Archive for October, 2010

Leaf Peaking and Leftover Laughter

October 20, 2010

Leaf Peaking and Leftover Laughter

           I’m in Massachusetts, visiting a friend and relatives at just the right time of year for “leaf peaking,” or is it “leaf peeking?” Autumn comes to Munds Park, but not in the dramatic fashion it does on the east coast. Even looking out the window of my friend’s study, I’m amazed by the vibrant red of the oak tree’s leaves.

          I’m staying on the south coast of Massachusetts. I traveled up the highway to Boston and was treated to quite a show of fall-colored leaves. We traveled down to Connecticut and saw another bouquet of gold, yellow, green, brown, red, and orange. 

          Yesterday we went to the beach. I took a long walk along the shore line, on packed sand that was easy to navigate. The sea foam left on the sand looked like leftover laughter to me. Leftover laughter is when you laugh and laugh at something, and then a few minutes later, you laugh again. The sea foam reminded me that I need to laugh more often.

          I aimed my smartphone to snap pictures of the sandpapers and seagulls at the water’s edge, but they did not comply. As I drew closer, they went that a little further ahead of me so they were too small to be seen well in a photo. It reminded me of trying to make other people follow the goals I want for them. Why don’t I learn that’s useless and they have to achieve their goals their way?

Boundaries with Adult Children

October 9, 2010

Boundaries with Adult Children

     I hate to nag. I hate being a “helicopter parent,” hovering over my adult child. But I’m a Jewish mother, and these patterns are hard to change.

     People say I need to establish boundaries. I think my son needs to establish boundaries with me. He doesn’t invade my privacy. He doesn’t give me unwanted advice. He keeps my house neat and clean. He does call me too often and always wants to know my whereabouts. When I move back to the Valley for the winter, this is going to change as I assert my independence. Do I allow him to asset his independence?

     I know what’s best for him. I can see the big picture. I know what his priorities should. The problem is it does no good for me to dictate these things. I know he needs to discover them for himself and make his own plan of action but I could save him so much time and effort!  And I’m footing the bill for the food, health insurance, gas, car, cell phone, etc.

     It is really hard to let go with an adult child who has made bad decisions in the past. I have lots of friends who are dealing with the same issue. I’m lucky that my son has been sober for two years. Others are dealing with children with addictions, children with mental illness, children in bad marriages, and children with bad financial habits.

     It’s not like this didn’t happen in my generation. My brother did move back in with my parents after college, and brought with him his girlfriend and a friend. They stayed with my parents, after graduating with honors from Cornell, and smoked pot all day. My mother was working full time and now had a houseful of guests for whom to provide. After a few months, she’d had enough. At dinner one night, she announced that everyone would have to take turns making meals and cleaning the house. My brother looked at my father, a macho man who considered himself a feminist although he never lifted a finger around the house. My brother said, “We will take our turns if Dad does, too.” And so the Women’s Liberation Movement was born in my family. Everyone shared the work. My father learned to vacuum, dust, wash pots and pans, do the laundry, and put the dishes in the dishwasher. He never did learn to cook. My parents did not require my brother et al to work or oay room and board. After another few months, my brother and his girlfriend moved to California and his friend stayed on and worked in my father’s store.

            I’ll be struggling this winter with how to let my son find his own way. I was able to escape to Munds Park during the summer and make believe I wasn’t yanking his strings. I’m already totally stressed out and I’m not even living with him yet. But I am determined not to nag.

Those Kindergartners are So Cute

October 7, 2010

Those Kindergartners are So Cute

     I substituted in Ms. Hunsaker’s kindergarten class at Sevilla Primary School yesterday. I loved it! Although I have never met Ms. Hunsaker, I could tell a lot about her by the state of her classroom, her lesson plans, and her students.

     Her classroom was organized. It was decorated in a lively fashion but wasn’t frenetic. Giant letters of the alphabet were the focal point of her displays. Students’ table groups were organized by color. Each student had a cup with crayons, a kindergarten pencil, a glue stick, and a scissors. “Sign in” sheets with the student’s name were on each desk before I arrived. Students practiced writing their names while I took attendance.

     Her lesson plans were on her desk, detailed, and user friendly. User friendly for a teacher, anyway. The materials for the day were stacked on her desk and the pages in the teacher’s manual were marked.

     The students were well trained in procedures. They walked quietly in the hallway, put away their backpacks, put their homework folders in the correct bin, took their chairs down and immediately began “signing in.” If I had any questions about where materials were, or procedures, I just had to ask a student.

     Her capable assistant came in and worked four hours. We did small group work, with each of us taking a group. I felt I made a difference in assisting the students to learn how to write “q” and “y.”

     Just when I think that education is unrecognizable from when I taught, I have a day like this. Great teacher, great aide, great assistant. Even the talk in the faculty lunch room was positive. I’m ready to go again.

Patience is a Virtue I Don’t Have

October 1, 2010

Patience is a Virtue I Don’t Have

     Patience is a virtue I don’t have. I want immediate results for things that take time.

     I want my youngest son to have a job. He is working on it but hasn’t been hired.

    I sent off the manuscript of my novel to two agents and an editor. I won’t hear from the agents for weeks and the editor for months. That makes me crazy.

     I want the pounds to melt away in five pound increments if I’m sticking to my diet.

     I want guys I date to call right away so I don’t have to wait around wondering if it’s already over.

     Today I’m not in a grateful mood but I do need to reflect on what’s going right. My sons and their families are healthy and reasonably happy. On Tuesday we’re celebrating my youngest son’s two year sobriety anniversary. My oldest son and his wife are pregnant and doing well. I have friends for life that I can call on when I need them and they know they can count on me. I have a house in the mountains and the flexibility to get away from Phoenix’s oppressive heat. I enjoy my part time jobs. I give back to my community by serving on the Grand Canyon Readers Award committee.

    Already my headache is going away. Gratitude works.