In Memory of my Grandma

In honor of my daughter’s upcoming dance recital, I would like to share with you an excerpt from a sermon I delivered a few weeks ago, in memory of my Grandma and my own dance recitals.

From “In Praise of Weeds”

I have two favorite flowers. One is the Peony. The reason for this isn’t exactly because I think it is the most beautiful flower, or the most fragrant. It is because of my memories surrounding it. You see, my Grandma Sophie grew a beautiful garden. It was simply amazing. My grandma loved that garden fiercely. She spent hours and hours each day pruning her plants and picking her vegetables, and then cooking with the vegetables she harvested. Her life essentially revolved around this garden. Another thing she loved fiercely was her family. She never hid her pride in my accomplishments. My grandma never missed a school event, a vacation, and most importantly, a dance performance.

Now, to say I danced a lot as a child is an understatement. I performed numerous times a year, and danced in competitions nearly every weekend throughout the winter, followed by national championships over the summer. My grandma never missed a performance. Not a single one.

For the big performances, the recitals, she would bring me flowers. White peonies from her garden. As a child, I wasn’t appreciative of this. After every recital, I watched all of my friends receive store bought bouquets from their families. Perfect flowers, wrapped in tissue paper and cellophane. My flowers, they didn’t look like that. They were different. Instead of colorful tissue paper and sparkly cellophane, they came wrapped in a wet paper towel covered in aluminum foil. And I was jealous. Envious. I never said anything to my grandma, but – I wanted store bought flowers. Like my friends. Perfect flowers.

Every year, I was jealous of these flowers, until a dance recital when I was about twelve years old. On that day, my grandma, my independent, strong willed grandma, was ill. Her headache was so bad that she didn’t think she could drive, but she wasn’t willing to miss the recital. So, my mom and I piled into the car to go pick her up. After the twenty minute trip, we pulled into her driveway, and I caught sight of her. Sick, feeling so ill that she couldn’t drive, yet – out in her garden. On her knees, crawling around in the flowers. When I got out of the car, she called to me she would be ready in a minute, she was just comparing. In her hands, she was holding peonies next to each other. Painstakingly choosing the perfect ones. The biggest ones, the ones with petals that weren’t bothered by bugs. And my mother whispered to me that this was what my grandmother had done for every dance recital. Every year, in scorching late June temperatures, my grandma crawled through her beautiful garden, painstakingly choosing the biggest, most beautiful flowers, her prized work, to proudly present to me after my recital.

Suddenly, cellophane and tissue paper around store bought flowers didn’t matter at all. Suddenly, my garden grown flowers, wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil, were the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. And I received those flowers with pride and love, well into my college years. Even now, when I smell something peony scented, I feel my grandmothers love. White peonies hold a special place in my heart.

Though I won’t bore you with the rest of my sermon, I will say that my other favorite flower is a dandelion. There is a huge difference between a dandelion and a peony, huh? Well, the dandelion holds just as special a place in my heart, for many of the same reasons the peony does.  There is nothing more beautiful than a child crawling on their hands and knees, comparing – painstakingly choosing the perfect yellow bloom to proudly present to someone they love….

Dandelions and peonies…..maybe not so huge a difference. After all, weeds are simply flowers we have yet to discover the virtues of.  Flowers that haven’t followed the rules, and sprouted in the wrong place.

dandelion

“Do I Have To Wear Pants at Preschool?”

I registered my fourth kid for preschool yesterday. My older three have gone to the same preschool, and it has been a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to messy handprint art and wobbly attempts at writing his name. My expectations for this son are the same as the ones for the brothers and sister who came before him – ABC’s and 123’s, learning to socialize with new friends, learning to follow classroom rules….

I do have some additional hopes and dreams for this kid though. Hopes and dreams that I didn’t have for the others.

I hope he develops a love for reading. And pants.

Specifically pants. Though seeing the aptly nicknamed Captain Underpants conduct his daily life in his skivvies is (at the low end of) acceptable here, I am fairly certain that preschool isn’t the place where my kid should stage his “it says nothing about PANTS on that sign” protest.

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He wasn’t thrilled about the idea of wearing pants to the screening appointment, but to my relief, I won that fight, and he kept them on the whole time. He made up for this by streaking through the neighborhood in his underwear once we returned home. I would like to say this doesn’t happen often. That would be a lie. So much of a lie that last week, my neighbor questioned why my son looked so different, and came to the conclusion that it was because he was wearing pants.

I hope he develops a love for language.

CLEAN language. For the love of all that is holy, I pray that my foul language loving kid develops a love for four letter words like shiP and Duck. I hope that my kid, who picks up on foul language like a heat seeking missile, chooses to say “How the HECK is that story going to end?” and “SHOOT, I dropped my pencil.”

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Oh, and ARE-YOU-THERE-GOD-IT’S-ME-MARGARET, please don’t let him use any of the (cough, cough) loving nicknames he calls his siblings when he turns into the tiny blonde Hulk with his sweet little classmates come September, ok?

I hope he starts using real words.

When he gets nervous, he becomes goofy. He does silly things, and uses baby talk. Yesterday, he bearwalked from the perimeter of the playground to greet his new principal with an enthusiastic “GOOEY GOOEY!”

Which I suppose is better than the aforementioned alternative.

Perhaps the baby talk isn’t so bad. After all, it covers up what he is really saying when sweet ladies get too close while talking to him in the grocery store.

Yes, lady. He certainly loves ducks and ships. A gooey, gooey day to you. Screenshot_20170512-100528

Perhaps we should cut to the chase here. My kid needs to skip preschool altogether and go straight to college. He will make an awesome Frat boy one day.

Have his #@$^&* toga waiting.

That Time We Found a Tick. Or, That Time My Kid Nearly Got Eaten By A Monster. Whichever Title Works Better For You

Before yesterday, I thought ticks were gross. I had a rather rational level of disgust for  them, but didn’t think much of them beyond “Shoot, I am about 7 decades behind in putting flea and tick stuff on the dog, I should get on that…”

And then yesterday happened.

My kids become practically feral once the temperature reaches 40 degrees. Yesterday was no exception. I saw them for approximately 6 seconds after school, and then the front door slammed in a whirlwind of blonde hair and discarded school supplies.  Eventually, I wrestled the girl-child into a leotard, and sent her off to dance class with a friend. An hour and a half later she returned home, plopping down on the couch next to me as she excitedly started to tell me about her dance costume.

And there it was. As my daughter mimicked the layout of a tutu, this THING was doing it’s own little dance through her hair, it’s 7.5 million little legs waving disgustingly as it stumbled through her curls.

“And it has a red apron and a skir….”

I calmly interrupted my daughter.

“GET OUT OF THE HOUUUUUUUUUSE! It’s in your hair, it’s in your hair, go into the yard, GET OUT, now, now, now! GOOOOOOOOO!”

Once outside, I reacted to the tick like a mature, rational adult. This entailed swatting wildly at my child’s head with a paper towel, yelping like a hyena.

Once satisfied that the beast was removed from her head, my daughter wanted to look for it. Pointing to minuscule dots on our front walkway, she yelled, “I see it!”

Not wanting to alarm her, I refrained from telling her that the tick was slightly larger than those dots.  Somehow, I don’t think “No dear, the bug in your hair was the size of a small chihuahua….” would have gone over so well.

I glanced up from monster hunt just long enough to catch the eye of our neighbors adult son as he gawked at me in bewildered amazement while getting into his car. I am pretty sure he left to submit the paperwork for my Mother of the Year nomination. I mean, I clearly handled that situation like a BOSS.

Since that ghastly, Cadillac sized beast attempted to scalp my kid (well, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. I guess he could have been trying to French braid her hair. But, for the sake of my fear mongering little story here, let’s just agree that he was a monster out for blood, mmmmm-kay?) Anyway, I digress. Since he hitched a ride on my kid’s head, I have been itching non stop. Every piece of hair that touches my arm is certainly a tick. Wind blows? Tick. Strange creaks that I used to attribute to the house settling? Monster sized ticks. Door bell rings? Polite ticks. They are everywhere. My Facebook feed was full of articles and comments about them. Texts and messages came flooding in. Friends began finding traveling hairdresser ticks in their own hair (perhaps in solidarity?).

Nothing bad actually came of our tick encounter. Well, except for the fact that I may itch my own skin off. But, who needs skin anyway?

In all honesty, the giant monster tick population this year is apparently a gazillion times higher than it usually is. So, be aware. Check yourself, your kids, your pets, and be careful answering the door in case they are going door to door selling whatever the heck ticks sell. If you need to learn proper tick removal techniques, I will be starting a class soon titled “Smacking Your Kid On The Head With A Paper Towel Like A BOSS. Tick Removal 101.”

If there is a silver lining, it is that I am now hyper aware. And that my pets have been flea and tick treated.