Posted in Thor, Uncategorized

7 Years of Thor and Bonus Video


It’s hard to believe how quickly 7 years has passed.  Thor turns 7 tomorrow, and I don’t know where the time has gone.

I love hearing how people were born.  Birth stories are like the start of legends.  You have to have the story of Achilles’ birth to understand his heel.  You need to know how Malcolm was born to understand MacBeth’s fall.  And certainly, your own birth gets the story of your life off to its start.

Thor was born on a gorgeous, hot, clear August Thursday.  The sky was as blue as a Texas sky can get, peppered with fluffy, white clouds.  I remember that, because it was all I could see out the slits in the window blinds.  My room window faced the front of the hospital, so if we had opened the blinds, his birth could have been performance art.

In between the discomfort of my drug-numbed contractions (I had been induced) and my mother’s insistence upon sitting right up in my face. with her elbows on my IV line, I was pretty happy.  My baby was on his way.  Millions of women had done this before me.  I had a great doctor and was being cared for by wonderful nurses.  One way or the other, that kid was coming out, and my job was to get him out the old fashioned way.

The climax of Thor’s birth story happened around 3:40 in the afternoon.  With his approach imminent, one of the nurses said she could feel the fontenelles in his head.  I said, “I think a great name for a band would be Big Giant Head and the Fontenelles.”  And I started to giggle.  Because that is funny, y’all.  And then I started to laugh because the nurses laughed.  And then one nursed stopped laughing and yelped.  She told me, “Stop laughing!  You’re pushing him out!”

See, the doctor hadn’t made it into the room yet.

Well, that was funny to me, too, and I laughed more.

In my memory, there was some ruckus, then the doctor came in, just had time to get into place and I laughed some more, and out he popped with everyone in the place happy, smiling, and most everyone laughing.  What a great way to be born!

I do tell this story every year.  I probably always will.

This kid has kept me laughing every day since he was born.  He is a wonder to me.  He is smart, and sincere, and he is compassionate, and he genuinely cares about other people.  He makes friends easily.  He has a fantastic sense of humor, a keen sense of timing, and really builds amazing Lego starships.  He loves to read and learn.  He loves to play.  He loves to come sit in my lap and let me hug him.  I like everything about him.


thor

Posted in parenting, Thor

Swimming in the Deep End


Today I decided on the word that best characterizes my son.  Bonhomie.  He is a genuine bonhomme, possessed of a truly pleasant and affable disposition.  I like him a lot.

I like him even more as he grows.  I know the teen years are coming, and I know that all the chemicals washing through his brain are going to bring changes that can only result in him becoming a TEENAGER, but the glimpses of the future I get in his more mature moments–like when he stops himself mid-action and says he needs to start over properly, or corrects himself when he’s being rude, or congratulates an opponent on a great play and tells the player how proud he is of them, or when he turns his efforts to self-enforced politeness–feed my optimism that no matter how badly he might smell, how loudly he might play his music, how much he might argue about the unfairness of the rules, he will still lovingly, and playfully pat me on the head from his new vantage of height and try to do the right thing.  My moments of greatest pride are when I realize that B and I are raising someone we both would have sought out for friendship, were he our peer.  And my moments of greatest relief are when I realize that Thor is going to attract the kind of friends that B and I have today.

Every day, I tell Thor these things:

  1. I love you more than anything in the world.
  2. I like you, and I like being around you.
  3. I am proud of you.
  4. You are a good person.
  5. You have a great mind.
  6. You are the best part of my day.
  7. I will always love you.

I strive to back up those words with actions.  Spending time with him, having real conversations with him, really listening to him, reading to him, drawing with him, sharing my thoughts with him, answering his questions, and letting him poke his fingers into what I am doing–you know, until I have to go lock the bathroom door and beg for five minutes alone.  It isn’t enough to say the words.  The words without the back-up are just empty, and he’ll start looking for what he thinks fills them.

The idea is for him to be confident enough in having a foundation of love and support at home, that his metaphorical legs will be strong enough to leap over any cracks he finds in the foundations everywhere else.  The idea is for him to be confident enough in his value and self-worth (which we back up by feeding his mind) that he doesn’t even notice peer pressure, save to see that it exists and he doesn’t need to take part in it.  The idea is to give him the childhood it takes to face the teenage years without falling into the deep end.  Actually, the idea is to give him enough of a push out of the kiddie pool, that he can swim to the deep end on his own power, get out, and start doing cannon balls off the diving board.  Because we all know that the deep end is where the fun is.  It’s just a matter of knowing how to swim in it without drowning.

I am incredibly thankful for his grandparents, who give him confidence in ways parents cannot.  I am thankful for the teachers he’s had, who have understood him and loved him.  And I am thankful for our friends, who have always treated him with adult-like respect, and who have modeled great behavior to him.

 

Posted in parenting, Thor

Merry, Merry King of the Bush is He


Thor starts camp next week–his first real camp.  Not daycare.  Camp.  He is delighted, as you can well imagine.  Since the camp mascot is a Kookaburra, we have been listening to that Kookaburra song over, and over, and over again.  And over again.  And over again.  The things you do for love, right?

I still really can’t believe how he makes my heart skip a beat.  From the moment Bryan put him in my arms in the hospital…man.  He just takes my breath away.  Even when he is gnawing on my last nerve, I love him with every fiber of my being.  This is very helpful when I have told him seven times to put on his shoes, and he is still sitting in the floor starting at his toenails.

Anyway, the Kookaburra song.  “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.  Merry, merry king of the bush is he. Laugh, Kookaburra.  Laugh, Kookaburra.  Gay your life must be.”

Thor asked me what gay meant.  “Happy,” I said.  “Dancing, singing, twirling around because life is so good, happy.”

“I like that,” he nodded.

“Me too,” I agreed.  Then, we sang the song again before he headed to bed, taking with him my old comparative study bible.  I wonder how old he will be when he starts putting two and two together, and asking questions about why the bible’s got a problem with dancing, singing, twirling around because life is so good, happy?  We’ll have to talk about how the bible has problems with his love of crustaceans, too, and maybe that can throw the rest into perspective.  Because that boy loves crab.

Meanwhile, I am anxiously awaiting the new vocabulary that will come with his reading of the King James version of the bible.  And the New American Standard.  And the Amplified.  And the New International Version.  Because that’s going to be spectacular!  And hilarious.  He’s already been reading the notes I wrote in the margins and shouting those out to me with his own added commentary.  Lord.  How am I going to explain concubines?  I’m going to tell him they are a kind of porcupine, and old kings liked to keep them for pets.

I suppose we should censor his reading, but other than that CSB, he hasn’t shown an interest in any books that would alarm me.  I’d rather our bookshelves be open to his whims.  If he has questions, he’ll ask.  And that way, he won’t feel like he needs to hide books he likes (like I hid James Bond.)  Since my CSB was next to a huge collection of Douglas Adams, I’m hoping he’ll pick up the Hitchhiker’s Guide next.  The only thing better than feeling gay, is being a hoopy frood.

 

Posted in Advice, Explaining the Strange Behavior, hair, Howling Sea Lane, Lancient History, Thor

Bad Hair and Carrots of Shame


I do things for this child…

Tonight, I found myself apportioning 10 raisins a piece for 21 children before questioning whether or not that was in fact the instruction given by Thor’s teacher, who had asked for 10 pieces of each of 10 snacks she had listed on a quest to have fun working with the kids on counting to a hundred.  Brain-tired, I shoved a handful of raisins in my mouth and mulled.  Or chewed.  Whichever.

There was a tradition in the Sophomore year of my high school, for upper-classes to take on girls as Little Sisters.  We, the younger ones, were doled out at random to the older girls.  One of the bonding exercises was for the Big Sister to dress the Little Sister up in hideous nerd gear and parade them around all day.  It just so happened that I was growing out what amounted to be Annie Lennox’s haircut as that day rolled around, and I had clipped my shaggy bangs back from my forehead with a baby clip.  This was prior to the 90s, when baby clips became fashionable, lest you think to yourself, “I’ll bet that looked cute.”

I was standing in the school bathroom with my Big Sister, who was so not into me.  She had two Little Sisters, and had known one of them–the cool one, whose mother didn’t make her wear her skirt at LITERAL TEA LENGTH–from birth, and was just not up to having a dorky hanger-on.  Another Big Sister walked into the bathroom, took one look at me–not even having put on a single bit of nerd gear yet, just me and my baby clip, bare face, and tea-length skirt–and cried, “Oomeegeeeesh!  Her hair is so NERDEEEEEEEE!  OMIGOOOOOOOOOOOD!  AWESOME!!  BWAHAHAHAH!!11!!!!1!!!”  Yes, I could hear the 1s within her exclamation points.

There was this moment when my eyes met my Big Sister’s in the reflection of the mirror, and what I saw was her total revulsion, disappointment, and embarrassment at having to deal with me at all.  We both knew I had shown up looking like that.  She already knew I looked like a dork.  I was just finding out.

It was one of those John Hughes moments, and should have been followed up with Jake Ryan calling to take me to the prom–that’s how meaningful it was.  It was also a defining moment for me.  I smiled at my Big Sister, turned to the other girl and grinned as widely as I could and I said, “I know!  Ohmigod!  I look like such a nerd!  Like, I need a pocket protector, or, like some horn-rimmed glasses!  She’s done it perfectly!”

My Big Sister was visibly relieved, and I think that’s what embarrassed me the most.  I ended up with a beat-up cowboy hat made of straw, and a half-hearted makeup job, and I spent the rest of the day trying not to cry.

The next day, I wore my baby clip again as inoculation against the way I had felt.  That was my way back then.  If something I really liked turned out badly, I tried it again a) just to see if maybe I had played it to the wrong audience and a change of “venue” might help the problem, b) to show the people who made me feel bad that I didn’t give a rat’s rump what they thought, c) to pick at the scab because I was a bit of a masochist.

Thanksgiving, this year, was the first time I had been able to attend one of Thor’s class parties.  It was a Thanksgiving Feast buffet.  I volunteered to bring carrots, enough to serve 5 classes of 1st Graders, plus teachers, plus any parents who were attending.  I thought I was the only person bringing carrots.  I had also been advised that serving dishes would be provided.  So, I showed up with 3 large bags of baby carrots, and a large bag of carrot chips–for variety.  Some other mothers had also provided carrots, so by the time I arrived, my offering was overkill.

I got busy with helping and didn’t pay any attention to my carrots, and didn’t even see them again until I was in the teachers’ breakroom washing the dishes we had used for the buffet.  Another mom–this gorgeous, Charlie’s Angels looking mom, who is incredibly nice, and helpful–came in with my carrots and offered them to the teachers since we’d had overflow.  The teachers–y’all–the teachers sneered.  I was shocked.

I stood there washing my dishes, trying not to make eye contact with Gorgeous Mom, who knew the origin of the veggies, and who had extracted herself from the teachers’ conversation immediately.  That conversation among four, elementary school teachers went like this:

“I can’t believe how lazy some people are.  You don’t have time to even put the food on a tray?”

“Right?!  I would never show up with something that was so obviously from the grocery store.  You can’t make something at home?  You’re that busy?  Huh.”

“Homemade is always the best.  You know some people will just take the stuff they buy at the grocery store and put it on a platter?  That’s so rude.  I wouldn’t even take that to a friend’s party.  What do people think of you if you do that?”

“That you’re lazy!  And you don’t care.  And look–she didn’t even take them out of the bags.”

It went on.  And on.  And on.

I stood there, washing and drying, listening to these women talk about how rude, and tacky, and lazy, and disgusting I was for having brought food to the school, which I had purchased at Kroger, and left in bags so that they could be used as needed and otherwise shared if there were leftovers.  I had purposefully bought more than I thought was absolutely necessary, and I had thought people might like some fresh veg.  Uh…rude, tacky, lazy, and disgusting.

I was fifteen again.  Standing in that bathroom, eyes locked on [redacted]’s, knowing I had fallen short.  Only, instead of being hurt, I was pissed the feck off.  Who were these harpies?  Seriously?  Rude, tacky, lazy, and disgusting?  No, honey.  Rude is me saying I’ll bring food and then backing out without telling you.  Tacky is only bringing enoug’h for my child’s class and no one else, knowing it is a feast for all the classes.  Lazy is not bothering at all because some other mother will do it.  Disgusting is me spitting on the carrots before sharing them with you.

I seriously considered telling them they were talking about me, but I chose not to.  I was so taken aback, and disbelieving that by the time I had decided what I wanted to say, Gorgeous Mom had steered their conversation to kinder, gentler topics.  It seemed a moot point.  Besides, I could have outed myself, then the likeliest thing would be that they would tell the rest of the teachers that Thor’s Mom was rude, tacky, lazy, disgusting, and uber-confrontational.  For the child’s reputation, I swallowed my bile.

Tonight, I started working on those raisins and had such performance anxiety, I cannot tell you.  My packets weren’t pretty enough.  The Saran Wrap press-n-seal was too sticky.  There was no uniformity.  No aesthetic.  I started to panic.  Would Thor’s teacher think I was rude, tacky, lazy, or disgusting?  Was I even doing it right in the first place?  I had 10 packs of 10 ready to go.  I needed 11 more.  Or was I just supposed to send in 210 raisins by themselves?  Did there have to be 10 even for each child, or should I send one of those big boxes of raisins and let the teacher distribute at will?  OH MY GOD!  BABY CLIPS AND CARROTS!

So, I ate them.

I’ll work on it again tomorrow, after getting some clarification from Thor’s teacher, and having lived down my goofy hair and party tray shame through exhibitionism.

The moral of the story is: Be careful when you mock.  You may be mocking the person standing to your left.

 

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Family, Inside Lane, music, Thor

Colorful Muzak


Thor and I were on the way to meet Granddaddy for lunch today, and a song came on NPR that I remembered from my childhood Friday afternoons spent in the breakroom of Mom’s bank branch.  See, she worked until 7pm on Fridays, and I was far too young (and stupid–major candidate for the Darwin Awards, this one) to be at home alone from 3 until 7, so the bus driver would drop me off at her bank on Fridays.  I would check in with her, walk down the strip mall to the Pancake House, have a bowl of chicken noodle soup and more crackers than are healthy for a person, and stare at a print of God making shame fingers out of a cloud at a small boy whose kite had become tangled in a tree.  From there, it was back to the bank and straight into the breakroom, where I would entertain myself with homework, the funny papers, comics, and cleaning up the supply room until it was time to go home.

As you can imagine, I heard a lot of Muzak.  Hours and hours of Muzak styled in the 70s, based on the Top 40 of the 50s and 60s, with some Disco thrown in for good measure.  Mom would tell me the names of songs, when she’d come back to check on me, and tell me how popular they were.

I want you to know, I felt SO SORRY for her!  None of her songs had any words, and they all sounded almost exactly alike.  It was years before I discovered that Georgie Girl had lyrics other than the ones made up for the Kissing Barbie, Barbie Doll (whose lips you would color with a stamper, and whose in-back button you would push to make her head tilt into a kiss, leaving a perfectly shaped Barbie lip stain on whatever her rosy mouth met.  “Hey there, Barbie Girl, wearing cherry lipstick…”)

That made me remember sitting in our house in Colorado (so, somewhere between ages 2 and 4) and wondering when my mother had turned into color, since she was black and white in her own childhood.

Weren't all of the 40s black and white?

 

I wonder what Thor will misconstrue?

What he has not misunderstood is which is the better:  In or Out of school.

Yesterday, Aunt Jamie asked him if he was excited to go back into school tomorrow.  He said yes, then followed up with the caveat, “But I’m more excited to get out.”