Dripping with honey

Well, the person who won the school spelling bee can’t attend the county version, so B proceeds on to the county spelling bee!  Yikes it’s a lot of words to know!  We’ve been through the French, Italian, Latin, and “Asian” word lists, but there are easily 20 more pages to go.  Among tonight’s difficult words: “bureaucracy”, “quiche” (“Keesh?”), and “parfait”.  Still, he’s on board, so I am, too.  Tonight, at our evening thankfulness ritual, he was thankful for my help in studying.  I was thankful for his excitement for learning.

I know – gag me, right?  Sometimes gratitude can just drip with honey… (get it? bee? honey?)

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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Envy, meet regret

Yesterday was my day to take B and his friend to the gym after school, but B had hurt his toe the day before (caught the toenail on something and then partially detached it), so he didn’t want to work out, and that meant that his friend did not last long in his workout.  As a result, we headed back to his friend’s house to drop him off earlier than we usually would have, and he was really hoping a package had arrived for him with the newest Playstation game he’d ordered.  He hopped out of the car and ran to the mailbox, where he stood with a small envelope, looking puzzled for a minute before he tore into it.  Then he shoved the pieces of envelope back into the mailbox with the rest of the mail (yeah, he’s 12), and came back to the car with a lovely note from his team of teachers to his parents saying what a model student he was.  We each read it and B and I congratulated him on it (we did have a laugh that they used the word “humble”, because he’s known for his braggadocio among members of The Crew).  Then he ran around to the garage and the deck, etc., seeing if they’d left the package elsewhere.  While he was doing this B turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, “I think I might cry.”

The long and short of this was that B was pretty sure there would be no such letter waiting at home for us, and it sincerely hurt his heart.  I asked why he thought there wouldn’t be, and he said that he’d played around too much the first semester with his friends, and though it didn’t impact his grades, it didn’t make a great impression.  He wished aloud that his teachers could just forget that part of the year.  It was a good lesson for him in making a positive, lasting impression, and in school behavior, more generally.  This is something he’s had on his mind lately anyway; he recently told me that he’d asked to move his seat in his math class so he wouldn’t be tempted to cut up with his friends (my words), and that, since that time, he’d maintained an A and his teacher had told him she was proud of him for his choices.  I’m glad he’s thinking about and learning these lessons now, before grades become so important to opening doors after high school.  I’m glad he regrets his behavior earlier in the year.  I’m glad that he saw his friend get that letter and he didn’t get one, while it was also hard to watch him take it so hard.  On the other hand, I was proud of how he handled himself, congratulating his friend when he really didn’t feel like it.  Later we played a word game (Bonza) on my iPad in which you had to rearrange available letters to fill in a crossword puzzle – in this case, the theme was “The Seven Deadly Sins”.  Once we’d gotten them all filled in I asked him if we suffered from any of them.  He said he didn’t think so, going one by one until he got to “envy”, and then he said, “Well, I was envious of A’s letter.”  I said, “You were, but you handled it with grace, and that envy will wear away because of it.”  He nodded, clearly hoping that would be true.

The rest of the evening B spent off-and-on trying to convince me that he should get more time gaming on the weekends than I am inclined to give him.  He knows that if he pushes too hard I will withdraw all support for gaming, so he was trying to be gentle, but was nagging nonetheless.  When I leaned on the side of his bed to do the chalice lighting, he said, “I can tell you what I’m NOT thankful for!”  I said the chalice lighting was not for what he was not thankful.  He sighed, “Oookaaay” and said he was thankful for Xbox.  I said I was thankful for his tucking my blanket around my feet when I napped in the chair.  I soon left, both because we were done and because I was annoyed about his pushing about gaming.

About an hour later, I threw the dog up on B’s bed before I went to bed myself.  B roused just enough to say, “I love you, Momma”.  I kissed his forehead and said, “I love you, too, Honey.”

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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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It’s a momma weekend – a weekend I get Mythankfulboy all to myself.  It’s quite the luxury.  Friday night it was back to dodgeball (after the completion of Crossfit for baseball, he can get back to his other sporting love), Saturday we braved a snowstorm to do batting cages and Waffle House, and today we shoveled and shoveled and now are each doing our own version of screen time.  B today came up with the idea that there should be a shoveling index in the same way there’s a cold/heat index – that for each inch of snow, it either feels like an inch, or, if it’s wet and heavy, it feels like 2 inches, or, if it’s icy slush the snow plows churned into your driveway, each inch feels like 4 inches.  He’s probably not the first to float this idea, but I found it to be quite clever, because it’s so true…

On weekend nights, there is not a set bedtime, which means the chalice lighting can happen at any time.  Last night, I was sitting in front of the fire when B ran past to get a snack during a break in his game.  As he ran into the kitchen he asked, “So what are you thankful for?”  I said, “Really?”  He said, “Yeah!”  So I thought quickly and said, “Driving around in the snow with you!”  As he ran back by with a granola bar and some fruit snacks, he yelled, “Batting cages and mommas who will take you in the snow!” (imagine his voice falling away as though he was falling off a cliff).

I think we should call this the drive-by chalice lighting.

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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The bee! The bee!

See Momma Run.  Has no momma yet written a book by this title?  Whew!  I think it was because she was too pooped.

We’ve been schooling and working and exercising and gaming and working and socializing and cleaning and working and studying for the spelling bee.  B has been a very happy camper as of late – he enjoys being busy, being home, and being with friends, and he’s doing a lot of all of them.  He also seems to be in a decent rhythm with his dad and his step-family.  These are good things.

Today, though, was the spelling bee, which we had read on the school website was at 8:15 in the morning (we had a snow day yesterday, so he hadn’t been able to ask anybody).  So, when I overslept and woke up at 7:40 and found he was still asleep, we BOOKED it to get to school in time to find out that the website was wrong and the bee was at 9:00, but, hey – thank goodness for small favors.  He did well – second place again this year – but was very disappointed, both because he’d studied so hard, and because the error he made that cost him first place was that he spelled too quickly and spelled “billabong” with only one “l” – a mistake he never made in practice.  When I picked him up from school he was hurt that his friends had been teasing him about losing – telling him they were going to send him to spelling bootcamp, and they were going to get him a Billabong sweatshirt.  He can be a fragile creature – he’s never been tolerant of teasing, which, of course, makes him that much more fun to tease.  He either didn’t think to tease them back for not getting as far as he did, or he didn’t want to hurt their feelings or be perceived as boasting, and so didn’t say anything except to ask them to stop.  Maybe we’ll replace spelling practice with witty come-back practice….

Last night, before the bee at our chalice-lighting, he was thankful for the dog (who he proclaimed was softer than his mother is), and for snow days.  I was thankful for snow days and fires, and for spelling with my boy.  I’m so proud of him.

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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Yesterday was a gym run (no ladies), home, and then I finally managed to get all the lights off the Christmas tree.  When you put 2500 lights on (perhaps more?), you have to wait until you can take the tree outside to take them off or you’ll have the whole tree, in pieces, on your living room floor.  Today was the first time since the New Year that I was home when it wasn’t snowing, raining, or frigid for a long enough chunk of time to do it.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day.  I asked B to come out on the deck and do some shoveling.  He did so, sullenly.  After a few minutes, he threatened to go on strike.  I suggested it wasn’t a great idea.  He went back to shoveling.  He cleared a path and said “There!”, waiting expectantly for me to say he could go in.  I said, “Looks great.  Do a little more.”  He asked, “What’s the point in doing more?  It’ll either melt or get covered, but it’s not in our way.”  I glanced over at him and went back to my work on the tree.  That is usually enough to get him to return to what needs to be done, but this day he said, “Mom, seriously.”  So, I explained that it was a rare warm day and there was a bit of time before night fell, that the snow was likely to refreeze and be really difficult to remove it he didn’t do it then, and that it was a good time to do it because the dog and I were out on the deck to keep him company.  He yanked up the shovel and got back to it.  When he finished another section, the bulk of the deck, I said, “Looks great.  You can go in if you want.”  He said, “Thanks. I’m sorry I complained.”  I said, “I appreciate your working through it.”  He kissed my cheek and headed in.  When B was very little, my father told me he thought I explained too much to B, and that he should just do things because I told him to.  I thought about

When B was very little, my father told me he thought I explained too much to B, and that he should just do things because I told him to.  I thought about that, and adjusted my thinking a little, but not a lot.  A few years later he (my father) told me he’d been paying attention, and that he thought my explanations really worked.  What a gift, to have your father swallow his pride to tell you you’re doing a good job as a parent.  I don’t know if my approach would work with a child of a different temperament, or if there were more to focus on that just B and me, but it does seem to work for us.  Information, plus steadily-applied (persistent) expectations, plus not getting riled, plus genuine gratitude.  Don’t we all wish we had this from others.

Studying for the spelling bee seems to have become linked to our chalice lighting.  We usually spell for a while, and then thank for a while.  Tonight I had B walk around the house and review the sticky notes with the words that had previously been difficult.  He missed the one in the fridge, so I sent him back for that one (“epicurean”).  Tonight’s difficult words:  “pusillanimous”, “milieu”, and “ancillary”.  We stopped spelling when his eyes got droopy, and I lit the chalice.  Tonight Mythankfulboy raised up my persistence (his word) in helping him study.  I was thankful for having gotten the lights off of the tree.  Persistence paying off.

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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If I needed you

I was on gym duty today, which meant picking B and his friend up from school and driving them to the gym, then picking them up and taking the friend home.  This has recently evolved into the transport of an additional two female passengers, as well, and this was the first time it had affected my gym run.  The silence in the car was palpable.  I had been told I couldn’t gush that it was SO good to MEET them, so I asked a few basic questions (i.e., “How was school?” and “Everybody got what they need?”), and then let the silence fall.  Adorable.

Back at home, B and I went our separate ways for a while, back together for dinner, and apart again until I threatened bodily harm if he didn’t get in the shower.  He seemed very frightened.  After his shower he pushed and prodded the dog to the side of the other chair in front of the fire and cozied down into the chair with him.  We talked about his day (Me: “So, you guys were pretty quiet in the car today!” Him: “Yeah – AWKARD!”) and mine (Him: “What did you do today?” Me: “Well, my computer wouldn’t turn on for the first half of the day, so I had to get creative.”), about the Valentine’s Day cards we just bought and have to get in the mail tomorrow if we’re even going to pretend we were trying to get them to the grandparents on time, and then we studied for the bee.  Tonight we reviewed the hard words from the last week: “edification” (one “d” or 2?), “sabbatical” (one “b” or 2?), “en route” and “terra-cotta” (space or hyphen?), and “abysmal” and “hyacinth” (darn those “y”s!)  This is so fun for me, and he’s enjoying it, too.

We moved to his room for the chalice.  There, Mythankfulboy said he was thankful that I was helping him study for the spelling bee.  In a moment of quiet a few minutes later, he also said he was thankful that we had each other.  “If I were on the streets, you would take care of me, and if you were on the streets, I would take care of you.”  At the time, I said yes – aren’t we blessed to know that and to have each other.  As I write this now, I’m reminded of a song I used to sing to him when he was a baby, the Don Williams song “If I Needed You (Would You Come to Me). When he got older, he said it was too sad.  I think it’s just right.

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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Is it their fault?

Quote and response about the homeless 021015

I mentioned in my post about last night’s thankfulness ritual that Mythankfulboy and I, along with some friends, had walked down a city street on which we passed some folks in sincere need.  They needed food, water, warmth, and protection from the elements. They needed a place to clean themselves and their belongings.  They needed safety.  Some, I’m sure, needed companionship or medical help or for someone to look them in the eye and see them for who they were at that moment, and in all their moments.  This didn’t come up in our chalice lighting last evening, but I wanted to make sure that we thought about it in the context of our gratitude ritual.

I keep a dry erase board propped on an easel in the kitchen for a written call-and-response of sorts between B and me.  Typically, I write a quote and its author, and a quick line about the author if I know anything (for this one I could not even find the original source).  It then stays on the board until B thinks about it and responds.  Sometimes he interprets it in his own words, sometimes he creates a joke, and sometimes he free-associates.  This one he was ready to respond to before I had even gotten the board off the kitchen table and back into its easel; he was clearly thinking about the same folks who were on my mind.  He de-capped a marker, then hesitated, stepping back from the board.  He said, “I think it means it’s not their fault.”   I looked at him and nodded just a little to let him know I was listening, but I let the silence grow.  This left room for him to ask, “Is it?  I mean is it any of their faults?”

Fault.  A hard word.  I said, “I don’t think anyone really wants to live on the street.  They may sometimes choose it over other places to live out of fear or because they aren’t able to make the decisions they need to make to maintain a different place to live, but I don’t think anyone sets out in life to be homeless.”  We stayed there a moment, each lost in our thoughts.  Then I realized I hadn’t really answered the “fault” part. I said, “Fault is a word we use when we are looking for someone to blame, and when we find someone to blame, we humans like to punish them. I don’t think we need to know whose fault it is, and even if we could figure something like that out, I don’t believe that we get to decide that someone deserves such a harsh life in punishment.  I think what we need to know is how we can help.”

At that point, he raised the marker again and wrote his response: “I felt sorry for the homeless we saw.  Next time we go into the city I will bring some money to help support them.”

His words are simple, and reflect budding understanding.  I took the liberty with the picture of highlighting the words “support them”.  I’m glad he used these words.  I’m glad he didn’t say “save them” or “fix them”.  I hope he grows into those words.

At the chalice lighting, we were so, so grateful for the roof over our heads as hail pelted the ground, for heat and warm clothes and all the food we could wish for.  B said he was glad we had a small house that wasn’t any bigger than we really needed.  I said me, too.

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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


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