En Garden

As with any disastrous event, people think of food.  I’ve never been an emotional eater, but I now am aware I’m a bored eater.  Not cool.  Working on that.  

For some reason, when this thing really cranked up and people started hoarding (and I still do NOT get the toilet paper and bottled water thing), I had this overwhelming urge to grow edibles.  This year, I have planted a doomsday garden.  Granted, I try every year to grow at least some, and some years I’ve actually done pretty damn well.  Usually, however, my initial good intentions become choked with weeds, when I realize I have zero time to maintain a garden.  

Did you know if you stick the end of a bok choy plant in water, it grows? One is becoming 5. I may never need to actually purchase vegetables again.

Felix, as you might imagine, is in love with this, being a fan of anything plant-related.  Yes, he still has aspirations of being a botanist in addition to about 4-5 other things.  Botanist is always # 1, however.  Stella is somewhat less-amused here in the beginning stages, but tough shit, she’s along for the ride, anyway.  Where else is she going to go, amiright?  (She is desperate to raise chickens, but until she can learn to consistently throw away her gummy bear wrappers and brush her own hair, no f’ing way.)  Anyway, I’ve found the criteria for a couple of Girl Scout badges, and 2 of them directly relate to my doomsday garden. 

Hey.  Wouldn’t a Doomsday Garden patch be amazing?

Back to Felix.  He pulled a fast one on me months ago, and it’s just now coming to light – literally.  He snuck some pumpkin seeds into the flower bed, and now I have about 6 rogue pumpkin plants starting to rise up and be free.  He’s proud as punch of his handiwork, and is on the cusp of naming them.  He’s leaning toward “Needlepoint Leaf” and “Needlepoint Leaf Jr” for two of them but the others need to get a bit older first. 

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The Seven Deadly Pinterests

Social media has become probably more important to many of us during this thing – a safe way to be social. I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed the memes, gifs, songs, and other assorted mirth-inducing materials I’ve seen. It actually has helped. I’ve enjoyed seeing more from people that normally don’t do much on Facebook and Instagram, but now find themselves with time and a desire to do so.

This has been my absolute favorite so far…

While I started this whole situation with a modicum of optimism and grace, that’s starting to erode. The kids and I were going to get shit done. We were going to do arts and crafts, science, cooking. We were going to keep their scouting going by earning badges/belt loops at home. We were going to find ways to exercise and move around. Most days, I’ve actually done at least some of the stuff on that list. Other days? I’ve had to let a whole lot of stuff go.

I do kind of rock at the science thing

The whole juggling homeschooling/my actual job has proven a bit more complicated than I thought. I’ve seen all those social media posts about letting your kid have a 1980’s style month or two, where they go kind of feral, eating nothing but pop tarts and Doritos, whiling away the hours playing video games or watching the tube. I’m also inundated with all these “helpful” posts, full of lists of ideas for enrichment and homeschooling schedules. At this point, those are anything but helpful. They’re overwhelming and make me feel like a f’ing failure.

This is a real-life Pinterest immersion, y’all.

Stella is a little blue, but within limits

I cannot create mythical creatures out of recycled materials and plant matter while teaching my social-studies-hating daughter the Bill of Rights (which I’m going to be honest about ….I haven’t looked at that crap in 25 years or so) while trying to force my fiction-hating son to read a storybook while I’m reading a groundwater report and jotting down notes so I can bang out a quick letter when I finally decide to be brave and run to the office for 30 minutes. Oh yeah, and my husband is home, loudly barking into his phone, pacing like a caged tiger (don’t get me started on Tiger King) AND LEAVING HIS F’ING SOCKS ALL OVER THE FLOOR.

Deep breath. I’m done. I know we’re all in this together yet apart and yada yada yada. It’s the weekend now, which might not mean a whole lot at the moment. At least I don’t have groundwater reports and I do give the kids a break from my paltry attempts at homeschooling. Maybe next week, 2 days of confinement from now, I’ll find a new reserve of optimism and try again. But please…no more lists. I already have enough lists of suggestions and resources at this moment to last 4 pandemics. People like me – the wanna-be overachievers and sort-of Type A personalities? We can’t take it. We’re tired and we’re only 2 weeks in with at least 2 more to go (and let’s be honest…particularly here in Louisiana, that’s likely to increase). At this point,I’d probably let my kids go feral for a week with their tablets, except too much tablet time turns them into assholes. I haven’t seen a list for that.

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Pots and Pandemics

Hi. Remember me? I suppose I could make some droll comment about how it took a pandemic to get me behind a keyboard but I won’t. I have been preparing to come back to the old blog, but hadn’t gotten around to it. I have been writing – a lot – it’s just not the fun kind. Now, I think we all have a whole lot of free time.

I’m working from home pretty much full time now. I’m lucky. Not only is my employer allowing me to do it, I’m also already very familiar with telecommuting, having done it for years. So for me, this has been a pretty easy transition, other than now I’m telecommuting with my children and husband. THAT is new. I often tag my photos in social media posts with “#bombfactory” or “#bombfactoryonwheels.” Why? No, we don’t make explosives. We just are explosive. My 2 kids with ADHD in the same place in time and space are a force. It can be visceral. My viscera may be liquefied by the end of this thing. I hope not. Toilet paper is still AWOL pretty much everywhere I go.

Have y’all noticed that time is passing in a very strange way now? I have to stop and think about what day it is. There are no unique markers for many of them. No scout meetings. No PTO meetings. No meetings of any kind. No restaurant nights to support the school. I’m losing time. I’ll look up and expect the clock to read 1:00 PM and it will be 5:00. I haven’t experienced this kind of sensation since I was home on maternity leave. I’m not sure where the time is going.

Wasn’t it justChristmas?

Speaking of time, I’m definitely aware of how much time I end up wasting in carpool and pissing away arguing with my children over homework. I don’t miss those things. At all. Sure, I have to argue with my kids over what schoolwork they should be doing, but it’s not that extra hour or two at the end of the day when everyone is spent and I’m trying to get something for dinner ready for 2 kids coming off their ADHD med who haven’t eaten all day and are acting like feral dogs that haven’t had a meal in a week and I need them to GET IT DONE so we can go to jiu jitsu because trying to get them on homework after jiu jitsu is pretty much impossible…. I get exhausted just typing that. Ah, mom life.

And I hate the disruption from jiu jitsu. Stella was becoming a bit of a beast…

So I’m trying to make the best of this, as are we all. I have big plans. Our house will be purged, organized, and gleaming at the end of this thing. I want to learn how to cook some new stuff that I usually don’t have time to cook. Beef Wellington. I’ve never had it. I want to try to make it so I can eat it. I have prepped and planted our garden. I have a large blanket I’ve been knitting for almost 2 years. I can finish that. I’m going to do science kits with Felix and make polymer clay figures with Stella. We can watch movies. We have a projector that we can set up outside to watch them al fresco, at least until it gets too hot and buggy. We can snuggle. We can play games. We can read books together as a group.

But they are getting on my damn nerves.

Sorry. I should have kept that in.

We can do this, y’all.

Stella was just wrapping up cookie season when this thing blew up. I still have cookies sitting around (dammit). Here was this year’s cookie video if you’re bored:


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Rock and Rigmarole

Yes, I’m still alive and kicking.  I suppose that was something of a shitty move, dropping two rather heavy blogs and walking away for a while.  Couldn’t really be helped.

So what’s been going on?  Lots, as usual.  We’ve had something going on around our house since roughly late June, and I really wish I could talk about it.  It’s not bad.  It’s actually pretty remarkable and is absolutely the strangest thing that’s ever happened to us -up to and including having children.  But I can’t talk about it publicly or it might disappear.  Yes, it’s one of those “if I told you I’d have to kill you” deals.  No, death wouldn’t be necessary, but consequences could be severe.  This mystery thing, however, does take up a hell of a lot of time.  It’s one of those mixed blessing/first world problem deals.  That probably made no sense.  Suffice it to say, as a result of this thing, I’ve found myself saying things to my  husband I never thought I would, such as “don’t you dare get the bear spray.”

We took another trip to the beach – with my mom and stepdad this time.  It was really great.  It was what the doctor ordered.  It was what a beach trip should be – sans alcoholic.  There have still been repercussions from that awful shit-show of a “vacation,” the worst being the impact on my daughter.  Stella woke up for weeks crying, worrying about the health of the drunk person and missing her great-grandmother that she lost earlier this year.  She is very much aware of mortality now.  She’s worried about the health of her other grandparents.  The latest beach trip reset her a bit, I think, but I still get random comments.  All I can say is fuck alcoholism.

Work is work.  We’re into one of the two parent-crushing months with school stuff (the other being late April-early May).  There are parties, and teacher gifts, and school programs, and cards, and so and so needs a holiday shirt with this particular theme to it…  It’s pretty overwhelming.  Our tree is up, at least, and our halls decked.  Holiday plans with family are coming together.  I hope.

Me?  I guess you could say I’m clawing my way back.  Depression isn’t something you just wake up from.  Some days my energy feels 100%.  Other days, I feel myself wanting to come apart for no particular reason.  I can say I have more better days than worse days.  Things are improving.  I just wish they’d improve quicker.

We still seem to get battered by more germ/maladies than usual. I’m finding myself just wanting a new calendar, hoping against hope that 2020 is a bit more even-keel.  The latest?  Felix had a series of odd fever viruses and a random cold which meant that he was basically getting sick almost every week and missing school for about a month.  There was a cold that took every one of us out right before Thanksgiving.  There was a very minor (thankfully) stomach bug.  My corneas revolted, becoming severely red and sore until I finally broke down and went to the doctor.  It was something called keratitis, meaning they were just really pissed off.  I’ve had to use these crazy, horribly viscous eye drops for weeks now.  I go back today for a follow up.

So, not my most interesting blog, but I felt like folks ought to know I’m still out here.  Maybe once the school rigmarole calms down I can get back to writing more.  I do miss it.


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Everything But the Kitchen Drink

Dear C,

You’ll never read this, and although I’ve said much of this directly to you, you won’t remember it.  You were drunk.  Not even drunk as a skunk.  Skunks deserve better.  You were ugly nasty mean fucking hideous drunk.  This is more for me than for you.

You’ve crossed the Boundary That Shall Not Be Crossed with me.  Your behavior has left me no choice.  I’m erecting a wall, complete with barbed wire and a reptile-filled moat.  You need to know that.  My mother bear was already growling before this past weekend.  Now she’s awake and she is pissed.

We’ve all watched you for years.  You’ve never been an easy person to deal with.  As an adult and after much reflection, I realize you likely have borderline personality disorder.  You were volatile, swinging from being a candidate for the “most caring person on the planet” award, to swinging wire hangers.  You said nasty things and then either pretended you didn’t or managed to justify it.  You were lonely.  You were frustrated with so and so, so you lashed out at other so and so.  You were in pain.  You had a horrible childhood.  There was always a reason.

Over the years, the alcoholism got worse.  Alcoholism and compulsive gambling are both common co-morbid conditions along with borderline personality disorder, by the way.  Your body has been breaking down for years.  Now, you look like a scarecrow.  Your liver is so pissed off that your ankles are swelling and you itch constantly.  You scratch your itch and then bleed.  Your stomach is constantly upset so you can’t eat.  Funny, though, how your upset stomach can handle the vodka.

We’ve managed to navigate this now for some time.  We got together for our vacations, and for the most part, we managed to just flow around you.  You wouldn’t get really drunk until later in the evening after my kids were asleep, should we be staying under the same roof, or after we retired back to wherever it was we were staying.  And candidly, we just kind of pretended you didn’t exist (except that you did because you and your illness have dominated discussions for years and years).  The good times?  There was that one time when you fell – the second bad drunken fall where you had to be hospitalized and put into rehab for a lengthy period.  We got our dad for a while.  Just him and his laughter.  Otherwise, you hold him hostage.  He’s afraid to leave you.  He’s fearful you might fall again, or burn something on the stove in the kitchen such that he comes in from a brief outing to smoke and the detector screaming.  His world has gotten very small and the walls are your disease.

I’m oversimplifying, I know.  But those are the nuts and bolts.

I had expected this trip to be the same.  It wasn’t.  Seems you decided to give day drinking a whirl.  You were too drunk the morning you were supposed to travel, meaning you were delayed leaving.  We thought for a moment the trip would be cancelled.  Would that it had been.  I’m not sure you were sober for even an hour of the trip.  You spent most of the time either sleeping or mumbling pretty incoherently from the balcony.  We kept the kids busy swimming and going places.  They didn’t notice, at least not for a while. But you’ve developed this wonderful new habit: you get in bed and then yell and holler.  The first night you did it, I was on pins and needles, just waiting for my kids to wake up and wonder what was happening.

The last night we were together, you had planned some kind of “birthday party” for my kids.  This was confusing, as Stella’s was 3 weeks ago and Felix’s isn’t until February.  No matter.  You ordered cakes, got balloons, and had little gifts.  We would have the party after dinner.  Only at dinner, you arrived drunk and continued to drink.  During dinner you complained – you couldn’t see, it was too dark, the menu was confusing, there was cheese on the salad, the bread they promised was late, the seats were uncomfortable, she forgot your other martini, it was cold.  It’s always cold.  In between complaints (which is pretty much standard for eating in restaurants with you, BTW….. It’s great.  That was sarcasm.), you acted like a drunk frat boy with Stella. “I love you, man.  You’re so sweet.  You take such care of me.  I love you.”  You then proceeded to tell me about some fucking Vince Gill song about a little girl getting sexually abused – as you’re sitting by my little girl.  The food came.  You didn’t like it. It was too dark to eat. Your shoe fell off.  You bullied the poor waitress into giving you a to-go cup for your drink, despite the fact it’s against state law.  You said “I don’t care” when we tried to convince you she could lose her job, the restaurant could lose their liquor license.

I had gotten pissed at this point, and wanted my kids away from you and your horrible drunken behavior.  It took you about 5 minutes to get your shoe back on and drop the F bomb throughout the restaurant crowded with families.  I stood and watched  from a distance with my kids in the rain rather than have them see that. We beat you back to the condo, at which point Will and I hurriedly suited them up for a night swim.  To hell with your party.  Turns out the party was a bust, anyway.  You passed out immediately.  We managed to get the kids to bed before your moaning and yelling began, but a short time later you awakened to…. You guessed it!  Drink some more.  All the while you chanted about the martinis “kicking my butt.”  Yep.  That’ll happen when you start drinking in the morning and keep it going all day.

The next morning, you somehow managed to get out of bed while my kids were still eating breakfast.  You gave them each a balloon and started hooting and hollering about happy birthday.  They were confused.  You tried to show Stella her cake but that’s when  the skin on your arm opened up and you started bleeding.  Stella was upset and a bit scared.  That’s when I was asked to discuss your behavior with you at dinner the previous night.  I knew it wasn’t going to change you.  I did hope it might keep you a bit contained until the end of the trip.  I described the things you had done, had said.  I told you that this behavior would not be tolerated around my children, that it was not ok.  You actually thanked me and hugged me.  We went to the beach and pool and took dad with us, because you said you were fine. You’d join us later.  Instead, you drank and were already incoherent by the time we came up to break for lunch.  Will, the kids, and I just left and went out to eat.  We came back and then back out to swim.  I wanted the kids away from you.  That’s when we decided we just needed to leave a day early.  You obviously would not be getting sober by dinner, and I had already come to the conclusion that we don’t  need to go to restaurants with you anymore.

We went  up to pack.  You claimed you weren’t drunk.  I asked you not to be dishonest. You persisted. I told you you were full of shit.  I kept packing.  You approached again, confused.  Why were we leaving?  I gave the synopsis.  You approached yet again.  This time you went for the time-tested mean and nasty approach.  Christmas was off.  They weren’t coming.  I said that was your decision.  You said some other mean things, but by that point (and this probably sounds dramatic), my adrenaline was flowing and my mind was chanting one thing: Get your kids out NOW.  Will came in with some supplies and a luggage cart.  You came stumbling back, wanting to say goodbye to the kids.  I reluctantly let you near Felix.  You started your shit about how he needed to give you a big hug because you probably wouldn’t see them for a long, long time.  They wouldn’t be coming for Christmas.  I told you enough, to get away from my kid (who thankfully was oblivious, watching his tablet and eating chips).  You wanted to see Stella.  Will was fuming by this point, and suggested you watch very carefully what you said to her – she was already worried and agitated after seeing your skin just split and run with blood earlier that morning.  I told you to just go.  You told me you were proud of me for being so mean.  Whatever.  We just needed to leave.

Dad came back a short while later, asking me to hug you one more time.  I looked at him like he was insane.  He asked me to hug you – for him.  Stella was desperate to say goodbye.  I reluctantly walked her back.  She hugged you and I urged her to walk away.  You walked toward me as if you would hug me, but instead shouted “Fuck you” at me in front of my daughter.  We left.

I’m done with you.  You will not be around my children anymore.  We will never dine with you again.  We will never stay under the same roof with you.  You cannot be trusted.  You fucked with my kids.  You broke my most fundamental rule.  Because of your disease and behavior, we drove my ancient car in the dark and pouring rain rather than stay at that condo with you for one more moment.  Because of your disease and your behavior, we had to sit our daughter down the next morning to talk about addiction, alcoholism, and why she heard her Grammy say terrible things to her mother.

You say you’re in pain – that’s why you drink.  I say you’re causing pain.  I say that no judge would set free a drunk driver who mowed down a family, who was only drinking because they were in pain.  And while I should be compassionate and understanding – you’re mentally ill, after all – right now I am glad you are in pain.  You fucking deserve it.

You have one hope, although I know it’s a fruitless one:  You go to serious in-patient rehab.  You go to meetings.  You collect some chips.  THEN and ONLY then will you be allowed to spend time in person with my children. But we all know that’s not going to happen.

I should probably close this with the same “fuck you” you left me with, but I won’t.  As angry as I am and as hopeless as I know it is, I do hope you get help.  If not, I don’t think you have much time left.  It’s a shame that our last interaction will be such an ugly one.

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No Punny Title Today

I just found out someone died – someone that used to be a huge part of my life. I hadn’t seen him in nearly 30 years. That’s kind of awful, that someone can go from being a huge, day-to-day part of your life and then *snap*- you haven’t seen them in nearly 30 years. I guess that’s the way shit works sometimes.

The person I speak of was my first stepfather. He and my mom were married for roughly 10 years. I vaguely remember him coming into our lives sometime during my 2nd grade year and then them splitting up at the beginning of my senior year. He and I weren’t mutual fans at first. I’m not sure he was ever a man that wanted kids, and I was still probably kind of pissed off that a stepfather was necessary in the first place. He was all into absolutes, the “you follow _______ rule because I said so.” I wanted to know why, the justification for _________ rule. He thought I was challenging him when I questioned him and would get mad. I thought he was just being mean because he would get mad at what were -I thought- perfectly reasonable questions. At the end, though, I was pretty gutted when they split up, very angry at my mom.

My memory can be a funny thing. Maybe that’s everyone. I don’t remember an awful lot about that time, but the fragments, clips I do have are very rich, very detailed. And did I say random? This is a brain dump of stuff that’s been in my head since my mom called me and told me he died.

His house – and it was his house – had pretty hideous furniture looking back. At the time, I though it was luxe and cool. He had this chaise lounge, probably comparable to a double bed in width. It was brown and fuzzy. It was the ultimate kid seat. He also had these white couches with metallic edges. I thought they were fancy.

His whole house was carpeted. This was Pennsylvania in the 80’s. I remember it being peach colored, maybe? In the winter, I’d lay on the floor in his living room watching cartoons with my feet jammed up against the furnace vents. It was the only warm place.

The yard had amazing trees in it – about 4 maples. Two or three of them were great for climbing. I spent a lot of time in those trees. I think I even dragged a board up in my favorite so I could perch and read books.

He lost his job at one point – the company was bought out by a French entity and they let everyone go. After that, he’d get pretty angry if I spoke French at home (which sucked because I was taking French and needed to practice). Before that, he took the same thing to lunch every single day: 2 Lebanon Bologna sandwiches cut in 4’s and a 2 pack of peanut butter Tasty Kakes. He would use the same brown paper bag over and over. He might have also reused the ziplocks. I thought that was so weird. I also used to get pissed about the Tasty Kakes, as I could never have any. I guess I talked about that a lot, as Will asked “was this the guy that ate the same lunch every day for years?” when I told him he had died.

He had an almost Depression era mentality, especially when it came to soap. In our bathroom closet, there lived several square plastic tubs where soap chips went to live. You know what soap chips are: when soap is used/dissolved to the point where there is just a tiny, flat chip left. I’m not sure what the plan was for the soap chips, if he was going to melt them down into bars or what. He collected soap chips FOR YEARS. I don’t think he ever did anything with them.

He was a Vietnam vet. He didn’t like to talk about that.

Despite his opulent and obvious 1980’s furniture, he spent most of his time in what was a man-cave (of course we didn’t call it that then). He had slipped discs in his back which caused him a lot of pain. He spent most of his down time laying on sheepskin rugs doing exercises on the floor of said man-cave. The walls – even what had been a closet with doors removed – were lined with bookshelves chock full of those books you could order from TV infomercials that had the matching spines. He must have had hundreds.

I don’t ever really remember him being hands-on with me. When I would take over his living room when I’d get sick – hours and hours of watching Poltergeist over and over, or blaring Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence, Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U, and Peter Murphy’s Cuts U Up videos during my mono experience, he would just navigate around me. That was ok. That was our understanding. Once though, when I had pierced my ear slightly wrong (just jamming a stud in myself, of course), I must have nicked a vein. All I remember is blood running down my neck and getting all woozy. He followed me into the single bathroom and made me put my head between my legs, then helped me get cleaned up. I took the stupid earring out.

He was not adventurous then. He didn’t want to travel or try new foods. That bummed out my mother after a while, and probably me as well. We learned later that he remarried a nice woman with at least one child (a girl, I think) and they traveled. I think they even went overseas, which blew my mind. You can’t help but wonder when stuff like that happens “what if?” Regardless, I’m glad he found happiness – someone that could drag him out of his man-cave and away from his bookshelves.

We were both kind of satellites orbiting my mom. We all found a working system by the end. Largely under his roof, I went from angry and sad second grader to goth teenager. I’m glad we found peace with each other.

Who I was when I got there

Who I was when I left

We were Facebook friends, but didn’t communicate much. He posted a lot of silly memes and videos – the type and extent of which can clog your feed – so I actually had him hidden. I feel pretty bad about that now. We last had a message exchange about a year and a half ago. An old neighbor lady died that used to watch me sometimes, and he wanted me to know. He also said he loved watching my kids grow up on Facebook. That was it.

His death was very sudden and unexpected, which I suppose is a good thing. His wife was able to donate some organs, which I really like the idea of. I hope he was happy at the end. It seems like he was. I’m glad. I like that idea.

Goodbye, Greg.

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Depress Your Luck

This is one of those “speak my truth” moments.  I’m depressed.  Not “having a bad day/week” depressed.  Like actually depressed.  Now that I’m acknowledging it, I think I’ve probably been this way for a while.

I think my shitty summer was as much a function of the depression as it was pneumonia, stupid weather, other irregularities.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed….like really laughed.  I don’t seem to find joy in anything.  Things that should make me happy don’t.  Sometimes they stress me out.  “Fun” things feel like something else I have to do, to manage.

I have no patience.  I’m currently not the best mom, wife, friend.  I don’t talk to people unless I have to.  I stay in my office at work.  I don’t talk to my colleagues/friends.  It feels like a job to do so.  I hear them out in the halls visiting and I just cannot make myself join in.  Granted, much of the time they’re complaining about stuff and now let’s circle back the the first sentence in this paragraph about the patience shit.  I’m clearly negative enough for myself, F you very much.

I feel so F-ing emo.  This isn’t cool.  I’m normally a very logical person.  I can’t figure out what has changed, what’s different.  I feel like if I could figure out when and how this paradigm shift occurred, I could fix it.  I’m still taking my stupid Wellbutrin.  I’m in the same house, same spouse, same kids, same lame-ass job.  I’m still obsessing about my kids, their ADHD, school.

I don’t look depressed, right?

Maybe I’m just tired and worn down. People talk about taking mental health days, but I don’t think they mean it. I’m not sure it would do much good.

I want myself back.  I just don’t know how to do that.


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The Son Also Rises

Dear Felix,

I want to tell you a few things, but since you aren’t really able to have heavier conversations, I figured I’d jot it down for later.

First, please know that this summer was not the summer I wanted us to have.  I got sick and just had no energy.  We didn’t go and do as much as we usually go and do.  We went to Tennessee with Oui Oui right when school got out, and I’m so grateful for that trip – especially for the experiences you got to have.  You saw mountains and rocks in situ for the first time in your life.  While Stella was happily alpine sledding, you were content to “mine” for minerals and fossils.  We probably spent $100 on buckets of dirt seeded with delightful stuff and it was worth every penny.  You could have done that all day (and almost did), and I was content to sit with you while you did it.  I estimate you came home with at least 30 lbs of rocks and fossils.  You are your MyMom’s son.

But otherwise, we didn’t do much.  There was an odd trip to the trampoline park or Chuck E Cheese here,and a museum or two there, but we stayed close to home.  We didn’t go to jiu jitsu much, not because you didn’t want to go (although you did complain vigorously about sweating in the heat in your heavy gi), but because I just didn’t have the energy.  That stops once school starts, by the way.

You’re getting ready to start first grade.  As usual, I’m a nervous wreck.  You’re not where I want you to be or where you need to be.  You need to be in a gifted classroom.  I have fought and continue to fight for that.  Everyone that talks to you thinks you’re f’ing brilliant, from the guy at the grocery store yesterday to the lady at the pharmacy when we went to get your meds.  You’ve spent the summer reading about the periodic table, chemistry, and physics.  We wrote to Bill Nye, but he never wrote back (bastard!).  We are currently germinating  Coast Redwood seeds because you’re fascinated by them.  We spent part of this past weekend playing with the gallium you’ve wanted for months (and special thanks to your JoePop for sending you stuff like gallium and Coast Redwood growing kits).  I spent the rest of the weekend cleaning up the results from the gallium.  Playing with gallium makes it look like the Tin Man had the shits upon every surface of the house.

But I digress.  I’m sorry you have to grow up in a system that doesn’t seem to value your kind of gifts.  I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to make these people see reason – to look at the mountains of evidence suggesting your immense potential but they won’t because they’re hung up on one f’ing test score.  I’m sorry I keep dragging you places to be tested.  My heart almost broke after the last one, when you asked “MyMom, how many more of these do I have to take?”

You have such a sweet nature.  You get upset when someone prunes or otherwise cuts into a tree.  You want to nurture absolutely everything.  You get upset when other kids even pretend to “shoot” you with a stick.  That’s just not who you are.  Yesterday  you spent about 5 minutes studying Pillow the Violet (yes, you name all your plants), rubbing your cheeks on the leaves because they are soft (like a pillow – duh!).

I worry.  I worry that other kids are going to start to get mean, calling you weird or worse because you’d rather discuss plants or elements than video games or monster trucks.  I worry you may have to actually use the jiu jitsu you’re learning (but oh shit we’ve been missing lots of classes…).

I’m going to continue to worry.  I’m going to continue to fight.  I’m going to continue to indulge your curiosity as much as I possibly can.  I’m going to continue to soak up all the little moments like when you rub your cheek on a violet leaf, knowing that one day probably soon the world might dull that impulse for you.  I’m also going to try to put my worry aside, because I don’t want you to know that I worry.  I want you to continue to walk out the door each day feeling confident and curious, hoping you always will (and steeling myself for when and if that changes).

I hope you read this one day as a happy, kind, successful man.  I hope you have mostly happy memories of being a kid.  I do try to make sure that happens for you and your sister.  I hope you’ve continued to be led by your sense of wonder, and that you’re pursuing a degree or career in the things you’ve always talked about: botany, engineering, paleontology (well, maybe not that because jobs and stuff), architecture, chemistry, or street performing (maybe not that, either).  I hope you know that your MyMom loved you more than she could ever tell or show. And I hope you always call me MyMom.

Good luck this year, Dude.

I love you. We got this.

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Thank You For Your Nervous

About a week ago, I drafted a post.  It was driven by worry, and the worry was driven by “experts” who were convinced – and were in turn convincing – that we were about to be destroyed by hurricane-driven flooding.  I mean, we were going to GET IT.  So I penned (typed?) a maudlin post about how the rest of the world forgets once these storms pass but to us, the names linger forever and we often sound like we’re talking about the guest list at a bad hipster party no one wants to go to.

Fortunately, the “experts” were wrong for most of us here (and yes, I know others got the snot kicked out of them), and instead of getting 20″ of rain in 36 hours, we only got about 2,” which is roughly the equivalent of a normal Louisiana summer thunderstorm.  Experts, schmexperts. Piss off, I say.

While hunkering down in preparation for our destruction, we did make the most epic box fort. It was twice the size of the couch. The kids spent about 10 minutes in it.

But all that does little to calm the building nerves, nerves which are building because of the looming apparition that is the start of the latest school year.  There are only about 3 weeks left of summer.  The panic is setting in.  We haven’t done any of our mandatory reading (Stella) or assignments (both kids).  I never did get to finish working with the psychologist for Felix, so I guess he’s back in a regular classroom with an unknown entity.  I’ll have to continue to tilt at that windmill.

Did I tell y’all I figured out what my next tattoo will be?  I menacing yet feminine looking sword in black and gray, with a billowing orange ribbon on the hilt for the ADHD.  I feel like I’m often at war because of it.

Stella will be off to 4th grade, but without her guardian angel present.  That wonderful human being moved with her family over the summer.  I’m a nervous wreck about that.  I always knew that if Stella freaked out or otherwise had a really bad day, this person was there to get her somewhere safe for regrouping.  I don’t know any of Stella’s teachers yet, and will they be willing to work a little harder to “get” her? I don’t know how the hell I’m going to manage 2 f’ing simultaneous carpools.  I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to do that this year.

It just makes me so sad and tired, y’all.  I just want to shelve all of this and try to relax and shake off the nerves.  And I guess I can…for a little while.  But I just remembered I still have to inventory uniforms and replace what’s needed in the next few weeks and school supply shop for Stella….Dammit.

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The Whole Is Greater Than the Summer Of Its Parts

About a month ago, I was talking to my good friend, M (I’ll stop short of calling her the Divine Ms. M, only because that’s already been taken, but she is and she’s the mother of my bonus child, fighter of my similar fight, drinker of wine, cusser of things that need to be cussed, and kindred of spirit), and we both remarked about how great last summer was; our kids were both in a great camp program that we trusted, which is huge when your kids are a bit different.  We were able to relax for a while.  No homework.  No drama.  Just camp followed by quiet, peaceful evenings – or as peaceful as evenings at the Bomb Factory can get.  Summer reading.  Arts and crafts.

This summer, neither of us can seem to get into that headspace.  Yeah, there have been health issues – my lungs, and lots of ear stuff between Stella and M’s boy.  Who knew swimmer’s ear could be such a dick?  Stella has been ornery to the extent that I’ve finally upped her meds.  She’s been on the same dose since the end of her kindergarten year, so it’s time.  Now it’s the wait and see of “is this the magic amount,” but that’s been confounded further by the ear thing.  She won’t do summer reading, yet still gets angry when Felix gloats that he’s reading more and earning more swag.  It’s just strange and unnecessary.

Camp feels different, although that could be the result of everything I just said above.  This is Stella’s 3rd year and Felix’s 2nd with this camp.   They’ve always loved it and were excited to go at the beginning of the summer.  It seems like even at camp, folks just aren’t hitting their stride.  We just finally went back to jiu jitsu last night for the first time in almost 2 weeks.  They complained the whole way there, but seemed to settle in when we got there.  Maybe now that everyone is healthy (furiously knocking on nearby wooden object), at least that can get back to normal.  Whatever the hell that means.

Felix….where to begin.  He’s funny and sweet and quirky as always.  I’m still trying to work with a psychologist to schedule more testing which may or may  not do any good for school, but should give us more information.  I guess I never worried as much about him, because he’s always been so happy and good-natured.  He never whined and hollered and acted out like his sister.  Now I’m realizing that as happy as he is, he’s simply not in tune with the rest of us most of the time.  It reminds me of the old days, trying to find that elusive radio station in your car and you end up with 2 coming through the speaker – one dominant and one faint.  I’m afraid that for Felix the rest of us are in that faint realm for him.  I don’t know how to fix that, and since I’m his MyMom and his favorite person on earth and I can’t reach him, what does that mean for the future?

We need to recapture this summer before it gets away from us completely.  I need some fun.  I need some stress-free magic in my life.  August 8 – the first day of school – looms large.

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