Month: August 2017


Today is Our 18th Wedding Anniversary.

People who don’t live in the Washington, DC area can be surprised by its summer weather.

Summer here can get hot. It stays in the upper 80’s and 90’s for most of the summer – which usually starts at the beginning of May and doesn’t end until the end of October. It goes above 100 degrees on a regular basis.

It is sunny nearly all the time, which means standing in the direct sun can add another ten degrees to what – in my cloudy hometown of Pittsburgh – might be what “87 degrees” is expected to feel like.

And the humidity can be absolutely brutal. Unlike the hundred-degree weather in the western parts of the United States, where the desert makes the air particularly dry and relatively comfortable on summer days, the hundred-degree days here feel like a sauna. When I open my door in the morning – sometimes every day for weeks – it feels like I am opening a giant oven. The heat gushes into the house in waves.

So when I decided to get married – outside – in August, people were skeptical.

I felt completely confident that it would be fine. We got some shady pavilions for guests, for the reception. The service was outside, too, under a very big tree in a local park.

At one point, I got a few signs from God that I was doing the right thing: a deer in the woods, a groundhog nearly climbing up my leg as I sat on a picnic table. (The stories of how these are “signs” would take too long.) So I never, ever questioned the weather.

When our wedding day came – August 7, 1999 – our guests arrived in droves. They sat in their chairs outdoors and we got married under a tree, as expected. We had our reception with the help of some shady pavilions.

And the weather was absolutely glorious. It was not hot, nor humid, and there was a light breeze blowing the entire time. We all loved the experience, which was entirely untraditional. It turned out better than anyone could have anticipated.

But I often wonder about the weather. Our summers are crazy hot – but not that day.

So I looked back at the “weather history” on the internet. For our area, for that week in 1999, the high temperature was 98 degrees. This could have happened on my wedding day, but it did not. Instead, the mean temperature for the week was 82 and the average temperature for the week was 73.

It was perfect! I thank God for that. After all, He sent the deer and the groundhog, to let me know it would be okay.

This past weekend – in 2017 – showcased the same glorious weather. I spent as much time as possible outside, enjoying the breeze. The week before was typical sauna weather – which made this past weekend so much more glorious.

Today is our 18th anniversary. I also thank God for getting us this far. I think the weekend weather was a fitting tribute.

And I think that someone mighty special must have gotten married outside this weekend, since God did it all again for them.

His Wit is So Dry, It’s Like Sandpaper.

With Dylan in camp for a week, I’ve had lots of time to spend with Shane.

We’ve gone out to lunch, to the zoo, and to a museum. We’ve played board games and card games, built with Legos and Contraptions. Shane’s been learning magic tricks – again, since he was a serious magician for three years in elementary school. So I’ve watched lots of card tricks, which are pretty amazing actually.

Shane and I have spent lots of time talking, sometimes philosophically. We’ve had some serious conversations and some silly ones. For the most part, we just chat about whatever comes into our minds. Getting to know him, one-on-one, is a pleasure.

Like his brother, the older he gets, the more there is to like.

And Shane is very, very funny. His wit is so dry, it’s like sandpaper.

“Most people don’t get my jokes,” he said to me as I nearly buckled over with laughter one day. “I don’t know why.”

“They have to be smart,” I told him. “You have a very intelligent sense of humor.”

“But sometimes people laugh at me when I don’t even mean to be funny.”

I laughed again. “Sometimes you are funniest when you don’t mean to be,” I said.

“See?” he said. “I don’t really get how that happens.”

“Sometimes you point out something so obvious, it’s funny,” I told him. “Not everyone thinks like you do, so they don’t think about things the way you do.”

“But that doesn’t mean it’s funny.”

“Well, when you tell someone about the way you see it, it can be wildly entertaining.”

“But when I say it, I don’t think it’s funny,” he said.

“For those of us who like seeing things in new ways, though, it can be extremely funny,” I said. “It’s a good thing to be funny without trying. People aren’t laughing at you; they’re laughing at the way you describe things, because the way you describe things can be very interesting.”

“I guess,” Shane said. “But I’m not sure why sometimes I’m funny and sometimes I’m not.”

“I think we all feel that way.”

I don’t know if he understood what I was saying, or even if he’ll remember talking about it.

But I sure have loved spending time with him, laughing when he’s trying to be funny, and when he’s not.

Shane helps me see the world in a whole new way.

Why Do I Insist on Doing Everything FOR Him?

It happened again. With Dylan in day camp, I went back to my old ways.

His “camp” is an electronic music extravaganza, so he is working in the classroom all day.

Being “in the classroom” means he has to focus.

I got up early, and worried that he wouldn’t be ready in time. The first day, I checked on him in the bedroom. The second and third day, I checked on him in the bathroom. He was late, I knew, and I pushed.

Then I went downstairs and started making breakfast. I made sure he had his vitamins and plenty of water. I pulled out some coffee for him. I made sure he had a breakfast that was rich in animal proteins, so his vitamins would work properly. I gave him a pack of gum, asked if he wanted any snacks, and panicked when he wasn’t in the car on time.

And today, only three days into my coddling behavior, I blew up.

“NOT ONLY ARE YOU LATE EVERY, SINGLE DAY,” I screamed, “BUT YOU DON’T EVEN SAY ‘THANK YOU’!”

“It would be better if I did everything myself,” Dylan said. (He did not scream.)

“FINE!” I screamed back. “THEN DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF AND I WILL JUST SIT IN THE CAR AND WAIT FOR YOU!”

“Okay,” he said. “But you’ll be doing everything for me again in no time.”

Sigh.

These are not new words. My throat has hurt from this exact screaming speech before. This is certainly not new territory.

So why, I wonder, did I go back to my old behavior so easily? Why do I insist on doing everything for him, even now that he is old enough, and quite capable, and even eager to do things on his own?

Having pondered this only briefly, one thought stands out. Maybe it’s because Dylan is my baby, and I use him to make myself feel needed. When I feel needed, I feel better about myself.

But this is not okay. Using him for anything is not okay, let alone for my own self-esteem.

And I know it’s not okay, so I back off to an appropriate distance most of the time.

Then he goes to day camp, and go kerplooey.

Maybe I need to get another dog.

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