Sunday, August 22, 2010


The day to day experience of living with my MS remains pretty much the same. She gets readily gets up in the morning and donning the t-shirt of the day, cut offs and flip flops, gathering her book bag she heads off to the bus stop.

Technically, the bus is supposed to come around the corner and to our cul-de-sac, picking her up at our driveway. Bowing to the advancement of her ascent of the academic ladder to Middle School, I acquiesced to her walking to next street over for the bus. It's been just peachy up to now. I wait with baited breath to see how that works the first day it is raining... or cold. For now, she waits with her minions on the next corner.

I wave to her as I pass by, beginning my trek into work each morning. And that's the start of our day. She calls me at 3:45 each afternoon. The dialog is always the same. "Hi honey", I say. "Hi Grammie", she replies. "How was your day?", I query. "Fine". "Do you have any homework"?  "No" - or sometimes "Yes". Depending on that answer, I determine if she is able to a) go play now  or b) go play now  or c) go play now. I rarely make her do the homework before I arrive home. She plays with the minions and then I summon her home for dinner and the aforementioned homework.

My MS is bright...very bright. She is filled with potential that could take her to high places. She doesn't particularly like to apply herself. I have tried to help her see how important theses MS days are to her future. She looks at me like Sigourney Weaver's alien. The future? What the heck is that? Her future of course exists in the present and at most in the next 24 hours.

As I have mentioned, she is living with me at the moment for a multitude of reasons. Her mother lives about an hour and a half away. My MS goes to see her with her six year old sister every other weekend for about 36 hours. A smidge of a moment in time to spend with your mother. This weekend was to be a "mom" weekend. Selfishly, I admit to enjoying a bit of "MiMi" time to myself. Earlier on this past week, my MS announces that she is spending with night with "Kenzie" on Friday and she has already called and ok's it with her Mom that she go to her house on Saturday. "Okay....", I say. Knowing that it will hurt my daughter and not having control over that, I drop the subject.  An 11 y/o MS doesn't have any feeling of what it is like to be a mother. To love your children and hope and pray that you are doing what is best for them. So, she spent the night - not with "Kenzie" who had other plans after all, but with "Macie", and came home at 8:00 on Saturday morning and went to be with her mother.  I picked her up this afternoon at 4:00. Back to start a new week.

I confess to loneliness when she is gone. It seems that my life is her life. I revolve around her, yet I am lonely.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


One day in and the attitude has begun. I'd like to say I'm shocked and surprised, but I'm not. Miss Sassy mouth MS has a lot of hard lessons to learn ahead of her. Mimi isn't playing around this year. She's home from school and off and running after vowing there was no homework and announcing that she liked 6th grade.

I've spent the last hour filling out various forms that are repetitive and pointless. Does anyone ever buy the school insurance? I can remember bringing home that little envelope form when I was in grade school. My parents never signed my siblings and I up for it. I suppose if you don't have any insurance at all it would be a good thing. I put on my stern MiMi face and made sure she understood the discipline policy. I confiscated her cell phone (they most definitely are NOT allowed on campus) and attached the $5.00 for her locker.

Finally, I wrote the note to the teacher that explained that she will not be in school on Monday. Please give her all assignments so that she can complete them while she is on a trip to North Carolina over the weekend.  Why, you might ask would she be permitted to miss the third day of school? I ask you to think back with me for a moment.

It's the week of February 16, 1964. I was barely 10 years old and over the top for a mop top rock and roll singer from Liverpool, England. I was living in Miami, Florida that winter week when the Beatles descended upon Miami Beach - more specifically the Deauville Hotel on Collins Avenue. I didn't get to go to the concert. My family didn't have the means to afford tickets to the Ed Sullivan Show that was being taped there featuring the Beatles. But, I slept with my aqua blue transistor radio with the faux leather case under my pillow listening to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You" and "I Saw Her Standing There". I wrote many letters and addressed them to Paul McCartney, Liverpool, England and gave them to my dad to mail for me. I stood at the raffle desk in Burdines at Dadeland Mall and filled out hundreds of tickets to win a "Meet the Beatles" album - which I won. That Sunday afternoon my dad suggested that we take a family ride. We sometimes did that and ended up at the Dairy Queen for a vanilla ice cream cone. This Sunday afternoon he had another destination in mind. He drove us to Miami Beach, right up to the front door of the Deauville Hotel, stopping and letting me get out and kiss the sidewalk. Even today, I still have a hard time believing that happened. It was very out of character for my dad to do something as wild and crazy as that was. There is a country song on the radio today by Bucky Covington that tells of his dad saying "I love you" the only way he knew how. That was a huge expression of his love for me and obviously one I've never forgotten.

My MS'ers idol of the moment is a mop top pop singer from Canada. Justin Bieber. She has CD's, tshirts, poster and fan magazines featuring this cute little YouTube phenom. She's "in love" with him. Silly?....I can't say that it is. It may have been many years ago, but I still remember how it felt. So, when her best friend called this afternoon and invited her to take her own afternoon drive, this time to North Carolina to go to a sold out Justin Bieber concert with her, what to YOU think my answer was?

Baby Baby Baby Ohhhh like.... Baby Baby Baby Ohhhhhh like..... Baby Baby Baby I thought you'd always be mine!

Indentured Servitude

As previously stated, I live with my 11 year middle school granddaughter, known here as my MS. It's just the two of us, she and I. I kicked the deadbeat husband/pretend grandfather back to California last summer. That was in some ways exhilarating and in other ways scary as you know what. We've survived though. Things are just a smidge tight money wise, but I found out that I have a multitude of wonderful and supportive friends and family there for me.

The former hubby left me with no bed and my baby sister bought me the mattress and box springs. My oldest son and his wife gave me their old bedroom suite! Sweet!  My other sister and her husband helped me get a car from my parents.  My middle son put new tires on my car when I had a blow out recently and my daughter paid a major AC repair bill for me so I wouldn't have to suffer in the horrible heat we're having this summer.

I felt that I needed after school care for my MS last year and one of my neighbors volunteered for her to get off of the bus at her house in the afternoons. Another neighbor has graciously offered to help me with my yard work. An offer that I am eternally grateful for!

Mid year my MS decided that she was old enough to ride the bus to our house after school and then rip and snort her way throughout the neighborhood all afternoon until I arrived home after a work day. I had a house key made and one of the aforementioned sisters gave her a prepaid cell phone so that she would have a way to be in touch even when she was out being the Queen of Laurel Lane.  A wonderful idea, however a trac phone's coverage area is limited at best and there were more dead zones in Social Circle than in a Stephen King novel. So began the campaign for a real cell phone. One like mine. Meaning one with a keyboard. Most assuredly, I needed a reliable way to keep in touch with her after school before I got home from work, but I didn't feel quite ready to take on that added expense. One evening, she bursts into the house with one of her BFF's and demands to know what she can't have a real cell phone like her?!?!?!?

I folded. Buckled. Gave up. Knuckled under. Wimped out. Was suckered punched yet again.

Reaching for my laptop and calling up  Falling for the "add a line for only $9.00/month" promotion.  Of course they don't immediately tell you that you must increase your monthly minutes to a minimum of 700. So my nice little adequate cell phone plan increases exponentially with every click I make. I balk when it suggests that for only $4.99 a month I can add the "Usage Controls" to limit the number of minutes for each line, texts allowed per month, ban numbers and premium services, mark certain numbers safe.   Nahhhhh......  I don't need that. I can't afford another $4.99 on the bill.  Click - order - and the phone is on the way.

There is the requisite "be responsible" talk. She looked like she was hearing me. Her eyes weren't glazed over. She nodded her head at the appropriate times and parroted key phrases back to me on cue. Little did I realize that the "lights were on but no one was home".

First months bill was a little high. Attributed it to the activation fee that I had agreed to. Second months bill arrived last week.  I was only unconsciousness for a little bit, and came to without ammonia ampules. How does one medium size MS accrue upwards of 2200 text messages on a 2 line plan that allows 250 in 30 days. If that isn't higher math I don't know what is!

Confession is good for the soul, and I do confess that a small part of a gasket blew. Phone confiscated. Parental controls added to the plan for the paltry $4.99 a month. Most importantly though, I now have a cute little servant girl for a long, long time. It will take more that a month of Sundays for her to work off that $300.

Bless my little MS's heart.

Back in the Day...

Back in the day  - that would be my day - we said "back in the olden days". You know the ones I mean. The days when the grandmother and grandfather walked 10 miles uphill in the snow to school and back and then chopped a cord of firewood before dinnertime.  So, back in the day when I was in what amounted to middle school we had a band. A real band with sousaphones and trombones and saxophones and flutes and or course the clarinet.  I had looked forward to playing in the band for years before I was finally offered the opportunity during the summer between sixth and seventh grades. I had interviewed anyone and everyone I knew about what might be the perfect instrument for me when in reality I had know forever that I wanted to play that long sleek black woodwind known as a clarinet. The licorice stick.

On the first day of summer band, the eager almost 7th graders met in the band room and were introduced to Mr. Keene. Mr. Keene was our band director. He was a stout little round man who stuck one hand halfway into the waistband of his sans-a-belt pants and held a director's baton in the other. Looking back, it couldn't have been an ordinary baton. I believe it must have been purchased from Olivander's Wand Shoppe, located of course on Daigon Alley.  How else did he manage to take a room full of musically illiterate pre-teens and transform them into a band. Perhaps he had studied under the tutelage of Prof. Harold Hill of Gary, Indiana. Everyone knows that Prof. Hill perfected the "think" method of learning a musical instrument.

I recall him demonstrating the finer points in sucking on a bamboo reed (#1) to make it pliable enough for a clarinet newby to elicit anything other that the dreaded squeaks and squeals. He patiently showed us how to grease the cork, pull the cleaning rag through to soak up moisture and other ways of taking care of our beloved instruments. If not for Mr. Keene I would have never been ready for Mr. Bragg. My days in the Junior High School Scottie Band prepared me for the transition in to the Mighty Panther Marching Band.

Band has been offered as an option to my MS.  Naturally, I assumed that she would embrace my well aged Buffet Crampon clarinet and carry on her Mimi's legacy. Sadly, I don't think there is much interest there. It may have been influenced by the fact that they don't actually have access to real instruments. Again with Prof. Hill's method. They begin their musical education with recorders. Kind of clarinetish if you squint your eyes and hold your head just right. Similar, yet not the same. They had recorder lessons in Elementary school and it's time for the real deal. No real instruments = no real interest. Little does she know the fun and memories she will be missing out on.

Ask any member of Kazoo's of America.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

First Day Eve

It's a hot, hot, hot summers evening in August 2010. I sit here with many days of my life behind me and fewer before me. I've successfully raised three children and have been fortunate enough to see them through their school years and on into adulthood. They are all three now parents of my seven precious grandchildren. But, as we all know, life happens. For a lot of different reasons, I find myself parenting and raising my oldest grandchild. Together we face the dawn of tomorrow and her first day of the all dreaded Middle School Years. 

I remember them from my kids school days with less than fond memories. Middle School Hell. I have many times said that there should be a cave somewhere in the Badlands that we secure children between the ages of 11 and 13. Leave them there through puberty and all of the associated angst and drama that accompanies those milestone years of life. Then allow them to re-emerge into our lives as interesting and socially desirable high schoolers.  Sadly, my idea has fallen on deaf and sometimes hostile ears.

So tonight my Middle Schooler - hereafter referred to as my MS - prepares for the dawn of the next phase of her life. We had been instructed to be at Social Circle Middle / High School on 8/4/10 between the hours of 4PM and 6PM for the 6th grade open house. Some time juggling allowed me to leave work an hour early and rush home to join her my daughter (mother of my MS) and go meet the teachers. 

My MS was decked out appropriately in one of her new outfits, hair washed and combed, teeth brushed (at least she said they were) and new shoes still looking new. We loaded up in her mothers truck and made the 3 1/2 minute ride to the school. The parking lot was full as we made our way to the front door. The school is essentially one long building with a gym at each end. The main entrance welcomes both the town's middle schoolers - to the left and the high schoolers - to the right.  In other words, all that separates my 11 year old MS from randy 18 year old HS seniors is a cafeteria. Hmmmm... hope her hormones remained dormant for a few more years. We went inside along with the hundreds of other parents and eager, but anxious pseudo-teens. There were several hugs and "hi's" after the shortened summer break as we made our way to the last room on the hallway (extra feet from the aforementioned randy HS guys) to meet her teacher. I can't remember her name. I think that is a bad start. I should have paid more attention to that than to the sign encouraging them to sign up for band. I doubt her mother caught the name either. She was engaged in trying to find out when baseball, soccer, basketball and football tryouts were. The principals daughter is in my MS class. Even shares the same table. I hope that some of her motivation rubs off on my MS. At the Elementary School graduation this past spring she won all the awards. I predicted her to be the Valedictorian for the Social Circle High School class of 2017. OMG.

So tonight she has packed her book bag, picked out her clothes and called friends to meet her at the bus stop in the morning at 6:50AM. Now she's out playing with the neighborhood kids on this the last day of summer. If only the weather knew that. It's still over 95 degrees at 8:30PM. I'm trying for a 9:30PM bedtime, but hey...who am I trying to kid. She is in MS now!