Tag - weather

Weather Extremes
The Order of Things
When I Grow Up

Weather Extremes

Nothing like a downpour to slow you down. The boys are at school and I sit here while the rain pounds. We are nearly six months in to our new life where there are extremes in weather: sunny skies so blue you are certain no color exists to do it justice. And then there are the days like today. If I close my eyes I really could go to sleep — no joke. The rain pounds but it’s also hypnotic. If Sam were home and not at school, he’d fret “It could flood! What about the wind? Those clouds are low, Mom!” He’d see menace in the benign.

That’s what happens when you absorb every book you can find on wild weather systems. I believe that it’s important to be prepared, but perhaps it’s possible to be too prepared. For some things.

I was not prepared to be a single mom even though I essentially was just that while married. The fact is I did 90% of everything from day one. It’s the little things that remind me how rough the road is solo. It’s their new fascination with their, ahem, bodies. And it’s how their little boy frames are filling out, their legs stretching impossibly towards their future height. It’s how each of them pushes back trying to redefine the lines between us, necessary to emerging into themselves — I know. But it’s rocky and terrain I neither know nor get — hey, I’m a girl.

Soon they will tower over me. I will be their little mama. John will bend down when he throws his arms around me each morning. That’s good, I think, I’ll be little by comparison — better than a diet.

IMG_rain1Yesterday, unlike today, was mild and breezy. All the windows were thrown open to catch it and along with it, perhaps possibility. Their weekly phone call over, Sam sat sprawled on the couch next to me and we talked again about the divorce. We do this from time to time — he wanted me to feel it from his point of view, he said.

“You think it affected you 100 times, well, it affected me a billion times!” and then explained how when IT first started (the fight that ended with his dad leaving) IT was like an asteroid hit his head and then IT (the separation) turned into a cyclone in his body where tornadoes and hurricanes flooded him, his heart, and then IT (the divorce) traveled down to his legs where earthquakes and fierce winds landed in his feet.

“It was tremendous,” he said. It felt like he was alone in a desert — did I know that?

“I did not,” I said, “but I suspected.” I thanked him for sharing how it was for him and asked if it’s hard to keep all of that extreme weather inside.

He admitted it is. “It’s hardest for the kids.”

This boy is 8 going on 30.

And then, “Mom, will you get married again and give me some more siblings? Please?” I explained how 1) that would require non-existent candidates and 2) someone who already has children (“A sister, I want a sister”), because my child-bearing years are finito.

I didn’t think it the right moment to say I can’t imagine ever wanting to do that again, so instead I took the easy path: “Who knows?” The way his face lit up, I would do just about anything for him. (Just about.)

There is no manual for this life, no guide for getting it right and it makes me sad that my boy can lay it out for me like this: he is prepared for the extremes: he knows firsthand the havoc that can be wreaked by that which is bigger than him. He did not see the low clouds heralding his parents’ divorce, he did not know he lived on a fault line, that the earth could move like that or tornadoes form out of thin air.

And now he does. He is prepared for the worst and I suppose I am now too.


The Order of Things

He says, “Mom? You’re number one.” I’m curious, mostly because he has an uncanny way of remembering the order of things.

So I reply, “You mean like you’re number six at school?” Because in second grade, that’s how they do it — each child lines up for lunch, recess, specials — all by a special number assigned alphabetically by the teacher.

A week in to the school year, when Sam is able to recite who is what number, I’m fascinated. When I point out that the order is done alphabetically, he says “No, it’s not. Number one is Maddie, number two is Alex.” I explain that the order is by last name and his eyes get bigger as he rattles off their names again with this new information.

I’m amazed that he ordered everyone by number and not alphabetically.

When he starts checking out books at the library on the U.S. presidents, I am relieved he’s moved on to a new topic, because let’s face it — how much more could he possibly learn about geography? Or cloud formations?

Pair a new interest with his current Animaniacs obsession and now my son knows every U.S. president in chronological order. (Sam, who is number 15? “James Buchanan, Mom.”) This song is in heavy, heavy rotation around our house. He sings it non-stop. It’s quite something to hear these lyrics explode from his mouth:

Tom Jefferson stayed up to write
The Constitution late at night
So he and his wife had a great big fight
And she made him sleep on the couch all night

James Madison never had a son
And he fought the War of 1812
James Monroe’s colossal nose
Was bigger than Pinocchio’s

What a skill — my brain has no such ability.

What I do have is a new appreciation for the way Sam orders his world. There is much comfort to be found in predictable, unalterable facts. It’s the other stuff — it’s the people in our lives. It’s the emotional, the messy, the unpredictable that makes him anxious. Me too. I guess you just hold on and trust that order will eventually arise from chaos.

When I Grow Up

“Mom,” he says. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I tell him that for one, I’m already grown up and 2) I’m doing it — I’m his mom, I’m John’s mom.

And then I follow it with a long-winded tale about life before kids, when Mommy actually Worked. In an office! Because that’s the pinnacle, you know, that’s what Daddy does.

“Yeah, but what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Honestly, I just want to know what the heck a Fujita Scale is.


He runs out the doors of the school clutching a rolled-up poster, you know — the laminated kind used in classrooms everywhere. “Mom!” he says, “Look! Look what I have…CLOUDS!” He quickly unrolls it for my inspection. “Here are the cumulonimubus clouds, the altocumulus clouds, the nimbus clouds, the altostratus clouds. Mom! What’s your favorite cloud?” I tell him I like the kind that are puffy like pillows and he tells me those are cumulus clouds, don’t I like more? I ask him, well, what are your favorites, Sam? “Mom, I love ALL the clouds.”

Indeed. Sam loves everything.

Sam’s capacity to retain information is astounding to me, maybe because my brain struggles to recall the simplest things…why am I at the grocery store, what did I need to get? I have found as I’ve moved through my early 40s that my memory isn’t what it once was. It could have something to do with the dearth of sleep of course, or perhaps the sheer volume of autism knowledge that has taken up residence in each room of my tired brain. I am amused by his excitement and perhaps a little jealous.

He sits in the other room drawing yet another cloud book for his collection and I hear the slow roll of syllables as he pushes them around his tongue like he’s playing an instrument “nim-bo-stra-tus… stra-to-cu-mu-lus”…” not learning a new language. “I only like non-fiction, Mom. Remember. Okay?” He likes the black and white, the literal, the facts.

After he’s satisfied with his cloud book, he’s done and ready to move on to his other current obsession, the U.S. atlas.

Not only did Sam come home with his poster of clouds, he also came home with this which knocked me over.

He told me he made it during Free Choice at school. What’s amazing about this is that he wrote it from memory—he did not have the book with him at school, one we’ve renewed twice at the library. No, he sat down in his classroom and wrote from left to right, alphabetically, by region. So Connecticut, Delaware, Maine—the Northeast, then Alabama, Arkansas, Florida—the Southeast, and so on. He wants me to know that Wyoming is hanging out solo because he ran out of room after Washington. I look at this and think, no way did he get them all, I can’t even tell if they’re all there by looking.

But I count them up, fifty states and nearly all spelled correctly.

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