Tag Archives: children

A Short Drive


People who have to drive their kid to school must, by that very act, disconnect a part of their brain. Don’t get me wrong; I understand this because I drive the same route, though I hope I do not occasionally suffer the same loss of logic, patience, and sense of fair play.

Last year my eldest took the responsibility of chauffeuring her sister to the high school and I got the luxury of driving the youngest to her bus stop and hanging out with her there, sharing a little quiet time and having the sense that she was away and on track.  I could get back to my chores and projects at home with a clear mind.  This year, due to scheduling and the fact that my second daughter is younger than her classmates, she hasn’t quite gotten her driver’s license.  That, coupled with the fact that daughter number three is at a new, earlier school that is further away, means that I pass on the easy bus run and get to jockey for position every morning at the high school.

I have observed this morning phenomenon for many years, from the earliest tiny and poorly laid out elementary school parking lots through middle school and high school circle drives. People who are otherwise caring, considerate, and rule abiding individuals turn cutthroat and conniving. There are some stereotypes I have observed, from my place far back in line: the princess (or prince), who MUST be dropped off exactly at the door and cannot walk a few steps beyond; the parents who think their kids are invincible, dropping them off in the pass-through lane and letting them cross the drop off lane; the kids who get out of the car and go around back to the trunk and get out twelve things to carry in, all in slow motion; the “clown car”, spewing out more kids than you thought a normal car could hold; the race car drivers, in a hurry when of course, no one else is; those that try to beat the buses; and the moms in jammies with zombie-like stares.

This morning I stopped off at the local coffeehouse to pick up a quick bagel on my way home.  From the me first attitude and bad parking in the lot to the shifty looks of my fellow patrons in line, I think I’ve found where all those folks go after dropping off their kids.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day to Day, Parenting

Time For Two


My oldest chick moved to the dorm without too much fanfare at the end of this summer.  She’s doing well and seems to be integrating into campus life; she’s not a source of worry for me.  Though I miss her, I feel okay with it all.  Time will tell how each of us will react to being separated, but I am hopeful we’ll grow both closer and more independent of each other.  That’s the way life is, and a pretty good definition of parenting success.

Since she now lives two hours away from us, visits are further apart, though not non-existent.  I got the chance to drive up there by myself last month for a day of visiting, and she got to show me around and introduce me to her roommates and new habitat.  We shopped and ate, and I hunkered down in a corner of the dorm lobby and read while she went to a class.  It was good for both of us.

With the dust settling on that change, I am finding that having fewer people in the house means more time for me to spend with the two remaining chicks.  The way school day mornings work out the younger two leave at different times, not even crossing paths most days.  I get to spend breakfast time with the youngest, and then roust the next oldest in time to drive her to school.  That provides at least a few minutes to chat and make sure all is well before her day crashes in, full force.  Separate activities allow us to have separate time with both, and I’ve been making a more conscious effort to do things individually with each one.

I’m not the only one that is getting more one on one time with other family members.  The two youngest girls seem to be enjoying each other more as well, and though we still have moments of friction, they may be realizing that they only have each other now.  Their elder sister is missed, and so perhaps their bond is more appreciated.  It’s nice to see them actually sharing and spending down time together.  It wasn’t always like that.

When the five of us are back together to go up to the Inn for Thanksgiving it may feel a little strange, and I didn’t really anticipate that twist.  Our current duet will become a trio again; I hope it remains harmonious.

Leave a comment

Filed under Changes, Day to Day, empty nest, Family Relationships, Parenting

What’s In A Name?


Four days should be long enough to name a little kitten, shouldn’t it?   After waiting patiently for the girls to shift toward a decision, I set an arbitrary deadline of nine o’clock last night, just to try to move the process along.  The time limit came and went, through heated discussions, hurt feelings, and a few shortlisted white-bread names that nobody was really ecstatic about. Even threatening to name him “Spitvalve” if they couldn’t settle on anything before then didn’t seem to light a fire under anybody.

I don’t know why, but it seems that it’s important to pick the right name for the little ball of fluff.  Something that shows some creativity, some character, something the kitten can grow into a cat with and still be dignified.  My daughters spent a little while discussing how a name is something that molds the animal.  If it’s a good name, it will be a good pet.  Personally, I think the name ends up fitting as they get older not because they grow into it or live up to it, but rather because we spend all this time picking something that will fit the personality or looks that we can perceive already.  The name doesn’t make the cat: the cat makes the name.   This pet belongs to them, though, not me.  Therefore it is their job to successfully name it, by whatever means necessary.

Everyone submitted some names for the list, then we all got to initial three of them.  Any names without initials beside got tossed on the first round.  On the second round, we only got two votes.  On the third, we each got one. Of course, by this time only the ordinary names had survived.  Anything with any character or personality had been vetoed by one or the other of them.  Compromise only gets so far before it becomes either defeat or victory for someone.  As long as only two of the three girls agree on any given name, there are winners and losers.

After waiting all evening for the white smoke to come up the Vatican chimney, I conceded defeat and sent the youngest to bed without a clear consensus.  We may have to start with fresh suggestions and see where we are tonight after another day of wrangling.

I’m getting tired of referring to him as “kitty” – Spitvalve is starting to sound quite good.

1 Comment

Filed under Changes, Family Relationships, Parenting, Success/Failure

The Art Of Compromise


They had installed the litter of kittens in a large ferret cage, with shelves and ramps and hammocks swung between.  When the lady swung her garage door open, my daughters cautiously approached the shoulder tall crate and peered quietly in.  Apparently it was nap time at Feline Preschool.

“Here, they’re tired.  Let me stir them up a little,” she said, brushing past my girls and clanging the gate open.  A little head peered out of the upside down cardboard box on the bottom and just as quickly pulled back in.  With the cage open, we could see a couple of furry bodies nestled together in one of the slings, and a cocky kitty came sauntering out of the back corner to see what all the fuss was about.

Our hostess scooped kittens up and distributed them out, smooching each one loudly as she did, and soon my girls stood holding wriggling balls of fur, looking a little shell-shocked.  The kittens just wanted to find a warm place to snuggle and scrabbled up on shoulders as we tried to look at them, so they peered at each other’s kittens and tried to be judicious in their praise.  Eventually my youngest gravitated to the spotted little runt of the litter, the one who had swaggered out earlier.  My middle daughter decided she liked the one with the dramatic markings and unusual look, and my oldest was in love with the sweet, fluffy black one.  This was going to be their kitten, if we adopted one, so I hung back and tried to stay out of the way, assisting where I could, untangling tiny claws from shirts and making mild suggestions about what to look for and how to choose.  Each began to try to sway the others to her choice, because they all knew that they would be very lucky kids to leave there with even one of the kittens and asking for two was asking too much.  As the argument went on and became a little more heated, each compromised a little by saying “Well, if we can’t get mine, then I like this one…”, but they couldn’t agree on a compromise that worked for all of them.  It seemed as though each kitty was beginning to be thought of as so-and-so’s kitty, and if they chose that one, that person would have an advantage.  After the poor owners of the house had been kept on hold from their yard work for about half an hour, I urged the girls to either choose a kitten or go home and think about it, returning the next day.

At this point one of them noticed a sleepy little kitten who had climbed to the top shelf and was trying valiantly to sit upright and not let its eyes close, but kept nodding off. This was the fourth and last kit, not chosen as a favorite by any of the girls, and I listened quietly as, one by one, they decided that it would do very well, thank you.  It was hard to leave their favorites, but as we walked to the car with their choice held reverently, all eyes were on the new member of the family.

When we got home and got it settled, we found that it was sweet and curious, frenetic and sleepy, playful and cuddly – the best of all its brothers and sisters combined.  It turns out that the one that was no one’s favorite was the best choice of all.

1 Comment

Filed under Family Relationships, Growth, Parenting

No Leg To Stand On


Words parents are loath to hear: “Mom! The neighbors found a litter of kittens under their back porch… Can we have one?”

For years I have had to be the bad guy.  When we pass cute puppies and kittens at the pet store, I don’t have the luxury of oohing and ahhing over the little rascals.  Any softening of my demeanor would indicate weakness and the entreaties would start.  I appreciate baby animals as much, if not more,  than the next guy, but my role is that of The Denyer.

“We already have three cats.  There isn’t room for any more pets at our house,” has been my standard reply.  It was an easy one.  The reasoning couldn’t be disputed, and they came to expect it.  That argument was lost in January when our sweet cat died and three quietly became two.  His loss took more out of me than I really wanted to admit, and I was hoping they wouldn’t notice the hole in my logic for a while longer.  It’s a parent’s job to take the long view, to see past tiny paws and adorable whiskers.  When the little kitten that they want reaches the other end of its life my three chicks will be long out of the nest and it will be me left sitting beside the cat as it purrs its last.

When the litter was discovered I knew, deep down, that I was sunk.  All of the other cats we have rescued since my daughters were born have been ‘teenagers’; lanky and small, but not a ball of fluff with ears.  We have never had a tiny kitten to raise, and the girls began to remind me of that.  They chipped away at the chink in my defense and widened it, reminding me that it was now or never for my eldest daughter.  Soon she would be heading to college and getting a kitten in the Fall wouldn’t really be fair to her, in spite of the fact that we had joked that we would get one after she moved out and give it her name and room to live in.  They wheedled for days and I shut down the topic for as long as possible, but my hold on my objections began to loosen.  The girls knew I had relented even before I did and were at the car by the time I said “let’s just go and take a look”.

The inevitable stared me in the eye, and it purred.

Leave a comment

Filed under Changes, Day to Day, Family Relationships, Growth, Parenting

Easter Morning


The one thing that has been certain to keep me playing at least once a year has been a standing job for our brass quintet in a beautiful church for Easter. We have been playing there for almost twenty years, though there have been some years I missed for various reasons such as having a newborn. Of course, that means that Easter morning for my children has never been storybook. The Easter Bunny leaves his loot, but I hardly ever get to have a traditional morning with them. That has been left to their grandparents, mostly, since when the girls were little my in-laws would arrive the night before and be there when my daughters woke up, long after we had left for the sunrise service.

Am I cheating the kids, and myself, out of the tradition of Easter morning discoveries and egg hunts and family coming over? Sometimes I have felt that way but, looking at it dispassionately, some years this gig was the only thing that kept me playing. Life was so overwhelming through the baby and toddler era that only the thought of the extra money to do something with encouraged me to get my horn out and find enough endurance for three services.  This year, I am coming at it from a different place since I am in the best musical shape I have been in a long time.  This is not the only job I will be playing, but it will be a benchmark that will help me measure how far I have come.

My family does have an Easter morning tradition, it just doesn’t always include me.   As long as I can play I’m okay with that.

1 Comment

Filed under Parenting, Reflection, Traditions

Routine Adjustment


My morning got flip-flopped and now I’m not even sure what day it is.  I hadn’t realized how important the actual, precise morning routine was to the rest of my day, but an unexpected change has thrown me for a loop.  Sounds pathetic, but there it is.

Girl #2 had to go to school thirty-five minutes earlier this morning to complete some pre-testing rigmarole.  Everybody else remembered and had it planned, but I got home late last night and no one mentioned it to me.  This morning, I woke to a partially awake and moving house when it’s usually a still, slumbering one.  I guess that made me feel like I was behind and late, so I rushed around to get everything done before she left.  Then the other two had to go at the regular time, so I felt like we should leave for the bus 20 minutes early.  I actually had time to stop, pour a cup of coffee, and stand still for a minute.  The whole thing was topsy-turvy.

I’m still feeling like a horse after a race, hours later.  Maybe it’s what I needed.  A little shake-up is envigorating, and things might fall back to place in a new and more interesting pattern.  That could be too much to ask for a little routine change, but I’m going to run with it…

1 Comment

Filed under Day to Day, Growth, Reflection, Self Discovery