Just want to start this off by saying (in case you don’t already know) that parenting can often be a soul-sucking experience. Don’t get me wrong, of course sometimes it’s great; they make you laugh; they make you proud. But mostly they just wear you down to a little nub. At least until they’re in college (and even then, only if you’re lucky).
And that’s just before your first cup of coffee, mind you.
Anyway, basketball season ended, and since Clooney is the kind of kid who needs some structure and activity to his days, I suggested he try running track this season. He’d never done track, but he’d done a couple of cross-country kind of activities in the past. He’s long and lean, so I figured track would be a good outlet for him.
Clooney’s kind of artsy. I mean he loves art, but more than that, he’s into music. He can talk about music these days the way he could talk about cars from the time he could speak. Not that he can’t still talk about cars. Generally speaking, he can talk about anything. In fact, his rambling
conversations could talk cats off the back of a tuna boat. But anyway, he plays three instruments: electric bass, the clarinet, and cello. He also sings in the school chorus and has a part in the drama club’s spring play. He’s plenty busy, but I still worry that he will be sucked into that iPad, that Minecraft will turn his brain to pudding, that he needs more stimuli. I’m a mom. I worry…
His school doesn’t have an elementary track program, so when I went looking for a program, choices were kind of limited in our area. I finally found one through the Catholic Youth Ministry, but our church doesn’t have a track team, so I had to sign him up through the diocese website, and then get a dispensation to put him on the team of another parish. Already I was jumping through hoops, but hey, a mom does these things.
After we got signed up, we were able to get more information about the team. The first sign that perhaps we’d made a mistake, was the practice schedule: Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5:45 until 7. Not ideal, since he has bass lessons on Tuesdays until 5 and drama climb on Thursdays until 5 as well. But again, I’m Mom. If he wants to run track, I will make it work.
His first practice was cancelled because of late-season snow, so the first practice he actually attended was on Thursday. Thursdays are a bit crazy for us, because I signed The Princess up for a dance class this season, thinking that she could take a school bus one day a week to the school that offers this after-hours program. However, I was mistaken on this point, and didn’t find out until after I had paid for the class. So, every week, I pick up the Princess from her school and drive her to this other school, about 15 minutes, for the class. It’s not really a big deal, but I have to pick her up at 5 as well. The dance school is only about a mile from Clooney’s school, so it actually kind of worked out, in terms of picking them up around the same time.
On a normal day.
The first day of practice, was also the day that I took our dog to be groomed. She wasn’t ready to be picked up until 3:00, so after I got her, I took her with me to get The Princess. After dropping off my daughter at the dance class, I ran the dog back home, which was 20-25 minutes from the dance school, depending on the traffic. Got the dog settled at home, grabbed some cold chicken for Clooney to have for dinner before track, and headed back to get them both. First I picked up The Princess, and then I headed over to get Clooney, and one of our neighbors’ kids, with whom we carpool. From there, we headed back toward home (at 5:00, traffic is thicker, so 25 minutes was making good time). Clooney ate his dinner in the car, but it turned out that he had forgotten to bring his track clothes, so after we dropped off the neighbor, we stopped back at our house for him to change, and to drop off The Princess with her older brother, Edison, who was by then home from his own after school activity.
Clooney quickly changed, filled a water bottle, and we headed to the practice, which was 10 minutes away, but still in heavy rush-hour suburban traffic. Lots of cars, lots of lights. I missed a parents’ meeting with the coach, but I got him there by 6:00, which I told the coach would be a regular occurrence.
After I saw that Clooney was settled, I got back in the car, went home, fed the other two kids (because Manfrengensen was working late), walked the dog, and went back to the track to get Clooney. By that time, the sun was going down, and it was getting cold. I stood watching him run for a bit, and then he saw me. The coach told them he’d see them Sunday at the meet, and the kids were free to leave. Clooney came through the gates with the crowd, broke away to come to me and said, “You know what? I don’t want to do this. Track’s not really my thing.”
And I just kind of felt like this:
One time, we were down at the beach, watching Casino Royale, and the torture scene came on:
Around the 45-second mark, my dad said, “What are they trying to do? Give him hemorrhoids?”
Another time, my nephew was watching Yo Gabba Gabba:
My father, as he was just walking through the room said, “These guys are lucky to be working.”
Of course, he had myriad other great things he said, but these two just keep making me laugh.
I took one of those BUZZFEED quizzes the other day that’s supposed to tell you what to give up for Lent, thinking it would be kind of funny, but it turned out to touch a bit of a nerve for me. Not that I watch that much TV, but what I do watch, I’m quite passionate about, and it’s a very exciting season in the world of television. I’m not talking about any of that so-called reality crap. Instead, I want to focus on well-scripted, thought-provoking hour-long dramas. The things that are filling the void left by Breaking Bad for me. So here, in no particular order are the series that I am currently watching and simply cannot give up for God or anyone.
1. True Detective – HBO
Sunday night the finale to this 8-episode season will air. All this time wondering who the Yellow King is, if in fact the Yellow King is the murderer. I can’t just stop watching now. Plus Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are just riveting in these roles. It’s dark and it’s vicious, and totally worth watching.
2. The Americans – FX
Last season was really good, but when it was over, I wondered how they were going to keep the idea of Russian spies in 1980’s suburbia in play. Well, this season, the whole family is in danger, not just the spy parents. Add in that the daughter is starting to suspect something is up with her mom and dad and you have one taught thriller.
3. Game of Thrones – HBO
Season 4 starts April 6th, a full two weeks before the end of Lent, and I’ve got to tell you, I freaking LOVE this show. There are so many characters, so many layers. It’s so well-written that I can forget that there are dragons and white walkers, which aren’t usually my thing. But still, those things are intimidating. So many great performances, so many plot twists. I know I could read the books to find out what happens, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise of the show. It’s simply the best thing on television right now. (Well, right now starting April 6th.)
The best season was the second one, but still, I could watch Timothy Olyphant just walk across the screen all night long. Damn. Oh, oh, oh, and there’s some witty dialogue in there too.
I realize this series has yet to air. In fact, it starts on FX on April 15th. But I loved the Coen Brothers movie upon which it is based, and if the series has any kind of the same dark humor as the film, I will be hooked. Also, what a cast!! Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, and many more. I can’t wait.
6. Mr. Selfridge
PBS has been churning out some great TV via the BBC for many years, and for anyone going through withdrawal from Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge provides a fine fix. Jeremy Piven, formerly of HBO’s Entourage plays the title character, who’s part P.T, Barnum, part Don Draper. He’s interesting and all, but the other characters (and there are quite a few) are just as compelling. Miss Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus) is like an Edwardian Peggy Olsen, smart, ambitious and hoping to find a true career. If you haven’t seen Season 1, I highly recommend you catch up before Season 2 premiers March 30th.
7. Mad Men
Well, I’ve been with Don Draper from the beginning, so it’s too late to give up now, right? Seriously though, the end of Season 6 saw Don setting off in a new direction, and it will be very interesting to see where he ends up. My only complaint is that AMC is breaking up the final season into two mini-seasons, with the first part beginning April 13th. Not sure I like this new trend. It’s as if TV executives saw the marketing potential in splitting Breaking Bad into to two seasons, so now every long-running series will have its final one milked into two. Kind of like how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was cut into two movies, so then so was Twilight: Breaking Dawn, and now Mocking Jay will follow suit. (Don’t get me wrong, Deathly Hallows needed two movies to be done right. Not so sure about the other two.) But I digress. However many episodes they stretch Mad Men into, I will watch every one.
And mind you, these are just the dramas. There are a few sit-coms that are worth watching out there too, but I will save them for another post. In any case, the DVR will be working overtime this Spring, and reading books will just have to wait for Summer.
Pulled this out of my second-grade daughter’s “daily” folder.
Took me a second to realize how facting hilarious it is.
So, you may have been wondering where the hell I’ve been. Not that I flatter myself by believing that I am much more than a constellation of ones and zeroes in a universe of code, but I do feel like I have this place, and so I should tend to it now and then.
It’s 2014, and I have not written much in the last six months. I’ve been on hiatus, closed for business, out to sea in a lot of ways. But now we are almost a month deep into the new year, and I feel like I’ve got to come back, or risk never coming back at all.
The thing is, we lost my father in September. He was an amazing guy, the kind of person who lit up a room, brought the party, made you feel like all was right with the world. He was just the best kind of father, and King of the Grandfathers. The kind of grandpa who dotes on his grandkids, slips them candy and money on the sly. I’ve written about him many times here, including the time that he totally saved my butt, which was just one of the many many times he did. He was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, complications from a procedure performed on his heart, that ended in a blood-splattered night of dashed hopes and tears. In the wake of the loss, I’ve kind of been empty and had a hard time putting thoughts into words. Also I feel like I need to address the issue of losing my dad before I can write anything else. Does that make any kind of sense?
I sat by his side, taking my daily shifts in the hospital, and we had the most wonderful conversations. I think he knew his time was short, or at least he feared that it was. I don’t know if other people let him feel those feelings, but I did. I let him know it was okay to be scared. And I feel so lucky because he basically told me everything I had ever needed to hear him say. That he loved me. That I’m smart, strong, a good mother. That my husband is the best kind of guy.
He didn’t believe in God or heaven, but he said on more that one occasion that he thought he would achieve immortality in the hearts and memories of the people who loved and remembered him. Whether or not he had that right, I know he will never leave me.
2013 was a good year in a lot of ways. Both the boys had lead roles in their school plays. Edison made the all-state chorus, and his scores at the audition earned him the rank of number-one baritone in the state. We had a great summer vacation in California. We got a dog. But all that has been under the cloud of the worst thing that happened last year, not necessarily robbing me of joy in the good, but tarnishing it nonetheless.
My dad always told me, whenever I felt sorry about losing my mother, that I had to concentrate on what I have, to make what’s here now my focus. In the end, that’s some of the best advice he ever gave me.
So now it is a new year, and though the holidays were difficult, I do feel like the baggage is just a few ounces lighter. So much to look forward to this year: Edison is going to high school, and Clooney’s going to middle school. Every day is a gift, and there’s a lot of laughter and love around here. So now I’ve said it, and hope that, at least in a blogging sense, I can move on.
My dad used to end every phone call by saying, “Okay, if you need me, you know where I’ll be.”
Yeah, I know.
The Princess has lost two teeth in the last ten days. With the first one, she came home from school so proud, showing off the little plastic treasure box that the nurse had given her to hold the tooth. She put the box under the pillow, and nothing happened. The next morning, she was so disappointed that the Tooth Fairy had stood her up. I didn’t know what to say – I mean, I had totally spaced the thing. She is, after all, the third child, so this tooth fairy thing is kind of getting old, at least for me. But still, I felt bad, because Tooth Fairy, for her, is a rare opportunity to earn some cold, hard cash.
That night, after school, it was obvious that she’d been trying to work out why the Tooth Fairy had dissed her. She told me that her friend had said that perhaps leaving the tooth in its box had been a mistake, that perhaps the Tooth Fairy had missed the tooth because it wasn’t in the open space under the pillow. And I lightbulb lit up in my head. This little girl I had never met was not only a friend of my daughter’s, she was no doubt, a friend of mine — how kind of her to give me a second chance! So that night, The Princess left just the tooth under the pillow, and what do you know? The Tooth Fairy left FOUR DOLLARS. A little guilt on Mom’s part can really generate interest on that tooth investment.
Well, then within a week, another tooth fell out, and frankly, I just don’t carry around that much cash. And, to be honest, again I forgot about it. The cleaners were coming the morning after she had put the tooth under her pillow, and before they got here, I meant to change everybody’s bedclothes. I took out the sheets, laid them on the beds, and then got side-tracked and forgot about the actual changing. I guess the cleaners figured that because I had put the sheets out, I meant for them to change the linens, so they stripped the beds and put the new ones on. And, oops, the tooth disappeared.
Well, The Princess was incensed. Because she had forgotten to check in the morning, she assumed that the cleaners had stolen her Tooth Fairy booty. I tried to dissuade her from this theory, but she would have none of it. She HAD BEEN ROBBED!
Then, when Manfrengensen put her to bed, she told him about how she’d been a victim of this crime. He, of course, figured that I had dropped the ball, so after she had finished her rant about the Tooth Fairy, he said, “Let me talk to her, and we’ll see what happened.”
“You know the Tooth Fairy?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “Mom,” meaning, “Let me talk to Mom…”
And without missing a beat, she said, “Mom knows the Tooth Fairy?”
And then you know what? I freaking spaced it the second night too. Mom of the Year over here.