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”.



The Quiet One

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


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”.


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.


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.


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. 


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!

Fiddly Little Bits

My brain’s spinning at about 98 RPM right now.

I have a list a mile long of things that still have to get done for graduation, and only a couple of them crossed off.

I lost my mind on my children last night.  There is a list of someof the things that need to be accomplished before the end of the week up near the kitchen.  Just some of the things, mind you.  And I told the children about the list, and that I needed help getting them done.

I didn’t put the list up there for my benefit.  I know what needs to be done, and have been carrying lists around with me for a couple of weeks now.

The list was for them. 

And they knew it.

Yet, last night, when I got home from work, both of my girls were sitting on their butts.  Doing nothing.

List un-accomplished. 


And I lost all the fiddly little bits of my brain that deal with stress in a calm, rational manner.

They fell right out of my ears, and smashed on the floor.

I flipped out.

Told the girls that the list I’d posted was only about half of the stuff that needed doing, and that I was tired of getting on bended knee and begging them to help me get ready for YOUNGERDAUGHTER’s graduation.  In a house that they ALL live in.  Not just me.

Told them that “Whatever doesn’t get done by Sunday, willremainundone on Sunday, and THEY can explain to guests why the floor is filthy, or there are dandelions eating their children in the front yard. 

Mom’s going to be tucked away in a corner, rocking back and forth, with a drink in one hand, and a vacant smile – humming tunelessly.

All my fiddly little bits of sanity, lying on the floor next to me.

Countdown to Blastoff

I have 1 week in which to prepare for the high school graduation of YoungerDaughter.


My internet connection at home has been spotty – at best.  The modem is dying, and has begun its last gasps of hot, tainted air.  The cable company told me they’d be out “somewhere between 8am and 5pm”.   So… that means Tuesday, the 12th of never, right?

A couple of days ago, my youngest child, OnlySon – broke his left arm.  Both bones.

The one on the bottom, is a 50% displacement fracture (according to the orthopedic doctor).

The top one, the ulna, is a slight “greenstick” break, near his wrist.  It just shows up on the x-ray as a “fuzzy line” (official radiology terminology, I assure you.) 

This x-ray was taken after they casted his arm.  Nope, they don’t re-set the bones on kids for this type of break.  Surprised me too.  There’s a long, complicated reason, the doctor explained and assured me about.  However, if the bones shift any more within the next 3 weeks, OnlySon may have to have pins and plates surgically inserted into his arm to correct this. 


To top it off, he has to wear his new appendage accessory for at least 6 weeks, with a possibility of a separate, shorter cast for another 3 weeks after that – depending on how it heals.

He was overjoyed at this pronouncement.

So, this means no swimming. For the whole summer.  Or at least, most of it.

The one physical activity that OnlySon really gets into, and he isn’t going to be able to even splash around in a baby pool.

Last summer, we had most of our city flooded, including the public pool.

No swimming last year.

No swimming this year.

This also happened to occur 10 days before the end of his school year.

He had to stay out for the last 2 days, due to pain, and the effects of the pain medication the doctor put him on. 

The end of this school year is looming over all of our heads like a vicious, man-eating hydra, snarling, dripping and horrible.

See, with the dripping?

And every time you take care of one problem, cut off one of the heads – 2 more sprout and take its place.

Gotta love that Greek mythology.

So, I’m making lists, checking them – not twice, I’m not Santa Claus – but constantly, throughout the day, everyday.

Planning, re-planning, re-drawing my battle plans and lists.

Counting down to blastoff.

Graduation Day.

Where the hell are my cap and gown?

I should be graduating with honors for my multitasking abilities and for keeping my sanity.

That is – if I still have it at the end of next week.


In The Eye of the Beholder

My YoungerDaughter is a talented artist.  I’ve said this before.  She can do things with pencil, paint and brush… that frankly, blow me away.

Her vision of the world is unique, and refreshingly honest and open and, for the most part, lighthearted.

A couple of days ago, YoungerDaughter and the rest of her class, had a senior art show at the high school she attends.  Here are the results of her hard work and passion.

The pictures I was able to take do show all the lights glaring from above and behind, due to the fact that most of the artwork was behind protective glass or plastic, however, you can still see them.  Blame me for any glitches in the view!

This one is a high-contrast painting she did using a photograph of a rubber ducky she took some time earlier.  I wish she hadn’t sold it to a friend soon after she finished it, or I would have hung it in my house until she found her own place.  I find this one stunning.

This painting is an abstract heart, but it has millions of tiny “gesso” beads mixed in with the paint, which give it a rough, bumpy texture.  I’ve often wondered if it had a “hidden meaning” written in braille that YoungerDaughter won’t tell me!

This one is a very large, textured painting, using the paint itself as the texturing medium.  YD chose certain flowers representing the emotions of affection and unrequited love.  (Her first really big crush – that crushed her in return)

This exhibit is one that is titled “You Look Better In The Dark”. I think she was speaking to the bottles with the title, because it’s kind of a “plain-Jane” exhibit in the light, but when you turn off the overheads, it’s dramatic and lovely.

And now, for my 2 personal favorites. These next pictures are pencil portraits that YD did of my other two children, based off of photos taken of them at different ages. These were my Christmas presents from YD, and they will hang in honor along with the one that she did of herself and gave to me a couple of years ago.

EldestDaughter – Age 2.


OnlySon – approximately age 7. And one of the LAST times he smiled for a picture.

YoungerDaughter.  Talented, passionate, and quirky.  Truly an original in the eye of ANY beholder.


That IS How it Goes

You know that moment? 

That moment, when as a parent, you realize that your child is pulling away, growing distant and pushing the boundaries of independence?

That moment when you look down, realize that she’s no longer your “little girl”, but a full-grown human being, and she is looking you square in the eye, without being picked up.  That moment when the pain lodges itself just under your ribcage, squeezing your heart into a massive knot of “I don’t wanna let her grow up!”

That moment when you’ve had enough of the attitude and smart-mouth combination.  That moment when you say quietly to yourself “Get this kid out of the house before we both go completely around-the-bend-insane and we commit hari-kari on each other!” 

That moment, when you are totally at a loss for words, because you find out something that they’ve been keeping from you, either because they don’t know how to tell you, they don’t want to tell you, or they simply forget to tell you.  That moment when, just for a split second, your brain hiccups and can’t think – at all. 

That moment when you realise that your child, that baby that you held in your arms just yesterday– has a whole life to which you are not privy.  Not just what happens at school, but out in the world at large, you are not a player, and are barely a spectator because your star athlete has put you in the nose-bleed section – behind a pole. 

And then, there’s that moment when you realise that, in fact, this is something that’s been building for a long time.  It started the day you had a child handed to you in the hospital, and people started calling you a “parent”.  From that moment on, your darling angel worked toward that moment of separation.  Baby steps to begin with, then the tentative jog of a pre-teen, until it reached a full-out run for their life – as a teenager ready to graduate.

This is natural.  This is normal.  Children grow up – they get lives of their own – and they leave their parents to fend for themselves.  Often, the struggle for freedom is just that – a struggle.  While we as parents see this?

Our children are seeing something completely different.  Their perception of the world around them, and their bid for freedom from tyranny looks something a little more like this —->

My YoungerDaughter has hit this moment.  Like a brick wall.

And while I wish her the all the best in her endeavors as an adult – I still have trouble cutting the ties.  It’s hard to let them go.

So, I tell her, “I knew this was coming from the moment you were born.  I’ve thought about it, planned for it, and both dreamed and dreaded it through the years.  And while I’m happy and proud that you are confidently taking this moment to declare yourself……

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”

But this is how it goes.