Saturday, June 21, 2014

One year...and today..

~ "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”`Betty Smith~A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 Summer vacation is not like it used to be..or at least not like I remember it.  When it seemed like there was an endless stretch of days- possibility ahead of me...First thing in the morning I would be out the door riding my bike..running in the eternity spent outside outside playing "red light green light" or "ring and run"  until the street lights came on- which everyone knows is  the universal signal that it was time to go home. It was a rare day that was spent inside-as most of us had mothers admonishing us to  "GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!!" The days were warm, but I don't remember being bothered by it-except maybe at night..when all we had were window fans blowing in hot air. So much has changed since then. At least for me. Summer still means endless days..only they aren't as carefree as they used to be

  I suppose that some of it has to do with being an adult-and some with how the times have changed.  Now days, kids have play dates and organized activities..Wii, Nintendo, and more television stations than I can count. When I was growing up we had four television stations (Omar had one) ..and they rarely-if ever, played kids shows. So-we had no choice but to learn how entertain ourselves. My problem now- has been in teaching my kids how to entertain themselves. Especially with all the fun technology and gadgets...which- in the early years- I embraced with wide open arms. It saved my life-and that is in all seriousness.

  Yes, there were many days that I had shamelessly allowed my children to sit in front of the television-or the computer screen...sometimes for hours. I admit it.  For years the background soundtrack of my life/ house were the theme songs from every obnoxious childrens program my kids were obsessed with. The thing is-the kids-especially the boys  gained a lot of knowledge from these shows..I remember when Sam was the only one in third grade to know what "haggis" was-thanks Scooby Doo! They learned about the world in a way that wasn't overwhelming. It calmed them down-made sense of things. So, I don't regret it. Even if their theme songs have become etched in my brain... So much so-that, to this day, I can still remember every single word to every single Thomas the Tank Engine song-and most of the dialogue from every single episode...Oh how I wish that there were a quiz show based on that.."I'll take Thomas's cheeky friends for 1000 Alex." I would be financially set for life! 

  Every summer, since the kids have started school...I make these plans...schemes if you will.."This summer we are going to do science projects, and visit the library..and spend our time out doors!" *sigh*...and then August rolls around and I'm buying school supplies and I realize we have done none of it...and that the reality is that I spent the majority of my time delegating whose turn it was to use the computer..or pick the t.v. show. But-this summer...this summer it's going to be different. I swear.

  A year ago yesterday-Omar, along with many of the other well paid employees of his company, lost his job. It set us in a tail spin.  But, sometimes spinning is good. This was definitely a year of spins. We reevaluated, refocused..and basically figured out that life wasn't about work..that we wanted to do things..have adventures..LIVE our lives-be the examples that we wanted our kids to see. At the same time, our kids each spun through their own things as one however, as much as Oscar. 

  I don't know what happened..or even why things happened..But last summer, you would have had to PRY Oscar away from the computer..insist he do something that wasn't electronic..He wasn't interested in anything other than what he knew. But then- a few months ago-things started was gradual at first.  He started asking to walk to town.."I'm thirteen" was his reason....and then he brought home a brochure for summer sleep away camp..AND looked up the web site-AND had me fill out an application..."I'm thirteen" he told me.."I'm old enough to do this"..and then he started walking away from the computer.."I need to get out of my head" he's told me...and then he went to the school dance-alone.."I want to" he said...Today-he(and Sam) started working at our restaurant (bought as a result of this year)..They swept and stocked,,cleaned and folded pizza boxes..measured pasta and made lasagna- on their own. Today-we started them on the road to real independence-and they loved it.

 Every single moment of chaos and uncertainty- that started a year ago yesterday, was totally worth it for today..Today really was priceless. 

  Our Summer break started this past Wednesday.  We have already gone to the library..Zoe has read two books and has planned our first science project.(she really wants to be home schooled)  we are building a volcano on Sunday.All of them have spent at least an hour each day reading. I have only heard "I'm bored" 540 times (roughly-and 536 of them were from Lily) and the only back ground noise has been from the kids playing in the pool.  Not bad so far...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Seven days, one girl..and a whole lot of dancing...

~"Her blood pressure is so high there is snow on it"~Dorothy Parker


 We are so very close to the end of the school year, and I am so looking forward to it. Kind of .  Although, I do look forward to NOT having to pack lunch boxes, back packs, help with homework or dragging my littlest (many times kicking and crying) out of bed every morning.*sigh* As of today, she has taken twenty personal days off from school this year-those were the mornings that I just didn't have enough fight in me..didn't have the energy I mustered the other one hundred and sixty days to push get her out the door. My youngest does NOT want to go back to school next year...hell, she has already informed me that she isn't going to go to school on Monday...or Tuesday either. I haven't heard any pronouncements on the remaining days...but I am trying to keep my hopes up.Fingers (and everything else that I have two of) crossed!

 "Lets just finish out the school year!" I say to Zoe with a big enthusiastic smile on my face..

She just stares at me.

"It's only seven more days! seven! Pfft- that's nothing!! Right?!" I say with an even bigger grin..

She blinks..just staring at expression, no emotion..nothing.

"Just THINK of all the FUN that you will have! Yay!...hahaha!!..?"  I could not be any more damn peppy and positive that I'm beginning to look a tad bit crazed..perhaps even slightly deranged..

She continues to stare..maybe I'm imagining it...but do I see...pity?! Disdain?!

Oh, no...that is so not going to fly..not with me. No way-no how. Time to bring out the big guns-The game is on!  I start to chant.. "Zoe-Zoe-Zoe!" ..I even add a dance step..or thirty. "Whose gonna go to school?!!...(No response) "I can't hear you!" (still nothing)..So..I decide to answer for her.."Who is gonna go to school?" "ZOE!".."Who can do it?" "Zoe can!".. "If she can't do it no one can!" "Zoe!"  I'm marching around..shimmying-shaking...waving my arms in the air..I'm having a grand old time! (it does not take much to amuse me) I'm so caught up in the happy doing  my "going to school" musical routine with accompanying dance numbers...that I did not notice until I turned to take her hand, that I was the only one in the room...with the exception of the dog, who is just staring at me.

 For a moment, I just stood there..."Is this what early dementia looks like?" I thought. If I am like this now-what is going to happen to my mind after the kids leave home? Will I be staging massive one woman musical productions..singing and dancing my way around the house with only the company of my dog...and perhaps a chicken or two? But then I remember-this is something that I have always done.  From the time my kids were born-I have always used some kind of silly song and dance routine to persuade them to do things..such classic songs as "Thomas the train doesn't want to be flushed", "Wearing clothes to the store is important" and my personal favorite "Bosoms in a box for Christmas"..For the most part, they accomplished what words alone couldn't.  For instance, we haven't had to replace a toilet in years (knock on porcelain), all the kids come grocery shopping fully dressed..and puberty (as weird and hard as it is) is nothing to worry about. These little made up songs have always done the trick-until now.

There are only seven days left in the school year. I don't know that I will be able to come up with any song or dance catchy enough to convince Zoe that she really ought to go. I'm wondering if maybe that's my answer.  Maybe home schooling will be the right thing for her.  I guess I will just have to come up with a song that persuades me to do it. Or-maybe we just need different songs to persuade her?  Either way, I have the whole summer to work on it.  Perhaps I'll stage a whole musical! I'll even include the chickens.

Helen and Dorothy