Judy Fong Bates: Midnight At The Dragon Café
My mom sent this book. Love it so far!
Carson McCullers: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
I've never read this before and it's breaking my heart.
While visiting my mom recently, she let him drive her car up the street to the dumpster. It's the only thing on the road for a couple of miles and ... you guessed it ... he hit it and tore the driver's side mirror right off.
I knew something was wrong when he came in looking for super glue. He'll be mowing the lawn this summer to pay for it.
I love this photo of my boys. Every time I turn around it seems Granger is trying to help his little brother and sister -- keeping them out of the street, from whacking each other, making sure they're buckled.
Being as he is 16 and I am a somewhat inexperienced parent of a 16 year old, I give him a hard time sometimes. But then I see him like this. He's really a great kid.
Walter worships Granger -- he is trying to grow his hair long to be like his brother, and he loves his high-top Converse shoes -- just like Grange.
Granger, his friend Justin and I went to see The Man in concert. He played for over two hours straight, without a break. We were in the standing-room-only area right in front of the stage, maybe five people back; we could see everything beautifully.
The boys stood as if entranced; Granger remarked about how old he looked and I could only nod. The pit got too crowded, pushy and hot for me midway through, so I pushed my way out to the back of the floor where people my age were laughing and spinning and drinking and hollering and singing out loud.
I danced my ass off.
When Granger was a freshman, I was called into the vice-principal's office at least twice a month. Did I know Granger and his friends were dropping items off the bleachers to see how they'd crash? Watermelons, a gallon of pickles, an old microwave oven (they say) they found on the street?
Did I know that Granger and his friends brought plungers to school today? And that they were confiscated as possible weapons? And did I know that the boys went to the dollar store the next day and BOUGHT NEW ONES?
Did I want to see the videotape Granger's friends made of him trying to taunt a kid into fighting with him? (They were going to tell him he was on Candid Camera, I guess, before he really threw a punch.) That was a suspension, I think.
Could I please come to the PRINCIPAL's office to recover Granger's hat/skateboard/cell phone because it had been confiscated for improper use on campus. A hat? Improperly used? OK.
All these times, the vice principal counseled Granger: "It's time to stop acting like a freshman." Both Granger and I had a hard time stopping ourselves from saying "BUT HE IS A FRESHMAN." But we didn't say that, and he kept promising to stop acting his age.
Nearly at my wit's end, I was rescued by the school year's final day. As we rode in the car, he promised me he really would stop acting like a freshman, now. All I could think to myself was, "Yeah, but now he's going to be sophomoric."
Last year wasn't so bad, though. He got better grades, he got much better at hiding his pranks or doing them off campus, and I wasn't called into the office ONCE.
But now he's a junior. Eleventh grade. (See his fingers? Every year I had him hold out the number of fingers for the grade he was in. We both faltered a little this year when we realized he didn't have enough fingers, but we figured it out.) He will want to drive in about, oh, 26 days, not that I'm counting. I have made a deal that he can ONLY get his license if he pulls every grade to at LEAST a B. He agreed to that without comment except to say "That's fair." Gulp.
He's growing up too fast.
This is Jack and Granger on Thanksgiving Day 2003 -- just a month or so after we first got Jack. Granger looks so young to me ... and it's only a couple of years ago. Heck, even Jack looks young to me.
I guess it's something about finding old rolls of film. I sent them off to Snapfish and got them developed. They aren't ancient or anything, but the prints came back with a bit of an aged look. The neighborhood in this picture looks really 1970s to me. Well, I guess that makes sense since that's about when it was new.
He's a pretty good kid, but when it comes to shoes, Granger can be incredibly hard to please. He's usually OK with a pair of Converse high-tops, but then there's the need for running shoes for PE, basketball shoes that shall never touch anything but the hardwood floor, new cleats every year for baseball because the old ones just never feel right. Dress up? Every once in a while, and so there's a pair of those. Hiking boots from when he went to Yosemite for a week.
In his closet you will also find every pair of shoes he's ever owned. A pair of low-top Converse, but these have red stitching that looked OK at the time we bought them but are now not cool, though they fit OK and are hardly worn. There are half a dozen pairs of sneakers, some worn a little some worn a lot, but you never know when you'll need an old pair. At least three pair of running shoes. Probably some after ski boots I vaguely remember purchasing for that one ski trip he took with the boy scouts. Slippers.
"I'll buy you a new pair of Vans," I intoned the other night, though his 15 year old ears were plugged with the white buds signifying he'd "borrowed" "my" iPod once again (for the 174th day in a row). "Can you hear me?"
"I'll buy you a new pair of shoes, IF you will bring me six pairs of shoes out of your room. They'll go to Goodwill or in the trash."
"Oh that will be easy," he says. (No kidding, I'm thinking.)
Knowing how particular he is about his shoes, I insisted he call around and find a place that sells the ones he wants in the size he needs. The only place in a 25-mile radius is the Big Evil Mall From Hell. The one with no parking, ever. The one with miles of walkways, two stories of high-end stores with snooty salespeople and size 0 clothes punctuated by a few skater stores and Claire's Boutique where everything is just adorable. And you really can't get there from here on the freeway.
But after wiggling out of the commitment on Monday night, I picked him up after school Tuesday, we did a couple of my errands and then went to the mall. I found the perfect parking place, right up front. Two, side by side, even. Not handicapped spots. It wasn't until we were out of the car that I saw the (really) very faded signs that said "Expectant Mother Parking." I looked at him, he looked at me and I said "I expect this will be very quick, right?" He agreed. "I'm an expectant mother then," I said under my breath. (Forgive me, I'm sorry, really, there was another spot empty next to me the whole time I was gone, I don't think I hurt anyone, and I promise never to do it again.) (And never, once, in my whole 27 months of being pregnant did I ever get to park in a space like that, so I'm kind of due, aren't I?)
We went in, around four miles of corridors, down the back secret hall, around the bend, up an escalator, down another, up another and finally arrived at the store that had The Vans. But not in his size in black. Or gray. The kind he wanted were the Old Skool model. They had the Cool Skool model which (honestly) looked exactly the same but were declared "too puffy" to be right. I
spewed a fountain of fiery venom tilted my head sideways and said "Is there another store in the mall that sells these?" Um, probably not, the perky blonde (and her ever-present sidekick laying on the counter the whole time) said, though you could try over there, she said, pointing to a store across the way that could have been a twin for her store except for the signage.
They didn't have them either. Nor did the other two stores we checked. I was no longer expectant that this was going to be easy. We went back to the original store, Granger mumbling that they had said on the phone that they HAD THEM. I asked if another store in the area might have the ones he wanted and she perkily called another store and found them in size 10 and we got them held. When I asked her where, she said "Oh it's in the Other Great Big Mall From Hell Clear Across The Valley That You Can Get To Only By Using The Most Congested Freeway In Town." Near the food court.
We got back to the car, I kept expecting things, like a nasty-gram on the windshield. I was walking with my hand on my back and my stomach forward but Granger said to stop it because it didn't look pregnant just ridiculous. Which kind of hurt my feelings because, well, that is how I looked the whole time I was pregnant.
We got to the Second Circle of Hell and couldn't find a parking place. I tried the proven approach of staking out a lane of cars and patiently waiting there. With 22 cars in this aisle, someone has to come sometime, right? After waiting nearly 10 minutes Granger points out that this aisle is right in front of the movie theaters and that the "someone has to come sometime, right" rule might not apply as readily. He was right. I start circling, and a woman comes out walking purposefully to her car. "Are you leaving?," I say pleasantly down the window.
"Yes," she says, "but I'm only in the 15-minute parking." "Drat," I say, pulling away.
Then Granger reminds me that I just parked in expectant mother's parking at the other mall AND that buying shoes probably won't take more than 15 minutes but the spot is gone. Finally a shaft from above illuminates an SUV departing and I
outgun and threaten the owners of a Honda and a Corolla glide in.
Fortified with a Starbucks vente latte (non-fat with two sweet-n-lows) we make our way to the store, they have the shoes, they fit he declares without lacing them, I pay for them ($10 more in this circle of hell than in the last but I am ready to go home). He's deeply appreciative and I forget to ask for the $20 he was going to contribute to the purchase but I'll remind him come allowance time this weekend.
"Mommy! Mommy!" My little kids are so glad to see me when I get home. I tell them where I've been without telling them the rest. Kayla goes back to reading "James and the Giant Peach."
Walter, who's four, wants to play chess, but when we sit down the first thing he says is: "Mom, can you take me to buy new shoes tomorrow?"