Tag Archives: single parenting

Birthdays and Band Practice

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Birthdays and Band Practice

It could easily have been a stressful and exhausting weekend.

My sons turn twelve this week, twin boys with dissimilar tastes and lots of bright ideas for birthday presents and no real clue how much the things might cost. Still, they’ve never complained if they know the gift they want is too much and this year they didn’t really ask for much.

I learned, after years of attempting to do birthday parties at home, that it’s cheaper, easier and cleaner to do the party at a place that handles the cleanup for you. So this year we went to the local movie theater.

It wasn’t a complicated movie. No superheros, no explosions. (Well, a couple). We saw the movie “Home”. It was cute, if a bit vanilla at times, but it did the job quite well.

Where I’d normally make a cake from scratch I ran out of time so a local bakery substituted just fine, thank you. Salted caramel chocolate cake is a great substitute for Dad’s Devil’s Food one. Plus it looked nicer.

We ate pizza, opened presents, had cake, sang “Happy Birthday” and walked off to home and play the videogames they’d gotten as presents.

The day after was the interesting one.

While the boys went to a friend’s house, after their party, my middle daughter had the first practice for a band she’s been dying to put together for months.

The bass player arrived and in true teenage fashion they spent a large amount of time trying to find musical middle ground and get used to being in the same room with each other.

It might have been my greatest luck that I didn’t start playing the guitar until I was 19. By then, after being asked to join a cover band, I was itching to play. So the idea that I would spend more time talking seemed a waste of time. “Stop with the words, grab your guitars and let’s rock!” At least, that’s what my memory says. In reality it probably wasn’t too different from my daughter’s day.

But when dinner time came I looked at my daughter and said “can I give you some advice?”
She rolled her eyes and in typical teenage style used one word, dripping in disdain and sarcasm: “what?!”

I was stunned, a bit taken aback.

“I was just going to say . . . I heard you both saying you didn’t know how to play the songs the other wanted. You have it a lot easier. In my day we had to find the songs on the radio if they just happened to play them and record them on a cassette tape. ¬†That was always hard. We’d trade mix tapes and hope for the best.”
She looked at me like I’d just given birth to a cat or something.
“I thought you were going to say we did something wrong.”
It was my turn for a stunned look.
“No . . . I was trying to help. So today, you have it so easy. Get a Spotify playlist together and share them with each other. Rather than learning from tape you can just go online.”

My daughter was afraid I was going to criticize her . . . but it wasn’t at all on my mind. It actually concerned me that he thought I was going to go straight to criticism. I was worried she thinks that’s all I do.

“No…but the Spotify thing . . . that’s a GREAT idea!”
“Yeah, we even played with the recordings and then came up with our own arrangements.”

Once in awhile the little people realize that there’s value in what their Dad says when it comes to past experiences.

I need to do a better job, I realized, of expressing that so they don’t immediately think I’m going to criticize what they do.

The Bunny’s Story

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The Bunny’s Story

Four.

There are four of them . . . at once . . . in two different states.

Sure, I’m a supernatural figure with the ability to contort the space-time continuum in order to hit every single kid’s house in one night but you have to understand something. The wear and tear that has on a bunny is astronomical. Not to mention the singing the fur takes when you do it.

Luckily the oldest, off in another state in college, was okay with an early basket. Well…it was more of a box, but the candy and a present were in there. Some of it was Dad’s suggestion, sure, but there you have it.

I was most curious, though, to see what the three still living with the Dad were going to do. They, obviously, still have that inkling of belief in me. It’s a wonder to me how they still have it. Most of their friends and school mates likely don’t, which is a shame, really. Still…their Dad stopped believing far earlier but I still brought him baskets. He still has the Isaac Asimov book I gave him years ago sitting on the bookshelf in their living room. He’s even told the boys about it.

The ability to jump that continuum lets me peek in on select families here and there. I wanted to see how these guys were handling things. They’ve been without their mother for four years now, but this is the 5th Easter they’ve had without their mother. I know these things. Sure, I’m a bunny…but I’m a supernatural bunny. You have to get with the program and suspend some of that disbelief, you know.

That first of the five, that was a hard one. Dad’s parents were there and it made things so much easier on him. I don’t know if he’d have been able to handle things that year. Yet he did and with their help had an amazing Easter dinner and they visited the same relatives they are visiting this year.

But this year . . . I have to say, five Easters in as a new sort of family . . . what a difference the years make, no?

To begin with . . . I don’t know how the Dad does this. It was 4:30am . . . I hadn’t left that long before when the oldest of those twin boys got up.

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I gave him that giant bunny. Couldn’t help myself, I have to admit. He saw it in a store and kept saying how soft it was. To give him credit, he waited until 5am to go into his Dad’s bedroom. It was a bit difficult to watch as just before I dropped off the candy and the little gifts (well, it’s a big bunny, but so am I!) the youngest twin had a nightmare. I sprinkled the idea in his head that Dad had just gone to bed (and he had) and he jumped in, shaking from his dream, and Dad rubbed his head. It was a nice touch.

Sad for Dad, then, that just a few hours later the brother woke him up. I had to cover my whiskers to not laugh.
“Can I get up, Dad?”
Dad was groggy as all get-out.
“What time is it?”
“5am.”
“NO! Good lord, give me at least another hour.”

That lasted 10 minutes. I used the time to hit some other houses in the Pacific before coming back to peek.

5:10am . . . “Dad . . . ”
The poor dad sighed his resignation.
“Fine…go on.”

That woke up the other son.

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I gave him a bunny, too. Dad made cinnamon rolls, god bless him, even through the haze of exhaustion. ¬†They’d already started climbing the walls from the cream eggs, jellybeans, peeps and chocolate bunnies I gave them. Had to keep with the theme, after all.

I thought Dad would be melancholy, tired as he was, and revisit Easters past. Instead, they trundled ahead, seizing the day as it were. They went outside while Dad had coffee, checking the grass they’d planted in the backyard.

By noon they’d grabbed flowers for their aunt’s mother-in-law (yeah…I’m a mythological bunny and even I had to think about that description a bit) and were over meeting their late mother’s sister by noon. They had an egg hunt and the twin boys, usually taking every egg they could find, followed behind a little girl and snuck their eggs into her basket. Not that they didn’t have ones of their own.

They ate well, hugged new friends and family . . . and played games.

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I thought sure they were going to break an ankle on the 3-legged race. Instead, in the pouring rain, they laughed out loud when they fell, face-first into the grass. When it rained harder they danced in the rain instead of avoiding it.

I sprinkled another idea in the youngest twin’s head . . . “people should see your Dad. He’s exhausted and doesn’t care!”
“Dad . . . YOU need an Easter picture,” he said. Handing his brown bunny to his father the boy took his Dad’s phone and snapped a picture.

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Bags under his eyes and all, by evening he was smiling, laughed all day, and even made them a full Easter dinner that they ate at the table. They listened to an old jazz record while they ate and it was there the topic of their mother came up.

But no tears were shed.

No . . . much to my own amazement – and in centuries of doing this very little amazes me now – they all laughed and smiled. They called the oldest who talked about her day and remembered Easter dinners in other states, too.

There was no sadness here. There was joy. There was hope.

For a bunny . . . particularly a supernatural mythological one . . . you hope that your gifts bring joy. I get the impression, though, that this day would have played out exactly the same way if I hadn’t visited their home.

That’s all a bunny can ask for, isn’t it?

Sincerely,

E. Aster Bunny.