7/23/20 Believe Me Yet?

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“And she loved the little boy very, very much … even more than she loved herself.”

– Shel Silverstein

My precious, precious boy … today you are turning 13. I would ask where the time went, but I already know – every moment slipped past me as I was busy watching you. So here it is little one (for you will always be little to me) … a history walk of you.

In the beginning, Daddy and I didn’t know if we could have kids. You were SO prayed for, and I began to doubt whether or not you would be a reality, or a beautiful wish. But then … oh then … you were an answered prayer, and a life within me. You became a dream made real, and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but I was wrong.

Because then you were here, and you turned one, and your wonder-filled eyes missed nothing. You were the best listener, and we would have the most grand conversations about important things like chivalry, shooting stars, the magic of adventures, and being kind. You never interrupted and always gave me your full attention, and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but again, I was wrong.

You turned two, and then it was my turn to listen because you had so much to say. You talked with me and showed me new treasures, pulling me along with tiny fingers and a strong will, and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but I was still wrong.

Because three was about the greatest age I’d ever come across. Your laughter rose out of you like a kaleidoscope of colored bubbles … light and whimsical. You loved books, blocks, blankets, and baths. You loved dancing and music and nothing tired you out. Every night you stood at the top of the stairs and said, “Mommy … just one more thing …” and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, yet again, I was wrong.

You turned four and it seemed nothing was fast enough for you. You didn’t walk anymore, you ran, you skipped, you flew. We dove deep into our imaginations that year and discovered the world of pirates and princes and the privilege of pretend. Every day was enchanting and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but I was wrong.

Five was the year you became a little gentleman. You learned to open doors for others and loved to wear your newsy cap wherever you went. You were a master of please, thank you, and charm. I was so proud of the dapper demeanor you grew into, and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but I was so wrong.

When you turned six, you decided to be a professional soccer player, as you’d had three whole years under your belt. I remember watching you completely unafraid to run against kids twice your size, and also unafraid to snuggle with your Great Grandma, Mae Mae, Daddy, sister, and me. And I was in awe of your strength and sensitivity – and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but little boy, I was wrong.

At seven, you discovered the true magic of the tooth fairy … and her bank. You had a penchant for giggling like it was a contagious condition you couldn’t help but share. You discovered your favorite teacher and your best friend who happened to have a family from Pakistan. You prayed for the country of Pakistan every night before bed; your daddy and I were amazed at your little global heart, and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but again, I was wrong.

When you turned eight, you were fascinated with ancient Greece, and realized that your artist hands had something to say. You would draw the most complex tiny creatures, robots, battles, ice-worlds, castles, bridges, and forests. Sometimes I would just stare at your drawings and imagine you in the worlds you created, fighting or befriending the dragons, depending on the day, and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but I was still wrong.

At nine-years-old, you became my music man … playing drums, piano, and singing in the school talent show. Your daddy and I were so grateful for your brave heart and open mind. It seemed you were unafraid of anything, and for a mommy who sometimes feared everything, that was the year you became my little hero, and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but I was wrong.

When you were ten, you loved the idea of travel. Daddy flew all over the world for his job, and your favorite thing was to collect the treasures he brought you from places like Dubai, Germany, France, Morocco, England, Mexico, and Australia. With eyes-wide-open, you held each piece like a prophetic talisman of where you might want to go … but that same year, you took your job of, “protecting mommy and your sister while daddy was away,” very, very seriously. You always did and I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but boy – I was wrong.

At eleven, a very hard thing happened. We turned your whole world upside-down and moved you across the country. The school you’d gone to since you were six, the friends you’d known for ten years, the soccer team, the town … all of it was now behind you. But you NEVER fussed. You NEVER complained. You braved the adventure of what was coming next without losing the connections, friendships, and memories. I am still amazed at the easy way that you made something impossible seem. I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but – you guessed it, I was wrong.

Turning twelve in a new state, school, and house made your wanderlust for the world grow. You quite literally fell in love with Asia. You made friends with the Chinese exchange student who didn’t speak English, deciding to spend your mornings before school conversing with him. You asked us to find a Japanese tutor so you could take lessons. You joined Model UN at school, and recognized the value of God’s greater world. And you know what? I thought I loved you more than I could ever love anyone, but I’m going to go ahead and predict the future here and say I’ll have been wrong.

You are thirteen now my sweet son. You have lived over four thousand days … can you believe that? I cry with gratitude to know that I have lived them alongside you. Sharing my love of Neverland, I know that sometimes growing up is wicked scary … but you’re not alone in it. Daddy, your sister, and I are growing up right with you and figuring it all out on the way. We all get lost sometimes, but somehow when I’m with you little boy, I just feel found. And do you know what? I’m going to go ahead and say it, because why not? I don’t think I could ever love you more.

Believe me yet?

8.17.18 I Can’t Believe She’s Mine

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“You wanted everything for everyone, and you wanted to know it all and learn it all …”  – Julia Quinn, To Sir Philip With Love

This one’s for my baby … my even-as-I-write-this little lady who captures every heart she meets. I have never met the likes of her, nor could I have dreamed her into being. My thoughts are simply not capable of the wonder that she is. She is a singular treasure. A divine gift. A paragon of what kindness truly is. Happy birthday to my little dolly. Knowing her is the privilege of a lifetime, but being her mommy is nothing short of a miracle.

 

Brighter than starlight

and made of the same radiance

she emanates compassion

she breathes empathy

and she feels – everything

Wonderstruck eyes at the world she yearns to know more of

yet enchanted with the reality of pretend

she travels her deepest thoughts

curiosity her constant companion

only outshone by her desire to be:

what everyone needs –

never realizing that she already is

There is not a day where charm doesn’t chase her

smiles and compliments are ever in her wake,

still she tries, failing to realize her effortless magnetism –

obliviousness to practical perfection allowing her to remain blameless

She is art personified

a walking masterpiece

the crescendo of emotion

the chorus of a beautiful song …

With effervescent giggles, she twirls with me

and doesn’t walk but cartwheels place to place

She creates

She delights

She seeks

She finds

And every day I can’t believe she’s mine

 

 

7.25.18 Someone Like Him

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“Sons are the anchors of a mother’s life.” – Sophocles

When he was eight, my son looked up at me and said, “Hey mom, when I go to college … you’ll come right?”

“Of course,” I replied. And can I just say that until the offer is formally rescinded, I plan to find an apartment with a four-year lease, and keep my word.

Eleven. That is what this almost-as-tall-as-me charmer just turned, and my heart hurts with pride and pain at the clock and calendar that refuse to slow for me, regardless of my pleas. Ironically, he asked for a pocket watch for his birthday, and every few minutes, when he checks the time, I feel my heart racing the second hand as the visceral reminder that our time is fleeting. Emerson once said that, “Men are what their mother’s made them.” Though he may be a few years off from being a man, I can’t agree with Emerson, because nothing I have done in the past eleven years could have made a boy this good … this pure-hearted, or kind.

Whether it is right or wrong, a reversal of roles or even always appropriate … I depend on this little guy – on his perspectives, his judgement, his prayers, and even his bravery. He is a shoulder worth leaning into because underneath those mischievous smiles, there is a core of integrity and honor that can only be heaven-lent. I’m not sure how fair it is for me to need him at times probably more than he needs me, but there it is. My truth.

Just the other day I ran into a friend with a son the same age. She said she just finished running four miles with another friend of ours with another son the same age. After our pleasantries, I watched her sculpted runner legs leave and turned to my son saying, “Do you think it’s bad I’m not a runner mom? All your friends’ moms seem to run and I don’t. I rollerblade and walk and …”

“Mom,” he said, maturity washing over his little man features. “That’s silly. If anything they should feel bad because they’re all the same and you do things that are different.”

Cry.

There isn’t a day that goes by in this boy’s life where he doesn’t find a way to make me feel special … where he doesn’t make me believe that even if he could have hand-picked a mother, he would have chosen me. What in heaven’s reach did I do to deserve this? To deserve him?

We have our moments. But honestly … I can’t remember any of them significantly enough to even soften the halo around this post. I pray, with all my mother’s heart, that everyone have a someone like him.

Happy birthday baby boy,

I love you to Neverland,

Mommy (Elle)

10.29.16 Effervescence and Men’s Deodorant

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So recently, I started to wear men’s deodorant.  Classy, I know.  But you know what!?!  It works!  I’ve tried around five different brands of women’s in the past, and felt like I needed to “reapply” like four times a day.  Mens?  Just once thank you very much!  It really struck me though, and kind of disturbed me, to tell  you the truth, that I … a five foot three inch woman who isn’t typically a “sweater” would need it.  I couldn’t understand, that is, until I did a little anthropological experiment of my typical day. 

On Wednesday, of this past week, I took a small slip of paper and kept a tally of all the times someone asked me a question.  As a teacher, and mother, and wife … you might imagine it was quite a few.  But would you believe that between 6:30 in the morning, and 5:30 at night, I was asked one hundred and thirty-two different questions!?!  No joke!  It is no wonder I’m often so fragmented.  I realized that questions often come in the form of interruptions … and therefore, I usually have an air of distracted, disjointed, and well … just plain lostness about me.  

My favorite thing, is when people tell you to relax.  “Just breathe and take it slow,” they suggest.  I suggest a reality check … because how can a person form a logical thought in their head with one hundred and thirty-two interferences?  Sometimes I wish that I could begin my day like Ronald Regan began one of his presidential speeches, “Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”  Genius!  Only life doesn’t work like that does it?  We are often going to need to answer the questions of children or adults who act like children (depending on where you work). It is just a part of the human experience I’m afraid. 

One thing I have learned in all of this, is that people really do respond to the way that questions are answered.  I’m certainly not perfect at this.  Sometimes an answer from me is “Mad as a hatter” off topic.  Sometimes it’s wise with split infinitives like Yoda.  Sometimes … as much as I hate to admit it … it’s a sarcastic eye-roll.  A lot of cliche lovers like to say, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.”  I say, why lie to kids?  Some questions are dumb!  Regardless of the intelligence of the question (or the person asking it for that matter) I do believe in giving people the honor of time.  I’m really convinced that there are times, after all, that someone is only asking a question to build a bit of conversation, or to gain a moment of attention. 

Yesterday I introduced my husband to a new acquaintance of mine who said to him, “Wow.  This one’s got a ton of energy.  How do you keep up?”  My husband laughed and said he tries his best.  The gentleman went on to say, “She and I had a great conversation, and we’re all talked out.” To which my husband replied, 

“Yeah, but then she comes home and keeps on talking!  She’s never all talked-out.”  

He was appropriately glared at, but then I realized that my bubbly, enthusiastic nature and “talk-all-day” personality  (which rightly so annoys some people) is something that makes me useful.  God gives us what we can handle, and apparently, he intends that I handle those one hundred and thirty two questions a day.  I may come back kind or cranky, sweet, or snarky … but with me, I suppose at least you’re always guaranteed an answer.  I’ll keep praying for patience, but until then, I guess I’ll just keep being me – filled with effervescence, and of course … men’s deodorant. 

Talk on, 

Elle

9.8.16 Thirty-Four Wishes

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So it is my birthday.  My thirty-fourth birthday to be exact.  I know I’m not supposed to tell you that.  I am well aware that when you are no longer twenty-something, age is not supposed to be something that you share … but I’m sharing it anyway, because I’m grateful.  I’m grateful that in these thirty-four years I have memories that keep me in good company, regardless of the number that is growing ever on.  While I may not want the visual affirmation of decades of candles on my cake … I do like what my mother believes about wishes.  She says you get a wish for every year, for every fire lit sparkle that keeps hope dancing above the frosting.

I have no idea what this new year holds, but I wanted to mark and welcome it with a bit of a retrospective peek into who I’ve been, and what each year has held for me so far.  Me in  time-capsule-doses.  This life has been ordinary magic … and I thank so many of you for quite literally bringing my wishes to life.

Year One: I was blessed with an exceptional mom and dad, who inspire me still.

Year Two: My sister decided to love me, and has never stopped.

Year Three: My best-cousin and I become life-long partners.

Year Four: I believe with every fiber of my being in Santa Claus.

Year Five: I met the boy next door, who pretty much shaped my sister and my play days ever summer thereafter.

Year Six: I discover that not all teachers should be.

Year Seven: I become enamored with dinosaurs.

Year Eight: I discover the fun of Halloween (matching Pandas mommy and me).

Year Nine: I move for the first time.

Year Ten: I lose my dog … my first best friend.

Year Eleven: My kindred-spirit grandmother moves in.

Year Twelve: I meet my best friend.

Year Thirteen: I am immersed in the power of sleepovers!

Year Fourteen: High school begins, and all that goes with it.

Year Fifteen: I become a dancer.

Year Sixteen: I fall in love for the first time … and recognize the influence of a heart above all things … even sense.

Year Seventeen: I meet someone who calls me back to myself.

Year Eighteen: I go away to college with the best roomie a cousin could ask for.

Year Nineteen: I meet the man I am going to marry, who picks up and protects my heart.

Year Twenty: I enter into the School of Education to become a teacher.

Year Twenty-One: I graduate, get married, and get lost in Europe with my new husband.

Year Twenty-Two: I get my first teaching job, and become a first time auntie.

Year Twenty-Three: I experience infertility and the heartache that goes with missing something you’ve never even had.

Year Twenty-Four: I graduate from graduate school, and we drive the Romantic Road in Germany.

Year Twenty-Five: I get to know the wonder of my world … my son.

Year Twenty-Six: I choose to stay at home with my son and begin to write.

Year Twenty-Seven: I get to know the second wonder of my world … my daughter.

Year Twenty-Eight: I am diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease.

Year Twenty-Nine: My parents move, and my grandfather dies … and I feel the last bit of my childhood taken from me.

Year Thirty: We get our first puppy, who now weighs 100 lbs.

Year Thirty-One: I get my first children’s book published.

Year Thirty-Two: I taste a fairy tale and meet my husband in Cannes, France for the weekend.

Year Thirty-Three: I get published by my favorite magazine in the world twice.

Year Thirty-Four: Yet to be determined, but sure to be an adventure!

My wish?  Tell me about your most memorable year!  Share, post, comment! Give me the gift of words … they’re my favorite treat!

Elle

7/28/16 For the Fairies

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“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C.S. Lewis

This summer, more than any before has confirmed the notion that I’ve been dreadedly suspecting for some time … my kids are getting older.  Not just older, but older-older.  You know – the kind of older where they don’t need you to be there when they jump into the deep end of the pool, the kind where they can fix their own snacks, ride bikes without you running frantically behind their rear wheel, and even lead the games of tag and hide-and-seek at the park.  They don’t need head starts, or get-me-going pushes on the swings, and they can both now play more songs on a piano than I ever could. 

They are growing up.  And the thing is, I know this is good – a blessing even.  My husband and I got married young, had kids young, and planned on growing up with them.  Everything is going according to plan, except for the ever-present ache of watching time pass and trying desperately to memorize moments and make them stay.  When I look at his mischievous smile, or her bright eyes, I could cry for missing them.  It doesn’t make any sense, I know, to miss someone who is standing right before me, but that is a parent’s heart I’m afraid.  A melancholy mix of loving every memory that has built the individual you see.  

The other day, my nine-year-old told me he had a dream.  He dreamt he was in London, sitting on top of Big Ben and reading a book.  When I said what a cool global dream it was, he shrugged in noncommittal acquiescence. “Would you ever live in another country?” I asked him. 

“Depends on the country,” he said.

“Well how about England?” I continued.

“No way,” he said without hesitating a moment.

“Why not?” I asked. “I’d live there in a heartbeat.” 

“I know mom,” he said gently, looking at me with serious eyes, “but you and I aren’t the same person are we?” 

“No,” I laughed. “I suppose we are not.” 

And that is as it should be.  As Hodding Carter said, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots: the other, wings.”  It is true, I know this, and yet there are times when I look at these two beautiful, self-assured faces that seem so ready to take on the world – and I can’t decide if I’ve done something right, or terribly wrong that it happened so soon. I am so proud … but it’s still hard.

There has been one thing this summer, however, that has sheltered my fragile heart.  It has proven that we are not there yet, and there is plenty of time still for pretend.  My daughter, nearly seven now, decided to create a fairy garden.  And after taking care to choose the best doll house furniture, a mirror for admiring themselves, and plates and bowls to serve, she created a gentle rest stop for her fairy friends.  In the early morning hours when the dew still held fast to each grass blade, I tiptoed outside and sprinkled glitter in a trail from piece to piece. 

The wonder that both of my children had at seeing the results were heart-wrenchingly endearing.  She has proceeded to write them small notes.  He has helped her set up and check them each morning.  And though I’m running out of different colors of glitter, and my hand gets cramped from writing as tiny as I’m able … we have captured a memory that will stay. 

I have reminded her that all things move on … well, maybe I’m secretly reminding myself too, but for now – we are enjoying each sun-drenched minute of summer.  We are splashing cannonball-sized splashes, chalking every inch of our driveway, writing stories, catching dandelion wishes, drawing comics, going to bed way too late, and waiting, as long as it takes, for the fairies. 

Elle

Salty vs. Sweet

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I like this picture.  I like it because it’s sweet – almost like the trees have brown sugared- edges and they are inviting you to find a quiet delicious moment to sway with them in.  As idyllic as it seems … my summer days are not all this quiet or subdued.  Granted some moments are … but then there are the salty moments – the gritty, tangy, “are you kidding me,” events that litter my day with folly.

Colin Wright once said, “If you don’t feel stupid half of the time, you probably aren’t trying hard enough.” Well, I’ve found that I really don’t need to try, because my experiences remind me all the time! I’ve come to accept that for every sweet, there is a salty moment to go with it … and it is the blend of delightful and dopey that make my days go round! I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for embarrassing myself, and my summer break is no time to take off of these antics.

Just this week … these exploits were on the summer menu.

Sweet: I sat down for a thirty-minute break as my kids had swimming lessons. I was just reading the best part of one of my favorite books, smiling to myself and thwap!  A flying flock of geese decided to dive-bomb over the pool and their droppings ricocheted off the ground and onto my leg! SALTY!

Sweet: I was at Starbucks with my kids working on summer workbooks and the barista asked if anyone wanted a free giant drink they’d made.  We were already set, so I asked the group of people beside me not realizing that I was interrupting an interview!!! SALTY!

Sweet: I was driving home after a super long day and my kids and I were singing and chatting but then, (famous last words) one stinking street away I got pulled over for a rolling stop!  SALTY! (At least I got off with a warning!)

Sweet: My daughter decided to pretend she was a mysterious figure and put a ridiculous felt mustache above her upper lip looking not unlike Groucho Marx. Little did I know the adhesive would be strong enough to leave a trail of glue tape, getting so much fuzz and dirt in it that it looked like she had a real mustache for quite some time after! SALTY!

And the Cream de la Cream … Sweet: I tried to be a good mom, so I started a bath for my kids, while simultaneously trying to be a good wife, who was cleaning up dinner, while also filling up water for my cat who likes to drink out of the sink.  Yeah … well, you can tell where this is going.  Multi-tasker that I am, I went downstairs and forgot the sink was still running so three drawers full of water and a wet, wet bathroom floor later, I was feeling very, very SALTY indeed!

What might tomorrow bring?  I have no idea; all I know is even though sweet is my favorite flavor, the salty parts of my day do tend to compliment nicely and give me just enough embarrassment to keep me laughing.

I hope your day is sweet enough to make you happy, salty enough to keep you humble, and delicious through and through, regardless of the ratio of each!

Elle

 

 

3.15.16 Impossible Exists

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I’ve come to the realization that I am a fool. I am a fool because according to Napoleon Bonaparte, “Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.” And let me tell you, there really are some things that are impossible for me. (Perhaps I am more the fool for taking to heart the words of an ego-tripping dictator, but that is beside today’s point.) Today is about my very obvious reality that impossible does exist, and furthermore, that I need to be okay with it.

The famous sculptor Alberto Giacometti once said, “… the more one works on a picture, the more impossible it becomes to finish it.” I sort of believe he’s right, only metaphorically. The picture is my life, and the more I work on its “image,” the more distorted, and imperfect it becomes. I think at times I’ve made it seem to those around me (spatially and virtually) that, to quote The Lego Movie, “Everything is awesome,” but you know what – sometimes it isn’t – not at all! I’m the farthest thing from “together” and I’m finding more and more that it may not be the worst thing to admit it. So, here it is … my own personal list of impossible, to which I hope you can relate.

  • It is impossible to have days where I do not have fantasies about smashing my alarm clock to smithereens and sleeping as long as I very un-practically want to.
  • It is impossible to feel good about myself when pulling on “skinny” jeans, especially if they were just washed (making them even skinnier), or right after a shower when the friction between my skin and the denim is enough to light a small fire.
  • It is impossible to ever, EVER finish laundry … you know why? Because someone in my family is always wearing clothes!!! When people tell me they “caught up” on their laundry, I kind of have to hate them for three seconds (just three, I’m not very spiteful) because the words “I’m done,” will never be uttered from my mouth!
  • It is impossible to not feel embarrassed when you have guests over and your cat uses the litter box, creating such an atmospheric shift that everyone is temporarily gagging as you run to remedy the nasal assault.
  • It is impossible to stay calm when I find socks stashed in the most remote corners of our living room, like a disgusting game of hide-and-seek I didn’t sign up for.
  • It is impossible not to feel frustrated when my kids’ piano teacher explains the homework to me weekly (yet again) like I’ll get it, when I cannot play myself.
  • It is impossible not to be tempted to let my daughter grow dread locks when I know that she will cry every single time I brush out her hair.
  • It is impossible to get anything useful accomplished when your kids are: hungry, tired, grumpy, excited, confused, sad, wired … scratch that. It is impossible to get anything useful accomplished when your kids are awake!

While there are many more negative impossibilities to relay, I’ve also come across a few impossibilities on the other end of the spectrum that I cannot help but share.

  • It is impossible not to laugh when my son asked why girls have big “pom poms,” and boys don’t have any.
  • It is impossible not to giggle when my husband pretends to be a giant for my kids, “Fe-Fi-Fo-Fumming” around the house.
  • It is impossible not to love that my daughter has created a back up plan to her first career ambition of mermaid.
  • It is impossible to pretend I’m not geeking-out every time my mom sends me freshly baked treats, express mailed so they’re not even a day old.
  • It is impossible for me not to light up when I reminisce all the, “I can’t believe the time we …” with friends who have walked the ages with.
  • It is impossible not to feel amazing when someone smiles at you for the simple reason that you’re you, and you’re there.
  • It is impossible not to feel joy when you hear your children pray for real … like they readily expect God to answer – and he does.

And while there are many, many things that aggravate, irritate, and annoy me about my life, in the words of Whitney Huston when she played fairy godmother in Cinderella, “Impossible things are happening everyday.” Some of them are good … some of them are not, but for better or worse, impossible exists, and I’m glad.

Elle

1.18.16 Translation?

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So I’ve come to the sad and startling conclusion that I don’t think I speak the same language as … well … anybody else!  How did I come to this beguiling realization you might ask?  Simply.  No one in my life ever seems to understand me!  Thus, in the words of comedian Robert Benchley, “Drawing on my fine command of the English language – I said nothing.”  Or I might as well have, because I swear, there’s a disconnect between what I say, and what others hear.  At first I thought it was just a little miscommunication here and there, but thinking through each of my major verbal interactions, I’m convinced it is more.  My words are truly lost in translation, and they go a little something like this.

What I Say & What My Kids Hear:

*“We are really in a hurry so get your shoes and coats on.” TRANSLATION: “Take your time and make sure to dawdle as long as possible on your way out today. You can even forget to brush your teeth until the last minute, Mommy will just wait.” 

*”No more snacks before dinner.” TRANSLATION: “Ask for as many random snacks as you wish in your whiniest voice for the next half-hour before dinner to see if I cave in on my ‘no snacks’ request.” 

*”Indoor voices please.” TRANSLATION: “Get louder so that you can tune out everything else going on in this house but your shouting.”

*“Please pick up your rooms.” TRANSLATION: “I think you should play Noah’s Ark, and take out two of every toy you have and leave them in a line from your door to your closet to see if I can avoid stepping on them all.” 

*“Please stop playing so rough.” TRANSLATION: “Keep playing as rough as you want to and we’ll see who gets hurt first.” 

What I Say & What My Husband Hears:

*“Hey, can you take out the trash?” TRANSLATION: “Someday, when you’re too bored to do anything else, can you grab the trash on your way out of the house?”

*“You haven’t really helped out much with the dishes lately.” TRANSLATION: “I’m so used to doing the dishes myself that I don’t even need your help anymore. You go relax.”  

*“I really think we could use a date night.” TRANSLATION: “Why don’t I call a sitter and plan a night out for the two of us. You don’t need to worry about a thing. It’s more romantic if I plan it all myself.”

What I Say & What My Pets Hear:

*“Come on, get outside.” TRANSLATION: “Look at me in a confused way. Shuffle a few steps and then sit far away as I stand in front of this cold door.” 

*“No begging! Go lay down.” TRANSLATION: “Come here!  Get really close like you’re going to steal the food right off our plate and then lay down under the table at the littlest one’s feet in case she drops something!” 

*“Go on.  Shoo!” TRANSLATION: “Come here! Get as close as you can to my black pants and rub your fur all over them so I think of you all day when I’m at work.”

What I Say & What My Students Hear:

*“This homework is due tomorrow.” TRANSLATION: “You’ve got something to do, and it’ll be due sometime, but I don’t know when … so don’t even bother.”

*“There will be a test on this, so pay attention!” TRANSLATION: “I am talking just to hear myself talk, and you’ll never need this material again, so feel free to tune me out.” 

*“I really want you to take your time on this assignment, it should take the whole time period.” TRANSLATION: “Last one done is a rotten egg, so get through this as fast as you can! 

*“Please write in complete sentences.” TRANSLATION: “I’d like you to write your answers to me as if I were a pal you were texting. Feel free to ignore all grammar rules and logical English structure. 

What I Email & How People Interpret:

*“Can you please answer the following questions? TRANSLATION: “I might write a litany of questions in a long email, but I really only want you to read the first sentence and answer that one so that I have to email you again later with the rest of the questions I need answered.” 

*“Can you quick tell me …? TRANSLATION: “I’m going to write you for no reason, so feel free not to respond at all.” 

*“Can you please send me the document in a non-zip file, as I cannot open it.” TRANSLATION: “Send the file to me again in a zip, I like the Rubic’s Cube challenge … it’s just what I needed to stimulate me today.

You see?  Translation definitely lost.  Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had it right when he said, “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”  I hate to admit it, but I must not be speaking clearly … because my world is most definitely limited.

Hoping this message is translated with a knowing-chuckle.

Literarily yours,

Elle

12.14.15 Snow Angels

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At the very start of this winter season, we were lavished with snow.  It fell in lacy swirls, but quickly accumulated, the branches of trees no longer vertical, but bowing in majesty to the weight of winter.  Enchanting.

So what did my kids and I do in that foot of snow?  Did we make a snowman?  No … too logical.  Did we shovel?  No … too practical.  Did we stay inside with a fire in our fireplace and delight ourselves with cocoa and a wintery movie?  Of course not!  That would’ve been too amazingly perfect.  Instead, we went to Target in our Mini Cooper!  Of course!  Why wouldn’t I decide that the thing I absolutely had to go get needed to be gotten right then?  Now, two weeks later, I couldn’t tell you what that thing was.  But I guarantee it was important enough to leave the safety and warmth of our home … wasn’t it?

I would equate my drive there to the unknown quote that says, “When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane!”  Completely!  First, there was the overconfident truck that passed me.  This not only made me slow down even slower, so as not to bump into the Ford-shaped leviathan, but also nearly set my miniature wipers into flight as they rapidly tried to scrape the slushy-backlash off my windshield!  Breathing deeply, driving at a snails pace, I imagined the scene from Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation, envisioning my Cooper riding under the big-wheeled rig ahead.

After about two minutes of peace, there were the snow drifts, (encrusted with ice beneath for a fun little skid every forty feet).  My kids, meanwhile, were: singing Christmas songs loudly, asking me to switch the number of the song, requesting I turn it up, turn it down, or make one or the other stop singing so they could have their turn to sing alone.

I was frazzled, to say the least, until I saw the snowplow ahead … NOT dropping salt … NOT scraping the undercurrent of ice I was riding like a rail, but driving past, no doubt on its way to do God knows what since, in my opinion, it certainly wasn’t doing its job!  I wanted to shout, “Why the heaven are you even on the road?  To tease us?”  But I had my little cherubic singers to think about after all … listening to “Silent Night” in Spanish, while one tried to sing it in English, as the other chose to sing it in German that he learned at last year’s Christmas concert.  Like a bubble of United Nations, it was a multicultural, cacophony that was anything but silent and peaceful, as the ironic song suggested.

Finally, after a fifteen turned forty-five minute drive, we made it!  I saw the red and white Target sign and felt the way a forlorn sailor might when he sees the beacon of a lighthouse in the distance.   Euphoric!

Finding a spot directly in front of the store, I remembered all the great reasons we’d left in the first place.  I could just feel the warm heat of the entrance, breathe-in the sharp scent of espresso from the adjacent Starbucks and picture my Cartwheel app scanning up digital savings.  We were almost there.  Almost.  But if you’ve been following me for awhile, you know how I feel about almost.  Almost never actually happens; therefore, almost doesn’t exist.

Right when I pulled into the fateful spot, I felt a soft “whoosh” of my Mini-Cooper’s tire over a not-so-mini-friendly tuft of snow.  Immediately, a train of words that only travel with exclamation points punctuated my mind as my cheeks turned winter-bitten red.  Back and forth.  Drive and reverse.  Breathe in, fume out.

“Why aren’t we getting out if we’re there?” my daughter asked from the backseat.

“Because we aren’t actually there!”  I said, not as calmly as I should have.

“Yeah we are,” my son chimed in.

“I see it,” she affirmed.

“We’re not moving,” he added.

“I think we’re parked,” she finished.

“We aren’t parked!”  I said, stepping out.

“Then why are you getting out?” he asked helpfully!!!!!

I think I slammed the door without answering, figuring that if I did answer, I might not be able to keep my prickly words from shooting out of my mouth like porcupine quills.  Thinking through the things I’ve seen people do, I kicked snow out from under each of the tires, rocked it back and forth, looked around like an idiot trying to solve my own personal rubics cube puzzle of white.  And you know what I realized?  The things I’ve seen people do don’t work for five foot three people like me.

As I took a moment to look up to the still-snowy sky, I noticed headlights behind me.  Turning like a literal deer in the headlights, I found myself staring at a gorgeous eggnog-colored sparkling Escalade.  It sailed across the snowy patches with ease, stopping just in front of me.  In a moment, three gentlemen came out.  “Need a little help?”  They asked smiling.

“Yes!” I said, almost laughing at how instantly my very independent nature humbled itself.

Within two minutes they had my car cleared and parked.  Not stopping to park themselves, I was surprised when they just kept going.  They weren’t headed to Target, but just (for some divine reason) passing through the parking lot.  Sliding into our ultimate destination, Hebrews 13:2 crossed my mind, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Three strong men coming out of nowhere in a pearly-white vehicle?  Stranger things have happened than to acknowlege seraphic work was being done.

So after all that, we got our “whatever it was,” and slowly made our way home, much less eventfully than we came.  There were other cars, but they stayed behind me.  There were plows, but they were doing their job scraping and salting.  There was signing, but one song, in one language – together.  And if I’d had any less of a memory, I’d say it was almost as if none of the driving drama had happened at all.

In the end, I believe that sometimes God allows us to make a fool out of ourselves, just to remind us that we need him … that he will provide … and that there just might be such a thing as snow angels to keep you safe on a wild, winter day.

Stay warm,

Elle