Posts Tagged With: BoyGenius

almost 12

Last night I was far too deep inside the “book” I was reading (it was an e-book, I can’t deny that I use those) and was long past tired, so it wasn’t until close to 1:30 am that I finally closed the iPad and pushed the switch on my bedside lamp. It took me at least 20 minutes to doze off and drop into a solid sleep. Not so solid, however, that I didn’t immediately awaken when my almost 12 year old son appeared at the side of my bed. “Mama, I had a bad dream.” I glanced at the clock before I scooted over against the wall and held the covers up for him to climb in beside me: 3:17. After a few minutes spent watching him, I felt confident enough in his slumber to close my eyes, trying to drift off. He moved about a bit and then, “Mama, my head hurts.” I asked him if he wanted a pill or just an ice pack and he decided on both. I checked the time when I climbed over top of him and back into bed: 3:43. Once he was lying still for 15 minutes I climbed back out and took myself and my alarm across the hall to his empty bed. I lay awake a while; listening in case he needed me; unable to settle because I was worried about not getting enough sleep. 7 am came fairly quickly. HardWorker was already gone, I had some time before I needed to get BoyGenius up and into the shower, and tried to plot out just when in the day I would fit a couple of naps in. My Fitbit app advised me that I had managed only four hours and six minutes of actual sleep — nothing I could do to change that. It was going to be a long Monday.

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For a few weeks now, I’ve been getting hit with the realization that I am about to be the parent of a 12 year old. How did this happen? I didn’t really plan on this. I mean, I know that’s how it works, if you’re extremely lucky: your children grow up and you all grow older together. But seriously, my plan was to have a baby, maybe a toddler. A 12 year old? I never really thought that far ahead. He’s in grade 6. And the school year is more than half over. His birthday parties now consist of 3-4 friends, pizza, a movie, and some video games. To be fair, they’ve been like that for a few years already; he’s always seemed two to three years ahead of his chronological age. Not that we’ve rushed him, or anyone’s expected him to be more mature, or anything like that; he’s just always had this “presence” and common sense, logical thought process and a wicked quick sense of humour, an easy-going nature and a thoughtful need for fairness, all combined with a solid sense of uniqueness and self. While most of those character traits have stood BoyGenius in good stead over his 12 years, he has also had to put up with disparaging comments about his sensitivity, his choice of hairstyle or shoe colour, his apparent “know-it-all”-ness, his book and movie preferences.

I still look at him in wonder at least once a day. He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me worry, he makes me proud. There is still so much for him to learn, but there is sooooo much that he already knows. There are things he does that frustrate me, and there are things he does that make my heart swell with amazement at who he has already become in his 12 short years. And the thing is, the person that he has become, and that he still has to grow into, that person has been there since day one. That personality was already in place with the first wave of his hand and kick of his foot in utero; the good-natured-ness, the sense of humour — already there.

Sometimes I miss my baby. Sometimes I miss my toddler. Most times I know that the young man sprawled across our couch or searching for food 15 minutes after dinner is the same guy. When my almost 12 year old gets awakened by a bad dream and needs to snuggle with Mama I am absolutely sure.

I love you, Schnucki.

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Categories: family, love, memories, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

grade 6

this rascal is going into grade 6

this rascal is going into grade 6

A new school year starts tomorrow. BoyGenius is going into grade 6. The speed with which these kids grow up is almost surreal. Grade 6! I know we’ve done all the years, all the grades, but it still seems like there are a lot of holes — like we’ve skipped stuff. I know we haven’t; I know we live in different times, a different age than the one I grew up in, and as such BoyGenius’ childhood will be, must be different than the one I had. But does it have to go so fast? Did mine?

I think perhaps that when you are the child and you are living those years they aren’t as swift as when you are the parent. I certainly never felt like my childhood was slipping through my fingers; I remember something about every year, I think. I know that summers were long and hot and winters were long and snowy and school was something you went to every day and, for my part, anyway, enjoyed. I like to think that BoyGenius is having those same experiences, even if the events are different. He had two things he wanted to do this summer (neither of which happened): go to New York and go to Los Angeles. He went to summer camp and spent seemingly endless hours on his new gaming computer. We went to the beach a record low (for us) number of times but he was content with what he was doing. We did stuff, we just didn’t pack the weeks with outings. I’m the one feeling like we didn’t “accomplish” much, not him. He was happy. He is happy. HE IS HAPPY.

When I tucked him into bed tonight I asked him if there was any grade 6 “stuff” he needed me to tell him. He chuckled and said no. I asked him if he was excited for tomorrow. He chuckled again and said, “No, it’s school.” I asked if he was nervous, he laughed and said, “No, it’s school!” I said “Good.” I reminded him that he can talk to us about anything; if anything is unfair at school, or if there are any issues or problems with students or teachers, or anything at all he can come and tell me about it. He said, “Yes, I know.” All right, then. I kissed his newly shaved head (just the left side) and said good night. He seems happy.

This. This “no worries” attitude towards school starting. That’s all I need. That’s how I felt as a child: summer ends, school starts, no big whoop. He is happy. I am happy. HardWorker has a bit of anxiety (but that’s par for the course). In think we’re doing just fine.

Categories: memories, parenting | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

empty bed

BoyGenius is away at camp this week. Sleep-away camp, for the first time ever. I knew he would be fine, I knew I would be fine, and I knew HardWorker would be beside herself with anxiety and worry. (She was so beside herself that it was crowded here for a couple of days — she has since gotten better.)

I had no reason to believe that he would be homesick or feel out of his depth or anything at all like that. I know he’s having a blast (thanks to the modern miracles of INSTAGRAM and Twitter). Dropping him off on Sunday evening was fine for me, fine for him, and a huge deal for HardWorker. I had read her The Riot Act on Saturday and repeated it on Sunday morning: “You’re not going to say anything about him missing us (or the cat) or feeling homesick. You’re not going to tell him how bad you’re going to feel because he’s away. You are absolutely not going to suggest that if he feels like coming home all he has to do is text and you’ll come pick him up.” She thought maybe she shouldn’t come along to drop him off. Then realised that she’d probably do worse alone at home. It was hard work getting her to leave him at camp, let me tell you.

My mother asks everyday if there has been any word from BoyGenius. She asks every day if I miss him. I’m having a hard time convincing her that I don’t. That’s right. I don’t miss him. Like I said, I know he’s having fun, a fantastic childhood summer experience. I know he is secure enough in our love to just be able to enjoy himself. I am secure enough in both his love for me and my love for him to not miss him. He’ll be home tomorrow, for crying out loud. It’s not even a full week away. When I was 8 years old my brother BlueEyes (who was 12) and I went to Germany on our own. Sure, we had relatives meeting us and we were staying with them, but we flew across the Atlantic alone — and changed planes in one of the busiest airports in Europe. When we were only a few years older my parents put us on a cross-border Greyhound to visit friends in New Jersey for a week, and BlueEyes and I took the commuter train from Paramus into Manhattan almost every day — on our own. We went to see a show at Rockefeller Center, we went to the outside observation deck of the World Trade Center, we shopped in Times Square. Did my mother miss us those times we were away? She says she absolutely did, but I don’t think it stopped her from carrying on normally. We were responsible kids who were totally secure in and with our family units. I like to think I am raising my son the same way.

Do I miss him? Not in the way you might expect. Listen, when he’s been here this summer, he’s been in the basement most of the time. I’ve been able to build him a corner desk unit for his gaming computer — something I would not have been able to do had he been lounging around down there. I’ve done some laundry, baked a cake or two, been able to gloss over lunch and dinner since I didn’t have to worry about feeding him — so in other words, it’s been a pretty normal week for me. I am not feeling an empty space in my heart. I am not sad that he’s away, because I know that he’ll be home tomorrow. I am not worried about him because I know who he’s with and I know he’s having fun. So no, I don’t miss him.

I do notice his empty, nearly neatly made bed every time I walk by his room, though.

BoyGenius is totally asleep, on his stomach, with his left leg bent at the knee so his heel is touching his butt.

So instead of seeing this (yes, this IS how he often sleeps), I am only seeing the empty bed.

Categories: family, love, memories, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

trying all the things

When you’re a stay-at-home-parent, there are many fun things you get to do, including, but not limited to: dishes, laundry, picking up garbage, vacuuming, talking to the cat, and messing with telemarketers. I love all of these things. Okay, except for the picking up garbage part. And the vacuuming. I have done/do do (ha! I said do do!) all of these things. But realistically, one cannot fill one’s day with these things without going crazy (to say nothing of one’s soul).

So, I do other stuff. I write think of things to write, I take photographs, I bake. I read what other people have written (sometimes). I knit, crochet, tackle start various projects (both creative and household-fixative) and walk. I spent at least five years volunteering at BoyGenius’ school, for both regular programs and special events (I’ve even got my name on a plaque in the school trophy case). Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve begun to question just what it is that I’m doing with my life.

Sure, I’m raising what will hopefully be a fully cooked adult one day. Although I’m not really sure I’ve gotten to that stage yet and I’m pretty sure no one is raising me anymore. But what else am I doing? I can tell you what I’m not doing. I’m not saving the world. I’m not traveling the world. I’m not selling out shows in Vegas. I’m not winning the Master Chef competition. I’m not sleeping well. I’m not losing weight. I’m not experiencing more than 3 good-hair-days in a row. I’m not really getting any of the shit done that’s on any one of a myriad of to-do lists.

I’m trying. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing right and do more of it. I’m trying to eat better, even with two living, breathing obstacles in my way. I’m trying to get fitter, stronger (not to lose weight, per se, more to have something to do) — and as such I started walking after my knee surgery last year, I started working out with a personal trainer twice (sometimes only once) a week, and more recently I started seeing a massage therapist and taking yoga. [Let’s be clear … over the winter I didn’t walk much since it’s cold and icy, and I haven’t really gotten back into it yet … but I did recently get new shoes, so there’s that.] I tried taking a neighbourhood dog for walks every day (until her owners realized that even my ridiculously low rates were too much for them). I’m trying scrubbing the bathroom ceiling, because mould, y’all. I have spent a number of hours trying to rid my kitchen (and presumably my house) of carpenter ants. I’m trying getting paid for some of the time I spend at BoyGenius’ school (meet the new Lunch Supervisor). I tried having a best friend for a few years .. it worked out well, until all of a sudden it didn’t; I’m now trying to get used to not having one again. I’m trying to get out some … so yoga. And I also tried a “Paint Night” at my local pub — that was fun.

I’m not sure what else I can do … yes, yes, I can clean out my basement, I know. BoyGenius’ last day of Grade 5 is tomorrow and then I’ve got 2 months of limbo stretching in front of me. Here’s hoping I can figure some things out. And by the way, I’ve got LOTS to say about yoga.

Categories: friendship, parenting, Sleep, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

colours

Today started off normally enough: get up, see that HardWorker has already left, BoyGenius is on the couch watching youtube videos, put the kettle on, take the snack bag out of the backpack, put bread in the toaster; get BoyGenius off the couch and into the shower, make him wash his hair while showing me how he does it (because although he goes through about 1/4 of a bottle of shampoo every shower, I’m pretty sure the suds never actually touch his scalp), make him do it again, go back downstairs to make tea and butter/peanut butter/jam my toast. You know, just a normal day.

My son is out the door, my toast is eaten, I’m enjoying my tea, wondering why I’m watching PacMan or Slugterra or whatever happens to be on my television screen. I see a facebook entry from one of my favourite internet storytellers/artists, Brian Andreas. I dissolve into a puddle — right there on my loveseat. I share it to my own timeline, all the while still sobbing. My day dissolves right along with me.

Last Time by Brian Andreas. Find him on facebook or at http://www.storypeople.com/

Last Time by Brian Andreas. Find him on facebook or at http://www.storypeople.com/

So now it’s 2 pm, my son has been home for lunch and gone back to school, I’ve done some laundry, had lunch (did I? — I think so), took a book back to the library, done some banking, some non-purchasing shopping, and cried. A number of times. Over and over. That facebook entry really did a number on me, and got me to thinking.

When my brother BlueEyes died in 1993 I lost a lot of colour from my life. Sure, when BoyGenius was born in 2004 I got plenty of colour back, but while there may be more than a little overlap that happens, the colours are entirely different.

My brothers were in charge of a few things while I was growing up — nothing like scheduled chores or stuff like that, but still. SkinnyGuy was in charge of paper routes and saving money and grass cutting and our television & music education and snow shovelling. He was the oldest, so all of these things made sense. BlueEyes was in charge of piano lessons and baking and making our mom feel special and a different kind of music education and taking care of me. That’s kind of what it felt like. It’s hard to explain. We never really fought, except maybe over whose turn it was to help with the dishes. We were all just there.

We got older; one by one we went off to university. We all ended up in the same city, doing various jobs over the years. We still did things together and while they both dropped some “chores” off of their lists or swapped some out, they were essentially still in charge of the same things, at least the ones that really mattered: saving money, television & music, making our mom feel special and taking care of me.

While SkinnyGuy, even in the midst of all the music, was a numbers and words kind of guy, BlueEyes was all about colour. The colours of music, the colours of feelings, the colours of travel, the colours of wool sweaters. He was in charge of all of the colours: spices from the far corners of the earth, the lighted dance floor at our favourite club, the blue of the sky at 30,000 feet, the swarm of tropical fish when you snorkel with soda crackers, Ikea duvet covers, the various shades of his eyes depending on which contacts he put in that day, argyle socks and sweaters, cherry blossoms in Washington, silk scarves from the Orient, Easter baskets from Germany, red wine from France. If you were with him you saw and felt colours everywhere. And if you couldn’t be with him he brought the colours to you. And they were actually brighter because of his smile and his sparkling eyes; his joy and excitement at being able to share these colours with you made them reach new levels of saturation.

And then he died and everything was transformed to gray scale. Oh, I still saw colour, I could still appreciate the nuances of tint and hue, but it was all muted. The bigger picture, the feelings of colour, changed to gray. Or taupe.

Eleven years later colour re-entered my life. BoyGenius came along and brought red hair and play-doh and fluorescent shoes with him. He’s managed to take over being in charge of a few things himself over his eleven + years, and while his experience with the feelings of colour still has decades to grow, I think he’ll manage just fine. So far he’s been in charge of the colours of socks and shoes, showing us that “matching” doesn’t necessarily mean exactly the same. He’s now my go-to for argyle socks, and I think his uncle would be on board with that. He’s been in charge of our wall paint choices and it’s worked out okay so far. He’s aware that the bright yellow of a bouquet of dandelions picked on his way home from school will not only brighten my day but also warm my heart. He loves the blue of the sky at 30,000 feet and how the moon can change from orange to yellow to white all in one night. He’s starting to feel the colour of the vastness of the Milky Way and I already know he feels the colour of loss when a good friend dies. BoyGenius has the bright smile and sparkling eyes that shine exponentially more powerfully when he is excited to share some newly discovered nugget of information or shiny new object; the same ones BlueEyes had.

I am grateful for my new champion of colour. I want to teach him the feeling of colour and how easy it will be for him to share all the colours. He’s definitely capable; he’s got the foundation. I hope I’m up to the teaching part.

Every day, though, every day I miss my original champion of colour. And sometimes it’s too hard to stay upbeat for the new guy on the job. Sometimes someone smiles a certain way or a song comes on the radio or you see an old photo or a new post on facebook and all of a sudden you realise that you’re at home alone and no matter how many games of Words With Friends you’ve got going on there is no one here to hold you while you cry and all the colours melt together and you’re once again left with gray. Or taupe.

Categories: family, loss, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

finally!

So here I am, one full week into being 50 years old. Is there any difference to how I felt a week ago? Two weeks ago? A year ago? Ten years ago? Honestly, nope. I know people make a big deal out of these “round” numbered birthdays, some of them having anxiety at leaving yet another decade behind. Not me. I’m 50. #finallyfifity #fiftyisfine #fiftyisfabulous

I feel great, just as I have felt great for the last fifty years. Sure, I have grey hair, but I’ve had that for at least twenty years already. So what? I’m a blonde (albeit dark blonde, so there’s that) so all I do about the grey is get golden highlights added to the silver. That’s actually what I say when I call or text my hairdresser: “I need more gold!” I also have some wrinkles, but you know, I also smile a lot, and those are the ones I have … around my eyes and my mouth. So what? Truth is, if I lost about fifty pounds  I’d probably have a lot more wrinkles —- everywhere! Let’s not jinx anything, but I’m having far fewer migraines than I’ve had in a long time and maybe that’s down to hormonal changes — a benefit of getting older. I have a loving and hardworking partner, a crazy cat and a perfect son. I have an amazing mother and a smart, supportive older brother. Sure, I’ve lost some people and I miss them terribly but I challenge you to find someone who’s been around for fifty years who hasn’t lost anyone. Don’t misunderstand me, it sucks. All the time. But that’s just one part of my life.

Days and weeks fly by like nobody’s business and BoyGenius keeps growing in leaps and bounds, physically, emotionally, intellectually and psychically. I walk my neighbours’ dog, I do laundry, I cook and bake, I work out with a personal trainer two times a week, I’m reading a bit more again, I try to stay involved in the school community and I think a lot. I write in my head (some people call it thinking). I have great ideas for posts, for articles, for letters of complaint or celebration, for poetry (rhyming and otherwise), for artwork. Very little of these come to fruition, not in small part due to the fact that I have these great ideas in the shower or in bed just before falling asleep, or at the grocery store. Those same ideas are really hard to remember — especially now that I’m 50! (JK, LOL) I have a son who keeps me young by forcing me to watch really bad cartoons. In turn, I force him to watch movies and shows that I like .. kind of backfires because he likes most of the same things I do. I have to keep up on video games and their platforms, anime cartoons and graphic novels. I’m busy, I’m healthy and my 10 year old keeps me young.

I had a party for my 50th birthday (while HardWorker tired to keep hers completely secret) but it wasn’t anything big. I just wanted any friends who were able to come have a drink with me at my local pub. My mother wasn’t sure that it was an acceptable form of celebration (she wanted a big bash and had a fancy dress to show off) but by the end she realised it was a good party. My family was there, of course (mom, HardWorker and BoyGenius), my cousin’s son and his friend were here from Germany, my brother and girlfriend came out on the train after work, local friends were there, high-school friends were there, work friends were there. I felt honoured and blessed. One friend who used to work with me drove three hours to have a drink and a visit with me, then drove three hours back home. I hadn’t seen her in almost 10 years. It was magical.

So I’m telling you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being 50! One of the best things is that I can actually do Molly Shannon’s Sally O’Malley bit without having to fake it. I’m 50! Like Talk Talk said way back in the ’80s: life’s what you make it, can’t escape it …. life’s what you make it, don’t back-date it.

And since music and lyrics play such a large part in my everyday life, even when I don’t want them to, I’m going to leave you with these other words of wisdom from one of my favourite movies (Serendiptiy) as offered by Chantal Kreviazuk: This year is going to be incredible!

Enjoy every year you get.

Categories: family, friendship, music, parenting, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

new year

As the new school year fast approaches (tomorrow!!) I see all sorts of “advice” or “rules” posts and articles that people have written for their children. Some are gender specific, some are grade specific, some are neither. Mine is BoyGenius specific. You might find some nuggets of wisdom in it, you might not.

My dear son, as you start this next chapter in your academic life as you head into grade 5 (seriously!??!) there are some things I want to tell you; some things you need to know. Guess what —- they are not much different than the things I told you at the start of last year, or even throughout grade 4, or 3. Take them to heart, or at least try to remember little snippets of them now and again:

  • don’t be afraid to be smart; don’t be afraid to let your smarts show
  • be respectful of others; friends, teachers, administrators, coaches
  • have fun — in the classroom, on the playground, at lunch
  • don’t let your smarts or the silliness and fun get in the way of learning
  • try not to be too frustrated when you realize that others don’t know the things you do or don’t think the way you do
  • don’t be rude
  • try to keep focused on the task at hand — if you can’t, then try to figure out why and if there is something you can do to make it better; if you need help with your focus, don’t be afraid to ask
  • stay true to yourself; you are a sweet sensitive boy with a fantastic understanding of “fairness” — please don’t give that up, as hard and as heartbreaking as it may seem to hold onto
  • come to me; remember that you can tell me anything and I won’t ever love you any less
  • if something is keeping you from learning and/or doing your best let your teacher know; if it’s the teacher, let the Mama know; marks and grades are far less important to me than you might think — you learning and loving it much more so
  • eat all of your lunch
  • write as neatly as you can
  • if you are bored please tell someone other than your friends, like me or Mommy or your teacher
  • you have every right to question anything you are being taught; please just remember to be polite and respectful when you do so, especially if pointing out mistakes or misinformation to your teacher
  • remember, Mama welcomes the dreaded “note home” from the teacher so never let that scare you
  • you and I together, kiddo, are a force worth reckoning with; I will advocate for you until the cows come home — maybe even after that — probably, yeah
  • practice your times table
  • if something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away; don’t let people suck you into doing stupid things — we’ve talked about this, remember? (Mike Hunt is not a real person. My apologies to all of the real Mike Hunts out there.)
  • keep climbing trees
  • I love you, so does Mommy
keep climbing, baby!

keep climbing, baby!

Wow, that turned out to be a long list, a lot of advice. Like I said, at least try to remember snippets of it here and there. Sure, it’s all important, but if you have this list then you don’t need to memorize it. Neither do I.

(I reserve the right to modify, expand or shrink this list at any time now or in the future, in perpetuity and forever, to infinity and beyond.)

Categories: family, parenting, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

love, and circles

I wrote this in December 2013. For some reason I never published it. Maybe I thought it wasn’t finished. Maybe I just forgot. Maybe Christmas happened and who knows what else. I read it today, and I liked it. Just the way it is. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got circles of friendship on my mind.

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I am sick. It started with a feeling of just not being well, that achyness that comes with a fever. BoyGenius has had a cough for over a week already, but we had managed to avoid the stomach bug that had hit our and other area schools very heavily in the last three weeks, so I felt lucky to only be getting a cold. Ha! Within 12 hours I had such a cough that I was sure I had dislocated at least 6 ribs. Then the coughing sent my stomach into spasms and I was throwing up 2-3 times a day. BoyGenius’ cough became a bit more prevalent, then his whole thing morphed into more of a standard runny-nosed cold.

This journey began on Wednesday evening for me and I think today is Saturday. This afternoon I started having sneezing fits, dizziness, and excess tension in my jaw. But hey, my ribs are much better!

I don’t mind the whole cold/virus thing. Really. I drug myself up, use the neti pot and the peppermint oil, drink plenty of fluids, nap, watch movies with the boy and wait it out. Usually. But it’s, what, 4 days ’til Christmas? I was going to head up north to bring my mother down to our house on Thursday. Then Friday. Hasn’t happened yet. Cleaning the house in anticipation of her arrival hasn’t been finished yet, either. Oops.

There has been much couch-laying. There has been very little cooking. There has been even less cleaning. There has, however, been time to peruse e-mail and facebook. There have been lovely posts and messages from friends far and wide, new and old. There has been love, and there have been circles.

Circles? Yeah, circles. You know, people used the term “circle of friends” long before those Mexican folk-art candle holders became popular. Way back before they had “networks” they navigated. Circles are cool. I have many different circles of friends. Some of them are old (and even broken) like Stonehenge. Some are like satellites orbiting around a centre. Some are unexplained like crop circles. Some overlap in areas like venn diagrams. Some are loops, hoops or bangles, linked like chains or singular like in carnival ring-toss games.

Whatever they look like, you know what these circles do? They link us together. They carry us — our similarities, our differences, our likes and our dislikes, and most importantly, our feelings — so that we can share our lives, our loves and our hardships with one another. They let love spread out like ripples (hey, those are circles, too) and when my ripple circles meet your ripple circles they intermingle and can even send brand new ripples even further out.

Categories: family, friendship, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

let sleeping boys lie

.. to sleep, perchance ...

.. to sleep, perchance …

HardWorker comes down from putting BoyGenius to bed with a fearful look in her eyes. “He wants you to go up. He says his stomach hurts and he feels like he might throw up.”

I go up, give him a small glass of ginger ale and a Gravol and ask him if it just feels queasy. He says yes. I lay down beside him and he curls up on his side and closes his eyes. I remind him to breathe evenly, to not try too hard to take deep breaths. He nods, eyes still closed. Pretty soon he starts the little involuntary twitches that let me know he’s very close to deep sleep. I caress his brow and when my hand comes back damp, I know for sure. (His temperature rises by what seems like 10 degrees within seconds of his falling asleep; has done so since he was a baby.)

I wait a couple of minutes more, until I see him, his eyes still closed*, breathing in that “I’m asleep” pattern that a parent learns to recognize, pull the duvet down, pull his legs out from under it, stretch first one leg up into the air then the other to tug his pyjama pants back into place, then cross his right leg over the left at the knee, but finding no purchase give up on that subconscious attempt and roll over facing away from me.

I come back downstairs and HardWorker nervously asks, “How is he?”

“Asleep,” I answer while she shakes her head in awe of the power of the Mama.

*On occasion BoyGenius will sleep with his eyes somewhat open. Just a little slit at the bottom of his lids, but still. It freaks me out every time. When my brother was deathly ill his eyes could no longer close all the way when he slept and that freaked me out, too. It’s a very weird feeling when someone who is in a deep sleep is looking at you.

Categories: family, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

my friend Gord

When my son was three years old, he attended a little “pre-school” learning programme offered by our town’s recreation department. It was, and still is, aptly titled “Ready, Set, School!” and is held at our local community centre. Our neighbourhood’s community centre shares space with our neighbourhood school. Children from every area of our town sign up for this particular programme; it’s very popular and we were lucky to get space. The great thing for those of us who live “in area” is that not only are our kids getting ready for school but they are getting accustomed to the very surroundings they will be spending the next 10 years of their lives in. It’s fantastic.

One day, when HardWorker and I were both attending a special Mothers’ Day Tea that is held in May, the pre-schoolers were “interrupted” by a visit from the school custodian. He was a familiar enough face to the kids, as he would come in once in awhile to check on the a/c or clean up a spill in the shared space. I guess some of the moms that were attending this special tea had a questioning look on their faces (something in the way of “who is this strange man who just walks in?”) because one of the teachers had just begun to introduce him to the parents when BoyGenius jumped up from the table, ran over and enveloped this man’s legs in a huge bear hug, very loudly proclaiming, “I love you, Mr. Gord!” The man smiled, looked at us to see if we were okay and seeing that we were, hugged back and said, “I love you, too, BG.”

That was the moment this man became my friend Gord. He saw 350+ children every day, and had for more than 20 years. He saw these pre-schoolers maybe once a week. He knew my son’s name.

As it turned out, Gord and HardWorker had met that previous winter, both taking the same night course offered by a local college. He spoke with us at length that day, wanting to be sure we were okay with him hugging our son, concerned that in this day and age one had to be so careful with showing affection. Aware that many parents wouldn’t like to hear him say he loved their child. He did, though. He loved them all. Every.Single.One.

Over the next 6 years, Gord would often recall that day and he would always tell me, “I’m sorry, but if those kids tell me they love me, I’m going to tell them right back,” or “I know you have to be so careful, but I’m not going to deny any child a hug.”

When BoyGenius started Junior Kindergarten he was very happy that he would get to see Mr. Gord every day. By Senior Kindergarten he started calling Mr. M by his ‘real’ name. In Kindergarten my son decided he wanted to have long hair. By SK his hair was halfway down his back and Gord often asked that BG keep him in mind when he decided to cut it, as Gord’s own hair was thinning. BoyGenius just smiled, never committing. He did cut it, the summer before Grade One. Gord asked him once what had happened to the hair they cut off? Wasn’t BG supposed to save it for him? BoyGenius just smiled. Gord smiled back. By Grade Two, BoyGenius had decided he would grow his hair long again. Gord was happy, mentioning only once or twice a year that he hoped BG would remember him if he ever cut it again. Once, in Grade Three, when a totally follically-challenged colleague of HardWorker’s asked BoyGenius the same thing, if he would give him his hair when he cut it, BoyGenius very quickly answered, “No, I already have a deal with someone else.” When I told Gord about this, he was over the moon and smiled for about a week; told me again how much he loved my son.

Gord told me more than once that even though he would be retired by then, he would be coming back to the school to see BoyGenius graduate. And if you knew Gord at all, you know that he would have been there. No doubt about it.

When Gord first got sick he underwent all the necessary treatments and couldn’t wait to get back to work. He did it. He came back. He needed to. Gord was worried that if he wasn’t able to come back to school/work as soon as he wanted, depression would begin to take hold. It wasn’t so much the fact that he had cancer that might set it off, but the fact that he wasn’t able to do the things that gave him joy. That he couldn’t be fully “there” for his family, his friends, his job, his school, his co-workers, his students. I’m sure there were dark moments still, but Gord felt better being able to come back to work. When the cancer launched another attack on his body, Gord remained upbeat, telling anyone who cared to ask that although he was having a set-back, or there was some new, strange, niggling symptom that cropped up just to irritate him, he was going to beat this disease. He certainly tried. When I last saw him in July, he told me, “Yes, another two or three chemo treatments and then I’ll have time to strengthen up.” He was weak, and tired. He smiled, I smiled. BoyGenius and I both took his hand. Gord and I both cried a bit.

Gord was a man who loved his family, his friends, his co-workers, his job, his school, his students. He often spoke of his wife and sons, told us how proud he was to have such a great family. To the end of his life he praised his wife, told me (and others, I’m sure) of how wonderful she was. He was so happy to have gained a granddaughter when one of his sons started seeing a woman with a little girl. He was nervous, he told me, so hopeful that their relationship would work out because he already loved this child. Gord was a hard-worker, proud of our school, proud of the staff and students, proud of his profession; he was a great advocate for his fellow union members; he was so appreciative and spoke highly of those who worked with him. If something needed tending to at the school, Gord would take care of it. If you had any questions about where something was located, Gord knew the answer. If you needed an extra person to volunteer to receive a whipped-cream pie in the face at our annual Fun Fair fundraiser, Gord was your man. If any of the kids needed a little steering in the right direction after taking a wrong turn, Gord would be happy to find jobs for them to do, a little something to divert them, as it were. This man had a smile, a hug, a laugh, AND TIME for everyone; he had a sparkle in his eyes and love and joy in his heart. This man also suffered from depression and anxiety. He didn’t hide it. He wasn’t too proud to let people know. Our world would be a much better place if all men took heed and strived to be the kind of man that Gord was.

The last two days, BoyGenius has been having trouble with his shoes being missing when he goes into school in the morning. He’s been finding them in the lost and found. Apparently the janitor is just sweeping them up from under his hook. I suggested he put them on the shelf above his hook. He says “but everybody’s shoes are under their hook. It’s just mine that end up in the lost and found.” I smiled a little to myself when he said this but I thought, no, I’m not going to say what I’m thinking. Then BoyGenius says, “Maybe it’s Mr. M’s ghost!” followed a couple of minutes later by, “I don’t know why he would be haunting me.”

I smiled and chuckled. “Because he loves you.”

I miss you. And I love you, Mr. Gord.

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