Angela Amman

Contemplating kindergarten at Today

LEGO Sometimes he enlists me to be his “piece finder,” a role where he steadily explains or points out the pieces he needs. I find it soothing, some days, to sit near him, sorting LEGO pieces into colors and letting them slide through my fingers until I find what he seeks.

Other days tasks await me in other rooms, and I balance the fine line between getting work finished and helping him, wanting him to be independent and soaking in the time remaining before he starts his first year of full-day, everyday school.

We’re getting ready for kindergarten, my little buddy and me, and I can’t help but think about Abbey’s first day. Two years ago, in the sort of time warp that seems so long ago in one blink and like yesterday in another.

I wrote her a letter the evening we took her to her kindergarten classroom for her first day, and I’m happy to have it posted as part of the Today Parenting Team community.

Visit me there? 

NaBloPoMo July 2015

Things that are messy

home renovations, house projectsTonight, when I want to go to bed, I’ll just tumble onto the mattresses residing in our living room. They’re only a few feet from my desk, which has been displaced from our office. I’m not sitting there, though, because the desk’s buried behind three rolled rugs and a couple of lamps from IKEA that I think were on our nightstands, but my brain is fuzzy right now.

Our living room and dining room are only two of the areas that could begin to fill a Jeopardy! category: Things that are messy.

 

One day I will learn that house projects make me happy in theory and in completion, but the middle section — where the actual project part of the project takes place — makes me cringe.

Floor and bathrooms and dust galore have sidetracked me from pretty much everything else I’m supposed to be doing right now. I’m trying my best to escape a little with the kids each day, since they didn’t exactly plan on a summer in the chaos that is currently our house.

Laundry multiplies at alarming rates when you’re juggling humidity and showers at the gym with constant sock wearing to combat stepping on a fine layer of dust and errant rainbow loom bands that insist on springing forth from underneath every piece of furniture we move. I’m struggling to determine the line between needing calories to fuel the thousands of extra steps and flights of stairs I’m taking and grabbing another brownie because chocolate makes me happy. (My tightening waistline seems to think I’m not doing a great job at finding that line.)

Everything should be finished in a few weeks, which alternately seems like an instant and an eternity.

These projects have lurked on the horizon for quite some time, so I don’t know why I’m shocked that they’re actually happening, but I am. Blogging every day probably wasn’t the best plan for the month, so I will try to forgive myself for my spotty performance.

How do you deal with the chaos of home renovations? (And the dust, so, so, so much dust?)

NaBloPoMo July 2015

Broken sanctuaries

NaBloPoMo July 3 We picked up the CD when we registered in the church office — tracks of upbeat Christian music they had memorized within hours. Our listening habits lean more toward Top 40, where I cross my fingers on the steering wheel that they won’t ask me what certain things mean for another few years. Each summer, though, we go through a few weeks of Christian music immersion, simply because they adore attending Vacation Bible School so much.

Our church did VBS this year for the first time. Prior to moving into our new neighborhood, the kids went to a week-long program co-hosted by our parish. Last year, our first summer in our new house, we went to VBS at the church of a friend. Each year, except maybe the first year Abbey participated, I’ve dropped the kids off with hugs and smiles and a certain comfort that comes from knowing they’re surrounded by a church community.

We’re able to walk to and from our church, though we rarely do it on Sunday mornings, when we’re on time enough to make it to mass at all. With a more relaxed summer schedule, the kids and I walked a few times. I would walk home slowly, letting the sun and the quiet wash over my shoulders, content knowing they were somewhere they enjoyed being.

Somewhere they felt safe.

I worry about our church affiliation at times, but the worry stems from ideological and doctrinal questions. The ritual of mass brings a sense of peace, and I appreciate looking around the pews and seeing faces I recognize, like, and admire from elsewhere in our community. As a feminist and a staunch supporter of marriage equality, some of the church’s official positions make me cringe.

Our church, though, and I’m speaking of the various parishes to which I’ve belonged throughout my life, has always seemed sacred, a sanctuary.

Church has always felt safe.

But not all churches are safe.

Black churches are burning, miles away but united under the same cross, and really I don’t know if it matters to me on which cross the church was founded, to what God the worshippers pray.

Black churches are burning, and it’s impossible to understand why I’m seeing more about it on Facebook and Twitter than I am on the news sites I check daily.

Flames reach to the sky, and arson might not be responsible for all of them, but isn’t even one burning church too many?

In the way one can fall down a rabbit hole of connected news articles and historical links, I started reading about the history of arson and black churches. Hate seeps through the words surrounding the explanations, the talk of attacking the heart and strength of a community.

Hate penetrating a sanctuary is frightening, but it’s more frightening to think these fires are nipping at the heels of the Charleston murders, which were nipping at the heels of stories of policy brutality. The individual acts pile together until the attacks seem relentless.

We need to do something about the hate, and we need to do something about the desensitization that makes the events blend together in the media. Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greelyville, South Carolina burned. 74-year-old Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. was one of the nine victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The churches were sanctuaries for their communities, the victims had friends and family who are grieving and in pain and who are being reminded again and again that even churches aren’t safe.

My words here aren’t particularly eloquent, and they feel small and insignificant.

Staying quiet would be still smaller and less significant.

Maybe if enough people band together with small voices, we’ll figure out a way to make them louder, to speak out about race and hate and the long legacy that still ties the two together.

Maybe we can find a way to untie that legacy.
NaBloPoMo July 2015

Playing pretend

pretend play He’s waited for her to be done with school since mid-May, though I’d be lying if I said “waited patiently.” Practically the moment she emptied her backpack for the last time as a first grader, they began the complicated dance of adoring each other and needing space from each other, often within the same 30-second time frame.

She’s the cruise director in their relationship, and this is the first summer he’s pushed back against her detailed ideas about what they should do and where and for how long. Unsure how to deal, histrionics ensue. Separation is futile, because they circle each other like planets; their relationship has its own gravity.

Pretend play often provides the only common ground.

Her imagination has always crafted worlds in which they’ve escaped, but now that he makes a conscious effort to build his own narrative around hers, they’re making magic. Even during a trip to IKEA they easily fell into a multi-layered game where the little staged apartments and patios became soap opera sets.

I marvel recently, shocked at how much easier certain things are becoming. When I needed to load bar stools onto one cart, they helped push the one I’d filled with those nonsensical things picked up in IKEA aisles — LED light bulbs that may or may night be the right size, two more RIBBA frames, note cards — even though the carts do that weird thing where they can move in all directions instead of just backward and forward. There was only a pushed out lip instead of tears when I denied the fervent plea for more stuffed animals to add to their menagerie. Our post-shopping $1 cones only required napkins and a wet wipe instead of a bath.

Not everything is easier, of course.

Worries are bigger, and tempers flare over unexpected things.

Still, when we got home and I realized those purchased bar stools were the tall version when I needed the shorter ones, Abbey knew where to find the packing tape so I could reseal the boxes. She held the flap while I taped, her brow furrowed in thought.

Minutes later, their heads were touching as they whispered and bustled, and a puppet theater arose. The antics of the duck and the grasshopper, freshly borrowed from the library and unestablished in personality, were haphazard and nonsensical. Laughter bubbled between the three of us, pulling us together and lessening the tension of the added task of exchanging the stools.

Pretend play might save us all.

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pretend play