Monday, April 22, 2013

"S" is for Siblings (Write On, Mamas!)

I'm over at Write On, Mamas! today with the "S" post in the A-Z blog campaign. Be sure to check out all the letters of the alphabet and poke around the site a bit.  You will love the writing and the clever photographs that accompany each letter.

I finally joined Write On, Mamas! a year ago when my then new friend J practically dragged me. J won't remember it that way - she'll just remember me asking to carpool with her or something.  She didn't know then that every few months I'd pull up the website for the previous incarnation of WOM and think about emailing the coordinator.  I did a lot of thinking. I never emailed.  I never went to a meeting. But now I stake out those Sundays, leave my family in the midst of important Sunday afternoon activities (like baseball watching and weed pulling) and get myself over to Marin.  I find a spot at a table and I write, surrounded by other mamas just trying to get some words on the page.  After an hour or so we pull our chairs together for announcements, and then we are joined by our guest speaker. Last month we were treated to a panel of our own members sharing thoughts on building a platform.  And we also cheered on a few writers who auditioned for Lit Crawl in October.  I was blown away by the writing, and also by how much writing these women squeeze in between all the mothering and, in many cases, working.  I refuse to consider what took me so long.  I'm just glad I finally got there!

Oscar's Business

A few days ago a friend contacted me on facebook - she'd heard Oscar had started a dog walking and cat sitting business and wanted to know if he was free this weekend.

"Oscar!" I called to the other room. "Word is getting around! You have another request for cat sitting."

Oscar came out of his room, sporting a wide-eyed grin.  But when he spotted me sitting on the couch, smiling broadly, he narrowed his eyes and studied my expression. I knew what he was thinking - it sounded too good to be true, and this is exactly the kind of joke I'd play on him.

"Wait, Mom," he said, "are you joking?"  A giggle erupted from between his lips.  I'm not sure if he was laughing because he'd thought he'd caught me in a fib, or because he might actually have a new cat customer.  I burst out laughing too which made it only harder to convince him I wasn't teasing this time.

For years now the family has been bugging me to agree to a dog. Or a hamster.  Or a gerbil. (No one has ever begged for a cat, but that might change now!) And then a few months ago money-obsessed Oscar got the idea to start a dog-walking business.  He could earn money for his future* and get to spend time with dogs. He was downright giddy about this plan and spent weeks on his flier, working on slogans and strategies with a few super patient adults at Abe's baseball games.  We took this picture of him with one baseball friend's dog to use on the flier.  Adding cat-sitting to the flier was a last minute decision but has landed Oscar three jobs already.

I had an aha moment during this whole process.  Since Oscar was born we've tried to find ways to help him lead a fun and interesting life, doing the things his peers would do.  It took a year to learn to ride a bike, but now we can go on family rides.  Recently, with help from Abe and Ruby, he's learned to play a few board games, and can sustain a game with a friend without a huge meltdown.  So, I finally realized, just because he can't walk a dog by himself or handle a cat-sitting job alone doesn't mean he shouldn't get to do it at all.  We just have to help him.

This weekend Oscar cleaned out the litter box, re-filled water and food bowls, and played with my friend's two cats.  I saw him working on so many new skills.  When he spilled water it took him a few moments to realize he needed to clean it up, and then went in search of a paper towel, all without consulting me.  When one cat was wary of him he sat on the floor next to her hiding place and talked gently to her.  He learned how to engage them with their toys, something that doesn't come as easily to a kid with compromised social skills.  And then tonight I had him dictate an email to my friend with a summary of the weekend.  He struggled with articulating his thoughts but finally managed a heartfelt note.

None of this has changed my mind about getting pets of our own right now (sorry kiddos!), but it did make me realize that these jobs are far more than "just" indulging Oscar's interests and helping him save for the future. 

*Oscar's future dreams include getting a degree in zoology, marrying his girlfriend, buying a big house, having three children and five dogs, and purchasing and running a zoo.  (Helping him reconcile these dreams with a more realistic future will undoubtedly be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting we'll face.  But we'll figure it out, right?)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Finding My Way Back...

I've been trying to find my way back here for months. Yes, months.   But it's so hard (for me and my compulsive nature) to jump back in without relating every minute detail since last June when I fell off the blogosphere.  

Last June.  Last June when Oscar graduated from our amazing school, he in his giraffe tie, me in my giraffe print dress.  Scenes still replay in my mind -- Oscar standing proudly while his teacher honored him, her voice cracking ever so slightly.  Oscar walking through the receiving line of teachers - every teacher since kindergarten - each one enveloping him in warm congratulatory hugs.

And then last August. Oscar's transition to his new school, complete with girlfriend, long but fun van ride commutes, just right curriculum, and thoughtful and talented staff.   I'm still in the "pinch-me" phase. How did we get so lucky, again?  

And the time he played a joke on me, the kind I always play on him.  Oscar made up some fantastical story and tried to get me to believe it, and then burst into giggles when he realized he'd succeeded.

And the hard stuff too.  A couple of months of digestion related stomach pain, sometimes so severe that he couldn't sleep at night and spent hours curled up on the cushions at school.  The time we (and by "we" I mean Paul) piggybacked him down the mountain on skis because we'd way overestimated his mental and physical stamina.  And the time, just last week, right after I returned from a big trip, that he was so outraged that I'd caught him in a lie that he tantrummed for two hours -- screaming, pacing, stomping, ranting until he was so exhausted he climbed in to bed to rest and didn't emerge for yet another hour, still fuming.  It was terrible, but I can already tease him about how at one point he yanked open his bedroom door and screamed:

"See, THIS is why I don't miss you when you're gone!!" 

And I didn't even get to those other two rascally kids who live in this house.  There was so much to write about these past months and I poured most of it out in my Tuesday morning writing group and left it there, raw and ignored.

But those stories will come out. I just need to get started again, right?