Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Good Mother

Astute readers might notice that a certain someone's name was NOT mentioned in this post. Yes, there is a direct reference to "the oldest" and more veiled nods in that child's direction. But the Matron was careful not to mention, well, Stryker.

Because he told her that this post violated his trust.

Those words "Mom you violated my trust!" tore a small planet-sized hole in her heart!

You see, the Matron and her son have a bit of an ongoing battle. A few weeks ago, he requested that she no longer blog about him. She could only partially agree, noting that she was a writer who wrote about her own life and nobody could dictate her material. On the other hand, she agreed to respect his privacy and discuss him only in the context of HER story, not his.

Trust her. Stryker himself could fill the internet. It pains her, these delicious, smart stories she is NOT sharing.

But Stryker felt the Actual Conversation hit too close to the bone. Let's just say rage and fury and discord? Settled in here for awhile as he let her know this. She felt horrid.

So the Matron agreed to stop blogging about him altogether, which is why he recently appeared only by referent.

Yesterday, the Matron was pondering all things Stryker -- how hard it is to be 13, how great he's doing in school (all A and A+), how hard it is to have a 6 year old brother, how little power you have at 13, how hard it is to love video games your parents don't approve of, how really hard it is to sit in Scarlett's theatrical shadow.

She was also proud of how well Stryker was handling the fact that he wasn't one of the boys standing in line at midnight to buy the latest version of Call of Duty, that little electronic bundle of mayhem all of his friends are playing.

This has been Stryker, for the past six weeks.

"Scarlett I love you would you take some of your acting money and buy me Call of Duty when it comes out?"

"Mom! Come here and see how amazing this game is!"

He would leave little notes around the house with "call of duty is coming out soon" and newspaper ads with the video game circled and "xo xo" penned nearby.

Yesterday when he came home from school he was happy. He chatted about the game and how several kids at school already had it. He told the Matron one more time how amazing Call of Duty was and lamented the fact that he wouldn't be able to play this online with his friends. All said with a smile and acceptance. Then he walked into the house to do homework and laundry.

Now until that very moment, it had never even for one nanosecond occurred to the Matron to purchase that game. But a little light of epiphany broke open upon her and she thought of her recent struggles with this child -- how they often agreed that he lived in one world that she didn't understand.

What a way to recognize his world? To buy him the game he never expected? Out of the blue, shocker?

The Matron has no time for these games and pretty much despises them. But Stryker relishes the spare hours he's allowed. Buy the game and she pretty much just says: here, don't get it but I support and love you. On HIS terms -- not hers.

You know what she did.

After Stryker had finished his homework and cleaned his room, she walked up to him and said, here. And gave him the game. He nearly collapsed with joy!!!!

The very very best part for the Matron?

Stryker: "Mom! I seriously never expected to get this game in a million years. Never, ever, ever. I am in total shock. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!"

The second best part?

Stryker: "Mom! I am so happy that you have my permission to blog about me for one week! Blog away - one week!"

Thank you, Stryker. She is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Meditation

"A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things that men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of an old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil."

The Things They Carried, by Viet Nam Veteran and fellow Minnesotan Tim O'Brien

To her nephew, Dexter (in Iraq) eccentric Uncle Alan (retired Lt-Colonel) Don (just home from Afghanistan) and dearly departed Grandma Don (WWII): she places this paragraph in the space of your silences when asked about the battle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Control Freak

The Matron genuinely regrets that this is not fiction.

This morning, she set her alarm for 6:15 to get up with the oldest, even though the night before she and her husband had agreed that HE would rise early and she would catch a few more zzzzz's.

Matron at 6:15: "Are you getting up?"

John: "Yes, remember?"

Instead of going back to sleep, she lay in bed listening to the patter and pull downstairs. Who was eating what for breakfast? Was the dog gate up so the yappy pair couldn't come upstairs and wake up Scarlett? Did Merrick find his robe or was he running around buck naked - cold?

Finally she gave in and got up for her own patter and pull, until she started fretting that nobody was standing on the corner just one minute before the school bus was scheduled to arrive. She scuttled downstairs.

John: "I'm not standing at the front door monitoring the time and bus. That's the bus rider's responsibility."

The oldest child did not miss the bus.

Scarlett: "Mom can I have some water with lemon?"

John: "Certainly. There's a pitcher in the fridge. Stand up and get it yourself.

Merrick: "Mom can I have some Lucky Chawms?"

John: "There is a box and bowl in front of you. Pour."

In one big epiphany in which the Universe picks up the Matron by the shoulders and gives her a real good shake, she suddenly understood why the chore list was so hard to implement. For the past six weeks, the children have been more or less successfully cleaning their own rooms, taking turns doing laundry, picking up dog poop and other mundane household chores.

That the Matron sometimes does for them. Or chains herself to the counter top so that she will NOT sweep the floor even though it is crunchy.

Because it is all about CONTROL. Hers. Over everything. She has so little control over the big stuff (death, children growing into who they really are rather than who she thinks they should be, how the husband operates, who the President is and whether or not she'll get the flu -- you know that endless list) that the little stuff takes on great import.

Excuse her while she goes and turns up the temperature on today's weather or learns to let go a little bit. . . . breathe. The moment is the only way to go but, man, it is hard to get there.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More on Her Success So Far

Last week, the Pioneer Press notified the Matron that HER blog would be featured in a big piece on Minnesota bloggers!

Go Matron!

So she spent FOUR hours last week picking for the nits and lice that could potentially get her in trouble if half of the metro area started to read.

It was with great anticipation that she purchased an early Saturday edition of the Pioneer Press, a paper to which she does not subscribe (there, snub). She rushed into the house, opened the pages, found the article . . . . only to see that she was not actually included, after all.

Edited out.

This somehow reminded her of the time her literary agent sent her not one but ALL of her 27 rejection letters (novel) from New York publishing houses in one big fun Special New Holiday package-- accompanied by an unsigned dictated condolence letter.

She still gets an annual Christmas card from this agent. Which she burns.

On the bright side?

She's down to 27 student essays and 49 research assignments to grade. She would rather be constructing a complex and creative blog post but, duty! Calling.

How many papers on abortion and capital punishment does the world actually need?

Crabby? Who -- not the intrepid Matron on a sunlit Monday afternoon, on a relatively balmy November day?

Just a little.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday, Meditation

Consider how central fasting is to most religions.

Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam all include major periods of fasting. Hunger. Yearning.

The Matron swears Buddhism is all about how much you don't eat.

Why fast? Why abstain? Hungry -- really hungry, not just ten minutes past dinner -- and you're raw. Vulnerable. Different. Changed.

When was the last time you were hungry? Raw, vulnerable, awake?

This is how she chose to spend her day. It was amazing.