Monster Man

Papa’s a Monster Man.

That’s my dad.

He “rescues” monsters from under beds, detangles them from closets, and saves them from the horrors of dark, drafty basements, then returns them to their natural habitat – The Dump.

Haven’t you ever seen Nickelodeon’s classic cartoon “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters!” ??


When EldestDaughter was little, she adored this show, & lived its tenets religiously. Monsters lived at the dump, and went to school there. They only came to human homes to practice their scares, and if they were still there by daylight – well – they had to be rescued – of course.

When EldestDaughter ended up with one caught under her bed… She knew.

Time to call Papa.

And of course, he came right over. Because what else do Papas do when their granddaughters call? I ask you?

So, he “rescued” the monster, stuffing it deep in his pocket (so the daylight wouldn’t hurt its eyes…duh…), and EldestDaughter then announced that she simply had to go with him to the Dump to make sure the monster was properly released.

Uh… Ok… 

Well, he took her, anyway, & they released the monster, which promptly scurried off into its proper hole to get back to “class”. 

Or so EldestDaughter informed me when she got home. I’m trusting her imagination on that one.

But the tale doesn’t end there…

Papa’s reputation as a Monster Man was solidified when EldestDaughter retold the story to one of her friends.

Cut to a couple of years later….

Papa gets a phone call from said little girl’s mother. 

(By this time all the kids in town called my dad Papa because EldestDaughter called him that. It stuck for many years until he retired from his janitorial position at the local school)

*Mother of Girl*: “Papa? I need you to come to the house”

Papa: “Oh, MoG? What’s the problem?”

*MoG: “Seems there’s a monster in the basement, and Girl says you’re the only one who can rescue it. I can’t get her to go down to the basement -at all. Please?”

Papa: (laughing) “Sure, MoG, I’ll be right over.”

When he got to the house, he had Girl stand at the top of the basement stairs with a laundry basket.

Papa: “Now, Girl, don’t you move. You stay right here at the top of the stairs. I’m going down there, and I’m gonna catch this monster…but if it gets away from me and runs up here – you be quick and catch it with this laundry basket…OK? But whatever you do…don’t come downstairs!”

Girl: “Ok, Papa. I’ll wait for you!” 

So, Dad clomped down the stairs, banged around some, hollering & clanking things together for a few minutes…putting up a fight, you know.

And when he came upstairs…lo and behold, there was a suspicious lump in his coat pocket, which he kept confined with his hand, telling it to “settle down & behave” because he was “taking it home”.

Girl was all smiles, & made sure to watch as Dad drove away in his pickup – and HE made sure to drive in the direction of the dump, and stay away from their house for a little while before returning. (They were close neighbors, had to make the timeline believable!)

Another satisfied customer of the Monster Man.

But the story still isn’t over…

The Dump closed a couple of years ago.

And Girl is now a grownup…who recently got married & lives out of state.

And my dad likes a website called ThinkGeek.

Ever hear of the Eviltron?

Well, its a tiny, magnetic speaker. That makes various, creepy noises.

Dad built a small box, & attached this doohickey to a rare-earth magnet inside the box.

And mailed it to the unsuspecting new, young bride.

After turning it on…of course.

He included a note telling her that, since the Dump had been closed, SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO BE ONCE AGAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR HER MONSTER – SO HE WAS MAILING IT BACK TO HER.

Is 20 years a long enough time to dedicate to a joke?

My father received a beautiful thank you note in the mail later, telling him that this was the single most memorable and original wedding present ever received.

And she would be opening it far…far…

Far…from the house.

Thank you very much.

Signed – Girl, and her Boy.

I am now in possession of the last of my Dad’s eviltrons, and having used it on all of my coworkers, successfully…

I think it’s time to return it to Dad.

Seriously – I think he needs to build one more monster box – for EldestDaughter.

The originator who gave the Monster Man his reputation to begin with.

Get her, Papa. She’ll love it.

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I Don’t Think That’s What They Meant

I’ve always known that reading to my kids was good for them.

Expanding their horizons, showing them different worlds, different people, cultures, ideas, crammed in the pages of a bound book.

And there are books on all sorts of topics for kids now.

Books just for the pleasure of reading an entertaining story, books for education.

There are books for potty-training, for bed-time, for learning to deal with siblings, leaning to cope with the death of a pet, learning how to be better at this or that, for learning everything from alphabets to zydeco music playing.

I know that reading – reading almost anything – broadens anyone’s mind, not just a child’s.

But – the other night, I added a twist.

OnlySon is 16.  And he and I both understand that he’s far more esoterically knowledgeable than most people think.  We talk to each other in a manner most wouldn’t expect a parent to talk to a 16 yr. old.

I talk to him more as I would another adult.  Well, at least, another adult who just so happens to be my 16 yr. old child.  There are still some subjects we both agree are not appropriate, not – ugh – comfortable for either of us.  And our agreement works.

He can handle it – and he respects me for respecting that about him.

So, the other night, I was reading a new book I’d picked up at the book store – Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking”.

It’s a hilarious set of stories about things that have happened to him in his own life.  And he freely admits that he’s “emotionally damaged goods”, so, even while I can feel bad about the fucked up things he’s had to experience growing up, and since, I can laugh along with him as he laughs at himself.

I sat and chuckled, snickered, and gut-busted laughed for 2 hours straight after bringing this home and immediately sitting down to enjoy it.

Of course, OnlySon had to know what was so funny.

So – I read a chapter – out loud – to him.

All about how Augusten had found a “rat/thing” in his bathroom, and proceeded to destroy it, then to go on to practically destroy his bathroom in order to rid himself of the taint of the rat/thing’s infestation of his life.

It’s funnier in the book.

And, after hearing the story, my son proceeded to tell me about a story he’d read – about a man who’d chugged half a soda, only to find a ground up frog in the can…..

The things we do to one another for the sake of a good story. *urp*

Later than night, I was standing in the bathroom, contemplating the meaning of life (brushing my teeth, actually, but close enough), when I heard EldestDaughter downstairs.  The cadence and rhythm of her voice told me she was reading a new story to the ToddlerTornado.

And I was struck by the coincidence, and the slight difference of the subject matter we’d each chosen to read to our sons.

At least… well, leaning out of the bathroom, I was pretty sure my new book was still sitting by my chair.

I don’t think that’s what they meant when the “experts” said “Read to Your Children”.

mother_reading_to_children_-_read_aloud_page

Just a Muggle

I’ve been taking care of other people since I was 20 years old.

Ever since EldestDaughter was born, I’ve been “in charge” of someone else’s happiness, comfort, security.

EldestDaughter, YoungerDaughter, OnlySon, the ex’es.  Always, it’s me who ends up being the caregiver in the situation.

And I don’t resent it, really, I don’t.  At least, not when it comes to my kids.  As their mom, it’s MY job to take care of things, so that they could grow up and become independent, capable, well-rounded human beings.

But…

Once in a while, it would be nice if someone would take care of me.

It would be nice to have someone to turn to, who would put their arms around me and say “Everything will be fine, let me take care of it.”

And I’m notoriously bad at asking for help when I need it.

My parents have been there in the past for me, helping a lot, throughout the years.  Recently, though, I decided that I had to stop asking them for help.  I won’t go there.

I have had help from friends when I’ve needed it, whether emotional support or actual things they’ve done for me.  I have some really good friends.  I try to help them as well, when I can, as I can.  But I hate asking.  I hate having to put an obligation, a burden, of that type, on them.  I don’t ever want to be an obligation to anyone.

But it would be nice to have someone in my life who would be there.  Yes, I want to get married again.  Yes, I want someone to belong to, who would belong to me as well.  Someone who I would know would be permanent in my life.  Someone I could take care of, who would also take care of me.  There is someone who has offered to take that position… but, it’s been a lot of talk, so far.  And I can’t live on “maybe”.  I can’t hang my hope on it.  Because it’s too painful when promises are broken.  When they disappear into a mist of silence, never to return.

This year has been extraordinarily difficult.

And I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore.

Not enough coming in, too much going out – as it were.

In previous tough times, I’ve always been able to make it through, somehow.  To pull the metaphorical rabbit out of the hat, sometimes, at the very last minute… and get us through the rough spots.

This time, however… all I’m finding are dust bunnies.

The magic has disappeared.

And I just wish…

Nothing up my sleeve... nothing in my hat...

Nothing up my sleeve… nothing in my hat…

Additions and Subtractions

There have been a lot of additions and subtractions in my life lately.

Some positive, some… not so much.

But, I have to deal with all of them, get through them.  I must celebrate the good, and grieve for the bad.

The Good News:

I started OnlySon on blogging this last week.  He has been writing short, flash fiction for a little while now, and enjoys putting stories down.  I’ve read some of his stuff, and he has a promising future as a fiction writer.  He’s gifted in his storytelling, and can pull a reader in with the emotional and descriptive things he writes.  It’s all a little twisted and somewhat on the darker side, but – who am I to speak to that?  After all, I write a lot of monster stories, myself!

When we first set up his blog, he was sort of “meh” about it, nonchalant and noncommittal.  But… after he posted his first piece of flash fiction, he got a couple of almost instantaneous “likes” and was strutting like a fluffed-up peacock with pride.  He turned to me and said “You know, this IS going to go to my head.”

I said “Good, it should.  You need to know that other people enjoy your stories as much as I do.  You’re good at this.”

I want him to know that he has a definite talent, instead of always being told he’s not “good enough”, or “smart enough”.  He has a tough time in school, sometimes, and I know that his self-esteem isn’t always at the top end.  So this positive feedback from relative strangers is massively good for him.

Yes, there are things he could work on, and I’ve told him that I will help him with editing anytime he wants, but that I will NOT restrain him from writing whatever he wants.  This is HIS outlet, and I won’t squash that.

The Bad News:

I am on my own again.  There was a man I was in a relationship with, long distance, but I could handle that.  He hurt me emotionally, and I don’t know if there’s a glue that can fix that..

So.

I am left to find my own way once more.

It hurts – immensely.  I’ve cared about him for a long time, and was really hoping it would become something more.  But you can’t change the weather, you can’t fix someone else’s problems for them, and you can’t change their mind when they refuse to talk to you, hear you, or give you a chance to prove them wrong.

I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.  I want someone I can share my life with, that I can share his too.  I want someone who will touch me like he means it, who will be there through the happy and the sad.  I want a partner I can stand beside and walk through life with.

I want someone who is not going to disappear on me, as others have.

I am an eternal romantic optimist, but this is a blow.  And it will take time to trust anyone else enough to believe that they won’t simply take off.

Additions and Subtractions.

And me, with my allergy to math.

math

The Quiet One

OnlySon is now 16, and proud of the fact that he’s taller than all the women in his life.OnlySon

Brat.

He’s smart, hilariously funny, and a seriously talented writer.  He wrote a short story for school last year, that stunned me with its intensity and intelligence.  Not that I don’t know the kid’s smart, but that I didn’t know he had that kind of story in him to write!

My son – also likes games.  Online, virtual, xbox, playstation and wii – he delves into these virtual worlds, and masters them.  Oh yeah, there have been plenty of “rage quits” as he calls them *snickering to myself as I write*, but he always goes back, doggedly, until he fixes the problem, solves the puzzle, or defeats the Boss monster.

And yet…

The school says that he is “lacking”.

Because he doesn’t like crowds.

He doesn’t have tons of friends.

He isn’t a “joiner” or much of a “team player”.

And?dare-to-be-different

Does my smart, funny, talented boy have to be a conformist to make it in this world?

Since when has a conformist STOOD OUT or MADE A STATEMENT?

It’s not in the sheep’s nature to veer off from the herd and be different…

And OnlySon is not a sheep.

I refuse to let the “professionals” pigeonhole my son into a category where he does not belong.

My son will break molds, forge his own paths, and he will NOT conform.

And I don’t have a problem with that.

Personally, I’ve always felt that to be normal – is to be boring.  Everyone has something about them that makes them unique, one of a kind, and they should celebrate that – not hide it.

I, too, am a purple alligator in a world full of sheep.

And there’s not a DAMNTHING wrong with that.

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The Value of A Thing

I was born and lived in a small town in Iowa until I was 11.  My parents both worked, Dad was a plumber, Mom – worked at my school as the principal’s secretary.

It wasn’t a life of luxury, but I never knew that.

My folks had a decent two-story house, that my father had built additions onto.  And we also had a half acre of land, right on the north edge of town – only a couple of blocks from green, growing, countryside.  We were actually able to keep a couple of horses on our property, even though we technically lived “in town”, so I did feel like we were rich.  I mean, not every kid gets to have their very own pony and cart, right?

imagesIt looked a lot like this, only my pony was a brown and white Shetland named “King”.

Horses are a sign of money, right?

Not exactly.

My parents were just that good at budgeting.

My brother and I never went without the necessities – food, clothing, a roof over our heads, and lots of love and laughter in our lives.

But, looking back now, as an adult… I realize that we really didn’t have “all that”.

And, I’m ok with that.

My parents struggled to make ends meet, and the summer I turned 11, they moved us – all of us, kids, dog, cat, and horses – to North Dakota.  I hated them for it for a while, ah hell, for a long while.  I was moved away from all of my friends, all I’d ever known, to hell-and-beyond-North-Dakota.  It was the back end of no where, right?  With tumbleweeds rolling down the streets, and those streets weren’t even paved, amiright?

Well, not exactly.

New horizons, new opportunities.  North Dakota was all that for my parents.  And the house in Iowa?  Went back to the bank.

I didn’t know, as a kid, what that meant.  I do now.

And so, we moved.

They owned a hardware store in the little town we moved to, for a while, but there just wasn’t enough business to justify keeping it open. But that wasn’t so bad, as Dad was in high demand as a plumber.  And Mom worked at the local Cenex gas station/convenience/farmer’s coffee shop/garage, then moved on to work for the town doctor for many years.

Once again, we always had everything we needed, if not necessarily everything we wanted.  I even had a pet goat for a while, till she ate my Mom’s raspberry plants down to the ground.

heidiHeidi and the tomcats.  Hmm, sounds like a rock band.  And in a way, she was a rock band all on her own.

Couldn’t keep her room clean worth a damn, but she was cute as hell.

Needless to say, by this time, I was a little more aware of the fact that we weren’t exactly rollin’ in the dough.

But, when you’re a young, teenage girl, you have horses, a goat, tons of barn cats, and a couple dogs… what more do you really need?

Right?

I was fairly happy with my lot in life, financially.  Didn’t need much, because I had all the important things.

My parents, my brother, my friends (the very few that I had as a kid – keep the circle small), my books and my animals.  That’s what was important.

The value of a thing, comes from your own valueing of it.  You set the worth, because it’s only as valuable as long as you set store by it.  Once you no longer care, it ceases to be worth anything.

I don’t need much in this life to make me happy.

As a matter of fact, I’d rather have someone spend time and thought on me, than money.  Why?

Because money comes and goes – but time is something you can never get back.

And it really is the thought that matters.

That’s the true value of a thing.

Luck of the Irish

OnlySon broke his arm a few weeks ago.

While out walking our dog, Jack, he decided to run across a busy street to try to beat a motorcycle that was headed his way, slipped on some gravel, and slammed his left forearm into a curb, snapping the radius, and also causing a small “greenstick” break in the ulna. 

In other words, thoroughly messing up his left arm for the summer.

He’s been in a cast now for the last few weeks, and today is our last x-ray to decide whether or not the doctor wants him to have surgery to straighten it out, or let it heal, slightly crooked.  The doc assured me that when a child breaks a bone like this, often times they will heal better if they just let it grow back together at a small bent angle, than to do major surgery and try to correct something that won’t make much difference in the end.

But.

OnlySon and I went in for his x-ray appointment last week, and the doc wasn’t entirely happy with the way the films looked. 

Crap.

So, today, we find out whether OnlySon has to go under the knife, and ends up with his whole summer bound up in plaster.

Luckily, OnlySon is part Irish, on his father’s side.  He’s a lucky kid most of the time, as witnessed by the fact that whenever I take him out somewhere – grocery store, restaurants, parks, etc… he finds money on the floor.  No kidding.  He found a $20 bill on the ground once at a park here in town.  Just randomly laying on the ground.  The kid’s got it, whatever it is.

So here’s hoping the Luck o’ the Irish is with him, and me, today. 

Official update:  NO SURGERY REQUIRED!!  Found out yesterday afternoon that OnlySon is a mutant self-healer lucky-charmed kid, and is healing faster than the doctor expected. 

In 2 weeks, we go back, they’ll take the current cast off, and x-ray again.  If everything looks good then… OnlySon can finally have his summer!