[Fail Post] Blame it on the Late Summer Night

 

There is peace in my home right now.

Crickets are chirping a late summer song. The dryer is humming, filling the farmhouse with the smell of perfumed fabric softener. There is evidence of the chaos of our day: Batman lays haphazardly on the television stand, three bunch socks rest on the floor in a triad, Minor’s bike helmet sits in the wrong room in the wrong space. There is a plate of grilled hotdogs that The Husband never got around to taking care of. There is a single, beautiful cookie waiting for me to consume it.

It’s 9:34 and I’ve finally found my quiet moment of the day. There is plenty to do, much that will be left undone until tomorrow. I can only focus on the crickets and a low, droning hum. And the click-clack of this keyboard, the glare of this screen, the guilt that I feel for being too mentally drained to write something more clever.

I suppose there are also the click-clack of this keyboard, the glare of this screen, the guilt that I feel for being too mentally drained to write something more clever. If only I’d paid more attention today, found the perfect narrative to tie together a full, intense day.

I’ve written a lot of Fail posts this summer. Not because of lack of words, but because of lack of bandwidth. Today was a day where there was not a moment to spare between one thing and the next. I was up at 6 and I’ve been moving ever since.

And now I’ve gotta rest. I’ve gotta wash the heavy-duty bug spray off of me before I get into bed. I’ve gotta get some aloe and oil into these locs, so desperate for a retwist. I’ve gotta sit with my Kindle and read a paragraph of something I didn’t write.  Writer’s Digest is out and this month’s issue is dedicated to querying agents and going legit traditional publishing. As I’ll explain on Friday, this month’s issue could not be better timed.

I know that I’ve also gotta balance my time a bit better. I’m sorry, Dear Reader. School starts soon, regular schedules will return before you know it, and then the Failure will happen less often.

Will you forgive me one last time this season, Dear Reader? I thank you for your patience. I hope that there are crickets singing outside of your window right now. I hope the mundane hum of the place you call home make you sink into your chair a little deeper, make your breathing slow down a bit, make you forget your worries and cares. The night is for stillness. Let us be still, Dear Reader. The busy time comes again soon.

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

 

20160821_175625

Expectation Setting

Photo: I really must say, where my boys lack in composition, they certainly excel in color use!

 

It’s the last full week of Camp Mama and I’m doing my best to manage expectations. It’s the time to start setting good habits again, not just at bedtime, but at the start of the day. We have to start thinking about how we wake up, how we get ready, how we do things in a way that will get us out of the house on time. It’s time to start thinking about lunches. Yes, I’m that mom who has already Googled “school lunch recipes” in a variety of iterations. I’m rolling my eyes as often as I’ve clicked the “print” button. Some people out there have awesome ideas! Some people are fancy just to be fancy. I hope to share the hits and misses in the coming weeks.

I realize, however, that the expectations that most need to be managed are my own. I have to recalibrate my expectations for what’s going to happen, what’s probably not going to happen, and understanding that none of this is going to go perfectly. “It’s just kindergarten,” I’ve said to myself out loud a few times this weekend. “It’s low-stakes. It’s just kindergarten.”

It’s just kindergarten. We’re all just having fun here. The funky stuff is over: we picked the house in the right neighborhood in the right school district. We got him through the expensive, progressive preschool. We got into our perfect school that values what we value. We’ve made all the “right” decisions here. Relax, it’s gonna be fine.

Bullshit, right? Bullshit.

I wrote last week that this is more about adult anxiety than it is about the kids. All Major really cares about is that he’s gonna get to ride on the school bus in a week. He believes school is a fun and wonderful place where he gets to make friends and do new things. I’ve gotta keep it that way. I’ve gotta keep all my anxiety to myself.

And what the hell am I anxious about? Seriously. I’ve done the very best that I can.

I’m anxious because I know that this is not going to go perfectly. It’s just not how life works. We’re going to make a few mistakes as we acclimate to this new life as a K-12 family. That’s going to come with bumps and fumbles.

I’m anxious because I’m afraid that I’m going to absolutely hate it. Or that I won’t do well at it. I’m worried that I won’t find my place, that Major won’t either, that we will have put in all of this effort into getting to this very moment only to realize that what we’ve been working so hard for what was never meant for us at all. I’m anxious because I don’t have a viable alternative to what we’ve got.

It seems silly on the surface, I know. It will probably be fine. Major is a great kid and he’s going to have a great time. It’s not him I’m worried about. I suppose I’m asking a larger, more philosophical question: I’ve learned to “love” where I live, but do I trust it? Do I trust where I live with my baby? My precious eldest son? This child who has made me change the way I interact with every single inch of this world? This is the moment where I have to let go of him and watch him walk into the world, backpack on his back, smile on his face, ready to make friends. Knowing that the world in front of him will not always be kind.

He’s ready.

I thought I was ready.

I think that I’m ready.

I’ve got a week to get ready.

Maybe they aren’t ready for us.

We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we, Dear Reader? In a little over a week, we’ll all find out.

I’ll try to keep my anxiousness confined to this past. I’ll do my best to get it together. There is too much to do this week to be sitting here fretting and acting afool. I’ll write more about that on Friday.

Until then, the world is waiting for us and what we have to offer this week. What are you up to, Dear Reader? What are you going to accomplish? I hope that the wind is at your back this Monday, and that the sun is shining upon you, warm and encouraging.

See you Wednesday.

20160819_174626 (1)

[Quiet Thoughts] Duo Dynamics

Photo: That’s my baby, cheesing it up.

 

I’m feeling bad for my Yellow Child today. The second born in a family of first-borns, he’s been having a rough time of it. We three first-borns, we have moments when all we want is to be left alone. We yearn for the moments where we can breathe free, in our own thoughts, doing whatever we want without consideration for others. For Ursa Minor, this is a foreign concept. There is nothing worth doing that isn’t done with others. Everything, every single second of his life, has been spent in the company of another person. Partnership and collaboration fill his jar. Why can’t anyone see that?

Lordy, I see him. But it’s exhausting. My introverted self isn’t always up for it. The answering of a million questions, the positive modeling, the patient endurance as he explains this or runs through a stream of thoughts about whatever. Minor’s brain is always going, and he makes sure anyone within earshot knows exactly what he’s thinking all the time. It’s incredible. It’s exhausting. And you know who really takes the brunt of it? Ursa Major.

My Quiet Thoughts came to me late this afternoon as I was grilling tonight’s dinner. It struck me, watching Major ride away from his brother in the driveway, leaving Minor to sulk and sigh on his bike alone, that while Major and I have been going through our kindergarten anxieties, Minor has been going through a few of his own. The Dynamic Duo is splitting up in a few weeks. Ursa Major is downright elated by the idea. Brotherless time. I remind people often: there was never a Minor without a Major. But Major only had 7 months in this world to himself. I know that he’s a bit resentful of that. I feel bad about it. I know that if I had done things differently, he’d be enjoying a different sort of life.

Be that as it may, poor Ursa Minor… he’s left out. First is was the guitar lessons that he sulks through weekly. Now it’s the school bus and the big playground at the big school. He asks me daily when he’ll be five and when he’ll be able to do all of the cool things his brother gets to do. “Is my birthday going to be tomorrow? Or will it be the next day?” He’s asked me every day for a month.

I’m asking a lot of him. I’m asking my youngest child to be ok with navigating the world without his best friend and personal superhero. To be clear: Ursa Minor loves his brother more than anyone else on the planet. There is no one bigger, stronger, smarter, more awesome, more brave, more perfect in the whole wide world to him than his brother. The love and devotion that he has for Ursa Major is whole and perfect. Minor doesn’t know how to be in the world without his brother. This separation will force him to find out. How could I be so foolish as to forget just how much I’m asking him to do?

And it’s not just the hours of school we’re talking about here. We’re talking the hours of time between when Minor is going to get home from preschool and the when Major gets off the school bus in the afternoon. It’s the whole day each week that I’m going to have to fill when Major is at school and Minor isn’t.

And that’s where my Quiet Thoughts are this Friday. I’m sitting here thinking about all of the ways that I could screw this up. How I’m going to want to scoop him up and keep him my lap all the time, and that isn’t helpful. Ignoring him isn’t helpful, either. But, Dear Reader, I’m an introvert! It’s not going to be sustainable to fill every single afternoon or non-school day with a fun adventure, that perfect magazine-glossy mommy & me time. So what are we going to do? Could we get over to the MFA one day? The Museum of Science? A day trip to the beach before the weather gets too cold? Is it fair to take him everywhere I can, knowing his brother will be left out? What the hell am I going to do with this child during the winter months, when it’s too damn cold and depressing to be anywhere?

And didn’t I just start my own business? Can I take a kid on adventures and be a writer at the same time?

I suppose we’ll all find out together. Hopefully, you’ll be patient through all my Bloggy Fail days to come!

It’s a mercifully cool Friday night here in Massachusetts. For you, my Dear Reader, I wish for a little fresh air with a touch of chill. Just enough to turn your mind over to the season to come, to get you looking forward to new flavors and scents. It’s still too early for All Pumpkin Everything, but why not get a good whiff of a cinnamon broom or some veggie soup? I wish you one brave act: a “back-to-school” moment of your own, where you decide to start something new and take a bold positive risk. Wiser folk than I believe that pressure makes diamonds. Propel yourself forward toward whatever dream you’re striving for, Dear Reader! I wish you time alone for your own Quiet Thoughts, but then I wish you time with others to collaborate and create something wonderful. This  world was built by teams and partnerships just as much as it was by individual dreamers. Reach out and grab a hand, Dear Reader. Delight us all with what you can do.

And don’t forget, in the intimate moments of your weekend, when you are left alone with your doubts and your wondering, to remind yourself of how much you contribute to the world. Remember how much you are loved and admired, knowing that much of it goes unspoken. Even if you don’t know how much or how far, know that you are profoundly loved. Your presence has meaning, your actions have power.

Until Monday, my Dear Reader, take care.

20160817_135549

Small Fish, Big Pond, Be Cool

Photo: Ain’t that the face of a little boy thinking about getting himself into trouble? This post isn’t actually about Minor, but I saw this in my pictures from the day and had to share. Lordy, this child…

 

There was a playdate yesterday for the kindergarten. An invitation for parents of incoming kindergarteners to come to the school and play on their new playground, maybe also choosing to play with their new classmates as well. This is really more for the parents than it is for the children: the anxiety feels firmly rooted in us, and seems to have very little to do with the children themselves…or at least that’s how it feels to me.

I admit to feeling anxious. Ya’ll know that I have a problem with this adult stuff. I suck at introductions, I suck at making friends. I was grateful to have two other moms who I sorta knew (remember how I had those mom drinks last week?), be there so I had someone to talk to. I was that horrible person who didn’t deviate from them, smiling and nodding to a few other parents, but not formally introducing myself. I know! I’m really awful. I’m really bad at that. I hate doing that. I know I’ve gotta get better at it!

There were looming thunderstorms in the area. It was late… you know, close to dinner time (5pm), not to mention prime time for afternoon commutes and what not… maybe that’s why so few people were there. Certainly those are good reasons why there were no other families of any sort of color there, right? Totally.

It was all I could do to keep the boys from running through the parking lot as soon as they got out of the Blackmobile. They held might hands right up to the sidewalk and then they were off to the races. “Wait!” I said to them. “Why don’t we try to be cool? You know, walk up and say hello like civilized people instead of charging right up?”

They slowed their pace, still far ahead of me. But with each step, their speed got a little faster, and a little faster, until finally they were sprinting. School! Playground! New friends! Major was yapping the entire time, mind you. Playgrounds, of course, are in the back of the school, he informed me. This is where I’m going to get to play every day, he told his brother. After he rides the school bus to school, of course.

Of course.

I know that I’m taking Major’s readiness for kindergarten for granted. This is a child ready to go, ready for the challenges ahead of him. I don’t really know how I got him here, but I know that there are equal parts luck and blessing to go along with the hard work from birth to now.  I watched this boy, taller than the kids on the playground, confident in his strides, happy to lead and happy to follow, head into the Playground Playdate like he owned the joint. Not because he’s bossy, not because he’s a bully, not because he’s overzealous or overconfident. He walked into it like he owned it because he’s just so freaking ready for it. There is no better place for him, no place he’d rather be.

I don’t know if he’s going to thrive, I know that there will be rough days ahead of us, I know that this journey will be excruciatingly long while shockingly short… I have limited control over what happens next, but I know where we are right now. We’re at the starting line (not really. But this is the “official” one.) and my kid is standing at it, ready to go. Thanks be to God.

So why am I second-guessing myself?

Because he doesn’t know that we’re the small fish in the big pond. But I know, and it sucks.

I didn’t really enjoy the playground playdate. When the thunderstorms came, I was delighted to skip out early. I ran into another mom at guitar lessons today–she was one of the moms with me at Prescreening at the very beginning of the summer. She recognized me as we were leaving.

“Are you doing full-day or part-time?”  She asked me. It’s always a funky question.

“I decided to go full-time. He’s ready and I’m ready. Why not give him the opportunity?”

“Oh,” this woman said with a sigh. “We’re doing half-day. I just… I’m not ready. I’m just not ready!”

“That’s legit,” I mumbled, half truthfully. I believe that both choices are the right choices.

We stumbled through other pleasantries. Then I went in another direction. “There was a playground playdate yesterday. Only a handful of folk came out because of the rain.”

“Oh! Was that yesterday? I wasn’t paying attention. I’m just in denial! I really have turned off my mind to it. I’m telling you, I’m not ready yet!”

“Wow, you must be having a really great summer,” I said. Now look, I’m not saying I could control my face or my tone. I hope it didn’t come out as a full sneer.

“I mean, we really are,” she said in all seriousness. “I’m seriously trying to squeeze every moment out! I just want one more month of summer instead of starting school again!”

I can’t really pinpoint what about it annoyed the hell out of me. Maybe, actually, I’m a little bit jealous. Maybe I want a bit of that consistent, unabashed joy. Maybe I want to be able to tell people that every part of my summer has been precious, every day perfect, the whole summer full of happy memories. Maybe I secretly worry that I’m going to look back on these years and honestly think they passed by too quickly, that I didn’t give the boys enough of my attention. Maybe I will always wonder if I’ve done this all wrong, that I’m not doing this job as well as I could be.

So I found a deep dislike for this woman in that moment. It was the last thing I needed in a long day of mothering. So, I was ready to go. It was time to go before I got myself into trouble. So we said our goodbyes and said nice things like, “looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.” But I was really thinking to myself, as I locked my two boys in their car seats, is this really how it’s gonna be? Please, Jesus, don’t let this be how it’s gonna be.

I came to the conclusion that this isn’t how it’s gonna be. Like preschool, I’m about to encounter a cast of characters on a spectrum of personalities and perspectives. It will take a while to get used to. As the small fish, the new fish, my job is to acclimate to the water temperature and figure out how everybody else swims. It won’t be long before I’m part of a pack and the anxiety falls away. Breathe, relax, be cool. Maybe even enjoy the ride. We’ve worked hard for our place here. Let’s make it count.

Oy oy oy… it’s Wednesday. Only Wednesday. But tomorrow is Thursday and I can’t believe it. I have so much more to accomplish between now and the end of the week. Oh, Dear Reader! How will we get it all done?

Hope you’re doing better than I am. You probably are.

I’ll see you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

20160813_172417(0)

Local Excursions

Photo: Isn’t this such an intense fortune? That’s what Major got on Saturday. I’ll talk more about Kowloon’s in a second.

 

Something ate the dang watermelon.

My precious little baby watermelon in our little garden was eaten by some sort of… worm, we think! So freaking frustrating. I can’t even describe my husband’s face when he told me. But that was after two little boys came into the house with tears in their eyes.

“Mommy! We have terrible news!”

I was in the middle of finishing up the second draft of the short story I’ve been working on. I looked up with a raised eyebrow. What could it possibly be?

“We can’t eat the watermelon! Something else did!” 

Welp… that’s news.

“Yeah, something got to it. Some worm… should have harvested it earlier,” my husband groaned.

I’m not saying that the garden is a complete failure this summer, as we have been able to harvest a lot of basil and we harvested our first three tomatoes over the weekend, not to mention the ridiculous amounts of sugar snap peas we had earlier in the season… but there is certainly disappointment. The lavender didn’t do well, the pumpkins only put out male flowers instead of female flowers (thus, no fruit), the marigolds bloomed for a total of 15 minutes, the strawberries were eaten by the damned groundhog and now my little watermelon has gone to the worms!

Where my investment in this whole affair has been more emotional than anything else, my husband is taking it hard. He was the one who got the seeds. He was the one who meticulously cared for the little sprouts over the winter in the basement. He was the one who put those seedlings in the beds. He had been their towering guardian.

“I’m learning a lot, though,” he told me. “Got bigger plans for next year.”

I love that man so much.

We were able to distract the boys from their disappointment by taking them back-to-school shoe shopping. We piled into the car and went to the other side of the universe to get to the Stride Rite outlet at the Assembly Row outlet complex. While it was nifty to be back in the old neighborhood (we lived 15 minutes north of there before we moved to MetroWest), we were really taken aback by the changes and, mostly, horrified about how obnoxious that place is. That’s the only way to describe it: obnoxious. Too many people, not enough parking, all the over-priced brands that make you scowl just a little bit as you walk by. Obnoxious.

Minor found light-up Batman shoes that were more yellow than black, so he’s pretty pumped. Size 11 wide. Are you kidding me, kid? Major found Star Wars shoes in blue with lightsabers that, yes, light up. Size 13 1/2 wide!!!!!! Who has feet like this? Do you know what that means!? That means that the next time I take that little boy shoe shopping, we gotta go to the big boy store. He’s grown out of Stride Rites! What am I a’gonna do? Somebody stop them from growing this way! Save the children!

Since we were on that side of the universe, The Husband and I decided that we had to go to Route One and visit the best restaurant on earth, Kowloon! I can’t recall our first visit to this magical place. I think we were driving on Route One to get something else and saw this place and simultaneously decided we just gotta know. It’s this big huge building with a Tiki figure on the front and that’s just the start: there are huge rooms on the inside, all themed and amazing, and the food is just good enough that you want to go back and visit all of them. Major was an infant last time we visited, so we were actually more excited about the boys experiencing it than we were anything else.

It didn’t disappoint.

“What’s with the big scary man on the front of the building!? What’s with the big scary man?” That was Minor. We hadn’t even found a parking spot yet.

“He looks like a giant! Is he going to step on our van?” That was Major. He didn’t seem too concerned.

The Husband and I just laughed. “He’s just a decoration. Isn’t he awesome? It gets even better!”

And it did, because we got to eat dinner in the big room in the back that features a bubbling fountain, a pirate ship, and a volcano. Did I mention the lights in the darkened ceiling making you feel like you’re under a starry night sky? Oh my God yes. Two little boys got to sit right next to the fountain and it was just… everything. Everything! They were so excited!

And then we ordered all of our favorite things and Ursa Major ate everything. Minor… ate half a dumpling and a few bits of rice. He might have eaten some beef…. anyway, he ain’t eat much.

Quote of the day, from Ursa Major: “Mama! This place is the best! This is my favorite place! You are the best for bringing me here! Thank you for bringing me here, Mama!”  Mommy win. Mommy win to last a while!

Mommy win. Mommy win to last a while! It’s the little things, Dear Reader. Sometimes, the words are enough.

I finished a short story (44 hand-written pages. lol. “short” indeed!) and now I’ve gotta get it into this computer, edit the hell out of it, and then workshop it with my writing group. What a process! But the composition portion is over. My mind is liberated to wrap itself around another concept while I get to polish this thing up. A good thing, because this short story did all sorts of horrible things to the novel I thought I was writing. I have to completely go back, replot, re-outline and, essentially, start all over again. This writing thing is gloriously no fun at all.

But I am writing. I can at least say that.

Dear Reader, it’s Monday. How are you feeling about the week? Smile. We’re gonna make it together!

Until Wednesday, take care!

20160811_180812

[Quiet Thoughts] Dream Out Loud

Photo: The drought has really done a number on our garden. Stuff is slow to ripen, stuff is slow to grow. We think the pumpkins are a failure (we got vines and flowers, but nothing turned into fruit), the marigolds bloomed only so briefly… the only thing flourishing is my basil plant (I’ve gotta make a hell of a lot of pesto this weekend!). But here, finally, are little glimpses of hard work paying off.

 

There are so many reasons why watching the Olympics this week has been jar-filling. There were many tears of joy and pride for Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas and Simone Manuel this week. There were many moments for feeling like an awesomely proud Marylander (if Maryland was a country, we’d have the 2nd-most medals at the Olympics right now). The fact that newspapers around the country had to explain to the world the great Maryland “O” during the National Anthem this week is enough to make me be ridiculously homesick and prideful. Remembering so many summers of swim team and the exhilaration of those Saturday morning races… anyway, it’s been a great week.

But the best part of watching the Olympics this week has been experiencing it with two little boys. It’s been a joy exposing them to a bunch of different sports, watching them make heads or tails of the funky rules, answering their questions about which flag belongs to which country and, of course, watching them grow their own bit of patriotism. “There is an American in this race, Mommy! Yeah! America! America!”

There is also the joy of listening to them dream out loud. Listening to them talk to each other about trying this or that, wondering out loud if “little boys can try that” or if that’s “only for grown-ups.” Ursa Major was transfixed by Kayla Harrison’s Judo win yesterday (“can boys do that, too?”) and Ursa Minor attempted to practice a trampoline routine on my bed this afternoon (“what do you mean we have to go to a gym?”). I told them how good I thought they’d be at synchronized diving if they wanted to get serious about learning how to swim. They asked if we could go see some rowing in real life some day (“You’re in luck! We can go to the Head of the Charles in a few months!”). They wondered if fencing and fighting with lightsabers is the same thing, which simply turned into asking me if I would buy them lightsabers (no).

With the joy of listening to the banter and (ever patiently) answering their very many questions, I’ve felt a need to resist giving into the selling of the fantastical Olympic dream. Proctor & Gamble and NBC really want me to do it, selling me the passionate dedication of Olympic motherhood: the tireless effort, the sacrifice, the pursuit of nothing more than a future Olympian’s glorious success. If only you will sign them up for one last sport… if only you will be there for them, day and night, mile after mile! Of course, it’s alluring. Who doesn’t want a daughter like Simone Biles? Who doesn’t want a son like Ashton Easton? Who doesn’t want those moments in the stands, tears in your eyes, as the anthem plays for your kid on the podium? Who doesn’t want that moment in the grocery store, seeing your kid on the Wheaties box, turning to some stranger and saying, “that’s my kid, you know.” Of course I want my sons, Maryland blood coursing strong in their veins, a swimming tradition in their family, to swim like the others kicking ass in Rio!

But the discipline comes in letting them dream their dreams. To come to their passions with sincerity. The discipline comes in not signing them up for every single thing, manically chasing my own thirst for some sort of vicarious glory. It’s their life to live, their path to follow. It’s my job to facilitate, but not lead. I can shelter the fires they start… but they must spark them. They must give life to them with those first moments of precious air, tend to them, stoking them and feeding them. The commercial of what my boys could become is a fantasy sold to me. If I chase it, it becomes nothing at all.

Truth be told, the driving force of both of my boys right now is the opportunity to daily ride in a limousine. Ursa Minor wants to be President of the United States because he knows that the president gets to ride in a limo. He says if he gets to be president, his limousine will be yellow. Ursa Major wants to be a rockstar and an astronaut. He wants to fly in space and be super cool but, because astronauts don’t generally get to ride around in limos, he also wants to be a rockstar.

I feel like these are perfectly reasonable and obtainable goals. Even the yellow presidential limo. Why the hell not?

And when they say these things, I respond, “you can be anything you want to be,” because it’s true. Truer words could not be said to those two right now. My job is to keep expanding the world for them, showing them all the possibilities. Thank you, Olympians! Every single one of you! My sons love you, and for the brief moments you hold their attention, they want to be you. I think that’s pretty damn awesome.

Before wishes, I must share: 20160812_131019

My first complete-complete rag doll! This is the one I made for Ursa Major’s little girlfriend. Yes, I went overboard on the hair… I was figuring out a way to make a “full” head of hair and make it not look terrible. There are things I still have to work on, but I’m delighted by what I was able to accomplish! Onward toward making my friend’s new baby her doll this weekend!

It is Florida-hot in Massachusetts, Dear Reader. The air is thick and fragrant. It’s no fun to do anything outside and we run from air conditioned space to air conditioned space. The farmhouse groans and whines as the ancient wood expands and relaxes, we occupants doing our best not to be too grumpy about the whole thing. It won’t be long until the short days come and the Longest Season begins. Dear Reader, as ever, I have wishes for you. I wish you a good bowl of cold soup. Go find some! Savor it! I think wish you a better bowl of excellent ice cream. Seriously, go find your local stand, sit outside, get sticky and messy while enjoying a quirky evening in the fading summer light. Bonus points if you are with a sweetheart. Extra bonus points if you make your companion laugh so hard that they forget about their ice cream. I wish you an excellent adventure that leads you to an unexpected place. I wish you a strong hug, a lingering look from across a crowded room, an intimate whisper just for you. Tell someone a secret this weekend, Dear Reader. Set yourself just a little bit free.

As always, I wish you the opportunity to tell someone how much you love them. I wish you a reminder of how much you are loved and appreciated. Your presence brings people joy, Dear Reader. You inspire and uplift, contributing so much to so many. Don’t forget just how much you bring to the world, Dear Reader.

Until Monday,boldly laugh, walk, hug, cook, cheer, and take care.

20160809_131309

The Only Things Worth Doing

Photo: My sister challenged me to better design doll eyes that aren’t creepy. Though, frankly, I liked the eyes I showed on Monday’s post. They make me think of flowers. Anyway, my sister thinks these are better! Then my friend came over today and she said that these eyes look too much like goat eyes. Lordy! Can’t win! Anyway, then she and her children took my two prototype dolls home with them, so… I guess I’m on the right track? I also just learned that I’m in the business of making dolls: my friend asked for two more, one for her son and one for her husband, and then Major told me I had to make one for his girlfriend who just got a concussion at camp!  Do I look like Mattel, child??

 

Yesterday was the first day of fighting with Major about guitar practice. He was squirmy in his seat, he “forgot” how to hold his pick, his guitar was out of tune, so it didn’t sound right… there was every excuse and it was frustrating. We went from “I’m gonna be a rockstar” to “this is too hard.”

As you can imagine, I was incredulous on multiple levels. Here is this thing that this child has asked me for! I made it happen! What do I ask for in return but a bit of practice without issues!?

A bit of a lecture, a bit of forceful mommying, and he was back on track. We got in our strums, we did it on beat, we were fine. I’m only asking the child for 20 minutes of his life. He can do this!

When we ran into it this morning, again, I balked at his “too hard” excuse.

“Everything in life is hard! Everything in this life that’s worth doing is hard! We do things because they are hard! We love things because they are hard!” (I realize  this is going to come back to haunt me next time I write a Quiet Thoughts about how difficult something is.)

He didn’t respond to this with a lot of get-up-and-go… I kept trying different tactics until I just got angry. He was mad, I was mad… I threatened to make it all go away.

He gasped at this. It was like, yeah, bro… you think I don’t have that power? You think I’m trying to have yet another fight with you on a daily basis? Ain’t you tired? Can’t we just have one easy thing?

But he also gasped because he loves his guitar and his lessons. It’s a big part of who he is. It’s the first thing he tells people when he sees them. Perfect strangers know that my 5-year-old plays the electric guitar! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so satisfied before until now.

So what the hell, dude?

“There is a difference between ‘it’s too hard’ and ‘I don’t feel like it,’ you know. A big difference! So what is it? Is it that this is too hard or that you just don’t feel like doing it right now?”

He twisted up that little face of his, lifting his eyes to the ceiling before looking at me with a huff. “I just don’t feel like it,” he confessed.

Awesome. Thank you for your honesty! “I don’t care! People often have to do things when they don’t feel like doing them! So we’re gonna sit up straight, we’re gonna hold our pick right and we’re gonna get with it! Ready? Now, strum!”

It wasn’t that easy, but naming the problem did help, and he did get to strumming. It’s not about playing the chord. It’s about remembering to play the chord and stay on beat. After this week’s lesson, it’s about playing the chord, staying on beat and looking at the music. It only gets harder as we go. Lots of lessons for my little boy who is getting bigger every day.

I’ve gotta say, I’m so glad that we started guitar before starting kindergarten. It’s gonna give me great lessons to draw on as the academic road gets tough. It’s also teaching me a lot about how to keep him motivated, how long his attention span is, and what, ultimately, he can do.

Of course, he went to today’s lesson with his teacher with no problem. He learned how to read music (the symbol for strum, the symbols for rest, the bars, etc) and he learned how to follow along with someone pointing to the music. He was great! Of course, the lesson was so damn short… 30 minutes is barely enough time to settle into something, you know?

There is a lesson in here for Mommy, too: just because he is motivated doesn’t mean that it won’t be a struggle. This needs active attention, and how I handle his moments of frustration will be key.

I am happy to report that there is water falling from the sky here in Massachusetts! My plans are like, “ahhhhhh” and my lawn is like, “it’s too little, too late!” There is a price to pay, however: humidity is bonkers and the heat index tomorrow is supposed to be around 100 degrees. This is inappropriate weather for New England! So I accept my rain with grumbles… and windows closed to keep in as much cool air as possible. Next week? 70s. That’s more like it!

Quiet Thoughts on Friday? I can see the first line now… “it was too damn hot yesterday! My Quiet Thoughts are stinky with sweat!”

That… probably wouldn’t be terribly classy. I’ll come up with something better.🙂

Until then, take care.