Cue Monday…

The aroma of spiderwebs being consumed by the sudden (and necessary) maiden voyage of our central heating unit filled the air on Saturday evening.  We had been living A/C free for weeks, and the temperature was being regulated by ceiling fans circulating air that came in through strategically opened/closed windows. For a short while, we lived with the stench and the knowledge that we were evicting many arachnids (not that we like them, but one does wonder where they go…under beds?  Into boxes?  Lurking in corners???  Quoth the raven…especially with Halloween coming,) but were comforted by feeling the temperature go from 62 degrees indoors to a comparatively cozy and whopping 67 (we are NOT the Rockefellers.)

J, suddenly hearing the vaguely familiar sound of the heater turning on, dashed out of his TV room, eyes wide with surprise.  That sound, even more than the Christmas tunes he’s been drowning us with, indicates that cold weather has arrived and, finally, all the really fun holidays are around the corner.  The smile on his face was well worth the smell emanating from the vents.

The pumpkin we promised him has arrived.  He went with Dada to find one that suited his taste, and he is very happy.  Right now it’s sitting on the balcony, waiting for pumpkin-carving night (which we think will be tomorrow.)  Once in a while, J goes out there, runs his hand over the orange orb and says PUMPKIN as if to inform it of what it is.  Then he taps it gently and smiles, as if to remind it that it’s about to get its insides torn out and its surface carved into some sort of facial expression.

Three pairs of pants were found.  And, because one is lucky in ways one sometimes tends to underestimate, they are the same exact make and model as the ones J loves.  Not only that, but one of the pairs is exactly the same color, albeit not yet faded.  It was this fact that allowed me to extract the torn, ripped, faded ones and set them aside for mending.  They are now, as I informed J, “weekend pants.”  J doesn’t mind that much; he has new pants and they are perfect.  He surrendered the pants that need mending and the red compression shirt that has a seam undone before turning back to organizing his closet.

Turning on the heater prompted several changes in the household.  J, for example, went straight for the hallway closet upstairs and took out the new flannel sheets he’d bought on Friday.  These are “winter-themed.”  J doesn’t much like the plaids and fall-themed ones; he always goes for bears in the snow, snowflakes, penguins…this year he danced joyously in front of the display until some music in his head moved him to grab the sheets with birds and pine cones.  Seeing J make his bed with the same enthusiasm other males reserve for waxing and polishing a sports car is pretty cool.  He crawled into his bed with the look of one who is being enveloped in the sweetest embrace.  Of course, part of this might be Kate Upton’s doing.

While TGG has grown out of the “scantily clad girl on the wall” phase, J is still very much about the girls he can see in his room.  Selena Gomez (circa the days of early Wizards of Waverly Place) has been relegated to the TV room along with Phineas and Ferb.  Kate Upton, in all her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover glory, now hangs on the wall opposite J’s bed.  The poster is revealing enough to make a boy happy, and discreet enough to not scare mom out of the room.  It also caused a brief pilgrimage into J’s room “to admire how neatly he made his bed and look at his new pants!” from TGG and Dada.  This purchase was my idea so I have no right or desire to complain.  I’m just glad that everyone seems to be falling into some new sort of normal.  After a few rough weeks, we are starting to dig a new groove for ourselves, and its familiarity is growing.

In spite of some of the recent upheaval in J’s behavior, we are still planning on reducing the medication one more time.  You’re probably wondering why we would do this if J has had issues at school recently, and if he’s being somewhat stubborn at home (which, by the way, he totally is,) but the fact is that we can’t hide behind the Risperdal forever.  There are things we need to adjust ahead of this upcoming transition, and I’m working on them even as we speak.  I don’t think, in J’s case, we were premature in medicating him, but it does feel like he has run the course of this particular treatment, and we are ready (because he is more open to so many things) to move on to something else…like less and less med until it’s all gone.

So we have introduced the clock in his room with the times when he can come get us for COFFEE.  I am fine-tuning the board that goes with it while I type this. We have also introduced the laminated cards he can exchange for the contents of his snack box, and I am adding a “wild card.”  We have noticed that our beloved son is a lot more inclined to skimp on the contents of his snack box so he can finagle extras later.  We review the box with him, post the cards where they are easily traded out, and will put a wild card up for him to earn with chores.  I’ll let you know how much outrage this causes.  The schedule board in the TV room is working wonders, and I make sure to print enough materials related to his storybooks so that we have what to work on when we’re done reading.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, for the next big step in me losing my mind: J and I are going to start working on counting to 30.  You know how he repeats things 20 times now?  Well, if I succeed in getting to 30 with him, then we’ll be hearing everything repeated thirty times.  In preparation for this task I purchased a tray of large beads, foam board to make a game with, stickers for rewards (we don’t pay for learning in snacks, thank you,) colorful buttons in assorted sizes, and the biggest tub of acetaminophen I could find…

And that, my friends, is the way the Monday is starting, and let’s see how it shapes up the rest of the week…



You take the good…you take the bad…you end up with everyday life…

When I was younger, one of my favorite songs was John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song.”  You know that one?  I fight authority, authority always wins???  As often happens when I listen to The Who singing “hope I die before I get old,” I wonder how John Mellencamp (who is all of 62 years old) feels when he sings “growing up leads to growing old and then to dying, and dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun.”  How do Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, both already approaching the age of 70, feel when they realize they are going to die old?  They probably feel as silly as I do when it comes to mind that, for a while now, I’ve been “authority” and I used to rail against all that represents.  I feel a little cheated because it almost seems like I went from railing against the darned thing to being the darned thing…

And the battle of the laundry basket has been won…by me.  Either to humor me or to save himself the trouble of a potential catastrophe in the middle of a hot-flash heavy, busy week, TGG is now doing his laundry with nary a peep of complaint, nary a roll of the eyes.  Strangely enough, I don’t take it as much of a triumph; it’s rather more of a rite of passage.  As much as it means that TGG is being less of a whiny kid, it also means that I’m getting to be much less of a whiny mom.  What I’m doing is, also, admitting that my sails are not filled by as strong a wind as they used to, and that is something that, if your kids find out about it, could work against you.  I have known individuals who think they can create the illusion of something if they don’t let their parents let them go.

I am welcoming the respite from always been on top of everything.  I admit it, friends, I have been tired, run-down even…  Like I told Dada this morning: had I been a bridge, I’d have been declared unsound and closed for repairs a while back; I am a classic automobile in need of tender loving care…  I need a break!  So I’ve been lazy lately.  I don’t mean doing less.  I mean doing significantly less.  I have read books, magazines; I’ve plucked my eyebrows (which desperately needed it, by the way, because I was starting to look like Bert and Ernie;) I’ve gone for walks to take pictures of leaves and trees and the sky.  When J gets home from school, he does his laundry and helps with dinner.  When Dada gets home from work, we have a nice quiet dinner and we relax before he sits down to catch up with whatever needs to get done before the next morning.

In J’s TV room I’ve installed a very simple workstation that allows us to do one small project each day.  I’ve hung string on the walls so that his work can be displayed as if on a clothesline.  I’ve caught J leaning back on his beanbag, admiring his handiwork, enjoying the play of light on the glittery part of it.  I’ve set up a board in that room so he can make a schedule for his time in there, and -after much printing and laminating- he now can pick out from tiny pictures of book covers.  When we’re done with the story, we do worksheets related to it, and we have fun.  There is a lovely quietness to this, and J seems happy to have less stress among the occupants of this space we call home.  TGG knows this, and I think it matters enough to him to make a huge difference in how we all conduct our business with each other.

Mind you, not all is peachy.  Children tend to take turns challenging their parents, and TGG has opened the way for J to try asserting his will.  I know what he’s doing, and I’ve made a deal with him: we now post laminated cards with the contents of his snack box, and he has to take them down and put them away as they are consumed.  Once the space where they are displayed on the fridge door is bare, J’s done snacking.  Eventually we will just hand him the cards and he can redeem them, but for now we’re making sure to go through a very obvious process of lining them up, saying out loud what there is in the box, reviewing the list, and making a big deal of removing them and repeating what is left.  Believe it or not, since he likes the Five Little Monkeys song, this totally fits into his frame of mind, and I intend to stick to it until he accepts that that’s the way it goes.

Tomorrow is our great shopping excursion.  The pants are more necessary than ever.  I don’t know if this particular pair of pants KNOWS it’s getting replaced and has decided to fall apart faster, but I’m pretty sure that it’s disintegrating before our eyes.  The endeavor to keep it from falling apart is tedious, and I’m hoping we can find a replacement when we go shopping or I will be forced to buy a pair online, and that might not be something J appreciates or is willing to accept.  A t-shirt is one thing; J can easily shrug his shoulders and say “ok, I’ll wear this” by simply putting it on and letting it segue into the rotation of clothes he wears each week.  Pants, on the other hand, require a greater degree of comfort.

So the quandary about the pants remains, and I am crossing fingers and toes that we can figure this out tomorrow.  In the middle of that process, of course, we will brave the crowds of people that will be in town for Homecoming Weekend, and we will seek out the pumpkin we promised J.  Rain is in the forecast, of course, because what would all this be without a little rain thrown into the mix, but…

I don’t have to do laundry, my friends.  THAT is on the plus-side of the situation, and we take our joys wherever we can find them.  Since we are now the authority we used to complain about, we might as well look for the bright side, right???

A Paean to Pandemonium…

There are moments when the machinery that runs our daily routine clicks along quite beautifully.  We can hear the gears neatly falling into place, and the rhythm is flawless, seamless, steady.  Everyone seems to be following the same choreography; we lean and step and turn and twirl to the same exact song, all of us having determined that this dance is one we know well and performing it to perfection.

Then there are the OTHER moments…

To see us getting ready for the day’s events this morning you would think we are a well-oiled machine.  J had his breakfast, his med, and scooted upstairs in the most cooperative of moods.  His clothes were readied, his ablutions were completed and, miraculously enough, the same rhythm of readiness was taking place in the room where my husband was preparing for work.  We managed to get lunches and snacks prepared, everyone had what they needed without having to scurry back and forth searching for it.  Even the dishwasher was emptied and the dishes and flatware sorted before the garage door closed as I waved goodbye with a benevolent look on my face.

Rewind, please, to two nights ago at around 10:20 P.M.  The kitchen is still looking like something exploded in the middle of it even though we had dinner at seven.  J is crankily going up and down the stairs still gathering boxing gloves, searching for his green cargo pants (they’ve been sitting in a laundry basket waiting to be sorted and hung,) TGG is frantically searching for the keys he always swears were “RIGHT HERE!” and not finding them, my husband is retreating towards the hallway closet to find a jacket and asking if he left his wallet on the counter or the bedside table, and I am standing in the kitchen wondering how things got so…normal.

I could tell you that my efforts at organizing and keeping things moving at a healthy clip result in some sort of cohesion, but they don’t.  I feel fortunate, nay, BLESSED when not one curse word is muttered as people set out to greet their daily occupations.  In fact, I feel blessed when one of those people who don’t mutter is ME.

I go about my work at home with Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries playing in my head.  The desired effect at the end of the day would be closer to the First Movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastorale.)  What I usually end up with is Tom and Jerry’s The Cat Concerto with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2OK, I’ll admit that there are days -and these are, thankfully, tremendously infrequent- when it’s more like The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated.

I try to be organized.  (“Try” being the operative word there.) For the most part, I succeed.  I have allotted a space for everything in this house, and it works beautifully…but the human factor, of course, interferes every time.  I am not complaining.  I am stating facts.  I would like to lead a more organized existence, but we are people and people are (even at their most organized) inclined to messiness.  J is punctilious about certain things, but he can also be rather scattered (hence the search for the green cargo pants.)

We are that family that prides itself in having taken J’s need for order and attention to detail and applied to the way we handle our household.  There hasn’t been a toilet paper shortage in a while; we always have extra toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and other toiletries people tend to take for granted.  We have a spot by the door where keys are hung (mostly MY keys, of course) and places designated for shoes that only find their way there during my Wagnerian moments.

We have weekly menus posted in the kitchen, and the grocery list is constructed based on these.  We have the freezer divided in areas for poultry, beef, pork and fish…and things still get interspersed and mislaid and misplaced.  We have cooked pork because we thought it was boneless, skinless chicken and vice versa.  We have put salt in the coffee because J poured salt in the sugar bowl.  We have an abundance of toilet paper, that doesn’t mean we don’t get the occasional “CAN YOU BRING ME A ROLL OF PAPER?????  I DIDN’T REALIZE THERE WASN’T ANY!!!!!”  The bills get tacked on a bulletin board, but I have to constantly weed out the things that the children (or not…my husband does it, too) tack on top of those.

That is why the lovely Boccherini’s Minuetto mornings are so special to me.  I compare them to those mornings when, before the construction workers arrive with their noise and their machinery, all sorts of birds skip and hop along the lawn as I drink that most necessary second-cup of coffee.  I stand wrapped in a shawl, cup and saucer in hand, and I watch the Sun slowly crawl up the sky, the leaves appearing timidly at first and then more boldly on the previously naked branches of trees far and near, and I smile.  The coffee is perfect.  The shawl is cozy enough.  The birds are happy; the lawn and the trees are getting greener with each passing day…


Reality scurries in and wraps itself around my feet.  Until that moment the kitchen seemed clean, the house smelled fresh, the phone hadn’t rung…and my family had faded into the background for a moment.  I wasn’t thinking of bills to pay, pants to mend, socks to throw out because the whole foot goes through the sole.  No one has athlete’s foot, pending dental appointments, acne, broken nails, the wrong kind of meat for tonight’s meal.  No one can’t find their keys, has lost a piece of paper they really needed, forgot to make an important call or refuses to wear a pair of pants because it isn‘t a pair of green cargo pants.  Everything was perfect and lovely and organized.

Nah…I’d rather have it messy…bring on The Ramones, please.