Stand Up

I saw Chris Stapleton at Red Rocks last night. The sky was clear. The city lights twinkled at us from below the rocks. He played all four songs I know. And Peyton Manning joined him on stage to sing “Tennessee Whiskey.” Plus, he has the most creative intro of band members I’ve ever heard, which makes him really likable.

I just want to know why people feel the need to bug you if you sit down to listen to the music. Like you’re making them uncomfortable.

Christ Stapleton’s music is mellow. His low voice and the acoustics at Red Rocks are impressive. But seriously, I can only sway for so long.

And just to impress the stander-uppers – because if you don’t, they feel the need to nag you – why do you have to stay on your feet until midnight with thoughts of “my-back-aches, wow-that-guy-is-really-drunk, and please-play-faster-I-have-to-get-up-at-5am” running through your head?

Although it may not look it to the stander-uppers, it is way “cooler” to sit and appreciate the awesome guitar playing, listen to the story-telling that is country music, watch a hawk soar above the rocks, and identify the constellations on a crisp, cool night in May.

Mom’s Overreactions

“Once again,” our fourteen year old announced as he climbed into the car after school, “you totally overreacted.”

Apparently, the math quiz I made him study for that morning was only two problems. “You always panic about nothing.”

We are in a funny cycle into which lots of middle school boys and their moms fall. I let up on nagging, his grades go down. I nag, he “remembers” to do his homework, his grades stabilize, and he thinks the “crazy overreacting” – and more importantly, the fact that he actually studied – is completely unrelated to the newly acquired A.

So, every time he does well on a test, he celebrates with a big smile and… “See! Everything was fine, Mom!”

Like I’m a crazy, stressed-out wacko instead of his way-cool, full-of-wisdom mom, who just can’t understand why he doesn’t get the game.

If you do the homework, you get the A. You win.

In the Dursleys’ Wine Cellar

Our youngest is not a “bed” guy. For years, he slept on the floor in his brothers’ rooms, dragging sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and his book down the hall every night.

With the older two entering teen-dom, however, their patience eventually dried up. So, he set up camp on the floor in his own room right next to his bed. It took us a few months of cajoling to realize he is afraid of falling out of bed. So, we bought a queen-size mattress and put it on the floor (no bedsprings) with new super soft, red fleece sheets.

It worked. For months, he climbed into bed every night, then spent ten minutes methodically setting up shop. Large stuffed bear and pillows along the non-wall side. Seven foxes snuggled against Big Bear in order of whose night of the week it was to sleep closest to him. “Blue Blanky” as first blanket, because it’s his favorite, then the others on top.

But something snapped.

He realized that if he pulls the mattress away from the wall, he can set up a bed back there… on the floor.

The ten-minute bedtime process got moved.

Then two nights ago, when he was feeling sorry for himself, it moved again…

…to the closet.

“I want to hide from the world!”

Big Bear, Blue Blanky, pillow, foxes, flashlight, book all in the smallest possible place to sleep. Shirts hanging just above him.

“Like Harry Potter’s bed at the Dursleys’,” I said, thinking that would discourage him. But by Night #2, it was his happy place.

Harry had to sleep in the wine cellar. Remember? It was under the stairs.”

As if that made all the difference.

And in all my years of reading Harry Potter books, I never pictured the Durselys drinking wine.

The Peppermint Failure

Our dog digs. So, I bought peppermint plants.

I got the idea on the Internet. Then I confirmed that it works with the herb guy at the plant store. “Dogs hate that strong minty smell,” he said. “She definitely won’t dig near it.”

Unless you’re Star, the dog who created a little mulch nest in-between peppermint plants, her nose resting contentedly for hours within an inch of that strong minty smell she is supposed to hate.

Or Star, the dog who I discovered covered in mud, digging madly around one of the sprinklers, which was spraying her directly in the face. The peppermint plant she nestled with all weekend is missing. Not a leaf of evidence that it even existed.

So, onto Plan B. Fill hole. Sprinkle with red hot Cayenne Pepper.

Third Grade Homework

Last night, my nine year old was struggling with long division again. I knew he was tired, so I stayed close in case he got frustrated. Plus, there was the spelling test to study for, and although he was getting “bruise” consistently, he kept messing up “cruise”. And we weren’t getting anywhere with “reduce”.

The expected “UGH!” came.

He was able to translate the word problem into an equation, but couldn’t remember the process he needed to go through to find the answer.

He slid the paper over to me, and I could tell he was on the verge of exploding with rage. But as I started to talk him through the steps, he took a long, deep breath, then placed his hand on my arm ever so gently.

“Mom, I don’t want to hurt your feelings,” his voice was quiet and his big brown eyes filled with pity. “I know you’re trying to help, but you’re making it harder, and it’s driving me crazy.”

So, I slid the paper back and watched with a big smile on my face while he finished his math.

My Mom and the Maker Movement

The Maker Movement brings together technology fans and traditional artisans in a shared do-it-yourself, crafting culture that celebrates innovation. Schools across the country are investing in Maker Spaces, where students can invent or build with a diverse range of recycled products, traditional tools, and technology.

It’s new. It’s hip. It’s the best thing going on in education.

And my mom did it in her kindergarten class more than thirty years ago. She called it the Invention Center.

In the 1970s and 80s, there were always paper grocery bags in our kitchen at some stage of being filled with empty paper towel rolls, plastic tops, cans, bubble wrap, milk cartons, and more. We’d help her deliver them to her Invention Center and check out all the kindergarten “inventions” being built there. Occasionally, she’d send a letter home to her class asking for Invention Center donations, and the coffers would fill to overflowing, because 20 families across the DC metro area spent their kindergarten year collecting for it too.

The best though was watching those little kids walk down the carpool line barely able to carry structures bigger than they were to moms whose mouths were open in surprise. “Wow! That’s amazing!”

And the kindergarten “makers” beamed with pride as mom tried to fit it in the back of the car and they explained all the intricacies of what they’d created, how many times it had fallen apart, how they fixed it, and where they wanted to put it in their house.

I don’t know if my mom has heard of the Maker Movement, but I like to think of her as one of its pioneers.

 

The Ambler

My husband and I dragged our fourteen year old along on a 6-mile walk on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. A long walk with Mom and Dad was a lot less threatening than a short run with Dad. So, there we were, taking in the scenery, talking, soaking in the late spring sunshine.

And he complained. Are we there yet? You walk too fast. It’s hot. You’re annoying. How have you not broken a sweat?!

Nearly approaching the end, we passed by a very small elderly woman with her very small dog, and he grinned, “Now that’s a good walking speed!”

He demonstrated for us what his walk looks like, probably in a ploy to slow us down, and we debated the correct word for it. Amble? Stroll? Waddle? Is walking even a sport?

He was very funny.

Then today, as the boys and I walked to school, he explained to his brothers how he had suffered so on Saturday. Mom and Dad walk too fast. It was hot. They’re annoying.

And he showed them his walking “style”, short, slow-motion steps. “I take the time to appreciate my surroundings. Look at that beautiful tree! And this chain link fence? It’s a metaphor for humanity linking arms and taking care of each other.”

“Wow, you’re boring to walk with,” said his younger brother.

“But when you walk fast,” now on the defensive, “you can’t think of metaphors!”