moments so dear….

Standard

There are times I wish I had the wherewithal to produce beautiful video clips, complete with pictures and moments caught-when no camera or recording device is near. I’d overlay the work with a song or two which expresses the sentiments of the images contained within. But alas, I do not have a camera attached to my glasses or the unlimited capacity in which to store them. Instead you’re stuck with these…

“I need a hug” she said and then leaned in for one. Not one to turn down a chance to hold my doll, I obliged, opening my arms wide while she leaned forward-not giving one in return, simply allowing me to absorb her. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I don’t know, I just need a hug”. So we stood there hugging until she initiated a release. I hope she got what she needed, lord knows I did.

*****

Did you know the song “Maniac” from Flashdance was originally written for a horror film?” The boy asked as he opened the door to the kitchen?” “Really? Because “She’s a may-nee-ac…? I asked. “Yes”. He replied, then departed the kitchen. Ten minutes later he repeated the motion by asking “Did you know…the artist who originally conceived Constantine, was really drawing a picture of the singer Sting?” “Well he is a pretty scary dude” I said in return and he guffawed. Then like before, after imparting his seemingly useless (and not necessarily believable) trivia he turned and left the kitchen.

I simply love and adore my boy’s attempt at inclusion…especially when he’s disconnected from an electronic device.

******

For the last several years I’ve been making the Thanksgiving Dressing down at my father’s. The first time, the three of us, Mom, Dad and I stood around the table breaking up the bread into crumbs, adding all the ingredients and talking about the busy holiday season ahead of us. After my mom passed away my dad insisted I continue to make the dressing with him-perhaps as a way to stay connected to my mom. Then my sister Ann Marie offered to help and once again the three of us stood around the table, breaking up the bread, adding the ingredients and talking about the busy holiday season ahead of us.

For the last two years, my dad has begged off. “I want you to make the dressing down here, I just can’t help with the process” he explained. No matter, the doll joined along and our tradition continued on. This year plans were changed and shifted about. “Marsha let’s make the dressing on Tuesday so I can make the pies Wednesday” Ann suggested. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t want to be rushing around trying to get all the ingredients in between jobs on Tuesday…but my friend Mrs. K was very accommodating. “How would you like to go on an adventure?” I asked her. “Sure…” She replied thankfully. So together she accompanied me to several different markets, finding all the necessary ingredients needed as well as a few treats for her.

When I arrived at my dad’s Tuesday evening Ann was surprised the doll had begged off. “Mom, making the dressing is boring…” she explained. In truth, I didn’t mind. Making dressing is boring and mundane work. Plus the less I had to deal with a sullen tween, the better. But what surprised both Ann and myself was my dad. He sat down at the table and looked at us. “What are you doing?” Ann Marie asked. “I’m going to help you…” He said with a smile. Ann and I looked at one another for a moment then back to him. “No problem with your hands this year?” I asked him. “Nope. Now do you have all the ingredients ready?” He asked.

IMG_1796Once again, the three of us stood around the table, breaking up the bread and adding all the ingredients. Only this year we didn’t really talk about the busy time ahead of us. Instead we enjoyed one another’s company. My dad hummed, Ann and I laughed. He scolded her for putting too much water on the bread and we laughed. He was very animated and invested in what we were doing. In truth, this night of dressing making was probably the best time we’ve all had in some time.

I hope the dressing flavors reflect that…something tells me regardless….they will.

Happy Thanksgiving 2014.

in response…

Standard

IMG_1783Clutter…

If you look closely at my refrigerator, you’ll find an old Baby Blues comic strip; which I refuse to throw away. However, looking at this cluttered refrigerator you may conclude, “From the looks of things, Marsha doesn’t throw anything away…”Allow me to assure you that on occassion I actually do. In fact just yesterday I threw away a notification for the boy’s work study assignment from last August… But I digress. The reason the comic strip remains attached to my refrigerator is because the strip deftly explains why there is so much clutter attached to the refrigerator in the first place. Once you remove all signs of life–paper, pizza magnets, magnetic letters, little sayings, obituaries, old calendars, etc. you end up with a nice clean, sterile, boring old appliance; instead of a well lived and loved in home.

As such, the comic strip stays as does all the clutter.

 

The Turnaround…

When I arrived home from work yesterday the boy greeted me holding out the $5 bill I had given him earlier in the day. Handing it back to me he said, “I didn’t need the extra money after all…” “Why don’t you just keep it?” I said referring to the money. “I don’t want to clean my room…so here you go” He said placing the money in my back pocket. I smiled at his logic and accepted the money.

However, little does he know he’ll still have to clean his room this weekend.

*****

The Funk…

As we sat down for dinner the doll looked lost in thought. “Are you okay?” I asked. She shrugged her shoulders but didn’t change her facial expression. “I think I’m in some sort of funk” she finally said. “About?” I wondered. “I don’t know…I’m just not interested in doing anything–not even eating.” She said. “Well try…” I offered but dropped the subject. Later as she prepared herself for bed she said, “I’m really trying to pull myself out of this funk”. “Have you figured out what’s bothering you yet?” I asked. Turning her head and giving me a quizzical look she asked, “Why must anything be bothering me?” “I just figured something must be causing the “funk” as you put it..” I replied. “Mom don’t you know me by now?” She said exasperated. “Giving me more things to think about is only going to throw me into a funk more?”

“Glad I could help…” I replied.

“UGH!!!” she bellowed down the hall on her way to bed.

*****

 

clutter….

Standard

I live in a cluttered house with cluttered children, who live with cluttered parents. A dinner party or an expected sleepover must occur before we step into gear and actually clear some of the clutter away. But then there is always a fear-we may throw something important away.  Hence we are relatively happy in our cluttered lives.

“Mom I need to borrow $5.00″ The boy informed. “Why?” “Mrs. K. is taking us out to lunch after school on Wednesday, but only if we bring our own money.” He replied. “What are you going to do to earn that five bucks?” I asked. He shrugged his shoulders and stretched out his right palm face up. Slapping him “five” I reiterated, “What will you do for that five bucks?” “I don’t know, I’ll think of something…” He replied. “How about you clean your room to MY satisfaction–you know actually putting the clothes into their dresser drawers instead of resting them atop?” “Mom, my room is already in perfect order. I know where everything is at…” He explained. “Please…dirty tissues, empty water bottles, pop cans, etc.; have no business living in your room. Oh and clear the floor enough to run the vacuum in there” I added. He grunted pulling his hand back and exited the room.

A few minutes he returned and asked, “So…your cleaning standard or your current bedroom standard?” Staring at him I replied, “Do as I say, not as I do…” Hoping that would work. He laughed and said, “My bedroom floor will be ready for the vacuum cleaner….” Trying not to smile back at him I decided instead to enter my bedroom a find a home for all the clothes currently sitting atop my dresser.

Sigh, yes the kids do not fall far from their parents cluttered trees.

 

a mean mommy moment….

Standard

In case anyone has forgotten, I am a mean mommy and as such my meanness shows up in many forms. While my doll no longer verbally tells me “You’re mean!” she does use her eyes and body language quite effectively in conveying the message. So this morning, as she exited the house for school, I read her mind on who she felt I was…and frankly, I couldn’t agree more…

Rain, rain, go away don’t come back as snow today….  All night long and most of the early morning hours we’ve been treated to lots and lots of water falling from the sky-which would have been fine, had the wind not decided to join the party too. The forecast for today calls for wind gusts upward to 50 mile per hour and a thirty degree temperature shift downward by midday. As the doll ran about gathering her gear this morning, I reminded her “The temperatures are supposed to drop around noon-so make sure you take your winter coat”. “I know mom!” She said grabbing her coat. “Can you find an umbrella?” I asked. “Can’t you just drive me to school?” She asked.

Since we live four houses from the school, driving seems ridiculous-even in windy rainy weather; so I turned her down. “Sorry doll, I’ve gotta get stuff done before I leave in ten minutes” I replied. Pulling out an umbrella, I followed her to the front door. “Okay, one, two, three…” She counted as she slipped the umbrella through the small opening in the door, waiting for it to open before stepping outside. As she hit the release button, the umbrella opened into a gust of wind and immediately turned inside out, nearly blowing away. “What’s this?” She said before giving way to nervous laughter.  Reaching out, I grabbed the windblown cloth and began trying to fold the umbrella back into shape; forcing the doll to reach up and  grab ahold of one the panels with her left hand.

As she walked away I shouted, “Have a good day baby!” In the most cheerful voice I could muster. Not waiting for a response, I closed the door and walked into the kitchen. Opening the blinds to our large picture window, I stood there watching the doll navigate the wet and puddled sidewalk on her way to school, fighting a losing battle against the wind with her dying umbrella.

And all I could do was laugh at the sight.

 

Vignette….

Standard

 

Vignette: a brief evocative description, account, or episode.

******

At basketball practice the other night, while I sat in the stands talking with another parent, doll approached to grab her bottle of water. As she did so, she quietly said, “I suck at this game” and then turned and walked away, bottle in hand. I couldn’t help myself and began to laugh. “Well at least you’re fully aware of your abilities..” I said later on the drive home. “You know I could help you learn to dribble better…” I offered. “That’s okay…” she nicely replied.

******

“Mom” the boy said into the phone receiver. “Hey bay what’s up?” I replied. “I need your help. I need you to walk into my bedroom and retrieve my gold tin…” “Bay…I’m working right now. I’m not at home”. I interrupted. “My Anime club is having a tournament today, I need those cards.” He explained. “Bay, I’m not taking Mary Alice out in 9 degree temperatures just to bring you some Yugioh cards; sorry. Besides by the time we arrive, your tournament will most likely be over” I explained. “But..I…” he said clearly frustrated by my lack help.”Why not ask your buddy to share his cards–you know the one you gave my money to? He kind of owes you right?” I suggested. “No that won’t work” He replied.  “Sorry bay-goodbye-I love you” I said in our customary manner. Except in return all I got was “Bye” before the line went dead.

In that moment I was struck by two thoughts: either there were other kids around and saying ‘I love you’ into the phone to his mother wasn’t the cool thing to do or he had grown past that way of saying goodbye to me. Neither of which appeals to me.

******

When I came home yesterday the doll greeted me and exclaimed “I cleaned the bathroom today-without being asked”. Smiling at her I said, “Hey, thank….you….hey wait a minute-what are you angling for?” “Jeeze mom, can’t I do something nice once in a while?” She tried. “Spill it…” I returned. “Can I have my iPod back?” She said with a smile. “Ah yes the root…” I smiled back.

Earlier in the week I had received and email from the doll’s home room teacher alerting me to some missing assignments. When I went to look up her grades, I found she was having some problems in two classes. Confronting her I said, “Give me your iPod. I can’t have a double standard for you and the boy. That wouldn’t be fair to him”. She gave me her device and immediately went about repairing her grades.

“Well let’s check your grades shall we?” I said in reply. “You have an exam on December 11th. You must Ace this exam or you’ll lose the iPod for the rest of the year…” I explained. Acknowledging my ultimatum I handed her the device and left the room. “Why did you give it back?” my hubby asked. “Because she did bring one F up to an A…and she’ll do the same in the other class-now that’s she’s properly motivated to do so…”

Let’s hope I’m right.

is there something I should know?

Standard

The boy has introduced me to a rather entertaining YouTube channel called Crash Course, hosted by John Green and his brother Hank. The Greens, better known as the Vlogbrothers on YouTube, began this channel two years ago as a way to deliver information about a wide variety of subjects, in quick 10-15 minute video segments. I now understand where the boy gets most of the source material for his seemingly endless supply of useless information. Also, I might add, some of the boy’s mannerisms have been gleaned from the Vlogbrothers as well (not necessarily a good thing), but I digress. The Vlogbrothers Crash Course videos are meant to make learning entertaining and I can vouch that they do. The boy is far more entertaining with the nuggets of information he drops on me daily than before he discovered these videos. I mean really, how many Norse god references are there? In any case,  if interested in perusing their channel, here’s the link.

https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse/featured

******

“Doll what is your excuse?” I asked last night. “I’m tired”. She replied. “Yes, but if you went to bed when you’re supposed to you, that couldn’t be your standard excuse”. I explained. Nodding her head she said, “Well, honestly, it’s because I’m lazy”. Oh. My. God! She actually admitted the reason she’s always running late in the morning!! “Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!” I said in response. Rolling her eyes she replied, “Whatevs mom”.

In truth however, the doll has a few things going against her every morning. The first one is genetics. We, meaning I, never liked to get up in the morning. Truth be told, if I didn’t have to get up in the morning (even today), I wouldn’t. The second one is the proximity in which she lives in correlation to her school. If we lived more than a mile away, she would be forced to wake up earlier so as to arrive at school on time. But since we live four houses away….she sleeps to the last possible moment she can and then banks on the idea she can get up, get dressed and walk to school within seven minutes time and still get to school before last bell. This is a slippery slope she rides on almost every single morning…

….yet somehow she makes it work.

She’s also lucky I work 1 minute from her school most mornings so I can drop off all the items she forgot to take with her during her morning rush to school…. lunch, gym clothes, lunch, homework, gym clothes, lunch, tennis shoes, lunch, more homework and lunch.

 

Navigating Junior High….

Standard

“These years are so precarious…” I told the doll. “Why does it have to be like this?” She asked, not happy with my answer. “Because they do.” I replied not really giving her a good answer-just the only one I had.

******

“Marsha junior high is hell. I hope your doll fares better than mine” A woman told me three years ago. “What do you mean?” I asked. Her daughter was always one of the more popular girls. From the outside I saw a very happy, well-adjusted, beautiful, kind and respectful young lady. “Because girls are bitches. If they perceive any kind of threat-real or imagined, they make your life a living hell. My daughter’s been in therapy the last year and a half-learning how to deal with all these mean girls. Her life should not be this difficult at her age” Her mom explained.

I’ve kept that information in the back of my mind and have been wary of junior high ever since; trying to make sure my doll doesn’t fall into those same traps.

******

Jenny and her mom arrived at my house early Saturday evening. I was in the middle of making dinner and invited them in. The girls sat across from one another, while Jenny’s mom boxed in one of the corners. As I stood at the stove, making fajitas shells I invited the doll to begin “Thanks for coming…” the doll said before nerves gave way to a contagious laughter between the girls. “I’m not sure where to begin…” the doll started…trying to get her nerve up. “Why don’t you start at the beginning-the reason you asked to have this meeting” I suggested. “Um, okay…well the reason I wanted to talk with you is because there are some things you have done that I don’t understand…” the doll began and listed her reasons. Jenny listened and offered explanations and or apologies when needed. Satisfied with Jenny’s answers, the doll turned the conversation by asking her “Do you have anything you want to say to me?”

*Crickets*

“You know, one of the reasons we’re here is because the doll is your friend and she wants you to remain hers.” Her mother said. “But that cannot happen unless you talk with her”.  “In addition” I interjected, “she’s fully prepared to hear what you have to say.” Jenny not sure where to start sat there quietly gathering her thoughts. Then Jenny’s mom then took the reigns and said, “You know your Aunt B and I have been best friends since we were five years old. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get into fights every now and again. Friendship has a lot of give and takes…but you must be willing to talk to one another or you’ll lose your friendship”.

“Well…” Jenny began and the two talked out some of their differences. “I never wanted you to feel as if I’m not your friend. I know what it’s like to believe no one likes you-or that you just don’t fit in. I don’t want anyone to ever have that feeling” My doll said (which literally broke my heart). Once the girls finished talking and seemed to relax with one another again, I offered my two cents as a way of putting an end to the event. “You know I have two very good friends from when I was younger, both of which I hardly see anymore. But that’s okay. I talk with them on Facebook and sometimes we go out to lunch and laugh about all the crap we went through when we were your age. And guess what? We’re all okay. We still like each other, we still consider one another friends”.

“These years are so precarious…” I began. “Why is that Mom?” “Because they are…” I said, not really offering her an answer. Shaking her head she asked “I don’t get it. What makes them so difficult?” the doll asked. “Hormones” I said and both girls laughed. “Mom hormones are your answer for everything” the doll replied.  “That’s because it’s true…” Jenny’s Mom concurred. “Hormones make girls and boys act really weird around each other. A girl might get mad at you because a boy looked at you in a way she would like to be seen by him or a boy might “like” you but get mad because you won’t talk to him. Hormones can really put a wicked spin on everything in junior high.”

“I talked with a principal a few years back when we entertained the idea of sending the boy to a different school. She explained to me that 6-8th grade were the hardest years of school because there are so many roadblocks, traps and landmines set for kids to fall into. By the time you get to 9th grade, you kind of know who you are and once you find friends with similar interests, then you’re pretty much set for the rest of high school. But navigating junior high can be very tricky”. Looking at both girls I added, “You’ve already experienced seemingly nice girls becoming…well bitches right?” Both girls nodded. “I don’t think they woke up one morning and decided to be mean to you… but I think maybe the competition to be liked by others can sometimes be a driving force. What you two have to do is remain yourselves, continue to talk with one another when bad feelings arise and don’t let petty jealousy or competition consume you”.

When all was said and done, the girls made arrangements for a sleepover that evening at Jenny’s. After they left I looked over at the doll and said, “How do you think that went?” Truthfully she shrugged her shoulders. “Huh?” I said. “What? I’m glad we got to talk this out…but I think time will really tell at school…” she said before vacating the room.

Yes time (and hormones) will tell…