Danny Tanner

I’m at the White Chocolate Grill.  I haven’t been here since I came with Robb.  For a moment I thought I was sitting in the same table, but I think that’s only because I can so easily imagine him across from me.

 

That doesn’t happen very much anymore.  That sweet ache of an almost vivid memory.

 

It’s Gabrielle Monday: the boys’ weekly date with our babysitter, the neighborhood boys’ weekly delight as the prettiest girl in the history of testosterone arrives with all her charm and maternal instincts to grant me my night off. (Is there a chorus in your head right now?  There is in mine.  Always with those words: night off.)

I have challenged myself to eat somewhere different each time.  But I’m not sure what difference it makes since I’m always likely to order something with fresh avocado, a wedge salad, an aged balsamic, and preferably bread and soft butter.  But I pretend I am bold.

 

The boys have been watching an episode of Full House, on repeat.  Well, they’ve watched it twice.  But they haven’t deleted it from the dVR line up.  It’s the one where Danny goes on his first date after his wife has died.

 

Joey and Jesse are so excited for him to enter the dating scene.  Danny is nervous as hell, and he does all those stupid, goofy Danny Tanner things that are quirky and unrealistic.  The girl he is taking out is the Hive Mother of Stephanie’s Busy Bees Club.  She’s skinny, and she never takes off her Busy Bee Antennae.  Danny tells his daughters he’s going on a first date, and then he woffles back and forth – should he go, should he not – by cancelling and then affirming his date with Linda over and over again.

 

The thing is, in part, they’ve got it right.  Nervous as hell.  Stupid quirky things that I can’t believe could be realistic.

 

DJ is most offended by the idea of a new date, a new woman in Danny’s life.  Stephanie is her most charming life stage and doesn’t really know what’s going on.

 

(Sidenote: – It’s really a bummer for child actors who piqued at age 4 when they were hired.

Lucky find: Michelle Tanner.  Unlucky find: Rudy Huxtable.  It’s a gamble.)

 

Anyway, DJ does all kinds of things to guilt her dad into abandoning his date with Linda. She believes the date will mean Linda is her new mom.  She believes that even though the date might make her dad happy, her mom will be very sad somewhere.

 

Finally, Danny sits down with all three girls.  He explains that a date doesn’t mean marriage, which is something I remind myself often. Danny says something wise and important, although I have to confess I haven’t listened directly, in part because I don’t really want to think too hard about the words, and in part because I want the boys to believe they have happened on to this insider scoop on their very own, that they have elite, unauthorized information on the life of a single parent.

 

So, Danny says (something like),

 

Girls, I’ll always love your mom.

She was the love of my life.  She and I made three little miracles together, and I will always love her.  That will always be true, even if I marry someone else someday.

I know what your mom would want for me, because she and I talked about it before you were born.  We decided that we wanted you girls to be taken care of, and we wanted each other to be happy, not lonely.  

 

And the music rises, and he hugs each of his children, and they all agree he should go on the date with Linda instead of staying home to eat ice cream with the girls.  He pretends he doesn’t want DJ to call Linda, and yet he knows the number by memory.  The typical 555- of sitcoms.

 

And then Danny decides what to wear, and Joey and Jesse become his fashion coaches.  And the whole thing gets very distracting because I really want Joey to wear a belt with his Z Cavariccis.

 

The episode ties its neat and tidy bow as Danny and Linda are heading out the door.  Thank the heavens above that she has ditched the antennae.

 

I just kind of want to know about the date, though.  There’s something so sweet and innocuous about Full House.  Corny or not, I know it would go well and be over in 26 minutes.

 

The boys have watched this episode the last three nights before bed. Today, while I was doing dishes (read: cleaning up Tyler’s science experiment when he couldn’t clean up any longer because of his gag reflex), Tyler asked me if I feel lonely because Daddy is gone.  And I didn’t have to wonder where the question was born.

 

I think the writers of Full House should have invested more in Danny’s life in the later years, instead of all that nonsense with Jesse and Rebecca and Nicky and Alex.  But I get it: John Stamos is exponentially more handsome than Bob Saget.  Ratings.

 

Anyway.  My guacamole is here.  With a side of wedge salad.

A Word to Graduates

I have been invited to speak at the Continuation Ceremony of a class of kindergarteners I taught nine years ago.  (Nine years ago!)  I have marked this date on my calendar for many weeks now, so honored to join them for this celebration of such a victory.  Plus, I couldn’t wait to see them again.  It always jars my brain when the children stand before me, forever changed.  The boys have muscles; the girls have curves.  It’s an alarming thing, really. 

But so very sadly, I am sick today.  Bronchitis has hit our home with a dark cloud of ferocity, and I can’t barely utter a whisper today.  So there’s no sense in handing me a microphone.  With great resignation, I will not be able to go tonight.  A friend will read my words to them on my behalf.

So, I’m sharing with you the words I planned to share with them. 

* * *

 

First of all, congratulations.

Congratulations on finishing the last nine years, from the first day of kindergarten to where you are now. Those of you who have excellent handwriting, I hope you’ll remember we started that skill in my classroom. Those of you who raise your hand before you blurt out answers in class, I hope you’ll remember that nobody knew the importance of that on the first day of kindergarten. We worked and worked on that until you became proficient at waiting to speak.Those of you who sing songs throughout your day, who sing good morning songs to yourselves and your families, I hope you’ll remember how we did that too, for every transition. Oh, we sang, sang, sang.

I am exceedingly proud of you, eighth graders. You are a beautiful bunch, and you will forever live in my hearts. Although in my memory, you’re much smaller.

So, congratulations on finishing the last nine years, but more specfically, congraulations on finishing the last three years. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades are notoriously the worst years of school, and you can ask almost any adult: they will say they didn’t enjoy middle school or junior high.

Everything gets harder in those years. Everybody get a little meaner. They’re some tough years. And you did it. Congratulations, my friends. You have finished middle school.

Let’s think for a moment about the Green, Yellow, Red card system in a classroom. Everybody begins each day with a green card, and then your choices throughout the day will determine if you stay with green, if you get a warning yellow, or if you must suffer the consequences of red. I have a kindergartener of my own now, and we celebrate his green cards with grandeur. For a six year old, it’s the definition of a good day of wise choices.

The best thing about the Card System is this: you get to start over everyday. Everyday begins with green. No matter what happened yesterday,
how many times you cut in line
or shouted an answer
or giggled in the hallway
or made a mess of paper towels in the bathroom
or argued with your teacher
or got out of your chair to roam the room,
the next day is a new day.

And every new day starts out Green.

Guess what? Here’s the best news about graduating from eighth grade: you get a brand new card. Each one of you. New card. And it can be any color you want.

When you enter high school, you’re starting a new stage, and for some people, those are their favorite years of school. (They were mine!) It doesn’t matter what color your cards were in grade school and middle school – it doesn’t matter anymore. You get to start fresh. With your new card, you get to decide who you will be.

Will you get good grades?
Will you be on time?
Will you do your best?

Will you manage your planner and finish your homework and study for tests and be prepared?

You get to decide. It doesn’t matter who you were before now. It’s all new.

More importantly,
Will you be kind?
Will you encourage others?
Will you show compassion?
Will you share what you have?
Will you love well?
Will you make decisions that are respectful and honoring to you and your family?

You get to decide. It doesn’t matter who you were before now. It’s all new.

And keep this in mind, in case I don’t get to see you on the day you graduate from high school: you’ll get a new card that day too. There are are a few times in your life when you get to start over, define yourself, and choose who you really want to be.

This is one of those days.

As you enter high school, as you’re deciding who you will be and how you will be known at this new school, let me let you in on a secret. Lean in close. Closer. This is an important secret, and you might not hear it from many people. Ready?

Everybody around you is a little bit miserable. Everybody is worried about something. Everybody is afraid nobody likes them. Everybody is afraid they’re not good enough. And everybody’s trying hard to look like they’re not miserable.

When you look around your high school next year, when you see so many new faces and they all seem to have their friends figured out and they have found their places in the social structure of high school, remember: everybody is a little bit miserable. You’re not the only one.

The best way to help yourself feel better is to make someone else feel better. If you see someone sitting alone in the cafeteria, make it your responsibility to help them feel included. Join them at their table or invite them to yours. Look for ways to make other people feel better about who they are and how their day is going, and I promise, yours will get better too.

So let me challenge you with two words: Choose Kindness.

There are lots of words about anti-bullying right now. Posters, bracelets, commercials on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, all against bullying. I agree. Bullying is never acceptable and we need to rescue those who are being bullied.

But.

Instead of trying to bring an end to the trend of bullying, what if we try to begin a campaign of Kindness?

There are enough of you in this room to make a serious change in your high school next year. You won’t have even have to do it alone. Look around you. These people are the faces of your teammates. Choose Kindness.

I love every single one of you, and I’m so sorry I’m not there to say these words myself.

You are loved.
You are important.
You are kind.
You are brave.
You are one of a kind, one in a million.

And remember: nearly everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten.

So be kind.

Foregone Conclusion

“Tricia, you seem to write and think and talk about marriage as if it’s definitely going to happen. Like it’s a foregone conclusion.”

Actually, that’s exactly what it is. I know I’ll marry again. I know this with an absurd sense of clarity and assurance.

“So does that mean you’re seeing someone?”

Nope. But one doesn’t need the bird in her hand to know that she’s made for the nest.

I think he’ll know that he knows. I already know that I know. We simply need to know each other. There is a place in my heart with his name on it, even though I haven’t yet fallen in love with him. But I’ll know when I do.

I think he’s looking for me.
I think he’s been waiting even longer than I have.
I think his heart has been broken in the way that brings perspective.

Perspective that shows you not to worry about little things,
not to fight about stupid things,
and to let most of it go
in the name of peace and grace and love and
I’m happy to see you again.

Perspective that shows you it doesn’t matter if the boys’ fingernails are trimmed,
that sometimes it’s good to eat dessert first,
that hellos and goodbyes matter,
the scattered Legos are a work in progress,
and silence is a language all its own.

I think he loves God and asks questions.
I think he’s solid in his career,
he’s established and confident,
and we can fearlessly support one another
and dive into a life of words together.

I think he’s smart and funny and thinking, and thereby the most handsome man in the room.

I think he’ll be afraid,
because so am I,
because the only way to be fearless is if you’ve never loved to a place of brokenness before.
I think he’ll be courageous,
because so am I,
because the only way to live is to love enough that you might break into pieces.

I think he wants to be a dad to somebody.
Or to two somebodies.
I think he understands the heart of an artist,
the mind of a writer.
I think we can walk alongside one another,
creating a sum that is greater than all its parts.
I think we will create.
I think neither of us can breathe unless we do.

I belong to him,
and I’m making today’s decisions with him in mind.
I think we will be great.
And we’ll know when we know.

It’s a foregone conclusion.

She

She made an appointment to visit the house that was hers the day before.

She brought two friends along, who began as real estate specialists and have found roots in her heart.  She arrived and saw that the new owners were parked in the garage.  She later found their things in the house.  Their work at redecorating had begun, and the bathroom lights were coming down.  Dangling, actually.

She walked through each room.
She talked about something she had loved in each room.
“He always walked into that chandelier, anytime the kitchen table was moved for any reason,” she said.
“I bought the house for this kitchen,” she said.
“The deck was a gift to me from my church community,” she said.
“The wood floors were a gift to me from a blog reader,” she said.
“The faucet?  He changed that as soon as we moved in.  Not because there was anything wrong with the old one.  Just because I mentioned I’d like one that was taller.  So he replaced it.  Which is how he made most of his decisions: there’s nothing wrong with it, but I can get her a better one.”

She looked at the washer and dryer, the space where she learned to be a mom, where she learned that love is not always a feeling.  Sometimes it’s clean underwear and folded undershirts.

She walked into the bedroom.
The sunlight shone on the carpet, lit up the walls in the bare room.
She lay on the floor.
“He was here.  He was right here.”
She wept, her tears spilling on the carpet and into her hands.  She lay where he had lain, her head where his had been.  “He was here.”
She lay still, sobbing.  Remembering.
Her friends stayed with her.

She sat up on her knees.  She looked around the room.  She rememberd other things, better times.
“He painted this room for me while I was on a girls’ weekend away.  It always bothered him that he ran out of time.  He would have done one more coat,” she said.
“I told him I was pregnant in this room, right in that little space there.”
“What did he say?” her friend asked.
“He picked me up.  He held me.  He said, ‘Let’s do this thing, momma.'”

She let the sun fall on her.
She soaked it in, with the smells of the room, the feel of the carpet, the knowledge that she could never come back.
She cried until she was finished.
And then she stood up.
“Okay.  I’m finished,” she said.

She closed the door behind her;
her fingers lingered on the doorknob.

Her friends loaded her car with the items remaining, far more than a box, far less than a life.
She locked the door behind her and handed over the key.

She walked to her car.
She carried a broom, a doorstop, and a picture frame.

And her life mattered.