I’m not sure I’m mentally up to a coherent blog, so I thought I’d treat you to a potpourri of musings from the trip. Snapshots, if you will.
Wesley did get married. Her husband is not named Jesse after all, but Dustin. He seems like a very nice guy. Cried like a baby when his dad stood up to toast them, and you’ve gotta love that. Wesley was easily the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen, and everything was just gorgeous. Classy.
During the reception we discovered a dancer in the family. The music started, and Max just couldn’t help himself. He dragged me out on the dance floor, and whew! He gyrated, stomped, spun, jumped, laughed, and wiggled. I’ve never seen him dance like that. Heck, I’ve never seen anyone dance like that! He danced for hours, it seemed. Moves welled up from within him, and at one point he shimmied over to me and announced with glee, “I am so GOOD!” And he was.
When we left the wedding, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco. This was about 7 p.m., and the fog was pouring over the hills. Tre looked out the van window and worried it might be a forest fire. It did look like the smoke that lay over all of Colorado last summer during the forest fires. But I assured him that it was just fog, and he was transfixed. It quickly enveloped us, and he gazed out at it, murmuring dreamily, “It’s like a cloud. All those droplets, and they’re condensing on the van to make raindrops.” I tried to point out that we were on the Golden Gate Bridge, which is a big deal, but he just wanted to get out and feel the cloud. I guess no one ever said my kids would have passions that make sense to me. At this point I’m deeply regretful that I didn’t find a place to pull over, so he could feel the fog. I was scared of all the San Francisco traffic I couldn’t see.
Raphael would NOT sleep in the pack-n-play I had so carefully provided for him. He hated it, and screamed as soon as he was placed in it until I rescued him. Then he would hiccup and sigh those shuddery sighs of a child who has been very upset. I’m not a perfect mother (see above), but I couldn’t do that to him again. So he slept with me. Watching a child fall asleep is like watching a well-filmed nature documentary. A wild creature in its natural habitat. Raphael would lay there, looking around and humming little noises to himself. Then he would start to drift off, so he’d raise his arms over his head and clap, trying to fight off sleep. Eventually, his arms would drop, and his eyes would close, then pop open, then close…then pop open. He’d shake his head, and rub his nose with a fat little fist, but it was no use. The eyes would drift closed again, and he’d be gone. Until far too early an hour in the morning, when he’d spring up, unbelievably happy.
We went to the beach one day, and the boys had a wonderful time. Tre and Max got out in the waves with their Appa and boogie boards, and came back all dripping and shivering. I kept thinking they’d want to leave. Surely. Soon. But no, they wanted to go back as soon as they warmed up a little. And Dad kept taking them back into that cold water. God bless ‘em all, because I sure don’t get it. At one point Max was sitting on the sand, wrapped up in a towel. He was gazing out at the waves. He looked so contemplative that I wondered what he was thinking. I sat next to him and put one arm around him. We looked out at the timeless motion of the water and I asked, “So, what do you think of the ocean, honey?”
“Great,” he replied, “it’s good for spitting in.”
Well, despite the many joys of California, spitting and otherwise, it’s great to be home. I’m exhausted.
¶ 6/30/2003 09:57:00 PM
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
My children are all asleep. The house is quiet, except for the swish of the dishwasher. The cat just brushed past my leg, then glided away, seeing I had the keyboard on my lap. I have the time to blog. I have the ability. I just don’t have the ideas.
I think my mental energy is used up in preparing for the upcoming trip. All six of us are off to California, to witness the vows of my baby cousin Wesley and her intended, Jesse. (I think it’s Jesse. Yeah, Jesse. Right?)
Wesley getting married. Jeez, I still think of her as a chipmunk-cheeked four year old. Not that she’s that much older than that. She’s either 21 or 20, I’m not sure. All grown up…more or less. Not that I’m judging, not at all. If anyone knows, I know that getting married is a gamble. Maybe they’re too young. Actually, they’re definitely too young. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t have a wonderful, long and fulfilling marriage. My prayers will certainly be that they will.
I remember the day I got married. Dad and I were waiting to walk down the aisle when a family came in a little late. I had been a nanny for this family when I was in college. Their youngest was about six months old then, and that day he walked past me, a standard little boy of about four or five. I watched in amazement as they made their way to sit down.
“Dad,” I whispered, “I used to change his diapers!” He squeezed my hand and whispered back, “Big deal. I used to change yours.”
I guess you’re always young to someone.
¶ 6/24/2003 10:04:00 PM
Monday, June 23, 2003
Less than a mile from our house there are some horses. Quite a few horses, maybe 50. It’s a rent-a-horse deal. Whenever we drive past the horses I am sure to point them out to Raphael because he gets so excited. It’s gotten to the point that if Raphael isn’t in the car and I don’t point them out, one of the other boys reminds me.
“Look, Mama. The horses!” I guess they figure I’m so interested in them usually, they’d hate for me to miss them.
When Raphael sees the horses, he erupts into a celebration of horse.
“HOORSEES!” he shrieks, “Oh, wow horses! I see tails! Hello, horses! Wow horses!” Then, as we drive away, he waves vigorously. “Goo-bye, wow horses.” And we all repeat after him,
“Goo-bye, wow horses.”
When children come into your life, they change your vocabulary forever. When Tre was about three years old, whenever it was time for his multi-vitamin, he said the same thing, “Oooone byemien.” Holding up one chubby finger in front of a solemn face. See, we had talked about how many vitamins he could have and he knew it was one. To this day I don’t think any of us can take vitamins without reciting,
“Oooone byemien.” Fortunately, none of us takes vitamins in public, or we’d all look entirely nuts.
When Max was two-ish, he was helping me tuck Tre in bed one night. (Max has never been much of a sleeper, and went to bed at 11pm or so until I finally gave up on making him take naps.) As we turned to go, I instructed Max,
“Tell Tre night-night.” And he parroted,
“And tell him sweet dreams,” I continued. He chirped,
Now, do you think anyone around here can go to bed without a chorus of
“Weemees?” Certainly not!
I’m certain that children affect the portion of the brain that processes language. Words that the rest of the world uses are swapped out for your own family jargon. The change is irreversible.
Tonight I experienced an odd sandwiching of jargoning. We have a family recipe that we enjoy every summer, Fruit Slush. It’s a mixture of strawberries, bananas, grapefruit, and orange juice, mixed together and frozen. It’s better than it sounds. When it’s been sitting on the counter long enough to go all juicy and melty, and you scrape jagged ice crystals of fruity sweetness into your bowl…it’s better than anything sounds. Well, when I was about two, I called it Flush. Naturally, that became the family name for it. I’ve always had to think carefully before I offer some to a person from outside the family. “Would you like a bowl of Flush?” just doesn’t sound all that appetizing.
Tonight we had our first bowl of Slush for the summer. Raphael was very wary of it at first. He stared at the spoonful I held out as though I were in the habit of offering him poison. But I convinced him to taste it, and he quickly saw my side of the matter. Enough that he climbed up in my lap and ate practically all of mine.
“Do you like that Slush?” I asked in that inane language development way moms of young children have. He nodded, peering into my bowl.
“Raphael? What is that?” Mom asked. I could see the interest in her eyes, and I watched Raphael to see what he would say. Would his jargon replace my jargon? We waited. He looked up and said,
So there I was, on my way home. I had spent the day at the homeschool convention, and it had been a good day. My mind was awhirl with all the ideas, the encouragement, and the sheer possibilities. On the passenger’s seat next to me was a stack of curriculum that I couldn’t wait to get home and page through.
I stopped at a light and watched the birds. During the summer in Colorado birds occupy the intersections. Swallows, I think. Swift little things with elegant tiny curves of wings. They hunt the bugs that congregate at intersections. Something about the air being warmer there.
Anyhow, these birds swoop and dive and generally make a spectacle of themselves at the intersections all summer long. Perhaps this is true of all cities’ intersections. I don’t know. I’ve just come to be aware of it here, in the last few years.
I love the swallows. I lean way over to peer up into the sky so I can see their gymnastics. I glance around to see how many other people are appreciating. I glow with love for those who do.
But then the light changed, as lights will. I drove on, and glanced to my left. Where I saw the building. The building I had gone to with my ex to get our marriage license, nine years ago. Although my thoughts had been miles away from HIM and the memories and all of that stuff, there I was. Jolted in an instant back to that life. To everything that was supposed to be. Remembering how bad it all went.
I am stronger by far than I once was. All I did was take a deep breath, steady my heart, and drive on. The rest of my day was fine. The air at the next intersection was still spangled with swallows. I turned deliberately back to thoughts of the future. It was just a dark spot on an otherwise stellar day.
That’s the thing about divorce. It looks like freedom, but it’s not. Not really. The relationship goes on.
I don’t know if any of my legions of readers read the comments or not. This particular blog is in response to some comments left yesterday by my big brother Josh. Catch up if you need to.
Ok, Josh has brought up a good point. Sort of good point. At least, an issue that seems to be there. In people’s minds.
When am I going to start dating? I mean really, the divorce has been final for almost a year. Final for a year, so that must mean he’s been gone for nearly two years. Time to get on with life, right? People ask. At first it was just people who are morons and have no idea how painful a divorce can be. But as the months passed it became actual intelligent people. People I trust. And respect. Lovingly, gently, they want to know, when am I going to start dating?
Well, I have many good answers to that. My kids have had enough upheaval in their lives. I don’t see the advantage of putting them through the emotional turmoil of wondering about the guy Mama’s out with. Especially for Tre, that would be very hard. And who says going on with life means snaggin’ me a man? My life is full. I have friends who mean the world to me. There’s this whole writing thing. And homeschooling (don’t give me grief, Josh). I have much meaningful stuff to do. Which leaves me happy. And busy. Did I mention busy?
Pretty good answers, no? Well, as Josh is probably itching to point out, they are all also a load of…less than truth. Not that they aren’t true. They are, but they sure aren’t the whole truth.
The whole truth is it’s awfully scary. I haven’t been on a first date in over a decade. I remember those days. They sucked. And it’s a whole lot safer here, sitting in a dark playroom in the glow of the monitor. I’ve had enough upheaval for…ever.
I am protecting myself with some very good objections.
I talked to God about it. We’ve come to an agreement. For everyone who is wondering, this is the deal. If God sends me the guy, I’ll go out with him.
Now, for Josh, this isn’t a great answer. He claims not to believe in God. Much like he once claimed not to have any doubts about his faith. Sorry, Sha. Best I can do.
¶ 6/20/2003 10:39:00 PM
Thursday, June 19, 2003
I'm not blogging today. No, you can't make me. I have not had a good day and I don't feel like it.
Ok, I'll tell you about one thing. I went to a weight class tonight at the gym. There were these muscle-heads in the weight room, thinking they were impressing us by getting in our way. One of them kept offering to help me with the big, heavy weights. *simper*
Now, if I wanted to rest and watch other people pick up heavy things, I guess I'd watch weight lifting on tv (do they do that on tv?). But no, I was there to...oh, I don't know...LIFT WEIGHTS?? So what would make some sweaty moron think it would make me all atwitter to have him come unload the plates from the leg press machine for me? To make things worse, when he was done and grinning proudly at me, I gave him a drippingly sarcastic "Thanks. Whatever would I have done without you?" and he swaggers back to his sweaty moronic workout buddy and they elbow each other. Big grins. Ain't he a stud.
Sarcasm is wasted on the stupid. Now, I've heard that sarcasm is the lowest form of humor, so what does that leave for these guys? I'm guessing in the humor department their appreciation is limited to bodily function jokes.
People keep asking me if I'm dating yet. I'm going to start answering no, I've jumped straight to hating random men. More efficient. I don't have to put on pantyhose this way.
Damnit, there I went and blogged.
¶ 6/19/2003 09:55:00 PM
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
I took the boys to two libraries today, count ‘em, two. The first one we went to so we could return many overdue books and pay the fines. How many overdue books, you ask? $29 worth of overdue books. I’m thinking screw the library; I’m buying books from now on. At least then I’d have something for my TWENTY-NINE bucks. I know, it’s not their fault. It’s mine. That just makes me more resentful.
But I digress.
After that humiliating trip we went to another library, where one of the local weather reporter guys was giving a presentation for kids. Correction: local METEOROLOGIST, Mike Nelson. He pointed out that not all people on TV predicting the weather are meteorologists. He sneered a bit when he said it.
But he is most certainly a meteorologist. And an entertaining one. Unfortunately, not entertaining to a two year old. Raphael lasted about 26 minutes (pretty good, no?). At that point he started trying to injure as many children as he could reach from his stroller-prison. A bored Raphi is a lethal Raphi. So I took him and Max out to rampage in the hallway. Tre stayed in, entranced. He did have to check on me a few times, but in the end fascination won out over abandonment fears.
We waited in the hall for an interminable length of time. During our wait we saw one child throw up. A lot. And one rotten four year old pushed Raphael down on the floor because he didn’t like the way he was running. The four year old was strapped in his stroller and resentful. Grrrrr.
But finally it was over. We went in and found Tre. He was fixated on getting Mike Nelson’s autograph, so we waited in line. Forever.
But we got it, and Tre got to tell him that he was going to be a meteorologist too, someday. Mr. Nelson gave him high-fives.
As we turned to go, Tre slipped his hand in mine. He almost never does that anymore. But he was so overcome that he reverted to a less self-aware age. He looked up at me, eyes shining.
“I never talked to a real meteorologist before,” he breathed.
Now he’s bugging me every 4.6 seconds to go to the bookstore and buy Mike Nelson’s book on Colorado weather. My, that child can focus.
But despite everything, rotten children (mine and others), sick children, a late lunch, and the endless nagging to get Mike Nelson’s book, I keep remembering Tre’s face. It was worth it.
¶ 6/18/2003 09:43:00 PM
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
I took the boys downtown today, to meet Dad. We were going to the bloodmobile so Dad and I could donate blood, then off to lunch. Now, Dad works downtown. Among the very young and hip. I always feel self conscious down there. Especially when I discover I have the remnants of a chocolate doughnut on my shoulder, knee, and back, like today. But the funny part is watching the downtown business crowd react to my crowd of little boys. The ALARM! The CONSTERNATION! People skirt my gaggle of children with looks on their faces as if to say "Whoa! What are you doing with THOSE? I mean, HERE? I don't think we're ZONED for children! Do you have a PERMIT??" It makes me want to encourage my boys to do things like run up and hug the nice lady in the suit. Hey, take your power where you can get it.
Then again, there were people who melted at the sight of them. It reminded me of being a kid in school, when a dog would wander onto the playground. Everyone went nuts, vying to get close enough to pet the dog. Now, kids love dogs, but our reaction was more than dog love. It was like a breath of fresh air, this unexpected dose of the real world. We craved it.
So, to the people who loved a dose of reality today in the form of three grubby faced kids, you're quite welcome. And to the people who were terrified, you're even more welcome. Hee, hee.
¶ 6/17/2003 10:32:00 PM
Monday, June 16, 2003
Actual argument/discussion between Tre and Max at the breakfast table.
M: You kind of have bad breath.
T: No I don’t!
M: Kind of garlic mashed potato breath.
T: Oh, yeah.
M: Ok, now you say rooster.
OK, Tre had been eating garlic mashed potatoes for breakfast. But that only explains away part of the oddness. I watched them, locked in their…combat, and worried a bit. See, I homeschool. And whenever you homeschool, you are bound to hear the same question, many times over. “But what about socialization?” You should know that if you’ve ever said that to a homeschooler, they are rolling their eyes at you on the inside. Because if socialization is your goal, why would you send them to a classroom with a bazillion other unsocialized kids? Now, I have social skills. I am a good candidate for teaching the aforementioned skills. No, what I tell people who worry at me about my kid’s level of socialization is that what they’re actually worried about is weirdness. That my kids will end up isolated and weird. Think about your elementary school days. Remember the weird kid? Did school help him/her to be less weird? NO! Weird kids are weird because that’s who they are. My kids, on the other hand, are not weird. Or isolated. There are so many opportunities for homeschoolers today, blah, blah, blah.
So that’s the argument. And I really believe it, when it’s coming out of my mouth. But there are moments, like during the usta/rooster argument, that I worry just a touch. What if those people are right?
Then, about eleven seconds after breakfast was over, the doorbell rang. It was two boys from across the street, wanting to come in and play. Craig James and Zachary. These are kids who have and do all the things kids are expected to. Day care, public school, summer camps, they are straight down the middle mainstream. Very nice boys. Normal.
So all five of them (Raphi included) go out in the backyard to play. I went in to clear the breakfast dishes, glancing out at them every so often. At one point they all disappeared from view, so I went outside to check on them. They were all lined up on the sidewalk beside the house, balancing on the balls of their feet, with their shirts pulled over their knees. Their hands were pulled in their shirts and they were waddling along and talking in squeaky voices. Raphael was on the ground, belly laughing. I watched, speechless for a moment, until Zachary caught sight of me. He grinned.
“We’re Mini-Dudes,” he said, like that explained everything. I nodded and slowly backed away. The neighbor kids stayed at our house all day. They ate lunch with us and played and played. I watched them as much as I could without getting in the way. Everyone had a ball. After observing the behavior of everyone I decided I was right all along. My boys aren’t weird. For boys. Yeesh.
¶ 6/16/2003 09:34:00 PM
Sunday, June 15, 2003
This afternoon the kids were playing on the slip-n-slide. The boy across the street came to join in the fun, and much slipping and sliding ensued. Don’t tell the water nazis. Anyhow, Max started to have a difficult time. The kid from across the street is Tre’s age, and Max doesn’t really fit in with the big guys. Tension started to escalate in the back yard, while I hovered inside and debated with myself intervening vs. letting them work it out. While I puzzled, the back door slid open and in marched my dad, with Max on his heels.
“What’s up, guys?” Max barely glanced at me on his way past. Over his shoulder he replied,
“WE’RE going fishing.” And he bounded up the stairs to change into dry clothes. In minutes they were out the door and off on their adventure. Just Max and his Appa. They fished for a while, then Max abandoned his pole in favor of throwing rocks in the water. Dad helped him heave really big ones in, and they enjoyed the splashes. They talked about stuff, including Max’s dad and where he might be.
“Do you think he’s happy today, or sad?” Dad asked.
“Sad,” Max said, “he’s sad every day.”
For a couple hours they wandered around the reservoir, throwing rocks and climbing things.
They came home without any fish, but pretty happy all the same.
This morning in church we prayed for the dads among us. While we prayed I peeked at my dad. Raphael was in his arms, grabbing his nose. Max was leaning against his leg. Tre had come over to put one hand on his arm while we prayed. Tre knows his Appa isn’t his dad, but is doing the job of dad.
And what a job he’s doing.
Happy Father’s Day.
I thought I’d tell you about my boys, since they have top billing in my life. My oldest son is Tre. He’ll be eight next month. His real name is an outrageously long title he inherited from his dad, back when I thought a baby named after my husband was a great idea. Tre is a nickname for “the third” and I think of it as his real name.
Tre is an intense little soul. He has a firstborn’s sense of right and wrong, and is the world’s policeman. Since he was a toddler, I always knew when he was even contemplating doing something wrong. His eyes would turn toward me, huge brown searchlights, broadcasting his guilt. He’s a lot like his dad, and I mean that in the best way. He’s like the man I married, who was a wonderful guy. One day when Tre was about four, I was watching him arrange his Matchbox cars in a carrying case. Behind him, his dad was ironing his shirt. The two of them fussed over their individual pursuits, back to back, for about half an hour. Literally. Then his dad turned around, and saw his boy there and said in disbelief, “He’s still at that? Jeez, where does he get that focus?” Hmmm, I wonder.
Tre wants to be a meteorologist when he grows up, and the way he watches the weather channel, I wouldn’t doubt it.
He’s my favorite.
Max is my middle boy. He’ll be five in August. I call him my ever-so-much-more-so-child. I think it’s very telling about who Max is that he’s known for his giggle and his scowl. He’s all or nothing. The other day there was a plumber here, working on some…well, plumbing. The boys were following him around, watching him work. After a while, Max wandered away and announced, “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m too complicated.” Truer words were never spoken.
Max is intuitive, spookily so sometimes. When my Auntie Addie died, my mom came to our house to give us the news. She came in the door and the boys rushed over to greet her. Max took one look at her and said, “Hi, Amma. I miss Auntie Addie.” True story. And it’s not the only time he’s done things like that.
But complicated, intuitive souls don’t necessarily have an easy time in life. Max is the one I worry about the most. His dad leaving was hardest on him. I pray for Max a lot.
He’s my favorite.
Raphael, my angel, turned two yesterday. He’s our baby. He was only four months old when his dad left, and he totally missed out on all the pain. For now. But he was such a happy baby, he was a wonderful gift to everyone in the family during that horrible time. We couldn’t look at each other without weeping, but Raphi was an endless source of joy. As a result, he’s gotten way more loving attention than any third child ever did. He’s pretty sure he’s the emperor of the world.
He’s a joyful, energetic child. Sparkly as you can imagine. Sometimes he’s all bounce and noise, like Tigger. And yet sometimes he gets so timid, repeating anxiously, “S’ok! S’ok!” Something like Piglet. So I guess he’s a Tiglet.
Raphael hits other kids a lot, but he mostly doesn’t mean to hurt. He just gets overwhelmed, or excited, or…something. I put him in time out, but to this point the only thing he seems to have learned from that is to march himself over to time out after he hits. Sigh. We’ll get there.
He’s my favorite.
¶ 6/14/2003 05:23:00 PM
Friday, June 13, 2003
Hi. So why a blog, why now? Well, today is a special day. My baby, my angel Raphael turned two today. He is my third son, and I have a history. Whenever my baby turns two, I lose my mind. I forget how horrible it is to be pregnant, because I am swamped by baby cravings. All I want is to get knocked up. I pull out the boxes with ridiculously small socks and onsies, and smell them. I start reading baby name books. Bring on the morning sickness, I’m ready.
Well, this time around, that’s not an option. I’m divorced. And that fourth child I was sure I’d be starting to try for right around now…well, not this time.
I’d be lying if I said that last sentence didn’t bring a tear to my eye. I WANTED four kids. I didn’t want to be divorced and living with my parents.
But here I am. And I’d also be lying if I said I have not been amazingly blessed. I have three wonderful kids. Being unhappy with that would be like frowning at a $750,000 check and saying “I wanted a million.” And the aforementioned parents? They are wonderful, generous souls who have made it possible for me to stay home with my boys and pursue this writing thing.
And there you have it, the reason for this blog. The writing thing. I may not get another baby human, but I can have a baby writing career. And that’s where my insanity is going this time around. I will not focus on what I can’t have, but on what I can.
It seems, however, that no one is going to pay me for my writing unless I let them read it. Humph. I guess I have to get used to that. So you go ahead and read my blog, and help me get over that, ok? We’ll see how it goes.
¶ 6/13/2003 10:32:00 PM