Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Arachnid War Mentality

Spiders are fine by me as
long as they mind their business
while I am minding mine.
But sometimes,
maybe about two or three times a year,
I find a spider minding her business where
I am minding mine.
If I feel threatened and if help is nearby,
I yell for assistance, deferring responsibility for
the spider’s life to the whims of my assister.
Other times I choose to ignore the spider,
counting on the fact that she will
return my good favor by ignoring me the
remainder of her spider days.
But then there are days like today when
I employ a now decades-old skill first discovered after my
oldest child’s birth.
I transform into a ferocious warrior armed with
whatever I can grab.
I move quickly, before I lose will, motivated by
one powerful,
Don’t harm my children.
Then, staring at what might remain, I attempt to avoid
this disquieting
Was she thinking the same?
© Joy M. Newcom, June 27, 2012
. . .

Monday, June 25, 2012

From Bully to Good Neighbor

Tonight I am cleaning a closet that has been storing - among other things - more than a decade's worth of school papers for both of our sons. Parents know school papers. Each has unique importance and meaning, yet each is a building block of a colossal mess when mom and/or dad have neglected the act of treasure triage.

The challenges of Stross' school years made triage difficult in the midst of those moments. I wanted to hold onto memories of each educational victory. All large, none small. So I delayed decision making about Stross' school papers until after he graduated. That was three years ago; I may be delaying it again this week.

This evening Skye's stash has been serving as my warmup. I am determined to look at each precious piece of Skye's educational milestones and force myself into a decision. Some decisions have been easier than others. For instance, the stories he wrote - one after another. During preschool, kindergarten and first grade, he would sometimes write and illustrate multiple masterpieces a day. I am saving them all - for now.

I am also saving notes from teachers that provide early insight into the person I recognize in a more mature form today. So far this is one of my favorites. I have titled it "From Bully to Good Neighbor."

I hold no memory of the incident Skye's kindergarten teacher reported on the note. Apparently another boy in the class was organizing a bully group; I am not clear if Skye had been chosen to be part of this select entourage. I only know that he presented his classmate with an alternative after Mrs. Shirk said they could only form "good" groups. Skye's solution: the Good Neighbor Group.

I don't know if that is what happened on that promising Spring day in 2001, but I continue to hold such a hope for my son more than a decade later. When groups are forming and invitations are offered him, I hope he self-identifies as a good neighbor and then fulfills his self-appointed role. I hold the same hope for the boy who wanted to classify classmates as bullies that day, wherever he might now be living. The world needs to be filled with good neighbors. Every classroom, every home.

I am thankful for those who help teach these lessons in kindergarten. Don't be a bully. Be a good neighbor. Sounds pretty simple to me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time Passages

Our tree house defines our backyard. Before that, it defined much of our sons’ childhoods.

But our sons are grown now. Stross, at 21, can no longer maneuver his body up the climbing tower we designed to accommodate his physical limitations. The structure has become something he visits when his parents are hosting an outdoor event.

Skye, four years his junior, also no longer clambers up the tower during imaginary games invented by a cadre of confidantes similar in age. Confidential conversations still occur under the willow, only now they happen late at night while seated in the same spots grownups typically choose.

The photo of eight young men that looks like it was taken through a darkened, dirty window spotted with water was taken exactly that way. I clandestinely clicked and then posted it to Instagram for their review and comment. That is how life is lived now.

Our boys have grown up. Our sons are young men. I think the tree house has noticed. I certainly have.

A few weeks ago, I invited a friend and her two little boys, Zach and Cody, to join Mark and me in a picnic atop the tree house’s tower. They helped me pack a picnic basket before scrambling outside to begin an adventuresome climb to the top. The climb was also adventuresome for their mom, Mark and me.

Basket balanced. Steps well placed. Everyone safely seated with a view unimagined from the ground. The magic of the moment lived in their eyes: a bit scared, a bit awed, a bit eager to eat. And soon after their fun began, they were ready for it to end. There were more adventures to chase; more spaces to explore.

Time passes quickly where little boys are concerned: our boys, the little boys who were our guests, the little boys and little girls who will visit our tree house in the future or even call it their own one day.

That is how life is now. That is how life has always been.

Instagram moments. Captured in time.

Enjoy a look back: Terrific Tree House = Fun for All . . .