Poem Interrupted

I subscribe to more magazines than I ever have time to read.  Yesterday, while cleaning the house I looked at the stack of eight issues of various publications and thought….I’m going to read somethingTODAY.

Not to bite off more than I could chew, I figured I would digest a small poem from a literary magazine.  Just 12 lines, how hard could that be?  I could chill and regroup right before my youngest son’s 4:00pm soccer game while I waited for my husband to get out of the shower and the cake I started baking for dinner to finish up.  The cake had 5 minutes left in the oven.   More than enough time to read 12 little lines of poetry.

Ready, Set, Go!

 

Just Now by W.S. Merwin

In the morning as the storm begins to blow away

the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me

that there has been……

 

“MOM!  MOM!  MOM!!!”

“What?”

“Is it time to go yet?  I’m going to be late.”

“No, wait for the timer to go off, then we leave.”

*sigh*  …time to start over

 

Just Now by W.S. Merwin

In the morning as the storm begins to blow away

the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me

that there has been something simpler than I could ever believe

simpler than I could have….

 

“Hey mom, who’s key is this? Is it Abuela’s?  Because she’s not home and I can’t see how she could be gone without her key.”

“Dude, she has another key. That one is mine.”

*sigh* – ok maybe I should just back up a couple of lines

 

that there has been something simpler than I could ever believe

simpler than I could have begun to find words for

not patient not even waiting no more hidden

than the air…..

 

“Ok, so Mom, why is it that ducks don’t poop on a turf field like they do on a grass field?  Did you ever wonder that?  I do.”

“Because it’s too hot.” (chimed in by son #3).

*sigh*  where was I??

 

simpler than I could have begun to find words for

not patient not even waiting no more hidden

than the air itself that became a part of me….

 

Mom, oh my GOD! I just put the lid on this candle and …..poof (with wispy hand gesture)….it  was so cool.”

*sigh*…..something about patience??

 

not patient not even waiting no more hidden

than the air itself that became a part of me for a while

with every….

 

“Oh cool…..the wax is already hardening!!!!”

 

with every breath and…..

 

“Um, how do you clean up spilled wax?”

 

with every breath and remained…..

 

*hysterical laughing from son #3*

“Oh my God, Kayne West is such an idiot.  Can you believe he scored 106 pts in a charity wheelchair basketball game against a bunch of kids?  He wasn’t even in a wheelchair…….I just love Kanye.”

*sigh*……I hope he really doesn’t love Kanye*

 

every breath and remained with me unnoticed…..

 

“Hey!  This idea just came to me…….frozen cake.  Awesome right???”

*grrrrrrrr*

 

with every  breath

 

*BEEP BEEEP BEEP*

“Cake’s Done!!  Let’s go, I’m gonna be late!!!”

 

I concede.

Wrapped Up in Due Time

Guys have an internal clock that works on a different gravitational pull than women.  When I request something from any member of my brood, I have had to learn the fine art of mastering these interspecies recognitions of how long things take and what the word “now” means.  Simply saying a phrase like “Hey this garbage can is so full, I can’t fit anything else in it.  Could you take it out right now?” is usually interpreted as “The garbage is full but I’m not gagging from the smell of it, I’ll wait an hour or so.

”.

My husband went out of town for the weekend for work and I wanted to surprise him by painting the bathroom.  I could use some help.  Most projects that involve teenage boys need to have the added interest of getting dirty or getting fed.  Since painting is messy I was hopeful that they might be in favor of it. However, I knew that the idea of “weekend project” was subject to interpretation.

Sons #2 and #5 were immediately up for the challenge so I went to the hardware store, purchased a bucket of paint and some clean rollers and headed back to the house.  It was a Thursday around 2pm.  Pulling out the roll of blue tape I announce that as soon as I had the trim, tile and other items covered it would be time to start painting.  Son #2 has a friend over and realizes that “weekend” has started but he will have to wait for the friend to go home, which is followed by asking if the same friend could spend the night and further encroaches on the weekend.

Now I am down to one assistant in the painting project.  This assistant is the shortest one in the house so I let him know that I will have to squeeze into the tiny bathroom with the ladder and get the areas that are too high for him to reach before he can start because son #5, myself and the ladder cannot fit in a 4×4 ft space.  He is not only game, but is chomping at the bit.  He is constantly peppering me with inquiries as to when he is finally going to be able to paint.  I tell him about 10 minutes.  Approximately 2 minutes later, again I am asked when I will be moving out of the bathroom and handing over the paint brush.  I tell him about 8 minutes.  Three minutes later he asks why I’m taking so long.  I tell him to go to the basement and get a screwdriver.  I don’t need the screwdriver, but it removes him from the bathroom for about five minutes.

By the time he returns with the screwdriver I send him back to the basement for a tarp, which allows me to remove the ladder and place it in the hallway.  We spread out the tarp over the toilet and the tub and he gets to work painting.  His painting technique is slightly different than mine.  It requires holding the roller brush stiff-armed while jumping up and down.  Odd, but miraculously it not only works but burns calories at the same time.  After about 20 minutes of painting blue splotches on the top of the ceiling where the jumping got a little more vertical than expected,  #5 announces he is done and leaves the bathroom.

I finish the first coat of the bathroom and call #2 to come get the ladder and bring it back to the garage.  “I can’t right now, I’ll get it in a bit.” I hear.  “No.” I say, “I really need this out of the way now.” He protests, “But I can’t.”

Really?  What could he possibly be doing that will not allow him the ability to move a ladder.  I go downstairs to the office where he and his friend decided to use an entire roll of scotch tape to tape #2’s hands together and see if he could figure out how to get out of the scotch tape entrapment, Houdini style.

Of course he can’t move the ladder.   And now I need more tape.

About an hour later, unable to sleep over, the friend goes home, the tarp is cleaned up and the weekend project is completed.  Freed from scotch tape bondage, son #2 brings the ladder back down and offers to do any touch-ups on the paint job the next day.  I take him up on the offer.  I hope he realizes that tomorrow has a 24 hour time limit.

Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

My blogging days with boys took a much longer hiatus that I anticipated.  I am happy to be lifting my head out of the sea of testosterone and breathing in some much needed reflection on those quirky, funny guys I live with.  Thanks for hanging around!

I am an artistic person.  I am musically inclined and I love to write.  I have a deep appreciation for art, opera, musical theater and botanical arts.  I desperately wanted to pass this affection on to my sons.  Not being very athletic myself, I unreasonably believed I would not be able to relate to their hopes and dreams if they only revolved around a bouncing, thrown or kicked ball.  I love watching sports even if I don’t have an innate ability to participate in them, but what if they asked me questions?  What would I say??  Fortunately, I have boys that enjoy both an artistic side and an athletic inclination.  To my surprise neither of these things has turned out quite the way I thought they would.

While my vision of art might look like a dreamy Monet watercolor or a dramatic aria from Faust, to a teenage boy art is something only they can relate to.  Wallets made of duct tape are art.  Japanese origami folded into the shape of a tank, complete with removable turrets, is also art.  And most recently, white board drawings of their father left in the conference room at work are, indeed, art.

It was one of those days where everyone had to be in four places at once so there was a slight layover at the office my husband and I both share with son #2.  My boys absolutely hate going to our office.  It’s boring.  There are no video games, vending machines or tank origami to occupy their time with so the 5-10 minute wait while we tie up loose ends and grab some paperwork feels like hours.  It should have raised a red flag when son #2 didn’t pipe up a bit when the 10 minute wait became 30 as my husband and I busied ourselves with what we were required to do in order to shuffle him off to the next mission on the family calendar.   It wasn’t until our coworker opened the whiteboard a few days later as she met with a client that we discovered “the art”.

 

 

Notice the captions depicting the different qualities of my husband’s physique such as;  “Flawlessly bald head”, “thick eye brows”, and the ever descriptive “fat” with arrows highlighting the correct anatomy.  Not to mention the important conversations he has with clients on a regular basis emphasized as “blah blah blah, finances and stuff.”  As luck would have it, our coworker and her client were amused and even suggested I take a picture of the whiteboard before they talked about “finances and stuff” themselves.

I also run across many other forms of art around my house like attacking marbles.

Or still life photos of lego Star Wars figurines:

And bathroom mirror selfies taken with my phone:

Who says art is lost on young men?  I am constantly surrounded by it.  It just looks slightly different than Monet.

 

The Male Reptilian Brain

One thing that is unique to living with a group of men is the astounding capacity for memory. As a woman, I often get noted for remembering all sorts of things that should be dubbed as “to-be-forgotten”. Things like; who broke my favorite crystal candy dish, or the location of socks and baseball jerseys to the chronological order of the required steps to prepare boxed macaroni and cheese are all but useless bits of information to the male mind. What I have actually discovered is that male memory has everything to do with the reptilian brain.

We remember learning about the reptilian brain right? It’s the flight or fight core of the mind where human instinct comes from.

It’s what gives each and every human being the capacity to survive by creating a response we gravitate to. Much like how birds fly south when the weather gets cold, our reptilian brain gives humans a basic ability to survive and endure a longer life through gravitating to basic human necessities. This was pointed out to me just yesterday.

Currently my husband and I are enjoying some much needed time alone, out of state, under the guise of celebrating a wedding of a family friend’s daughter. The five boys are under the skillful care of my long suffering mother in law, who also happens to live with us. Each night we have talked through the schedule of events with grandma and the boys to make sure all the bases are covered.

My 16 year old requested to go to a college night with his girlfriend at the local community college. He assured everyone that he had transportation covered with the girlfriend’s family and would be gone from 6pm until about 8:30pm. I enjoyed a lengthy discussion with said 16 year old son about coming home right after school to check in with grandma, eat and get some homework done before venturing out for the evening. So, imagine my surprise when my husband makes the daily call home around 8pm and grandma informs him that she has not seen hide nor hair of her blessed 16 year old grandson since she dropped him off for school.

Now, here’s the difference between men and women: I assume my son has met some terrible circumstance of dire consequences that detain him from meeting the requirements of coming home after school. My mind immediately goes into panic mode and plays through a million scenarios; some that include broken limbs and natural disasters. My husband however, cups his hand over the phone as says to me “Get that kid on the cell phone now and let him know I am pretty ticked off!”. I oblige. The call goes like this:

Son: “Hello?”

Me: “Hey, where the heck are you?”

Son: “Ummmm, I’m at Dairy Queen, we decided to stop on our way back from college night.”

Me: “Really? What happened to coming home after school? Grandma was expecting you.”

Son: “No she wasn’t, I told her I would be late.”

Me: “No….I told YOU to come home after school, remember?”

Son: “Oh”……long pause…..”I forgot about that.”

Now here is what my husband instinctively understands due to his identical chromosomal alignment with our son. Once a 16 year old boy has a cute girl that requests ANYTHING of him, the reptilian brain kicks in and obeys. Just the mere mention of going to her house after school means HE MUST GO. The reptilian brain says so. There are no rules, no consequences and no perceived disadvantages. Like lemmings falling off a cliff, bears hibernating in a cave and the swallows return to Capistrano, the teenage male must oblige the reptilian brain.

This conditioned basic-need response falls into play in more than just situations with the opposite sex. For example, if there is a game on television, it must be watched. If the grass needs to be cut, and nap must be taken. If a soccer sock smells so bad it causes you to gag, it must be thrown back into the sports bag to cultivate. These are the given responses to the male brain.

Once I begin to understand this, then I can plan accordingly. I know better than to request a substantial household project during the NCAA final four tournaments, I always empty out the sports bag while holding my breath, and if there is a girl involved,…..someone is going to be grounded for an entire weekend until he understands how to override the reptilian response.

Table Manners

Table manners are important.  This was something that was impressed upon me at a very young age. viagra from canada

  Behavior at the table speaks volumes about you, especially in a public place.  I remember being strongly reprimanded by my parents for poor dinner table etiquette.  At one point, we even had a bank with a list of rules and corresponding fines on the center of the table.  No doubt this was placed here by my frustrated parents that never seemed to enjoy a meal in peace with their five children.  The rules included things like “Don’t feed the dog under the table.”, “Ask to have something passed to you instead of reaching across.”, “Don’t eat with your elbows on the table.”, and the ever important “No swearing.”.

I reflect back on my childhood dinner experiences and remember the worst things done at the table were verbal.  Those would be the things that tried the patience of my long suffering parents.  Yelling at a brother or sister or complaining that the food was subpar was probably some of the worst offenses.  But, never; I mean NEVER, would any of us have dreamed of doing what my family does at the table.

I’m not talking an accidental slip of some gas followed by blushed cheeks and an apology.  I’m talking about full-out, earth shaking belches that the neighbors could hear.  Usually followed by a fist pump or a high five, those burps are highly entertaining for everyone around the table except me.  Not to be outdone by someone else, the next guy around the table tries to burp louder and longer than the last gas-infused kid.

The first time, even the second or third time, I can laugh along.  Sure, one burp can be funny and spark a chain reaction.  I’m not a complete stick in the mud.  But it is as if they have just uncovered the body’s ability to release gastric build up; a new discovery each and every meal…..possibly in the name of science. And science is a frontier that must be explored. But after about the forth replay of this belching game, I’m done.

Come on!”, I say, “Give me a break!  Don’t burp at the table.  It’s disgusting and I’m eating here.” Just as the apology is about to leave the lips of my 5 little angels and calm and decorum is reinstated at the family meal, the gentleman sitting to my right leans over, looks at me right in the eye while his entire chair reverberates with a sound similar to the truck slamming on the Jake Brake.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????

Let me clarify who the person sitting to my right is.  I’ll give you a hint; he’s bald, over the age of 50 and once told me that I smelled like roses.  In other words; MY HUSBAND JUST FARTED IN MY GENERAL DIRECTION!!!!

Et tu Brutus?

Of course, this brilliant development on my attempt to have a protocol lesson on table manners has just been trumped.  As if there was not enough entertainment value happening before the head-table-flatulence, now this entire meal has credits worthy of a Comedy Central show in my boy’s eyes.

Dad farted.  Therefore a burp is a mere misdemeanor.

At this point everyone is laughing hysterically.  Everyone but me.  I am completely grossed out.  I fantasize and immediately play out scenarios in my mind that next time (and yes, there will be a next time), I will get up from the table, grab my keys, and go to a nice quiet restaurant where classical music is played in the background and abnormally large plates serve surprisingly small amounts of food.  These are plates I will not wash and food I did not cook, and I will enjoy every minute of it.

A girl can dream right?

The Christmas Train

This last week we have been dragging all of the Christmas decorations out of the attic and putting them out for the holiday season.  I absolutely love decorating for Christmas.  I have fond memories of my father, who enjoyed decorating so much that he gave our tree themes.  One year, it was all blue and silver, another year red, green and gold.  It was always different and tastefully done.  In true Clark Griswold style, he also loved trimming the outside of the house with lights on every gutter and shrub.  He even made a gigantic NOEL sign out of plywood with the “O” as a musical note.  He hand painted it, outlined the perimeter with flashing lights and backlit it with giant multi colored bulbs; a signature piece.  The other hobby my dad excelled at was model railroading. He had an “N” gauge layout that was about 25’x15’ and took over the majority of our basement.

Something about Christmas always makes me think of my dad, so each year I pull out the cheap plastic Christmas train set from WalMart that my sister in law bought over 15 years ago and set it up.  It no longer works so it’s just “for show”.  I purposely place it on a transect support beam that sits about 8 feet up from the ground.  Setting it up this way was a requirement when I inherited this train.  My kids were so little they simply couldn’t leave the thing alone.  Just having it at ground level was an invitation to push it along the track, sideways, and break off every single wheel, which is exactly why this train no longer works.  Everyone still gets a nice view of the Christmas train scene as you go up and down the stairs to the second floor…..and no one can see the broken wheels.

Now that my boys are teenagers, I still set it up in the stratosphere.  This year I decided to splurge an extravagant sum of $19.95 on a few cheap and exceptionally fragile ceramic houses and village scenes from Home Depot.  The younger boys love setting this train up for two main reasons:

  1.  They get to use a ladder.
  2. There is an entire epic “Chirstmas Runaway Train” storyline complete with bodies laying on the track and dogs peeing on Christmas trees.

 

Here’s how it goes.  My oldest two are way too cool for the train so just the youngest three are helping with the set up. There are a bunch of arguments between sons #3, 4 & 5 as to who gets to go up the ladder with a couple pieces of track first.  Finally when I have had enough of the bitching and moaning I determine an order of assent.  Son #4 climbs the ladder and Son #3 acts as a counter weight on the opposite side of the ladder.  But wait……somehow even though we are nowhere near an active fault line, there is an earthquake and the ladder must be shaken violently to freak out the younger brother.  Then it’s #5s turn.  He climbs the ladder with his selected pieces of track.  Then another argument ensues about which pieces of the track are the “right” ones.  It appears that a he is just “doing it all wrong” and the train will now look stupid.  Eventually the track is laid intelligently, the major earthquake subsides and we are only left with mild tremors while climbing the ladder.

Next to go up are the cars.  #3 really wants the caboose and #5 really wants to place the engine which leaves #4 with the middle two cars.  I am actually pleasantly surprised at how they worked this out among the 3 of them.  Maybe all the love and harmony of a family Christmas isn’t just the stuff of legend!  But, alas, the temporary peace on earth comes to a halt because now it is time for the houses and figurines.

All three boys are trying to shove as many pieces into their hands as they can possibly manage.  Despite my warning about the fragility of the made-in-China-dollar-store-wanna-be miniature people and the need to use their hands for more practical things like holding onto the sides of the ladder, they still attempt to climb the ladder with handfuls of mid century carolers while holding onto the sides with their wrists.  A couple of pieces hit the floor and we now have a headless dog being walked by a boy with an amputated hand.

This is just fine as it adds to the fact that this has now become a Christmas zombie apocalyptic scene where headless dogs urinate on flocked trees.  Each and every human figurine takes it’s turn during the placement process getting a voiceover by one of the boys.  This includes crying and screaming for help as unwilling characters are being laid down on the track to suffer the imminent doom of getting run over by the oblivious conductor of the holiday train.  This train is, in fact, going the speed of a silver bullet destined for the heart of a zombie terrorizing the bell ringing Santa, despite his painted on jolly appearance.

When all is said and done, the train is up, no one has fallen off the ladder and only two small pieces have been broken, but are still usable.  To the untrained eye, viewers will pass the Christmas train scene and see a lovely centerpiece commemorating my childhood memories.

Little do they know it’s actually a story line that includes the soon to be demise of that lady at the end of the track with her back to an oncoming train.  Next up…..the Christmas tree.  Lord help me.

 

Mama's Got Ballz

Thank you for indulging me in a slight hiatus from my blogging-with-boys adventure.  These last few months were football season at our house.  tadalafil no prescription We, along with a couple of fantastic friends, run a youth sports organization in our town.  This means I have spent every weekend for the last 10 weeks schlepping nachos and beef sandwiches at a concession stand for 8 hours a day…..or as my boys put it; Skittles-for-breakfast!

I want to impart a little wisdom I have learned after being a sports parent from everything from football and soccer to baseball and cheerleading (yes, I said cheerleading), for almost 20 years.

 

****SPORTS PARENTS ARE INSANE******

 

I mean this in the nicest way.  All of these parents are nice, normal human beings that coexist with one another in relative harmony off the field.  They hold jobs, negotiate contracts, adjudicate conflicts, adhere to OSHA and drive the speed limit.  You’ve met them, befriended them, had beers with them and even facebook friended them.  They pay their bills on time, go to church and volunteer at soup kitchens……however, there is the occasional parent that once they have given that initial consent to their child to participate in an organized team sport you must know the following important facts:

  1.  Their child is the best and most talented natural athlete this sport has ever, or will ever see.  Michael Jordan, Pele, Babe Ruth and Joe Namath were uncoordinated morons compared to their child and soon the world will know it.
  2. Coaches and league officials need to follow their advice ………on everything.

 

I have witnessed this time and time again.   Sports fans in general are a little kooky….but sports parents are certifiable.

 Referees can attest to this on a stack of bibles.   Not only will parent craziness come into play with the calls of the official but also with the way the organization is run in general.  I have had everything from the amount of cheese on a serving of nachos to appropriate delivery of uniforms come down to something slightly short of a national crisis in need NATO negotiating.  Let me reiterate one exceptionally important fact here.  Like 99.9% of everyone else coaching, mentoring and nachoing your kid …..I am a volunteer.  I have always lived by the adage that if you want to see some change or don’t like the way something is going, then put on your big girl panties and a plastic glove and dip your own beef sandwich in the gravy!  Most of our parents do exactly that.  They are fantastic volunteers.  We all have those moments of fan-crazed parenting, but a few parents are just a little “better” at the crazy stuff then others.

This was all new to me when entering big boy world almost 20 years ago.  I have the coordination of an invertebrate.  I ran the 50 yard dash in 20 seconds.  I can’t do a somersault and I have the competitive spirit of a Trappist monk.  Sports were just not my thing. The idea of screaming like a tormented soul on the verge of complete brokenness because my son was just yellow carded bewilders me.

Needless to say, I’m happy to have this fall season over with.  Not only can I go back to my man cave and watch back to back to back to back episodes of Big Bang Theory and Pumpkin Chunkin’ with my trebuchet loving brood, but I now have time to clean the urine off the seat without having someone call into question “how” I’m cracking down on it.  I have several months to rest up and gear up for the next wave of insanity the following fall.  Yep, that’s right….I’ll be back for more.  Because I’m just as insane as the rest of them!

 

WMDs

One thing I was very insistent on when raising my boys was trying to maintain a decorum of non-violence.  The moment son #1 came out of the womb I solemnly vowed to have a strict “no guns” rule at which my husband verbally patted me on the head and said “Yeah, um….ok.”  This is pretty easy to achieve for about a year when all the toys are nonfunctioning color blocked blobs developed to attract the attention of a six month old.

Once my little boy reached about 18-24 months of age, it was apparent this diplomat-in-the-making watermark was going out the window.  Every single toy in the house became a weapon of some sort.  It didn’t matter if it was his beloved sleepy time stuffed Barney.  The dinosaur also doubled as a battering ram for monster trucks.  Toy cars never simply raced or followed a track; they collided and exploded with countless casualties.   It didn’t matter how hard I would try to steer my little darling to peace loving activities like sidewalk chalk and building blocks, because as soon as I would leave the room I would hear self play babble that sounded like “bee-ew, bee-ew, bee-ew”.  He had fashioned a gun made out of lego blocks as big as his head.

I considered the fact that maybe “this” boy was just different and my next child would be the harbinger of peace and all things lovely.  However, son #2 was born in camouflage and was smashing GI Joes together until they decapitated themselves a year later.  As a matter of fact, now at 15, his world pretty much revolves around, bacon, military history, and duct tape.  Sons 3, 4, and 5 have me hiding all things ceramic and pretty much followed suit.

I would not claim defeat.  I still felt strongly that I should do my best impression of NATO, and call an arms treaty.  TV Viewing privledges we contained only to PBS for 10 years.  I read them stories about choo choo trains that had positive outlooks.  I even made sure all my boys went to church and heard a lot of nonviolent preaching.

A few Christmases ago, my 90 year old great Uncle Willard built beautiful crucifixes for everyone in my large extended family.  Out of solid oak he had handmade each member of my generation a cross about 10 inches high, stained them a lovely honey color and signed his name to the back if each one.  Each of our children also received a 6 inch high cross similar to the larger “family” crucifix.  I’m certain it was Uncle Willard’s intent that each child hung that cross in their room.  However, my five boys immediately flipped those crosses upside down and held sword fights in the car on the way home.

Yes, you read that right.  My five blessings from God where waging war, gladiator style, with the very wood that symbolized the salvation of the world.

I was battling a fictional, allbeit, fully armed enemy.  To a boy, everything is better with an explosion, crash or zombies.  All is right and well knowing that somewhere in the world there might be ninja stars with their name on it….and that badass costume that goes with it.  Vacations are meant to be planned around decommissioned air craft carriers, civil war battle sights and the occasional sporting event.

I concede.

I have left the raising of the future ambassadors of the world to those of you with multiple gender households.  Now, I just go with the flow and pray to the god of sword fighting that there’s enough duct tape and bacon at my disposal to amuse them all while I get a pedicure.