Monthly Archives: January 2012

13…

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The boy has been acting different lately; not wanting to attend school; trying to convince me he’s too sick to go.  What we determined was,  he was not completing homework assignments.  He mistakenly believed, if he stayed home from school to finish the work, then the assignment couldn’t be late.  Nice theory.  Unfortunately, the boy has a mom who likes to prove theories wrong.

After repeatedly asking if something was happening at school that was fueling his aversion and getting no response, I decided to find out myself.   I wanted to be sure the bullying he endured last year was not resurfacing. 

Instead what I was told by his guidance  counselor was “He’s 13”.  That’s it? I wondered.  Then she continued,  “I have a parent who told me every morning she makes the kid get into the car in his pajamas and throws his clothes at him so he can dress on the way to school.  If they arrive at school and he’s still in his pajamas, then he’ll have to walk into the school carrying his uniform, hoping the embarrassment factor kicks into place.”  

Shaking my head I said, “So, this want to not attend school is normal behavior?”  “Yes.  Sixth and seventh grades are hard transition years.” she replied.  “Are you telling me I have six more months of this crap?” I said almost in tears.  “Just keep being a mom.  He may not like you in the morning, but by afternoon he’ll be fine.” 

Leaving her office I was glad to know he’s not being bullied; but not happy that my mornings will continue to be filled with angst.

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memory lane…

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Yesterday I had the good fortune to be summoned over to my dad’s house, to pay a bill for him online.  Normally when I’m summoned I go with some trepidation; he always has a shopping list full of things for me to do, while there.  Yesterday while he did hand me a list of things to be done,  he also offered me something else….a trip down memory lane.

“Mar Mar” he said, “Your cousins were over for a visit the other day and let me borrow a tape that has my mother’s voice on it.  Would you like to listen with me?”  Let me note here, my cousins mother,  Aunt Rosemary passed away two years ago at the ripe young age of 97.  The boy, upon first meeting my Aunt Rosie when she was 93 said to her,  “My, you have old and decrepid hands”.  Totally embarrassed, I hoped she was hard of hearing.  Instead she responded, “Well I suppose they are old and decrepid from your point of view” and then she began to giggle.

In any case, I found that what my cousins had actually done, was make a CD, from two different conversations that were recorded on audio tape for some reason. One from 1978 when my Grandma was relatively healthy at 94 and then another seven years later when she bed ridden.  The first conversation was the real jewel though, as not only did my Grandmother’s voice come back to life, so did my mom’s.  Buried in the backgroud, every now and then, I could hear her giggle, agree and join in on the conversation.  “Why are you laughing?” my dad asked.  “That’s mom!” I said with a smile.  “You’re mother’s on this tape?” he asked sounding excited to hear his soulmate’s voice again. “Yup!” I said.

Grabbing the CD, I uploaded the material to his computer and then turned up the speaker volume and restarted the conversation.  Watching my dad’s  face while he listened intently, was priceless.  “Is that your mother?” he asked.  “Yes and right there too” I added, replaying the part over again.  “Wow, I sound different…” he said musing at the sound of his own voice.  “Yeah, you sound younger dad”.  Snickering he said, “Well yeah, I was”.   My Aunt Rosie and Grandma carried most of the conversation–very topical in fact; noting all the changes happening  with the mass since the Vatican 2 changes were implemented.

Together he and I listened to this conversation over and over; each time capturing a morsel of sentimentality as we listened to our deceased loved ones talk with such vim and vigor; filled with so much life.  Finally after the third listen through he said he had had enough.  “Thank you for putting that on my computer where I could hear it.  When they played it the other day, all I really heard was back ground noise but I wanted them to think I heard more.” he said.  “Did you hear more?” I asked.  “I heard my sweet mother’s voice for the first time in over 30 years” he said wiping a tear away .  Then he looked at me and said, “…And we heard more than what was being said…”  Smiling back, I had to agree.

We heard love.

Cheerful news….

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As the kids prepared for bed last night I received a telephone call from my mother-in-law.  “Please tell me some cheerful news” she asked.  “Cheerful news?  Hmm, that’s hard to come by”  I thought.  “Yes, cheerful news.  I’ve been stuck working long hours the last few days, with nothing but tax paperwork and not so nice people.  So please, any morsel of cheerful news will do” she begged.  “Hmmm well I posted pictures online from the kitchen renovation” I said.  “I can look at those later.” she said then added “Please Marsha?”

I wasn’t purposely trying not to tell her anything, but I think the word “cheerful” threw me off.  This last week has been filled with cloudy drab days,  which seemed to carry onto our children.  Nary a day went by when they weren’t arguing and or yelling at one another.  Surely this could not be the “cheerful” news she wanted to hear.  Slowly but surely I came around and gave her some nuggets of information, nothing that inviting, nothing really exciting; just regular ordinary news.  Satisfied with my answers she thanked me for the time.  I felt bad, like I didn’t live up to her expectations, though she assured me simply talking to someone about anything other than taxes was “cheerful” enough.

After I hung up the phone, I proceeded onto the nightly ritual of putting the kids to bed, all the while still trying to find something cheerful.  Then I realized, regardless the weather or disagreeable children, every time I look into my kids eyes and I should see cheerful news.  Life  would be uneventful and boring without them-especially when they are at their most infuriating (the boy and his constant barrage of homework infractions) or determined (the doll’s constant planning for her birthday).

The cheerful news of the day?  I have two beautiful children who drive me nuts!  Oh, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Oh girls….

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The only drama I like, is the one I can watch on screens–movies, TV shows, daytime soap operas.  I do not like drama in real life, though the doll and her cousins are so dramatic sometimes, I wonder if they are destined to be actresses in the future.

Yesterday, while the girls completed their homework, I sat at the kitchen table watching an old Guiding Light episode, I found on YouTube.  Back in 2007, the show celebrated their 70th anniversary of broadcasting by taking a look back at how the show developed from a radio program to a pioneer in television history.  I figured this was a fitting tribute to celebrate what would have been 75 years yesterday; had the show not been canceled in 2009.

Meanwhile, the girls filtered in and out of the kitchen looking for after school snacks, while I sat watching the episode.  Why are they dressed like that?” Elle asked, after grabbing an apple from my refrigerator.   “Because they are supposed to be set in 1940 or so” I said in return.  Her interest peaked, she pulled up a chair next to me and began to watch.  Soon the doll and Mary wandered in, presumably looking for more food and found me and Elle watching the show.  After the two girls grabbed an apple each, they too worked to sit down and watch.

“Aunt Marsha, I’ve got a stomach-ache” Mary said.  “Are you still hungry?” I asked.  “No, I think it’s this stupid show your watching.”  “Well, no one said you had to watch this darling, so leave if it’s upsetting you.” I said in return.  She left for a minute, but realizing her sister and cousin were still watching, returned and forced her sister to share her chair.  “I thought you said this show was giving you a stomach ache” I said.  “Well, I think I just needed to sit down” she replied. 

Here we sat, watching an old episode of The Guiding Light and I was immediately transported back in time; my mom ironing clothes in the family room, while my brother and I crawled over cushions, creating a fort.   All the while, my mom’s stories played on the TV, filling the room with drama seldom seen in our daily lives. Now here I was, watching a soap with my daughter and nieces.  Once the episode ended, the girls asked to see another one.  So I picked one from the YouTube queue: the death of Tammy Lane-Randall.

I remember watching this episode the first time and crying all the way through.  The acting was brilliant; real grief poured out for these fictional characters. So I steeled myself against what I knew was going to be an emotional scene.  The girls however wanted to see me react.  As the emotion built, I caught Elle looking back at me.  “Are you crying?” she asked.  “No, I have a runny nose” I said in return, pointing my finger back at the screen for her to stop looking at me and watch the clip instead.  “Mom, is that the dead girls sister?” the doll asked, trying to sort out who was who. “No that’s her mother; the other woman is her aunt and that’s her husband.   “Wait, that girl is her mom?  Then why does she look so young?”  Mary asked. 

“Girls, this is a soap opera, just go with it, okay?”  I asked when their questions kept overlapping.  Back on-screen, “Tammy” dies and her husband overcome with grief begins to scream; crawling atop the dead woman and begging her to come back to life.  While an adult can understand these raw emotions, the girls began to giggle, embarassed by them.  “Why is he jumping on top of her?” one of them asked.   “Is he biting her?” another asks as the actor cries into her lifeless chest.  “Oh my goodness, why are they doing that?” the doll cries through her laughter. 

There I sat disgusted! The girls took my pleasure at watching this pain away from me.  Instead I was forced to listen to three little “pains” mock and make fun of my treasured guilty pleasure.  Not long after, I kicked them out of the kitchen to go and find fun elsewhere.  Just before leaving the kitchen, Elle turned and said mockingly, “Aunt Marsha are you going to go back and watch that so you can cry?” “No, I’m going to make dinner” I offered instead, wanting to stick my tongue out at the whole lot of them.

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When the kids were asleep, I went back onto YouTube and viewed that sad video clip again, this time allowing myself to feel the full emotion of the scene and cry.  Sometimes you need a catalyst to provoke tears and have a good cry.  That brilliantly acted scene was mine.  I miss having my soaps around, the characters, friends I’ve known for years. I’m saddened that even though my daughter mocked the scenes, we won’t have a chance to discuss the characters later, when we’re both watching together-much like my mom, sister and I did. 

Not to mention, the only real drama I want in my life, is what I view on a daytime scripted dramas, or soap operas. 

#Daytimefansunite is a FB page looking to get 100,000 “likes” to show the entertainment industry that scripted dramas are still a viable option for daytime television.  This is not a group simply a page.  If you could “like” the page, you might help save a dying art form, not to mention, offer something better to watch other than talk and cooking shows.

the name game…

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One of them is a meadow, another a town; but only one means life…which irks the other two to no end.

“Aunt Marsha, what does my name mean?” Elle asked.  I happened to be seated in front of our laptop at the time.  “Well, let’s see…” I said, putting her name in google to begin our search.  Let’s see….well in Hebrew it means “Life”.  “Hebrew?” she spit back at me, almost choking on the word.  “In English it means uncertain, desired.”  “What does that mean?” she asked me, hoping for better understanding. “It means, you’re complicated” I said, before adding “….and believe it or not, Elle can be used both as a boy or girl name”.  “WHAT??”  That last bit of information brought loud giggles from the other girls, as if now they had some useful information to torture Elle with.   Smiling I also added, “according to this site, your name was the most popular in the 1910’s-20’s, but has been making a comeback recently.”  Smiling, she looked over at her sister and said, “Ha! I’m becoming popular–so there!!”

Ignoring her sisters taunts,  Mary excitedly asked me to find information on her name too.  “Well your name means “bitter” in Hebrew and English.”  More laughter ensued. “Well that fits her to a T”  Elle shouted, amid the giggles.  “Stop it Elle!  Aunt Marsha, my dad has looked up my name before and it meant something completely different.”  Looking back at the data on my screen I added, “Well, let’s see your name is also a variation on the name of a town. Um, your name is 647th in terms of popularity….”  “I don’t mind that at all.  I’d rather have a name that not many people have.”  “Um, your name is only a girl name, however variations and similar names are as follows:  Elle, Amelia, Maddison and Grace.”  The two sisters looked at each other and burst into laughter; as in that list were one another’s middle names.  “I guess that means you two are related after all.” I added. 

Last by not least, the doll looked over at me and said, “I know you’ve looked up my name for me before, but could you do so again?”  “Sure, well first of all, your name means a meadow-which you knew.  Also your name is both a boy and girl name, right?  “Yes, but for boys its more of a last name right?”  “Yup. Let’s see what else…” I said as I perused the data.  “Well, in terms of spelling, your name is 817th on the popularity list; however, if you take all the different spellings and added them up, in  2006 you had the 6th most popular name”  “WHAT THE HECK!!” the doll said loudly.  “Well that just means your name is popular…” I said.  “Does it say anything else?”  She wondered.  “Hmm, your name is very popular in Ireland, Great Britain and the US. But it’s really popular in Australia!”  Smiling at her cousins she laughed and said, “Wow, I’m a world traveler”.  “You’re more of a goof ball if you….” I began to say before being cut off by the doll shouting “Hey!” at me.

Once the giggles subsided Elle strut around the kitchen, happy with what we found.  “Why are you so happy?” her sister asked.  “Think about it Mary, I am life while you’re just a bitter sister!”  Oh brother, I thought.  “Aunt Marsha, Elle’s being mean!” the older sister tattled to me.  “Yeah, well, darling, if the name fits…” I said and then walked out of the room.

a soup of a different flavor

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In and effort to show his parents, he can turn things  around  the boy has begun getting up extremely early for school; so he can attend the YMCA with his father and work out.  Together they will arrive shortly after 5:00 am and work out on the stair climber and if time permits, leg weights; three days a week.  On the other mornings, he may wake early and ride our  long unused, exercise bike, currently located in the basement.  “I’ve decided what my New Years’ Resolution is mom” he said to me the other day.  “I want to start exercising, build muscle and thin up”.  “There is more to getting into shape than just exercising bud, like your food choices for instance.  You have to eat more than grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese pizza’s and hotdogs.”  Shrugging his shoulders he replied, “Let me get the exercise going first, before you make me give up my favorite food.” 

At a month shy of 13 he is now 5’6 and weighs 146 pounds.  If he played football, he’d be fierce, but alas that’s not his game.  Instead he informed me of the new character development he’s come up with for a character in a book he’s writing.  “Are you writing this at school?” I asked.  “No, just in my head, but I’m really quite far with the characters.  The back story I’m still working on.”  “Have you thought about writing any of this down?”  I hoped.  “Nah, not until I’ve figured everyone out.  But I will someday.” He assured me. Someday could not come soon enough.

Last night at dinner, I made homemade chicken noodle soup.  The boy who never eats soup,  had two helpings.  When he finished I asked foolishly, “Boy, you normally hate soup, what gives?””For once mom, it tasted good.”  Then as if catching the fact he had just dissed me he backtracked and added, “That is to say, that for once it sounded good to me, not that you don’t make the most delicious food on planet….” “ya, ya ya” I said cutting him off.  Giving me a sheepish grin he looked at me and said, “Mom?  I love you!”  Smiling back I replied “love you too”. 

Our mutual love was interrupted when the doll  walked into the room and said, “Jeesh, mom, what’s the big deal it was only soup!”  Looking at his sister the boy smiled and said, “Not just any soup doll, but magic-the boy ate something other than cheese-soup”. Shocked, I laughed and said, “What he said!”

doll conversations….

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“Mom!!” the doll stood in the hallway, looking excited; exclaimed, “Today is the first day in like (big pause for effect)  for—-e—-ver that I feel good inside and out!”  I was standing by the kitchen door drinking my morning diet shake.  “Cool doll!” I said a bit underwhelmed.  “No, you……don’t………get……it mom.” Using her hands to demonstrate, she began pointing at her waist and then her back, as if emphasizing the differences.  “The first time I feel grr……….eat both inside………….and……..out!”  Smiling I said, “Yeah, that’s what you said before.  I’m glad you feel so good doll….” not really knowing what else to say.  Smiling at me, I might add, she looked like a million bucks; she turned with a hop, happy for the start of her day.

Later the doll and I went to feed the feral cat who has adopted my sister.  “Mom, isn’t it interesting how all cats look like girls?” the doll asked.  “Well, I don’t know about that doll…” I replied.  “Well just think about it, they are a lot like girls–pretty, smart and talkative”.  With our limited involvement with cats I found it funny how she found similarities within herself to this male feral cat.  “Doll that’s a pretty blanket statement.  That’s like saying all dogs look like boys…” I said in return.  Taking a minute to think about the comparison she replied, “That’s not it at all mom, you just don’t get it”.  Smiling to myself I said, “You’re probably right doll.”

Scary thought, this is only the beginning of her belief in me not understanding her….