Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ten points approaching in the rear view mirror

It is hard to express how happy the yellow car game makes me. I suspect beyond the obvious, how a 10 yr old child happily announcing "yellow car!" like an over sugar fed toddler exemplifies all that is pure and good about childhood -is the fact that I am able to witness it.

If you have kids, or drive kids, or ever were a kid, then you know the game I mean at least in its general form: spot a specific type/color of car for said amount of points. In the yellow car game cars are worth 1 point bus/trucks 10.

The funny thing is it is super good for Beach's bum eye to be searching for moving objects. Spotting sights out the car window is her single biggest challenge. It has caused more tears than all insults combined. When the yellow car game started I was pleased to find her enjoying the work. But as the days wore on I found myself looking forward to the moment she would call out the first yellow car. 
There was something very comforting about the game. Something familiar too. It was as if through the act of car spotting childhood was a feeling you could catch. I was starting to realize how much of Beach's childhood I have a front row seat for. More than with any of her brother's or sister. 

Then there was the moment we were driving to gym and the school buses were pouring onto the freeway. A whole army of points gathering like ants marching up the interstate. At each entrance more and more got on. And as Boo was racking up points I was too. 

1 pt for being beside her listening to her thoughts as they popped from her head to her mouth. 1 pt for knowing what and how much she had for lunch. 1 pt for changing the lesson to follow up on a question she asked. 1 pt for knowing what parts of her school day she struggled in and which parts she excelled. 1 pt for the half hour we laid in my bed reading picture books. 1 pt for doing math in our pajamas.

As I was adding up our day a school bus sped by us. Little faces dimmed by the tinted glass peered out. "Did I already count that one?" she asked "It's hard to know they all look the same..." 

10,000 pts for driving old little red for 3 years when I could have dumped Beach in school and gone back to work and bought myself something shinny and new to drive.  10,000 pts for second hand shopping to make one income work. 10,000 pts for bravery and standing up for what I know to best for my child. 10,000 pts to each of us for determination and stamina. 

Little red is on the chopping the block as much as I look forward to getting a new car I already miss her. Her locks are failing, the keys fall out of the ignition when you are driving, her bilker has issues, one door doesn't open from the inside, the auto windows switches are failing, my dog ate part of the seat, a cv boot is about to go... Last night was the second night in a row she was ransacked because already there is no room for her in the driveway (BC's new van). Don't worry there is nothing in there to take. We stopped leaving valuables in her after she was stolen. 

Nothing lasts forever, not the innocence of believing you will find your car where & how you left, not the parts that make little red cars go, not the thrill of spotting yellow buses, and certainly not childhood.

Little red is like the yellow car game, and the yellow car game is like Life. The how or what doesn't matter as much as the why and the who.

"Perhaps our next car could be yellow" I say to Beach. 
"That's just silly," Beach says, "no one drives yellow cars." 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

sitting on the other side of the sofa

What he heard was this "Thank you for calling but I am getting off the phone right now because I am so mad I can't talk to you anymore."

True not exaggerated fact: outside of my childhood there are 2 people who can say their have experienced that sort of direct and honest anger from me.  

One was a parent in the Teen Mother and Child program who thought staying on birth-control after having her second child was too expensive but that her new tattoo was worth sharing with me.  My response got me pulled from the exam room but as a former teen mom myself my attending didn't bother to stop laughing before telling me I was so not cut out for pediatrics.
The other would be BC on the day 11 years ago I handed him back his house key and told him he was mean.  I remember watching him waiting for bigger words to emerge from my mouth.  Then it slowly sunk in what I had said was damning.  He has never forgotten it or why I said it.   

When it comes to me being truly, purely mad at someone you have a better chance of being struck by lightening.  It isn't so much that I am sheepish as it an overload of compassion.  I'm not capable of ignoring the feelings I know to be on the other side of the equation.  I can reason down the value of my own emotions and situation.  That is not to say I don't get mad or even vent especially with the hens on the groups W bench but when it comes time to speak my mind my heart takes overs.  For better and worse I am a peace keeper. 

After I hung up the phone BC made himself useful elsewhere for awhile no doubt mulling over what he had heard.  

A little later he found me on the computer & asked if I was okay.  My answer was a flat out "no". In a nutshell- I'm not okay.  After 11 years of having my part as BC's partner ignored by the ex and no one seeming to think it important to correct, it has come to a head.  But it isn't blowing up on me or really even on BC- it is blowing up on the kid.  

BC's out of town work is upsetting the ex.  She afraid of the unknown; that unknown is me. Without saying anything about me or my parenting good or bad, or that I exist as person she is threatening to pull the kid with 2 months left of school.  I should note legally she can't do it but she can drag us all into court and scare the kid who is very upset already over her reaction.  Of that time one week is spring break, one week she is taking him on vacation, there are 2 visitation weekends with her, and then he goes to her for the summer.  Not to mention BC isn't actually abandoning his family (yes, we do exist).  He is only going to be 5 hours away and he won't be gone all that much, often but not always.... And believe it or not I am a good step mom despite being constantly ignored by the other parents.

Yes, the kid has some behavioral issues.  He always has.  Yes, this is a big deal for our family and a lot for me (you're welcome for helping raise your child since he was 3).  Yes, it is not ideal to have a step parent act as a primary parent but neither is divorce.  The single most important items should be: he loves his school, his behavior is improving, he is responding better living here than he was there (even his mom agrees to this point), and his grades are good.  

Instead of talking to me about the time I will be here 'alone' with her son (are we all forgetting we did this already? I believe it was last summer I had the kids alone for a month and a half while BC worked in Wyoming) a few weeks back she [the ex] called my mother-in-law to asks about it.  When BC heard me say  "Thank you for calling but I am getting off the phone right now because I am so mad I can't talk to you anymore" my mother-in-law was just getting around to mentioning it to me.

I explained to BC that was the last straw.  I can't care about it anymore.  It is wrong for his ex to destabilize her child over the mistakes she has made  and corrections she isn't wiling to make.  If she would just talk to me she wouldn't be so irrational- we all fear the unknown- we all fear the monsters we have created.  I would have opened our house to her so she could see her child's life here with us.

I have befriend every single one of my ex's girlfriends.  Any woman even in the running to be a parental figure to them is going to feel nothing but kindness from me. Why? Because I love my children and I don't want something I did to block my relationship with them or give another person a reason to not like them based on my behavior.   Step parenting is not a picnic.  

I will fight for him to stay because it is the right thing to do but I can no longer carry the feelings for the rest of it.  All those feelings are attached to how the ex treats the man I love. I feel all the insults and injustices as if I was him.  For me giving up that passion will mean loving BC less.  It is just how it works.  And I told him that, "I'm sorry but I can't care about this anymore.  For 11 years I been alone holding up this light hoping you or anyone in your [BC's] family would stand up beside me- just once.  I am done waiting.  And not caring about this means not caring about you so much too."

I shut him out the rest of the day by disappearing into the city with Beach on the hunt for horse stencils.  

When I left to run the gym taxi I told him I was going by the local habit for humanity store to look a sofa on my way home.  The rest is simple.  Without me knowing he phoned the store where he is a regular and asked them to hold it for me.   Then showed up, bargained down the price, loaded it up, and took it home.  He tightened the legs and pushed it into its new spot by the stairs.  No man has ever been so happy to buy his wife a retro-cream colored sofa.  Nothing says she staying like furniture does...

I may not have a lot of mad inside my body but I have a lot of love.  I'm sure one day I will find new and better reasons to love him for.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

long distance

I am crying to him over the phone.  It comes through in tiny gasps followed by my too familiar silences. 

"Talk to me," he coaxes.  "Misty please."  But once again I am unable to answer him when he needs me to.

By default the next ten minutes become his, and his alone.  He has no idea what demon he is fighting so he takes big, slashing swings into the dark. He talks of snow crested mountains, of warm rain storms, of sunlight on the rocks- ending with "you picked this."  

"I did," I answer "I picked this."

"I didn't mean it like that," he says.

"Yes, you did but it's okay- you're not wrong."

"Misty," He mutters. I can tell he is holding his face in his hands.

"Please, just listen to what I am trying to say..."

But it is once again already too late the words are all gone.
They have scrambled into hiding places like children playing night games. The words to say what it feels like when an old wound is reopened, the words that help one person understand another- gone. 

They take the feelings away with them. It leaves me wondering why it was even important in the first place.  It's like a black-hole spreading nothingness through my chest. Numbing.  An empty street.  Soft darkness.

It is a sinkhole opening up with me on one side and the world on the other.  And if the world is going to slink away then I will build a wall and ignore it ignoring me.

I can't even tell him that the tears are ancient. That the frustration is that of the girl in the elevator wanting to scream out but not knowing how. It is not what is going on now that is the trouble it is how it is making me feel.  And if I was doubting the connection at all my muteness with him is proof.

"I'm sorry," I say "I shouldn't have called you like this."

He groans so heavily it makes my shoulders ache, 

"You should always call me.  And one day we should actually talk."

"You know, I sort of want to kick the world in the head." I say.

He laughs, "Sweetness, I really don't think its got one."

Monday, March 10, 2014

2 birthdays in the land of 4 cakes

Happy Birthday BC!
Happy Birthday Alexis!
Don't worry nobody is 401 those were just the candles we had :)
I told everyone to bring bring sweets for BC and we would supply the grilling: Lime-tequila chicken bobs, vegie bobs, elk steak, & vegie chik burgers.
 Of course I got a few fantastic side dishes out of them too.
 Free Range kids~
 A hit and roll in progress.
As for those sweets we all separately had the same idea to make cakes.  
Each cake as individual as the people creating them.
2 of them kid baked & decorated, 1 amazingly made from a kitchen-less house (currently under construction), and ours the traditional Ries birthday carrot cake with cream cheese frosting & 2 unfrosted squares for Beach.  ALL of them delicious! 

 Thanks for helping us celebrate.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

by two's

 I spent the morning locked-up in the gym's pro-shop.  
I read an entire book start to finish.  
Four hours.
I was wishing away the time until I could do this...
I rushed home.  Ate half a PB & honey sandwich and headed to the garden.  
For 7 glorious minutes I was alone in peace in the garden turning over earth. 
 Then these two outlaws showed up to help.
Jack, she is more sharp than helpful.
The gymnast unconventional.
But together we got the job done.
And in the end I only needed one band-aid.