On the same team

Mythankfulboy and I get along really well, which is spoken with great gratitude and trepidation since he is a young teen.  Still, I offer this thought to preface a description of a brief period of tension and angst we had over the weekend.

Over the weekend I had a fever, and was in a bit of a fog for most of Saturday.  In the afternoon sometime I realized that B had been gaming (Destiny on Xbox One) pretty much since he’d been awake.  He’d checked on me as he passed by for food or the bathroom, but otherwise he had been gaming.  So, I asked him to come in to where I was sitting and I asked him to calculate the number of hours he’d been at the console.  He calculated, “About 5”.  I said, “Then that’s plenty, don’t you think?”  He wasn’t sure how to answer this.  He knew the expected answer was “Yes ma’am”, but everything in his adrenaline-pumped being was saying “Uh, no.”  What he actually said was, “Ok. Can I just finish this one thing?” then he returned to his room, finished that one thing, and joined me in the living room where he proceeded to talk over the Hallmark Christmas movie into which I’d been sucked.  It crossed my mind that I should have waited until my movie was over to take a stand, but instead I just told him to hush and let me watch my movie.  So he pulled out his iPod.  Ok, well, I wasn’t going to fight that screen when I was screening, myself.

When my movie was over I built a fire in the stove and moved to the new location.  He joined me there and, after some quiet fireside contemplation asked, “Can I just ask why, if it makes me happy, you don’t want me to do it?”  A good question, right?  I chuckled and gave him the not-all-things-that-make-us-happy-are-good talk, mixed deftly with the gaming-turns-your-brain-to-mush talk and the being-able-to-postpone-pleasure-is -correlated-with-better-life-outcomes-according-to-the-marshmallow-study talk.   He harrumphed and went to bed at 8:00.

The next morning I asked him if he wanted to make monkeybread with me, and he happily bounded into the kitchen.  After a few minutes of working side-by-side, I asked if he was still mad at me.  He said, “Well, yes.  I mean, I don’t know.  What’s the difference between angry and frustrated?”  I told him that angry was when frustration overtakes you, and you go from feeling like you can deal to feeling like you can’t.  He never really said if he was actually angry (based on that definition), but he expressed, again, that gaming was something he loved to do and he wished I wouldn’t put a time limit on it.  Then he suggested that he be able to game several hours, as long as some of the time was in the morning and some was in the afternoon/evening.  I told him I thought that was a really good step towards self-monitoring, and that I could work with that, but I still needed to say no more than 4 hours on weekends.  The only reason I allow that much is because I hear some really wonderful things being discussed and managed socially when he’s online with his friends.  Earlier today I heard him chastise someone for using the word autism in what must have been a derogatory or flippant way (“Man, autism is a trigger for me when you use it like that.  You’ve gotta find a different way to say that” – we may need to talk about the word “trigger”, but I thought he handled the situation fairly well).  He also has no problem with my listening to his side of the discussions – he doesn’t have much choice because we live in tight quarters.

So, the discord was over just like that, but his questions are still with me.  Why not do whatever makes you happy?  What is the difference between angry and frustrated?  When you’re a teen, who should be in charge of your time?  I’m reminded that his brain is gearing up for independence, but isn’t there yet, and he still needs – craves – boundaries, assurances, and information he can trust.  So, tonight, as I listen to him talking, planning, and giggling with his game-friends, I am grateful that he and I are still on the same team.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pumpkin party gifts

This was the weekend of our annual pumpkin party, a weekend to which we look forward all year, hard work and all.  As mythankfulboy has gotten older, he has become so helpful, and it’s a pleasure to watch him take initiative as his awareness of what I do and what needs to be done grows.  He asked me about a week ago how I ever did “all this” by myself – now THAT is enough for which to be grateful right there!

But the gifts just kept rolling in.

The weekend before the party, mythankfulboy’s friends came over and worked hard for a morning to get the yard in shape. I paid them a little to make sure they understood I was serious about the work, but they teamed up happily, worked hard, and enjoyed one another. B helped me steer the group, confident he knew how I wanted things done. This was the gift of youth rising to expectations, and a lovely thing to see.

On Friday, I received an odd-smelling FedEx package from SJ, who couldn’t make the party this year – she had sent us at least 8 cups of chopped onions for all the cooking we’d be doing Friday and Saturday, as well as a personal goodie for each of us. This was the gift I didn’t know I needed, but man was she right.

Friday night, our friends J, M, & S, who drove the farthest for the party and worked the hardest to make it happen, arrived.   J smokes pork and sets up outdoor festivities for people he doesn’t know, M has a restricted diet and can’t eat, or even taste, the things she cooks and tends in the kitchen, and S just hopes some girls near her age show up (not so much this year). This was the gift of selflessness brought on by years together around an annual event and the stories we have to show for it, for which I grow more grateful with every passing year.

Most folks who came brought one and sometimes two fabulous things to eat – this was the gift for which I’ve learned to ask, and which brings a new and different kind of gratitude with its own learning curve.

When rain threatened, our sweet new neighbors J&A rushed over with a pop-up awning. This was the gift of living in community.

Watching the children grow. This was the gift that doesn’t need explanation.

On Sunday we took J, M, & S to visit a cool town with an industrial and artsy edge – their S and my B (both of middle school age) were clearly exhausted (the adults weren’t much better), but we had a beautiful day for it and we enjoyed ourselves. This was the gift of the freedom and safety to do as we please, and of the joy of being together.

We visited a steel plant in preserved ruin. B was fascinated with iron ore pellets lying around plentifully, but always just out of reach. This was the gift of wonder.

Then B & I came home to find that SV & JV were serious about volunteering some of their son’s chore time for the week to our after-party yard clean-up effort (JV also stayed and worked).  SV had stayed late the night before and washed dishes. This was the gift of anticipated needs fulfilled.

There were beautiful people we missed this year. In particular, a little one who was far too busy healing, and her family who were at her side. May all the love of this gathering spread out to encompass them.

Another successful pumpkin party comes to a close. Our gratitude is abundant.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Blessed Halloween, friends, hard work, and each other.

It’s a busy time of year – I don’t do heat well (massive understatement), so the only time I do outdoor work is in the fall, and a little in the spring.  So far this fall we have dropped a few trees in the yard that were dead and cut them up for firewood, have trimmed live ones, have fixed some aspect of three different sheds, and have weeded and mulched.  Saturday I had The Crew over and put them all to work for a few bucks a piece.  It is such a joy watching Mythanfulboy learn to work different tools, to make a commitment to work that needs to be done, and to feel pride and accomplishment when the work is finished.  We’ve made a habit lately of heading home from various activities around 4, eating a snack, working in the yard until dark, then dinner and homework/work before bedtime.  There have been nights at our chalice lighting when he has said that he can’t wait until snow comes and he doesn’t have to work so hard anymore, but there was also one night when he said he was thankful for so many things he couldn’t choose one.  I’m going to remember that one for a long time.

Tonight, the Sunday night after Halloween, he was thankful for Halloween and his friends and a really great weekend.  I was thankful for the exact same list.  Aren’t we blessed?

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Work without pain

Our chalice lightings have been fairly predictable lately, as we spend each evening working in the yard and going to bed tired.  Typical offerings have been that we got the shed painted, that we chopped down all the annoying volunteer trees that we’ve let go for 3 seasons, or that we got the tools in or covered before the rain.  Tonight Mythankfulboy was thankful for another evening of accomplishments, and, surprisingly, for no longer feeling the drive/need to get up and game before school (yes, he was getting himself up at 5am to play Destiny).  He was also thankful for his favorite blanket, which I reminded him had been given to us by Granddaddy and Nini.  “Even better”, he said.  I was thankful for the dedication and good attitude he has maintained during the yard work and extra chores – his attitude has been at least as good, if not better, than mine.  He smiled to hear me say it.

Meanwhile, to balance the mature picture I just painted, he and his friends (mostly 13 year olds) are dressing up for Halloween as “low budget power rangers” – they have enough kids to have blue, green, yellow, red, purple, and black, with a possible white and a possible putty.  No takers on the pink ranger.  This should be a hoot.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

Def gratitude

Oh heavens.  I’m still laughing about our chalice lighting this evening.  B joined me in my room, where I’ve had 80’s radio playing fairly loudly all evening to keep me awake while I worked on a computer, seated at my desk.  Mythankfulboy plopped down on the bed beside my desk and proceeded to surf the web on his iPod while we talked about our days today and tomorrow.  He then asked me for what I was thankful.  I said I was thankful for times when I didn’t think I could do one more thing and then I pull it together and get a lot done.  He nodded, then went back to his iPod.  I asked him for what he was thankful and he commented, instead, on the game he was playing (Floppy Rocket or some such).  Then he got up to leave, absent-mindedly saying goodnight.  I told him to hang on – that he hadn’t told me what he was raising up tonight.  He leaned down and put his head on my shoulder, snuggling it back into my neck, and I rubbed his back as he said, “Oh.  Well, I’m thankful that you got a lot done, and I’m thankful that I figured out how to reset my router, and that you can take me to school tomorrow, and…”

Here he stopped because I had started giggling.  He stood up and said, “What?”  I choked out that I had just realized that we had Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me on as the backdrop to our chalice lighting.  I’m pretty sure that dropped tonight’s chalice lighting out of the “sacred” category!  We laughed and laughed, so much that the dog got excited and B dropped down to the floor to play with him.

I never did hear what he was going to say after that last “and…”

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 15, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day

Aaaaaah!  Would you believe I managed to have a can of old paint spill all over the hatchback of my car today?  What a freakin’ mess!  Mythankfulboy arrived home from his dad’s on the very tail end of the cleanup, and after having a good laugh and checking out my new phone, he joined me in the cleanup.  After about 30 minutes of it, I realized that he hadn’t batted an eye at helping, so I turned to him and said, “Honey, thank you so much for helping me with this mess, and for doing it with a happy heart.”  He said, “Sure!” without really even thinking about it.  My friend KS would say, “That’s what love looks like.”

Dinner, showers, laundry, packing up for tomorrow…. and then the chalice lighting.  Returning to his bedside after a hiatus of chalice lightings in my room, B said he was thankful for the three day weekend.  I said, “Happy Indigenous Peoples Day”, and he said, “I thought it was Columbus Day”.  So, I explained what an apparently horrible person Columbus was, and that we could consider Columbus as having “discovered America”, working from a European viewpoint, or as a conqueror, as the folks who were already here and were unfortunate enough to cross his path would view him.  I didn’t preach, I just explained the growing shift in viewpoint.  As for my offering for the chalice, I said I was thankful to live in a country where we can revisit history and decide whether or not we agree or disagree without fear of reprisal.  B yawned, so I kissed his head and said goodnight.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Chill out

Today Mythankfulboy went to the YMCA with friends after school, where I picked him up.  Home to take and hour to get some food in him, check on homework, get him changed, and then back out the door to baseball practice.  Home from there to eat a second dinner (for him, first for me), laundry for weekend baseball games etc., and time for the chalice lighting rolled around before I could even think about it.  For what was B thankful?

That tonight was a night to chill out.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers