Who’ya gonna call?

Logo used by the "Ghostbusters" in t...
Logo used by the “Ghostbusters” in the film (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When there’s something strange, in the neighborhood,” sang out Kiddo at the dinner table. “Who’ya gonna call?”

“Ghostbusters!” his brother shouted.

I looked at my youngest child. “How does he know that song?” I wondered aloud.

“We were playing Ghostbusters at Nana’s.” Kiddo replied before launching back into the song’s refrain. “You know Nana’s house has ghosts,” he added once the song ended.

“Is that so?’

“Yep. We heard strange sounds in the attic last time we played up there.”

Kiddo has been hearing strange sounds everywhere recently, a victim of his overactive combined with perhaps not my finest parenting choice. Over the weekend Lamont and I took Kiddo (and only Kiddo) to see the updated release, so controversially featuring female leads (oh, the horror!) I say perhaps because apparently the casting choice wasn’t supposed to be the most worrisome part of the movie – there were ghosts in it too.

When I originally heard they were remaking Ghostbusters, I thought it was simply more evidence that Hollywood in general, had run out of either a) original ideas or b) courage to risk producing them. When I read that the casting choice, I rolled my eyes. It was nothing personal against the actresses themselves, I find them multi-talented as well as funny. It just felt gimmicky in this case, as if Ghostbusters name wouldn’t be a draw enough. I had no intention of rushing out to buy tickets to see it in the theater. Waiting for the DVD would do.

Then, LT was invited to go and play elsewhere leaving Kiddo alone with Lamont and myself on a dangerously hot and sticky afternoon. Let me pause to say that I have a newly reinforced respect for parents of only children. Therefore as the day progressed and Kiddo mentioned that he was actually interested in seeing a movie that didn’t feature talking animals or thirty-year-olds pretending to be teenagers fighting costumed monsters, I found myself suddenly a lot more open-minded.

This is not a movie review site, but for what it is worth, I enjoyed the show. While it could be considered a remake of sorts of the first Ghostbusters due to similarities in the high-level plot, there were plenty of differences (even excluding gender reversals) for the movie to stand on its own. I will warn you that the opening scenes are fairly intense, especially for younger viewers. If you have some of the smaller set in tow, you may wish to linger by the concession stand a while longer. That is unless you really don’t care about enforcing bedtimes or enjoy engaging in conversations about alternate realms of existence.

Back to dinner.

“Now remember Kiddo, the movie was one hundred percent fiction. We talked about this.” And we had. At length. Both before the movie started and after the closing credits. We talked about it again that first night when Kiddo begged me to stand in the doorway after lights out. And then again when he thought he heard a knocking sound (which was just the TV downstairs), and again when he wondered what the dog was barking at (Lamont hadn’t given Her Royal Highness her evening treat fast enough). I’d known before I bought the tickets that the evening would be rougher than most, but, just like the movie, Kiddo’s performance well exceeded my expectations.

“I know mom.”

“And none of the ghosts were real. Someone made them up with a computer.” I’ve been teaching my son how to layer photos and stitch videos together. Could I turn this into a teaching moment?

“I knnnnoooowww.” (cue eye roll)

“Okay. Just making sure.” That’s a no.

“I got it, mom.”

Yeah, I thought, until bedtime. Even though we had the discussion about what is real and what is not and what goes on behind the scenes, the movie had achieved what all movie makers hope to achieve – the magic of suspended belief. As far as Kiddo is concerned the actresses who played the characters in this version are Ghostbusters and not just some feminine stand-ins for a thirty-two-year-old classic.

And this makes me happy (okay a little old too, but mostly happy).

Did you know that the movie makers actually tried to make the story true to science? Well, as much as any paranormal horror/comedy can be. And when they used words in the script like quantum and superfields, they weren’t just making up them to sound smart like the term, unobtainium, found in some other scripts, or using the terms in the wrong context. The filmmakers actually bothered to pick up the phone and called MIT physicists. Female MIT physicists.

Yep. It’s good to know that my boys are growing up in a time when women in science aren’t the ghosts they once were. Maybe, in thirty years time (or less) when Hollywood decides it is time to remake the movie, again, a casting choice like this won’t seem nearly as gimmicky, and a whole less controversial.

Because in the words of LT, “I no ‘fraid of no ghosts.”


One flu over the cuckoo’s nest

What I originally thought was just a minor sniffle turned out to be a case of the full-blown flu.

Mess up the hair more, swap out the stylish clothes, add more blankets and used tissues and this is so me when I am sick image courtesy of Unsplash)
Mess up the hair so that it looks like an animal’s nest and make it brown, replace the stylish clothes with mismatched sweats, add more blankets and used tissues scattered among kid toys and do away with this whole suffering in silence thing she has going on and this image really captures how I look when I am sick. (Image courtesy of Unsplash)

I do not handle being sick well. While I am mostly better now, I’d spent the last few days either in bed or under a blanket on the couch. The effort of getting marginally presentable each day was exhausting. I wanted my mommy to magically appear and make it all better, but my mommy is busy taking care of her mommy right now. I coughed, and sneezed, and resigned myself to be miserable.

One of those days, as I lay there envying the liveliness of extras on the Walking Dead, my door opened and in walked my eldest son. In his hand was a yellow flower, the first of our daffodils of the season. “Here mom, this is to make you feel better.” It was lovely, except my sinuses, thoroughly blocked, would not allow me to breathe in its scent, and its bright color caused my eyes to water.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it, baby.” Although it probably sounded more like I wuv get, baby. Achoo! Snort. Snort. Ack! I hate being sick!

“Dad asked me to help him more in the garage, but I’ll be back to check on you.”

“Dad did?” Bless him. “Okay honey, have fun.” I pulled the blanket back over my shoulders as Kiddo returned to play in a great outside world I couldn’t currently enjoy, thankful that my hubby was on point. I assumed LT was out there somewhere too, but I couldn’t dreg up the energy to be sure.

It could be worse. I could still be traveling for work or I could be doing this all alone.

A few days earlier, I had been trapped on a plane, forced to make small talk for hours when it should have been a mere forty minute flight. One the poor unfortunate souls stuck in that tin can with me had asked innocently enough, “so who’s watching your kids while you are gone?”

“Their dad.”

“Oh,” the older man responded as his face became the picture of sympathy, “and are you okay with that?”

“Of course.” Um….Why shouldn’t I be?

The comment still bothered me, days later buried under blankets on the couch, even though I could barely remember what it was like to breathe.

Tuesday was International Women’s Day and the internet was full of images and writings of strong woman. It was a day to celebrate how very far we’ve come in terms of empowerment, but I believe there are still a few gaps in the modern-day feminist narrative, keeping true gender equality just out of reach. One is our perception of what makes a good father.

What does fatherhood have to do with feminism? I am able to pursue my dreams, my own sense of self, and be all I can be because I know someone else has my back at home.

When I travel as part of my day job, I don’t typically worry that I’ll return to find my backyard now serves as an arena for an underground cock-fighting ring, or that I’ll trip over a stack of random Polaroids detailing a night that will never be remembered or evidence of a hundred other bad decisions. Nor do I worry that homework will be excused, bedtimes avoided, or that ice cream and candy will be served exclusively for breakfast. I don’t worry because my other half is a parent and not a babysitter.

And yet, this simple fact may read like praise, as if my husband keeping the household from descending into chaos while I am otherwise indisposed is somehow above and beyond what all fathers and husbands should do for their families. I understand that not every father is as engaged with their children or as willing to pick up mom’s slack (especially after several days of solo-parenting before mom started to complain about feeling like death warmed over), but I’d like to think that the default assumption about the role should be slightly higher than the slacker / man-boy / comic-relief dad so favored on sitcoms.

When someone tells me my husband is a good father, I want them to say that because they saw the half-dozen kids use him like a swing-set during a school field trip, or because they overheard one of the hundreds of super-secret one-on-one talks he and one of the boys share about an individual child’s worries. I want them to say it because he is a great father and not because he simply shows up when there isn’t any other option.

Continuing to accept that men are somehow less capable of caring for a family is much the same as continuing to accept that women are any less capable of running a business or more and can be just as damaging to the next generation.

And so, during this Women’s History Month, I will rejoice in the accomplishments of brave women who fought for my right to vote, celebrate those who broke through the glass ceiling, invented Kevlar, fire escapes, and computer compilers. I will drink to those ancient women who created beer and to those more modern women who redefined math and physics.

But at the same time, while I am proud to be a STEM woman by day and a writer mom by night, I am so very grateful to be partnered with a man who isn’t afraid to make breakfast, who isn’t too manly to fold laundry, and whose very machoness isn’t threatened by agreeing to play with colored blocks. I may hold his parenting skills to a higher standard than the sitcoms, but then again, I don’t find the alternative very funny.