Sunday, April 18, 2010

Raising Children: Times I Wish They Were Klingons!

Trekkies will completely understand what I am trying to say here. There are times, as your children grow and develop, that you can’t help but wish you could have some of the traits of a Star Trek character: Whorf, the Klingon; James Kirk and Captain Picard; Data; Ensign Troy, the Betazoid; Gordy, the Engineer; and last, but not least, the original and greatest engineer – “Please, beam them somewhere else”, Scotty!

I was bullied as a child; until junior high school (what they call middle school now), when, on the very first day I entered seventh grade, I walked to the corner, was threatened, and told them I just didn’t care anymore! How I wish that would make a difference. But I can’t even explain how I felt when I heard that my two daughters were being called names and downright threatened. This is when I wish they had a bit of Whorf’s fierce pride and ability to growl. Not to mention his fighting skills.

Under stress, do you and/or your children become tongue-tied? That is when I think of James Kirk and Captain Picard. There is an elegance and grace to being able to being able to verbally elucidate and enunciate under pressure. These Shakespearean-trained actors can deliver regardless of the circumstances. Of course, I hope children will refrain from the sexual prowess of Kirk.

Data can spout any fact, any numerical calculation, and remark honestly and objectively on any behavior. Who wouldn’t want those traits?

Ensign Troy, the betazoid, who can pick on all emotional activity, even with alien races, like boys/girls who have ulterior motives for being friends with your child. Maybe then I wouldn’t have had to deal with the “best friend” who slept with my daughter’s boyfriend, or the tattooed, black-dressed, spike-haired, with multiple piercings who greets you at the door with, “Hey, is she here?”

Ah, Gordy! The one, who in this world would have been seriously labeled, overcame a handicap, was thankful, and knew he was not only equal to anyone, but was a valuable member of the crew. Even in the episodes where someone took his visor, he still proved himself capable and creative. What more could you wish for your children to possess?

And then there are times when every parent needs Scotty. Please, just beam them up somewhere for awhile, Scotty.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Honey Man

Liana, my younger daughter, attended theatre performances during the Shakespeare festival in Ashland, Oregon while on a Spring field trip when she was a middle school student in LaPine, Oregon. When she returned, she was ecstatic. “Mom, the kids there are all kinds of colors. It is so mixed. You have to go see it. Please, Mom, go check it out.” It was obvious she wanted us to move.

My husband and I had made multiple trips to Oregon, when he decided he wanted to retire from the Alaska State Troopers. While we were not certain we wanted to leave Alaska, the economic issues were unavoidable – we could not afford to stay. We had traveled all over his home state for an appropriate place to live. We explored Salem (where he was born and raised on a farm), Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, the coast and finally looked at the central part of the state. On our way back from the southern part of the state, we happened on LaPine, just thirty miles south of Bend, which I liked. Then I did something really weird – I sent him to find a house – ALONE.  But, this is really about The Honey Man.

We had lived in LaPine for three years when Gary and I had to make a trip to Astoria for a series of meetings. We decided to travel down the coast and cross over to Ashland located on the I-5 corridor (almost literally). Needless to say, I found Ashland absolutely awesome. I felt so comfortable. The only problem was the high cost of living.

Ashland had a regular Farmers Market, next to a rather strange church/spiritual center that Liana and I loved to attend. There we made the acquaintance of The Honey Man. Liana loved honey stiks and we made a point of always stopping by his stall to not only get her some, but for me to get the various honeys, etc. that I needed. We asked The Honey Man about his honey: he owned bees; did all the work during the seasons during the Oregon summer, but also owned bees in California so he could continue his finished product work during the off season.

Liana has torn her ACL (ligament in the knee) and could not attend the market with me for several weeks. Although I did not think she should be out walking (with her brace) at the market, she begged me hard enough, I consented. We walked and walked, buying items here and there, eventually reaching The Honey Man. Liana asked me to take a rest, assuring me that was all she needed, and told me to continue shopping. I went merrily off to buy some seafood and veggies, only to return to find my daughter in a complete state of disarray. The Honey Man had sat her down on his only chair, given her water, and taken care of her. He arranged for me to bring my car down right into the market to pick her up.

I have never forgotten The Honey Man. I wish I could tell him Liana is now running marathons and training for a triathlon; and that she still loves honey stiks. Thank you Honey Man.

[Sorry for the reference to the beehive hairdo!]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Childhood Easters

When I was a child, before my father died, Easter meant a new outfit, complete with shiny patent letter shoes (eventually with heels, when became a teenager), purse, and hat; not just for me, but for my mother and all six of us children. The Saturday before was spent pressing and curling hair, ironing, cooking, cleaning, and anything else in preparation for celebrating the rising of Jesus and the forgiveness of our sins. My family was not into sunrise services, but they were into southern Baptist stay-at-church-nearly-all-day-long type Easters. So, there was food at church and food at home.

My uncle Arthur Eato, who was career Air Force and lived in Texas, would only visit us at Easter time. He never brought his family (the rumors about his wife ran wild), but would just come to see his brother’s family. One Easter, I woke up early and wanted to dye Easter eggs (when I was very little, the eggs would be hidden around our property and we would have our very own Easter Egg hunt). Uncle Arthur came down the stairs in his dress uniform. Just the two of us spent a quiet (which was rare in my family’s house) morning dyeing eggs. It breaks my heart that my uncle died alone, homeless and destitute in his car; but my image is of a black man, more than six foot tall, who was happy dyeing eggs with his little niece.

Norman Eato, my father, was a gardener and every Easter gave my mother a beautiful white lily plant. Daddy died just before my senior year of high school, but I just knew he would want to make sure my mother continued to get her lily. I saved my money and made sure it would be the first thing she saw on Easter morning. I was so proud when my mother came into the dining room and saw the lily in the middle of the table. “Where did that come from?” she yelled. Her face was twisted and nasty. She started screaming the same question, over and over. It got worse when I said the unforgiveable words, “It’s from Daddy.” The screaming and yelling got worse, the lily was thrown out, and I was never forgiven. Who knew you could commit an unforgiveable sin on the day the Lord had risen?

I never liked chocolate (don’t get Freudian on me here), so Daddy always made sure I had a white chocolate bunny in my Easter basket. I always wanted one that was solid, but I’m sure back then they were just too expensive. And I loved the flowery, sappy Hallmark cards that circulated around the house. Now, I settle for Cadbury eggs.

There is a picture in my one surviving sister’s house of me and my sisters dressed in our Easter finery. I love that picture. It was taken by Daddy whose avocation was photography. It was probably taken about fifty years ago. That’s about all that is left for me about Easter.