One of the Guys

Furry and his mom came over the other night.

I was also sitting for a neighbor's 7 year old.

Bob stopped by.

My sister called.

It was one of those perfect spring evenings where my house seemed like the hub where all points met. There was a roast in the oven, laughter around the table, wine in the fridge and music in the air.

It's nights like this that I cherish because I've learned what a luxury it is.

So, with this in mind I witnessed a moment.

The older boys were playing Trouble in the living room floor. Furry toddled over to watch, quietly planting his diapered butt between them. He watched the two boys take turns hitting the pop-o-matic and moving their pieces.
Back and forth he turned his toddler head - eyes fixed on the player in action. He figured it out pretty quick and then he made his move. He stuck his arm in and touched the plastic dome; smiled and then pulled his arm back. He continued to do this for the next 30 minutes – never grabbing the board or mussing the pieces. Just patiently waiting until his “turn” when he could put his hand in the middle like the big boys.

Pure acceptance. I know that's what he felt. Maybe he doesn't know what pride is, but I imagine how he might have felt in that moment. The big boys weren't pulling their stuff away. The grown ups weren't trying to cuddle him. No one as harrassing him to perform his latest accomplishment of walking or patty cake. No one was asking him where his belly button was.

He was basically being ignored...and accepted. He was just one of the guys.

Later, when his mom called him away for a breathing treatment he was equally proud. He stood up holding the tiny mask to his face and turned to face the boys across the room. He removed the mask just for a moment to babble for their attention. They looked up and a big smile spread across his face. "Look," he seemed to say, "Look what I can do!" He tried to toddle to them, but was tethered by the limits of the tubing attached to the mask. So, instead he stopped and removed the mask to extend it as far as his arms would reach. He was trying to share his breathing treatment with them, as they had shared their game.

I hope this child is always at ease with whatever this illness may bring. I hope he is never too self conscious to do what he needs to do to keep his body healthy. I hope he always remembers to find the magic in the moment.

Because this - this moment right now - is such a luxury.



So, Furry might be sick.

Very sick.

Cystic Fibrosis .

I’ve read med MD. I know the general prognosis.

I also know that life is not always fair and I believe that everything happens for a reason.

Regardless, it is a bit overwhelming to think that this child, whom we love so very much, may be ill. That we have taken his health and his future for granted.

I’ve asked a lot of people to pray.

I’ve reminded myself to pray.

I’ve promised that even if Furry is really really sick, I will still be annoyed by his brattiness. I will still tease him mercilessly and indoctrinate him into the ways of my family where we laugh at everything - even the bad stuff.

Especially the bad stuff.


How Much a Day Cost

Today I had lots of errands to run and I decided to keep a tally of every little expense. See, money has a way of fleeing from my life - even when I'm not intentionally out shopping.

First I dropped off Little Dog at the High School to take the SAT. (Why they have 7th graders taking the SAT is a story for another day.)

Next I went to the gym, where because I forgot my goggles, I had to buy a new pair. Luckily I was able to dig the three bucks from the depths of my coat pocket.

Less than 30 minutes out and I was down three bucks.

Then I dropped off the recycling and made $6.50. All that Pepsi I drink put me ahead by $3.50!

I further increased my day's profit by $20 for selling some CDs I had copied to my iPod. Now I am ahead by $23.50!

Picked up Little Dog, who was hungry. A Greek restaurant and some spinach pie for me, $5. Burger & fries for him, $6.

That cut into the profit a bit, but I was still feeling pretty good. That is, until Little Dog reminded me we need cat food.

$14.00 for their "prescription" food.

Now I'm down $3 again.

May as well get gas while I'm out.



I remembered, as I pulled in the drive, that we were out of milk. As Little Dog got out of the car Bob ran over to give me $50 he owed me for a desk he bought.

All right All right All right!!!

Grocery store. Hungry. Milk is at the back. Cereal on sale! Pepsi on sale! Oops, remembered we need cheese!

$87 later I head home, but not before stopping at the video store to rent 2 movies ($9).

So, all in all my day cost me....Well, I don't really even want to think about it.

Tomorrow I am going ONLY to the used bookstore to sell the latest purge of our bookshelves. I will only EARN money tomorrow.


Although, I do need to vacuum the car...and the bookstore is right down the street from the Indian smoke shop...and if Little Dog goes I can stop drop him off at the barber shop for a hair cut......



Another Brick in the Wall

Little Dog's school wants to implement a mandatory uniform policy and I am furious. I absolutely detest the idea of uniforms. The idea of conforming, itself, kind of puts me off, but I respect that in order to achieve in this world some conformity is necessary.

We're talking about Jr. High School kids here. You remember Junior High? Young teens who are only beginning to find and define themselves. Kids who are experiencing more independence and more input than ever before in their lives.

And we want to preach a message of blind conformity?!

I can tell this is going to be another situation where I yell at someone in the school administration. Much like the time I got rather heated with the Principal of his grammar school because she implemented a lunchroom policy of "Girls-on-one-side-Boys-on-the- other."

Yeah, that one did not sit very well with this feminist momma.

Anyhow, back to Jr. High. The school sent home some printed propaganda about why uniforms are so great, which I will address below.

Students in Uniform feel good about themselves and their
No. If you force teens to wear clothing which they wouldn't otherwise wear they are not going to feel "good" about themselves. They are going to feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Fewer options at home so fewer conflicts in decisions about clothes.
Uh, sure. Anytime you remove CHOICE there are going to be fewer problems with decisions. Duh. Oh, and by the way, that is NOT a good thing!!!

I have an idea. Why don't we leave in choice and encourage RESPONSIBILITY to go with it. I'm not against a dress code at all. Sure it may be convenient in theory to tell kids, "You have to wear this like it or not" and have them obey. But isn't it more productive to raise children who are able to make decisions within a certain parameter? So instead let's say, "Wear what you want as long as it does not offend the average morals." Spell it out if we have to: No obscene words, no pornographic images, no underwear showing, no cleavage...whatever guidelines are established.

When I pick Little Dog up I see the Goth kids. On more than one occasion I have wanted to approach this particular girl and ask how she manages not to pass out from heat stroke wearing a long velvet skirt and brocaded shirt when it is 102 DEGREES outside. I have wanted to point out to the chubby girl with the pink hair that maybe it's not such a good look for her. And sometimes I want to tell the guys with their pants hiked up a little too high and they are rocking a Revenge of the Nerds sorta look.

But you know what? This is their time to try it and to figure it out. So I say, let them wear the Goth, the Preppy, the Nerd, and even a little bit of the Slut - If they can get past their parents who am I to judge? What is it really hurting?
Uniforms instill a sense of belonging and team spirit.
Uh, so do gang colours, but I don't see anyone touting their virtues. 'Nuf said.

Student achievement is higher due to higher self-esteem and less
How in the hell does stifling a child's individuality raise their self esteem?! Where did TPTB get these lines? From a military manual?! Sure, if I go through Marine Corps boot camp and survive to become one of the few and the proud, hell yeah I'm gonna feel great when I put on those dress blues. By God, I've worked hard to earn the right too wear that uniform. But a kid who is just going to school and trying to figure out who he wants to be and what he wants to do? Not so much. He is not going to feel better about himself just because he is wearing the same white button down all the other guys are wearing.

Strain on family budgets is erased.
Sign me up! I'm already on a tight budget! But wait, before I sign up could you explain again how buying a whole second wardrobe, to be worn only at school, is going to save me money? he already has jeans, t-shirts, shorts, white socks and sweatshirts which I still have to replace as he grows. I mean, I just don't see Little Dog running around town in his black pants and white polo while he plays laser tag or shoots hoops and such. So yeah, I will need three or four additional pairs of slacks, five button downs for winter and 5 Polos for summer, some dress shoes and some dark socks, in addition to the usual clothes. So really, break down the economic savings of two wardrobes for me.

Uniforms eliminate peer pressure for status and
Did none of these people go to Jr. High School?! Maybe they did and they were all beautiful with super rich parents who never experienced what the rest of us schmoes did.

NEWSFLASH: You cannot eliminate peer pressure. Period. It is the foundation upon which adolescence is built. It is a rite of passage to be able to "Just Say No"; to accept that someone else's trainers are always going to have cost more; to realize and accept that some people have more money than you and some people have less.

You could put these kids in paper bags and they would immediately create a hierarchy of popularity based on whose bag came from the better store.

Jeeze! Didn't you people watch Mean Girls?! Hellooooooooooooo?

Promotes school safety and school identification.
I think the ID badges they all wear around their necks do a sufficient job of that. And, in case they don't, the four security guards patrolling the building at all times should make it safer than "mandatory slacks" ever will.


I have a pretty good feeling this whole uniform thing will be voted on and passed. I will comply, as will Little Dog. We pick and choose our battles, and this would be a losing one. Our public school system does not want inquisitive bright minds. They want culpable, impressionable minds on which to imprint the white-bread-middle-class values that have always prevailed in America.

And it's a damned shame.


The Stupidest Man I Ever Divorced: Part 2

In Which a Sweet and loving Mother commits an Incredibly Selfish Act

When we last left off RB and I had met, slept together, shared an apartment, broken up and conceived a child ... All in the span of about 5 months.

It also bears mentioning that RB's mother had put a gun to her head and killed herself a month prior to the breakup. It was the most "considerate" selfish act I had ever heard of. She spread an old blanket to minimize the mess, bought a new gun (rather than taint any in her husband's collection,) locked the cat in the guest bedroom with plenty of food and water and neatly laid out all of of her insurance information on the kitchen table.

See, she had been struggling with major depression for at least a year prior. In fact, she had made some minor attempts in the previous weeks - nothing more serious than to warrant a quick trip to the ER and a recommendation for counseling.

And she was indeed in therapy and on numerous medications. I don't know all that was in her head, but having dealt with clinical depression myself I tried to be of support. She would call in the afternoons when her husband was at work and RB was in class. We had long conversations about how proud she was of RB and how great her husband was, yet how sad she still felt. She said it made her really happy that RB had found such a nice girl as me and she looked forward to grand kids.

However, she also had some conflicting emotions. See, she had devoted her whole life to RB's happiness. Caring for him made her feel needed, and somewhere along the line "love" had turned into "need." I can only guess that what was independence to RB, felt like abandonment to her. She frequently begged him to move home "for just one more year" until he finished college. Even though he did his best to assure her it was nothing personal, and that she was still his best girl; even though we visited often and she was welcome to visit us any time, it apparently wasn't enough.

So, one evening while her husband was out of town on business, and just before RB stopped by, she ended it all.

RB walked in only moments after. I can only imagine the horror of the scene he walked into. I will spare you the details as he relayed them to me. The only thing I remember about the aftermath, was that a funeral is an awkward place to meet your boyfriend's family.

I think somehow her act was her way of expressing just how much she hurt. I don't think she was capable, from the depths of her own depression, of considering any one else's feelings. She didn't think of how this would devastate her husband of almost 30 years, and the guilt he would have to find a way to live with. She didn't consider what this would do to the emotions of a young man just entering the adult world and how it would forever affect his relationship with women.

I don't think she would have done it if she had been capable of considering these things.

I don't think anyone can even begin to understand how it changed RB because looking back, I think that was when he quit being capable of love.

To be continued...


The Stupidest Man I Ever Divorced: Part 1

In which a fairly intlligent girl hooks up with a boy based on his good PR.

The year was 1991. I had just ended a long term relationship with the only man I have ever loved b/c I wasn’t ready to admit just how much I really loved him. He was 6 years older and at a point in his life where he was ready to move into the marriage/babies/mortgage phase of adulthood. Me? I wasn’t even ready to admit I wanted those things – much less to actually pursue them.

I went back to school and he went to another state. We ended our physical relationship, but have remained the best of friends throughout the ensuing decades.

So after that was over, some friends from my literary group began selling me this guy they knew from high school. He had been living in Ireland for a while, but was soon coming back to the University.

“Oh he’s prefect for you,” they said. His virtues were listed as: intelligent (in the University honours program,) a writer (like me,) funny (a must for me,) nice (duh,) cute (not so important, but good,) and had a great family (Woo hoo! I was always drawn to people with traditional families! )

Still, I wasn’t much interested, but they insisted. My first meeting with RB was when he came into the restaurant where I bartended.

First impression? Meh.

But, since we shared the same circle of college friends we saw a lot of each other. I thought he was an okay guy and, as fate would have it, I was looking for a roommate and he was looking for a place to live.

That is how it came to be that three months after we met we were sharing an apartment, a bed, and a phone bill.

I look back to that time in my life and wonder what I was thinking…or IF I was thinking.

Did I ever find RB physically attractive? Not so much.

Was the sex good? Not so much.

It only took a couple of months for me to realize he was (A) not as smart as everyone thought; (B) a disciplined writer, a prolific writer, but not a very good writer and (C) actually a really selfish person.

Why I convinced myself I cared about this person I will never know.

Skip ahead 5 months and we have the breakup. Again, I convinced myself I was devastated. I cried. I raged. I moped. I slept with him a couple more times. Was I insane?

No. As it turns out, I was raging with hormones because I was two months pregnant.

Stay tuned for part 2...