Is that a pregnant bird?

February 13, 2011

Yesterday the temperature got into the upper 40s.  The 40s probably doesn’t sound warm to most people, but when you were raised in the Uintah Basin like I was, and winter brings back the memories of:

Our car refusing to start because it got to -40 (yes minus 40) in the night.  Of course when the car doesn’t start that means the little kiddos – myself among them – get to walk to school.

Those walks.  Where my hair was still damp because I never could really gather myself in a timely fashion in the morning.  By the time I got to school my snot was frozen to my nose hair and my hair was frozen solid.

Our wood burning stove that made our entire house smell like burnt bacon but I didn’t care because I could curl up next to it and actually feel warm.

The buckets of water that sat on top of the wood burning stove – boiling up moisture into the dry arid air.  And Dad making me pour the buckets into my bath water so “save a few bucks” in hot water bills.  Don’t you know the biggest expense of taking a bath is the energy it takes to heat up the water, not the water itself?

But the thing I remember most about winter has always been the arrival of spring.  When the sun shines and the mercury rises and I walk outside to bask in it.  As my soul starts to thaw I realize how paralyzed I have been by the winter. It isn’t until my core starts to wake up that I realize I have been sleep walking through the last few months.

Once a friend (trying to be helpful) told me that what I needed to do was find some activities that I like to do outside in the winter so that I could have a fun, enjoyable, reason to endure winter.   I told him that winter is like the famous saying about peas.

I’m glad I don’t like peas. Because if I liked them, I would eat them. And if I ate them that would be gross because I don’t like peas.

If I were outside playing in the snow, someone might think I was enjoying myself.  And I don’t want anyone to be confused here.  Because I hate winter. And snow.  And cold. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  SO NO, I don’t go outside and “play” in the snow.  The best thing about winter is the onset of spring.

All this to say that yesterday when the sun was shining and the temperature was in the upper 40s, the inversion was absent, and the air was fresh and clear, we all decided it was time to get out.  Riley hopped on his scooter, Casey on his bike, and Kim and I walked along behind them soaking up the sun rays.  Cold. But pretending it was warmer than it was.

As we rounded a corner a block or so from our house we saw a giant bird perched on the highest branch of a neighbor’s tree.  This was the biggest, fattest bird perched on the teeniest tiniest limb.  But it was the highest limb and I could just imagine the bird deciding whether or not the limb would hold….”Well it’s worth a try….it’s at least a foot closer to this amazing ball of warmth than any other branch here.”  Anyway, we all pointed to the bird and started talking about how big it was.  where it was perched etc.

Then they were racing away on their scooter and bike again.

It seems that the more educated I become, the more fundamental common sense I lose.  Luckily they were out of earshot when I commented, “I wonder if that bird is pregnant, it’s so big.”

Kim just looked at me, “Really? ”

Um, yah, I’m just glad my four year old was now a hundred yards ahead of me, I didn’t need my toddler telling me that birds lay eggs.

Crisis diverted.  My toddler still thinks I’m smart – at least for now.

And the moral of this cautionary tale is a lesson I thought I had learned a long time ago but the bird served as a reminder –

if you have to ask if someone is pregnant, it’s best to just remain quiet.

 

A rare proud virgin

February 8, 2011

One night my Sophomore year of college, the roommates and I were having a conversation about love and dating and other aspects of college living. I was at Utah State University.  I had five roommates.  They were all active LDS women.  All but one was from Utah.  Even having lived in Utah my entire life, living with five of them was culture shock.  I’m sure they were equally in culture shock having to live with me.

One roommate – the subject of this post – was particularly Molly.  I think she had gone on fewer than a half a dozen dates in her whole life.  She certainly had not “dated” anyone exclusively.  And come to think of it, I believe it was her cousin who took her to prom.  Let’s be clear here.  Her cousin took her to prom because she didn’t have a date.  She didn’t have a date because she wasn’t popular.  She wasn’t popular for myriad reasons one of which was probably because she made it clear that she wasn’t “easy.”

So we were all sitting around the common room visiting about life and love and Molly piously announces that she is a virgin and she cherishes it.  A proud virgin.  No.  I believe she said a “rare proud virgin.”  A couple of the other Mollies chimed in that they too were proud virgins and quickly the eyes shifted to me, waiting for me to disclose my sexual history, but I simply informed them that they shouldn’t be proud of something that has never been at risk.  Virginity is not to be treated as some sacred commodity when one has never been tempted to lose it.

My theory at the time was this:

It isn’t until you’re in the back seat of a car, someone’s hands are up your shirt, and your heart is beating rapidly that you really know how important your virginity is to you.  Only when you have known temptation and refused to give in can you proclaim yourself to be a Proud Virgin.

The Mollies were not going to find themselves in the back seat of a car in the first place so they weren’t going to get themselves in a position to ever really have a reason to be too proud of their rare feat of maintaining their virginity.  At the time I didn’t understand the value of Not Getting Into The Car In The First Place.

I have since come to appreciate that the best way to stay a virgin is, in fact, to simply do exactly what Molly had done.  Go to prom with her cousin.  Avoid lewd and lascivious locales like bars, bring a chaperone, make it clear that nobody’s getting nothing from this body, and NEVER EVER get in the back seat of a car.

All this to say that I’m figuratively in the back seat, someone’s hands are up my shirt, my heart is beating rapidly, I am being tempted.  Oh, and I am loving every moment of this temptation while simultaneously trying to hold on to my virginity.

I came to law school, at least I told myself that I came to law school, to change the world, to make social change, to make the world a better place for the marginalized and unfortunate.  I wasn’t Dis-interested in working at BigLaw, I seriously just had no idea about it.

So while I said I was going to go into public interest law, I did well my first semester.  I realized that I had opportunities beyond those that I had considered.  I am enticed by the thought of paying our bills, getting the boys off CHIP and MEDICAID, maybe even starting a college fund, going on vacation.  Buying a latte without feeling guilty.  Then, at the very first chance I got, I started applying to paid (and I mean well paid) summer opportunities with firms.  I didn’t admit to anyone, and certainly not to myself, that I was starting to seriously consider the possibility of a firm.  A back-up plan I said.  Or, the career office recommends everyone to apply.

And they are seductive.

Their smooth skin and polished image is arousing.

And suddenly I don’t remember why I was so intent on refusing to take off my clothes in the first place.  Virginity?  Ahhh, overrated.

If I valued this figurative virginity so much then would I have applied for these jobs in the first place?  My entire argument with my roommates was fundamentally flawed and I just now – 20 years later – see it.  Nobody should have to make a decision about virginity, partially disrobed in the backseat of a car.  At that point temptation is too much.  The really smart ones do exactly what Molly did.  I just didn’t see it at the time.

And here I am, in the back seat of a car with a dozen or so other people, we’re all taking off layers of clothes, hoping, just hoping they will see something in me that sets me apart.  I’m begging the seducer to pick me while simultaneously preparing my speech to my roommates if they don’t.  If they don’t pick me, I’ll simply proclaim myself to be a rare proud virgin.

The story of my life

November 9, 2010

Today I had to pick up the boys from school because Kim was staying late at the university to meet with her writing group.

I was, as is typical these days, running a bit behind schedule and feeling really stressed out about it.

In rushing Casey out the doors of his pre-school I told him we had to hurry or we’d be late to get brother.

He asked “why?”

I replied, “Because it’s the story of my life.”

His response was so brilliant.  He grabbed my hand and looked up at me.  “Then Mom, let’s change the story of your life.”

To Be (gay) Or Not To Be (gay) in true ADHD form

September 15, 2010

Today Kim, Riley and I were driving home from a doctor appointment with an ADHD specialist when Riley (in true ADHD form) chimed into whatever conversation we were having with a totally random assertion.  “I’ve been thinking of the pros and cons of being gay when I grow up.”

I guess I really shouldn’t just throw something in like, Riley’s seeing an ADHD specialist without saying a little more on that topic.  But I’m not sure I’m ready to really talk about everything that brings up for all of us right now.  Suffice it to say that a couple of weeks before school started, Riley (in true ADHD form) piped up in the middle of dinner that he had been thinking that it was time for him to get on medicine for ADHD.  Kim and I have our own concerns about that (mostly Kim), I just have weird notions that I’m somehow a failure as a mother because I have a kid with ADHD.  I get through the moments and move on.  But anyway Riley is really struggling at school and wants to be able to earn “free choice” stickers so he won’t have to wear the school uniform on Friday but he hasn’t earned a free choice sticker since last January or February and its really frustrating to him especially since he thinks he’s trying really hard not to be distracted in class but that one moment he loses concentration results in some sort of outburst and a card turn thus no Friday reward.  Anyway, I imagine there will be some ADHD posts in the future, but for now this post is the pros and cons of being gay.  According to Riley of course.

“I’ve been thinking of the pros and cons of being gay when I grow up.”

Kim asked Riley to explain some of the pros and cons as he see them.

“Well the biggest plus is that boys make more money than girls so if I marry a boy then we will have more money than if I marry a girl.  And if I marry a boy and we have more money then I could buy my kids more things than you buy us since we will have more money. Plus some boys are really cute.”

Kim asked him what some of the pros are for being straight.

“Oh that’s easy.  Girls are EXTRA cute and REALLY nice.  But being gay is more money so I am thinking of being gay.”

Kim asked him where he’d get a baby if he ended up being gay.

“Oh shoot.  That would suck.  I’d have to adopt a baby which would be hard to do because I’d be gay or I’d have to buy a uterus to put a baby in and that would be EXPENSIVE!  So all that money I saved by being gay would be used in having a baby.  And I really want a baby. So I guess I had better just be straight which is okay with me because girls are Extra Cute and Really Nice!.”

Then, in true ADHD form, Riley add, “What does pros and cons mean anyway?  Does it just mean plusses and minuses?”

Tort Feasor

September 14, 2010

A week ago I was snuggling Casey up to go to bed.  I tickled and kissed him despite his protests not to.  As I wrapped him into my arms I asked him.  “Do you know what a person is called who keeps kissing and tickling when asked not to?”  (I know. I’m a dork. But I can’t ever get my head out of law school.)  Casey said he didn’t know so as I continued kissing and tickling I told him it was a “tort feasor.”  He laughed.  Told me it was a silly word and went to bed.

Yesterday I went to tuck Casey in and leaned in to give him an unwanted raspberry and he protested, “Stop tort feasing on me!”  It was the cutest thing ever (I’m so proud.)

Of course, I’d just claim a parental defense and get off anyway!

a complete flip-flop

September 8, 2010

A year ago Kim was the full-time student and I was the working girl.  It has been that way for the past 6 years.  There was a bit of normalcy a routine we were comfortable with.

I’m not complaining.  I love ABSOLUTELY LOVE law school.  I really do. (more on that in just a minute.)  I’m just completely taken aback at how different our roles are of late.

Kim is currently working 6 part-time jobs.  She’s got the part-time post-doc in gender studies.  She’s an adjunct for an Ethnic studies class.  She’s teaching a learning theory class at a local college.  She’s doing a documentation project for an afterschool network program.  She’s covering a desk for a woman who is out on maternity leave.  And she doing the Safe at Schools curriculum for a local non profit.  Between all the teaching and grading, I don’t even want to speculate on how many hours a week she is putting in.  She’s getting tired already and its only week 3.  All that work and we still aren’t covered on health insurance.  (oh, and Riley still qualifies for free lunch!)

Today at Riley’s school a community group came and talked about the importance of literacy and how children have to learn to read really well so that career opportunities open up to them.  At dinner tonight Riley told us that story and how he “just had to laugh” because both his moms read really well “and we still don’t have any money.”

Anyway, Kim is swamped yet she is still managing to take good care of the house and the kiddos.  I’m trying to do what I can but I’m so engrossed in school and I’m learning that there is just no law school short cut.  Its just a whole lotta hard work.  Last weekend I took them to Roosevelt for the first half of the weekend so Kimmie could finish a chapter she is submitting for publication.  Then she set up fun projects for her and the boys to do the last half of the weekend so I could get caught up on reading. What can I say but we’re a great team.

I worry about the long days for all of us.  Kim and I get up about 6 and we eat, get ready, and pack lunches.  Oh, and I curl up in a ball and rapidly consume as much caffeine as I possibly can in the 10 minutes I’m allowed to do nothing.  Those ten minutes are the fastest of my day.  In a blink ten minutes… gone. We get the boys up and the rat race begins.  Depending on the day one or both of us drop Casey off at his school (7:15), Riley off at his (7:30) and then we have me at the law school by 8.   Then, while Kim is running around grading, teaching and reading I do the following.  Class. Read.  Class. Read.  Eat.  Class. read. Read.  We pick up Riley from after school program about 5:30 and Casey by 5:45.  (That’s just too damn long for them…) Then its the routine we know so well of dinner, homework, games, bath, bedtime.  Then Kim and I put in another hour before we head to bed ourselves. Some day, I keep thinking I’ll make it to the gym.

For the last 10 years I have read for a few minutes at night to shut my brain off and fall asleep.  For the first week of class, every time I picked up a book, my brain thought it could shut itself off and fall asleep.  I’m in the brain re-training process.  The reading is brutal.  The sitting is brutal.  The ensuing backaches from lugging my bag everywhere is (you guessed it) brutal.  I bought a great rolly bag, but my locker is in the basement so I have to pick it up on the stairs anyway.  Yep.  I said locker.  Law school is a lot like high school.  I even got my schedule handed to me on the first day.  I like my classmates and my classes.  I love the faculty.  It doesn’t come particularly easy to me which is somewhat troubling.  I’m used to being among the smartest people in a room.  But that is not at all the case any more.  I know that in order to accomplish the goals I have set for myself, I don’t need to rise to the top of the class.  (I don’t want no firm job!) But the truth is that I don’t think I could rise to the top of the class if I wanted to.  There doesn’t seem to be a short cut to making it in law school.  The key is time.  And with our lives as they are, I just don’t have all the time in the world to put into it.  I don’t want to turn around in 3 years and realize that I just missed out on the last 3 years of these precious boys’ lives.

But I also don’t want to miss out on the experience of law school either.

We’re getting into a routine.  I’m learning to read faster.  Brief faster.  And retain more information.  And yesterday my professor told a cautionary tale just for me.  He didn’t even know he was doing it.  We read a case about two people who made a contract.  Person A told Person B that he’d give her $25 if she would pay him back $2000.  Its a little more complicated than that.  Add in post WWII Nazi-torn Greece, starvation,  inflation, and a little bit of fraud (“in the note where we agree to this, we’re going to put that I gave you $2000 okay.”) and you essentially have the case we were discussing.

The court upheld the agreement and made the woman pay back the loan shark 2K plus interest.  AND I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND WHY IT DID SO!  And I can even defend it.  It may not seem like a huge epiphany, but for me it was.  See, I understood and liked the way I thought (the way my brain worked) prior to law school.  But I already feel myself changing.  And thinking differently.  And I think that’s good.  Really, I think its necessary.  But the cautionary tale to me is that I can’t let these changes impact me, my essence, my moral compass.  I want to think differently but feel the same.  Does that make sense?  I want to feel similarly about self, life, justice but be equipped with the thinking I learned in law school. I don’t even know if its possible but I have to keep myself found in this process.   Kim’s advisor told me the other day that I had to learn to be bilingual.  I think that sums it up well.  And if I ever forget I’ll just have to go read Batsakis v. Demotsis and remind myself all over again why it is I’m in law school.  Because even if some guy can loan a woman $25 and get $2000 in return, I can’t let it be on my watch.

Nothing like I expected

July 22, 2010

Despite a few thesis edits and a round of revisions, Kim is done.  248 pages of done.  6 years of done.  Done. So while I am thrilled that she is done, none of this has worked out like I thought it would.

First the defense:

I had only been to one defense before Kim’s.  And it didn’t feel “defensive.”  I arrived, excitedly expecting to see scholars rave over Kim’s work.  I thought she’d get 248 pats on the back – one for every page.   Kim’s presentation was lovely and engaging.  At least to me.  And then afterward her committee got to ask her questions.  I guess they were questions.  I didn’t understand much of what was being asked.  It was PHD speak at its finest.  I do remember remarks about how one of her chapters gave a committee member “bees in her bonnet.”  And a committee member simply didn’t believe that experience could be a mentor. It isn’t new.  It isn’t helpful.  It certainly isn’t queer.  Experiences are experiences not mentors.  Are experiences mentors when the participants say they are?  I mean, Kim didn’t just make this shit up.

The “i don’t believe in” comment reminds me of people who don’t “believe” in homosexuality.  Homosexuality isn’t something to believe in or not.  It just is.  Homosexuality is not the Easter Bunny.  I’m standing right here.  I’m a lesbian.  Do you believe in it now?

Whatever.  The point is that it felt to me like a defense. So there Kim was “defending” her research.  Of course, this is just my perspective.  Kim didn’t feel defensive.  She liked talking so academically about her work.  She said she had 3 philosophers on her committee, what did I expect? But the point is, it never once felt like a pat on the back for such an amazing accomplishment.  I guess academia doesn’t believe in that.

And now the job search:

I guess I’ve been so silent on this blog because I keep thinking that something will work out and I haven’t wanted to keep writing – still no job – still no job.  And stuff has/is working out.  Again, just not the way I expected.  Kim’s managed to get an adjunct job teaching one class at Westminster.  She’s going to be doing some training on a very part time basis with a couple of organization.  And today she was offered a post-doctoral fellowship in gender studies at the U.  Which is amazing.  Wonderful.  Will really help her out down the road.  But the bottom line is that even with the three jobs cobbled together, she’s still be making significantly. less. money. that I made last year.  Less money than she made her first year out of undergrad 15 years ago.  Contract work.  No benefits.  No insurance. She’s already been 6 tears without insurance.  How many more years before she gets her teeth cleaned?

HAVE PHD. WILL WORK FOR FOOD.

I know that we have living simply down to a science.  But I’m tired of it. I want to take the boys to Disneyland and fly to Texas and New England to visit friends. I want a vacation.  I want to spend money (with abandon) and not have to account for it on a monthly budget.  What’s it matter really? We can defer these things for another year?  Or three? The economy has to recover eventually right?  Which leads me to my current quandary.

Law School:

Is it right for me to go back to school right now when things are so financially tight.  I can help take the edge off by deferring for a year and getting a job.  It would be easier on us.  On the boys.  We could keep our house.  I’d do it in a heart beat if I knew that I would go next year.  But a persistent nagging voice keeps telling me that delaying a year is delaying a lifetime and that if I don’t go now, I won’t ever go.  Then I let this other voice tell me that law school is exactly what I need to do.  And I need to forget about non-profit work and social justice.  I need to work my ass off and join a firm and have money for my boys to go to college if they choose.  If that is selling my soul, well, then, maybe my soul is for sale.

My head is spinning.  Nothing is as I expected.

And now, because I obviously need a little joy, I’ll say this.  The boys are at Nana’s for the week and Kim and I are going to Saturday’s Voyeur tonight.  If Voyeur can’t knock me out of my bad mood, I don’t think anything can.  And until then, because I obviously need a little joy, here are pics of the boys.  Oh, and I’m always surprised that my blog hits still exist even when I go weeks and weeks without posting.  Thank you for reading.

Riley’s 2nd black eye.  It was totally Kim’s fault.

After all, Kim signed him up for theatre camp where he learned “stage combat” and had this little incident.  Gotta love “stage make up.”  I came home from work this day and Riley was sitting on the porch “crying.”  I muttered an expletive and “What the hell happened to you?”  Riley brought himself to tears while he recounted how he was playing backstage at camp when a metal hook got him in the eye.  I was totally buying the story until I notice Kim was grinning.  No more theatre camp, he was too convincing.

About 10 minutes after this picture was taken, Casey’s frantic voice filled the car, “Mommy, I can’t find my lammy!”

The boys had a blast painting their birdhouse with the “easy wash with soap and water” paints you see in the background.  After the birdhouse we decided to put our hand prints on a stepping stone for our garden.  Casey did a red hand print and then washed his off.  Riley did a blue hand print and then washed his off.  Kim did a red hand print and then washed hers off.  I did a yellow hand print while Casey drizzled yellow in his palm too in order to put a yellow handprint on top of his already made red hand print (“that makes orange don’t you know?”) and then we went to wash ours off.  I made my way to the kitchen sink and Casey to the bathroom one.  Only, the yellow didn’t wash off.  It smeared.  And rubbed in.  And got on the sink.  And on the counter.  And on my shirt.  Kim checked the can of paint and then I heard the expletives.  “Umm, honey, one of these paints is not like the other.”  Yep.  Oil Based Lacquer somehow placed right alongside the children’s “easy wash” paint.  In a VERY similar container.  We were duped.  I got yellow paint on the phone while I called my dad to figure out what we should do.  I thought Riley was going to have an anxiety attack when we poured gasoline all over Casey and my hands.  “Don’t touch anything!” Riley demanded, “Even static electricity could cause you to BLOW UP!”  Let’s just say we made it without blowing up!  Though we did smell a little bit foul for awhile.  And those poor eczema hands of Casey’s had certainly seen better days.

I’m sorry it doesn’t feel as joyous as we planned.  But it will someday.  I know it.  Congratulations Dr. Kim!

Casey’s First Intentional Lie

June 7, 2010

I could fill you in on the last 7 weeks with photos of Driggs, Idaho and Yellowstone where I took the boys with some old friends to get out of Kim’s hair while she wrote her dissertation.  Or I could write about Kim’s graduation where she walked across the stage right after her best friend and got hooded by her advisor.  And how her parents came that weekend though right after graduation she had a full day at the state Democratic Convention as a delegate.   I could write about my exercise study and how I’ve exercised between 60 and 90 minutes a day 5 X a week for the last 12 weeks.  I could write about how exhausted I am, about how I have gained 12 pounds since starting this exercise regime.  I could write about how almost every weekend this spring was rainy and cold while the weekdays were warm and sunny.  I could write about how I put in a seat deposit to the UU for law school this fall and how we aren’t moving anywhere at least right now.  I could share that my last day of work is July 9th.  I could write about how much it sucks for someone you love to work their ass off for 6 years only to finish their PHD in the middle of a global economic recession and all that work but no job (yet)  to show for it.  I could write about how I had a meltdown in my sister’s kitchen because my children each spilled their eggs all over the floor just seconds apart.  Did I mention that I could write about how exhausted I am? 

I could write about Casey’s IEP appointment and Speech Therapy progress and how now when you ask him his name he smiles boldly and then makes a guttural sound so deep you think you’re about to get vomited on, then through the guttural hacking he produces a perfectly good “K” sound.   I could write about how Riley had a retainer for 5 weeks in order to move a new permanent tooth where it’s supposed to be and how cute he looked with his retainer and how his tooth did move and he might not even need braces later on.  (Speaking of odd, throaty sounds, Riley produced plenty of them while wearing his retainer.)  I could write about a lot because it is true that 7 weeks have passed since I last wrote.  But I don’t really know how to respond to the silence that I perpetuated for so long.  I mentioned that I’m exhausted right?   So instead of trying to fill in the gaps right now, I’m going to write this.

Sometime in the last 7 weeks, Casey learned how to lie.

And lie he now does.

Often.

A couple of weeks ago Case came pitter pattering up the stairs right after we got them both settled downstairs for a 20 minute tv show and an evening snack. 

Casey, “Riley dumped out his snack all over the floor.”

Just then we hear more footsteps coming up from being him.

Casey continued speeding up in order to get the sentence out before Riley appeared, “And Riley is coming upstairs right now to tell you I did it.”

Riley, “Casey dumped out my snack.”

a little listening goes a long way

April 14, 2010

Two weekends ago I took the boys to Roosevelt while Kim wrote more of her dissertation.  All the cousins were to be there for Easter and the older cousins were excited about putting together clues for a treasure hunt in order to celebrate spring fecundity we know as Easter.  Little X (whose just barely 2 years old) got the easiest clues, Casey got a little harder clues, Riley got even more difficult clues.  They each got 3 or 4 apiece and then the final clue led them to their Easter baskets.  Adorable.

Riley has done such treasure hunts before, and he’s always been pretty good at them.  Only this time he seemed to be having trouble listening…focusing…or following directions.  I’m not sure where the disconnect was.  First, he got a clue that had something to do with music and included something related to being the “hero of the guitar.”  Riley immediately shouted, “Upstairs.”  He started to run upstairs when I stopped him to ask him why he was heading upstairs.  He insisted that his guitar was up there.  We kept trying to re-direct him, saying things like, but it says, “hero” too.  I think that’s an important part of the clue.  Well after SEVERAL attempts, Riley was finally able to be directed to the family room where he found the next clue taped to Guitar Hero game.  A few moments later, Riley got another clue that was something like this.

Where the cousins are always together

And they’ll stay like that forever

Look behind the frame

And you will find your fame.

Riley again shouted, “Upstairs!” and started to lunge toward the stairs.  I was starting to get frustrated because I didn’t think he was listening.  I read him the clue myself thinking maybe he wasn’t processing it as he read them himself.  The second I was done, he responded, “Upstairs!”  I then asked (as patiently as I could) “Why do you think upstairs?”  His response, “The clue.  It’s upstairs.”  My response, “No. It isn’t.  Think.  What do you think of when you read “frame.”  Where could it be?  His cousin Roo then added another word to the clue, where the cousins’ “faces” are all together…. Nothing.

Finally, X, grabbed Riley by the hand and led him to mantle where behind the picture of the cousins was another clue. 

It was cute.  Heartwarming really.  X is a brilliant little kid, and as cute as he is smart.  So it was adorable to see the toddler, who couldn’t even figure out how to verbalize the clue, lead Riley to the location.  We all laughed and gave X kudos.  I tried not to be mad at Riley.  It was a moment that was worth the frustration at Riley in order to see X lead the way.  But I was a little concerned by Riley’s apparent lack of focus.  Oh well.  It all ended well.  In fact, the final basket was UPSTAIRS – where Riley wanted to go all along, and all frustration was forgotten as he tore into his basket of candy, stuffed animal, and, best of all, MONEY. 

A week passed, the candy was gone, the money was spent, but I was still a little preoccupied with Easter.  One afternoon, we were all riding in the car and somehow we got on the subject of the treasure hunt.  I told Riley not to worry about it and assured him that we’d find ways to work on his critical thinking.  Kim and I talked about how the clues were tricky and sometimes are meant to lead folks astray.  Riley’s response reminded me that he’s not the only one who needs practice listening and focusing. 

He said, “I tried to tell you this several times, but can I explain to you now why I wanted to go upstairs?”

I replied that he could and that I promised not to interrupt.

“I thought the clue was behind Roo’s bed.  I thought it meant bed frame…not picture frame.  Because you know how those girls go up there together and I have NO IDEA what they do, but they just go up there and sit on that bed and they stay there FOREVER.  That’s why I thought it was behind the frame…”

Tricky indeed.  Maybe he’s too good of a thinker for our little treasure hunt.  And maybe I need a little lesson in focusing…and listening.

All that anxiety in pictures

April 9, 2010

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