Monday, June 17, 2013

Midnight Santa Sightings

"Give Mom a goodnight hug and kiss, too," Bill says to Landon.

"I don't have any more hugs or kisses left today." he answers with a giggle.
"Can I just squeeze one more out?" I beg, going in for a tickle.

"No, Mom.  I have to go to sleep and get some more put into me."

Awww....that is so cute.  And such a good reason to go to bed.

And then he adds,

"Yeah, Santa Claus sneaks into our house and gives us each hugs and kisses to share with each other."

Wait....what?? What's Santa Claus doing in the narrative in June?

I've studied Greek and Roman myths. I've read some Norse ones, too.  I've read African folktales and Native American legends.

But it is Landon who introduces me to this new way of explaining the world: the hybridization of everything he takes in....and then he mixes it with love and makes the world go round.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

When my Dad Saved my Life

When my dad saved my life I did not thank him. I did not stop to acknowledge that he had jumped into the pool, fully clothed, to rescue me from certain death.

I say "certain" because I had slipped under a huge black inner tube and was pinned underwater by my swimsuit snagged on the air valve.

I was a little kid, and the tube was oversize.  Hidden from view, I flailed around underwater, unable to free myself, and unable to figure out why I couldn't escape.

His dad radar must have activated. He could scan the pool and see that I was missing.  Was my little foot splashing around?  Did he see a hand?  Maybe it was just the shadow of me not surfacing that caught his attention.

He dived in and tore my suit off and away from the valve.

When I got out, all I can remember is how sad I felt that my Strawberry Shortcake swimsuit had a large tear across my belly. I did not thank him. I did not acknowledge the fear and adrenaline he must have felt to realize his little daughter had been submerged for who knows how long. I just mourned my suit and the fact that swimming was over for the day.

 I didn't get a new suit that summer.  Instead, my mom stitched it up--an unforgiving fabric for repairs.  It was a pink scar that I was both ashamed and proud of.

That scar reminded me that there was someone who had my back.  Push come to shove, my dad would do anything in his power to keep me safe, suffer any indignity, and take any measures.  The scar reminded me that there was someone else who would not allow me to let self-pity to take over.  "It's a perfectly good suit. Don't be so worried about what others think," my mom would say when I whined about how embarrassing it was to have a sewn-up suit.

Thirty years later, we have all played musical chairs with our roles. At the moment it is my dad who flails. It is our family who dives, and it is still my mom who reminds us all not to feel self-pity for any of the ways that life gets torn apart in ways that don't seem pretty.

At the end of the day, I won't need any thanks, either.  He's already saved my life once.  I think I kinda owe him.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over

She's letting it all hang out.  All her control issues, past hurts not healed properly, baggage from old relationships, and a few new issues she didn't even realize she had.  It was a quick romance, and she put her very best foot forward, but now the other shoe has dropped.  She's not hiding anymore. She's past her prime, is high maintenance, and can't keep up the illusion of being uncomplicated any longer.

Who am I talking about?

Our house, of course.

We met her nine months ago, fell in deep like and knew it would be love if we gave it time.  So we signed on the dotted line--over and over-- and took the plunge to begin a relationship with the smart-looking one with the big yard.

But just how every romance finds itself contending with previously unmentionables like bad breath and loud gas, our house is settling in and getting comfortable enough to show her rougher side.

A sprinkler system with busted pipes--even though we had a professional clear the lines before the first cold snap hit.

The swamp cooler that is pouring water all over the roof as I type this--even though we drained it properly, as well.

A washing machine that never works when I need it to, but only when it's good and ready...usually hours after the load begins.  

Closets that never smelled are now emitting mysterious and unpleasant mustiness.

A missing screen door that didn't seem so important at the time.

Pine trees whose shade creates dead patches on the grass.

So yes, we are a little dismayed.

Our dream home is a little (lot) more work than we imagined.  She requires more time, personal sacrifice, and the willingness to realign our priorities with reality.

Just like our marriage.

And yet, there are so many things we love about our house- more to love than to be hassled by.

Also, just like our marriage.

So while we're not happy we're going to have to slow down and do the work to repair, maintain, and improve, it's still worth it with this dear old house....even if she is a tad past her prime, a bit high maintenance and a little complicated.

Because when it comes right down to it, so are we.

So here's to you, you wonderful, impossible, perfect-fit of a house.

And here's to another five years with you, Bill.  Anywhere with you, I'm home.

                                                           Happy Anniversary, Love.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Almost a Textbook Scenario

"Ok, you're clear to go," I said to my sister as she started backing out of her driveway in her SUV.  Children accounted for.  Until he wasn't.  Instead of holding my hand like I asked, Landon insisted he wanted to see Daddy and pulled away and into the path of the moving vehicle.

Yelling ensued. Enough adrenaline to satisfy even the most hard-core adrenaline junkie shot through me.  And my extreme fear morphed instantly (as it usually does) to anger when the danger was past and Landon was safe.

At that moment I was sick and tired of having a kid I cannot count on to obey.  (Do those kind exist somewhere that I don't know about?)

In a calmer moment Bill and I talked with Landon about what happened and emphasized the need for him to trust that when we ask for something, we have his best interests in mind.  I don't think I micromanage him.  So mister, if I'm making demands, it isn't because my ego won't let you walk out of the house with your shirt on backwards.  I'm picking my battles, buddy, and they are ones I demand to win.  Running around moving vehicles: that's a no.  Wearing long sleeves and pants in hot summer weather?  Well, if you must.  Sweat it out, I guess.

Landon's response to our conversation?

"The answer is stuck in my brain mom, and I can't get it out."

The question was the super-complicated, "What are you going to do the next time we ask you to do something?"

Hmph.  Are we getting through to this guy at all?

Fast forward to tonight.  Landon and his cousins were given goody bags of noisemakers and other kid kitsch. Kids love it.  Easily overstimulated moms like me wonder if the giver hates us.  Noise issues aside, Landon bagged all his up when he was done playing with it. I told him to keep it in our diaper bag or it would get thrown away since it didn't look like anything special and everyone was cleaning up.

I turn around, and his plastic bag and toys are strewn all over the counter.  My swoop instinct takes over and it all goes in the garbage.  (confession: a teeeeny part of me was happy to be justified to throw that kind of chaos away)

As we were leaving Landon asked, "Where are my toys?"
"They should be in the diaper bag, where I asked you to leave them," I tell him innocently. (My poor nephew beheld the swift swoop moment and is a little puzzled)
But they are not.  And Landon knows they are not because he didn't leave them there.  I didn't gather them. I didn't retrieve them. He knows I am not taking responsibility for them.

When we get home I tell Bill what happened.  I am happy.  Now here's a lesson that I think is really going to hit home for my little boy. I am willing to sacrifice one bag of plastic trinkets if it means Landon will be more likely to obey next time.  Because next time might be like last time: a situation with high stakes.

I am fed up with negotiating.  I am done wheeling and dealing.  And I think we sometimes couch being softies in the phrase, "showing you mercy" to justify being pushovers.

Request. Disobedience. Logical consequence.  Textbook scenario.  This should work.

Bill gets a funny look on his face.  "Umm, Jodi?  Cam (Landon's cousin with a heart of gold) showed me the garbage and told me that Landon's toys had gotten thrown away so I fished them out for him and we took them home with us in the green car."

Ahaahah!  Foiled again!

Good thing I have a new set of plastic hand clappers I can use to shake out my frustration.