Thursday, May 31, 2012

Little Boy Love

At month's end, the Reds' school year will draw to a close. Every morning, they ask, "How many days until summer?" as I urge them out the door into  mornings filled with sunshine and promise.

And every morning, Luke wonders the same thing: "Do you think Sam T. will be my buddy today?"

Sam T. is a five-year old amongst four-year-olds. He is Luke's friend...until he's not.

In September, I began hearing about Sam T - about his might and his will and how much fun it was to play with him at recess. For a long while, I believed that Sam T. was a figment of Luke's imagination, so awed was he by Sam T's ideas and schemes and the way in which he herded his Junior Kindergarten classmates.

Luke's first day of school, 2011, seeing his classroom for the first time.

But by November, Luke would sometimes tumble into my arms at day's end, sweaty and dirty in that way of boys and desperately sad that Sam T "wasn't my friend today, Mummy."

Seems that Sam T plays favourites and that on a whim, he'll pick another boy to play with, leaving Luke on the outside, looking in.

"Sam T was mean to me today, Mummy. He said that I couldn't play with him and A. because I'm not wearing an orange shirt."

"Today, Sam T said that I was his best friend in the whole world because I have McQueen shoes."

"I'm gonna wear my McQueen shoes today, Mummy because Sam T likes them and then he'll be my best friend in the whole world."

"Sam T didn't want to be my best friend today, Mummy and he hurt my feelings."

"I don't want to wear the blue hat, Mummy because Sam T says that it's only for babies."

No amount of reasoning has worked, all year long. Since the Fall, I have urged Luke to find a different boy to play with, to ignore Sam T's hurtful words, to tell a teacher when Sam T pushes him on the slide. But Luke has doggedly pursued this friendship for almost nine months now, giddy with happiness on the days when Sam T is his friend, despairing on the days when he's not.

"Buddy is better than friend, Mummy, " Luke reported to me just last week, as we wandered home hand-in-hand.

"Really? How is buddy better?"

"Sam T says that I'm his buddy and A is only his friend - buddy means I'm more special," Luke puffed out his chest, grinning.

"Luke, you're already special, bug. You're special because you're Matthew's brother and my son and Nanny's treasure. You know that, right?"

"I know that I'm special to you, Mummy. You already told me that. But yesterday, I wasn't special to Sam T because A was his buddy and I was only his friend. Today I was his buddy and so that makes me special to him."

"That's stupid, Luke, " Matthew interjected. Before I could reprimand him for using a naughty word, he rushed on, rounding fiercely on his little brother, "What about tomorrow, when Sam T chooses A as his buddy and not you? He's just mean to you and you should make different friends who think you're special every day."

Oh, you marvelous child. For every bickering moment between them, for every shove and "Mummy, he's bugging me!" wail, this is what it all comes down to - loyal, protective brother love.

Brotherly love.


This morning, as Luke carefully did up his McQueen shoes and I waited, not-so-patiently by the door, he wanted to know this:

"Mummy, can boys marry other boys?"

"Uh, yes. Yes they can."

"Can girls marry girls?"



"Why do boys love boys and girls love girls?"


"The same reasons some girls love boys and some boys love girls. Because God made them that way."

"I wish that God would make Sam T want to love me and be my buddy every day."

"I'll wish that God sends you a friend who loves you every day, regardless, Luke. That's what I wish for."

"Can you ask Him to send me one like Matthew, only one who's 4 and can play in the Kindergarten yard with me?"

"You bet."

Dear God,

Please send Luke a friend like Matthew, who's 4 and can play in the Kindergarten yard with him. Oh, and please send me a box of Kleenex and a bigger heart. The one I have is full to bursting.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sunny Days...

From Facebook:

What's better than sunshine? Drinking with the neighbours whilst gardening. Forgoing gardening for beer and laughs. Watching neighbours chase one's children around. Children laughing. Sunshine. Friends. Community. All on my brother's birthday.

My cup runneth over.

Urp. Excuse me!

My cup runneth over because my across-the-road neighbour keeps filling it with cold beer.

I didn't realize how much I like beer until the sun beat down on my shoulders this afternoon, as I weeded the front garden. And then there was a hose and some sudsy water for washing the car and then suddenly - how did this happen?!?1 - I was drinking a beer, in the shade with my welcoming and hilarious neighbours and feeling blessed.

Cold beer tastes better with fun conversations and children and dogs and hilarity.

And sunshine.

Blessed, blessed sunshine.

I've had six now. Six beer.

Is it beers? Beer?

Who cares, it's cold and the neighbours are watching my kids and I love the whole world and the sun is still shining.

I wish my brother was here.

I wish I could drink beer (beers?) with him and watch him scoop my sons effortlessly into his arms and turn them upside down, laughing. 

Instead, Neighbour (and Beer Passer) Rob has taken to his role as "pseudo-babysitter" with grace and style and energy:

Rob, Neighbour-Extraordinaire, with Matthew

This will do.

This is enough.

Cheers, Bamboo.

This one's for you, my beloved baby brother.

This one (or six...I can't remember anymore...) is for you.

The Gift of Laughter

May 19th. It's a gorgeous day. Blue, practically cloudless skies, warm sunshine...perfect for a birthday celebration.

Today is  my brother's birthday - had he lived, he'd be turning 34.


Time heals, until days like today, when remembering the best of who he was makes me ache with missing him and all the milestone moments that made up our lives.

If he were still here, we'd be gathering under these blue skies, to hang about my parents' back deck, drinking beer and waiting for Andrew to make us laugh.

Even without using words, he was hilarious:

Here, my parents had just purchased a new camera/video recorder/player/BBQ/telephone and we all took turns trying to make it work. When Andrew's turn came, he was overly-confident, so it amused us all enormously to watch him puzzle through:

"Let's see....I look through here, focus..."

"I got this. Ha! I got this....!"

"Wait a sec...maybe I don't got this...I'll just turn this knob..."



Shit, they're all watching me. Was that a camera? Is Mark taking pictures of me?
That jerk. I'll get him....take THAT!

We never did work that camera out, actually. But oh God, how we laughed.

This week, I found these photos - and laughed even harder, right before I burst into tears. And then I thanked my brother for the gift of them, so close to his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Bamboo!

 I love you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why I Blog...

I've been thinking about blogging this week - specifically, about why I blog.

I blame Larry Hehn for my musings, as he posed the "Why Do You Blog?" question over at Christian in the Rough earlier this week.

That Larry. He always makes me think.

 But in doing so,  I realized that the "why" behind my blog has changed - as my children have grown, as I have, so too, has my blog. Well, I hope it has, anyway.

In the beginning, it was simply a place to record my life as a mum, little snippets of life with the Reds and our journey as a family.  I thought perhaps my mum would read it, maybe my aunties across the pond. For the longest time, I thought that only those who love me and the Reds would be interested in the stories that make up our days together.

 Mostly, that is still what this blog is about: me telling stories to those who love us. The amazing part is that, somewhere along the way, the people who love us has grown to include all of you, dear readers. That realization has changed what I write, sort of,  but mostly it means that I've also made room for other stuff that has captured my interest and attention (and hopefully, yours):

As of this writing, my most-read piece is still a letter I wrote to my local election candidates, inviting them to visit me and convince me to offer them my vote. That post alone received almost 800 hits, approximately 700 of which happened within 24 hours of Margaret Atwood retweeting it on Twitter.

In a word? Awesome. And sort of freaky because it was the first time I felt and saw, in real time and in a very personal way, the power of social media in action. It made me feel big...and very, very small at the same time. Kinda like I felt when I became a mother, actually.

That said, becoming a mother - still, every day, learning, growing and fumbling through - remains the very core of this blog and at the core of who I am. Without my children, I might never have found my writing voice again, might never have found my way back to school, might never have found this space, incredibly loyal readers...and friends.

Blogging keeps me honest and real, sometimes painfully so. I am accountable here: to my children, to my family, to myself, to my readers. Often, I write about my failings as a parent because I need to confess it. Must be the Catholic in me. But too, I am aware that one day, my sons will read these posts and hope that they know three things:

1. How very, very much I love them,
2. How much they've taught me,
3. That their therapy sessions will be more productive if they simply direct their therapist here,
3. How much I have left to learn.

Redheaded inspirations...

I also like to think that my honesty is somehow helpful to my readers, many of whom are parents themselves.  Readers often tell me when  I've made them laugh out loud or weep into their morning coffee. I gotta say, I love when I make people cry. Wait, that's not quite what I mean...erm....uh....

Truth is, sentiments such as, "OMG, Belly, I'm bawling here!" is like food for my soul - it's so heartening to know that my words have elicited such a powerful response and that something I've written has inspired or comforted someone else.

Since returning to school, I've found that my blog might be a place of enlightenment, too. I've posted several pieces now about how studying to be a Developmental Services Worker has utterly transformed my view of the world. My not-so-quiet,  though largely unspoken hope is that some of those pieces might also change yours.

Each time I post about the people I've met whose lives are testament to the power of the human spirit, I feel like I'm writing them a very public though entirely heartfelt "Thank You."

Kind of like this post has morphed into a "Thank You" letter, too. Thank you always, to my sons for the inspiration and to all of you, dear readers, for sharing this space and these moments, with me.


And you?
Why do you blog?
If you're not a blogger, I am always happy to accept credit for blogging ideas...