Looking Good, Dude

Our 11-year-old son’s 2019 New Year’s Resolution was to run on the treadmill two days a week, and to lift weights three days. As we enter month two of 2019, he has hit the treadmill three or four times, and the weights two or three.

Definitely more than his 2018 totals.

So he stood at the side of our bed, shirtless, potbelly touching the bedspread, and grinned proudly, “my six-pack is starting.”

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Sacrifice to the Snow God

When they were younger and praying for a snow day did not seem enough of a guarantee, our boys invented their own ritual. Now 16, 15, and 11, and every local news outlet predicted blizzard conditions for the next morning’s commute, it triggered a buzz of excitement.  Snow Day.They suddenly weren’t tired. Snow Day.A sparkle in their eyes as they planned their sledding adventure, their snowman, their snowball fight down in the park. Snow Day.

And finally, because the ritual requires that you do it right before heading to bed the night before the storm, they each got a handful of ice cubes and marched together into the bathroom. There, they huddled around the toilet, dropped the ice in, and flushed. Snow Day.

The theory is that the ice will travel below the streets and magically encourage an above-ground freezing that cannot melt or get plowed in time for morning rush hour. School will haveto be cancelled even by the most resistant headmaster or school district. 

This time, they were sure, it would work. Snow Day.

Bimpnottin Nackle

In our middle school carpool many years ago, I rode daily with three neighborhood boys who played Dungeons and Dragons. Unable to follow their strange conversations, I looked out the window or chatted with their mom, who was lovely and worked at our school.

I thought the game disappeared with our generation, until my sons went to high school, and I read they had a Dungeons and Dragons club there. 

My kids remind me a little of the boys in that long-ago carpool. “You might like it?”

The shook their heads. Rolled their eyes.

Then our fifth grader announced that his friend was learning to play with hisDad, and out came my husband’s Dungeons and Dragons books. As father and youngest son perused the books, our teenagers hovered, reading too and, at first, cautiously admitting, “this is soooo nerdy, but reallyfun.”

They created their characters: a cleric, a human fighter, an elf with magical powers, and a dragon-born ranger. And they started on their first adventure with Dad, the cleric, as the lead.

And then it happened, as it inevitable does… 

“Mom, you should play,” said the sixteen-year-old.

And just as I joined Fantasy Football in this house of boys, I am now Bimpnottin Nackle, a Forest Gnome from the Druid Class. I can talk to animals. I am wise. In my first move, I bought a spear and a dagger. I can cast goodberry and longstrider spells, although I am not yet sure how I do either. 

I have no idea what the adventure I am joining will bring, or what Bimpnottin Nackle will do in the heat of battle, but after nearly 40 years, I give up. Let the game begin!

It’s Time to Do the Puzzle

.Last night, the family attended a Boxing Day Junkanoo, a colorful, musical street parade in the Bahamas. At 9:00 p.m., just as the floats approached where we stood against a white fence, and the horns and drums and flashing lights with them, my 87-year-old father-in-law suddenly didn’t look good. Didn’t feel good. 

My husband ran to get the golf cart. I ducked through the crowd in the opposite direction, across the street, looking for someone selling water though I had no money. I returned just ahead of the first float.

But what struck me most about the evening took place once we are all back in the quiet of the house. Grandpa was fine and resting in bed. That day, he had walked two-miles on the beach, spent another hour sitting in the sun, shared in the wine at dinner, then joined us in the Junkanoo crowd. He just needed rest. But we remained concerned, a little on edge, adrenaline still high from what had looked like an emergency.

And in that moment of what-do-we-do-now, our sixteen-year-old shined. It might sound silly to notice it as an important moment to anyone who has not watched him grow up. But…

He walked over to the puzzle, its edges completed by the rest of us earlier in the day while he played Clash of the Clans on his phone. He has never enjoyed puzzles. Not sure he has ever worked on one. But he saw that, despite the late hour, Grandma wasn’t ready for bed. 

“Well, Grandma,” he offered, “I think it’s time to do the puzzle.”

He did it so gracefully, so easily that no one but me noticed what he’d done. He is becoming such a sweet, good man.

She sat down opposite him, and they got to work, him chatting to her mostly, and celebrating each connection until she grew tired and said goodnight.

A Protest Poem

Every year at Thanksgiving, the fifth graders at our school have to invent a turkey character (most boys do a spin on their favorite football player or superhero), dress it up as an art project, and write a poem about their turkey. So, in honor of the fifth grade tradition, I decided to have my fifth grader as my guest blogger.

Of course, he lost the cut-out of the turkey he’s supposed to use for the art part of the project, so he’ll be scrambling tomorrow night to cut out a tie-dye turkey shirt…..

…but given my teenager wants to register Republican, it’s kind of nice to have a hippy, social justice, protestor type in the family at the gates of the White House. Even if it is a turkey.

I’m a Protesting Turkey

I do not want to live in disguise

Or end up in somebody’s pies.

The Thanksgiving feast is like a beast

Devouring us.

So, I left the farm and traveled east.

I’m at the White House making a fuss.

To get here, I took a bus.

But people make fusses on busses.

So, I took a train

but it was a pain.

It took me nine hours to get this far

Not including my stop at the bar

Where they tried to bake me

But they couldn’t take me.

So here I am at the White House gates

Protesting turkeys’ fates.

A 16 Year Old Gets His Driver’s License

When most sixteen-year-old kids walk out of the driving test with their new license, they can’t stop smiling. They know that they just earned themselves a new level of freedom…. and for some, a car.

“You’re a good, safe driver. You passed!” said the nice lady with the clipboard at the DMV.

We both grinned.

But his smile was much bigger when she asked, “Would you like to preregister to vote?”

It was fun to see for a mom who used to love politics.

A week before, he hounded me to fill out my mail-in ballot and read out loud from various websites as I considered each candidate and ballot issue.

A few nights later, he stayed up late watching the mid-term election results slowly roll in. I was surprised by how much he knew about the candidates from each state (not just ours), and how, when he didn’t know, he looked them up.

“Do you know your Party affiliation?” the nice lady at the DMV asked.

It was fun to see for a mom who used to love politics… even though…

He couldn’t contain his glee, “Should I really pick my Party, Mom?”

I guess, at least for now, we’ll just cancel each other out.

“I get to vote in the next election!”

But he’s reminded me what it feels like to love politics.

Study Skills as a Foreign Language

My son’s fifth grade class visited middle school this week in preparation for next year. They went to Drama, Science lab, and Spanish. Fun activities. All about seeing how cool middle school is going to be.

So, at the end of the day, he got in the car. Smiling. Excited. Looking to the future. “We get to choose L.E., Spanish or French!”

L.E. is a study and organizational skills class for kids needing a little extra help in developing as academic learners. I explained, “You don’t get to choose L.E. The teachers tell you if you need it.”

The light in his eyes went out. Smoke came out of his ears.

“I am NOT taking Spanish!”

“Well, actually, you are.”

“I don’t understand a word anyone saying! Not a single word! Today, he said ‘tocar something something’, and everyone pointed to their elbow. Soooooo, I pointed to my elbow. That’s how I do Spanish.”

“How does everyone else know what he’s saying?”

“I have NO idea!”

Hope he cools off by August, when his teacher greets him with… “Buenos Dias!”