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Steppin’ up

It has been a trying week.  A broken car, a rental car, travel to see a teen for a language evaluation who just didn’t want me there and a school team who didn’t know if they could trust me, baseball’s resumption, and, hardest by far, the empending rehoming our dog of almost 10 years.  Mythankfulboy has had to be not only self-sufficient, but has had to take care of the dog and minor things around the house.  He has been a trooper.  He has been a rockstar.

He called me mid-week to tell me that there would be baseball workouts starting next week 3 mornings a week before school at 6:15.  He said he’d figure out how to get there.  I told him he didn’t have to figure it out because I would take him.  Of course I would take him.

When I got home, I asked him why on earth he thought I wouldn’t get him to these morning workouts.  He said he just couldn’t see how I could pull that off with all that I already do, and with my sleep issues.  I was absolutely caught between the sweetness of his worrying about me/determination to be independent and the weirdness that he thought I would actually say no to something so important to him.  When do I ever say no?

Well, there was the time he asked me to start dating so he could have a cool guy around, but that was a little different.

Since that discussion of how he would get to workouts, we have lined up a carpool, and it will all happen.  Last night I crawled into bed not long after we got home from a baseball scrimmage and dinner, and he sat in my desk chair and I quizzed him for his first high school test (social studies).  I realized after a few minutes that he knew the material well, and asked him if he felt prepared.  He said, “Oh, yeah.  I just thought you didn’t think I was prepared.”   I will have to keep an eye on this new way he’s looking at me.  I wonder if it is related to our crazy week, or just part of the development of a human.  I’ll keep you posted.

At the chalice lighting he was thankful for pens.  He said that they were better than pencils because pencils have to be sharpened (true) and get sweaty (news to me).  I said I was thankful for our mechanic, for the rental car, and for the people who will give our pup a good home this Saturday.  He sat down on the floor and rubbed the dog’s belly, then called him to the door to let him out and back in before he went to bed.  My 14-year-old may not want to grow up, but he’s doing a really nice job of it anyway.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 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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Party games

Last evening I drug Mythankfulboy off of his gaming system to make a plan for his 14th birthday party, and we had a blast watching youtube videos of potential games.  We chose 6 Minute To Win It games (Marshmallow Toss, Face the Cookie, Back Flip, Don’t Blow the Joker, Yank Me, and Hanky Panky) and 4 Whose Line Is It Anyway? games (Sit Lean or Stand, Scenes from a Hat, Props, and Party Quirks), and I think, particularly given his friends, it should be a riot.  Then everyone is spending the night and doing whatever they want around the house til 1 on Saturday.  Then I will pass out.

B took a shower and did his evening things, then returned to my room for the evening thankfulness ritual of the chalice lighting.  We each thought a moment, then I started, saying I was thankful for days I’m home early enough to walk the dog.  I could have added, “and it’s cold enough to make me want to do it”, but I think he knew that part.  He said he was thankful for planning what he thought would be a low key, fun birthday party.  May it be so.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Odds and ends of a weekend apart

It was a quiet, working, weekend here at the house (well, around town – I don’t get anything done at the house) because Mythankfulboy was at a friend’s house Thursday night (no school Friday) and at his dad’s for the weekend.  This did not keep me from sending him audio clips via text asking him to spell various words, but it did mean that I didn’t get my usual dose of him.  In some ways, the nights away from your kid/s, as a divorced parent, are really good breaks.  Of course, not so much when they are texting and begging to come back to your house.  Still, we worked through that, and I missed him thoroughly by the time he got home.

Today, while his dad took him for a snowboard lesson (awesome, right?), I went to the office and met my business partner and one of our precious staff, and we did some sprucing up.  This was much-needed, and I think we’ll all be happier this week for having done it.  Afterward, I had a quick, quiet dinner out and read (one of my favorite combinations of things to do), and headed over to pick up the boy.  He had so many things to tell me, he couldn’t complete a sentence.  These things ranged from what his step-brother had done when he (B) had friends over (followed them around), to his disappointment that he won something in a video game only to find he already had one, to how much his rear end hurt from falling while learning to snowboard.  We got the car washed, and the boy a milkshake.  I played (and sang) my new favorite song for him, much to his pretend chagrin (The Decemberists’ Better Not Wake the Baby).  We turned into the driveway laughing.

Once home, of course we spelled (hard words: samovar, paprika, and catkin, although the last one was easy once he heard the correct spelling…), and then the chalice lighting.  It took a little while to tear him away from his iPod, but once we got the dog on the bed and settled, he gushed that he was thankful for his new baseball bat and some Lindt chocolate he got for his birthday.  These days he also always says he’s thankful for me.  I said I was thankful for getting some things done around the office, and for the lightness and laughter there today.  And of course, for his coming home after being gone a few days.  About then, the dog knocked the boy’s iPod out of the windowsill in which he’d left it for the night, and things moved into the dull aspects of getting it back in place, blowing out the candle, turning on the lava lamp, and saying goodnight.

Except for the “I love you” part.  That’s always the best part.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 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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Heart in the lead

A pleasant weekend.  A day on my own to work and see a movie (Birdman – wow – blown away) and a day with my cherub to celebrate birthdays with Auntie J and her brood, then to batting cages and Waffle House, then home in the serious snow.  This was the second weekend in a row we drove 30+ miles in the snow one way to batting cages, but baseball is coming, and, despite the fact that we have a batting cage in our backyard, it isn’t functional when it is knee deep in snow.  Yesterday he hit well at his usual pitch speed (and was complimented on his form by a few dads, which put him through the roof with pride), and then he tried the next higher pitching speed and hit nothing for at least 25 pitches.  I had been sitting back, but at that point I stepped up and suggested he wait just a little longer for it to come to him.  Then, boom – he was hitting again.  He jumped up and down in the cage like a little kid, which was contagious to a dad and son with whom he had been taking turns, and they started cheering.  The dad turned around and looked at me with a “Wow – you knew what he was doing wrong” look of appreciation, which sent me through the roof with pride, despite the feminist on my shoulder saying, “Well, why wouldn’t I?  Because I’m a woman?”…

As B was packing up his things, one of the dads came over and said, “I really like your boy’s enthusiasm – he’s really got a heart for baseball.”  You know, I have to grin when B does something like jumping up and down when everybody else is frowning and serious.  In some ways he’s a little immature, and in some ways he’s pure and unconcerned about what people think.  Sometimes I don’t know with which I’m dealing.

Then sometimes he’s just plain wise.  On the way home, our 30 miles turning into more than an hour’s worth of driving slowly in yucky weather, he said, “One thing I love about you is that you’re willing to take risks.”  I laughed and said, “The trick is knowing how to take measured risks without just being stupid.”  I explained my rationale for going out in the snow yesterday.  He said, “It’ll be good for you in old age.”  Funny thing to say.  “Why do you say that?” I asked.  “Because you won’t end up like Peepeye.”   His grandmother, my mother, lives a very self-restricted life.  He was saying he didn’t want that for me, and he had reason to believe it wouldn’t happen.  God bless him.

And so, we got home safely, he gamed, I finished up some work, and we spelled German words.  These were the hardest yet.  Particularly tough: “sauerbraten”, “eiderdown”, and “verboten”, but the truth is, even having reviewed the rules for German spelling, these are just words you know because you’ve seen them, and he hasn’t seen them yet in his 12 (almost 13) short years!  He was a little discouraged, but kept at it, sitting in the dog’s chair, the dog displaced to the ottoman but stretched into the boy’s lap with his head on the boy’s chest.  So, we studied, and recorded hard ones on new stickies to get posted around the house for review.  Then he stretched and shooed the dog so he could go to bed.  He asked for what I was thankful.  I thought a moment and said, “Auntie J and Z and M”.  He said, “Yeah. Me, too.  I still feel sorry for Auntie J, though.”  I said, “You know, Honey, I don’t think she’d want you to.  I think she loves the craziness that comes with having two little ones.  Some people have 3 or 4 or 6 at a time.”  He said, “Yeah, but that’s not what I’d want.”  I said, “Okay, I see that you’re not saying she doesn’t do it well; what you’re saying is that you recognize that it’s hard, and that you might not be good at it.”  He said, “Oh!  Yeah!  Totally!”

In some ways this boy’s heart leads him around.  I’m not looking forward to dating.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The bee! The bee!

See Momma Run.  Has no momma yet written a book by this title?  Whew!  I think it was because she was too pooped.

We’ve been schooling and working and exercising and gaming and working and socializing and cleaning and working and studying for the spelling bee.  B has been a very happy camper as of late – he enjoys being busy, being home, and being with friends, and he’s doing a lot of all of them.  He also seems to be in a decent rhythm with his dad and his step-family.  These are good things.

Today, though, was the spelling bee, which we had read on the school website was at 8:15 in the morning (we had a snow day yesterday, so he hadn’t been able to ask anybody).  So, when I overslept and woke up at 7:40 and found he was still asleep, we BOOKED it to get to school in time to find out that the website was wrong and the bee was at 9:00, but, hey – thank goodness for small favors.  He did well – second place again this year – but was very disappointed, both because he’d studied so hard, and because the error he made that cost him first place was that he spelled too quickly and spelled “billabong” with only one “l” – a mistake he never made in practice.  When I picked him up from school he was hurt that his friends had been teasing him about losing – telling him they were going to send him to spelling bootcamp, and they were going to get him a Billabong sweatshirt.  He can be a fragile creature – he’s never been tolerant of teasing, which, of course, makes him that much more fun to tease.  He either didn’t think to tease them back for not getting as far as he did, or he didn’t want to hurt their feelings or be perceived as boasting, and so didn’t say anything except to ask them to stop.  Maybe we’ll replace spelling practice with witty come-back practice….

Last night, before the bee at our chalice-lighting, he was thankful for the dog (who he proclaimed was softer than his mother is), and for snow days.  I was thankful for snow days and fires, and for spelling with my boy.  I’m so proud of him.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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