Tag Archives: irony

Daughter Shopping

12 Sep

My title is deceiving.  It implies I am in the market for a new daughter.  This is not the case…I assure you.  And though this post has nothing to do with shopping for a child, it does involve the parent-child dynamic.  Are you surprised?  Have I not overused this topic already?  I will answer for you, “no to both questions.”  Of course none of us can be surprised; after all, the subject of inter-human relations is inexhaustible.  This subject has come up for me this week via two completely unrelated circumstances.  The first is through my daughter.  The second is through the relationship of a friend and her son…and me.  First I will tell you the story of my daughter.

As I have previously written, Esther is in college.  Her math professor happens to have also been my math professor.  He and I got to know each other on a personal level because I required much assistance to gain the “A” grade for all three of the math classes I took while under his tutelage.  In addition to him being an astute professor of mathematics, he is a kind man and our personal lives crossed at a couple of proverbial intersections (stated only to avert the perversion of thought that might try to infiltrate the connection).  At any rate, the point of the aforementioned rhetoric is to simply overstate that he and I gained a knowledge of each other and of our families.  In fact, he has known Esther since she was twelve…almost five years now.  So the other day, when upon my advice she met him at his office for his amazing tutorial guidance, it was no surprise that he suggested to her to ask me for assistance on any and all of the subject matter in which she struggled.  His statement, as retold to me by her, went like this:  “Why don’t you ask your mom for help.  She is a really good teacher and was an excellent student in Algebra.”  And to this piece of advice, or suggestion rather, she said (again as retold to me by her): “NO WAY!!  My mom and I don’t mix well together in math…no how, no way!”  And you know what?  She is telling the truth!  We most certainly do NOT mix well when it comes to mathematics.  We do, however, get along fine while shopping.  Shopping for clothes, shopping for shoes, shopping for accessories–just plain old shopping.

Now onto the second scenario…

I have a good friend, a few hundred miles away, who has an elementary aged son who struggles with literacy.  Well on Sunday he called me and asked if we could have a Skype session (internet video phone call, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Skype) for no other reason than it is something fun to do.  So while we were chatting away about nothing important, and mostly because I was trying to keep the interest flowing, I asked if he would like me to read a book to him.  With immediate reluctance he questioned, “What book?”  I suggested Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (because it was within a reasonable reach).  It just so happened to be a favorite of his, therefore he answered, “yes.”  I read the book to him and after I finished he tucked himself into bed and we signed off with a “goodnight”.  Monday night I had another Skype call from my young friend.  Only this time HE had something to read to me.  He read me two short stories and allowed me to read another from my shelf.  Our next “telephone” date is set for tomorrow night.  And it honestly cannot come too soon.

My girl friend and I spoke the next day and she said her son has, since our first reading, Skyped with an older cousin and read to her as well.  My friend tells me this interest in reading is something of a phenomenon for her son.  She even accused me of having used magic on him because she says he normally does not like to read out loud, nor does he like to be read to.  And now he is excited about both…via Skype.  And all of this praise comes simultaneous to my daughter balking at the suggestion of utilizing me as a mathematical resource.  Funny.  Ironic and funny.

Yet isn’t that just the way of life under “normal” familial conditions (I use quotes on normal as I’m not quite sure what normal truly means.  Normal in my life seems to equate with chaos.  Controlled chaos, but chaos just the same.)?   I mean here I am able to help my daughter with her difficulties in math, yet she is adamantly opposed to working with me.  And my girlfriend, more educated than I, is definitely capable of reading and being read to, though her young son is reluctant to utilize her literary skills.

Children, and the business of raising them, is funny stuff!  And I am thankful that we help each other along the way.  To invest, to the degree that is required, can be quite the daunting task when going at it alone.  Which is why we need to ‘pitch-hit’ for one another during the times our ‘ever so wise’ children foolishly reject our skill sets.  I actually think the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral, says it best in her poem titled, “Su nombre es hoy” (“His Name is Today”).  Written in Spanish, the writing implores its readers to comprehend that the child who is at the crux of growth and development is not to be neglected.  He or she is to be invested in.  She states that to abandon the child is akin to keeping from them the fountain of life.  She encourages us to know that the many material “needs” we have can wait, but the child cannot.  And she finishes the piece by rhetorically asking, “how can we tell him tomorrow, when his name is Today.”

I am thankful for my young Skyping friend.  He has helped me remember that though my daughter rejects my tutorial assistance, there is another whose investment in her life is of great value and importance within that realm.  Which is how I hope my friend feels about me and her son’s new passion to read.

Su nombre es hoy

Nosotros somos culpables
de muchos errores y muchas faltas,
pero nuestro peor crimen
es el abandono de los niños
negándoles la fuente de la vida.

Muchas de las cosas
que nosotros necesitamos
pueden esperar, los niños no pueden,
ahora es el momento,
sus huesos están en formación,
su sangre también lo está
y sus sentidos
se están desarrollando,
a él nosotros no podemos contestarle
su nombre es hoy.

-Gabriela Mistral


A Skype “goodnight”


13 Jun

There are several “markers” in my life which present themselves in such a way as to remind me of the fact the past five or so years have resembled that of a vortex, a whirling mass of something.  For instance, tonight I grabbed my ‘chili oil’ from the pantry to use in my dinner dish only to notice the expiration date was fall of 2007 (mind you I have used it several times since then).  Last month I began to wonder why my antiperspirant/deodorant was looking odd.  Upon closer inspection, “expired December 2010”; the probable cause of the yellowish hue and perhaps my new found “scent”.  Vitamins for Cole, expired November 2011.  ‘Get the Red Out’ eye-drops, expiration date of 2006–is that why it stung?.  I do believe I can even produce some well intended makeup which was purchased several years back when the inspiration to “do something about it” was a fresh idea…probably inspired by a glamorously airbrushed Vogue photo shoot.  Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, out of date over a year ago.  And do you know what happens to yogurt when it is allowed to extend its shelf life several years?  How about lemon curd?  …let’s just leave those two alone because smelling the chili oil was bad enough!

Now when I come across such ‘expired’ items as the ones mentioned above, they serve to remind me that I have had cause, since about the beginning of 2007, to loose a bit of the hold on life that I once thought I had.  Now whether I did, or whether I didn’t could be discussed philosophically for hours…but that, my friends, would be a moot point.  And boring to say the least.  But if you take my word for it, you might come to understand–with a bit more clarity–how and why I could possibly be in possession of so many items which are used, and still useful, though quite past their guaranteed shelf life.  Just take a look at my week past, project the chaos of the days backward and forward and voilà, here I am.

The gist of the past several days went something like this:

Friday, June 8th–  Pick up car rental and head for northern California.  Get situated in the rental for the 6 hour drive to the bay area for the high school graduation of my nephew.  (Being the projected arrival was due to occur simultaneous to the processional, my long time friend planned to give us a dinner of salmon and flank steak to hold our position in the area of the school so we could meet up with the family afterwards).

1:00p.m. traffic on the 5 freeway north came to a halt.  We sat in one location for two hours; the perfect conditions for my ever loving husband to present to myself and our daughter the evils of marijuana smoking and his disdain for recreational drug use.  A “public speaking announcement” brought forth from his experience in the men’s bathroom just moments before at the Carls Jr. where we stopped for a moments relief and where he received more than his fair share of second-hand smoke.

3:00p.m. we were escorted off the freeway as the wildfire, which prevented our progress, continued to rage.  We were now faced with alternative routes.  Thanks to our friends in Bakersfield, we took a very long, though pleasurable, drive around the grapevine and ended up at their house for dinner somewhere close to 6(ish)p.m.  Tacos, friends, and a warm place to lay our heads…sorry to say goodbye to the salmon and flank, but glad to be so well received on such short notice with a hospitality that made the 7hour drive worth the while (it is normally a 3 hour drive tops, to Bakersfield from where we live).

Saturday, we finally made it to our original destination, Livermore, CA.  The house of my brother and the barbeque celebration of my nephew’s milestone.  We enjoyed the afternoon with family and then headed to the east bay for another party–a surprise birthday for my godmother.  We celebrated into the night and were part of the clean-up crew which continued the next day into the afternoon.  We had intended to leave for home on Sunday but were quite tired from the previous days events and two nights of intermittent sleep (no fault of our hosts, just the way it goes sometimes).  So it was decided, between the three of us, that we would stay another night in the bay area and then head home along the coast and take a couple of days for a leisurely Highway 1 adventure.  I was even willing to sleep overnight in the car if we couldn’t find a hotel along the way…the call of spontaneity was beckoning to me.

Monday morning, I awoke with a sore throat and we received a call from our son Cole.  Cole had intended to make the trek up north with us but hadn’t been feeling well a few days leading up to the trip and so opted out in order to rest.  His symptoms had continued to present themselves and he felt a visit with the doctor was in order.  Our friend (and neighbor) agreed to take Cole to the doctor at 10 that morning.  The doctor, alarmed by her assessment and Cole’s medical history, sent him directly to the ER for further testing.  And though we were on our way to the coast, via the 101 freeway, we instead took the Pacheco Pass (152) over to the 5 freeway and arrived at the hospital by 7(ish) p.m., in time to take our newly discharged, though not expired, son home.  After having a blood panel drawn and a CT scan with contrast, it seemed his symptoms are result of his brain tumor location.  And though we do our best to manage his diet for optimum health, the involuntary actions of the gastrointestinal system are under the mismanagement of a trauma induced malfunction.  We made it home, the four of us (our neighbor having spent his entire day with Cole, headed home upon our arrival at the hospital), Cole in need of drink and food and me, by this time, in need of my own personal box of Kleenex.

Tuesday (yesterday), it became apparent I had caught a flu bug of some sort which kept me in bed with a fever and my trusted box of tissues.  But even a day of illness could not stop the chaos…Esther called from the shoulder of the freeway, broken down on her way to work.  And after the car was towed home, Brian, while out test driving the car after making adjustments to it, was broken down and in need of a ride to the auto parts store.  Cole needed me to pick up a stool sample kit from the VA clinic and I just needed to sleep!

So you see, when I do grab something off of a shelf or out of a cabinet that in its ‘hey day’ provided a useful function of some sort but is now debunked by the outing of a date stamp, I am reminded that it is all Okay….yep, all of it.  I truly appreciate the notice of expiration because it validates the tourbillion of the past several years, and I wish each one of you were here with me as I toss the spoiled item, into the trash, and laugh at the ironic, but precious, reminder.  Ironic because I continued using the product as if it were fresh and viable while unknowingly its potency had been long exhausted.  And it is there, in its ‘invalidation’ that I find my own, ‘validation’.  Thank you FDA…


22 Feb

We are home from northern cal, safe and sound.  As is customary for my life, or so it seems, I tend to only have two gears with which to choose from in my world of motion.  The two gears being, drive and reverse.  Opposites, of course.  It is not the first time I mention it in my writing.  I have, in past posts, used words such as paradoxical, simultaneous, coincide, ironic, etc. to express the place in which I dwell.  That place being, where blessing and curse/rain and sunshine/happiness and sadness/love and hate coexist and keep me in a suspended balance.  Weird; or at least I think so.

So it was driving up north that I knew my mournful sorrow would turn to joyful glee once we arrived to Sacramento.  I knew this, in advance, because of who my grandmother was.  We weren’t going to have a large mournful affair, no we were going to have a large family gathering and that gathering would turn to celebration, which in fact it did.  So with this knowledge, I took advantage of the six to eight hour window I was stuck in a vehicle with nowhere to go, and allowed myself to mourn, hurt, and cry for the loss of my grandma Ella and my neighbor Fernie.  I sat behind Brian because he was, thankfully, the driver of the van.  And he kept looking at me in the review mirror and seeing my continuous sorrow show itself…I (for once) did not hold back.  At one point in the drive, through the grapevine I believe, we were surrounded by tall, green, grassy hills.  And I could have sworn I saw my grandmother and Fern standing atop one of the hills–beautifully bedecked in white, flowing dresses and waving goodbye to me.  Both of them were extremely happy.  They were smiling, and through their joyful adieu were in essence telling me, “It is ok to say goodbye.  We are happy, and we love you, don’t be sad for us.”  And though I know they weren’t really up on that hill waving to me, the very idea of them doing so soothed my heart, for I wasn’t able to say goodbye to either of them before their departure.  Don’t worry, I continued to cry and cry some more.  But that imagery has stayed with me, and I am thankful for it.

One of the songs I heard while encapsulated in the van was a song called, “Smile”, by Kirk Franklin.  I would put it up for you to see but I don’t really like any of the videos associated with it…it is better listened to without a visual aid.  Essentially the ministering lyrics go something like this:

“Today’s a new day, and there is no sunshine. Nothing but clouds, and it’s dark in my heart and it feels like a cold night. Today’s a new day, where are my blue skies, where is the love and the joy that you promised me you tell me it’s alright.
(I’ll be honest with you) I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain, fell from heaven like a shower.
(When I think how much better I’m gonna be when this is over) I smile, even though I’m hurt see I smile, I know God is working so I smile, Even though I’ve been here for a while I smile, smile…”

The truth of these lyrics are reminiscent of my intro paragraph and the running at drive and reverse simultaneously.  My grandma is gone, but wow what a celebration!  My Fernie is gone, but her grandson (whom we adore) and his expectant wife will be moving into the home of their beloved Fern.  Blessings and sorrow–simultaneously.  Elims=Smile!

Tengo una sombra de tristeza sobre mi alma.
tengo el resplendor de una

lleno con el difunto y
lleno con el amor.

El amor trae la alegria
La fe trae la esperanza
estoy vivo porque Dios es mi razón.

%d bloggers like this: