The Things They Say Part 2

I am gathered together with my teens in the music room.

We are an indomitable late-night crew.

Tall Son is home from college

– and we are drawn like moths to flame–

to each other.

The talk turns to sports and the local christian school sports team some of the boys have played/play for:

And basketball- because one son plays soccer. And we circle round whether he should have played basketball, too– we chit– and we chat–

and then suddenly- Tall Son rallies! He tells brother he would have been sitting on the (basketball team) bench.

Said son deflects all perfectly- perfect delivery, absolutely no angst:

“I am a bench warrior; let me tell you! If I get the exercise I need in practice, mission accomplished. Then I can cheer on the team from the bench, which is what I do best!”

He rubs his knuckles on his chest and then blows on them.

He is the soccer man- and if he can maintain condition for soccer- everything else is icing on the cake.

“I am a bench warrior”- The Things They Say.

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That same night- two sons duel in falsetto.

I share the story of a small son (who is now basically a man on that very couch) many years ago- singing Christmas Carols perfectly in a sweet, high-pitched voice: “Falalalala-lala-lalala!”

Back and forth they sing an ad-lib, high-pitched duel.

I laugh so hard, I cry.

I share the story of my sister- with whom I would often laugh until I cried when I was young– late at night. We called it the “Daze Stage.”

It felt so happily familiar.

To laugh myself silly with my loves.

The Things They Say (or Sing)

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I am immersed in a writing intensive with my freshman daughter.

We are working hard through much difficulty.

She crafts a compare/contrast essay on  Acro-Dance and Gymnastics.

The course utilizes a computerized scoring system and writing improvement tool called PEG.

We groan as we work with PEG; we determine to “trick” PEG; we won’t stop until PEG’s points go higher. I am relentless. She is determined. She is a force to contend with in her fixed focus toward completion. On, on.

PEG doesn’t like “acro,” we have to name it acrobatics. So, we do- with mutterings and groans.

PEG doesn’t like “back walkovers;” I trick it by insisting she call it “the back walkover.” So, she does (and the points improve.)

Later, I am working at the table… and she is standing behind a chair across from me. She wants to share her essay with some different people– and we are talking about it. I hear her muttering and pondering:

” ‘ The back walkover’ — that sounds so WEIRD.”

And suddenly, it hits me:

“The back walkover”– just how presumptuous and awkward it sounds-

as if it is some great, specifically precise feat separate from the other skills in her sentence in some inexplicable way.

The actual sentence: Side aerials, the back walkover, and press handstands are all amazing to watch and hard to achieve.

and she just can’t stand how “the back walkover” sounds and reads in the sentence- and how it isn’t true to what it really “is.”

Her face- scrunched up in disapproval; the battle with PEG; the victory with points; the sweat equity in the piece itself;

I laugh SO  HARD. I laugh today. I laugh forever. I laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

“The back walkover”  The Things They Say (and we do).

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A (smaller) Tall Son begins his first basketball season:

He loads the bus for his first away game:

A shout rises up: “BORGER!!!!” from all the high school players.

He loads and sits deep in the middle of the bus behind the high school Coach (Micah’s coach) and Coach says:

“Welcome to the Belly of the Beast.”

At dinner, he finds himself the center of some probing questions. A high school team member knows three of his brothers who have participated in various activities at said school.

“Whose your favorite brother?” the team-mate queries — hoping to disarm son and gather some ammunition. Not to be so easily outdone-

Son counters: “Do you even know how many brothers I have?”

The older student stutters, mutters, and answers incorrectly.

And that was the end of that. The question never came up again.

-I think he’s going to be just fine.-

The next day,

He finds himself on court, playing low post position. The opposing team member whispers (right next to him): “Jonah?”

Recognition dawns.

He finds himself face to face with a fellow Scout from our Troop. This confirmed a suspicion he had from the start- that the Casey on the team- was the Casey from Troop 9.

Worlds expand.

The Things They Say and Do.

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The Things They Say Part 1

I have captured some… and some I have missed.

But, for posterity-!

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A small girl stands stalwart.

Feet planted.

One legging leg up, and one legging leg down.

I remark about said pant leg.

She cries out,

“No one likes my fashion! No one likes my style!

It’s true!”

I am astounded. Of course I love her style! Of course I love her fashion!

Wee girly, with a fashion sense already?!?

The things they say

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It’s Saturday for several weeks-

and a bold, young man- aged 10; the youngest our family has known to take on such a responsibility-

is at the giant pancake griddle.

He is providing Saturday morning pancakes for our clan with great glee. Jam, Maple Syrup, many times Chocolate Chips, sometimes Pumpkin. The stacks are devoured.

I come home from the Saturday dance class journey-

and peruse the kitchen and the pancake stacks:

he declares to me: “I’m the OPM!!”

“What’s the OPM?” I ask.

“Official Pancake Maker!” he declares. “Daddy crowned me.”

OPM. The Things They Say.

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I am getting three little girls ready for bed.

I stand in some relief- and also amazed-

simply because they are doing so much themselves. Toothpaste on the toothbrushes. The whole routine.

Small, confident, pink – clad girls.

They start squeezing toothpaste under my careful surveillance.

One wee girl is at the sink running water over her brush.

Another sister is scrubbing her teeth vigorously.

A third is squeezing toothpaste onto her toothbrush. She is just about to put the brush in her mouth- when, suddenly- she stops:

“I almost forgot to water my toothbrush!”

She jumps on the stool and runs her brush under water and then commences brushing.

The Things They Say

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I am sitting across the table from an inquisitive, bright young man.

He begins declaring all these personal goals, interests, and hopes to me.

I am listening, astonished.

When suddenly, he declares, “I’m going to do it! I’m going to get an Eagle Palm.”

When I question whether he knew that in order to earn an Eagle Palm, he first had to achieve Eagle Scout Rank, he nods briskly.

THEN:

He proceeded to recite the fact to me that an Eagle Palm is awarded for earning five additional merit badges AFTER ranking Eagle Scout (which it is).

I am shocked. He clearly knew and understood.

BUT THEN:

“I have achievements I need to achieve.”— he said.

The Things They Say.

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The Things They Say

I noticed recently… a wee, small girl’s appetite picked up. She was hungry. Frequently.

A little while later… she came to me to whisper in my ear:

“Mommy, I think I’m growing. I was walking down the stairs and I felt myself taller.”

Then… a little while after that… she went to her slightly taller twin sister… and discussed the matter with her. This led to the following moment- which was authentic- although I did then stage it to capture it fully… as they stood back to back to get a “feel” of their heights.  This young one has a twin who is taller, and who has lost a tooth well before hers has even loosened.  It is a bit of a trial at times. 😉 She takes it with good grace.

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I smile at my little girls enjoying luxury bubbles. One says, “You are the nicest Mommy with your smile!” I make a remark of surprise about this (and I think in my mind… didn’t I just read a post (it was Mystie Winkler- Simply Convivial) about the power of a smile and a hug?… it really is true! I need to write that down…) and then one girl remarks to the other about dear friends of ours who have “big” girls who have a special, special bond with our “little” girls… and their smile(s). (She was talking about you, Johanna. 🙂 – the impact of your smile!!! )

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Driving home on birthday night…the happy conversation turns to the birthday meal awaiting us.

A certain small son remembers a “glorious” meal at Ama’s…

“where there were hot dogs with no limit, hamburgers, and roasted (on the grill) corn on the cob”

The talk swirls in memory around those delicious roasted corn cobs…, the hamburgers…and of course, the hot dogs!

Hot dogs with no limits. At our house, the limit is two. Protection from over-consumption of nitrates and other bad components. But at Ama’s- the provision of food and the bounty is notorious! And… it has made a strong impression!

It was glorious! “Hot dogs with no limits”

The Things They Say (and do).

The Things They Say

I

I am settling little girls to rest time… sitting on a chair in the office, task focused to get everything settled- when suddenly, a little blond girl pops up…. hair rumpled, blue eyes alight… and she says,

“Mommy, that’s Joshua! Joshua’s fluting!” Sure enough… strains of flute music practice can be heard over the air purifier and the music am I trying to start on the computer..

“Fluting” – The Things They Say

II

Driving down the last road before the turn of our development, several of us have been delighted to observe ground hogs. Big ones, and babies. Tucked in the grass, on the roadside. Munching.

Recently-  two teens …one newly fledged and one, the oldest… and Joshua… passing by this spot with me as we head home:

Suddenly, delighted exclamation:

“Look Josh! A Beaver!!” And the sweet one really meant it.

Oh!!! How we laughed and laughed.

The little husky ground hog was upright munching grass. Our beaver.

The Things They Say

The Things They Say

I am at the coffee pot and it is a morning flurry. The day before a trip. A day full of running teen-agers places: jobs, lessons. I have dough in the mixer and a fresh blueberry cake in the fridge. The counter is a crumble. Little girls are spinning through the minutes.

It is time to go and I am hurriedly making a coffee travel cup. Last minute sunscreen applications are happening. Littlest one decides to ride with me on the first venture of the day. She gathers her juice; her snack… and then I hear…

her confident voice rising,

“Let’s move it!”

(Did she really just say that? She did!!)

She’s ready and she’s rallying.

How I laugh! And we laugh.

“Let’s move it!”

The Things They Say

 

The Things The Say

My girl, M, has delighted in an adorable caterpillar/butterfly shirt from Target.  This shirt was a gift from my Mom. It has a little pocket with a caterpillar printed inside of it.  It truly is the most precious shirt and she claimed it at once. It has been her very favorite and she loves to wear it.

Today, I was at work in her room and she was reposing in her bed, soothing rumpled emotions. Tear streaked cheeks and sorrow amidst.

Suddenly, I pull this beloved caterpillar shirt out of the basket on my little girls’ dresser.

“How did this get here?!” I exclaim. I was certain sure my girl was wearing this very shirt this very day.

She jumps up from her bed with a gasp and grabs a handful of the shirt that is indeed on her body.

She cries out, “Mommy, it’s twins! It’s twins shirts!”

I laugh!

She laughs.

I never realized we had two of these precious shirts. It had been placed in the basket to keep it for special because we loved it so much and I didn’t realize the one she had been wearing was a second shirt.

She jumps up in excitement and runs with the second shirt in hand- down the stairs to her own twin. Then she puts it carefully in the bag we are packing for Ama’s house. We decide to put both shirts in the bag so the twins can wear the twin shirts at Ama’s.  We pack them both and now she is adorned in a different shirt for this day. A sparkle in the center of a rosette glimmers. She skips away happy.

The Things They Say

The Things They Say

We are driving to church. All together.

The sky is bright, the breeze is cool.

Three little girls sit in the row behind.

Little blond girl, always front and center. She’s always in the middle of three. (Car sickness preventative) Melodee on one side, Norah on the other. All dressed up and pure, darling cuteness. Bows in the hair and each sweet, denim skirt clad.

Suddenly, a plaintive voice…

“My mouth is empty! My mouth is empty!” I look back. She has “frowny” eyebrows and a distressed face.

“Why is your mouth empty?” I ask.

“Because it needs my thumb in it!” She says.

All, utter seriousness. We laugh. She is looking for permission to put that thumb in her mouth. Her empty mouth – the persuading reason.

The Things They Say. (A)