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A note from when you were 8

I just stumbled on this note I wrote Mythankfulboy when he was about to go on a trip to Maine with his dad.  I thought it would be wise to put it here for safekeeping.

21 August 2010

Dear B –

I am very proud of you for playing the glad game and looking for the good things you will find and do on your trip to Maine.  I am also proud of you for not wanting to disappoint your dad, because you are showing your kindness and love.  I want to remind you that it will not be disappointing to your dad if you tell him that you are worried about something, that you are sick or hurt, or that you are afraid.  These are things that your dad wants to know about and help you with, so please tell him, Sweetheart.  If he isn’t sure what the best thing to do is, or how to help, he can call me and we can figure it out together, just like I would call him if I wasn’t sure what to do.

I hope you call me a bunch while you’re gone, because Beethoven and I will miss you terribly.  My goal while you are gone is to clean the house, so you can look forward to that when you get back!

I love you SOOOOO much.  Momma

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A father’s attention

Yesterday Mythankfulboy and I had a found afternoon when, miraculously, baseball was cancelled and it was sunny and cool – the perfect recipe for a walk.  We took the dog, of course, and had a brisk walk in the wind that had caused the cancellation of baseball practice.  We saw tadpoles, moss-topped stone fences, a giant hog (fenced in!), and we heard trees rubbing against one another in the wind and squeaking out violinesque tones.  We fixed a rail on a split rail fence, and stopped a thousand times to let the dog sniff or mark along the way.  We didn’t talk about anything of substance.  It was lovely.

At the chalice lighting before bed I showed B a clip of Daniel Beaty on Def Jam Poetry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXQ2eRHklDc) doing a powerful piece called Knock Knock about growing up without his dad, who was incarcerated.   I had seen it earlier in the day, shared on Facebook by a friend.  We watched it, and B sat quietly, petting the dog.  When I turned to look at him at the end, his face was flushed and he was silent.  I said something like, “Powerful, huh?” and he nodded.  We sat in silence for a bit, and I asked if he was okay.  He nodded.  I asked how the piece made him feel, and he said he didn’t know.  We sat quietly a bit longer, and then I asked for what he was thankful.  He said he wanted to think of something beyond the usual.  I said ok, and waited.  When he continued to sit quietly, I offered, “I’m thankful for tadpoles”.  He added, “and singing trees”.  I said, “Those are beyond the usual”, and he nodded.  I said, “I’m thankful I grew up with a dad who wasn’t always physically there, but who I knew loved me.”  He nodded.  I spoke very briefly, maybe 3 sentences, about black men being incarcerated at a hugely disproportionate and tragically high rate in our country, and about what it took to overcome growing up without a dad.  He nodded.

I don’t know, but maybe he was thinking about his dad.  I had taken the afternoon off of work to get B to the 3:00 baseball practice that was cancelled because his dad had said he couldn’t take off of work to do it, but we passed his house on the way to the park and saw his truck was there.  I’m guessing that B was, in his 14-year-old way, weighing his own circumstances of having a father who is not always in 100% against the circumstances of the boy growing up without his dad in the poem.  I hope someday B understands that it was his dad’s way of being in the world – not fully engaged –  and was not specific to him.  I hope he will balance the moments like this afternoon with the times his dad was there, the times he was generous, and the way he cared about B and his future, but I’m not sure.  Waters run deep and personal for a 14-year-old boy.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A little more advent, and good night Christmas

The holidays whizzed by – I didn’t manage to sit down and blog for weeks!  This resulted in being quite behind in writing down mythankfulboy’s answers to advent questions.  Starting with December 11th, which is out of order because I temporarily lost it so it didn’t make the previous blog’s list:

December 11: Name a time when you have been a helper.  What did you do?  “At Ferry Beach, I was assigned to help the little kids with using the instruments during music.  Twas fun!”  Yes, he wrote “twas”.

December 16: Name someone you’d like to get to know better in the coming year.  “My dad. I feel like it is always just small talk and awkward between us.”  Oof.

December 17: Talk about your favorite holiday memory.  “Mine is when we went to Georgia when I was 10 or 11 and had a really fun time with all my relatives.”  I said, “That’s it?  What about the time the tree fell over, or when we went to DC and left the presents all over the place for Aunt Susan, or when Santa rolled out the scroll with your name on it and all the things you wished for?”  He said, “Oh yeah!  Those, too!”

December 18: If you could be a character from a book for one day, who would you want to be?  “Harry Potter so I could zap people.”

December 19: Tell me a joke.  Why is laughing good for you?  “Knock knock!  Who’s there?  Interrupting cow!  Interrupting cow wh-MOOO!  Laughing is good because it is a form of exercise (spelled “exercize”) and improves your overall mood.”

December 20: This is the darkest night of the year.  Do you like darkness?  “I only like it for sleeping and gaming.  Otherwise, I like it bright.”

December 21: After darkness, how can you welcome back the sun?  “By saying hi to it!”  Hardy har har.

December 22:  What is food you like to share with others?  “Vegetables, food that I don’t like, and food that I have a lot of.  And candy.”  Ask a question, get an answer, as my momma would say!

December 23: Name a gift you could give that would cost nothing.  “A chore someone doesn’t like to do.”

December 24: What is the best gift you give to the world? “MY LOVE”.  In person, he added, “Being good to the world by not killing it.”  Arguable, but ok.

 

On the 24th we headed down South to see our family, where we saw Peepeye and Grandaddy and Nini (grandparents), J&J with W and M and B, LA&T with M (aunt, uncles, cousins), B&J and their extended brood of K&A with S&K, and S with Z, J&K, and L (great aunts and uncles and second and third cousins).  The little one, 4 years old, followed B around like a puppy dog, much to his consternation (although he was good about it).  It was odd to find that, of the five siblings of which my dad is the oldest, our annual Christmas Day gathering was down to only 2 (one missing because of weather).

We did our usual half-time with my  momma (Peepeye) and half-time with my daddy and step-mother (and friend).  Tornados happened across the South, with severe rain and flooding in our area.  It was in the 70’s every day but the last.  Weird.  I asked B what his favorite part of the trip was, and he named each family member one by one, eyes lighting up anew with each set of names.  I added that I thought our trip to the dam was my favorite (also the only sunny day).  We saw a beaver make its way out of the incredibly tumultuous water just below the dam and up onto the rocky side; when we last saw it, it was heading to what looked like a dead end, but maybe it knew something we didn’t know.  Hopefully.

And we did a virtual chalice every night of the trip, but last night, when we arrived home, we were just too tired, so I kissed him on the head and said goodnight.  And goodnight Christmas.  Despite the ornaments that still have to be taken down, the spirit of the season has dwindled, as it must to be fresh next year.  Happy new year!

 

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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When being a good parent hurts your heart (from 9/14/15)

Being a young teen in a split family in which one-half has remarried and acquired additional kids stinks.  At least it does for my young teen in our split family in which the-other-half has remarried and has acquired additional kids.  Nothing untoward has happened, and nothing crazy, and I can actually say that I like his stepmother fine, but my 13-year old has a predictably small view of the world and is devastated by his dad’s choices on a daily basis.  Yesterday, post-baseball game, after sharing that he was annoyed that his step-brother (younger) wants to be a character from his (B’s) favorite Xbox game (Destiny), he was surprised to have both me and Mom2 (his friend’s mom and his mom’s friend) say that this annoyance was classic big brother/little brother stuff, and that he should reframe it, because this kid and he might do well to support one another in a situation for which neither asked. He argued briefly, then, clearly outnumbered and out-communicated, he dropped it and moved to something else, doing so with relative ease: resignation, perhaps.

Several hours later, though, I was sitting quietly in my armchair when he draped himself from one arm of the chair (on which he laid his head) to the other arm (on which his curled-up legs rested), snuggled the rest of himself in the fetal position down into my lap, and began to cry.  He said, “Dad promised me he wouldn’t marry her, then he did.”  Keep in mind, dear reader, that his father and stepmother will have been together now for several years, and married for at least a year.  I listened to what he had to say, and then I told him that I hadn’t been there to know exactly what was said or meant, but that, regardless, the whole situation was not his fault, nor was it particularly fair, nor was it going away.  I told him that I hoped that he could work on forgiving his dad, not because it was his job to do so, but because I thought that he might someday really want to have a relationship with his dad, even if he didn’t feel like it just now.  I stroked his hair back from his face and told him that I loved him.

Eventually, he untangled himself and got ready for bed. He then re-joined me (standing this time) and asked me for what I was thankful.  I glanced towards the kitchen with a grin, and he said, “Oh yeah – the dishwasher – of course!” (a new one, having been delivered the day before).  I returned the question to him, wondering what he’d say after this stressful day.  He paused, looking off into the middle distance for a moment, then he said “My game, and that you helped me get it”, referring to an apparently epic Destiny update he’s had for a few days.

This is heartbreaking stuff for a momma.  The job of setting your own emotional reactions aside and looking out to the future to what you hope your circumstances might evolve in order to inform your current responses can be daunting.  And while it’s daunting, it is the grown-up thing to do and is a hell-of-a teaching moment with your child about how to handle disappointment, disagreement, and a feeling of rejection.  And so I do it.  I’m really, really, thankful that he doesn’t dismiss his moms’ thoughts and advice, and I’m equally thankful for the Mom2 back-up.  This won’t be the last I’ll hear about this, but I think he will at least think about, and will trust, our words and our love in offering them.

Blessed be.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Achoo

Last night, at the evening chalice lighting, the dog and the boy were lying snuggly on the bed.  We had just finished studying spelling bee words (“lederhosen”, “blitzkrieg”, “schottische”), and the two had happily retired.  I lit the chalice, and, as I’ve done lately, stood beside the bed, leaning over onto it on my elbows to get close.  I asked mythankfulboy for what he was grateful.  He said, “You for arranging in no time for me to get a physical so I can go to practice tomorrow.”

In this he was referring to the fact that he had not gotten to participate in a pre-season (pre-tryout) baseball practice because I had not known that forms needed to be sent in, and, upon looking at the forms yesterday afternoon, realized that he needed a new physical.  By today.  I did a google search and figured out there was a minute clinic 10 miles away that could do a sports physical, if I could figure out how to get him there and if they could take him before they closed.  I had a meeting that evening, so I talked his father into leaving work to take him, while I filled out all the forms and printed directions for them.  Thankfully, the minute clinic did take him.  Now, back to the chalice-lighting.

I said, “I’m thankful for your father for dropping everything and taking you for your physical when I asked him to.”  “Yeah,” he answered, noncommittally.  “Come on!” I said.  “He had to adjust to the idea because I sprang it on him, but he did, and he stopped what he was doing and rushed over here, took you to the clinic, paid for the physical, took you to dinner, then brought you home!  That was great!”  “Yeah,” he said once more.

I’m reminded, here, of the point in the movie Birdman, when Mike Shiner, the character played by Ed Norton, asked the mopey, angry daughter of the main character what terrible thing her dad had done to her.  She thought about it and answered that he hadn’t been around, and when he was, he spent all his time trying to make her feel special.  Shiner asked, “Is that all?”  In other words, there are much worse things in this world – get over it.  B’s response is a little like this – his dad is not going to meet his expectations, but I hope B can learn to give him credit when credit is due, particularly because his dad loves him, is proud of him, and is there for the important things.  Maybe it’s too much to ask, or maybe he’ll work through this after his teen years, or heck, maybe he’s right.  Still, it seems like swallowing the poison to make someone else feel the pain.

So, I said my piece, and then I let it go, remembering that he was thankful for my part in the process, which was nothing at which to sneeze.  This helped me curb my sneezy nature.  A momma can only do so much.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The dogs and the bees and the boy

It’s spelling bee time again.  Last year B came in second for his school, and he has a goal of domination this year, so we’ve begun a nightly study period.  This is fun for me because I love words so very much.  Plus, anytime you share a love of something with your kid, and get to spend time with them around it, the joy is multiplied.

After the spelling session last night, mythankfulboy sat, or I should say, spun, in my desk chair while I sat, propped up, in bed.  We lit the candle on the desk and began the evening thankfulness ritual.  The dog was unhappy that B and I were in the same room and not talking to him, so he wandered back and forth between us whining.  B said he was thankful for snow and for school dances, the latter of which he’ll be attending this evening.  He has the night planned; home to my house after school, dad to pick him up and take him to Crossfit, taking a change of clothes to slip into at the gym for the dance, then the dance.  Perhaps his crush will be there….  His dad harrumphs about all the driving, and while I know he doesn’t cherish that part of it (who does?), I do think he likes knowing that B is connected to his community, and takes some private pleasure in getting him to activities.

For myself, I was thankful for a dog who, despite being not-very-bright and often annoying (I’m not good with whining; perhaps I’ve mentioned this), is highly tolerant of ear and tail pulling, and is always happy to see us.  My son delivered 25 unsolicited pecks on my cheek, said goodnight, and left for bed.  I closed my eyes to remember the moment, and drifted off to sleep.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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You have no idea

Oh how I missed mythankfulboy over the week following Christmas this year, with his being north and my being south.  I’m glad he got the opportunity to see his dad’s family, and to spend some one-to-one time with his dad, though.  We texted throughout the week, he often asking permission to do something or other (Could he use money he’d been given for Christmas to buy something related to his new XBox One; Was it okay to split coins his grandmother gave him and his cousin if they gave $30 of it to charity?) and me asking repeatedly for a picture of him, with his face in the picture, in the sweatshirt my mother gave him for Christmas (the first one he sent was of him wearing the sweatshirt, but only showed his chin – grandmothers want to see cherubic faces!)  We spoke once by phone to go over what he’d been doing and to figure out when he could have a friend over when we returned.  We both got back yesterday, which was New Year’s Eve.  We stayed up (okay, he stayed up and he woke me to see the ball drop), and late in the evening we did a New Year’s chalice lighting.

At the chalice lighting, B suggested that we make resolutions instead of saying something for which we were thankful.  He suggested that I make a resolution to do the best I can to help everyone I meet in the new year.  I asked why he thought that would be a good resolution for me, and he said, “Because it will be easy for you to keep!”  Aw, shucks.  I asked if he had thought about a resolution for himself, and he said, “Yeah – to get buff!”  “Well” said I, “You’re going to have to change your diet, Dear.”  He said, in a singsong tone “I know.”  I asked what the best part of his holiday was, and he told a story of holding a dead mouse on a long shingle out for an owl to swoop down and take.  This happened at his biologist-great-uncle’s cabin in the snowy woods, so it’s not as odd as it might seem, and was really pretty cool.  We went on about our trips, and I eventually snuck in my statement of gratitude when I told him I was thankful he was home.  He repositioned himself to snuggle up and lay his head on my shoulder, and said, “You have no idea.”

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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