Tag Archives: siblings

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.

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

Who Knew?


Last night I earned a few more “Mom Points”.  Did I bandage a skinned knee? Find a lost homework assignment? Help with an award-winning diorama?  No, I have done all of those things in the past, but I’m talking about one step further: I found a rendition of the Doctor Who theme for tuba.

Admittedly, I was looking online for something else at the time.  My youngest plays tuba and is always looking for “cool” stuff to play on an instrument many feel is uncool.  When I saw the site with all the TV and movie themes on it, all for tuba, I knew I had hit a goldmine, and when I discovered that it included Doctor Who I took a mental bow and pushed “print”.

Lately our home has become very “Whovian”.  Any Saturday night will find my second and third daughters parked in front of BBC America, being wowed by a man in a bow tie and fez who travels through space and time in a bright blue police call box that is much bigger inside than it looks.  It’s a wildly creative series, with a history of good writers and surprising twists and turns, and makes for some lively and intelligent discussions on the relative merit of plot direction, plausibility, and possible outcomes.  I’m not quite up on all the lingo, so they find that they have to educate me.

“Daaaah-lik, Mom.  Not Day-lik! And no, that one’s not a Companion.”

I nod and try to soak it in, if only to seem a little less un-hip to my kids. I am sympathetic to their attachment to it and we have driven in record time from my mother-in-law’s house three counties away in order to catch the mid-season finale, planned a birthday party for a Friday instead of a Saturday to avoid conflicts, and the plan for Halloween this year seems to include some sort of Weeping Angel costume for the both of them.  It was a toss-up between that and having to build a plywood dalek they could somehow push around the neighborhood, so I may have dodged the bullet there.

Soon we will be going thrift store shopping for clothes we can paint gray and contemplating the best ways to make skin and hair look like granite or marble.  A chance for more “Mom Points”, perhaps?

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Filed under Accomplishments, Day to Day, Family Relationships, Parenting, Success/Failure

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.

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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.

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Filed under Family Relationships, Growth, Parenting

One On One


My youngest and I are bachelorettes for the next few days, if that’s applicable to a couple of bi-generational females who are foot-loose and fancy free while the rest of the family goes on a school trip.  We only have the two of us to think about and we have a nice, leisurely weekend stretching ahead of us.  What to do, what to do?

This might actually be a little preview of life in general in a few years, when it’s just daughter number three left in the house, but for these particular days my husband gets to have last chance out-of-the-ordinary time with our oldest girls while he chaperones their trip, and I get to have special time with our youngest, paying her a little extra attention and maybe sneaking in a little girl time for myself.  The only specific request I got from her was to make sure we had a little lazy time built-in to our weekend, but I think I can accommodate that.

Over breakfast this morning, we made a few loose plans.  Later tonight we have a meeting to attend at the school she’ll be enrolled in next year, so perhaps before that we’ll get a two-top at a restaurant and have a small dinner together.  Friday night? Hmmmmmm. Surprisingly, there is nothing on the calendar.  Go out to a movie and munch on some popcorn out of the same bucket?  Wander the mall, picking and poking at the stores new offerings? Paint our toenails? Rent movies and stay in, cuddling under a communal blanket?  Then there is Saturday, and Sunday….

The world is our oyster.

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Filed under Changes, Day to Day, Excursions, Family Relationships, Looking Ahead, Parenting

Play Ball!


It must be Spring.  One of the harbingers of the season just occurred: a brand-spanking new softball shirt, shorts, socks and visor just entered the house.

Seasons ago, when we had all three girls on a team each spring, it got fairly crazy making sure practices were made for all teams and games were written in ink on the schedule.  The family would sometimes have to split up to get all the girls where they needed to be.  We usually ended up having three places to be at the same time, but somehow we managed.  I try to get to all the girl’s games so it got to be difficult to have it all work out evenly.

This year there is only the youngest daughter on a team.  It should be a bit easier to manage, though I miss having the older girls participate too.  They are just too busy, and the league changes as you get older.  Not enough teams to play, all the better players are off on travel teams, and my girls have never wanted to give that kind of time to softball.  They always had a hundred other things to do as well.  Now my challenge with them will be to insure that they make it to some of their sister’s games, since she has been to most of theirs involuntarily, when she was younger and needed to be with me.

I always played ball in the summer as I was growing up.  I loved the feel of the bat connecting solidly, then pounding to first base and beyond.  I played catcher whenever I could, because other than the pitcher they are the ones getting the most action in the game, and I liked being the pitcher’s partner.  My mom used to say I was almost born at a baseball field during one of my brother’s games.  I had always hoped my kids would get as much enjoyment out of it that I had.

So far we’ve only got the uniform, but practices start soon and we should get out and throw the ball some to get in shape.  Luckily the sun is shining and an afternoon stretches before us.  Now if I can just find my mitt…

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Filed under Day to Day, Family Relationships, Looking Back, Parenting, Traditions

Midnight Doorbell


In another era of my life, if the doorbell rang late at night it was because something bad had happened. A friend was in trouble, we were throwing a party that was too much noise, a neighbor needed help. Nothing good came to my door at midnight, or at least not often.

These days it’s just a girl who can’t be bothered to dig her keys out of her purse, so it’s a happy sound. Even if I have to roust myself out of a cocoon on the couch to go answer the door, I don’t mind.  It means that she is home safely and I can go to sleep soon.  Curfew met, a quick hug at the door, a minute to see how her evening went, and a bit of tranquility in the part of my mind that didn’t forget she was out on her own.

When the older girls are out together it’s a mixed feeling.  One one hand, I know they are there to look out for one another.  On the other hand, they are on the road in one car, and what happens to one happens to both.  When they tumble through the door together, laughing over some small thing, it’s an excellent sound that brings a secret smile to my lips.

I may not be actively thinking of them when they are out, but I certainly feel a release of tension when all my chicks are in the nest for the night.  The roost, like my heart, is full.

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Filed under Day to Day, Family Relationships, Parenting