Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Gifts for the Soul

1. Listen to your sons take turns reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas out loud, in their Boris Karloff voices.

2. Let go of people in your life that aren't bringing you higher. Nope, that's not a 420 reference!

3. Learn to knit (YouTube can help!). Make someone a scarf, and picture them wearing it.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brought lunch to James at school today. He’s had to eat in the office since he’s been on the crutches. Yesterday, the school nurse told me he’d eaten alone (the better to take away the sting about not getting to have outdoor recess?). When I asked him about it, James threw me a soft toss. He said, “Hey, how about if tomorrow you bring me Subway? Do you know my recipe?”

James’ Subway Special
turkey and roast beef on wheat
extra black olives, a shred or two of lettuce
vodka martini vinaigrette, just a splash
shaken, not stirred

I brought it. He seemed stoked. We sat together for a few minutes. This time, his friend Aidan was there with him. Suddenly, he goes, “Okay, Mom, you can leave now!”

So, here I will take the obligatory turn toward the philosophical. This blog would be nothing if not for the flashbacks to my oft-shitty childhood. Oh, it was not all bad; after all, these are letters to Aunt Kay, who was/is my mom figure for reals. Without Aunt Kay, whom my kids refer to as The Great Aunt Kay (or, my favourite, Aunt Kay, The Great), there is certainty in my bones that I could not endure the painful growth of motherhood, the work and humility of it, the shame of getting it wrong and the triumph of getting it right. Nor could I care one iota about other humans. She is truly the reason for the season. However, sometimes when I do something a little bit nice for one of my children (in the spirit of W.W. A.K.D., or What Would Aunt Kay Do?) it reminds me of something less good that happened between me and my parents.

West Hills Middle School, my thirteenth birthday (and my fourteenth), in the large, open front entryway. My mother, in her nurse’s scrubs. She has a huge bunch of mylar balloons; some are pink. It is the timing, really, that is sad. Around lunchtime, and the whole school is lingering. She breaks into a run, which is easy because she is in those orthopaedic nursing shoes that belie her youth. I am impossibly small and under-pubertized for my age, and so very mortified by this random entry of my mother into my everyday life. She envelopes me in a hug, which is so enthusiastic it is almost like a dip between ballroom dancers. I feel so conflicted, so embarrassed. What The Fuck, do you want to scare away what few friends I have? They are watching, and I can feel from across the room that they feel badly for me and are laughing a little. Oh, and right there’s the school bully, who picks equally on girls and guys. He is pantomiming the whole scene in the background, which is hilarious and so unfair at the same time. My mother doesn’t do this shit for me, guys. Ever. Don’t, like, discourage her or something.

So, Thank God. Thank God that James doesn’t feel responsible for all of my feelings at a young age. Thank God he asks freely for what he wants and needs from me, without filtering these things first for possibility. Thank God he has friends, and the front-office staff of the elementary school looking out for him, and M and Q, and a host of good gadgets, and maybe even a flying car for his birthday one day, and as many balloons as he pleases. But not in front of his friends.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Thanksgiving Story

Dear Aunt Kay,

We had an eventful thanksgiving, and I was thinking of you.

William had four whole days of hives, full-body ones; we noticed the rash all over him when he was getting into the bath after turkey dinner. Benadryl, swollen lips and hands, Urgent Care, Prednisone, more Benadryl. The hives seem to come and go, but he went to school successfully today and hopefully the ordeal is over. We still don’t know why it happened or what he may have eaten or drank to have had such a huge allergic response, but Joe is convinced it was the rosemary and thyme. I LOL’d at that; I’m pretty sure it was the eggnog.

Then, tonight, James jumped off the couch for some reason and landed funny on his ankle. Back to urgent care--not broken, but strained. I got kind of mad at Joe, since the scene of the injury was a little bit like the beginning scene in Mrs. Doubtfire. So, the part that was making me think of you was this: tomorrow I drive a five-kid carpool to school, one of them is on crutches. How did you do it all when you were raising your kids, plus one or two from down the street?

Thanksgiving dinner itself was so-so, but Dad is hopelessly disinhibited. He’s telling this wildly inappropriate story...Joe’s co-worker and all three of our kids are in the audience. It’s after we’ve eaten dinner. Or before dinner, I can’t even remember, there were so many lovely moments. It was bad. My mind is blocking it out but at one point he was putting both his middle fingers up, presumably imitating the attitude of that lead actress from Top Gun as she was hit on by one too many navy guys. [[Editorial note: Dad was there when they were filming Top Gun, okay, okay, I get it. But has yet to receive the memo about Kelly McGillis being gay.]] I know I stopped him at several points, shouting, “Dad, Kelly McGillis is not ‘weird’; she happens to be a lesbian, and anyway, maybe straight actors don’t like being swarmed by military dudes, either.” Pretty much nothing fazed him; he just kept talking over me to make his retarded point, whatever it was.

Luckily for us, I had said something a few weeks ago to Joe’s co-worker about the possibility of Dad: Live and Unfiltered version. Hopefully he and his wife will still want to hang out with us after this. It is hard enough to make friends with busy everyday life, and this is more than I can stand. Oh yeah, and Meryl was here for Thanksgiving, which was nice.


I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Did you visit Jessie?


Yours in Serenity.