Friday, November 18, 2011

The summer of blending or how my blog got its name

It started out as just your average summer: Work, home, and fitting in some time at the beach.

On our first trip over to Nantucket, a cab driver stopped to pick us up. Chatting away in a familiar way he said, “I remember you folks. I drove you last summer.” "Really?" I said, not putting much thought into the comment.

That night at a restaurant the waitress stopped to take our drink orders. "I remember you from last summer at DeMarco’s.” The following night, the woman seated next to me leaned over and said, “Your son has gotten so tall." As I was trying to place her she added, "I’ve seen you with your son at then Bean.”

Wherever we went, people just seemed to remember us, prompting me to ask Tony hopefully, "Everyone remembers us. Do you think it is because we are such snappy dressers?” 

Tony responded "No. Don't you think there is something peculiar about our family?" "Well, I guess we don’t blend" I admitted. "That's an understatement" said Tony. I turned to Sam and said, "OK then. We are going to learn to blend." 

Tony looked dubious. 

On day one of our blending initiative, we stopped at the market after the beach. Waiting in the jeep, I read the paper while Sam entertained himself in the back seat. Part of his "entertainment" included yanking off his bothersome wet suit. I looked up just as he stuck his naked butt out the sunroof. Yikes.

A few days later, Sam performed what may have been an exuberant pirouette through restaurant as we left, leaving an elderly couple he passed by looking a bit perplexed. 

At the end of the week, exited the Flying Cloud in Hyannis. During those few moments of quiet while folks collected their baggage Sam decided to belt out a Sir Mix A Lot tune: “I like big butts and I do not lie…” As everyone turned to see who had a fondness for big butts, I mumbled to Sam under my breath, “Sammy, I am going to strangle you." Grinning, Sam responded with, "when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist and a round thing in your face..."

OK, blending is harder than I thought. 

A few nights later, we had a new inbound message on our answering machine, courtesy of Sam: biblical scriptures followed a few days later by a rendition of Fly Me To the Moon. 

Our next time out to dinner, I noticed the folks behind us watching Sam with a peculiar expression as Sam helped himself to one of their dinner rolls. On the drive home, Sam took off one of his flip flops and flung it out the sunroof.

The week after that, we did the Walk for Autism. All was going quite well until Sam tried to hitch a ride on the back of a garbage truck. As I tried to dissuade him, a nice policeman offered us a ride. We made a grand finish from the back of a police cruiser. 

Just as I was about to declare ourselves blending failures, I made one last ditch effort. We went out early to a local restaurant. I carefully prepped Sam with what was and was not acceptable behavior. We entered peacefully and quietly crossed the dining room. So far so good. Seconds from a perfectly unobtrusive entrance, Sam draped his giant arm around me. He flashed a very big grin and announced boisterously, “Mommy! You are my sunshine.” I heard several audible “awwws” from the handful of elderly couples dining. I saw many kind smiles. 

I was Sam's sunshine. 

I knew then we were not destined to blend. Ever. But at that moment I knew blending wasn’t everything. 

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saying goodbye and letting go

Sam has experienced loss before. For months after the loss of my mother, Sam approached her chair and questioned, "Nana?" But at 4½, it was impossible to explain that she had left us.

Three years ago when he lost his paternal grandfather, Sam was far more aware. We considered including him in the services, but for many reasons, the time wasn’t right.

Last month we were faced with another goodbye, this time to Sam's paternal grandmother, known to Sam as Granma.

Like most grandmothers, she loved Sam as he was, rarely raising an eyebrow at his occasional peculiar behavior. After she suffered a stroke and struggled to communicate, they seemed to connect perhaps more, sharing bright smiles at each visit. 

As she began to fail, Sam continued to visit. On the last visit, he seemed to understand the serious nature, sitting quietly and watching. As we left he smiled at her, kissed her cheek and said goodbye. 

A half hour after we left, Sam’s Granma was gone. 

As plans for the services were made we discussed Sam's participation. As her only grandchild, we struggled how to include him in a meaningful way. How much was enough? How much was too much?

Finally, we let Sam decide how much he could do. We didn't know what to expect and the fact is, he surprised us.

Sam intuitively knew just what to do at the wake. He stood for three hours with nary a break, solemnly shaking hands with each person paying their respects. Offered the chance to leave, he responded firmly, "No. Stay." 

The morning of the funeral, Tony selected pallbearers. Needing one more, he looked to Sam. "I think my mother would really like that. Do you think he can do it?" 

Somehow we both knew the answer: for Sam to say goodbye, we needed to let him go; to trust that he could do what was required of him without us at his side to guide him.  

We gave Sam some quick instructions and nervously left him in the hands of the other pallbearers. Sam stood patiently until it was time to help the other pallbearers. We watched his grave expression as he exerted the necessary effort to lift the heavy casket into the vehicle. 

At the church Sam walked, tall and handsome down the isle, escorting his grandmother one last time. He stood mostly quiet throughout the service; a very difficult task. At the end of the mass, he joined the pallbearers to carefully lift his grandmother for a final drive. At the cemetery, he guided his grandmother to her place by his grandfather, placing single rose on her casket. Quietly he said, "Goodbye, Granma."

Later Sam summed up the events in his unique way:

Go to hospital. Granma she went to heaven. 
Go to the house. White house. See bricks. Say goodbye Granma. Go to church. Sing the songs. Be very quiet. Amen. Carry the big, heavy basket. Go to the country. Carry the big heavy basket. Flower. Say goodbye, Granma.

I hope his Granma was watching; I hope he made her proud.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sleepless Nights and Facebook

Last night, I took a trip down memory lane via Facebook posts, thinking it might help me fall asleep. What I found instead was a storyline that only reinforces what I already know: we aren't your typical suburban neighbors. 

One of my very first posts reads, “There is nothing that passes for normal going on here.” Maybe not much that will pass for normal, but certainly some consistent trends and themes. Here are some excerpts from life at our house via Facebook.

On Late night parties and more:

The state of my kitchen counter this AM: An open, mostly consumed milk bottle, bread with slices strewn, some toasted, toaster, carton of eggs - some cracked, several butter knives, misc. items... yes, the night crawler has struck.

Sam's been drinking at night. Yup. Found him passed out on the couch in the wee hours of the morning with all the evidence: a half-empty bottle of chocolate syrup, an almost empty bottle of milk and a tall glass - 3/4 chocolate, 1/4 milk…

Sam threw another fun-filled party at our house last night about 2 AM... lots of lights, electronics, food and drink. It is really great the way he leaves the 'frig & freezer door open to keep the kitchen cool.

Another night of 2 AM partying. Found 4 bowls of melted chocolate ice cream and 4 spoons and assorted other foods, lots of lights and music. Guess he was expecting company. 

I am looking for a family of vampires to take Sam in. Since they are nocturnal, he should fit in just fine.

On answering machines, censorship and career choices:

New phone and answering machine installed last night; Sam is working on disassembling and cracking the code. He is making good headway. I think he has a future in crime.

Sam has been deleting some of my facebook posts. Apparently he does not subscribe to the First Amendment.

Some kids are proud of a good grade, others of their fancy footwork in a sport. Sam proud to be "a pest; a giant pest; the biggest pest in the world." While he is gifted here, arguably it is time to shift to a new goal.

If you've left me a message and I haven't called you back, don't be offended. Caught Sam deleting messages before I had a chance to hear them. Guessing he has been doing this for a while... On the bright side, I spend less time on the phone.

Sam's career as a kid is over. How do I know this? He told me.

I thought Sam was my only child – but apparently not:

Today I learned that Sam has 4 sisters (Kate, Alex, Marykate, and Jane) and 7 brothers (Jack, Joe, Tom, Jason, Zack, John, and Josh). My, I've been busy. Guess that could explain my current exhaustion.

Sam now keeps telling me he has 2 sisters and 2 brothers. Their names are Robin, Sister, Joe and Lazy. I am guessing Lazy is the one who keeps leaving dishes in my sink.

Dining out, vacations and other adventures:

Sam made it to the hostess at Bertucci's before me and informed her we are a party of 7. I looked around and only counted 4. He must be expecting company. Whoever you are, you're late.

Just back from the movies with my date Sam. Shrek Forever After, one of our favorite franchises. I bought the popcorn, beverages and movie tickets. I drove and held the door. What he lacks in chivalry, he makes up for in good looks.

According to Sam, we are going to see the Boston Red Sox play basketball tomorrow. Who says there aren't any surprises in baseball?

If people are staring at your car, you need to investigate. While waiting for Tony in the market lot today, Sam wiggled out of his bathing suit and had his butt stuck out the sunroof. No, I don't know how he did it or what he was thinking. 

If you happen to be at a restaurant and see one lonely flip-flop sitting under a table, it belongs to Sam.

Last night Sam told me, "I packed you an umbrella, an extra pair of boots and your angry eyes, just in case." Tools for my next life? A trip? Hard to say. To the first person that knows who said that and where you'll get... well, nothing.

Walking down the street yesterday Sam started singing (at the top of his lungs) a Sir Mix A Lot song with lyrics "I like big butts and I cannot lie..." As everyone turned to look at my butt I thought, OK, we need more work on blending.

If you find a big, shiny red apple at the super market with a giant bite missing, it was Sam. Memo to self, do not send Sam and Tony to the market unsupervised...

On life at home:

I asked Sam to get me a glass of water and watched in amazement as he listened, got up and walked to the 'frig. He even got ice and filled the glass with water. He headed toward me, paused for a moment... and drank my water. Then he gave me the empty glass.

Good news. No tomato throwing at my house this week... don’t ask.

I caught Sam heading for the garage holding a very long wooden matchstick, wearing a very large grin. While he didn't have a striker or reveal his plan, I highly doubt any good could possibly come of that combo.

OK, I know there are bigger issues like world peace and a down economy, but I was about to bake and someone ate ALL my raisins!

Found Sam in the driveway wearing underwear, a tee shirt, carrying a very large pitchfork. Oh did I mention he was wearing a very big smile?

Today I learned that if you leave a jar of peanut butter on the counter unattended when you return, it will be empty.

I bought a very cool Delonghi toaster. Nice sheen in a stainless way; a neat neon blue light that automatically lowers the bread. It toasts the same piece of bread over and over if you repeatedly touch the blue neon light and don’t bother to remove the toast. How quickly will your house fill with smoke when you do this? How very black can toast become? And how long your smoke detectors will screech? If you'd like the answer to this and more, call Sam.

Did you feel the earth shake tonight like an 8.2 on the Richter scale? Not to worry. It's just Sam, jumping on the bed again and adding a few more stress fractures to the ceiling.

We will execute Sam's plan today. Well, maybe only the legal parts.

On Halloween:

Ok, I probably shouldn't admit this, but I have someone here who thinks if he smells some feet, he'll get something good to eat.

In the neighborhood and other adventures:

Some mark Spring by the first daffodil or tulip. At our house, it is Sam's first run up the street in his underwear. In case you are wondering, it is officially Spring.

Another day in suburbia. Plants some flowers. Try not to scare the neighbors...

Caught Sam going up the sidewalk early this AM, barefoot, wearing underpants (on backward) and a tee. He had straddled his bike and was sort of walking it. I asked him where he was going and he responded, “Dunkin Donuts.” When asked what he wanted, he responded, “Chocolate Munchkins.” Since he doesn’t have any pockets in his underwear, I do wonder how he planned to pay.

Yes, Sam jumped out the window today. Thank you, Sponge Bob.

And defying categorization all together: 

Sam slipped and slid down the stairs on his butt. Kelsey (the sitter) asked if he was all right. Sam pointed to his butt, said "Hurt." Then walked up to her, stuck out his butt, pointed and said "Kiss." So what I got out of this is Sam wanted Kelsey to kiss his butt... Oy vey.

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