Saturday, August 18, 2012

Maybe Someone Will Mention Freud?

Tomorrow, the Matron is hosting the English Department faculty for a Fall Semester Precursor Potluck.  Fun!  Her entirely-pleasant colleagues will attend  - with their families.   This would also include young children.  

Young children who perhaps have not yet been introduced -- or whose introduction has been condoned -- to the world of SWAT and militia in which the Matron lives.   Her house.   A quick survey this early Saturday morning reveals no less than 20 guns (air soft, nerf, toys of various sort) in plain sight.    The place is a bunker.    She can imagine tomorrow's discourse over Julia Kristeva being peppered with gunfire and small children bleeding from their eyes . . . oh wait.  Nobody's going to be talking about Kristeva.  She forgot--COMMUNITY college.   Conversation will center on retention and grammar.

Oh well.

Still, today is the munitions sweep.   Which reminds her of a favorite parenting moment and a pretty darn funny blog post.  Happy Saturday!


Our kids go to a public Montessori school that is also an international peace site. The schools is known for attracting left-wing, hippy-dippy, peace-sign wielding families.

Mean looks are disallowed. Breath hard? You need therapy. People are serious about peace here. Righteous.

Merrick had his first ever birthday part today: Five Years Old!

He invited six little friends from his combined age 4 and 5 year old classroom--and his longtime, best friend, probably future husband Lachlan.

Spouse aside, these kids were total strangers to our family. Most of this little group of five year olds are all first-born to their families, trend setters.

Thus, there were detailed phone conversations in advance of this major social event. Little Q gets a tummy ache after eating wheat. Will there be toast or cracker? T and L don't quite get along. Can't we disinvite one? H. is scared of dogs. Can you euthanize yours?

So today all the fussy parents dropped off their kids for Merrick's birthday party. I used to be one. I understand.

The children held hands. They sang in harmony. Girls and boys pecked cheeks--they shared cake and inquired about hurt feelings and state of mind. They frolicked and radiated sun beams and goodwill.

Until one of the kids went under the couch (why do they do that?) and stumbled across Merrick's hidden arsenal: Knives, swords, guns. Big guns. Lotsa guns. Pop guns, Nerf guns, shot guns, air guns. Sky's the limit.

Now, our household went nearly ten years without guns. I am (theoretically, Opposed). But last year, a friend handed Merrick a bag. He opened it and found a 1950 style pistol. He never looked back.

And because he is child number three, we just took the Path of Least Resistance.

Guns inspire love. This exchange routinely takes place in our household.

Merrick: "Here's my gun!"

Lachlan: "I wove the gun!"

Merrick: "You take the gun."

Lachlan: "No, you take the gun. I wove you."

Merrick: "You have the gun. I wove you better."

And so on.

So the over-attended peace loving children found our cache of juice. Those young ones dropped their flowers and love beads and took up arms. Girl and boy, they spent the next hour killing one another.

Now, this transformation began while I was in the kitchen. By the time I walked into the war zone, a dazed John was asking what kind of Kool Aid we were serving.

Watching D (only child allowed just 15 minutes of television a week and taking careful selection of dance, language, and Suzuki violin) scream with joy while taking out Merrick with a Nerf bazooka, I decided just to let the whole thing go.

Lord of the Flies? Yup. Mini-reenactment here. By the time the mayhem was complete, the children were sweaty, exhausted, content, murderous pros.

Before the parents arrived, we put away weaponry and handed out banal party bags; tootsie rolls, noise makers and plastic frogs. Not exactly lying.

Little D slid up to me: "This was the best party ever."

I considered explaining to parents at pick up time: yes, we have guns. We have them. They were hidden. Big accident, lotsa fun, apologies.

But I didn't.

I decided to let nature take its course. And imagined lots of this, at bedtime:

"Merrick has guns!"

" I shot L!"

"Merrick has a shot gun. Why can't I?"

"Today at the party we all killed each other! "

Rite of Passage

As the guests arrive at my son's party
they gather in the living room--
short men, men in first grade
with smooth jaws and chins.
Hands in pockets, they stand around
jostling, jockeying for place, small fights
breaking out and calming. One says to another
How old are you? Six. I'm seven. So?
They eye each other, seeing themselves
tiny in each other's pupils. They clear their
throats a lot, a room of small bankers,
they fold their arms and frown. I could beat you
up, a seven says to a six,
the dark cake, round and heavy as a
turret, behind them on the table. My son,
freckles like specks of nutmeg on his cheeks,
chest narrow as the balsa keel of a
model boat, long hands
cool and thin as the day they guided him
out of me, speaks up as a host
for the sake of the group.
We could easily kill a two-year-old,
he says in his clear voice. The other
men agree, they clear their throats,
like Generals, they relax and get down to
playing war, celebrating my son's life.

Sharon Olds

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Acquiescence: Glue for All Marriage

Indeed, the Matron has determined that acquiescence is the key to marital tranquility and even, happiness.  Note: not bliss.   Acquiescence does not ignite.  It soothes.  

Please, do not confuse temperate, durable Acquiescence with moral collapse or God-Buddha-Oprah-Allah-Universe forbid -- caving.  No, no, no!!  To acquiesce is comply, to submit tacitly or passively.   One can acquiesce in complete stubborn and self-righteous disagreement.  Indeed, the Matron herself has acquiesced -- complied -- with the furrowed brow and folded arm.

What's the Matronly working definition of acquiescence?

Light at Night:  John likes things pitch-black, not a sliver leaking from a shade.  The Matron?  Windows open and moonlight streaming.  Early on, the benefits dark and light were much debated.   The Matron, then a Youngish Miss, was deeply committed to her airy nights -- the expanse of spirit the night light brought out to her.  John, equally smitten with night's silence and black tunnel  . .  . and at some point, the Matron simply -- relented.  She still likes the windows open.  When that man is away, those shades are up.  But she also likes how he burrows into bed, happy.

Wash cloths.     What are these things for?  Oh!  Creating more laundry.   The Matron has no need for the wash cloth.  Soap suds up just fine in her capable hands; she effectively lathers up.   The perfect wash cloth -- texture, color, size, suds-ability -- is pretty much the winning lottery ticket for her husband.    No real to-do would be made of these differing preferences, except that John insists that no bathtub or shower is complete without a stack of wash cloths nearby.  Each bathroom must have stacks of these squares of colored cloth.  If someone takes a shower, he likes to hear "boy, I liked that wash cloth today!"   Wash cloths annoy the Matron.  If indeed they are really sloughing off so much skin-gunk, then why should she touch yours?  But the bathrooms in their house are replete with the venerable wash cloth.

Dishwasher.  There is a right way and a wrong way to stack this.  John's way is right.  The Matron follows this.   She is in absolute complete disagreement but indeed, stacks those plates to the left.   Every time.  And the key -- with a little stab of happiness because her beloved likes it just so (and is oddly attached).

Attached indeed.   Sometimes the Matron considers just how steeped in Habit she is - how attached to the fold of a blanket in the living room or who parks which car where or what she eats for breakfast.    Imagine given free rein here!   Imagine no person or code bumping up against attachment to one's own desires.  This of course would require living alone or with servants.   Driving would be a nightmare.  

But the general idea often gives her pause - how much of a good relationship with a spouse (or anyone, for that matter) is thinking not only of that person's legitimate needs, but their quirks, sensibilities and proclivities and allowing their presence -- as much as we allow our own.

It's easy to wax philosophical about this, of course, when there's nothing to acquiesce to at the moment.  

The trick will be to carry this sanguine stance tomorrow morning when it's time to select a new color to paint the living room.  The Matron believes slate is ideal.   John a warm yellow.   It's a big enough gap that somebody will just have to. . . acquiesce.    Sounds so much better than caving --and it is.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wherein the Moving Truck Forgot to Pick Up the Furniture

The Matron was feeling pretty darn good about her aging self.   Inspired by Mrs. G to believe that hard work and good luck do sometimes happen at the same time to the same person, she bought a domain name:

Isn't that pretty?   Yes indeed, she owns this.  You can have your matron at dog org, me, net or any other suffix, but she's got the motherlode:  com.

So she lined up that pretty little purchase with a Wordpress blog.   While she was at it, she picked up another little .com as a suffix and attached it to her very fine name:  the Matron and her very own real-self professional writing blog.  Now she had two more occupations to add to the daily to-do list, but no matter.  This was the fun stuff, the things that made her happy.

Until Saturday night around midnight when after four hours of unsuccessfully attempting to move her BlogHer ads to her Wordpress site she googled:  "can you put BlogHer ads on a Wordpress site?"


It turns out that Wordpress is one of those touchy-feeling, anti-capitalist set-ups much like her own psyche.  Rumor has it that ads might be allowed and that all will someday be good with Blogger but then again, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, remember?

This might all happen someday but in the interim, she's sticking it out a while with blogger and doing some more thorough R&D.  That's Research and Development, a capitalist term with which she is now becoming familiar.

Nobody likes to lose those big fat $30 checks from BlogHer!

So we'll have to settle here for pedestrian pictures and background to accompany the snappy prose.  To entertain herself she's going to change her bloggy scenery every couple of days, just to say 'so there' to the internet.  Because that's helpful.