I’m lonesome for you…

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My mother used to have a handy saying for everyone of her needs. Take for example, if she had any inclination to kill one of her nine children, she would recite (from rote memory), “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom in a woman and never in a man,” loudly and oftentimes on constant repeat; as she moved us through the days. When my kids were little, I could often be heard repeating her ditty, save for one significant change… “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom in my doll but never in DYLAN” When he was very young,  he would tell me of his lack of patience saying, “I have no pace momma, no pace.” 

Another clever saying of hers was, “I’m lonesome for you…”which was a wonderful notion when I attended an overnight summer camp, back in the 1970’s. Yet, as an adult it didn’t possess the same quality, especially when uttered when you already felt overwhelmed by your busy lifestyle. To be honest, her call to tell me how much she missed me, was not always my favorite call to get. However, today, in retrospect, I long to hear her utter those words to me almost hourly.

Which brings me to today’s post.

I know this blog and the photo companion blog has been hit and miss lately, not because I don’t have anything to say (having an only child is such a different experience), but rather an amalgam of different reasons. But true to form, I have indeed found myself lonesome for writing, for editing (can’t believe I just wrote that), for talking to you all about my blog and keeping you up to date where everyone in my little universe resides. So, I either have to find a better use of my time, or quit my jobs. Though losing an income for a fancy is not the best financial decision I can make. So I guess time management has now become my new goal. Moving forward, I’m going to try to write a MMM 3 times a week to start. Cross your fingers. Also I hope to post something to the photo blog soon.

My hope is to reignite my love of writing, spread some joy and maybe stave off those lonesome feelings. Hopefully you’ve been lonesome for these blogs As well. 

See ya soon. 

 

 

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Mr. Minimal has gone to college.

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When we dropped the boy off at school, I reminded him to call home twice a week, just to let us know how he was doing and to answer any texts I send–even if it’s simply to say “Good morning” or “Goodnight”. But as I’ve been reminded all weekend, my son is behaving very much like every other college student and failing miserably at calling and texting. In fact, even when he responds, he does so in such minimal terms, that I wonder why he even bothers.

This past Sunday, I longed to hear his voice as well as remind him of the job fair the school was going to hold very soon. As a condition for one of his scholarships, he’s required to get an on campus job. I sent him an email early that morning, reminding him to call home. I also hoped he’d call around 6 pm, as we were visiting with family who kept asking an array of questions concerning him, “How’s the boy doing at school?” “What’s the good word, does he like his classes?” “Any news?” To which our standard reply has become, “No news is good news?”

He never did call. On Monday morning he sent an apology noting he never checked his notifications and didn’t see a reason to call. But, I did happen to get a modicum of information out of him. So, for all those wondering, this is what he’s found out at college…

He prefers waffles to pancakes. He’s eating an unconscionable amount of ice cream. He was going to attend the job fair and the day before he accidentally dropped a full cup of root-beer in the cafeteria (awkward). When I pressed for more information about stuff other than his stomach, I got radio silence (aka nothing). Not sure how I should take all this, I mentioned to my sister Carol, my frustration at his unwillingness to let me be the fly in his room and fill me in on stuff. Her reply was simple, “This sounds exactly like the texts I received from my girls, save one thing. Instead of ice cream, they were drinking beer. Everything is normal. He has FREEDOM and is using his, by keeping mum.”

For all the times I wished he’d be “normal’… grrrr.

a proper goodbye….

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When the movie ended, the boy stood, stretched and then disappeared into his bedroom. Feeling like something was missing, I followed him in and asked, “Do you have everything you need, packed?” He nodded, noting some stuff he was leaving behind. Looking at his dresser, I saw an old favorite book of his, from when he was a little boy. Reaching for the book, I asked, “You’re not taking this?” Seemingly annoyed, he replied “No,” with a disgusted tone. Not being able to stop myself, I grabbed the book, walked out of his bedroom, back to the living room and sat down. I held the book for a moment, before summoning the courage to open the book to it’s final chapter–a chapter, I’ve always had difficulty reading. Taking a deep breath, I began… to read the chapter aloud.

Christopher Robin was going away. Nobody knew why he was going; nobody knew where he was going; indeed, nobody even knew why he knew how or that Christopher Robin was going away. But somehow or other, everybody in the forest felt that it was happening at last.*

“Mom, why are you putting yourself through this?” My doll asked, as I blubbered my way through the first page. “I feel like I need this, to say a proper goodbye,” I said, wiping the tears from my cheeks, as I started again. “Dylan, go in and listen to mom…” She said to her brother who, after I exited his room, wasted no time putting headphones on to tune out the world. “Really mom? I have no desire to listen to this…” He looked at me with ambivalence. “Bay, I don’t care.” I replied then went back to reading aloud. Whether he felt forced or a pang of guilt by trying to ignore me, I’m not sure. But a short time later, he took off his headphones, came back into the living room and sat down. Then he asked me to start over; so I did. Once again,  I begin to read stopping only long enough to wipe my eyes or blow my nose, even as my voice caught on some words. Much like when they were little, I tried to change my voice to match the characters while trying my best to get through each page.

Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking out at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out, “Pooh!”

“Yes?” said Pooh.

“When I’m–when—-Pooh!”

“Yes Christopher Robin?”

“I’m not going to do Nothing any more”.

“Never again?”

“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”

Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.

“Yes, Christopher Robin?” Said Pooh helpfully.

“Pooh, when I’m–you know–when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”

“Just Me?”

“Yes, Pooh.”

“Will you be here too?”

“Yes, Pooh, I will be, really, I promise I will be, Pooh.”

“That’s good” said Pooh.

“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”

Pooh thought for a little. “How old shall I be then?”

“Ninety-nine.”

Pooh nodded. I promise,” He said.

Still with his eyes on the world, Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.

“Pooh”, said Christopher Robin earnestly, “If I–If I’m not quite—” he stopped and tried again–Pooh, whatever happens you will understand, won’t you?”

“Understand what?”*

I stopped and looked over at my son, who was having as much difficulty as myself, keeping the tears in check. “Bay, I want you to know, I’m fully aware of my shortcomings and probably wasn’t the best mom you could have had. I know that I pushed you hard and maybe said things that weren’t always that nice. But I want you to know, I love you and tried my best. You have a knack for getting in your own way sometimes, which required me to push you-and I know you hated that. But please don’t ever believe I acted this way out of spite or malice or just to be nasty. You’re my buddy bay, the one who saved my life. I love you beyond measure and I only want the world for you.” He looked back at me and said, “I love you mom, I know,” then stood up, walked over, leaned down and gave me a hug, before succumbing to a bout of tears himself.

Together we hugged and cried as all the emotion of the past eighteen years caught up with us. Rubbing his back as he sobbed, I said, “You’re dad and I are so proud of you, we only want you to find success. We want this to be the best year yet, okay? Be safe and know we love you.” “I know momma,” came his muffled reply. After some time we separated, both wiping our tears away, trying to recapture our breaths so I could finish reading the chapter.

Understand what?”

Oh, nothing,” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”

“Where?” said Pooh.

“Anywhere,” said Christopher Robin.*

“I love you bay!” “I love you, Mom” he replied. “You know what the best part of all this is bay?” He looked to me for the answer, “We’ve gotten all this emotion out now. So tomorrow, when it’s time for your dad and I to leave…there won’t be any need,” I said. He nodded in agreement, gave me another hug, before we departed for bed. Both a little exhausted from saying goodbye to his childhood…

So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.*

And warmed to saying hello to his new adventure as a young adult college student.

 

*Excerpts taken from Chapter 10 of The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne 1926; 1994.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voice of truth…

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Yesterday I found myself sitting in the dentists chair, waiting to be told I need yet another crown. Two weeks earlier, while chewing a piece of gum, a million year-old silver filling decided to cut loose, leaving a nice crater in its wake. “Hello Marsha how are you?” The dentist asked making small talk. After I replied in kind, he began to tell me how he and his wife had just dropped their youngest off to college for his sophomore year. “I get to do that for my boy tomorrow-but for his freshman year,” I replied. Smiling, he replied, “Oh, you’re at the height of stress week!” I smiled and nodded. “Well, let me tell you, next year will be easier.” He said with a laugh adding, “Still stressful, but not nearly as much.”

So I guess my takeaway is to get through these next 24 hours and then we’re good…?

Easier said than done.

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Earlier in the week, after not seeing much movement from the boy to gather his belongings to be washed and packed, I let him have it with both barrels. Unhappy with my unwanted attack, he replied by slamming his bedroom door several times which, engaged the sleeping giant-his father to react. Finally the boy yelled, “Why don’t you trust that I’m going to do this? I’m 18!! I’m an adult, I know I have responsibilities, I just work at a different speed than you do! This is my life, let me be in charge of my life!!” 

“Well, okay then. You’re right, you are an adult. I won’t help you any longer, you are on your own….” I replied and left. Having asserted his own authority, the boy had no choice now, but to start participating in his move to college. Gathering up his dirty clothes to wash, packing time had finally arrived. 

Of course his line about being in charge of his own life has certainly come in handy. “Mom, I need to get a lap desktop, could you take me to the store?” “Sure”, I replied. After finding what he wanted, we approached the cashier. Looking over at me he said, “Well?” “Well what?” I asked confused. “I kinda thought this was on you…” he suggested. “No, you’re the adult who didn’t want any help…” I returned. “Ugh, I knew you would find a way to make me regret my words,” he said, laboring to use his own money to pay for his own wants. 

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As I approached the receptionist to make future, not so fun appointments for my crown, the dentist came up to me and said, “One more thing to remember about tomorrow… this may be new for you, but old hat for the university. They know what they’re doing. Your boy is like cattle…moving through. From what little information you told me, he’s going to a good school. They will take good care of him. All you have to do is get him there, they’ll do the rest.” 

For the first time ever, I left the dentist feeling better than before I  walked in!  A voice of truth and reason for a very stressed out Mean Mommy. 

Tp 

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When you don’t know what the future holds, best to take a page out of the zombie apocalypse handbook just in case the need should arise…

“Mom, before we leave for school Friday, I need to make a stop at Costco,” the boy Informed. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough time…” I countered, knowing there are only so many hours left in this week to pack him up while he has come dangerously close to not helping me do so at all. “No, mom, I need to buy some TP, paper towels and water to take with me,” He countered. 

Looking back at him puzzled I replied, “Bay, you’re in a communal dorm-the toilet paper will be provided”. “Yeah, thin, single ply crap. No, I’d rather have a commodity-you know, something I can barter…” Again, a puzzled look crossed my brow, but I chose to drop the subject, knowing there were bigger items to cross off our lists this week.

On Sunday, I bought him a new backpack at Target and while there, grabbed a container filled with assorted snack chips for him to take to school. “What are these?” He asked. “I thought I’d save you a few bucks at the commissary,” I began, “tho I’m certain there are a few you won’t like-you can share those with your roommate,” I added. Giving me a hug of thanks he mumbled, “Plus it never hurts to have goods for barter…” Pulling away from the hug I asked him, “Where do you think you’re going to on Friday, prison?” 

Now it was his turn to give me an odd look before replying, “Prison?” “What’s all this “bartering and commodities?” I asked, adding “I mean, I can see how these could be of value in prison. But at school, where everyone is on a meal plan, in communal living spaces, I don’t believe bartering will be that much in need”. He smiled gently back at me and replied, “You never know mom-I’d rather be prepared than not. So, can we get a trip into Costco before we leave Friday?”

Oh brother!

inching our way forward…

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With the days of Summer quickly fading, the doll has been preparing her entrance into Tenth grade (finally reading the required pages for her AP history class), next Monday, while her brother is trying not to think too much about his departure to college; the following Friday. Meanwhile, Mom and dad aren’t sure if they’re happy, sad or ready for the boy to act like an adult and be out on his own.

Maybe a little of all three.

I’ve been reminiscing lately, about the boy’s first day of preschool. After I dropped him off, I came home, put the doll down for a nap, then walked into my kitchen and jumped up and down with joy, excited I had two whole hours to myself. “I don’t think I’ll behave that way when we drop him off and leave.” I tell folks all the time only to hear their reassurances that I won’t be. But, every single time I expect myself to behave one way-concerning this child, my reactions are usually the opposite. It’s almost as if I’m trying to keep a stiff upper lip against my own vulnerability.

On Saturday, the boy and I took a trip to the laundramat so he could wash his new sheets, comforter and towels, for his dorm room. While waiting for the his blankets to dry, I asked him, “Are you ready to make this big step?” “I think so…” He replied without much inflection. “What are you excited about?” I asked. He thought for a moment and then said, “I’m excited to play Dungeons and Dragons with people who know how to play”.

I bet you can imagine, the look I gave him in return.

“I mean I’m really excited to play a true game,” He added. “Bay…” I replied and he smiled and then added, “I’m excited for my classes, though I’m worried Journalism will be different than I thought. “How so?” I wondered. “Less print, more radio/podcast stuff,” He explained. “Well, unfortunately, that’s the wave of our future,” I replied and he nodded. “Some of my favorite news sources have been in podcast formats. I’m just not sure what to do…” he said. “Well bay, here’s the great thing, if you meet your professors and talk over your plans, or have questions or anything concerning the class, you get brownie points. The teacher sees you’re willing to do your best, so they’ll give you some leeway and maybe even some pointers to move you along,” I explained. “I never know what questions to ask though,” He returned, stumbling. “Trust me bay, so long as you meet with the professor/teacher about your work, they will help steer you in the right direction. They do not want you to fail, they will be willing to help you succeed,” I tried to reinforce.

“Besides Journalism, what else are you worried about?” I asked, checking the dryer clock for time. “That I’ll oversleep all my classes, that I won’t have the reinforcements I have at home…” “Reinforcements?” I asked puzzled. “You know, you and dad, to keep me in check,” He explained adding, “I’m worried I won’t follow through and fill out the right stuff for future scholarships…” “Sounds to me like you’re afraid of being a grown up,” I said. “Mom, that’s not….” He began but I interrupted him, “Bay, guess what? These are all perfectly normal worries. Heck, I don’t want to be a grown up most of the time, how can I expect you to want to be? But here’s the thing, since you’re paying for school–that’s an incentive to attend your classes, plus between the mentor and the first year seminar, and guidance counselors, I think they’ve got you pretty well covered. Plus, you know, your dad and I are only a text or phone call away…and we both, will always have your back…” I said hoping to convince.

Just then the dryer buzzer sounded and our conversation came to an end.

So today, he continues moving one step closer to college, to hope, some fear and probably a few jumps for joy that his mother will be out of his hair–at least a little while.

 

Sticks and stones…

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When I was a kid, growing up in the 70’s, there was a popular television commercial for Charmin toilet paper where the tag line was “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin”. When my brother was in third grade, he had a small speech impediment, one he would eventually outgrow.  But at the time, whenever he pronounced an “S” word, such as “some” he would say, “Shome” So a few of the kids at school teased him by saying to him, “Pleash don’t shqueeze the sharminsh…” over and over again. If I heard the kids, I would tell them to “Knock it off,” which they usually did (in my presence), after first telling me they were only having a little fun with him.

When I was young and other kids threw shade or slants in my direction, I followed my mother’s directive:

  1. Consider the source: Did these kids even know me outside of school? Did they hold a place of importance in my life? Were these kids even worth the time I was taking wondering/worrying about where they fit in my life?
  2.  If a snap remark was needed, I was to recite to them, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,”  as I walked/hurried away from them.

At the time, I remember not quite understanding just what that old adage meant. I mean, was I giving those bullies permission to ramp up their attack and throw stones at me? Thankfully, most of the time, we all walked home “Unharmed” with the memory quickly fading. Of course, this was also before I understood that names and insults actually hurt worse than sticks and stones.

And long before the internet introduced the world to a 24/7/365 connection to social media.

What used to be seen as a minor skirmish back in my day, has now become open season to inflict the most pain possible, all under the guise of having a fun tease on social media. Except the fun tease has grown out of control. “According to the American Association of Suicidology rates for suicide among 10 to 14 year olds has grown 50 per cent over the last three decades. f1″ In addition, of the kids who are bullied online, one in five ever tell their parents.

This is unacceptable. Our kids deserve the opportunity to grow up in a safe, loving, nurturing environment and our computers, phones and game systems should not be used as instruments to induce pain, despair and eventually sadness and grief.

I don’t have the answers to the many questions facing us today, I wish I did.

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about watching Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, a drama series which deals with teen suicide; with my daughter. I made a point of watching this program with her to create an open dialogue with her, about the finality of suicide and the many other choices out there to keep her safe. I also wanted to point out to her how devastated we would all be by the loss of her life. One of the lessons they pointed out in this series is that kids under the age of 18 lack the cognitive ability to see past the crap in their lives, to the future that holds so much promise. In talking with my doll, I tried my best for her to see, the future is bright and to hold onto that belief above all else.

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Over the past two days, I’ve been informed about two different 14 year old boys who, after considerable cyber bullying, chose to end their lives. As you can imagine, their families, friends and classmates are devastated. With school only a few weeks from starting back up, many parents are at a loss as to what to say to their own children, to help them understand what they themselves can’t. As parents, a neighborhood, a parish community, a nation, we must  no longer allow bullying to be a part of life, simply because it doesn’t have to be. If we follow the tenants of God and love one another as ourselves, then this type of grief and sadness will disappear.

We need to rise up and say NO MORE!

We must find a way to keep our babies whole, happy, feeling safe and loved–together.

 

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f1:https://nobullying.com/bullying-suicide-statistics/

Some help in navigating how to talk to kids about suicide: https://teenlineonline.org/

Suicide Prevention Hotline:

800-273-8255

Trevor Project (LGBTQ specific):

www.thetrevorproject.org

NASP guide for Educators;

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators

Webinars (by Teen Line Staff):

Teen suicide prevention on 3/30/17.

https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=668