Tag Archiv: son

Post Easter week snow and the troubador

photo compliments of morguefile.com

photo compliments of morguefile.com


Good Friday was warmish. We saw green bits in the brown of the grass and smiled. Easter was cold but the afternoon warm enough for a walk through wet paths and fields. Easter Monday it snowed. My husband did dinner dishes yelling every time he forgot and raised his head that he refused to look outside the window. On the way to school, Boy two remarked how strange it was, here it was one of the most beautiful snowfalls of the year and we weren’t happy about it.

It’s true. The trees were lightly covered in just the right amount of snow. No plows had gone through throwing brown sand around the edges. The roads had fixed themselves. Their black winding path went through a world of unbroken white. Fields and branches perfectly baptized, a grey blue sky was especially free to shine as the only real colour in town.

My son has this same problem right now. I have always wanted him to love music. To share this part of joy together. He loves music now more than I’d dared to hope. Except he doesn’t play what I think he should. He plays loud pieces when it should be quiet. He practices endless chord sequences instead of scales. He teaches himself songs from musicals or rehearses pieces from two years prior when I know he should be preparing for an upcoming evaluation.

If anyone had shown me a picture of the snow on Tuesday morning, I would have thought it impossible for my response to include anything other than rejoicing and gratitude. Likewise if anyone had told me four years ago listening to my son’s great boredom and disinterest in music, that he would be sticking his trombone out the window to serenade whatever country neighbours might be driving by, that he would be unable to stop singing or humming as he went about the business of the day, or that he would be unable to pass the piano without setting his hands down to play a few bars, I would have bet the farm that the tidings would bring nothing but joy.

In both things I have been wrong. I want to say to son and God – timing is everything. And if it is not everything, it is at least something. But the hoped for vision is the grander one.

We prayed for snow leading up to Christmas. We don’t want it anymore. Yet there is no denying it’s perfection. Shimmering and glinting in the morning light. I spit out my no thank you, and it stands unheeding. Behold all things are new. Come, dance. The music that you love is playing again.

I made my peace with the snow (which was good because it snowed like five times last week before it finally left). Perhaps there will be grace for the chord loving, composer dreaming, discipline eschewing troubadour as well.

Letter from The Optimist’s Mother

This year's school photo. Updated photo available upon request.

Hearty rejection of  unneeded (ergo all) advice a key platform

To Board of Directors, Optimist Club International

Dear Directors,

I would like to submit my son’s name for consideration as the next International President. He lacks many of the traits one might expect in a president (ambition, will to succeed, proactive problem solving) but this is in fact what makes him so perfect for the position. I don’t expect he’ll get much done, but I can guarantee that he’ll be able to speak at length about the possibilities of what could be done. And this is my point.

There’s not so much optimism as practicality in the person who works hard, plans ahead, and expects to achieve a goal. Far more exemplary of pure optimism is the person who plans nothing, does as little as possible (preferably at the last minute) and yet remains unalterably carefree, gently nestled in visions of the future’s bright and shining promise. My son is this latter model of a man and then some.

In truth of fact, if you were to pass him up, I am thinking of recommending him for use at a University. Someone somewhere is always doing a study of something. Sooner or later, they’re going to need a person such as my son to run through simulated interrogations, possibly a mock detention camp. While I would estimate his survival time under actual imprisonment to be somewhere around the thirty second mark, in a controlled experiment involving no physical pain, I would place his ability to withstand all manner of death threats in the number of decades. From experience, I can tell you the effect of warnings, ultimatums, and predictions of doom on his psyche is mathematically precisely zero. Explanations of cause and effect, biographical data from similar young men, personal life stories, the uninviting nature of certain outcomes, not to mention hot and smoky eternal quarters, all fail to permeate the most optimistic disposition you could possibly imagine. But will it be the Universities or you who snatch him first?

Recently, my son achieved an extremely high mark on an assignment which he had completed against his wishes. In the same course, he achieved a somewhat distasteful mark on the exam. Unlike the assignment, he was permitted to pursue his preferred style of low impact preparations for the exam.

Comparing your assignment mark, do you think, I asked him, that your lack of preparedness may have negatively impacted your exam results?

No, he said thoughtfully. I’m actually not sure how that happened. I think I did a good job. I really don’t quite understand it.

He went about his business (I think it involved tapping something repeatedly) cheerfully unweighted by past regrets of which there were none.

I share this little anecdote to underscore that in the spirit of the hopeless romantic, if you are looking for a true blue, dyed in the wool, flag waving (unless there is a watching option) optimist, I’ve got your man.


The Optimist’s Mother


The leaves are almost gone. Some trees stand naked. Others dressed in fading clothes that wrinkle and crackle. Girl two and I took a walk hand in hand through the magic forest the other day. We found frost still on the ground in the shady patches and to her delight, ice in tiny little grooves in the mud like mouse prints. She scraped and held tight until her hands turned red trying to bring it home to show the others.

Mornings start now with getting the wood stove going. The chickens are laying fewer eggs and the dog can’t decide whether to grow her winter coat or shed it. Mornings are cool but not cold enough to silence the arguments about wearing jackets or splash pants.

Hopefully the wind will calm down enough for boy one and I to get in one more game of tennis. The others are starting to learn with varying degrees of interest, but it is he and I that crave it. I miss this thing we love doing together, once winter comes.

Last year, I almost always won. This year we split, except when I was still so sick from the spring – then it wasn’t worth it to go after anything more than two steps away and he beat me easily. But as long as I was healthy, and the wind blew the right way, we split this year.

What next year will hold seems inevitable. . . so here’s to hoping for one more game this year.

Good versus Evil

G1 (girl one – blame my husband, he started it so we wouldn’t have to spell when they were little) does not eat her grapes for lunch on Thursday. Excellent. I resend them on Friday. My job is to mark, “check,” on the mental list requiring me to provide healthy lunches.  I mark check. Grapes return as expected.

To the chickens or the fridge? I ask myself.

Nasty North American, there is nothing wrong with those grapes.

I put them in the fridge. North American digs can be very persuasive.

Saturday, G2 asks for grapes. Triumph. G2 is so busy being happy all the time I could feed her almost anything. Smiling, I remove tupperware of grapes from fridge, re-rinsing for extra love and set them by her place.

G2 leaves without touching a grape. She accidentally got too full on the carrots and cucumbers.

Fresh, clean, lovely grapes are put out in a bowl for guests who do not eat them. B1 swoops in quickly. “Mind if I have some grapes?”

Victory from the ashes. Problem solved. My hand reaches for the grapes in the Tupperware. I start to explain that these need to be eaten first.

And then I close my mouth. I realize that I want him to eat the grapes that were pulled off the stems on Thursday morning, and travelled back and forth to school twice so that I don’t have to. The grapes were probably not touched by a booger picker, but the possibility remains that they could have been. Possibly even more than once. Potential booger fragments in a cozy warm lunch pail, now little invisible armies all over the grapes.

Chicken food? I ask myself again meekly.

But I do not want to be a nasty North American who is too good to eat perfectly good food which probably does not have boogers on it. This is why I need my son to eat them.

I sit there staring at B1, who no doubt wonders about how much concentration is going into his request for grapes. Sitting in between two containers of grapes, I feel like I am in the woods watching the two roads diverge into the yellow woods. In the struggle, I am forgetting to breathe.

“Ok,” I say.

I get up and wash the old grapes one more time. I eat them, while watching B1 consume the whole bowl of good grapes. I am strangely content.

Last night’s prayer

These days my son is almost this and not quite that. His skin doesn’t seem to fit right. Certainly he has no idea what to do with his hands, his mouth, or the repetitive strumming of what we hope are brain waves.  For the first few weeks of school this year, we wondered if he would ever be quiet again. Please, I would say through clenched teeth. For just three minutes. Don’t talk.

It is exhausting, that constant chatter of nothing. The kitchen is filled with information bullets undaunted by my pleas for a ceasefire.

I’m joining two bands. I’m thinking about choir. I can’t decide which sports. Maybe volleyball and soccer. Maybe basketball. Definitely not cross country. I like it, I mean, you know, it was fun, but if I can only do two sports – two sports – then cross country’s like not even on the list. And did I tell you that I saw . . . By the way, I’m only packing things for my lunch that you can eat standing up now because we don’t sit down anymore. We go out.

And so it goes. A boy on fire with possibility. Neither fish nor fowl but in clear sight of both. As summer slipped away, so did his inclusion in the many imaginings and games of his siblings. I watched him watching them. Unsure of whether to mad or sad to be leaving the group.

It is much too soon to invite him to be one of us in those precious pieces of adult time devoid of short people. He’s tall enough. I see him watching us too. But he isn’t ready for grown up land and we two who run the place need those minutes. Besides, he talks too much.

Almost two months into school, the chatter has slowed enough to save us the constant nagging concern about muscle strain in his jaws. Yet appropriate levels of noise and motion are demands he finds so unreasonable as to be almost incomprehensible. He complies with a mixture of curiosity, dogged attempts, and then resigns himself to non-compliance in a leap or bang or whoop of energy.

Everyone is in bed now and in the quiet I can hear him and see him for what he is. An off the charts excited boy, scared boy, not sure boy, trying to figure it all out boy, want to do the right thing boy, hoping to fit in boy, wanting to be liked boy, not sure if he is good enough boy, distracted boy, changing boy. Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.  Yes son?  Mom, look at me mom. Ok, son, I’m looking. Sigh. Awkward turning. Mom? Yes, son. Could you stop looking at me now?

Oh my beautiful wingless fish and sputtering bird. Soon my boy, you’ll be flying just fine. In the meantime, I guess you’ll just keep splashing in circles cawing madly, tossing rocks at the crows with your shrivelling fins.

I will listen in the silence tonight better than I did during the day and await with joy your waking, where we may once more begin again.