August 17, 2012
August 5, 2012
For the first time in 17 years, I’m not buying school supplies. There’s no graphing calculator needed this year. We have long forgotten the new pack of Crayola 64, the big box with the pencil sharpener. No color-coordinated 1-inch notebooks, no extra-long twin bed sheets, no green and gold gym shorts.
I returned something to a store recently and saw a young woman and her mother ahead of me in the checkout line. Both wore red and white Ball State University shirts. The daughter held a list, and mom pushed a cart full of the usual paraphernalia for college rookies.
The ringing of the school bell makes me reflect. My parents, both teachers, hyped going to school for weeks before I started kindergarten in 1962.
“When you are five,” my parents said, “You get to go to school.”
On my fifth birthday, six weeks before the official first day, I was utterly indignant that I had apparently been misled.
All dressed in my red gingham “first day of school dress” from Montgomery Wards, I threw an absolute fit. I had been had.
My father walked me to the nearby elementary school.
Pointing to the empty parking lot, row of unfilled bike racks and playground equipment, he said, “You can see there are no little boys and girls here.”
Somehow I felt cheated and duped, having to wait more than a month for this glorious, awe-inspiring event.
I retained the same enthusiasm for school every year, excitement about new friends, clothing, activities, and excitement about everything except the actual work. Well, don’t we all know that enthusiasm is at least part of the battle?
My parents took the requisite first day of school pictures, and we did the same with our son. We moved into our current home the summer before our son started first grade. What fun to look at pictures in progression the years.
Looking back, I noted the increasing contempt in his expression. By the time he was a senior one could almost hear, “Mom, why do I have to do this again?” as he raced out the door for school.
When our son started kindergarten we lived in another house. It was all I could do not to chase the bus around the corner. Could I follow the bus to Chandler Elementary School?
How could this little boy navigate the hallways of a large elementary school? Half his day was spent with typically developing students, while the other half was spent in developmental kindergarten. What would happen to him at lunch? Could he carry his own tray?
I wanted to go to the school and stalk him during the day, but I was convinced the Chandler police would arrest me if I trespassed on school grounds.
Things got easier. By second grade, our son was in a classroom with typically developing students.
By high school he was a pro and drove himself to school the last two years.
Then came college. When we dropped our son off at college in the wicked city, I’m not sure who was more anxious.
When it was time to go, our son walked us halfway to the parking garage, and posed for a picture next to the front gate of his university. I lingered and hugged him again, and finally my husband said, “We really need to go.” He didn’t want to leave him, either. He was being strong, with a stiff upper lip.
We drove out of the city and west to Indiana, not speaking a word for hours until we got to the hotel. A few tears were shed that day.
The turmoil that accompanies each school year is a hassle. Like everything else in life, it is temporal and to be savored.
Now our son is in a different stage, and so are we, as freewheeling empty nesters. The house is quieter, and we are getting used to the solitude. We miss our son every day, yet he is happy with a full life of his own.
As corny as it sounds, I think about an old episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” where Opie raised abandoned baby birds and lets them fly free. Opie tells his dad he misses the birds. Andy notices the happy sounds of birds chirping and tells Opie, “My how the trees are full.”
May you appreciate your baby birds, and then know the fullness of the trees. © 2012
July 28, 2012
Our big life change started at the beginning of February. The Husband and I decided to lose weight. It has been a long time coming, and there never was a perfect time. Turns out we started a week before my mother died, which was perhaps the worst time anyone could choose.
It has been almost six months now, long enough that we’ve developed healthy habits. I just made sugar-free orange Jell-O with mandarin oranges, and tomorrow I’ll make parfaits with the Jell-O and some fat-free Kool-Whip.
I told my husband I was going to do this, and he said, “Yummy!” Six months ago, we both would have turned up our noses and headed straight to Dairy Queen for candy bar Blizzards.
Husband appears to be more diligent than I am. I suppose he is. I suspect that he does not stray, and I suspect he has a great deal more personal discipline that I do. Not that he wouldn’t eat five Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in a row if a gun was put to his head right now. That’s not what I’m saying. He lives by the 95% rule, meaning you eat healthy and well and appropriate portions all but five percent of the time.
He was wearing waist size 44 jeans, now he’s at 38. I can’t tell you how much weight he’s lost because he won’t weigh himself. I'm guessing maybe fifty.
I’ve lost about 35 lbs. and I don’t look much different than I did in February.
Except from behind. There once was a behind and now there’s just a flat place with clothing hanging over it.
Do you think people would be offended if our Christmas card picture showed me from the rear, featuring my tiny fanny?
The obnoxious belly fat that I blame on my child (what mother doesn’t?) is still there.
I can now buy normal sized clothing, but I’m still at the large end of the rack.
And I’m stuck at my “set point,” a weight I haven’t been able to get under in a very long time. Not that I don’t want to. You see, I want to weigh what it says on my driver’s license. (And I also want to be a brunette again, and let’s throw in I want amore with George Clooney.)'
Why does it seem easier for men?
I am exercising; the husband is not. I am in the world’s oldest synchronized swimming class at a local rehabilitation center. I’m just kidding about the synchronized swimming, just wanted to put in an Olympics reference. (If you are watching the class from the side or say, the roof, you would find elements similar to synchronized swimming.)
Swimming helps and I believe if I continue to do what I’m doing--increase my walking, really watch my carbs--that I will get over the hump. I guess I mean, get rid of the hump of obnoxious belly fat that circles my middle.
I want to lose another 35 lbs. and I would be perfectly happy. Still would be 25 lbs. over what Weight Watchers want me to weigh, but they can go, well, you know, themselves.)
I miss cheese, especially fancy, expensive cheese. I miss bread, especially fancy, expensive bread. I miss ice cream, especially fancy, expensive ice cream. I miss cucumber, cream cheese, and white bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off that I used to eat all summer. I miss pork chops. I miss pasta and most white foods that are bad for me.
But let me tell you what I’ve gained. Poor word choice. Let me tell you what I now appreciate. My favorite black raincoat fits me again. I feel good all the time. I never have heartburn. I never feel sluggish in the morning. I sleep better. My knee rarely hurts anymore. My shoes fit better.
While people don’t notice I’ve lost weight, they will say, “You look different. Did you change your hair?” I haven’t changed my hair style since Dorothy Hamill went through puberty.
All of this is good, and I’m sure I’ll get past this plateau.
There are rewards. Somewhere, out there, in a refrigerator not far from here is a bowl of orange Jell-O setting up for tomorrow.