Resurfacing…

Nothing like a long weekend preceded by worrisome news to derail a whole family.  We’re all doing well, but it hasn’t been as fun to segue into the last few days of the school year as we would have liked it to be.  Of course, because we are who we are and that’s all that we are, we decided to make the best out of the long weekend and slowed things down enough to actually savor our time together.

To summarize: J spent most of the weekend outside on his patio.  This was almost derailed by the presence of dogs flanking our unit, but was solved with fabric (muslin…I’ve had it for years!) pinned to the deck railing and creating a lovely way to block the canines.  It was a frantic half-hour, but we managed to convince J that out of sight and out of mind were the same exact thing.

We basically spent the weekend sitting in the backyard, reading, relaxing, watching the birds fly around.  We tended the garden (which, by the way, is doing beautifully,) and worrying about something we have absolutely no control over while doing proactive research online.

J, thankfully, has picked up the cues from us, and knows that something is afoot, but also knows that we’re keeping it peppy and positive.  I cannot be any less cryptic than that…

The battle of the snow boots has been set aside for the time being.  If J is keen on keeping the boots for the time being, I’m not going to be the one to argue with him about this.  In fact, yesterday we had one of those spring downpours that come out of nowhere, look like a wave about to engulf you as they move across the parking lot in your direction, and pelt you mercilessly while you’re trying to make your way home.  I was sorely unprepared for this, being caught in the rain with my flip-flops, and J -thanks to his sturdy footwear- felt compelled to scoff (yes, scoff) at me as I struggled to walk home with my feet sliding and veering off course while in my sub-par gear.  If my feet were slipping and sliding while trying to keep themselves within the flimsy confines of the flip-flops, you don’t even want to know what the rest of me was doing while trying to navigate the gravel that leads home.  J, the cad, thought this was funny, and made sure I knew exactly how he felt about it.

Tomorrow is the last Friday of J’s school year.  He will be going back to school on Monday, and his Ceramics class is going out for breakfast at a cafe that J actually likes.  Even if J didn’t like the cafe, he’d be over the moon with joy at the prospect of going out with people other than us.  I say this because he’s taken to walking with about six feet of distance between us, and he often goes a bit ahead, or lags a bit behind.  It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to be seen walking with me…not even in the neighborhood where we are a fixture.

Aside from this development (which we can all agree, can’t we?, is pretty par for the adolescent course,) J is doing great.  His pants size keeps shrinking, and he still goes to work out at the gym full of enthusiasm.  Yes, the pounds are peeling off more slowly, but they’re still peeling off.  As for me, well, this is not the case; we continue to suspect that whatever weight J loses finds some way to attach itself to me…

The thing we’re worried about is something that we can only hope will turn out ok.  If it doesn’t, well, then I guess we’ll have to throw into this conversation as well as the one we’re having about it at home because, as we’ve discovered, there are things that you are just not expecting, and they happen anyway.

For the time being, summer is heading towards us, and J has a little shindig with what’s left of the student population of his homeroom tomorrow.  Most of the kids are done because their parents had already made arrangements to travel for Memorial Day.  Since we’re not going anywhere, and J needs a slightly longer transition than others, we’re sticking it out ’til Monday.

I guess this means the house is getting readied for J being home over the weekend.

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And now the end (of the school year) is near…

Memorial Day is on Monday, and that is the unofficial start of all summer festivities. The weather hasn’t really fallen in line with this plan, and this can be proven by the mad rush to respond to TWO frost advisories over the weekend.  The advisories, of course, were announced after we’d put in quite a bit of work in the garden, and a mad dash to find the frost blankets ensued. After all the work I’ve put in organizing the garage, the frost blankets WOULD be the thing I couldn’t find easily…

J’s insistence on the snow boots was justified; not because of snow, but because of the sudden chill that filled the air these past few mornings.  When J indicates it’s not time for shorts and sandals, it’s best to listen to him.  It makes sense to him…that’s all that matters.

The string of snow days this winter (and early spring) has given J some anxiety about the end of school.  I can tell he’s looking at the calendar and dreading that the school break is approaching fast.  The clearest indications have been the pasta luncheon, the class picnic, and bringing home his ceramics pieces.  He KNOWS we’re almost done; he doesn’t particularly feel ready for this yet.

Looking around me at all that I still need to do to prepare for this, I’m not really ready either.  My trip to the crafts store yielded very little by way of potential occupations for J, and until I install the roll-up blind to block the sun from his “spot,” it won’t be really comfortable for him to sit out there.  Hopefully, this will all be done by tomorrow as I am expecting the roll-up blind to be delivered today.

Another issue has arisen over the weekend: the new neighbors (two doors down, and with a clear line of sight from J’s “spot”) have a dog.  Right next door, but behind J so he can’t actually see, lives a tiny Yorkshire Terrier.  J, of course, is terrified of the tinkling miniature bell and the eager, friendly yapping this precious puppy emits.  Every single effort I’ve made to help J get acquainted with the dog have failed miserably, and he will want the dog gone even if we are upstairs and it is downstairs, running around the lawn.  I have tried to explain that this is not a Disney dog, able to fly, leap, cavort, cartwheel and speak…J is scared of the high-pitched, friendly barking.  The grapevine has brought to my ears that the Yorkshire Terrier and its four roommates (human all) will be moving at the end of summer.  What has arrived nearby is a bigger, seemingly more sedate canine.  As long as we don’t get the Hound of the Baskervilles between there and here, and as long as we don’t get Marmaduke or Clifford bookending our patio, J should be fine.  Now…for that line of sight: polyethylene shade fabric?????

I am sincerely hoping that this measure is unnecessary.  If the price of meats has increased, the price of everything else isn’t standing still.  A geranium of measly size was going for nearly six dollars when I stopped to buy soil this past weekend.  The price of polyethylene fabric is nothing to write home about except with OMG, did you SEE how much!!!!…attached to it.  The corn (a hybrid intended for growth in planters) and potatoes (a hope-against-all-hope attempt) might provide us with enough coverage on one side of J’s sightline.  I am encouraging the zucchini to do the same in the other angle.  The wall-o’-peas is in progress, but I think the beans are bush beans and don’t really do the trick when it comes to blocking out the view.

One of our main aims when we moved to this unit was to have a view of anything but the road, and the children who would mill about the deck asking J impertinent questions as he sat there listening to music.  Behind our townhouse there is enough space for us to have our grill, two chairs, our garden, and -at the bottom of a very small slope- there is a tract wide enough for a truck, not yet covered in grass, and then a sharp drop before another such tract, and then the ravine.  To the southeast of our patio are more finished units, all of them populated by people who seldom come out on their decks, use their patios, or even look out to check the weather.  On the other side we have two finished units -the end one is now occupied- and another row of still-under-construction units.  The complex provides a playground, a pool, a basketball court, a gym, and plenty of areas for bike riding.  WHERE do you think the kids have been playing???

Yesterday evening, as we were cooking dinner, no less than ten children were running around our patio.  Some sort of “war” was taking place, and our vegetation was serving as camouflage for the combatants.  I have decided that I will have to sit outside looking formidable while J sits in his spot, if only to make sure he doesn’t  get startled by the sudden appearance of loud kids running in what we expected to be a semi-isolated spot.  I think that, with the arranging we’ve done, no one will want to walk their dogs close to the deck, but some people love a challenge for their pets and might think “gee, maybe Fido can get a decent workout navigating between that tiered herb planter, the zucchini and the kale while bypassing the step IF we can get close enough to the railing.”  The image of J pulling a Wile E. Coyote comes to mind…only involving the screen door, and the sliding glass door…

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There’s much to do still, and time is ticking…  The ice cream truck made its first tentative foray into the neighborhood on Friday, but we missed it because the kids were at the gym, and we had gone to the grocery store.  The pool is being cleaned.  The plants are growing.  J is refusing to let go of his snow boots and long pants…

Summer is crawling towards us…stealthily!

J is in fine “day off” form…

5:30 a.m.  COFFEE??????  (Insert parental groans here.)

5:35 a.m.  COFFEE???????????  (Insert parental groans muffled by pillows covering ears and faces here)

5:40 a.m.  COFFEE???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Insert parental groans and an a muttered expletive muffled by pillows covering ears and faces here.)

5:45 a.m.  COFFEE???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Movies!  TV!  We’ll be right there!!!!  

9:30 a.m.  The beds have been made; all laundry has been sorted, folded, hung, and stored in its proper closet; the dishes have been washed; one load of laundry is in the dryer, and another is washing; the kitchen is clean; the garage has been reorganized and swept; the driveway has been swept; the counter and dining table have been properly cleaned; the pork for tonight’s schnitzel has been taken out of the freezer to defrost; the items that had been blocking the path to the pork have been replaced and reorganized in the freezer…  The only things we’ve yet to do are making pear chips (not until after lunch,) and going to do the mail.  At the rate we’re going, by one-thirty we’ll have run out of the basic chores and we’ll be digging into the “this was meant for the weekend” treasure trove.

C’est la vie!

I know why he does it.  J wants to get all these things out of the way to rid himself of the guilt attached to not wanting to hang out with me.  “BUT I already hung out with you, lady!  Don’t you remember all the fun we had early, early, EARLY this morning???  You and I did SO MUCH stuff!!!  And, you know, you can’t expect me to spend all day with you trailing me…go find something to entertain yourself.  I’ll be here…and then we’ll get together later…at MY convenience…”

Since I’ve been dismissed for the time being, I am keeping my eye on a carpenter bee that has burrowed a hole in a table (J’s table) out on the deck.  Obviously, anything that can be done will have to wait until dusk, but that hasn’t stopped me from stalking the creature while doing research online.  Unless I can get rid of the thing, it will stay with us (or generations of its descendants will) forever.  :/  It doesn’t look good right now from where I’m standing; all I’ve learned is rather daunting…these little creatures actually leave a trail that will bring more of them back next spring.  Nipping this problem in the bud is of the essence.

Our other “problem” is the abundance of caterpillars.  Never in my life have I seen such a profusion of them; if I sit on the patio to read, I soon find myself covered with caterpillars.  If we go for a walk, we have to look down so as not to step on them.  These are not your “oh, what a lovely butterfly!” caterpillars…these are, according to all I’ve found about them online, Eastern Tent Caterpillars and they’re considered a pest.  They are responsible for the large weavings we see on tree branches, tree trunks, and other spindly structures.  Not only are these rather creepy looking structures, they also seem to harbor a vast amount of what will very soon be clouds of moths.  As if the stink bugs weren’t enough of a problem, now we have an infestation of moths to look forward to…

I know it sounds like I hate nature, but I’m only really concerned about our interaction with it, and how we affect each other.  We need bees, and we can peacefully coexist with them so we are making sure there are plenty of flowers for the bees to use for their “work.”  Bumblebees are not a problem either.  Hornets, yellow jackets and wasps (and carpenter bees, it seems) are another story.  We know they are necessary, they play a role, but we have to work on redirecting them.  The caterpillars also have a purpose, but it seems these particular ones have the ability to defoliate a tree quite quickly, especially when they are as numerous as they seems to be this season.  They love fruit trees…we don’t have any, but we have plenty of caterpillars!!!!

Well…time for a walk.  We won’t make it to lunchtime without being irritated with each other unless we go outdoors and burn some energy.  It is a beautiful day, and since Colorado and New Mexico have had a resurgence of winter weather, I think it’s best to appreciate our warm temperatures and sunshine by actually taking advantage of them…

Here we go!  Off to make the rest of the day count…

Our summer garden…justified and validated

The spinach is growing enthusiastically.  I cannot believe how quickly it sprouted and how much it has grown.  This weekend we will have some fresh spinach.  The peas and green beans have impressed us with their sudden burst of life, poking through the soil and becoming abundant in short order.  This weekend they are getting trellises.  The corn is making more progress than we had expected, especially for a new hybrid variety that is supposed to grow well in containers.

My only problem is that I planted 25 peat pots with 7 varieties of zucchini and yellow squash last Sunday, and yesterday I realized that they are much more enthusiastic than any other plant I’ve endeavored to bring into our midst and…  WHERE am I going to put 25 such plants????  From my perch in the balcony I identified eight areas in the backyard, and from my ‘scratching my head and wondering’ spot in the front porch I figured out another seven.  That leaves ten plants???  (I’m not very good at Math, you know.)

Of course, I am a lot more optimistic about this TODAY because J actually had stir-fried zucchini and yellow squash as a side-dish with dinner tonight.  In light of this, the excess of squash is justifiable, don’t you think?

The lettuce, arugula, endive, cucumber (I’m making pickles…really…I’m flabbergasted by this notion,) and tomatoes are also justifiable.  Our garden is well on its way to keeping us fed with fresh stuff this summer.  We are, to put it mildly, over the moon with joy.  The more things we can get J to eat, the more varied our garden will be…

Tomorrow is an election day so J will be home all day.  Tomorrow we will work on reorganizing his TV room closet and taking stock of what we have for summer projects, and what we need for summer projects.  One thing on my list is a big poster board so I can create a summer calendar for J; that will serve the purpose of helping him count down to back-to-school and knowing when there is summer school and when he’s going to be home.  I can guarantee that whatever groaning takes place, I will be able to hear through the baby monitor.

I spent today catching up on chores, paying bills, filing papers I had in my IN basket.  I saved four baskets of laundry for folding tomorrow, and it’s Pear Chip Day so we will have what to do in the morning.  The garage has to be swept, and there are things that need to be moved to newly-designated storage spaces.  That’s what J has all those muscles for…  🙂

Speaking of which…

J’s workouts have definitely had an impact on his body.  On Saturday we forgot to put a belt on him, and he was walking around like those kids whose pants puddle around their knees.  It’s quite obvious that size 44 is entirely too big for him, and 42 are loose enough to be cause for concern.  His XXL t-shirts look like they belong to a larger person than J…because they belonged, originally, to larger J.  J’s less, always massive, look muscular and we are pretty sure you could bounce a quarter off his gluteus maximus and have a definite ricochet effect all over the room.

The kid, it seems, has lost enough weight and added enough muscle to impress even those who see him every single day.  I can see a difference, and it’s hard to not boast of how great J looks, especially when he rocks his Panama hat and walks home with so much energy…

Today I discussed the end-of-school-year schedule with J’s teacher.  We will try to stretch it out until the Friday after Memorial Day, but most kids will be gone by then.  I am determined, though, to give J as full a schedule as I can.  I know how much being at home all those snow days affected him, and I want him to realize that being home isn’t punishment.  That’s why the Summer Calendar is so important, and we’re going to work on it together.  If J can see, clearly marked, all his ESY days, all the holidays, Dada’s vacation, and so forth, it will go a long way to reassuring him that this is meant to be fun, not punishment.

Imagine, then, how twelve weeks will look on the calendar.  We are talking banner-size here!!!  We are talking a grid that allows us to give J a clear picture of what’s ahead, and allowing him to cross off all the days he has used up.  Little school buses would be on the ESY days, and a little flag for the Fourth of July…we can do a movie icon for whenever we plan on going to the movies.  I want this to be as visual and as encouraging as I can possibly make it; I want J to map out his summer, and know that -at the end of it all- is his teacher, his school, his regular routine.

I know this is ambitious, but I’m not dealing with a little boy anymore.  I am dealing, for better or for worse, with an adult who finds the routine established at home over the summer and winter months less than exciting, and I -who was once his age and quite easily irritated by proximity to my parents, or by confinement to our home- understand why J prefers the excitement of his peers, and a daily change of venue.

I have ordered a roll-up blind for the back patio.  No matter where I placed the patio umbrella (and, believe me, I moved that sucker around like nobody’s business!,) it just didn’t provide sufficient shade for J.  The roll-up blind, hopefully, will arrive by the weekend, and I will be able (with Dada’s help) to set it up and give J a bit more comfort in that space.  A little privacy will be provided by the corn we have planted in the containers placed on the deck…  So far we have no next-door neighbors, but that is bound to change sooner rather than later.

In a nutshell, we are ready, and we have vegetables that J will eat…we’ve learned to use the peas for pesto, and if he won’t eat them steamed, we know he will eat them that way.  We are ready…

Sort of…

Hopefully…

By the time the official start of his vacation starts for sure…

maybe?

Not a crisis, but definitely an incident…

J has faced, for the very first time in his life, a rather disconcerting, embarrassing, and commonplace problem.  I am, quite honestly, surprised it took him this long.  TGG has had ample experience in this department, and -let’s be honest here- this is something that has happened (I think) to EVERYONE at least once.  I believe in being fully prepared for it (mainly because when it happened while one of TGG’s friends was staying for a sleepover we quite weren’t,) and it took me a moment to compute that J had never experienced this…

I am talking, my friends, of a backed-up toilet.

It happened while I was vacuuming.  J walked out of the bathroom and stood there, gesticulating wildly at me to look at him.  The frantic waving of arms indicated he wanted attention NOW so I turned the machine off, and turned to look at him.  The only thing he would do when I asked what was the matter was to point in the direction of the hallway that leads to the laundry room.  The washer and dryer had both stopped running so I figured he wanted me to go help him with those.  I explained that I’d come as soon as I was done vacuuming, switched the machine on, and continued with the task at hand.  J’s hand flapped at me, and he pointed in the same general direction once more.  I shook my head.  “I need a minute, J.  I’ll be right there.”  More insistence.  I shook my head, and that was when J turned the vacuum cleaner off and pointed towards the hallway.

As you know, I pick my battles.  I decided if he was so intent on laundry I might as well get it over with, and then I could go back to vacuuming.  J led the way into the hallway, and then stopped abruptly in front of the bathroom door.  His finger pointed at the toilet while his face turned the other way, a mortified look on his face.

I looked at the toilet, and -realizing that he was concerned and mortified- thought back to the last time this has happened to J.  Never.  I realized that my youngest child had never in his entire life clogged a toilet.  He was blushing, and he was obviously upset.

Oh, sweetie, I said as I led him away from the bathroom (where the toilet, thankfully, was NOT overflowing,) this happens to EVERYONE.  I led him towards the stairs, my arm wrapped around his shoulder as we moved leisurely away from the source of his mortification.  To hear Dada tell it, he was coming down towards the kitchen level and heard, floating in the air, “it has happened to Einstein, to Walt Disney, to Selena Gomez, to Katy Perry…”  Dada was baffled by the content of these reassurances, and met us as we entered the dining area.  The look on his face was quizzical, and I just shrugged and said: J has had a problem with the toilet, and we need help.

I know, of course, how to unclog a toilet, but I had decided that J was more important for the time being, and that it was best to help him realize that -embarrassing though the situation is- it is not the end of the world.  Dada arched a brow, understood my intention, and announced that there was a reason why every bathroom in this house has a plunger in it…

TGG, who had been in his room and was making his way downstairs, heard our somewhat unusual turn of phrase.  As he emerged onto the dining area, I explained -quite animatedly- that J’s toilet downstairs was in need of plunging.  TGG said “oh, J…dude…let me tell you a few stories…” and, taking charge of his brother, followed us downstairs where Dada proceeded to quickly resolve the issue.  “See?  That’s the way to do it.  Problem solved!  Let’s all go wash our hands!”

The only thing that has come out of this is that J now stands there observing the toilet until it’s completely clear.  That J had never really stopped to think about the toilet is, I admit, surprising, but he now has a better understanding of the vagaries of flushing.  He’s not losing sleep over it, but he did have a moment of confusion about the whole thing.

TGG summed it up best for him: “dude, shit happens…and sometimes it gets sort of stuck, and we have to help it go away.”  Oddly enough, this sounds a lot more philosophical than it was meant to sound.  TGG meant it quite literally, but -if you think about it carefully- it applies to life; doesn’t it?

Rubik has his cube. I prefer rearranging furniture…

I don’t know if everyone is the same (and I highly doubt it,) but I rearrange furniture depending on the seasons.  Not ALL furniture, mind you.  There are rooms that work one way, and one way only; the dining room and the master bedroom are pretty much arranged in the only ways that actually work for each space, or -correction- the only ways we can agree are viable for us.  J’s bedroom, J’s TV room, and the living room are fair game, and I rearrange them as the seasons are about to change.

Last week I rearranged J’s bedroom, and he was very happy with how it turned out; J is like me in that sense: he likes to mix things up once in a while.  Today I rearranged the TV room, and it was like Christmas morning for J.  He came home to find his stuff moved, dusted, cleaned, spiffed up…  I know he liked the way it looks because he kicked me out of the room faster than you can say BYE!

This is the next step in the whole “Getting Ready For Summer” groove…the first step was prepping the garden, and now the inside of the house is going into Summer Mode.  The grill is getting a workout, and Dada is out there cooking more often than he has in months; he doesn’t mind grilling when it’s cold, but he does mind grilling when there’s snow up to his knees.  It adds difficulty, he says, to properly moving around; I think it’s just plain silly to grill something that will be cold by the time you bring it into the house.

TGG’s twenty-third birthday was on Friday, and we went out to dinner as a family.  This, of course, is a momentous occasion, and not just because of TGG’s birthday.  We, as a group, were braving a Friday evening ritual that many find daunting even in the best of circumstances: sitting down to eat in a public place. Because we had J with us, and because we wanted this to be a pleasant experience, we decided to go as early as possible.

Dinner outings have never been particularly successful with J.  Lunch has become par for the course, but dinner is another matter.  I can’t count how many times we’ve had to say “can you please pack our order and bring the bill?,” or asked to be served in installments so one of us can eat while someone takes J outside.  Lunch is easy…lunch we conquered a while back.  Dinner…dinner is the monster.  Dinner is Moby Dick.  Dinner scares us.

Well, SCARED is a more correct term.  We actually successfully had dinner (AND appetizers) on Friday evening.  When we left the house, J said HOT DOGS, but we weren’t planning on that sort of meal; we were going to brave the menu, appetizers, and the whole shebang.

We picked a place that is familiar to J.  He likes to sit on the bench and wait for our to-go order when we go to the Thai restaurant in town, and he likes the food we bring home.  He also has enjoyed their live music as we wait.  The waitresses know him, and are always kind to him while we wait.  Off to the Thai restaurant we went, J wearing his Panama hat (a new weekend wardrobe fixture for him,) and the rest of us with fingers and toes crossed.

There was live music.  We arrived to find the musician setting up, and we got a big table near the stage.  J removed his hat, said hello to the room, and we ordered appetizers.

Mind you, this is a delicate dance…we want to make sure that we eat the meal in stages, as it is meant to be consumed.  In the past we’ve had to eat our appetizers, and request the rest of our order to be packed to-go.  This time we made sure to remind J that this was just a start to our meal, and he acted accordingly; first he ate the carrot garnish for every appetizer plate they brought us, and then he proceeded to try every single appetizer we had ordered: chicken wings, crab rangoon, and calamari.

Dada ordered a curry dish, and TGG and I ordered noodle dishes.  For J we ordered tempura shrimp with vegetables.  J ate eggplant, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower without batting an eyelash, or dipping them in sauce.  He also ate all these BEFORE he even touched the shrimp on his plate.  Wonders never cease!  If you’d told us a year ago that J would be going for veggies (even in garnish form) before going for meat, we would have shaken our heads and wondered if you’d lost your mind.

We believe!  We believe!  WE BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!

We had a nice, happy, leisurely birthday meal, and J enjoyed the whole experience.  The guitarist played songs J likes, and his original material was quite pleasant.  J clapped between songs, and left a nice tip in the glass jar the guy had placed near the microphone.

At the end of the meal, the waitress brought TGG a nice cup of fried ice cream, and she brought an extra spoon for J.  Our kids, it seems, are known for their closeness to each other, and the waitress (who has seen them interacting with each other when they go to pick up an order) said maybe they could share it.  Because J had never tried this, he approached with hesitation, and then -realizing how truly yummy it was- he and TGG tucked into it with gusto.

We walked back to the car as the sun was setting.  It was move-out weekend for the college; the streets were quiet, and the weather was lovely.  J had his Panama hat on, a smile on his face, and a belly full of delicious, healthy food…and we had a drama-free meal…

It’s no surprise that the rest of the weekend was equally fine, is it?  J did, after all, put on his size 40 pants on Sunday…and had to hold them up during an entire outing…

Yeah…life is good.

 

 

May…

Today is TGG’s birthday.  J has been aware of this for days, and is looking forward to celebrating…mainly because we’re going out for Thai food tonight, and he can reach the calamari faster than anyone else.  I think he’s also excited because of how much time he’s been spending with TGG lately; you don’t leave the house every afternoon and go to the gym together without developing a very strong bond.  There is kinship that grows in those sweaty gym garments that smell so ripe they knock us off our feet when the kids come back into the house.

The kids’ exertions have paid off: they have lost over sixty pounds between them; Dada and I calculate that’s about how much we’ve absorbed.  Don’t ask how.  We eat exactly the same diet they eat, but we are middle-aged and there’s no need to dig much deeper.  We are now part of the “did-you-take-your-glucosamine?-where’s-my-probiotic-I-think-I-have-acid-reflux-had-you-noticed-these-hairs-growing-out-of-my-ears?-oh-my-GOD!-I-cannot-believe-that-sound-came-out-of-me-what-do-you-mean-you-can’t-read-the-label?-those-glasses-are-new!-no-I-didn’t-remember-to-bring-the-discount-card-don’t-ask-your-mother-now-son-she’s-got-the-ice-bag-and-and-that’s-the-universal-hot-flash-sign” set.

Now, you might think that we are exaggerating, or that we have basically given up on “youth,” but the honest truth is that there’s no denying we are no longer in our prime.  We KNOW that the general mentality is that 50 is the new thirty, and we think it’s bunk.  I’m sorry, but regardless of how many hours I dedicate to honing my body to a shape that equals that it had in 1995, I will never be able to go back “there.”  It’s just not possible.  I can work my ass off, eat like a caveman, listen to self-help tapes that convince me of my youthful state, color my hair, moisturize, and I will STILL collapse into bed wondering WHY I was young and now I’m not.

This is not a declaration of surrender.  This is merely an acceptance of fact.  While the kids are bouncing around full of energy and elasticity, ours are both depleted and we can only shake our heads and wonder at all the time we wasted not using them.  We can still do a lot -don’t think we don’t know this- but the days when we could do it all with impunity are gone.  I will ride the bike and pedal like I did when I was eight, but the other forty-one years will happily plunk down on top of me as soon as I crawl into bed at night; aside from that, if I fall from that bike NOW, I will be sore, and possibly more seriously hurt, than I would have been 41 years ago.  The days of “oh, just clean it and slap a band-aid on it” are past.  We now get the “where did you get that scratch? I have no idea!!!” interaction on a weekly basis, and gardening requires access to arnica and Tiger Balm.

I am not envious of youth, and I feel nostalgia for only parts of it.  Would I want to do high school all over again knowing what I know now?  No, not at all.  I wouldn’t dream of voluntarily throwing myself into dating, partying, being weighed down by peer pressure.  When my first marriage broke up I was 33…the prospect of being single horrified me because I wasn’t good at male/female interactions when I was younger, and I was pretty sure I’d lost what little touch I might have had in the thirteen years that had elapsed since.  Dada and I were a perfect match because we were familiar with each other, and had always had great ease in being together and being ourselves.  Getting old together is just another thing we have in common, and another thing we’re keeping a sense of humor about…we have to!

On Wednesday, TGG had a job interview for a position at another hospital.  This was the same day he started his first vacation in two years.  It went well, and he was happy and relaxed in the afternoon when I told him I was going for my walk, and I’d be waiting for J’s bus on the corner if he wanted to join me.  A while later, I turned around hearing footsteps behind me, and there was TGG.  I saw his face go from a wide smile to a look of surprise and confusion.

My first reaction to this is to ask myself “did I leave the house with the wrong shoes again?,” or “did I forget to put pants on?”  (The shoe thing has happened before; the pants thing, thankfully, not yet.)  TGG approached and said “what happened to your HAIR?????”  I thought to myself that maybe I had (as I have had in the past) more hair accessories on than needed; I’ve been known to clip my hair up in several places because it keeps “wisping” out on me.  I touched my head…nothing!  I then realized I didn’t have my hat on, and shrugged: I forgot my hat, I said.  “But your hair is SO WHITE!!!!!!!!!!”

TGG was aghast.  He looked at me as if suddenly, in this natural light that we seldom interact in, he had realized his mother is old.  Watching that DVD of old home movies a few weeks ago didn’t really help; he had suddenly witnessed his mom as a toddler who sat wide-eyed and happy for a camera, who danced in a goofy way when invited to, who rode a hobby horse, and who owned a red velocipede and a pedal car.  Confronted with his gray-haired, middle-aged, near-sighted, wrinkled mother was -I suppose- a shock to him.

“You should see Dada’s chest!  He looks like Badger Man! with that pattern of gray and black chest hair he has now.  It’s quite funny!,” I said.  TGG got closer and started looking through my mop of unruly feathers, and I added “see those hairs that look redder and lighter than the others?”  He nodded while continuing his inspection.  “Those are next, pal.  Those are the next ones to go totally white.”  There were choice words then…he was shocked, appalled, surprised, agog, awed, horrified.  It had never crossed his mind, it seems, that we might be aging.  “I thought, when I saw you as I walked down, that maybe you were baking and you put your flour-covered hand on your head, or something.”  (This has happened, I confess.  I have often ruined an effort at sophistication by being very much my clumsy, forgetful self.)

So, yes, we know that fifty is the new thirty, and we’re committed to being as fit, healthy and optimal as we can be…but we are in no way deluding ourselves into thinking the clock will turn back just because we take our glucosamine and probiotics, or simply because we still feel “twenty” on the inside.  Our hearts and minds are in the right place, even if we need to remind ourselves of what we came into the room for at least twenty times a day.  The husk, sadly, is deteriorating on schedule, and it’s fine…at least we’re rotting and rusting and falling apart together.

Right?