Thursday, January 31, 2008

She call him "Buster"

I think that Bud has had his first fight with a friend.

"Kelly is angry with me," he told me. "She call me 'Buster.' She says, 'I don't want to play with you anymore.'"

I just don't know what to make of it.

It's startling because Bud doesn't usually give reports like this. And it's clearly weighing on his mind, because he's brought it up several times. Kelly is the child Bud's been most connected to since first grade. I can't imagine what happened, and I haven't gotten any reports of a mishap at school. Bud hasn't been able to offer much more of an explanation.

I sent in a note to his teacher, giving her the information I could glean from Bud and asking for her help in intervening to help him smooth things over with Kelly. Coincidentally, I've got a meeting with the team this afternoon so my hope is that I may get an update then.

Internally, though, I've got competing emotions about this situation. On the one hand, my heart is breaking for Bud. He's had a fight with his friend. It's bothering him. He wants to repair the relationship, but he doesn't know how.

On the other hand, my heart is soaring for Bud. He's had a fight with his FRIEND. It's BOTHERING him. He WANTS to repair the relationship, but he doesn't know how.

So, really, what's a little "Buster" between friends?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My cheatin' hair

Oh, the drama. Oh, the angst. Oh, the shame of it all.

I cheated on my hairdresser. And I got caught.

It's not like we had a long-term relationship. I suppose you could argue that we had an "agreement" - but, really, it had never been stated explicitly. It just sort of evolved that way. I started seeing her casually, and then it was just easy to book a follow up appointment on my way out the door, and the next thing I knew we had an exclusive thing going.

But, honestly, I hadn't been seeing her that long. And in my defense, I was just coming out of a ten-year relationship with my former hairdresser. That, in itself, is a long story - my ex-hairdresser is a lovely woman who was with me through a lot of tough times. I care about her - I will always care about her - but things had just run their course, you know? It had become same old, same old in the haircut department and our schedules were such that we were having trouble finding time for each other. And I just needed a change - I needed something new and exciting - I needed some pampering. So when my colleagues started coming back to the office with fabulous new hairstyles... well, it didn't take much convincing to make me stray.

It was some time last summer that I first went to The Salon and met my most recent stylist, Rachel. We were set up on a blind match, and at first it felt like maybe there was something there, but I see now that I was just on the rebound - and perhaps, if I'm being totally honest, I was looking for a trophy stylist.

And Rachel certainly fit the bill. She's young - out of her teens, but not by much. And she's stunningly gorgeous, in that casual , natural way that looks effortless. And she's petite and graceful and lovely in spiky high heels that she stands in all day without getting blisters. The reality was, no matter how fabulous I felt walking in the door, after just a few minutes in Rachel's presence I felt like a barn animal. An old barn animal.

It wasn't her; it was me. Truly. She's just as sweet and as gracious as can be. But she's quiet - an introvert - and so am I. And we didn't have a lot to talk about to start with, so once we got through a few minutes of "how 'bout this weather," we spent most of the rest of the haircut in silence. Not especially awkward silence, but silence nonetheless. But it was fine. I didn't have a reason to end it. And the haircuts were good. So I stayed with Rachel for months.

Then, sometime in November, I got a call from The Salon telling me that Rachel had taken a very sudden leave of absence because of a family emergency and she wouldn't be able to do my December haircut. They fixed me up with someone else. Meg.

Meg is a dream come true.

First, she's experienced. She knows what she's doing. Where Rachel is measured and patient and careful, Meg is carefree and loose and creative. And I can relate to Meg: She's closer to my age. She's a mom of boys. She has pictures at her station of her newly-remodeled kitchen. We have the same gynecologist, for heaven's sake. It's like it was meant to be. Being with her was just so easy, you know?

But she's a responsible professional. She was fabulous, but she kept her distance. She gave great hair advice, but couched it in "I'm sure Rachel has mentioned that..." and "You could talk to Rachel about..." She made it clear that she knew I was taken. So, when I stopped at the desk before I left that appointment and had to book my follow-up, I booked it with Rachel. But I couldn't stop thinking about Meg. So three weeks later, I called back and switched.

I'm one of many to Rachel, I told myself. It's been so long, she probably doesn't even remember me. I was too old for her anyway. She'll be relieved.

I said it enough that I believed it, which made me able to show up for my appointment with Meg today - well, if not confidently, then at least not sheepishly.

Meg came out to meet me in the waiting room, and I thought I caught a look in her eye. But of what? Surprise? Confusion? Delight? I couldn't be sure, and it lasted just a second before she fell into that easy, breezy Meg banter that made me sigh and start dreaming of our future together. I was so caught up in it, in fact, that I was startled when, as I was laying backwards with my head dangling into the sink, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I looked up to see the upside-down but smiling face of Rachel. Sweet, young, beautiful Rachel. She waved, and I stammered: "HEY! Welcome back! It's so great to see you!" My words said "I had no idea I could have scheduled with you!", but I know that my eyes betrayed me, as even upside-down they laid it out bluntly and without apology: "I'm just not that into you."

I tried to put it out of my mind. I tried to focus on the engaging chatter that Meg was so bravely offering up. I tried to remember that when Meg was done working her magic, I would look just a little less like Keith Urban. I tried. But, to my horror, I soon discovered that Rachel's station had moved since the last time I'd seen her, and now - yes, you know where this is going - now it is right in front of Meg's.

So I listened to Meg's delightful monologue as I watched Rachel - focused, hardworking, quiet Rachel - silently cut the hair of a woman who I think looked older than me, but who is probably five years my junior. And as I sat and listened and felt the magic of Meg's clip-swirl-clip, I was overcome with conflicting emotion. I was so happy to be where I was, and yet I felt terrible about feeling so happy. I can only equate it with the feeling one has at the senior prom when one sneaks away from one's prom date to go make out in the hallway with one's ex-boyfriend (er... not that I would do that... what kind of person would do that?)

And then there was the moment - after the final reveal (ta-da! fabulous hair!) and before I walked out the door - when Meg walked me to the reception area and said with the political neutrality of Switzerland, "Brianna can help you if you'd like to schedule another appointment."

And I did. Schedule, I mean. With Meg. But I feel just awful about it. And what's worse, I feel that I'm without options - that I've made myself a hair salon pariah. Stick with Meg and make her an accomplice to my betrayal, or return to Rachel despite the fact that we both know it would not be because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to.

I'm stuck. And angst-ridden.

But my hair? It's fabulous.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The soundtrack of our lives

Really, if you're going to stay sane, then you need to be able to see the humor in life, even in - especially in - the hard times, right?

So I'm bundling Bud into the car this morning to start the trek to school. He is already entrenched in a monologue - "I don't want to go to school. I'll miss you. We'll miss each other." - and I am patting myself on the back for remembering my iPod, because I'm sure that a ride filled with his favorite music will take his mind off his impending loneliness.

"What should we listen to Bud?" I ask.

"How about Dierks?" he answers.

"Great! Which song?" I ask, perhaps a bit too perkily.

His answer comes back somberly: "Long Trip Alone."


"How about something a little bit happier, Bud?" I suggest.

"Okay," he says. "How about 'Lot of Leavin' Left to Do'?"

I mentally give Bud points for thinking on his feet. The boy knows how to send a message. But I put on the song and chuckle to myself as I hear Bud singing in the backseat, "I guess the Loooooord made me hard to handle...," and I keep the XM radio monitor on in the hopes that it will beep and tell me that a different Dierks song is playing somewhere and I'll be able to switch over and keep Bud engaged and redirected.

And then it hits me.

Dierks Bentley's new single? The song most likely to be playing on the radio as we ride to school?

No lie. It's called "Trying To Stop Your Leaving."

Seriously. You just can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Bud is struggling at school.

I write about this tentatively, with trepidation, and with the knowledge that I am edging closer than I'd like to the part of Bud's life that might best be kept private. But you all have too much wisdom, too much understanding, too much to offer to allow me to hold it back. So I offer it out:

Bud is struggling at school.

At the core, I think this is separation anxiety. It starts in the evening as we get ready for bed, usually just as a series of points of information: "I was upset at school today. I missed you at school today. I don't want to go to school tomorrow. I'll miss you at school." By morning, the points become more insistent: "I don't WANT to go to school. I CAN'T go to school. School is scary. I'm sad at school. I'll miss you. We'll miss each other."

The tears begin as we don our coats. The ride to school is iffy, but we often get a reprieve if I've remembered to bring my iPod or if the stars have aligned and "Free and Easy" is playing on the radio. Then the anxiety begins again as we pull into the school yard: "I'll miss you. We'll miss each other. I don't want to go to school." By the time we get to the classroom, Bud's tears are flowing. Sometimes they last a few minutes. Sometimes, like today, they transform into keening and wailing that builds and builds throughout the morning until he lays his head on the table in exhaustion and falls asleep for forty-five minutes in the middle of the noisy, bustling classroom.

Bud's dad and I have talked about it: it doesn't take a PhD in developmental psychology to figure out what's going on here. From Bud's perspective, his dad disappeared suddenly and he's worried that while he's not looking his mom might slip away as well. We've both tried to send consistent messages: "Dad loves you even though he doesn't live with you. You are going to see Dad again. Mom is not going away. You will always live with Mom." And I've tried every approach I can think of to address Bud's fears and tears in the moment: acknowledging his feelings; agreeing that we'll miss each other and assuring him that we'll see each other at the end of the day; focusing on the happy reunion we'll have at supper time; reminding him of the people and things he enjoys at school; working with the teacher to have an important job waiting for him when he arrives at school; using a different doorway to mix up the "drop-off script"; arriving a little early; arriving a little late; bribing him with a snack in exchange for a tear-free drop-off; and even employing a tough-love approach that left us both worse off than we'd started out.

The good news is that we've finally made it to the top of a very long wait list, and Bud has an appointment with a child psychologist next week. My hope is that she will be able to help us help him process what he's experienced, talk about what he's feeling, and work through the things that are getting in his way. I hope I'm not being unrealistic - but, frankly, if I am, please don't tell me. Unrealistic expectation might just be what's getting me through these difficult mornings right now.

But there must be a strategy I haven't tried - some magical mix of words and actions that will make all the difference for Bud and help him to feel safe and secure and confident again. But what does it look like? What else can I try? How can I help him manage the fears and the tears and the overwhelming emotion of I miss you, I miss you, I miss you?

What else is there? What am I missing?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Extra texture

After taking a bit of a hiatus from his craft, Bud spent last weekend focused on his photography. Join me, won't you, for a tour of our house through the lens of Bud?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In the lion's den

Niksmom is good for my ego.

She has given me an award. It's a "Roar for Powerful Words," developed by The Shameless Lion's Writing Circle to encourage and celebrate good and powerful writing in the blogosphere. With the award comes the directive to identify three things that make writing good and powerful. For me, powerful writing is:

- at once person-specific and universal, capturing an individual's own experience so pointedly that I can instantly connect to it.

- carefully constructed and artfully woven, with tiny turns of phrase that capture me and make me wish I'd written them.

- real and not dressed to impress.

I read a lot of blogs to gather wisdom, gain ideas, and build community. But there are a few blogs that I read for the pure poetry in the prose. It doesn't matter to me what these bloggers are writing about; it only matters that they write:

Kyra from This Mom


Kristen from From Here to There and Back

Drama Mama from Like a Shark

Vicki from Speak Softly...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vanity, thy name is Keith

I've had a harsh moment of self-realization.

I'm growing layers out of my hair. Have you ever done that? Gone from having short layered hair to longer non-layered hair? It doesn't sound like a big deal, but 1) it takes an extraordinarily long time, and 2) you spend many months of your life in "that awkward stage."

Bolstered by inspiration from Drama Mama, I've been spending a lot of time every morning trying to look just a tiny bit fabulous, and it was this morning as I looked in the mirror that the realization hit me.

Right now on a GOOD day, I look like Keith Urban:

And on a BAD day, I look like Keith Partridge:

Neither of these realities is particularly self-affirming.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Trial and tribulation

Kristina Chew is blogging daily at Autism Vox about the ongoing trial of Karen McCarron, who killed her autistic daughter Katie in May, 2006. Each update hurts more than the last. I read today's update hours ago, and I am still reeling from it.

I'm left today, as I was in May, 2006, without words.

In the time since Katie's death, her grandfather, Mike McCarron, has become an online friend. My thoughts and my wishes for peace, comfort, and strength are with Mike and his family always, but they are especially strong this week as they are forced to relive what to me is unimaginable, but to them is reality.

My heart is with you, Mike. With you and, most especially, with Katie.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The grass is always bluer

Mere months ago, I told you that Bud and I have the same taste in music. Since then, Bud has been branching out. We still have a lot of musical tastes in common - there is still a lot of overlap - but the more we listen to the radio, the more we check out videos on Yahoo, the more we sample clips from iTunes, the more I'm discovering that Bud has a musical sensibility that's all his own.

Increasingly, he approaches me with iPod in hand and asks me to download a song for him - a song that I didn't know he liked; a song that doesn't particularly grab me. They tend to be testosterone-laden country songs with lyrics like "All my friends say I started shootin' doubles when you walked in..." And, then, on the flip side, there are other songs - lovely songs by artists he enjoys - that he rejects outright. He despises Keith Urban's "Everybody" so much that he made me cross out the song title on the CD case and on the disc itself before he'd listen to any of the other songs. (I asked him why he didn't like it. His reply: "It makes me strain.") I'm afraid this all might serve as irrefutable evidence that my sweet little boy is turning into a GUY, but that's a post for another time.

It's actually exciting to me that Bud is forging his own musical identity, and I want to help him follow his passions and explore the best of what the musical world has to offer. But lately, in addition to his good-old-boy country rocking, he's been tuning in to a genre that I know absolutely nothing about:


I first noticed that Bud was spending a lot of time listening to the Dierks Bentley album tracks that are heavily influenced by bluegrass. Then one day we were surfing iTunes together and he discovered the album Pickin' on Dierks Bentley: A Bluegrass Tribute. We listened to the 30-second clips and I told Bud he could choose a couple to download, but he was insistent: he needed to have them all. He loves them.

Yesterday, when he talked me into downloading Brooks and Dunn's "Play Something Country" for him, he caught a glimpse of the Pickin' on Brooks and Dunn tribute that's available on iTunes. I surfed away quickly enough to distract him, but I know it's only a matter of time before he discovers the whole (seemingly infinite) Pickin' On series.

Now, I don't want to be critical of the folks behind the Pickin' On empire, but they credit themselves only as "Various Artists." As I've said, I'm no bluegrass expert, but my hunch is that Pickin' On is not the very best that bluegrass has to offer.

I just don't know what is.

I put out the call to Bud's dad, who tends to know a lot about a lot of different kinds of music, and I'm casting a wide net out here to the blogosphere. Perhaps one of my regular readers is also a bluegrass aficionado. Or perhaps if I use the word "bluegrass" enough in this post - in phrases like "you just HAVE to hear this great bluegrass artist" or "this is the greatest bluegrass musician of all time," my Google hit will be high enough that some bluegrass junkies will surf on in and give me some tips.

So, bluegrass fans, tell me, please: My son and I are looking for the best in bluegrass. Where do we begin?