#tb 5 years ago…

Bradford Ramon Antonio, age 11

brad 2011

There he sleeps, that child of mine. I’m sure he’s dreaming about all the things he wants to do in his young life. His innocent life. His right-now life.

Sunrise to sunset, that kid is on-the-go either physically, or mentally, or (of course) both those things at once.

The minute he hops out of bed, he puts on his favorite baseball cap. Angels! At the same time his feet begin to shuffle. Swish! He slides his left foot across the wooden floor, kicking it straight out in front of him. While that foot dangles in the air he quickly raises his knee, and just as quick he stomps that foot back down. The other foot takes its turn and begins to also stamp. Now both feet are shuffling back and forth. He spins his body, grabs the brim of his cap and twirls it backward, then forward again in a rapid, smoothly-planned motion. His whole body is moving. His feet are gliding, stamping, and being raised high off the ground. The techno music in his head eventually stops, so then does his dancing.

He settles on the couch, waiting for a hot cup of tea. While he waits, his fingers, all ten of them, begin to intertwine. His hands move as if they are dancing. A hand dance. His arms shoot out as his hands continue to twirl, round and round. His arms twist around each other, like slithering snakes; his fingers continue to lace loosely together, then apart, and his arms maintain their own motions, to ensure that the fluidity of the dance is just right. The hand ballet stops when he reaches for the sugar-and-milk-filled cup of tea.

He’s a DJ. He uses the computer to spin a record, to jumble the original music in an interesting way. He adds voice overtones to create definition, character to the song. The techno music adds a certain flavor to the whole effect. He works it, over and over, in various ways. Both his hands are moving rapidly, spinning up, spinning down, spinning to the right, spinning to the left. Then his feet begin to shuffle. All his skills are joined together into one fantastic show. His motions don’t stop until the music does yet, his heart still sings. He knows his skills are working, working the crowd. He knows because they all scream for more.

So sleep well, my son, sleep well. Dream your dreams. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day you can move. Another day to perfect your real-life ambitions.

At the End of the Day

family photos

I was lounging. In my room. Reading. Reading a few chapters. Of the young adult novel I had heard about. Wanted to see for myself if the storyline was indeed intriguing.

Noticing the sun falling slowly down. Out of view. I wanted to make sure the house was locked up, lights off, before my evening ended. Before the kids retired to their rooms for the night.

The pile of clothes on the living room floor, at the feet of my kid, bothered me. The empty five gallon water bottles near the front door, waiting to be filled, by someone willing to drive to the local water machine, irked me. And the full of dishes sink threw my mood for a loop.

“Geez!” I started. “Why is it that I just can’t get the help I need?” I eyeballed my two old enough kids. “I guess asking nice, even writing down what I want done, just doesn’t work!” I began to yell. “I’m not the only one who lives here. We all need to contribute!”

Blah, Blah, Blah is probably all the kids heard.
I was sure of it.

I picked up the water bottles and slammed out the front door. Sped off to fill them. Then returned home again. Still angry. One kid stood to help me as I stepped over the threshold of the front door. “Don’t bother,” I snapped. “I can do it all, as usual.” I plopped a water bottle onto the dispenser, splashing a bit of water onto the floor. The other bottle, I dropped onto a table, in the garage, as my other kid just stared at me. Not sure what to say.

I went to the kitchen to do the dishes. Clinking them into the dishwasher. Hard. Hoping I wouldn’t break anything.

Yet, didn’t care.

The clothes in the living room? I left alone. I was at a boiling point as I stormed back to my room. Slammed the door. Sprawled on the bed. I breathed deeply. Sighed. Then lay my head down. Sideways.

Feeling a bit calmer. A few hours later. I returned to the living room. To recheck the door locks. “Sorry, Mom,” the kids tried. I just nodded. Tried to smile. Noticed the clothes had been discarded. Somewhere. Couch blankets folded.

“Goodnight,” I mumbled.

I went back to my own room. To read another chapter. To sleep off my bad mood.

At the end of the day, I know tomorrow will be another beginning.

valuable values

i value my parents, and how they modeled what it means to be a good person

i value love, patience, understanding
happiness, health

family, friendships, relationships

diversity, freedom, independence

nature

warmth
kindness
smiling faces

children and cats

i value simplicity
living like there is no tomorrow
teachable moments
making a difference in someone’s life

i value laughter, loud cheerful laughter

i value quietness

i value rudy, liz, roberto, and brad

i value me, the mirrored me
public and private

i value honesty
open-mindedness
concern for humanity

kisses
caresses
and hugs

i value life

A Boy and a Wad of Wet Paper Towels in the School Bathroom

Brad joyfully squeezed the soaking wet paper towel, after he yanked it out from under the rushing water. In just a moment, that ball of slop would be splatted against a bland-colored wall in the boys’ bathroom. Oh the joy of doing something so fun, with three other boys. Boys who didn’t follow the rules. Bored boys spending their recess in the restroom, messing up the place.

Splat! Two wads flattened and spit water, side-by-side, midway down the eggshell sheen. Cheers all around. The next wad was aimed up, thrown at the semi-high ceiling. Thud! Perfect shot. A few droplets fell back to the floor. But those boys didn’t care. They just stood there, amazed at how easy it was to make a wads of wet paper towels stick. Stick and stay put.

The mirror received a Wham! Then another. Both slowly sliding down, into the sink. Then Brad threw the final ball of goo. Which clung to the mirror. Water oozed, distorting their reflection. So Cool! Artists. That’s what they were. So they thought. They left the facility with proud smiles on their faces.

Days passed. Dried wads were peeled away. A few weeks later, the janitor had complained that the situation was getting out of hand. It seemed the wads of wet paper towels had become some kind of ritual. Some kind of overdone game. A kid was questioned. Accused of the crime. He said, “It wasn’t me. It was him!”

“You! Here! Now!” yelled the custodian, tired of cleaning the stupidity of kids. Brad walked slowly toward the angry adult. A bit teary-eyed. Sort of scared. On that day, he was dressed so nicely. Had worn all black and even put on a tie, which made him look super cool. And handsome. Different from all the other second graders. He knew he was guilty, just not on that day.

The day he and those other rule-breakers made the mess, no one noticed, or at least didn’t seem to care much. Other boys made the new mess. But he didn’t say anything. He took one for the team. He deserved it. He was punished. Had to collect trash. Beautify the school during his lunch recess.

expected

The next day. A new conversation. ( Yesterday: unexpected)

“Good Morning,” Brad sheepishly says.
“Morning. Would you like some tea?”
Yesterday is over.
Today is here.
It’s easy for me to forgive.
Without saying a word.
I figure it’s best to forget.
Yesterday’s mishap isn’t something to hang on to.
To drag out.
It’s over.
Today starts anew.
“Yeah. I want tea. Thanks, Mom.”
“I’m making oatmeal. Want some?”
“Yeah. Sure.” He seems relieved I didn’t bring up yesterday’s bitch-fest.
We eat breakfast, together.
We watch a little TV.

Then I clean.
He plays video games.

After a bit, I make lunch.
“Before you eat, I need you to pick up your soccer net. Take it apart, or drag it to the back yard.”
“Alright,” he quietly says as he opens the front door.
“Thanks,” I tell him, my voice exiting through the kitchen window.
I watch him.
My son.
He’s a good kid.
Just growing.
Trying to find his own grounding.
Wants some independence.
Soon enough, he will have it.
I know.
“You want juice or milk with your lunch?”
“Juice,” Brad says as he walks back into the house.
Washes his hands.
“Thanks, Mom.”
“How does it taste?”
“It’s good.”
I smile.

“Later, this evening I need to go out. Do a few things. Wanna go?” I ask him.
“Mmmmm….”
“We can rent a movie.”
“Can we get something for dinner? To bring home? Eat while we watch?”
“That sounds good. Sure.”
We go to Rite Aid.
To develop photos of my students.
We go to Stater Bros.
To rent two movies from RedBox.
“Where would you like to go to get food?” I ask.
I always let him decide.
Why not?
It’s really his thing, not mine, to pick places.
I’ll go anywhere.
I don’t mind.
“Why do I have to decide? I always have to decide,” he questions.
“Oh. Well, every time I mention a place you seem to give me a reason why we shouldn’t go there. So, I figured it’s easier to just let you chose,” I answer.
“That’s true,” he smiles. Sort of laughs.
“How about McDonald’s?” he decides.
“Oh, yeah. A Filet-a-Fish sounds pretty good. And fries. A shake, too,” I tell him.
“I want Chicken Selects,” he states.
I’m not surprised.
We don’t go out to fast-food joints too often but, when we do, often enough it’s Mickey D’s.
The Selects are always Brad’s top choice.

Bagged food on his lap, I drive home.
I pull into the driveway.
Not all the way.
Enough so that he can let himself out, before I back completely in, next to my daughter’s car.
He needs the extra space to open the passenger-side door wide open.
He gently closes the door.
I back in.
He waits by the front door.
I turn off the car.
Get out.
Walk across the grass.
Unlock the front door.
Open and close it carefully.

No kitchen table tonight.
We both plop down on the couch.
Watch a funny movie.
Eat fattening food and slurp down a cold drink.
The company is good.
For both of us.

unexpected

A conversation, 5 years ago…

“Hi, Mom,” Brad casually said as he climbed into the car.
“Hi. Everything okay?” I asked.
“Yeah. I’m good.”
“Alright. Good. Just wondering. You are a little later than usual. I just called your phone. Left you a message.”
“I’m fine.”
“You’ve got soccer practice. 5 ‘o clock.”
“Ah. I wanted to go to Jared’s house.” He looked at me, hoping I’d allow it.
“Nope. You are going to practice. You made a commitment.”
“What?! Can I go over there before practice? For a few hours?”
“Welllllll? OK.”
“I need to call him. Make sure it’s okay,” he stated.
“Call now. While I am driving that way.”
“I don’t have my phone.”
“Use mine,” I said.
“I don’t know his number. It’s on my phone.”
“Well, I am not going to drive home, wait for you to call, then drive all the way back.”
“Are you kidding me?” he raised his voice.
“Seriously. I’m not.”
“I don’t get it!”
“I am not going to spend my time driving there, here, and everywhere. Forget it!” I, too, raised my voice.
“This sucks!”
“That’s rude!”
“I will just ask Liz or Roberto to take me over.”
“Good luck with that. They are both at work. I’m sure they are not going to tell their bosses they need to leave to take you to a friend’s house.”
Silence.
“I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?” Brad continued.
“Keep it up and I will not take you to soccer practice, either.”
“I don’t care.”
I drive.
Silence.
The air could be cut with a knife.
I pull into the driveway.
He jumps out.
Slams the car door.
Hard.
As he walks toward the front door he kicks the soccer net that sits on the pavement, waiting for some attention.
Attention it got.
A big thump!
Parts of the piping disconnect.
I gather my things.
Pissed.
I open the driver’s-side door.
“You are so rude!!”
“Whatever!”
I shove my house-key into the locked bolt.
Brad barrels his way into the front door.
I follow, slamming the door shut behind me.
Boom!
For a second I thought I broke the door off its hinges.
“You are acting like a little brat,” I yell.
“Who cares!”
“That’s it. No soccer. In fact, no nothing all weekend!”
I am so frustrated.
I cuss.
Feel bad.
Yet, I don’t care.
“Whatever,” the little stinker says.
“I see now. As long as I do what you want everything is awesome. Tell you no, the fangs come out!” I bellow, loud enough that should someone be walking by they would hear my anger.
“Now I know you hate me!” he says, testing my reaction.
“And you must hate me!”
Silence.
I slammed some pans onto the stove.
I was determined to make the spaghetti I had planned for the evening.
I’m almost certain no one will eat it.
But who cares.
I follow through on my goal.
Brad plops down on the couch.
“Don’t you dare turn on your PlayStation. You cannot play any games,” I state, matter-of-factly.
“Why?”
“I am going to sit there. Drink my tea.”
Silence.
Dinner prepped.
Tea made.
I plop my butt down on an over-sized chair.
He leaves the room.
Goes to the kitchen to eat an Oreo or five.
He takes his cookies with him to his room.
I watch a recording of Grey’s Anatomy.
I allow myself to breathe.
Deep.
It’s 5 ‘o clock.
Soccer practice time.
“I’m taking a shower!” he yells from down the hallway.
I know this is his way to call a truce.
To say something normal.
To apologize without apologizing.
I ignore him.
I thought I was going to have a nice late afternoon with my son, watch him practice  instead of walking, like I usually do. I’d develop some photos. And maybe rent a movie. A relaxing Friday evening. With my youngest kid.
Guess not.

ostracize

True story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

2girlsarguing

Abby was a nice girl gone sort of mean. And uncaring. Not intentionally but because her best friend lied to her. Abby had money. Money she had been saving to use toward an investment in a new purse. But. Her best friend took it. Anna took the money. And ran. When Abby asked her friend about it. Did she know what happened to it? Anna just said no.

But, then along came another friend. Not the best one, but the Second Runner Up, and she said that Anna did indeed take the money. Second Runner Up friend saw her reach in and take it. Take it and shove it into her front pocket.

Anna cried. Said no I didn’t. But Abby didn’t believe her. She believed her best friend just lied. To her face. And that made her angry.

So she started to hang out with Second Runner Up. Spent time talking with her. Telling her how much she didn’t like Anna anymore. That she didn’t trust her.

Abby and Second Runner Up told everyone. And everyone told everyone. So now, everyone didn’t want to talk to Anna. Anymore. They didn’t trust her.

So, Anna sat alone. And as she pulled the stolen money from her pocket she wondered if she’d be someone’s best friend. Again. Some day. Soon.