We Need A Cuppa Tea


One of the downsides to being sick is that people are constantly poking at me, taking my blood pressure, and asking me personal questions about my body functions that I find embarrassing and none of their business. Quite frankly, I just want to tell them to leave me alone!

I have a home health nurse, who is really nice and funny. I like her, but I don’t like all the questions and the exam she is required to do every time I see her. I would rather sit down with her and have a cuppa tea and enjoy a good chat.

I also have a physical therapist who comes to torture me twice a week. I have discovered my lower body is very strong, but my upper body is weak enough that a five pound weight is agony if I have to lift it twenty times in a row. One – crap that hurts. Two – who ever came up with this is a sadist.

Three- Really? I have to keep going to twenty? . . . ect. I was not a happy camper. But I got it all done. Now my arms want to fall off. But I didn’t get really breathless either. I would have preferred we skip the exercise and have a nice cuppa and a chat too.

This is all supposed to help me heal and get back on my feet. But until I can breathe on my own, my life is limited to the length of my oxygen tube and that really sucks. I have to drag along one of those smaller tanks if I want to go out, that means I have to find a way to keep it out of the way of other people, and deal with either looks of disgust or pity from others. I can deal with it, but it bugs me to be an object of pity.

At least little kids are honest, they ask me flat out what is wrong with me and what my tank is all about. I even let one feel the air flowing from the breathing tube. He thought it was cool, but his embarrassed mother dragged the kid off before we could talk more. I am more than my tank, people.

At least I am out of the wheelchair. When in one of those, no one sees you. They look over, past, and around you because they are either uncomfortable with seeing some one in a wheelchair, or they are afraid they will have to deal with a sick person or disabled person and they aren’t prepared to do that. However, here in the South, men will hold the door open for the Mr. and I to get through. Even if I am just walking with my cane and he is pulling the tank, folks will hold the door for us. That’s nice. So I tell each one thank you for being a blessing today. It makes them smile, even if they feel a bit flustered.

Each day I try to improve. I follow the rules, take my medication, do my exercises, and obey all the regulations on food and drink. So, why am I still sick? I guess the doctor will tell me on Thursday. If I didn’t have doctor appointments, I would have no social life at all. We all need to sit down for a cuppa tea and a nice chat about anything but my body functions and how well I breathe. Really, we do.

Two Steps Forward


Every time I get two steps ahead, I get knocked back one. We went to our new home to drop off the first load of things. And wouldn’t you know, I had a heart attack, without warning, and ended up having two stents placed in the back of my heart. That lead to a week long stay in the hospital in Oklahoma.

As we drove back to Mississippi, my hand began to hurt more and more until I was in agony. I knew the graft in my arm was causing the “Steal Syndrome” but what I didn’t know was that it had collapsed when I had the heart attack, and my blood pressure dropped very low.

We went straight to the hospital in Mississippi. We were blessed to have Dr. Wright on duty in the Emergency Room. He took one look, realized it had little to no blood flow and immediately went to work to track down the surgeon who put in the graft. I was transferred to Memphis to the Methodist University Hospital where the surgeon stopped the graft from working and restored the blood flow to my hand. Three more days in the hospital followed. And the news that it will take up to six months for the nerves in my hand to heal. The pain is horrific. Mind you, the trip down to Oklahoma was a four day event, originally. See, I was feeling great, and one huge step backward screwed up everything.

I did learn some things while dealing with all of this:

First of all, I am married to a saint, who put work and everything else on hold to take care of me. He is still taking care of me while I am getting my strength back and weaning off of oxygen. He cooks for me, or brings me take out. He keeps track of all my appointments and medication, and he nags me to take care of myself. I am worried he is going to get sick himself because he worries too much.

Second, I am no longer in charge of my life. Doctor’s offices call and say they have me down for an appointment without checking with me first. REALLY ticks me off when they do that. Especially since I have dialysis from 2-6 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I have home health people who call every day, and come see me on Tuesday and Thursday, not to mention the Physical Therapy lady – and they just decide to come right on over. At least they call a day ahead.

Third, nothing annoys me more than to be treated like an invalid. I can get around, as far as my oxygen hose allows. I can wash, dress, and take care of myself on a personal level. And as I heal, I get more grumpy by the day.

Fourth, I have wonderful friends here in Mississippi (Thanks Damian for stepping up when we needed you, and Thanks Vickie Dye for helping when we needed it). And I have loving and caring friends on line who pray for me, worry for me, and cheer me up. Thank you all from the bottom of my grumpy heart.

Fifth, I am determined to get back to where I was. The first step is getting off the oxygen by October 30th. I have tickets to see Elton John at the FedEx Forum that night. I am NOT going to miss it if I have to go with the oxygen and in a wheelchair. But I want to walk to my seat and enjoy the concert. The second step is getting my strength back. The physical therapist will start the process, but I am going to change it all up and get back on my feet. My heart isn’t damaged, and I only need the oxygen because I was short of breath and I am dealing with bronchitis. Third, I am going to get to all the appointments, listen to what the doctors say, and make my own decisions on the next step. They are all ganging up on me about early stages COPD. I have never smoked, I don’t understand that at all.

Fourth, I am going to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, and hauling our biggest load of stuff down. Damian is stepping up again and driving the truck for us. But my goal is to cook Thanksgiving dinner with the help of the women in my family. A simple meal, but damn it, it is tradition that I cook on the holidays and I am not letting my family down. Most importantly of all, I am going to spend every minute I can with our Addie Rose, because when we move, we will only get her on school breaks. It tears me up to think of how much we will miss her.

I will take three steps forward from now on so one step back won’t mean all that much. And I will heal.

Moving


In the first thirty-six years we were married, we moved, on average, every two years. We lived in Arkansas, Oklahoma (multiple times), California (also multiple times), Nottingham and Debden in the UK, Hong Kong, Karori and Pukekohe in New Zealand, Virginia, Missouri, and the last twelve years in Mississippi so it doesn’t count in the averages. Now we are retiring and moving one last time to our final home. We are moving to a small town (read that, blink and you miss it) in Oklahoma. Our home backs on to a golf course, which means a small yard to care for but a great view of rolling hills, grass, and trees. It is ironic we will live next to a golf course because neither the Mr. nor I care at all for the game. But the house is exactly what we want, so we are off on a new adventure.

After all the years of moving, I had it down to a science and lists of how to do it. Now, I have to start all over because it is shocking how much stuff, read that junk, a family can collect in twelve years living in one place. Over the past few weeks, I have said over and over, “What is this? Where did we get it? Who bought it? Why do we have it? Keep it, dump it, or sell it?” Honestly, we have stuff that we have no clue concerning any of that. On the other hand, I have things that mean the world to me, things that mean little in monetary value, but I simply can’t part with them. Baby blankets for kids who are now in their 40’s. Art, music, books, and trinkets that my children and grandchildren have given me, easily replaceable, but not if they gave it to me. And I collected things, from all over the world, not giving those up either. Decisions, decisions, a royal pain in the backside.

In all the years we have lived here, I have made very few friends. I could count them on one hand, but they are the kind of friends who will still be friends in twenty years from now. The new term for this kind of friendship is bonded. I just call it true friendship. I made many of those kinds of friends over the years and all over the world. I will miss my friends here, even though we will keep in touch. But, I will get to see my forever friends in Oklahoma, some of whom I have known since junior high school. (For you youngsters, that means middle school.) And that is a good thing. I will also be closer to grandchildren and my mother.

On the one hand, I am not upset about moving since it will bring us closer to family. On the other, I am still not excited about all the work involved. I have no idea how long we have left to live our lives, I have to wonder if we will get bored living in the same place for years like we did here in Mississippi. The only way to know is to suck it up and do what has to be done. Back to sorting and packing. Grumble.

Was It Really Worth It?


There was a shooting at the local Walmart this week. Two men were killed, a police officer was wounded, and the killer was shot by the police and is in the hospital. Last I heard he was expected to survive.

Since I live just south of Memphis, Tennessee, one of the most violent cities in the country, I hear about shootings all the time. The news reports anywhere from one to five shootings a week, or more. But there aren’t many in Southaven, Mississippi, so the shooting was big news. It is still big news, days later, because the Walmart still isn’t open for business.

The reason for the shooting was based on revenge. The shooter was placed on suspension from his job at Walmart because he had an altercation with a customer that resulted in him pulling a knife. He had not been fired from his job, as yet. He stopped the manager outside the store and shot him, then he shot and killed another employee who was simply going in to work. When the police showed up, he exchanged gunfire with the police and wounded one of them before he was shot. So, this guy does something totally unacceptable in the work place, refuses to take responsibility for his behavior, and decided it was the manager’s fault he was without a job. In the vernacular of the young men today, he was “disrespected” by the manager, and to regain his man card, he had to kill him. How utterly immature and ignorant can a grown man be?

What he doesn’t seem to understand is that what he has done will effect the families of the people involved for generations. Let’s start with his family. He has a wife and three small children. He will go to prison, and Mississippi has the death penalty. For a cold blooded, premeditated murder, it is most likely he will get the ultimate penalty. His children, if they ever see him again, will have to do so in the prison. They will grow up knowing their father was a killer, who shot three men in a fit of rage. They will grow up knowing that their dad had no respect for human life, and he allowed his immature feelings to dictate his actions causing unending pain to the families of his victims. And, they will worry about being as violent and emotionally immature as he was for most of their lives.

Then there are the families of the victims. The parents, spouse, children, siblings, and friends of those innocent men will be in shock, pain, and then have to go through all the stages of grief, and I can guarantee that getting past the anger with be the longest and hardest battle they will have. The funerals will come and go, sympathy will come and go, and then the wives will be left widows with children to raise on their own. And that is when the deepest sorrow and loneliness will hit the family. The emptiness in the lives of the families will never really go away. All the suffering was brought upon them by the purposeful actions of a man who refused to accept responsibility for his behavior. Like a two year old throwing a tantrum, he acted out in violence without an ounce of self control. The results of that may have given him back his self respect for all of two minutes, because he then tried to commit suicide by cop through forcing the officers to return fire. Was it really worth it?

Three families destroyed, a police officer left to deal with having to draw his gun and shoot at another human being, and the killer ends up in prison for life, if he doesn’t get the death penalty. The community has to deal with yet another senseless act of violence, creating even more issues around public safety. All because a male didn’t bother to grow up enough to take accept the consequences for his actions. Why. you may ask is this so important to me? Because I am a parent of a murdered child, and friend to the family of the man who died with my son. I know what the families will suffer, what the children will suffer, and that it will go on for generations, because I have seen it in my own family. May God bless the survivors, and may the killer obtain his just punishment – the death penalty.

Type A or Type B


I realized this morning that I literally had no idea what the date was. I used to be on top of things like that, I had to be with my full organizer and insane schedule of things to do and take care of in my hand. The more I thought about it, the more I realized something odd hand happened to the Type A, over achieving, overly committed, organized person I used to be. I was, heaven help me, turning into a Type B, laid back, unworried, unorganized, uncommitted person. The very kind of person that used to drive me crazy when I was the real me. How could I allow that to happen? How did I become such a slacker that I had no idea what the date was, even if I did know the day of the week? (As a Tuesday, I didn’t have dialysis, so I knew it was Tuesday – or a Thursday – or the weekend.) GASP!

When I was involved in Scouting, then in college, then working, I was always organized. I had things planned weeks and months in advance – all carefully written in my organizer and calendar. I had lists of things to do, lists of things to buy, lists of people to contact, and lists of when my lessons were due and papers needed to be turned in before exams were scheduled to be completed. I was never late to any event, and always prepared for my school work. I would sit down with each syllabus from each class and write everything down at the beginning of the semester. I would bookmark each and every story or article I had to read for each class – color coded no less – with the date written on each post it note. I was the champion of organization.

When it came to cleaning and organizing my house, I had a set schedule for each room and what had to be done when. I spring cleaned and fall cleaned every closet in every room in my home, every year without fail. I would shop for groceries once a month, and planned out every single meal I was going to cook ahead of time. I would have lists for those meals for the fresh things I would need every week, and I kept a running list of things I ran out of so I would always know what to buy at the grocery on those weekly trips. I knew, at one glance, what needed to be done next, and I kept the laundry just as organized and set up to be done efficiently and quickly. I was the one woman dynamo who kept my family just as organized. Until my boys became teenagers and I decided they just had to fend for themselves since they wouldn’t cooperate with my schedule. That worked too.

Yet, somehow, somewhere, over the past ten years, I lost my organizer, I quit working, I got sick, I got well, and I got old. I learned to stop over planning and allow life to happen on its own schedule. Then I realized that it didn’t matter if I was organized or not. Because I had no schedule, my closets would still be there to sort when I got healthy or determined enough to clear them out. I decided playing with the grandchildren was more fun than cleaning house or grocery shopping, or even cooking. And one day, BOOM, I became a Type B personality. It is shocking, it is hard to accept, but here I am, nonetheless. Now the only thing I schedule are doctor appointments and dialysis. In fact, if I didn’t have those things to go to, I would have NO social life at all. I guess I will learn to settle into my new normal eventually. It is a bit uncomfortable, like too tight jeans, right now, but I will stretch into the fit and learn to relax about everything as I continue to age.

Life is too important to do it at a full out run. I wonder how many things I missed because I was too busy looking ahead instead of enjoying the moment. I can’t go back and fix that, but I can change how I do the future. So this Type B, laid back, unorganized old woman is going to spend more time with my Mr., listen more to my children and grandchildren, and do more fun things like paint with my great granddaughter and write stories from my heart. And when I occasionally panic over losing the Type A part of myself, I will learn to laugh at myself and go do something totally unimportant, like have a cup of tea and a cookie.

Worrying


I saw a meme on social media that basically encouraged the reader to remember back to the days when they had no worries and simply played barefoot in the sunshine. I suddenly realized that I never had days like that as a child. In fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t worry about things in my life. It was, I think, a built in reflex, like breathing. I even worried in my sleep, come people call them nightmares. Now I wonder, is that normal, or is it something specific to me?

I can remember always worrying about being late for school, even though I don’t remember it ever happening. I was always afraid I would have to walk into a classroom late and draw attention to myself, making me open to ridicule and teasing from the other students – and heaven help me from the teacher. I worried about failing subjects, I worried about making a mistake, and I dreaded, above all, making myself a laughing stock. Nothing upset me more than for other kids and adults to laugh at me.

I worried about forgetting to do things, or doing things and messing it up. I worried about homework, chores, and taking care of things that were my responsibility. In fact, I still worry about those things. I worried about doing something or saying something that would upset other people. Even worse was trying to express myself and messing it up. So I just didn’t say anything to anyone most of the time, even if I did know the answer to a question, or had a different opinion than others. That has completely changed now, I say what I want, when I want no matter what others may think. But, back when, I was always self conscious and fearful of consequences, so I simply didn’t speak up.

I worried a lot as a young wife and mother. I worried that the Mr. would fall out of love with me and in love with someone smarter, prettier, sexier, and more interesting then that plain old boring girl from nowhere Oklahoma. I wanted to be everything he needed in a wife, but always felt insecure in my value as his wife. I was always aware that his parents never thought I was good enough for their son, and it made me both angry and frustrated. I always worried he would believe the gossip and idiotic nonsense spread around by those who didn’t want me in his life. But somehow, we found our way back to each other time after time.

I worried that I wasn’t a good mom to my boys, fearful that they would be bratty little monsters around others and fingers would be pointed at me for being a bad mom. I worried about their health, eating habits, and all the other things mothers worry about when trying to be a positive influence on their children. I worried when my oldest started driving and hanging out all night with his friends, I worried that my youngest would follow in his footsteps, but he never did. I always worried that I would lose one of my boys, and when we did, it nearly tore us apart.

So, no, I don’t remember playing in the sunshine without worries, because I have always been a worrier, and that hasn’t changed much over the years. Only now I worry about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I worry about the Mr.’s health, I worry abut being becoming decrepit, I worry about my mother living on her own at her age. I worry about the state of the country and the America haters who wont’ live elsewhere, but still hate what we stand for as a country. I worry about money, health care, and getting old. And I still worry that the Mr. will find someone prettier, smarter, more interesting, and younger that he will fall for. Silly of me, but it is a bad habit left over from years of worry. Folks say, “Don’t borrow trouble.” I always look at worry as a way to be prepared for what ever might happen. Then I am prepared for the worse, but joyful for the positive things that happen, no matter how much worry I put into it.

I wonder, am I too old to play barefoot in the sunshine and learn to leave the worry behind for a few blessed moments in time? Now I will probably worry about that too.

Toxic Male


I am married to a toxic male. There, I said it.

And I thank God every day for him. I know it isn’t the in thing to want to be with a man and not feel required to change him from an uninhibited male, but something between gay and a metro-sexual pretty boy. But he is exactly what the real woman in me needs and wants in my life.

Let me tell you some of the things my toxic male does that drives the far left folks insane.

He has a job. A real job that pays all the bills and then some. He has held a job every day since we got married nearly 48 years a go. During all the years he has worked, he has built his career in such a way that we will always be provided for, and when he retires we will have a small business to keep him busy and provide income. To him, it is the responsibility of a man to provide for his family.

He was a hands on father and is an involved grandfather who loves all our progeny. He has taught them to be strong people who are able to think for themselves and determine who and what they are in life without depending on popular culture to tell them what to do. Because of his leadership as the head of our family, our children and grandchildren come to him to talk over their decisions and life issues. He gives them advice then gets out of the way and lets them follow their own paths. Because he believes that is how a man should treat his family.

He is my equal in all things. Not only does he work outside the home, he helps me in the home. He has always helped with the kids, but he also helps with the housework, especially since I have had health issues. For decades, he has always done the dishes. I cook, he cleans. He does laundry, and cleans when needed. And he does all the vacuuming of the floors, since it is a chore I hate doing. In short, he takes up my slack, and being a man, he takes care of me. Above all, my toxic male has encouraged me to do what I wanted and supported me in all things. He is my biggest fan and he believes in me when I falter in my goals. He thinks I am something special, even when I don’t. He loves me, and treats me like I am a treasure because he believes no man is complete without a woman who loves him as much as he loves her.

He protects our home and family. He believes it is his responsibility to make sure we are safe from harm from others. He made sure all of us are trained in how to use weapons to protect ourselves if he is not present. He made sure that our home is protected by installing alarms and equipment to insure our security. And he stands between all of us and the evil out there in the world, ready to take up arms and do what must be done to ensure our safety. Because that’s what a man does, he protects his home and his loved ones.

He is religious, believing in his God and in the church in which he is a member. He stands as the head of our family, holding me by his side as his equal as he teaches our family how to stand firm in their beliefs as well. Although we do not expect our family to follow blindly, we do always offer them a place to learn and worship as needed. He does this because he firmly believes a man must set an example for others to follow, and he must stand by that example – always.

Like many toxic males, he loves guns, rides motorcycles, loves the outdoors, and enjoys hanging out with other males, mostly his brothers. He is political, staunchly conservative, patriotic, and loves America for all it stands for and does for the world. He is unwavering in his standards as an American. And he is this way because that is what a man, a strong independent male, does.

My man is a toxic male according to the leftist agenda. I can guarantee every single woman out there who has to put up with the cry baby males of the left envies every last one of us women who has a real man in her life who isn’t ashamed to be an uninhibited male. I know I am thankful to have mine.

A Girl and A Horse


On Saturday our Addie had a great day. She is quite horse mad right now, and wants riding lessons. Its a long story, but the other grandparent with whom we share custody, isn’t keen on the idea. To help Addie learn about horses and have the chance to be around them, we try to get her to events that will give her hands on experience.

The woman who trained our granddaughter and her horse in the hunter/jumper events put on a program for her younger students called a play day. The girls got to groom and bathe a small horse, lead and ride a horse, and play together in the outdoors on the farm. It was, as Addie said, “Totally Awesome!” And for my husband and myself, brought back happy memories of her mother learning horsemanship from one of the best trainers in our area.

There is something magical about being around horses. I know they seem huge, and they can be scary to little kids, but give them a minute or two with a horse sniffing them, nuzzling them, and kids just fall into love with the animals. There is nothing more sweet that seeing a child reaching up to hug a horse, and the horse all but climbing in their lap to hug them back.

Horses are wise, gentle, ornery, funny, goofy, spirited, and stubborn, just like people tend to be. A good match between rider and horse is a beautiful thing to see. It seems girls are more drawn to ponies and horses than boys, and it isn’t unusual to see a young girl out in the pasture with her best friend lying across his back and telling him all her troubles.

We used to live near a stable and on Saturday the parking area was filled with cars, trucks, and trailers as a gaggle giggling girls between six and womanhood took lessons, competed in events, cared for their horses and spent time making friends and enemies. Between the horses, dogs, people, teachers, and competition it was a noisy, joyous affair.

Girls learned responsibility, and how to work hard because their horses needed them to be able to understand and be aware of problems. Horses learned to work with the girls, treating them with gentleness and making them earn their respect. Having a horse is a lot more work than most people expect. It is an every day responsibility, and there is always something to take care of, be it making sure they horse stays healthy to keeping up with the maintenance of the animal. Brushing, shoes, trimming, checking for sores, cuts, making sure their teeth are in good shape, it is always something. Then there is the equipment that requires care. A good trainer will make sure the girls know how to keep their saddle and bridal in good condition, how to choose the right bit for their horse, and how to get their horse ready to ride.

Some girls have full board horses, where farm hands feed and water the horses, and clean the stalls for them. Personally, I think it is important that a horse owner take care of their own horse every day themselves. Nothing like cleaning out a dirty stall to teach a child hard work. Hauling in hay, grain, and water gives them a chance to understand horse nutrition and health. Overseeing the horses makes them more than a weekend owner, it makes them understand the needs of their horse and how to relate to him better.

I always get a kick out of watching a girl learn to make her horse do as she asks instead of doing what he wants. It gives a girl courage to face down a stubborn 1500 pound animal with nothing more than grit and her 100 pounds of determination. I have seen girls take a jump and go head over heels off a 16 hand horse, just to get up, brush off the dirt and climb right back on to try again. No tears, no self pity, just hard core determination to learn how to do things right. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

So, our Addie isn’t taking lessons, yet. But she is learning her way around a horse and how to care for one from the hooves up. One day we will watch her compete like her mother did, and bring home a blue ribbon. But the point of competing, to us, isn’t the winning, it is learning how to cope with losing, and still getting back on her horse and trying again until she conquers everything ahead of her. And until then, she will have fun loving on horses every chance she gets. I love being a Nana.

Childhood Memory


One winter, when I was about six years old, every kid in my family came down with a series of diseases. Measles, followed by chicken pox, followed by mumps. For three months my mother was stuck in the house with four little girls covered by some sort of bumps and dealing with a fever. We were hot, itchy, cooped up, and miserable. We all fell ill, like dominoes, one after the other. How my mother kept her sanity is beyond me. And to make things even more stressful, my dad was out in the field with the US Army and we were stationed in Germany with no family to help. I don’t remember a lot about that winter, except for one shining moment.

I got well first. I cannot tell you how great it was to not itch, and to be able to go outside. For Christmas, my older sister and I got our first bicycles. We were too sick to ride them for weeks after Christmas. I got to ride my bike before my sister got to be outdoors. I remember riding it up and down the sidewalk outside our flat, looking up at the third floor window where my sisters all stood watching me. As the second child, I rarely got to do anything first. I was chuffed beyond words. All three stood scowling at me, and I have to admit I was feeling pretty cocky that I was out and they were still in itchy hell. I was six, give me a break and don’t judge. As an adult, I know it was cheeky and rude, but as a child, I just felt empowered.

It wasn’t long before all four of us were well and back to running in and out of the house like we usually did. The memories of being miserable faded, and my special moment did too. We were finally back in school, and I know my mother was happy beyond words to have survived the winter of illness. Spring came and we were outside more than inside the house. In fact, we didn’t want to be indoors if we could avoid it. With spring came our usual battles with the Jones kids. We hated the Jones kids, they were bullies and meaner than a ticked off snake. Debra was the only girl, and she decided she was going to make my little sister’s life hell. Her closest sibling was Billy, he was twelve, my older sister was seven, and I was six. It was our job to look after the two younger girls. Billy would pick on us every time his sister started being rude or hateful and we put her in her place. I have always been, and will always be, a sarcastic smart mouth.

One afternoon on the playground, I got into it with Debra again. Billy started in on my sister, and I jumped in with a bowling pin. I have no idea where the wooden pin came from, but it was perfect to beat the snot out of Billy. So I set to, and he went home to whine to his mother. About that time, my mother turned up on the playground, (my next younger sister was always a tattle tale) to see what was going on. Mrs. Jones started shouting out her window at my mother. Mrs. Jones was probably close to six feet tall and weighed in at well over 200 pounds. My mother was five feet four inches tall and weighed about 110 pounds. Mom told Mrs. Jones that if she wanted a fight to get her fat @$$ down stairs and she would be happy to oblige her. She wouldn’t come down, and Mom was more than ready to go up and drag her out by her hair. But the other moms got her to calm down. No one insulted her girls. Now you know where I get my bad attitude and willingness to take on anyone. My sister and I got a reputation for fighting. Most people left us alone, except for the Jones brats and a girl called Rita.

Rita was bigger than my sister and I, since we tended to be on the shrimpy side. One day walking home from school she ambushed us. It wasn’t a long fight, my sister pretty much ended it before it got started, darn it. Rita’s problem was her dirty mouth and the way she thought she could talk to anyone that way. In our family, if we had sworn like that, my mother would have made us eat a bar of soap. The problem was that we wouldn’t put up with it from anyone else either. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well when my parents found out we had been fighting again. We followed the house rule of never starting a fight, but we sure as hell finished one. I guess my attitude was built into my genes. My dad and mother were scrappers in school, my sons were also willing to take on a fight anytime, and at least one of my grandchildren is a scrapper too. Thinking back on those days it is a wonder my dad didn’t get into trouble due to our fighting. Of course, one look at my tiny sister and the almost as tiny me, and every boy we fought with had a very embarrassed Dad since two skinny girls beat the stuffing out of their big brave boy.

I fought less as I grew older, but the years between six and eight were the banner years for my hot temper. I learned to control it better, but I never managed to curb the smart mouth and sarcastic comments that fell out of it regularly. Looking back, I was a bit of a bad ass. It tends to make me smile when I think back on those days.

Play With Any Toy


“Nana?” she asked, “Do I have to play with boy toys if I don’t want to?” I was surprised at the question, she is all girl, and only has pink toy cars that match her Barbie stuff. “Why?” I asked her. “Well, Papa said that sometimes girls play with toys boys like more than girls do. I don’t like boy toys, they’re boring and dumb. I want to play with girl toys because I have fun pretending with them. And I love my babies. (She is crazy about baby dolls.) So I don’t want to play with boy toys.” I assured her that she didn’t have to play with boy toys if she didn’t want to, but if she did she could. It didn’t matter one way or the other. But it had to be her choice what she played with and when. She was satisfied with that and went off to play with her Barbie doll house. Later, I got the whole story from her.

Come to find out, it is a big issue at school from last week. There was a deep discussion between the other kids sitting at her table. There are four of them two girls, two boys. One of the boys was playing “house” with the mostly girl group. He was “the dad” and he was babysitting so the “moms” could go grocery shopping. All normal play as far as I am concerned. They were mimicking their home life. Sounds a lot like our house too. At one point one of the girls said that the boy was silly for playing with a doll because it was a girl toy. This led to a huge discussion about what a boy toy or girl toy was, and why it was fine for anyone to play with either. Except for one small group of girls who insisted that boys who played with dolls were sissies and not acting like boys. Addie, who has been raised in a traditional family that has no such rules was confused. She was raised to think that she could play with any toy, and even if boy toys were boring and dumb, she could still play with them.

The play ended with a young boy with hurt feelings, and several snippy little girls feeling smug and superior. Addie felt bad for the little boy, he sits at her table, and he is her friend. The next free play time, she went to play with him and his boy toys. They had fun wrecking their trucks. Then they decided to organize the baby stuff so that everyone could find it and play with it. They were happily folding “laundry” and putting everything away when another girl started in on the boy again about being a sissy. Addie stepped in and told her she was being a mean bully to the boy. He quietly walked away and played with the boys again. The girl and Addie ignored each other the rest of the week. Apparently, it really bothered her. Enough that she sought out adult opinions from the Mr. and I.

She told me that when she went back to school, she was going to tell the boy and the mean girl that anyone could play with any toy they wanted to, and it didn’t mean they were anything different than anyone else. She was indignant for her friend, which makes me proud of her. My problem is simple, what kind of home life does the little girl have that it gives her the idea everyone has to be the same, and if anyone is different at all, then it is okay to ridicule them and call them names?

I don’t believe in forcing my kids to play with gender specific toys, who knows, my girls might want to be mechanics, and my boys might want to be a kindergarten teacher for all I know. It is sad enough that men are denied the opportunity to work with and be around young children because the are automatically suspected monsters due to their gender. Now other children, who have been brain washed, want to control a boy’s instinct to parent by telling them doing so makes them suspected in some way as abnormal. Why? At this rate, boys will grow up to be men who are afraid of being involved with their own children for fear of being labeled as predators, homosexual, or inept as males.

I am proud of Addie for standing up for her friend. I am glad she felt able to come to us and ask about something that really bothered her. I hope we gave her an answer that would help her navigate the social issues of kindergarten children. Most of all, however, I hope that girl has zero influence on Addie’s acceptance of everyone just as they are.