Monday, October 19, 2009

Daniel Makes Me Smile


There’s nothing as unattractive as a six year old refusing to comply with a reasonable request, screaming, “I don’t want to go to school!” and not getting out of bed. I'd ended up dressing her and carrying her out of the van up to the schoolhouse door, the sweet art teacher taking over for me. I was clearly out of patience.

It was a rough morning overall, exhausted teens who had too much fun over the weekend at their church retreat. Paloma went to bed yesterday mid-afternoon and slept until seven this morning, thirty minutes too late, as the bus is here by 7:30.

“Man, I cried there,” JoJo informed me over a nighttime snack of baked apples, heavy on the cinnamon.

“Why?” I asked a 12 year old boy who is totally out of touch with his feelings.

“I dunno,” was his honest answer.

My predictable know-it-all response followed, “Think it was God’s conviction on your heart?”

“Probably,” he warily answered, sure he was fixing to receive a lecture.

I couldn’t let it go at that. “JoJo," I paused for effect that was wasted on him, " Likely it was regret over your negative actions and the one thing I want for you, is for you to never wake up in a jail cell regretting that you allowed your anger to control you.”

He thought about it, chewing his apples and the pumpkin seeds we’d also baked in the oven, “Guess you’re right,” he conceded.

If only. If only that’d be it, lesson learned, behavior changes to follow, but I ain’t stupid, this is not my first cattle drive y'all, hardly even hopeful anymore, but able to emotionally distance myself when needed finally, to not engage in some of the pointless arguments, nor to respond to the blatantly oppositional behaviors that precariously spike my blood pressure.

It’s only Day Four of his ten day suspension. Grounded to a grown-up, stuck with me, sucks to be him, but oh well. He can hardly keep up with my driven determination each day to get it all done.

Still reading Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, a woman who majored in English and Biology, giving her both the scientific knowledge plus the gift of writing beautifully, she’s only Sarah's age, and writes about her parents. Hippies in the Back to the Land Movement that swayed my own heart in 1972, she describes her father as now nearly feral, unwilling to leave the woods, a hunter/gatherer, simplistic, yet happy.

Oh, how that appeals to me.

A life with little mundane paperwork and less strife. No conflicts from oppositional people, grown kids who made their own beds and can lay in them now without me having to parentally correct their behaviors. Many will blame me forever for what their birth parents did to them, kids who only lived with me for their very brief teen years, like they weren’t emotionally damaged years before? My sons are so much less likely to do this, as they just plod through life, non-introspective at best.

Like a turtle, retreating into a hard shell, I’m emboldened by my dear friend, Linda, describing her 82 year old aunt in a recent email, a happy, mismatched, hard-working, spry old lady who scrounges what she needs, yet owns two homes having parlayed her thrifty ways into a real estate bonanza. I so admire that.

I’d recently explained to JoJo how the rich get richer, letting their money work for them versus working for their money, earning interest instead of paying interest for stuff that disintegrates and doesn’t even bring happiness anyway. Using scratch paper from the recycle bin, I showed him how not buying cigarettes, sodas nor beer adds up each month, apply that saved money to a real estate principle payment, eliminating that month’s interest, there are so many wonderful books on personal finance, heck start here if you’re interested.

Life could be so easy if folks wouldn’t self-sabotage themselves. Why do they do that? Spend money they don’t have, eat food that leads to dangerous health issues, and make choices are so obviously self-destructive.

I don’t get it.

Am I too simple minded for this dumb ole world?

Believing in a God I can’t see? Blissfully digging in the dirt? Happy with second-hand clothes and a stack of used books to read? So what?

Aware of my own short-comings, living without perfection that I can’t achieve anyway, non-artistic nor athletic, I once bought into the theory that my love and care for my children would enable them to overcome their early childhood traumas, yet I'm still shocked that I’m such an easy target for their rages and anger. I wish they’d find their birth moms and talk to them about what happened before they met me. All my efforts feel so futile at times, as if I’m a big dumb sucker who stepped in for the backstabbing, viciousness that still blows me away.

That’s likely why I cling so much to those who have responded appropriately. Is it a boy thing? An intelligence factor that leads to success? Look at Danel, smart and loving, there's nothing better for me than to sit at a football game with him, my ignorant-to-the nuances-of-football eyes on CW and Chuy, no emotional pressure, just a simple fun afternoon each time. That's what I like. Or I'll call Jesse and talk to him 'bout Isaiah. Or IM him.

Daniel, happy this weekend in Nashville since UGA won, always makes me smile.