Tag Archives: Kids

The Big Clear Part Deux

I knew it would come and, with my dear E no longer little, it came with a vengeance. She has moved onto another chapter and the Vietnam Veterans, along with others, will benefit yet again. Without prodding, box after box came in from the garage and went out empty. She culled with such determination, I was both proud and panicky. Some items added to the pile tugged on my heartstrings but I stopped myself from pulling things off. The temptation to say “Awww” was overwhelming sometimes but this was strictly her deal and, if she could say thank you and goodbye, I needed to stay strong. Well, mostly. A couple of things have found their way to the cedar chest. But only a few special things she may see in photos years from now and wish she had kept. A belated surprise just from me to her.

This drive to clear puts me into gear to mine my contacts for new dads and grandmas. I feel I have a direct line to a few because over the last 6 months, I have collected money at work for several new babies. It makes me feel like Santa. With the nod from my good friend, E’s Disney fairy godmother through the years, I sold the two 3-foot Mickey and Minnie dolls to a friend who was on her way to her grandson’s birthday party. He was turning 1 year old and loved Mickey. She would be the winner that day. Many of these things can fetch money but it’s not worth the hassle. It’s much more fun giving things away. However, selling those two meant money in E’s bank account as she moves forward.

I gave away Pooh and friends to a 3-year-old who just became a sibling, three little boys got Buzz Lightyear and more (I am still hunting for Woody. I found his hat but so far, he hasn’t answered my calls), and Dumbo went to a little one who was still on the way. It’s all so much fun. I am still looking for that little girl who loves playing with baby dolls.

Throughout all this transition, my garage shrinks. I have a donation corner that is growing like weeds in a neglected garden, empty boxes to the ceiling, and, for a time, cartons of flooring took up a slice of valuable real estate. The floor was done last weekend so that has simply moved from one side to the other onto my empty box pile. As my previous postings have clearly shown, nothing in this house happens consecutively – everything happens at once.

The flurry is now a trickle so there is undoubtedly a part three and beyond in my future. Now it’s about breaking boxes and organizing the donation, adding extra kitchenware since the Veterans come in a little over two and a half weeks. I had already relocated Christmas decorations down from the loft to its own area so that won’t be an issue this year, thank goodness.

I look forward to one day soon opening my car door without it bouncing back on me. It’s the small wins that make me smile.

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The Big Clear

There has been a flurry of activity around our home lately. My E decided she was ready to shed some of the different lives she has led thus far, like Potterhead, Whovian, Runner (that’s Mazerunner for those without intimate knowledge on super fandoms,) and other kingdoms. In true Marie Kondo style, she parted with those things that did not spark joy and thanked them for their service. I have been waiting for this day for years and jumped in with gusto. Attempts to sell collectibles online were frustrating – a flashback to bags of beanie babies comes to mind. So the Vietnam Veterans of America were the recipients of our largesse. And what a mound it was.

This is not just fan stuff like little Flash figurines and spell books. Pounds of clothing, including shirts that say things like Expelliarmus, Geronimo, Girl Power, along with perfectly good pieces, outgrown in both body and spirit, were washed and bagged. Some plush, some pillows, that wavy mirror from IKEA, and lots of other fad and fashions that have outlived their usefulness here wound up on the pile. Whoever buys these will want them, and it will benefit a good cause at the same time.

While she was building her mountain, I rooted around in my garage for stuff to add. I did a lot of recycling, boxed books, adding camp and beach chairs not opened in years. The lot took up about a quarter of our generous driveway when pickup day arrived.

I was feeling refreshed until I opened the garage that night. I realized we had barely made a dent. Boxes still lined the walls, many of my drawers are still full, and a lot of books remained in E’s childhood bookcase that I passed down to her. And she had hit her limit on her clear-out state of mind. The window was closed until the next go-round which won’t be for a while. So I realized if we wanted to keep the momentum, it was my turn.

While E figured it was her past fandoms weighing down her future, my focus was first on paper. I have always been one to obsessively separate shred from recycle, removing addresses or names from each bit of junk mail to ensure nothing personal lands in the green bin. Unfortunately, this habit forces me to throw junk mail in a box until later or pile old files in my closet to wait for a rainy day – and those are pretty sparse in Southern California. Since I couldn’t walk into my closet to get to my filing drawer, this is what I did all weekend. Flash forward two days – the recycling bin is full, my shred bin runneth over, and my heart is full.

The next battle on the horizon is the kitchen. Too many of everything, fulfilling nothing except to take up cabinet space. Two sizes of water glasses fill a shelf where only the few in the front are used. The lower shelves bulge with pots, pans, and I don’t even remember what’s in the back. A tall pantry with deep shelves is both a blessing and a curse. Viewed now with clearer eyes, it all brings my past post about Living Life in Layers into real time and smacks me in the face.

I think a stay-cation is in order.

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A Good Day

I am told signs from the other side are all around us but people don’t recognize them. This is one of my experiences:

This was one of many first days of school. The year before was so traumatic for Little E. But this year, she did a total 180 degrees. She was jazzed, got the teacher she wanted, had a nice friend in the same class, ready to be a fifth grader.

Her song was from American Idol, the one they played when they show the clips of who got kicked off – “Had a Bad Day” by Daniel Powter. And we have always called it her song because of when it shows up. While picking up the balloons at the florist at 8:00 a.m. on her birthday party morning, it was playing. Again the same day when we were in the Paint-a-Dream with the girls. I know it was popular but the timing was always interesting, coming up at unique but clearly appropriate moments.

I told her I would walk her to class but she just wanted to be dropped off to meet her friend. As she jumped out, I warned her that there will always be ups and downs. (“I know, mom, I know” cue eye roll.)

I turned the wheel to pull out and the song came on. I almost stopped to catch her when I figured out it was probably for me this time, telling me she will be okay this year. Then I thought about who would be trying to tell us these things. Who would use that song? It could be my dad. Never into music since Glenn Miller, quirky cute songs like that appealed to him. Or it could be Grandpa Mike, who waited years for a granddaughter after so many boys, only to die suddenly when she was 18 months old. And it could even be my mom, who obsessively worried about our futures. No matter, the message is always at the right time and taken to heart with a nod to the heavens.

American Idol has been gone for a while, and the song is now old. But it still shows up just before we realize we really need it. It is my touchstone to slow down – to stop, look, and listen for the other signs I’m missing because I am racing through my life.

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Poker Face

When dealing with a girl-child, you need to keep your wits about you, not tip your hand. I have been doing that since Little E was a baby and I’m exhausted. Keeping from getting sucked into the big argument, making them think some task is their idea, and turning a nagging sentence inside out to become offhanded and subliminal as it proceeds down from the brain and out of your mouth – all part of living with a girl. My question to the gods is this….where do we learn this if our mothers used it on us? Did we absorb the parenting style? Maybe we don’t learn it. Maybe it’s innate, like breathing ………or shopping.
Granted there are minutes of relaxation when things run smoothly you think she’s grown more mature. Then the moment is over and you are again the worst mother in the world. Yes, sometimes we need those small victories to re-energize and steel us for the next round, when discussing yet another pet, yet another new dress for a Friday school dance, or a new cell phone with all the bells and whistles.

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Time Flies When Drama Unfolds

Yes, it’s been another year and, yes, I promised to write more. I won’t try to catch you up the same way I did last time. Suffice it to say the year held more drama than the last, and not all about my darling daughter. My broken ankle unleashed an emotional tornado filled with highs and lows never experienced in our home before. I think when mom is down and out, life is not as secure as it once was and much lashing out ensued that second semester. With patience and work, we came through the darkness into the light with minimal damage. Summer school is a must this year to fix the credit deficiency created by tanking Chemistry. And French 1B will be retaken in the Spring. However, an ease has settled between us and arguments have narrowed to just the subjects of picking up clothes and choice of TV (“How many times do I need to see this episode?”) A new maturity has moved in to organize and refocus her days. Taking ownership replaces the head-in-the-sand method. Requests for DVDs, CDs, and theme parks aren’t on her list this summer. She now asks for money for battered textbooks so she will be prepared for the new year, and talk of college has replaced the moody silence. Most meaningful for both of us….I can say “yes” more than “no.” We can all breathe again but I must keep my wits about me. After all, 16 is coming up and a teen is still a teen. But for now, I will enjoy this clean air left by the dark heavy showers that rolled through our home.

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Another Door

Suddenly a year has gone by and junior high school is over. Let me catch you up:
Buses, lunches, stolen iPod, friendships tested, lunch table, A’s & B’s, late homework, tests, web design, great teacher, no one asked her to dance, tears, too much paper, homework not handed in, teacher hates her, status reports, C’s & D’s, tutor, counselor, hates PE, loves dancing, new friends, working hard, B’s & C’s, trip to Disneyland, awards night, summer break. Whew! It was actually harder than it read.
After dropping her off at her first high school meeting, I am thinking I felt the same as when I was driving away from the first day of preschool. The only difference was that 10 years ago she was sobbing, and this time she was saying…”Mom! I don’t need you to walk me in. Just go!!!” Girls are tough, they are sometimes hormonal and lean (heavily) towards the dramatic side, but watching her grow has been my idea of an all time great movie – thrills and chills, leaving me wanting to watch it over, again and again.

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Recession and Homework

It seems the recession has hit eighth grade. At least that’s my best guess. After the third semester of  junior high school spent dragging my kid over the June finish line, my nerves were frayed and sensitive.  I mean, really…. what is the big deal with completing and actually handing in homework? Yes, my Pisces kidlet is the “floating through life” kind of girl but there is just so much yelling, grounding, and electronics banishment I can do before my Capricorn tendencies start me towards a better way – or at least an explanation or something to help me understand and reformat my approach. There just had to be a reason.

I put a label to it one night when I asked her why she didn’t care. All I got was a shrug but it was added to my mental list of reasons and stuck. She just didn’t care. I started to look towards moms and dads in my same orbit to form a hypothesis and help me understand why evenings and weekends were just so tough. After mentioning my issues, I found sanctuary. They all had the same problem to varying degrees and listening to most of them was like hitting replay on my evenings. These families were all different, some with dads, some without. A grandma lived in one house. Commuters and stay-at-home moms. The common thread was always the same….why don’t the kids care? Validation meant at least now my mind could move forward instead of floundering every night in Algebra hell.

Let’s cut to the chase on this, and remember, this is strictly subjective. A couple of teachers had told me that, after the last round of budget wars, some carry upwards of 40 kids in classes, with a possibility of more. Add to that furlough days and reduction of class help. With those kind of distractions, kids who don’t become involved are just left behind. Teachers just don’t have the time to connect with them all. So normal kids like mine who lack the competitive streak need the spark at home, or they will be lost. My mission is now clear, and turns out a little more cerebral and less combative. Well, still combative, considering hormones. But my thoughts on this are more ordered and have direction. However, the computer is still locked up until the next progress report.

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