The Final Tale

 

But first an update on story #1…the narrative of youngest daughter starting school.  Let me share (if you are a veteran reader you already know this) that I am 100% a liberal arts person.  I understand the basics of the birds and the bees and I can tell a conifer from a deciduous tree.  I know what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar.  That’s about it for biology and chemistry.  As far as math goes, let’s just say that I consider it a win if my checkbook balances and I do that everyday so it’s not too many numbers.

Since I have a definitive bias towards art, literature and writing, it is possible that I may have let the math lessons slide a bit.  Youngest daughter also has struggled with the retention of even the most basic of math facts.  Loads of tears, worksheets, computer programs and textbooks later, we finally happened upon something that worked two months ago.

At the beginning of the summer we were still working on addition and subtraction.  It just didn’t make sense to her.We found a computer program that she really enjoyed and with the looming deadline of placement testing for her new school, she had quite a challenge before her.

Keep in mind that she is entering the sixth grade and had to place in fifth grade or better to take math on campus.  At the beginning of the summer she was at a second grade math level.

She tested on Monday and place firmly at the fourth grade level…almost to fifth. They are allowing her to register for the sixth grade math class based on the fact that she accomplished so much over the summer.  I suspect that she is actually really great at math and just needs a teacher who can guide her (someone who can actually do math and isn’t studying ahead trying to remember how to do long division)!

What these words leave out is how truly hard this all was.  Copious tears and meltdowns for both of us.  Me feeling like I had failed her.  She feeling dumb.  Apologies and hugs. Giving up and starting over.  Endless lists of what we needed to get done (me).  Endless doodling on the page meant for figuring out answers (her).

It is done.  She is entering school on the same level as everyone else in her class.  We saw her desk yesterday with her binder laid out and waiting for her.

That made it so real.  And hard.  And happy.  And proud.  And anxious.  And….

on to story #3…

Binky Goes on an Adventure

I love all my kiddos.  I even like them a lot of the time. Honestly there have been times (in all of our lives) when I would have traded them for a fountain diet coke with crushed ice, but I’ve given that addiction up, so it’s a moot point.  I stuck it out…they didn’t run away from home (well, one of the did, but she came home).

When my two girls left home, I thought I would die.  They both left at the same time and dropping them off at college (the same one my husband and I went to) was impossibly hard.  I survived.  They survived and thrived.

But this is my baby boy, Binky.  This unfortunate nickname is no longer in use, but grew out his extended attachment to his pacifier.

He’s been quietly making plans for his future for quite a while.  He’s never been much on sharing the important stuff.  He’ll coast along for a while and then make a big announcement about what he’s about to do and surprise us all.  I knew he’s been trying to figure out this apartment thing.

I just preferred not to think about it.

It’s time for him to move out.  It’s a good plan.  The apartment is further in towards Austin.  Not too far away for him to bring his laundry home and raid the pantry.

I want him to go and build his life.  He’s an adult. My job is done.

But…he’s also still Binky with all the moments and memories that name symbolizes.

What will my life be like with him not in it all the time.

Sleeping soundly through all the malfunctioning smoke alarms going off for 30 minutes while I try to shut them off.

Endlessly sharing sports names and stats while I struggle to appear interested.

Never straightening out his nasty socks so they can be properly washed.

Continually butting heads with his Dad.

Insisting that the vegetables in a Hot Pocket are enough for a healthy diet.

Living in a room that any decent health inspector would condemn.

Planting daffodil bulbs and sunflowers…well, mainly eating dirt, but we tried.

Always knowing when I need a hug…even when I don’t.

This growing up thing is hard.  For Mom’s and kids.

I’m going to go cry for a while.

It will be okay.

In time.

And, of course, I have Barret the dog to keep me company.  Thank you, Jacob.  I really mean it.

Today Needs a Prayer

I don’t talk a lot about my faith on this blog.  It’s not that I’m embarrassed about what I believe or out of some sense of political correctness. Mainly, it’s because at this point in my life, my faith has become more personal and inward. I think it may be a growth period for me after a long period of dormancy.

In any case, for the most part, I believe political correctness is a load of manure. I do, however, believe in being respectful of others’ beliefs or lack thereof.

But today needs a prayer. Feel free to substitute any vernacular that fits your life: happy vibes, positive energy, smoke signals, loud and raucous profanity, meditation, or the like…you get my meaning, right?

Today needs a prayer for those going through changes. Any change, whether perceived as good or bad, can be traumatic. It may involve a wide range of emotions including, but not limited to grieving, anger or joy. Change is hard for most (if not all) of us.

Today, I pray for those trying their best to find their way in the world. Especially for young adults trying to figure out this thing called “being a grown-up”. Wanting to be free of the constraints of parental control and influence…flapping their wings madly…terrified of all the choices and possibilities…peeking back over their shoulder at the shelter they are leaving behind. Some have a nest they can be welcomed back to if the need should arise, but so many don’t have that option, if indeed they ever did. My prayer is that they find a safe place to rest when their wings are tired. A soft place to rest their head when the journey is too hard. A springboard to launch from on the next leg of their journey.  Growing up is hard and should not be done alone. I pray that they have community with friends and family or friends that are family.

Today, I pray for parents whose children are referenced in the above paragraph. A prayer for patience and tolerance and forgiveness…that they remember their transition and act wisely. That they open the door for their children and hug them as the leave. Most importantly, that they leave that door open and are ready to give another hug when their child returns…either triumphantly in success or despairingly in failure.

Today, I pray for those experiencing loss. Especially for those who have lost a parent. Even as an adult this loss is hard. You may have achieved independence and become the “grown-up, but the child within is always there. You are an orphan. The person who has always been there is no longer there. You can no longer peek back over your shoulder at that shelter you so desperately fled years ago. We never lose the need for that anchor.

Today, I pray for those dealing with serious illness and aging. For those coping with the changes that are occurring as their body no longer performs for them as they have become accustomed. For loss of independence and freedom. For endless hours in waiting rooms and treatment rooms and recliners trying to rest and heal. For the uncertainty and loss that is a constant part of this new life they are living.

Today, I pray for the caretakers…the folks who are sheltering the ones in need, making casseroles, fetching glasses of water, running errands, and standing ready for whatever…

Today, I’m rearranging things to welcome a loved one to our home, attending a funeral, checking in on a family member, and planning a piece of prayerful art work for a friend.

Amen.

Groovy!

Sometimes I think that I should stop going to thrift stores because it can be too easy to buy stuff.

Other days I know that thrift store shopping is a great idea for someone who is trying to live a more intentional deliberate life.

For example, I like to shop for a lot of my family’s clothes at thrift stores.  I can get better brands and quality than I can normally afford so I’m saving money.  I’m not buying cheap crap that carries the weight of a myriad of social, environmental, and economic issues.  Because the stuff has been worn and washed, I know ahead of time how its going to wear and I don’t buy something that is going to have to be ironed.  That’s just never going to happen around here.

I don’t buy all of our clothing second-hand.  Some stuff is just supposed to be new if you know what I mean and sometimes you just can’t find what you need when you need it.

Because of thrift stores my husband can wear Hawaiian shirts that are actually from Hawaii.  My kid can wear the Justice, Gap and Old Navy clothes that she wants.  If it hangs in the closet for a bit and doesn’t really get worn all that much, it’s no great loss – we just donate it back.  Win…win!

The same goes for other stuff around the house:  dishes, decorative items, art supplies, sometimes furniture, etc…

I’ve just learned (and am learning) to be careful and thoughtful about purchases.

Then there is the magical day – the day that I was just meant to end up at the thrift store even if I was in a bad mood and was looking for some retail therapy even though I knew that buying something wouldn’t necessarily make everything all better.

Because what I found did make things better when I was dealing with a preteen child who shall remain nameless who was perhaps being a bit moody and difficult to deal with.  The kind of day when I needed to remind myself that love conquers all and I do love her more than I could ever have imagined because her life was indeed a miracle in more ways than one.  The day when I kept telling myself that I have survived three other adolescents and none of them are in jail and neither am I even though they might have inspired murderous thoughts at one time or another.

I found this at the thrift store yesterday:

IMAG1197 (1)IMAG1199A genuine 1969 Spirograph Plus missing only one piece.  It still has it’s original cardboard mat and most of the original paper.  How groovy is that!  It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you are playing with a Spirograph.

When you are playing with a Spirograph it’s easy to remember that you love that smart, beautiful, creative little girl who is trying to grow up in a big family in an even bigger world.  The little girl who is figuring out who she is and what her talents are.  The little girl with strength, determination and grit that sometimes comes across as stubbornness and defiance.

When you stop and just spend some time together, you remember that sometimes life is hard and taking the time to play and just “be” for a bit is a splendid idea.