Sunday, December 5, 2010

Eat, Pray, Bllll!

After many reccomendations, I am finally reading Eat, Pray, Love.  So many people have suggested I read it that it made me not want to.  Then it became a movie.  Ug.  I know it's bratty or snobby or something but I did not want to get on the band wagon.  It was the same thing with the Twilight series.  I just was not going to succumb.  But then I did.  And I love it!  So I promise, that next time a book is being raved about by critics, is invited to book clubs, and is being pushed by my friends I will read it. 

I love Elizabeth Gilbert's style and I am thrilled to see that she flip flops between tenses.  This is something I have always been told is a big no, no and that I stress over in my blogs.  The result is that I do it anyway but with out reason and it's sloppy.  I know that, for the most part, I am a rule follower but I don't think people realize how hard it is for me to do so.  Anyway, I may have to read her book again just to underline where she changes tense and to see exactly how she is getting away with it.  She must be following some sort of rule...  I am only in Italy and so I don't know how the rest of her journey goes but I love the way she relates and converses with God.  It's oh so familiar.

I found myself wishing I could take off to some far away country for some self-exploration as well. What a luxury!  Then again, I kind of am.  It's not all zen and "solitary man on the mountain" like her but I am far away from what is familiar.  I am not alone where I can hear my inner voice more clearly or have the quiet and stillness to recognize every ping of emotion.  I have a whole family in my travel pack.  So I sling them up on my back and we are grwoing and learning together.  Aren't we all?  Life (amazing life) is happening all around us.  Adventure is everywhere!  On this journey there are trials...

The latest in my family's adventure:
A few weeks back, the kids had a Veteran's Day performance at their school.  I was thrilled to see that Gabe was placed in the front row.  There would be no searching about for him with my camera.  The performance began.  All of the students began to sing.  Except Gabriel.  He stood there expressionless.  He did not look nervous or embarassed.  He just looked like he didn't care.  There were a few times where it looked like maybe he was trying to sing but it was evident he did not know the words.  While the kids danced, Gabriel was always a step behind.  (More then a step.  More like 5 steps.)  When the children had their backs to the audience, Gabe faced front.  When they faced front, Gabe's back was to the audience.  At one point he even fell off his riser.  If I'd seen some kind of effort I would have laughed at his lack of coordination but what I saw was a despondant little boy.  This is the boy who was Winthrop in The Music Man, the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.  It was very eye opening for me.  My son was sad.  I knew he missed Texas but this performance turned a spotlight onto a problem I had not focused on.

The Thanksgiving holiday blowed in full steam.  I worked hard to get the house ready for company and to plan the Gingerbread House Competition with my friend.  The whole family had a great time at both events.  Then it was back to work and school.  Aaron left for business in Canada and the boys and I set about getting back into routine.

There was a club starting called Destination Imagination.  It's like Odyssey of the Mind in Texas.  The kids are presented with problems and they solve them by building things, creating plays, etc.  It sounded right up Gabe's alley and so we stayed after school to check it out.  I thought this would be something he would enjoy and could make some friends at.  As the program was described, I could see his wheels slowly creek around.  There was another boy there and I encouraged Gabe to sit with him.  Maybe they could form a team.  The other boy looked over the sheet of challenges.  Gabriel picked up a Dr. Suess book. 

"So do you want to be challenged or take the 'Easy Street?'" Gabe asked without looking up from his book.

"Oh, we don't do 'easy,'"  the boy's mom answered for him.  (I tried not to roll my eyes...)

"Then it's decided."  Gabriel set his book down momentarily and pointed to one of the challenges on the sheet, "We'll do that one."

I was bothered again at his behavior.  Who is this kid?  I expected to see him bent over the sheet, head to head with this other kid, excitedly exploring the options.  Tears stung my eyes as I looked at this faded version of my boy.  We went home and started our homework, now later then usual due to the meeting.

"What do you have today?"

"Spelling, Math, and my book report."

"Oh!  Is that due tomorrow?"  I asked.

"No.  It was due today," he sheepishly answered.  I was shocked.  How did he miss this?  How did I?  Gabe has always been on top of his school work.  He can be disorganized and unfocused but his drive for perfectionism has always kept him on task.  Did I encourage him too much to allow himself to make mistakes?

I called Gabriel over to the couch.  He snuggled in close to me and I wrapped my arm around his shoulder. 

"What's going on Gabe?" 

He shrugged.

"Baby, I'm worried about you."

"I'm worried too," he said.  He looked up at me with teary eyes and red nose.  He went on to tell me that though he has friends, he is lonely.  He said he has two buddies at school but that they sometimes leave him out.  "They only talk to me when I ask them a question."  He said that kids won't play with him at recess.  He said that he has "flash backs" of Texas.

"How can I help, Baby?  What can I do to make it better?"

"Move us back to Texas.  It's the only thing I know that will make me happy again."

Gabriel has quietly endured his lonliness and homesickness.  He has not been like Drew who unleashes his frustration with fits or like me who cries in the deli over choosing cheese.  I interviewd Drew as well, who said that school is terrible, that he is failing ECAW and that no one plays with him at recess either.  I told both boys that they need to ask the other kids to play instead of waiting for them to ask them.  I also corrected Drew.  He is not failing ECAW or anything else.  He is doing excellent academically. 

I helped Gabriel with his book report and got him to bed.  Late.

The next morning I e-mailed the mom's of the two boys that Gabriel is friends with.  We arranged play dates for the weekend and another for the following week.  I also fired off some e-mails to their teachers asking them what they see happening at school.  Not knowing my kids, it would be hard for them to know what is odd behavior for them and what isn't but they see them more then I.  I e-mailed and called old friends too, asking them to send letters or drawings from their children to mine.  I just want them to not feel alone!

That evening Gabriel announced that he had a lot of homework again because he had not finished Because of Winn Dixie.   It was supposed to have been read and a tri-fold....thing...filled out on it, THREE WEEKS AGO!  He said his teacher gave him two more days to get it done.

"OK son, I know that you are sad.  I know that you don't want to be here but here is where we are.  We live here and you need to start living!  I have made some play dates for you with your buddies for this weekend and I'm going to make more but if you don't get your head back in the game at school I won't be able to let you do those things.  You can not let this affect your grades." 

He nodded his profuse understanding like a bobble head.  I checked my e-mail and found a response from his teacher.  She informed me of the unfinished work and that she had given him an extension.  She said that he daydreams a lot at school ("flash backs") and that he has little focus.  She was unaware of anything going on at recess but that she would keep an eye out and she also introduced him to another little boy who is new to Parmalee this year. Gabriel told me about the boy as well and said that they played at recess and had lunch together.  Drew announced that he asked a boy to play with him at recess too and that he had a good day at school.

I think the measures I've taken are going to help  Why did I wait so long?  Have I been so preoccupied with getting myself rooted that I completely missed how much this has been effecting my sons?  Gabriel especially.  Ech.  Disgusted with myself. 

This weekend we have the mission of finding our tree.  I am allergic to live trees so we have to have an artificial.  This totally bites.  Drew really wants to go and cut one down.  I suggested to Aaron that I could take allergy meds but he said he did not want me on drugs all Christmas long.

"I don't know..." I teased, "Mix in a little wine....could be fun!"  He didn't laugh.

So we set out as a family to find our tree.  Gabriel complained the whole way to the store that a tree is not necessary.

"We have my little tree.  We could just use that one."  (The kids have a little tree that they decorate with their cartoon character ornaments and colored lights.  Its sort of a night light for them over the holidays.)

"Nah buddy!  That's for your room.  We need a big tree for the family room."

"Mom, it's not the size that matters.  And that's a fact."  Oh how I laughed!!!  But the Boy was still annoyed with every bit of excess he came upon.  I texted Shalah that I was shopping for a tree with Charlie Brown.

"That boy is so serious," she responded.  "He probably doesn't even think farts are funny."

"I don't care who you are.  That's funny."  I answered.  But Gabe is serious and he began to point out everything wrong with the way people were celebrating.

"They sure have stocked up on the toys.  What is this Christmas song?  It sounds crazy."  (Note: it was the Trans Siberian Orchestra.  He did not like their untraiditional rendition of....something.)  "We don't need a tree to have Christmas."

I stopped in the aisle and pulled Gabe aside from the line of traffic.

"Buddy, I love your heart.  You are right.  A tree is not anything that we need.  We don't need it to have Christmas either and it's not about all of the toys or the carols but that's ok.  It's ok to have fun and do frivoulous things sometimes.  If you are going to do it at anytime of the year THIS is the time to do it!  We are celebrating Jesus and we like to have great birthday parties!  We decorate for our parties and we eat yummy treats and we sing songs and play games.  So for Jesus, in this season, we are going to party!"

Gabriel just looked at me sternly.  He didn't buy it.

Last night Aaron and I were supposed to go to a Christmas party for his company.  Some genius planned to have the event downtown, the same night that downtown Denver was having it's parade of lights.  After driving in mad house traffic and finding every road we needed to turn down blocked off for an hour and half, I finally told Aaron to turn the car home.

"I would've done it along time ago," he confessed, "but I wanted to get you out for some fun."  What a sweet heart!  Doesn't he know that I am having fun nearly every day with my new partner in crime?  Caren is in constant fear that I will be cut off from her.  So we try hard to make it look like we tend to our homes while running about enjoying one anothers company.  No, I don't have on fancy evening make-up, my hair is not fabulous, I'm not wearing heels or wearing a stunning dress but I am having fun!

Pissed, he whips the car around and as soon as we were in a break from cars, he floored it.  I am completely turned around and lost.  He is flying down the road, mad and hungry.  And then we see it.  The unmistakable lights of Casa Bonita.

"Oh my gah!"  Aaron practically vomitted the expression as the events of that night were recalled to him.  I burst into tears and laughter!  I couldn't help it!  It was so awful.  (Sorry again that I can't give the details.)  I felt awful for the parties involved but sometimes things are so wretched that all you can do is laugh. 

I laughed and laughed and laughed.  Aaron drove on stone faced.

"It was not funny."

"Oh it was, Baby!  It was!"  I recounted some of the highlights.  Aaron tried to stay stiff lipped (and he did really good) but I saw some smiles crack a few times.

"Baby, if you can't laugh about it what else can you do?"

We pulled into a restaurant and had a lovely dinner together.  As lovely as one can have with a brooding date. 

We went home and sent the babysitter home. I got the kids ready for bed.  They kept making this gross noise that would send them into fits of laughter.  I was tired and wanted them to wind down. 

"Guys, that's enough.  Bed time."

Bllll!  More laughter.

"Seriously.  It's late.  Let's settle down."

Bllll!  More laughter.  And now not just from them but from me too!  We kept giggling and making rude noises until Aaron came in and it was time to say our prayers.  Mid Drew's prayer, Gabriel started cracking up laughing.

"Son,"  Aaron said sternly, "We're praying.  Enough of that."

"Sorry, but I keep thinking about Drew making this fart sound and..."

"We're praying.  Enough."  So Drew continued but Gabriel couldn't help it and started laughing again.  Aaron lectured again about not acting silly during prayer time.  This however, caused me to start laughing!  As if God would be offended by hearing His dear ones bubbling over with joy!

"Dear,"  (That's what Aaron calls me when he's not happy with me.)  "Dear, do you want to get in trouble?"

Now we are all laughing, including Aaron.  We continued our prayers through fits and tears of laughter. 

This morning I woke up to the sound of my sons telling stories to each other in their bedroom.  There were more rude noises and more laughing.  Adventure.  Life.  Trials.  Lot's of fun!

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