Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Transitioning to the comfy jeans

This week Gavin brought his spelling list home, on which he's learning the -tch pattern.  Words like hatch, batch, patch, ditch, and stitch were printed perfectly using a perforated-line font, beckoning a pencil to connect the dashes and make the letters complete.  Pause for a bit of back story: each week, Gavin hastily traces all the letters, checks off the five words he wants to use first in his sentences, and leaves the remaining five for the next night.  Usually, the first night of spelling sentences is smooth sailing, because he's carefully selected the words for which he can independently and effectively craft a sentence.  It's in the second night that we face frustration.  Tears.  Annoyance. {when I give a few example sentences/scenarios and ask him to tell me what he thinks the word means based on that.  why will I not simply tell him the meaning?  why would I ever give him the chance to actually apply the strategies he's learning in school?  obviously, I don't know anything about kids and learning.  silly mommy.}

So, this week pretty much fell into tune with their previous counterparts; rapid tracing of letters, easy words used in day one sentences, frustration at mommy making him go back to capitalize and punctuate said sentences, and further frustration when he doesn't know how to verbalize what the day two words mean based on mom-given examples.  However, with it being the first week of May, I'm familiar with the routine and had armed myself heavily with an extra tall iced hazelnut latte.  The first four words of spelling sentence torture writing day 2 went relatively smoothly, so I {stupidly} relaxed a little and figured we'd sail through that final word.  Then, he read it {slowly sounding it out...but reading it all the same}


{Press 'play' for the repetitive conversation that ensues at the evil abyss of every unknown word:}
M: Gav, have you heard that word before?
G: Well Mrs. {awesome teacher} said it a few times yesterday and today.
M: Can you think of anywhere else you might have heard it?
G: Um....{dramatic pause to give the effect that he's actually thinking rather than seeing if I'll cave and define the word}  I've never heard it.
M: Okay then...listen to these three things, and see if you can figure out what the word means. {insert off-the-cuff-yet-craftily-created sentences/examples that allow him to utilize context clues}
G: Um...{'thinking' pause}...I don't know.  Just tell me.
M: If I 'just tell you', do you learn?
G: *SIGH*, face palm and/or head-meet-table.
M: I'll be ready to help you when you're finished with this *awesome* display of maturity.

Fast forward {not really, since you had to read that} to the final word.  Clutch.  This time, however, one of my off-the-cuff examples actually freaking worked, and Gavin replied with, "oh, so clutch means you hold on to something you really want".  Angelic voices resounded through the house as I polished off the last of my latte.  "So like, you hate being old, and you really want to be younger, so you clutch it".  {I know, right?  If it weren't for that whole 'parental responsibility' thing, and my deep-seeded love for the little smart a**, I'd have given him another -tch for his spelling list.}

After I spewed the last bit of coffee across the table, I raised a curious-yet-slightly-annoyed eyebrow {whilst deepening those 'worry lines'.  Damn the worry lines.}.

Innocent and ignorant laughter at mommy's apparent coffee faux pas broke the tension that was making my eye do this funny twitch thing when I'm seriously not pleased.  I stopped seeing those little squiggling lines in the background of my vision, and managed to respond with, "well, yes, Gavin.  I guess some people clutch to their youth.  Even your mother."

"Oh, okay.  Well, now I remember Mrs. {awesome teacher who is unaware the repercussions of this simple homework task} said that a 'clutch' can be like a purse without a strap.  And I raised my hand and said that my mommy has some of those and used it when she was in my uncle's wedding to carry her lip gloss and phone and tissues because she cried, but that's okay they were happy tears.  I'm going to write 'My mom has a black clutch with a flower'."

I sat in annoyed silence, empty latte cup in front of me, brow furrowed deeply {screw the worry lines, I'll buy some sort of cream} while my *darling* son wrote his stupid cute little sentence about a flowery purse.

So...apparently my almost-7-year-old is 'on to me' as I make valiant attempts to 'clutch my youth'.  I thought about this today while I was slathering on the SPF 70 to any exposed skin possible after I got dressed, while I was applying concealer to address the dark circles that skirt my under eyes, and while I made a notation on a sticky note in my planner to pick up some more hair color the next time I'm at Mecca Target because those few pesky color-that-shall-not-be-named appear to be peeking through.

I thought about all of the other things I do to 'clutch' at my youth.  There are a lot.  An uncomfortable amount even.  Most of which involve some crazy beauty ritual, a clothing style I might be on the verge of no longer being able to 'pull off', or music that I'm clutching to because it makes me remember 'the time when...'.

That last thing--about the music--spawned an impromptu walk down a piece of memory lane with two of my sweet friends from Penn State.  While painting a hallway today, I was listening to a playlist entitled "00's #1 Hits"{I didn't name it}.  As the songs filled my head, I was mentally transported to the dance floors of the favorite bars and clubs my friends and I frequented in State College.  Not wanting 'my girls' to feel left out, I tagged them in a post referring to this playlist on my Facebook.  Soon after, a stream of random conversation spawned from our sporadic, well-loved memories from a time in our lives when referring to 'my girls' actually meant my friends, not my daughters.

How and when did the paradigm shift, leaving me feeling like the pair of jeans you wear only if your favorite, cute ones happen to be in the wash?

I suppose the redeeming factor in this metaphor is of course that while those jeans aren't as new and 'hip' {wow.  yeah, I just said 'hip'.  honestly, I'm turning in my cool card right now}, they're pretty awesome because they're the ones you rely on when you need comfort, nostalgia, and maybe a little extra space in the waist.  They're the jeans that remind you of 'that time when...', and most likely have pretty good memories attached to them, because it isn't wise to hold on to things associated with unpleasantness.   Maybe they don't get to get 'out' as much as they used to.  That's okay.  Their primary purpose is to run errands, not to have a casual dinner and drinks with friends or be paired with trendy heels for a night of dancing and bar-hopping.  Sure, they might be a bit faded and worn, but that shows the marks of experience and lessons learned while wearing them.  Their little frays and tears are the jean's own way of showing 'worry lines', but instead of masking them with some sort of 'quasi-magic-and-only-temporary' fix, these flaws enhance their character and can become an opportunity to begin a conversation that could lead to great things.  {Tell me I'm not the only one who takes note of wonderfully, beautifully loved jeans.  Of course the Gemini in me doesn't just take note, I head into my loquacious side and use the butter-soft vintage-ness as a conversation starter.  It's okay if you're thinking that's strange right now.  When I wrote my truth the other day, I noted in number 12 that I have a horrible time receiving compliments, which essentially means the reverse is true, and I am pretty familiar with taking on a bit of taunting and mockery about my little quirks.}


As I was reading over Gavin's homework this afternoon so he can turn it in tomorrow, I glazed over the sentences and paused briefly at the clutch sentence to re-hash the crazy, meandering path my mind took upon hearing my son's {innocent} accusation of me trying like hell hard to hold on to my youth.  True, I'm just about a month away from yet another birthday; growing yet another year closer to the number that I'm sure will cause me to go into anaphylactic shock when it does in fact happen.

I am slowly recognizing myself as those comfortable jeans.  They may be full of holes, and 'broken', but who says 'broken' isn't ok?  Every one has flaws, fades, frays and stories to tell.

'The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places'.
Ernest Hemmingway

shine bright, lone light

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