Monthly Archives: February 2013

young authors….

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The boy has a creative mind. Yet his ability to translate his ideas to paper has always been a trouble spot for him. When the doll was younger, she wouldn’t go to bed unless her brother told her one of his “stories”. In an effort to help save those stories, I purchased a box recorder-hoping he would dictate his ideas onto tape, to transcribe later.  This took all the fun out of creating the story, he said. He preferred to keep them to himself. Every now and again he’ll tell me about the new “book” he’s working on.  Every character has a special ability or knows how to manipulate something to make them stronger. Each character is known for being different.

May 17, 2006: The boy’s class was working on a “Young Authors and Illustrators” paper. The local PBS station, in conjunction with Reading Rainbow television show, sponsors a contest each year for different age groups. The boy’s first grade teacher approached me after school one day and asked, “I know your husband does a lot or reading to the boy. I was wondering if he could be repeating anything your husband may have read to him.” Honestly I could not say. The reason for her concern was not so much because he’s “writing” a story, but rather, if this was truly just the boy’s idea, “I think we have next years’ winner. It’s that good…I think you’ll be blown away!” Without giving much away, Dylan let us in on the general plot line…A dragon, a griffon (I’m still trying to figure out what a griffon is), a rat and a boy named Eric on a trip to New York City. Until we had it read to us, we couldn’t comment for sure.

 The big night arrived when the boy would reveal his Young Author’s story to us. His teacher planned a nice dinner (pizza), entertainment (A local librarian storyteller) and a chance for all the kids to read their stories. The boy was the third student to read his story, but because he had written such a long “book” he and his teacher took turns reading every four or so pages.  In comparison to the other students, the boy’s book was 27 pages, while their books were closer to ten. His teacher was correct. We were blown away by his story telling skills. Now mind you, his imagination is always on, but he’s not always forth coming with what’s he’s thinking. As for comparisons to any other books his father has read to him, there are some similarities….the beginning location (the dragon’s cave), the problem facing the location (flood) and one character (rat). However the rat does things in the boy’s version completely different and how they solve a common problem is also different. So…we’re saying he borrowed from Dragon Riders, but wrote a companion piece to that book. Still, for a six year old, this is quite an impressive feat; if you ask me.

 The name of that story is “Redwing the Dragon” which we immediately packed away for safe keeping until he’s old enough to appreciate what he created. Since then, over the years, we’ve talked at length on how to flesh out characters first, create an outline of story ideas and then try to merge them all together.  So far, he’s kept all the ideas pretty much to himself. On occasion he’ll give me or his father some small insight for us to comment upon, but mostly they remain inside.

I hope someday he graces the world with his wonderful storytelling skills—not just off the top of his head. He told me the other day, his classmates enjoy when he gives them information about obscure things. That’s my encyclopedic minded child. Perhaps one day, through the help of a good teacher in high school (CCHS), he’ll allow the rest of the world to see what a great storyteller he can be.

Happy b-day bay!

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whacky foods and bad parenting…

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Ah humble beginnings.  The boy at one time wanted us to write a blog together named “Whacky Food groups” so we could list recipes of foods he thought were good.  Every now and again, when he stumbled upon something he liked he would announce, “Mom, add this to our whacky food group so we know how to make it again.”  If I remember correctly, I initiated a blog and then promptly forgot my user name–never to be seen again. Who knows, someday I’ll google whacky food groups and find some not so good tasting recipes-except in the eyes of a young boy.

November 24, 2002: Our quest for the boy to eat real food has taken another step forward. Tonight he ate (begrudgingly) pizza. Shortly thereafter he also wanted a slice of peanut butter toast–to “wash out that pizza flavor”.  Well one small step… Yesterday I came home with a box of clementines and he asked, “Mom are those oranges?” I explained what they were and he repeated their name “Cle-men-tines. Can I taste them?  Umm, they are yummy!” He proceeded to steal a couple slices out of my hand. We are trying to get him to eat peaches and apple sauce with his meals again. The other day he told me that peaches were once again his favorite. Evidently he had forgotten for about a year.

Funny how times change.  Where the boy needed to cleanse his pallet with peanut butter, today he’s more likely to eat a full pizza on his own and then follow with a peanut butter toast chaser–just because he can. I’m often surprised when he finishes dinner and a half an hour later complains that he’s starving. “You’re not starving, you just ate” I tell him.  “Mom that was like a half an hour ago…” as if thirty minutes is enough time to”starve-to-death”. “How about you eat an apple, an orange, a clementine, a banana?” I offer.  On average he’ll settle for the apple–which is accompanied by of 2-3 large glasses of milk. Talk about a whacky food grouping…

For the first two years of the boy’s existence away from baby food and bottles, the only thing that kid would eat were Tyson chicken nuggets. On occasion he would try hot dogs (winner), bologna and cheese sandwiches (not a winner) or spaghetti (a winner at first, then spent the night throwing up-he wouldn’t even try to eat it again for two years). I made the mistake of telling a friend, in front of the boy (doh!) that he didn’t like his food touching one another.  Talk about a dumb move. From then on soup of any kind was off the menu.

The worst experience I ever had getting him to eat was when he was really quite sick and needed to take some medication. He refused. No matter what I tried-emotional black mail-“I’m going to give pooh bear to some other boy who does what his parents ask of him!” or better food… I sprinkled the meds and mixed them into ice cream and declared “Ice cream for breakfast!” only to watch him throw the bowl onto the floor. At one point I even tied him to his high chair so he couldn’t leave the kitchen. Come hell or high water he was taking this medication. Exhausted I called my mother and cried, “He won’t take his medication. I’ve tried everything”. “Leave the room.” she said. “What?” “Leave him alone in the room. He won’t like it and will agree to take the medication.”  “Mom, no way…that won’t work” I replied, upset at her seemingly mundane response to my horrid problem. “Well nothing else you’ve tried has worked.  Why not give this a shot-what do you have to lose?”

Unhappy, I walked out of the kitchen and closed the door behind me and then stood there listening-through the door. The boy became quiet for a few minutes before he realized I wasn’t coming back in.  “MOMMY, MOMMY PLEASE COME BACK!!” he cried. I opened the door and said, “Not if you won’t take your medication” and closed the door again. “MOMMY I SORRY, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!!” he cried. I came back, offered him the medication and he drank it down without further complaint. I was shocked, upset, happy and mad all at the same time.

Its very difficult calling your mother to tell her she was right!

But, Thank GOD she was.

 

love is a many splendor thing…

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Perhaps I should have posted this around Valentines Day, yet I think the boy would have killed me. The other night when I began reading this aloud, he graciously said, “If you do not stop, I’m burning the remaining letters you have found” out of fear I would embarrass him further. Oh well, I guess it’s time to invest in a fire proof  safe.

When the boy attended preschool, there were days when parents were needed to help out.  This is one of those times….

March 3, 2003: As the mom on duty, my job was helping the kids make rainbow toast (bread, food coloring, sugar and condensed milk; yum yum right?  And very messy), the boy began at my station and then rotated over to the craft corner.  There he worked with colored tissue, wax paper and liquid starch to create a masterpiece for the ages. Then something silly happened. The boy is one of four boys in a class with eleven girls. The boy evidently has a crush on a little girl named Ashley. All the other girls and boys have picked up on this crush as well-as evidenced when Ashley arrived a few minutes late to class. The other girls yelled “Boy-look Ashley’s here!!” I turned and looked at the boy as his face lit right up when she came into the room. He ran over to her and gave her a great big hug. What’s more he gave Ashley’s mom and cousin a hug too. Ashley however did not reciprocate. In fact, the look on that child’s face said it all…”get this stupid boy away from me!” Ashley’s mom, his teacher and I all exchanged awkward glances, before Ashley was instructed to go to the gym area for play time; while they boy remained in the classroom, without her.

I went back to helping the other students with their messy toast when I overheard the boy’s teacher say, “Boy, why don’t you show me how well you can build with the other boys?” I looked up and found the boy off by himself all alone in the corner looking quite sad. His teacher continued trying to coax him in into getting involved with the other boys, but he wasn’t interested.  Walking over to him I asked, “Dude, what’s up?”  “I’m just a little sad Ashley isn’t in the room”.  He said as tears welled up in his eyes.  Oh brother! I convinced him to go over and build a castle, so when Ashley came back, she would see what a good job he had done.  “Oh alright” He replied after he stood up and wiped the tears from his eyes and went off to build something. His teacher approached me and said “He just gets a little sad when Ashley gets put into other groups”.  In the meantime, I’m over here shaking my head thinking, “He is way too young to be having these type of feelings….”

Last week while working the parish Fish Fry, I went looking for the boy. He is Mr. Hospitality-refilling drinks; deserts for the many elderly in attendance; greeting and opening the doors and wishing people well when they leave.  At one point I found him with his “friend M” She was quick to defend the boy, “I’ve noticed him working very hard” she said to me. I smiled thinking, “Yep he’s charmed that girl…” which is a very good thing for him.

Friends are hard to come by for the boy. He is fiercely loyal which can make him a bit of a pain.   Last year one of his friends told him something in confidence about his home life.  The boy was so appalled he asked me how we could help them. At first I believed his friend was just telling stories, but decided to call the school’s guidance counselor-perhaps she could find out the truth. That friend doesn’t talk much to the boy any more. Whether the boy’s action helped or hindered his friend’s home life; it put a strain on their friendship. When I asked him about his friend the boy said, “Well, he’s just trying to stay cool mom, whatever that means”. In other words, his friend doesn’t want anyone to perceive him as different–unlike my boy.

The truth of the matter is when you’re in Junior High, no one wants to be seen as different–even though we all are. Being an individual takes more risks, more chances to be called names, more chances to be made to look like the fool. I’m proud of the young man my boy has turned into. Though his faults are many, he wants his “friends” to be safe and happy.

Funny, isn’t that what we all want?

 

life’s little embarrassments….

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Over the ages, I’ve watched as my children covered their eyes or gave their parents a swat, because without trying, we’ve embarrassed them. I can remember as the boy and I left our car to enter a Target one day he turned and said, “You’re embarrassing me!” and moved a few feet ahead of me. “How can I embarrass you when we’re not even talking to each other?” I asked, annoyed.  Be that as it may, the boy wanted nothing to do with me–until he found some Yugioh cards he wanted. By then, he was no longer embarrassed to be seen with me.  I on the other hand….

Dec. 22, 2007: I ran into the school librarian Lynn, one afternoon who stopped to tell something funny about an interaction she had with the boy a few weeks back. As a school family we were all brought together to celebrate a Thanksgiving mass one evening prior to Thanksgiving. The kids however, were instructed to sit with their class, not their parents. Lynn won the lottery–the dubious chore of sitting next to the boy. “Before mass began, the boy leaned over and asked me if I had taken a bath before I came. Since I hadn’t gone home (after school) from  arriving in the morning, and had taken a shower before going to school that morning, I said “Yes” The boy replied, “So did Robert and so did I! Imagine, I was naked five minutes ago!!” Needless to say that picture stayed and I chuckled for quite some time.  Later at offertory, when the adult choir was singing, the boy tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Is that supposed to sound like a choir of angels?”  Thinking that he was having a religious moment, I said “Yes”.  The boy said, “It isn’t working”. It took quite a lot to keep myself from laughing out loud. He just cracked me up”. 

At the time I wasn’t sure if I should have laughed right along with her or claimed the boy belonged to someone else.  Then again there were times he was good for a chuckle.  Like the time he asked Sr. Maria if she farted at mass.  Yes that’s right, he asked a nun if she passed gas during the sign of peace. An action she denied, however did acknowledge an odor about the area. 

A few weeks back, we attended a Bat Mitzvah for one of our neighborhood friends.  We had no idea what to expect, having never attended one before, but were excited to learn more about a culture we were unfamiliar with.  Dad, the doll and I lasted about two and a half hours, of the three hour service; before we had to leave for another commitment.  The boy made it only about a half an hour before he excused himself.  Unfortunately, this has become a common occurrence; the boy tends to disappear during any church service, preferring to sit in the bathroom instead. One time when he did not come back to sit with me during mass, I found him holding up the considerable bathroom line, playing on his DSi.

After about 45 minutes, I looked at my husband and smiled “What do you think happened? Did he sneak his DSi in there with him?”  “Do you want me to go check on him?” he asked.  “Well, considering we haven’t seen him for a while, we should at least find out if he’s still here or if he’s walked over to the Jewish Community Center to watch television” I offered. Ten minutes later my husband returned and smiled. “He’s still in there, claiming his business isn’t done”.  We went back to watching the ceremony.  The doll leaned over and asked, “Where’s the boy?”  “He’s in the bathroom…” I began.  Giving me a mocked upset look she replied, “Why does he always do this?  I mean at least these chairs are comfortable. How much longer do you think there is in this?” “I don’t know baby” was my best answer for both questions.

The boy never returned to sit with us.  His father and I giggled at his apparent lack of interest (or want to hide in the bathroom) in returning to watch his friend make her Bat Mitzvah or learn something about the Jewish religion.  Dad and I found the ceremony fascinating; while the doll wondered if sitting through the long ceremony was worth the trip of going to the water park later with the girl.  She decided in the end it was.

The boy’s reward for sitting with us for only a half an hour?  Endless chatter at him by his mother and a stool softener from his father.  Both practical and embarrassing in there own right.

love love love….

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I’ve talked before about the importance A A Milne’s character, Winnie the Pooh has played in my children’s life-the boy’s life most importantly.  For a few years there I was not the mother to “The Boy” instead Kitty Voman or properly translated from a two year old’s language; Christopher Robin. Pooh bear as he became known in my house has continued to be the boy’s best friend-even though today he’d rather not admit that out loud. Yet every vacation we take, Pooh bear still travels with us. I dare say, when he leaves for college, I believe he’ll find a place for that silly old bear.

July 7, 2003: After getting the kids ready for bed one night, I pulled out “The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh”. Before I could begin, the boy climbed into his top bunk and brought down the gang- Pooh bear, Piglet and Tod the Fox (different Disney character).  The doll sat on my lap drinking a bottle while the boy and his gang surrounded me us on the floor. Before I could begin, the boy had us look at the map of the “Hundred Acre Wood”. Pointing at a specific location he said “From here we can pick up which story should be read first”. After examining the map for a minute I decided we should start at the beginning. So I began reading about Edward Bear and his name transformation; about how to differentiate between male and female names by the word “Ther” as in Winnie Ther Pooh”. As the story progressed I was interrupted by a small pink stuffed pig. “Uh, Mrs. Marsha, uh, am I in this story?” “Well Piglet, I think we’ll just have to wait and see” I replied. “Oh, okay Mrs. Marsha”.  I began reading again, only to be interrupted by a golden bear wearing a red shirt with a scarf wrapped around his neck. “Uh, Mrs. Marsha, do you think I could have a small smackeral of honey?” “Now Pooh bear, you know it’s bedtime; you can eat something in the morning” I replied. “Okay” a disappointed bear said. I was about to continue the story again when Piglet once again interrupted and asked if he could have a glass of water. “Okay, break time” I declared.  While on break I was able to put the doll into her bed for the night and get the “boy” a sippy cup of water. “Now guys, that water is for all of you to share alright?” The boy nodded in agreement and I picked up where we left off in the story only to be interrupted once again. Smiling I announced, “Okay gang, if I get one more interruption that means you’re too tired to listen tonight and bedtime will commence okay?” I finished the story about an hour later-without additional interruptions and then I tucked the “guys” into bed; said “pers” (prayers) and gave them all kisses goodnight.  As I left the boy’s bedroom I marveled over our little evening. Whenever I read stories to the kids, I animate the characters voices to give emphasis to the story.  When the boy began talking to me in Pooh and Piglet voices, they were not his own.  He was imitating me, imitating them.  Talk about something cool…

Writing a comprehensive blog that covers both children is difficult. Many times I think I leave the boy completely out of the mix (which I’m sure he likes) and focus more on the doll. Then when I try and focus on the boy, the doll scrunches her nose and is disappointed I didn’t write about her.  No wins regardless. Looking back at these letters I see this little boy, with a wide open imagination whose future was so far off into the distance. Now in a short three months he’ll be graduating Junior High and making his way to High School.  This prospect worries me to no end. I know he’s going to be a success wherever he lands; yet there are days I wish, I was sitting in his bedroom, reading The Many Tales of Winnie the Pooh and being interrupted by the gang.

You know the saying is TRUE…Hindsight is 20/20.

Rocket man…..

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School has never really been the boy’s thing. Learning has. His mandatory 8 hours away from home to learn new skills, exercise his  body and brain really are just a means to an end for him.  Thus turning in homework–completed homework I might add, really isn’t that important to him.  Learning however is. I remember one time when he was five, while waiting for a doctor’s diagnosis of pink eye, we were sequestered. To fill in the boredom, I began telling him the story of “Star Wars” in a very condensed way.  He became enthralled, and thoroughly impressed that his mother was coming up with such a neat and diverse action adventure story. Afterward when we watched the movie, though disappointed his mother wasn’t as imaginative as he first thought, the “science” behind what he was watching enthralled him. Then we purchased Reader’s Digest science edition-4 books that covered various scientific topics-biology, astronomy, geology etc.  He not only devoured the books, but others like them from the library.  Science sparked his imagination.

May 2007: Yesterday the boy’s class went on a field trip to the Ritter Planetarium at the local university.  They were treated to an hour long presentation on the planets and stars. When the professor concluded his program he asked if anyone had questions. Well the boy of course had to raise his hand–he’s compulsive that way. The boy asked the professor about the mythology behind the planet names. The professor seemed pleased by the question and went on to explain what cultures were involved in picking the planetary names. The parents however seemed shocked that a second grade student would ask such a different question. When the professor ended his explanation, he asked the class if they could tell him something they learned from the presentations project on Jupiter. Once again the professor seemed amused when the boy raised his hand and began talking about the moons of Jupiter.  One parent leaned over and said, “Boy, he really knows his stuff!” Tilting my head back I replied, “Of course he does. He loves this stuff.” Another parent overhearing our conversation asked, “Am I looking at the next rocket scientist?   Smiling I said, “Well, we’ll see…”  

When the boy was finishing up his seventh grade year of school he told me, “I think I know what I’m going to major in in college”.  We were walking home from my dad’s and this topic came up out of the blue.  “Oh yeah?” I asked, intrigued.  “I’m going to have a dual major in biology.”  “What like microbiology and biology?” I asked.  Smirking he said, “No, like biology–human and animal biology with a minor in English.”  “What do you hope to accomplish with these majors?” I wondered.  “Well, I want to study animals-predatory animals in reality.  Man is a predatory animal.  I want to understand if its a basic instinct that can be found within all the species or if there is an actual chemical component that causes one to be a predator and one not.”  Impressed I asked “So what’s with the English minor?”  “Easy, I need to know how to write grants to fund my study”.  He smiled.  I could not believe that I was listening to a well thought out plan of action from a twelve year old.  “How do you plan on studying these components?” I wondered, clearly excited by all that he announced.  “By field study”. He said which ignited a sarcastic response from me “You do realize boy, that means you actually have to leave your house, dorm room and or apartment right?”

Choosing to ignore my last statement he simply smiled.  “I’m still going with Cryptozoologist bay…I still think that’s what you’ll grow up to be.”  “Well, I’m not, but if I were….” he began, but I finished it for him, “You would be studying the same things…”  “Um yeah” he replied and then dropped the subject.  Considering Finding Big Foot and Destination Truth are among his favorite television programs….

In reality, as long as he finds something he loves to do…then all is good. But first…he needs to learn the value in turning in his homework assignments.

For those of you who might wonder:  Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτόςkryptos, “hidden” + zoology; literally, “study of hidden animals”) is a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proved.

Danger Dolly

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The doll has worn many hats in her days….many different names have accompanied her.  One of the most popular from her babyhood was “Danger”; penned by her father.  Why?  Because she scared the hell out of us…on a daily basis.

May 26, 2003:On Friday we attended my nephews “Friends and Family” day, at their school. This was a really neat event, where my brother took the day off of work (he was not the only father who did so) to spend the day with his kids and mine. I packed a picnic style lunch and set off on our adventure.  The boy found his cousin Noly and together they headed off in the direction of the playground. The school was furnishing a hot dog lunch, complete with drinks and ice cream bars for desert.  Leave it to my kids to prefer the lunch I had packed (chicken nuggets) over the “blackened” hot dogs they were served. In any case, the boy had a blast going up and down a ladder which was connected to a ten foot tall slide. First of all let me say, the boys were good and stayed with the doll as she climbed the ladder; while I barked orders up at them. Momentarily all three kids stopped and posed for a photograph before the boys moved forward; leaving the doll alone atop the very tall and scary slide. When her turn came, she began walking down the slide.  Not only that–high stepping the whole way. I envisioned her taking a header off that high slide and began to scream “SIT DOWN NOW!!!” My sister in law also began to yell “Doll sit down. Sit down. SIT DOWN!!!” Finally after giving her mother a brief heart attack, she lost her balance and fortunately landed on her bottom sliding the rest of the way down.  When my brother caught her at the bottom of the slide, danger doll was wearing a cheek to cheek grin. Meanwhile I was having heart palpitations.  Much to her displeasure, I did not allow her to go down that slide for the rest of the afternoon…there is after all only so much one mom’s heart can take. My brother volunteered to take her over to another play set-one without ten foot tall slides and hanged around with her for the remainder of our visit.  When the time came for us to leave, my brother smiled and handed me the doll  saying, “She’s going to be trouble…”.  I smiled back and said “You’re preaching to the choir”.

The doll was a crazy high energy exploration type of child when she was under two years of age. She has since matured and grown into a graceful young lady.  I know there are still many days ahead of us where she might earn that name back. However I’m hoping she’s given up the “scare your mom and dad at any cost” behavior for good (crossing my fingers and toes).