Sunday, August 16, 2015

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling...

Recently I heard that song for the first time on Amazon Prime, not long after my boss brought a new dog to work. He's a lot of fun, the world's friendliest pit bull, and loves his owner to death. I think of that song when I see them playing together, because my boss definitely has those laughing Irish eyes, and they light up when he's playing with his dog.

Little Bear turned 9 this week. They share a birthday. I really shouldn't call him Little Bear any more, since he's far from little. He's one of the biggest kids in his grade, as well as one of the oldest (perhaps THE oldest) since he meets the cutoff date for the next grade. Fortunately, he's caring and tender-hearted, so he'll never be one of the bullies. He can be fairly rough with his affection though. I've been trying to make him understand that he can't run and tag the girls so hard any more, since he nearly knocks them over at times. He needs to ease up on the sudden bear hugs too, and stop pounding on people to get their attention. It's a bit frustrating at times. He's such a tactile person, and doesn't understand that some people are bothered by lots of touching. He also doesn't know his own strength, and at the rate he's growing that will be an issue sooner rather than later.

Whiz Kid is definitely a pre-teen now, despite being only 10. At camp he connects more with the 12-14 age group than with his own, and to a large extent he's always been that way. He's developing tastes in music that are upsettingly close to what his father listened to. I've decided to approve some of it. Fear Factory is a "no way," and thankfully he hasn't asked about Alice In Chains yet. He likes Eminem (ugh) because all the older kids are listening to it at camp. I feel like smacking the counselors, but so many of them are still kids themselves. *sigh* I'm letting him listen to the censored Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down; I've told him the music has to be about something besides hatred and murder and suicide if he wants me to even consider it. There's no way he's ever going to like my music, though. It doesn't connect to him at all. Little Bear likes it, but Whiz Kid has a very different personality and has had very different life experiences. He does like some of the modern country singers, which isn't so bad. One of his closest friends at school is really into that so they listen to it together.

I'm so thankful the summer is ending early this year. Summer is like the flu to me. At least in winter, I may be too cold and sluggish to clean the house but I feel cuddly and love to curl up with the kids and read books. In the summer heat, I don't want to be near anyone, do anything, or hear anything. The tiny apartment makes me claustrophobic, but the heat outdoors is even worse. The noise of the air conditioner leaves my head ringing all day long and makes hearing difficult, and I feel like I need a shower twice a day but the shower only leaves me more miserable from the humidity. I don't just hate summer. I dread it, loathe it. And I hope the seasonal door doesn't hit it on the way out.

However, I've learned a few tricks about managing the heat. For one thing, instead of trying to do the grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon in the blistering sun and coming home with a splitting headache and in a homicidal mental state, we do it on Saturday or Sunday evening after the sun gets low. If I have other errands to run, I do them early in the day, before I worry about laundry or dishes or cleaning. I'm amazed at the difference that makes in my ability to remember everything I need, and not lose it at the kids while shopping. It's worth giving up dinnertime once a week. I've also learned that wearing a hat makes a big difference in how hot my head gets in the sun. Baseball caps are my new best friend. I didn't realize hair could be such a greenhouse. And I've finally started wearing flip-flops. I always hated them, but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to stay sane!

I've also been discovering music that doesn't irritate my tinnitus. A while back I started looking for a rendition of Carly Simon singing "With A Few Good Friends" from Winnie the Pooh. Never found it, but I did find her voice soothing and her music calming. I've also bought a few Fever Ray songs after watching the first two seasons of "Vikings." I'm not a big fan of the show itself, but I love the music. The deep resonance in it has a very calming effect on my nerves, although the lyrics don't tend to reflect my personal experience. It's the first music I've ever been able to listen to as background noise. And one of my brothers introduced me to Stan Rogers music, which I've begun to really enjoy. Now that I have a chance to find out what I like, I'm learning new standards by which to choose things. It's good. I now pick my songs by pitch and tone rather than genre, and pick my clothing by what looks good on me instead of what colors I like best, or what brand.

Wearing uniform shirts at work is something I'm glad for. It makes getting dressed in the morning so much easier, and allows me to get by with a much slimmer wardrobe than I otherwise could. Very important in a small living space.

Cub Scouts is back soon. I'm excited for that to begin. My parents also decided not to move, for several reasons, and that means we can stay in the district another year. That's an enormous relief. Every year I say this one will be a good year, and this year that prediction has actually come true. I think this coming school year will be the best one yet as well. We have a community now.

Last week I had an epiphany about why I enjoy working with my boss so much. He's the first person I've ever met who's as crazy as my family in the fun ways, and being around him makes me feel like less of an outcast. I think part of it is the age difference, since I skipped a whole generation of childhood and young adulthood, and just don't really have any connection to other people my own age. But there's more to it. I've been watching the Princess with her best friend at school, and I've noticed that together they seem to share a collective perspective on life that differs from their individual one. Maybe that's what makes them best friends. When the other boy isn't around, the Princess is more sensitive, more belligerent, more prone to tantrums and stubbornness. When she's not around, he's more quiet and withdrawn. Together, they chatter nonstop and get excited almost simultaneously about the same things. It's pretty cool. I feel like that's the way I am with my boss. Of course, I don't know what he's like when I'm not around, but my coworkers seem to think he's different in a good way. For my part, he brings out a side of me that I never knew was there, a mischievous and fun-loving side that makes me believe it's possible to be happy for actual days instead of just moments now and them. When I imagine spending time with him, I don't think about going out to dinner or anything like I always imagined people do on dates. I think about hanging out in the living room playing board games and watching funny movies and wrestling with the dog and eating takeout or burgers from the grill. I just imagine being with him, feeling like I belong, feeling happy to be alive. Like I'd expect to feel with a best friend. The way I felt with my friend Kimberly Brown when I was eight years old, before she moved to Florida and we lost touch. That's the only other person I ever felt the kind of connection with that doesn't require effort, or involve walking on eggshells. It's the best feeling in the world.

It scares me, because I'm not sure I can handle losing it.