Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Letter to Will's 3rd Grade Teacher and Jack's Kindergarten Teacher


Dear Mrs. L,

I want to introduce you to my son Will.  He's an in-betweener.  You might be thinking that as an adult who is fairly literate, I probably shouldn't waste time making up words, but let's just call it "creative writing." 

Will is 8 years old and stuck in between.  He's not yet a young man, but he's no longer a child.  He is thinking about things at a higher, deeper level than before.  I see him caring more about physical appearance, clothing, meeting people's expectations.  He's maturing in ways that I did not yet expect.  Then, in a flash, my little boy is back.  The one who cuddles with him mom when he's sleepy, and still wants light up shoes.  He's in between right now, and he'll be here for awhile.

You will be navigating him through the between for this school year, and all I ask is that you embrace the between, too.  Keep my boy still a boy in all the ways that really matter.  I want him to still believe in magic with wide-eyed wonder and believe in his heart that he can really be President of the United States some day.  But, guide my young man.  Show him that the way magic really happens is by being a good and worthy person.  Show him that the President only gets that far with hard work.  Make this portion of his between a learning period, but let him dream the dreams of a young boy at the same time.

I did his beginning, and I pray that his end is so far from now, I can't even guess who will have his end.  But, I'm trusting you with his between, and its the most important part.

Sincerely,
Me

Dear Mrs. V.,

Today you met Jack.  He smiled and seemed ready to return tomorrow.  He even hugged you upon our departure, responding to your request.  Let me tell you, I was shocked.  The Jack you met today was the very best case scenario Jack.  But be aware, that Jack might not come back tomorrow.

My Jack is a mystery.  Despite his excitement today and his little dancing jig, my Jack is an introvert.  In fact, we should probably change his middle name to Introvert so people can fully comprehend the depth of his shyness.  He may surprise me again tomorrow, and the next day, and be open to the school experience.  But, he may also shut down.  He may be nervous and fight off tears, not wanting to show his vulnerability.  He may be quiet.  He may ignore others and be solitary.  He may...

I knew exactly what to expect of Will at this age, but Jack is a mystery.  He is complex, bright, quick witted, literal, moody, creative, adverse to change, goofy, and shy.  He's tumultuous and passionate.  He's a series of opposites, a mystery to me and I've known him for almost 6 years.

All I ask, Mrs. V., is that you turn the pages of the mystery.  If Jack enters tomorrow nervous and shy, please take the time to turn the page to see what else is in there.  If Jack amazes you with his quick wit, please be prepared for the awkwardness that may follow.  He's layered and surprising.  He's up and he's down, and inside out.  But, please spend the time to see all of his sides and please, let's make this chapter excellent.

Sincerely,
Me

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Un-Named Killer

In January of 2011, I wrote a blog post on the shooting of Senator Gabby Giffords.  I wrote it appalled at the evil behind a mass shooting.  Shocked by the senseless tragedy and crushed by the death of innocent people.  I wrote it because I couldn't let it go by without expressing my tidal wave of emotion brought about by a single madman.  I sit here today in May of 2014, barely phased by the mass shooting that took place over the weekend.  Saddened, yes.  Disgusted, yes.  But filled with a torrent of confusion and overwrought by the cruelty, no.  Because now I know that there isn't a single madman.  There are madmen, they are everywhere and they strike often. 

What is worse... I think we are making them.  When I wrote about Gabby Giffords and the 9 year old girl who died that day, I vowed to not name the shooter.  To this day, I don't know his name.  Or the man who shot up the theater in Colorado or the young man that took out the classroom in Connecticut.  I don't want to know who they are.  I don't want to see their faces and know their names.  Be they mentally ill or just evil, I don't know.  Its too late to know the whys of their actions, and to stop them.  I want to know who they are when they're young and we can save them.  I want to see them coming with enough time to save their victims' lives.  After the fact, I don't want to know them at all.

After their evil deeds, I won't give them notoriety. I know the names of actors, sports legends, heroes and government officials.  I know the name of people who matter (and people who really don't... Kanye and Kim... I'm looking at you).  But, I won't let these murderers win by gaining fame.  I don't need to know the name of a gunman that put himself on YouTube and authored a hate filled manifesto.  I won't learn his name and I would like the world's media to try the same. 

Would these mass killings still happen if the killer wasn't highlighted?  What if this young man, now dead, didn't have his face, his video ranting, his pages of hatred spilled across all the sites, pages and news reports.  What if we showed the victims, outlined their stories, their lives and their potential, all the while just calling the do-er the murderer, the criminal, the subject.  Make him anonymous.  Make him nothing.  Make his face disappear and his tirades go unheard and unread.  Make these people who plan to make others disappear, disappear themselves.  What if we grant the fame and the glory to the survivors, the first responders, the heroes.... and put the do-er where he belongs.... in the dirt.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Asthma

I will start out by acknowledging the obvious.  I know that my son is not dying.  I know that there are many children and parents that suffer way more than we do.  We are not a tragic tale.  Disclaimer inserted so that anyone reading this doesn't feel the need to tell me that we could have it way worse.  I am well aware.  But, I am also aware that just because others have it way worse, doesn't mean that we have it easy.  Disclaimer over.

I never had asthma.  When I was growing up, I knew kids with asthma.  The ones with the inhalers out at recess and they'd puff a few times and go on.  I even remember being jealous of it.  The same way kids want glasses and braces until they get them and realize that its not nearly as fun as you thought it was going to be.  Until Will, I didn't know asthma.  Now, I do... and I hate it.

Will has struggled with asthma since his second year of preschool.  He gets flare ups that are all but debilitating.  He talks, he coughs.  He moves, he coughs.  He lays down, he coughs.  And, in case you've never experienced an asthmatic cough, let me inform you.  The word cough isn't big enough to impart the appropriate image.  He coughs so hard and so long that he can't inhale again.  Imagine violently pushing all your breath out without a pause to get more air in.  It sometimes leads to vomiting.  It often leads to panic.  It always takes the energy level of his which usually hovers around 100 to a level 0.  His body hurts.  His throat hurts.  His head hurts.  He's exhausted.  That's asthma.  And I hate it.

Doctors are hopeful he'll grow out of it, and the improvements he's had are amazing.  He is starting a flare up now, but he hasn't had one since September.  That's huge.  But, in September it took a month to get under control.  So, the start of this one is not met with relief that its been so long without, but with the dread of how long its here to stay.  Its not just his physical self that suffers.  There is nothing worse than attempting to go to school and knowing you're distracting the entire class repeatedly, but there is nothing you can do to stop.  Do we keep him home for a month?  I know his teachers get frustrated. I do, too.  I get the distraction, the desire for quiet, and they don't have the sleepless nights and don't even have to deal with the huge amount of money we've spent monthly on his medications.  I get being frustrated.  But, think of the frustration, and worse the embarrassment, he has.  Everyone is silently watching as he is running to the trashcan because this time he coughed up phlegm.  He wants to run and play at recess, but the staff won't let him because it may cause an attack.  He suffers socially, academically, emotionally, and of course physically.  All because of asthma, and I hate it.

I know that mothers all over the world have worse to deal with, but I'm talking about me now and the worse thing in my world is when my son can't breathe.  He is looking to me, gasping for breath and all I can say is "it will be ok."  It is not ok.  He ought to be able to breathe.  I'm not asking for a 5 minute mile, a 100mph fastball or a MENSA acceptance letter.  I just want my boy to breathe.  But, today he can't.  Thanks to asthma.  And, I hate it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Work Ethic

Will has taekwondo every Tuesday and Thursday.  He's been doing it for months, achieved his yellow belt and loves it.  However, every Tuesday and Thursday without fail he will complain about going.  He's good when he gets there, but he doesn't want to go.  The same was the case during football, swimming, even scouts on some nights.  The gist of it is that he wants to do the fun stuff, but not the work.

Tabbi was the same way.  She purported to love volleyball, and we even agreed to pay the $1,000 minimum fee to get her into club volleyball.  However, she went so far as to quit before her first practice.  She quit violin, too.  She was so afraid of doing the work, she just wouldn't.

I'm sitting here after giving Will five more minutes to play with his friends before getting ready to go and I'm at a loss.  How do I instill a work ethic in my sons?  Mark sort of has it.  He goes to work ill, or on no sleep.  Even the kind of yucky sick when your coworkers are pissed that you came in because they're going to catch it.  When we were dating, he went to work so sick with the flu that was killing people, he semi-passed out driving and totaled his car.  However, at home... he doesn't have it.  He won't mow today, when he could mow tomorrow (or never).  He won't stake our newly planted weeping willow up without me nagging at him to death  to the extent that he'd rather walk away from Mine Craft than have me utter another word about the tree.  And, I fear that I don't have it either.

I was kicked out of band in middle school essentially because I refused to practice.  In college, looking back, I'm pretty sure I graduated with an English Lit degree just because it was easy for me.  Was it a lot of work?  Yes.  I giggle when I hear people complain about 10 page papers and reading a novel a month.  (Hee hee, amateurs).  But, it wasn't HARD work.  That's the difference.  When I was a working professional, I worked hard.  I succeeded.  But, I can honestly say that now as a semi-professional part timer, there are days when I phone it in.  At home, I am a get the job doner, but I am not sure the kids even see it that way.  I do laundry and cook dinner because I have to.  Not because I'm getting my work done.

So, I am left with the question of how to make the practice that is required for my children's success seem like a good idea?  How do I get Will to see that he'll never reach a black belt without the work?  I have no answers, so I am truly writing this, not to give my point of view, but in search of others.  Because right now, I can't find the answer.  Or maybe I'm just too lazy to try.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You Can't Write About Fat Girls

I just finished reading a book last night that was about a fat girl.  I realized upon its completion that I've read a lot of fat girl books and they all annoy the poo out of me.  It must be my holier than thou attitude thanks to my supermodel thin physique.  Stop laughing....

This book was about a fat girl who meets a personal trainer by happenstance and he takes pity on her and decides to make her his project and once she is fit and skinny, he actually falls in love with her despite her former fatness and magnanimously decides to ignore the extra 20 pounds she still could stand to lose.  You'd think I'd be thin after reading 200+ pages of this barftastic book.

Other fat girl books are different.  They are based on the fatties who find men to love them in spite of their girth.  Those are gems, too.  The man finally realizes that her witty personality is all that matters, not her dress size.  In addition to the men being willing to love them, they're filled with women just sitting around waiting to be loved.  Often our heroines have great careers, friends, etc, but without the man, they are worthless.  Those books don't induce my urge to purge.  Instead, they make me want to track down the authors and punch them.  In the face.  With their books.

I realize that there should be books about pleasantly plump people, because the world is full of this epidemic of obesity (one that I am a shameful member of).  But, it would be nice if the books were a little less, I don't know.... INSULTING.  Maybe men do fall in love with fat women in spite of their looks, but I'd like to think that some men just fall in love, looks and all. Not that I'm praising those pervs trolling the 500 lbs. and up porn sites, but maybe some guys find curves appealing.  Maybe some men don't need a stick person to be happy.  Maybe husbands of women that aren't thin are just happy.  Not in spite of anything....  just in love with everything.  And maybe some overweight women don't sit around pining for a husband.  Hard to imagine, but maybe they have self confidence even though they could use a Zumba class or two, and lead full lives with or without a man in it.  Maybe it would be refreshing to see a book like that.  Then again, a book about two normal people who meet, fall in love and just live probably wouldn't sell.  But, I for one would like to see someone try.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What Men See

Disclaimer:  The following is an anthropological essay on differences between husbands and wives.  Mark, this isn't entirely about you, nor is it from a place of anger.  It is about most men in general, and comes from a place of utter mystery and confusion.  End disclaimer.

My husband is a good man.  You can ask him to do things and while he will heave a hefty sigh of "I Don't Want To" (which he denies, by the way), he will do it.  But, my utter mystification comes not from the things he/they are willing to do, but from the fact that he/they don't do it until you ask them to.  Let me explain.

If Mark suspects the computers, Internet, laptop, Xbox, or smart phones are running improperly... he can sniff that problem out from a mile away and devote endless hours to its repair.  Endless.  However, if the pictures on our walls need leveling and sticky tacking, even if he sits in that room to Xbox with the boys on a daily basis, either he doesn't see that the pictures are so crooked it looks like a blind person hung them, or he feels there's no time to get such a monumental task accomplished (which took me 10 minutes today to do all our pictures in our house) or he likes them like that.  I don't know the answer.  I only know that is man-land, it doesn't exist and will not get done until I ask.  Wait... let me rephrase.  Until I nag him to death.

Other men have similar blind spots.  Some men will use a glass, walk over to the kitchen and deposit the used glass either on the counter or in the sink, seemingly blissfully unaware of this machine just inches below that if you open the door and deposit said glass, it will eventually come out clean.  I'm not sure if its the abundance of science fiction that most men watch or sheer ignorance of how things become clean, but if you put the glass on the counter, its never going to get inside the washer without a human's help.  There's no teleportation.  There's no little arm that comes out of the machine and reaches for the glass and sets it on the rack.  Another person (I'll go out on a limb and assume its the other adult living in your home) has to do that step. 

Another conundrum...  In our house, we have a relatively new dog who occasionally seems to confuse our playroom with a park full of fire hydrants in the middle of the night and leave a little present on our carpet. See above where said husband plays video games with my boys in that room every day.  I'm guessing that his laser sharp vision is so acutely aware of the critical happenings on Lego Marvel that he is blind to the yellow circle on the carpet.  My vision must be more suited to pee spots than Lego versions of Pepper Potts, because I tend to spot them upon entry. 

These things are not worth fighting about.  They are not reasons for divorce or even the female patented snippy "I'm fine" followed by the silent treatment.  Its just something that I ponder.  If men are from Mars, who puts the dishes in the dishwashers there, and how many pictures are permanently crooked?  Wait, who would tell them to purchase and hang pictures in the first place?  Mars must be the land of blank walls and unlimited supplies of Solo cups.  I know that the genders are chromosomally different, but until marriage I had no idea the affect that Y chromosome has on vision.  That, or it stand for "y bother to clean up the urine if there's a digital citizen in peril on my video game?"

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Love My Son

Today, I am honored to be featured in the Hendricks County Home online magazine.

Take a gander here...

http://www.hendrickshome.com/i-love-my-son/

Then make sure and read the rest of the magazine and subscribe.  You may not be in Hendricks County, but the articles are fantastic wherever you are.