Since Husband is more than a little convinced that if I blog about going away for a few days, we will return to a house stripped for parts like an old Chevy, I wouldn’t normally tell you this. But, because he’s not joining us and would therefore greet you with at the door with a Louisville Slugger, I’ll let you in on that fact that I’m packing up the kids and the dog today and heading north to my beautiful hometown of Dorset, Vermont for a few days.
And, I can’t wait. The boys (lazy yellow labrador included) and I are heading up for a few days filled with tromping through backyard fields, walking the golf course with the dogs, hiking child-sized trails and enjoying the company of beloved Marnie, Jeff and (the anti-lazy yellow Labrador) Daschiel.
Like in Marblehead, they’ve had a boatload of rain over the last month or so. Which means the Green Mountains will be Ireland-green. The flowers will be up, the trees blooming and, while I’ll miss the whiff of ocean in my own town, I’ll smile as my children and I breathe deep the smell of fresh cut grass, fresh cut FRESH, fresh cut CLEAN. Ahhhhh. Do you know that smell? If you don’t, go find it.
Between us and Vermont, however, remains the chore of packing endless bags of sh*t needed to sustain two young boys, a dog and me for five days. While my Mom kindly stocked the fridge of essentials for us, I need to get off this computer and get moving on packing the clothes, shoes, favorite blankets, favorites lovies (Baaah and Bunny), diapers, wipes, Kandoo, kibble, games, DVD player, kid CDs, Zhu Zhus, car snacks, juice boxes and booster seats. Then I will stuff whatever I can into giant black garbage bags (classy, no?) before throwing them into the new car. Because the big, hairy dog will be with us (bye, bye new car smell) and I could knit a sweater with the hair he will shed through the trip.
But, we will arrive. And breathe. And play. And love. And be loved.
I used to drive home from college in my Hyundai (seriously), without a darn care in the world, and play this song over and over on my 8-track cassette player. Of course, I know it’s about West Virginia and not Vermont but it still makes me think about going home.
So, here you go. Take me home, John.
When I was a little girl (an only child growing up in a small Vermont village), my parents seemed particularly concerned with not spoiling me. They started out a newly-married couple without much more than their degrees (Tuck Business School and Wells College), entrepreneurial spirits and a love of the country life. They weren’t handed anything from their own parents. They worked very hard to build a catalog business together and saw it reach great heights of popularity during the mail order boom of the 80s. Their business was launched in the basement of our house, then moved to bigger space in the neighboring one-light town, then they bought a big chunk of land, built their own warehouse and office space and grew right into that, too. More warehouse space, more land, more employees, more money. Eventually, my parents sold their home-grown business to a larger catalog conglomerate that was, at the time, very busy collecting other niche mail order companies (like Golf Day and Talbots). This left them with no business but a whopping big warehouse that became home to Burton Snowboards. Their story is a model of successful business building. And, they did it side by side. All day, every day — which I almost find even more impressive.
All the while, there was me. A baby in a #10 box, a toddler with a mailing tube trumpet, a pre-schooler in packing peanuts, a kindergartener in customer service. A middle schooler that thought…well, that thought she was pretty darn cool. And, pretty sure that things were really going to start getting pretty cushy in the world in which I was living. But the amazing thing about my parents is that, despite the fact that they were starting to do quite well, they never really showed it. We lived (and my parents still live) in the same house they stretched themselves to purchase in the mid-70s. My Dad has always driven a Ford pick-up truck and I think he likes his trucks better once they’re somewhat beat-up and rusty with dog scratches on the door and a, mostly unused, gun rack in the rear window. My parents purchased a wood burning system to forego oil in the winter and my Dad, at age 65 and an implanted defibrillator later, continues to schlep load after load of wood down to the basement to fire that sucker up every day because he prefers to “burn wood, not money.”
So, any thoughts I may have had of all the trendiest fashions, a car for my 16th birthday, big weekly allowances, whatever? Sadly misguided. I was not indulged. But, don’t get me (or them) wrong. I certainly didn’t want for anything I truly needed (and I admit to attending a tony private high school) but all the really superfluous spoiled only child stuff you might expect? Nope. Not even vaguely up for discussion.
But…there was one thing I loved. That almost every child loves. One thing that I was allowed to have. In excess.
In the time that I resided under my parents roof, they also accepted residence of the following: two cats, six dogs, two guinea pigs, two hamsters, a bird, an opossum, a rabbit, baby chicks indoors and countless varieties of backyard chickens.
And, I’ve probably forgotten some.
Sweet, huh? Letting their little girl have a menagerie of pets? Mostly, yes. But, there’s this one other thing about that. You see, the first pet that was officially mine was a kitten. A black, fuzzy thing as cute as a button and only about twice as big. And he was to be mine (all mine!) with one condition. My Dad was going to name it. Sure! I’d take that deal any day. I mean, how bad could it be?
Blackie? I suggested. Nah, said my Dad.
We’ll name him Dick.
Yup, Dick. That’s what my Dad named that cat.
You laugh, don’t you?
Want to know what he named my hamster? Dick the hamster. And the bird? Dick the bird. I kid you not. I lived with this. Repeatedly.
I laugh now, of course. And, truth be told, I’m a BIG FAN of giving pets human names. Our other pet names (you know, when we already had a Dick in the house – snicker) were Mickey, Bonnie, Sam, Sonny, Katie, etc.
When I was in college, I went out and got a guinea pig (my roommates were not so excited but they grew to love her. I think.) We named her Joyce. As an aside we thought we were naming her after that saxophone playing Muppet. You know, the one with the crazy hair? Turns out her name was Janice but whatever. Joyce stuck.
Ross and I got a dog together after we were married and named him Bernie (after #51). We’ve already decided our next dog will be Jorge (#20) although I plan to pronounce it “George” and Ross will likely drive me crazy by actually calling him “Hoar-hay”. Just rolls off the tongue, no?
I’ll bet there are a lot of things that my parents are proud they passed along. Things that I carry with me every day in the form of my happiest childhood memories. And, there are also probably some things they hoped I’d forget.
I wonder where the memory of “Pets Named Dick” stands in their minds?
Last week my boys each got a progress report from their Nursery School. Each report was good. Certainly nothing to worry about. Both are performing all tasks relative to their ages. Big Brother speaks softly but often. Little Brother still has a little issue with Mommy-separation at drop off but then has a wonderful time about 5 seconds after I’m out the door.
A typical Mom, I, of course, felt that they should have received Above Average scores across the board but I’m their Mom so maybe I’m just a teeny tiny bit biased.
And then we went away to CT for the long weekend. Bernie, our six year old yellow lab, stayed at a nearby kennel. Where he’s a bit of a regular. It’s pretty posh as far as kennels go, though, and we’re pretty sure they like him there. Yesterday at pick-up they handed me the usual details on his stay with them — a doggie report card, if you will.
And, well….compare for yourselves. Here they are.
There’s nothing like morning sunshine. And my new kitchen, thankfully, bathes in it. So, no matter what side of the bed I roll out on, I can just pad on down the hall, brew a cup, settle in and smile.
I’ll bet any Mom readers out there have undoubtedly heard (or even entered) the debate about whether or not to tell your children the “real truth” or to give a white lie here and there. Little white lies such as “Wow! GREAT job, honey!” when they hit a ball off a T and it dribbles two inches from home plate. Or, “NO, your ears aren’t too big” as you struggle to find a hat that fits. Or even “That spaceship/hot lava/invisible spider picture you drew is sooooo good!”
Regardless of the truth in the matter, one should certainly always encourage a child’s creativity, no? Clearly, we show plenty of enthusiasm around here for the things our boys proudly bring home from school. We hang things up in the kitchen, wear our handmade necklaces like Cartier, take pictures and email their masterpieces around to relatives, take videos of sing-alongs and praise, praise, praise.
But, today we have an issue. Big Brother came home with four lovingly handmade bracelets.
“For you, Mom” — I’m easy.
“For Little Brother” — Thoroughly delighted when Big Brother so much as glances his direction, Little Brother squealed with joy at the bracelet presentation and has now commenced napping with it tucked beneath his covers.
“For Daddy” — It awaits Dad’s homecoming at the front door. Dad, not much of a jewelry wearer, will slip it right on his wrist with a smile and an enthusiastic pat on the back for his son, the artiste.
The fourth, however, has created a bit of a situation. Because Bernie, in all his brilliant yellow lab-ness, is totally confused. And, Big Brother just continues to follow Bernie around — presenting his gift over and over again in hopes that Bernie will….what exactly? Who knows. But the dog best come up with something soon or this bracelet’s going to be served up with his Purina One tonight.