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Time management

We had a wonderful weekend, until about 11 o’clock last night.

We slept late. We went to the gym. We went to a Phillies game and celebrated a friend’s birthday.  Mythankfulboy had baseball practice and I got some things done around the house.  He spent hours on homework on Sunday, and then B went to a local skate park with a friend. He said he had a little more homework to do when we got home, but he really misjudged how much work it was.

I checked in on my way to bed to do the chalice lighting and I could see by his face and his posture that there was much more homework to do.  I asked him what was left and how I could help.  He was working on a storyboard for The Moon Is Down, and was assigned to do it with a particular computer program with which he was struggling (very slow and glitchy, not letting him make changes without starting over).  So, I sat down at the computer and did the annoying parts while he fed me the information that needed to be included and simultaneously did  Biology homework. The storyboard finally done, nearing 1 AM, I went to bed and he stayed up to finish other language arts homework.

B had an easy first semester in high school. I knew this one would be harder, particularly with baseball season.  It is hard to watch him struggle to learn how much time and how much effort is required for different assignments.  I made only briefly, pointed comments about finishing homework before doing anything fun on a Sunday afternoon, because his stress was punishment enough.  We did not do a chalice lighting,  but I know he would have been thankful for my help and my only minimal rubbing of salt in the wound.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Homer!

It occurs to me, Mythankfulboy, that I neglected to celebrate your home run two weekends ago with a blog post.  Part of my reason for making these entries is to remember what was on your mind over the years, and part is to remember we said to one another, but a big part is to keep things that happened alive in memory.  How did I fail to write about your home run?

It was over the fence at the field near the meat packing plant (we were lucky – the smell wasn’t too bad that day).  Two people had hit homers before you that day, and one of them would hit a second before the game was over.  You have me record your at-bats so that you can analyze your swing later, so I got the whole thing on video.  I was so proud – you can hear me (and your teammates and other parents) cheering in the background.

That night, at the chalice lighting, I expected you to say you were thankful for the homer, but instead (or by extension) you said you were thankful that when you go for some indoor winter coaching at your favorite gym in a few months, you’ll get to ring the home run bell.   I don’t remember now what I said, but it doesn’t really matter.  I was proud of you, and my heart was very full with your happiness.  Life is good, being your momma.

 
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Posted by on September 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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Drinking poison at Advent

Another batch of Advent responses (skipping December 11th – somehow we missed it, but we’ll get to it later):

December 12: If you were to send a card or letter to someone today, who would it be? Why?  “Grammy on my dad’s side, because it has been a long time since I saw her, and I miss her, too.”   I sent this one to his dad.

December 13: Why does giving make us happy?  “When I give to other people, that makes them happy. When they are happy, that makes me happy!”  Blessed be!

December 14: If we had a family symbol or motto, would it look like? “DON’T BE SORRY, JUST DON’T DO IT!” (his caps)  I laughed and laughed.  I asked, “So, it’s not about kindness or loving one another or something like that?”  He said, “No, I considered ‘Go far to fart’, but I thought this one was better.”  Well, yes.  You better believe I found a way to use “Don’t be sorry, just don’t do it” before he went to bed, though!

December 15: Name a time when you knew you were loved. How did you know?  “When I was sick, and my mom stayed home to care for me even though she had important things to do at work that day.”  He elaborated, “I could probably have stayed home alone, but I’m so glad you stay with me when I’m sick.”

As part of our chalice lighting last night, I had mythankfulboy watch the TED talk called, “The Surprising Science of Happiness”, given in 2006 by Dr. Dan Gilbert, Harvard Psychologist  (https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy?language…).  Not to spoil it (it’s a great one to watch), but he is essentially saying that our brains are very good at making the best of situations, to the point of having very bad things happen to you become great experiences on par with naturally great experiences.  At one point B made an astute comment about it being easier to be happy with something with which you are stuck than when you still have options, and then, moments later, Dr. Gilbert outlined research that said just that.  When B said it, I wondered why, if that were true, it has been so hard for him to accept his father’s remarrying.  I guess the answer is some combination of the fact that his brain is still evolving, and the situation was a little complicated.  I told B that this research shows part of what’s at work in the adage about drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemy (an image I brought up a lot when he was stubbornly in what I call his “asshole phase” of dealing with his step-mother).  Tonight, I was proud of him for listening to the presentation (around 20 minutes) and being engaged enough to spend his brainpower on it.

When we lit the chalice, I asked him for what he was thankful.  He said, “TED talks.  They’re pretty awesome.”  I was thankful for time with him.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Putting the bae in Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving we took our annual roadtrip to Baltimore to see J, M, & S – a lovely tradition for us.  We took the dog, and he and their dog had an electric time together (heaven help us, they like each other so much they have to occasionally be separated).  J smoked a marvelous turkey (the man is a genius with meat), and M did most everything else, cooking food for a bunch of us that she couldn’t eat herself due to non-frivolous dietary restrictions.  I chipped in here and there, but, mostly, B and I had a beautiful meal delivered to us (of which, I should note, B only ate mac n’ cheese, cornbread, and bacon, although he tried the turkey).  We looked around the table this year and said that we thought we did the best, yet, with not making too much food.  Still, there was an embarrassment of food and love.  This year I took with me Seth Godin’s The Thanksgiving Reader, which my friend KS shared on Facebook.  The Thanksgiving Reader is a short collection of poems, stories, and quotes about gratitude with a humanitarian, rather than a religious, bent.  It is available online for free as a PDF download.  We did a joint reading to get us started, then each read something from the collection, then closed with a joint reading.  It was simple and focused on the important stuff.  Then we ate and talked and enjoyed one another.

The next day, we spent time here and there, but together.  In the morning, M and I visited a friend of J & M’s who is in a rehab facility after an aneurism led to aphasia; we also spent time with her stalwart and faithful husband, who loves her and works so hard on her behalf.  Later we took the kids to lunch at an old-fashioned lunch counter (remember the “robbery scene” in the Christmas miniatures in the window?), and then for the ice cream for which they’d been begging.  We did a whirlwind stop at a very large mall on Black Friday, complete with 6 flights of stairs because of a broken elevator.  We laughed, as we always do together.  We had marvelous leftovers, I bored M with photos on my computer, and then we retired early.

Throughout this trip, I harped on mythankfulboy to step up and see what other people needed and to take care of others without being asked.  B is a very sweet, compliant, and helpful kid, but it has never been his strong suit to anticipate the needs of others.  Perhaps it seems picky to expect this of a 13-year old boy, but I think we’re in a serious teaching phase for this skill, and I don’t want to miss it and wonder why he doesn’t do it when he’s a grown man.  So I fussed when we both got fountain drinks from a drive-thru on the way to Baltimore and he got his own straw ready and took a big swig of his drink and I had to ask him to get a straw for me (I was driving).  When he was listless in that awkward downtime before the Thanksgiving meal, I told him to see if his “Uncle J” (chosen family, not blood) needed help out where he was working on attaching cedar shingles to an amazing shed/party house he has been building in the back yard.  At dinner, I asked B pointedly when he rose from the table and got something from the kitchen if he had asked anyone else at the table if they needed anything.  After dinner, while sharing media with M (akin, perhaps to the old boring showing of the vacation footage on reel-to-reel video), I shared a video of my nephew (blood kin) and his bride in a beautiful foot-washing ceremony at their wedding.  She and I talked about the ceremony’s Biblical roots, and how, in the ceremony, the preacher had said it was a reminder, in marriage, to always put one’s partner first.  I hadn’t consciously brought this up, but B was across the room, ostensibly watching tv, and was paying attention.

Relatedly, in the late afternoon, B perseverated on whether or not our Apple charger was (and mostly wasn’t) charging his iPod, and I finally told him I was really tired of hearing about it, at that he should find another way to entertain himself.  Lately, this has been a recurrent theme, I’m afraid.  He took himself off to the side and watched TV quietly for the rest of the evening.  When I started to put my things together to go off to bed, though, he looked up and quietly said, “Mom, you’re my real bae.”

If you are unfamiliar with teen-speak, “bae” is short for “before anyone else”, or for “babe”, or “baby”.  Teens use it to stand in for “girlfriend” or “boyfriend”.  B has not been so hot on the concept of significant-others lately – I think he’s in an in-between place where he likes girls, but he doesn’t like the prospect of their taking up all his time or interfering with his established guy friendships.  A friend of his just got his heart broken, which hasn’t furthered the cause.  So, I guess for now, it’s safe for him to give me the honor.  I felt the put-others-first lesson come together right then; being someone’s before-anyone-else means paying attention to them – putting them first.  I got the message.

And, of course, I’m sure he figured no one would ever know he said such a thing.  This is the part where I will put it down in text so I can remember it, and I will ask for forgiveness later, rather than for permission now…

When we got home today, B went straight to his dad’s house, giving me a chance to sit down in front of a fire and think about our weekend.  I come away from this weekend thankful for the fun and the hospitality, but also thankful for friends who show B what marriage should look like, for my whole chosen family (Baltimore and beyond) who show him what it means to put others first, and for the example our community models when it comes to finding joy in gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving to us and to all of you.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Managing

Summer!  Finally – school is out!  Mythankfulboy is adjusting to being on his own for the first time – I think he’s finding it’s lonesome.  Last night, at our chalice lighting, he asked me to wake him before work and kiss him goodbye.  Twist my arm!  The end of the school year is nutty for us – my work schedule is changing and parts of it are heating up, spring and summer baseball overlap for  little while, there are events to attend and vacations for which to ready.  We can stretch a little thin, but we always do our evening ritual of gathering together and talking about what makes us grateful (and often about what does not), whether or not we manage to actually light the chalice.  Last night B was thankful for me for getting him ready to go to the beach with friends.  I was thankful he was allowing me to shout out from my bed things for him to get together instead of doing it with or for him!

This morning I woke him and kissed his forehead, told him not to forget to eat something of substance, to vacuum the living room chair and couch of dog hair (because he allowed the dog to sleep on both yesterday), and to remember that I love him.  He said, “Yup”, “Yup”, and “I think I can manage that”.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A happy child

Baseball season is in high gear – B is playing on two teams, which is the result of two seasons, spring and summer, overlapping.  Very different teams and coaching, to boot.  He seems okay with the running around and the transitions.  The hardest part is making sure the correct pants and practice or game jersey is clean.  There are worse things.

We’ve had a wonderful visit from Grandaddy and Nini, and they are planning a return next month, to which we’re looking forward.  There were too many “thankful for Grandaddy and Nini” nights to count – before they got here, while they were here, and after they left.  I do remember one night, though, when B said “I’m thankful for all the things Grandaddy is building, and for Nini for being awesome.”  He saw the look on my face and quickly added, “Not that Grandaddy isn’t awesome.  He’s awesome, too!”

We also had a fantastic “crew” weekend of just the boys and moms, or at least some of them, at the beach, thanks to one set of grandparents who own a beautiful beach house.  Best Mother’s Day ever.  Precious people, precious time.  10 boys getting along beautifully.  Even 2 Mother’s Day serenades (sweet, yes; also quirky, but that’s our boys).  B and I were thankful for the trip and the people for days on end, and I found myself just yesterday telling B, a little tearfully, that I was thankful that he gave me new friends I didn’t know I needed.

Tonight we studied for a math test, and, for once, it wasn’t all that hard to decipher what was being taught (thank heavens for the internet and smart people who like to talk about math). B picked it up easily once we did a little of it together.  This left time to cut up, resulting in tickling, pinching, and wrestling, and he sorta fell off a chair at one point (I barely tapped him!)  When we lit the chalice tonight, he said he was thankful for me for explaining math to him.  I said I was thankful for how much we laugh, which can even make math fun.  He was clearly not ready to settle down, and he started doing a sound-switch technique he borrowed from his friend O, which involves swapping the first sound in two words or two syllables, so that “math test” becomes “tath mest”.  Once he started, I couldn’t shut him off, so I eventually kissed him loudly on the forehead and shouted goodnight over his verbal antics and laughter, and he continued until I couldn’t hear him anymore.

It is a blessing to have a happy child.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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