Tag Archives: kids

Papasan Play

When I was young and in college I always wanted a papasan chair.  I loved its casual, comfy look.  The wicker evokes a beach like atmosphere, while the big round cushion entices me to curl up in it to relish reading a good book.  I could never afford the chair while in college and later when I had the money, I didn’t have the space, considering its unusual shape.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s and found myself moving to a new town that I had both the money and the space to purchase the papasan chair.  My husband had just died, leaving me with three young children to raise with the help of his life insurance.  The money from that afforded us a larger home where we could have more things to help us overcome the fact that we were without the large personality and magnetic presence of “Daddy!

I placed the papasan chair in the family room.  A rock fireplace grounded one corner, while the television on one wall and computer desk in another corner contributed to make this the most popular area of the house.  More than ample space in the room’s center beckoned the kids to spread out toys and play to their hearts’ content while I flitted about nearby like a fly on the wall.

The kids were between the ages of three to seven at that time.  The ages when their imaginations overflowed with possibilities, going into overdrive as their make-believe worlds came alive.  I can remember curling up in the papasan chair with a book and enjoying their playtime talk tinkling like music in the background.

One day while cleaning in another room, I could hear the children’s giggles, their voices brimming with energetic excitement.  It was contagious and captured my curiosity enough for me to stop working in order to investigate.  I entered the room to find the round frame of the papasan chair removed from its pedestal and placed in the center of the carpet.  All three children were inside the chair.  The oldest boy, Trent, grasped the wicker side controlling the rocking motion to make it mimic a ship riding large ocean waves.  The youngest boy, Chance, was on the other side with a paper pirate’s hat on his head, using one toy sword as a paddle and the other as a brandishing weapon held high in the air.  Tara, my girl and middle child, literally sat in the middle of the ‘boat’ as the Captain directing its occupants away from the sharks and alligators infesting the rough waters surrounding them.  I laughed at their creative imaginations in action.

The kids heard the noise and turned toward me with gleeful eyes, “Hey Mommy!  We’re in a ship!”  Tara greeted me in her light, high-pitched little girl’s voice.  Chance, who always had to have his say, attempted to imitate a pirate, “Ahoy Matey! Arrrgghhhh!”  Overcome with enthusiasm, they began rocking their ship side to side as well as front to back.  Trent’s big smile revealed his dimples as he proclaimed, “The waves are getting stronger!”

From that point on I knew if I walked into the family room to find the papasan chair disassembled that it was because the kids were playing pirate ship again.  I always just smiled and put it back together.  New scenarios would be created and played out repeatedly.  Throughout, the wicker frame remained strong and never collapsed amidst all those waves and stormy seas.   The kids are all teenagers now, too old to pretend and too large to all fit in the papasan ship.  Yet, we all still fondly remember those days in their youth when imaginations reigned supreme allowing them to escape harsh realities and enter into another dimension where pain isn’t a thought and glee is plentiful.

We have since moved again.  The papasan chair really no longer fits our decor, yet I will never be able to relinquish ownership of it.  The memories attached to it are too heart warming.  And I’d like to think that someday, a future generation of children might want to make some of their own adventures in the papasan ship.

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To Be 18 Again…

My first born turned 18 years old today.  It’s hard for a mother to grasp that – the time has sped by and so many memories have been made and so many more lost somewhere in the voids of time.  But I do still remember the miracle of his birth, this boy who was so desired and dreamed about.  I knew he was going to be a boy, but it wasn’t because of a sonogram because the only one taken of him was when he was still too young to discover the sex.  I knew because when I was pregnant with him I had ‘boy‘ dreams.  I dreamed of baseball and sports.  This may not be a scientist’s way of telling the sex of a child, but it worked with me every single pregnancy.  In my sleep the dreams I had were prophetic of the child I was carrying.  Strange maybe, but true still.

My first born gave me the full experience of the painful hours of labor, the exhaustion and fear of what would happen – and ultimately the birth of a beautiful, healthy red-headed baby boy.  Yes, he was born with a full head of red hair.  Unusual in this part of South Texas where most babies are born with brown hair, if they have hair at all.  Unusual too because his Daddy had brown hair and brown eyes, which ‘SCIENCE‘ tells us are the ‘Dominant‘ genes.  Really?  Because, somehow my freakish red hair and green eye genes took control in this scientific battle.

I always tell my son that the song from George Thorogood entitled ‘Bad to the Bone‘ is his theme song because the lyrics of it start out:

On the day I was born, all the nurses gathered ’round
And they gazed in wide wonder, at the joy they had found

And that is exactly what happened at the small town hospital he was born at – nurses from all over the hospital made a special trip by the nursery because they ‘just had to see the little red headed baby’!  Everyone was ‘Oohing‘ and ‘Aahhing‘ over him.

He was such a good baby too.  He only cried for a reason:  hungry or diaper change time.  He traveled well, never complaining about riding in a car seat.  He even kept on his dark, baby-sized sunglasses (keeping out the bright South Texas sun.)  He was cool.  Oh, and I can’t forget, he was on time!  The only baby I’ve ever heard of being born on his exact due date naturally!

As he grew up, he became inquisitive and thoughtful, learning all he could about the world – dinosaurs and wild animals being his first subjects of fascination (besides sports – always sports for this boy.)  His favorite toys were all balls of various sizes.  He could throw them all expertly, leading me to believe he would become a future pitcher or quarterback.  We wondered why he couldn’t catch the balls as well as throwing them.  Then we found out why when he was about 18 months old and his Grandmother took him to the eye doctor.  The poor boy was almost blind!  She fitted him with these cute, little, round, THICK glasses and suddenly he could see everything!  Now you could throw the ball to him and he would catch it !  Because he could see!  As he grew a little older his nickname became ‘Jerry McGuire‘ because he looked so much like the little boy in that movie, with his spiked hair and glasses.

When he started school, he was a good student and always took learning seriously.  Of course, he still always played a sport.  He started out in T-ball, moved on to Little League but found his LOVE when he started playing football.  I never thought he would take to that sport like that because he was never a rough child.  Turns out he really loved being able to hit and knock down other kids all in the name of sport and not get in trouble for it!  LOL.

He’s always been a rule follower so we never had to worry about him getting in trouble for anything at school.  He’s made such good grades in school that he is rated #26 in a class full of 386 kids.  He set a high standard for his little sister and brother to follow and believe me I’ve heard about it from them through the teachers they have all shared.   Both of his younger siblings have had to hear about what a great student/athlete their brother was.  This doesn’t irritate them at all though (which I think is awesome) because they both love and admire their brother so much – they agree – he is great.   How cool is that?

This boy, who just turned 18, so I guess you could call him a ‘man‘ now, has been such a joy to our life.  I feel privileged to call him my son.  I admire him for his wisdom and strength of character.  He has stood by his morals and his idea of right, never falling to peer pressure or doing something ‘other stupid teenagers do.’   As a person of the world and having been a teenager once myself – I’m astounded by his accomplishments.   This was the young boy whose father (also his hero) died when he was six years old.   He took it harder than anyone.  He tried to be strong until he couldn’t hold it in any longer and then there was a time, for about a year, when he would cry almost every night in grief for his father.  (As his Mom, this was so hard for me – I wanted to take his pain away but there was nothing I could do, only be there to pat his back or hold him…it’s really hard to watch your child suffer.)

I worried this might affect him later – like when he became a teenager – as teens tend to find many excuses to act out or go wild.  God blessed this boy though.  He stayed true.  Just last month I was sitting next to him in Church when the offering plate came around.  I knew he had worked his job that week (mowing yards, no taxes:-) but he was at the age where we had stopped suggesting to him that he needed to save some money or give some to God.  We had started letting him make his own decisions without prompting him.  So you can imagine my happiness and pride when I noticed him casually toss a $20 bill in the plate.  Just giving it to God.  Not expecting anything from it, just doing it from the goodness of his heart.  I wanted to turn and hug him on the spot but knew that would only embarrass him.  (I did however, point it out to his sister and brother who have yet to learn the joy of giving their money away to someone else...)

I’d love to write a note to my son telling him things I would’ve liked to have known at the age of 18 – but I’m thinking my boy already knows them.  He is such an amazing young man that I still find it hard to believe I am lucky enough to be his mother.

No matter what mistakes he may make in the future (as we all know will happen) I am still so impressed by this child at this point in his life that I will always remember him as he has been for his first 18 years – which is darn near perfect in my eyes.

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The Games People Play (Part 1)

I used to LOVE Baseball.  As a child I took to the game naturally.  It just felt right.  I never once was told that I throw the ball like a girl, yet I was never specifically taught how to throw the ball.  I was never taught how to swing the bat correctly either, but I did swing and hit the ball pretty good quite often.  I can remember my older brother giving me tips on how to catch fly balls in the outfield, but that was really the only instruction I ever received.  I just absolutely loved playing the game.

I grew up in the 70’s in Southern Indiana, with the closest major league team being the Cincinnati Reds.  This was around the time of their ‘Hay Day‘ when they had (MY HERO) Johnny Bench as the catcher, Tom Seaver pitching, Pete Rose on 3rd or 1st, Joe Morgan on 2nd, and well, you get the picture.  I loved them all and collected their baseball cards.  I even had my 4th grade school picture taken wearing my Johnny Bench t-shirt.  I knew how to keep up with their stats.  I can remember one summer break from school when all the kids who lived nearby would gather in our backyard and we played baseball everyday.  (Reminiscent of that movie the Sandlot, we wanted to hit a home-run over the fence, but then again, we feared the neighbor man who lived there – but there was no big dog, lol)  Since I played with my step-brother, who was one year older than me, the most – I learned to play the game like a boy and actually played better than quite a few.

Team sports didn’t start at birth back in those days, so we didn’t get the opportunity to play on actual teams until about 4th grade I think.  When the time came, I wanted to play Little League Baseball.  But they didn’t allow girls to play.  I was livid.  My argument was simple,

“I play better than at least half the boys, why can’t I play with them?!”

The powers that be said I could play Softball with the girls.  For those who don’t realize this – there is a huge difference between the two games.  The biggest difference is the feeling of satisfaction.  When you hit a softball with bat, it just goes ‘thunk.’  There is no good, true sweet spot.  But now, Baseball, when you hit that sweet spot just right, there is a delicious, satisfactory ‘Crack!’ and you can feel the power you just transferred into the ball.  Sure, baseballs are harder, move faster and can be dangerous.  But when you are in grade school that kind of power is not an imminent threat.  I was totally miffed that I had to play softball instead, but I did it since it was as close as I could get to the game I lived for.

Which leads to my 2nd complaint – all the boys Little League teams were given actual uniforms mimicking the professional teams.  Us softball girls – our teams were colors.  We were issued only a cap & a t-shirt, the color of the name of our team.  Red, Green, Yellow and Blue.   They were plain, no designs, logos, or even numbers!!!!  We had to provide our own shorts.  I was placed on the Blue team.  I quickly realized there were going to be problems as it seemed there were only a handful or less of girls who actually knew how to play.  Since I had been throwing overhand my entire life, the under-handed pitching in softball eluded my skills.  I couldn’t pitch under-handed to save my life.  The coach’s daughter (thankfully) could pitch that way and became our pitcher.  I was the only other one on the team that could be counted on to catch the balls thrown to me on a regular basis, so I became the 1st baseman  (even though I was short.)  Every so often one of the other girls would whine about it enough that the coach would let them try 1st and move me to 3rd, short-stop or 2nd.  I liked playing those positions too, so I didn’t mind.  But after too many ball drops causing the score to get out of hand, the Coach would always move me back to 1st.  It became apparent that the Blue team was also the losing team.  I hated losing.

I tried again the next year and was once again placed on the Blue team.  This time with a different Coach and a new set of girls – most of which actually threw the ball like girls.  I was the only one who could throw the ball from the outfield and get it into the infield.  This year I was placed in the outfield.  After wasting me away in the Right field and our team making pitiful sad losses, the coach did move me – back to 1st base.  It was another sad losing season.   I still looked forward to the baseball games I would play at home or at school recesses.  (When the boys starting playing baseball during school recess I was the only girl they would allow to play with them.  This was thanks to my stepbrother who not so politely informed them that I could play just as good or better than them.  At 1st when they picked teams, I would always be one of the last ones picked.  But after a few games, that changed and I was quickly moved up on the list of desirable players.  More on recess baseball later.)

After noticing that the other colored softball teams always kept the same players and the Red team always had the best players, I told my Mom when we signed up for the softball the next year that I wanted to be on the Red team.  The powers that be refused, and totally LIED saying “We don’t let the kids choose their teams, they are picked on a random basis.”  I was only in 5th or 6th grade at the time but I was smart enough to see this for the BULLSHIT it was.  You can’t say that the exact same kids wind up on the exact same team 3 years in row ‘RANDOMLY‘.  Yeah, right.  And it just so happened that all those kids also lived in the same ‘special‘ neighborhood.  What ‘the powers that be‘ were actually saying was “You’re just a poor country girl nobody, some silly hillbilly hick, just be thankful we let you play at all.”  I heard them loud and clear.

This would be my last year playing because I was angry to be once again placed on the Blue (AKA:  Losers) Team with a bunch of whiny, bratty girls who didn’t even know what a stinkin’ actual ‘HOME-RUN’ was – they were so ignorant to the rules that they called all runs ‘home-runs’.  If you know the game at all, you know there is a difference between a ‘Run’ and a ‘Home-run’.  I even tried to educate them, by screaming at them,

It’s only called a ‘home-run’ if you hit the ball from the batter’s box and run around all three bases and make it to the home-plate scoring!  Any other time you cross the plate IT’S JUST A ‘RUN’!”

Not all the girls were bad, some were sweet & had good intentions, but you know how memories are –  some things stand out and sometimes it’s the worst of things that reverberate loud in the mind.  After that Hellish season, I told my Mom I didn’t want to play anymore.  The Powers that Be had totally ruined it for me.  If I couldn’t play the sport I loved or even be on a decent team in the 2nd rate sport, well, then enough was enough.  I lost my desire even for baseball because of the unfairness of the situation.  Grown-ups had turned something that was once a fun, magical, wonderful game into something more akin to a popularity contest – a political, power-tripping, who’s who.

This was my 1st lesson in the Games that People Play.  There are different kinds of games in life.  There are games that are played for fun.  Then there are the games that devious people play with other’s lives.

You get your first whiff of this stuff in Elementary school and Junior High.  By High-school you begin to hope like Hell that once you graduate and get out in the real world with other adults that the absurdity will stop.  But then Reality smacks you in the face – most people never grow up or out of this.  They continue to play (mind) games into the workplace and beyond.  It never ceases.

(I’m going somewhere with this, stay tuned for the next post.)

P.S. I kept a special place in my heart for the game of baseball even though I had given up playing and I still enjoyed watching it on TV on occasion.  Right up until 1993 – the year of the Strike – that’s when I realized Professional Baseball had become just a mockery of the game – it was just another business full of greedy people wanting more. I haven’t felt the love towards baseball since then.

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Blissfully Unaware

A child or teenager still learning, growing up and maturing is expected to be innocent in some matters.  Some kids are more blissfully unaware of the true nature of things than others.  Naive perspectives abound in the halls of the public schools.  Their knowledge may vary to extremes.  Some kids might understand more about the deeper emotions of life, such as grief from the death of a loved one, while still remaining clueless to more basic life matters.

However graded, the guilelessness of youth is refreshing in today’s violent world.  And sometimes its just downright funny.  I treasure every moment that I catch my children in their innocence.  There are times when those moments aren’t necessarily the warm, fuzzy kind though.  It changes as they get older.  The teenage years.  Sometimes they are humorous.  Sometimes you have to laugh so you don’t cry.  Sometimes you just have to laugh because there is no other option.

Just last fall, after she turned 16 years old, we caught Tara saying something inappropriate.  I was watching football with my oldest son and my husband, when Tara entered into the room.  She caught the guys in the middle of a conversation about the particular cuteness of a cheerleader.  Tara glanced over at the television and said,

“Oh yeah, I’d tap that.”

!!!  Expressions of disbelief sprung onto all of our faces causing Tara to say “What?”  My husband gently explained to her the meaning of what she just said while her brother not-so-gently explained.    She was shocked.

“I thought that it just meant ‘cute’ – I’ve been saying that at school and nobody told me anything!”

That’s not all.  She went on to say:

“That explains the funny looks though.  Just the other day a girl had on these really cute jeans and she told me they were new and asked me if I liked them.  I said ‘Oh yeah, I’d tap that.'”

Oh Tara, my Tara.

She was definitely blissfully unaware.

So, it shouldn’t have been too surprising what happened last weekend.  I was sitting in the living room talking to her boyfriend while she was doing something in the kitchen. I was watching her as she was walking back towards us at the couch and she looked at me (in total innocence) and said,

“Twat?”

Her boyfriend covered his face with his hands as I said in my deeper, serious voice,

“What did you just say?”

Tara looked confused and answered me with a smaller voice, “Twat?”  As she looked at the incredulous look on my face she said, “What?”

I asked her if she knew what that word meant.  She thought it meant ‘What‘ and I had to tell her:

“No Tara!  Twat is a slang term for your Hoo-Haw!  Your privates!  It’s inappropriate to say.”

(confession:  normally I try to use the technical terms for the kids privates but they always get so embarrassed by the word ‘vagina’ that I knew if I said that word in front of Tara’s boyfriend her face might catch on fire from embarrassment.)  Her face turned red anyway as she admitted to saying it at school and nobody ever informed her of exactly what she was saying.  Evidently, she heard other kids at school saying, “Twat did you say?” She just thought they were playing around with the word ‘what.’  As her boyfriend and I laughed at her innocence, she said in her little squeaky voice,

“But I didn’t know!”

Well, now ya know.  Ain’t knowledge grand?

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A Future of Petulant, Priviledged Brats

Kids today are spoiled beyond the stinky, mildew laden, not even good enough for the dogs food.  ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ seems to be the popular theme for today’s parents.  At least that is my experience here in South Texas where every teenage girl must have at least one pair of $100+ jeans.  Where parents buy their children brand new vehicles as their first car (I even know of a girl who received a new Land Rover as her first car!  That’s almost $100,000!)  Children demand certain clothing items from their parents, they demand to have the latest and greatest cell phone, iPod, iPad, you name it – they get it.  Are we creating a society of lazy, irresponsible, indolent, narcissistic brats?  For the sake of the future I hope parents in other locales do not mimic the actions of parents here.

There are exceptions in everything, of course.  There are a few parents who I admire and respect.  And while my husband and I are not perfect parents by any means, we do try to do things to assist our children in the transition to become responsible, capable adults.  We want them to go into adult-hood knowing that nothing is free and if you really want something, you need to work for it to be able to fully appreciate it.  We want them to be able to understand the cost and be able to evaluate needs from desires.

Our children were the last in their schools to get their own cell phones not because we couldn’t afford it but because we believed most elementary school children had no business with one.  We wouldn’t get our children one until middle school when athletic events out of town necessitated it.  Just this year our youngest child received his first cell phone while most of his friends were getting the latest iPhone.  He keeps a good attitude and sense of humor about it though.  After football practice while other kids were removing their iPhones from their backpacks and bragging about their new iPhone 4GS (or whatever version) Chance says, “Oh yeah?  Well I’m gonna use my new iPhone FP!”  All the boys think it’s a new version of iPhone that they haven’t heard of yet and gather around to see it while Chance pulls out his cheap model cell, opens it and says “FP – Flip Phone!”  Even the coaches were laughing with him.  One day when he left it home charging and he had to borrow a friend’s everyone asked, “Where’s your iPhone FP?”

I just found out during a lunchtime conversation with my two older teenagers that they are the only kids that have a curfew.  Tara was talking about a large number of kids who didn’t get home until 6am because they stayed out late at parties after the Homecoming Dance.  I asked, (stressing the first 2 words) “That many kids parents actually let them stay out that late?”  Her older brother answers for her, “Yeah!  Why do you think I never want to go to parties?  I don’t want to be the only one who has to say, ‘It’s midnight, I gotta go home now because I have a curfew.”  This baffles me.  The only thing kids can do out between 12am and morning is to get into trouble and I voiced my opinion.  Tara started to argue but once again Trent cut in, “Well, that’s kind of true.  A lot of them have gotten MIP’s (minor in possession) tickets from the Police.”  (Point goes to Mom, hu-ah!)

I don’t want my kids to go out into the world totally naive and innocent but when they start staying out all night long I want them to be mature enough to behave appropriately and I don’t think anyone under the age of 17 is that mature.  Or smart enough to stay out of trouble.

Am I sheltering my children too much or protecting them?  Do other parents consider this stuff or are they just scared to tell their children “No”?

Maybe we’re not doing our kids any favors by utilizing curfews and rules.  But we are still going to go with the assumption that in the real world there are rules you have to follow (or you might go to jail) and times you have to be at work (or you get fired) and are trying to assist our children in growing into responsible, reliable, independent adults.

In another decade I’ll let you know how it worked out. lol.

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Holiday Concerts

Tis the season for jingle bells and Christmas music.  This is C.D.’s first year of band so we were able to go see his junior high Christmas Band Concert last night.  It was at the new Fine Arts center here in town.  A very nice building (thanks to our tax dollars) but the audience was only a 1/2 to 3/4 full and the parking lot was over capacity.  Just like our silly town leaders to build a nice new building and then forget that it needs adequate parking for the people who will be attending events there.  I don’t understand why the ‘powers that be’ can’t seem to think things through.  Duh!

Poor parking aside – the concert was great.  Unfortunately C.D. doesn’t play an instrument that sits him up front so the only part of him we could see from the audience was the top of his Bassoon.  But we took pictures afterwards and I have to say he looked really sharp in his ‘dressed up’ clothes.  I had bought him the outfit the day before and when his brother saw it he said “Oooh, you’re gonna be looking fly!”  I laughed and said “Yeah, all the girls will be following you around.”  C.D. just grinned and said, “There’s this girl in my first period class and that’s all she does now – she just follows me everywhere I go!”  He’s such a little ladies man.  Last Sunday at church a little girl, not even 2 years old yet, latched on to him in the pew.  She kept bringing him drawings and touching him and smiling.  It was so cute.  Younger, older, the same age, it doesn’t matter, all the girls seem to like that boy.  Can’t say I blame them, he is a sweetheart, and he’s funny.  The kind of ‘Random’ funny where you end up laughing when you didn’t expect to.  For instance, the other day I was in the living room watering our Christmas tree while  i heard a clunk in the other room.  As I glanced over he was just walking in a circle.  I said “What in the world are you doing?”  He said “I’m just getting my exercise.”  Naturally, I go investigate the noise and sure enough, there on floor is our little block of wood that was a souvenir from Kentucky that has printed on the top of it:

Exercise Block

1.  Place block on floor

2.  Walk around it twice

3.  SIT DOWN! Relax

Congratulations – You have just walked around the block twice!

He makes me smile quite often with little things like that.

The other two kids have a good sense of humor too.  T.D. likes to do this little dance where he sticks his butt out, shakes his hips and swings his head like he has long hair (which he doesn’t, he always keeps his hair cut really short) to some pop songs that T.J. likes.  She loves watching him do it and always says “Do your dance!”  The fun comes in because she wants me to see him but he always makes sure I’m looking the other way and when I turn, he stops.  (This normally happens in the kitchen while I am cooking.)  She gets so frustrated, “Oh Man!  You missed it again!”  Well, yesterday when we were all in the kitchen and the radio was playing he started doing the dance again.  He stopped when Tara hollered “Look Mama!”  But I tricked him this time.  I knew he would do it again because it was just the beginning of the song.  I was standing by the fireplace and started acting like I was picking my teeth with a toothpick in the mirror above it but I was actually watching him.  So when he started doing the dance again I yelled “I saw it!!! I saw you in the mirror!”  while jumping up and down and letting out a ‘whoop!’ I was tickled pink.  He wasn’t.  “Oh NO!  I can’t believe you caught me!  Awww!”

Just another example of how Moms have eyes in the back of their head!  haha.

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