The Squirrel Whisperer

It may be a couple of rungs down from Dr. Doolittle level but over the years my mother has slowly worked her way into the role of Queen of the Squirrels within the local rodent community. I don’t know if this has been an intentional plan of hers that she’s been rolling out over time, but she’s been feeding the squirrels in her backyard for so long now that not only are they not afraid of her, they in fact bask in her aura of generosity.

As soon as she graces them with her presence in the morning by stepping onto the back deck for her morning coffee, her robe draping off her statuesque form like a regal cloak of benevolence, the squirrels scamper about her feet, clutching meekly at the bottom of the robe in a silent plea for the peanuts they know she has in her pockets. And as she seats herself on her queenly throne, the frequent flyers of the group gather to sit at or on her feet.  If she doesn’t see them (because she’s on the phone with me let’s say), they ever so delicately tug at the material to get her attention all the while gazing up at her with loving reverence.

I’m hoping for her sake it’s “gazes of love” and not that crazed look so often seen amongst mutated wildlife in B horror movies:  “feed us now or we’ll surround you and chew your face off!”  It’s so hard to tell with squirrels.

I’ve walked down busy sidewalks in major cities and the squirrels there just barely move out of the way of getting stepped on and that’s normal to see, they’ve grown accustomed to humans and live/react accordingly. But my mother’s squirrels (good grief…now I’m thinking of them as my mother’s squirrels) don’t just politely avoid her as they share the yard or the deck for their morning constitutional…oh no…they seek her out! It’s gotten to the point that she’s given them names! I have to admit though, if I had squirrel worshipers, I’d name them too.

It’s the same routine every day. She wakes up, the squirrels hear her stirring in the house, she comes out with her coffee mug to take in the fresh morning air, and suddenly, they start appearing from hither and yon to sit patiently waiting for her to distribute her stash of peanuts. They each vie for her attention, trying to win her favor and earn a precious, delicious nut.  Should she run out and need a refill, no fear…they simply wait for her to return.

Squirrel 2

This would be “Sweet Pea.”

Now if for some reason, the squirrels don’t see her come out because they’re preoccupied doing their squirrelly things (this is usually in the afternoon, well after their morning meet-up)…all my mother has to do is make a noise I can’t spell but somehow involves clicking her tongue. Oh boy, you’d think she had just rung a dinner bell for all and sundry!

And it’s not just squirrels. Oh please. She’s no amateur, my mother. Whenever I talk to my mother in the afternoon, she always seems tired. I know why. It’s because she has so many mouths to feed (not to mention my Dad), each demanding their very own breakfast. At last count, there were 8 squirrels, 6 blue jays, 4 woodpeckers, and gosh knows how many sparrows all awaiting her appearance in the morning.

Oh, and if you think I just mean they’re waiting for the bird-feeders to be filled, you’re seriously underestimating my mother. How dare you! No…this is the motley assortment of acolytes she hand-feeds peanuts to in the morning. The sparrows are spoiled though. Don’t let them fool you, everyone says so. They need their peanuts crushed. The divas.

The ironic thing is that this friend of nature is the same woman who used to yell at me as a kid whenever I tried to touch any form of wildlife whatsoever because she was scared to death that I’d get rabies.

Now I know the truth.  It was all just part of a silent campaign on her part to rule them all and keep the crown as Queen all for herself.

Summer Nostalgia

Summer is well under way and with it comes a wave of nostalgia. Usually these memories stay happily dormant in the back of my head only to be brought up at family dinners where too much wine is flowing and too many “back in the day” stories are being told much to the embarrassment of my brother and me. I thought I would share a bit here with all of you. Bear with me as I know this is longer than my usual entry but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

So as luck would have it, my parents grew up together — so before they were even betrothed their families were close. It sure made visiting easier when my brother and I were young. Whenever we would spend summers with them in West Virginia, it was always a two-for-one deal. Two sets of grandparents in only one trip.  Both sets of grandparents lived off the beaten path, to put it nicely. More like the boonies or boondocks, which made for an interesting time as a kid.

My paternal grandparents lived way down a gravel road that curved around past their house and into a darkened wooded area that was always creepy as hell even on the brightest of days. Their house was surrounded by over 20 acres of pasture with a very cool barn directly behind the house.  I delighted in wandering through the pastures because it was so beautiful and quiet and reeked of adventure to anyone with an imagination.

My maternal grandparents lived in a “holler,” their home nestled cozily between two mountains. Let me tell you, it was no easy feat to get from the main road down to their place. You took a leap of faith off the hard road, onto a shale covered dirt road barely big enough for one car, over a rickety home-made wooden bridge to their house.

Oh, and I say a leap of faith because when you went from the hard road to the dirt road, the front tires of your car hovered in midair for a moment before connecting with the dirt road. Fun times. Then while one side of the car was snug against the mountain, the other side merely flirted with…well…nothing.  Seriously, you could’ve opened the passenger side door and just stepped out into air.  My brother and I used to torment my mother to no end by scooting over to that side of the car and jumping our little butts up and down to see if we could make the car fall over the edge.  Honestly, I don’t know how she held onto her sanity sometimes.

My Mom’s childhood home (Grandma Mooney and clan) sat in the low center of the holler.  The house itself was set up higher than the road.  To keep the yard from simply eroding and falling into the road, it was shored up in the front with a rock wall that was even with the yard but about 3 feet high off the road – a rock wall from which my brother, in pure locomotive action, accidentally catapulted himself when he was little….hanging in midair like Wile E. Coyote before gravity overtook him and he finally fell to earth… waaayy on the other side of the dirt road. I still grin when I think of it.  Not sure what that says about me.

There were distinct differences at the two places. At my Dad’s place we had a lot of freedom.  My mother had only two rules really: 1)Always keep the house in sight (didn’t quite follow that one) and 2)Stay away from the bull (definitely paid attention to that one). When I got old enough to ride the ATV there was another rule: 3)Don’t wreck and run over yourself (fair enough, right?). And the only thing I can think of is that this must have happened to a cousin at some point in time because otherwise, why need that particular rule?  Luckily I never did quite figure out how you could wreck and run over yourself at the same time.

Looking back, I think my mother gave me a lot more credit than I probably deserved. I don’t know why she thought I had more common sense than I did, but those three rules seemed to be enough for her.

Had she known what little sense I actually had she’d have made more rules. Perhaps one would have been centered around not chasing cars down the gravel road when you’re riding your cousin’s bike which is too big for you, especially when there’s a steep decline right by an apple tree that has dropped slippery decayed fruit onto the road turning it into a stretch of goo that bike tires can’t really handle. Maybe the rule would revolve around that. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here. Don’t worry, the scars didn’t last. And surprisingly, my mother’s sanity held.

Things were a bit more regimented with my grandparents who lived in the holler. The places we could go were more clearly defined.  For instance, we could wander along the shale-covered road all we wanted but we couldn’t go up the hard road alone.   We could go down to the creek to hunt for lizards and crawdads, but we had to watch out for water moccasins. What can I say, life in the country does involve taking into consideration that a poisonous snake might jump out and sink its fangs into your shin at any given moment. In an odd way I kinda miss that thrill.

The rules here were just as practical and served the same purpose as the ones for the “pasture house.” They were all instituted so we wouldn’t accidentally kill ourselves or be destroyed by wildlife.

The rules for the holler were: 1)Watch out for water moccasins, 2)Don’t go up the hard road alone, 3)Stay off the grapevines, and 4)Watch out for and avoid bears.  The fourth rule only applied when we were going up the mountain back behind the house.   Like the bull, this was a rule we all happily obeyed. Rule #1 was pretty easy to follow as well. Generally speaking, any rule where the punishment was an animal killing us, we stuck to it.  Rule # 2 was another one we didn’t have an issue with… mainly because there was nothing to do up the hard road anyway.

The grapevines rule…well, not so much. The vines were thick and ran up the sides of trees. Most of the time, the vines could hold a person and you could use them as a rope and swing.  But it was boring just swinging around the base of a tree…usually scraping the tree in the process or else boomeranging back and whacking the tree full force.  Lucky for us, there was a spot up the road where the grapevines reached out over a ledge…we had our friend CW (may he rest in peace) to thank for the lowdown on the secret location.

Well, kids being kids, I’m sure you can guess what we did next. Yep, we’d use those vines to swing out over the side and into…empty space. Like Tarzan of the Jungle. It never occurred to us that they might break midair or that we could get seriously hurt as we leaped out into that void. All we knew was the sheer joy of feeling the wind as we flew.

As a parent myself, with the world as it is now, it seems like those summers are a lifetime away, and I guess they are.  It never seemed like we were living life on the edge or putting ourselves in mortal danger but I suppose in a way we were. Still, we survived. We survived the wildlife and the angry bull, the ATVs and the unstable grapevines.

Not only did we survive, we thrived.

I wish my kids had been able to enjoy such freedom and fun as we had during those summers. I mean, nowadays, we warn our kids…look both ways before you cross the street,  keep an eye out for strangers, stay together when wandering through the mall, take your phone and text me when you get there.

I would have loved just once to yell after them as a wooden screen door slammed behind them: “Hey!  Watch out for bears!

 

June 18, Bear in Yard

 

My mother is driving me crazy

I know it’s been a few days since my last post — my sincere apologies for anyone who may have been waiting with bated breath to see what I’ll come up with next.  My mother, my best friend, had a stroke this past week and it has had me somewhat distracted. With many heartfelt thanks to whatever gods may be, she is going to be okay.

But at least she learned one thing from all of this — you cannot call someone, tell them you’ve had a stroke, and then break down on the phone unable to speak coherently as you hand the phone off to Dad. I mean, you had a stroke.  And now you can’t talk.   That’s the sort of thing that prompts an all out car race to see just how fast one can get to your hospital bed (regardless of having been told it’s not necessary to make an appearance).  But….we all live and learn. Thankfully.

 

Wedded Bliss

It’s unfortunate that this is a not-very-odd conversation these days:

Friend 1: Did you hear? Sue and Jeff are getting divorced?

Friend 2: Wow, how long have they been married?

Friend 1: Five years!

Friend 2: Well, at least they gave it all they had.

Yes, friends, sadly people these days hold on to cars and computers longer than they do marriage licenses. In the days when so-called role models treat “commitment” with less respect than a pinky swear (Britney Spears’ marriage, 55 hours. Kim Kardashian’s second marriage, 72 days) what couple can be expected to last long enough to see if the seven-year itch actually exists?

My parents, that’s who. This past Sunday played double duty in my family – it was Father’s Day but it was also my parents’ 54th wedding anniversary.  That’s right.  54 years.  If you’ve never read the “The Lockhorns” comic strip before, do yourself a huge favor and Google it (or click on the picture below). You’ll quickly get the premise:  an old married couple that does nothing but complain about each other, but in their insults is a special kind of love (you have to look deep, but it’s there, I swear). My parents, they’re my live action version of The Lockhorns; the sort of couple that practices the Old School style of marriage. The kind where they may bicker and nag and nit-pick and groan through each and every day, but when one of them holds out their hand, the other is still there to grab it. They’re like those cute salt and pepper shaker sets that fit together. My Dad makes my Mom’s daily coffee.  My Mom makes my Dad’s fishing trip lunches. They just go together. Not to mention they’ve developed a sort of non-verbal, thought-reading kind of communication that is amazing to witness.

Over half a century with one person is definitely something to admire but it’s made even more so given the throwaway society we seem to live in. Whatever their secret, be it love or simply tolerance or a smooth balance of both, my parents are an inspiration. Happy 54th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Father’s Day

On this beautiful Sunday, I want to say Happy Father’s Day to my Dad. I love my Dad and he loves me. We don’t always say it. In fact we hardly say it at all. But it’s there nonetheless. It’s one of the few things in life I’m sure of without need of validation. He has always given me a safe place to land in times of need for which I’m grateful. Thanks Dad.

father's day

Bad Parenting Revisited

I realize that I may not be the best parent out there but I try.  My kids have survived this long so I figure I must be doing something right. But come on!  I forget the school schedule one time and leave my daughter sitting in the office and suddenly everyone feels the need to remind me about the half days.  Good grief. You’d think that I had left her unaccompanied in wild, rabid dog filled terrain or some such thing instead of the relative safety of the school office.  Admittedly, she was the only one waiting in the office for a wayward parent. Which I truly found unusual given it’s a school of about 1200 kids. Okay…well…um….did I mention I try?  I think I’m as happy as my daughter that the school year is over this week.

Ode to a Mischief Maker

This entry is for my Aunt Bunny.  She passed away a couple of weeks ago.  Her “real” name was Blanche but no one ever called her that.  As a matter of fact I remember as a kid when my mother bought Aunt Bunny a washing machine and was giving the salesman the name and address for delivery, I didn’t quite believe her when she said yes, that’s really Aunt Bunny’s name. I still had my doubts.  She was actually my Great-Aunt.  In more ways than one. This month would have marked her 90th birthday.

Aunt Bunny was like a second Mom to my mother.  And as I hear the stories of when my Mom and Dad first moved up here as tender young newlyweds, I realize just how instrumental my Great-Aunt was in keeping my family afloat.  But then I think she did that for a lot of people.  Every Sunday from when I was a little girl to high school we would go visit Aunt Bunny every Sunday like clockwork and a number of times, I spent the night.

Sleepovers at her house were always weird and exciting at the same time.  She lived in the city in a row-house on the waterfront – before waterfront became cool – and across from a diner where all manner of people could be found…so it was always fascinating for me to hang out of her window at night and listen to the fights, the sirens, the drunk trying to make his way home who happened to be quite musically inclined, and the general flurry of activity in her neighborhood.  Let me tell you, I saw things I would definitely never see in my nice suburban home.

I’m not sure why, but the metal cabinet in her kitchen aka dining room aka sitting room always held a fascination for me.  I loved going through it and seeing what I could find….tins full of buttons, years old political pins (Vote for Wallace!), and gosh knows what all.  I loved that cabinet. When Aunt Bunny moved into a nursing home, she gave me that cabinet and when I looked at it in my own house it just didn’t hold that same fascination….it was as if it were a different cabinet altogether. Taking it out of her home, away from childhood memories, and into the light of day changed it somehow. It made me sad.

She lived smack in the middle of the city, so her backyard was actually just a small swath of concrete.  She did have a raised garden in the corner that had a rose bush in it.  And a turtle.  She had a box turtle that she fed hamburger meat and tomatoes.  I’m not sure how long that turtle lived in that tiny bit of flora, but he was spoiled, I know that.  And how exactly does a turtle even find his way into a place like that?  I never found the answer to that one.

It’s odd when I think of this woman flourishing in a cityscape considering the fact that she was born and bred in the hills of West Virginia.  Coal country.  Mountains, streams, lots of green. The surroundings in which she found herself as a grown woman couldn’t have been a larger contrast to her childhood home.  I often wondered if she was happy surrounded by brick and concrete or if she spent her life missing the open space, the green.  She never said.  At least not to me.

Bunny & Family

Bunny & Family 1968 – City Life

I was raised in the suburbs.  Not exactly the hills of West Virginia but definitely a far cry from the city life.  So any time I stayed at Aunt Bunny’s house, it was thrilling.  I badgered her constantly to give me some freedom and let me wander around.  Okay, now as an aside…this is the same Great-Aunt who came to stay with me when I was caught out in the horseback riding lie.  She wasn’t exactly the kind of person who would let her niece go gallivanting around the city on her own.   Until the day she did.  Finally!  I was allowed to walk to the corner store on my own!  Yay me!!  If memory serves (and there’s no promise there), I might’ve been 10.  And she let me walk to the corner store all by myself. It was only a few blocks away but it was also around the corner which meant I would be out of sight from anyone in the world who knew who I was. Big deal, right? Hell, knowing what I know now as an adult, I don’t think I’d let my own daughter do that if she were the same age. Aunt Bunny was really going out on a limb.

Or so I thought.

Now I truly thought I was old enough to handle the voyage on my lonesome (what ten-year old doesn’t, right??). On top of that, I thought I was getting away with something my Mother would’ve blown her top about.  Even better, right!?  And Aunt Bunny let me keep that illusion, bless her heart. In reality she had enlisted a whole network of spies (she called them neighbors. yeah, right.) who watched me every step of the way from their living room windows. Every invisible check-point I would pass would call in and tell Aunt Bunny that all was quiet on the Western front. Wendy still hasn’t messed up the act of walking down the sidewalk. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had the damn store owner call her up and let her know I was okay.  Another aside….little did I know at the time that while it was the “big, bad city,” Aunt Bunny’s little section of it was really quite tight and the neighbors looked out for each other.

There are a lot of memories wrapped up in that Montford Avenue row-house.  Amazing homemade crab cakes eaten on crackers and polish sausage wrapped up in a slice of bread with mustard, hyacinths bought at Easter time and ice tea made out of a powder mix.  My deep, deep regret, as I carry with me regarding several family members, is that I did not spend enough time with her after I grew up.  I should’ve been there more than I was.  Especially at the end.

Aunt Bunny had four sisters including my Grandma Jimmie.  Sadly, they have all passed as well.  Oh and their mother?  None other than Grandma Mooney of the Vinegar Valentines….so the sisters’ personalities were earned honestly.  Eccentric mischief makers come to mind, but that description really does not do them any justice at all.  Suffice it to say that each and every one of those Mooney girls was a real hoot.  Bunny’s departure from this life means she’s back with her four sisters and mother, and I can only imagine how crazy Heaven must’ve been that day with their reunion.  But if anyone can take it, I bet the Lord Almighty can. Still, I hope he has earplugs…and a good sense of humor.

Eternal rest with familiar views of home.

Teenage Transgressions

As we all know, teenagers can sometimes be the worst human beings on the planet when it comes to good judgment. It’s just in their DNA and admittedly, I’m no exception. I did some bad things in my day. Who hasn’t? I’m not saying that I ever looted an electronics store or drowned bags of kittens in the river, but little stuff. Teenage stuff. I was not immune to the deception teenagers think they’re so good at and truly revel in.

At a recent family dinner, my Mom was telling a story about me having to do with an incident that happened when I was around 16 years old. My Great-Grandmother was extremely ill, so much so that my parents had to make the trip home to bring her up to our house. Being the wise parents that they are they didn’t trust me on my own (even though I had never gotten into any serious trouble) so they had my Great-Aunt come be my in-home warden.

Luckily I was still able to receive visitors. One day my friend Roberta came over to break me out so we could go horseback riding. My Great-Aunt asked, “Is this something your mother would let you do?” Without skipping a beat I said, “Oh yeahhh, Mom lets me do this all the time.” And off I went.

Well of course, if we’re being completely factual, it’s something my Mom wouldn’t let me do at all.  And of course my Great-Aunt being a truthful warden, spilled the beans as soon as my Mom got home.  I frankly cannot remember the punishment I received at the time. I doubt my mother remembers either.

Now when my Mom was telling this story at Easter dinner she was not only complaining about how I had lied, but I think she was also somewhat mocking the fact that up until that moment I had never been horseback riding before in my life.  As an aside, the topic at dinner was the skill required to stay up on a horse.  It’s not like this story of my teenage transgression involving horses just popped up out of nowhere. That would just be weird.

So anyway, as she finished her story, I had to let the truth be known. I figured that enough time had elapsed that the statute of limitations would surely fall into play. So, I told my Mom that that incident wasn’t exactly the first time I’d gone riding. In fact, I had been a bunch of times before that. In fact, Roberta and I went horse-back riding every chance we got. There was a place close to where I grew up that charged 20 bucks an hour so I rode pretty much every weekend I was in high school.  Knowing what I know now, I realize those places that rent horses to all and sundry as if they’re ATVs instead of living, breathing creatures were and are horrendous, but as a teen I had no clue. Some things come with experience and I’m glad that I’m more aware now and know better.

Well…Mom did not like learning of this 31-year-old lie (it could qualify as a white lie…right? Right??). My Dad didn’t seem to mind too much and took my confession in stride (maybe because it all happened three decades ago and I never broke my leg or neck in the process).  At first I thought it was absurd that someone could be mad over finding out about something that happened so long ago, but then I realized I can definitely understand my Mom’s side of it.  If I found out my kids had lied to me, no matter how old they were or when the lie happened, I have no doubt I’d be upset. So for that Mom, I’m sorry. Truly.

This whole thing has taught me a valuable lesson however: I should keep my mouth shut about those little acts of teenage rebellion. With that in mind it’s probably better that she never know about the trips I took to DC to hit the jazz bars (also with Roberta…hmmm…I sense a trend here). I mean, my mother has ample material already. No need to give her more to shake her head over.

LIE-BRARY

A little while ago my daughter and I found ourselves roaming through a library we had never been to before.  We visit our own library weekly but sometimes we feel the need to branch out to adjacent counties to see what they have to offer. While the content of this one was surely the same, the layout and design made us feel as if we were discovering a new domain. My daughter is a teenager but as we were exploring the terrain, we gravitated towards the children’s section which began an impromptu trip down Memory Lane. We picked out some of the old favorites with glee and memories of reading these to her when she was a wee child came flooding back. The sense of nostalgia was intense as we thumbed through several of Jan Brett’s books like Hedgie’s Surprise, The Trouble with Trolls, The Hat, and Honey, Honey, Lion! just to name a few.

Running our hands up and down the pages my daughter and I thought it would be fun to recreate that feeling when I’d read to her as she drifted off to sleep. It’s silly I know, here we are in a public library, my daughter almost old enough to drive, but we (as always) felt confident in our silliness. We’re goofy that way. Making our way to the check-out counter with a stack of books in tow, we were chattering excitedly about our evening’s reading itinerary. Our giddy daze was abruptly halted when we got to the counter and were met face to face with the sobering reality of a very stern, lace collar wearing, bi-focaled librarian who looked down at my 15 year old daughter with annoyance. Maybe we had been laughing a bit loud for the environment…but I’m not sure why my daughter bore the brunt of “the look.” Thankfully, the librarian tried to put on a happy face as I handed her my brand spanking new library card.

Scanning through our stack she asked, “So are you teaching a unit on Jan Brett to your class?” Needless to say, the question threw me off. I was a little confused but using my ample reserve of cool-under-fire suaveness I said, “Whaaat?” The librarian responded, “You’re a teacher, right?  Teaching a unit on Jan Brett?”  That seemed like a pretty great (and normal) conclusion to come to, so rather than explain our goofiness to someone who didn’t look at all like she would understand such goofiness, I quite simply and seriously replied, “Why, yes. Yes I am.”  I’m sure there is a special place in hell for those of us who lie to stern, elderly librarians. But that’s okay. I’ve already been told my place there is a given…guess this just sealed the deal.

 

librarian we get

librarian we get

 

very cool librarian

librarian we want

Parenting Re-do

Whoever here is perfect raise your hands please? If any of you had a shot at the title before thinking otherwise and keeping your hand firmly planted, good for you. Correct answer: no one is perfect. I think we can all agree on that. If we follow these delectable bread crumbs of knowledge where does the path logically lead? To the fact that since we’re not perfect, that must mean that we make mistakes. That’s another truism in life: we all make mistakes.

Michelle Obama makes mistakes. Ellen DeGeneres makes mistakes. Even Kate Middleton makes mistakes. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or where you’re at now, you’re always going to make mistakes. I’m about to reveal one of mine that has been slightly harder to reconcile than a run-of-the-mill daily mistake like burning the toast or tripping up the steps.

Since we’ve already come to a consensus that every person makes mistakes, then that must mean that even parents err. Having a child doesn’t make us godly (even though we now have a tiny human looking at us as if we do hold all the answers). I would say that I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve made mistakes raising both my kids, but in reality, it’s something I stress over constantly. Probably more so as it pertains to my son. He’s the older of the two and kinda like the guinea pig to my attempt at what a mom should do. I’ll tell you what, steep learning curve with that one. Really, nothing prepares you to be a parent. You non-parents may think “oh yeah, we’ll I’ve raised dogs before” or “my garden is constantly thriving” and at this I laugh a big hearty cackle to your obliviousness. There is nothing like parenting.

So if there’s no other thing to really draw upon, how good should a first time mom or dad truly expect to be? Imagine that you’re really good at balancing on one foot in yoga class and then you’re supposed to walk a tightrope. Or you play a mean game of Duck Hunt and then someone hands you a double gauged Winchester. It’s sort of like that. Except with guilt.

My son is 22 today and he reigns as the absolute love of my life (something I tried to explain here). I am more proud of him than I am ever able to adequately express, but man, what I wouldn’t give for a couple of redo cards for when he was growing up. Not redoing anything about him, but me…all me.  There never seems like there’s enough time, does there? With a wave of my magic redo card I would conjure up more time spent playing games and less time spent stressing over homework. I’d use another redo card to sit back and marvel at his amazing Lego talent (the kid was a freakin’ savant and could build virtually anything using just a picture in his head) and not fuss so much over the messy aftermath of his architectural achievements. There’d be more bedtime stories and laughter and less stringent time management to make sure he hit his curfew.

I feel like these are common complaints. I wish for more good times and less frustrating oversight, but would there ever be enough good? Probably not. I’d probably be greedy for more carefree times no matter how chocked full of them his youth had been… but I’ll never know and I can’t shake the fact that maybe there weren’t enough. I was too worried about maintaining the perfect house and the perfect family and having him get perfect grades when I should’ve been paying more attention to the perfect little boy that I had right in front of me.

Luckily, no matter what stumbles in my first experiment at parenting yielded, he’s still perfect in my eyes. And he’s a damn good man to boot.

Jake as baby

My Baby

Jake as a teen

Handsome Teen

Jake

His Paul Bunyan Impression