Thursday, October 14, 2010

::doing the right thing isn't always easy::

Remember how a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I was determined to someday get my daughter a horse? Yeah, well, said child has an uncanny ability to recognize when my resolve is weakening. So somehow it went from "Honey, I know that you want a horse more than anything in the world and I want to make that happen for you someday" to "We might buy a horse this weekend!" I know! Jeezus, between my impulsiveness and her ability to pounce on an opportunity, it's a miracle we didn't run out and buy an entire horse ranch while David was out of town all week. For one thing, she and I went to go see "Secretariat" and I got all "Nobody is going to tell me I can't get my daughter a horse!"

Well, nobody except for my calm, reasonable and maddeningly rational husband. And he didn't exactly say "no", although I think the word "divorce" might have been bandied about. Actually, he gently and calmly reminded me that buying a horse for a ten year old child is not a great idea IF you are trying to raise a child to grow up to be a productive member of society who understands that one must WORK for what she wants.

Then I talked to Kami, the gal from whom we currently lease a horse and my go-to gal for all horse-related questions. She told me that she thought it would be best to wait, because the rider that Anna is now is not the same as the rider she will be in a couple of years. So if we bought a horse to suit Anna's needs and abilities now, in 2-3 years we'd be looking to replace it with, say, a barrel-racer or whatever.

Somewhat coincidentally (or maybe not) my friend Jennifer mentioned in an email how her first-born child is driving her mad because he is lazy and doesn't want to have to work for anything. In fact, he can't be bothered to get his driver's license because it's "too hard" and too much work. That does sound a lot like a certain 10 year old I know. And I'm smart enough (barely) to know that we want to nip that behavior in the bud right now.

So yeah. I knew that I had to go home after work and break my daughter's heart, because I am a BIG FAT IMPULSIVE DUMB SHIT who got her hopes up and basically said to her "Nobody is going to tell us what to do! Let's go buy a horse!"

As soon as I got home, I sat her down and had the talk. I explained it all to her, why it was important to wait, both Kami's argument that she will grow and change as a rider a lot in the next couple of years, and also how I realized (without implicating Davey as the bad guy) that one of my most important jobs as a parent is to teach her the value of working toward something. How it will actually be a lot more satisfying for her to earn it and she'll appreciate that lesson later in life....blah blah blah.

And then the crying and wailing and sobbing and thrashing and gnashing of teeth commenced. She was, as expected, disappointed and heartbroken and I felt like the worst. parent. ever. I knew I was doing the right thing, I was just so mad at myself for getting her hopes up. I held her for awhile while she cried and then she wanted me to go away. At one point I checked on her and she had pulled the hide-away bed out and was under it, crying and "working on something". I figured it was a note of the "I'm running away from home" sort, but I should have known better. This kid expresses herself through drawing. Eventually she came out of the room with a smirk on her face and handed me this:

(in case you can't read that, it says: "No! Not til you're 122! Oh wait you'll be dead by then. Did I mention I lied? Sucks for u.")

Yeah. OUCH.

For a split second I was devastated, but then I couldn't help but burst out laughing. This kid knows how to WORK it, doesn't she?

I went in and said "So this is how you see me, with glowing red eyes and big fangs?"

"AND A BIG NOSE", she made sure to point out.

Then we laughed and hugged and she was all better.

Why didn't anyone TELL me parenting was so hard? I HATE having to be the grown-up. Luckily I have a pretty great kid, with a big, beautiful, forgiving heart. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

::My new craft obsession::

Last Saturday my friend Sarah and I, along with my kiddo, went to a really wonderful bead store and spent 3 HOURS making earrings. It was so much fun! I was like a kid in a candy store. All the colors and textures; glass, shell, bone, stone...the possibilities were endless!

Well, I spent most of Sunday night literally dreaming about earrings and beads and by the time I woke up on Monday I knew what I had to do: play hooky from work, go the to bead store and change my entire esty site from handbags to earrings. As you know, I can be a wee bit impulsive. Go ahead, laugh. I'll wait.

(For those of you who do not know this about me: I am the person who decided to marry the man I'd known for all of 12 hours after meeting him on Oh, and we hadn't actually met in person; he was in Alaska and I was in Washington state. We'd only emailed and talked on the phone for a few hours. But I knew he was the one. A few days later he flew down to meet me and we pretty much got engaged that weekend. And now I have the most amazing husband in the world. So who's laughing now, huh? Huh??)


So Monday morning I got up, applied for a business license (something I just could never bring myself to do as a maker of handbags for some reason) and Washington State Resellers Permit, and went off to the wholesale bead store for supplies and tools. All this with a whopping 3 hours of experience under my belt. I then spent Monday afternoon making earrings.

Here's a funny aside: I had an idea of how I wanted to photograph them for my etsy site; I have a glass "vase" thing that I put smooth dark rocks in. I planned to use that and I wanted some greenery and/or fall colors in the background. So yesterday at lunch I went out into the Palouse countryside to take photos. I had driven up this country road and found the perfect spot: an old gate with some beautiful trees behind it. So I got all set up and was taking photos when this rusty, beat up little pick-up comes screaming past. They slam on their breaks and back up at 30 miles an hour, and I'm pretty sure I heard the theme song from "Deliverance".

The passenger leans out the window and asks "What are you doing?" "Just taking some pictures", I reply calmly, wondering if I'm on private property or something. "Of rocks in a vase on a fence??" he asks, incredulously. "Of some jewelry I made. It's a nice background." "Oh." and they speed off, laughing, I'm sure, about the strange ways of city-folk.

Anyway, Go look! I am so thrilled!

Even my ex-husband, Sir Grumpybutt, sent me such a nice message this morning, telling me that I had obviously found my creative niche and that he is proud of me.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Father of the Year. For life.

My first marriage was to a man who, while he has many, many wonderful qualities, he did not have the ability to "not sweat the little things." He is as kind and gentle as can be, but he is a moody artist. I can't tell you how many family outings were completely ruined because, say, as we were pulling out of the driveway I realized I'd forgotten our (then) baby's diaper bag or my sunglasses. I would quickly run back in the house, retrieve the item and be back in the car within minutes. But this would be enough to cause him to quietly seethe for the rest of the day. As in, not speaking to me or our child during the entire outing, withholding his love and affection. Now, I'm smart enough to know that it wasn't really about me forgetting my sunglasses. But still. I spent years walking on egg shells, hoping that nothing Anna or I did was going to ruin our time with him. Living with this man was like living with Pig Pen, only instead of dirt swirling around him at all times, it was a black cloud of misery. I eventually divorced him for this very reason, hoping that once I (the cause of the black cloud, I thought) was gone, he would be happy. That hasn't happened, of course.

I share this all now because of what happened on Anna's birthday. I knew that David (my current and final husband) had had a rough day at work. I had picked up Anna and a friend and taken them horseback-riding, and on the way home I called David and asked him to pick up a pizza for dinner. He, of course, cheerfully agreed to do so. When he arrived home with the pizza, he went straight for Anna, gave her a big kiss and said "Happy birthday Sunshine!!" Then we all had pizza, opened presents, had cake and played for several hours. He sat by Anna on the couch and she lazed around, feet on his lap, and he patiently put together a complicated and frustrating toy she'd received. He was his usual even-tempered, affectionate, mellow and loving self. Anna had a delightful birthday, full of laughter and playfulness and love.

And then last night, almost as a second thought, David said "I didn't tell you what happened when I came home last night" (the night of Anna's birthday.) He then explained how on his way home from work he had stopped at the bike shop to pick up his bike. As he pulled into the garage, he heard the tell-tale, sickening "CRUUUUNCH": the sound of his very nice, very expensive bike colliding with the top of the garage door.

He got out of the car to see that the wheel of his newly-repaired bike was completely crumpled. The bike rack was damaged, probably beyond repair. And the rack on top of his car was cracked.

And then this darling man came in the house, never uttered A WORD about it, and joyfully celebrated his step-daughter's tenth birthday. When I expressed shock at this after he told me what happened, he said "Well, I wasn't going to ruin her birthday! It's just a bike."


The thing I love so, so much about this man is that he conciously chooses, every day, to be the kind of father he didn't get to have, because he knows how it feels to be a kid walking on eggshells.

In other words, this man I am married to? Is a grown-up. How lucky am I?

Friday, October 1, 2010

::horse crazy::

If you know my kid or have read this blog for long, you know that she is absolutely, 100% HORSE CRAZY. I swear she came out of the womb this way; one of her very first words was "hee hee" (horse) and it's been all horse, all the time ever since. When she was about 2 she started going to a day-care where there were horses in a field next door. Every day we would stop to visit them and give them carrots. Soon we discovered that the man who owned the horses happened to be the father-in-law of Eric's employer. He gave us permission to take Anna in to the field and put her on the back of the one she called "Vanilla", who was ancient and gentle. She had a couple of horse videos that she would watch over and over....and over. She would tie bits of string and yarn and cords around our long-suffering dog to make her into a horse to lead around. She has never, ever been interested in dolls or fairies or princesses; ALL her imaginary play revolves around horses. She has a bedroom full of toy horses and all she is interested in reading is about horses. She has taken riding lessons since she was 5 or 6 and this summer I was able to lease a horse for her to ride as often as we can get out there. My daughter is turning 10 years old on Monday and she STILL, every single night, puts on her "bridle" (yarn and a necklace) and "gallops" around and around the dining room table on all fours, pretending to be one of the great race-horses she has read about. Every pair of her pants has holes in the knees. Every single day she gets on the internet and finds horses for sale to show me when I get home.

As she inches toward her teenage years, I think about what will keep her mind and spirit occupied so that she doesn't get involved with boys too soon, or drugs god forbid. She is not interested in soccer or softball or jump roping or dance or any of the other extra-curricular activities her friends participate in. Horses are her life. And I just don't ever see that changing.

And so I have made it my life's mission to get this kid a horse within the next few years. With the economy the way it is, there are thousands of horses available for sale right now, at "bargain basement" prices. There are so many beautiful horses in need of a good home, and I just happen to know a kiddo who has a whole lotta love to give. My ex-husband, not surprisingly, can come up with a dozen reasons why we can't get her a horse (he's a half-empty kind of guy). I say that if we put our minds to it, we CAN. Yes, we'll have to find a place to board a horse, and yes that can be expensive. But we happen to live in "horse country"; surrounded by hundreds of miles of fields in every direction. I drive by at least 4 horse ranches on my way to work every day. I believe if we put this "out there" in to the universe, it will happen. One day we'll connect with someone who knows someone who is willing to board for a reasonable price because they know how it feels to be a ten year old girl who can think of nothing but having her own horse. Or perhaps we could barter something in exchange for board; I can paint a barn or muck stalls or fill in on feedings when the owners are out of town.

I want this for her because I know it will have a profound effect on her life. Also, because I was lucky enough to grow up riding horses, I know how free you feel when riding, and the truth is, I love horses almost as much as she does.

Look at this amazing beauty I found on Craigs list today:

Twelve year old half Arabian, half Tennessee Walker. He's participated in 4-H (something I Anna wants desperately to get involved in), lessons, parades, been ridden in rodeos by a rodeo queen, trail riding etc . Anna just happens to want an Arabian "more than anything in the whole world!!"

Sigh. I know the time isn't right, but one day it will be. And I can't wait to see the look on her face.

Am I crazy?