Friday, November 29, 2013

My Daughter

My brother was very young when his daughter was born. Within a scarce few months his wife found out they were having another baby. I scolded my brother. His wife's body had not had time to recover from the birth of my niece. I ranted and raved and told him he should know better. Several months later they had a beauftiful son.

You know how nature has a way of putting us in our places and humbling us? I gave my brother such a hard time. Well, I was barely out of the hospital after having my third son and I was pregnant again.

Before my third baby was even born I had decided that I was not having more children. Three was quite enough. Then that was a difficult pregnancy. I did not want to put my children through that again.

I wanted surgery to prevent me from being able to have more children. My husband had to give permission due to archaic laws at the time. He would not agree to it so I used other methods almost 100% guaranteed to make sure there were no more babies.

Then came the day I woke up thinking,"Wouldn't it be nice to have another baby?"

While our someday baby was a surprise, our fourth baby was a shock. Things would be very difficult. My husband was on the road all the time leaving me with three boys and they were a handful. So shock or not we were expanding our family.

If you have read about the birth of my first three babies you will know that once my babies decided to be born they did not fool around. They were born quickly. My husband was usually only home on the weekends and I knew practically nobody. The nearest hospital was 30 miles away and I would probably have to drive myself. Who would take care of my boys? We decided that I would take the boys and go stay with my parents again.

My husband was hoping we would have a little girl. I decided that it would be a boy because I already had boys. I had clothes for a boy. My older two boys were extremely close and I thought it would be nice if the younger two could be that close.

Once again I pushed for a tubal ligation so that I would not have more babies. My husband balked at the idea. What if it was not his girl that he wanted. I told him that if he thought I was going to keep having babies until he got a girl, he was crazy.

I had a much easier time of things this time. I actually enjoyed my pregnancies for the most part. There is something that changes the way you view the world. It is probably hormonal.

Finally came the day that the contractions started. My mother once again took me to the hospital. The doctor examined me. I was no longer feeling any contractions. He determined that it was a false labor. I would not have my baby for about 10 days.

While I was left to get dressed to go home, the doctor went to tell my mother. She looked at him and said, "Oh no you don't. I know how she does this. I'll get her halfway home and she'll have that baby in the car."

The doctor told her she could have me walk the halls to see if exercise would make something happen. After about two hours Mom finally took my home.

My daughter was born ten days later. She was beautiful. She had little black ringlets of hair all over her head. But she was the color of a beet. Even after her skin became a normal color I could not dress her in red and little girls always look so nice in red. When she was much older I could have a red dress or blouse as long as there would be a huge white collar between her and the red.

Once again my husband was on the road when our daughter was born. We had finally agreed that he would authorize the surgery for me to not have more babies. But he was on the road when the morning of the surgery came. The nurse did not know what to do.

She asked if I was absolutely sure that my husband would sign the authorization papers. I assured her that he would. She decided that I could sign them for now and he could give official authorization as soon as he could get there.

Of course by the time my husband arrived the surgery was over and done. There was no need for his "permission" as policy required. I was the first married woman in my state to authorize her own surgery.

All three of my boys were enchanted by having a sister. As a matter of fact they have always spoiled her as much as possible. Even after all these years. But she knows it and appreciates it. She would do anything for her brothers.

My husband was in heaven. He finally had his little girl. She could do no wrong. Her place to be was on his lap. He would sing to her and show her the feelings that he felt he should not share with his sons.

Right away I noticed that a girl baby is different from a boy baby. She actually had legs like a girl! I just assumed that happened as girls grew up.

My daughter was the best baby I have ever seen. When she would wake up she would make enough noise to let me know that she was awake, then wait patiently for me to be able to get to her. Because I already had one baby my lap was often full. My daughter just fit where ever there was room.

There were only two problems. Projectile vomiting was one. She did not spit up like most babies. She spit out and all over the place. She was such a delicate little lady.

You may want skip this paragraph because it is disgusting. When my beautiful baby girl would fill her diaper it always went up her back and out her sleeve. Do not ask me how that happened. I have no idea. And her brothers said it smelled like Kentucky Fried chicken. We do not eat there.

One time the kids and I were to meet my husband in the city where my parents lived. So we packed and set off. I knew that traveling with four small children would be a trial so I planned to stop at the end of the day and spend the night at a motel.

My daughter could not wait (as most babies just answer the call of nature when the call comes in) and of course out her sleeve it went. Her oldest brother was holding her and was immediately repulsed. I had to pull over and change her diaper and her clothes. None of the boys wanted to hold her . It was a you do it... no, you do it kind of thing.

My daughter has blonde hair and fair skin. She looks so pretty in white. So of course any time I saw a white outfit or a white coat I had to get it for her.

White is impractical for a little girl with three big brothers. She was very feminine but she can hold her own with the boys. So it was a regular thing that she would come in with her pretty white clothes covered with dirt, grease, grass stains, blood, or whatever.

Her father called her his "Darlin" and announced that she could do no wrong. I chuckled because I knew her. We were riding one day and he had to go into the store for something. Our daughter was seated between us.He had left his pack of cigarettes on the seat.

I looked over and she had taken the cigarettes out and shredded them. I laughed. When her father came out he saw what she had done, I smiled sweetly and said, "She can't do anything wrong because she's your Darlin." Without missing a beat he looked at me and replied, "That's right."

Another thing I discovered is that girls are more expensive than boys. Their clothes cost more and they need a slightly larger wardrobe so the expense is considerable. And her activities usually cost more.

The boys played little league baseball. The cost was for a glove. Uniform shirts, bats, ball, coaches, and everything else was provided.

My daughter had less than no interest in sports. I knew that she needed something to occupy her time so I enrolled her in a dance class.

In cities it seems as if nationalities and ethnic groups tend to cluster together. Our city was no different. The neighborhood we lived in had mostly Polish people. Even though we have no Polish ancestors we tried to fit in. So a Polish dance class was where I took my daughter.

It was inexpensive to join the class. All you had to do was purchase the life insurance that would make you a member. It was very reasonable so we became card-carrying Poles.

Each week she would go to learn the traditional dances of Poland and I would attend the mothers' meetings. That was when I discovered the real expense.

At the end of the year there would be a recital. Traditional Polish costume was required for the dancers. Often another mother would have a costume that no longer fit her daughter so they could be purchased at a reasonable price. And they were good for as long as your daughter stayed the same size.

The headpieces were another matter. They were made by a local flower shop of fresh flowers and ribbons. They were beautiful but expensive. A new one each year.

And of course there were other dances. Besides the dance slippers they needed for most dances, there would occasionally be specialty dances. One year it was a tap dance routine that required tap shoes. And a different costume was needed for those dances. They had to be bought at dance stores or if we were lucky we could find a seamstress to make them. Either way it was expensive. The children always looked beautiful and performed in a way to make their mothers proud.

After the proceeds from the recital were used to cover expenses like the rental of the hall the money was used for the children and their mothers to take a trip.

One year we traveled to the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. My best friend's daughter danced so she was there. My friend also had to take her baby daughter. That little girl made my daughter's projectile vomiting look like a hiccup. And she very often chose me as her target. On the plane to Knoxville I believe she managed to hit every spot on the plane.

We had a wonderful time. On the way home my daughter did not feel well. Poor thing was sick for several days afterward.

When her father left home for good, my daughter was devastated. Her place to sit had been on her father's lap. He doted on her. And suddenly he not only did not live at home but he did not make himself available to the children. She cried often and long. I did what I could but she wanted her father.

Her father's brother came to the rescue. I did not particularly like this brother. But he stepped in and was there for all my children, especially my daughter. I may not always like him but I have developed a strong respect for him.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have a daughter the same age as my daughter. Across the street from them lived another girl their age. She lived with her grandparents. The three of them were constant companions. One of their favorite activities was roller skating.

My daughter had her own room and furniture in their home. At Christmas they gave her everything they gave to their daughter even knowing that I had gifts for her. It made her feel wanted again.

I have often said that the love my daughter and her uncle felt for each other was a beautiful thing to see. She adored him. And he loved her.

He had to love his wife and children. But he did not have to love nieces and nephews. Most of them he merely tolerated. He was very good to my sons and even to me but he loved my daughter. He did not have to but he loved her.

Having three older brothers allowed my daughter to become a sassy little thing. When she thought I was not listening she had a mouth like a truck driver. She knew that no matter what happened her brothers were right there to take care of her.

There was a little boy her age who lived around the corner from us. He liked to tease my daughter. One day after school I heard her burst into the house and exclaim, "Sammy's picking on me." They rode the same school bus.

The door slammed as all the boys took off (behind my daughter I might add) and down the street after Sammy. Sammy was not very big for his age and I have nice big healthy boys.

I was upstairs and ran to look out the window to see what was going on. There was my darling daughter running down the street after Sammy, yelling and waving that famous family finger all the way. Her brothers were hot on her heels. Poor Sammy was running for his life. He made it inside his front door just before they caught him and he was safe.

When they returned I had my daughter tell me what had happened. Sammy had been picking on her on the school bus. She did nothing on the bus. She waited until their stop. As soon as the bus pulled away she beat the tar out of Sammy. Then she came in and incited a riot with her brothers.

My daughter is quiet in situations where there are large amounts of people. One teacher told me she would never raise her hand in class to offer an answer to a question. However he knew that she always knew the answer.  Sometimes if he could not get the correct answer from anyone else he would call on her and she always knew.

She was in all of the little programs they have at school. It is a time for the teachers to show parents things that they could be proud of. Often it involved the group standing together and singing. My daughter did not just move her mouth and pretend to sing. She did not move her mouth at all. She would just stand there looking bored occasionally raising her eyes to the ceiling the way children do.

Just as her brothers had done, she was accepted into the accelerated middle school. One of her teachers was from another country. Sometimes his upbringing would clash with the American way of life. For instance he decided that my daughter's blouse was too revealing. It not only was not, but if it had been I would not have allowed her to wear it. I do believe in a bit of modesty. He was not happy that a female parent had the temerity to disagree with him.

This teacher ran a strict classroom. I applaud that. I think he may have been too rigid but no one was hurt. One rule was that no child should speak out in class unless spoken to first. It is not a bad rule.

One day he was asking questions of the children. He would say the name of the child and that child was to answer all questions until he called on the next child. He asked my daughter a question. She answered. He asked another question and she answered again.

He exploded and said she was being insolent because he was not asking the question of her. He assigned her to write a paper about something or other. When she came home she was angry. She had tried to explain to him that he had not directed the question to another student but he was having none of it.

I called the principal and made an appointment to visit him and the teacher the next day. In the meantime I wrote a very nice note to the teacher. I explained that my daughter did not think she did anything wrong. I explained that he should be pleased that she was strong enough to stand up for her principles. I said that I understood what her punishment was supposed to be but that I would not allow her to write the paper until I spoke to him

We had a meeting. I gave my side of the story first because I had asked for the meeting. Then the teacher spoke. He had been sure he was right so he asked the other students in the class if they heard him request the answer from another student. They all said they had not. Perhaps, just perhaps, he had been hasty in assigning punishment. She would not have to write the paper.

I thanked him. Then as soon as he left I had the principal assign my daughter to another class.

My daughter has grown into a beautiful, competent young woman. She inherited intelligence and wisdom from her grandmothers.

She was working for a company owned by the same family who own the local Major League Baseball team. The company held ceremonies to award bonuses and promotions in a major theater in the city. The Christmas parties included all the sports members as well as the people who worked for the business.

My daughter had been promoted to manager of her store. She has an unusual name and people seem to like to mispronounce it. When the owner of the company called her name to come forward he mispronounced it. Other people from the company who knew her were quietly giggling and making bets on whether she would correct him when she was on the stage.

She leaned near him and told him the correct way to say her name. He blushed a bit and actually corrected himself on the microphone.

When my daughter was walking back to her seat the owner's wife stopped her and told her it was good to put the boss in his place once in a while.

My daughter has a son who will graduate from high school this year. Her daughter is two years younger. My daughter has been with their father for about twenty years.

Now you have met all my children. There will be more tales of them later. I just wanted to introduce them so you could see how special they are.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Third Son

My husband and I talked about having another baby... someday. Our two boys kept us busy. My husband was a truck driver, a job he really liked, and money was a little more plentiful. But we had just bought a house and there were some medical bills we were taking care of. So... someday... in the future...

Then one morning I woke up thinking; "Wouldn't it be nice to have another baby?" Our someday baby was about to be a reality.

I was miserable during the pregnancy. No morning sickness. I never had morning sickness with any of my children. But I was retaining fluid and I was huge and miserable. My doctor prescribed something and did no good.

The state fair was here amd I wanted to take my boys. There was a television cartoon program that had singing characters and they were appearing. I also took my little brother and sister. Not only could they have a good time but they could help me with my boys.

We had a good time. However all that walking made me swell even more.

Then my husband took a new job. It was a good opportunity for him. We would have to move to another state. But my doctor said I could not travel at that time.

So we unloaded our house and the boys and I went to stay with my parents. I slept in a room upstairs. In the morning I would get up and waddle down to a chair where I would stay until it was time to waddle back up to bed. I was miserable.

My ankles were as big around as a 3 pound coffee can lid. One night I was showing everybody how swollen they were. You know how miserable people like to share. I could depress the skin of my ankle as far as the second knuckle on my finger. It was rather a novel thing and it did not hurt at all. I did it time and time again.

The next morning I woke up and my ankles were sore. They were covered with bruises from me being stupid the night before.

Then came the day I began to feel contractions. They were irregular so I went about my business of sitting in my chair being swollen. All day the contractions continued. Mom wanted to know if we should make plans to go to the hospital.

I was not sure it was actual labor so I told her we would wait. That evening while we were watching television the contractions seemed stronger. The only problem was that they were still irregular. Mom began to time them.

Between contractions could be 6 minutes then 1 minute then 12 minutes and so on. The duration could be 20 seconds then 90 seconds then 50 seconds and so on. Mom decided I was going to the hospital whether I liked it or not.

My brother drove. The whole way I was protesting that I was not sure it was labor. I would be so embarrassed if they sent me home. It was my third baby and I was not sure if I was in labor.

At the hospital they took me to the maternity ward. Mom stayed to fill out the necessary paperwork.

The resident doctor told me that my doctor was on his way. In the meantime he seemed quite amused that the contractions were not behaving the way they should. He chuckled and said he would like to see one of those 90 second contractions.

So he and the nurses were bustling around, doing the things they needed to have ready when my doctor arrived. Then a nurse looked over and said, "Doctor, the baby is here." And there was a baby lying on the table.

I had another son. He looked like his oldest brother except that he was pretty from the beginning. He was 22 and 1/2 inches long. And he was lavender.The umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck. It was not tight enough to be a real danger but it had cut off enough oxygen to make him that lavender color.

My mother had finished the paperwork and went to the father's waiting room. She had just sat dowm when a nurse popped her head in and asked if someone was here with Emma. Mom said she was. The nurse told her she could come back to see me.

Mom was a little surprised because at that time they did not even let the father into the labor room.

As they passed the nursery the nurse asked Mom if she wanted to see the baby. Mom explained to her that she had the wrong person. Mom's daughter was not even sure she was in labor and there had not been enough time for a baby to be born.

The nurse repeated my name to her. Mom told her that was my name. They went to the nursery window so Mom could look at her newest grandson.

Like all of my babies he was born with dark hair and blue eyes. The first time the nurses brought him in for me to feed him I noticed a yellowish spot in one of his blue eyes. Cute. Each time they brought him in it was a bit larger. And I could actually see that his hair was lighter in color. By the time we went home my son had blonde hair and green eyes.

By this time my brothers and sisters had begun having babies too. So my son went home to two brothers and a girl cousin and a boy cousin. We have some great pictures of the five of them together.

Mom had just gotten herself a new blender. She was enjoying it and making milkshakes every night. That meant we enjoyed it too. Everyone had a milkshake but my baby. I took a spoon and gave him a tiny taste. He loved it. As a bonus he slept through the night. He got a little taste every night from then on.

As soon as the doctor deemed it safe for us to travel my sons and I moved to the state where their father was working. We knew absolutely no one there but we had our little family and were happy.

I kept a small cup of ice cream in the freezer for my son. A little taste before bed and I got a good night's sleep. One night I went to the freezer and there was no ice cream.

We were used to living in a big city that operates 24 hours each day. In this little tiny town even the Dairy Queen closed early. There was absolutely no place to get any ice cream. My son would sleep and then wake up again. He knew he needed his ice cream before a full night of sleep. We had a rough night.

Needless to say I made sure there was ice cream in the freezer after that. Even today he likes to have a taste of ice cream late in the evening.

My son was obsessed. He had seen advertisements for a movie coming to television.  It was called "How To Pick Up Girls". He told us every day that we were going to watch it. When it finally came on we obliged him. He watched with hypnotic attention. It was a light comedy about nothing in particular. When it was over he looked up plaintively and asked, "What if I still don't know how?" I assured him that when the time was right he would know. "But what if I don't?"

When he was in kindergarten I went to the school for the last parent-teacher conference of the year. His teacher had glowing reports for him. She told me that she would be sitting at her desk and catch a glimpse of him from the corner of her eye and think, "What a beautiful child."

She then asked if he could attend summer classes because she was going to miss him. I told her I would ask him if he wanted to. He did.

Never send your children to summer school unless it is absolutely necessary. His classes cut into every schedule we had. The days I had looked forward to of being able to stay in bed a few minutes longer were gone. In the middle of the day I had to drop everything to go pick him up. He liked it but I hated it.

One day in early spring that year my son was at school. It was a stormy day. I was running a little late so he started to walk home. We only lived a few blocks from the school but there was a major street for him to cross that worried me.

The wind was blowing so hard. Leaves and small branches were flying around. I got to the corner of that busy street and there was my son. The poor thing was holding on to the light pole for dear life. He was happy to be rescued and I felt like the worst mother in the world.

My mother loved to take pictures of the kids when they were dirty. One day my son and his sister were at the junk yard with their father. They came home covered in grease. Mom was in photographer's heaven. It was only one of many "dirty" pictures. My son still wonders if they were ever clean. I try to assure him they were given the occasional bath.

My brother and my sister each had a son my son's age. They were the best of friends. They were constantly together. I called them the three stooges. At one time the song "The Curly Shuffle" was popular. Those three actually had a whole Three Stooges routine that they did. And all of them could do the Curly Shuffle.

My son was middle in age of the three. But he tended to tell the others what they were going to do. My children are not followers. It caused some friction in the family.

One year we gathered at my parent's house for the yearly Christmas celebration. Everyone was having a good time opening presents and eating goodies. My oldest nephew's step-father began to nudge him. We all noticed it but had no idea what was going on.

My nephew apparently did not do whatever it was that he was being urged to do. He was supposed to fight with my son and beat him up. The boys were friends and my nephew did not want to do it. His step-father took him to the bathroom and began to spank him. My husband and I gathered our children and went home. On the way out I told my sister she needed to protect her son.

The boys often spent weekends at one house or another. Often it was my house because I had the most children. I do not mind the noise of children because that has been a constant in my life.

When my youngest sister had her first son I fell in love with him. He spent time at my house as soon as he was big enough for my sister to be willing to let him come. My son hated him. "Does he always have to be here?!" Now that they are grown they are good friends.

My oldest sister and her son moved to another state. He did not make friends easily and was lonely. When she asked him what he wanted for his birthday he wanted for my son to come visit. So my son received a plane ticket to Florida to spend the summer with his cousin. They had a great time.

During that time my other children and I moved to a different house. When my son came home he laughed and said that we had moved and not told him where we were.

He kept growing older as children are wont to do. And he discovered girls. They discovered him back. He had one girlfriend after another. I had be vigilant because some of their mothers would get a gleam in their eyes when my son would come around.

Then he met a nice young girl. They fell in love and immediately became engaged. When they prepared to go buy the rings my son told me that he thought they would wait at least a year to get married. I told him they would have to because he was only 17.

Soul mate is a term that is thrown about these days. I have never known soul mates and that includes my parents who loved each other and had a long happy marriage. My son and his wife are the only soul mates I have ever met. They wanted the same things from life and used the same means to get them.

They have two children, a boy and a girl. My son and daughter-in-law wanted them to have all the things the did not have when they were children. They have pretty much succeeded. But the children are not "spoiled" and are well liked. They are both successful.

My granddaughter has a little girl of her own, making me a great-grandma. My grandson is recently married and they are expecting a little girl of their own. And the family keeps growing and getting better.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Second Son

When the alarm clock went off for my husband to get up for work is when I felt my first contraction. I was about to have my second baby.

I was hoping for a girl and I think my husband was too. I had a little boy and it just seemed right to have a girl next.

My husband drove me to the hospital. As always happened with me it did not take long for things to progress. By the time my doctor arrived I knew the time for delivery was close.

The doctor insisted I have a saddle block. That is when the anesthetic is injected through a needle inserted into your back and affects only the lower portion of your body. You sit on the edge of the bed and bend over while this procedure takes place. Rather barbaric if you ask me.

Then the doctor announced that he was going to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee! I told him the baby was coming now. He said; "Nonsense. It takes at least twenty minutes for the anesthesia to go to work." He left.

The nurses were bustling about. There was an intern getting ready to assist. He was slipping into his scrubs as I said; "The baby is here." He turned around and caught the baby just before he hit the table and said, "So it is.'"

From that first second my son was as beautiful as any baby you have ever seen. He had a pretty little round face. His complexion was fair with rosy cheeks. He had pretty blue eyes. He was perfect.

My baby would not wake up to eat for the first two days of his life. When he finally did want to nurse he was hungry all the time. A nurse would come looking for me. When she would find me in another mother's room it was always, "There you are Emma. Your baby is starving." He went from not eating at all to eating all the time.

My husband and I had not been able to agree on a name for this baby. My father came with my husband to visit me that first night at the hospital. He had suggested a name to my husband. My husband wanted to know what I thought of it. It was one of the names I wanted in the first place. So we had a first name.

I asked what we should do for a middle name. My father thought for a moment then suggested one. It was perfect. Daddy named my little boy.

I had not tried to explain much about a new baby to my first son. He was too little to grasp what that really meant. When we went home my brother was carrying the baby and my son ran to sit on my lap. He had missed me and I missed him.

I said, "Look what Mommy brought you." He looked up and tried to catch his breath. Finally he said; "It's a baby." He liked it.

My second son was quiet. Not shy, just quiet. He played and did normal little kid stiff but he did not yell and scream the way a lot of children do. But he had a temper. And such a big loving heart.

We moved to another state when my son was about four years old. In the house next door lived a little boy who was almost exactly the same age as my son. Their birthdays were weeks apart. They were about the same size with that blonde, blonde hair. Some people would call them tow-heads which is a nickname for blonde boys.

The little boy was at our house constantly which was fine by me. His grandmother lived at the end of the street and she took care of him while his mother worked. Several times she would come to our house when it was time for her grandson to get ready for bed. She would just pop her head in the door, grab him by the arm, and take him home. I do not know how many times she grabbed the wrong child and would be half-way down the street before she realized she had my son instead.

One time the two boys disappeared. I could not find my son and the grandmother could not find her grandson. We combed the neighborhood. Thankfully it was a short street but they were nowhere to be found. At the end of the street was a highway. No one had seen them up that way. We were about to call the police for assistance.

My oldest son tried to get my attention and was finally successful. He wanted to know if we had checked the house next door where the boy and his mother lived. Of course not because the mother was at work. The grandmother checked anyway.

There they were. They had gone in for a drink of water and could not get back out.

Money was tight for my husband and me. It was a real tough stretch right then. We were trying to make a go of a business and it was not going well. My son was about 10 years old.

My husband and I were leaving the house to take care of some financial things. My son jumped up and asked us to wait a second. He ran to his room and came back with something in his hand. He held it out to us and said, "Here. You need this more than I do." It was twenty dollars that someone had given him as a gift. Of course we refused it but what a generous act. That is my son.

After my husband and I separated and eventually divorced my children did not see as much of their father as they should have. I encouraged all of them (ex-husband included) to spend more time together but it just did not happen.

My second son sensed that his father needed some of his family close to him so he spent a lot of time at his father's house. There was the added bonus of there not being as much discipline as there was with me.

One time his father brought him home and told me that my son, his step-brother, and another boy had gotten into the liquor. He said' "Here's your son. You can have him. He's half drunk."

My son staggered and looked at his father and said, " I'm not half drunk old man. I'm all the way drunk." I sent him to bed and dealt with him in the morning. Then I grounded my ex-husband for not taking better care of our child.

Then there was the time I went to pick up my son from his father's house. He had been there for a couple of days and it was time to come home. He was not there.

As a matter of fact his father thought he might have gone with some older friends. He thought they might be out of state. I was furious.

The good thing was that if you would talk to my son and explain the logic to what you are saying, he is receptive. I told him how much it worried me that he had gone so far away and not only did not tell me but that I had no way of contacting him. He nodded his head in a thoughtful way. Then he told me he would not do anything like that again. Of course he kept his promise. My son never lied to me, not ever.

This son is the one who always seemed to be in trouble. Not all of it was his fault. When he was in first grade I was called to the school. He had wet his pants. He had not done that since he was potty trained.

I took a dry set of clothes with me and went to his classroom. His teacher was indignant. She had told the students to reach as high as they could and try to touch the ceiling. My son knew he would be closer to the ceiling if he was on his desk so he climbed up and reached high.

The teacher became angry and punished him by having him stand in the corner.  She did not say how long he was in that corner. What she did say was that he had raised his hand and told her that he needed to go to the bathroom. She refused to let him go. "He wet his pants just to spite me!" I took him home then made a "friendly" visit to the principal.

One night I realized my son who was in the second grade could not read. I marched up to the school the next day. His teacher said she was very happy to see me. I asked her why she had not contacted me about his inability to read. She said that a lot of the parents do not want to be bothered. I said. "Bother me. I cannot help with a problem I am not aware of."

Then she explained that when she would tell the class to take out their workbooks my son would cross his arms and glare at her. He scared her.

I said, "He's seven years old! Tell him to take out the workbook!"

I offered to help with his reading. If she could give me a copy of their reader I would work with him at home. Done.

Within a week I also had copies of all the other textbooks from his class. If I had wanted to be a teacher, I would have been. Off I went to visit the principal again.

The principal listened to my complaints and sympathized. He was good at that. Then he explained that I needed to allow the teacher a little time. She was going through a nasty divorce and it was affecting her teaching. Well, excuse me. If she is having personal problems she has no business taking them to school with her. In a factory a worker is not allowed the luxury of an unhappy home situation affecting production. Then I found out that her divorce happened 10 years earlier. Instant smoke from my ears.

We reached an agreement. I was not happy with it because I did not get my way for the whole thing but it was better. And I continued to work with my son at home. The thing is that all of my children are extremely intelligent. My second son is the quickest of all of them. All the school needed to do was try. He now can read very well thanks to me.

My son got into a fight at school. I have no idea who started it and do not care. The principal called me at work. He informed me that my son had been in the fight and refused to accept his punishment.... a paddling. The principal asked him why he could not paddle my son and my son said, "Because my mom said so."

Now the principal knew that he was not to touch my children. Every year at the beginning of the year I would talk to him and make that point clear. I believe in discipline. I will back a teacher if she needs to punish my child in order to maintain order. But no one, and I do mean no one, is ever under any circumstances to hit my children. Then they would have to deal with Angry Mom.

So my son was suspended from school for several days. I took him home where he was promptly put to work. Hard labor.

In junior high school my sons were there at the same time. It was a public school that only the most intelligent children were allowed to apply. They were accepted.

Studies had been done that showed the most unproductive time at school was the last two hours on Friday.The children were just passing time before the weekend started. The school instituted what they called "flex" classes. For the last two hours on Friday the students would do something a little more interesting. They would sign on for a semester then change to a different "flex" class the next semester.

Both my boys had chosen a class where they would build model cars. They usually sat at the same table across from each other. One Friday they were sitting at the table with their papers in front of them waiting for the teacher to come.

My son was known for having a hot temper. It was easy to pick fight with him because he saw no need to control himself. This particular day some boys sent the smallest of their group in to make my son angry.

The boy walked up and made a remark to my son then pushed his paper off the table.

My oldest son saw what was happening. He knew what was going to happen. He jumped up to grab my second son. He reached across the table but my son was gone! He grabbed the other boy by the front of his shirt and raised him up against the blackboard. The boy's friends had disappeared. My other son managed to stop the rest of it before the teacher came in. He may have saved that boy's life. (That is a joke.)

The children were standing in line waiting to have lunch. My son's locker was right there. Another boy opened it and started rifling through it. The assistant principal was there and did not stop him. Suddenly the boy cried out that there was a gun in my son's jacket.

The principal went to take a look. There was no gun of course. But there was a knife. My son's jacket was one of those that had zippered pockets everywhere and the knife was in one of those.

I was summoned to the school. When they told me on the phone what the problem was I said, "That's where it is. (Meaning the knife) He uses that to cut the hoses for the car radiators when he is helping his dad. He has been looking all over for it."

When I got to the school the police were already there. The principal was reasonable. He told me that my son had also told him that he used the knife when he worked with his father and that he had been unable to find it. As a matter of fact the assistant principal had placed it back into the same pocket to show the police and he could not find it again.

They had no choice but to suspend him from school. They would not press criminal charges so the police left after giving him a good talking to. I was told that the school was under no obligation to allow him to return and they would discuss what they wanted to do during the suspension.

I asked them how they felt about letting him return. The principal softened a bit and told me that because my son was a good student and never caused any problems(?) he would be in favor of a return.

My son grew up and became involved with a woman who was older than he was. She had three children. Each one had a different father. Eventually they married.

Now she came from a strange family but I always said she was the sanest of the bunch. She treated me with the utmost respect. And if I ever needed a favor I did not even have to ask. She would break her neck trying to help me. I liked her.

The problem was that she and my son were not good for each other. I am not saying not right for each other. They were not good for each other. My son was as much at fault as she was.

Her children were very dear to me and still are. They are all grown now and they are parents themselves.

My son and his wife divorced after several years of marriage. I still hear from her. She seems to be doing well.

From other relationships my son has a step-daughter that he is very close to. She is special to me also. She is a lovely young woman, very pretty with a good head on her shoulders. She seems headed toward something in the medical field.

He has a daughter that is 10 years old. She is like her father. Sometimes they are both too smart for their own good. She lives in another state so I do not get to see her often but we have a wonderful time together when we get the chance.

And he has a seven year old son. What a precious little boy he is. So smart and so shy. He looks like his father and he will be tall like his dad. My son is several inches over six feet tall. Unfortunately his mother has chosen to keep him away from us.

My son looked so much like his father when he was little. The strange thing is that the older he gets, the more he looks like my father.

And he continues being a kind-hearted person. A few years ago he dated a young woman whose younger sister was rather a loner. The younger sister was not as attractive or outgoing as her sister. Her family did not treat her very well and belittled her. My son liked her so they remained friends after he stopped seeing the sister.

The girl's grandfather died. Her mother told her that if she could not manage to look respectable she should not bother attending the funeral. She looked to my son for solace. He decided to help her.

My son sent the girl with his newest girlfriend to shop and buy her a nice outfit. Then he had the girlfriend help her get dressed and all made up. They did her hair. She felt beautiful.

As she was getting ready to leave for the funeral, my son handed her the keys to his sports car. He told her to tell her family that she had won the lottery and had a lot of money now.

When she came back after the funeral she was so happy. She said it was the only time her family had been nice to her. My son was just glad that they had not treated her bad. That is the kind of person he is.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My First Son

My first son was born the day after Mother's Day. It was an easy delivery. Doctors did not tell you in advance whether you were having a boy or a girl. I was hoping for a boy. I wanted him to have the same name as my favorite singer. When my husband mentioned that as a possible name I jumped at it. His middle name is his father's first name.

As I was lying there in that particularly attractive position one assumes while giving birth the doctor told me I had a son. Then he held him up for me to see. That was the ugliest baby I had ever seen!

Admittedly I had never seen a newborn before. But his features all seemed to come to a point in the front of his face. Remember the old cartoons of Heckle and Jeckle the two stupid ugly crows? That is what he looked like. I remember the exact words I thought were "Oh my God. I had a buck-toothed idiot."

But I loved that ugly little thing so much. I had read in a magazine just a few days earlier that all mothers want to know the number of fingers and toes of their new babies. I had decided to ask just to be a smart aleck but I was so happy and so in love with my new baby that I did not ask such a stupid question.

When they took me to my room my husband was allowed to visit me. I was so happy to have given him a son. He looked nervous.

He began by telling me that he was not sure if he should tell me or not but... In that instant I knew that something was terribly wrong. My baby had died or was extremely ill and dying. You do not realize how many thoughts can race through your mind in the instant between two words. But the baby has two thumbs.

The relief that washed over me was instantaneous. I looked at him and said, "Is that all?" He thought I was nuts.

My son did indeed have two thumbs on one hand. They were both real thumbs bent together to look a bit like a lobster claw. I had watched his hands and feet as the nurses were measuring and weighing him. They were so much bigger than his little 6 pound15 ounce body seemed to warrant. I did not notice the extra thumb.

As a matter of fact neither did the doctor or nurses. My husband had found it when they showed him his new son. He actually called his mother to ask her whether he should tell me. She told him that I might notice so it was best to tell me.

After a few hours they finally brought my baby to me for a feeding. Everything was settled into place as it should be. He was beautiful.  No more Heckle and Jeckle.

I knew I wanted to breast-feed. It is the natural way and healthier for the child and the mother. So I did. The nurses tried to discourage me. It messed up their schedules you know.

My husband worked for a candy company. He brought me a yard long box of chocolates instead of flowers. When the nurse came in to get the baby after a feeding I offered her a piece of candy.

"Emma! You can't be eating that if you are nursing! Don't you know what it will do to the baby?"

Apparently chocolate has been known to give babies diarrhea. Nobody told me that. (After my first baby I relaxed a bit and did not worry as much. I would have eaten the candy then.)

My son grew normally. I had all the time in the world to spend with him. Early in the afternoon was the time we spent with no one else allowed to intervene. I would prop him into the corner made by the arm of the couch and the back. I would look at him and sing or tell stories. I would tell him how much I loved him.

When he was four months old he began to answer me. It was real words. People thought I was exaggerating but I knew what I heard. Other people who were there saw and heard him. He was talking.

I wrote to tell my mother-in-law all the things he could say. She chuckled to herself, knowing that I was just being a young new mother. Then she came to visit.

It was time for my son and I to be together so my mother-in-law and sister-in-law sat across the room and talked to each other. Suddenly Mom's head snapped up and she said, "My God Emma. That kid can talk!"

My son had an extraordinary memory. One time after he was grown he reminded me of an incident I had completely forgotten. We lived in an apartment building on the third floor. It was a bad neighborhood but I watched my son very closely.

He was a little past his first birthday. I was washing dishes in the kitchen and he was playing in the front room. When I went to check on him, the front door was open and he was gone!

Needless to say I was frantic. I ran out hoping he was in the hall. Not there. I ran to one end hoping he had not fallen down the stairs. Not there. I ran toward the stairs at the other end.

On my way I noticed one of the other apartments had its front door slightly ajar. I called out hoping whoever was in there might have seen my baby. No one answered. I went over and gently pushed the door open wider. I wanted my child.

There inside was my little boy wandering around looking at everything in the place. No one was home. With a huge sigh of relief I took him home after firmly closing their door.

My parents had moved to the big city to be nearer to us and for my father to find work. They rented an apartment on the first floor of the same building we lived in. My father adored his first grandchild. The feeling was mutual. One of my favorite photos is a snapshot of the two of them.

Daddy sat with his legs crossed in that figure four that men do. My son often sat in the space it created on Grandpa's lap. That day Mom got a picture of the two of them fast asleep. Daddy's head is slightly back and my son is sitting in that space with his feet toward Grandpa and his little head rolled slightly to one side. It is a picture of love.

As I said it was a bad neighborhood. Often in the evenings some of the tenants of the building would congregate on the front steps of the building trying to keep cool. Across the street was a small hotel. The only occupants of the hotel  stayed there for only short intervals. They were the ladies that stood on the corners and invited their gentlemen callers inside for a short while.

Half a block away on our side of the street there was a fast food place. My son was fascinated by, of all things, the legs of the ladies from across the street. One day a couple of them sashayed on our side of the street, right in front of us, on their way to get something to eat.

My son set off behind them with his eyes glued to their legs the whole time. I was laughing and decided to follow at a short distance to see how far he would go before he realized I was not there. Apparently mothers cannot compete with legs. I had to run up and grab him shortly before they got to the corner.

My son has always had an extreme view of right and wrong. There are no gray shades for him. Unfortunately he expects every one of us to live up to those standards too.

When my son was about 8 or 9 we lived in a house. His father was home with the other children while my son and I went to pick up some groceries. When we returned I parked our van. Then we saw my 6 year old and 2 year old come running around the corner with a group of bigger boys hot on their tails.

The bigger boys lived in a multiple family building behind us. They were constantly teasing and picking on my children.

My son threw down the bag of groceries and screamed,"THAT DOES IT!" He took off after those much bigger boys. I grabbed my other two and told them to get their father.(He had fallen asleep and had no idea of what was happening)

In the meantime I could hear my son in the alley daring the boys to come fight. I started that way because there were several of them and they were several years older. Near the end of my backyard, here came their mothers.

Now is when I should tell you that I seldom get angry. My husband after all those years of marriage had never seen me angry. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him coming to take care of the problem. I also saw his jaw drop and him stop in midstep with one foot in the air as I said to those mothers, "You hold it right there!"

I gave them a good tongue lashing. When they would try to come back with a feeble "but..." I shut them right up. These were my babies they were attacking! I finally sent them home and there was an uneasy truce after that. My husband stood frozen in place with his mouth open and one foot in the air the whole time.

My son did very well in school. There was another boy who had been top dog at school before my son started there. Naturally there had to be a fight.

I had picked the boys up at school because I had a quick errand to run. My son insisted he could not go with me because he had to fight this other kid. I finally told him I would run my errand and we would be in time for me to drop him off at the designated spot. My son insisted I could not stay.

When we arrived at the meeting place no one else was there. I felt confident that the other boy would not show so I left. It was only a block or so from home.

When my son came home he said the other boy had decided not to go to the fight. The strange thing is that they became fairly good friends after that.

Some of the students in my son's class had misbehaved. The teacher decided to hold all the children after school to write some sentence 100 times as a punishment. My son took his blank sheet of paper up to the teacher. He told her he had done nothing wrong and was not going to be punished for what others had done. He left the classroom and came home.

When he told me about it I suggested he could write the sentence at home and turn it in next day. He looked at me like I was daft and again said he was not going to be punished for something he did not do.

I did go talk to the teacher, Her response was that she was proud of him for sticking up for himself. She told me that he was an honest child and if he felt he did not deserve to be punished she respected that.

My son was the kind of kid that could get into a fight right in front of the principal and the principal would pat him on the head and tell him it would be taken care of. Then he would suspend the other participant from school for a few days. His honest reputation followed him.

My first child decided at a very young age he did not want to marry or have children. No mother wants to hear that. I explained to him how good he is with children and he would probably change his mind.

He said that he had younger cousins to spend time with. When I explained that those cousins would grow up someday he countered that by that time his brothers and sisters would have children. He was right of course. So he has never married and never had children. He has never indicated to me that he regrets his decision so I respect that.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Having Babies

I was overjoyed when I found out I was going to be a mother for the first time. I had 6 little brothers and sisters. As is common in large families I helped a lot with the little ones. So I felt more than ready.

My family did not live in the same state then so I could not go to my mother with questions. I sat and listened to all the women I knew talking about the horrors of labor. I was not overly concerned because I have always had the ability to live in the moment so until it happened it had nothing to do with me.

My husband made his own preparations for getting me to the hospital when the time came. He took the experience as a good excuse to be able to run through red lights and stop signs. It would be a great adventure.

In the meantime I gained forty pounds. A lot of it was fluid because I retain fluid naturally anyway.  Soon I began feeling little butterfly ripples in my abdomen. My baby was kicking! Every mother knows that your love for your baby begins long before it it born. I do not know how it is for a father but I was totally enchanted.

My baby was due before Mother's Day. As Mother's Day got closer and closer I hoped that I would not spend my first Mother's Day in the hospital. I was not in the hospital for Mother's Day. I still had not had my baby.

In bed and sound asleep during the night after Mother's Day I woke up suddenly. My water broke. Because I slept next to the wall I had to try to get my husband who slept like a dead man to let me up. I tried to tell him what was happening.

While I was in the bathroom getting dressed he came running in demanding to know why I had wet the bed! At least he was awake.

I again explained what was happening. He ran upstairs to the apartment of a friend and woke her up. She came down to offer help. She asked if I was in labor. I did not know. Nothing hurt. But I was feeling occasional bouts of what felt like the baby strongly kicking.

She times those. They happened about 6 minutes apart. I needed to go to the hospital.

That is when my husband became sick. He went to the medicine cabinet and poured every compound he could find into his stomach to try to settle it.

Then we set off for the hospital. Would you believe it? Every traffic light was green. My poor husband did not even get the pleasure of running even one red light.

I never did experience labor pains with my first baby. I kept waiting for it to hurt.

I was placed in a room with a woman whose baby was dead. They wanted her to experience normal delivery if possible because they thought it would be better for her physical recovery.

She was in terrible pain and knew she was not going to have a baby to hold after. She became hysterical. Remembering all those stories I heard earlier I waited for that to happen to me.

The doctor came in, did a quick examination, and said, "Okay. Let's go have a baby." I never did feel any pain.

My second baby was a different experience. I woke up almost exactly at the same time the alarm clock went off. It was time for my husband to go to work. But today he would be taking me to the hospital.

Once again things progressed quickly. And I was definitely feeling some discomfort. We dropped my oldest son off to be with my mother.

My doctor cme into the labor room and gave me a quick exam. Then he said that he was going to the cafeteria for a quick cup of coffee. As he started out the door I told him the baby was coming. He told me that it would take twenty minutes for the anesthetic to take effect and he would be back then.

Well he should have listened to me. The intern was getting into his scrubs. I said the baby is here. He turned and managed to grab my son just before he landed on the table.

My husband had taken a new job out of town. Naturally he was not there when labor began for my third baby. I was experiencing contractions but they were extremely erratic. It would be twenty minutes until the next one. Then the next one would be in four minutes. Then ten minutes. Then fifteen minutes. Then three minutes. They might last ninety seconds ot five seconds. There was no regularity at all.

Mom had my brother drive us to the hospital. The whole way I kept telling her that I was not sure I was in labor. I was going to be so embarrassed if they sent me home. This was my third baby for goodness sake. I did not even know if I was in labor.

They took me upstairs. Mom stayed to fill out those papers that need to be filled out and then went to the father's waiting room. A nurse popped her head in the door and asked if anyone was there with Emma. Mom got up.

She was told she could come see me. On the way they passed the nursery. The nurse asked my mother if she would like to see the baby.

Mom explained to her that she must have the wrong person. I had just come in after all. The nurse repeated my name. Mom said yes, that was right. The nurse showed my mother her new grandson.

When my fourth child was born I was staying with my parents again. As quickly as my babies seemed to be born we were worried that I might not make it 30 miles to hospital where we lived.

I went into labor and my mother drove me to the hospital. I went in to be examined. The long and short of it was that it was a false labor. I prepared to dress and go home.

The doctor went out to tell my mother it would be probably another ten days before my baby was born. She looked at him and said, "Oh no you don't. I know how she does this. I'll get her halfway home and she'll have that baby in the car."

He told her she could have me walk the halls for a bit to see if that would do anything. After a couple of hours Mom finally gave up and took me home. My daughter was born ten days later.

As you can see each experience was different. How can that be? I am the same person. It comes down to the babies. Just as they are unique individuals now, they were unique then too. Each came in his/her own time and own way.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On Being A Mother

The one thing I always wanted to be is a mother. Other occupations were considered too. I was going to be a famous singer but I cannot sing. I was going to be a renowned actress. I can act a bit but a career like that depends largely on being in the right place at the right time. I am not lucky. I was going to be so many other professions. It depended on the time of my life and my mood at the time. But I always wanted my own children.

I did not think about being a wife except for the fact that in those days you had to be married in order to have children. I do not think it was possible to have them if you were unmarried, was it? At any rate as I look back I know I was not a good wife. I am a terrific companion but as far as being "wifely", I lack considerably.

But in order to have children the husband was a must. I was engaged for a time to a young man my father introduced me to. It was like a first love kind of thing. Again looking back I know that a marriage between us would not have worked.

I married a young man (actually we were both children... I was 18 and he was 17) who was a hard worker. We loved each other. He had little experience around children even though he came from a large family. He was one of the little ones. But I was ready to start a family.

It was two years before I had my first son. I was in heaven. He was born right after Mother's Day. My husband dug right in and was the best father he knew how to be. He took our baby with him if he went visiting and was so proud to show him off. The one thing he did not want to try was changing diapers.

After another two years I had another son. He was beautiful. We decided that we would have another child... someday. My husband wanted a daughter. But for the time being we had all we could afford.

We talked about having that "someday child" often. Meanwhile I was so enjoying my boys. We talked and played and did all those things I always had dreamed of.

When my second son was three I found out we were going to have that "someday child". I was thrilled. One of the ways that I knew I was going to have a baby is that I would wake up one morning and think, "wouldn't it be nice to have another baby?" It happened every time.

But it was a difficult pregnancy. My husband had taken a new job out of town. I was unable to travel. I could not take proper care of the two I already had. We sold our house and I went to stay with my parents. The boys loved it there.

That was the year my third son was born. Because I had such a hard time taking care of my boys I decided that I was done having children.

I wanted to have surgery to prevent me from having more babies. At that time in our state my husband had to give "permission". How archaic is that? He was not willing to do that so I used other means to prevent pregnancy.

We moved to another state as soon as the baby and I were able to travel. Because my husband was a truck driver and on the road a lot I had all three of my boys to myself.

We explored our new surroundings together. My oldest son had just started school. We stayed up late and watched scary movies on television. It was wonderful.

But I was barely home from the hospital after having son number three when I discovered that I was probably going to have another baby. When my husband came home after a week on the road I told him he would need to stay up with the boys while I went to the doctor for confirmation.

So scarcely a year later my beautiful daughter was born. My husband took the children and me back to stay with my parents while I was pregnant. I was not having problems. But the nearest place to have a baby where we were living was 30 miles away. It did not take me very long to have a baby once they finally decided it was time to be born. I would probably not make it to the hospital.

That completed our family. I convinced my husband that it would be best for me to have that surgery. He reluctantly agreed. He was on the road when our daughter was born. He headed back when he was told she was here but he did not make it in time to sign for the surgery.

The nurse that was waiting for a signature wanted to know if I was absolutely certain my husband would sign. Of course I was.

I was the first female to sign for that surgery in that state. They needed a signature of permission. My signature would do until my husband could do it legally. By the time he arrived the surgery was over. His signature would have been senseless.

I managed a rock and roll band at one time. They played 50's and 60's music. The leader of the band was announcing their next song. He said; "You know, I was 19 and in Korea when this song was popular. Do you remember what you were doing at 19?" I spoke up that I was having a baby.

Then he said, "For that matter how many of you remember what you were doing at 21?" My reply was that I was having a baby.

He got a determined look on his face and said, "Do you remember what you were doing when you were 25?" Again, "I was having a baby." He gave up but I had another baby at 26.

"They" always say that your life has been a success if you have lived your dreams.  I am a success 4 times over because my children have been everything I wanted and more.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys

My youngest brother has a son who is the same age as my second grandson. They have had a few adventures together. As is often the case with children the adventures are somewhat exciting and, in my eyes, funny.

I have to tell you that I stare at my nephew a lot. He looks exactly like my father probably looked at his age. It drives my nephew crazy and I try not to do it. But it is just uncanny. My grandson looks so much like my ex husband that it is amazing.  So they both look like their grandfathers.

As pre-teens both boys were"into" wrestling. They watched wrestling on television. Often the matches shown only on pay per view were ordered to be shown at my house so they would be part of the group that came to watch them.

If wrestling was not on TV the boys were locking up and wrestling each other. A lot of the children in the family like to wrestle so that is not unusual. But my nephew is large for his age. He is a very handsome young man. My grandson is small for his age and very handsome also. You would think it to be a mis-match but they could both hold their own.

Before Christmas each year I would have all the children come to my house to make cookies. One year I had my grandson and my nephew. We had to go pick up my oldest grandson from, you guessed it, a high school wrestling meet. I thought they would enjoy watching their older cousin who is an excellent wrestler.

It was a long drive. The boys were in the back seat talking and laughing about different things. Occasionally the subjects would get a little naughty but I let them go because that is what kids do after all. And it was not too bad.

Of course there would be the occasional attempt to wrestle back there too. How they thought they could wrestle with seat belts on I am not sure. Whenever things started to get out of hand I would admonish them to settle them down.

Then they began to really giggle and started to talk about sex. I am not a prude and I let them go. After all they were only getting to know what sex was.

So the conversation was about sex. Then it was about heterosexuals. Then it was about homosexuals. Then it was about bi-sexuals. When they started talking about tri-sexuals I could no longer wait. I had to know what on earth a tri-sexual was. When they explained it to me (it was rather disgusting) I said okay and dropped the subject. So did they.

As I said before there were intermittent attempts to wrestle back there. Each time I had to be a little more firm. I was driving and could not break up a fight from the driver's seat. Finally I resorted to my trusty threat of putting them out if they did not stop. They would slow down and look at each other to keep from laughing, but it would stop for a moment.

Finally I said, "That's it! If you don't stop right now I will pull over and put you out of the car!" My grandson's head snapped up, he looked at his cousin and said, "Oops. She means it this time." All was quiet... for a while.

Of course they forgot themselves and started again. I told them they had been warned. I was going to pull off the highway at the next exit. They both paled and sat very quietly as I exited. What they did not know was that it was the exit we needed to take to get to where we were going. I chuckled to myself.

My oldest granddaughter had just graduated from high school. Her parents had a big party. All her friends and teachers were invited along with their families. All of our family was also there. I love family get-togethers. The generations mingling is special.

My son had gotten out all the things that would keep the children occupied. The croquet game was set up. There was a net for volleyball or badminton. There was the trampoline. There was my grandson's basketball hoop. Targets were set up for shooting practice with the BB gun. There was a slip-and-slide for the children to get wet and be cool. The kids' favorite was the go-cart.

I was feeding Cheetos to my niece's little boy. He loved them. It kept me amused because they turned his hand and mouth yellow. Then my niece would pull out another wipe to clean him off. So I would give him another Cheeto. It was a good time.

Apparently my daughter and my brother had told their sons that in order to ride the go-cart they must ride with an adult. I did not know that. I watched the two of them get on the cart together and take off. At breakneck speed they went around the corner of the house, around the propane tank, down the driveway, and onto the road. I laughed as they did war whoops as they went.

I was still feeding Cheetos to my nephew when my brother looked at my daughter and asked where the boys were. I started to laugh because they had been gone for a while and neither parent had realized it. I told them they had gone off on the go-cart.

They were understandably upset. I just laughed at them. I told them they were probably down by the creek where my oldest grandson went fishing sometimes. All the parents grabbed their cell phones and started calling the boys. No answer.

I laughed. They were going to go look for the boys. I laughed. They decided to try calling one more time. My nephew answered his phone. I laughed.

My nephew reported that they were having a little trouble with the go-cart. I laughed. My brother asked his son where he was. I laughed. My nephew asked my grandson where they were. Neither one was sure. I laughed.

The boys were pretty sure they knew how to get back to my son's house. I laughed. My brother told them to get back right away. I laughed. They said they would. I laughed.

After another long wait my daughter and my brother decided to search for the boys. I laughed. Car keys in hand they started toward the driveway. I laughed.

My son looked up and saw the boys... pushing the go-cart. I laughed. They got to the yard and everybody converged on them. Except me. I was laughing.

It seemed that they had gone into a ditch and the go-cart would not start after that. I laughed. My son looked at his go-cart. The axle was broken. I laughed

So parents were yelling at sons to try to find out what had happened. I was laughing hysterically.

Finally the truth came out. They had been taking turns driving. One of them had tipped the go-cart into the ditch. Both of them spilled out and the go-cart would not start. They were araid to tell anybody so they had been trying to fix it. I laughed.

Parents were still yelling at sons. I had to ask the obvious question. Were they hurt. Oh, no. They were fine. I laughed.

Finally my nephew admitted that the front of his hip was scraped and he had a couple of bruises. I laughed. My grandson insisted that he was fine. I laughed. No wonder nobody takes me anywhere.

When the party was over we all went home. I was watching TV and winding down from the day when the phone rang. My daughter was calling.

My grandson had gone to his room when they got home. My daughter and my grandson's father were watching television. My grandson came downstairs and went to the kitchen. They thought he was getting a snack.

When he was going back up the stairs my daughter noticed that he was holding something so they could not see it. It was a baggie full of ice.

He had a huge lump on the back of his head. He was afraid he would be in trouble if his parents knew. This time my daughter laughed with me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Grandma was quite a character. She was a quiet woman but she could surprise you at times with the things that she did.

Grandma could cook. She was the best cook I ever knew. Even better than my mother. I do not like pancakes but I always hoped she would make them for breakfast when I was there. That was because she made her own syrup out of water and sugar.

Grandma made homemade bread every day. And I mean every day. She cooked and baked on an old wood stove. Anyone who has had food cooked that way knows how much better it tastes.

Grandma had been cooking since she was a small girl. Once in a while on Sunday when they were making Sunday dinner, Grandma would ask one of her daughters to take the homemade biscuits from the oven. They would start to look for pot holders or a towel to hold the pan to keep from getting burned. Grandma would give an exasperated sigh and grab the pan with her bare hands and set it on the table.

I remember being shocked when I was in high school. Grandma had had a stroke. After a long hospital stay she was finally home. She went to take biscuits from the oven and had to bounce the pan from hand to hand. She felt the heat.

Grandma said that while she was in the hospital the doctors and nurses talked about her like she was a baby. She was unable to speak. The doctors told everyone that she would never walk again. She laid there and thought to herself; "I'll show them!" She got tired easily at first but she could walk just fine.

She was a farmer's wife with all the work that entails. She cooked a lot of fried chicken. She would send my uncles out to catch and behead a couple chickens for dinner. She used a wire that had a hook bent at the end to catch the leg of a chicken so the person could get it in their grasp. Then the boys were supposed to chop off the heads with an axe.

Now getting a chicken to lay its head calmly on a chopping block while you cut off its head is an impossible task. They wiggle, they squirm, and they have extremely agile necks. My uncles would have a time trying to do the chore.

Finally Grandma would get tired of waiting. She just grabbed the chickens by their heads, spun them just so and wrung their heads right off their necks. It took seconds.

There was the time the cow got gas. Cows do not belch so gas stays inside and grows. If not taken care of the cow will die.

Grandpa had gone to town and would be gone for a couple of days. If he had been there he would have "stuck" the cow and it would have been done. Sticking the cow meant taking out his pocket knife and stabbing the cow in the spot where the second stomach was. It released the gas and all was right with the world.

Grandma did not know how to stick the cow. So she figured it would be fine until Grandpa got back. The cow just kept swelling and bawling. It bawled constantly and loudly. The swelling got bigger and the bawling got louder. Finally Grandma knew she would have to take care of it herself. She had no idea how to stick the cow. She grabbed a rake handle and shoved it into the proper opening on the cow. There was a great noise as the gas escaped. My mother said the smell was unbearable and hung over the farm for days. The cow was fine.

A wolf had been killing the livestock. Grandpa had not been able to catch it. It was another one of those times when Grandpa had to be away. Grandma heard a ruckus out with the animals. She looked out the window and saw the wolf.

She grabbed Grandpa's double-barreled shotgun. She had never shot a gun but she decided to play Annie Oakley.

She ran out to where the wolf was. She lifted the shotgun in both hands and held it out directly in front of her. She pulled both triggers at the same time. The shotgun kicked back and hit her in the mouth. It knocked out both her front teeth. I do not know what happened to the wolf.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Hairy Situation

You cannot tell by my baby picture on the right (wasn't I adorable?) but my hair grows very fast. It is very fine but there is a lot of it. My hair is straight and has no body.

I loved my color when I was younger. It was a sable brown and so rich looking. But as I got older the colors began to fade as they do for everyone. I colored it artificially for a few years then decided it was not worth all the trouble. I am fortunate enough to have inherited the genes that have kept me from getting too gray yet.

I like having long hair. There is something sensual and powerful about the feel of one's hair hanging down on one's back. I understand how Samson must have felt. At the same time it takes a lot of care and I do not like to take care of it.

There is also the matter of gravity. When we are young our muscle tone is good. Everything about our faces and bodies is firm and looks young. As we age gravity begins its pull. Skin loosens and sags. Long hair only helps give the illusion of pulling downward.

When I was beginning school little girls wore pigtails. Those are the two braids, one on either side of the head. If you were dressing up bows made from pretty ribbons were added to the look.

Because my hair was so fine yet so thick it was a mess to work with. All the high school girls were starting to wear ponytails. That is when your hair is pulled into one spot and anchored into place with a rubber band. Then it hangs loose down the back much like the tail of a horse. Mom decided that was for me.

I remember my first hair cut. I was about 8 years old. Mom was sick and tired of fixing my hair every morning. She decided to cut it off.

I mentioned that my hair is straight (as a string) and has no body. Mom knew it would need a bit of help. In the 1950's they had a permanent wave for little girls called Tonette. It came complete with paper dolls for the little girl to play with while she was being curled.

Mom and I had a good time with her cutting my hair (every time I get my hair cut I get an anxious feeling losing my mane) and rolling it in the skinny little curlers. She put the solutions on it when they were to be put on. All in all when we were through it looked pretty good.

I immediately went out walking so everyone could see my beautiful new self. I was bouncing proudly down the sidewalk when my father came driving up the street and screeched (actually screeched) to a halt. He was the town marshal and was patrolling the streets right then.

Daddy jumped out of the car and yelled. "What happened to your hair? Who did that to you?" I replied, "Mommy did it. Isn't it pretty?" As he was jumping back into his car he said, "I'm going to kill her." I was puzzled? I knew he was not going to kill her, of course. But what was he upset about? I was gorgeous.

It took practically no time for my hair to get long again. I had more cuts and more Tonettes over the years. I liked having curly hair. Both of my sisters have naturally curly hair. I am a little jealous.

Mom quit cutting my hair when I became a teenager. She sent me to the beauty shop instead. My first time at the beauty shop I had decided I wanted my hair shorter than it was but still long enough for a ponytail. The hairdresser was able to oblige.

As I entered high school long straight hair was the popular way to wear it. I certainly had the hair to pull off that look. I let my hair grow out. By the time I graduated from high school my hair was so long I could sit on it.

My boyfriend loved it. He told me after we were married that my long hair was what had made him notice me. Many of the older couples we knew called me Morticia after Morticia Addams. I liked it.

Two years after I was married I had my first baby. I fed all my babies the way nature intended me to. My son loved my hair. He would twirl it around in his hands and just wrap himself in it in general. The only problem was that when I would go to put him to bed after a feeding I found myself pulling out clumps of my hair so that I could then untangle it from my baby. Of course I then had to make sure I found all of the hairs wrapped around him and get them off.

When I discovered I was having another baby two years later I thought back to the hassle with my long hair and decided I would not do that again. Off I went to the hairdresser. I had all that hair cut off. The hairdresser was a little worried about my husband being upset with her for cutting my hair. I told her it was my hair for goodness sake.

Of course my husband was not pleased but he did not have to take care of all that hair. The surprising reaction was my 2 year old son. He did not speak to me for three days. He finally told me a few years ago that he and his father had done that on purpose thinking I would not cut my hair again. Silly boys.

Now that I am older I cannot stand to have my hair hanging against those two "corners" of my neck right behind my ears. And I can no longer feel comfortable with my hair in my eyes. I try to keep my hair short for those reasons too. And gravity.

I have never been a person who spends a lot of time taking care of my hair. I brush it to keep the tangles out. If I am going somewhere special I might doll up a bit but other than that... I do not get it cut as often as I should simply because I can always find something more interesting to do. And it takes so long to sit there while I get what is now called a "perm".

My hair has been growing for almost a year and a half since my last cut. It is getting closer to the middle of my back so I am planning on getting it done next week. Unless something more interesting presents itself that is.