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High school tomorrow

How did it get to be the night before Mythankfulboy goes to high school?

I’ve had some really nice time with B in the last two weeks as he has needed support to get his summer reading annotation done, and carting around for school clothes and supplies. When annotating, he usually provides too much or too little information, and so I’ve been teaching.  Luckily, he doesn’t mind being taught.  We’ve annotated at his desk, at the dining room table, on the couch, at Subway, at Red Robin, and at Panera.  And, of course, when things get down to the wire and you work longer than you should you get punchy, and that’s always fun.  Laughing with this kid is my favorite.

Tonight he picked out something to wear, packed his backpack, and set his alarms (can’t be too careful!)   He asked for help making sure his clothes matched, but weren’t too matchy.  I kept giving him orders (“Put your dishes away”, “Turn that light off”, “Make sure the dog has water”) and he kept answering, “But Mo-om, I have to get to bed for my first day of school!”

Once there, I asked him for what he was thankful, and he said, “Your help with annotating.”  He asked me, and I said, “The time with you doing the work.”  He smiled sweetly, then asked me to measure him on the wall.  He’d grown and inch-and-a-half since March, and took great pleasure in asking me to stand there so he could mark my height about an inch below his.  He marked it “Momma”.

Oh, and fall baseball practice started today.  Here we go, off into the unknown.  Looks like fun to me!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Sweetness in the middle of a work day

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Grateful.  Just grateful.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Scooting by

Last night Mythankfulboy did a door-to-door fund-raiser for high school sports.   Being the sociable guy he is, he thought it was great fun.  He came home and told me about each of the people they talked to, about how one of his friends knew a lot of the people they talked to and that people really liked him (the friend), and about giving a guy change for a 20 out of his own money and then accidentally putting it all in the locked box of money for the sports teams.  He knew I wasn’t happy to have arrived home from work to find he’d done nothing helpful and no summer reading during his lengthy day alone at home, so he told his stories with a constant eye on my reactions, testing the waters.   Then he decided the waters weren’t going to be warmed with cute stories, so he got up and started straightening the house, offering to get me a snack, and telling me his productive plans for the following day.  It’s hard not to thaw around B.  I let him wait on me and then asked him to sit down to do some annotating, which he did.

This annotating thing isn’t coming easily to my boy.  I keep reminding myself that he’s only 14 while I’m pushing him to make deeper links.  I’m finding that he’s worried about being wrong or saying something in a way that a teacher won’t understand or with which a teacher won’t agree.  He asked me if he could “put that (deeper links) off for another year”.  I asked him to begin to work on it now, and to keep in mind that his teachers want him to grow in his own thinking, not say the right thing, but I knew as I said it that there is only so much truth in that – that there often are right and wrong answers, and that only some teachers will appreciate alternate viewpoints.  But, we agreed to at least discuss these things even if he’s not comfortable, yet, voicing them.

Our thankfulness ritual was done while I sat on the couch and he stood with one foot in the house and one out the front door, where he was heading with his scooter to goof around in the driveway in the dark.   Trying to avoid fussing at him to close the door so bugs didn’t come in and AC didn’t go out, I asked for what he was thankful.  He said he was thankful for our neighbors across the street for taking him to the fund-raiser and feeding him when he said he didn’t want anything and then figured out that he did.  I said I was thankful he, and by extension, we had such good friends.  Then he was off to scooter the night away in the spaces around my car in the driveway.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Preparing for high school

Mythankfulboy and I have had a nice summer.  Now it’s time to turn our attention towards his first year of high school.

On my mind: What will his classes be?  Will he have any of them with his friends?  What the heck are the actual school day hours, and what bus will he be on?  How much homework will there be?   Is there a supplies list up on the website?  Is there a parent orientation night?  Did they change the date for it?  You know – the predictable stuff.

On his mind: How many more social events can I squeeze into the days (and nights) before the first day?  What kind of scooter can I get with the money I have?  How many more chapters do I have to annotate before school starts?   How much is in the back-to-school supply budget for cool socks?   Is there any ice cream in the freezer?  You know – the predictable stuff.

He doesn’t seem at all worried about where to go or the size of the school or his schedule.  He doesn’t worry about when he’ll see his friends.  He knows some of his friends are starting to date, and he seems to think that’s all good without showing much interest himself (unless it’s under the radar, which is always a possibility).  I think his take-it-in-stride attitude is a gift, and I am most grateful, even when I want to throttle him for not showing a little more concern.

August quickly becomes stressful around my office because we are very affected by the school year’s approach, and as this has happened this year, B has become a bit more attentive of my moods (self-preservation, one might say).  I tend to vacillate between doing paperwork late into the night and  going to be early because I was up so late the night before.  On my late nights, he pops in from time-to-time to bring me a soda, set a silly object on my desk, or curl up beside me on the couch and tell me something on his mind.  He sits on the bed beside my desk and we do the chalice lighting.  On my early nights he tends to wait until I’m crawling into bed and then he lays on the floor in my bedroom with the dog and we talk about our day or the day to come and do our chalice lighting.  It’s interesting, now that I think about it – the shift from my joining him beside his bed to the reverse.  Heavens – my boy is growing up.  Last night he was thankful for his new scooter, which he has decided to name “Geraldine” after my mom.  He said he liked the name, and he likes her, too.  I was thankful for books, which are an escape from the daily grind.  He nodded in agreement.  We smiled at each other for a moment, and then he lumbered up off the floor (he is officially taller than me, now) and went to let the dog in and lock up the house and turn out the lights.

Thankful, thankful.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Busted

I haven’t posted in July because we took our annual camp vacation to Ferry Beach (UU conference center in Maine) where we are relatively unplugged, because my computer refused to turn on upon my return, and because, when it was fixed, I had an injured thumb (healing, thanks). In terms of this blog, all of that was kinda okay, because something significant happened that I needed to process.

Mythankfulboy found out about mythankfulboy.com.

Here’s how it happened.  B got his first phone before we left.  We share an apple ID, so when he loaded all his stuff from his iPod, he happened to also load all the “notes” from my phone.  I often dictate posts into notes while driving to work, and he noticed one and read it.  Setting aside that he probably shouldn’t have read it when he knew it wasn’t his, he must have realized that it was a blog, and he searched and found it on the web.  He then mentioned it to a group of his peers at camp, and they read some of the posts.  He didn’t mention it to me.  I found out because, on the last day of camp, the kids in B’s youth group all signed pieces of paper for one another that said something nice in farewell.  After camp, we extended our vacation by going to a friend’s mountain house (thanks KS and JSH!)   Early in the extended portion of the trip KS found B’s paper in her car on our way out to breakfast (just she and me – the boys were still sleeping) so we took it in with us to see what his friends had said.  His friends had all called him “MTB”, and then one person wrote out “Mythankfulboy”, which made it clear that he, and they, knew about the blog, stopping my heart for a moment.  Reading further, someone included a quote from the blog.  My friend and I looked at each other in stunned silence.  My heart raced.  B knew, and he hadn’t told me he knew.

Fast forward to our return to the house to find the boys up and about.  Without planning, it, we nonchalantly separated them and found out what they knew.  J said that B had openly shared with friends, and that it was very personal.  B said the same, although I don’t know if he thought much about it being very personal.  I asked B if he had gotten teased, and he said a little bit, but that someone in the group had said that it was cool, and that he wished his mom loved him enough to write about him that way (I doubt this boy felt at all worried about how much his mom loved him – I think he was just saying that he understood that it was written in love).  B seemed fine with their reactions.  He said he hadn’t told me because he didn’t want me to stop writing, or to change what I wrote.  We both got tearful, and I knew we were okay.

So, now I start a new chapter of MTB (I love the new abbreviation), which is the chapter in which my 14-year-old boy may just read what I write in real time.  It changes the dynamic, although I’ll try not to let it.  Knowing B, he’ll probably get bored with the whole thing, it effectively being a re-hashing of what has already happened.  I suppose it remains to be seen, but I’ll keep you posted.  Literally.

During the blog’s hiatus, we continued to hold our evening thankfulness ritual, sometimes with a lit chalice and sometimes without.  Here are the things I remember that we said:

  • Our favorite hotel and pizza joint on the way to the beach
  • Our friends at Ferry Beach
  • Ferry Beach RE week and the conference center, itself
  • Finally being in the Senior Youth group
  • Sacred Seeing and its participants (a course KS and I taught for the first time at camp)
  • Vacation!
  • Our friends KS and JSH sharing their beautiful home with us and extending their vacation in order to do so
  • Friends who kept our dog while we were gone
  • RL and his family taking B on a family trip to a cabin
  • Movies in movie theaters
  • Batting cage
  • OR for pitching baseballs in the batting cage
  • Sleeping in
  • Mythankfulboy, now and always.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Finding Dory in the Starbucks drive-thru

We are in the throes (and “the throws”…) of baseball  – Mythankfulboy’s team is in the playoffs, vying for first place.  His team was first in their division, so they got a by on the first game and played in the second game.  They played a team whose coach was thrown out of the last game we played against them for yelling “balk” at our pitcher when the ump didn’t agree (among other loud-mouth antics).  This time the coach  made it through the game, but one of his players was ejected for throwing a bat in anger.   It was a real nail-biter, but they pulled it off, and B was so happy to have beaten them because, in his words, they were mean.   He kept telling me that there was one nice player who seemed embarrassed to be on such an ugly team.  I think he felt sorry for him.

So, every day that hasn’t been a game has been a practice for as long as I can remember.  The next playoff game (not theirs) was rained out which postponed ours.  A lot of these games are weekday evenings, which makes getting him there by 4:30, anywhere from an hour to two hours away from my office, quite challenging, especially when his dad is out of town, as he has been all week.  Still, the experience is glorious.

In the middle of all of this craziness B and I took an afternoon off and went to see Finding Dory.  It was delightful on many levels.  If you don’t remember by the time you read this, B, Dory is a fish with short-term memory loss.  You need to remember this to appreciate what happened next.  We left the theater and went to Target, then went through the Starbucks drive-thru in which I ordered a drink for me and I ordered a treat for you (a smores bar).  There was a wait in line, so I started texting and emailing clients about moving their speech therapy sessions off of the day of the next playoff game.  I was deeply engrossed in this when we got to the window to pay, and B was sitting quietly beside me with headphones on.  The nice lady in the window leaned out to hand me a small bag (with the smores bar) but I didn’t reach for it because, while I knew I had ordered a drink, I was pretty sure I hadn’t ordered anything that came in the bag.  As my mind raced I didn’t say anything but looked puzzled and she tilted her head at me, looked at B, then looked back at me (also without speaking).  I followed her gaze to B and then remembered that he was in the car and that I had ordered the treat for him and that, yes, this was my order.  Good grief.  As we pulled away, B held up his bar and turned to me and said, “Dory” before taking a bite.

A minute later he turned to me and said, “You know mom, sometimes living with you is a little like living with Dory.”  I laughed and said, “I imagine it is.  If I’m Dory, what does that make you?”  He thought about it and answered, “Nemo, because I’m always your biggest fan.”

That night, at the chalice lighting, he was thankful for Finding Dory.  I was thankful for my biggest fan.

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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My father taught me the inherent worth of all people. My mother taught me to be an ally.

 

Growing up a white middle-class southern-girl-child, my father went off to work in the city every day and my mother took care of the house and kids.  I was raised in an overwhelmingly protestant faith community, where black-and-white was the dichotomy, and where gender and sexuality were only discussed in the parlance jokes.  My mother and father were good people who took a teacher-student approach to parenting.  Momma trained me in the housekeeping and cooking and cosmetic aspects of becoming someone’s wife.  Daddy trained me to pay attention to how things worked in order to be self-sufficient – from carpentry and plumbing to being able to determine direction by where the sun is in the sky.  Self-sufficiency was highly prized by both my parents.  My parents would be considered conservative by most standards, but they taught me to be a liberal, and more specifically, to be a UU.

That was never their intention, of course, and they may, in fact, be a bit chagrined, at the outcome.  It is hard for them to grasp that I live a faith that is not mainstream, one they’d never heard of until I brought it into their worlds.  But make no mistake – it all goes back to them, because here are a few other things my parents taught me:

My father taught me that every person at every age deserves your respect; that every person you encounter will be better than you at something, will know things you don’t know, and will have pain you can’t see. He taught me that words matter, and to use them judiciously, but to use them in dissension when someone needs to raise a voice.  Daddy taught me that service to others is a human’s greatest calling, and to look for a way every day to make someone else’s life better.  He taught me that kindness is directly related to thankfulness, and that a life of gratitude would bring me happiness.  He taught me that there is unending beauty in nature, and that we have a responsibility to pay attention to our surroundings and to take care of the natural world that sustains us.  These are the UU tenants of inherent worth and dignity and of respect for the interdependent web of all existence, among others.  These are lessons of a caretaker.

My mother taught me that we were fortunate: fortunate to have a roof over our heads and family underneath it.  She taught me that not everyone would receive the same benefit of the doubt I would while walking through the life, and certainly not the same treatment, and she told me specifically what that would look like.  Momma taught me that I had to be overt in my compassion and pre-emptive in my support, and she modeled it for me without fanfare.  She taught me that inclusion would be my responsibility.  She told me that my works in the world needed to make up for the unfairness I would encounter.  These are the UU tenants of justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and of the goal of world community, among others. These are the lessons of an ally.

Now that I’m a parent, I do what parents do – I take the things I appreciate about the way I was raised, vow not to repeat some things, and add to the mix as I go.  If my parents weren’t particularly active in the free and responsible search for truth column, they did give me a faith community from which to grow.  More than that, though, they actively taught me through word and deed to live my UU faith of respect, community, and equity.  May I continue to grow in these ways.  May I pass these things along to my boy.  Blessed be.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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