Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Moving the Petting Zoo ...

We’re going on vacation.  Which for a mom means really means “we’re moving this three ring circus somewhere else for a few days”.  It also means driving around to visit everyone we possibly can in 5 days.  Finding something to entertain the kids who are in “meet new people overload”.  Appeasing all relatives by joining them at their favorite place to be.  Doing that one entertaining thing, like the zoo, that we said we were going to do.  Taking a half-a-gazillion pictures of everyone together.  And of course, apologizing for not getting up there sooner (it has been 3 years).

So I’ve been packing.  Clothes, toys, feeding supplies for Bug, drinking cups for Monkey Man, snacks for everyone.  There’s a list that is so awesomely long of stuff for us to pack that I quit writing it down.  We have to move sleeping bags, play pens, diapers … you name it.  All the while preparing our Zoo here for the house sitter.  Also exciting and fun.  Cleaning up Bean’s room (it’s the “guest room” for that purpose), making sure all the entertainment stuff works and is plugged in, the alarm instructions are set, the littlest dog is at my friend’s house … another long list. 

I often laugh at the word vacation.  I am sure that since we’ve had kids, we’ve not actually been on “vacation” as the word was meant.  You other moms with young children can relate right?  There’s nothing relaxing.  But it is refreshing.  There are people I love that I haven’t seen.  Cousins to play with that even Peanut barely remembers.  Handfuls of people who have never even met Monkey Man or Bug.  And poor Bean only “remembers” what we’ve told her about these people.  Really, all I’m doing is taking a traveling petting zoo.  Everyone will want to hold, hug, kiss, love on, pinch cheeks of, and dote over the kids.   Patting heads, kissing cheeks, hugging necks.  I bring the teeny cute ones for everyone to say “oh my, they look just like Grandma So and So” or “Great Uncle What’s-His-Name”.

But it will be a blast.  We are so blessed that our family loves us as much as we love them.  No awkward family reunion where they’d rather shoot you than hug you.  Sure it’s a 12 hour car ride with 4 kids, which on life’s list of fun things to do …  But it’s so worth it.  My great-grandparents were long gone to heaven when I was born.  My kids have been blessed to know 3 of their great –grandmothers.  They have two left.  That’s one of the reasons for this trip.  It’s not just seeing family, it’s about understanding heritage.  We’re going to a family reunion.  Family that came over to the United States just three generations ago.  In a country where you can be from anywhere and that’s okay, it’s so important to know where you came from.  Who your family was.  Who they are.  And you show them with your kids who it will be.  It’s important to appreciate what makes you “you”.  So, I’ll pack up my zoo, and take them to the farthest regions of car-ride-ability.  We’ll spend what will ultimately seem like not long enough with family.  Clark Kent will be the most awesome Ring Master ever, getting us around, and hauling the circus around.  The kids will have fun and we’ll come home.  Perhaps a little more appreciative of the phrase “where I come from”. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Social Media Paradox

Growing up is hard.  Especially when you think you’ve already done that.  Realizing that Jane has a best friend that isn’t you anymore.  Realizing that no one really can stand for you to be in their social circle, but really they just don’t want to say anything.  Not getting invited to parties that you don’t know about until pictures are posted.  That’s high school, right?  It’s grown up world too.  And it sucks.  Until you realize that you’re not in high school.  Right? 

No, not really.  I have a horrible time of putting on my “politeness” filter.  I’m a talker (shocked, right?) and tend to say what I think despite what others may feel about it.  It seems bold, brazen, and honest.  But it’s not.  It’s apparently offensive.  Just like those yahoos on TV that say stuff to irk me.  It only irks me because I don’t agree with it.  Because I see it as preposterous.  Because I see it as fear mongering.  I don’t think about it.  It’s how I was raised.  Say what you mean, mean what you say, let others decide for themselves.  I mean, if you constantly have to hide behind a fa├žade of “not wanting to offend anyone” then you constantly watch yourself.  

My mouth gets me in trouble a lot.  Always has.  Ever since I was about three years old.  Say what you think to your parents and you get time out.  Or a spanking.  Say what you think to your friends, and you get less friends.  It is what it is.  In the world of social media this is truer than anywhere else.  In “type” things like sarcasm are lost.  I’ve found that often what you type and what you mean are so very different things.  Because it’s left up to the reader.  It’s their interpretation.  And boy do I get interpreted wrong a lot.  Or maybe I don’t.  I find that in the realm of social media we are all having to adjust to the way life is run.  Things are literal, or they aren’t.  It is a great act of discerning what was really said.  Reading between the lines becomes most important.  I don’t know that I quite get it.  Certainly have caused a few rifts in the past few days in my social media world.  So, for now, I’m choosing to keep my mouth closed everywhere but right here. Right here I can say what I want.  And I’ll say I think Jon Stewart is genius, and I don’t know why an 8 year old boy was walking home by himself in a big city anyway, and I don’t think they’ll ever find that missing college girl here in Tennessee.  You can read about it, or not.  There’s no need for interpretation.  I say what I mean, just how I mean it.  It’s who I am.  I was taught that you do that.  Tell them what you mean, and no one will ever see you as fake.  They may not like you, but at least they know where you stand.  I’d rather be me than liked.  It’s who I am.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where I come from ...

My family is from South Carolina.  I was born there.  My parents were born there.  Their parents were born there.  And theirs, and theirs, and theirs.  For generations my family has lived in South Carolina.  I’d say they’d always been there except I’m fairly certain that, despite how perfect South Carolina is, the Garden of Eden wasn’t there.  There are a few things that all South Carolinians are born to love, raised on, and survive on.  Sweet tea, real peaches (don’t let those yahoos in Georgia tell you they’re the ones with the best peaches), good manners and grits.  Good ol’ white hominy grits.  Grits for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They go with everything.  Sausage, shrimp, steak, ham, eggs … you name it, grits makes it great.  And Lord have mercy, add cheese to them and they are (is it possible?) even better. 

Now, Clark Kent’s family hasn’t been in the United States as long. His great grandparents on both sides came here from Europe.  They came to Ohio.  They don’t eat a lot of grits.  Oatmeal.  Warm cooked oats with cinnamon and sugar, with raisins, made with water, made with milk, made however you want.  They eat oatmeal.  Clark Kent isn’t a big fan of grits, and I’m no fan of oatmeal (read here can’t stand the stuff and its gross and mushy yuckiness).  So we raise our children that both are just the best stuff on the planet.  My kids, though, have good genes.  They have Southern running through them.  They don’t like oatmeal.  Or cream of wheat (which in my opinion is some sort of oatmeal/grits hybrid mess up thing that Virginia created).  I’m proud.  They love grits.  Cheese grits.  Good ol’ southern kids is what they are.  Raised in the south, eating like God’s people should eat. Seriously.  I’m fairly certain that manna was like Hebrew grits.  Just sayin’. 

So in this cultural melting pot, where Clark Kent and I come from two different styles of breakfast, we’ve discovered that oatmeal and grits can live in the same house.  He even eats grits, so long as they aren’t “quick” or “instant”.  I won’t eat oatmeal.  That’s yankee food and I don’t want it. Probably the truth is my family didn’t eat oatmeal because it was more expensive than grits.  Grits were cheap, and still are.  My family for generations were cotton farmers.  Not the big fancy plantation owners, no sir.  The poor share croppers who worked their whole lives for nothing.  Then they were in the cotton mills.  Worked long hours for little pay and a house on the Mill Hill.  The Great Depression didn’t affect them.  They wouldn’t have noticed except the rationing of food thanks to the “Great War”.  They had grits instead of rice.  Shrimp and Grits?  Poor mans meal, really.  Not in those fancy chain restaurants, of course.  But out in the boondocks, where you catch the shrimp yourself.  You can have very little meat and serve it with grits, and it’s filling.  It’s a poor man’s food to be sure.  But it’s so South Carolina.  The state still recovering, 150 years later, from a war that was its idea.  So I’ll take my grits, the best peaches anywhere in this country, and my sweet tea.  Because grits is who I am.  I’m not oatmeal fancy.  Thankfully, Clark Kent doesn’t mind that one bit.