Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Conversation With My Baby Boy

Reminiscing...five-and-a-half years ago, my baby boy was a Georgia Merit Scholar and a high school honor graduate with a year of college already under his belt.  

originally published in The Valdosta Daily Times January 2009

“How was VSU-town?” That was the first question for my younger son, a simultaneous high school senior and college freshman when he came home for lunch. He said the parking was good today as it usually is on Fridays. While I’m suspicious many are skipping class, my look-on-the-positive-side kid said students were probably heading home for the weekend.

He asked what I was up to, always catches me off guard when a young person shows interest in an older person’s activities, and I replied, “using my solar hair dryer.” It also catches me off guard when a younger person laughs at an older person. My son knew that meant sitting in a sunny window drying my hair, catching a few highlights compliments of Mother Nature.

I told him I was trying to think of something to write about.

This is my quiet kid, so imagine my surprise when he had a few suggestions for me. “Have you written about the economy?” It was my turn to laugh. I’m sorely lacking in knowledge to comment in depth on that topic. I gather our beleaguered outgoing president will long be accused of the same, but God bless him for all he did to prevent another terrorist attack on his watch.

“How about our ridiculously changing weather?”

Whoa! He spoke again.

This is a topic I can lend some 45-plus years observation.

Ridiculously changing weather is the staple of South Georgia “winters.” My husband and I were sitting on the back deck sunning on Christmas Day. A few short weeks later we were covering tender plants and running outside spigots at night.

A lot of folks blame the “ridiculously changing weather” for sickness, but I don’t budge on my opinion. Sicknesses are caused by bacteria and viruses, Ebolas and bubonics, but not the reading on the outdoor thermometer. South Georgians can count on at least one balmy week in February and that week gives me something to hang onto: spring will return. Winter’s not for me, but I didn’t get a say in the matter.

Enough about the weather.

My son asked if I’d written about “how Friday is the best day.” I have vague recollections of how Friday is the best day, but after years of being a work-at-home mom, Fridays are sometimes confused with Tuesdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Blessed child he is to still be in the stage of life where Fridays mean freedom from the constraints of a classroom.

I never tire of learning but found classrooms the mental equivalent of being hog-tied. For that matter, so was confinement to an office from 8 to 5. This dominant trait has appeared in another generation.

My younger son declared business as his major and my first reaction was ‘what?’ I kept it to myself, though, as I trust he’ll find his way sooner or later. Business was just a word to fill in a blank when he didn’t know the true answer. If this child was confined to a cubicle he’d be the one to photocopy his butt and throw things over the dividers before hanging himself in despair with the tie he hated wearing.

One free spirit recognizes another and the boy-turned-man I just referred to as a child in the last paragraph received a double dose of it from his parents. He went to college a year early not because he delights in school, quite the opposite. He wants to get out as soon as possible. He is jumping through the appropriate hoops solely in hopes doors won’t be slammed in his face in the future.

As I type he is building a Super Cub in the living room. I wonder where he will take wings and fly in life, perhaps as a cast member of MythBusters, a television show where explosions often accompany myth debunking. Maybe he’ll fly a real life Piper Cub, I don’t know.

I do know my boy won’t let this world tie him down because within him resides a “Friday-is-the-best-day” spirit.

Friday, November 28, 2014

To Believe or Not to Believe

Surely all my mother wanted was a nice Christmas picture of me.  I remember this evening like yesterday, exactly what I was thinking of this imposter to an imaginary character.  There were two strands of beads, one white, one purple, which went with this outfit--I couldn't get around wearing this uncomfortable dress, but I did refuse to wear the beads.  I am six years old here.
When my kids were growing up, we didn't go along with Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy and Easter bunny for that matter.  It wasn't a rigid legalistic belief which precipitated this parenting decision.  It was a conversation with my beloved Grannie.  

When a sibling told her there was no Santa Claus, she was hurt deeply, not so much at the revelation, but that her parents had "lied" to her, the word she used.  I perceived through her storytelling, Grannie always told true stories, the hurt she felt so many decades ago.  Grannie never suggested that I not participate in this type childhood wonder with my children and she occasionally made reference to "Sanny Claus."  It was her truth, though, plus the fact that I had always been a Santa skeptic.  

From my earliest memories, and I have memories of wearing high top shoes with bells on them, I had put it together that my daddy took us kids to visit our other grandmother at the same time Santa allegedly dropped by with his stash.  As a tot, I grilled my mother about how he got in the house because we had no fireplace, no chimney for him to shimmy down.  I was aware, even as a very young child, of the inequity of gifts different children received, some receiving none.  

As an adult, I valued truth, and with the memory of my Grannie's disappointment deeply embedded in my heart, I did not want to do anything to shake my children's faith in their parents.  I told them other children believed and it was not our place to dispute their belief.  I'm not hinting or advising that anyone do the same, just sharing a memory.  

It was, and sometimes still is, surprising to hear the strong opinions of those who disagreed with this facet of our parenting, but it's something I have no regrets about, and I have no issue with the majority on this matter.  I was and am capable of believing in the unseen, and along that vein, my children received three gifts each Christmas, the same number as Jesus, the real reason for the season, and The Truth Grannie shared with me.  That I believed!