Monday, March 31, 2014

Memory Monday

"The Time I Knew I Had it in Me"

When I was a kid, I rode the bus home from school.

This is where I received the bulk of my education.  It was a lesson in survival of the fittest.  It was a lesson in minding your own business.  It was a lesson in the fickle nature of social acceptance.  It was a lesson in bureaucracy and how hierarchies worked.  It was a lesson in how to make yourself invisible.  It was a lesson in how to make yourself heard.  It was a lesson in trash talking.  It was a lesson in slang.

Sometimes, it was even a lesson in the power of prayer.

Our bus was wild.  We lived in a small town and our bus route covered a lot of territory.  We didn't live in one of the subdivisions that provided my school's population; we lived closer to downtown.  Our bus represented kids from, truly, all walks of life.

The busdriver did his job.  He drove the bus, he opened the door, he closed it.  He punched our bus tickets.  That is all.  He did not insert himself into the hijinx happening right behind him.  On a rare occasion he might tell one of the trouble makers to sit down, and then the bus got real quiet.  When the silent one speaks, you listen.

My sister and the couple friends/neighbors I knew who rode it kept to ourselves.  We rarely uttered a peep.  Everything you did, you did discreetly.  You didn't treat yourself to the dessert you saved from lunch; it would need to be turned over to some hoodlum bully.  You didn't laugh too loudly, lest you be caught, called out and insulted with a "why are YOU laughing    (insert a name like "honky" or "midget" or "freak" -- for the record I had no idea what a honky was but it sounded scary and I certainly didn't want to be called one)  .  Kids were singing and dancing in the aisle, making up songs about each other, or insulting each other (your mama's so big she put the elephants out of business).  I would listen to these exchanges, never completely understanding where the uncrossable line was.  And it changed from day to day anyway.

This bus is where I stood up to a bully for the first time.

His name was David.  He was from a nice family.  He had a terrible attitude and he was mean.  I don't know why.  I'm sure his parents had no idea.  But he made the bus trip home a living hell until his bus stop.  You never knew what was going to set you in his cross hairs.

One day, the bus driver spoke to him and threatened to stop the bus if he didn't sit down.  He didn't.  The bus driver stopped the bus alright, smack dab in the middle of the steep hill next to the school.  As he slammed on the brakes, 20 or 30 little kids all went slamming into the back of the seat in front of them, suspended halfway in mid air (I mentioned the hill was steep; I forgot to mention we were going down).  I think, in my misery and frustration, I blurted out "sit down" (he had grabbed onto my seat to steady himself and was surprisingly still upright).  He slowly turned his head to me and said, "what did you say?"  Drumming up bravado I wasn't really feeling I said "sit down" again.  My 8-year-old life flashed before my eyes as he leaned over toward me menacingly.

"Your mama."

Like "honky" I really had no idea what this meant, but I knew it was an ultimate insult and in no way funny.

I looked him in the eyes and said, "yours."

He got real quiet, and got right in my face. I might have passed out a little, I'm not sure -- the details are fuzzy.  Certain death was staring me straight in the face and I was lightheaded and I think I might have peed in my pants a bit.  Trying, trying, TRYING not to let him see me quiver.  Too petrified even for tears.

And then the most amazing thing happened.  He sat down.  Right across the aisle from me.  Didn't say a word, just stared at me the whole way home, occasionally nodding his head.  I tried hard not to look at him.  I was sure he was planning my slow and painful demise.  I sweated out the entire next day and for the fate that awaited me on the bus.

As I boarded, I saw that he was already there, on the aisle.  I had to walk past him.  I put on my best "I don't even know you're here" face and was about to brush past him when he stuck out his arm, palm facing me.  "Five."  Shocked, I gave him my best, most pathetically awkward and confused five and sat down.  He nodded at me, quietly.

And he never bothered me again.  In fact, his whole demeanor toward me changed.  Other than the occasional nod, or random "gimme five," he still ignored me, but he didn't scare me anymore.

And he couldn't have even if he tried.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Memory Mondays

My youngest child also happens to be my thoughtful, imaginative, creative child.  He loves to read, loves science, wants to be an engineer.  He’s always looking for inspiration for new games, new adventures.  Lately, he’s taken to asking me to tell him stories at night – not made up stories, stories about my childhood.  Especially ones that give him “ideas.”  Ideas for what I’m not exactly sure.  What I do know is that he loves when I share my memories with him.

I’m not good at off the cuff.  I am good at on paper.  So I decided, since his baby book is bare and this blog was created as an alternative way to chronicle my children’s lives and stories, to share them here.  Maybe if I write them down, I’ll remember them when it’s bedtime.  And maybe, just maybe, one day he’ll look back on these stories and remember them too.

The other day, I remembered a story that I shared with him after a day of skiing together, just the two of us.  He told me it was the best story ever.  It was just a memory, but I realized that the reason he connected so much with it is because, in so many ways, he’s like me.  When I told him that I used to make up stories in my head about people as I fell asleep, he exclaimed “me too!”

So Tate (and Meems and Will), starting next week, I am going to make myself accountable for Memory Mondays, where I share my stories with you, because you love them so much.  Whatever memories I have, they’re yours for the taking.  Whatever adventures I had as a child, I give them to you.  You won’t ever ride your bike through the streets of town, helmet-less, with a bucket on the handlebars so you can catch crawfish in the creek at the public park, but you can live it anyway.  You won’t ever play Swiss Family Robinson under the Weeping Willow in the back yard, but you can pretend you did.  You won’t ever bury cigarette butts in the dirt, making little graveyards for them while your grandparents enjoy an after dinner smoke and your parents talk, and that’s probably a good thing.  I hope you will see the kind of kid I was, and see that we were a lot alike.  I hope you will come to understand the cast of characters who shaped my life, and that you’ll have a few of your own one day.  Your blood runs thick with Southern color.  Count your blessings for that, and treasure your heritage.  There are lots of great stories there.  Read them all, digest them all.  May they feed your soul.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meanest Mom EVER!

I am the meanest mom ever.  EVER!  It's official.

Tonight, T threw a spaghetti noodle in his sister's milk.  You would have thought he had tried to poison her the way she carried on, but, hey a noodle in your milk IS gross.  I'll give her that.  Especially someone else's noodle.  Especially your BROTHER'S noodle.

After she finished going berserk and I talked her down off the ledge (girl's got a flair for the dramatic, and why am I the only one who gets to experience it? hmmm), I assured her she didn't have to drink her milk.

She poured her noodle milk into her brother's glass.

After he finished going berserk, I dispatched Little Meems elsewhere, amid huffing and stomping because while she didn't want to stay in the same ROOM as her brother (her words and inflection, not mine) apparently she couldn't bear to be sent away either.

And you wonder why motherhood is so exhausting.

"And as for you, young man, you need to drink your milk."

"But it has a NOODLE in it!"

"I know.  And you're going to drink it anyway."

"But I'll drink the NOODLE!!"

"Hmm.  Sounds like you're in a predicament."

"Well, you're the meanest mom ever.  In the world.  Maybe even in the universe. Maybe even the galaxy.  Definitely in this neighborhood."

"Yeah, I know, right?"

"But I'm SORRY."

"Don't apologize to me, apologize to your sister."

He dismounts his chair and starts to take off.

"AFTER you drink the milk."

Huff.  Puff.  Angry muttering under his breath.  Head thrown back in agony with a bear growl thrown in for good measure.

"Yeah yeah, enough. I get that this isn't pleasant, but you can't throw food into people's drinks. It's not OK to ruin something of someone else's because you think it's funny.  Now drink.  Actions have consequences.  Yours is to finish your noodle milk."

And he did.  There was a lot of gagging and eyes rolling back into his head and more bear growls (his specialty), but he drank that darn milk, until he found the noodle.

He fished it out and put it in the sink, as well as his milk....almost.

"Nuh-uh.  Finish."

He hugged me. Hard. I think he was fighting back tears.

My goal was not to torture him.  I mean, really, it was a noodle.  I knew he'd survive.  The goal was to teach him a lesson.  Unfortunatley, some lessons are learned the hard way.  The world isn't always going to show you mercy.  As noodle milk isn't dangerous, I felt OK about my choice.

"Drink, mister."

"But there's residue."  The noodle was bare.  There was no residue.


And he did.  And (gasp) he lived!  Hallelujah!  And he offered his sister a heartfelt apology, one that can only be gained from truly experiencing empathy.  And I was proud of him.  Of course, she screamed at him for being in her room and slammed the door on him, but bless his heart his intentions were good.

I don't think he'll do that again.

Drinking noodle milk may be torture, but having to apologize to your sister?

Waaaay worse.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In a Rut

You know things are bad when your daughter walks into your room on your day off, sees you are wearing an actual outfit ON YOUR DAY OFF, and says "why do you look so fancy?"

And by outfit I mean jeans, boots, a flowy top or sweater.  Or jeans, flats and a blazer.  Or, gasp, a dress!  With boots!  And a scarf!

Mostly, this is because it doesn't happen very often lately.  On my days off, I am always trying to pack in a run in between all the things moms have to do while maximizing the hours their children are at school.  Which means I dress the part in the HOPES that it will happen.  For me, the right duds can drum up motivation that may be lacking.  Often, it doesn't, but at least I look athletic.  In my mind anyway.

Of course, in my mind, this is what I look like when I am running.  And the clothes add to my delusion.  But it makes it more fun to run, trust me.

I'm always confused when she says this, and perhaps a little embarrassed.  And let's be honest, when I do don normal clothes, it tends to be my "uniform" -- striped shirt (orange on cream, navy on cream, white on navy, black on white, pink/navy, mustard/tan or white on coral - I may have a sickness), skinny jeans (these or these) and boots (these or these).  It's easy, it's fail safe and it's a look that's totally me.

I used to be better than this.  I used to be able to whip up outfits like nobody's business.  Now trying to do so makes my head want to explode.

I used to have time to try on a million different combinations, until I found just the right one.  Having children changes that.  And getting them ready for school.  And not really going anywhere beyond my errand spots.  Because indecision is wasted time and someone always ALWAYS needs immediate assistance when you are trying your darndest to concentrate on the blouses in your closet and which neckline will work with your most recent BaubleBar purchase.  And also if you're supposed to wear socks with booties and are your jeans supposed to bunch up like that?  And can you really pull off booties anyway?

Sigh.  I really need to get out more.  I mean, seriously.  I need somewhere to go that isn't TJMaxx, Target, Old Navy or Kroger.  The sad, sad truth.

Or maybe I need to (a la my workout clothes) Just Do It.  I see tons of cute outfits on Pinterest and some of the blogs I read.  I admire these women because they always look phenomenal.  Makes me wonder where they go all the time.  I mean, are they looking that fabulous in their leopard kitten heels and polka dot blazer (which I wore to a recent dinner out -- no stripes!) at the market?  Returning books to the library in an armful of jangly bracelets and a statement necklace?  Buying crickets at PetSmart while wearing a crisp white blouse, floral tulip skirt and Tory Burch flats?

Why not?

I need some adventure in my life and maybe it needs to come from my wardrobe.  I have my pinboard on Pinterest, but I also have a whole file on my computer with looks I like.  Call me crazy.  I even had a brainstorming session with myself one day at work and emailed myself a whole list of outfit ideas!  I am thinking of printing all these pictures out and posting them in my closet.  I'm a visual person.  And in the heat of battle with side braids and errant lacrosse shorts, I NEED that vision where I can see it.  There are too many things in my head.  Just all the things.  All the things that are not fun things like cute outfits.  Case in point, I keep seeing a cute skirt I just bought and thinking "oh my gosh, I have this skirt!"  That's happened three times now.

See what I mean?

I'm challenging myself to do more.  It's time to tap into my creative streak and break out of my rut.  I may not look like these stylish women on Pinterest, but I can try!

And won't it be nice to not get the shocked "why do you look so fancy?" on a regular basis.

Or maybe, MAYBE just the opposite.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Monday

I need this.  After confessing it all in Fixer Upper, I was hoping February would get better.  It didn't.  Now it's March and it is snowing and I almost can't stand it anymore.  I had so many hopes pinned on March!

Even though it's off to a somewhat disappointing start, it's not going to get to me.  BUT, it's made me realize I need to turn the dial on my attitude from "ugh, not again" to "happy."

And here we are.

So, today, I'm happy for no homework.
I'm happy for a beautiful day yesterday and the warm sun on my face, even if it was short-lived.
I'm happy for a great run on Saturday, and for powering through my 3-mile slump to 5 miles (and could have done more).  Nice.
I'm happy for coffee.  Always happy for coffee.
I'm happy for sweet friends.  And for friends who are hairdressers and can undo my mishaps.
I'm happy for a laid back son who had such faith in me to cut his hair.  
I'm happy he's still speaking to me.
I'm happy for teachers who take a weekend day to arrange a special, optional, field trip to help her students see and experience what they've been studying.  
I'm happy for boots.  Always.  Boots and coffee might be my two favorite things.  And extra dirty gin martinis.
I'm happy for a day to be stuck inside so I can stop avoiding the laundry and the bathrooms.  (keeping it real, folks)
I'm happy my children remembered to brush their teeth.  Wait, did they?

It's the little things.
Happy Monday!