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I know that really, every day is special. But today is especially special for me. Why? Because today is the day that my most special and precious daughter arrived on this earth (at least this time around – she’s a very old soul.)

Because some of her friends read the blog, I’m not going to inflict much gushiness and reminiscing on her. After all, she’s 15 today, and you know what that can be like. At least I do. I remember 15 quite well.

The idea that she’s 15 is amazing to me. How could that be? Like an excellent vacation, it feels like she’s been here forever, and yet the time seems to have passed in the blink of an eye.  I wish I had been (then and now) the one to spend more time with her. I missed a lot of her day-to-day growing up by working so much to support us all these years. But she had an excellent parent in her dad for those many years.  And I do feel that the time we have spent together has been “quality” time, more precious for its scarcity.

It snowed the day before she was born; it is snowing now. That day was a Sunday. Today is a Thursday. But at 4:06 pm on that day, my life changed forever for the better because this strong, smart, beautiful, funny, caring soul decided to grace it.

I can’t wait for many more years of roadtrips, inside jokes, kitchen disasters, epic fails, soul-level hugs in front of endless fields of sunflowers, famous chats, and getting to know one another better as we both continue to grow and change.

Happy birthday, Kelsea, my dearest daughter and friend.

Kelsea and Jack. Machyllneth, Wales. June 2007.

(All together now…”I don’t have to speak, she defends me.”)

In many ways, Donkey Derby Days is like any other small town festival.  With the exception of a lot of asses.  Well, maybe that’s also consistent with quite a few small town festivals.

Small Town Festival, Big City Ass (not mine)

The festivities themselves started bright and early at 10:00 am on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, and we were right on the spot for the first event: the Hairiest Legs contest.  While we were desperately hoping that there’d be some mountain women in this competition, we were disappointed.  In fact, there were only a few participants.  I would recommend to the organizers that this event be held later in the day, after the Beer Tent has been open for a while.

The Beer Tent In A Quiet Moment

The judge for the hairiest legs contest not only had to view them but had to stroke them.  There were no wookie-worthy contestants, but the winner, Levi, did indeed have a most hirsute pair of gams.

Levi, He of the Hairiest Legs

We made our way through the street vendors, stopping on occasion to inspect their wares more closely.  I saved $30 by not buying myself a dress I really wanted.

You can almost see the dress I didn't buy over there on the right...

Glass items were very popular. One gentleman was concerned that his crystals were setting the tablecloth on fire (they were).

Opaline crystals

The Air Force Academy Falconeering Club had a beautiful bird on display.  Kelsea didn’t mind looking at the cadet either.

Air Force Falcon

As is common at almost every festival, someone was selling stuff from South America.  Do they come all that way just for the summer?  And how do they make any money?

Denizens of the Lower Realm

Mountain ladies were selling handmade soap.

Touchy Feely Soapy

We took a side detour into a couple of shops along the main drag to get out of the sun.  Kelsea tried on some magnificent hats.

Napoleana

We resisted nearly uncontrollable purchasing impulses.

Seriously.

And then wandered back down to discover one of my favorite elements of any festival….. the petting zoo! Kelsea has temporarily outgrown the petting zoo.  I, apparently, am experiencing my second (third? fourth?) childhood, so I was right in there with all the other 8-year olds.  Let me tell you, this was some petting zoo!

We had a mini-yak.

Mini-Yak

A rather assertive and wide-bodied llama.

A One-Sided Conversation

Caution: Wide Load

A ram and numerous goats:

There was a little girl who had a little curl...

Incredibly Teeny Incredibly Cute Incredible Baby Goat

And of course, the star of the show, the donkey.

The Star in Profile

The donkeys, however, after consulting,

Consultation

Decided to be ornery and present me with their best side.

The result of the consultation.

Some of the tamer critters were providing donkey rides for the younger set.

Ready to Ride

Trying To Tip... Or Eat The Tips?

That made the poor chained-up pony rides on the hill at the “kids” part of the festival rather unnecessary.  Those ponies always looks so miserable.  I wish that particular form of entertainment would be banned. But we did like the giant Plinko Board.

Giant Plinko = Cool/Pony Rides = Not Cool

We filled out a survey for Santa,

Santa? We did see a sign for his house up the road...

and found ourselves the perfect parade watching spot across from Big Jim’s casino.  The parade opened up with the Civil War Soldiers.  Or maybe they were the Calvary.  I’m not quite sure.

Parade Opener

And it consisted of queens (not the city kind):

Queen of Somewhere Way Out West

Dogs:

Happy Dog, Happy Dog

Classic cars:

An Oldie...

And a goodie.

Classic people:

Escorted Down The Avenue

Fire and rescue services (Kelsea’s favorite):

She waves at every emergency vehicle she passes (but not the po-po).

Pre-Parade Pose

Ranchers:

A long line of ranchers

Here come the cowboys... (an inappropriate song line comes to mind)

A big man needs a big horse. One big horse = check.

and Shriners.

One of many Shriners

I was so happy to FINALLY see their little cars in an actual parade.

What if we all drove these little cars? Would the world be a happier place?

Next came the event we’d ALL been waiting for: The Donkey Derby!  I will say that Kelsea and I discussed participating.  First we said yes, then we said no.  Then we decided we needed to train so we could do it next year.  Then when we realized we wanted to do it this year, it was too late.

The Long Donkey Road

Participants started up at the top of the hill by the old jail and received a set of terrifying instructions from a mountain man.

Mountain Man who provided instructions to city slickers

Donkey Chaos

Lining up (in a manner of speaking)

The more ornery local pack was gathered to offer brays of advice to their brethren as they started down the street.

Watching and Laughing

At the sound of the rifle shot (hope it was blanks or we might be one donkey or ass-puller short), they were off!  Off is a relative term.  Some would go and some wouldn’t.

Donkey Chaos In Motion

One poor man had to physically lift his donkey in the air to get it started after it stopped.

The newest fad - donkey hefting.

One refused to move until its bowels had done so.

Emptying the tank

And one looked as if he were about to drop dead on the spot, poor thing.

One unhappy donkey

But others were frisking along so quickly their handlers had trouble keeping up.

Does this thing come with instructions?

It was a long course, down the hill and up the hill, about a mile in all.  At the end, everyone got a trophy and the donkeys got lots of noms.

Give me noms. Now.

It was quite an event, and it helped our strategic planning to see it on two different days.  We saw the start and the middle and then met the tribe at the end.

Tune in tomorrow for the second day competitions and some outtake shots from the parade!  I leave you with this image to shadow your dreams.

Attack of the 50-foot teenager

Kelsea got home late-ish last night and had left something in the truck. 

“Will you go get it for me, Mom?”
“No, why? Are you scared?”
“No, but there was something in the yard when I came in.  I couldn’t tell if it was a deer or a coyote.”
“They’re not exactly the same size, you know.”
“Whatever it was, it was scary.  I don’t want to go. Because I’m lazy.”
“Well, then I guess it will wait until morning.”

<Pause>

“Can I take my sword?”
“Yes.”
“REALLY?”
“Of course.”
“What if I get arrested for carrying a sword?”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen.  Just don’t…poke anything with it.”
“Okay.”

Armed with flashlight and sword, she starts out into the night.
And is back in five seconds.

“There are like three deer out there, just sitting in the yard, looking at me.  Come see.”

Curiosity gets the best of me and I come out in pink fuzzy crocs and fuzzy heart-embellished white pajamas.

She shines the flashlight into the depths of the inky blackness.
There they are, just sitting.
The beam of the flashlight catches their eyes, which proceed to glow demoniacally.

“Cool.  Do you want me to come with you to the truck?”
(After all, I’m already out here.)
“No, I’m fine.”

I head back inside.

She returns in short order, panting slightly.

“Oh my god, that was the scariest thing ever.”
“What?”
“You know that YouTube video of the Ninja Cat?”
(We while away a little time from time to time exploring humorous videos on You Tube.)

“Yes.”
“Well, I was coming back from the truck, and one of the deer got up and started coming towards me. I watched him in the light, you know, and he stopped.  So I went a little towards the house and when I turned the light back, he was closer to me, you know, like he was closing the distance between us.  So I kept going, and he did it again.  And then he did it again.  He was close enough that I could have…SPIT on him.  It was terrifying!

And she cuddled up and fell asleep on the couch next to me.

And so ends the tale of the Exploits of the Great Deerstalker.  Or perhaps the Exploits of the Great Kelsea-Stalker.

I have a lot of posts in my head, and I’ve been writing a lot, but I can’t seem to find one thing to say today, so it will be a randomness day.

I have cramps.  Why, oh, why, do some women get cramps and others don’t?  Mine have always been so bad that my Mother used to let me stay home from school, and THAT says something.  We had to be producing copious amounts of nasty emissions from some orifice in order to ever stay home from school.  (Well, I guess I qualified – eww.)  And cramps keep me from sleeping, so I’m sleepy.

It is gorgeous here today – almost 60 degrees.  That’s quite a shift from our -9 at the beginning of the week.  Did you know that the largest temperature shift in a 24-hour period happened on January 15, 1972 in Loma, Montana, when the temperature went from -54 to 49 degrees?  I love Montana.  It’s so quirky and so much itself.  And doesn’t it look like a profile of a face on its Western border?  I just want to paint a little smile there.

Isn’t it amazing how you can take an instant dislike to someone simply because they remind you of someone else?  Which is wrong and sucky, because I like everyone until they give me reason not to.  Unfortunately, this person reminds me of someone who gave me reason not to.  For obvious reasons, a photo will not follow.

It has been nice being able to hang out with my ex-dogs and cats this week while housesitting but I’ll be happy to get back to the Cottage.  Of course, in the proper spirit of visualization and manifestation, I am decorating my new house, which is fun – and it’s beautiful.  Depending on the job situation, maybe I’ll even get a dog/cat.

The concept of finding oneself…does that imply that you’ve been hiding from yourself?  Or that you’ve buried your true self beneath layers of silk and garbage?  I don’t think it’s possible to find yourself.  You ARE yourself, in all your regal confusion and bullshit.  You may discover that you change or that elements of yourself that were hidden are brought to the forefront by people, places or circumstances.  I know the first time I sat on the beach at Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, I felt like I had found myself.  I recognized a woman whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years, and I realized that I loved her, and that I had missed her.   Hmmm…maybe I was lost…maybe I DID find myself.  Thinking with your keyboard can be interesting.

Today is Caesarean Section Day.  I don’t know why it should be TODAY, but I don’t make the rules, I just report ‘em.

I heard the “twee-woo” bird this morning.  It’s a little early for him, but he is and always has been, a harbinger of spring.  It made me smile.

Kelsea had her annual check-up today.  She’s been consistently in the 25th percentile on the growth charts since she was born.  Looks like she’s going to be a fairly small person.  But for a fairly small person, she had a blockage in her ear that, after 30 minutes of ear-colonic, finally emerged and was so large that people came from other exam rooms to look at it.  We should have named it and put it in a sideshow.  Hopefully, her ear will now start feeling better without my having to pay $200 for an antibiotic.  (Damn and blast the beginning of the year before the deductible is met.)

New things are on the horizon tomorrow, and hopefully, a more meaningful post.

As we know, according to my Mother, I was born asking where the next bus was.  I’ve never been content in this incarnation, this body, much less in being settled in one place.  In my head, I’ve been planning my journey around the world for years.  I’ve been longing for a life on a tropical island since I was eight years old.

My Mother’s mother went from home to home in the South and Midwest with my grandfather, who would buy land, build a house, live in it, teach school, farm, then sell the place, buy land somewhere, build a house, live in it…you get the picture.  I suppose my grandmother was content with this lifestyle – I never thought to ask.   But I know that at some point, late in her life, she had some kind of epiphany, which resulted in my Mother receiving a letter that started with, “By the time you read this, I will be in Yugoslavia.”  I think she had the wanderlust in her as well.  I have two mental images of my grandmother – one is of her sitting in a chair in The Barn, the last house my grandfather remodeled.  She’s wearing a plaid shirt, her glasses, looking away, looking peaceful.  The other is of her in a trenchcoat, her head covered by a white scarf, walking on a hill at the Acropolis.  Such a contrast, both so lovely.  Both so her.

My Mother was very like my grandmother – practical, peaceful.  On one of our last days together, we talked about the wanderlust thread that runs through the women in our family.  She had it too, always happy moving from house to house, always wanting to go to Europe, to see the Grand Canyon.  Her burning desire for most of her life was to go to India.  She never told me about that until that conversation.  My father was never happier than when at home, and so her dreams of journeying were thwarted.  She never resented it.  But after he died – in fact, while we were still in the room following his memorial service, she turned to her friend Jane and started discussing going on a Caribbean cruise.  (She felt a little bad about that, but she had no reason to.)

She did go on her Caribbean cruise that Fall, and I met her in Tortola and took her and her best friend around the island.  It was wonderful for all of us.  But she never got to see the Grand Canyon.  I suppose now she’s able to see it all, and that’s a nice thought.

Then there’s me.  Always planning, sometimes going.  I am learning that having the right place to call home is a good complement to traveling.  It changes the wandering from an escape, a search for something, to pure adventure and peaceful exploration.

Kelsea daily says to me, “You know what I want?  I want to go to Ireland.”  She fell in love with Ireland, even moreso than she loves Wales, when she went to Europe last summer.  I told her that I never even got on a plane until I was 14, and here she’s been to Europe twice.  She can now say, in an annoyingly blase manner, “I didn’t care for Paris.  I much preferred London.”  To which I snarl, “I’ve never SEEN Paris.” 

She says this is all my fault.  I’m the one who put travel posters (one, ironically, of the Eiffel Tower) on the walls of her nursery.  I’m the one who showed her pictures of exotic places around the world from the time she could sit in my lap.  I’m the one who sent her to Europe to experience other cultures.  And all of that is true.  But it’s not my fault.

It’s something in our bloodline, something that runs through the women just like the shine does, a spark that makes us want to see the world, while having a true home to which to return.  A longing  for a life that is a perpetual Grand Tour.  A desire to meditate with Buddhist monks in Tibet, to beachcomb on deserted islands off the coast of Brazil, to watch breaching whales in Alaska’s waters, and swim with seals in the Galapagos.  To see lava creep down a Caribbean volcano in Montserrat, the moonlight on the Taj Mahal, and the sun shine through the ceiling of the Pantheon.  To climb the hills of Bray, and count each sheep in Wales.

Homer said, “There is nothing worse for mortals than a wandering life.”  I heartily disagree.  My thinking is more in line with Robert Louis Stevenson’s: “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”  (Stevenson died and is buried on an island in the South Pacific.)

In my eyes, our women’s wanderlust is a true blessing.  My mother and my grandmother are smiling.

Last night, I was contemplating what today’s blog topic should be.  Kelsea suggested that I come clean about our trashy TV watching habits (briefly referenced in a recent post on motherhood).  “Really?  Are you sure?”  I asked.  “Of course,” she said, “The world wants to know!”  Well, I’m not so sure about THAT, but perhaps it is time for true confessions. 

Kelsea and I watch them together.  And they’re all absolutely god-awful.  Complete wastes of our two most excellent intellects, as well as wastes of our valuable time.  But, oh well.  We work hard, and complete mushtwaddle is good for the soul once in a while.  (When I vacation alone, I always buy all the available trashy gossip magazines, and leave them as treats in seatback pockets on airplanes, at pools, or in cabs, for others once I’m done with them.)

OK, here goes.  While we don’t catch all of these with any regularity, we feel like we’ve found a copy of “InTouch” on a transcontinental flight when we do see one.

Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane.  This was our first venture into the “fluffy trash” reality TV genre, discovered a couple of years ago on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  “Fabulosity” was adopted as a turnkey word, along with imaginary feather boas, and a lot of open-mouth staring.  Unfamiliar with the show?  Kimora Lee Simmons was, in the past, an uber-model, right up there with Tyra Banks (we’ll get to her later).  She then married music mogul Russell Simmons, had two kids, and divorced him.  I think she came out of it all right though – a massive NYC apartment and house in LA, her own clothing line (called Baby Phat) and god knows how much money.  Her daughters are incredibly indulged, her assistants are fired faster than an Uzi, and her sense what constitutes a crisis, and of the importance of her life and activities in the world is remarkably delusional.  She now also has a new … husband? … and a new baby boy.  All in all, it makes for an entertaining hour.

16 And Pregnant.  An MTV exclusive.  The title of the show is pretty self-explanatory.  For whatever reason though, every pregnant 16-year old featured seems to be from some part of the South, and I find myself taking offense to that.  Don’t Yankee girls ever make bad choices?  What we’re amazed by is the quality (okay, the incredible loser quality) of the guys that these girls hook up with.  They are self-centered, selfish, mean, disrespectful, ignorant, irresponsible,  and unfaithful.  Of course, they could also be up for statutory rape charges.  Huh, maybe that’s why the girls are all from certain states – the statutory rape laws are less strict in some places than others.  At any rate, the girls are almost always keeping their babies, the guys almost always bail on them, and about half the girls wind up resenting the fact that they have to give up partying, and so leave their moms in charge of the baby (or babies, as was the case for one young girl.)  I think watching this is a cautionary tale for Kelsea – especially seeing the way these irresponsible loser guys act after they’ve gotten a young girl to sleep with them – and what happens (among other things) when you don’t use birth control.

Paris Hilton’s My New BFF.  All right, we just saw this last night – it was like watching a train wreck.  There were so many things wrong with this show that I don’t even know where to begin.  I don’t ever want my daughter to be part of a crowd of wannabes who are thrilled to be called bitches by a vacuous celebrity who is famous for nothing other than being a celebrity.  Paris Hilton actually identifies a person (female or gay male) as her “pet” each week.  In the episode we watched, she had her potential best friends drink and party from early afternoon to the next day, then made them play polo on the backs of half-naked men, before ordering each of them to craft a  toast to her at a group luncheon with her mother.  Oh. My. God.

RuPaul’s Drag Race.  I’ve mentioned this one before.  And like I said, it was interesting and raised a lot of discussion about sexuality.  We also acquired several choice phrases like “gaysian”, “condragulations”, and the following expressive and indignant exchange: 

“You called me a whore!”
“Yes, but I didn’t mean a literal whore!”

RuPaul and company are coming to Denver on May 14th, presumably to identify talent for the next season’s show.  Of course, I can’t take Kelsea into the club where the festivities are being held, but we have discussed staking out the place just to see the comings and goings.

America’s Next Top Model.  This is the one show that might have a miniscule amount of merit.  Well, it does if you want to try to be a model.  For me, I find it interesting to watch the photography.  But I also find it interesting to watch how catty the women are.  Though I’m not surprised in the slightest.  Having never been a fashion or runway model, I can’t relate to the competitive nature of the business.  Having been an artist’s model, I do understand how challenging posing is.  At any rate, we find this one interesting, and we can’t get over how amazingly full of herself Tyra Banks is.  Pictures of herself everywhere.  She almost seems like an exaggeration of herself when she instructs the models how to “smile with their eyes” or “look fierce”.  Uh. Whatever.  I still like it.

Well, that about does it.  Our other viewing consists of travel shows, the History Channel, and (of course, since it’s me) Turner Classic Movies, with the occasional Law and Order SUV thrown in for good measure.  We don’t spend all our time watching TV – we often just hang out and talk, play games, read or work on our respective homeworks.  But no matter what we do, we almost always laugh. 

It’s good that we have these trashy spectacles to laugh at together.  I think.

Kelsea came out of karate yesterday pale and in pain.  Class hadn’t hurt her – she had been having terrible pain in her right flank, in short stabs, for over an hour.  I quizzed her, took her home, tucked her in, took her temperature, forced fluids, gave her Tylenol, fed her mac and cheese. She rated the pain a 9 on a scale of 1-10, and asked me if this was what it was like to be in labor.  Of course, I remember labor, but I can’t be in her body to tell what she’s feeling.  Regardless, it was bad pain.  I have come to realize that Kelsea has inherited my father’s legendary high-pain threshold, so when she says it hurts, you can believe it hurts like the devil.

It was still bad this morning – she couldn’t move without intense pain.  And she’d had some nausea.  Time to call the doctor!  Dr. R. agreed with my preliminary diagnosis – it sounded like the dreaded kidney stone.  Kidney stones in kids, while still rare, are dramatically on the rise.  But that meant that our next stop was the hospital for an ultrasound.  I’ve been in the hospital with Kelsea when I had her (contrary to the insurance company’s bizarre statement that I had her at home) and when she had her bad shoulder x-rayed.  Pat’s been there with her when she had an MRI on the same shoulder, and when he accidentally let the shopping cart she was sitting in tip forward, resulting in a parking lot faceplant when she was a baby.  (I’m glad I missed that one and glad she has such a hard head – figuratively and literally.)

But today, when the Hmong ultrasound tech, who mispronounced Kelsea’s name, and scolded me about her having had cereal three hours previously, told me to sit in the corner and watch, it was like an awful movie.  What was playing through my mind was worse. Looking at the complete and total mystery of the ultrasound pictures – is all black bad? or is fuzzy bad? – my mind went everywhere: to her being really sick – like kidney cancer sick, to her being in even more pain, to her having to stay alone in the hospital, to any and all kinds of unknowns that are as bad as they can be.  My thoughts spun out of control.

Despite Ms. Hmong’s protests, I got up and went to stand beside her, to hold her hand, and stroke her hair.  Because that’s all I could do.  That’s all any mother can do sometimes.  It made us both feel better.  Her beautiful blue eyes looked into my hazel ones and we spoke without words.  We both felt that eternally powerful bond of love between us that made us smile.  It was one of the deepest gazes I’ve ever shared with her.  She lay on that table, in that darkened room, looking like a teenager, looking like a woman, looking like my little girl, and being just an amazing, strong human being.

The ultrasound was inconclusive.  We’re waiting for blood work results.  She’s still in pain, but now instead of me, she has her dad and her dogs and cats for comfort. I’m hoping that she’s not an early third-generation victim of the female kidney stone curse that runs through the women in my family.  But if she is, we’ll deal with it.

As a Mom, you never want your child to hurt, to suffer.  You’d do anything to spare your child pain.  And it’s heartbreaking to feel helpless when you can’t fix their pain.  When I can’t fix her pain.

I had a visit with my landlady this morning.  We discussed plans for the garden that the Cottage and the Big House share.  Our conversation strayed into positive thinking, diets and the future.  We talked about Kelsea and how awesome she is now, at 13.  My landlady told me that she felt that way about her own daughter at that age.  Then things changed.  You never expect it to happen, but one day that girl who you so like, admire, and enjoy hanging out with becomes a completely different, unrecognizable and noxious person.  I so want to believe that won’t happen to Kelsea.  She and I have talked about it often.  I guess the bottom line is to hope for the best and expect the worst.  And remember, if it happens, that this too shall pass.

What brought tonight’s post to the forefront, aside from this morning’s conversation, was a small thing that happened this afternoon.  Kelsea had a friend over to visit.  The three of us ran around doing errands for a couple of hours and then the two of them had an hour to pass until it was time for her friend to go home.  They played with the Poppy, the Big House pug, for a long while, and hung out on the grass talking.  Then they asked if they could go over to the church side of the fence and visit the playground. 

After about fifteen minutes, I looked out to check on them.  They were soaring high in the sky in their respective swings and the sun was heading down below the trees, casting a soft, hazy light on the scene.  I felt like I was looking at two little girls – two little girls who were fading into the sunset.  The innocence and small joys of being young were being swallowed by the emotions, hormones and pressures of adolescence, just as the sun was being swallowed by the horizon.  But for just that moment, all that mattered was laughing, and swinging as high as they could go.

I wished for a minute (or more) that they didn’t have to lose that, to let it go, to focus on the challenges of growing up.  But you always want your child to grow up – the alternative is unthinkable.  And in my mind, there is a comfort: that when Kelsea becomes a mom, she will regain and relive all that joy and childlike wonder through the eyes and smiles of her own child.

To complement the Mom-Peeves, I am adding Mom-Moments to the mix.  You Moms know what I’m talking about…those moments when your kid is being so wonderful that you want to freeze the feeling in time.  They can be rare, especially as your kid gets into the teenage years, and especially depending on the character of your kid.

Kelsea and I have both been sick for the last while – she was worse on Thursday, I was worse yesterday.  This morning, she was well enough to go to school, but I sure didn’t feel like getting up and taking her there.  Still, you do what you have to do, right?  Due to her various social commitments, we hadn’t had a lot of time together this weekend.  I am always glad to let her go have a good time, but I know she misses me when she hasn’t seen much of me. 

So this morning, when she was curled in front of the heater on the bathroom floor, having hauled her little carcass out of bed, I came in to see her and she patted the floor next to her and offered to share her heater with me.  We sat for a few minutes, talking, and she asked if she could put her head in my lap.  And so she did.  We sat there, her head in my lap, me stroking her long blonde hair, just happy, just quiet, just being together.  We both wished we could just stay like that all day.

I remembered times when I was all grown-up and I rested my head in my Mother’s lap, and she stroked my hair.  I remember the last time I did that, about two months before she died.  I treasure that memory, just as I will treasure the memory of this morning.  I hope it’s something that will come back to Kelsea some day in the future when she has a little girl, and the cycle of love continues.

I’ve been putting off writing this post — just kidding.

How many of us are lifelong procrastinators?  It starts with delaying brushing your teeth when you’re five, progresses to waiting until the hour before it’s due to type your term paper, matures to waiting until the last possible day to pay your bills, and concludes with the ultimate procrastinatory act — hanging onto a last thread of life when you should have died weeks ago.

I am guilty.  Yes, I am.  Have I passed this gene onto my daughter, or is it just something that comes naturally to her?  Or just something that comes naturally to teenagers, as a way of expressing their independence?

She has become a “just a sec” person.  You ask her to do something and it’s “hold on”, “just a sec” or “in a minute”.  What to do with this behavior?  Yelling seems pointless.  Punishment doesn’t work.  I am on the fence about it because I KNOW it’s one of the few ways she has to express that she guides her own life at this age.  And because I spent so many years not saying “how high?” when my ex said “jump.”

She had a project due today.  She’d had it for a month – read a book, do something creative to show the content, and answer eight questions.  She started one book, and switched to a different one midstream – I can understand that – it happens.  Especially when the first book is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.  But I told her last week that I did not want her finishing this at midnight on Tuesday night.  She’s had plenty of time.  So what did she do?  She finished it at 11:00 last night.  Perhaps I was not specific enough?

I told her yesterday that for the next project, things were going to be different.  I don’ t know HOW things are going to be different, just that I need to do something to try to drill some conscientious homework discipline into her.

And then I ask myself why I feel the need to be drill-sargeant in this area.  Do I have any right to, since I was the one who stayed up all night typing term papers until the ten-minute mark to class?  Am I trying to keep her from the discomfort of my own experience?  Am I trying to help her succeed?  She’s had straight A’s for years.  And some people do their best work under pressure – I’m one of them (at times) – perhaps she is as well.

I’m not a control freak Mom – in fact, I’m about the farthest thing from it.  I’ve got more of the hippie approach – live and let live, make your own mistakes, etc.  And I don’ t really feel that putting me off with “just a sec” is disrespectful (although her dad does.)  Maybe it’s that I want her to understand that some things, like your work, deserve a certain level of importance and attention.  She’ll find other things in life that do too, things that should not be treated with the same cavalier attitude, the attitude which implies that something else matters more than the task that duty requires.  Being a bit verbose, aren’t I?  I guess I’m trying to work this out in my own head. 

It may tie to my pet peeve of taking responsibility for your own actions, your own things.  It may be one of those lessons she’ll have to learn on her own when it backfires on her and she DOESN’T get the grades she so prides herself on.  Either way, I suppose I need to let her own the problem (as my buddy says), but that’s not what Moms do – though maybe it’s what they need to do. 

I was going to say that I trust that she’ll figure out what’s most important, and I was thinking that means work and duty and conforming to the requirements of society and adulthood.  Huh.  To that, I say “Bah!” and perhaps “Pah!”.  She’s already got her priorities straight.  Do your best, love the people around you, make time for nature and friends and follow your own star.  Isn’t that exactly what I’m fighting to do now that I am breaking out of the corporate coffin?  And isn’t that what we want our kids to do?  I don’t want her to be CEO of Nestle (though that would imply all the chocolate I want).  I just want her to be happy and independent and comfortable in every sense of the word.  I want her to be able to toss her hat up in the air, having made it on her own.

Just the things I have been procrastinating about for the last fifteen years.  Go figure.

April 2014
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