taking notes….

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The doll entered the kitchen looking for a snack and finding a mostly empty pan of brownies. “Wow that didn’t take long…” I commented (about the empty pan) as she grabbed the pan and a butter knife and then sat down next to me at the table. Using the butter knife, she scraped the remaining brownie crumbs to the bottom of the pan and then scooped them into her mouth, before starting a conversation with me. “Mom, did you write about my melt down this morning in your blog?” “No” I replied honestly; though I never promised her I wouldn’t. “When you were my age did you have meltdowns like I did?” She wondered. “I’m sure I did, though I don’t remember them”. “You don’t remember because you’re old or because you don’t want to? She asked with a smirk. “Perks of getting old darlin’,  bad and mundane memories fade away over time…” I replied and she smiled.

She continued gathering up crumbs with her fingers to feed into her mouth when she stopped and asked, “Am I a rebel?” “Hmm…I’m not sure what you mean?” I replied wondering where she was headed. “Well I’ve been trying to decide whether to have a teenage rebellion or a mid-life crisis…” At that we both began to laugh. “Seeing as you’re only twelve…” “Going on thirteen…” she interrupted. “…Going on thirteen…you’re too young to have a mid-life crisis.” I replied. “Well then a teenage rebellion it is!” she declared with a smile. “Whatcha gonna rebel against?” I queried. “Um…I don’t know, let me get back to you on that…” she said.

“Mom….could you explain to me the teenage mind?” She asked with a smile. Which brought a quick snark from me in reply, “What mind?” “Bwahahaha! Yes that is a stretch…” She said and we both laughed.

After a few minutes she told me about a couple of friends from school who were fighting. “I guess over the weekend one girl got jealous of another and did some really stupid stuff. So now she’s grounded like forever” She explained. “I’m happy you weren’t around this weekend to get caught up in that drama” I said. “It’s weird mom…why do girls my age act so out of control? I mean is it all hormones?” “Well…” I thought for a moment; hormones are an easy answer…but not the only reason. “Doll, when you’re younger you tend to think in concrete terms: the ball is red.  But as you grow older you think in more abstract ways: The red ball can be used to play dodge…” I paused, as I watched her eyes gloss over and the sound of crickets building in the background. “What I mean is, this is a tricky time. Girls are beginning to like boys and vice versa. Some girls may become jealous that a boy they like likes their friend-even though the friend is unaware of the situation…or is aware and enjoys the attention-even though she’s not interested in him. I’m not saying that’s what happened…because thankfully I’m not in their heads…” “Oh that would be scary…” the doll added quickly. “Indeed…but that kind of lunacy is what’s happening in all your adolescent heads these days…”

******

“When you were my age did you have a group of girls you hung out with?” She asked. “I had my best friend Sally. We did everything together in 7th and 8th grade. Then guess what? When we got to highschool, while we still hung out on weekends, we went off in two different directions. Which is okay. Today she and I aren’t as close as we once were. But we still talk and laugh at the dumb stuff we did back then. Having a group of girls to hang out with is cool. Stick with the group…and believe me…one day you will look back and laugh.”

Our conversation continued until she had eaten all the brownie remnants she could find. “Mom did you and your mom ever have these kind of talks?” She asked. “Yep. My mom would make us both a cup of hot tea and we’d sit at the kitchen table and talk about stuff”. “So this is normal…right?” “Yes…doll quite normal…and…I want you to know that any time you need to talk to me, I’ll always be here–though I may not have an empty brownie pan for your to scrape”.”That’s okay…I’ll bring my own.” She said before placing the pan in the sink and leaving the kitchen.

WHEW!!

 

 

 

 

the roller coaster continues on…

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Going to bed early enough to get a good nights rest, so you can be bright-eyed and ready for the next day are great when put into practice. Seldom does this happen for the doll. For some reason she’s been stuck in a horrible sleep pattern as of late; not falling asleep until several hours past her bedtime. “Mom you know I have amnesia” she recently told me. “Yes, you are forgetful, though not as bad as the boy…” I replied. “What?” “Do you mean you have “Insomnia?” I asked.  “Oh yeah, sorry”. “Are you listening to music before bed?” I asked. “Yes, but it’s on so low you can barely hear it” She countered. “Turn it off tonight. We need to find a way for you to fall asleep…” I explained. “I don’t know what could possibly turn off my brain…” She replied.

******

A few weeks back I gave her an antihistamine, hoping the drug would allow her to get a full night’s rest; which in turn would help her get back on track. Instead when the time came to wake up in the morning she cried, “What did you give me, I’m even more exhausted! I can’t go to school, I won’t stay awake!!” Well I guess that didn’t work… I thought to myself. Yet through all her protestations, she did in fact go to school that day and lo and behold, actually managed to stay awake (especially when bedtime rolled around). “Have you said a rosary? How about counting backwards from one hundred?” I said, offering some methods which have worked for me in the past. But each possible solution I offered was acrimoniously shot down. “Doll I don’t know what to do for you other than have you go to bed earlier in hopes of falling asleep sooner…” I explained. “Mom, that’s the stupidest idea yet…” she replied.

******

Last weekend was very fun yet hard and full. Whenever my family gathers for a wedding, we don’t just celebrate one day-but the entire weekend. By Sunday evening we were all quite exhausted–even I kept nodding off while watching television with the family. When bedtime arrived, all of us crashed rather easily; save the doll. Once again, catching up with her friends over social media was more important than getting herself ready to sleep. Monday morning when I entered her room; making sure she was up and ready for school, I found her sitting atop her top bunk looking exhausted. “Doll…you’re going to be late..let’s get going…” I said. Without reply she simply shot daggers at me. “Hurry up, I’ll make you some lunch”.  When she finally entered the kitchen, still dressed in her night-clothes I asked “What’s going on?” “I’m tired…” she whispered. “Yeah? Get in line. C’mon get moving” I said unimpressed. Instead she sat down at the kitchen table and just stared off into space. “What’s going on with you? You look like you’re about to cry…” I said.

And the roller coaster climbed another hill…..

Tears began to fall from her face as she said, “I just don’t see the point”. “The point to what?” I asked. “To everything. I mean what’s the point if we’re all going to die. Why am I even here?”

Oh brother!!

“Doll, God had put all of us here for a reason….to live a good life, to love others and to help others along the way…” I said as she grabbed me into a hug and cried into my chest. “That can’t be true because then why would he let us die?”

On a side note, while I enjoyed her needing me in the moment, I also knew there was no way to avoid her being late for school now.  But I could control how late she would be…so I gave her a plausible explanation hoping she would calm down, get dressed and get to school.

“Hey…the planet is only so big you know? If he allowed all of us to live forever and continue to procreate, we would have run out of room years ago. This way we all get to share the ride…” I said.  After wiping her nose and eyes on my sweatshirt she released her arms from around my back and disappeared into her bedroom to get dressed.  Then I finished making her lunch and helped her get her stuff together before she finally left for school, fifteen minutes late.

As she walked down the street I couldn’t help but wonder what other dramatic rollercoaster rides the doll has in store for us…and hope I have my safety belt fastened…

the doll is trying to kill me…

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Have you ever watched a television program where a “bomb” of information is dropped and in the accompanying background you hear either a record skip or a car making skid marks? That’s what I heard in my head when the doll dropped her little nugget of information….

“Yesterday at lunch, my friends and I were talking about how our parents would feel and react if we came home pregnant….” The doll said while riding in the car. We were on our way to her volleyball game and had just finished talking about the appropriate way to feel toward certain things. “Are you seriously trying to get us killed?” I asked and she guffawed before starting again, “Stephanie said her parents would disown her and kick her to the curb. I’m not sure how you would react… ” She said. Not giving her a chance to finish her thought I offered, “I don’t think it’s me you would have to worry about darlin’…” Looking back at me oddly I added, “The one you should be worried about is your dad.…” I emphasized. The word “dad” hung between us for a moment and her eyes grew very large at the implication. “Oh, I forgot about him…” She said just above a whisper and then became mute for a minute. 

I watched as the wheels in her head turned for a minute or so before she continued on “Nancy said her parents would literally kill her….”  “How many of you were talking about this lovely prospect?” I wondered. “Stephanie, Nancy, Twin, and Emily. Anyway, Twin thought her parents (mostly her dad) would be very upset with her for a very long time and Emily thought that while her mom and dad would be mad they probably wouldn’t throw her out.” She finished. “Do you girls always have such interesting conversations at lunch?” I asked and she laughed.

Okay…in an effort to keep our talk from sounding like a lecture, I tried my best to keep the tone conversational in hopes that she might actually hear/listen to what I was saying.

“In response first let me say, knowing Stephanie’s parents, they would never disown or throw her out. They are too nice and compassionate type of people to ever do that. However I’m sure like the rest of us, they would be very unhappy and disappointed by your choices. Here’s the thing doll, even though you can physically conceive a baby, does not mean you are emotionally equipped to handle the responsibilities involved with having one”. “I know mom…” She said in a tone which sounded as if she were sorry she had opened this can of worms. “You would have to make some very difficult “adult” decisions concerning the welfare of this child and you haven’t matured enough to handle them. In addition, consider as fact you just postponed your future by ten very hard years–if you’re lucky. “But you and dad would help me out right?” She asked. “Doll who’s to say we would be around?” I said, which made her look very hard at me. “”You’re dad is always worried about his A-Fib, I worry about my Asthma…” I trailed off as she nodded her head in understanding. “There are so many variables out there…you can’t trust the future to turn out like you plan”.

Looking back at me she said, “You don’t have anything to worry about mom….I’m not seeing babies in my future until I’m married…in fact, right now, boys are big red flags for me…” “Good…” I replied and then turned into the volleyball venue, essentially ending our conversation.

As we entered the gym and she joined her team mates, I sat down next to Nancy’s father and said, “The doll and I just had a very interesting discussion about what they were discussing at lunch yesterday”. “Oh yeah, what’s that?” He asked. “They talked about what their parents would do if they came home pregnant.” Another parent who was seated behind us replied, “Oh dear God!” Nancy’s dad replied, “I’d be going to jail for murder…” I couldn’t help but laugh saying, “Evidently your child knows you…that’s what she said you would do”. “Well good…maybe the ploy to keep her dad out of prison will prevent that from ever happening” he said shaking his head.

Before the volleyball game began, I recalled the conversation the doll and I had just shared and realized how much I enjoyed hearing her say “boys are a red flag to me” statement….

Even though I don’t necessarily believe her.

Oy Ve

 

feelings nothing more than feelings….

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Saturday morning as the doll and I made our way to her round robin volleyball tournament she surprised me with an interesting conversation. As we were about to enter the expressway she said, “Mom, when you were my age, did you understand your feelings?” “In what way?” I asked. “You know, like feelings…” she said muddying the water. “Doll, give me an example about what you’re talking about” I asked. “Okay, like when two of my friends are arguing with one another, I”m not sure how I should feel about that…or if I’m supposed to feel anything about them? And then there’s like Mrs. Krempa. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about her. I mean I’m sad she died and I wish I had talked to her more before so, but am I supposed to feel something more?”

For a brief moment I longed for the time when the doll would sit in the back seat and ask me questions that had more to do with her changing needs than her changing hormonal feelings.

“Well doll…” I began, “Welcome to being twelve years old. Quite honestly, your feelings are supposed to be all over the map right now….because you’re still trying to figure out who you are…” I said. “Does this make me a bad person?” She wondered. “No, more of an honest one. Listen, when you have two friends who are arguing you may want to step in and help them resolve their differences…” I started but was interrupted, “Mom, I don’t want to get in the middle of their argument. But I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel anything”. “You mean feel bad they are having the argument or feel bad for whomever started the argument? “Yes” she replied. “Doll, you’re all sussing out who you are. You’ll know when it’s appropriate to feel or not…” I said.

“As for Mrs. Krempa, you’re sad she’s gone right?” “Yes. But I’m not horribly sad. I mean there were some kids who were really crying at her service. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that…” She expressed. “Were you two super close. I mean did you spend your entire recess hanging out with her?” I asked. “No, that would be the boy” The doll replied. “I was more of the type who said hello to her when I’d see her and I think I’ll miss seeing her, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel more…” She explained. “Doll you are over thinking things again. The fact of the matter is your grieving her passing. You know, funerals are not for the dead–they are for the living who now have to face the world without their loved ones and everybody grieves differently. Your reaction is perfectly normal” I concluded.

There was a pause in the conversation while she thought about what I had said. After a minute or so she turned to me and said, “Wow mom those were some good answers. When my daughter asks me some tough questions, I’m not sure I’ll have the answers for her”. Surprised I replied, “Well there is something to be said for experience. Life is one big learning curve….and thankfully I’m able cull those lessons on occasion. When you have kids…you’ll have life lessons to look back on to help you too…” I suggested.

‘That reminds me…” the doll began, “Yesterday at lunch, my friends and I talked about how our parents would feel if we got pregnant while in school….”

 

October bliss….

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I was going through my wedding photos this morning, because I’ve been  invited to bring them with me  to a pre-wedding party, my sister Carol and her family are throwing for their daughter Meg; following the rehearsal dinner tonight. I laughed at many of the photographs contained therein, most coming from viewing male family members with full heads of hair. Then came the usual critique of myself–look how thin and beautiful I was…heavy emphasis on “was”. What’s more, I was prettier on that day than I ever believed at the time. I know in my heart beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but sometimes my mirror is flawed.

While I flipped through the album, I found myself hoping to find a nice picture of just my parents all dressed to the nines that day. I miss not having a framed photo of them to rest upon my mantle.  But only the picture I found contained the four of us together in a “parents of the bride” styled photograph.  It’s funny you know, looking at these old photographs and seeing how much of a blur my past really is. My husband and I were married 8 years before the boy finally came into our lives. But trying to remember our lives before him are difficult-not impossible, but difficult just the same.

******

While in college, I used to babysit for my sister Carol’s three girls, Carrin, Lauren and Meghan. Her eldest Carrin is my God daughter, which made watching her rather easy-she could do almost no wrong. Her sister Lauren on the other hand would butt heads with me often. Her easy-going personality hid her determination. In truth we were a lot alike-though I probably talked more. Which brings me to Meg; now this girl was (is) determined. She refused to wear slacks, preferring only to wear dresses and tights. One of my favorite memories with her, is going to a park to swing on the swing set, dressed as if she were going to an afternoon tea wearing a beautiful royal blue dress, with white trim; white tights and white patent leather shoes. She looked far too beautiful to be hanging around in a dirty old park. But that was Meg.

Tomorrow Meg is getting married appropriately on her parents 40th wedding anniversary…which also would have been my parents 67th wedding anniversary. In addition…Today marks what would have been my mother’s parents wedding anniversary too. Nothing says I want to spend the rest of my life with you quite like marrying someone upon the same foundation which was poured out four generations back.

When Meg was three or four, she and I held a Barbie wedding using their home’s piano as the backdrop. Moving the bench aside, we propped up her legless Ken doll to act as the priest. Standing off to the side was another Ken bridegroom wearing a tuxedo. Meg was in charge of walking her Wedding Dress Barbie doll down the “aisle” while I made sure the theme from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast played in the background. To this day I wish we had recorded the event. When all was said and done I looked back at Meg and said, that was simply beautiful. She smiled in agreement and then said, let’s do it again!!”

Something tells me that beautiful Barbie wedding, which lives so rich in our memories, will pale in comparison to the wedding she produces tomorrow….considering she only wants to do this the one time….

…and that her priest will have both legs.

Best wishes Meg and Kirk.

 

changing seasons…

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The other day, word came that a long time parishioner and friend to the school community had passed away. She was a poor woman financially speaking, but very rich in friends and loved ones. Someone very much admired for her open heart and devotion to her faith. As the school’s playground monitor she had the unique perspective to see our kids in all phases of development–good, bad, competitive, lonely etc. and loved them all regardless. Several years earlier, while attending a retreat with her, I made the point of thanking her for befriending the boy. In all honesty, at the time I wasn’t happy she didn’t encourage him more to hang out with kids his own age or to stop talking with her completely. “Marsha I really do enjoy his company, he’s so informative. He’s such a smart boy. He will come into his own, when he’s ready. I’m sure of it!” She told me. “I know but waiting for that to happen is difficult” I replied. She laughed and said “That’s where prayer and faith come in…”

When I arrived home from work the day she died, I made a point of pulling the boy over to the side to talk with him about her. “Bay, listen, I know you cared very much for Mrs. Krempa…” “She was a wonderful lady and friend to me” He replied as the news sank in. “Yes she was. But you understand she’s no longer suffering and is in a much better place right?” He agreed with a head nod and then gave me a hug, visibly saddened by the news. “Mom, our entire school is going to her funeral” the doll chimed in. “Yeah? That seems appropriate” I said making sure both kids were okay before moving on with the evening.

*******

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“Mom Mrs. Krempa’s funeral was really beautiful and moving. I kind of cried” the doll explained last night. “What’s does “kind of cried” mean?” I asked. “Well I looked over at Stephanie and she was really crying, which helped push me over the edge, you know seeing her and I became choked up and a few tears escaped from the corner of my eyes. But then she noticed that I was looking at her and she began to laugh which made me laugh”. “Ah, she was embarrassed you caught her crying…” I replied. I watched as the doll turned her head to the side, mulling over what I said. “Do you remember when you were reading that book about the kids who were all dead and you started crying at the end, but then laughed when you saw me looking at you?” I asked. “Oh yeah…” she replied with a laugh. “Yep you were embarrassed…as was Stephanie earlier. Were there other kids crying?” I wondered. “Yep. I think they’re going to miss her” She said quietly.

******

“Mom, did you know leaves are naturally red or orange during their entire life cycle, except the trees mask their color with chlorophyll?” The doll asked while driving home the other night. Our neighborhood trees are in varying forms of change-some still exhibiting green leaves while others have lost all their leaves entirely. “Really? That’s pretty cool” I replied. “Yep…” she said rather contemplatively. “Wow look at that tree…” I noted, pointing at a beautiful maple ahead of us. “They really are beautiful; all that color hiding under the surface until the very end” she added. “Funny isn’t it? Brilliance shouldn’t be hidden…” I said as the doll sat silent. A minute later I asked, “Don’t you think?”

“Were you talking to me?” She asked.

Sigh, “Apparently not…” I replied.

 

the doll creative…

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IMG_1397While cleaning up the kitchen the other night, the doll entered the room and handed me a small menacing box cutting knife saying, “This should be kept out of the hands of children!” Lifting up her left thumb to my eye level she added,  “Look what it’s done!” Looking between the knife and her bleeding thumb I said “Where the hell did you get that?” “Its mine” Uttered the boy, seated at the kitchen table. “It’s the box cutting knife he bought at the county fair” His father explained. “Why were you using it?” I replied to the doll  in a mad/concerned tone while ushering her over to the sink so she could clean the wound. “Because the doll asked me if she could borrow it. I can’t be held responsible for her inability to control the knife” The boy replied defensively. “Mom, I was using the box cutter to make my quiver-you know for the Hunter of Artemis costume and well I kind of cut more than I intended” She explained while holding her thumb under a cold water stream. “Does it hurt?” The boy asked. Shrugging her shoulder she said, “Yeah, but it’s funny how things don’t hurt as much when you hurt yourself…you know?” Taking a closer look her father remarked, “This is going to take a long time for your nail to heal…” The doll nodded in reply. “Well things could be worse…” the boy began, “If she weren’t so inept, she could have cut off her whole thumb”. “You know you’re not helping right?” I said to him. Laughing he said, “That’s my job momma”.

My daughter takes after my father in that when she gets ahold of an idea, she doesn’t easily let go. So what if she almost cut off her thumb? She was determined to get this part of her costume finished as soon as possible, so she could work on the fun part: What to wear. As such, the entire time she held her thumb under the cold stream of water she asked me repeatedly, “Will you take me to the hobby store tonight?” “Aren’t you injured?” I asked. “Mom, I’m okay…can you take me to the hobby store tonight?” 

Once the band-aid was properly affixed to her thumb, the doll and I ventured out to the local hobby center, looking to purchase materials needed to make a bow and some arrows. However, when we arrived, the hobby store was closing for the night. Not to be deterred, we stopped at Target hoping they would have something she could use. While we walked around the store, picking up some odds, ends and must haves; we stumbled into the seasonal Halloween section. There in a nice package sat a plastic bow, some arrows and a quiver for $10. “Ooh doll grab that…” I said. Looking down at her bandaged thumb she looked back at me and said, “That means I almost cut off my thumb for no reason…” “True…but this saves you from almost cutting off your other fingers while making the bow and arrows…” I said. Grabbing the bow and arrow set, she placed the package in our cart and semi pouted all the way to the checkout.

IMG_1399When we arrived home the doll showed off her newly acquired bow, arrow and quiver set to her father and once again quipped “I almost cut off my thumb for no reason…” “Well at least you won’t be cutting off any others…” He offered. “That’s what mom said…” she returned and we smiled. “Mom the only thing wrong with this bow is that it’s the wrong color…it won’t match my outfit”. “When does a bow have to match an outfit?” I asked incredulously. “This time”. She happily replied. A short time later she proudly held up her new silver “dolled” up bow saying, “See mom, this even looks like me now.” “If you say so doll…” I said happy no fingers were almost cut off while coloring the bow and arrow.