Archive for November, 2009

Thankful, Part II

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I really wanted to post about my weekend in Auburn, the Iron Bowl, seeing old friends, and Georgia surprisingly beating Tech. But I have had too much to do today to do the weekend justice. Instead, i will just give Thanksgiving picture love. . . .

Cousins
Leaf Hand-Holding Cousins

Malex
Leaf Dog

Dash
Leaf Crawling

Tiller
Leaf Throwing

Princess Visiting Puppy (Yes, she came up with that name on her own.)
Princess Visiting Puppy

Little Brave
Little Brave

Hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.

Thankful

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

We did our Thanksgiving dinner tonight (Wednesday), rather than tomorrow, because My sister, Lisa, Dash, and Mark are going to Florida tomorrow. My parents will go to the lake. Todd and the kids and I will go to Auburn for Thanksgiving with his family, and perhaps take in a little bit of Auburn ass-whupping at the hands of Alabama.

Lisa and i think there should be a law that we should get to ditch our husband’s families during holidays, and just hang out with each other, and have a nanny, and drink wine, eat chocolate pie, and play Russian Rummy or poker all night.

This never happens.

What happens is my kids drive me nuts, and get all cranky, because they are all revved up on candy and chocolate milk and whatever-in-god’s-name-else Grandma gives them, and they throw fits, and I get really self-conscious about my parenting in front of my own parents, because my kids are acting like complete nightmares. Meanwhile, the dogs (there are at least three running around at any time) are stealing food off the baby’s tray, and making the kids cry, and barking at every leaf that falls out of every tree, and eating turkey bones out of the trash, which I can’t find a man to take out to the garage to save my soul.

I am trying to stir giblets and gravy so it won’t burn, heat up turnip greens in the microwave, cook three different casseroles at 350 degrees, shoo my Scotch-soaked father away from the kitchen, and get him all he needs to carve the turkey (“Mouse, there is a right way to carve a turkey and a wrong way; I learned the right way from Daddy- He worked at Morrison’s.”) While doing this, I am also sending my sister to set the table, swatting Rollie’s hand from the turkey plate, batting Jack Russell Terrorists out of the air as they jump for the turkey, taking out recycling, answering texts and calls about dinner timing, and making sure a toddler doesn’t plunge headfirst down the stairs. I break up fights. (Rollie and Tiller over what shows to watch, Tiller and Dash over the stuffed animals, dogs over chew toys, mom and dad over dad being dad, me and dad over dad being dad, Rollie and Dad over Rollie’s Matchbox cars.) I admonish Todd for riling dad up with pointed political discussion.

I drink a never ending glass of wine, but also have a cup of coffee going on the side. I have been reheating the same one since we made a pot after lunch.

We finally sit down to dinner, and everyone complains, then dad does the blessing and Rollie cries, because HE wanted to do the blessing, so we do second blessing, and I look up at my brother-in-law, who makes a point of not bowing his head, because he is an avowed atheist and pretense is anathema to him. I roll my eyes. No one sees. Todd gets possibly unreasonably mad because Tiller spills her milk and then we have to make her a whole new plate and get her a new milk. She cries in shame because for a week, we have been talking about having Thanksgiving dinner with the adults at “The Big Table.” She brightens at the new plate as if nothing has happened.

Dad recites from memory the poem that my grandfather recited every year at Thanksgiving, the poem he learned at Berry School for boys, when he went there as an eleven-year-old orphan in 1927.

We all make an attempt at reverence. I have the urge to cry, i am so tired and worn out from Thanksgiving.

I don’t cry. I am thankful.

We sit around the table. Dash is in the highchair. We all put our arms up in the ref’s sign for a touchdown. We all say, “Touchdown!,” animated and loud. Dash thinks we are brilliant. He puts his arms up and yells, “Touchdown!” Kind of. We all clap and holler. He claps and shrieks in joy.

I thank God that I have my family and they are crying, laughing, fighting, drinking, eating, falling, muddying, snapping, and sharing.

Cotton Candy Clouds

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Tiller: “Mama? Are the clouds flat?”

Me: “Flat?”

Tiller: “Yeah, flat.” She lies on the couch and points up. “Like the ceiling.”

Me: “Um, well, no, they are kinda poofy.”

Tiller: [Face lighting up with joy and recognition.] “Oh! Like cotton candy!”

Related posts:
Our Eyes are Like Doors
Growing Chocolate and Wonder and Hope

Sheer Bliss

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

So, Todd went to Chicago this weekend to meet fellow Auburn boys, Brian and Tom. And to see the Pixies. Yes, I am the best wife in the world for not pitching a hissy fit that he was flying to Chicago to see one of my favorite bands ever. (Yeah, right. You know I didn’t take this lying down. I made him promise that I had a free pass if they came anywhere in the Southeast on this tour. So, if you want to go, let me know and you will be included if it comes up. ) In all seriousness, Toddler really deserved this weekend, as he is the best husband/Daddy combo ever, and he has been working his ass off for the last six months.

I decided that I would go visit my parents at the lake for the weekend. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to after the kids go to bed, and i love taking the kids to the lake where they can run free in the trees, and fish, and crawl around in the bushes and get wet and muddy. They get to learn about life in the food web via fishing and all of the dogs decimating a nest of baby squirrels. I worry they don’t get enough of that. Nature Deficit Disorder, if you will. We thought it was going to rain all weekend, but it ended up being really nice weather on Saturday, so the kids played, and I did some yardwork for my dad (leaves and pruning bushes, mostly.) So, about noon, just as i popped open a beer and was finishing my yardwork cleanup, i heard this . . . running water sound. It was pretty loud, so it didn’t take long to locate the source – the spigot in the front yard had sprung a leak. Water was bubbling up out of the ground.

This was one of those moments where i thought to myself, I should not say a word about this. Just let it run. If I say something, Cecil is going to want me to help fix this. I have fixed a leaky water pipe in this yard before. This will not be fun. Keep. Mouth. Shut.

I am dumb. I said something. We decided to eat lunch before starting to fix it. I like that when I am at the lake, I can eat things for lunch like turnip greens and leftover Old Clinton BBQ and wash it down with a margarita. (My sister had come down that morning with my nephew Dash, and god bless her, the first thing she usually does when she gets to the lake is make margaritas. I couldn’t let her drink alone, no matter how much leaky pipe i had to fix that afternoon.) After that Dad had me knee deep in mud before i finished the damn margarita.

I dug and dug and was a complete and total Goat Man in minutes. After digging a couple feet down all around the spigot, we found the trench where the water line was. In the true spirit of half-assed construction, and wiring that is the lakehouse, the water line is in the same trench as the power. So, I was digging in a hole that was quickly filling with water and through which electricity was running. Brilliant.

I did not get electrocuted, although that might have been sweet relief from my father telling me how to do everything. Twice. Because just saying it once might not sink in through my thick skull. No, everything must be stated twice. If something isn’t working, and I am trying to figure it out, while I am doing so, my father repeats his instructions. Over and over. Just taking the volume up a notch each successive time.

I finished the margarita, which was helpful both in regulating my attitude, and because I could then use the cup to bail the water out of the hole. That’s what you call forethought and ingenuity. I will just pour myself this drink, so that when i am done, i can use the cup to bail out a muddy hole filled with water.

About this time, we decided to turn the water back on, and find out where the leak was. It was, of course, right below ground level, on the pipe running up to the spigot. Not in one of the pipes running through the yard at all. Basically, this means that I didn’t really need to dig up the whole damn trench anyway. Sigh.

Dad and I went to the hardware store to get a replacement pipe. Just trust me when i say that trips to any store with my dad are a nightmare, but especially to a store where they sell things men would be interested in: manly things like trucks, lumber, tractors, fertilizer, nails, power tools, knives, guns, or ammo. I love him, but he really likes to “talk shop” with whomever the resident expert is on any subject. I usually stand around avoiding eye contact with the other folks in the store, while pretending to be really interested in joint compound. This time, I stood in Ace with mud from head to toe and checked out the vast array of dead deer heads on the wall. People walked by me like i was an insane person wandered in off the street.

We headed back to the house with our pipe, just in time to meet the neighbors who had come over to visit. This is another thing I find humorous about the country. People just show up at 2 pm on a Saturday, with a cooler and a chocolate lab on the back of their golf cart or Gator, and everyone starts drinking. In this particular instance, the two gentlemen were decked out in their Bulldog regalia and informed me that they were “tailgating.” They didn’t have a tailgate and weren’t in Athens, but i liked the spirit of it anyway.

They stood with my dad, drinking beer, while I got down in the hole and fixed the pipe, and all the while they were telling me how to do the job. “Don’t strip it now.” “You need to get it tight,” and so forth. The only saving grace to this was that they made me drink their moonshine (all the way from Silver City, Georgia! Peach flavored! Straight outta the mason jar!) and I needed two shots to make sure it tasted alright, but after that, I felt much more equipped to deal with the peanut gallery.

We finished up and the pipe was fixed, and then my kids wanted to fish, so I sat on the dock and enjoyed another beer in the late afternoon light, while making sure they didn’t plunge into the lake. I untangled crossed rod and reel lines, and put minnows on cane poles, and I was muddy, and hanging out with the pack of five or six dogs that always seem to congregate in our yard whenever we visit. It turned out to be a pretty nice day.

I was thankful for the lake and the good weather, and the company of my kids, and even my father, and some big, dumb, wet and muddy dogs. It is funny how disconnecting from the tv and the radio and the internet, getting outside in the fresh air, working, getting muddy, hearing your own breathing and the sound of your child’s laughter and dogs barking and growling and wrestling in the yard can make you feel relaxed and at peace and like all is right with the world.

Oh, and then I finally had my shower. There is no better shower than a post-yardwork, muddy Fall day, very hot shower. Then a steak dinner.

Sheer bliss.

The Ghost Toys of Christmas Past

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

So, my online friend and fellow blogger, Melanie, wrote a really funny post about having to find a particular toy for her daughter for Christmas. Zhu Zhu pets?

I know that my mother is just waiting in the wings to laugh her butt off at me when I go through this v. same thing some Christmas soon. She is still bitter about the whole Cabbage Patch Kid shortage in the early 80s. Girls in Georgia, before Roberts sold out to Mattel or whomever, called these “Adoption Dolls.” They were sold in high-end toy shops, and they were ridiculously expensive. Never mind that my sister and I, living in GA, already had original, signed Xavier Roberts dolls. Two each, no less. That’s right, Annie Mouse and Sport Model were too good for just one $100 dollar craft doll each. Oh, no! We had to have the plastic ones too. Boy, those cabbage patch girls really didn’t smell very good. And I never loved the plastic mass-produced ones nearly as much. I know it is wrong to say that you love one of your children more than the others, and this is true in the adoption doll world, too. But I loved Minerva Vivian and Betsy Eunice, and even knock-off adoption doll, Stephanie Lynn (named her myself), much more than. . . hmm. . . what was her name again? Maybe Lisa will remember. Update: Just went and found her papers in my hope chest, along with all the girls. Ginger Minnie. That was her name.

Ginger Minnie, Cabbage Patch Kid

Ginger Minnie, Cabbage Patch Kid

Cecil, being Cecil, thought that he could get away with the knock-off Adoption Doll. And sure enough, I loved blond, green-eyed Stephanie.

Stephanie Lynn, the knock off

Stephanie Lynn, the knock off

Lisa’s blond, blue-eyed knockoff was Samantha. Minerva, a real Xavier Roberts, was big-boned, red-headed, freckled and green-eyed. Not the prettiest doll on the block, but my first real one, and I loved her.

My first real Xavier Roberts doll.

My first real Xavier Roberts doll.


Then there was Betsy Eunice – black-haired, green-eyed, and well-proportioned, just like Scarlett O’Hara in plush doll form!
My second, dark-haired beauty

My second, dark-haired beauty

And then there was Lisa’s Tiffany.

Oh, Tiffany. . . bless her heart.

I must dig Tiffany out of hiding. Lisa, where is Tiffany? We need to post a picture of Tiffany, particularly of Tiffany’s very strange legs. Preferably a picture of Tiffany naked. This is the most bow-legged adoption doll in creation. They also neglected, at Babyland General, to give Tiffany a waist. So, sad. All of the other adoption dolls, and their mothers, whispered about Tiffany behind their hands when she was carried into a room.

And then we made picket signs out of poster board, sticks from outside, and scotch tape, and proceeded to set up a “Mom and Dad, Please Quit Smoking” picket line in my parents’ bedroom, each adoption doll holding a sign. I can tell you that if that didn’t convince my parents to quit smoking, nothing will convince a parent to quit smoking except for their own decision to quit. We were quite the Carrie Nations. We also used to try to charge my Mom’s side of the family for cussing. Most four-letter words were ten cents. The big ones were a quarter. We loved it when my Uncle Charlie and Cousin Finley got together, because we were assured of a windfall when they came to town. I will never forget that one time, Finley came in and said, “Hell, Charlie, just give the damn kid a fuckin’ twenty!”

Anyway, as of this year, my kids want absolutely everything in sight, but they have not narrowed down their wants to one particular, hard-to-find item. Knock on wood. If you have kids, is there a particular must-have item this year? What special things are you getting your kids? And what special must-have items did you get as a kid? Do you have any funny stories of your parents or yourself staking out K-mart of Richway for that perfect toy?

Oh, and p.s.

You don't want to know what else I found in this hope chest i've had since middle school.

You don't want to know what else I found in this hope chest i've had since middle school.

My Husband, Nosferatu

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

nosferatu1

The Streak Continues

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Todd and I went to Athens on Saturday, for our biennial Georgia vs. Auburn football game attendance. My father-in-law usually gives us his tickets for the game when it is in Athens. He does, however, reserve the right to revoke this gift in case of the game being some huge, season-altering event for Auburn, such as both teams going into the game undefeated. Needless to say, that revocation was not put into action this season, as both teams are sucking ass.

So, we got up on Saturday, had a quiet coffee together (kids were already in Auburn with grandparents!) and then drove up to Athens. After dropping off the dog, and going back by the house to get the tickets, of course. Helps to get into the stadium if you have them.

We stopped at my friend Brant’s house and left my camera battery to charge on his porch. He was not there, and despite our best efforts to meet up, we never got ourselves together enough to do so. That did not step him and Opel from sending me awesome texts that made me laugh throughout the game. Most were directed at my dear husband, the Auburn Tiger, and what he could put into his mouth after any given play in the game.

We had T-stand (that one’s for you, Scotty P, Honey, and Ryan – if any of you can tell me exactly what I ordered, i will mail you five bucks) for lunch, then headed off to find somewhere to park. Not fun. Ended up paying a ridiculous amount for parking. I have to say that, even in the throng of obnoxious people out and about in on game day, there are few better feelings than walking around Athens and the University of Georgia campus with a beer in hand, especially when the temperature is in the 70s in November.

We headed off to Horton Drugs (I love an old-school drugstore), so that I could purchase some Tylenol, since I was coming down with a cold all that day. The old pharmacist actually came out from behind the counter and helped me find the Tylenol, even pointing out the generic, while the hippie kid cashier was obviously high.

Horton's Drugs

Horton's Drugs


After that, I took a gander at the burned out Georgia Theater. (I forgot to make my usual poke at Todd that I saw the Pixies there back in the day, and that he has to settle for seeing them come out on walkers in Chicago this weekend. I don’t know how he is gonna get by. The hardship!)
The Georgia Theater, November 2009

The Georgia Theater, November 2009

We headed over to The Globe for beer. I never really spent that much time at the Globe when I was in Athens, because I thought it was expensive and that the people who hung out there were old, professorial, and boring. Funny how your perspective changes as you age.

We went inside, grabbed a table, and then Todd went to the bar to get us a Terrapin. (When in Rome.) A seat opened up at the couch in the window. Snagged it. Then Todd, eagle eye that he is, noticed a table outside and grabbed that, and the rest is history. We did not move again until time to go to the game. Why would we move when it was 70 degrees and we had the best people watching EVER? I was not able to get shots of most of these astounding outfits, but I did snap a few.

You gotta love a town where people bring their cooler with them into the bar.

You gotta love a town where people bring their cooler with them into the bar.


You can't tell, but this charming lady has overalls with GA patches all over, including a huge one on her butt. Flattering!

You can't tell, but this charming lady has overalls with GA patches all over, including a huge one on her butt. Flattering!


Overalls aren't just for the ladies. At least this gentleman knows that vertical stripes are slimming!

Overalls aren't just for the ladies. At least this gentleman knows that vertical stripes are slimming!


This lady cracked me up. She has a football field sweater. A bulldog necklace. She is not messing around about her love of the Bulldogs.

This lady cracked me up. She has a football field sweater. A bulldog necklace. She is not messing around about her love of the Bulldogs.


Even the bulldogs want you to be sure you know for whom they are pulling . . .

Even the bulldogs want you to be sure you know for whom they are pulling . . .


One more comment about fashion, and then I will stop. IF YOU ARE WEARING BROWN BOOTS WITH A SKIRT OR SHORT DRESS, YOU BETTER DAMN WELL BE AT LEAST 5’7″ AND UNDER 130 POUNDS OR YOU WILL LOOK LIKE A COW. I am not kidding, ladies. Every girl under 25 in Athens, Bulldog or Tiger, was wearing a short dress or skirt with brown boots that come up to about halfway up the calf. We saw whole packs of these young ladies, and this was the main point that we came up with as a group. (By this time, we have been joined by our friend Annie and her boyfriend, Scott. Annie is Auburn folk, but Scott, God bless’im, is a Georgia fan, so I was not outnumbered.)
Fellows of the Peanut Gallery

Fellows of the Peanut Gallery


We also recommend longer skirts for the heavier girls, and dark tights look better with these boots. I will not be wearing my brown boots with a skirt ever again after this weekend. Only with jeans. Not kidding when I say that the brown boot/short skirt look is the “bow head” of the 2009 season. However, if you spend a lot of time with drunks, I guess it is okay: Both Todd and Scott became more lenient on the skirt length issue after a few drinks.
On their way to grab beer from the car.

On their way to grab beer from the car.


We sat and watched folks walk to campus until the sun started to go down, then walked to the car to get more beer to carry with us. One needs sustenance to get from downtown to the stadium on game day – it took us almost 45 minutes to get through the crowd, but the walk was enjoyable.
I love this time of day in Athens.

I love this time of day in Athens.


We made it down to Park Hall, with just enough time to drink a last beer. I must have spent a million hours on the steps of this building, smoking when I should have been in class, having crossword puzzle wars with Kevin. (The Red and Black had the easiest crossword puzzle ever. We would get it and then race to see who would finish it first.) I think this is probably where i met Vanessa and Robin, too, and when you think about it, if I hadn’t met them, i never would have met my husband. Funny how life works that way. So, it was fitting that we sat here and drank beer and people-watched some more.
Old Stomping Grounds

Old Stomping Grounds


I mostly posted this one because I like the light. I do not endorse tobacco use.

I mostly posted this one because I like the light. I do not endorse tobacco use.


This is not what the front of Park Hall looked like when I went to school here. Fancy!

This is not what the front of Park Hall looked like when I went to school here. Fancy!


This is what i look like very sober. This is what Todd looks like when he is humoring me.

This is what i look like very sober. This is what Todd looks like when he is humoring me.


This is what i look like when I am heckling a young man trying to pee in a corner.

This is what i look like when I am heckling a young man trying to pee in a corner.


This is the only picture I could get of me with Annie showing her face.

This is the only picture I could get of me with Annie showing her face.


We finally finished beers (I say this as if I didn’t just about shotgun two in a row) and then made our way through the madness of Sanford to the stadium. There is something so surreal about a night game, and all of the people and their anticipation. We split up from Annie and Scott at this point. Despite all of my efforts, Scott did not ditch Annie and take me to his club seats with him, even though I would have been much more fun. His loss!
This guy evidently never ages. He has been there as long as I can remember. Note that I have no problem with people who love Jesus; Only the ones who tell me I am going to burn in hell when i am just trying to have a good time with friends at a football game.

This guy evidently never ages. He has been there as long as I can remember. Note that I have no problem with people who love Jesus; Only the ones who tell me I am going to burn in hell when i am just trying to have a good time with friends at a football game.


See up there in the very top of the left-hand corner? That is where we sat.

See up there in the very top of the left-hand corner? That is where we sat.


We made our way all the way up to our seats. I have to say that all of the folks in the Auburn visitor’s section were really polite and well-behaved. I am not saying they were not rabid, and I did have to give the evil eye to one dude who drunkenly kept on saying, when Rambo was lying motionless on the field, “I hope he’s okay, but that was a cheap shot. I mean, hope the dude’s alright, but cheap shot.” Over and over, while this poor kid was on the field, and they must have been taking the longest commercial break in history, because it felt like forever and we were starting to think the kid had died out there on the field. It was kind of strange to hear the whole stadium chanting, “Rambo! Rambo! Rambo!” as he lay there on the field. But overall, they were really nice. I wish I could say the same about the four bulldog fans sitting behind us. They were probably early to mid 20s. Not sure if they were students or not. Three boys and a girl. And one of them would not stop yelling obscenities. There was a gentleman sitting in front of him with his two sons, who were both under ten years of age or so. I guess the man asked the guys to tone it down. I turned around to hear the Georgia fan yelling at the guy that “there’s a law about bringing kids to night games.” The kids looked terrified. The father looked like he wanted to punch the Bulldog. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the three Auburn fans trying to ignore them, and the stupid girl sitting there giving the finger to the back of the father’s head, while one of the kids looked on. Todd thought it was stupid, but i went up and asked them to please start behaving themselves. The guy proceeded to tell me that kids weren’t allowed at football games, blahblahblah. The girl laughed at me. I am officially old, because i told them that their mamas would be ashamed of them. I apologized to the man and his kids and asked if they would like to come sit in our seats. They did move, and two Auburn fans thanked me. Todd was right; it was completely pointless to argue about it with dumb drunk kids, but it made me feel better anyway. Not long after this incident, Auburn ran the kickoff back for a touchdown, and I am pretty sure it was bad Bulldog karma that caused the whole thing.
Watching the game with Auburn folks is always interesting. I find myself cheering, but in a very firm, but sportsmanlike manner. There are usually a few other token bulldogs up there, too, and we give some high fives and the like. But really, I try to keep a pretty low profile, and just be polite. It’s pretty orange and blue up there!
This guy was uber-enthusiastic. I thought Todd might end up making out with him.

This guy was uber-enthusiastic. I thought Todd might end up making out with him.


It would be third down, Georgia, and he would turn around and rile the Auburn crowd up.

It would be third down, Auburn, and he would turn around and rile the crowd up.


Then he would turn back around to watch the play. He was more entertaining than the game.

Then he would turn back around to watch the play. He was more entertaining than the game.


This woman was the Auburn version of my Mom cheering for the Vols. Look at those flashing eyes! She was looking right at me, too, Bulldog interloper that i am. She kinda scared me.

This woman was the Auburn version of my Mom cheering for the Vols. Look at those flashing eyes! She was looking right at me, too, Bulldog interloper that i am.


After the game, we headed back to the car, and then drove out to Bishop to stay the night with our friend BT. He and some of the Auburn folks watched the game. I got the usual chilly reception from the die hard fans (I’m lookin’ at you, Kim!), but folks warmed up after I had been there a while. Or maybe that was the bonfire. We sat by the fire, drank beer, and looked at the stars. I ate leftover ribs and potato salad. Yum! And then my coughing overtook me and I had to head for bed.
Sweet, sweet sleep was finally had by me. Except not really, because I got the consumption and coughed all night.

Sweet, sweet sleep was finally had by me. Except not really, because I got the consumption and coughed all night.


I don’t know what time Todd and the rest came to bed, but it was late. The next morning, we got up and left for Atlanta.
Morning in Bishop, GA.

Morning in Bishop, GA.

Oh! Who won, you ask?
Why, the Bulldogs, of course. It was a great game.

Final: 31-24.

My streak continues. See, Todd and I have gone to three Auburn/GA games together in Athens. Georgia has won all three. I also went to an Auburn game with Todd in Auburn, when they played some crappy team. Florida Atlantic, or something like that. Auburn lost that time, too. So, I am not sure whether I am a good luck charm for Georgia, or more of a curse for Auburn.

I like to think it is a little of both.

Temporary Annullment Day: A Retrospective

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

What it’s like to be a Georgia Auburn Marriage: A retrospective. It ain’t pretty.

One of my favorites: 2005.

2006

2007 and more 2007.

2008

Tomorrow should be quite the clash of the titans.

My Brain Hurts

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

What has been keeping me up at night . . .

You swear to uphold something, or stand by someone, or support something. It turns out that the thing or person is not at all what it/he/she purported itself to be.

You are at the end of your rope, physically and mentally, but you promised, and you feel that to go back on your promise would make you no better than the other person/thing you are involved in. Maybe you are too proud to say that it is not working. Maybe you are afraid of the repercussions, on yourself and others, of dropping out. You stand by it, even though you don’t understand why it is the way it is, and why it isn’t what you thought it would be, and you don’t understand why things can’t be better, and you are not happy, and you are afraid that you never will be again.

Is there a point where your own sanity and mental health requires you to give up on others? Are you setting a bad example for others by sitting idly by and putting up with a miserable situation out of pride or loyalty or fear? Are you forcing other people to suffer through watching you be miserable?

I’m not exactly sure what it is that I am getting at here. This is not a post about any particular situation or person. It is more about me thinking about the question in a general manner since it has come up for a number of people I know lately, or at least the larger idea of it has come to me in talking with these people over the last couple of years. It seems more and more that I know people in their mid to late 30s who are struggling in their daily lives to get by, and to be happy, and to set a good example for their children. They want to raise happy children, but they are not happy themselves.

Happiness. Is that not the point? Seeking out happiness? If not, what is the point? Martyrdom? If you are not really happy, can you ever really make those around you happy? If you are not happy, can you ever really teach your children to be happy?

My brain hurts.

A Real and Present Parent

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I often beat myself up as a parent. I don’t have the patience, or I raise my voice. I don’t deal with a crisis in the best manner, and I do it in front of my children. I feed them something easy instead of something healthy. I feed them fast food twice in one week. I don’t want to read the same damn Barbie On Her Toes book four times in a row with Tiller. I would rather write or read than watch Charlie Brown with them. I criticize, instead of positively reinforcing. . . and on and on and on, the voices in my head knock me down notch by notch, until I feel like the worst parent in the world.

All this is to remind myself that I am NOT the worst parent in the world.

There is this boy on one of my kid’s sports teams. He has no mother. He has a guardian, who is a family member. Sometimes that family member brings him to practice. Sometimes another family member brings him. Almost always, they drop him off. He is young for the team, most of whom are 6 and under, but closer to 5 and 6. This kid is five at the most, maybe even four. He has tons of energy. He runs around the field, when he is supposed to be in a particular position. (Granted, they all have a little trouble with the concept of positions.) But this kid doesn’t listen to direction. He is nearly impossible to keep in line. I hate to say it, but he is a little like a feral animal, as compared to the other kids. The coaches are obviously frustrated by his disruptions.

Kids at this age have to pee. You ask them if they need to pee before practice or a game and they say no, and then sure enough, by the second inning, they are out on the field grabbing themselves like Michael Jackson and dancing from foot to foot. When this happens, the kids’ parents usually notice and take their kid to the bathroom. This particular kid? Other people have to take him to the bathroom because his guardians are never there. After practice or a game, all the other kids who have parents that sit there during the whole practice, pack up their stuff, and head for the cars. This kid is always the last one there, left waiting with a coach or parent searching for his guardian, or his uncle or whoever brought him that day.

People feel sorry for him, because they know his situation, but they also get annoyed. It is depressing to see this kid and his situation. Every time, it breaks my heart and pisses me off. Some stupid girl or woman brought this child into the world, then deserted him. I cannot reconcile the fact that there are people who can leave their baby to fend for itself in this world. It absolutely baffles me how one could live with themselves.

Sure, he has a family who picked up the slack, but they haven’t picked it up enough. Kids should have a parent who will teach them respect for their elders. They should know that someone loves them enough to sit around for an hour and shout a word of encouragement when they do something good. A kid should not have to rely on the kindness of strangers just to get to the bathroom.

A kid should never sit on the bottom step of a bleacher, with an adult they barely know, and have to wonder whether they will be picked up and when.

I have been thinking about this kid a lot this week. It has reminded me that all my criticism, and my overreaction, my yelling, and my nagging about manners, my forgetting sometimes to just have fun with my kids doesn’t mean I am a bad parent. It means that I am a real parent. A real and present parent.

I wish they could all have real parents.