someone’s in the nursery with Bina

Mondays were tennis days for my mother.  When it turned cooler, she took to the indoor courts at Glen Cove, Long Island.  This was back when I was too young to be left home alone, when I would only eat the heart of things, when homework assignments didn’t stretch beyond handing in a single page in a single subject.  Mondays meant Bina.

Bina was the official nanny of the tennis center, keeping rule and lock over the toy chest, the pretzels, and the apple juice.  There were two playpens, a small circular table with small wooden chairs, a petite bookcase filled with Berenstain Bears books, and chests of plastic toys.  A wooden dog with colorful plastic features, skipped along on a rope.  I remember wondering at what age did children find this kind of toy amusing? 

Each week I was in search of a fresh page amongst the tattered coloring books.   I wanted to eat the gold crayon.  Even now, I know that smell, the insides of curled crayon wrappers, smooth and delicate, like eyelashes. I remember thinking there was something sexually blunt and ugly about the naked crayons, the ones who’d been slipped from their skins, poked into the built-in sharpening hole.  Without their identifying names, they laid there bare, discarded and useless.  I didn’t want to touch them. I hoarded the silver, copper, and gold, rolling one beneath my forearm, tucking it away so no one else could use it.

This room of Bina’s was located in the basement, near a vending machine.  I remember looking up at the rows of packaged products, each tucked behind a metal lip.  If I dreamt back then, I’m sure it was sometimes of this vending machine and sometimes of orange soda.   

Most of the other kids there were Monday regulars, although sometimes we’d get a new kid, and my sister and I would pretend we were British.
“Oh, the chauffer Jeeves is outside with the limousine.”
“Which limousine, dearest?”
“The one with the pink satin seatbelts.”  We were in a Pink Ladies Grease phase. 
“Well, let’s just finish watching the Brady Bunch, then we’ll adjourn.”   
Our mother used that word, or someone did, and we learned to say it with a British accent, as if we were saying, “AddYawn” very quickly.

Bina smelled like grandmother-apartment. Mothballs, matzo balls, and packages of nylon stockings.  Hat boxes—if they had a smell, they smelled like Bina’s nursery.  She always wanted to braid my hair.  That meant sitting on her lap, which I was too big to do, and I hated how she’d want to brush my hair first.  Even then I knew you didn’t brush curly hair, ever.  One was to separate sections with fingers only.  Instead, I offered to broom up the carpet with her rolling broom, which was the most amusing toy in the place.  Pretzel crumbs, pencils and crayon shavings, became mine beneath the power of the rolling broom.  Lea and I used to bicker over who got to use it.   Bina called it “The Magic Wand.”  She was a clever woman, considering all that wirey hair she pinned to the top of her head, in a pile that resembled the insides of torn cigarettes.

If by chance, I had too much apple juice, I’d hold it in, squirming and antsy, determined to continue work on my coloring project. Bina would say things like, “You have ants in your pants today, don’t you?”
I wouldn’t be accused of being uncleanly.  “I most certainly do not.”
Bina tried to hold my hand, off to the little ladies room.  Her hands were thick, dotted, and yellow.  I imagined they smelled damp, like a sponge. They were meaty.  I didn’t like her name.  I hated holding hands with anyone, even my parents, or sister.  Except when I was sick.  It’s the only time I let people touch me and craved affection.  I think I’m still this way.  Lea said I didn’t love her because I wouldn’t hold her hand or pet her head.  She craves it still today and complains that I don’t hold her hand back.  "Like a fish," she says.  "Hold it," she instructs, pushing the tips of my fingers around her hand.  It’s work, to me, showing affection for anyone, aside from Linus, who can’t talk back, and never criticizes.  Only bites.  But never me.



  1. You and Lea fighting over the magic wand makes me laugh.
    My gf's mom had one for her porch that had that indoor/outdoor carpet.

    She used to race me with it while I was on my roller racer.
    haha! good times.

  2. One of my (many) favorite things about having children is how I've gotten to relive all the smells of my childhood. Crayons, yes. But also playdoh, Silly Putty, kindergarten paste, and best of all, the sulfur smell of caps.

  3. That's how you were able to do such a good British accent at your book reading – you've had lots of practice. My mom played tennis too, and we always ate spoonfuls of the nondairy creamer while we waited for her!

  4. Sorry for the double, but where is Linus? You never mention him anymore and I dont see him in any of your recent pics.
    Is he with your dad now?
    If you get a chance love on him lots before the babies get here. My beagle Dave handled a new baby well but he definitely misses all the attention.

  5. rule #1- never ever ever ever brush curly hair! My friend is at Devachan salon downtown in the city right now getting her hair cut for the first time– she's dying!
    I think I took lessons in the indoor places in Glen Cove — how odd.

    Stephanie- I'd love a nice bio and few entries that further explain the relationship between you and Leah. Who is Leah, does she look just like you? Does she have your hair? Is she a Libra too? Younger, right? Is she married and settled, is she still looking? What is her life's passion, etc. I think siblings make up so much of one's identity. (There was a fantastic article in Time mag. a few months back about it btw)
    I always always always infintiy wanted sisters and I feel you have a nice (not really updated) bio on your parents on the site, but I'd love to hear more about Leah.
    Why is she in Montana, of all places? I mean, you don't hear many New Yorkers moving there. I wonder about her so much, and your sisterly-bond.

  6. Hi Stephanie,
    I`m a long time reader and the story of your abortion and your waiting for a new pregnancy has touched me in a way I think it touched every woman who is or has been pregnant. I always hoped that something like this would never happen to me.
    Last monday (at 9 weeks pregnant) I had a doctor`s appointment for my first ultrasound. My doctor weighed me, pricked my finger and mesured my blood pressure. Everything was fine so far, but when I looked at the ultrasound-monitor, I said to my doctor: "Something looks not right in my opinion" (it`s my second pregnancy). And she answered "I think so, but wait a moment". She zoomed in and measured it and then she said "I`m sorry for you, but this is not okay. It`s too small for a ninth week and there`s no heartbeat."
    I feel so bad now like I`ve never felt before and I hope I`ll find a way to go through all of this.
    And I wish sometimes I can go to where you are now: a new healthy pregnancy.

  7. This is probably unorthodox behaviour for commenting on a blog, but this comment is directed to Simone…
    This may seem really strange, but I would like you to know that I will pray for you. My cousin found out her baby had died right before she was due to give birth. She had to go ahead and have her baby, knowing it was dead. I cannot imagine having to do that. Somehow, though, as cruel as it may sound, I think that could be slightly less gut-wrenching than what happened to my good friend: delivering almost 4 months early and having the baby survive only to die two weeks later. She and her husband managed to get through it and got pregnant very soon after (apparently women are really fertile after a pregnancy?) and now have a healthy child.
    Even though I am a stranger who has never even been pregnant, I want you to know that you are so very brave to "speak" about this so soon. The fact that you are referring to getting through it augers well for your healing. Take comfort in your living child and give yourself time to mourn for the one you have lost. You will get through this. Again, I will pray for you. Take care.

  8. Oh, the pain and suffering I might've been spared had someone–anyone!–told me "never, never, never brush curly hair" when I was a kid. I always had defiantly wavy hair, which tightened into ringlets when I was an adolescent, and I always combed/brushed it (part of "good grooming"!), which made it look like steel wool, only less cute. Combine that with a mullet-cut (my parents wouldn't let me grow my hair out), and, well, let's just say I still have deep-seated emotional issues. To think my hair–now beautiful, because I know how to handle it–could've been my crowning glory instead of my undying shame. What a waste of naturally curly hair!

    Anyway, thanks for the memories of crayon smells–I had that weird feeling about naked crayons too!–you brought me right back to the basement rec room of my childhood.

    I second the motion for more backstory on Lea, if you (and she) are willing to share. I'm not close to my younger sister at all, and your relationship sounds totally different.

  9. Simone, I too was in my ninth week when my doctor used the word Miscarriage. Give yourself permission to feel, whatever it is. However long it takes. It still makes me sad, that time in my life, but thankfully it gets easier. I know it hurts your heart. I know. But it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you. REMEMBER THAT.

    This might help: my post on my miscarriage.

  10. I love the smell of crayons. A new box. The 64 pack. I'm greedy. I head down the supply isle and grab the big box and sniff away. I don't care if anyone sees me. The smell is intoxicating. My dogs are my best friends, just like Linus they never judge, just accept me for me. They are here as I type this waiting for my next move….

  11. Tanya, I was captivated by that Time article.

    Simone, I was recently surprised by how many people close to me have miscarried and my heart goes out to anyone who goes through such pain so quietly. I'm thinking of you as well.

    Stephanie, the section about curled wrappers like eyelashes was wonderful.

  12. "I remember thinking there was something sexually blunt and ugly about the naked crayons, the ones who’d been slipped from their skins, poked into the built-in sharpening hole…"

    You thought this when you were a CHILD??? Interesting.

  13. Stephanie: I loved this post, especially when sharing about your sister. My sister is 2 years younger than me and I always introduce her as my twin. That is what we are: two inseparable siblings. The many adventures that we have embarked on in our lives consistently brings us hours of laughter and tears when reminising. Having said this though, we are as polar opposite as you can get.

    I too would love to hear so much more about your sister and your relationship with her.

  14. I am always jealous when I hear of people getting along with their siblings, not that I am mean and horrid and want to take it away from you or anything, just I wish…

    A friend of mine lost a baby just pre-birth as well, I don't know how she survived it really, another friend nearly did, another was in hospital for 8 weeks in case she lost her 2nd child. I wonder if there is a kind of conspiracy of silence about what can go wrong, I don't want to be alarmist, but would it help if we new that 20% of pregancies do end in miscarriage, some before we know we are pregnant. Each is an individual loss to be felt and remembered, but there is comfort in knowing we are not alone, even on a blog.

  15. My mother always talks about how her parents were not that affectionate with her, but somehow she gushes over her own children.

    I look at Buster (my dog) and can't imagine adoring anything so much like I do him. I know it's absurd.

    I guess once I have a child it will just pour out of me. Hopefully.

  16. I'm sure I should bite my tongue bont wont…

    Is it me, or does talking pregnancy-mishaps on a very pregnant persons blog seem very inconsiderate, considering pregnancy hormones? Not to trivialize anyones loss or pain, but just sayin'…

    Having said that, I enjoyed todays post. It is neat to read, Stephanie, and be reminded of the things I had forgotten about childhood. Oh, to have such a memory! Mine is horrible.

  17. We all had something wrong with our blood, my two sisters and I, and had to have blood transfusions. The fourth daughter was born with the same thing and they couldn't save her in time. How did my mom get through that? My dad had to take this little white coffin down the aisle at the church … Michelle would have been about 43 years old next month and she's never been forgotten.

    Go well Simone, treasure the one you've got

  18. DeannaBanana, I was thinking the same thing, not to take away from Simone's loss. Believe me, I can especially relate b/c I had a miscarriage too during my 2nd pregnancy. I know that loss and pain; I cried for a month. I debated whether or not to post about it though, and I thought it was extremely caring of Stephanie to write such a heartfelt post to Simone. The thing is, people love to tell pregnant women horror stories while they're pregnant (I'm not AT ALL saying that that was what Simone did). I just agree that some of the other posts weren't necessary being that Stephanie is pregnant and has already had to go through enough pain and heartache herself. The only reason I thought to write was b/c Simone should make sure that her dr does blood work to find out why she miscarried. Sometimes nothing shows up, but in my case, my progesterone levels were low, and if I had not been put on progesterone during my 3rd pregnancy, I probably would have miscarried again. Many drs don't bother w/ blood work (my first one didn't; in fact, he trivialized the miscarriage, so I switched to a new dr, which turned out to be a VERY good thing). So, a heads up to Simone to make sure her dr looks into the reason for what she had to endure, and hopefully, w/ time, she'll start to feel better. To Stephanie, keep feeling well, and thanks for always brightening my day! And…can I make one more plug for a reading on LI b/f your dr tells you that you can't travel anymore?? …PLEASE!!

  19. Andrea, that is exactly what I thought. I feel very sad for Simone and can only imagine her level of pain. She had a commonality with Stephanie and addressed her, Stephanie replied. Everything else is just that, unneccesary; in my humble opinion.

    Simone, and everyone who has lost a child has my heartfelt sympathies, I just believe there is a time and a place.

    Not like Stephanie needs a champion or couldn't address it herself, if it were bothering her, I was just making an observation.

  20. I second JoeyB's comment. Sorry Simone.

    I guess if Stephanie didn't want pregnancy/miscarriage/horror stories here, she wouldn't post them. I think the fact that this blog is a reflection of life, we have to accept that death is part of life too, and it's good to have people to reach out to – even if we are all strangers in cyber-land. Common bonds are the threads that create the fabric of community.

  21. Cat,

    I thought the same thing. All the affection I give my dog Dave might even be overkill for when I finally have a child.

    It's not though. It's a totally different kind of love, that changes and evolves and grows stronger and stronger as you get to know your child.
    My opinion is it's definitely highest level of love you can ever experience. And when they show you that love back just for nothing more than to just be sure that you're there, oh man, your heart melts.

  22. Deannabanana and Andrea –
    Considering that SK responded with empathy to Simone, the two of you probably shouldn't waste your time worrying about whether Simone's post was "appropriate" or not.

    Simone, I'm sorry for your loss. That must be so difficult.

  23. I was already told I can no longer travel. It's a twins thing. It's also a 3 1/2 hr. airplane thing. I wanted to have a baby shower. Sad truth is, I have never had a wedding shower, ever. And I really wanted a baby shower, and now I can't have one because I cannot travel. Most of my friends and family are in New York. There are, of course, far worse things in life, but just once, I really would have liked to have a shower with tea sandwiches and loving company. I can't help but be kinda sad.

  24. I have curly hair. My friends come over and ask to borrow a hair brush. I can only offer a wide tooth comb or the round brush I occasionally use for straightening.

    They don't seem to understand that if I was to brush out my curls, I would closely resemble a member of an 80's hair band.

  25. My baby shower got cancelled b/c I was on bedrest.
    I wasnt too disappointed at the time b/c I knew my gfs planned on playing all those silly games and would make me measure my bigass belly with tp and shit.
    All I wanted to do was sleep.
    Thought now that my little boy is three, I look back on my pregnancy and see all the things I wished I could have experienced.
    And most of my gfs were in Chicockgo but planned on flying in for the shower. Everything got jacked up though b/c of me going on bedrest.

    Why cant your friends and family fly out to Texas for your shower? Are they holding off until the baby gets here to come out? The distance has got to suck for you.

  26. Why can't your friends fly in for a shower? Are they saving that trip for when the babies get here?

    The distance must suck for you.

    My baby shower was cancelled b/c I was ordered to bedrest and my doctor told me it would be too much. Invitations had been sent. Plane reservations were made (my gfs were flying in from Chicockgo). I was a little disappointed but not overly so b/c I knew my gfs wanted to play all those silly games and measure my fatass belly with toilet paper and shit.

    At the time I was too tired to care but now that my little boy is three, I look back on all the things I missed in my pregnancy with him and it sucks.

  27. How about a post-babies baby shower? Everyone would surely like to come out after the babies have arrived. Or maybe you could do a web-cam baby shower. Ah, technology. Everyone could send presents, and you could have a web-cam session where you oooh and aaah – have some live friends with you for tea sandwiches, and bring the others in via technology. Have a happy day.

  28. I cannot ask my friends to fly out here just for a shower. I'd much rather they be here once the babies arrive. They're not flying out twice. Someone suggested to me that they have the shower without me, via teleconference, or apple ichat software. This is lame. I am not doing that. That's not a baby shower.

    I've only ever been to one baby shower. It was for the wife of a doctor, who worked with the Wasband. I liked her, but we no longer speak, due to… the lines that get drawn when people split. There were tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, pretty drinks with sugar-rimmed glasses. I remember buying her $100 worth of classic books for babies, and one of those chairs you can take anywhere that fastens to a table. I loved watching her open the gifts. Chat with the other women in their Jr. League suits, with pins on lapels. There were cucumber with sweet butter sandwiches, egg salad, and perhaps fresh figs over marscapone and mint on pecan currant bread. Sigh. I'm now going out to eat a truffled grill cheese sandwich at a tavern… by myself.

  29. Stephanie– have someone host the shower in NY AFTER the guppies are born. Babies do occassionally arrive before their scheduled showere date, so having it post delivery isn't terribly unconventional. Plus you'll get sex-specific stuff.

    Are you going to have a baby registry? If not, is there an address (not your home address, obviously) that some of your loyal readers can use to send gifts?

  30. I was afraid my post would do that and I'd sound like Rainman repeating myself. Sorry about that. It gave me an error on my first post.

    3teens has a good idea actually.
    My online gfs from a BBS Ive been on for 11 yrs did give me an "online baby shower"
    it sounds lame but basically they all ordered stuff from my baby registry and we all logged in at the same time so I got to guess who got me what.

    Work with what you have.
    I dont blame you for being disappointed.

    But, I will say this, you might be surprised how much you dont want people except for the father of your children and your immediate family around after having the babies. At least not for the first few months.

  31. Double again, but you live in the south now, Stephanie.
    Dont be surprised if you'll get another opportunity for a tiny sandwich party in the future. Heh.
    Maybe even with cheese straws.

  32. Stephanie,

    After the babies are born and you've recovered, have a NY "showing" if you will, of the babies. Lea can fly in, and you can bring Linus. All my friends have said newborns are so easy to travel with (not as opposed to traveling by yourself but as opposed to traveling with say … a two year old). Plus, by that time you'll have a good idea of how Linus likes the babies, and you can give him to Lea in NY to take home with her if he's not doing well.

    Crest Hollow Country Club is too big for a baby showing/shower, huh?

  33. So you have the party after the babies are here, when everyone can coo over them and you. It's really not the end of the world not to have one before the delivery, I promise.

    Besides, you sound like you have definite ideas about what you want. So throw a meet the babes party for your visitors. They can shower the babies with gifts, and you can micromanage the menu, something you wouldn't be able to do with a traditional shower, at which you are a guest, not the hostess.

    Get used to plans being semi-thwarted by the little dears. You have to learn to be able to change plans midstream, or you are going to be very frustrated. Children have a way of developing ear infections, wetting themselves, not sleeping when expected, etc… If you develop flexibility now, it won't faze you a bit later.

  34. About siblings…I have (fraternal) twin girls that are now eight. The bond they have is amazing–so much closer than a normal sister bond (I have a sister & we get along fine), but my girls relationship with each other is as so very, very different. Since birth, they'd stretch & scoot until they were touching before they'd fall asleep & would wake up within 5 min of the other being removed from the bassinet. They still share a room & will not sleep unless the other is in the room (they've spent one night apart about 6 months ago & they both cried & sleep terribly). My neighbor used to take them along with her when she walked her dog & loved watching them because she would laugh at how they'd finish each other's sentences and would always think in "two's"; it was never "me" it was always "us". I also have a 3-year old & the girls are all very close, but their relationship with their little sister is nothing close to the bond my twins share. Stephanie, you will have such a wonderful time watching the relationship of your twins develop.

  35. It's a slow day here and I just got a chance to read back through some of your archives.

    Im sitting here in tears b/c I am laughing so hard at the Lea/Linus dookie/car vandalism story.

    That's just classic.

    I did something similiar to that in Chicocko except I used peanut butter. That stuff is impossible to get off especially smeared under doorhandles and squished into the cracks.

    And her follow-up post and signing it LEA-THE SISTER made me laugh too.

    Lea sounds like a fukcing riot.

  36. I think it's somewhat presumptuous of us to ask for Stephanie's registry. We are her readers, and I'm sorry, did anyone get her wedding presents as well?
    I think this is for her family and close dear friends. She happily shares this news and the day-to-days of her pregnancy and that is wonderful, but why not just leave it at that.
    Enjoy it Stephanie

  37. We recently moved and my 13 year old twin boys just got their own bedroom for the first time.I tip-toed in to drop off some clean laundry and there was his twin brother sleeping on the floor next to him. Tears….until the bickering started at breakfast!

  38. Thank all of you for your support. In the last days I found out a lot of facts about miscarriage that help me to realize that this is not my fault, that nothing is wrong with me.
    And I never wanted to tell horror stories to a pregnant woman but, yes, it`s sad but it`s something that Stephanie and I (and many other women) have in common. And it helps to know that we are not alone.
    Again, thank you all.

  39. Who asked for her registry? And even if they did what the hell do you care if they did? Jesus.

    Simone, I thought your post was sincere, heartfelt and just a form of reaching out. Im glad you're getting stronger.

  40. I am glad to read the responses back and forth.
    I hesitated to jump in. But I am glad that Stephanie chose post the comments about Simone, I am sure that it isn’t fun to read and read and read about miscarriages while so pregnant … I have been there too. I have had 4 children and an equal number of miscarriages – regardless of how many children I birth(ed) I still mourn those I lost.
    This has turned into a moving forum!

  41. just some unsolicitated advice – if people come to see you after the babies come, and they ask what to bring or want to plan something, forget the presents (by that time you'll have to have everything you need anyway) and tell them to bring FOOD. or make food while they are there.
    this was the most overlooked thing for me after i had my baby. i wish: a. i had cooked more and froze stuff beforehand b. i had arranged some food delivery for a few weeks after birth and c. told my friends to bring food!
    i actually didnt eat enough – and had no milk to breastfeed with!

  42. Oh, vomit! This comment thread is like some virtual Lifetime channel chat room. Jobeth Williams and Meredith Baxter Birney are redy for their close ups!
    Unloading personal drama (read: long ass spiel on miscarriage) on someone else's blog is socially retarded. Get a therapist, talk to friends, virtual la-la land is not the way to go.
    Nuts. What is more psycho/sad is some reader (fat assed/empty nester/bored housewife?) asking for a gift registry to buy a gift for a STRANGER. OMGWTF?

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