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Archives for : October1955

Fire Roasted Dogs

Junior’s cub pack had planned a trip to a local park to roast hot dogs. This would be a big event due to the eagerness of the little boys having access to fire. For some reason, the allure of a campfire always drew the most scouts. My nervousness about this event was starting to bleed over to my cooking habits and I found myself preparing cold meals. This prompted groans from Steve and the kids.

I decided to share my apprehension with Steve, who suggested we call the leader and offer the use of our stone fire pit for the project. The boys would have access to a clean toilet also. This sounded like a winning idea and my heart leapt at my husband’s understanding of my anxiety. Usually I would expect him to just tell me that boys would be boys. The suggestion was accepted with gratitude and we prepared for the onslaught of 10 eager cubs. Steve went to the lumberyard and bought kindling and firewood. I stocked up on first aid supplies, a larger bucket for water and the rest of the food. The leader would supply the hotdogs, buns, and condiments. I coordinated with him on how to make “bug juice” but planned on some mac-n-cheese and baked beans on the side for the boys.

On the day of the roast, Steve and Stevie searched for long thin tree branches that were green enough not to burn. We broke out the outside chairs and Steve created a lovely teepee of kindling to teach the scouts how to build a fire. It must be some male gene technique since I had little understanding of the pyromaniac customs. The day was overcast but there was no rain and the boys listened intently to the fire making instructions. When the fire died down a little, they started the roasting. I watched from the back door as the distinct personalities of each of the boys was on display causing some of them to be admonished several times to stop playing with the fire (now I know where that saying came from) and others to be told to get closer if they wanted a hot dog that was actually cooked. Junior and Steve stood side by side roasting their dogs, sharing nods and smiles. It was such a touching sight; this male bonding thing was a good relationship builder. I want my son to respect his dad as well as grow up to be a good man like his father.

The food table outside on the patio was a tragic mess of squirts of mustard and ketchup, spilled fruit punch and from the looks of it the drink was attractive to fruit flies. There were small scoops of man-n-cheese and beans that fell off the serving spoons laying in some lumps. The leader thanked us profusely for a good time and asked if perhaps we would hold another event in the Spring. Junior answered for us that it would be our “duty” and we chuckled at his formal response.

Being Schooled

Daisy’s teacher conference created some apprehension for me. I could not imagine that anyone could judge my little angel as anything but spectacular. Yes, she sometimes fought with her brother, but I always counted that as part of her education in diplomacy. Getting along with an occasional enemy hones negotiation skills.

Daisy had described her teacher, Miss Ritchie, as a beautiful lady. Every time I stopped off at school, I was unable to catch Miss Ritchie to check her out. Every night at supper I asked the children to tell me something good about their day and something that could have gone better. Junior usually grunted something about recess and the boys he tormented the girls with. I never could tell if that was the good thing or the choice that required improvement. Daisy always started out with describing how beautiful Miss Ritchie was and then told some wonderful thing that she said or did to make the day sunnier for everyone. Special little cards at each desk with the name and picture of each student, handmade paper flowers for the girls and boutonnieres for the boys, more interesting picture books than at home and multi-colored pencils for those who practiced their handwriting. One afternoon when Daisy fell and scraped her knee, Miss Ritchie consoled her with a hug and a bandage featuring a little daisy drawn on it. I could fell myself getting jealous of Daisy’s infatuation with Miss Ritchie and wasn’t upset when I pulled the bandage off in Daisy’s bath that night. Bad mommy.

When the evening arrived for the conference, I walked hand in hand with Steve down the long corridor toward room 212. I peeked inside of the room and saw an older woman speaking with some parents. I told Steve that we must have the wrong room but he saw Miss Ritchie’s name next to the door. We cautiously entered and I saw the parents of some children that I recognized also waiting. I saw some artwork displayed on a desk next to hand-drawn picture of Daisy. The little girl had a headband of tiny daisies. My heart sank a little. I had never thought of buying a hairband with daisies. Bad mommy.

When I looked up, I saw the older woman across from me. She asked if I was Daisy’s mother and she introduced herself as Miss Ritchie. She must be a very experienced teacher judging by her age but her green eyes were beautiful. Miss Ritchie told me how much she enjoyed having Daisy in class and everyday when Daisy arrived Daisy told her about some special thing her beautiful mother had done for her. She talked about reading a special book many times, the song her mother sang to her when she brushed her hair or the special treats waiting for her after school. Miss Ritchie leaned toward me and told me that she thought she would be a little intimidated meeting me since I already acted as Daisy’s first teacher. I chuckled a little and may have blushed.

I thanked her for the care she showed Daisy and looked forward to hearing more from Daisy about the ways Miss Ritchie made school comfortable yet challenging for her. Daisy would always be my baby and I would forever be her first teacher. I just needed to learn how to share her.

Chatterbox

The conversation was non-stop, but no one could hear it except me. I wasn’t hearing voices, I was self-talking in my head. I had always done this. It was always more intense after a spat with Steve or some perceived measure of inadequacy. My confidence cup was never full and some days leaked badly. Sometimes I wasn’t sure that I was making the right choices for my children or supporting my husband enough. I had no proper gauge for these activities and the world had changed so much since my mother was my age that no comparison would work.

Usually I would talk this type of thing over with Mags, but she really didn’t know much about raising children and never seemed to second guess her choices. Although Mags couldn’t have children she was always very supportive of everyone else’s. We discussed every aspect of our lives with our husbands with each other and she always knew just what to say to care for any wound that occurred. Hal certainly was different than Steve in some ways but overall his expectations for what he wanted Mags to do or say were similar to Steve’s. I may seem more frazzled than Mags because she remained calm about everything. It was her superpower and had always served her well. She has the mindset that we wish our national leaders would adopt and she reigns over the ladies in our neighborhood. I made a batch of brownies and placed them in the over to bake. I called her anyway.

When I finally brought up my ongoing mind conversation with Mags, she revealed that she was always mentally discussing things with herself. She told me that she studied the way people held themselves and noted special topics they mentioned like books they referenced or family members in need. Sometimes, Mags said she tried to help these people through Hal’s contacts at the bank. Mags had never disclosed this before but it seemed in keeping with her interest in serving others.

When I heard the oven timer go off, I thanked Mags and told her how much I admired her. She laughed and asked for what but I knew what to take from our talk. My endless conversations were a way of keeping perspective in my world. I just needed to see them as chances to make necessary changes or adjustments instead of constantly worrying about my past choices. Thinking ahead would become my new mantra.