I’m a Georgia Voter

That’s something I never thought I would say. I have often admired the cute, little Georgia peach stickers when friends who live in Georgia voted and shared their picture online. But yesterday I actually got to cast my vote in the state of Georgia for the first time, and it felt kind of good. It felt like I was finally part of my community, like I had the power to make a difference here. There were only two question on my ballot, but I did have to do some research before I went to the polls, which is always important, and I got to take Jackson with me because his school is a polling place, so he was out for the day. It went something like this…

We arrived at the Methodist Church that was assigned to me when I registered to vote in the state back in April. It’s only about a mile from our house but we drove because it’s sorta cold down here, in fact yesterday morning it was a balmy 58 degrees. Whew! When we walked in, Jackson was a big hit with the women working the polls. And it was all women, by the way. Not just all women, but all retired, Black, women which made me very happy. It was 100% the first time I had ever encountered this at a polling place.

They were all very friendly and polite, and I told them all it was my first time voting in the state, so they walked me through the procedure as best they could, without helping me fill out anything (which is not allowed). First I had to fill out a form. This has never really happened to me before. I’m used to just casually strolling up to a table and telling them my name, then the old, cranky, white man finds my name on the registry list, puts a check by it, gives me a sticker, and a ballot and sends me on my way. This is how I have voted previously in Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina. But things are, umm, different here in Georgia, and now I finally get Stacey Abrams anger.

There were three tables. At the first table I had to fill out a paper that was basically just giving all my information that they already had, so I really wasn’t sure why, but me being me, and having Jackson there, and knowing these ladies were just doing their job, I didn’t question it. I just wrote my birthday, checked that I was a Democrat, wrote my address, and signed my name. Then I gave her the paper, thinking I was done. I was wrong. She then asked for my ID. I was a little surprised, but gave it to her. Then she checked my ID against what I had just written on the paper. I am not sure what would have happened if my ID had been old, or I had written something different on the form. Then she sent me to the second table.

At the second table they again asked for my ID, where one of the women proceeded to scan it into a computer. It apparently came back okay, because there I was given back my ID, along with a little yellow card that read: State of Georgia Voter Access card. Example below:

The card had a chip in it, and I was told to put the card in the machine. There was only one other woman voting at the time we were there, so if I needed further help, it would not have been a problem. But I kept thinking what the next election would look like. What it’s like when there is a line out the door and every machine is full, and people are having troubles with those machines, and cards, and writing the wrong address down, or maybe having trouble seeing the small writing on the half-sheet that I was given. I kept thinking about my mom, and how she would have a wicked-hard time with all of this, and how it would be confusing and hard to read.

So Jackson and I got to the machine and I stuck my yellow card in the slot, which activated my ballot, but first there were a series of windows that I had to click through telling me how the machine worked, and explaining these awkward, not at all intuitive, ways to fix my ballot, if I accidentally hit the wrong box or something like that. Seriously, y’all. I didn’t know how easy I had it in North Carolina, or Missouri, or Kansas. Jackson and I read the instructions and he was all, “this looks complicated” and let’s be real here, if my 11-year-old who lives and dies by technology, who has known how to work on an iPad since he was three, says “this looks complicated” then that is sort of a red flag, ya dig?

Okay so I hit NEXT, then NEXT again, then my ballot popped up. Only two decisions to make. One was a vote for a City Council Member and because I am fairly new here, and because it was a woman’s name and she was the incumbent, I voted for her. Also, she was the only one running, which always pisses me off a little bit. Jackson pointed to the “Write-in” and looked confused. I explained that you could write in anyone’s name if you didn’t want to vote for the person on the ballot. Then I told him if it had been a man’s name, I would have written in my own name instead. I don’t vote for men, as a rule, unless I have to. (Full Disclosure I did once vote for a man, when there was a Democratic woman on the ticket. It was the 2016 Democratic Primary, in which the names on my ballot were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and I voted for Bernie.)

Anywho, the next question was the one I had done some research on. Lots of trickery here in Georgia. Lots of trickery in the South, I have learned. Looking at you, North Carolina, and your “Snake.” So I knew whenever an “Ethics Board” question was on the ballot, and I had seen a lot of ads to “Vote YES on Ethics” that I probably wanted to vote “No.” And I was right. Trickery, y’all. Trickery.

So I voted no. Then I hit “Submit” and very quickly my screen changed and my yellow card spat out at me. I assumed that meant I was done. So we collected the card, and walked to the third and final table where they were taking our cards and passing out our coveted peach stickers. Of course Jackson got one too, and they were all very proud of him for accompanying me. One woman walking in said, “Well the voters are getting younger and younger,” and everyone laughed. But I mean, yeah, they are. #OurKidsAreGonnaChangeTheWorld

So that was that. My first experience voting in the state of Georgia. That’s what you asked about, right? I hope I made a difference. I hope I voted with intention. I hope I was educated and, made, to the best of my ability, the right decision. But above all else, I hope that my son saw what I was doing, how I made it a priority, and that he will do that his entire life as well.

So here’s to the next election, y’all! See you at the primary, where, well, you know me, I’ll be casting my vote once again, for Bernie! 🙂

M.

Field Day, 2019

Today has been a busy day, and it isn’t even lunch time yet! Whew! We were up at ’em at 5:30 this morning to take Mama to the airport. (She landed safely in Kansas City at 10:00 am), then we got back to Tucker, dropped Jackson off to school, and Jerimiah and I had a nice, quiet breakfast at Matthews Cafeteria. Then it was back to school to participate in Field Day. Well, participate is a stretch, as we were just spectators. It was also the first Field Day that I didn’t volunteer to work! It was amazing to be able to move from activity to activity and not be stuck at a damn sno-cone machine, or in this case, the apple slices station! But bless the mommies and daddies who did it!

It was a fun, old-fashioned field day too! Complete with a balloon pop (of which Jerimiah and I did end up working because it takes all hands on deck for that one), a three-legged race, a relay race, and the parachute! Oh the parachute! As soon as we walked into the cafeteria to watch them with the parachute I was transported. All the way back to my elementary days at Anthony Elementary School. Back, back, way back, to Mr. Hendee and the bouncing parachute. It was just what I needed to see.

Jackson’s class was steady in second place for all the activities (there are three fifth grade classes), and when the kids were telling us that was okay, the Spanish teacher at the school overheard and whispered to Jerimiah and me, “Well this class may have taken second, but they are always FIRST in behavior. Man, this is a good class!” We beamed, cause yeah, we saw it with our own eyes. I told Jerimiah later that I felt lucky to have Jackson in such a good class, and he laughed and reminded me that it wasn’t luck. It was hard work in parenting to get our kid into the classes that he is in. It’s kinda neat having a kiddo that all the teachers want in their class. (Excuse me while I pat us on the back…) And honestly, there are a lot of “Jacksons” in his class. That’s why they took second so many times. They went slow and steady. Even in the three-legged race, when some of the other classes had kids sorta pulling their partners along, Jackson’s class was slow and measured. “This is what happens when you have a group of perfectionists,” Jackson’s teacher whispered to us. It was super cute to watch.

Anyhoo, here are some pics of the morning. It was a bit chilly down here, so some of the activities (most of them) were inside because y’all, Georgia kids cannot handle 50 degree temps! 🙂

Here’s to fun, old-fashioned field days!

M.

Arizona Time

I’m still on Arizona time, which is three hours behind our time. Which is why I’m wide awake at 2:00 am, contemplating life, as I stare at the light coming through the crack in the curtain. Well, it’s part of the reason. There are other reasons.

Like, my child is going on his first-field trip alone tomorrow. He won’t be alone, alone, just without me. I’ve ALWAYS chaperoned his field trips, but I didn’t this one, and I’m nervous. It’s to the Holocaust Museum at Kennesaw State. I’m not worried about the subject matter (we took him to the Smithsonian one in Washington, DC earlier this year), it’s all the other things that worry me. Will he take the time to stop and eat his lunch? Will he be mindful of his actions? Will he be respectful of the history? Will he ask pointed and thoughtful questions? Will he let his best buddies get him off track? Will the bus be safe on the highway? Will his teacher be nearby if gets sad? I have concerns.

Then there’s all the other things of life. My work I’ve been putting off, with the deadline this week. My mom’s last three days in town with us. Halloween. Spirit Night. Field Day. Husband leaving for another week of work. Dentist appointment. Therapy. It’s all happening this week. And it’s all piling on top of the fact that I was gone for five days. There’s guilt there, right? Even though there shouldn’t be. Even though my husband and son haven’t said anything about it. It’s just there. In my head. Mom guilt.

Today I told my husband I’m always afraid when I leave, that they will realize they get along fine without me. Worst fear, right? That you’re not the glue that holds the family together. He was shocked. He scoffed a little and said, “Yeah, we get by. But that’s all we do. Get by.” Then he hugged me and told me he was glad to have me home. The dog, he informed me, had been depressed. This I could believe.

So yeah. I’m wide awake at 2:00 am. But it’s only 11:00 pm in Tucson. So, it’s not too bad.

M.

Surprise was a Success!

Just dropping in this morning to let y’all know that the “Mama Surprise” went down without a hitch! In fact, Jackson was so oblivious (remember when I said he was usually oblivious?) that he didn’t even realize Mama was standing behind his Daddy at the airport pick-up. He jumped out of the truck, because I told him to help his Daddy with his bag, and I stayed in the truck waiting for the scene to unfold. It just took way longer than I thought. I watched him looking at Daddy. He was smiling and laughing as Mama came up behind them. Finally she was standing there with them and Daddy had to say, “That’s Mama!” Then it all clicked for him, I could see him working it all out in his head! It was pretty funny to see, and the whole way home he just kept looking over at her in amazement. He said we, “Got him good.” Yay us!

Anyway, here’s a pic of them from Saturday, going through the “Taste of Tucker” book trying to decide which sweets they wanted to try at our town’s little tasting event. They really are two peas on a weird, chaotic, can’t hear each other when they talk, pod.

M.

Surprise!

I love pulling surprises off. It’s so much fun. Unless it’s not a fun surprise, then oops, but that doesn’t happen very often. I like to be part of surprise parties, like my friend Susie’s 40th Birthday Yacht Cruise on Lake Norman, wherein another friend and I were tasked with taking her out for the day. She knew, obviously, she’s one smart cookie, but she didn’t know exactly what, so we played along. I like to surprise my husband with gifts, or real-life llamas, or sex! That second one is the most fun. But the two people I really like to surprise are my mom and my son. They are both great at reacting to surprises. Lots of laughing and giggling, lots of hugging and crying. Though I’m always afraid Jackson will be mad at me and not trust me anymore cause I’ve usually lied a little up until the surprise, and at 75-years-old, I’m always a little concerned my mom will stroke out. So there’s that.

The hush, hush, secret for the last two weeks is that Mama is coming to visit. Jackson has no idea. Mama, pronounced Ma-Ma, is my mom and she lives far away in Kansas. Sometimes we go see her—we have even managed to surprise her once by showing up on her birthday—and sometimes she comes to stay with us for a month or so at at time, and that’s what’s happening today.

I’m not sure how we have done it, but I know that he has no idea. This morning he asked me again, in a groggy sorta way, Can Daddy just take an Uber home, I don’t feel like driving to the airport tonight? This was after last night’s conversation about him wanting to have a play-date on Saturday. I told him we would probably do something fun as a family on Saturday and he got a little pissy, so yeah, he has no idea. But between me slipping one day about buying coffee for “when Mom comes” (he was oblivious), and my mom randomly texting her flight plans to me (with him sitting next to me) I was worried, but I think we have done it! (Side note: My son is Oblivious, with a capital “O” and I’m not sure if this is a boy thing, or if this is just a my son thing, but his obliviousness has actually served me well for all these 11 years and I kinda hope he stays that way, at the same time, I don’t want him to be the kinda guy who forgets his wedding anniversary, so I have concerns. I’m gonna wait it out though, see what happens.)

We arranged it so that my mom’s flight would come in an hour before Jerimiah’s flight. She would get off the plane and just sit down. She doesn’t like flying, partly because you know, we aren’t meant to fly, and partly because she isn’t comfortable walking around airports she doesn’t know. Lately, she’s been getting assistance from airport employees via a wheelchair or golf cart, but it’s still a lot for her, so we got her a non-stop from Kansas City to Atlanta. Now, if you’ve never been to the Atlanta airport, well then, count yourself lucky. It’s a hot-fucking mess. It’s huge. And the only way to leave the terminal, less walking miles and miles in the desert heat and the Montana cold, is to take the Sky Train. Ugh.

So, we told her to get off her plane, find the first seat she can find when she gets into the terminal and park it. Jerimiah arrives an hour later and will come find her and they will do the Sky Train together, because dear Lord Baby Jesus, we don’t want her doing it alone.

Meanwhile, Jackson has his yearly physical at 2:00 in a different part of Atlanta, which gives us just the right amount of time to see his doctor, grab some ice cream, and make it to the airport in time for them to be getting off the train. It really is all very convenient. Have I mentioned that I LOVE city living and could never go back to any other way?

So, you know what I know now. Not sure how he will react. I expect there to be some gasps, and some tears, and some very excited hugs. Then chances are he will forget all about wanting to have a playdate tomorrow cause his most favorite playdate will already be here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do that sort of cleaning you do before your mom gets to your house.

Have a fabulous day, babes!

M.

Jackson is…

Jackson is eleven today. That’s my son, if you are lost. Not my dog. My dog’s name is Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte, and he is only 18 months old. And he’s a piece of shit, but I digress. Jackson is eleven years old today, and although him and I agreed that eleven isn’t like a super fun birthday, it’s still a day to be celebrated. An accomplishment. The excitement of being in double digits is gone, but he isn’t twelve, the last year of “childhood,” as he refers to it. So yeah, he might not be ten anymore, and maybe he isn’t twelve quite yet, but he still is A LOT of other cool things…

Jackson is smart. Gosh. He always has been. In preschool he took that screening test to get placed in a classroom. The teacher sat us down with a very serious look in her eyes and said, “I’m sorry to tell you that Jackson failed the test.” We looked at each other in disbelief. Why? We asked. Oh my! What can we do to help him get on track? The teacher’s reply went something like this: “Well, he’s great at following directions. And we were pleasantly surprised to see that he can umm, read, at a very high level. He’s social. He’s friendly. He was showing us math problems that he knows, which is, uh, fine, but you know, not what we are looking for. For example, we gave him ten blocks and asked him to build a box, and he did, but first he ordered the blocks by color and size.” We looked at each other, then back at her, “Also, he doesn’t know how to skip…” Is skipping important, I wondered later to my husband. Must be.

Jackson is kind. This one took some time. He’s an only child, so when he was a toddler he didn’t need to share his stuff. We noticed quickly this could have a negative impact on him later on, so we started taking him to parks and playdates with his toys. He started learning to share that way. The older he got the quicker he put it all together. He realized that if he shared his extra special, cool truck at the playground, then that other kid would share his extra special, cool motorcycle. Then one day, around the age of five, it sort of just clicked, the idea that being nice, in and of itself, is the best way to be. Being nice and expecting nothing in return, that’s the kind of kindergartner he was. And that is the kind of fifth grader he is. And I’m certain that is the kind of man he will one day be.

Jackson is empathetic, which sorta goes along nicely with kind, right? He knows what it is like to be made fun of. In kindergarten he was made fun of because he painted his fingernails. In first grade he was made fun of because his glasses broke and we were waiting for a new pair and we used tape to hold them together. When someone is bullied at school, he is the first one to jump up from his seat and intervene. He comes home to tell me stories of that time on the playground when that boy pushed his friend down and he told him, in a very serious tone, “That is inappropriate. You apologize to my friend.” And the kid apologized.

Jackson is sensitive. See above. Empaths tend to be. Sometimes too sensitive. He’s sensitive to sounds, to harsh people, to certain foods, and to being messy. He isn’t taken seriously by a lot of adults in his life because of this. A lot of our family members who have sons don’t “get” Jackson. But that’s okay. That just means he’s different. And different in this case, in most cases, is good.

Jackson is funny. He gets his sense off humor from me, for sure. He’s high-level funny. He gets the teachers’ jokes, when most kids shrug them off. He’s way into puns, but so help me Baby Jesus you throw a fart-joke at him and it can tickle his fancy just as much. He’s silly too. A little goofy. Those all go hand-in-hand.

Jackson is honest. He doesn’t like to beat around the bush and he says what needs saying. Wonder who he gets that from? Though he is learning to be a little more cautious when telling it “like it is” for fear of hurting feelings. He is honest, and he is fair. He has a REALLY hard time picking favorites. Like, for anything. He is scared that he will upset the chocolate ice cream if he says vanilla. That might be more empath coming out, but let’s just say my kid is not the one to cheat at a game, then promise he didn’t. He’d either not cheat at all, or get so upset that he would tell on himself immediately. Hoping this serves me well in the teen years. Now, he’s still a little boy. He still tries to run a fib on us every now and then. Usually about screen time. Like that time he figured out a way to work around the child-lock and hack into YouTube for more screen time. Smart? Sure. Deceitful? Yes. We reminded him that people who are willing to lie about “dumb” stuff, are willing to lie about “big, important” stuff too. We used our President as an example. Now he says, “Geez, I don’t want to be like Trump!” I call that a win.

I could go on, but I’m probably boring you all. So instead I will plop down some adorable pics of Jackson through the years. All I can hope for, for this eleventh year and all the years after, is that my kid stays true to himself. Follows the path that calls to him. It might not be easy, but it should be constantly moving him forward, teaching him, pushing him. I hope that he appreciates all we do for him. I hope that he looks back at his crazy Momma one day and laughs at my blog (I do this all for him). I hope he appreciates the 900 photos I take of him, the stories I share (even though he rolls his eyes when I tell him), and that he remembers the love and learning along the way.

Cheers to Jackson Riker on your 11th birthday, baby! To many more wonderful years ahead.

Mommy

That Target Lady

On the eve of my son’s 11th birthday I can’t stop thinking about what a woman said to me in Target when he was about nine months old. We were walking along the bread aisle, one of my favorites because as you know my first true love is Carbs. Anyway, we were walking along and I was singing the alphabet song and he was laughing and giggling and pretending to sing along. I stopped to contemplate kaiser rolls vs. pretzels rolls—this was when I could still tolerate white bread, oh those were the days—and a cart came screeching around the corner of our aisle and a very fast-paced, older woman was walking toward us with a smile. I was nervous at first because older women scare me, generally, because they usually say whacked-out things to me like, Why don’t you wear make-up more often? and Ladies shouldn’t use the F-word. I thought, Oh for fuck’s sake, what is this about? She sped up to a stop right next to me and grabbed my naive, fat arm, and exclaimed, This baby! Oh my goodness! He’s a doll! Look at this hair! (He had those blond, wispy baby curls then.) And his laughter! I heard him laughing two aisles over and just had to come and find him! I was a little taken aback. I mean women are usually drawn to babies like Jackson, this wasn’t the first time that I had experienced this, but this woman, she had more to say and she was talking to so fast trying to get it out before the fear in my eyes made me smile politely and wander away.

Listen to me, she started, gripping my arm tighter, this goes so fast. So fast! And I know you’ve heard this. I know you get sick of hearing it, but you hear it because damn it is true. It feels like one day you put them down for a nap and the next you are taking pictures of them at their high school homecoming. Between the practices, the long school days, the arguments over money and taking the car out at night, the piano recitals and the sleepovers, somewhere along the line it speeds up and you don’t want it to, but there is nothing you can do. Nothing! But to enjoy every, single moment. Even the hard ones. Even all the years of puberty. Be grateful. Promise me?

I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just nodded blindly. I may have mumbled a I promise, but honestly I was thinking who is this woman and what is her deal? Is she mentally unstable? Is she trying to steal my baby?

Then she looked down at him once more, gave him a little tickle. He smiled and gave her another adorable laugh. She laughed too, with tears in her eyes, and she told me to have a good day and she walked away.

I’ve never forgotten that lady. She’s made appearances in my writing over the last nine years. She’s appreared in my head when I’m trying desperately to be grateful, but it just isn’t coming easily. She’s come to me in dreams and nightmares. She’s always been there. I wish I would have asked her name, or how many children she had, or grandchildren. How many she had lost, or gained. How to keep them close, even if I can’t keep them little. But I didn’t ask her any of that. I just watched her walk away, grabbed my kaiser rolls, and smiled down at this nine-month-old sweet, monster who had wrecked havoc on my body and was currently wrecking havoc on my home, my life, and my heart.

Last night I laid in Jackson’s bed with him and recounted his birth story. We do this every year. We all do right? Even well after they don’t want to hear anymore. He amuses me. He asks me questions, he laughs when it is appropriate. He knows by now that I need to share the story with him once a year, just as much as he needs to hear it. But this time the Target woman was with us too. Because Christ, she was right.

She was so right.

Hold those babies tight. Rock them to sleep while they still let you. Let them linger in your arms even after your arms are prickly and pained. Let them watch that second episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Watch it with them. Laugh and yell: Mimmie Musse, Mimmie Musse! Cause damn it, one day that will all be gone, and you will wish for just one more time.

And one day, when we are those old ladies in the Target aisle, don’t be ashamed to grab the arm of a naive mommy and tell her to enjoy it, because honestly, honestly, she has no idea.

M.

The Year of the Trumpet

“Dear Heavenly Music Goddesses, 
Please guide Jerimiah and me on this next journey of our lives. Lead us to ears that are not as tender as my bowels. Grant us serenity at 8:00 am on Saturday mornings. Provide for us a music instructor that is not super into home practice. In Dizzy Gillespie’s name we pray. Amen.” This is the way I begin my day now, with this simple prayer. If your child is also beginning music lessons for the first time, feel free to use this prayer. So far, it has not worked. But I believe that prayer is something you have to work at, like your marriage or the extensive, yet doable, plot to kill your neighbor’s snarky cat. It takes time, friends.

I joke about this trumpet thing with Jackson, but I am secretly pumped that he is doing it. In fact, I was so pumped and optimistic that he would “get” it and love it, that I decided to BUY him his own trumpet! Then I found out that trumpets cost thousands of dollars, so we are renting one instead. BUT, it is new. And if he does love it, we can buy. Sort of a rent-to-own deal. Which I’m usually not big on, but in this case, it’s cool. I have threatened him within an inch of his life to keep this trumpet nice in the event that we do return it. But I also bought insurance on the expensive bitch, cause this ain’t my first rodeo.

He originally wanted tp play the tuba.

The tuba.

And I was all, Hmmm, let’s think about this. Tubas are large.

And he was all, Sure, but they sound awwwesome. (I’m envisioning Kevin from “The Office” saying this right now, but it was in fact Jackson.)

And I was all, Sure, but they are large.

And he was all, But…

And I was all, THE ANSWER IS NO! Love you.

This is to say the trumpet was a compromise.

His method book came first and he wasn’t super impressed. Meanwhile, I was singing “Banana Boat” to him to get him pumped for his year with the trumpet, and that’s when he asked me to stop singing and said, I don’t care for jazz. And right then the floor opened up and the ghost of Fats Domino rose from the below and slapped him hard in the face with one of his big rings on and then disappeared. Jackson looked at me in shock and I said,

“I’m gonna be standing on the corner
12th Street and Vine
I’m gonna be standing on the corner
12th Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby and boy she’s really fine…”

M.

Just the Boys

Jackson is headed to his first fifth grade field trip today. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but this is the first field trip that I have not been invited to chaperone, like, uhh, ever. In fact, there were no parents invited to chaperone this one because this one is to the Fernbank Science Center. And this one is Just for Boys. And this one is chaperoned by Mr. Budd, and Mr. Board, and Mr. Hammonds. And this one came with an accompanying vocabulary list, words like:

Penis

Acne

Vagina

Semen

Yeah. That is this field trip. And I gotta say, I am glad I am not there.

It’s not that Jackson doesn’t already know these words. We are always a little ahead of the game. You don’t get a kindergartner with a third grade reading level if you aren’t. Likewise, we didn’t want the kid that says “balls” for “scrotum” and giggles a little. We want a kid that knows to never use the word “pussy” in any context. Like any of them. Yeah, even cats. Cats are called cats. That is to say we are raising a man with a respectable mouth. Sure he might yell, “What the hell?!” when a car cuts me off, but that’s learned behavior and I’m okay with that. But if my son ever referred to his penis as his “dong,” I’d probably lose my shit.

Our son is, naturally, a bit nervous about today’s trip. He said, and I quote, “I’m just gonna keep my head down and my mouth quiet.” And I believe him. Though I encouraged him to listen attentively, to not giggle when the other boys do, and to try to keep his head up. This is all valuable information. Then I warned him that I want to know EVERYTHING that happened, so he should try to take copious amounts of notes. He rolled his eyes.

I have a fifth grade boy on the brink of puberty. That is amazing. And scary as hell. I have this smart, funny, honest child who is just a bit shy about saying the word “vagina,” but will say it when it is appropriate, because he knows better. He also knows the term, “Sexual Intercourse,” probably much to his grandma’s chagrin. He knows about “consent,” and he knows about birth control. His birth control. His responsibilities. It seems a bit early to bog him down with the wonders of “the pill,” though I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I hope there is a male version before he is of age.

I guess I am telling you all this today because I am nervous. I hope he behaves. I hope he represents. I hope he learns. I hope he lets his guard down just a bit. I secretly hope he does giggle a little bit to himself. Or turns red in the face. Or makes eye contact with his best bud Lucus, and they both make that face. I hope this is just another step in teaching my child to be the best version of himself he can be. And I hope one day he will know how much I worry, but push through anyway.

Teach those babies right, y’all. Have the tough conversations. Because if you don’t they will have them with people they shouldn’t. It is inevitable.

M.

I Want to Ride it Where I Like

Jackson and I have been riding bikes to school and back home the past few days. Prior to this Jerimiah was dropping him off every morning, and I was walking to get him every afternoon. That meant that Jackson was walking one mile a day, and I was walking two. But this week Jackson wanted to ride his bike to school. But a mile is far, and you have to cross a five lane road to get to his school, and let’s be real—I am too anxious to let him ride alone—which means I have to ride with him. So how is that going?! Great. Fine. Awesome. No, but really.

It would seem weird for someone like me to go from no activity to bike riding two miles a day, but really, it wasn’t a bad transition from the walking. I already had the bike, I bought us all new bikes last year after we rented beach cruisers at the beach and I was all, Oh my gosh, this is awesome, why did we ever stop biking when we grew up?! Quick answer: It’s hard. And people judge you.

People really do judge you. I mean, the people in the cars don’t want you on the road, and the people on the sidewalks don’t want you on the sidewalk. People don’t want you going past their driveway, they give looks, and people don’t want you riding on the shoulder of the road or in a lane like a car. In the state of Georgia, if you are over the age of 16 and on a bike, you are supposed to treat it like a “vehicle.” They understand it is not a “motor vehicle,” but they still consider it a “vehicle,” which means you are supposed to ride it on the street. Why do I know this? I Googled it, after I realized that I only see real bike riders (you know who I mean the people on teams who compete and have racing bikes with those funny little suits and make motions with their hands) I see them on the streets all the time, not the sidewalks, because well, sidewalks are for walking. I get that. But, if you are under 16, you are supposed to ride your bike on the sidewalk. This is all new information to me because I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid!

So do you see my dilemma? Probably not, because I haven’t laid it out very well. I want to make sure I am on the sidewalk with my son when he rides his bike, but riding my bike on the sidewalk is technically “illegal.” So I ride behind him on the sidewalk, we get off our bikes at the crosswalk and walk them across, and when I am riding alone on the way home after I drop him off, I ride in the street like I am supposed to. Well, I did. Once.

The cars were not nice. Like, not nice at all. Most of them just zipped past me like I wasn’t even there, with no thought to how close they were to me or how fast they were going. They split lanes, they didn’t get over when they clearly could have. I don’t know what the rules are, but when I see a bike rider on the street I get over if I can, and/or give them plenty of room and slow down. Not these people. I am seriously surprised I didn’t cause an accident, and the whole time I just kept thinking, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do! Maybe it’s because this is Atlanta, but riding my bike on the road did not feel safe.

So I ride on the sidewalk now, but I get mad looks from people in the cars and on the sidewalk, even though I know I am not supposed to be on the sidewalk with wheels, so I stop when a walker or runner is coming and I get off my bike and wait for them to pass. Do I want to do that? No, I lose my momentum and believe me, my fat-ass needs my momentum, but I think it is the right thing to do. Ahhhhh! I just want to ride my bicycle where I want. Thanks, Queen.

Anyway, I have no real reason to be writing this but to complain. Maybe you have suggestions. I’m just going to keep on keeping on as long as Jackson wants to ride, and I guess the cops can pull me over on my bike. Lord knows they can catch me.

As a reward for reading my rant here are some pics of a new pair of bikers. I asked him if we could get leather vests made with our nicknames on them, and he said, “We aren’t those kind of bikers, Mommy.” And I told him we were, in our souls we were… #SonsOfAnarchy4Lyfe

M.

Down the Worry Hole We Go

Since school is back in session, and things are back to normal around here, Jerimiah is back to his previously scheduled trips to Baton Rouge each month. This week he had to fly out on Labor Day in what sounds like, to me anyway, one of those “If I have to be here, then you do to” sorta deals that bosses do. So that’s fun. This is the second holiday he should have spent with us this year, but instead was in Baton Rouge (he was called to work on Fourth of July as well). Before June this was old hat. He flies out for one week a month and Jackson and I are left here to do the mundane daily stuff without him. It was tough at first because we are a tight unit, but it’s getting easier. This month though, after being with him for a full five weeks straight (wow!) it has been a bit more difficult.

Sunday night we all headed to bed like any other night. Jerimiah tucked Jackson in, but instead of saying, “I love you. We are going to have a great day tomorrow, I will see you in the morning.” He said, “I won’t see you in the morning, I will see you Friday night.” Jackson said okay, and we headed for bed. A few moments later a crying Jackson came into our bedroom saying that he was afraid something bad was going to happen to daddy. What if the plane crashed? What if he never made it home to us? Why was his brain making him think about this?

I sorta froze at first. Jerimiah jumped into action, called him into our bed, held him while he cried. I was just so damn shocked. Not because Jackson has never had worries or anxiety like this before, but because he had said something new, that I have been saying for a couple of years now, “Why was my brain making me think this way?” He knew it was a worry. He knew it was anxiety, but he didn’t know how to stop it. I jumped into therapy mode and tried to emulate what my therapist says to me. Tried to get to the root of this particular thought. Jackson and his class have been tracking the hurricane, was he scared about that? Daddy assured him that Louisiana was safe this time. But it wasn’t that.

I started to ask more questions. Was it because he had read about a plane crash the other day? We saw it in the newspaper together. Maybe, he said. Was it because when we hiked Stone Mountain that day, Daddy needed to sit down at one point, when Jackson and I didn’t? I got another maybe. The bottom line he said, is that he was afraid something bad was going to happen to us. Man, that is tough to hear. Maybe all kids have this worry, some just don’t admit to it? Maybe I’m overreacting, but this shook me pretty hard.

I remember when I was his age. My mom would go out at night and leave me alone at home. She would tell me to lock the doors, and have the phone by me in case I needed it. I was always afraid, but I never told her. I wasn’t afraid to be home alone. I wasn’t afraid that someone would break into our house, or try to hurt me. I was worried that my mom would not come home. This was around the time my worry and anxiety started, and I am afraid he will be the same.

He ended up sleeping with us that night. He snuggled in between us, and we lulled him to sleep with silly stories of the day. He was laughing before he drifted off, and right before the Uber came for Daddy in the morning daddy kissed him and told him that he loved him. Jackson shot up in bed and said bye, and that he loved his daddy, then drifted back off to sleep. For that I was glad.

Jerimiah’s plane landed fine. He did his day and week of work, and we will see him tonight. But there was worry and anxiety floating in the air this time, one that I am just learning to deal with, let alone help my son combat. I tried to keep him busy, have some good Mommy and son time, and of course talk to daddy every night. I’m just nervous this is the beginning to more worry and anxiety for my son. I’m nervous I passed my mental illness down to him. I’m worried I’m at fault.

Man, this parenting thing is tough. We blame ourselves a lot. We worry and we wait. And we are never quite sure if we are doing things the right way. Or what the hell the right way even is. I’m sure you’re all struggling with something today, so here I am, sending big hugs to all of you out there doing it today. You’re doing just fine, Momma. You’re rocking it, daddy! Things will be okay.

M.

Monadnock in the Sky

We finally made it to the most visited place in Georgia, and no, it’s not Ludacris’ house. Well, I guess it could be Luda’s house, but according to the official Georgia Tourism Center it’s Stone Mountain. So… they are probably wrong, but we went to Stone Mountain. Like any tourist-y type of thing I knew something about Stone Mountain before I went. I knew some things from what you hear by those who have visited, and I know some things from the locals, and well like any good attraction, those two things don’t mesh up very well.

I knew before we moved to Georgia, for instance, that Stone Mountain was a giant mountain made of stone. I had also heard most of the property surrounding the mountains itself (which is owned by the State of Georgia) is owned or operated by the same family who owns Silver Dollar City is in Branson, Missouri. That’s where we used to live. We lived there for ten years in fact, another fun, little tourist-y place that just doesn’t add up to the hype you hear about it. But I digress. Somewhere along the line that crazy family from Missouri bought property at Stone Mountain and turned it into a mini-amusement park, because Capitalism? Don’t ask me why the rich do what the rich do.

I’m digressing. We did Stone Mountain yesterday, but not the “fun” overpriced, tchotchke Stone Mountain, nay, we walked the face of the monadnock, all the way up to the summit nearly 1,700 feet above sea level, and we were rewarded with amazing views of Atlanta and the surrounding areas. We didn’t stay for the laser light show. We didn’t look at the the large rock-relif etched into the side (the largest bas-relief in the world), and we didn’t ask what they think happened to the latest of the missing hikers, or the woman who plummeted to her death a couple of years ago. We sorta just, you know, pretended to be tourists. (I even wore my LSU tank top which garnered many a “Geaux Tigers” from fellow hikers. Le sigh.)

The rock-relief on it’s north face, if you’re wondering, is of three Confederate generals: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Maybe Stonewall’s name is what gave them the idea to carve it in 1916 (it wasn’t actually completed until 1972, because we do things slow in Georgia, okaaaaay). But like most things southern, it soon became hallowed ground for the KKK and other racist pieces-of-shit about town. (Ironically, the part of town that Stone Mountain is in is predominantly black. Which makes a lot of the ahem, more white of the tourists, a bit nervous.) I wish I were making this shit up.

So Jerimiah, Jackson, and I hiked the 1.3 miles up the mountain and the 1.3 miles back down yesterday morning. (In my opinion, the walk down was worse. It worked my thighs, which are not strong. Meanwhile, Jerimiah did not like the hike up which was a lot of cardio and worked the calves. To each their own.) This was after a fifteen minute walk to the park because we parked at the visitor center and walked over. Hiking the mountain is free of course, so long as you pay the $20 to park in the parking lot. So a lot of locals either pay $40 for a yearly parking pass, or park somewhere nearby and walk in. We went with the “free” parking yesterday because we weren’t sure what to expect.

We didn’t take Duke because we checked ahead and it said that dogs can’t climb the mountain. But that didn’t stop people from taking their dogs (because people are horrible) and one pot-bellied pig, of which we passed on the way up and Jackson legit stopped in his tracks and said, “What the…?” while pointing to the pig, whose tiny legs were working hard behind his mom and dad. He was also not on a leash, though he had on a little fashion collar, it was, well, exactly what you would expect to see on a giant rock mountain, on Labor Day Weekend, in the middle of Georgia. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen a pot-bellied pig hiking the mountain, or at least three drunk grandpas, I would have worried.

Anyhoo, the walk up was more rough than we anticipated. In fact, we had to make several stops. Jerimiah thought he might throw-up, and Jackson said on multiple occasions that we were probably all gonna die. The worst part was the “handrail” action, about 3/4 the way up. It gets very steep for a small section and they have mounted a handrail into the mountain to help you along. For awhile I was moving, but like, not really going anywhere, if that makes sense. Yeah. It was rough for us, meanwhile, my son ran up to the top. Other people were like, uh, how do I say this, jogging up the face of the mountain? So, maybe just get yourself into a bit of shape before attempting this. Of course, if you want to get to the summit you can take the gondola, but just know that I will make mad fun of you when you do.

Buuuut, remember when I said we were rewarded at the top?

Awesome views, cool breezes, the feeling of being in the clouds, and the Summit Snackbar, which has bathrooms, free water fountains, and in Jackson’s case, frozen chocolate bananas to get you back to optimal health.

One of the coolest features about the summit are these ponds that form throughout the year. In the winter and spring the rain catches in these holes (not the scientific term, I’m sure) and by the start of summer there are fish in them. You can see Jackson on the stones of one of the bigger ponds in the picture. Jackson asked how the fish got in there and Jerimiah started to explain evolution to him, and that’s when it hit me that it might be hard to visit Stone Mountain if you are one of those “Earth is only 6,000 years old” and “evolution is not real” people. #EekFace But at least you will be rewarded at the bottom with a rock-relief of some of your heroes. I assume.

So the long and the short of it is this: If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods (we live about ten minutes from Stone Mountain, GA) and you like a fun adventure that involves scaling rocks, possibly breaking one or both of your legs, and feeling like you are in the clouds, then please go and hike Stone Mountain! We will even go with you! But not too late in the day, or too early in the morning, that’s when people die and get robbed. (Shhh, they don’t like to tell tourists that!) And if you want us to stay for the laser light show we will, but please know that I have trained my son to scream, “Wicked d-bag, assholes!” (in a Boston accent) at any depiction of Confederate generals. So, there’s that.

Love you guys, and I really did love my hike up the giant monadnock in the sky, but next time, Luda’s house.

M.

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: …