Monday, April 16, 2007

Yardly Tales: Yuletide in the Trenches

The scene: a lovingly set holiday table. Present: the matriarch, mid-seventies. Deeply adored husband recently deceased, and now deeply missed. All four of her children present--a rare event. These include: eldest daughter, mid-fifties, funny, smart, bright, light, a people person; second daughter, also known as middle child, socially organized but also socially sensitive, talkative and cheerful yet unnecessarily nervous; the only son, also known as the black sheep, who has recently completed retelling the saga of his just-destroyed marriage, involving the fist-fight with the 18-year-old step-son, the calling of the cops, and the obligatory restraining order; youngest daughter, also known as the unplanned pregnancy or "the mistake"--this would be me--, who accidentally got a PhD in astrophysics, inadvertantly and inexplicably ostricizing herself from all but the recently deceased, deeply adored and now deeply missed father. Eldest daughter's fiance is present--she's newly engaged!! Horay! All are delighted. Middle-child's husband is present. He is a pillar of strength and stability and all are happy and calm in his presence! Horay! Middle-child's eldest, a daughter, is expected soon, with her fiance--she has just gotten engaged. Horay! Middle-child's son and girlfriend--both veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, also known as the Iraq war--both made it out alive and are present at our table!! Horay! And she's writing a book which will come out soon, and is showing us some of her pictures for Iraq! Awesome! Youngest daughter's husband is present, who has chatted merrily to everyone and made the best gravy ever, and is well loved by all for being among other things the father of The Only Child at the Holiday Event, namely my beloved son. Who is, as of this Holiday 2004, six years old.

You will remember, that Holiday Season 2004 is only a few short weeks beyond the shocking and painful defeat of John Kerry and John Edwards by the Forces of Evil. So among all this, while dessert is being enjoyed, is my little son. Who begins with the following:

Son: Raise your hand if you vote for George Bush.

(In the interests of fairness, I will not reveal who raises their hands. But neither of his parents raised our hands. Instead, we held our breath. We had no idea where he was going with this.)

A few people put their hands up.

Son: Oh good. Maybe one of you can give me one good reason why anyone would vote for THAT IDIOT!?!?

(His parents are at once amazed and amused. This kid's got some serious comic timing thing going on!)

One diehard Republican reported that he/she just didn't vote cuz he/she was so disgusted with the party. The only other explanation I remember was:

Anonymous: Well, I think Bush is wrong about the war in Iraq. But I do agree with all his other policies.

Really?! Another intelligent right-winger, hoodwinked by the Republican Noise Machine.
Shocking. I invite all of you who feel similarly, as well as all of us who don't, to check out the new book by Victor Gold entitled, Envasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy Roller and Neocons Stole the GOP." This guy is a Barry Goldwater and Bush-the-Elder insider, so his words pack a particularly powerful punch.

Perhaps my next post will be about the destruction of my civil liberties so I can retain my status as a badged employee at NASA's GSFC. If you just can't wait til my next post, then simply Google "HSPD-12". Remember 1984? Now, you don't have to.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter in the Snow

It's Easter Sunday morning, and it doesn't look like we'll be going to church in 30 minutes, since I'm the only one awake! Yesterday morning we awoke to snow covering the trees (which all by now have flowers, and leaves and/or buds), and the daffodils and the newly green grass. It was surreal. The angle of the Sun in the sky gave you all the other visual cues of a Spring day. And yet, the ground was white.

Yesterday we spent the day with my nephew, his wife and daughter. We took in a puppet show-a new interpretation of Red Riding Hood that I thought was a yawn but the 9-yr-olds adored. Then off to the Udvar-Hazy extension of the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. Following that, a round of Balderdash, and finally a long, luxurious dinner at the Melting Pot.

On the drive home, my son shared his opinion that churches should not use electric lighting at night, but rather torches. This, he explained, is because God is ancient, and he had nothing to do with the invention of electricity. It was a good jumping off point, since my come-back was that God had just as much to do with the discovery of how electricity might work as he did with the discovery of how torches might be fashioned. To which he replied that a lot of bad things have occurred on Earth due to modern technology. To which I could reply that people on the Earth had managed to cause quite considerable mayhem to each other for many years with little more than fire at their disposal.

Perhaps not a very rosy conversation for Easter eve. But at least it let us get to a point where we were talking about people doing good things and people doing bad things and God forgiving people if they realize what they've done and seek forgiveness. Good to see that the Sunday school is paying off. Now if I can just get all the adults into the class for a couple months!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Off to college in 15 minutes

My son is 9. Very funny and persuasive. A pretty good baseball player. And was born with an easygoing nature that goes a long way toward making parenthood pretty easy for his folks. But there remain two areas that frustrate us. Since he turned one, he refuses to try any new food, though he will strike previously acceptable foods off his list of consumables. And in the face of many organized efforts to teach him to go to sleep on his own, he still often needs a parent to lie in bed with him. I should mention that literally since the day he was born, he has refused to settle down for the night before 9:30 and often not til 10:30. From the day he was born.

My husband and I both work full time and we are both in busy music bands. We each have a sufficiently bloated schedule that the boy is often with only one parent from the time he gets home from school to the time he "goes to bed" for the evening. On one particular night between last Thanksgiving and New Years, he was home with me. We don't turn the TV on and limit his time on the computer or video games on school nights. So he was distraction-free. He was glued to my side the entire evening, talking to me mostly about imaginary space battles from his Star Trek imagination. Or reviewing with me plot points from episodes he'd seen before but didn't quite understand. Or just wanted to talk about again. And as the night lumbered along toward bed time, he became increasingly reluctant to let me out of his sight or away from his side. He wouldn't brush his teeth unless I was in the bathroom with him. He wouldn't go upstairs to put his pajamas on unless I went up too. He wouldn't lie down on the bed to read unless I lay down too. He wanted me to read to him. I agreed to every request, and finally, around 10:15, and feeling not a little bit exasperated, I manged to turn the light off.


"Yes, son?"

"Will you tell me a story?"

In a much more negative and frustrated tone than I like to use, I answered with. "You really should be able to put yourself to sleep now that you are nine years old. You really need to think about why it is that you won't leave my side all night and then you can't just lie in your room and put yourself to sleep. Why is that? Can you give me any idea?" I was not expecting an answer.

He was quiet for a moment, and then responded with this. "Well, in about eight or nine years, I'm going to go to college." "Right." "And that time is going to pass by before we know it. It's going to seem like fifteen minutes. Or maybe two weeks." [A beat.] "And I really just want to get to know you, and spend time with you before then."

My negative attidude disappeared. Poof. I made up a story about a kid who found a spacecraft in his back yard and pushed a button and took a trip through the solar system, and counted my blessings. And I didn't stop the story until he was fast asleep.