Archive for October, 2007
An autumn day too warm for kids to be inside, too windy to take daughter’s fractious baby, awash in earache and teething pain, outside. No help to split the troops. I’d given up trying to keep my hair tucked into its tidy braid and wisps were stuck to my cheek with sweat and baby snot. Bored with inside activities, the oldest grandgirls were stalking the four year old like feral cats, teasing her into the high pitched screams that would leave my middle aged ears ringing once they’d all gone home. By 5:00 we were all crying. The baby from my shoulder, the four year old from the time out chair and the two big ones from the dining room corners. That’s when he came home.
He’d been on the road since four that morning. A one hour comute each way, ten hours on his feet and a stop by the bedside of his dieing father before he ever made it back home. I could see he was tired. But he still hung his coat in the closet instead of throwing it over the back of a chair.
“Looks like you’ve had a hard day.” He said before sending the big girls off to join the neighbor who was walking his dog and plucked the baby off my shoulder. “Why don’t you go take a bath? She can cry on me for awhile.”
I will never know where he went for those five days last March that fractured our marriage. I won’t ever understand why he let his depression take such hold of him when help was available. But I don’t really care any more. We lost our house, but we found something more important in each other than the material things we’d collected over 26 years.
“Mamma Bear?” He whispered as I started down the hall to the tub. “You’re beautiful.” I’m not, but I’m glad he still thinks so.
When I was growing up we played outside. If we weren’t charging around on our bikes, we were hurtling down busy streets on our roller skates or doing shooting stars off the monkey bars at the playground. From sun up until the street lights came on, we were expected to be outside acting like law abiding hooligans. It took no more than an interesting branch and a discarded bucket to jump start any number of games. We climbed trees (and fell out), we took daring risks on our skateboards and bicycles (and broke things), and yet most of us survived childhood. If you were born any time before 1990, you probably experienced most of these same things.
What was important about this kind of play was that we were fit, imaginative, and we learned to conquer fear. Skills we carried into our adult lives. We built self-esteem by being the best double-dutcher or the guy who could knock all the bottles off the stump with his BB gun.
When we went to war with Iraq, my first thought was “our kids aren’t prepared for war.” I know the young men going to Iraq from my community. They’ve spent their youth on video games and MTv. This is a small community that keeps their kids in organized sports or dance lessons from pre-school until they graduate. I understand their need to keep their kids safe, the world is not the innocent place it was when I was a kid. There’s more traffic, more vice, more people lacking a foundation of morality and fair play. I have nothing against video games and MTv. But I fear the lessons learned on a sandlot, that provide a firm foundation for strong adults and soldiers, are being forgotten just when we need them. I think we need to balance the benefits of new technology with time tested, hands on play for our kids.
Just as I was thinking about these kinds of things, I came across this book: The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden. It’s not the kind of book you hand to your son or grandson at first and say “here ya go, have a blast!” It’s densely written, packed with diagrams and charts for everything from How to Build a Go Cart to Spies, Codes and Ciphers. Five knots every man needs to know how to make. How to make secret ink, how to build a tree house, a sampling of Shakespeare, what to do with a needle and thread, how to make the perfect paper airplane…. life’s little essentials. You’ll have to do the projects with them at first, but I bet they’ll catch on quick.
I have girls, and while building a go cart is just as much fun for girls as boys, I was happy to see that on October 30th, The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz will be released. According to pre-release promotion it has instructions for secret note–passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel and the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking.
Because I used pictures from Amazon, I feel I need to add here that I don’t get paid to promote books. I don’t get paid to promote Amazon. I won’t ever share with you a book I wouldn’t own. But I do sometimes buy books at Amazon and these two will definately be on my bookshelf.
***EDIT ADDED AFTER MY MORNING PEPSI: I’m mostly
whining kidding in this post, time spent on my grandgirls is treasured time to me. I love being the first to know they hate Bratz dolls now and love High School Musical instead. If somebody made me choose between being a writer or being the cool Grandmother – I’d stick with being a grandma. Besides, I’m sure all this effort will get me a better nursing home than the other grandma. :>)
For all of you out there eyeballing your half grown children or infant grandchildren and dreaming about being the cool grandparent…just stop it. Save yourself now, fake a kneck injury or something. Being the cool grandparent is just plain work. Back breaking, brain busting, time consuming work.
While I am up to my hairline in pattern pieces and satin pirate pants, the other grandmother is having a pedicure. During her spa day. With the money she didn’t spend on plastic spiders and talking skeletons for the little darling’s Halloween party.
I’ve been sneezing out pink fur from a poodle costume for three days. My office is so littered with pins, bits of fabric, half finished costumes and boxes of party supplies I can’t find my work. She’s settling into her easy chair surrounded by sparkling windows and the smell of furniture polish.
In two weeks I’ll be attempting to keep 60 screaming kids, hyped up on sugar, from tearing my daughter’s home to shreds. The other grandmother will be sitting down to tea with her friends. She doesn’t have to keep her favorite novels in a box to make room for the coloring books, Polly Pockets and Fisher Price cell phone on the bookcase.
That other grandmother is living the good life and she’ll get the same plaster of paris handprint I get for Christmas.
- Costumes to sew
- Landscaping plan to review
- Payroll to complete
- Book to edit
- Book to write
I have just enough time left to either write a blog or read a blog. I pick read…..
One funny thing: Jazzmin and Briauna (my two oldest grandgirls aged 9 and 8 respectively) are doing the Christmas Show with me. They are in the children’s choir and practiced Deck the Halls. On the way home, Briauna was still practicing…”Deck the halls with bowels on trolley.” I very nearly didn’t correct her, much funnier her way even if it doesn’t make sense.
The e-mail has arrived announcing auditions for the Community Theatre’s annual Christmas production. You might remember my attempts to participate from last years post, and that “Performing in a Community Theater Play” is one of the 100 things I want to do before I die. You might also remember that I didn’t reach that goal last year. If you don’t, good. I hate spectators at my failures.
I know everyone likes music, myself included, but I CAN NOT SING. My own grandchildren, once they’ve accumulated sufficient vocabulary to clearly express themselves, beg me to stop singing on those rare occasions I decide to exercise my vocal chords. I can, however, ACT. According to this e-mail inviting me to auditions, there is an actual play happening in this year’s production – not the “musical review” they did last year. We will see. I’m taking Jazz and Bri along just in case, those grandgirls CAN sing.
There’s a collective writing project going on at The Shameless Lion’s Writing Circle. Pop over there for a sneak peek at the story in progress. Plenty of intrique going on.
Now that I babysit the grandgirls two nights a week and on the weekends so their mother can work, I have to applaud all of you with children at home that still manage to keep up with your blog. When do you sleep?
Thank you’s are in order once again for all your thoughts and prayers regarding this post. I thought you might like to know what ultimately happened when my daughter was taken to court for “domestic violence”.
The courtroom was filled to capacity, one half with convicts brought over in shackles from the prison. Before court convened my daughter and her lawyer met with the prosecuting attorney to attempt a plea bargain. She had the pictures of her bruised arms and neck, statements from neighbors and friends on the other times this mutant piece of garbage had beaten her up and her cell phone with a full voice mail box of messages from him trying to get her to violate the protection order. When the arresting officer read what he’d heard her say at the scene (“got your ass kicked didn’t you? If you ever touch me or my kids again I’ll really hurt you next time”) the prosecuting attorney said “good for her”. She asked my daughter to tell her why she’d scratched the monster in her own words and then we were dismissed.
When her case was called they had to bring a box over so she could reach the microphone. It took everything I had not to jump out of my seat to hold her hand. It doesn’t matter that shes 26, a mother of four and a kid who’s messed her life up in every possible way, at that moment all I could see was my baby. She was wearing pink with a white headband pushing the hair off her face. Even from behind, she looked tiny, defenseless and scared to death. The judge read off some things about her rights and the charges against her. Then he asked if the “victim” was there. The large, muscle bound, slime bag who used to be her boyfriend walked to the prosecuting attorney’s table and all those prisoners burst out laughing. The judge had to pound his gavel to settle them down.
They couldn’t drop all charges because the complaint was lodged by the Sherrif’s department not the “victim”. The judge did reduce everything to a misdemeanor disturbing the peace or something like that, no fine, just court costs. A misdemeanor on her record is worth it to me. She opened her eyes, stood up for herself and her children and seems to be back on the right track. For the first time in many years, she paid her own rent this month with money she earned as a waitress. It seems like a simple, logical thing to most of us, but for a girl as lost as she has been, that was like winning a marathon or climbing Everest. This time, it just might stick.