For those of you who do not live around me, note that not one day was less than 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
There were no - and I mean, no -- indoor facilities.
They fished with cane poles and worms, in the hot sun. The resolve!
They practiced archery and target shooting. The focus!
They learned water rescue techniques. The strength!
They concentrated on the fine details involved in tying 5 different kinds of knots. The concentration!
They survived "water fun" day which meant every single peer was armed with a loaded super-soaker all day long. The perseverance!
They even submitted to performing skits, singing camp songs, and doing their "den wild call." My son's, rather unfortunately, required him to make monkey calls and monkey arm gestures. The mirth!
All this, he could do.
But this week, there is no cub scout camp.
He is home.
In our air conditioned home. (The heat wave continues, ugh.)
So this morning, after his long, leisurely breakfast in front of his favorite cartoons, I asked him to clean the patio doors.
I equipped him with plenty of paper towels and cleaner and even demonstrated the technique.
Where is my scout? Where is the strength, the focus, the resolve???
It seems my son, practically an expert marksman, is unable to aim the Windex nozzle with any accuracy.
And the arms that deftly climbed a rope ladder and even pulled a comrade from danger in a most excellent water-rescue feat last week have gone limp, barely able to muster enough strength to scrub off the slightest dog-nose smudge.
It took almost 40 full minutes, gritted teeth, and warnings . . . and, really, the door is still not how it should be.
I am participating in Thursday Thunks this week, albeit a day late. If you like prompts or would like to read other's answers, check them out.
1. It became officially summer on Monday. What's your favorite part of winter? Christmas, homemade soup, and sweaters.
2. What was your worst summer vacation ever? Every childhood summer of mine was marred by suffering in the form of swimming lessons.
3. Kimber's husband just got the dream job that he's hoped for. So a big shout out to her and Anthony! Tell us about the best job that you ever had. Once I worked for a large banking corporation, part-time with great pay and full benefits. Ah, the good ole' days.
4. Who is probably talking a load of crap about you right now? Hauntingly, my own parents.
5. An alien appears and offers you the opportunity to repeat one year of your life. You will still know everything that you know now. He explains that no matter what you do differently, when you are returned to the present nothing will have changed. What year would you pick and why? What a wonderful question, fascinating to think about, impossible to answer. Perhaps I would choose a year out of my childhood (if I could minus the swimming lessons), because now I know how wonderfully uncomplicated it can be when you are a child. But, then again, maybe I would choose the first year I knew my husband -- wildly in love with lots of time on our hands and minimal responsibilities. Above all, though, I would probably choose the first year of my son's life. I would hold him and kiss him and rock him and not let one moment of it pass by without savoring it . . . because now I know how fast it goes.
6. Name three things you have on you at all times. Explain why. Simple gold earrings, because I don't usually think to change them. My grandmother's ring, because I miss her and it reminds me of her which makes me happy. Toenail polish, because my husband likes it.
7. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? Christmas time. I had neglected to thank someone for a kindness they showed me; I wrote out my heart and, thankfully, the person forgave me.
8. If you could have everyone in the blogosphere read just one of your posts, which post would you pick and why? I don't know that I've written it yet.
9. I recently read that the music industry continues to decline at an alarming rate. In the last year it said the sales of Michael Jackson's and The Beatles' music are the only artists who sales continue to climb. The article stated that the two are holding up the industry. Have you bought a CD or mp3 of either artist recently? Nope.
10. What radio ad right now do you find so annoying that you'd rather have a tooth drilled than hear it again? Those OnStar ads, especially the ones with emergency sirens -- radio commercials with sirens should be illegal because they are so distracting to the driver.
11. Berleen walks into a bar on a hot Minnesota day. At the bar sits a priest, a rabbi and a minister. A ten foot duck walks into the bar right after Berleen. What drink do you think Berleen orders? A Bullshot. No idea why.
12. There is a knock on your door. It can be anyone in the world. Who would you want it to be? My grandmother.
13. What would be the worst entertainment or sporting that you could be forced to watch? Olympic curling. (come on)
I have walked out, more than once, on a commitment.
In general, I like to think I'm a good person, but there is one person to whom I am not faithful and have not been loyal. In fact, I have left this person three times in the past three years. I know. I usually just become overwhelmed by the closeness and the intensity of our relationship. I feel like this person pushes me too hard and expects too much. And I just cannot measure up.
And then I give up.
But I'm ashamed of that, and I have recently resolved to try again.
And this person has welcomed me back with open arms, holding no grudges.
Our kids are young and enthusiastic, but inexperienced and uncoordinated. And I hadn't been fishing in a few years, myself.
I watched my husband bait hooks, replace hooks, cast, reel, unhook fish, encourage, and reassure my kids tirelessly for three hours. I was awed by his endless patience and ceaseless enthusiasm.
He calmly unwound my daughter's fishing line from my son's head and then rather patiently reminded my daughter that she was to wait before trying to cast by herself.
He helped my son change bait at least 10 times each hour and good naturedly indulged my son when he insisted that he use the biggest lure in the box. He also removed it two minutes later when my son realized his father had been right, and never said a word.
He constantly reminded my daughter to watch the bobber and didn't seem to mind that she was becoming more interested in picking up rocks and kicking dirt.
He ran the fifty yards between my two kids, attending to all their needs, never once refuting my son's intuition that the spot he found so far away was "lucky."
And he just laughed when my son gave up fishing in favor of engaging the ducks.
He baited and casted and untangled and rebaited, all in good spirit.
All on a sprained ankle.
All evening long.
And, all the while, his rod remained on shore, dry and unbaited . Not once did he get a chance to drop a line of his own.
And yet he spoke from his heart when he insisted that he was having the most fun of all.
Here's to you, Honey, and to all fathers everywhere . . . for it was Friday night that I finally realized, there were many afternoons when my own father never got in his own line . . .
Can you feel it? Has everything been a little askew for you since last weekend?
Here's what happened:
I was sick last weekend.
We needed food.
My husband went to the grocery store and took the kids with him.
Now, my husband does not get to the grocery store very often at all and almost never with the kids. He was like a babe in the woods . . . a babe in the woods escorted by two sharks.
A few years ago, when my children were preschool age and in the middle of a raging sibling rivalry, I established some ground rules for grocery store conduct.
1. No one pushes the cart, but me.
2. No one rides on the cart. (My daughter can't stay on, and my son is so tall I can't see past him.)
3. No one grabs anything off the shelf, but me.
4. No one puts anything in the cart unless I expressly ask them to. (Grabbing things out of my hand while offering to put them in the cart is not helpful and not appreciated, because it only provokes the other one to grab more quickly next time resulting in my virtual mugging every time I pick an item off the shelf.)
And 5. My daughter (as the chief offender) must walk slightly behind my son. (This method makes racing impossible and reduces cut-offs drastically.)
These rules may sound harsh, but they are not as harsh as my tone of voice and mood upon exiting the grocery store before said rules were invoked. Harmony for all, that's my motto.
So my poor, innocent, naive husband returned from the grocery store, the kids sheepishly following behind him. Once I confirmed that he did, indeed, get my juice and cough drops, I remarked on the notable tension in the room.
My husband choked out, through gritted teeth, "These two were just terrible. They drove me nuts the entire time."
I looked at them. They averted my gaze.
I looked back at my husband. "You didn't let them push the cart, did you?"
"Well, yeah, why?"
All the things I have worked so hard for . . . the peace, the harmony, the order . . . all down the drain . . .
My son pushed the cart.
My daughter "helped" by putting things in the cart.
My son began "correcting" the order of things in the cart.
My new friend, Jabacue at Ocean Breezes has done me a great service and shown me just how to handle that "nothing to say" mood today. If you haven't checked out his relatively new blog, you should. It is warm and soothing and enjoyable. Say hi to Sophie if you do visit.
So, since I have nothing to say today, I'll just talk about my day as it happened. . .
It was a half-day for my kids. (One more half day left and then they're all mine.)
They bickered all the way home, but they bonded over the decision of what to have for lunch. I told them I would cook nothing until they came to a consensus on their choice. I hereby nominate Chef Boyardee for a peace prize. ;)
After lunch, we colored. I love to color and so does my daughter. My son? Not so much. And his handwriting shows it; his lack of artistic patience is evident. So I did what any understanding mother would do. I forced him.
My daughter colored a lovely picture of a giant yo-yo. She took many risks with her color palette and was rewarded with a bold image of neon pink and forest green with red highlights. It sorta strobes if you look at it too long.
I colored a picture of a little bear painting the word, "NOEL", on the page . . . I got "stuck" with the Christmas coloring book. (Cry no tears. Secretly, that's the one I wanted and I played it just right. ;) I took great care in selecting predictable colors for the letters and surprising pastels for the bear's hat and scarf. Quite daring.
My son, begrudgingly, took on a picture of two giraffes. He went with a very uninspired three-color palette and less than careful technique to preserve the contrast in the giraffes coats, I thought. In fact, the second giraffe was colored in all brown, except for the strawberry pink ears. He was finished -- and snacking -- in 5 minutes flat. You can bring art to the kid, but you cannot bring the kid to art. Oh well, I tried.
I am now the proud owner of the highly desirable plastic dog from my kids PlayMobil set. Ongoing bickering brings me lots of goodies. Said dog is now resting next to the giant rubber ball with a pig in the middle on my kitchen windowsill. Said ball was confiscated over a year ago. Unfortunately for its previous owner, I like it and it goes with my kitchen.
Not surprisingly, the confiscation of this prized possession brought on bonding between my two lovely children. I am the common enemy and the one thing they seem to share in common this afternoon. That's a deal I will take any day.
Now that they've played out every policeman/bad guy scenario, they have commandeered my television. Rather than the financial news show I usually have on at this time, it is now tuned to The Electric Company. If anything important happens, someone email me, because after The Electric Company comes Arthur.
Today is the first day of the last week of school. Quite the event.
It is to be a week filled with class parties, teacher gifts, pool parties, and more parties, hugs, kisses, and tearful goodbyes from the teachers.
Somehow, when I was a kid, I don't remember the last week of school being so packed with festivities.
I remember one day devoted to cleaning up the classroom and cleaning out our desks. (I remember the year I found a birthday card I was supposed to mail on the way to school. Wups. I wonder what Auntie Judy thought she had done to be ignored that way.)
And I remember the obligatory class trip to the zoo. Always the zoo.
And then we were free . . . and the fun began. And we couldn't wait.
What fun? Nothing, really. Just a summer of kicking around the house, spending more time with my parents, and hanging around the neighborhood with our friends. No extravaganzas, but we were home and fun was just an organic byproduct of summer.
I gotta tell ya, after this week of fun and frolic at school, I don't know if life at home can measure up for my kids. Sometimes I think schools have gotten so far out of being schools, and have endeavored to be a second family to kids, that it is detrimental to families.
I would like to be the one to take my kids to the pool for the first time this summer, thank you, but the school has arranged that honor for themselves.
This afternoon, the "teachers' party," complete with cake and punch and scrapbooks and gifts from the kids much resembles a grandma's birthday party.
And speaking of birthday parties, is it really good for the kids to walk around in a crown all day at school on their birthdays? Is it fair to the families when the child is, basically, "de-crowned" just before they have to leave school and go home to their ordinary lives?
They go trick-or-treating at school, the Friday before Halloween . . .
And Santa comes for breakfast . . . at school . . .
And the loot they receive at school when they lose a tooth? Even the tooth fairy cannot compete with that.
And what about movie night? My school never had movie night. Watching a movie with our parents was a rare treat and a family event. Now schools put on movie nights as fundraisers. Parents are not invited, and kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas and bring their teddy bears.
Am I the only one having a problem with all of this?
My daughter suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder, so this is an especially challenging issue for us. Basically, she rejects the parental relationship at every turn. She repels an emotional bond with anyone. It is taking an enormous amount of therapy, dedication, and hard work on our part to get her to a healthy emotional state. But all this "school as family" stuff really, really confuses and even harms our daughter.
And it's gotten me to thinking, wondering whether it is really good for any family. Personally, I don't think it is. I long for the days when school was for teaching and families were for everything else.
As you might have noticed, I've been a little short on things to say lately. So my thanks to Sam at the Saturday 9 for a good prompt:
1. Are you handy with tools? Handy? I'd say I'm competent if I'm directed . . . but I'm not one to break out the power tools on my own.
2. What was the best thing that happened to you this week? Many things, actually. A good friend sent me flowers . . . just because. A new friend sent me something she thought I needed, and I did. My husband soothed me when I awoke in the middle of the night with an anxiety attack, and then stayed up 30 minutes longer than I to make sure I was soundly asleep . . . at 3am. And my husband and I both had a change of heart at almost exactly the same time . . . I think God did it.
3. What was the worst thing that happened to you this week? I pulled a muscle in my thigh and now it won't stop twitching.
4. Do you think you act your age? Yes, certainly not younger. I have been accused of walking around as if the weight of the world is on my shoulders. (But I do have bouts of momentary immaturity reference the sandal flinging contest with the kids the other night.)
5. Describe an item of clothing that has definitely seen better days but that you refuse to dispose of and still wear. Why won't you toss it? I have a pink fleece pullover that was my mother-in-law's. It's all pilly now. I never wear it; never have worn it, but when I look at it, I can see her in it and hear her voice and feel good, as if I'm with her again. I keep it among my every day wearables so that I see it often. I'll never part with it.
6. What is your favorite summertime beverage? Fresh lemonade.
7. Have you ever lied about your age? When I met my future husband and he was drinking age and I was not yet. (All I wanted was a wine cooler at Summerfest!)
8. What was the most memorable birthday party you've attended? My own when I turned 8. My first and only "friend birthday party." Pink babydoll cake, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, new dress -- it was all so lovely and perfect. And my son's first birthday -- he took his first steps and said his first word on his first birthday!
9. What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life? Driving on ice. I was in a car accident when the car in front of me began to spin out (despite going only 30 mph), forcing me to brake which led to me spinning, and then another car, unable to stop, plowed into me and totaled my car. All I know is one minute everyone was fine and under control, and the next minute everyone was spinning. I never, ever feel safe driving in any kind of winter conditions anymore.
“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be...’ - she always called me Elwood - ‘...in this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”~Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey
I am a stay-at-home mom who is coming to grips with the fact that my children are growing up, and that is bitter sweet. I have several pets who understand me including a couple dogs, some beautiful pigeons (yes, pigeons), some chickens who boss me around, and a mourning dove who I believe is God's little whisper to me from heaven. I was a lawyer before I got really serious and became a mom. I love to knit, write, cook, and to take good care of my family. We struggle with my daughter's Reactive Attachment Disorder, and hold hands very tightly sometimes while we withstand the high tide of her challenges. Through it all, I am blessed to have a husband who is the corner piece to my puzzle.