Monthly Archives: September 2013

Meet…

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Sporting a big goofy grin the boy turned and said to me “Mama this was fun! Thank you for convincing me to come this morning”.

Over the weekend, the boy and I shared some mother son bonding time, working together at the Cross Country (CC) event sponsored by our parish elementary school. In a former life, I was one of the parents in charge of the Concession area (When the boy participated in the sport) and understood the difficulty in finding volunteers willing to help out. Field marshals get to watch all the races. Concession workers barely see their own children run because it’s difficult finding other parents to take their place during any given race. So finding help for concessions can be very much like pulling teeth. As the boy and I approached the stand I did not see one recognizable face. “Hi, this is my son the boy and I’m Marsha. We’re here to volunteer. I don’t have any racers today, so we’ll be working back here all day…that way you’ll always have coverage during races”. Looking at us quite skeptically, they reluctantly accepted our help.

The boy was in his element. He was funny and engaging people from all walks of life. He quickly won over the hearts of our coworkers too, resembling a carnival barker; calling people over, engaging the younger kids. “How did you run? He asked one youngster who replied “I finished 44th” and lifted his fist to bump and congratulate him adding “Wow, that’s great. When I ran I was never that good, I mean look at me, tall fat kid!” The youngster smiled with him and then departed. “Um you do realize you were quite skinnier when you ran..” I mentioned to him. “Eh, being fat makes a better story Mama.”

Some of the comments we heard were hilarious “Hey Michael how are ya doing?” The boy asked one of his former classmates. “Wow boy, you’ve gotten really tall” Michael said raising his eyes up and down the boy’s frame. “Yes and your still growing I see” the boy retuned laughing as he said it. There were also a few bumpy moments like when he kept saying “JESUS!!” Every time he messed up. Looking over at our parish priest, who also was helping in concessions he tried, “That was a prayer-not a curse…” “Bay, you need to come up with a better word to voice your frustrations” I implored. “I know mama, I’ll try.” Then every once in a while, I would catch him smile as he worked diligently refilling the pop and Gatorade coolers with product. He was happy which made me happy.

When the meet finally came to a close, I handed over my money tool belt saying to the woman in charge “Next year if my daughter does not have a volleyball game at the same time as the meet, I’ll come back and help again. Graciously accepting my offer, she added, “Only if you bring the boy back with you.” To which he replied, “You can count on that!”

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A Daddy chronicle…

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The doll was seated at our kitchen table pulling out papers for me to sign. Seated opposite of her and next to me, was her father; seemingly-quietly thumbing through a magazine. “Mom it was really funny when we got back into home room today. Mrs.K said our class was similar to herding puppies…” The doll began, before being interrupted by her father… “Because you were all peeing on the floor?” He asked, not looking up from his magazine. “What? No daddy we weren’t peeing on the floor…” She tried again. “Because that’s pretty much what puppies do….sniff around and then pee on the floor. Boy doll your class is pretty gross…” Her father continued. “Daaaaaadd–dah!” The doll said interrupting her fathers train of thought. “No because we’re so cute and disorganized!” The doll explained. “Well that doesn’t make any sense. With cats maybe, but not puppies. Are you sure you or your classmates aren’t peeing on the floor?” Her father asked, which caused the doll to stop and ponder for a moment. “Hmmm. Come to think about it….. NO! NO ONE IS PEEING ON THE FLOOR!!” She said emphatically. “Well doll perhaps one of you should so that your teacher’s comment makes more sense”. He replied. Looking sternly at her father the doll asked him “What’s wrong with you?” And then turned and exited the room.

Smiling at her question, I turned and looked back at my husband as we both burst out laughing.

Observational thinking…

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On a daily basis my children offer up their own observations of the world in which they live. Some are spot on; others are funny, while other times I just shake my head and hope they are simply seeking a response from me.

The boy: Parents are weird which explains why us kids go to school–to get away from them. My response: Conversely, children are weird…why do you think we’re so happy after you leave for school? Yay!! We’re free for eight hours!! We’re freeeee!!!

The boy wasn’t very impressed by my answer. ūüôā

The doll: You know it’s really quite unfair mom, your willingness to forgo child labor laws. My response: Well it’s really quite unfair to me that you choose to ignore my Fold the laundry or Die” platform. The doll: Like really mom? Can’t you think of a better comeback? My response: Sure, Fold that Basket or Die…without the TV, your Kindle or your friends. The doll: A frustrated “FINE”.

The doll like her brother before, wasn’t too impressed by my response either. The difference being, the boy leaned in and said “Love you mama…” While the doll stomped off and then procrastinated on getting her work done. She eventually folded the basket and I returned her privileges. But they both seem to keep having to relearn the same lesson over and over: that my observations, are really what’s most important!

Time capsules…

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The other night, as I walked around a campfire, trying to stay out of the smokes eventual path: I listened as other friends talked about their children’s recent faux pas and couldn’t help but laugh. I sometimes feel at a loss for words, during these times as many of them have (perhaps) read my blog, so I would be repeating and sound boring. “I can’t believe the stuff kids can find on YouTube nowadays! Totally makes my exploration of playboy seem tame!” said one dad, as we all laughed along with a horror (not my kid!?!). thought.

This morning when I opened the obituaries section of our local paper, I perused the section looking for information, about a man I had never met before. Days earlier I had met with the deceased’s son, just by happenstance and we talked about how hard death can be on a family. He was overwhelmed by all the decisions that come, following the death of a loved one and was having a difficult time grasping his grief. I shared with him what little knowledge I had on the subject and hoped he understood grief was a life long process…but that didn’t mean you stop moving forward. A day later I received a text thanking me for listening and helping him begin his process.

As I read about this man’s father and all his accomplishments, my eyes wandered across the page until they landed on the name of a person I did know, Jerry Menden. Immediately I was pulled back in time to my fifth grade year of school, when his daughter Sue and I were best friends. He had a funny way of greeting me, “Marsh B’garsh, how are you?” He would say–even carrying it into adulthood. But I never minded. He was a warm and wonderful father to his family and a friend to me.

I spent many a night at their home, listening and sharing rock and roll music (first time I heard Van Halen’s Jamie’s Crying), playing monopoly or dream date games in their basement; enjoying pizza Tuesdays and popcorn Wednesdays. Climbing the many apple trees they had lining their backyard while also falling out of a few. As Sue and I grew older, though no longer best friends, I would travel with her parents to watch her play varsity basketball in High school. To this day I’m not sure what I was more enamored with, watching the game or hanging out with her parents. They were very special people.

The last time I saw Jerry was at my grade school reunion six years ago. He looked as handsome as ever and he greeted me the same. We made tentative plans to get together. But life got in the way and ideas and plans were lost. Today, while I send condolences out to my friend and her family members, I cannot help but feel completely and utterly blessed that I had the privilege of having them in my life. I think some might even accuse me if having a charmed life…

Right now I’m finding it difficult to disagree.

Rest in Peace Gerald Aloysius Menden and Thank you! 1931-2013.

Small snapshot of an embarassing moment…

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The doll’s volleyball game on Saturday left much to be desired. The girls seemed to almost forget how to play the game. No matter what combination of players the coaches put in, no girl seemed to want to play. I sat in the stands offering encouragement to the doll, while trying not to embarrass her; listening to the other parents try to do the same. At one point during their dreaded game, someone called my name from behind and lo and behold there was an old friend from high school. In truth, I went to school with her older sister, but for some reason she and I always clicked. After briefly catching up, we both went back to our positions, me watching her daughter basically wipe the court with my team. When the game was over, I walked over to congratulate her for her daughter’s prowess on the court and began introducing her to the doll. “Doll this is an old friend of mine named Kathy, who…” I began when all of a sudden I was seized with panic, thinking ‘Oh no, that’s not her name, that’s her sister’s name…what is her name?’¬†“I mean this is….” ¬†I stumbled as I tried to recall her name. In the meantime, the woman with whom I’m trying to introduce my doll to looked oddly at me and said, “No, you’re right, my name is Kathy”. Looking back at her embarrassed I smiled and said, “You know I’m lucky if I know my own children’s name half the time” trying to recover. The doll looked between us and said, “It’s true, why do you think she calls me doll?

The tree incident…

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This past Friday was a teacher in-service day which meant the doll did not have school. This also meant we would be leaving her at home alone, without additional family members for the first time. “Maybe I should call your Grammy and see if you could spend the day with her…?” I suggested. She looked back and said “Why?” “Gee I don’t know, maybe because your too young to hang out at home alone?” I returned. “I stayed home all summer..” She argued. “Um yes, with your brother”. I replied. “Same difference mom”.

Eventually she won out and we decided to play it by ear. She was fortunate to receive an invitation from her twin inviting her to spend the day with her parental supervised family and decided to go. The girls had an eventful day going to the library, a restaurant for lunch and a park in the afternoon. Once they returned to our neck of the woods they decided to ride their bikes over to the park in our neighborhood and climb some trees.

“Mommy…” The doll cried through the phone receiver, “Hi doll are you okay?” I asked, noting the tone of her voice was wrong. “You know the lowest branch on the tree I like to climb?” She began to explain, “Well I slipped and fell off of it and landed on by back and I thought I was dead!” She cried into the phone. “Did you get the wind knocked out if you?” I asked. She was crying and her voice kept hitching. “Uh huh but that’s not the worst part…”

“Oh no…” I thought, visions of an emergency room visit dancing in my head…

“When I fell, my twin said she was going to get me some help. But she never came back. Then when I called her, once I got home, I asked her why she left and she wouldn’t talk to me. Now she’s not talking to me at all!!”

Is it wrong that I was literally pumping my fist in the air when I realized this was emotional pain rather than physical emergency room pain?

Regardless, I said “You know when you couldn’t breathe I bet it freaked her out. She ran home with every intention of getting you help, but when she couldn’t find anyone, she didn’t know what to do, so she hung back.” “But why won’t she talk to me?” The doll asked, frustrated by the quick turn of events. “Perhaps she’s embarrassed or is afraid you’re mad at her for not coming back…” I suggested.

There was a brief pause before she asked when I would be home and then we concluded the call. Once I arrived home from work I stopped and put her through a mommy inspection to make sure she was alright. She was a bit sore from the fall and sore at her friend for putting an end to their fun day. “I still don’t get it mom” she said, and I enveloped her into a hug saying “Something’s will always remain elusive mysteries to us. You just have to keep moving forward and put the other stuff in the past.” Looking up at me she said “Huh?” And I replied “Someday you’ll understand doll…” Shrugging her shoulders she pulled me into a tighter hug and held on saying, “I just want you to give me a hug”.

And I did.

living up to Carol Brady….

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WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE LIKE THE MOM’S ON TV WHO ARE UNDERSTANDING WHEN THEIR KIDS MESS UP???”¬†

Every Monday evening I check the kids grades online, to see if I can spot any trouble areas. So far the boy’s lowest grade is an A-in honors math. I chided him the other day saying, ¬†“You can do better….” He smiled and gave me a stern warning…”Mama, if you push me on my grades, I may just stop working (on them) all together”. ¬†Looking back at him with a stern look I reminded him, “Yes, if you decide to quit school too…you know what will happen, don’tcha?” He smirked and said “Ah yes” and that concluded our conversation about grades.

The doll on the other hand is not doing so well in one class. “Doll, I noticed your having a hard time in Mrs. Markum’s class” I began the conversation. “Yeah, I know. Its just so dumb mom, I mean I really really studied for that dumb test and thought I did really well, until she gave me the test back.” As a former rotten student myself, I totally understand where she’s coming from. “Well I’ll tell you what. how about the next time you have a scheduled test in that class, you let one of us know-me or your dad so we can help you study okay?” She agreed and went on to finish her homework.

Yesterday when she arrived home from school she said, ‘Mommy…” Uh oh she’s using Mommy, I thought. “It seems I’m getting a D in Mrs. Markum’s class.” she said softly. “Yeah doll I know, we talked about this the other night. “Well, we had a test yesterday and I studied really really hard for it, but when the test was given to me, ¬†(her voice began to hitch at ¬†this point as she willed tears to form in her eyes as well) all the answers flew right out of my head, zip, zang gone and well I did really poorly on the test.” “I see” “And I did study mom, I read the chapter three times and then me and another girl quizzed one another right before the test, but it didn’t matter.”

The flurry in which she spoke, I kept waiting for her to ¬†take a breath. Once she finally stopped making excuses for herself I asked. “When did you know you were having a test?” “Why?” “Just answer the question doll.” I replied. “She told us Tuesday afternoon that the test would be on Wednesday.” She explained. “So you’re telling me….you came home from school, did a little homework, went to volleyball practice, went over to the park to play with Felicia, came home took a shower, and then¬†WATCHED TV UNTIL 10 PM. before going to sleep. Tell me, when did you study?” Feeling a bit of pressure from me, the welled tears finally began to stream down her cheeks. She looked back at me and said, “Why can’t you be like the TV mom’s who are understanding when their kids mess up?” Standing up she turned to ¬†walk out of the kitchen, but not before she slammed the kitchen door for effect.

A moment later I was standing in her bedroom, while she hid underneath her comforter “crying and moaning’ “Doll, listen, your dad and I always ask that you do your best. If your best is a D in this class then so be it. But I don’t believe that to be true. What I do believe is I told you, when you have a test in that class, you’re to ask your dad or I to help you study. Instead, the TV became more important than that test. So…no more TV for a while. “MOTHER!!! ITS NOT THE TVs FAULT!!” she yelled. “Doll, you had ample time to study, but you chose to watch television. You had ample time to ask us for help, but you watched TV instead. Until further notice, the TV is off for you.” As I turned to leave her room she screamed “THAT’S NOT HOW THE PARENTS ON GOOD LUCK CHARLIE WOULD HAVE HANDLED IT!!” and then returned to crying. Smiling I said, “Well here’s the thing doll, I never see the characters of that show ever watch television. As for the parents? Since we are not living in a sitcom, to each his/her own” and then walked out of the room.

Its hard enough raising kids without being compared to Carol Brady. I mean really, she had a maid!