This weekend, Christian and Jasmine learned a new trick. She is now his co-pilot.
He had wanted badly to let her run along beside him while he pedaled. So be it, I said. And, they did. It’s something. Jasmine actually pays attention to his every move, as if to say, “See? I told you I could do it!”
Kona, on the other hand, is quite perplexed. “Stay within our sight!” I yell as they ride and run off. Kona tugs on the leash, begins to wimper, moving into full whine. And, then high pitched barks. “Wait,” I scold her, “only Jasmine may do that!” Not to worry, Kona gets her chance, every once and a while. But, poor thing, she doesn’t seem to get the anticipate-the-bike and slow down parts.
Christian is happy. I am happy and predict many adventures with his co-pilot.
To share or not to share. How much as a parent am I really supposed to discuss with and expose to our twelve-year-old son? Ken is better at sharing than I am. He’s not squeamish. He’s matter-of-fact and lays it out for the taking. Which, I think in the long run, is good and healthy.
I’m still working on it. Sometimes, topics come up at the dinner table that make me want to crawl out of my skin and go hide under a blanket. But, that’s okay. Maybe I’m growing up, too. As I reflect, I appreciate that we can discuss taboo subjects as a family in a mature, unemotional, and nonjudgmental way.
Don’t overreact. My mom’s cousin offers this: Don’t appear shell-shocked when your kid tells you something you may not want to hear. Poker face it all the way, baby. Or, at least until you have had time (and, maybe a drink) to consider your options. Older children are guaranteed to clam up the moment they think you don’t get it, or don’t ever want to get it.
Adults want teens to share their private thoughts. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Ann Lukits reports that teens who share their secrets are better adjusted.
Perhaps as parents, we can open our minds and share a bit more, too.
Christian really wanted a dock for Christmas. For his kayak. On the
retention pond in our backyard.
Ken decided it was to be. So on Christmas Eve, off to Lowe’s he went to purchase a pickup load of treated lumber. Said lumber then was hauled up the front steps into our living room and was carefully placed under the tree. I was concerned. Concerned that there it would sit for more than just a week. For months. But, out it went on New Year’s Day, onto the back porch then down the steps to the prep area.
This past Sunday, my two men worked in unison, father teaching son new skills. Patience, measure twice, cut once. All day long.
Then, in they came at dark. Instead of retreating to the comfort of his recliner, Ken proceeded to cook a gourmet dinner. Did I feel inadequate? A bit. But, I was sick. Really.
On the menu: Green salad with a mustard vinaigrette, creamy cauliflower soup (see recipe below), and broiled cod. Simple, right? Maybe, but I was impressed.
By the way, it’s Ken’s birthday today.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup (courtesy of Sunset)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (we recommend using only one)
- About 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 large head cauliflower (2 lbs.), chopped
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
- In 3 batches, whirl soup in a blender until very smooth, at least 3 minutes per batch (or, if you’d like a few florets in your soup, blend 2 batches and leave the last chunky). Stir together and season to taste with white pepper and salt.
- In a small bowl, combine olive oil, chives, and parsley. Ladle soup into bowls and decoratively drizzle herb oil on top.
When talking about favorites, there’s Christian, the other man in my life. My son.
Though, I may not divulge much else. I must respect his request.
I am grateful he’s our son. And he is loved.
You know, when do you’re doing the most boring, mundane things, that’s when ideas start to ramble. That happened this morning as I was pulling the delicates out of the washer.
I think constantly about how I should share more on this blog. What better way to find new friends than to share about things that I like or love. I mean, so very many of us like to write about things that we hate, or ‘cilantro’ as Andra would say.
Tomorrow, I’ll share about my most favorite thing.
(a post from Jasmine)
Hi. Jasmine here.
I thought I’d pick up where Carol left off since she’s been quite the slacker the past few days…well, really, the past week or so. You humans and your habits. Hard to break bad ones, hard to keep good ones. Us dogs? Not an issue. For us, there’s no right or wrong. Instead, its a cinch. You guys tell us what’s right and what’s wrong. And, we get treats when we get it right! We understand you. Well, we understand what we want to hear. It’s not all this, like you think.
Now, about Kona…that little b—-h and her fancy bowl. Enough already. She gets her own special dining room, too. And then she has the gall to growl at me from within her abode when she’s done eating. B—-h. And a whole post about it? Really?
She’d better be glad she’s here because it was gonna be just me. I picked out the boy first. And then Ken picked out Kona. And then Carol decided she would come home with us.
That’s okay. Because I’m the top dog, the Getter of All Things. Need a dish towel? Got it. Looking for a shoe? No problem. A sock? Absolutely. I even clean up after Kona when she’s decided to bring dinner back up for a second round (I’ll keep it at that since you humans don’t appreciate canine gourmet).
Anyway, just wanted to chime in about me. What you see is what you get. No shame. Now, if I could just get my humans to let me sleep in the bed with them. And, I don’t understand this waiting-until-it’s-light-to-get-up-and-eat-breakfast thing.
Christian began middle school yesterday. It was different from any other “first day” we’ve experienced. For all of the others, he was a little boy. The changes from year-to-year were not so extreme.
He began this summer as a fifth grader, still in elementary school, shorter, with curly, blond hair. He had never been to a sleepover camp. He had never once discussed girls in that way.
When I started middle school, I felt awkward in a foreign land, having spent my first five years of school in not quite the Outback. But, Christian was enthusiastically autonomous as he prepped Tuesday night, as he strode off to the bus stop alone Wednesday morning. It means a lot to his parents that Christian had such a great day–we had a great day. Middle school seems to suit him: It’s a bit rough around the edges, there’s more diversity, less rules, old friends, new friends. That’s all I may share. I’ve been sworn to secrecy.
(queue sentimental moment)
As I think of Christian growing up, I often recall this song by my favorite band EVER. Though it is intended for a daughter, it pretty much sums up for me the experience of seeing my son grow up before my eyes, how fleeting time is even though I am right by his side, almost every single day.
(queue needle scratching-across-a-record sound, interrupting said sentimental moment)
Christian would rather I consider a tune on today’s Top 40 list.
(queue blank thought)
Off he goes!
As I passed through the living room on Saturday, I noticed Kona snuggled on the sofa with her bowl. Well, her substitute bowl. Recently, she broke her beloved ceramic one as she toted it from the powder room to the sofa. Dropped mid-prance as she just had to see what her sister was up to. That’s right, I said the powder room. Kona eats in “private” since her little yet larger sister Jasmine thinks any food in any bowl is hers to eat.
It seems since Kona’s beloved blue bowl cracked and went the way of the trash can, she has become even more possessive of its simple makeshift replacement. I teased that perhaps we need to take her shopping to Petco to pick out a new one. Just Queen Kona and her humans.
Poor Kona generally puts up with her strong, confident, alpha sibling pretty well. But, gradually, she’s figured out the food thing. The BOWL thing. And, she no longer tolerates being bullied. So, this weekend, she stood her ground. Follow the play-by-play here:
Snuggling on the sofa
Jasmine sits up from under the dining room table when she notices Kona on the sofa. With THE bowl. She must claim it. Kona notices Jasmine.
Uh oh. Jasmine decides to approach. Kona clinches the bowl and lets out a slow guttural growl, “Back off, bitch.” Literally.
The human intervenes and diverts Kona’s attention. Crisis averted. There will be plenty of time later for gnashing teeth, high pitched yelping, and flying fur.
As I drove into the cul-de-sac yesterday evening, I noticed our neighbor’s daughter being pushed in a Cub Mobile by a child I did not recognize. As I slowed down, said boy ran up to my car with a huge grin on his face. It was then I realized that he was MY son.
I had been preparing myself for this. I mean, Ken had texted a photo of Christian mid-haircut. Mid-chop. I was still surprised. All through dinner, we kept commenting on how different he looked, how mature he had suddenly become.
Since he was a tot, and his blond ringlets began to sprout, we’ve been reluctant to give into to more than just a trim. We relied upon Christian’s mop of toehead curls to pick him out of a crowd. This is the end of an era. Time to grow up.
The new do
One must choose your battles, so they say. Especially as a parent.
When a child is younger, it’s easy to encourage him to make the right choice, your choice. So sweet, so innocent.
But, as time passes, there’s a turning point when he realizes he has a say. San Francisco, July, 2008: Seven-year-old Christian had a say. With his very own spending money, he proclaimed, he would invest in whatever and however much he wanted to from the hotel vending machine. Not my battle. Go for it, son.
The current version of Christian’s bedroom is also not my battle. There are minimal standards (after all, who do you think I am ?): No dirty clothes, trash, or food. That’s it. Otherwise, it’s a man cave-in-training. His refuge.
Christian begins middle school next week. There will be battles. As parents, we must consider each one carefully. Sigh.