Spring

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Above is an old photo of silver maple buds. This year I’m not well enough yet to capture much of early spring.

Spring is here, and I am a week and a half late in noticing its arrival. The weather this winter was warm overall with some sine wave oscillations into bitter cold. If not for these periodic arctic blasts, this winter would have seemed to be a long prodromal spring. The daffodils outside my front door were halfway out of the ground by February but have been wise to delay their blooming.

This morning after my husband left for work and my daughter boarded her school bus, I sat on the living room couch debating what I needed to accomplish today. My mind became knotted considering what I should do first, and I remembered that there is only one thing that I really need to do during this medical leave: get better. With that thought, I stretched out on the couch and let my concerns slip away. While I should not simply fester at this time, I’d be foolish to let mental to-do lists sully my recovery.

I will do what needs to be done in due time. Already I accomplish small tasks without much premeditation, as I did before my back surgery.

There was a minor eruption in this house a week after my surgery because I became aware that someone who shall remain unnamed was disinclined to help around the house due to the mistaken notion that my daughter would do such tasks for me until I was better able to do them myself. Yes, my daughter is 15 and not helpless, but I do not push her to help out much around the house aside from taking care of her own things.

I figured that my surgery did not translate into my daughter becoming a maid or a cook, so I’ve asked very little of her aside from what I usually expect. She will be young just once, and I’d rather hear her usual 20 eruptions of laughter a day over whatever she’s reading than see her cook dinner or mop a floor.

So I heard a complaint that I’d been remiss in failing to teach to do such things and that I should insist she do more. I responded that now is not the time for me to teach anyone to do anything. Now is the time for me to heal.

It’s not that I have not taught my daughter to be tidy or to fix herself a meal. The prospect of insisting that she do these things time and again exhausts me more than doing them myself.

I think that the business of living and the natural consequences of disorder will eventually make her self-sufficient in the domestic sphere, which is exactly what happened with me. No matter how much my mother made me do the dishes while I was growing up, I didn’t spontaneously do that task until I was on my own and the only one around who would do it.

As I close this post, I am recalling a passage from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility wherein practical Elinor complains that her younger sister Marianne needs to toughen up. I’ve thought of Colonel Brandon’s response many, many times as I’ve raised my daughter: “I knew a lady very like your sister – the same impulsive sweetness of temper – who was forced into, as you put it, a better acquaintance with the world. The result was only ruination and despair. Do not desire it, Miss Dashwood.”

We’ve Only Just Begun

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On our drive home this afternoon, my daughter and I were talking about the growing crop of “Make America Great Again” yard signs in our town. I told her that I doubted America had stopped being great. Her reply blindsided me.

She told me, “Maybe America never has been great. At least not yet.”

She was born two months after 9/11. Our country has been at war for her entire lifetime. Her earliest memory is visiting Washington, D.C., to see her uncle leave for war in Iraq. The Recession hit the prime of her childhood. The lens of current events has undoubtedly clouded all she has learned of our country’s past.

Still she hopes for better. Her uncle came home from Iraq alive. She has witnessed our country’s slow recovery.

And she knows that I am oddball enough to make “We’ve Only Just Begun” the theme song for her thoughts on the “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Puff, A Mystic

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I don’t know who owned the mystic I’d borrow and call Puff. His seasonal groomings told me he belonged to someone else. I once spotted him strolling through a neighborhood alley and thought that a man working on a truck called him Larry. Maybe that man was talking to another man offstage from the alley. Then again, Puff was a man’s man. He could have owned the name Larry easily.

Puff had enormous paws that could cover most of the palm of my hand. His gaze could hypnotize me into giving him Fancy Feast and a nap on my pillow or couch. My daughter and I loved nothing more than having him stay the night, and we’d fall asleep to the sound of his steady purr.

By the time my daughter started school, Puff’s visits began to dwindle. We’d take walks through the neighborhood to see if he’d become the back door man for another family. I took the photo above during one of his last visits, and in it he seems to be telling me that he’s found another woman but knows he’s made his mark on me.

My daughter and I still reminiscence about Puff. I hope he disappeared because he and his mysterious owner moved away.

He’d be an old man by now, but I’m sure he’s still full of love, charisma and machismo.

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Puff in his rusty summer glory

Perfect Chi

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I’ve used at least a dozen different nicknames for my daughter. Most of them I use just between her and me, my way of writing some footnotes on her entry in the Book of Life. Once I accidentally used one such name in front of a friend, who asked me, “why do you call her Perfect Cheeks?”

I stated the obvious, “Because she has perfect cheeks.”

Her chi is perfect as well, so she is also my Perfect Chi.

She is perfect for me because she told me at age four that my shampoo smelled like a poison pen.

She is perfect when she pretends to be a Japanese man on Twitter, convincingly.

She was perfect on the bus trip to Ohio Caverns when her classmates were messaging on Nintendo DS and never guessed she was the one trolling them as Mr. Saturn.

She was perfect when she told me that David Bowie and some cats have heterochromia, not dichromatism.

She was perfect when she remembered during a power outage that Chris Griffin’s artist name on Family Guy was Cristobal.

I am blessed.

Twinkle

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For the past couple years, I’ve thought that my daughter was on the verge of outgrowing her fascination with Halloween. This photo of her I took in a Halloween store over the weekend shows me that she hasn’t. If I could bottle that sense of awe and wonder and keep it forever, I would. I know that I will try to talk her into giving out candy at home instead of trick or treating. I figure that I will fail at persuading her that at age 14 she should sit back and give treats to all the little Minions, musclemen and princesses who will troll down our street on Halloween. She will trick or treat anyway, and I will be secretly relieved that she is still young enough to treasure all that candy.