The Last Therapy Session

He’s been seeing her because of an uncontrollable rage that began in kindergarten when he hit a friend with a toy truck in the sandbox. The little girl needed stitches. In first grade, his teacher would bring him down to the basement to kick a beanbag chair. By third grade, therapy had helped him transfer his anger from his fists and his feet to his words… and I received a number of reports of him screaming in a wild rage at his teachers for not understanding him, siding with his classmates, not listening.

He morphed from the class Buddha one day to a whirlwind of anger and self-doubt the next.

But he’s a fourth grader now. Importantly, he has a couple of best friends who he seems to have figured out will stick by him when things get rough. The rage is thawing.

So, I wasn’t surprised when his therapist said at the end of yesterday’s session that he doesn’t need to see her anymore. “Let’s move to an as-needed basis.”

The funny thing was that she didn’t “re-neg” when he told her about Christmas Eve – and an unique experience he’s been sharing boldly for almost a month now.

“I saw Santa!”

She didn’t understand at first. “At the mall? Downtown?”

“The real one. I woke up in the middle of the night and forgot it was Christmas, and I thought I heard something downstairs. So, I went down,” his eyes sparkled and his smile lit up like a Christmas tree., “and there he was!”

She grinned back, trying not to look at me. “Wowwwww! Did you say anything?”

“Nope, I didn’t want to get in trouble. So, I tiptoed back upstairs.”

“He didn’t see you?”

“I am very good at sneaking around.” So proud.

“I have never heard of anyone actually getting to see him. You are the luckiest kid in the world,” then with a vigorous nod from him, she transitioned, “So, did you get anything good?”

He listed his presents. A small drone. A t-shirt from his favorite Youtube channel. A game called Timeline. But when she asked which one was his favorite…

“Seeing Santa! That’s the best gift anyone could ask for!”


Imperfect Treats for Santa

Our 10-year-old wrote a note to Santa last night.

Dear Santa, here are some treats for you and your reindeer. Merry Christmas!

We only had a few snowman-shaped half-cookies left, and I was adding the obligatory carrots to the platter for Rudolph and crew, when he put his hand on my arm to stop me. “Wait!” from such a serious face, “You need to wash them first!”

Then when no one was looking, he added to the note to address the broken cookies.

Sorry the heads got bitten off.

He’s right. Santa deserves better than half-eaten cookies and unwashed carrots. We’ll do better next year.

A Remorseful Letter to Santa

Sometimes it’s better to let the picture tell the story. I found this all folded up with his Christmas Wish List.

Finn Santa Letter 2017


Thanksgiving Week on the Farm

Outside the kitchen window at Goose Hill is a blur of whites and grays, ending on the far side of the pond in near-black due to the shade of the pine trees reflected in already dark water. The first morning, looking out at the snowy hill down to the pond, we drank apple cider from the apple trees that grow in the fields closest to the house. Tomorrow morning, we will use the farm’s applies to bake a Thanksgiving pie.

We trudged through the snowy woods to investigate the year-old maple project, lines of light blue tubing crossing down the hill connecting the maples that we helped mark and count while the decision to launch this new business was being considered. The beech trees have been felled since we were here last, opening the path to the sky, the trunks and logs on the forest floor setting the agenda for next summer’s trip here.

We toured the maple shack where it gets processed and bought a case of real maple syrup made from the farm’s own trees. Good Christmas gifts for our friends and teachers back home who will nevermore be content with Aunt Jemima.

Yesterday, we moved a pile of rocks dumped at the edge of the road to build a Cotswald-ish wall along the shed, where tractors and ATVs sleep. Then together, the seven of us gathered – and counted – more than 5,000 black walnuts scattered across the path between the house and the barn. Grandpa promised 5 cents for every 20 walnuts, and a quick online search informed us that 100 pounds of hulled walnuts get you $15, maybe enough to pay the gas to the hulling station. So, the kids made trips back and forth in the ATV to dump them in the ravine, where they will fatten happy squirrels.

The boys have gone sledding, played football in the snow, used trees and the big red barn’s roof as targets for their snowballs.

And yet, the week feels sleepy. Nourishing in some way even before we carve the Thanksgiving bird, knowing that the comical turkeys peering in the window while we feasted last year have gone wild in the woods.


Awkward Party Moment

Last night at a Labor Day picnic, I was chatting with a friend of a friend. Someone I’ve met a few times but don’t really know.

My teenage son, almost as tall as I am, appeared at my shoulder, clearing his throat and politely interrupting our conversation.

“Mom, I am now an official member of the Illuminati.” Very serious.

“Really?” I flash a smile at the friend of a friend.

“I signed up on their website.”

“They have a website?”

Seems strange, because the Illuminati was a secret society formed in Bavaria in the 1700s. Often compared to the Freemasons, they appear in fiction as an underground, powerful, almost magical group pulling strings at the highest levels of world government and religion. They have been blamed for many of history’s conspiracies, wars, and other cataclysmic events.

A Youtuber recently re-introduced the Illuminati into pop culture with a hilarious video, thus bringing us to this awkward party moment.

“Now, if they ever need me, they can contact me.” He leaned in, “And I’m on it.”

With a quick nod, he left me standing with the friend of a friend. “More wine?”


Dressing Up for May Day

In a house of boys living in the oh-so-casual West, we don’t dress up often. So, dress-up days at school cause us some angst.

Do the khakis that fit you at Grandparents’ Day still fit for May Day? Is your only button-down shirt still on the ironing board after six months? No dear, athletic socks do not go with fancy shoes. Your loafers are too small? Can you wear them for two more hours? No time to shop!

And we have sensory issues. Even the softest dress pants rub against the back of one son’s knees and leave a “rash”. Tags we forget to cut out of anything new itch to distraction. Ties make them feel like they’re choking.

And then, when they are all looking absolutely handsome five minutes before departure, I step outside into the sunshine – dressing up in daytime a rare thing for me too – and realize my skirt is completely see-through.

Oh my god, do I even own a slip?!


My Funny Valentine

The day before Valentine’s Day, my sister told me to tell the boys that she loves them, Happy Valentine’s Day, and “tell one girl she looks pretty tomorrow.”

So this morning, my seventh grader came downstairs at 6:40am still rubbing his eyes, and grinned, “Mom, you look pretty. There. I’m done.”

At about the same time, my eight year old niece suddenly realized she had no gift for my other sister, exclaiming, “Mommy, I didn’t get you anything! Go get your nails done today!”

To which the first sister said, “Like she’s some sort of sugar daddy.”

Of course, our eighth grade son was so excited about his Valentine gift to us that he opened it himself at the dinner table last night. It was a lavender heart he made in “polymer lab” for chemistry. He barely let us touch “our” gift because he is afraid we’ll break it.

“And then” said the seventh grader, “you’ll have a broken heart.”