Grandfather Tree

Now having come to understand that we are all spiritual beings who have chosen to temporarily live a physical existence on this planet, certain musings are inevitable, and shared here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Breathing into Each Moment

I am inspired by PeaceBang who writes virtually every day, so I am going to work on writing more often. I do not know if the details of an evening with four kids would be of any interest to anyone, but here goes.

Breathing into each moment is a challenge, but I am finding that it really helps.

Thursdays I work until 6:00 p.m. seeing individuals and families in therapy sessions. When I have a space in my schedule I will type progress notes or do work related to my website design business. I end my last session at 6:00 and type a note into the computer. It is 6:20 when I leave the office. It is about a fifteen or twenty minute ride home, but when I get downtown I remember that my 15 year old son has asked me a couple of days now for money to fill up “his” tank. (Take a breath.) So I stop at the ATM machine and take out $20 so I don’t get home until 6:45. My youngest daughter (11) runs to hug me. My oldest wants to know if I brought the money and when I can go with him to fill up the tank, because his mom noticed that one of “his” tires needs air and he says he has never filled up a tire and needs me there to help him (or more likely, to do it for him.) I give him $10 for gas telling him that it should tide him over until Monday when we get paid (Halloween). Later I find out that his mom already gave him $15, so now he has twenty five. (Take a breath.)

My partner wants to talk to me about the other two middle children (12 and 13) who both have an assignment to write an essay about what are true patriots today. It is due tomorrow and neither one has done much on it. We have to decide whether my son should go to Tae Kwon Do or skip it so he can get his assignment done. We decide that he has to skip Tae Kwon Do. He insists that he is almost done and will have time to do both. We stand firm, (take a breath) and this time he doesn’t give us a big argument. Perhaps he doesn’t really want to go tonight that badly. He gets the essay done pretty easily, as he has a good grasp of language and can pull something together. So he approaches me to enquire if there is a computer that has Word installed so he can type it. I tell him that he has to use the kid’s computer and will have to do with Wordpad. He complains that it doesn’t have spell check. I ask him how many words his essay is and I learn it is under 400 words, (take a breath) so I suggest that he can look at each word to see if it is spelled correctly. He isn’t too happy about this but brings up a more difficult problem, in that the printer is not installed on the kid’s computer. I tell him to email it to me when he finishes typing it and I’ll print it from my laptop. Meanwhile I go with my oldest to get gas and air, grabbing some leftover food in between.

Now for my other middle child. Unlike her brother she has been working all week here and there on the essay, and has six or seven sheets each half filled and then rejected to start anew. (Her Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder doesn’t really help in this process.) She also has an outline that starts off pretty well and erodes into stream of consciousness. I ask her if I can help, as I kneel on the floor next to her at her spot on the dining room table. She starts to cry, (take a breath) and it is hard for me to get her to let me in on what is going on. Finally she tells me that she doesn’t think there are any true patriots alive today because nobody really likes George W and no one is really taking care of the country like they did during the Revolutionary War. (Take several breaths.) I help her find a couple of her paragraphs that speak to those who helped with the Katrina mess as modern Patriots, and even though she only partially believes this, it is enough to pull together something. She is able to make a comparison between those volunteers who risk their life to save others, with those who were fighting for their freedom at the time of the Revolutionary War. The essay is supposed to be 330-400 words, and it is clear to me that there is no way she will come close to that, but we plunge forward. First we talk together about what she wants to say, and then I encourage her to write what we just talked about. This way we move forward, paragraph by paragraph. At one point I make the mistake of asking her to count how many words she has written and after an agonizing four or so minutes she comes up with 135. (Take a breath.) So we plunge on. As soon as she starts to write a paragraph, this provides me an opening to show my son how to email me his essay, and then print it.

My youngest has a Halloween concert tomorrow where she plays the violin. It’s at 1:45 and I am thankful that I remembered to change my schedule around so I could attend. She wants me to videotape it because her teacher has breast cancer and cannot attend and wants to watch it later. I cannot remember where the video camera is and disappoint her by telling her I will not be able to do it. Perhaps some other parent will get it together to tape it? She doesn’t think so. (Take a breath.) I know there will probably be 10 grandparents doing it. She decides to practice her part one more time and I am thankful that she asks to practice in her room so that her sister will not be distracted. Of course she elects to play at her doorway (take a breath) hoping everyone will hear and/or get upset?

My daughter finally gets her essay done but still has to type it, and I know she is not going to get to bed at 9:00. (Take a breath.) Then my partner reminds me that she has to get a shower for sure tonight. (Take a breath.)

It all gets done, but not until 10:00, and I neglected to mention getting my daughters their bedtime medication and giving my youngest her growth hormone shot. Now I can finish typing this, and connect with my partner before collapsing in bed.

My feelings about the essay? All 7th graders are required to write an essay to submit to the Patriot Contest which is sponsored by the VFW or some such group. My son's teacher told them that if they wrote anything that was anti-war, that they would be graded on the assignment but that it would not be submitted to the contest. I guess Cindy Sheenan can't be discussed in the same sentence as Patriot. How about Rosa Parks? Maybe if she was just a tired lady who just refused to get out of her seat. Probably not if she was part of a community of folks who had the audacity to expect to be treated as true citizens, even to break the law to make that point. And how about members of the House of Representatives who have the audacity to question whether the federal government was doing its job after Katrina? Would any of these pass the VFW test?

But here is the more important question for me: How do I find the time and energy to discuss these ideas with my children? Which of the activites described above do I let go of in order to do so? And who am I to suggest that my children try to challenge in some way such an assignment? My daughter's tears: were they a challenge? Does anyone know how to convert tears to essays?


  • At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was interested by the title Grandfather Tree and so I clicked on and read your most recent entry on your blog. It sounds as if you definitly have your hands full. I think it's wonderful that you are as in tune and engaged with your children as your are. That alone will make a world of difference for them.

    As far as the essay quandry goes, I would gently lead my children through the thought process so they reach the realization of the situation for themselves. Then they can decide for themselves and search their own conscious for the right action to take, if any. Based on just reading this one entry of yours, I'm sure you would be supportive of them no matter what they decided.

    I've never blogged before, I've just heard the word before and was curious. Now I think I may be I'd like to come back and read your previous posts. Thank you for sharing.

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Wally Nut said…

    Thanks for your thoughts Paula, and welcome to the blogging realm. I entered it recently also and it seems a bit strange to me, to share stuff about my life to the world, never knowing who might be reading it. So I do appreaciate thoughtful comments like yours.
    -- Wally

  • At 2:46 PM, Blogger PeaceBang said…

    Wally my dear, I'm so glad I inspire you, but keep in mind that one of the key reasons I blog most days is because I'm borderline manic, and it's a great way to release that hyper-verbal energy.

    Love ya.


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