growing up despite mom’s unwillingness…..

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“You see mom…I’m okay.” The doll said with a huge smile. She was lying across the love seat, playing on her Ipod while the television droned on in the background; the dog nestled against her torso.  “Being okay is good…still doesn’t mean I have to like it…” I replied and walked out of the living room. Opening the refrigerator door,  I grabbed a beer, opened the can and took a nice long sip. I had a stressful night…

*****

I know my kids are growing up. As much as I’m ready for them to spread their wings and fly, another part of me wants them to remain small. My mind constantly goes back to when they were little and the power struggles we had then-which aren’t much different from they are today only on a smaller scale. The boy and I don’t discuss things anymore. Instead we get into shouting matches. “You two are too loud!” My hubby will interrupt. “This is the only way mom hears what I’m saying” the boy argues. As the other parent I know I shouldn’t allow his shouts to elevate my voice in return…but unfortunately they do. My impassioned pleas for him to listen to ME his MOTHER and my sage advice needs to be made with inside voices-but rarely do. “Bay if you would just stop arguing every single point…” I say…which fall upon deaf ears; regardless the volume employed.

*****

Saturday night the doll was set to accompany me to a friend’s house (40 minutes away) that evening, even though I knew she would be bored. We had made plans to have a “couples” get together, several weeks earlier, but life’s circumstances prevented my husband from being in town. In addition the boy went with him., thus leaving the doll in my care, alone. “You could just stay home…” my husband suggested. “I could, you’re right…but we’re making packaged dinners for this winter. I’m providing the chicken…” I explained. “Mom, can’t I just stay home alone?” the doll asked. “Alone? On a Saturday night? Absolutely not!” I replied.

*****

Saturday morning while watching our girls’ volleyball game I said to my BFF, “By the way the doll will be with me tonight”. “Really? Why?” She asked. “Hubby and the boy are out-of-town…” I started to say. “I would have thought she’d rather stay home and read a book rather than hang out with us..” she replied. I’m not giving her the choice. I don’t want her to stay home alone….” I replied. “Oh…” She said and the conversation dropped. As I sat there and watched the game, I began to reconsider my position; an imaginary pro and con list came into being…but I was still unwilling to budge from my original position.

“Doll, it’s not that I don’t trust you…I do. I just don’t like the thought of you being home alone at night.” I explained. Shaking her head in agreement I asked, “What do you think?” “Mom, I understand what you’re saying…but I think I’ll be fine if I stay home…” she replied. Nodding my head, understanding her position I smiled. “I’m sure you will be…but I’m not willing to take the chance you won’t….” She nodded resigned to my plan.

*****

The doll is my responsible kid. As the two go, the doll unlike her brother, tends to remember everything-not just what she’s interested in. Rare is the day when I hear her utter the words “I forgot”.  When their father and I began leaving them in the evenings-trusting them to stay home, the boy was twelve and the doll nine. The belief they would be safe and sound at home was entrusted more to the doll-for her commonsense; than the boy for his age and size. She has always been the more responsible of the two.

So why was I having so much trouble letting her stay home alone this one time? “I don’t trust the bozo’s out there who might try something…” I heard myself say to her. “It’s not that I don’t trust you…I don’t trust them…” I explained. “Mom, just who are “them”  you’re talking about?” She asked.

“The unknown” I acknowledged to myself. I’m afraid of leaving my baby to the unknown. In a few short years both of my kids will be on their way-away from their dad and I. As much as we like to pretend we’re excited for them I find myself feeling sorry for myself that they are growing up so fast. Allowing her to stay home alone is giving her another token of independence…permission to keep moving on-away from her dad or more importantly me. If she accompanied me to the party, while she would be bored, she would still be my baby… not my independent and growing into a nice young woman doll.

*****

“Doll, I’ll tell you what… there’s supposed to be thunderstorms headed this way tonight. I don’t trust the dog to not pee or poop throughout the house because of the thunder. But if you’re home with her…perhaps she won’t be as afraid…”I said to her. “Okay…” she replied, with surprise in her voice. “You are not allowed to tell anyone you are home alone-no one-not on the internet, none of your friends, no one, got it?” I asked. “Mom, I wouldn’t do that….” “Doll…you could let it slip without even realizing this. So why not grouse about how your brother is driving you nuts tonight…? I suggested. “Okay Mom.” she said. “Oh and do not open the door for anyone…got it?” “Mom, I’ll be fine.”

As I pulled out of the driveway, I argued with myself the entire drive to my friends home. In addition I could not allow myself to relax-to the point they’re used to seeing me. “Why didn’t you bring her with you?” One of them asked. “I wanted to…but she would have been bored…” I replied honestly. “True…but then you would be relaxed…” He replied. I laughed and said, “Perhaps”.

A few hours later when I pulled into our driveway, the house looked the same as when I left.

We both survived the night.

One a little sad, the other triumphant.

Both of us changed.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Recap….

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As the last hours of summer winnow away, I’m left thinking how will the rest of 2014 top this past summer? Here in my neck of the woods our summer season was more akin to a beautiful Spring which lasted for six months. Only a few days of extreme heat were felt, unless you traveled somewhere warm.  Fortunately for me, traveling was the name of the game this Summer…and I couldn’t feel more blessed by the opportunity than I do. This summer rocked.

I’m not sure if I can credit turning 50 at the end of May as the reason for my traveling summer, however I can say it certainly didn’t hurt. I celebrated my birthday with my siblings along with new/old friends in Charleston, SC in May; visited the wonderful world of Harry Potter, at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fl in June; ventured on down to Daytona beach and body surfed in the Atlantic Ocean at the end of July and then completed my travel plans by putting my toes in the very cold water of the Pacific ocean in August. How many people can say they’ve put their feet in both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans in a months time?  Of course traveling is fun but the trips wouldn’t be memorable if I didn’t learn a few things along the way, right? So here is my brief recap, complete with lessons learned from the 2014 Summer of travel…

IMG_1729Lesson 1: Never take AAA road maps at face value and never travel without                            a smart phone ever again.

The state of Ohio, from top to bottom usually takes about three and a half hours to drive through, road construction not withstanding. Our trip through Ohio took over seven hours due in large part to a massive traffic accident that wiped out three of the four lanes of traffic heading south. However, had we taken the time to study the AAA roadmap before starting out, we would have found a huge error which had us exit the highway heading south; get back on the highway heading north for ten miles, only to route us back going south. One giant circle which added almost an hour to our time. If either one of us had a smart phone with us, we could have found and alternate route. As such our beautiful drive to South Carolina took over 17 hours instead of the planned twelve. Needless to say, a few weeks later I was the new owner of an IPhone 5s.IMG_0148

Lesson 2: If traveling to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, go to Universal Studios first…  Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Potter…need I say more? My favorite moment from the entire trip was when the doll, filled with wonder and awe at the sight of Hogwarth’s Castle turned to me and said,”Thank you my muggle mother, for bringing me home.” I wasn’t sure whether to feel insulted for being called a muggle or happy that she was happy. In the end I went with happy…except for spending $40 on a wand I haven’t seen since.

Lesson 3: Modest Mouse’s Float On message says it all: Life is hectic and can get crazy. The solution is to keep going…because that’s what we do…we float on to the next engagement. At the end of July, my hubby, his brother and I floated on the waves of the Atlantic ocean body surfing onto Daytona Beach Shores. The kids, who for some reason, have never been able to master the art of body surfing, jumped the waves and snorkeled instead. IMG_0523That week’s vacation was the pinnacle of all vacations as we did absolutely nothing other than walk the beach for morning exercise, eat breakfast, take naps, go out for lunch, take more naps and then go swimming in the ocean. Sometimes a week of doing nothing is the best way to prepare yourself for your what comes next… and we all float on alright.

Lesson 4: Don’t forget to look around… When my friend Cathie and I were walking upIMG_1944 and down the Hollywood walk of fame, we kept marvelling at all the actors, singers and others we didn’t recognize. In addition we kept failing to look around to see where we were. At one point Cathie said, “What the heck is that?” Taking a moment to look up, we realized we were outside of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater the central hub of the area. Another time we stopped to look up and found the Hollywood Hills sign, nestled behind an open air restaurant mall.  Later that night, while walking around Downtown Disney awaiting the arrival of my friend Patsy, I stumbled upon an interesting sign-not hidden mind you, but placed in an area where people wouldn’t necessarily be looking, upon their arrival to the park.

Well this blog has certainly gone on much longer than I intended so I thank your for taking the time to read. As for my children and their lessons learned? The doll learned she needs to be nicer to everyone…most especially her grandmother who financed the Orlando and Daytona trips. The boy learned that drinking water was essential to keep from having a heat stroke. My hubby learned that life is but a dream if his wife is happy and I of course learned dreams come true…especially when hard work is employed to make them happen.

Thank you all for reading these blogs… I certainly do appreciate you all!!

 

 

ain’t it fun….

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“Doll, who’s your favorite band right now?” I asked a few months back. Shrugging her shoulders she replied, “Um, I like a couple different bands…” “Ooookay cool…” I drew out, hoping she would elaborate with a name. “I love Paramore” she finally said. “Really? I have some Paramore in my music file…I can add them to yours if you like…” I offered. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I already downloaded the songs I like…” Oh…okay…well if you change your mind….” I replied and swore I heard her say “As if” under her breath as she exited the room.

Oh brother.

******

I was in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner, listening to music when the doll walked in looking for an after dinner snack. As the music wafted around the kitchen, she struck up a familiar pose; standing in front of an open refrigerator door, while her eyes perused her choices. Pulling out a container filled with cut strawberries she turned to me and asked, “Is this Beyoncé?” I nodded yes. “What’s the name of this song again?” She asked. “Irreplaceable…” I replied and was surprised when she added, “This is one of the best songs ever…” Smiling I nodded in agreement; not totally sure if she were being sarcastic or not. Just then her dad entered the room and announced “Oh Jeez must we be subjected to this feminist music?” I laughed as I snapped my dish towel at his frame.  Grabbing her strawberry with whipped cream filled bowl, the doll rolled her eyes and said,  “Oh really? Feminist? Whatever Dad.”  then lifted her right hand to give me a high-five on her way out of the kitchen.

Her dad faking hurt feelings turned to me and said, you realize she just got out of putting the strawberries away right?” Grabbing the strawberry container off the counter to put away, I turned to her father and said, “Little consequence for discovering that being a girl does not mean you can’t be a strong force to be reckoned with…” “Oh Jeeze…” He replied. “Okay tell me what’s your excuse for not putting stuff away-or namely putting your morning cereal bowl in the dishwasher every morning?” I asked. Opening his mouth to respond, he thought better of the argument, closed his mouth and exited the room. “I didn’t think so…” I uttered under my breath and went back to cleaning.

*****

The doll and I on occasion stumble upon the same likes in music. This doesn’t happen very often and I’m sure she believes the only reason I like a certain song is because I’m attempting to “fit” in more with her. While that sounds like a good premise, my response  is “Hardly!” The other night while listing to Pandora a Good Charlotte song from 2006 came on. Looking at her I asked, “Is that Good Charlotte?” Glancing down at her IPod, she nodded. “Hey, I have that CD around here somewhere…” I said happily surprised she was listening to them. Shrugging her shoulders she replied, “Don’t rush off to find the CD mom…they came up in the rotation and I didn’t feel like changing the song”.

God forbid…

joyfully depressing….

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IMG_1753-0For some time, the doll’s favorite color has been blue. Though lately, judging by the colored clothing (or lack of color there is) she’s chosen to wear, you might believe her favorite color(s) to be black or gray. Earlier this year, while attending a wedding in Charleston, SC, the doll pointed to the chair in front of us and said, “Look mom, we’re in my color palate”. But I digress. While looking through a bag of hand me over clothing the other day, she explained to my sister Ann Marie and I, what her true color palate was-less we forget: “Blue-though, the darker side of navy blue, black, silverish gray and white”. “You know, you can’t wear white after Labor day…” I said with a smirk. Giving me her best “You’re an idiot” look-you know, the one she usually reserves only for her brother; she asked, “What are you talking about?” Smiling back at her I replied, “An old antiquated fashion rule…of only wearing white in the summer”. “Well that’s just dumb, Mom”, she replied with a head swivel full of attitude.

Yet as much as the doll loves the darker colors against her peach colored skin, she is fully aware that other’s may find them drab and depressing.

******

The doll, surprised me the other day, as we sat in church. Leaning over she quietly asked me, “Am I a depressing person?” Without hesitation I replied, “No, on the contrary, you’re a joy!” and rubbed her back with my right hand in a reassuring manner. “Do you see yourself as a depressing person?” I asked. Shaking her head “No” she replied “How can you tell I’m not a depressing person?”  Our parish priest was in the middle of delivering a beautiful homily about not allowing other’s to steal your joy and I found this an interesting parallel with what he was talking about. “Doll, tell me, do you mope around all day? Do you point out other’s shortcomings? Do you walk around depressed, spreading doom and gloom wherever you go?” “No” she replied and then nodded at the understanding of what I asked. “You’re clothing not withstanding, I think other’s would see you as I do as someone with an absolutely beautiful smile, who is funny and friendly and enjoys being around others. If you were a depressing person, you would be the one out to steal other’s joy. But from where I’m sitting, you’re more likely to be helping spread joy than not”.

Then we both returned our attention to the priest as he finished up his homily. Once he concluded she looked back at me and said, “I really like his sermons”. Surprised I smiled back and said “Me too”.

****

As we walked home the doll looked at me and asked, “What’s depressing about my clothing?” Smiling back I replied… “Okay you have a depressing color palate…” “Like you know fashion mom…” She replied and all I could do was laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cats in the cradle…

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A few years back, the doll used to go out of her way at bedtime, to make sure I knew how much she loved me. Our nightly ritual of saying prayers, followed by an actual hug and a kiss, morphed over time, into her sending me virtual squeezy hugs and kisses. One night while I was away, working on a project, she called my cell phone to say goodnight using this tried and true method. What ensued was having my work mates watch me perform our night-time ritual of  having the life almost squeezed out of me, as the doll gave me the mother of all virtual loving hugs. Following the hug, the doll would always add…  “MMMMMMMMM MWAH!!” Which I mock complained made my cheeks soaking wet. As the result, we both went to bed happy and feeling loved.

As far as the boy was concerned, while he listened and occasionally participated in the virtual hug and kiss, he preferred giving me the real thing before climbing into bed. The way I figure, to each his/her own–I get hugs regardless.

However, lately our nightly bedtime ritual has been reduced to something I call the fly by hug and kiss:

“Goodnight Mom” The doll will utter as she barely makes an effort to lean over and place a kiss just above my head, without really touching anything other than the air. Then she straightens herself up, turns and attempts to leave the room, barring any interruption from her mother.

You do realize, this is always a failed attempt on her part, right? “Um Doll, what was that?” I ask. “Mom, I’m tired and on my way to bed.” she replies. “Would it kill you to take a few extra seconds and actually give me a kiss or lean down and give me a hug?” I ask. In response I usually receive an eye roll or a frustrated sigh. On good nights, she’ll lean into me, pretending to give me a hug-yet the only one doing any hugging here is me-hugging her. She instead leaves her arms dangling free in front of her making faces as if she were being squeezed too hard.

Ah yes… the joys of teenagers.

Yet something different happened last night.. after arriving home late from a friend’s house, I was happily surprised to see both my children had “supposedly” put themselves to bed. After locking the front door,  I turned to see my doll standing in the living room looking back at me. “Hi mom. I literally was just going to bed when I heard you come in.” She said. “Hey baby, have you finished all your stuff?” I asked. “Yes…” she said but then added, “I wanted to talk to you about something though…” (*On a side note, the doll never wants to talk to me about anything-except right before bedtime…) she said. Taking a seat, I invited her to open up which she did. We had a nice conversation about her Volleyball team’s new focus on team work and trust; in the wake of their horrible play Saturday. Once our talk was completed, she thanked me and turned to go to bed. Realizing she forgot to give me the “fly by” hug and kiss, she leaned over to do just that, but stopped and asked, “Mom, what’s wrong?”

A momentary flash of genius jumped into my head and I decided to employ her same tactics of leaning in, but not giving much more as she came near. Shaking my head back and forth I said, “Oh I don’t know, sometimes I just need a better incentive for getting a hug” and then tried to walk past her. “Oh…wait…here…” She said, blocking my path and then invited me to receive a very nice-not to heavy nor to light-hug goodnight.  As we began to part she asked “Hormones?” Smiling back at her I only shrugged as she turned toward her bedroom.

Why I needed the better hug was inconsequential of course. The only thing that mattered was that she offered to give me one and I accepted. Now the only challenge will be is to not use that same tactic too often…less she catches on….

costumes….

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For those keeping track…or wondering, the boy and his friend ‘A’ do not have any classes or share the same lunch period together this year. “Do you at least see her in the halls?” I wondered. “Yeah…on occasion.” He replied. “That’s too bad” I remarked. “Eh” he replied. On labor day, while I waited on the arrival of an airport shuttle at our hotel, I received a telephone call from A’s mom. “Hi Marsha, how are you?” She asked in a chipper voice. “Well I’m great…I’m in Los Angeles…” I replied. “Los Angeles? Why are you there?” “Actually I’m getting ready to come home after attneding a soap opera convention…” I said with a laugh. “Oh, how fun!! Listen, I won’t keep you, but we were wondering if the boy would be interested in accompanying my husband and A to the Fullhoose County Fair this afternoon?” She asked. A smile crossed my face as I realized this would be another non date for the boy (3 but who’s counting). “Well I’ll tell you what, let me give you my husband’s cell phone number..” I replied knowing full well the boy was probably taking advantage of no school and sleeping in. Once the call was completed and the shuttle arrived, we were off and moving for our long day’s ride home.

Shortly before boarding our flight home, I received a text from my hubby which read, “The boy has left for the fair…keep your finger’s crossed.” I enthusiastically replied, “Yeah!!” To which my hubby calmly replied, “I knew you’d be pleased”.

Yes the boy took a shower, left my house, got some fresh air, walked around with a cute girl (with her dad in tow) and had a nice afternoon reconnecting with a friend. What’s not to please?

*******

As the doll and I made our way to her Volleyball games on Saturday, I took a different route than usual, driving past a costumed holiday shop. Standing at the curb of the street, were three costumed characters waving to the drivers and holding up signs, presumably to remind us “potential” customers, Halloween and costume parties are fast approaching. The doll was busy talking to me about a bon fire she had attended the night before, when the three costumed characters came into view; causing her to stop talking and take a good long look at what she was seeing. As we sped past the characters the doll’s first reaction was, “What the…? before looking over at me and saying, “I’m not sure which is more disturbing….seeing Cinderella at the curb waving at me or seeing Cinderella with a beard waving at me…”

“Well to each his own doll” I replied while she sat there shaking her head bewildered.

Go on and kiss the boy….

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The doll approached me nonchalantly and said, “Hey mom, there’s a dance Friday at St. Mary’s….can I go?” “Are any of your classmates going?” I asked. “Yes…Amy and Emily will be there…” She replied. “Hmm…call around to some other girls and see if they are going too? Perhaps we could carpool…” I suggested. A short time later she replied, “Twin is grounded…but Nanci wanted to know if she came here after volleyball practice; could we take her with us and then her mom would bring me home later?” I didn’t have to think long on that prospect. “Yeah, sure that’ll work…” I replied.

The doll and her friends arrived shortly after volleyball practice, disappearing into her bedroom to get ready. Earlier in the day another Mother called and asked if we had room for one more. “Sure, the more the merrier” I replied. I was surprised how much time the girls wasted getting ready. I mean they weren’t overly dressed–just nice shirts and shorts. My doll, expertly wore her newly acquired Paramore concert T-shirt, tied at the bottom with a matching pair of black jean shorts. “Nice shirt…” I commented and was given a barely contained smile in return. “Doll is taking way too long…” Nanci said when they announced they were ready to go. “I can’t help it…you didn’t do a very good job applying my eye shadow…” the doll replied with a laugh. “Eye shadow?” I said. “Yeah mom, what’s the big dip?” “Uh…” I looked at all three girls with makeup duly applied, but said nothing. “It’s not my fault you’re too tall.” Nanci replied as we exited he house. “Doll where are your shoes?” I asked as we walked toward the car…” “Oh yeah, I was going to wear flip flops but decided I better not. I’ll be right back” She informed and then disappeared back into the house. “Hurry up!! Emily just texted me that they are playing really good music and we’re missing it!!” Nelly, the other girl yelled.

The ride to the dance is a fairly short one, usually a ten minute ride at most. I drove a few miles less than the speed limit and pretended to not pay attention to what the girls were talking about…namely boys.

“That was so funny at school today with what happened to Brock…” One of the girls said. “Oh yeah…” the other two giggled, yet didn’t elaborate for me what happened. “How many boys do you have in your class this year…six?” I asked. Last year at the end of the school year, five families chose to leave and send their boys to technical school this term. “No, we have some new boys…” “Are any of them cute?” I asked with a smile. “Mother!!” The doll replied in a mock shocked tone. The other two girls said, “Kinda”. Then the doll, who was riding shotgun said, “What if I get kissed by a boy tonight?” Before the thought was completely out of her mouth, Nelly and Nancy echoed the question, amid a myriad of giggles

I’m not sure if she wanted to see if my reaction resulted in us getting into a car accident or if I would be nonplussed. The other girls giggled at the prospect that one of them might get kissed (tonight).

“Hey, hey… You trying to get us all killed?” I asked with a laugh. The girls giggled in reply. “Mom…” the doll leaned close  and asked, “How old were you when you first kissed a boy…?”

A year or so ago the doll asked me that same question and I told her the truth before I realized she was on the cusp of being that very same age. As the question hung between us, I briefly wished I could jump back in time and tell David Gensbechler that at twelve, I was much to young to be kissed.  Even if at the time that wasn’t true.

“Doll, you already asked and I answered that question some time ago. I don’t feel the need to rehash that conversation now” I replied, unwilling to let the girls in on my past boy kissing life”. “C’mon mom….tell us…” The doll coaxed. “Hey look…we’re here…” I said, never so happy to see the school auditorium. “Be good and have fun…” I called to the girls as they exited the car. The doll lingered long enough to say, “We will, thanks Mom” and then boom…she was off catching up with her friends, entering the dance in search of a mystery.

I drove home shaking my head most of the way.

*****

The next day as she and I walked to church I asked, “So hey…did you kiss any boys?” The doll’s answer was quick and short…”No, Thank God!”

Thank God indeed.