Our son, Jack, got two geckos for Christmas. They're cute, one girl and one boy, and I find myself often wandering into his room to say hello or watch them eat (poor crickets).

Tonight, just before a buddy went home, Jack went in to feed Lizzie and Geico. Then the friend's dad came and we visited for a few minutes and they left and I moved back to the computer and Jack went into his room and suddenly let out a howl. My Oggie, one of the best cats who ever lived, was sitting in the tank. The top had been left off!

Amidst crying kids--Jack and his sister Kennedy--I frantically searched the cage. There aren't many hiding places. One hollow rock, a few fake leaves, and a half log. The male, Geico, was missing.

Quickly I cleared the floor of a week of laundry, many, many legos, and several shoes. No gecko. I looked under the RockBand drums, around the Nerf multi-shooter assault weapon. Nothing. Meanwhile, Jack sobbed on the couch.

Oggie ate him. Probably in one wild bite. There was no blood, nothing.

In the mean time, Dad had gone to pick up the pizza and had returned. He thought the cat should have thrown up or something. "Maybe it's in there," he suggests. "Did you check the shoes in the closet?"

So I go back in, with a flashlight, and check, like, 50 pairs of shoes. Nothing. I look FURTHER under Jack's bed, and behind the toy chest again. Big sigh.

I look at Lizzy, hiding in the leaves, and decide to look in the cage again. Nothing. Hmmmm. Without hope, I lift the edge of the green astro turf stuff that cover the floor of the cage and yell as I see a frightened Geico. He's so small he didn't even make a lump.

"Jack! JACK!" He runs in, and sees the little guy in my hand. More tears. More hugs.

Tragedy averted--thank you God.

I just got home from taking my 13-year-old daughter to have her hair done. It's the second time she's gotten highlights, as the school has just begun allowing haircoloring this year. She's too beautiful.

Anyway, $70 later, we arrive home to find the oldest on a computer, and the youngest (11), sprawled in a chair playing xbox. Then I see he's wearing this nerdy little headset and appears to be talking to himself.

Ah, this is the "live" thing he's been telling me about.

I sit down to watch a few minutes. Yes, it's a horrible game I hate, but since he's killing mutants instead of humans, it has somehow managed to make its way into the game library. "Mom, that's Jacob!" he says, swinging the view of his droid or whatever it is toward a red humanoid thing.

"Hi Jacob," I say. And then it hits me.

This is the playdate of the future.

No need to get in the car and drive to the park to meet up. Ride a bike ride over to a friends house? Forget it!

These are the... what do we call these years? The Tens? The Teens? Well, it's a new decade, and it's in the 21st century. Cell phones and ipods and $200 handheld personal games are the norm, even for 11-year-olds. My own little guy continually reminds me that all his buddies have their own phone, their own email, and I don't know... I think one even has a car a waiting for him.

So as I write this, I'm listening to one side of Jack's conversation. It's almost as disturbing as overhearing people in the grocery store having a loud and animated conversation with the little bluetooth thingy in their ears.

"So yeah, Lisa. I just got out of the hospital." (Silence.) "Yeah, yeah... two days! The infection had moved and my toe was like the size of an elephant! (Silence.) No really! The doctor said he's never seen so much... Hey have you tried that new digestive yogurt?"

Someone help me... please...

Well, Jack's conversation isn't quite as bad. I heard him announce that he had to pee and to wait for him (mad dash down hall, 5 second delay, mad dash back--clearly no handwashing involved). And there seems to be some conversation about who's on the bottom and whose on top... but I don't think it's anything naughty because those comments were followed by, "Watch out! There's a chopper coming down!"

The details are a digression, really. The point is, Jack is having a great time "playing with a friend" but there's no one here. There's nobody asking, "Do you guys have any cookies?" No doors being left wide open so that I can yell, "Hey! Shut the door!" No red-cheeked, cold faces asking for hot cocoa. No wet shoes piled by the door. No legos... nothing.

I couldn't live very well with out my mac and iphone and unlimited access to the internet, so I don't really have much room to talk. But I like my friends best face to face, hugging and laughing and right there IN FRONT OF ME. And for all their messes and hungries and rides that need to be taken care of, I like Jack's friends that way too, messing up the house, raiding the fridge and banging through the back door.

There is something gratifying--even more than the paycheck--about seeing one's name on a byline.
Thank you to Yakima Magazine for this opportunity!



I know I said I had turned over that new leaf. That I would begin to write in earnest. Frequently. At least a couple times a week. Then it got really busy at work, and i did write--a lot--but it wasn't writing writing, it was work writing. And so I didn't--write--again.

So perhaps it should be a new year's resolution. It's been one before. Alas...Loser.

It's so personal. So... honest. To really write, you have to not worry about hurting anyone else's feelings. That's an issue for me.

So maybe if I wrote for a purpose, instead of just to write? I've been following Gwen Bell a bit. She seams to write to inspire, though it is her job to help others in their business.

I could write for parents... moms. But I think there are probably already a million doing that. I need to find out what I have to say that might matter to someone else--to a lot of some one elses. Any suggestions?