Archive for October, 2016

Clothing confusion

By
October 4th, 2016



I have a pair of skinny jeans, and I just realized I haven't seen them for a month. I searched my closet fairly well and they were not there. What a mystery!

My skinny jeans, at the August Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. Olivia will be taller than me in no time.

My skinny jeans, at the August Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. Olivia will be taller than me in no time.

By coincidence that night, I was helping Olivia pick out her clothes for school and I saw my jeans in her drawer. "Did you put these here?" I asked.

"Yeah, but they were in the pile of clean clothes Dad put on my bed," she answered. When folded, they pass for her skinny jeans.

Aha. I knew it. Since she was three, he's been getting her clothing mixed up with mine. Usually it's her panties. Every now and then it's her shirts, too.

I'm small, but there is no way I could have been mistaken for having Three Year Old Butt. And her undies used to have Disney princesses on them. Mine have Sanrio characters. Just kidding. Or not.

These days, his mistakes are more understandable since Olivia is nine. I'm five foot three and she's creeping up on me - it's her half-Scandinavian genes.

That, and I delusionally bought size small women's underwear recently and sadly had to give them to Olivia because after I washed them, they were too tight. (I blame the dryer.) So her stuff is really starting to look like mine.

But thinking Olivia would fit jeans clearly long enough for a short woman? Oh, Daddy. Silly Daddy.

This kid! She likes to try on my high heels, too.

This kid! She likes to try on my high heels, too.

We love him so, and he tries. I think we're going to have to take a tip from elementary school and label our belongings here at home, too.

 

Someone's responsible, and it's not me

By
October 4th, 2016



You know you've done something right when your child is more responsible than you are. I'm not saying I'm an awesome mother. I'm just celebrating a small victory in the journey of parenthood.

Olivia had a doctor's appointment that kept her out of school in the morning. I was to return her after it was done.

The doctor actually gave her a slip to be out of school the entire day. I like hanging out with her, and I wistfully said, "Aww. I wish you could play with me all day."

I wasn't going to because she needs to be in school and learn stuff, but I was just saying. And to my surprise, the feeling wasn't mutual.

"Yeah, but we have Fun Fair this afternoon, and sometimes the fourth graders help set up," she reminded me.

Olivia drew this Fun Fair poster, too.

Olivia drew this Fun Fair poster, too.

"Oh. Is that fun to do?" I asked.

"No," she said.

Now I'm curious. "So... you're just being responsible?"

"Yeah," she answered nonchalantly.

And this one.

And this one.

It kind of blew me away. I told her I was very proud of her. I really am.

Gosh. How did we do that? And how can I be a little more of that?

Candy corn corner

By
October 4th, 2016



The imagination of children never ceases to amaze me. One night while lying in bed with me just chatting - as is our nightly ritual - my daughter told me she loves to look at "the candy corn on the ceiling."

I have no idea what that means.

Then she pointed out that the door frame, yellow hallway, and white ceiling come together to form a little tri-colored triangle that looks like a candy corn. I have a very colorful house, if you're wondering.

Do you see the candy corn?

Do you see the candy corn?

Oh yeah! I see it!

How cool is that? I never would have noticed it if she didn't tell me.

"I like my candy corn. I like to think about it as I fall asleep. I dream about Candy Land and all my favorite candies that I can eat whenever I want," she explained.

My gosh, that is so cute.

And once again, I'm grateful for a child who constantly challenges and changes my perception of life.

Panty shopping is not for panties

By
October 4th, 2016



This is a story about shopping for underwear, but it's really about a father who can't let go of his little girl. I took Claus shopping for underwear for Olivia.

Our nine-year-old wears women's XS or Petite Small. She prefers to be a Big Girl so she wants me to buy that instead of from the girl's section.

We only figured this out when I delusionally bought myself size small, and after I laundered them, realized I gained weight and can't fit them. Very sad day.

When I looked at it on the bed in the pile of clothing, I noticed they looked to be the size of her undergarments, so I had her try them on, and they fit. She was very proud.

Back to today. So we shop in the women's section now, and I dragged Claus with me on errands. I have told him this, but his brain refuses to accept it because he headed for the children's department.

Reluctantly redirected to the ladies' area, he turned pale when he saw all the filigree and fantasy. It's funny how a husband would be excited about that, but a father becomes morose when realizing this is the future of his daughter's intimates wardrobe.

"Don't worry," I assured him. "I get her the conservative kind; the athletic styles with moisture-wicking material." Really, I wouldn't let her wear sexy anything, either.

But he didn't trust me. We browsed the racks looking for conservative panties and more often than not, came across lacy bits and skimpy pieces of material. He looked very distressed.

A couple of times I thought I saw something appropriate, but when I pulled it out, it had, like, a 2 millimeter patch of lace across the front. "NO!" he bellowed at the speed of light, and pushed it back, out of sight.

You should know this is a slow-moving, quiet man. He speaks slowly, he walks slowly, he thinks before he speaks, and then he speaks gently. He's not stupid, he's just mellow. Except for this.

To tease him, I found thongs and held that up, as if for serious consideration. I thought he was going to ask me for a divorce.

I knew this excursion wasn't going well after ten minutes. Luckily, I'm a fast, decisive shopper, so I got the minimum of what I needed and we left.

I could have stayed longer and hunted down a few more pairs for Olivia, but I think another quarter hour in there would have been a Widow Maker.

I'm really not sure what is going to happen when Daddy's Little Girl gets a boyfriend.

Music, memory, and Alzheimer's Disease

By
October 4th, 2016



My mother still recognizes me. I see the light in her eyes, but it fades quicker now, and she returns to a flat affect.

In the last many months that I've been visiting her at the care home, I've noticed she doesn't speak much and does a lot of staring straight ahead. She answers in one word whispers without looking at me.

I tell her the same things every time - Olivia is in the fourth grade, Olivia dances, I'm a housewife now - and every time, I don't get much reaction. Then I just sit next to her quietly and hold her hand.

It's OK. We don't have to talk. We can just be.

My social worker friend, Mari Fran, pointed out that problems with communication come at the final stage of this disease. (http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp) This realization made me morose.

I've long accepted her condition, and I have already grieved a lot. Part of me is ready for her eventual passing. She is a sweet person, still, but she is not the woman who raised me.

Yet hearing out loud the words "final stage" hit me harder than I expected. Please know that just because it's termed "final" doesn't mean there's anything quick about it. People can live a few years like this.

I wanted to do something nice for her. I would have anyway, now that I have time and more energy, but I felt a little more urgency.

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My dear friend Trey Terada is a professional ukulele player, and I asked him to visit with me one day and give her a mini-concert. He was kind enough to agree.

She lit up when he started strumming. Her face was full of joy and life again, her eyes were alive, and her hands waved along with the Hawaiian music. "I used to dance some hula," she told him happily.

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I haven't seen her this vivacious in months. She smiled more in the one hour with Trey than she has in three months of my visits.

When he took a little break, I launched into our usual small talk conversation (Olivia, Olivia, housewife), and she actually looked at me and reacted more than usual.

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I think the music really helped us connect. Music has so many therapeutic effects; the Mayo Clinic says "musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer's disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease... Music can also benefit caregivers by reducing anxiety and distress, lightening the mood and providing a way to connect with loved ones who have Alzheimer's disease — especially those who have difficulty communicating."

It was just such a different energy on this day, than it has been for a long time. It was upbeat and present. I am so grateful.

Yes, I can play recorded music, but there's something special about live music and interaction with the musician. She was so tickled that he came just for her.

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"Come closer so I can kiss you," she asked him, after his last song. "I just love you. I'm so glad I met you."

Trey leaned in, obligingly. I was so content about all of it, so thankful for this moment.

"I love you, Mom," I said to her.

She looked at me. "I love him," she responded.

I think that's a joke. And if so, then that's the mom I knew - always humorous. What a gift to see that again, just for today, thanks to the magic of music and my friend Trey.

Short video of Trey playing: https://youtu.be/bnn5ZlJ9QZc

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