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Archive for May, 2013

Memorial Day Visit

On Monday, my family stopped at FortCusterNationalCemetery, where one of my Grandfathers is buried.  It was a cold, rainy day, and I knew none of the kids were looking forward to getting out of the car.  To their credit, however, not one expressed their displeasure of the upcoming trek through wet grass.  This was our second visit to the cemetery, the first being a year ago this weekend, for my Grandfather’s funeral. 

 

We looked up his location (the service was in a shelter, not at the actual gravesite), and drove around until we found the correct section.  We exited the car, and I led the group, holding my five year-old’s hand.  He’s a pretty fast walker, and I said the grave marker numbers out loud, as we walked toward the back, looking for the right row.  I found it, turned inward, and walked past only a few before I saw Grandpa’s name.

 

As I stood there, my eyes began to water.  I thought of the sacrifices both of my Grandfathers had made, defending this country in the same war.  This particular grandfather never spoke to me of his service, and really spoke very little to any family member about it.  I never asked – maybe I should have – but I thought he was one of many who left to fight a war, to defend freedom, and came back to his old life.  The job was complete, and he wanted to move forward, not reliving the memories of war.  

 

As I reminded my son of last year’s funeral (he remembers everything), he acknowledged that he remembered the event.  I explained that while his body was in the box, his soul was in Heaven.  He interrupted whatever I had said, and asked if we could pick up the “statue” (the grave marker) and see the wood box.  As I paused for a moment, trying to formulate an answer, he added that he’d like to open it and see the body and what had happened to it.  Then he said hurriedly, “I know I know, I can’t because then I would go to JAIL.” 

 

Seemed like a good answer to me.  I suppressed a smile and simply said, “Yes.” 

 

On that somber day, at least one other couple got a good chuckle from the comments of a morbidly curious pre-schooler.  I know my grandfather would have gotten a good laugh out of it. 

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House of Denial

Our children grow up.  It seems one day we are holding them in our arms, rocking them to sleep, and BOOM!  Next they are chatting via facebook with their boyfriend.  At thirteen.  Oh, and he’s three grades ahead of her. 

 

That was my weekend. 

 

In all fairness, this is only my step-daughter. I only held her on my lap once and rocked her to sleep, when she was four. I only played countless hours of  house, beauty shop, and restaurant with her.  I only bought her shoes and clothes and her first bra…. wait.  I digress.  This was before I became the evil stepmother, of course.  I’m evil for numerous reasons:  I have rules, I hold people accountable (including their mother), I yell on occasion, and I am not an open checkbook.  The horror of it all. 

 

My husband (also evil) and I do not believe in electronic privacy of our teen children.  Call us stalkers, lurkers, I don’t care.  These are our children, and we know how scary that world is out there.  We don’t have to look outside of our city walls to see girls victimized due to what started as one photo on a phone.  We read stories about how cyber-bullying occurs – in our local school newsletter. It seems we lose a local child to suicide each semester in our surrounding areas, due to some level of this. We watch news stories of how they caught some drug dealer by monitoring their facebook account. 

 

Want a facebook account?  Cool – what is your password?  Want a cell phone?  No problem.  Don’t delete your texts.  We will do that for you.  Oh and yeah, I did check the number of texts on your phone versus how many showed up on the phone bill.  Yes it took FOREVER, but we are glad you didn’t lie and delete any (or oops, busted – no texting for a month).  Hey, I see you have a Twitter account.  Did you ask to do that?  Obviously not, with THAT screen name.  Buh-BYE online world for a while.    Muzy?  What the heck is that?   Great, now I gotta watch that, too? 

 

Unfortunately, the rules at our house are not the same at the other house, where they live most of the time.  This house is ruled with the big D- DENIAL.   This is how seventh graders get tenth graders for boyfriends.  This is how twitter accounts evolve with words and comments that would get me fired at my job.  Somewhere along the way, the overcompensation because of an abuse-filled childhood and a divorce has turned into a crusade of being the “cool” mom.  She doesn’t control them.  She doesn’t make them upset.  She gets to be the good guy.  Sure, I’ll buy you both iPods.  Don’t tell your Dad.  So we have a (then) 11 year old with access to the internet completely unmonitored.  We have a 15 year old who is bribed to move back “home” with the promise of an iPod (and most likely a threat that they will lose their house if we take them to court to lower child support).  He has no bed or room, and they can’t afford to fix the roof that has had a tarp on it for over a year, but wow do they all have cool iPhones, iPods, and nice Jordan shoes.  Hmm… and a son that looks and talks like a high gang member on Twitter, saying crap to girls, that if it was MY daughter, I’d be at their house telling them how proud they should be for raising such a white trash kid.  Why aren’t their parents tracking us down, asking us this?  I digress yet again… 

 

Yes, these are “my” kids.  I still claim them.  I even love them.  They aren’t little enough to sit on my lap.  I’ve known this for a long time.  I know they are not mine, but that really isn’t why I’m not in this whole “denial” thing.  I am just not that kind of person.  It’s not that I want them to grow up, but they do.  It’s my job to help them through this time, not put a bag over my head and say, “My kid isn’t going to do (fill in the blank).”  Oh, MY CHILD will be leading the pack.  My kid will lead them all:  not sure if it’s down the road to destruction or to heaven above.  I’m hoping for the latter, not the former.  I’m doing more than hoping and praying – but I do a lot of praying.  I try to teach him right from wrong.  I try to let him know there are bad things that happen, without completely terrifying him.  I know the days of him sitting on my lap are about over (he’s five)I will miss them – no, I will grieve when those end – but I will not be in denial about it.  There is too much at risk to spend time wishing my little boy was back or denying the truth staring me in the face.  He is worth more to me than that.  I wish my other children’s mother loved her kids that much.  I do, but my love doesn’t count.  

Don’t be a gecko

While flipping through TV stations, my husband found a listing for the movie, “We bought a zoo.”  As we have a five year old, we try to choose what is on the big screen very carefully.  I remembered the story line from the trailers and had always wanted to see it.  It seemed like a safe bet.  Our son was printing numbers, and playing with toys.  I didn’t expect him to really sit down and watch it, but I thought some parts might interest him. 

 

The movie did catch his interest, and it was reaching a pivotal point:  would they be approved by the USDA to reopen?  During this scene, this adorable little girl, close to my son’s age, informs the inspector that people call him a ….. (male body part, rhymes with sick). 

 

My husband and I looked up at each other and then to our son.  He was staring, fascinated, at the TV.  My husband buries his face in the computer, hiding behind the screen.  Thanks, Dear.  No white knight is coming to my rescue on this one.  Colin looks at me, with this little twinkle in his eye, and says, “What is a…. (see word reference above)? 

 

My brain was running a million miles an hour trying to dodge this one. 

 

“No, no, he said ‘gick’,” I reply, smiling, looking right in his eyes.  “What’s a ‘gick’?” asks my child.  “You know, it’s another word for gecko: the little lizards.” 

 

I pause, still looking him in the eye and smiling.  Wow, I am making this up as I go along, but so far so good, I think. 

 

“Why would you call somebody a lizard?” he asks, now looking a little confused.  I said, “It’s kinda like calling somebody a chicken.  It’s just calling somebody a name, which we shouldn’t do.  So we shouldn’t call people names.” 

 

“So, we shouldn’t say, ‘Don’t be a gick!’” he says, eyes gleaming at me.  He’s such a little booger.  He will use any excuse to use a bad word in such a context as to not get in trouble.   I wonder where he gets it – must be his father. 

 

I repeat that we shouldn’t name-call, and we continue watching the show.  Several minutes later, my husband re-emerges from behind the laptop, and looks at me with a look of incredulity and a bit of distain.  “Gecko?” he murmurs, one eyebrow cocked. 

 

I started giggling, then laughing, tears streaming down my eyes.  My son shushes me, giving me a very disapproving look.  I am apparently disrupting his movie-watching. 

 

We make it through another day of life, and I have a new phrase:  Don’t be a gecko. 

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