Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Short Blog About Responsibility at 15

Our neighbors and dear friends have two younger boys and we have an older boy. There was a a time when they were all sort of closer in age, but now that Will is 15 and they are still in elementary, the gap widens. For the most part, I think their kids have always viewed Will as a playmate or possibly a horse. Definitely not an authority figure. 

Of late, our boy Will is thinking constantly about making money to save up for games and sports stuff and a car. When I was 15, I made my money babysitting. Quite a good bit of money, less the stuff my bother "borrowed" from me. I don't know though, boy babysitters have a much harder time. You would probably leave your kids with a girl just because she's a girl. I mean she could have like a side job on the reality series Teen Mom, and you will still feel a little bit safer leaving your kids with a girl. I actually had a boy babysitter as a kid and he was kind of creepy. Plus his name was Skipper.

Anyway, our neighbors asked us one day for the number of the teenaged girl down the street. I had to ask Will for it because I didn't have it. He gave it to me and asked why. I said I think for babysitting the boys next door. At first he was sort of like what? I can do this. 

Eventually he texted me the number. I texted back, "Sorry bud." He replied, "It's okay. She'd be better at it than me." I thought that was some responsible shit. And honestly, I think he's right.

Update: My awesome neighbor read this blog and had no idea Will was interested in babysitting and he got his first job with her. There you go. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow is a Microcosm

As I sit here with my trusty bag of frozen kale pressed against my lower back, praying it keeps me in alignment and out of traction, I am contemplating all the snow today. It occurred to me that living here in the Northeast may not be as visibly difficult as other places in the world, but it is difficult. Today we had over a foot of snow on the coast which means inland they were bombarded. I just checked the forecast and they are predicting more snow and something called a thunder snowstorm which I think may be not good. 

When you live in a dense neighborhood like ours, it's tough to ignore your neighbor. We know a lot about each other, whether we know each other or not.  Like I know the guy who NEVER said hi to me until recently is a writer - figures - and his son, who is nice as can be, went to Tulane like me, and was also my son's camp counselor.

I know my neighbors next door, one a widower, one whose husband is not in the best shape with his back. Our younger neighbors on the other side -- he has a bad shoulder. I know all these things and then I know my own frailties, aka 50 aka bad back and when snow comes I have to weigh my options. We try to never stop at just shoveling our house. We try to do at least the two neighbors who are older. But today was a monster and here I sit with my frozen kale.

Deciding who to help is a really tough decision. I honestly don't know how people who work at non-profits don't drive themselves crazy. When you are coping with weather like we are having, you start resenting your dog. Like crap I have to take her out again? Not to mention, how far will I go to help others? How many neighbors can I shovel out?

I almost always think about my neighbor Ray and his gardening mantra..."Just do a little at a time." Then there's one of my all time favorite books "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott.  Same principle -- don't get bogged down in doing it all. You actually can't do it all. I mean me. I actually can't do it all. What the hell? I can't do it all? What a let down.

Today we had a new neighbor to help. Old neighbor, but new to our help. They have a snow blower and a guy who plows. But the other day the ambulance was at their house for the husband. I think I know why. It doesn't matter anyway. Now the wife and son need help, and we need to try.

This is a big lesson. That I am trying to learn. And it's only taken me 50 years. And counting. How do you friend, help, support, abide people you don't necessarily like?  I don't have the answer. I guess sometimes it helps to have the cover of snow around you.

On a positive note, shoveling snow apparently allows you to eat anything you freaking want and not gain weight. 

NB I just noticed my last post was a lot more cheery. See. Perfect example of what a long New England winter can do to you.