Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Slapper Letter

I've written previously about "The Slap", where a "friend" slapped my five year old across the face. I haven't heard from this man or his wife, Charlotte, since it all happened. Luckily, they live in another state, so we don't have to interact with one another.

But Charlotte called me last week and although we tried to avoid the subject, it wormed it's way in. So I told her that I was concerned for her and the children. If Jimmy can hit someone else's child, what is he doing to you and the kids? It's not a big leap to go there. Her answer, which seemed rehearsed, was that he had never hit her and in fact she was the one who spanked more. ( I just don't get spanking. How in the world are you supposed to teach your child not to hit, when you hit? - but that's another blog).

Anyway, Charlotte had said that Jimmy had tried to call several times to apologize but didn't reach me. Ok, we have caller ID. He called once. But it doesn't matter, as I wouldn't have spoken to him. She said he still wanted to call and asked would it be ok. I told her yes but after thinking about it I couldn't stand the thought of it, so I wrote him a letter. I ran it by my friend, Amy, who said I was too nice and that I should sit on it for a few days before sending. So I will "sit" it here. I edited the "nice".


I felt like I was moving past the violent beach incident until I talked to Charlotte. She said that you still intended to call me which I thought would be fine but I find that thinking about the incident again and anticipating talking with you has caused anxiety so I will write down what I would like to say and then I think I can move on.

I know that you have apologized to Jamie for hitting Jack and I believe that you are sorry. What stung more than slapping Jack was your indignant behavior and self- righteous comment after it happened. We left the house because I was frightened of you. You had just slapped my child across the face, hard, and moments later, when I couldn't talk to you, you took a verbal shot at me. You were justifying your behavior; something for which I could press charges. I was stunned, angry and deeply hurt.

I know that your behavior is not defined by this one incident, but unfortunately for us all, it has defined your relationship with me and my family. As difficult as I believe it is for you to focus past Jack's negative behavior, it is exponentially difficult for us to focus past yours.

I know that it is something that I can forgive but I can't forget it. In some ways I wish I could as I would hate to loose Charlotte as a friend; but I just won't get over it. This whole thing has made me sick for weeks. In the end, as terrible as it all is, I have learned and grown in a positive way from it all. And Jack has learned that some people hit back. I had hoped he would learn this from someone his age, but, sadly, he didn't. And even more sad, he has never received an apology from you.

From Kahlil Gibran's , The Prophet
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes you spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous,
look deep into your heart and you shall find
it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful
look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth,
you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at you board, remember that the other is asleep upon you bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between you sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weight his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Life and the List

My youngest is off to Kindergarten, without any fan fare, trauma, or tears from me or him. Since I am a SAHM (stay at home mom) I have more time to myself now. I feel this pressure to DO something with my extra time. He has only been in school a week and a half though, and it seems I've spent most of my time doing things on "the list". The list that has grown exponentially over the summer, as I figured I'd have time when school started.

I've always been a list person. There's something very gratifying about accomplishing things on the list and then "checking" them. My list style has evolved over time. I used to write them on the backs off envelopes, scraps of paper and then loose them, only to find them weeks later stuffed in the seat of my auto.

When I went to work for a transportation company in the early 90's, the folks there were rabid about their Franklin planners. Once one of the managers lost his planner and was close to panic when someone called to say they found it. Apparently, he had put it on the top of his car and drove off. He wasn't the most together dude. In fact, the only thing I saw him organize well was the work softball team. And he was fired shortly after I started. So he wasn't a good endorsement for Franklin planner. However, as a rite of passage, I too, soon had one. I even got to pick my cover. La de da de de. I began to use it some. NBD, I thought. It didn't take long to become dependent on it. It really did help me stay organized and juggle many balls at work and home. And I was able to sleep at night knowing that the next morning I could count on the "list" to help me prioritize my day.

Even after I quit work to stay at home with my first son, I dipped into the tight budget to order another "year" for my FP, to stay on top of things. Of course, the content of the list changed from work related issues, such as "Preventive maintenance on tractor X" and "call references on applicant x" to "get diapers" and "call pediatrician". I joke that if I didn't write "brush teeth" on my list, I would forget, however, I can honestly say that I have never put it on my list. Sadly, though, in the dark sleep deprived days after my first was born, the teeth were sometimes neglected until noon.

Now the list is on Outlook in my computer. Way better than FP. And I have a palm that I synch with outlook so my list can be with me at all times. The list likes it that way:) Your probably wondering what in the world a SAHM needs with a list? How hard can it be? Yeah, I'd be asking the same question if I were in the working world. Here's a sample of what's on my list this week: call carpenter about attic fan, call draftsman, reserve t courts, new mattress, door installation, call about guardian ad litum, pay bills, schedule Dr appt, boys journals, video tape house contents, look at will info. The last two have been on my list for years. Ok, nothing earth shattering, but getting them out of my head clears it for other things, like sweet dreams.

The rest on the working world may have passed me by these last eight years, but I do know one thing skill I still have thanks to the list - organization.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

2 moms do Hootie

My friend L called earlier this week at 7:30 p.m. She had forgotten that she had Hootie and the Blowfish tix for the night. No time for a sitter for her and DH, so she called to see if I could go at last minute. DH said, "Go", and he got the kids to bed for their first day of school today.

I didn't even know Hootie was in town, playing at a small but popular music venue. Waiting in line, I wondered if Hootie would sing his little ditty from the Hardees commercial - the one where he is decked out in a cowboy outfit singing about a "tender crisp bacon cheddar ranch" with hottie girls writhing all around. It's like Hee-Haw meets burlesque. I was kind of disappointed to see Hootie pitching a fast food joint. But hey, everyone's got to pay the rent, right? Besides, Hardees, is a southern joint, for good reasons, so most of the country won't ever see it.

The concert was great fun and I enjoyed every second of it. The music was great. I liked the stuff off of the newest album much better than the old. Maybe it's because it hasn't been overplayed; i think the band has suffered from that.

I must say it's much different than when I went to concerts 20 years ago. For one thing, I was relatively sober. And standing for 4 hours can be hard on my back. I tried bouncing up and down like the bass player, but having birthed two big headed boys my bladder had other plans. Suffice it to say the bouncing stopped.

Next concert, i'll bring Depends.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


On the heels of putting sweet Syd to sleep, my husband surprised me with a birthday party. Not what most would expect for their 39th birthday. He had help from several of my friends but nonetheless it was quite an undertaking and it was fun to hear the details of how he pulled it off.

Like, the invitations went out by email (and if you are a friend who doesn't "do" or have email then you didn't get invited) and since we share a home email account, he had to cut and paste all the addresses and send them to work. He also arranged for me to have the day off and the night away the day before my birthday so my friends, J and S, could prepare the party. Unfortunately, after putting Syd to sleep, I didn't want my time away; I wanted to be with my family and mourn. But I did agree to leave the house at 6:30 p.m., so DH made the secret calls to keep my friends informed.

We arrived at one of my favorite restaurants at 8:00 pm. We were both terribly hungry- it was WAY past our dinner time, closer to our bedtime. DH left me at the bar to hit the bathroom. Gone for quite some time, I had plenty of time to chat with the bartender. I asked for a birthday drink - his choice. He obliged with an apple martini,and proceeded to seek his tip and flatter me with "You don't look 39". Since DH still hadn't returned he added, "I hope you have someone to celebrate with you". Well yeah, I DID but he apparently needed to primp in the bathroom. Finally, he appeared but my tongue warm with martini, didn't question his time. Later I found out that he was making futile phone calls back to the house, checking the party progress. No one would answer; they feared it would be me.

We spent the night away at this beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast in town. The decor was fantastic but the bed we slept in was AWFUL. Granted, we both had difficulty sleeping since we were emotionally spent after putting Syd to sleep. BUT, every time DH moved, the bed rocked and creaked. Maybe the mattress was from the Victorian era too. Maybe that's supposed to be part of the charm. I wasn't charmed. I looked in the guest book to see if anyone else had the same trouble. Nothing but accolades, however, no one commented that they slept like a baby.

I caught a whiff of this surprise earlier in the week, so I called my friend, J, and asked her. She hesitated. "I just want to know if I need to clean my house", I said. Without hesitation, she said "No". So, I figured that the surprise would be at J's house, as she is famous for hosting parties.

We headed home at 11:00 am, as DH said the babysitter had to get home. We arrived to our boys in the front yard with two of our friends, theirs the only car visible on our street. We knew they were coming to pick up our oldest for a playdate, so their presence reinforced that things were status quo; the surprise must be later. We parked in the garage, hiked up the basement stairs and I heard a suspicious hushed buzz as I topped the stairs, heading to my room to unload my arms of my tangled belongings. When I came back down the hall, there they all were - my friends, yelling "Surprise", crammed like sardines in the dining room. The next few minutes were a blur. I do remember everyone singing "Happy Birthday" as my oldest tried to play along on the piano; MC, my youngest's friend, dancing wildly around me; my tallest friends, tennis buddy K and her taller boyfriend, and T & G, from the old neighborhood. Once the crowd dispersed, I began see my (shorter) friends emerge. The crowd mostly belonged to one of three different contingencies; old neighborhood, new neighborhood, and tennis. There were a few friends there from our former church, a family we know from elementary school, my real estate agent turned friend, one of DH's work friends. What a great feeling to have all those gathered to help me celebrate.

I think DH did an amazing job of employing my friends and pulling the whole thing off. I've had a difficult time this summer. I'm restless, as I have said, and he feels it. I think this party was his way of acknowledging this, trying to draw me out of my funk. It's a Venus/Mars thing. He's trying to "fix" it. It does feel good to be so loved and it has helped, at least temporarily, but as I told him last week when he asked me what he could do to make me happy, "it's not your job to make me happy, I've got to figure this out". Unfortunately, it means he has to endure my distance.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Slap

Just 9 days ago we were winding up our beach vacation with friends when an incident occurred that shook me to the core. Our (not anymore) adult male friend, Jimmy, slapped my 5 year old son across the face, HARD, in front of a multitude of people. The circumstances are of no matter, as he could never justify his impulsive behavior to me. I was shocked, horrified and scared of this man. After uttering a stern "You do not hit my child" to my defiant 'friend', I scooped up my son and headed outside to escape. I was so angry I couldn't even comfort my child. I put him in the van and walked towards the garbage.

When I looked up there was Jimmy asking my son if he could talk to him.
Son, who was still crying, slammed the van door to his request. (Way to go son, I couldn't have said it better myself.) He then turned to me and asked if he could talk to me. I told him I just couldn't that I was too angry and that what he had done to my child was 'unacceptable'. His chilling response stung more than the slap, "You're right, your son's behavior is unacceptable". I was stunned. Speechless, which was good as I couldn't say anything that I would regret later. Shocked that he couldn't take responsibility for his actions, that it was a five year olds fault.

Yes, there was some history there between my son and his, who considered themselves best friends. But they also knew how to push each other's buttons, as five year olds do. And my son did hit his son earlier in the week, maybe Jimmy thought he was giving my son a taste of his own medicine. The difference is, my son is five with impulse control issues and Jimmy is 39 with the same issue. Who has the problem here?

Sadly, it's a friendship that is busted, forever scarred. I'd love to remain friends with his wife, but I'm not that hopeful. I'm afraid for her safety now. If he can't control his impulses in front of all of us, what is he doing behind closed doors?

Sweet Syd

Sweet Syd

My Basset Hound, Sydney, of (almost) 12 years has died. We actually put her to sleep which my 8 yo son took issue with. "Why did you kill her?" he wailed through his tears, several hours after we put her down. Just before her 'sleep' we were trying to reassure him that she would be better off - in Heaven. "But how do we know if Heaven exists?" Tough questions at such a tender age, my age I mean. I'm not ready to tackle these yet but I muddled through and I think I passed; it's hard to know.

Sydney was the queen before the kids came along. She slept in the bed, under the covers. She enjoyed regular walks, belly rubs and lots of friends. After our first son arrived, she lost her regal status and was relegated to just a dog. The walks and belly rubs less frequent, she managed to adjust and soon realized she could get away with more mischief as our attention was diverted. She was a hound through in through, sniffing out anything appetizing (to her) and woofing it down in seconds flat, including a whole raw steak, stick of butter, cherry pie, bag of Easter chocolates including the aluminum wrapping, many dirty diapers and of course a daily snack of her own excrement. Gross, I know, but somehow endearing to me now.

I'll miss her waking us first thing in the morning, with the clickity, clickity, click of her (too long) nails rapping the hardwood floors. What I'll miss most is her smell - no matter how doglike it was- it was 'home' to me.

Sleep tight, sweet Syd.