Friday, August 30, 2013

On This Date in 1998

This may seem like an odd thing to say, but I can’t believe that August isn’t over with yet. And that’s not meant to be a complaint. Four weeks ago, Andy was playing in a baseball tournament in Reedsburg, JoAnna and Eddie were at the Richard family reunion, and the boys and I were a day away from our trip to Pennsylvania. It just seems like so much has happened this month, much more than what should logically fit into a 31-day period. Actually, this entire summer has been a most enjoyable and expansive experience, one that has had an unusually carefree aspect to it, as if the passage of time was of no concern to me. That description could easily fit my summer between 4th and 5th grades.

The boys were on their own during the day for the 2½ weeks before the start of school. The day camp program we enrolled them in this summer ended in August 7th, and we didn’t make any other arrangements for child care. So JoAnna and I decided to put our faith in Andy’s sense of responsibility. The library being only 5 blocks from the house certainly helped to make our decision an easier one. After their first day alone, we had to reinforce some guidelines, such as keeping their activities to the kitchen and family room side of the house. When I came home for lunch, I discovered that they had spent some time in every room of the house. They left behind visible signs of their presence everywhere – a rumpled comforter in their parents’ bedroom, pillow laid out in a baseball diamond in the living room, to cite two examples. Throughout the 2½ weeks, I had to constantly remind the boys to clean up their debris – toys, dishes, clothes – every parent’s losing battle. Overall, though, it was a successful experiment. For the most part, the boys got along very well together. Andy has a tendency to pick on his little brother, but it’s never anything malicious or hurtful.

Right now JoAnna and I are enjoying a quiet afternoon. I just spent about an hour organizing a couple hundred loose postage stamps into a stock book, stamps that date mostly from the 1920s and 1930s and were a gift to me from my Grandma Luthgren. (I’ve managed to hold onto them all these years.) JoAnna’s watching this sappy movie on TV, My Six Loves, starring Debbie Reynolds and Cliff Robertson (not to mention supporting roles by Eileen Heckart, David Janssen, and even a bit role by the actress who played the nosy neighbor on Bewitched and the kid actor who played the adopted brother on My Three Sons.) The boys and four other neighborhood tykes were playing in the garage. Andy had asked us if they could play Hide-and-Go-Seek in the house. I let out a shudder before responding with a firm “No!”

“It’s too nice of a day to play indoors,” I explained further. And indeed it is a gorgeous day – bright sunshine, hardly a cloud in the sky, temperature in the mid-70s with no trace of the uncomfortable humidity we’ve been experiencing lately. It makes me wonder why I’m sitting in front of the computer right now. 

Today’s weather is a carbon copy of yesterday’s. Andy’s football team played a series of 15-minute scrimmages between 1 and 3 p.m. They’d run a series offensive plays until it was time to play against another team. Then they’d be on defense. They didn’t play a single game against one opponent, more like a patchwork of 6 quarters against different opponents. It felt so different watching Andy in full gear playing football as opposed to watching him play soccer or football. He really seems to enjoy football and looks very confident, like he really knows what he’s doing on the field. Since our return from Pennsylvania, he’s had 12 practices, or 4 per week. Next week, with school in session, they’ll practice on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday evenings, from 5:00 to 6:45. His first game is scheduled for Saturday, September 12. The season runs for 7 weeks.

Eddie is playing soccer again this fall. He’s had three practices already, with another one scheduled for later this afternoon. Most of his games are scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so there will be a conflict on the weekends with Andy’s games.

Two days into the school year, Eddie had his first trip to the principal’s office. His class had a picnic on Friday, and he started throwing food around. His teacher told him that this wasn’t an appropriate behavior, and that he’d have to go inside if he did the same thing again. A few minutes later, she observed Eddie bent over and shaking his booty in front of some of his classmates’ faces, “as if he were mooning them”, as she describe it to me when I returned her telephone call. After this second incident, Eddie had a chat with Mr. Mavrolis, Elm Lawn’s principal. During my phone conversation with Eddie’s teacher, she mentioned that from the hallway she could observe Eddie walking around the classroom while the rest of her students remained seated at their desks. Based on his kindergarten and 1st grade experiences, this is typical Eddie behavior. As a result of Eddie’s misbehavior, I made an appointment with his pediatrician, as we had never followed up with him about the Ritalin blind test that was administered during the last quarter of this past school year. Obviously, we are going to continue to have some behavioral problems with Eddie this year. I hope that the special reading program he is participating in will have some positive result before the end of the year. I know a part of Eddie’s frustration in school has to do with his inability to read. But I also think he has a “class clown” personality. He likes to be “on” and enjoys the attention he receives from his classmates. 

We were very proud to discover that one of Eddie’s artworks, one that was exhibited in a schoolwide art show last spring, is featured in this year’s school calendar – on the September page, no less. I think extra copies of the calendar are available at the school distinct office, so I’ll s top by tomorrow and pick up a copy to accompany this letter.

We’ve been serenaded by a barking dog this weekend, both Friday and Saturday nights as well as during the day, but it’s the nighttime noise, of course, that is the more irritating. Our neighbor, the single guy who works for CUNA, recently bought himself a boat and he and his new boyfriend are away somewhere this weekend on a christening cruise. The dog, a brown Akita, has been left on his own, and he’s not very happy about it. I actually called the police this afternoon, if for no other reason than to make sure they’d have a record of this disturbance. Someone who leaves a dog on its own for 48 hours doesn’t know much about taking care of animals. The dog almost succeeded in digging an escape route under the wooden fence next to the garage. The devil in me was tempted to unlatch the gate and let the dog escape. Those of us who lost sleep over the weekend wonder how someone who’s always been a good neighbor since he moved here 5-6 years ago could be so inconsiderate of his neighbors all of a sudden. This morning I woke up shortly after 2:00, the quiet soon shattered by the dog’s sometime hysterical barks. Trying to escape the noise, I moved myself to the family room, closed all the windows, turned the fan to the medium setting to provide some white noise, and wished I had a pair of ear plugs. Fortunately, I was able to fall back asleep within a half hour.

How are things going with you? Have you made any plans for this winter? We plan to visit my folks during the Christmas holiday, but we haven’t decided on the exact dates of our trip yet. I have a weird feeling that this may be my dad’s last Christmas.

We’re all doing well and keeping busy here. (So what else is new?!)

No comments: