When I first met Bob’s Aunt Esther, we had not been married very long, and unfortunately for Bob, he had made the mistake of assuming that I knew how to cut hair. Well, in reality, I did, but there is a vast difference between cutting my sisters’ long, one length hair, and his short and in need of a tapered look hair. Needless to say, I cut his hair at one length most of the way around and a bit shorter above the ears and shorter still on his forehead, but still no tapering. It was kind of a disaster…and it was right before our wedding…Ugh!! Bob was a god sport about it…after the initial shock and argument over what in the world I had been thinking. I told him I didn’t know how, but he thought his mother would cut it too short, so he was left with me. His mistake, not mine…right!!
That summer, we went up to Forsyth, Montana to visit Bob’s grandparents, Vina and Walt Hein, who are his Aunt Esther’s parents. Bob’s hair, unfortunately for him, is rather slow growing, and the summer still found his hair not looking too great. Since Esther was a cosmetologist, Bob decided to play it safe and have her cut his hair…still rubbing it in a bit that I had butchered it the last time he let me near it. The situation was quickly getting ready to turn into an argument, when Esther offered to teach me how to cut his hair. It was the best thing she could have done, because over the years, it has saved us untold amounts of money on haircuts for Bob…not to mention years of embarrassment about how awful it really looked.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know how bad his hair looked after I cut it, but rather it was the fact that there was nothing I could do about it, and every time he looked in the mirror to comb his hair, there it was…a constant reminder. It got easier as it got longer, but he wasn’t going to let me touch it. Esther taking the time to not only cut it well, but to show me how to cut it right, was a definite saving grace for me, because now I can cut it and do it right.
Of course, cutting hair isn’t the only thing Esther is talented at. She is a great seamstress, and makes amazing quilts as well. Her paintings have graced several homes that I know of, including mine. Esther is a woman of many talents, and I’m glad she has shared some of them with me. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As often happens with little girls who are the first born, my niece, Jessi Sawdon was…well, a little bit bossy. She thought, from the very beginning, that she was as much in charge as her parents were. She was independent, she was three…and she was going on twenty. In the very early years of Jessi’s life, her mother discovered that she was going to be a bit of a challenge. When told to do things, Jessi would often argue with her parents. Since her dad worked, and her mom did not, it was usually her mom, my sister, Allyn Hadlock who found herself on the losing side of an argument with a stubborn three year old. When their child is argumentative, most parents try to use creative ways to get around the problem…because, lets face it, no one really likes to spank their child, and my sister is pretty soft hearted anyway. After trying everything from reasoning with Jessi, to arguing back with Jessi, Allyn finally decided to try a little bit different approach. The results were comical.
The next time the arguing started over a task Jessi was asked to perform, such as picking up her toys, Allyn finally said, “I’m the mom…you’re the baby.” Well she quickly found out just how clever and quick her little girl was, when Jessi began to argue with that…saying, “I’n da mom!!” Allyn quickly answered, “No, I’m the mom.” That argument only fueled the fire more, and Jessi said, a little more forcefully this time, “No, I’n da mom!!” Obviously this strategy was getting them nowhere. I mean, what do you say to that. You can argue back and forth all day, but the toys are still going to be on the floor…and Jessi always had a mind of her own, so she would continue to argue if necessary. And to add to the problem, Allyn was having a very hard time keeping a straight face. Jessi was so serious about all this. I really think she thought this was something that could be negotiated…like being the mom was an elected office, and she was going to beat the incumbent on this election.
Through the years some things have changed, but not everything. Jessi is a grown adult, and married to the love of her life. She knows that being the mom is not an elected office, and she understands that her mom will always be her mom. Nevertheless, Jessi still has a tendency to be a bit bossy, and that information came to me directly from her mom. Her family understands Jessi’s ways, and most of the time her bossiness isn’t a problem, but once in a while they have to straighten her out a little bit, and when that happens, Jessi is taken back to her three year old self, when she hears, “You’re not the mom” from her mom or siblings. It is something they do laugh about these days, because it is a cute way of saying, “Jessi, we are all adults here, and you are not the boss of us.” The age old comment of “You’re not the mom” is not usually followed with a three year old comment of “I’n da mom!!” But, once in a while when everyone is in the right mood, you might hear that comment from someone. Either way, they all end up laughing about the whole thing, and really, that is what the comments are all intended to bring about anyway, so everyone is happy.
As I said, Jessi is married now, and while they do not have children yet, I think it is her husband, Jason’s best interest that he be informed now, so there is no doubt about it in the future. Whether he likes it or not, in Jessi’s house, Jason does not get to be the mom. Jessi has been waiting for the day…all her life…when she will get to be the one arguing with her little three year old daughter over who gets to be the mom. Jason will simply have to settle for being the dad, because between them…this is not negotiable!! Today is Jessi’s birthday. Jessi, try not to argue too much…ok. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As I started up the walk to my house today, two birds, who were chasing each other buzzed by my head. They were so busy with their play…or was it an argument, that they didn’t even notice me, as they flew very close to my head. I have always liked watching the birds in all their activities, but have normally had very little real contact with them. And while I find it fascinating to watch them playing chase, I’m not sure I really want them to be buzzing my head, or dive bombing me.
I watched as the birds flew here and there, chirping and chattering, and I occurred to me that they were probably having a little argument, and if the one bird caught the other…well, someone was going to be sorry they said or did what they did. I guess things in the animal kingdom must be similar to things in our world, because when you get in trouble, you have to pay the consequences in both.
The thing was that these two birds didn’t seem like parent and child, so I figured that this was an argument between two adults, whether they were male and female, or two males fighting over a female. It is, if course something I will never know, nor will I know if they were fighting or playing. It was a chance encounter with the animal kingdom that will likely not happen again.
I suppose that when we live in the same world space as the animals, these encounters are going to happen once in a while. One or the other of us, or even both, simply aren’t paying a lot of attention to those around them. Like most of us, when we are in an argument, they pay very little attention to anything but the argument. That is exactly what those birds were doing. I might not have even been in the area for all they noticed. They were simply too busy chasing each other.
When our daughter, Amy was a little girl, and really still today, she hated conflict. If Bob and I were having an argument, she would try to think of things to make us laugh, and thus end the argument. One day, as we were going to town, Bob and I were having some argument, and Amy got our attention. There she was, sitting in the back seat, with a Chiquita Banana sticker stuck to the end of her nose. Of course, we laughed, and the argument was over. It’s hard to laugh and fight at the same time. Happy with her success in the matter, this became a standard maneuver for Amy, whenever we were arguing.
After a while, she got to where she just liked the feel of tape and stickers. You could find her playing with tape or stickers just about any time, and every day. The funny thing is that she still does that to this day. She can’t really look at tape, without pulling a piece off, and wrapping it around her fingers so she can feel it pull away from her fingertips. It is definitely a strange habit, but I guess we all have strange habits.
As parents, the habits we have tend to rub off on our children, and this is no exception. No, I didn’t play with tape as a kid or as an adult, but Amy’s habit has rubbed off on her daughter, Shai. Yesterday, when she was at the office where Amy and I both work, she was in my office looking at some pictures from my boss’ recent trip, and the next thing I know, Shai reached over and took a piece of tape from my tape dispenser, wrapped it around her fingers, and started playing with it. It was a deja vu moment.
I looked at Amy, and said, “When did she start doing that?” Shai told us that she likes playing with tape, and in fact she does it so often that her teachers tell her, “Shai, leave the tape alone!!” We had a good laugh about that one, and told the story about how that all got started with Amy. Then Amy said, “Awwwww!! My little girl is just like her mom!!” It was a funny, and yet, cool kind of moment, because as you know, most teenagers don’t want to be at all like their parents.
As a little girl, Amy was a child of several moods. I was forced to stop letting her take naps by the time she was 2 years old, because while Amy was a happy, giggly, sweet little girl before her nap…it was a very different picture when she woke up from a nap. You simply had to hand her a glass of kool-aide, and stay out of her way for about the next 3 hours. During that time, she kept that kool-aide glass pasted to her face, sipping it slowly, and invariably creating a kool-aide moustache, and glaring at everyone in sight. It was really odd, because she was not that way in the mornings…just after a nap!! So, when she was 2, her nap time ended…as did the glaring, kool-aide sipping aftermaths. I hated to lose my little bit of free time while the girls napped, and oddly, Corrie, who is a year older than Amy still needed and took her naps, but it was worth it to me to lose the free time, if it meant losing the grouchy little girl who always appeared after the nap.
Amy was always a child who knew exactly what she wanted, and she didn’t appreciate it if you chose to disagree with her. Now mind you, she had to deal with a very stubborn mother, and if she and I disagreed on what she should be doing or having, she found herself on the losing end of the argument, because…well, I was bigger than she was, and that was that. Still, she didn’t mind showing your just how she felt about the whole matter. You could always tell when she was really mad, because she would take a hold of one hand with the other, with a pretty sour expression, and then in unison, she would pull both hands to the same side of her little body in a twisting movement that pretty much said, “Don’t you EVER touch me again…in your life!!” Of course, she would eventually get over being mad, and you were soon accepted back into her good graces…until the next time you dared to disagree with her.
And as Amy’s big sister, Corrie can attest, Amy ruled the roost where the girls were concerned. Corrie didn’t stand a chance against Amy’s hot temper. Corrie always was a little more timid than Amy, and soft hearted where her baby sister was concerned. She probably could have taken Amy, if she had dared to try, but she never did, so Amy pushed her around a little bit…until they grew up a little bit that is. Age changes things a lot, because the girls are good friends now.
And sometimes, you really didn’t know that Amy was having a bad day or moment, until she blew up, and let you know. It might be something that would seem minor to most of us, but to Amy, it was a big problem. And while she can’t remember just why she was mad every time, she has come up with at least one explanation, even if it seems a little far fetched to me. She has decided that at least in this last picture…Corrie was stepping on her toe. Sure Amy…whatever you say!!
When my mother was young, she and her 8 brothers and sisters helped out with chores around the house. Dishes were a big undertaking with 11 people in the family, so every day, after supper, Grandma would wash the dishes, and the children would dry them and put them away.
Many times there would be a lot of conversation going on, but as with any group of kids, sometimes arguing seemed the order of the day. One day in particular, the arguing became rather heated, and Grandma had simply had enough of it, so she yelled over the arguing, “Alright, that is enough!! I don’t want to hear another peep out of you kids!!”
Well, my grandmother was a tiny little woman of only 5′, in her tall days, but one thing I can tell you from personal experience…you didn’t mess with Grandma! Sometimes small packages can carry a big boom! And that is exactly how it was with my grandma, so when she told her kids to knock it off, they knew that she meant business.
Still, in every crowd there is one person who figures that life is about taking chances. So, as all the children stood there working quietly, my Aunt Deloris, Aunt Dee as we called her, assessed the situation and made a decision. She quietly said, “Peep.” Well, you can imagine that the other children assumed that she was in BIG trouble, but Grandma, try as she might, couldn’t help herself. She burst out laughing. Of course, everyone else started laughing too, and the argument was over.
Nevertheless, Grandma had a dilemma, and I don’t know if it started as a result of that argument or not, but Grandma decided that a good way to stop an argument before it started…at least while doing the dishes, was to have a sing-along. She figured that singing children weren’t arguing children. Thus, was born what I will call the Dish-Along.
As a caregiver, I can understand fully just how easy it can be to hit the breaking point. Sometimes it comes with irritation, or worse, screaming at the person you are trying to help, but just as often, it comes in the form of an argument with someone else…one that has nothing to do with the things that are bothering the caregiver at all. Usually the breaking point happens over something that is so trivial that you wonder what your problem is. And sadly, so does everyone else. Basically it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s just that last thing to happen in a series of events that have been adding stress upon stress, to the point that you just have no more patience.
Caregivers tend to hold it all in for as long as they can in an effort to keep on keeping on. There is no way out of the situation…you are needed, and you would not leave your loved one without the help they need. You love them. So you simply pull yourself up by the bootstraps, take a deep breath, muster up every bit of adrenalin that you can, and you go on. It’s all you can do. Then, without warning, something hits that last straw point…that breaking point…and you find yourself losing that control you have worked so hard to maintain. It’s like watching yourself explode. You would stop it if you could, but it is beyond that point now. Your mouth is engaged, and your mind has already quit thinking rationally. It is probably the darkest, most horrible, single act that a caregiver can perform, and one that none of us want to do. We already know that we will have to apologize for acting in such a way…after all, it wasn’t the fault of the patient or whomever it was that we have just unloaded all those pent up feelings on. They were simply the last straw.
Not only do they not know what they did wrong, but they find themselves wondering why they never knew that you were insane before. You aren’t, of course, but you are overworked, and you are tired, and you are emotionally drained. The person you have always known to be strong and capable, has suddenly changed into a weak and needy person, and that has turned your life upside down. It is enough to make anyone go seemingly insane. You had always thought that your parents would always be your parents, and they are of course, but they are also your patient, and your responsibility. The tables have turned, and in the process, your life has hit a turning point too, and you don’t know what to do to fix it.
There really is no way to fix it. You find yourself in a position of having to accept that your parents will never be the strong people they were. That part of their life has passed, and the future…the winding down of their lives has been set in motion. Even if it was just a day ago that they felt fine, there is no going back that one day. Time marches on and we have to go with it. We have to learn to make the best of what we have now, and take care of ourselves well enough that perhaps we can avoid that next breaking point…because if we can’t, we will once again find ourselves looking at someone who has no idea what they have done to us. All they know is that the person they love is somehow furious at them, and it breaks their heart…at which point, we lose all that anger, wish we had not let things get out of control, and begin the process of repairing the relationship again with that all too familiar apology.