Pomp and Circumstance

“Mommy, we need to take these.”  We were already running late on the morning of kindergarten graduation, so I was hesitant to add anything to our take-along list. I didn’t even want to look to see what it was.

It was a half empty bag of Twizzlers.

“No, we don’t.”

“Yes, we do.  We are supposed to bring something to share at the reception in the classroom.”

Oh, right.  Excellent.  He tells me this as we’re walking out the door – actually, not yet to that point.  Probably I’ve been informed several other ways as well, perhaps the kindergarten website or email update or Thursday folder.  Bless their hearts, they try to keep me informed.  The problem is definitely not with the messenger.

I think the start of next school year may be a good time for me to launch resolutions.  Next year I will read the papers that come home.  And I will not let the lunch balance dip into the negative.  And we will be on time maybe 3 out of 5 days a week.  (It’s important to be realistic.)

I folded the bag and stuffed it into the extremity that is my purse.   I recently asked my mom, “Do you like my new purse?”

“Actually, Trish, you and I define ‘purse’ differently.  But I’d say I like your new carry-on bag.”

We were finally very close to departure when I realized I hadn’t packed a lunch for Tucker.  My mind was so wrapped around this kindergarten commencement, I forgot that one child still has a fairly normal – albeit end of the year – day of school in front of him.  A day in which he’ll need to eat.  Honestly, Tricia.

Tuck and I raced back to the pantry, grabbing handfuls of processed and individually wrapped options – granola bars, Gogurt, Caprisun, Doritos, and applesauce.  And three giant marshmallows for dessert.

“Tyler!  Tyler!  Tylerrrrrr!”  I’m holding the door open, ushering the ducklings through, realizing I am missing half the troup.  “Tyler!”

“I’m coming!”

He came down the stairs with his hair now nicely combed and gelled, but he was also wearing mismatched, pastel-striped winter gloves.

“Dude, you’re not wearing those today.”  He heaved a sigh to show how unreasonable I am, and he stripped them off, turning them inside out, and chucked them on the floor. “Let’s GO, Tyler.”

Kindergarten graduation is an event all its own.  The children are dressed in their Sunday best, they are wearing paper crowns, and their parents are taking pictures like paparazzi.  It is rivaled only by the very first day of kindergarten.

Remember that silent auction I wrote about weeks ago?  The one where my mom scored front row seats to kindergarten graduation?  I was deeply thankful for her dogged persistence, as we slipped in at the last minute to find two seats saved in the front row.  Reserved: Williford.  As if I had earned them by being PTA president or Model Volunteer or Mother of the Year or some other nonsense.

Three classes of kindergarteners processed before us all, with Pomp and Circumstance playing on the boombox in the corner of the gymnasium.  I must tell you, in that moment, my little man has never looked so grown up.

Each class sang their prepared songs, while a little boy muttered from the middle of the kindergarten choir, “Are we done yet?  I hope the next song isn’t The World is a Rainbow,” during the introduction to The World is a Rainbow.

For each child’s shining moment, the teacher called him to the center of the stage, shook each child’s hand, and asked, “And what do you want to be when you grow up?”

There are several budding teachers, presidents, racecar drivers, a queen, a pop star, a farmer, a couple of scientists, a Marine, and a little boy who said, “I will be a pastor if the Holy Spirit picks me.”

Tyler’s practiced answer is “scientist,” and he had privately added, “But I’ll only work with gooey messy stuff and make things that explode and help people.”  In a dramatic surprise to us all, he announced that he would like to be “Hulk Smash.”

So we have finished kindergarten.  And I brought a half bag of Twizzlers to celebrate.

Plowing through Clorox Wipes

My son is ‘washing’ my car with Clorox wipes.

An unprompted favor on his part.

Or perhaps prompted by the new sticker chart incentive system I’ve put in place.

It’s possible that Clorox is really bad for cars.

It’s also likely that this isn’t the most cost effective way to wash a car.

But I’m letting him do it.

I just think maybe he’s learning more from serving than he would learn if I intervened, changed the process, or lessened his gift in anyway.

So, we’re plowing through Clorox wipes at an alarming rate around here.

If you’ll excuse me, there’s a sparkling exhaust pipe that needs my affirmation.

Sky, Stars, Moon, Crickets, Tears.

The sky is beautiful from my backyard. I’m sitting out here under the stars.

Sweet full moon, I thought you were a spotlight in someone’s yard. How much more I like you, knowing who you are. Shine on me tonight.

I made some mistakes today. I should have trusted my instincts. I let my child play where I thought he shouldn’t have gone, and he was introduced to a world of cable channels he had not known. He is six years old, with horror images from ‘the scary channel.’

Sweet Jesus, you have washed those from his mind tonight, I believe. Tyler and I asked you to, we asked you to be near to him, to give him sweet things to think about. We know you are not the God of fear, and when things frighten us at night or during the day, these are not thoughts from you. Thank you for helping my son to be strong and courageous. For you are with him wherever he goes, even into his very own top bunk. He sleeps because he rests in you.

O, warm tears, I know you so well. Rain on me. I miss you when you are gone for too long. There is a nectar all your own. I can taste it tonight.

I miss you, Robb. I miss you because I miss you because I miss you. I have come outside tonight because my hand wandered to the empty side of the bed, and after two and a half years of sleeping alone, I could nearly suffocate in the cool emptiness of the clean sheets. I cannot believe this story continues to be true.

Crickets, thank you for your song. I’m listening.

God, just as I prayed with my son tonight, speaking the truth that you are not the author of fear, in that very moment I remembered as well that you are not the author of confusion. When I am afraid or confused (tonight I am confused and thereby afraid), I can know my thoughts do not come from you.

But what on earth are you doing?
What are you doing to me?
What are you doing at all?
My questions pile high.
Tonight I am too fearful to write them down.

But this I can ask: how does a person take a single step without knowing you? Even when my path is unclear, when questions rattle in my mind, still I know who to ask. What does anyone do without your companionship? What does anyone do when they don’t believe in you even enough to be angry with you?

I do not trust you tonight. But I want to.

Sweet moon, shine on me.
Warm tears, rain on me.
Crickets, sing to me.

Do what you were made to do, that I may as well.

Good as New

In our quest to become a bike riding family, I took our bikes in for a tune up.

The tattooed cyclist, his arms inked with vines of roses from his wrists to his armpits, who was working in his socks today, looked at mine and said, “Ma’am, this bike looks brand new.”

Well, I’ve had it for twelve years. Apparently I’ve kept it in my bedroom closet.

We are Not Peers

Oh, I see what’s happened here. You two boys think the three of us are peers.

That my words to you are suggestions for you to take under advisement, perhaps get a second opinion.

That you may tell me what time you expect me to be home.

That you may disagree with how I spend my time or fold my laundry.

That you may tell me when you’re planning to be gone, or even more, that you may simply head out and make your plans.

That you may throw a fit and make a scene, cast out emotionally maniuplative untruths, like, “You’re never with us!” and “You don’t even want us!” You can be angry, and you can tell me how you feel; but you may not say things that are not true. And you know – you know that I know that you know – those words are not true.

You believe our bedtimes should be the same and our dessert servings should be equal.

You are six and seven. And I’m about to shake up the hierarchy around here.

I am the lord, Your Mother. I do not change.

Brace yourselves, little dictators.  It’s not going down this way.