Monday, April 29, 2013

What the What?

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The Smarty was home this weekend. It was a short visit, but just having him around for a couple of days feels like a cause for celebration. 

We miss him like crazy.

He had some bonus dollars to a local big box electronics store, so he decided he'd take the boys and buy them a new game for their XBox. The only reason they got an XBox was so they could play Minecraft with their nerds friends and talk to them at the same time. Before that, they had to play Minecraft on the computer (which they still do) and talk to their friends on the phone.

So. Very. Lame.

Anyhow... Saturday morning we went to breakfast and to buy some groceries, then ran to the electronics store to shop for XBox games. This is the XBox aisle in the store. There were tons of options to choose from.

Well. There were tons of games. And as long as you are a big fan of shooting people, there were tons of options to choose from.

People. I realize my boys are growing up, and that one of them is technically a teenager, but when I started reading the descriptions on the backs of the cases marked "T" for "Teen", all I could think was, "No."

Here's what I saw...there was a basketball game, a football game and a tennis game. Fine. No problem. My boys just aren't into basketball, football or virtual tennis.

Then there was the chainsaw massacre by a half-naked, busty woman game. And the heavily tattooed and scarred ex-military man with an AK-47 game. And the stealing cars and running drugs game. 

How about the skateboard game? Well, the advisory panel states, "Blood, drug use, crude humor, offensive language." So, no.

But there's a racing game! "Crude humor, offensive language, suggestive topics, nudity."

I don't understand what's happened. I realize that times have changed since I had my Intellivision, folks, but is this really what we've become? A bunch of crude-talking, drug-using, gratuitous-violence-wielding people? Over 100 games on the shelf, and more than 90% involved shooting up either guns or heroin. The other 10% were sports, which would be awesome, except apparently no one plays sports without suggestive overtones or foul language.

We ended up with a Lego Star Wars game (which they already have for the Wii) and an Avengers game, in which the characters fight each other, but there's evidently no blood or naked women. These were the only two games on that entire aisle that I could even consider.

And it just made me sad. 

It made me sad that our children are exposed to so much violence, at such a young age, that it isn't shocking to them. I don't believe that video games cause violence any more than I believe guns kill people. 

People cause violence. People kill people, with guns and without.

But when it's clear that we've turned a corner to a world where the graphic and realistic-looking killing of "people" has become commonplace, it makes me hurt. The world is a violent and scary enough place for kids without adding this on top of it.

I realize that I'm in the minority, and that all my kids' friends have these games and play them. I realize that those kids are most likely not going to grow up and become the kinds of people those games portray. But I just can't do it. I'm sorry, guys...I just can't.

I would rather you miss out on what all your friends are doing. I would rather you be mad at me for making you miss it. I would rather you grow up completely shocked and horrified at what people will do to people instead of blasé and jaded when a bomber sets a backpack full of explosives down at the finish line of a marathon, or when you hear a news story about a murder downtown.

I want you to be disturbed when you hear of a robbery at the local drugstore. I want you to be disgusted when women are objectified. I want you to be dismayed to see what illicit drugs really do to individuals. I want you to be devastated by the evil that people can subject upon other people.

I want you to be like your father, who agrees with me.

I want you to grow up, understanding that life is a precious gift and that there are no second chances at it. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ebb, Flow

The Dance II

Life is a strange thing, sometimes. We rise and fall, ebb and flow throughout it. We stress out over things that are completely pointless and shrug our shoulders and laugh off important things. We work so hard to control every aspect of it - some of us, anyway. Some of us act as if we have no control over anything, and we allow ourselves to be swept along with the tide.

I fall into the first category, generally. I am fairly sure I could stop the tide from turning if I applied myself. The world would stop turning if I didn't get up in the morning and start it going - you can thank me for that.

You're welcome.

I watched Joshua play a finals match in a tournament this weekend. He played beautifully, but he lost. He basically lost because of a double fault, and it just broke his heart. It broke mine, too. I sat in my chair, on top of a hill and two courts away from him, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I talked him through it, even though he couldn't hear me.

"C'mon, baby - stay with it. Good boy. Topspin. That's it. Aaaarrgh."

I was absolutely no help at all.

It made me realize how often I strive to control things and have just as little influence as I did over Joshua's tennis match. It made me realize how much undue stress I place on myself. It made me want to learn to let go a little.

But it is so hard to let go. So hard to give up. So difficult to lay it down.

My sweet, 92 year-old, grandmother.

My mom was here visiting this weekend. She needed to get away for a couple of days. Her mom, my dear grandmother, is almost 93 years old. She's far into dementia, her body is failing and it is nearly time for her to go. Her mind has been gone a long time, now, but her body just hasn't realized it's time to stop. My mom is the only daughter - she has two brothers that are younger than she is. Her time here, away from it all, was punctuated by telephone calls from both brothers. Calls from doctors, nurses, caregivers. She's trying to keep everyone informed, plugged in, advised. 

When she left, I told her to call her pastor. To keep communicating with her brothers. To give up some of the responsibility that she's carrying so that she doesn't get ill from the stress. To let go of some of the control. She knows. And I know how impossible that is.

My grandfather, almost 95, is still trying to control what happens - after 72 years of marriage, he's not sure how to let go and he's exhausted from the effort. My grandmother's doctor has called in Hospice to help care for her - to relieve some of the stresses that my sister, who is my grandmother's caregiver, faces.

To help everyone learn to let go.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

National Haiku Poetry Day

Yeah? And then what? #dog #gsd #germanshepherd

Today is National Haiku Poetry Day. I felt inspired by certain events of yesterday to write a few (incredibly bad) Haiku poems of my own.

Streak across the yard
Green trees, a flash of black, white
Smells like that don't die
Jasper wants to play
Hi! Lovely forest creature
That really smells bad
Jasper is a dog
He likes to chase animals
Well, not anymore
What is that odor?
Oh, dear Lord, it's my dumb dog
Some things never fade
What is that odor?
The skunk is in my nose
A day at the vet
Cleaning, cleaning, two skunk baths
The scent still lingers

Go write your own Haiku poem - they're quite cathartic. Feel free to post some in the comments - I'd love to read yours! Just please, please, please...make them better than mine. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't Make Me Hunt You Down


This is how I spend most of my days. No - not perched on a log, enjoying the sunshine, although I would, given the opportunity. I spend my days on a razor's edge of alert focus, watching for dangers to my cubs. With the Smarty gone 90% of the time, I feel like this cheetah - poised to spring at any moment.

***Do cheetahs have cubs? Or are they kits or something? Okay - looks like they are cubs, and holy moley - how stinking cute are they?***

The flip side of that is I spend most of my days completely exhausted. When the Smarty comes home, it takes me about two full days to recover from the relaxation that hits my body, knowing that I'm not the only parent in town. That makes for some serious quality time with my sweetheart. Sigh.

My word, I don't see how you single parents do it. I can only hope that you have a network of trusted friends and family that step in and prop you up on the days that you've been sucked completely dry of all energy and reason. Because that's what I've noticed above all else - when my energy hits the bottom of the reservoir, my reason flees right along with it. I look at the bowl sitting next to the sink, encrusted with the remains of someone's lunch and I just want to throw it across the room. 

"Why doesn't ANYONE in this house do ANYTHING except for ME? As soon as I get one thing cleaned, FIVE HUNDRED OTHER THINGS ARE DIRTY. Has ANYONE EVER put up a pair of SHOES in this house?"

When the fact is, other people actually do things here. Just yesterday morning, I heard the boys taking out the trash and recycling, even though I hadn't actually asked them to do it. They help feed the dogs, put up dishes from the dishwasher, take their clothes upstairs and put them away. Well, I assume they put them away. I don't look. They are quite possible sitting in heaps on the floors of their closets. I honestly don't care - as long as I can't see them.

They hug me and kiss me, even when I'm angry and unreasonable. They say "Please" and "Thank you." They tell me I'm a good cook.


Cute, adorable, sweet little liars.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013


Cherry Blossom 2013

We spent the end of last week in DC, seeing the sights and prolonging the time we got to spend with Dr. SmartyPants. We were hoping that the cherry blossoms would cooperate with our visit, but they didn't. We found one lone blossoming tree on the National Mall that had opened - a precursor to the spectacle that surrounds the tidal basin every spring.

It's so interesting being back in the city after nearly 3 years. When we first moved up there, the boys were 7 and 9 and I can remember so vividly the first time I took them on the Metro without the Smarty. We only rode two stops, as a test run, and I squeezed their little baby fingers so hard, terrified I would inadvertently leave one of them behind. After two years of depending on the Metro for the majority of our transportation needs, I became more and more comfortable, but I'm pretty sure I still held their hands pretty tightly.

Fast forward to last weekend and they've become young men - 11 and 13 - who don't need their Mama quite so much. They carry their own Smart Cards in the back pockets of their skinny jeans. They walk ahead of me, two or three paces, completely confident of where they are going and how to get there. Derek turns to me and says, "We need to head toward Vienna, Mom. Do you think we should get off at Clarendon, or Virginia Square?"

"Virginia Square."

"Got it."

We step off the train, heading to eat at an old favorite barbeque place, and they sprint ahead, through the toll gate and up the escalator as fast as they can - racing to be the first one to the top. Dr. SmartyPants and I follow, laughing at how much things have changed since we left. We catch up to them at the crosswalk and wait for the light to change, talking about how the Cozi is still on the same street corner, next to the 7-11 and that Starbucks has added outdoor seating, but everything else looks exactly like we remember it.

The light changes and we all step out into the crosswalk. We're staggered - boy, parent, boy, parent. As we cross Fairfax, I feel hands creep into mine - slowly - one on each side and I smile. I look over and see that we're all holding hands as we cross the street - just like we used to. I squeeze - they squeeze back.

Three squeezes...three back...

We step onto the sidewalk on the other side and my hands are released as the sidewalk narrows and the boys run ahead. The Smarty and I walk closer together and hold hands with each other as we watch them.

As we watch them.