the classic velvet jewelry box that snaps open and shut, Eddie was at my side watching, his little paw of a hand on my thigh. When I finally got to the earrings, he was pulling on my arm and on the box. I took the cardboard jewelry box, stuck the red Lego inside it, and closed the lid and began to shake it like a maracas. Eddie grabbed it and started shaking it and giggling.

Lego in a box

“’Baby’s first Christmas’ is really his third,” my brother, Richie, said later that day.

That afternoon, we went to Bruce’s sister’s house for a meal. When we arrived, Bruce’s two-year-old niece emerged wearing a beautiful beige and gold dress. She’s a pretty girl, and with her fine blonde hair, she looked like a Christmas princess – though she must have changed out of the dress at some point because when we sat down to eat, she was wearing a red dress and pink tights.

Pepe Le Pew

The first time Eddie saw her at Thanksgiving, he accosted her. I don’t know if it was her beauty or that he was thrilled to see someone his age. Either way, she couldn’t get away from him fast enough. This time, however, Eddie was glad to see her, but it was she who kept pulling him close so that their faces were touching, as if she was posing for a photo, and he who was pulling away like the female cat in the cartoon Pepe le Pew.

But while the girl may have wanted Eddie close to her person, she wanted him far away from her stuff. She had a fuzzy pink rocking horse that Eddie saw and wanted to ride. But when the girl saw his interest, she dragged the horse away. When Eddie saw she had a little plastic tricycle, he tried to ride it, but upon seeing this, she abandoned the horse and jumped on to the tricycle and rode it away. With no toys left with which to play, Eddie crawled into the hallway and grabbed on to the knob of a wooden cabinet and lifted himself up. He began opening and closing the cabinet door. The girl saw this, walked over to the cabinet door and grabbed the knob. She then removed a little plaque that hung from the knob by a string and walked away, almost like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch who Stole Christmas, who not only stole the Christmas presents and stockings from the homes of the Who’s, but he stole all pictures from the walls as well as the nails on which they hung.

He liked the horse

Eddie’s too young to be selfish because he doesn’t yet value possessions. I’m not even sure he knows what it means to possess. He’s more concerned about his bottle and his snacks, though given the chance, he won’t just take one orange slice if he can easily hold two.

Horsie be gone

As we drove home, I read to Bruce an article written by a woman I’d met when I lived in Budapest back in 1993. Even though I rarely saw her these days, I felt an attachment to her because she was the first person I met there. She was the managing editor at the newspaper that had hired me, and she had picked me up at the airport and let me stay with her for a few days until I found my own place. For those first three or four days there, I remained cloistered in her apartment, nursing a jet lag and clinging to her and her husband like a life preserver because I was afraid to go outside. The only time I left the apartment was to go down to the courtyard of their Socialist-architecture apartment complex to use the pay phone to call Bruce, dropping in pockets full of forint coins for a phone call that would last only a minute or two. When I last saw Susan a few years ago, we were both back in the States, and she was a court reporter for a newspaper in Florida, though I’d seen on Facebook recently that she’d resigned and had posted photos from a trip she’d taken to see the Northern Lights in the Yukon territory of Canada. When I wrote her to ask what was going on, she said she’d written an article about it that explained everything. As I read the article to Bruce, Susan told of how she’d been diagnosed during the summer with Lou Gehrig’s disease and that it had always been a wish of hers to see the Northern Lights. She and a childhood friend made the trip to Canada to see the lights, but her friend had to dress her every day in layers and layers of clothing because the disease had already progressed to the point where she could no longer use her hands. She wrote how every day for three days, they would go outside waiting to see the Northern Lights. By the third day, she says she stopped checking the auroral forecast because she knew she couldn’t change anything. “What’s meant to be, is meant to be,” and “I don’t know what’s meant to be,” she thought — the same concept she said she ’s conveyed to her children when they ask her if she’s going to die.

Bruce found the article inspiring. Life affirming. It made him want to go out and do things. I felt that way, too, but more, it made me profoundly sad. I couldn’t stop thinking about Susan.

The following morning as I was changing Eddie’s diaper, I tickled his belly, and he began to laugh. I looked into his eyes and thought what if I knew I’d only see those smiling eyes for another year or two. I couldn’t imagine the courage it must take to face your imminent death, to know you’ll never see your children again, that they’ll grow up without you, and that they’ll feel an enormous amount of pain when you leave. To know you won’t get to live anymore, to have pancakes and thick syrup or warm chocolate chip cookies, or smell a fire burning on a cold night or feel hopeful at seeing a sunrise. I’m not brave. I’d be grabbing at the dirt like a child might grab onto a banister as he’s being dragged up to bed.


My father had to face the end of his life at 62 when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and told he had six months to live. He didn’t wax poetic about it like Christopher Hitchens or try to see all that was magnificent in the world, like Susan. He got depressed and bought a bunch of books about letting go, because he found it almost impossible to do.

I heard on the radio today that Steve Jobs’ last words were, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.” Perhaps when we finally let go, we find bliss.

One can only hope.

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There’s a Nativity scene in the park near our house, courtesy of our local Fire Department, and for the second time in three years, someone has climbed into the manger and stolen the baby Jesus. It’s either a sign that as a culture, we’re now spiritually bereft, or that outside of video games, there’s really nothing for the kids in our town to do. The Fire Department has since replaced the little doll, but while the rest of the figurines in the manager are glazed ceramic, the new baby Jesus looks like he’s made of plastic. He also appears to be attached to the manger, assuring that if this one is taken, the thieves will be dragging with them a large piece of the creche.

While people visit the park throughout the Christmas season to see the Nativity scene, it’s over-run on Christmas Eve when Santa arrives, via a motorcade of firetrucks, and hands out bags of candy and fruit. But in a cruel twist, the children who sit on Santa’s lap that night tell him what they want for Christmas, and it being Christmas Eve, it’s too late for their parents to go out and buy that gift.

Santa's arrival

We took our son, Eddie, to see Santa. He’d already met one Santa at a local bar a few weeks ago. We’d gone to see the lighting of the Christmas tree in the neighboring town, and we went to a bar afterwards. As we sat at the bar feeding Eddie, in walked a Santa who was slightly inebriated.

Mrs. Claus

“C’mon. Bring him over. Get out your camera,” he said, unsolicited. He then posed for a few snapshots with Eddie and went to the other end of the bar to have a drink.

The Santa we saw last night in the park was sober, and he worked for our local buildings department. As we waited on line, Mrs. Claus handed Eddie a plastic candy cane filled with M&Ms, which he shook a few times like a rattle before inadvertently flinging it at the ground, cracking the plastic. I asked Mrs. Claus for another one, though knowing it was our fault, I felt a little funny for the same reason I feel uncomfortable returning a meal in a restaurant when the only problem with it is that I chose unwisely.

Santa's lap

When we got to Santa, Eddie sat on his lap quite happily, but my camera has a delay of about three seconds, so while Eddie smiled and seemed at ease with Santa, every photo I have is of a smiling Santa and the side or back of Eddie’s head.

We returned home to wrap a few presents and then walked over to the home of our neighbor, Jim, who has a big Italian family that commemorates Christmas Eve with a Feast of the Seven Fishes. I’ve wanted to join them for dinner every year, but Bruce’s brother usually has a Christmas Eve party, which we feel obligated to attend, but this year, they went away for the holiday so we were free to go to Jim’s house. Unfortunately, Jim didn’t invite us this year. So I invited myself. I was surprised when he said he would have to ask his wife.

“Lois used to do buffet, but now she wants to have a sit-down dinner. I have to see if there’ll be room at the table,” Jim said.

That was three weeks ago. I never heard back from him until Bruce bumped into him in front of our house on Christmas Eve.

“I just saw Jim outside, and he invited us over for the Feast of the Seven Fishes,” Bruce said. “He said to come over at 9 p.m.”

“Yea!” I said. “9 p.m.? That’s late, huh?”

“It’s leftovers,” Bruce said.

“Hey, leftovers is fine,” I said.

We arrived at about 9:10 p.m.  and were invited into Jim’s living room. There was a coffee table with some cheese and a shrimp ring. On another table were empanadas and a bowl of dip that was scraped clean by people who had clearly been there before us.

A set of glass French doors separated the living room from the dining room, and through them I could see Jim’s sons and daughters standing around talking. The doors were open only slightly, and the family members remained back there, setting up a line of demarcation beyond which those outside the immediate family were prohibited. I was surprised his family members didn’t even come into the front room to say hello. During the summer, I would often see Jim and his children sitting out on his wrap-around front porch, and they were always very friendly. I chalked it up to the holiday and assumed for them, it was purely a family affair.

We continued to sit on one of the couches picking at the shrimp ring as a few more guests arrived: a couple who worked for the Department of Defense and lived in Brussels and had lots of friends who worked for the European Union, a neighbor, Deb, who attends Jim’s church, and a friend of Deb’s. The guests remained in the living room while Jim’s family members remained cloistered beyond the glass doors, laughing, chatting, and probably full from having eaten all of that fish. I was starting to feel like a second-class citizen. When Bruce first said we would be getting leftovers, I had no problem with it, but now I felt like a scavenger, having to wait in the drawing room for a couple of scraps. I wanted to go home.

Just then, one of Jim’s daughters popped her head out of the door and said, “Okay, everyone can sit down. Dinner is ready.”

As we walked into the dining room, I looked over at Bruce.

“I guess it’s not leftovers,” I said.

“I was wrong,” he said.

We sat in between Jim’s son, Ted, and his daughter, Rose, as his oldest son, who owns a bar in New York City, brought in platter after platter, one filled with a bouillabaisse of lobster, clams, mussels and octopus, another with stuffed clams, platters of sardines cooked two different ways, a bowl of mussels and clams in a sauce of kale and white beans, bacalao cakes, and a soup urn full of scungilli that people poured over stale bread called “tacks.” There were so many platters of food, we had to move a few to a side table to make room for the new dishes that came out. We gave Eddie a bottle of formula while we sat at the table, and he fell asleep in my arms as we ate, drank and talked about the disintegration of the European Union.

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I edit a financial newsletter every morning, whether I’m on vacation in California, reporting a story in Toronto, or as this morning, taking a small holiday in Boston. Since the hotel charges for internet service, which I need for my job, I woke up this morning at 6 a.m. and walked over to a nearby Starbuck’s because internet service there is free.

I’d done the same thing yesterday morning and was able to get the nice table in the corner. It was a nook surrounded by windows, set back so it was protected from the drafty front door, and it had a little space to accommodate a stroller for when my husband, Bruce, would meet me here later with our baby, Eddie.

Coveted table in the window

But this morning, that seat was taken so I put my knapsack and laptop on a seat two tables over. I might have sat at the table adjacent to the window seat, but it had no chairs because the man who had taken the window seat had moved them. The tables in the café are usually lined up along the wall like soldiers as they are in most restaurants, but the man sitting in the window seat had pulled the chairs out, pushed the table flush against the wall, and lined up the chairs next to his own table, creating a barrier between him and the rest of the café. As soon as I saw this, I thought, “Ahhh, this guy.” I remembered him from the last time I was in this Starbuck’s two years ago. He’s a wing nut, and a mean one at that.

A fortress made from tables and chairs

I got up from my seat and was tempted to pull the table away from the wall and put the chairs back in their proper places but thought better of it. I’m a bit of a fixer like that. I pick up litter, stand up construction cones that have been knocked over by cars, I even wipe the countertop at Starbuck’s if someone’s spilled coffee. At my copy-editing job, I consider myself the fixer or keeper of the newspapers because I make sure to look up every publication we cite to determine whether the word, “The” is part of the publication’s title and should be capitalized, as in “The Boston Globe,” or whether it’s simply being used as a definite article, as in “the Boston Herald.” I think it was my attempt to fix an errant chair situation the last time I was in this Starbuck’s that got me into an altercation with this guy.

I went to the counter to get my coffee, and as I walked back to my seat, I got a better look at the guy. He was a black man dressed in a black turtle neck and black pants, and he had a tuft of hair that stuck up on top of his head like freshly pulled soft ice cream. The only thing that separated his outfit from a uniform was a little zipper he had on his turtleneck. I think he had on the same outfit last time I saw him. As I sat down, I looked over at the barrier he had created with the table and chair and thought, “Wing nut.”

I started copy editing a story when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman walk in the door and give the man a big hello and sit down with him. They talked about an office party and money. I couldn’t really hear the details, but I was disappointed to see he had friends and a job, like a normal person. That means the person with whom I’d had an altercation and dismissed as a wing nut might actually be normal, and that if there was a nut in the altercation, it may actually have been me.

I tried to remember what we argued about. I think he’d lined up two chairs next to him as a blockade and had placed a newspaper on the chair farthest away from him, and when I attempted to move the newspaper, he snapped, “Don’t move that!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was yours,” I said. “It’s so far away from you.”

“Well, it’s mine,” he said. “Don’t touch it.”

A wiser man might have assessed the situation and given him a wide berth.

“Are you saving this seat for someone, or you need a seat for your newspaper?” I asked.

I don’t remember exactly what was said next, but it ended with him saying something like, “Who do you think you are coming in here and…” And me saying, “You don’t own this café.”

I think the man had a friend join him that day, too. Perhaps the same woman. But that day, he wasn’t talking to her about a holiday party. He was talking to her about me. There were a lot of “Sh,” and “S” sounds, and the two of them kept looking over at me and snickering.

I remember after the argument, I walked up to the counter to get my coffee and looked at the young girl working there and rolled my eyes as if to say, “Get a load of this guy,” and she just looked at me flatly and said, “Can I help you?”

There’s a scene in the movie “Annie Hall” that sums up a part of my personality. Woody Allen has gone out to California to try to bring Annie Hall back to New York, and as he’s driving, he’s stopped by a police officer who asks him for his license. Woody Allen takes it out of his wallet, and as he tells the officer he has a problem with authority, he’s ripping his license into tiny little pieces that flutter to the ground at the officer’s feet. I, too, have a healthy fear of authority or people telling me what to do and an unhealthy desire to provoke them.

When I went to bed that night, I set my alarm a couple of minutes earlier with the hope of getting to the café before wing nut so I could get the seat by the window. The following morning, I arrived at the café, and the man was already sitting in the window seat, with a different woman. The table next to him was once again pushed up against the wall, only this time, he didn’t have one empty chair next to him. He had two. As I came in, I took the table next to his barricade, but he had pushed the empty table next to him so far away from his own table that all the remaining tables in the cafe were now crowded close together. As I sat down, I pushed the empty table that the man had pushed against the wall a few inches over, to give myself a little breathing room.

“The furniture needs to stay where it is. I’m serious,” he said looking straight ahead. He wouldn’t even look at me.

I contemplated responding, but I thought I’ve got work to do, and a heated argument would be a distraction. I let it go. But as I reached down to plug in my computer, I nudged the table a bit closer to him in order to reach the outlet. I waited for a response, but he said nothing. He was now engrossed in conversation.

I got my coffee and sat down to begin work, but because he had pushed the empty table so far away from himself, it was now nearly touching my table, making me feel hemmed in. When the man on the other side of me got up to leave a few minutes later, I took his seat.

As I did my work, I could see the man talking to his friend out of the corner of my eye. The line at the counter began to grow as more and more people on their way to work stopped in to get a coffee. A young, dark haired man walked in and got onto the line.

“Hi, Gino,” the man in the window seat called out. “You keep that up, and you’re not going to be able to wear pointy shoes.”

Gino smiled.

After a couple of minutes, the man got up to go to the bathroom, and on the way back to his seat, he stopped by the counter to talk to a young woman working behind it. He chatted with this one. He called out to that one. He was holding court.

He went back to his seat, and a few minutes later, his companion left. Soon, a man with a sparse beard walked in, sat in one of the seats the man was using as a barricade and pulled the chair up to the empty table that had been pushed against the wall. Not only had he disturbed the barricade, but he was actually inside of it. I looked over at the man in the window seat to see what he would say, but he said nothing. The man with the beard sat there, his back to the man in the window, and ate an egg sandwich. I was annoyed the man in the window thought he could push me around, and yet he was afraid to say something to the man with the beard. But I felt a mild satisfaction knowing the man in the window must have felt very uncomfortable.

Soon, the man with the beard left, and a few minutes later, the man in the window left. As I sat there, I saw that the man’s barricade, or what was left of it, was keeping people from sitting next to me. I leaned back, spread my elbows a bit and enjoyed the space.

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December 19, 2011 Copley

A very Copley Christmas

We go to Boston each year for three days just before Christmas because my husband and I went to school up there and love the town, and this time of year, the nice hotels have cheap rooms. We usually stay near Copley Square, a beautiful square surrounded by two large gothic cathedrals and the Boston Public Library. This year as we went from restaurant to restaurant eating oysters and clam chowder and drinking martinis, I was plagued by the fear that our hotel room had bed bugs.

I’d woken up with a few bites on my hip and stomach. They say bed bugs usually leave three bites, which they call breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had five. I figured there were two, and the second bug must have had a compelling reason to leave early before he could eat his dinner.

Looking for clues

“I think the room has bed bugs,” I told Bruce as I held up my pajama top to show him my bites.

“No, it doesn’t,” Bruce said, without looking up.

“How do you know?” I said. “I’ve been bitten.”

“You don’t have bed bugs,” he said. “It’s a nice hotel.”

A friend recently told me that a telltale sign of whether a hotel has bed bugs is if you find tiny streaks of blood on the sheets. I imagined the blood came out of the bed bug when someone inadvertently lay down on it. What I couldn’t understand is why a hotel bed would have blood-stained sheets from the previous guest.

Food bits or bed bugs?

“I don’t know,” my friend said. And then as if to resurrect her authority on the subject, she said, “They live in the mattress.”

I peeled back the layers of sheets, looking first at the mattress underneath and then at the fitted sheet and the flat sheet to see if I could spot a streak of blood. I saw nothing on the sheets but spotted a few brown spots on one of the pillow cases, but I remembered that Bruce had propped up our baby, Eddie, against that pillow when he fed him last night. The brown bits were remnants of Eddie’s dinner.

I walked into the bathroom to inspect the bites on my belly and back and tried to chalk them up to the overzealous scratching I do each winter when the skin around my waist gets excessively dry, causing me to claw at it. But the markings seemed too organized for that.

We left the hotel to do some Christmas shopping and get breakfast. We then did some more shopping and met up for lunch, separated again and reconvened for dinner, like two skiers moving down a hill who keep separating when they see a cluster of trees in their path but reconnect again after clearing them. We do the same thing every year except this year, we had Eddie, and we were tossing him back and forth between us like a hot potato. Whoever had him was unable to shop. He didn’t like sitting in his carriage all day, understandably, and so you usually wound up sitting down on a bench or the floor and holding him up as he tried to walk. He likes walking while holding on to the back of his stroller like a walker. Yesterday, Bruce followed Eddie as he pushed the stroller for four laps around Macy’s men’s department while I looked at cashmere sweaters for my sister.

When we got back to the hotel, I read a sign posted in the hallway near our room regarding construction that was going on down the hall. They had erected a wall of wood and sheetrock to block off a section of the hotel for renovations and upgrades. I initially thought it was an elaborate ruse to cover up the fact that they were exterminating our wing of the hotel for bed bugs. I was relieved to see a pile of sheetrock strips on the floor of the hallway when we returned that night, an indication that real construction work was being done – until I thought the strips might be to plug up holes in the walls and underneath baseboard moldings to keep out the bed bugs like one would try to keep out mice.

Construction or extermination?

“I don’t have a single bite,” Bruce said, looking at me like he does when I say I feel a lump on the side of my face near my ear or that I felt a pang in my underarm that I fear is a tumor.

That night, Bruce and I switched places in bed to see if he would get bitten. The following morning, I had two more bites, this time on my upper belly. He had none.

When we returned to New Jersey, I emptied our suitcase and dumped all of the clothes onto the floor of the laundry room. I put the sweaters in the dryer on two cycles, because I heard heat kills bed bugs, and I threw the rest of the clothes in the washer. I didn’t want to wash the sweaters before throwing them in the dryer for fear of shrinking them. I’d hate to ruin all of our best traveling sweaters in a momentary bout of hysteria.

Socializing at the Apple store

After washing, drying and folding five loads of laundry – I threw in all of the baby’s toys, blankets and crib sheets as well – I started to wonder whether it was possible my winter eczema actually could have caused little bumps to develop on my stomach and back. I thought about an incident that happened when I was in sixth grade. I was scared to be in the house alone and so I called up my parents, who were at my grandparents’ house, to say I heard noises that sounded like someone was in the house. I had been doing my social studies homework, which entailed cutting out newspaper articles and pasting them onto pieces of colored cardboard. The kitchen was littered with pieces of crumpled up newspaper like the floor of a bird cage. As it turned out, the noise I’d heard in the house was the sound of my own feet as I walked back and forth on the scraps of newspaper. I knew I wasn’t imagining the little dots on my belly and back, but there were a lot of things it could have been aside from bed bugs.

When I came up from the laundry room, I looked over at Eddie in his playpen. He’d been sleeping there for a few hours now, which was unusual. As I stood over him, he began to stir and woke up. I lifted him out of the playpen and the first thing I noticed was the strong smell of poop. The next thing I saw was a little mark on his cheek about the size of a bug bite.

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The Freehold Raceway Mall has a large carousel and a children’s play area, with cushioned floors, slides and tunnels, and a little ceramic horse. A young boy was riding the horse when he suddenly kicked out his foot and shoved my 10-month-old son, Eddie, in the stomach, sending him flying onto the ground.

A man, a woman and a horse

I missed the whole thing because I was dizzy with hunger and was wolfing down a sandwich just outside the children’s play area while my friend, Doris, played with Eddie inside. Doris said Eddie was just standing there when the boy thrust out his leg and shoved Eddie in the belly.

“He didn’t even cry,” Doris said.

“Was he trying to get up on the horse, and this kid was trying to get him to back off?” I asked.

“No. He was just standing there watching this kid,” Doris said. “That’s the thing about Eddie. He’s just in awe of everything. He’s not trying to go up against somebody.”

Doris said she scooped Eddie up in her arms and hugged him and told the young boy, “You should apologize. Are you sorry?” The boy said he wasn’t.

Doris said she saw an older gentleman sitting on a bench on the perimeter of the children’s play area and asked him if he was the young boy’s guardian. The man said he was the child’s grandfather. Doris told him that his grandson had kicked Eddie in the stomach.

“He had this ‘Atta boy’ sound in his voice. He wasn’t sorry, either,” Doris said. “Then he said, ‘Oh, he only does that because he’s always getting beat up by his sister.’ “




A little while later, Eddie was standing at the top of the slide, and the boy came up behind him and started making a kind of grunting sound. Hearing it, Eddie suddenly burst into tears. He recognized the kid’s voice, Doris said.

“I just felt like he knew, ‘I don’t want to be near this kid. He didn’t treat me right,’ “ she said.

That night, Eddie fell asleep early, but he woke up crying twice during the night, as if he was having a nightmare.

They say children’s playgrounds are the most germ-infested places around. Almost half of the surfaces are contaminated by bodily fluids like feces, urine, blood and saliva, according to a recent study. I say germs are the least of my son’s worries.

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