i have a pile of books to filter through. lessons to lightly write. work to get done. yet. here i sit. unwilling to get on-task. me. a teacher. always reminding my students to stay on task. to concentrate. to get their work done. but, i am finding that the task, though necessary, has not quite found its way into my educator thoughts.
in a while, i will sit in front of those school books. those teacher’s manuals. and i will review. yes i will. because, review i must. for my own sanity. and to ensure starting the year off right, properly educating students. who will be depending on me to fill their days with classroom ooo’s and aaah’s, and just as important, life lessons.
but first, i need to sit here and think.
“mom, can we talk?” brad asks.
“yeah, sure,” i say, with a smile.
i guess my teacher tasks will have to wait even longer to imprint my brain with information.
It’s not too late. Not early. Bedtime for early risers. We’re talking. Rudy and I are. Then there’s a lull. Our conversation slows and eventually ceases. Rudy turns onto his back. I roll onto my stomach. Side by side, we lie. He snores. I listen. Various noise levels exude from him. Until he wakes. Apologizes. Knows how sensitive I am to sound. He rolls onto his right side. Facing me. Rests his left hand on my lower back. I’m comforted. Rudy’s hand feels heavy. Warm. Secure. He’s snoring again. His breathing is loud, then quiet, then loud again. I listen. I’m enjoying his heavy hand. Heavy like a thick blanket on a winter day. Heat penetrating my skin. He sleeps. Is relaxed. Not realizing he’s touching me. The heat of his hand gets progressively warmer. I feel safe. Cared for. As if I’m receiving a warm embrace. Then he wakes. Removes his hand. Says it’s hot. Says he’s sweating. My back slowly cools. He turns to his other side. Reaches behind him. Pats my back. Apologizes for snoring and falls back to sleep.
It’d been an exhausting week… Back in the 5th grade classroom. Dealing with excessive heat. Walking into a house without central air, a house that is just as hot inside as it is outside, with no relief. Not complaining, just stating. Weather in the triple digits is sure to zap anyone’s energy, so when I began to slide lower and lower into my favorite oversized chair, the one planted directly in front of the TV, I didn’t care that it was only 6pm. I was tired. Then, 5? 20? 45 minutes? later, all I remember, was Rudy saying “Hey,” as he walked in from work, rousing me from a light doze. “Oh, hey,” I responded, popping back into an upright position.
Several hours later, I lay down on my bed, ready for a much needed snooze-fest. And then there was a knock on the front door. For a minute I waited, assuming Rudy would answer but he didn’t. Maybe it was because he was in the garage and the knock was very light? Maybe he just didn’t hear it? But anyway, because it was after nine, I knew it must have been important, which meant I couldn’t ignore the knocking. I stood on tiptoe, looked out the small window in the upper portion of the door and saw a girl. I opened it, gingerly. Carefully.
“Yes?” I asked. She was young. Early to mid-twenties. Polite.
“May I speak with you?” she asked quietly, backing off a bit. I was confused.
“What is it?” I said.
“Please, can you come out here? I need to talk with you.” Now I was more confused, and becoming concerned, frustrated. Did something happen to one of my kids, and for whatever reason, she felt responsible?
“Who are you? What’s up? What do you need?” I questioned firmly. She walked toward me, holding her phone out, showing me a map, a white circle with a computer icon in it.
“Someone stole my computer and it’s showing that the computer is here, at your house.” She was so polite. So nervous, worried, concerned, and upset. I leaned in close to her phone and sure enough it was my address.
“I don’t want to press charges,” she continued, “I just want my computer back. I’m a student at Cal. State, Fullerton and I just bought the computer for school. I need it. Please.” Still confused about the situation, but understanding what she was asking me, I told her to hold on, that’d I look for the computer. I closed the front door.
I immediately walked into Bradford’s bedroom, pissed that my son could commit such an act. I called him. Yelled at him. Told him to tell me where the computer was. Not wanting to hear excuses or explanations I told him to “just tell me where it is!”
I handed it back to the girl, telling her I was sorry, that I didn’t know what was going on. I called Brad again, in front of her, did some more yelling then handed my phone to her and let her have her say.
“What the fuck!…” she began, then turned and looked at me saying “I’m sorry about the language…”
“No problem,” I responded.
“What the fuck were you thinking?” she admonished. Then she went on saying this and that, asking who, where, and why. When satisfied, she handed the phone back to me.
Turns out, it wasn’t Bradford who stole, not only her computer, but a backpack with her wallet in it along with all her expensive school books and other supplies. Turns out Brad happened to give the thief, a person he didn’t know aside from seeing him occasionally around town, a ride. The fact that the thief, sitting in the back seat, was holding a backpack, a computer, and an iPhone didn’t faze Brad. Until I “schooled” him, told him “No son of mine!” that he realized his mistake.
“Mom, this dude had that sh*! on him. He called me about 20 minutes after I dropped him off saying he had left it in the car and wanted me to take it out because it was so hot!”
I believed him.
Later that night, after giving a statement to the police, after learning the thief lived four doors down from the girl, she walked up to Brad and thanked him for helping her, that she was planning to “throw that guy’s ass in jail!” And then she looked at him, really eye-balled Brad and told him, like a parent would, that he needed to think about his choice in friends, about what he wanted in life, that he shouldn’t be around that kind of BS.
Brad nodded. “I definitely learned a lesson tonight. Thanks for believing me.”
“Thank you,” she said to me.
It was after midnight when I lay myself down to sleep. I closed my eyes but so many thoughts bounced inside my head. Thoughts about my child. My children. About lessons taught. Lessons learned. About me as a parent. I’m teaching the lessons and my children are learning the lessons, but how far do the lessons take them, to what extend? My only hope is that what I pass on to them instills the importance of thinking about their actions and how those actions effect others.
So, this past summer I did quite a bit of home improving, choosing to challenge myself with various projects rather than paying a professional to fix what needed fixing. Of all the projects – painting, landscaping, creating a minimalistic vibe (except for my new office space which is packed with my life, packed with everything important to me– it was the interior door(s) that gave me the most trouble.
Interior doors, I thought would be the easiest project to tackle. In my mind, after researching ways to replace the doors I discovered the “Pre-hung Door”, which arrives in its frame, the hinges and the door handle (hole) already in place. All I had to do was set it into the opening, the spot in which I planned to replace the door. Easy, peasy. Right?
I ordered one door. For my ensuite bathroom. A test I had given myself. Could I do it? Actually replace an interior door? Why not? I asked myself. You’re self-sufficient. Hanging a door, regardless of the fact you’ve never done it, should be a no-brainer. Right?
The door arrived wrapped in plastic. And, yes, without knowledge about what I was going to suffer through, I was excited.
… here’s the kicker, though… I thought the frame around the door was simply protecting it while traveling to my destination, to my home. So. What did I do? I unhinged the frame and tossed it.
Literally. Threw. It. Away.
Then I “tried” to put the new door into the door opening, only to discover it didn’t fit.
I. Was. Confused. Frustrated. Didn’t understand.
Light cussing. Bad words. Sprang into the air.
Believe me when I say I went through quite a bit of turmoil trying to figure out where I went wrong. Even after watching video after video and reading information, nothing quite explained my problem. Until it dawned on me, several weeks later, that I had thrown out, not a protector piece, but an essential part of the door.
So, I leaned that door up against the wall in my room and I ordered another door (seriously, I didn’t want to build a new frame around the door. No way!).
I bought two doors, actually. I figured, I got it. I CAN do it, now. All I had to do was measure the original doors, side to side, top to bottom, choose solid or hollow ( I went with hollow – cheaper and lighter weight ) order them online, and wait for them to arrive.
Arrive they did. A month later. Two doors. One for the bathroom. One for a bedroom.
Yet, my confusion simply deepened. I now understood I had to keep the frame, but Why the heck wasn’t it fitting into the opening where the new door was projected to thrive? And then, again, it dawned on me. I had to take out the original framework before installing the new pre-hung frame.
During this second round, I decided to first replace the bedroom door – a more urgent necessity – so I began ripping out the heavy-wooded frame, making a mess in the hallway. I then proceeded to “test” the pre-hung door, placing it into the now (wide-open) opening, happy that it fit.
Yes! Now I’m onto something, I told myself, patting my back.
Until I realize that the frame (around) the new door didn’t extend to the width of the original frame (built with the house). Meaning, There is (not was, is) plaster board exposure inside the bedroom due to an inch difference in frame sizes. Plus, I had to chop off part of the bottom of the door to avoid it from scrapping (which is par for the course). What I didn’t think about, though, was that by cutting off an inch I cut the entire solid portion (sort of a sealant within the otherwise hollow door), exposing its inside, which means if a spider happens to wander underneath, it would find a prime spot to lay its eggs.
Aside from all my mistakes, the door is in. Not perfectly. And surrounded by crude, unfinished work. But for now I am done. And I will admit that the unfinished work does not bother me. I, for some odd reason, like the reminder of how hard working I can be.
But, at the moment, I am over replacing doors.
Over it, until next summer, that is.
In the end, the bathroom door will remain leaning against the living room wall, outside of its frame. And it will remain there. As will the one in my bedroom. Both are now part of my interior design, which are actually my new, pleasing-to-the-eye conversational pieces. Ironically, they look like planned art.
Sometimes the planned takes a turn and the unplanned becomes the focal point.
long ago, probably about five, six, maybe seven, eight years ago brad announced he knew someone, or talked to them in passing, or something, and mentioned that the person had told him about a cute, little, itty-bitty, barely-born, newly-arrived kitten.
he wondered if he could have it.
i have forever been opposed to pets because kids tend to think all they have to do is pretty much nothing. just occasionally (operative word here) engage with their newly obtained hobby. goldfish died due to an overload of food. while on the other hand, hamsters starved to death.
for me, it was too much to handle. little kids running around asking mommy this, mommy that, mommy, mommy mommy, which caused me to forget there was a pet in the house. i had tunnel vision. hence, supervised kids. unsupervised critters.
which meant no more pets. no. never. not on my watch.
until brad showed me, and roberto (a huge pet advocate), an adorable photo of the kitten he had mentioned. he caught me off guard. sly kid. the kitten’s big green eyes and fluffy fur was hard to resist, for all of us, apparently. please, please, please they both whispered, hands clasped into steeples, prayer-mode.
ok, i said.
say what? what did i say? i asked myself.
really?! they both screamed.
really, i mumbled.
as they were walking out the front door, i said, bring home two. (again, what the heck was going on with me?)
two? you sure?
yeah, you know, to play together.
within the hour they brought home Cassandra and Skyler (named later that afternoon by the boys). fraternal twins. one black, one multicolored. both with green eyes.
i was smitten.
roberto recently moved out and brad is a busy 17 year old. both engaged elsewhere, most of the time. so, aside from brad allowing them to sleep in his room, the girls belong to me. i tend to them 99% of the time, and i even renamed them. (the kids don’t know this, they’d probably think i’ve gone bonkers, but oh well, a caretaker’s got to do what a caretaker’s got to do, right?)
cassandra’s now-name is chicka-chicka-boom-boom (which, ironically, is the title of an adorable kid’s book about the lower case letters of the alphabet climbing a tree, thinking they know what’s what) because of her diva personality and i refer to skyler as skitter. so sweet, yet so nervous. she has never been able to fully relax.
ah, there she is. I can hear chicka-chicka-boom-boom’s deep guttural mew call me. she wants in the house for a quick nibble of chow and a full-on vigorous back rub. she likes her cheeks gently caressed as well.
spoiled. i know.
Painting walls in one’s home is big news these days. Be brave, brighten your rooms with color, color, color.
Well, now, I’ve been coloring-up my rooms for years and years. Not just one overall color throughout. But each room was given a personality. Walls dedicated to the person living in each space. Roberto danced in Florescent Green. Brad played Legos in Light Grey. Liz had friends spend the night in Orangesicle Orange. Rudy and I chilled in Olive Green. The living room, a light turquoise blue, matching a very small teapot, wrapped anyone sitting there with comfort. And the kitchen felt happy, alive in Buttercup Yellow.
Everywhere I looked the color spoke to me. Reminded me of milestones, friendships, hardships, laughter, serenity, and so much more. Life happened amongst those walls.
I loved the color. Until I was over it.
So, I decided to paint every room in my house white.
Not a new concept, I know. I see those walls in buildings, in magazines, on TV.
White. White. White.
And I love it.
I’ve been coating the walls with Crystal Cut white. Soothing. Relaxing. Vibrant.
And the stories live on. Nothing has changed. Color still makes its claim. Among the white it speaks quietly or loudly, depending on its mood.