Sunday, January 29, 2006

...and hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

Today is the last day all four of my kids are in their 20's, because tomorrow is Alex's 30th birthday (Happy Birthday, sweetheart).

When they were little, I never gave much thought to what our life as a family might be like when the kids grew up. In the early days, with four kids under the age of 10, it was all I could do to think of keeping up with all the diapers and laundry and meals, and helping with homework and scouts, etc., etc. Somewhere along the hectic way, I managed to go back to school myself, and as I finished up my undergraduate work and went on to grad school, most of the time I felt as if it was all I could do to catch my breath. Then I got divorced, and that brought many other things to think about.

Alex went to college and grad school in Chicago, and Katharine and Brenden got married, had Xander, and moved to California. Mike and Chris were about to finish high school, and go off to college heaven knowns where; Anthony talked about buying some land and building a house in New Mexico; I deplored the dearth of guys I consider dateable in Dallas, and thought about moving to the Northeast. If you'd asked me then, I'd have predicted we'd all be scattered to the winds, and not having given it any thought, I'd have accepted it, like the lyrics to that old Carly Simon song, "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be..."

But then, about a year and a half ago, Katharine and Brenden and Xander moved back here. They ended up buying a house about 10 minutes away from me, and Chris, who started working as a locksmith right after high school, rented an apartment with his girlfriend, Stephanie, about 5 minutes away from me...and Anthony is still in his house, also about 5 minutes away from me. So although Alex remains in Chicago for now, and Mike is a freshman at UA Tucson, the rest of us are almost within shouting distance of each other, including Brenden's mom, Melanie, who moved here from California the first week in December.

And one day, it was like turning on a light, when I suddenly realized how lucky we all are, to enjoy the pleasure of one another's company and to live near each other.

Today was the perfect example of what I'm talking about. Today is Chinese New Year's, the Year of the Dog, and there was a celebration downtown, in the Arts District, complete with a parade. Right after Christmas, I'd had the blues, taking down the tree and decorations, and I briefly considered keeping the tree up, with just the lights. Of course, I came to my senses and took it down, and not only took it down, but repainted the entire living room, removing the old, too small, bookcases in the process of repainting everything. Then I went to IKEA and bought three new tall bookcases and put those up in my freshly painted living room, where they look great, if I do say so myself (and I do).

I moved the old bookcases, which were still serviceable, to my patio, and offered them to Kath and Brenden, who wanted them. So today, at about 1:00, I called Brenden, and said, "I'll make you a swap - if you come over and pick up the bookcases, I'll take Xander to the Chinese New Year's celebration downtown."

Just like that, it was a done deal. Kath and Brenden came over and transferred Xander's car seat to my car. Kath said, "Xander, Gramma's going to take you to see some DRAGONS!" Then they loaded the bookcases into their pickup, and we waved goodbye. Driving downtown, Xander and I listened to a little Willie Nelson, and all the way downtown, Xander chanted softly, over and over in the backseat, "Gonna see some DRAGONS, and they're gonna breathe FIRE on my shirt!"

When we got downtown, though, it was another story. "Go home NOW, Gramma!" Xander commanded from his carseat, the moment we were in the shadow of the downtown buildings. "Wanna see my MOM!" "Whoa, Xander, we're going to go see some dragons, remember?" He said, "Dragons are SCARY, Gramma...they breathe FIRE, and SCARE ME!" "Xander," I said, "I'd never take you to anything dangerous - these are just PRETEND dragons - I think you'll like them - I don't want you to be scared!" He insisted we go home. "Let's just go walk around..." I countered, and, 3 years old and easily swayed by me, he agreed.

We made our way to the parade, which was thick with kids, and he was fine until he saw the first which point he threw his arms around my legs and tried to climb me. I picked him up, and he tucked his head close to mine and held on tight. If he could have climbed onto the top of my head, he would have. As it was, he slipped his fingers into my hair, and proceeded to hold on, and I was painfully aware that I'd have been scalped, had I tried to put him down. Nevertheless, I took him close to the dragons, so I could point out the tennis shoes and fingers of the people inside who were holding the costumes together. He was clearly fascinated, but didn't want to get too close.

Eventually, the parade was over, and we decided to go for another brief visit to the DMA. We'd no sooner stepped inside than Xander said, "Where's the dragon, Gramma? I wanna see more dragons!"

And that's the neat thing - and I am truly grateful for this - that we all live close enough to each other that Xander and I can go looking for more dragons, anytime we want.


Andy Hunter said...

My wife and I like reading about your adventures with your grandson. She says he sounds like a "cutie-pie."

Paul said...

Nice dragon! I have a fire dog on my Freaks of Nature blog. Happy Chinese New Year!

Celeste said...

Oh hon'!...what a patutti! And what a lucky little boy to have you for a gran. ;) C.

odie said...

Dragons and tigers and bears, oh my!

See, we never have anything cool like that out here in the sticks.

Sounds like another great adventure with your grandson.

TJ said...

What a day!
How neat to make those kind of memories!
You made me stop and think...I too seldom thought of what our grown family would be in our future.
Good entry.

Lisa :-] said...

I think it's wonderful that you guys all live close to one another. And having your grandson so available must be great.

How does it feel to be the mother of a thirty-year-old?

Tammy said...

It's awesome to hear most of you are so close. HAPPY BIG 30th Alex and mom.

I want pictures of the new room too!

Xander is lucky to have such a young cultured "miss gramma."

I had to look up dearth, then giggled because I've never heard that word :)

ChasingMoksha said...

I read once that a mother can gauge her prosperity by where her adult children choose to live. You are a rich woman!

Chris said...

awwwwwww that is so freaking sweet!

My Most Recent Entry 2/04/06