Tag Archiv: boy two

The season of letting go

Engraving from a French ice skating manual, 1813. Compliments of Public Domain Review.

Engraving from a French ice skating manual, 1813.                                                   Compliments of Public Domain Review

This is the season of letting go.  The thought comes a few weeks ago. I walk around with it uncertain. Letting go is not just about loss. It can feel good to lay down heavy things.That is what I tell myself. I try many times to write before I can find words.  I promise myself I can throw it away unseen.

If this were the season of letting go, I would. . .

               Let go of all the measurements and calculations to prove that I’m okay.

               Let go of attempts to be good enough to merit love

               Let go of all the people I have tried to get to fill the holes. Really. Let them all go. Wander out                into traffic to forget me or not.

               Let go of protecting myself from failure (who defines that anyway?) 

               Let go of needing to prove something, protect something, and stand out as something.

               Let go of the worry about where I fit or what people think


I keep picturing Boy two and the bird. We were on our way down the driveway when I saw the cat. She had a bird in her mouth. I stopped the car. Boy two tore open the sliding door and leapt out. He pried open her jaws with his fingers and against her wishes, the cat let go. The bird flew up from her mouth into the air, across the lawn and into the sky.

I am the cat right now, but maybe I will also be the bird.

That’s how far I get. After that weeks go by and I can’t look at what I’d written or think another single thought about letting go. So much for the cat and the bird.

Over the weekend, I take Boy one to the airport to fly alone across three provinces. Upon arrival he is to find a taxi, buy a bus ticket, and use up five hours (all composed of sixty minutes) before boarding a bus. At the other end of the bus ride is two weeks of summer camp a very long way from home.  It is my idea. (A fact which I hate myself for all the way to the airport.) Boy one is a tiny bit nervous (not nearly enough) but also intoxicated with the joy of so much trust, independence and adventure. I hug him goodbye at the airport. He walks away smiling.

Back in the car, I remember the season of letting go. My boy, in the air, above me, beyond me is tearing my heart out. I see a picture of us. Me privately grieving while I smile and gently push him away. He is too happy to see my tears. He cannot stop grinning. This is great comfort indeed.  My heart hurts, but I’m doing my job if in only a whisper I can croak out the word, “Fly!” to my son.

A question knocks at the door of me. Might a season of letting go become also a season of flight? Not just for him, but for me?

More on bikes


Public domain painting from 1919 magazine, compliments of  http://olddesignshop.com/

Picture comes (again) compliments of a delightful site: http://olddesignshop.com/


Boy two’s love affair with the bike continues.  “You don’t really see anything from a car,” he says. “On your bike you see everything. All kinds of stuff you never noticed before.” The family was headed to a country park about ten minutes away by car. Boy two invited me to bike there with him instead.  He chattered while we biked. Pointed out things here and there, or told me things he’d seen other times on his bike, most of it followed by further praise of the glory of bikes. The chatter alone was worth the price of admission, but here are some of the things we would have missed from the car.




I wish I knew what these flowers were called, I said.

Baby shoes, he said. They should be called baby shoes. Don’t you just think of baby shoes when you look at them? I’m calling them baby shoes. That’s exactly what they look like.

And then later . . .

Look, Mom! More baby shoes.




Like every boy worth his salt, Boy two gazed into the water convinced he saw signs of living things. Big, unknown, and wild things in shadows and ripples. If we hadn’t been on a mission to show a sibling his increased manly biking speed, I might have lost him here gazing at the creek for the afternoon. (Gazing would have been ten minutes. After that he would have started getting wet.)




We really could not believe it when we came upon this baby skunk. The mother was nowhere in sight, so we felt free to put our bikes down and watch for a little while. He/she was exploring a ditch along a well cared for lawn. After a bit little one ambled back into the metal drainage pipe we assumed was also home.




Brilliance in the becoming


saw this happening out the window and got the camera

saw this happening out the window and got the camera


Turns out this was the goal. :)

This was the goal.


Boy two has a bruise on his head. During our work day he began taking the split logs in his hand as they came off the splitter and tossing them behind him onto the wagon without looking. He stopped after one log flew straight up and came straight back down on his head.


Girl one is reading a novel to Girl two as we drive back and forth to school. It’s a mystery with illustrations of art in parks. I tuned in to catch this.

Girl one: It’s crazy, but sometimes in really old art there are sculptures of naked people.

Girl two groans loudly in protest.

Girl one:  I know. It sounds weird, but it’s the way they were learning about the human body. They didn’t know very much so they made sculptures of it so they could learn about it.

Girl two resigned herself to the senselessness of our ancestors with an exhausted, okay.


Boy one recently completed a submission for an essay contest. The potential prize money is big. Aided by the whole optimism disorder, he decided to give it a try. I was quiet about the possibilities of winning. For a few months my secret service, reverse psychology skills have been frequently required. Due to stealth constraints about my actual interest in him completing the project, the number of times I could say, “how do you not see your current state of not finished as an emergency!” was limited. The essay was due at 11:59 on a Friday night. Around 11:50, his father asked him where he was supposed to submit the project. He wasn’t sure. Turns out there was a form to fill out. The fact that the project was submitted at precisely 11:59 is something he’s immensely proud of. He sees it as a kind of good luck charm.


Boy two announced that he is kicking Boy one out of the solemn brotherhood. He says he can no longer tolerate someone so obsessed with hygiene. Boy two does not have this problem. Following a thoroughness inquiry from this interested mother after a recent shower, he explained that he had indeed washed everything from the top of his head down to about six inches below his knee.

But why would you stop there? I asked. That means you didn’t even wash your feet.

Who would ever wash their feet, he wanted to know. All the soap from your whole body goes there.


There was a knock on my bedroom door recently. Most knockers wait for my invitation then nudge a few inches through the open door to ask their question. This time the knocker closed the door behind them, strode across the room to the other side, and turned to look at me.

I’m almost in tears about everything. Do you know what’s wrong with me?

4000 Words

A picture’s worth a thousand words . . .

A lot of hay gets wasted (according to us) but the animals are quite happy with the edible bedding in the middle of the field. The white stripes on the barn are feed bags hung and weighted to keep the wind out at night.

A lot of hay gets wasted (according to us) but the animals are quite happy with the edible bedding in the middle of the field. The white stripes on the barn are feed bags hung and weighted to keep the wind out at night.

Unlike the rest of us, Buster is not phased by winter.

Unlike the rest of us, Buster is still unphased by winter.


Game of tag

Game of tag to celebrate some warm days!


Boy two making Anabelle happy by letting her lick his face. We don't know why she likes it or why he lets her.

Boy two making Anabelle happy by letting her lick his face. We don’t know why she likes it or why he lets her.

Bake Sale


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About a week ago around bedtime, Boy two became desperate for me to call his friend’s mother. It wasn’t clear what I should say, only that I should call her. Oh and sign the paper. The paper has the boy’s phone number on it. Now do you get it? he wanted to know.

Not exactly, I said.

We’re doing a bake sale to raise money to ship boxes to kids for Christmas. Someone else will fill them. You’re signing that you’re ok with the bake sale. Mrs. V says you have to sign.

I signed.

The next night at bedtime he again became desperate for me to pick up a phone.

But what am I calling to say? I said exasperated.

About the bake sale, he said a little exasperated himself.

But I don’t know anything about it, except you’re doing it to raise money for the Christmas box shipping fees.

We’re not doing it for that any more. We changed our minds. We’re raising money for The Angel Tree. And we want to do it at the general store. Now can you call her?

I agreed to call the next night on condition he answer important questions like when was the bake sale?

He wasn’t sure.

Who was baking?

Only them. Mrs. V. said they had to take care of things themselves.

What were they making?

He wasn’t sure but could I buy chocolate chips?

When were they baking?

Just call his mom and then you’ll know all the answers.

So the other mom is organizing the bake sale?

No mom, I already told you. Mrs. V says we have to do everything ourselves.

The General Store was more flexible than I was. We stopped by so Boy two could ask permission to do the bake sale on their porch for an unspecified time on an unspecified day. No problem, they said. Angel Tree is a great cause. As soon as you make a sign, we’ll post it and start telling people about it.

Boy two called his friend to work things out. They settled on the friend might or might not be coming over the next day to bake. I broke down and called the other mom. We managed to confirm a date and time. She’s donating some pies. I’m donating some muffins and letting the boys use our kitchen.

Boy two spent last night happily working on a sign. If you’re curious, the bake sale is Saturday afternoon. In addition to pies and muffins, Boy two is doing some bread loaves in the bread machine. The boys are making cookies together and Boy two is cutting up packages of carrot sticks. They’re going in plastic bags labeled, “Halloween Recovery Packages.”

In advance of curious customers, we have also upgraded the explanation of The Angel Tree fund from, “I have no idea but they might be at the mall,” to “an organization that gives Christmas gifts to kids whose parents are in prison.”



Sometimes I worry that I will run out of things to write about. I keep lists. When I get an idea or something happens, I write it down. But I when I write about the last thing on the list I wonder what will happen the next day. What if I wake up and there is nothing left to say? Could I get a job writing story problems for math textbooks? I don’t know. Is it not logically inevitable that I will come to the place that is the end of anything new?

And then came Slobergas.

It always means something when the kids get out of the car without me making them close their books. Usually it means they’re hungry. Sometimes it means they have a mission. Last week they had a mission, and his name was Slobergas.

Slobergas is a stray dog (loosely defined as a dog that strays). I’m sure Slobergas has an owner and a proper name, but what Slobergas clearly loves is a good wander. Daily, he wanders over to the school and says hello, saunters around the playground and the parking lot. Teachers apparently aren’t wild about him. The kids think he drools a lot, has a particular kind of smell, and would make an excellent mascot.

A child (named “not mine”) took Slobergas’s two great attractions together and won the playground debates that settled on the dog’s name. Obviously none of them can spell, but they insist that spelling of a proper name is up to the namer and not subject to the normal rules of spelling. Hence, “Slobergas,” not “Slobbergas.”

It was my child that insisted a campaign was in order. That’s why they even knew we had arrived home or bothered to get out of the car that day. They had posters to make, pictures to draw, even a poem to write about the school dog, Slobergas. Not just a dog, but Slobergas, a dog worthy of being a mascot. Every school should have a mascot and Slobergas should be ours says Boy two. The boy who makes pulling teeth with pliers seem like a dream job rather than get him to focus on school work after hours, happily spent hours revising, perfecting, and directing the mascot efforts. The next morning on the way to school, he remained in a dreamy euphoria.

“I really like doing campaigns and stuff. Trying to change things and get people to vote. I’m really happy about Slobergas,” he said.

And really, so am I. Slobergas isn’t something I created. Beautiful, silly, delightful things are everywhere. It’s not my job to make them up, just the work of a lifetime to keep noticing them. And sometimes, to write down what I see.

Making men


Boys on Bikes, originally published May 1919. Compliments of OldDesignShop

It started off with rides. I’m teaching Phys.Ed. two afternoons a week at the younger kid’s school. On teaching afternoons there’s simply no way to pick up Boy one unless he has a late practice. Enter the lowly bike. It’s about 18 or so km (10 miles) from the bus stop to here, most of it against the wind. I thought he would balk at the idea but he didn’t. We’ve only needed the bike solution a few times, but the effects have been far reaching. The stress of how he’ll get home those days is gone and we’ve all opened our eyes to the possibilities.

A few weeks ago, Boy one wanted a ride to the much beloved, 150 year old annual fall fair. Timing wasn’t good for me. He opted to bike. It took him an hour. He got permission to put his bike behind the village store. We picked him and his bike up after dark. For the cost of admission and the labour of transportation, he got a much appreciated day of independence.

On the weekend, Boy two was desperate to get to the library. Normally pretty happy go lucky, every once in a while he gets his mind set and becomes remarkably like a dog with a bone. Such was his need for the library. It was the third or fourth day in a row I had been grilled about it, but I didn’t know if I could manage to get him there or not.

Just last week we were chatting with the librarian (librarians = revered members of the social elite in Boy two’s world) about kids who live in town vs. kids from the country. How Boy two would be at the library every day if he could walk over, and how old did he have to be to volunteer there anyway. With Boy two now in obvious emotional pain for want of a library trip, I was feeling bad about not living in town, when I remembered the mighty bicycle.

“I can’t promise to take you. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. If you want a guarantee, get your brother to bike there with you. It’ll take you awhile to get there,” I said.

Brother tried to say no due to other plans but did not stand a chance. Normally the weaker debater, Boy two had Boy one signed on the dotted line in pretty short order. They got their music practiced, their beds stripped and some basic chores done. They filled water bottles, threw in some cold pancakes and a hunk of cheese for lunch, grabbed their backpacks for book restocking, and pedalled off. They left at 11:30 and didn’t get home until 2:00.  Due to size, they don’t make bikes for Boy two with big tires and lots of gear options, so their trip was not speedy. With book offerings for themselves and their sisters, the brothers returned home tired, but happy and taller.



Northern Flicker (of the woodpecker family) but of no blood relation to the subject of the post.

Northern Flicker (of the woodpecker family) but of no blood relation to the subject of the post.

Two weeks ago a Northern Flicker came our way. Not being avian savvy, it was first just a bird with a pointy beak and a hurt wing. (We suspected the slinking stray cat in the bushes.) After a day it became clear that Flicker had no intention of winging his way into our hearts and magically healing in the box on our front porch, while ignoring the chicken food and bug offerings we had available. (He should have been eating ants, but I drew the lines at things that could march independently into the house.) So we drove to a bird hospital.

The woman that admitted Flicker flipped him upside down, inspected him and noted not only the wounded wing, but serious bruising and swelling as well. Before the cat, there was some kind of impact, she explained. He seems to have had a very, very bad day, she added. Maybe she said unlucky or maybe I thought it. Regardless, the notion got stuck in my head. Fermenting, wiggling, stirring gently until another way of seeing things occurred to me.

Getting hit, possibly by a car, and then getting attacked, possibly by a cat, really isn’t a great day. Unlucky is one side of the coin for sure. But after that, it falls apart. Flicker survived a punishing blow. Then Flicker survived a predator assault. He might have been finished off by a lawn mower, but a boy happy for diversion was mowing the fence line that day, not an adult determined to finish the job. Another boy, fearless and accustomed to catching all manner of small animals was nearby. Together they secured the bird without further injury. On the following day, a long anticipated, three generation, all family farm work day, the life of a bird might not have trumped the lure of assistance. But it was raining. Every time I looked up to see if it might be clearing, it poured down even harder.

Then there’s the fact that we live in Canada. Not only are there such things as bird hospitals, but there are computers and working internet. For some reason I needed to know conclusively what Flicker was before I agreed to drive an hour to help him. I found bird calls on the internet and played them. When the Northern Flicker calls came on, he called back. Listening to him talk was a convincing argument.

The admitting person told us he might not make it. This weekend I called back with Flicker’s ID number in hand to see what had happened. As it turns out, Flicker had been released back into the wild the day before. While some birds are now privately referring to him as Flicker the Blessed, word has it he’s taken to going by Lucky.


The Surgeon E. Pavlov in the Operating Theater. Oil painting on cardboard by Ilya Repin, 1888.

The Surgeon E. Pavlov in the Operating Theater. Oil painting on cardboard by Ilya Repin, 1888.

We had been in the medical system for 24 hours when Boy two was finally taken from me to surgery. He was brave but to me he looked so small. Exhausted, hungry, and alone at that point, I hardly knew what I was saying. Something like, “anyone who knows how is required to pray before the surgery,” or words to that effect came shooting out of my mouth as I saw him leaving. “We’ll take good care of him,” they said. That had not been the point, but I was past argument or coherence.

The next morning, the surgeon came by early. Boy two looked good, everything went well, the appendix had been perforated but everything was ship shape now. Instructions. Have a nice day. And he turned to go.

A younger woman with a clipboard at the end of the bed spoke up. “Excuse me, Boy two’s mom, but we just wanted you to know how impressed all of us in the operating room were with your son. He was very brave. And he said the most beautiful prayer.”

Really? My heart felt very happy and I thanked her. A few days later my brain engaged.

How, I asked, was it that you ended up praying out loud in the operating room?

Well, said Boy two matter of fact, they asked if I wanted to say the prayer, so I said sure.

I have been thinking of this with gratitude ever since. I don’t think anyone who heard my spontaneous request felt personally comfortable jumping on the public prayer wagon, but that didn’t stop them from taking care of my son. As far as he is concerned, professionals at hospitals say prayers before surgeries and he would know because before his surgery he didn’t say “a,” prayer, he said, “the,” prayer.

A pretty good example of generosity of spirit, respect for children, and plain old human decency. If God was as impressed as I was, I’m guessing an extra dose of love and mercy are coming their way. I sure hope so.

Treatment plan


For the three long days and short interrupted nights that my sick son needed me, I was not really all that tired. I took some short naps, but mostly I was on ultra focus, watching, waiting, praying, and paying attention to every everything that nurses or doctors said or that Boy two did. They said he didn’t have a fever, I felt him and had them take it again. Second reading confirmed a definite fever. After the surgery, he had some kind of mild allergic reaction. His face went very red with white raccoon markings around his mouth and nose and eyebrows. He was very hot to the touch. Well, no fever, the night nurse said. Could you take it again, I asked. Still no fever, she said triumphant. Touch him please, I said. With her hand on his head, there was no argument. He was one hot little boy.  I wiped him with a cool cloth and melted ice cubes on his face, she got him some medicine, and in an hour he was resting more peacefully without all the red hot glowing.

We arrived home to unmowed lawn and unmopped floors. It seemed like heaven. An hour at most (with bucket) away from perfect. The first afternoon, I noted the other children were a bit testy. To be expected, I smiled. No frazzlement here. Later it was obvious the husband was out of sorts. Interrupted routine and processing constant foreign stimulus (like covering for me) makes him crazy after awhile but I felt almost affectionate observing it. Hugs and smiles all around. I went to bed that night wondering if maybe the tired would never hit.

I awoke to a horrible house, an unbearable lawn, an inexcusably cranky husband, and three uncooperative children who should know better. The only one without blemish was Boy two, resting on soft chairs, walking slightly bent and slowly to get from place to place. But the most frustrating thing about my current life . . . lived so far from the ladders and loops that used to make up my days . . . is that there are so many fewer things to decide to quit when things are rotten. The best I could do was to tell my husband that I was never typing another word. In fact,  I was selling my computer. As usual, he was unphased.

I said my prayers, went to bed, and in the morning, I got my hair cut.  I found a picture of Maggie Gyllenhaal with approximately the hair I wanted. It said, “Maggie in a bold pixie cut.”  The bold settled it.

The house and family seem ok again. I now have a new three step treatment plan to suggest to myself for future melt downs: say prayers, go to bed, get hair cut. :)