Month: July 2015

Tea With Grandma

I recently took a walk through my grandparent’s house. They lived there for all the years of my childhood. Every Sunday night I ate grilled cheese in that kitchen. I was given half a cup of Sprite with my popcorn during every visit – no matter the time of day. I rarely saw my grandparents anywhere besides their home. They’ve been gone long enough for me to know better, but every once in a while I am tempted to head my car toward that house and have a visit.

My parents own the house now because we would revolt if they let it pass out of the family. As I walked through the rooms I could almost hear my grandpa’s voice telling stories, see my grandma’s eyes twinkle; I could almost smell the popcorn.

I found a shelf full of old mason jars, and I took a few. When I got home I held one of the jars in my hand Mason Jarand wondered if the last hands that held the jar were my grandma’s. Probably. I filled the jar with iced tea and drank it thinking of her sarcastic jokes, the sound of her voice, and the stable code of simplicity she lived by. She was never ridiculous enough to drink from mason jars. Ever practical, she used them to can vegetables and fruit from her garden, which just makes it more special to me. She washed this jar by hand, labored for hours with it in the kitchen, carried it to the basement full of hard-earned produce, and retrieved it some cold afternoon. As with everything she owned, it served a practical purpose. And it still does: I had a lovely tea with my grandma.

No Words

Without saying a word, my dog communicates better than most humans. He can’t even move his

Arrow cowering
Scared of Noises

mouth into a smile shape, but I know when he is happy – he lays his ears flat and his eyes twinkle. I know when he has missed me because he knocks me to the ground and whomps his head against my chest.

His girth terrifies most people who don’t know him. At first sight, he puts one in mind of a wolf. But under all that fluffy mass is a gentle spirit who spent the 4th of July cowering behind chairs. He hates loud noises.

There is a mystical connection between a dog and a kid. Going to hug Arrow is a regular part of Drake’s routine just like going to watch TV or going to climb a tree. I don’t know why he randomly seeks out a furry hug. I don’t know if he just needs a break or if he is feeling low or if he is overwhelmed. I do know that after a time curled up on the floor with Arrow as a pillow, he walks away with a smile in his eyes.

Arrow and Emery
Just Being

I often find one of the kids just sitting with Arrow. Especially in these warm months, one of them will head out to the deck with the dog and watch the sun sink in the sky. Nothing is spoken, everything is said. The quiet of his loyal, unconditional, fierce love ministers to the aches of a teenage heart more effectively than Snap Chat ever can. He has time for them. Time to sit still and be. In a culture that is spinning so fast, he has time to sit in silence and let them recuperate from the loud demands of their society. He doesn’t care if they are popular, smart, wrong, guilty, stubborn or cranky. He just sits by them.

No words needed.

Tough Times

Emery thoughtful on sand duneIt is a tough time to be a kid. Identity is fluid, social pressure is pervasive, mean comments are commonplace because they can be anonymous. It is a time when being a reckless teenager is permanently tattooed on a kid’s digital soul. Society demands to know if they are gay, fundamental, depressed, or introverted before they really know their favorite color or food. Kids who lose their identity for a moment sometimes end up fighting out of a foxhole they wish they had never stepped into.

It’s enough to frighten parents into a fetal position. Especially when we try so hard to raise our kids to be moral, decent humans. It practically takes a SWAT team just to protect them from the various evils I never dreamed of as a teenager.

How can we possibly raise kids in such an environment?

I started this parenting process thinking I would raise my kids to be younger versions of myself. Then, when it became clear that was NOT happening, I pulled at my hair, screamed into my pillow, stomped, grunted, and then generously altered my plans and decided to raise my kids to be similar versions of myself – me with some quirks.

I think, though, that I shouldn’t be raising my kids at all. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if I tried raising adults?