Monday, February 27, 2012

Holding Hands

Little Meems has always been a hand holder.

She is like her father that way.  When she loves you she wants to show you.  When she's happy, she wants to share it.  Sometimes, she just craves that small connecting hands can connect hearts too.

And it can.

I love this about her.

She loves holding hands with me, with her father, grandparents and even her little friends.  I used to drop her off at school and watch her walk inside with her friend.   Holding hands, they'd stop and say  hello to the teacher standing there, exchange giggles with each other, sometimes even hugs, and happily skip into the building.  She loves holding hands with her cousins, although as they get older, self-consciousness is seeping in and some of them aren't as interested as they used to be.  I can see that it disappoints her a little.  I can see her thinking about it, struggling with the conflict of "should I feel that way too?" and "but I don't WANNA stop."

The other day, she had a friend over for a playdate.  To my amazement and delight, they emerged from the bus holding hands and giggling, and they held hands all the way down the street to our house, whispering to each other and skipping occasionally.

How does she know, at the tender age of 8, that one small gesture like that can hold so much meaning?

Because those who know her know that Little Meems is guided, most of all, by her heart. 

I will continue to let her hold my hand, as long as she wants.  I will even indulge her love of skipping across the parking lot together.  I like the way it makes ME feel, and I love this little connection we can share.  All too soon, she'll be a victim of maturity and will think it's silly and embarrassing.

But please, God, not for a while.

Friday, February 24, 2012


My Tate.

My youngest.  My wild one.  Completely uninhibited.  Wide open.

This morning:
  1. His hair resembles a Q-tip because it's so fuzzy (he probably needs a haircut).  And his double crown gives him a mohawk.  Picture a Q-tip with a mohawk.
  2. His jeans have a hole in the knee.  And grass stains.  And they are too short.
  3. His shirt is also too short.  Neither of these items was too short the last time he wore them, mmm, maybe a week ago?
  4. His mouth is sporting what looks like band-aid residue.  Which is a big mystery.
  5. His fingernails, despite his bath last night, are filthy.  This is nothing new.  We can leave the house for church with clean fingernails and the nails are dirty by the time we get to the sanctuary.  He must generate filth.
  6. His shoes are taped onto his feet.  When he had time to do this, I don't know.  The strap broke and I guess he decided to take matters into his own hands.  This will not bode well  on the playground later on today, but there's nothing I can do about it now.  Oh well.
  7. He has entertained himself for the last 10 minutes (we are at an appointment for his sister) wiggling his hips and doing the Saturday Night Fever dance.  How he knows that dance is a mystery to me.  He has curled his lip ala Billy Idol and is hip-thrusting and tip-toeing ala Michael Jackson.  Maybe letting him watch the "Thriller" video was a bad idea.  He is making beat box noises to accompany his dancing.  I am glad we are the only ones in the waiting room.
  8. He is learning to read, and entertains his brother by substituting the word "love" in Snuggle Puppy with the word "hate."  This apparently is immensely funny to both boys and Tate relishes his older brother's laughter.
  9. On the way to school, he entertains the crowd with farting noises.  His talents here are unparalleled, and the other kids are trying not to laugh, but he is a master and his noise creations inspire wonder in us all.  
  10. As he exits the car, he gives me the hand (so I won't kiss him) and says "back off sampling the goods."  This is also the kid who, after saying the blessing, will often end with a "peace out homey" to God.
He's the poster child for "the baby of the family."  In our rush to get out the door this morning, I didn't even bother to inspect him, or I probably would have noticed numbers 1-6.  Notice I said "probably."  Nothing is a given with this kid.  He reminds me so much of his uncle, my own baby brother.

Minus the state of his clothes.  Sorry Mom!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

First Response


This is the initial response I get from my children when I ask them a question.  Although the answer does vary...sometimes it's "what?" and, more often than I would like occasionally it's just a blank stare.  With maybe a raised eyebrow.  That's if I'm lucky.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Yes, my oldest son has some loss of hearing in one ear from chronic ear problems (there's a hole in one of his eardrums now, as a matter of fact).  BUT, it's minor, and he has another perfectly good ear, and typically I am standing right in front of him when I ask him these questions.

And they are not hard questions.  I'm not asking him to explain the value of pi or which female poet is his favorite.  There are no quantum physics or foreign languages or American history in my questions.

"Where is your coat?"
"What is that on your face?"
"Did you take your medicine?"
"Where are your shoes?"
"What is wrong with your hair?  Is that syrup?"
"Did you brush your teeth?  Did you wash your hands?  Did you use soap?" (This line of questioning is the most likely to be followed by blank stares, which tells me everything I need to know.  I guess I should be proud that they're not lying about it, they're just pretending they don't know what my words mean.  Clever.)

My 10th grade science teacher, when asked what he deemed a stupid question (in other words, one he'd given us the answer to but the offender obviously wasn't listening) would respond, "you're not deaf and I don't stutter."  Charming.  But now I get it.  Still, charming.

The other morning as I was brushing the Meems' hair and she was putting toothpaste on her toothbrush, I reminded her to be neat and remember to put the top back on.


Not "what" as in "what - I didn't hear you," but "put the top back on what?"  You can tell by her inflection.

"The toothpaste."

"What toothpaste?"

Really.  "IN YOUR HAND."  Sigh.


This is one of those aspects of parenthood about which no one warns you.

Yes, you get the pleasure of discovering this madness all on your own.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I may have dodged a bullet.  A bullet I'm not sure I really wanted to dodge.

I asked Little Meems recently if she wanted to run her school’s 5K together.  Just us girls.  Initially skeptical, she finally agreed.  She had been worried because “what if we
don’t win?”  Also, "but, Mom, you don't run?"

I am not a runner.  I think I would like to be.  Maybe.  Sometimes.  But mostly no.  Unless someone’s chasing me with a knife.  A really big knife.

My dad is a runner.  My sister is a runner.  They run marathons and half marathons.  Truthfully I think they are nuts.  My sister ran the Marine Corps marathon in 3:36.  She is a rock star.  Of course, after her first marathon -- cray-cray things happened to her body.  Let's just say the color magenta was involved.  Which isn't really appealing to me.  Ever.

So our race effort was about “I need a goal to get in shape and I'm also lazy and impatient so this is probably the fastest way” but also a way for me to connect with the Meems.  Her dad gets Indian Princesses to share with her.  I need something to share.  Just us Gurley girls.

The whole thing excited me and terrified me at the same time.  But I decided, I can do this.  I must do this.  For my daughter's sake, because by now she's SUPER excited for this race (and also because it means she gets new shoes -- which really is motivation unto itself, in my opinion).  But for my own sake too, because I love that little girl like crazy and I want her to be proud of herself, of me, and of us.  The team.

Turns out, it’s the same weekend as…Indian Princesses.  The big, not-to-be-missed-even-though-it’s-always-cold-or-raining-or-both campout. 

She’s bummed.  And I am too.  

Mostly because we don’t get our special just-girl thing.  And now I might actually have to go to the gym.  

So, now what?  She suggested finding another race.  So that's what I guess I'll do.  Although truthfully, she may have been more disappointed about the shoes than the missed mother-daughter bonding time.

Maybe the bullet wasn’t dodged after all.  And maybe, just maybe, I don't really want it to be.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The other day, I was reminding W that I would be picking him up from school that day. 

“OK, why do you always have to remind me so much?  I’m not going to forget.  You told me last night, too.  You ALWAYS pick us up on Tuesdays…what’s to forget?”

As I processed his reaction, and the fact that maybe I HAD gone a little overboard, I recalled a conversation we had on our way to the bus stop a few days earlier.

“W, you’re getting older, and you have to do a better job of cleaning.”

“My room?”

“Your self.”

A what-the-heck second later, “what?”

“Your body’s changing, and it’s not just about dirt any more.  You have little bumps on your face…do you wash your face in the shower?”

“Why are we talking about this?”

“Answer the question.”


My turn for a what-the-heck second.  “What?”

“Sometimes I forget.”

“Well, do you at least use soap when you DO remember?”

“Sometimes.”  Followed by the classic uh-oh look and more what-the-heck moments.

I explained to him that he needs to ALWAYS remember and he needs to ALWAYS use soap.  One, for basic hygiene (duh), and two, because he’s going to get zits.  Because his body’s changing.

“Mo-om!  Stop saying zits.  That’s so gross.  And ‘my body’s changing’.  Ew.”  But the next morning he made a point to tell me he not only remembered to wash his face, he also remembered to use soap.  Woohoo!  Progress.

I reminded him of this previous conversation.  His dad reminded him that he’d forgotten to bring his homework assignment home the day before.  I reminded him that I have to remind him to bring his guitar to his lesson every Tuesday, that I usually have to remind him to do his chores, brush his teeth, wear clean socks, sit upright at the dinner table, say please and thank you, and that he forgot to give his teacher the note that I would be picking him up so no one knew where he was or was supposed to be one day…you get the idea. 

Another sheepish look, and an “oops” grin.  Point made.

So, I didn’t remind him about pick up this time.  I trusted him.  And he remembered.  Good boy!


He forgot his guitar.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Girls DO Mature Faster

I volunteered in W's class the other day.  4th grade.

It's been a long time since I volunteered in his class.  I did it in Kindergarten, and it was a wonderful way to be introduced to his new world and his new school.  It made me feel connected to this new world, and to him.  I knew the kids in his class, his friends, the way his teacher ran the classroom.  It was invaluable to me as his mom.  Then his sister started school and I did the same for her.  Because I was also working and had a child who was in preschool 3 mornings a week, I didn't have the luxury of doing both.  Now I have three in the school and I'm back to volunteering in the Kindergarten classroom, this time for T.  At back-to-school night this year, it hit me -- W's elementary career is almost over.  Feeling the need to maintain my connection, I signed up to volunteer.

Friday was the first day I've done so.  It was an interesting experience.

Interesting because it was such a juxtaposition from the chaos of Kindergarten.  The independence, the genuine interest, the collaboration among the students -- wow.  My son, in his classroom, was not the little son I remember from his first classroom. The difference a little maturity makes.

Speaking of maturity, I was not entirely prepared for all the maturity I witnessed.

It's true.  Girls DO mature faster than boys.  And not just emotionally.

I guess, since my only experience with pre-puberty is actually going through it and being way behind, I was shocked at these girls.  And the difference between them and the night and day.

It's like a garden.  The boys are skinny and gawky.  Their clothes are either too big (to accommodate all the growing), too small (a victim of all the growing), or a combination of both (I hear their mothers' collective exasperated sighs at trying to keep them clothed appropriately).  Weeds.  Weeds that are just started to take over the garden but aren't quite there yet.  The girls are (obviously, and so cliche I know) the flowers, and it's an early spring.  If you get what I mean.

It made me glad my 4th grader is a boy.  And I like that he's a weed.  Because I'm not ready for flowers yet.  It's too early for them anyway.

Besides, weeds are all that grows in my garden anyway.

And I think I'll keep it that way a while.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I love my boys. 

I love their noise, their dirt, their chaos.  I love their sweet voices, their bashful hugs, their silly humor. I love their grubby fingernails, messy hair and holey jeans.  And how sweet and sensitive they secretly are.  I love their energy and the passion with which they pursue the things that interest them.  I love to watch them play.  Really, no one plays like little boys.  

And I am so blessed to have two of them.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It Might Be Time

My T is an imaginative one.  Creative and quirky.  When he plays, he goes all in.  When he pretends, he completely surrenders to his world of make believe.

He's also my sensitive one.  Loving and sweet and kind.

He has always loved dogs.  Our dog, my parents' dog, his aunt and uncle's dog....  As soon as he could move, he found Churchill and hugged him.  When he would play as a toddler, you could often find him pulling out a toy and dragging it over to the dog, where he would sit next to Churchill, just being comfortable in his company.  His first word was "dog."  His first sentence "where dog go?"

When Churchill died, he made a sign that said "I love you Church" and carried Church's picture around.  Every so often, he would kiss the picture or tell Churchie he missed him.  They had a connection.  He was so crazy about that dog.

The other day, I was doing laundry when T came to me with a piece of paper and some scissors. He asked me if he could cut the paper.  I said he could.  I asked him what he was making.  He said, "a plate."


Later, I called him down to lunch.  He came down with a box.  In this box was a wooden frog (that his grandparents had brought him from New Zealand).  His "plate" was taped to the bottom of the box, with a little frog on it.  T explained that the frog's name is Beans, and the little frog is actually a fly but we have to use our imaginations because he can't find a real one (actually a plastic one.  Yes, we have a stash of plastic flies  somewhere).  In his little sweet voice, he explained to me that Beans needed some rocks, so we went outside and found some small stones, just the right size for Beans to sun himself on.

Beans Eating Lunch

Beans spent the day with Tate, and now is tucked away in Tate's room.  He moves around, sometimes sunning himself on his rocks, other times enjoying a tasty meal or snoozing.

And it is so perfectly clear to me...this kid needs a pet.  For him to transfer his love to a wooden frog is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.  This boy needs a dog to love.

And oh, what a lucky dog that will be.