Monthly Archives: September 2011

Like a Lightbulb Suddenly Went Off in His Head

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The girl is in her second year of cheerleading now and to say that her 14 year old brother is not particularly interested in watching 7 year olds compete in cheer competitions, or cheer on the football team is a vast understatement. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll drag along on some of the games to support her (and sometimes because we remind him that she has sat through approximately 5,000 hours of band concerts & festivals, jazz nights, musicals, basketball, soccer, baseball and football games). But in general, the words, “We’re going to a cheer competition today” isn’t generally met with celebration.

So when my BF invited him along with her family (her son is the boy’s good friend) to her daughter’s cheer competition, followed by a baseball game & a concert, his attitude was basically “Ugh! I have to sit through a cheer thing, but I’ll suffer through for the game and concert.” My response was to laugh at him. He came home that night & reported that he had a good time. I assumed he meant after the “cheer thing.”

The next day, I was talking to my friend and she mentioned that the boys enjoyed the cheer competition after all, because they apparently let go of their “Eww, cheer” attitude long enough to notice that the cheer competition was filled with…wait for it…CHEERLEADERS!

Of course, as soon as I got off the phone with my friend, I teased him a little about trying to pick up cheerleaders. Instead of getting embarrassed like he sometimes does when I tease him he said, and I quote,

“Mom. Four numbers. FOUR! I’m going to ALL the cheer competitions now!”

Women vs Men: The Stress Edition

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This morning I was stressed because:

Despite me having woken him up TWICE already, the boy was still sleeping 15 minutes later. I started worrying about him being late and missing the bus and not eating and I yelled.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I yelled & disturbed him

This morning I was stressed because:

I discovered a stealth pile of dog poo in a most inopportune place. I was already dealing with the sleeping boy and now this. I swore loudly.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I was being loud

This morning I was stressed because:

I hadn’t finished filling out the girl’s fundraiser papers, and I was running out of time because I was dealing with the aforementioned sleeping boy and dog poo. I had to ask for help.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I asked him for help.

This morning I was stressed because:

Despite the fact that it has been burned out for a week, the light in my closet room was not yet fixed (because I can’t do it myself) and I couldn’t find the clothes I was looking for. On top of the sleeping boy, the dog poo and the forms.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

I asked him to fix it for the 8th day in a row

This morning I was stressed because:

After dealing with the forms and the poo and the boy and the burned out light, I still needed to found my clothes, but the flashlight wasn’t in the house, but in mr b’s van. And I needed it.

This morning mr b was stressed because:

He had to go out to his van to get me the flashlight.

This morning I was stressed because:

I left the house late after finally resolving the boy, the poo, the forms, the light, and finding the clothes, knowing I would be even later because I needed gas since mr b used my car a couple of times this week and I didn’t have time to stop on the way home last night because the girl had practice & I was rushing home to pick her up and get her fed & changed & dropped off, and then picked up & wait the fundraiser is due when and the dog needs a bath and oh great drop-bys from not one but TWO relatives and how is it 11:00 already, dammit? And now I was going to be even later which sucks because I have to leave early today to rush home and deal with dinner & picking up kids and getting the girl to practice and making it to the boy’s open house on time. And as I left the house, I heard mr b say, “What a morning!”

It all comes back to the Responsibility [[]]

Locked Out

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When I was growing up, my mom stayed at home with me. I always had a hot breakfast (unless I demanded Raisin Bran), always had snacks & dinner waiting when I got home, and always had a mom available during the day to come to school parties or pick me up if I got sick. Not that being a stay at home mom itself made her a good mom – I work outside the home and I’m a good mom – I’m just making the point that she was present – always at my beck and call.

Once I got into junior high, however, she stopped being quite as available. Which is fine – she had a right to a life – but it was more of a problem in 1980 than it is today. Remember – there were no cell phones, so if she wasn’t in the house and I or the school called – she couldn’t be reached. At times, I liked this. I loved the solitude of coming home to an empty house. I enjoyed following the recipes she left for me and getting dinner started. I felt grown up.

But at other times, I hated it. Like when I forgot something that I needed. Or if I wanted to go to a meeting or a friend’s house after school and couldn’t reach her to get her permission (I knew better than to just go). It was frustrating and there were times I resented her not being there (for many reasons). I learned to call my grandma (her mother) when I wanted to go somewhere, because Gram would always tell me yes and would stand up to my mother if she had a problem with it (Gram was – and at 92 – still is a badass).

My first year of junior high, I didn’t use the bathroom in school. I was terrified of stories (urban legends, really) of hazing that I heard went on in the bathrooms. So usually, by the time I got home, off the bus, and walked half a mile to my house (none of that right out front bus stop stuff back then), I usually had to pee relay bad. Really, REALLY bad. I would run into the house, drop my books all over the place (backpacks in those days were NOT cool), run like hell to the bathroom, and pee for about 5 straight minutes.

But one day, I got home and the door was locked. This was 1980 in a small town – we rarely locked our doors. But this day, for some reason, my mom did. So when I rushed down the walk & slammed into the door, only to find it locked, I pretty much lost it immediately. In addition to having to pee, I was tir4ed and freezing. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground.

I immediately tried to get in a window, but my dad had recently painted them and they were stuck. We had a neighbor next door (the other neighbors were a lot further away) that we were friendly with and for a second, I thought about running over there, but I knew that I didn’t have time. I wouldn’t make it. And a millisecond later, it happened. I started to pee myself. Having a full bladder after avoiding the bathroom all day, I couldn’t stop it. And it went on and on. I was mortified. 30+ years and a couple of kids later, I wouldn’t even blink, but back then, I was filled with shame, even though there was no one around to see it. And since it was clear I had had a “potty” accident, there was no way I was going to the neighbors now. I just stood there, crying my eyes out and wondering what to do.

And for some reason, in my 12 or 13 year old mind, the solution was to sit in the snow. I guess I figured that if my pants were wet all over, it wouldn’t be obvious what had happened. So I did it. I sat down, already wet, in the almost foot deep snow. I rolled around. I let myself get good and wet. And when I was satisfied that I had camouflaged the problem, I got up & realized that I still didn’t know what to do. I stood there freezing, wet and tired and ashamed and cried some more.

Eventually, I found a tool my dad had left on the porch and used it to work at the dried paint around the window. I climbed in & immediately ran to my room to change. I was mad at my mom for not being there, mad at myself for not being able to hold it, mad at the hazers in the bathrooms that kept me from going in. I threw my pants in the washing machine (which was something I never did – my mom handled ALL the laundry) and jumped in the tub. My mom came home a few minutes later and I claimed I was cold and wanted a hot bath. I told her I threw the laundry in because I just wanted to help out.

As much as I wanted to yell and scream at her for not being there (and a lot of my anger went further than what had just happened – I was really mad at her not for not being there, but for being somewhere else), my shame was greater. So I kept my mouth shut. I never told her what had happened – how her not being there affected me. Instead, I just started getting hall passes and going to the bathroom during class. And I asked for a house key so I’d never get locked out again.

This post is part of Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop

Christopher M. Panatier

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I didn’t know Christopher M. Panatier. I had never even heard his name until I heard it read along with 2,995 others. And though I know I heard it read, I don’t know that I really even took notice of it. 2,996 is a lot of names. It’s especially a lot of names when we’re talking about people who lost their lives.

Christopher Panatier was 36 on that day. Seven years younger than I am now. Many, many years younger, I’m sure, than anyone ever imagined they would lose him. Christopher was a foreign currency trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. I imagine he left for work that day in the towers thinking the worst thing he would deal with was traffic, or irritable clients, or a busy day. Instead, he – along with almost 3,000 others, lost his life in the one of the worst tragedies we have seen in this country.

Christopher was a husband, a father, a son. He married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn, and they had two children, Annie and Christopher. His children were only 6 and 4 when they lost him. Too young to lose their father. Especially to lose him that way. Too young to even understand how something like that could happen. But really, there is no age, no amount of knowledge or wisdom that could ever make sense of what happened that day.

Everyone who talks about Christopher seems to mention what an amazing, adventurous, and funny man he was. People were drawn to him.

So even though I didn’t know Christopher, I am remembering him along with the other innocent victims of the September 11th 2001 attacks. He was a good man, a good husband, a good father, and a good friend. Because of that, his legacy lives on.

He will be remembered not only for how he died, but for how he lived.

This post is a part of Project 2,966. Go there to see more tributes.