is there something I should know?

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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….

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“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…

Dear diary…mayybee

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“Mom, when you were my age, was it normal to write your feelings down in a book or journal?” The doll asked me one night. Smiling back at her I replied, “Doll, girls have been keeping diaries since time began. Yes it’s perfectly normal to write your feelings, thoughts, poems, short stories down in a journal” I replied. “Did you ever keep one?” She asked. “Sure, in fact I still have a few here somewhere…” I informed. “Would you mind letting me see what you wrote?” She wondered. “Not at all…” I said and went off in search of them. The first book we happened upon was part biology notebook, part journal. “If you notice here…” I pointed out, “I liked to doodle a LOT”. Sprinkled across many pages was my full name; employing different styles of cursive. “Boy your handwriting has changed over the years…” the doll noted. “Yep…I suppose I could still write like that if I took my time..” I replied. “I like your signature now mom. Mine is boring.” She explained. “Yours is written by a twelve-year-old. Who know’s, when your 50 perhaps it will look similar to mine” I suggested. She shrugged her shoulders and continued perusing my journal.

“Wow mom, really?” The doll said with a smirk. “Really what?” I wondered. “You listed your top 100 bands…half of these guys I’ve never heard of before…” She remarked. “That’s because you’re twelve…” I said and then began perusing the list. After a few minutes of scanning I had to concur with the doll; who were some of the bands listed here? “Who is the Marshall Tucker Band?” She asked. Instead of telling her, I decided to sing a few bars using my wildly out of tune voice as my only instrument. “Can’t you see, Oh can’t you see…What that woman, she’s been doing to me…” “Really mom?” the doll replied. “Or how about,  ‘Green grass and high tides forever, Castles of stone, soul and glory, Lost faces say we adore you, As kings and queens bow and play for you…” and then to emphasize the song, I began playing my air guitar to the imaginary riff of music playing in my head. For my effort I received a look of disdain from my daughter, which only encouraged me to pretend to play more. 

“Mom, no! Stop! Stop mom! Mom-grow up!” The doll said loudly, bringing me out of my air guitar reverie. “Oh you’re no fun…” I replied. “Well you’re acting all weird..” she replied. “And your point is…?” I shot back. “Mom… why did you write down all these bands?” “Oh I don’t know…I was probably bored one day…” I replied. “But where are your feelings? I don’t see anything written down here about how you felt about certain people and things”. “Ah…well because I had other people in the house who could read my stuff and then use it against me later”. “You mean like Uncle Danny?” She wondered. “Yeah him-he was a brat like that…” I added before changing course. “Listen doll…I used to create poems and write down the lyrics to songs that I liked. I even wrote a short story once and gave it to a teacher to read. But she never returned the darn thing. Either she forgot, or what I wrote was really bad and she wanted to spare my feelings.” I said with a smile. “My point is, I used stories and poems as my creative outlet. That’s where I placed my feelings. That doesn’t mean you have to do it the same way. We all have ways of releasing our feelings. You just have to figure out how to release yours–so long as they are not too loud or directed at me, your dad or your brother…” I added with a smile. “Well that’s no fun…” She hrumpfed and crossed her arms across her chest. “Yes two can play that ‘no fun’ game” I said in reply.

“Feelings are really tricky at this age…” She said to me. “Yes…they are. Feelings can also betray you…so you need to be wary of them” I said. “So it’s normal if I want to write them down in a journal or notebook?” The doll asked. “Perfectly. Sometimes doing so is the best way to get past some anger or animosity you have toward someone. However,  if you ever write a nasty letter to someone, don’t ever mail it. Get the feelings out and then destroy the darn thing. Otherwise you end up opening a can of worms, you’d rather have remained closed. She nodded her head in understanding and added, “You’re probably right…” To which I replied, “And again wonders never cease.” She graced me with a half-smile before saying “Thanks” and then exited the room.

I looked back down at the Marsha Top 100 1980 edition, landing on the Alan Parson’s Project and a wave of nostalgia crossed by brow. Finding them on YouTube, I picked up my air guitar and began playing along to “Wouldn’t Want to be Like You”.

Ah yes…

talking to save…

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In the summer of 2009 we found out our boy was being bullied by a few boys from school-one in particular whom he thought of as a good friend. This boy had spent the night at our house and vice versa; several times, yet when pressured around other kids, found life easier to support the bullies than the boy. I called his mother, also a very good friend of mine in tears and explained the situation to her. “I can no longer allow your son over to my house. I have to support my boy” I said. Ten minutes later she called me back and asked if we could have a face to face meeting-so the boys could clear the air…and we did. The boy forgave him and they went back to being friends. “I couldn’t let this become a strain on our relationship” My friend said. Looking back I have to agree with her-had the boys not talked things out, she and I would not have the friendship we have today. Talking things out is the best answer-even when scared to do so.

*****

The other night the doll entered the kitchen prepared to talk with me. As you know, our more serious conversations only occur in the car, so I was a bit surprised when she started this conversation. “Mom, do you remember when you and Ms. C had the boy and her son sit down together-to air out their differences?” “Yes” I replied. “Is there a way you could set one of those up with Jenny and her mom?” Looking back at her a little stunned I asked, “Why?” in reply. “Well as you know there are a few things that she’s done in the past that we haven’t resovled that’s wasn’t very “best” friend like to me and I want to know why. I mean she was mad at me about something and she posted it on the pick internet “site” for strangers, who don’t even know us to pick sides and comment on. Why would she do that? Those people don’t know me or her but she invited them into our business.” She said visibly upset. Shaking her head she added,  “And another time I told her a secret that I didn’t want to get around and I found out later she had told Stephanie. I don’t know if she’s trying to get my attention or what, but she’s going about it the wrong way.”  “Okay…” I said in reply. “I just thought if we had a chance to sit down and talk-with maybe you and her mom around, she might actually tell me the truth. Otherwise she might think I’m bullying or being mean to her-which is the last thing I want her to think” She explained.

WOW-is this my daughter? I thought. This is awfully mature…am I in the Twilight zone?

“Um, okay, I’ll text her mom in the morning…” I said. “But doll, you know, if your going to bring up all her flaws, you have to be prepared to hear your own” I said. “What flaws?” She asked. “I don’t know…but I’m sure you have them. They could be anything like you talking to someone other than her in the hall…or maybe she perceived you as dissing her-when all you were doing is walking down the hall to the bathroom. Something made her mad enough at you to do those dumb things…” I explained. She nodded her head and said, “Fair enough. I’d rather us be on equal footing. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have any friends. I don’t want her to feel like that. But if she keeps doing these things, then that’s where she’s gonna find herself”. The doll replied then excused herself from the room.

*****

The next morning I texted Jenny’s mother “Hey this is gonna sound odd but…the doll would like to have a moderated talk with your daughter…with you and I in attendance-so the girls can clear the air. What do you think?”A short time later she replied and we set up a time to meet on the weekend.

 

 

 

 

Baby it’s cold outside….

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The other day, Mary Alice and I helped out at a funeral luncheon, taking place at my daughter’s school. The windows to the room we were in, looked out onto the adjacent park, where the students play during lunch recess. Standing across the street in her uniform skirt and wearing a thin button down hoody, stood my doll; arms wrapped around her chest shivering with her friends. When I arrived home that day I asked, “Doll, were you a bit cold today during recess?” “Oh My God Mom, it was freezing out there” She replied. “So…tomorrow you’re wearing your winter coat and some pajama bottoms or sweat pants right?” I asked. “Why?” she said. “Why? Didn’t you just tell me you were freezing?” I tried. “Well so was everyone else…” She explained.

SMH

“Doll” I said in a droll tone. “Sooo what you’re telling me is…you’re okay freezing and possibly getting sick for the sake of being like everyone else?” Rolling her eyes and slumping her shoulders forward and in lieu of getting a lecture from me, she promised to take her winter coat with her from now on.

Fast forward two days….

While driving home for lunch, in between my appointments, I drove past the same park and there stood my doll huddled with her friends, wearing the same uniform combination…and shivering. Glancing at the temperature gauge in my car (which read 28 degrees Farenheit), for a half a second I thought about going over and admonishing her for freezing to be “cool” with her friends. But then I thought back to when I was her age and probably felt freezing among friends was “cooler” than staying warm too. So I continued on toward home, smiling at the memories from the last time  I froze with friends instead of dressing to stay nice and warm….

-November 2013, during an OSU vs. MU football game party…

I guess that apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree after all…

 

 

 

how to keep a mom away….

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The doll and I have been discussing Christmas presents that don’t cost an arm and a leg-to perhaps give to her friends. “How about you just buy them some candy?” I suggested-kind of hoping (I) to get off cheap. “Mom, really? Candy is so 5th grade” she replied. “I know…wait, how about this…?” I said before excusing myself from the room. Running upstairs to the master bathroom, I pulled out some bath gels and lotions I had been given, but never opened.  Coming back downstairs I said, “Doll, look here’s some lotions and bath gels you could give to your friends and look like a big spender.” Giving me the “You gotta be kidding” look she replied, “Why?” Lifting the cap off, so she could take a whiff of one of the items I said, “Don’t give me that look; they have never been used. In addition, if you were to walk into their store tonight, you’d see these gels and lotions for sale on their shelves.” Replacing the cap on the bath gel, I added, “See they don’t smell bad do they…?”  She nodded her head in agreement. “Why don’t you ever wear them?” She asked. “Primarily because I’m allergic to perfume. Regardless how benign the smell…I still can’t wear or wash with them” I explained. “Okay…” She replied and carried the bath gels and lotions into her bedroom.

Hmm…Maybe I will come off cheap with the re-gift I thought.

A day later…. I walked into the house and was immediately stopped in my tracks. “Honey what’s that smell?” I asked. “What are you talking about?” He wondered. I had barely stepped through the threshold of my house and was hit immediately by the need to sneeze and did. “Are you kidding me, can’t you smell that?” I questioned. “I don’t smell anything he said. All of a sudden the doll appeared in the hallway and began running toward me. She was fresh from the shower and approached with wet hair. Smiling she said “Hello Mother!!” As she drew closer, my eyes narrowed at the realization of what was happening. “You used some of that bath gel didn’t you!?!” I asked backing up. She smiled and replied, “Why yes…don’t I SMELL wonderful?” She asked sarcastically. “Doll…I told you I was allergic to that stuff…” I said in return a bit perturbed. “I know. I just wanted to see how allergic you are. You know…this is a good way to keep you away from me…” She said with a smirk.

“Oh and I love you too…” I returned as she giggled. “Could you please step away from me?” I asked and entered the kitchen while the doll followed; continuing to taunt me. “Mom are you seriously allergic to this?” She asked. “Doll..I wouldn’t have offered for you to give this stuff away if I wasn’t”. I replied. “Sowwy” she said before strutting out of the kitchen. Just then my husband entered the kitchen and said, “I can’t believe you gave her the smoking gun…” Turning to face him, the only thing I could do was say, “You-shut up!”

 

the writing on the wall….

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The boy was up at the crack of dawn and in jovial-his word-spirits this morning, happy to be going back to school. Yesterday I left a message asking his teachers to forward his homework to my email address-so when he came back to school he wouldn’t be too far behind. “Sorry mom, I don’t have those books at home…” He quietly said to me. Glancing at the clock and noticing the time I asked, “What’s your locker combination?” A half an hour later I walked in with all his books and bid him a fond adieu until all his homework was finished. Around 9 pm, he entered the kitchen smiling and saying, “I can hardly wait to go to school in the morning”. Looking back at him curiously I asked, “Are you feeling alright? For the first time all week your spouting gibberish…” He smiled and added his customary, “I love you…” while I replied in kind.

******

“Don’t you think “Writings on the wall” song lyrics are a bit pretentious?” The boy asked on our morning drive to school. “In what way?” I replied. “It just seems some singers add that line in hopes of making the songs sound as if they are conveying more wisdom than they actually are” He explained. We sat in silence as the music he was referring to played in the car. “Bay, I think they’re referring to the fact that there are signs all around us to see…that we may not be open to.” I offered. “Do you really believe that happens?” He asked me. “Did you find your hat this morning?” I asked. “No…” He replied. “But if I go home and find the hat by lifting up something that could be concealing it from your view…what does that tell you?” I asked. “It means it was hidden…” He said not following my logic. “Okay-true…but if you had taken the time to lift  the article-in your search…is it still hidden or are you ignoring the signs-the wherewithal of where your hat could be?” “What does that have to do with seeing the writing on the wall?” He asked now getting perturbed. “Bay everyday things are written on the wall that we ignore…like finding your hat under your clothes from yesterday. The writer of the song is trying to convey to us to pay attention-open your eyes-see what’s right in front of you…what’s written on the wall…” I tried.

“You read way too much into lyrics Momma” He finally replied. “Yeah…well you don’t read enough….” I added with a smile. “Well let me assure you…the lyrics to 7 Nation Army are dumb gibberish” He smiled. “Well, bay…Rock and Roll is filled with gibberish…but if you have a good guitar riff…who cares?” Smiling back at me he pointed and said, “Good point” Before wishing me a good day as he exited the car. Yep the boy is feeling better…