Friday, August 6, 2010

Actual Conversation

He Who Cannot Be Named: "Mom, just to inform you that I've decided you get one question a day about my life. One question."

Matron: "I'm not sure that's negotiable. But let me just clarify. Is this a question about your interior life -- how you're feeling and what you're thinking -- or a question about what happened to you during the day, on the outside, like at school or with friends?"

HWCBN: "And that was your question for the day. May I just say you're not being very effective."

Dear God-Buddha-Oprah-Universe-Allah (and maybe Ellen), he's only fourteen. Please help her.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Visiting Author

Morning Song
Marcia F. Brown

The Matron dares you to read this without A) weeping and B) feeling extraordinarily grateful for the day ahead.

Here, I place
a blue glazed cup
where the wood
is slightly whitened.
Here, I lay down
two bright spoons,
our breakfast saucers, napkins
white and smooth as milk.

I am stirring at the sink,
I am stirring
the amount of dew
you can gather in two hands,
folding it into the fragile
quiet of the house.
v Before the eggs,
before the coffee
heaving like a warm cat,
I step out to the feeder-
one foot, then the other,
alive on wet blades.
Air lifts my gown – I might fly –

This thistle seed I pour
is for the tiny birds.
This ritual,
for all things frail
and imperiled.
Wings surround me, frothing
the air. I am struck
by what becomes holy.

A woman
who lost her teenage child
to an illness without mercy,
said that at the end, her daughter
sat up in her hospital bed
and asked:
What should I do?
What should I do?

Into a white enamel bath
I lower four brown eggs.
You fill the door frame,
warm and rumpled, kiss
the crown of my head.
I know how the topmost leaves
of dusty trees
feel at the advent
of the monsoon rains.

I carry the woman with the lost child
in my pocket, where she murmurs
her love song without end:
Just this, each day:
Bear yourself up on small wings
to receive what is given.
Feed one another
with such tenderness,
it could almost be an answer.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Tonight, Merrick had a big sleepover at the house of a very best friend. Merrick does not do well at sleepovers. Wait! That means he doesn't actually sleep at anyone's house but his own, much to the consternation of parents who pick him up at midnight.

Matron: "Merrick? Do you want to bring Whiskers?"

Whiskers is a rat. Thank the Lord and Oprah, it is a stuffed animal, but a rat nonetheless. Merrick loves this rat beyond all reason.
While packing for the overnight. . . .

Merrick: "I think Whiskews should stay hewe and sleep in his own bed."

Clang clang clang go the warning bells.

Indeed, Whiskers stayed home.

And John retrieved Merrick around 10 pm, when he announced to his hosts that he needed to sleep with Whiskers -- at home. Let's just say nobody here was surprised or unprepared for the trip.

Merrick: "When I'm really big I'll have overnights. But right now I want to sleep in my own bed, all the time. With Whiskers. And naked. It's hard to be naked at an overnight with a friend and I like my skin on the bed."

Just a sweet moment in the life. . .

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wherein the Matron is a Wee Bit Bitter (Although she Wears that Well)

When Scarlett was Ramona Quimby in that show at the Children's Theatre, she met a new friend and fellow actor. The friend is a year and a half older, but age difference paled in the hot light of love for theater, film, song, drama.

Several months ago, after Ramona and a friendship cemented, this girl --let's call her Deirdre (the Matron likes this name)-- and Scarlett were down to the wire for the role of Annie. Both mothers -- yes, this would be the Matron and the other mother--sat outside an auditorium waiting, while "Tomorrow" belted out into the hallways. Tension was thick.

Scarlett got the role.

Scarlett: "Mom? You know my backyard play? How every year we stage our own production? I think Deirdre should be Annie. I don't even need to be in the show -- I just want her to be Annie. I think she would have been an amazing Annie. If she can't be Annie here, let's make that happen for her at our house."

For the past four years, all life has been suspended during the last week of July as Scarlett --and 15-25--of her friends, stage a massive backyard performance. The children rehearse every evening for three hours and then host 100 or so parents, siblings and friends who come to cheer them on for the performance. It's a great good thing. And the Matron feeds them all, every night of the week.

This year, Deirdre was Annie. Scarlett directed, choreographed and otherwise orchestrated. Scarlett spent the past six months preparing for her friend's redemption for not receiving the role that she herself earned.

Because Deirdre lives half an hour away, it was agreed (by email) that she would spend a few nights here for rehearsals and set building. A few nights morphed into 12 days.

Twelve days in which the Matron dutifully emailed the parents to let them know how their daughter was doing and got no response. Twelve days, four of which meant being up until 2 a.m. with Deirdre because of headaches, rashes, and stomach ailments. Twelve days of feeding, hosting and housing.

Just to add some bitter creme to the week, the Matron stumbled across an amazing theater opportunity for Scarlett and Deirdre. She took the time to carefully send all relevant information to the parents.

Email from Deirdre's mom: "I sent our application by federal express. I hope she gets in."

The big production came and went. Deirdre was awesome. There was a big block party afterward with about 200 people.

Matron to Deidre: "Where are your parents, honey?"

Deirdre: "They left right after the play because they were bored. They'll be back at 10 to pick me up."

Friends, that child was here for 12 days. The Matron set her up with a great acting opportunity. She sat patiently until 2 in the morning while Deirdre had a headache--for three nights. There hours of ice packs for mosquito bites, coddling, and inquiring about the psyche. Truly, she was 100% willing to be there for a child.

But the parents?

Never said thank you or even good-bye. One minute yours truly was cleaning up after the big party and the next?

Matron: "Where's Deirdre?"

Scarlett: "Her dad got her and left."

So yes, this is a petulant post. But can anyone imagine dropping off a child at a friend's house for a stay that stretched into TWELVE DAYS (and nights, oh my) and not saying good-bye at the pick-up?

Or thank you?