the critic…

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The boy was given a weekend deadline to finish his Star Wars review before the paper went to the printer Monday afternoon. “Mom, you realize I’m doing this for fun, right?” He said to me every time I asked him if he was working on the review, rather than being connected to and distracted by, the internet. “Nonetheless, you made a commitment to write a review for them and you already missed the original deadline. Get busy, get ‘er done and be proud of what you’ve written.” I pushed.

*******

On Friday, Mrs. K and I arrived at the school at 3:15 hoping the wait for my boy to exit the school would be short, but the boy, who took his own sweet time exiting her womb almost 17 years ago, still takes his own sweet time exiting the school. When the rear car door opened at 3:45 pm I said, “BAY, What the…” but was cut off by his apology, “I’m sorry Mom, sorry Mrs. K, I couldn’t help it…” “Bay, you know I have better things to do than sit here for forty-five minutes waiting for you…” I said. “I have a good reason, though…” He tried. “Who were you talking with today?” I asked, as his usual excuse for not leaving the school in a timely manner is that he was enjoying a conversation with someone.

“When I was leaving Religion class, Ms. Peeples approached me and said, ‘We will mince words after school…'” He smiled at the memory. “Why’s that?” I wondered–I don’t even know who that teacher is, frankly. “She’s a teacher who read my review of Star Wars and took umbrage with how many stars I gave the film. So after school I went back to her classroom to discuss the movie and why I only gave it 8.5 out of 10 stars and then we ended up having a conversation about a whole list of other movies. So you see, I wasn’t late on purpose”. He replied, paused and then added, “Whats more, I think I’ve made a new friend”.

“Do you have a copy of the newspaper?” I asked so I could read his review (and save the copy or posterity) and he replied, “Yes, but it’s not my best work…” “Because you procrastinated getting it done…” I added. “Mom, could we hold a moratorium on what you think I should have done please?” He asked and I laughed before adding, “So long as you don’t take forty-five minutes to an hour leaving the school, without calling and telling us you’re going to be late, first”

He grumbled and then said “Deal” as we continued our car ride home.

a talented few….

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In recent years, there has been a plethora of reality television programs aimed at showcasing very talented children who compete for top prizes. For the last few months, my doll and I have been transfixed watching kids age 13-17 compete on the fashion vehicle Project Runway Junior; a spin-off from the popular adult Lifetime television show. While my doll and I, well mostly I, have zero fashion sense, we do enjoy watching other people’s creativity spark to life regardless if they’re making evening wear or avant-garde fashions. As the result, she and I have made Project Runway on Thursday nights, appointment television viewing.

Last night, while watching the season finale, the doll said to me, “I don’t know who’s more nervous, Maya or me…” as she pulled the throw blanket up, shielding her face from view. Laughing I replied, “Well obviously Maya is…” and was shushed in return. “Maya….(a long pregnant pause)… Congratulations you are the winner of the first Project Runway Junior!” The show’s host announced while the doll and I whooped and hollered about her win, not because she was our favorite, but because she is from our hometown and our favorite. She was also the youngest competitor, winning the title at the very young age of fourteen.

Sitting on the couch next to my own (soon to be) fourteen year old I remarked, “See what can happen when you put your mind to something?” “Of course it helps if you have talent,” she replied. “Doll you have loads of talent. Stop selling yourself so short,” I insisted and was met with a “Whatever,” in reply. 

Which isn’t surprising. Lately the doll has shown a lot of interest in baking. “Mom could you pick up some peppermint extract for me? I have a new recipe idea I’d like to try.” She asked me the other day and then proceeded to make a Girl Scout style thin mint cookie. “What are you doing with this chocolate?” I asked looking at a bowl of melted morsels. “I’ve tempered the chocolate to coat the cookies…” She replied. Looking at my husband I asked “Tempered?”  “I watched a video on YouTube…” She replied and then explained “It’s melted chocolate used as a coating to create a shiny exterior on the cookie”. 

 Oh. 

With her birthday looming next week, I thought about signing her up for some baking lessons, but have been unsuccessful in finding any in my area for kids under eighteen. “What would you like for your birthday?” I asked, hoping she’d say a cake this year, rather than a giant cookie. “Oh I don’t know, maybe more flour and sugar,” she responded. “What?” I asked. “You mean for presents?” She asked. “No for your friends to eat, cookie, cake, brownie…?” “Oh a cookie is fine.” She replied. Nodding to her reply I returned “So you want baking supplies for your birthday present?” Taking a moment to think she replied, “Yeah, I think so. There are so many videos on YouTube showing how to make delicious baked goods, I kind of wanna try them all.” She replied.

Surprisingly, not unlike Maya, from Project Runway Junior when asked how she learned to sew… 
 

 

Oops! 

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I’ve just pulled into the parking lot of my son’s school, awaiting his emergence from the building, when I picked up my iPhone to “play” while I wait when it dawned on me, I’ve forgotten to write the blog. 

Bad Marsha! 

But I have kind of an excuse… 

Taxes. I’ve done everything in my power to avoid getting started on them until today and well, even today has presented their own challenges to getting started.

-A shelf in our entertainment center decided to dump all its contents.

-A drawer we use to keep video games is haphazardly filled, forcing me to empty, reorder and put back together, so I can put a game from the fallen shelf away.

-the new printer decided it no longer liked my laptop and completely dumped its program, forcing me to find the program disk, to upload.

-a Pilates workout.

I know the word “tax” is supposed to address money, however I think it also means a tax on our mental and physical systems–I’m exhausted and have barely started.  But there is always tomorrow and the weekend. 

Sigh

one of the many mysteries…

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“Mom, I don’t get it…” the doll said, half smiling, yet mostly flabbergasted. “What’s that doll?” I asked. “Why is it that I can walk past this couch every day without incident, then out of the blue, the couch somehow jumped out at me, causing me to trip and run into the entertainment center?” She explained while rubbing her newly bruised thigh. “I hear ya doll, there have been several times when I’ve walked past an open door and somehow, inexplicably, my pants pocket have grabbed a hold of the door handle, causing the door to slam into my backside”. “Exactly!” She exclaimed. “Why does that happen?” She asked. Shaking my head, I replied, “It’s just one of the many mysteries in our lives,” and smiled.

“That’s a horrible answer,” she replied.

“Yeah, I agree. But that’s all I got. I mean seriously, if I tried to hook my pocket on the door handle as I walk past, nothing ever happens. Yet when I’m not trying, boom, I get caught and held in place. It’s like the universe is waiting to play a practical joke on me,” I replied.

“So what your saying is God is waiting for a chance to make fun of me–painfully, I might add?” She asked. “Probably not God per se, maybe some lesser demons or ghosts,” I began. “Who knows, maybe they have a wicked sense of humor…” I replied. “Well now  you’re just freaking me out,” She said causing me to smile. “Next time the “couch” jumps out at you, act like Dick Van Dyke and somersault over the darn thing and keep  moving forward as if nothing ever happened.

“Who?” She asked. “Dick Van Dyke,” I replied.  She slightly turned head to the left and looked a bit befuddled. “Dick. Van. Dyke!” I replied again. Without giving me a hint of recognition, she said, “I guess that’s another one of your little mysteries, huh?” I looked back at my daughter shocked and asked, “How in God’s name did you escape learning who Dick Van Dyke is and his ability to gracefully recover from an ottoman attack?” Then, pointing at the couch, I ordered her to  “Sit, watch and learn!” and then turned on Netflix and introduced her to the comic genius.

Afterward, I asked her, “So what did you think?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Eh, he was alright…” which in turn caused me to shake my head. Dear God, I can add my doll to the list of the many little mysteries in life.

 

 

the bribery class system…

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The other night at my brother’s home, my sister-in-law put out a tray of cold-cuts and assorted bagels along with other condiments, in order for us to make sandwiches. My son, however, under the belief pizza was going to be served chose not to eat. “Bay, go make a sandwich…” I said. “Uh, no, I’m good. I’m not really hungry,” He replied.

My son is nothing if not predictable. Once he has an idea in his head on the way something should be done, he digs his heals in further and become very stubborn, not wanting to move. Hence his repulsion for eating a sandwich, in replacement of pizza.

Not backing down I replied, “Go make yourself a sandwich.” “Mom, I’m fine, I’m not hungry right now,” He replied, his voice beginning to rise with ire. “Bay, you like ham, go make yourself a sandwich,” I reinforced while his cousins, became increasingly aware of our disagreement. “MOM, I’m fine, why won’t you believe me?” He asked, his voice raised even higher. “Because I know you. So here’s the deal, if you want to spend the night at your Grandmother’s tonight, I suggest you make yourself a sandwich, otherwise, you can come home with me, when I’m ready to leave” (Note, the “when I’m ready to leave” usually means later than when he’d like to leave).

Then I lifted my hand to show my five fingers and silently began counting down, beginning at 5, 4, 3…” until he turned in frustration and began to make himself a sandwich. My brother Bill, looked at my husband and asked, “Why aren’t you in on this?” to which he replied, “Why? Marsha has this handled–look the boy’s making a sandwich,” and I simply smirked back at him.

I am always the bad guy.

“How often do you have to bribe him to get stuff done?” Someone asked me. “Probably not any more than anyone else,” I added. “What else have you bribed him on recently?” they returned. “He’s currently getting a ‘B’ in French. If he can keep that up to the end of the semester, he’ll get a $50 Amazon gift card, which is well worth the cost,” I added. “Okay, any more?” “He shaved this morning so I gave him a set of headphones for his ipod. “Anything else?” “He finished writing his latest review of Star Wars for the student paper over the weekend and I gave him a new power cord for his devices.” “You seem to be bribing him more than the rest of us do with our kids,” they said. “Well to be clear, the last two things are stuff he was going to get anyway, regardless of the bribe. I just put receiving them to better use.” Then I added, “Have you ever said to your kids anything like, “If you don’t get a move on, we’re going to be late, an you know how much you hate being late?” I asked. “Yeah, almost every day…” “Then what is different between your bribe and mine?” I asked. “I’m not offering monetary reward,” He replied. “No, but you’re offering them a chance at getting something, a reward for not being late–even if minor and for themselves, they’re still feeling rewarded. I think sometimes we need to be creative so… whatever works, works.”It’s not the same…” He said. “Maybe not to you…” I replied and dropped the subject.

A short time later, the boy and his father left and the doll and I continued to enjoy ourselves.

a God-incidence…

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My niece came toward me saying, “Thank you for coming!” and then embraced me in a hug. “Cori, I know there are no presents allowed,” I said, handing her a sealed envelope. “But I wanted to give you this…and there’s something inside the card, that’s not a “present” per se, but rather something I think you’re supposed to have…” I continued. She held the card for a moment and gave me a curious look, before ripping open the envelope and withdrawing the card inside. Taking a moment to read the card, she commented, “I like how you signed this too,” and then curiously looked at the opened, plain white envelope, I had placed inside.

*****

After school last Monday, my doll gave me a form from school to be filled with information in regards to her upcoming confirmation in April. One of the items the school needed was the date of her baptism. “Why do they need this? I’m sure the parish has it on file…” I complained to the doll. “Don’t you know it?” She asked. “It was either in April or May 2002,” I replied. “Can you call the parish office?” She asked. “I have the information somewhere upstairs, I just need to find it,” I replied and then set the form aside for later.

*****

Last Thursday, my older bro Bill called and invited us to attend his grandson’s baptism after 4 pm mass Saturday, at our church. Afterward, he was hosting a small celebration in his home. “Marsh, my wife tells me our older sisters have set the rules concerning baptisms for the next generation and they’ve determined we are not to have a big party and no presents are allowed. So, for the sake of keeping me out of the dog house with my wife, please bring your family and join us, but do not bring any presents,” he emphasized. Given that my brother’s children, (live out of town) would be “home” for the baptism, I happily thanked him for the invitation and the chance to see everyone, while also scheming for a way to slip my niece a present, when her mother wasn’t looking.

*****

Saturday morning, shortly after I awoke, I began looking in earnest for the baby calendar or the baptismal certificate I had tucked away somewhere in my bedroom. I opened my top dresser drawer and began rooting around in the back, under some clothing and pulled out a plain white envelope containing a small card with an illustration of an overflowing Irish shamrock plantar on the cover; which I read and smiled at the memory before setting it aside to continue looking. A short time later I found the doll’s baby calendar and spent the next hour happily reliving her first four months as well as finding the date I needed to complete the form.

*****

Reaching into the plain white envelope, Cori removed a small card with an illustration of an overflowing Irish shamrock planter on the cover. The only words inside the handwritten card said, “Congratulations on your new baby, Love, Busia”. Cori froze for a moment and then looked back at me for an explanation as tears began to fill her eyes. “Listen, I was looking for my doll’s baptismal date this morning and I came across this card your Busia (Maternal Grandmother) gave to me after one of the kids birth. I have no explanation why I still have this, in fact, I didn’t even know this existed until this morning. The only explanation I have is that your Busia used me to send you and PJ her love from Heaven,” I said and was instantly pulled back into another hug from my niece.

After a minute, Cori stepped back and said, “Aunt Marsha, there have been so many signs today showing me Grandma is here with us. The second reading at today’s mass (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13) was not only the same one read at my wedding but was also the one I read at her funeral. During mass I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “Well Grandma’s with us…” Now I have proof Busia was there too. Thank you so much!” She said hugging me once more, while tears continued to flow down her face. Then she said, “I need to go show this to my mom…” and disappeared out of the room.

******

Serendipity, providence, happenstance are just a few words one could use to adequately describe the events on Saturday. I was blessed with an incredible opportunity to be a conduit of love for a family. Frankly, if this isn’t what’s known as a God-incidence, then I don’t know what else could.

going forward….

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About two weeks ago, I posted my 1500th blog and didn’t even notice until the following week. I thought about going back and reposting the blog with a huge sign that read, “1500th blog!! Wow am I good or what?” but then thought better of the project. Instead, another milestone had passed and some of you, with nothing better to do, continue to read, even the horribly written, writer’s blocked, pushed through blogs. Thank you. The first week of March, I celebrate 6 years of writing and will revisit some of my favorite blogs–mostly because they wrote themselves. My kids are brilliant, insane geniuses and they have an obnoxious mother. I hope you’ll once again take the time to read them…again.

Speaking of writer’s block…

The boy this morning lamented he did not have a chance to finish his review of Star Wars, this morning for the school paper. “Is the review due today?” I asked. “Yes. I just feel off, not with it at all, this morning,” He offered as an excuse. “How long have you had to submit your piece?” I asked. “Four weeks”. He replied. “Four weeks!?!” I replied a bit surprised. “Well, I wanted to wait until I had seen the movie for a second time (which he did last Sunday), before submitting my final draft,” He explained.

“Time management bay,” I offered. “That’s not it…” He tried. “No?” “No, I just didn’t finish it this morning…” He tried again. “Bay, let’s look at this week alone… there was the two-hour delay you sat in a classroom listening to NPR—ample time for you to write a review. Then last night when you came home, you played video games for an hour and a half…” I said. “I needed to unwind from school…” He said. “I’m not discounting that argument bay, however, you knew you had something to finish and you chose play time over writing. In addition, after I kicked you off the television last night, what did you do with your time?” “I listened to some podcasts…” He replied. “Time management bay…not everything is about pleasuring yourself with games, videos, and podcasts”.

He grumbled aloud though I’m not sure if the grumble was meant for me and the lecture or the realization that he let himself down. Regardless, hopefully, he’ll (finally) learn the importance of not waiting for the last possible second to get a job done right.