Bullied; Bully; Bullshit.

I can’t help but to be angry at this bullying issue. All these babies, killing themselves, because they aren’t allowed to defend themselves. I was raised in a different time. If you fought, you got it off your chest. A fistfight, it seems, is the best way to prevent a suicide. To not allow a child; a person; to stand up for him/herself, creates wimps and sluts (on both ends; girls can be wimps, just as boys can be sluts, and, often are). This ridiculous ‘no tolerance’ policy exploits and kills little girls and little boys, in the place that matters most; in SPIRIT. To subdue or advert the energy of perfect innocence is the epitome of wrong, whether you are a kid, yourself, or not.

I remember going to the local basketball court with my brothers, when I was eight, or so (before video games and, by extension, childhood obesity, took over the States) to play hockey. I was told there, most expeditiously, that “girls don’t play hockey”. I showed them, just as quickly, the error of their ways; first, with my fists, and secondly with my hip checks; that they were prime idiots. I refused to be told what my limitations were by a bunch of school boys and, truth be told, I refuse, still, to this day. I’ve made it hard for myself, failing to conform, but, as the last cusp of the generation allowed to, I had that luxury. I stood up for my brothers and sister; regardless of their social awkwardness. I took shit for my own gossiped crimes, I failed to commit. But, my most absurd and lurid offenses. according to the teenage world, were severe.

I was poor.

I didn’t give a flying rat’s ass about my hair…after all, it’s always been an insane mess o’ frizzy goo for nothing, no matter what effort I put into it.

I was too smart.

Now, for those of you who don’t know; for an okay-looking girl to be smart, too, the way I was, set people (particularly the gorgeous and daft) on their ears. To blend in…to be ‘normal’, I had to play dumb. And, I still do; because, most people can’t comprehend the enormity of intelligence (which is to admit that we know nothing). So, to the people still secure in their own ignorance, know that I play stupid, just to watch stupid, at its best. I’m no genius; mind you; jut a girl who knows what”s’ what, and has the balls to call you on it. I watch; I wait; mostly for something better out of my fellow Wo/Man and, am often proven wrong. I’m proven right enough, that I still believe in us, but, I’m saddened at the state of degradation within Society. I yearn for something more innocuous, I ply for words I can’t conjure, I hope for a day full of toddler joy; pure, perfect, untainted.

Some say, there will never be peace. I say, we were born to it.

-J-

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An Ode to Fenway, From One of the Faithful

I know most of you are used to my parenting posts, but, this relates to my daughter on a different level. You see, she loves the little stuffed ‘Wally’ I sit with on the couch, for every Red Sox game, and she keeps asking to go see “big, huge Wally.” Heart-broken, I tell her that we can’t, because Wally lives very far away, in Boston, and we are here, in Georgia. So, she replies, “I wanna be a Red Sox, so I can play with the big, huge Wally.” I think she sees him as one giant stuffed animal, only the Red Sox can play with, which is pretty awesome, honestly.

I, too, have been a fan, since before I can remember. I’ve been rooting/crying/celebrating with and for the Red Sox, through tales of the great Yastrzemski, watched a skinny Roger Clemens pitch for us in the eighties (when my grandmother adored Jim Rice), and never heard the name Bucky Dent, sans its trademark expletive. I saw Nomar play for the Pawsox (they used to give us free tickets in school; it was great), and even had a baseball card from a cereal box or a Happy Meal with him in that cheap, AAA uniform. I saw him rise up, from this gangly thing, not much older than I was, to a legendary player with that magical reach of a born shortstop. I watched Mo Vaughn through the early nineties, and I remember Eckersly in both the hated A’s  and the beloved Sox uniforms. I was at Fenway on Easter Day, 2004, when Curt Schilling pitched his first home game in a Boston uniform, and Wally came from behind me, startling me to the point of utter blasphemy (I screamed, “Jesus Christ!!”), on that sacred day. I own a shirt that reads, ‘Damon: Looks like Jesus, Acts like Judas, Throws like Mary.’ I’ve seen Millar hang out with ‘The Mad Fisherman’, and delighted in Manny’s lumbering antics; a big, stoned, six-year-old, will go down as one of the greatest left-fielders in our illustrious history. I remember Aaron f@#$ing Boone’s 2003 solo homer, like it was yesterday. And last night was the first time ever, that I allowed the words, “Come on, Yankees,” to slip past these lips.

There is nothing that can compare to the sights, smells, and feel of that lovely old ballpark. My heart stops for a minute, there on Yawkey Way, looking up at it, with the aroma of sausage and pepper grinders lingering seductively, in my nostrils, and the crack of the bat, calling me in to see what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime game. I am not so old that I remember them, but the ghosts of the Royal Rooters fill the seats, legends in their own right, and we take our places next to them, the new generation of Fenway Faithfuls, waiting, again, for next year. And that’s alright, by me.

What was in that macaroni and cheese? Crack?

I’ve actually looked up the ingredients; as though Kraft were some sort of code word. As in; Jeez, what did that kid have for lunch today? Crack, uh, I mean, Kraft, macaroni and cheese? As far as I can tell, by what’s on the box, no illegal uppers are concealed within the bright orange powder. The reason I was ever prompted to question this, in the first place, was a random spike in energy, one late-dinner night, in my three-year-old. She’d had a full day of animal gazing at a nearby rescue habitat (awesome place, called Noah’s Ark, in Locust Grove, GA.), and playing at the park. We picnicked, ran, toured acres of land, full of wonderfully exotic animals and still, somehow, she wanted to frolic at bedtime.

There are days I just want to lay in bed until the sun goes down. Another five minutes of sleep, just five, I beg the alarm clock, before rising, reluctantly, to greet the world. Kyra, on the other hand, fights sleep, refusing even, to nap, for fear she’ll miss anything. I have a five-minute video of her talking to a moth, trying to coerce it to come to her. Her energy is enviable and inspiring, an encouragement to come out and play, even though I’m (technically, I guess) a grown-up.

I know we all wonder, where did that exuberance go? Somewhere, in the midst of high school homework, late college nights, and crappy workdays, we adults lost our verve. We’ve been desensitized to life’s intricate and (supposedly) inconsequential beauties, worn out in our pursuit of the almighty dollar, and generally given up on the good inside, all of us. Sitting in the sunlight, the next day, typing out my thoughts on life, I watch my daughter throw a ball back and forth to herself, overjoyed at the beauty of a moment. This sun, this coffee, that smile, it’s all I’ll ever need. I must remember to thank her, one day, for bringing back to me the simplest of pleasures, once lost, in the shuffle.

Grown-up time (and the guilt that goes with it)

It’s a hard thing; to balance “me” time, with “family” time. Even, for the two-parent homes out there, this is a challenge and, for the single-parent homes, it’s just about impossible. I never have a chance at solitude, anymore. I used to live completely alone, free as a bird, in a trendy little part of Atlanta. Those days are long gone, and with them (it seems), my youth. The closest I get, to actual solitude these days, is the occasional bath, once Kyra has gone to bed. The obvious complications, here, being that;

a.  She could wake up, at any moment.

b.  I have to be quiet (so, no dancing around in my underwear to Jamiroquai, or half the original ‘Footloose’ soundtrack, on full blast;

one of my favorite alone time activities).

c.  I’m still worrying, the whole time I’m taking the bath, about her falling off the bed, or having a nightmare, or any one of the million

little imagined dangers, a mother’s mind can invent.

On the rare day that grown-up time, for me, is truly (and finally) feasible, I feel just plain guilty, being away from her. I think myself, at times, a horrible parent, for not wanting to watch the Disney channel, or (worse) Spongebob, all day. I hate myself, for not always being up for sidewalk chalk and Wiffle Ball, or coloring and playing in the fake kitchen, when my real kitchen waits patiently for its desperately overdue cleansing and scrubbing. Every time I pick up my laptop, I wait for the inevitable interruptions, almost welcoming them, still slightly resenting them, and loathing these mixed feelings of selfishness and unconditional love. It’s a rocky road, we walk, Moms and Dads.

There is no guilt as great as a parent who can’t spend time with his/her child(ren). Even though, I’m with her all the time, I still feel awful, whenever I’m not. Incessant worry gnaws at me, as I wonder what shenanigans she’ll get into, without the benefit of my vigilant supervision. As much as I look forward to time away, it’s always marred by worry for her and my guilt, at leaving her.

Chasing Ghosts

Believe what you want to (or, as the case may very well be, don’t believe what you don’t want to), but the fact of the matter is, that strange and inexplicable things, perplexing coincidences, and odd happenings, occur in all our lives. Personally, I can think of many examples, in my own. For today’s blogging purposes, however, I will limit these to the ones shared through the eyes of my daughter.

All babies laugh at ceilings and walls, giggling and chirping at what; we blind and ignorant grown-ups, can only imagine. I was talking to a fellow new mother, a few months after Kyra was born and, it turned out, we had both been experiencing the same phenomenon. Both of our daughters would laugh and play with something/someone we couldn’t see. We both noticed that our daughters’ eyes would clearly follow whatever spectre was entertaining them. She assumed her little girl was talking to angels, where I figured my kid was playing with ghosts. Thus began my journey, as a mom, into the world of weird.

Since she’s gotten older, and begun to express herself more frequently and clearly, I’ve noticed she has an incredibly vivid imagination. There have been several instances, however, that an overactive imagination cannot explain away. A couple of very specific things, said and done very precisely, lead me to believe that she is, perhaps, very connected to a realm outside of what most of us can perceive.

She refers regularly to her dead grandfather, calling the recliner in the living room, “Grandpa’s Chair”, where he sits with her. He used to “protect her from the monster (at the back door)”, which she described as a “big, tattooed Daddy”. A little dried sage took care of the “monster”; she hasn’t seen him, since. She once, right after her dad’s grandmother died, sat up abruptly, looking rather confused and asked, “Where’s Gary at?”. Gary, being the first name of the dead woman’s son, and my ex’s father. I’ve seen her get tickled, with nobody there, writhing on the floor and giggling. When I asked who was tickling her, she said, “Buddy”. I have no idea who Buddy is, but he seems to be around her age and he usually has a lollipop. At least, the lollipop is usually mentioned, by Kyra. Now, he could be an imaginary friend, I don’t know. All I can do is take what she tells me and interpret it. If you’d ever seen her get tickled, by nobody, you might not jump on the imaginary friend bandwagon, though. I will say that much.

I never know how to react to this stuff. Naturally, I don’t want people I can’t see, messing around with my daughter…it makes a girl a wee bit nervous, you know. I usually just act like it’s no big deal and encourage her imagination, at play. I kind of assume we’re all like this, as babies, until some natural cynicism comes along and swallows our imaginations, whole, to the point that we can no longer conceive of ghosts, or cross-connecting, coexisting multiple planes of reality, who mingle every now and again, if only for the sake of our children.

Getting My Hopes Up

Dare I dream, that we may be making some serious progress, in the bathroom? I don’t know…I’ve gone down this road before, and returned brokenhearted. Yesterday was completely consistent and accident-free. Today has been consistent, with Kyra taking more initiative on the potty chair. There have been several very productive (even consecutive) days this week, leading up to the miracle that was yesterday. Hmmm, maybe this time, I can allow myself some excitement at her progress. I know I seem obsessed with this whole thing; my daughter’s ability and subsequent unwillingness to properly potty; but it’s a frustrating ordeal. Anyone who has changed diapers for three (plus…) years can understand where I’m coming from, as can anyone who’s ever found him/herself concerned with the slightly lagging development of his/her blossoming baby. I like how the baby experts who write all the books, tell you not to worry and how your kid will grow on his/her own time and in his/her own way, and then write out a generic timeline of development, anyhow. What the hell, guys? Now, you just made me worry. What’s the point of a damned timeline, if they all grow differently? ‘Well, your child may be later than others, but most children talk, by the time they are nine months, or so.’ Perfect exemplary sentence. We’ve all read it, as we swelled, exponentially, with new life. These are the things they tell us not to worry about, but let your kid not talk until s/he is two, or so. They’ll test that poor baby seven ways from Sunday for every ‘deviation’. They like to use words like that, too. ‘Deviation’, ‘different’, ‘socially lacking’… The point of life, is that we’re all different, my dears, minus any absurdity of some doctor’s imagined stigma.

I’m getting off topic; starting to rant; and that’s no good. My point is that it’s hard, being a parent, never knowing if you’re doing the right thing. I guess, I’ll keep it up, it worked, eventually. But, what happens when the real problems hit? What about when she wants to run off with some tattooed, motorcycle riding boy who will knock her up when she’s sixteen? How do I know I’m doing alright enough now, that the chances of this scenario are unlikely? We don’t. That’s the hard part. There’s no way to tell, until s/he grows up to be a (hopefully) productive member of society. Someone we’re proud of, who’s proud of us, back. As far as my daughter goes, I think she’s too on top of things. She’s rather aware of what she gets away with and how, to the point that I’m probably in trouble, no matter what.

Maybe it’s alright, to get my hopes up. I had a feeling she was going to b a pro, once she tried it. It was the same thing with walking. She crawled late and then, like a wounded soldier. She didn’t walk until she was about sixteen months, but never really teetered or toddled. When she did walk, she was as confident and sure-footed after about a week, as other kids could only be, after months of practice. She’s definitely odd, probably a bit of a deviation, a little too socially adept, and that’s all fine, by me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure she’ll graduate to underpants, soon; my little procrastinating professional.

This Woman’s Work…

It’s, by far, one of my favorite songs (the Kate Bush version, from ‘She’s Having A Baby’, and not Maxwell’s sad attempt at copying it, either). I pulled out an old favorite from my journal of early Motherhood, for this one. I hope you like it, dear Readers.

So, you’re a stay-at-home-mom and the work, it seems, is never done. There’s always another load of laundry to be swished, more dishes to be washed, kids’ crying to be soothed, dogs and cats to be fed, husbands to pick up after…it’s the hardest, loneliest job on Earth, and everyone wants to act like you don’t work. Don’t get me wrong; it’s all worth it, to know that a stranger isn’t raising my baby, teaching her values and morals quite possibly (and very probably) opposite my own. It’s worth it, to see her getting the attention she needs, when she needs it, and not having to deal with diaper rashes and fevers of neglectful non-parents. It’s worth it to watch her grow, before my very eyes, every day and to see her blossom into the wonderful person I first saw, that beautifully endless night, in the hospital.

Sometimes, though, I want to sit with my head in my hands and cry out all of the tears I can’t, in front of her. Some days, I want to hit a punching bag, or a drum set, as hard as I can, just for the satisfaction of the blow. Other days, I want to drop, right where I am, mid-mess, and say, “Screw the world.” But, I love my daughter to death; more than mere words (my first love) could ever hope to describe; and I’ll never let her see any of my frustrations. Besides, it’s too easy, no matter how I feel, to look down at that crooked little beguiling grin of hers and have all of those feelings melt away to nothing. Nothing, but water upon a sidewalk that no longer has to be shoveled. So that, the next time the snow comes, I’ll look forward to clearing it again.

Maybe, one day, when I hear the words, “Mom, I’m pregnant,” I’ll show her these entries, so she knows more than she ever did, that she has been my greatest adventure; the love of my life. So she knows it’s not all rosy cheeks and baby giggles. So she knows, it’s hard and heart-wrenching and tear-filled. But, that it’s also lovely and beautiful and the best reward for being a woman, God could have ever dreamed up.

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