Tech-free Day

Yesterday the boys and I did our first official Tech-free Day! Woohoo! It was Jerimiah’s idea and we weren’t sure how it would go, so we laid some ground rules. Rule #1: Phones away for the day if you are anxious (like yours truly) you can check them a couple of times to see if anyone called because someone may have died. Rule #2: If Morgan can play Minecraft, then Jackson can hop on and play. Morgan is Jackson’s BFF, but she happens to live in Rhode Island, so for now, their playdates have been Minecraft dates with a side Google Hangout video chat. We decided this was okay because they don’t get to do this often, only when all the stars align, and it really is a playdate. Kinda cool that he gets to have one with her when she’s hundreds of miles away. When we lived in Charlotte Morgan was part of one of our tech-free mornings and she didn’t mind, so she knows what’s up. (We’ve been doing tech-free weekend mornings for about a year now, they have been awesome.) Rule #3: Music! We can turn the Apple HomePod on for music. Case closed. Gotta have music.

So what in the hell did we do?! Well, Jackson and Jerimiah let me sleep in, which was nice because I was up all night staring at the ceiling thinking of all the shit I have to do this week. While I slept, Jerimiah taught Jackson how to make eggs with one of those silicone egg shapers we bought him to practice with. That turned into a whole breakfast, of which they surprised me in bed with and then joined me. Honestly, it was past eleven by the time we even got back out of bed from eating, talking, and playing with the damn dog.

Then we cleaned up breakfast and all sat down to write some letters. WHAT?! Like old-fashioned letters?! Yep. Jackson wrote four and a thank-you card for Mr. Charlie, our neighbor who gave up fresh figs on Friday. I wrote a letter to three friends, Jerimiah wrote two, but he did it with his calligraphy pen, so extra points. Then we decorated all the envelopes, pulled out our wax seal with the “G” on it and had fun sealing the envelopes. We are pretty much nerds, did you get that yet?

Then we started on our “projects”. The boys had bought car models to put together and I have been working on my “plates”. Listen, it’s best to not ask about “the plates” just yet, I’ll share when I am all finished. Then we had a late lunch and talked some more. The talking was much needed.

After lunch Jerimiah and played Bunny Kingdom, our favorite board game, but Jackson (who was a little antsy at this point) opted to build Legos and clean his desk. This is also when he realized he missed a call from Morgan about playing Minecraft four hours before! He freaked out a bit and we allowed him to text her to see if she could play, but she couldn’t, so he walked around bummed for a bit while we finished our game.

Jackson cleaned his desk up and organized some Legos, then Jerimiah and him went out to work on the garden while I maid dinner, Jackson’s request: Grilled cheese and tomato soup. We ended the night cleaning the house for about an hour, all hands on deck, emptying trash cans for the week, getting all laundry to the laundry room (it was really nice to not have to do it myself), then we played a game of “cars”, Jackson’s favorite, then ended the evening reading the next chapter in Harry Potter. We are in book six, for those wondering. We’ve been reading the series as a family over the past year.

So, that was that. Not at all bad, and actually a really productive day. We didn’t get any yard work done, but man it was hot, so now we have to work on the yard in the evenings, but it was worth it, trust me.

So here is wishing you all a fun, relaxing day with your families sometimes soon. And if you are up for it, try it tech-free, it might be awesome!

M.

Beaches/Casinos

I’m back down in the bayou this week (and next) to end summer vacation. This is where we began summer vacation too. You can get yourself up to speed here: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/06/13/deep-deep-south/ Why are you in Baton Rouge so much, Missy? Do you just love it there? Uhh, no. In fact there is not one Dunkin’ Donuts in the whole city. Not kidding. Not exaggerating because the closest one is a ten minute drive, being totally serious here, y’all. And that is just problem number one. (Link to the only thing I have found on the topic: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/business/article_bf1dec3c-0222-11e8-858d-7f14b7b662c5.html) I’m here because the husband works for the Baton Rouge unit, but in a sick twist of fate, his area makes them work remotely.

Here it is. The husband works his nine to five in Georgia, then once a month he travels down here because this is actually the business unit he supports out of his Georgia office. This is the only area in the company to do it this way and I think they just want to “try it.” But this summer he’s been called longer than one week at a time, therein lies the problem. We don’t mind when he gets on a plane on Monday morning and is home by dinnertime on Friday, but when you throw in a weekend, a Sunday travel day, and two full weeks, well that is when things get a little weird. We are a tight family unit. Too tight? Maybe, but no one is complaining. It works for us. So when Daddy is away, things feel wonky. Throw in the fact that this is Jackson’s last two weeks of summer vacation, and we always plan to squeeze in a little fun there, and you have yourself a problem. So we did what any normal Missy, Jerimiah, or Jackson would do: We changed plans last minute, rented a car, and drove the whole family back down here for the two weeks of work. After all, we sorta all work for the company now. Ehh.

Last time we were here we did all the things. We did New Orleans, we did the airboat tour, we even did LSU, and Mike the Tiger, and fried alligator. We went all out because we suspected Jackson and Duke and I would not be back. Ho hum. So this time I am stretching things a bit for something to do. Yesterday we went shopping for back to school clothes, because that is just a necessity, so we got to see the cool exciting worlds of both Kohls and Old Navy. Ohhhh. Ahhhhh! Okay, now what? You guessed it, Target for school supplies, but let’s leave that excitement for next week shall we?

On the seven hour drive down here, I started frantically looking for things to do that were both fun and educational because school starts in two weeks and I don’t want his first day to go like this:

Teacher: What did you do on summer vacation, Jackson?

Jackson: Listened to my mom complain about the heat in Baton Rouge.

You know, top of mind and what not.

So I started to Google cool things around Baton Rouge. I kept going further and further out, swiping right, yelling, “No! No! No!” Then I ended up in Houston. Whaaaa?! I know what you are thinking now. Missy, you HATE Texas! Yes I do, that part has not changed. BUT, Houston has NASA, and NASA is cool as shit, as long as there is no “Space Force” involved. So I dunno, maybe I will take my kid to Texas this weekend to get a tour of the Johnson Space Center. Should I make him watch Apollo 13 first? Probably. Or maybe I will take him across the street to the Blue Bayou waterpark. Because the only thing left for us to do here is drop a ton of money at a casino. Because that is Louisiana. Beaches and casinos. So, the world may never know what we decide on… Until Friday, I really have to decide by then. Wish me luck!

Have a great week!

M.

Things are Going Well

Day two of my child being 700 miles away at grandparent summer camp.

Me: It’s too quiet.

Dog: Shush, I’m napping.

Me: But don’t you miss him?

Dog: Yes, of course, I’m napping.

Me: Ohhhh, Dukers cuddle with me like Jackson would.

Dog: No. Stop it. Get your hands off of me.

Me: You hate me… (crying)

Dog: Jesus. Here let me hop onto your face, does this help?

Me: Get off my face you nutso.

Dog: I don’t get you, I mean honestly.

Me: What is your problem? Get away from me.

Dog: Fine, I’ll just walk over her and nap again.

Me: WHY ARE YOU LEAVING ME?!

Dog: …

Give it to Oprah

I already have a topic on deck to discuss with my therapist this week. Is that weird? Probably so, but she has the potential to really help me with one of the two problems plaguing me right now: Trusting my intuition versus listening to my anxiety. My other problem has to do with eating too much pizza last night, and I’m positive she can’t help me with that one, but, eh, it’s worth a shot to ask.

Y’all know I suffer from a myriad of mental health conditions. I have chronic depression, generalized anxiety, a touch of OCD, and probably some personality disorder that has yet to be identified but makes it easy for me to both cry and scream in public bathrooms, then blog about it. That has to have a name. But the important thing about all of this is that I am getting help. I have been on medication for years, and I see a therapist, and a practice mindful breathing, and I write, and I order llama-shaped cookie cutters from Amazon. Which is to say that I have my ways of dealing with things. But sometimes, sometimes, my anxiety reaches a peak and I start to spiral out of control, and that’s what happened this week.

My son is going to the Midwest to spend some time with his grandmas over the next 10 days or so and I am freaking out, y’all, like Karen at a damn taping of the Oprah show in December, freaking out. Losing my mind. Unlike Karen, I am losing my mind from intrusive thoughts brought on by a flare up of anxiety. Not because I just found a ticket under my seat for an all-inclusive trip to the island that P. Diddy owns or keys to my own Chrysler Minivan. Fuck you, Karen.

I’m freaking out because he will not be with me. Plain and simple. I am freaking out because I will not know what he is eating, how he is sleeping, how much tv he will be watching. I will not be there to assess how much fun he is having at any particular outing, to remind him to change his underwear, to take his glasses off before he falls asleep. I will not be there ensure that he is doing what he wants to do, not what someone is making him do. I will not be there to control how people talk, or react, or approach him. He will meet people I do not know and so therefore do not trust. He will be with people I do know and therefore do not trust. What if someone is mean to him? What if he wonders off at the waterpark and he drowns? What is the car he is riding in is hit head-on by a semi-truck? What if this is the week the big one hits Kansas and he is swept away in a tornado? What if he can’t sleep because I am not in the next room? What if he is ignored all week? What if he has a horrible time and never wants to go back? What if he has a great time and realizes he doesn’t need me anymore?

If this all seems really dramatic, it’s because it is. This is anxiety, y’all. Welcome to it.

So last night I was tossing and turning in bed waiting for 6:00 am, when he would pile into my best friend’s car (she has been visiting and is heading back home today so he hitched a ride to his Mama’s house with her) I was thinking about all the bad things that could happen. All the fears I have started to bubble up and I started to worry. What if this is my body’s way of telling me that he shouldn’t go, I thought. What if my intuition is wrestling my anxiety, but I am brushing it all off as anxiety? I actually, for real, 100% Googled How to Tell if it is Anxiety or Intuition. I found a bunch of articles, but none of them helped. I had to talk myself off my own ledge that I created and just trust that all these people, and all these places, and all these moments (like when he threw up in my best friend’s car about two hours into the trip) are not signs that something bad will happen, rather they are ways for him to learn, and grow, and become an independent person in his own right. Even as I type this I am rolling my eyes. He’s 10 years old for crying out loud!

Christ Missy, get it together.

Okay. I do have some ways to combat this. You don’t live this way for this long without picking up a few tricks. I’ve been busy all morning. I’ve been working, and cleaning, and Googling whether or not your therapist charges per “topic” or just “hourly”, but still, there in the back of my mind is all the things. And all the things can really take it out of me. It can take it out of anyone. If I were a religious person this would probably be the time I “give it to God” or whatever. So maybe I will try that. Maybe today I will just “give it to pizza” or “Give it to Oprah” (that sounds dirty) and just see what happens.

Hope you are all coping today too.

M.

A Glimpse into My Life

“Mommy!”

“Mommy!”

“Mommy.”

(Barking)

“Mommy…”

“Mommy.” (Eye roll)

“Mommy!!!”

“Mom…eeeeeeeeeeee.”

“Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mom.”

(Loud barking from the hallway)

“Mommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy!”

Bark. Bark. Bark. (Skid across the floor) Bark. Bark.

Breakfast time.

Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark…

You get the picture.

M.

Snapped

Over the last few weeks when I was not writing, I was still snapping photos. And I figure what better way to share them than on my bloggy-blog with all you unsuspecting souls. In short, when I get creatively blocked I go in search of my lost creativity. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I do not, but it is worth a shot (see what I did there, oh I make myself giggle). Anyhoo, here are some pics I snapped in Oklahoma last week. I took a short, unexpected trip to the Tulsa area and came back with these puppies. It was an interesting landscape. The raw, rural midwest in all its weathered glory. And I do mean weathered. There had been mass flooding and storms in the region, but we happened upon it on an overcast day with only small storms. The pictures of my husband and son are on a plot of land in central Oklahoma that belonged to my husband’s late uncle J.R., whom both my husband and son share the initials of (Jerimiah Robert and Jackson Riker). My father-in-law lives at his brother’s house now and we spent a few hours out there while Jackson and Sir Duke explored. Jackson is a car guy, if you don’t know, so he enjoyed fiddling with his Papa’s Chevy Blazer, then checking out some old cars his cousin has out back. He asked for pictures with the “cool” cars. 🙂 Honestly, it was nice to capture some shots of a place that means a lot to my husband. He used to spend summers out at “JRs place” and though Jackson never made it to meet his great uncle before he passed away, we think they would have hit it off.

The other pictures are from my wonderings around a few small towns in the area, and of a park in Tulsa that Sir Duke and I walked in, right before a storm blew through. If you have never spent a lot of time in rural Oklahoma, maybe this will help you want to visit! Or maybe run far away from it. Either way, it helped me stay creative when I couldn’t quite put pen to paper.

I hope you enjoy.

M.

Perfectly Imperfect

My 10-year-old son threw the ball fast at my head and yelled, “Line drive!” I wasn’t ready. I’d been gazing up to the gigantic nest in our Pine Tree wondering what was inside. I looked back in time to instinctively shield my face from the ball, while I turned my body to the side, and winced in anticipation. The ball hit hard against my glove and fell to my feet. “You dropped the ball,” he yelled from across the yard. I know. I know. I shook my head and rolled my eyes up to the sky. It was the third time I’d dropped the ball that week. 

The first time was Tuesday, when I wrote a scathing email to the Home Owner’s Association concerning my subdivision’s lawn policy, only to find out that I had misread the policy, and that my yard was not at risk of having the Health Department called.

“Still,” I scoffed later to my rather presumptuous husband. “I intend to keep the HOA, and their wacked-out policies, in check.” 

“Sure,” he acknowledged. “After all, someone needs to weed out the crazies.”

I ignored the condescension and placed a half-burnt chicken breast in front of him. 

On Wednesday I had an appointment with the dentist. I’d made the appointment six months prior, assuming I would cancel last minute with some lame excuse. In between deciding which excuse to go with, “My (insert relative) is having a surgery,” or “PTO responsibilities have tied me up,” I began to worry that some expensive, probably deadly, gum disease was raging war inside my mouth. The worrying, as is my nature, lasted up until that morning, when I called the office to tell them that I was planning on coming in for my appointment, but then last minute I found out that my mother was going in for knee surgery at that very moment, and I had to be there with her. When the front desk woman reminded me that my mother lives 1,500 miles away, I tacked on the word spiritually. Spiritually I had to be with my mother. And she concurred. Going as far as suggesting I come in for my appointment as a way to take my mind off my mother’s apparent surgery. It turns out that I did not have gum disease. At least I don’t think I did. I don’t really know. They gassed me for the entire appointment. 

Then there was Thursday. Spring Picture Day. My son told me the week before that it was a “dress down” day, meaning he needn’t wear his school uniform for the picture. He gave me this information so that he could absolve himself the burden of remembering that important point. He’s sly like that. Like his father. And he’s a little lazy too. That part he gets from me. 

The school, to do their part, sent out a reminder text, and they stuck a bright, round sticker on my son’s stained uniform polo on Monday afternoon. “Remember Picture Day!” it said. I rolled my eyes. How could I forget? 

After bedtime on Wednesday it occurred to me, over a half pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and a sad Netflix documentary, that the next day was picture day. I needed to ensure my son had a clean shirt for his picture. It’s was usually a fight to keep five uniform shirts clean, and occasionally we had to rummage through the hamper in the morning, arguing over who is responsible for getting his clothes to the laundry room, as we frantically smell arm pits in all his shirts and try to rub out crayon stains. But it was Spring picture day. He needed a nice, freshly-laundered shirt. I was so proud of myself that I remembered, that I immediately stepped into action. I tip-toed into my son’s room, quietly overturned the hamper and, by the light of the nearest bathroom, I rifled through its contents for the perfect, stain-free polo. My eyes sparkled when I found that stain-free Robin’s Egg Blue polo. I held it close to my chest for a moment, taking in its sweaty, salty odor, then I shuffled my socked feet to the washing machine. 

The next morning went like normal. Snooze. Creaky knees. Electric toothbrushes whizzing. Breakfast. Book bag. Car. I whistled on the drive to school. My son smiled from the backseat, his nicely combed hair with its wild cowlick he is always trying to keep down shimmering in the morning light, while he smoothed his hand against his clean, fresh school polo. It wasn’t until we pulled into the carline and I saw a sweet, little kindergarten bobbing alongside her mother in a pink, frilly dress that my mouth went agape.

“Mommmmmmy,” my son whined from the backseat. “It’s dress-down day!” Right. What to do? What to do? “I’ll bring you up a suit and your favorite tie,” I said, trying to calculate how long it would take me to make the turnaround. My son is a snazzy dresser. Always has been. He doesn’t get that from either one of us. He likes polos, and ties, and the occasional three-piece-suit. He knows how to combine colors. He understands, instinctively I suppose, that you don’t wear socks with sandals and that your belt needs to match your shoes, especially if your shirt is nicely tucked in. And your shirt should be tucked in. He often goes as far as to question my husband and me about what we wear. “Are you going out in that?” he will occasionally ask me, when I am in “pants” that I bought in the pajama section of Old Navy and a sleeveless shirt that is either two sizes too small or two sizes too big for me. “I’m just going to Target,” I will counter, and he will role his eyes with a sort of disgrace that, if I am being honest, I thought would come much later in his life.

So there we are, in the car, frantically looking at one another. The line is shifting up and my son and I are eyeing the pastel dresses and short sleeve button ups with sharks, and baseball bats, and cacti on them. “Mommy, hurry,” that is all he says before he exits the car, hyper aware that he is in his school uniform. 

I race home. I speed, at times scaring myself and considering the number of one-hand movements I am receiving, probably other drivers too. I get home. I run into my son’s room and flip open his closet. I fumble in the dark for the light switch. Where is the damn light switch? I decide I don’t need the light. What is he wearing? Is it khaki? Yeah, he’s in khaki pants. I choose a solid, white button-up. I run over to his dresser and slide open the top drawer. My anxious poodle, the one who has been hopping on his hind legs at my apparent exercise, is humping me as I am hunched over my son’s dresser looking for a tie that says, “hip” but also “Spring” but also “fun”. I push my poodle down and hold a plaid pastel number in my hands. Yes, I think to myself. You did it, girl! Mom power! I race back to car, out the driveway, blow past a stop sign or two, and screech into the school parking lot a mere 20 minutes after leaving. I park in the “No Parking” fire zone and run to the front door. I look inside to make eye contact with the secretary. Does she see me? Do you see me? She isn’t at her desk. I ring the doorbell. I make eye contact with a kid sitting outside the nurse’s office. I motion to the locked door, and hold up the clothes frantically, but trying to smile as to not scare the kid. I wave the shirt and tie around like this second grader is supposed to know what I am doing. The kid doesn’t budge. I ring the bell again. I smile broadly and wave a little to him. He shakes his head no. He won’t be opening the door for this crazy lady. The secretary walks out to her desk, spies me, and remotely unlocks the door. I go inside and explain my morning while she smiles and calls for my son to come to the office. I eye the second grader and smile a “told you so” smile. I silently hope he has head lice.

My son comes through the office door relieved to see me. He tells me he was the only one in his class in his uniform. I apologize and say I will do better next time, even though I know the chances of me doing better next time are slim. He knows too, but smiles and hugs me just the same. And right before he races to go change his shirt he stops, turns around and looks at me. My heart fills my eyes with water. I think, we did it, Dude. “Mommy,” he says. “Yeah,” I ask eagerly, anticipating an “I love you” in front of the office staff. “You forgot my belt,” he says, before he walks back through the blue swinging doors.

M.

Hey, It’s Jackson!

Walking down the hall of my kid’s school with him, is like walking on stage with a rock star. Seriously. Since he was in kindergarten it has been this way. In kindergarten he was popular because he walked with an air of confidence. He was one of the few kids that went into school knowing how to read. He could read. He could write. He could color inside the lines. But above all else, my kid was confident. He didn’t cry on the first day like I did in kindergarten. He didn’t watch, misty-eyed as we walked out the door and left him behind with Ms. Gamble. Instead, he sat at attention. He helped the girl in front of him line up correctly. He volunteered to lead the line. He took Mrs. Turner’s hand and walked into the unknown with a smile on his face. And well, it is still the same today.

I was scared for a little while. When we moved him in the middle of third grade, I was terrified. We moved from a rural area in North Carolina into a school system that was very different than where we had been. He had been at a public school, an “A” public school, where 98% of the kids looked like him, and talked like him, and came from the upper ranks of the socioeconomic tiers. His new school was a STEM school. But it was also an urban charter school where he was a minority.

But by the end of third grade he had friends in every classroom. He knew all the teachers’ names. They all knew his. Fourth grade teachers already knew about him. Fifth grade teachers already knew about him. The Gifted teacher was eager to get her hands on him. In short, he did just fine with the transition. And then we moved in the middle of fourth grade.

We hadn’t planned on this, of course. Truth be told, we were hoping to stay in Charlotte until middle school at least. Hoping he would only know two elementary schools. Two I could deal with. But three? We scoped out his new elementary school the day we signed the papers on the new house. He wasn’t with us. Jerimiah and I came alone that day. We walked in not knowing what to expect. We hadn’t heard the best things about Atlanta’s schools, but then again, we were coming from Charlotte, so it kinda felt like home.

Turns out we made the right choice. His new school is a public school in DeKalb County. It isn’t an “A” school, but it doesn’t have to be, because it is an IB school. It is a STEM school. He isn’t a minority, but not all the kids look like him or speak like him. They have a Spanish immersion class. They have art, and music, and sports. It is a heck of a lot different than anything we have known, yet it’s exactly the same.

I walked Jackson to class yesterday to have a quick chat with is teacher. We are headed out of town tomorrow and he is going to miss a test. I wanted to make sure he would be allowed to make it up, and yes he will be. While we were walking down the halls of this fairly new school (this is his third week of classes) it all felt very familiar.

“Hey Jackson!” and “Jackson Goodnight!” and “Good morning, Jackson” rang out all around us. Teachers, administrators, second graders. They all know Jackson. The janitor gave him a high five. A kindergartener said, “Hey, it’s Jackson!” and pointed. To hear him tell the story, though, you’d think no one knows him, well until he digs in.

Jackson isn’t special just because he walks with an air of confidence, he’s special because he is friendly. He is kind. Turns out that kindergartner was wearing a shirt with a car on it one day, and Jackson walked up to him and said, “Wow, I like your shirt! I love cars too.” The kindergartner blushed and said, “Thanks.”

When Jackson meets the janitor in the hallways, he tells her “Thanks, you know, for picking up after us and keeping the bathrooms clean.”

When Jackson met the Assistant Principal he said, “I really like what you’ve done with the place.”

When Jackson met the STEM teacher he said, “I love STEM and am so excited about your class.”

When Jackson met the music teacher he said, “I’m not a very good singer, but one day I’ll probably have a record deal.” Well, he’s still a little confident.

The point is, Jackson notices people. He notices their hard work. Their dedication. Their cool style. And he says something, something nice. He gives a compliment. He doesn’t expect anything back. He just wants them to know he likes them, or he respects them, or they have crossed his mind. And that is what garners attention from people. From kids and adults. Kindness. Confidence. Vulnerability.

I guess today I am wishing to be a little more like my kid. A little more kind to everyone I meet. A little more confident. A little more vulnerable. To really put myself out there. I think maybe it would serve us all well to be this way from time to time. You never know, when you leave a room someone might just be saying your name in awe as well.

Here’s to being more like Jackson!

M.