The Karaoke Tribe

Hal had received some books from his grandmother for his ninth birthday. I hadn’t looked at them closely but they looked like biographies of less famous American historical figures geared toward younger children. I noticed him reading one of them one morning as he waited for me to be ready to take him to school.

“What book were you reading?” I asked as we headed down the driveway.

“The Journal of Jesse Smoke.”

“Smoke? S-M-O-K-E?”

“Yes.”

“How is it?”

“Good. It’s written like it’s his diary except he doesn’t share his feelings.”

“OK. I don’t know Jesse Smoke. Who was he? It’s a true story, isn’t it?”

“I think so but I don’t know he was. I haven’t read much of it yet.”

“Well, when you get further into it, please tell me about him. I’d like to learn.”

And with that, he absorbed himself in the book (which had to be tricky since he had just finished wrapping himself up as a pretzel inside his hoodie to protect against that oh-gosh-so-awfully-cold-Texas-October morning weather).

After a few minutes of silence from the backseat, he announced, “Mommy, I don’t think this is a true story. A bunch of people just turned themselves into bears to go down a hole. And – if you are a real human, you can’t just turn yourself into a bear.”

I was fairly certain this was an historical book, so I took a guess and said, “Well, there were Indian tribes who basically believed they could turn themselves into animals. Maybe he’s telling one of his people’s stories as if he believes it to be true.”

There was a slight pause.

“He’s a Karaoke boy.”

“A what?”

“A Karaoke boy.”

“Spell it.”

“C-H…. E…. R-O…. K-E-E.”

I was very careful not to laugh. “Cherokee, honey. The word is Cherokee. They are an Indian tribe, Native Americans.”

One of the most fun parts of being a parent has been listening to my young readers try to pronounce the words that they’ve only seen in print. To combine Hal’s mispronunciations with Daryl’s most famous from years ago, it sounds like Jesse Smoke comes from a family of Karaoke Madge-i-cans. (Magicians).

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Whistle While You Work

I’ve been really proud of my youngest child. He’s mastered a tremendous skill that I have never, ever been able to figure out.

He can whistle.

Don’t laugh. I’m truly very impressed.

My whole family can whistle except me. So why am I proud of him and not the others? Because they were born able to whistle. My husband was carrying a tune before we met. I can’t remember a time when Jane or Daryl couldn’t whistle.

They’ve always been able to and they’ve always been amused by my inability. I’ve tried over the years. Unless it happens accidentally while blowing air to cool off my soup or while saying something that starts with an S, it’s just air passing through my lips.

Hal was in the same boat this time last year. He spent the first part of his eighth year of life trying to whistle and sounding just like his mother. I felt a camaraderie with him on this front. Someone to stand next to me when the whistle abuse rained down. We were a team. We were united.

But Hal didn’t want to be on the Bad News Bears of whistling. I think he wanted to whistle more than his siblings ever did. Of course, they didn’t appreciate it because it has always come naturally. He tried and tried day and night. And he never gave up.

And one day…

One day, he whistled. One short brief note. And then he shrieked in delight. And kept working at it.

…air…air…air…whistle…YES!…air…air…air…air…air…whistle…YES!….air…air…air…whistle…air…air…whistle…whistle…air…air…whistle…air…whistle…air…whistle…whistle…whistle

Eventually, he could reliably whistle a note at will. Only one note and only of a short duration, but every time. And that’s when I got some revenge on the natural whistlers.

Because Hal, he loved his new-found skill. He whistled constantly, just a short toot-toot-toot stream. No melody, no variation, non-stop. And. it. drove. them. nuts.

He whistled in bed. He whistled at the dinner table. He whistled outside. He whistled in the car.

That last one is what really got to them and we soon had to declare the car interior a no-whistling zone. We had to restate the declaration every time we got in the car and usually multiple times on a typical in-town trip.

All the hard work and persistence paid off. Now, Hal can whistle multiple notes and carry a bit of a tune. He no longer feels the need to whistle during every waking moment as if he might forget how if he doesn’t keep practicing. In fact, I don’t hear it that much anymore.

But when I do hear it as he skips by me with his head in the clouds, I smile. A huge smile spreads across my face and an even larger one across my heart. He wanted it, he weathered ridicule, he practiced and practiced, and he overcame.

And now, my husband lovingly calls me Whistler’s Mother and I’m ok with that.

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This is an actual picture of me writing my blog. Ok, not really. Picture found on Pinterest and I couldn’t clearly determine copyright. If it’s yours and you want me to take it down, please let me know and I will. 

Iron Man

{I just found this post in my drafts folder. I guess I wanted to add more to it or add some commentary or something. But I think I’m going to let it go as is. Because sometimes kids just don’t make sense and there’s no point in doing more than just putting it out there and letting people scratch their heads. Or laugh. Or both.}

Sitting at a traffic light in front of a thrift store, Hal gazed out our window into the store’s window and announced, “Hey, mom! They have an Iron Man costume in there. We should get that for me to wear for Halloween.”

“Nope,” I said. “Not gonna happen. Your daddy hates Iron Man.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “I do too. But it’d still be cool to dress up like him.”

 

Magical Basketball

There’s an elf on Hal’s basketball team.

I’m serious.

There are 5 normal, uncoordinated, barely-understand-the-rules, clueless little boys, 1 phenom that scores all the points and wins the games, and an elf (who also happens to be uncoordinated and clueless and barely understands the rules, but he’ll grow to have magical powers so it’s all cool).

As we sat at one of the recent games, I argued my case to my husband.

“Just look! I tell you he’s an elf.”

He just smiled at me.

“See his hair? It hangs down almost to his eyes and down in front of his ears in sharp points, which emphasizes his ears. Which aren’t pointy yet, but I think that’s just because he’s young. Give him some time.”

My husband laughed.

The elf boy is thin and fairly uncoordinated so at one point I said, “He doesn’t have the graceful movement yet but that comes with age too.”

“Oh, it does?”

“Of course it does. You read The Last Dragon! That poor helpless child elf was clueless and clumsy. He didn’t know how to do any magic but it came with time. Give this one some time. Eventually, he’ll be the most beautiful person on the court. Trust me.”

“So are you saying he can shoot arrows through brass rings at a hundred yards?”

“Not yet. Too young. He’ll get there though.”

“Mhhm-hmm.”

At one point, the magical creature walked close to us and I saw why his eyes had looked so big and dark at a distance.

“Look!” I said to my amused husband. “Just look at his eyelashes! No one has eyelashes that long except elves. I’m telling you, it’s true. I’m surprised no one else has noticed.”

“I’m glad you are so entertained by River,” my husband said.

“River? His name is River? Really?” I asked.

“You haven’t stayed for any basketball practices, have you?”

“No. But come on! The name bolsters my argument. That’s a nature name – elves are one with nature. It’s an elf name!”

I saw an adult man talking with River in a fatherly fashion near the end of the game. The man certainly did not look like an elf. Not at all. So I can only assume that since elves do not walk openly among us, this man had been hired to act in this care-taking role while in public spaces. The elves obviously wanted to give their boy the best opportunity to interact with other children. Because anyone who knows anything about elves knows that they don’t have children very often. There’s probably no one in his extended family close to his age.

So here he is, playing basketball with my son. Who, just like everyone else in the gym except me, is clueless he’s playing with magical greatness in the making.

What Makes Me Happy

You know what makes me happy?

That there is candle wax on pages 59 and 60 of the hymnal.

That my ill son insisted on attending church on Christmas Eve because he wanted to hold a candle and sing Silent Night.

That, even though he slept through the entire service and had to be woken to hold his candle, and even though he never sings with us on Sunday mornings, I nevertheless heard his voice carrying loud and strong as we sang tonight.

That the women in the choir sang a beautiful descant as we held our candles in the air.

That a congregation not entirely comfortable with singing nevertheless filled the sanctuary with their voices on Christmas Eve.

That my husband was able to be with us almost as if our circumstances were not what they are.

That I never tire of the beauty of the moment.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Did You Brush Your Teeth?

Yesterday, I was responsible for opening the church so after my run and a quick shower, I left my family to their morning routine and headed to the church. When I returned, I found my boys lounging in the living room.

“Are you guys ready to go?”

“Yes.”

“Hal, did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes.”

This is a dubious claim when coming from him, one that always requires verification.

“Let me smell your breath.”

He let out an audible indicator of frustration as he hopped up, slammed down what he was holding, and began stomping right past me toward the bathroom.

He grumbled as he went, “No one ever believes me!!!”

“So did you brush your teeth?”

“NOOOOO!”

“You think that might be why we don’t believe you?”

“Ugggggghhhhh!”

This routine is a twice daily occurrence in one form or another. And he wonders why we don’t believe him.

Whose Fault Is It?

A certain seven year old someone was slow to get up on this, his fifth day of second grade. When he finally managed to climb down from his bunk, he entered my room in just his underwear, whiny.

“Mommy… I want to wear my pants today but nobody did laundry.”

“That’s because we normally do laundry on the weekend. If you needed pants, you should have said something. You know that,” I said as I followed him to his closet.

“I don’t need laundry. I just wanted to wear pants but since I only have one pair…” He reluctantly reached for a pair of shorts.

“You only have one pair because you are growing so fast that Daddy didn’t want to buy you a bunch of pants that you’d grow out of before winter.”

“Well! You never told me that you only do laundry on the weekends.”

“There are lots of things that are true that I don’t specifically say to you. The fact is, if you wanted some laundry that wasn’t available you should have said something. We could have done something about it last night.”

You didn’t do laundry, you didn’t buy me enough pants, you never told me.

I (essentially) have two teenagers and a baby-of-the-family. The entire parental side of my being revolves around something not being right in one of my progeny’s life and it being someone else’s fault, no matter how convoluted the logic gets.