Saturday, February 28, 2009

At a loss

Wracked with doubt since last night about sam's new placement. Did I move Sam to the new school for reasons that I thought would justify this huge transition for him? It has only been a week, but yesterday at pick up, the teachers tell me that they "both want to have a conversation with me about how I get Sam to be, to be, to be less uh, to be more checked in, and here, and just you know listening to what you need.."


That parental dread feeling washed over my insides in one three second woooosh. Sam's not working out. Sam doesn't belong here. Sam is not listening. They don't like Sam. They are not connecting with him. He will not make friends here. What a mistake I have made. Is it too late to move him back to his old school??

The teachers are lovely, and they love Sam. The school is ethnically, racially, economically diverse. They school is accredited, subsidized, flooded with light, and has the biggest playground in all of Portland. These things seemed so important at the time..

However his new teachers are not parents themselves. Parents of boys. Parents of active boys like his old teacher was. She got him. She is also an adoptive mom. And his other teacher started crying when he left. They adored him.

Why didn't I get that?

And Marcel and him were together in the same building where they were had each other. They both loved that. In 4-6 months they new school will have a spot for M too.

What kind of a message am I giving if I say--well that didn't work, we gave it a week--time to beg and plead to go back to the old school. Am I showing that I am not afraid of admitting I was wrong? Or am I showing him it's OK to give in, and give up at the first sign of dis-ease.

Friends say to trust my instinct. Others say to wait it out.

Sam was crying and pleading with me to go back to the old school last night.

These are the moments when I so wish I had a partner who felt as invested in the outcome as I do. Who lived with this boy day and night and could help me see through the trees to the beach, or through the leaves to the swamp, or pick an idiom that works cause I'm at a loss.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

uphills and downhills

two drop offs every morning,
two pick ups every afternoon
shoveling shoulder inflamed
and still
hoisting marcel up the two flights of stairs to
the purple room every morning
and afternoon
$65.00 more a week
worth it when I see
the brown skinned girl handing Sammy a crayon
who says you look like my brother
and I want to sit with
you at lunch.

learning the names of 18 new friends at the
new new school
(the kid has been through a few too many
of these these transistions..)
an accident on the playground
when he didn't know that you couldn't
get to the bathroom from
that door...

across town
clinging onto the picture of
nah-nah (big brother)
as he looks down the hall
where Sammy should be when
a little guy needs a hug before

three andersons
on one sled
in full sunshine
in any empty
park we call our

mom look at the crows!!
they are coming back-
because the snow is melting and they know
it will be springtime soon.
Welcome back!
We hollar in Anderson
almost as loud as the
cau-caw-cus above

coasting along
with daffoldils
in glass jars
peanut butter and frozen peaches
for dinner
and Mommy telling her sons
how she met Claudette Colvin
at school today
the 15 year old girl
who didn't get up nine months
before Rosa Parks said
I've had enough

Mom, I am taking a real bus
on a field trip
next week
did you know that
I could do that?

I do love
yes I do.
And Claudette*
does too.

* Claudette Colvin(born September 5 1939), who some historians say is the "Mother of the modern Civil Rights Movement". In 1955, at the age of 15, she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white person, in violation of local law. Her arrest preceded civil rightsactivist Rosa Parks' (on December 1, 1955) by nine months.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Friday
tulips for his
"best, best, best, best, best, best, best
teachers ever" gets everyone crying.
They do goodbye right.
A giant card with quotes from his
I love you Sam because you:
wear cool slippers,
hug me,
are my best friend
I love you Sam because
you smile at me
play kitty,
and share your fruit snack.
And from the teachers on the back
"energetic, helpful, your smile lights
up the room."

Vacation week review:
accountant (the one time being a single mother is rewarded)
the dentist
the new playroom
and studio
But, mom you never play with me
the flowers Sam picked out
from the sale bin of Valentine's
bouquets that didn't find their
until now
internet issues
surprising lack of tissues
long lovely visits from Sage, Eddie, Alex, T-T, and Weezie-Bruce
thawing summer visions
and a $296.00 visit to the grocery store
with me clapping and asking if I can just add four more?
omissions and so much new
space for

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Space Mama

I am taking up space- it feels crazy, risky, necessary. The recently vacant downstairs apartment was up in the air. Rent? Bed and b'kfast? Playroom? Studio? Office? I won't bore you with the details, the cons, the pros, the what ifs. All those of you reading who are making hard decisions on your own, you know the territory I've covered solo the last few weeks.

Then the wise friends chimed in; your boys need to run around. You need a place to write that is yours. You need a place for friends and family to sleep..

It has a long way to go, but Lamoine's Lowdown Lounge, is in the making! The main room is furniture free. Just balls, nets, hoops, trucks, did I mention balls? The once bedroom, off of the main room is storage and the DRUMS. And the room you go through to get to Mecca is the guest room/office, writers room.

Uncle is going to help me get the free standing hoop out of my living room and into the lounge.

I am going to have an almost TOY FREE living room. (exception-train table and trains, and books remain upstairs as they are quiet activities).

I have gone from feeling like an urban mama in a cave, to a queen in her sprawling mansion. The heavy lifting has been extreme, the cleaning tiresome, and the paint job that Sam requests is going to be FUN. He wants each wall to be a different color. We have enough paint to make that happen.

And today, because the IRS loves the single mama, I ordered a giant mural of a space man in full regalia for one wall--because Sam says he wants to be an astronaut, or a hunter. I won't be ordering any deers with targets painted on the side for the other wall of this I can assure you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

B is for Brown

Last night while waiting for me to get Marcel to bed, Sam sat back to the heater (his favorite place in the entire house, even in the summer the metal cools him) coloring his new adored book. Normally, I would frown on this behavior. In this case, I even gave him the marker, and showed him how. The book, Z is for Zamboni A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier is just what you would expect in a board book. Chunky, infinitely colorful, and inviting. Well, inviting if you are a hockey phenom in the making (Sam) and white (not Sam). So we remedied this with the brown marker.

I explained to him how traditionally hockey has not been a sport that brown skinned people have been drawn to for several reasons, the one my heater loving son could truly appreciate is that historically people with skin his color preferred warmer climates. Places that did not have frozen ponds for learning to skate on like he did twice today, and almost every day I can arrange to get someone to take him there. (I use Marcel as an excuse to stay home unless it is sunny out.) Uncle took him twice yesterday. When we came down to watch, I did not recognize Sam. His agility on the ice has improved five times in a week. According to Marc, Sam draws constant praise from any skater who comes within earshot. They refuse to believe he is four. Last night when I mentioned my disbelief at his skills, Sam responded; I know mom, and I can button my pajamas and write my name too. True that. As I type this, Marcel is coloring his pajamas with markers. There is no more room on his hands or face.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


How do you make Valentine's Day meaningful to a four year old? I had him sign his name, to the twelve home made cards I made for all his friends. By about the tenth labored signature, before completely giving way to his inner pirate's need to run around the house and whack things with a sword, Sam had mastered the placement of the A after the S, and before the M. I ran around after him asking for quotes to scribe from his point of view; "Sam (I duck to not get beheaded) tell me something you love about Emily..."

"Mom, I just love her. She plays with me." Oh right. That is what I am supposed to be doing instead of trying to maintain appearances with all of his friends' parents.

En guard!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Counting the family (Sam's poetic debut)

One for Marcel
and two for you,
and three for me.

Four for Eddie
And Tia makes five.
KK is six
Uncle is


Sarah and Jay
are eight and nine.

Nana is ten
and Weezie eleven
Alex is twelve
and Sage is too.

And my birthfather is thirteen
We can hold a number for him, for when you might get to know him better. How about your birthmother -number fourteen?

And Chuck and Jen and Parker and Rachel and Muriel

How many is that?

Uh nineteen?

Grammy and Grampy and we'll save
the other numbers
for all the
other people
in our family.

Our family is big mom.
It isn't just


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The stomach flu is the latest visitor to Marcel's little too willing of a host body. I'll spare you the details. After one of Marcel's more prolific moments all over mommy (OK I almost spared you the details) Sammy shouted; "Mom put yourself in the trashcan! Gross."

Sammy's movements are more significant in some ways... He will be starting a new school in a few weeks. The decision has been weighted, and weighed, over-thought, and well researched. The down and dirty version (it's a theme around here) the new school has an excellent reputation for several reasons, and although I am content where we are, I want to be thrilled. And, in the new daytime digs Sam would be one of several children of color, and our family would be one of several families brought together by adoption. The teachers seem so upbeat and gentle simultaneously. Sam needs this. The room is girl heavy--meaning many more of them then the boy variety which is good for Sam too. He likes girls. Wonder why. The fact the boys will be in tow schools is going to be a management nightmare for me. But, eventually they will both be there. We are waiting for an opening for Marcel. Hopefully by the fall. It is also going to cost me an extra chunk a week, even with the sliding scale. But, the playground is 3x the size, and they go out TWICE a day (where he is now, it is sometimes once a day). Did I mention the on sight chef, and the fact that I will not have to prepare his lunch every day? He said; "they don't have friends there. But they will when they get to know me." Brilliant child.

Me Still writing a ton this year. My online class continues to feed and push. The memoir is taking shape slowly but with distinct curves and raised bits here, and tucked bits there. I have a new intern working with me at school that is working out so well. My teaching rises to the occasion, like my parenting when it is witnessed.

The biggest movement of course being that our E the most excellent Nanny-Sister-friend has indeed moved. I breathe through the grief and the fear there with the comfort that she is up the street a piece, and will always be a part of our family. My family would not have made it here without her. We all know that, and so does she. But when it is time to move on, grow, push those tendrils, then it is time.

Speaking of time, someone needs his two tablespoons of pedialyte.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Worth Noting

Disney on Ice
Watching his jaw
drop to his knees
While the mountain sized
Sea Witch emerged horrific
in black lighting.
Sensing Sam searching for clues
to navigate the ice between
fear and amazement.

Marcel lost his independence
when his fever broke.
He clings.
My barnacle boy.
Breathe Mama breathe,
there's no use putting him

Reassure me that the world is-
that the world at arms length from you is
as safe as I once knew it to be.

He insists as he sucks unto my thigh,
arm, and hip.
I want to set him
and run

back to my early 30's

I grab my frustration
exhale and picture when I can't
remember how it felt to be able to reassure
him that the world is-

Wearing his magic cape,
and my blue gloves
Sam did the dishes
from start to finish
because I asked him to.
And he could.
And he felt success.
While I made the lunches,
and put out the clothes
for another tomorrow
when a groundhog will
see something else
worth noting