Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tale of Two Tables

There's something no one tells you about having three children.

They don't fit around the kitchen table.

Most of those pretty kitchen sets at the furniture store have 4 nice matching chairs and space for one chair on each side. Sure, maybe you can add a leaf to the table and create some elbow room, but you'll still have to import a desk chair or a folding chair, or in our case, bring in one from the dining room. Ever since the day Isaac graduated from the high-chair-in-the-corner and joined the rest of us at the dinner table, we jostled the positions, always with not quite enough room on one side. Chair order was determined partly by size of the person, partly by who was least likely to LOOK AT someone else and make them cry, and partly by request (Alex didn't talk for a long, long time. When he finally started talking and demanded loudly "TO SIT BY DAD!", you can bet he sat by Dad).

There was never quite enough space on that one side of the table, but good humor and love made a way.

Four years ago, Elizabeth and I flew 2000 miles, across half a continent, as she embarked on her college career. We spent 3 bittersweet days learning Boston and settling her into her new life. I felt I handled the whole thing admirably well, sad to leave her there, yet envious of the adventures ahead of her. It was only when I returned home and removed the fifth chair from the kitchen table that the enormity of the situation hit me. We no longer had need of the cumbersome 5th chair, there was space around the table for the remaining 4 of us, and I wept for the family that would never be quite the same, ever again.

Last weekend, I ate a chicken sandwich at another kitchen table. It's not a new table. It's seen better days, really. It's a bit battered, and it's crammed into a kitchen that is just nearly too small for it and its four matching ladderback chairs. It was crowded with the detritus of a hurried move across the city; just a day between a triumphant graduation and the beginning of a new job.

Elizabeth, it's your table now, and I'm the guest, not the host. No parents could be more proud.

I sat next to Rainman

Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman"...remember him? Idiot-savant in the 1988 movie? Today, he'd be labeled as "on the Autism Spectrum".

And so, I suspect, would Brian.

I sat next to Brian last evening on the longest 30 minute plane ride of my life (final leg of the trip to see Elizabeth graduate. Which she did, by the way. "With Highest Honours", just so you can be properly impressed. I certainly am.)

Sweet looking young man, maybe early 20's, slight of build, dressed neatly in golf shirt and khakis, wire rimmed glasses, close trimmed hair. Carrying a duffel bag with a name tag; that's how I know who he was. Slight speech impediment and a brilliant smile.

Talked CONSTANTLY from the moment I sat down until we left the airplane and I lost him. Constantly. In a high pitched, slightly nasal monotone.

I heard about (in no particular order, and several times over on each item...)

His school which was waiting dinner for him.
Cables for computers and cablesRus.com where you can buy
specialty cables for $87.
Or sometimes $93.
87 and 93 were numbers apparently hardwired in his brain...they came up often and not necessarily in context.
He's engaged just this weekend to a girl who used to be a girlfriend but now is his fiancee; she lives in Georgia and he was on his way home after visiting her over the weekend to propose.
He met her several years ago at his school.
He's an airplane pilot and flies between Tokyo and Moscow
Problems with plane engines (his plane broke down in Minneapolis)
Repairs to engines (parts had to be ordered from Montreal)
Missing parts once the parts arrived. Plane is still out of commission.
Parents and step parents and the parents of the bride-to-be.
The engagement ring which cost $693 but he didn't have that much yet but her parents didn't mind and the ring will have diamonds shaped like hearts.
Downloading Disney movies from the internet.
The advantages of downloading movie files over buying the DVD's.
FBI rulings on copyright of videos/movies and ways to get around them.
How and where to find Disney movies for download.
Snow White, Cinderella, Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, Beauty and the Beast.
When downloading things like "Snow White" you have to be careful and look for "Snow White, DISNEY" or you might get porn (and did I ever see porn by mistake by downloading the wrong thing?)
32 minute flight.
Would there be time for drinks?
That short a flight it would keep the stewardesses busy to serve that many drinks and get them picked up again.
His favorite is Coke. If there are drinks, he'd have Coke.

There was time (barely). He had Coke. He wondered briefly about the sugar content, but what the hell, went for it anyway.

Horror movies. We had a good discussion on horror movies. Most of which I hadn't seen, but we did connect briefly on "The Ring" (which I hadn't seen, either, but at least I'd heard of it).
The pros and cons of taking a date to a horror movie.

There was more, but by 15 minutes into the flight, my mind was numb. Switching seats was out of the question...100% full flight. I took out my knitting and tried to look busy, but he overlooked my industry (or perhaps he overlooked my rudeness).

I'm pretty sure nothing about piloting an airplane was true.
Which makes me really wonder about the girl in Georgia.
If she's real, I wish them every happiness. She's surely a patient soul.

All I can say is...

Alex owes me. Big time.

That was originally his seat, but after check in, I traded him boarding passes so he could sit by Isaac and I would end up next to a stranger.

And what a stranger he was.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Socks Mailed in May

I've been busily knitting small socks for the children served through "Children in Common" (http://childrenincommon.org).

These two pairs were mailed in May.

Socks are made of sport weight or worsted yarn, in a high percentage of animal fiber for warmth. The foot is about 6 inches long.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

His Brother's Keeper

My brother and I are close to six years apart. While we lived in the same school district during our entire school careers and had a few of the same teachers over the years, with the exception of the year I was in 6th grade and he was in kindergarten, we never attended the same school at the same time.

My sons are two years apart. They are breaking new ground for me in this department. They have very different friends and different interests, but that doesn't keep them from looking out for each other. More precisely, it doesn't keep THEIR FRIENDS from keeping a close eye on the other one...and reporting back.

It's not just reporting, though. It's more like a quiz show, heavily prefaced by "It it TRUE that...?"

Isaac found himself in the woodwinds room, surrounded by a group of girls very interested in knowing the facts. "Was it TRUE that his brother was taking SN to the prom?"

When Isaac made the decision not to sign up for band again next year, Alex was grilled by band members in math class. "Was it TRUE that his brother was dropping band?". And even more disturbing: "Does you MOM know?"

I have to love the latest gossip. Over the weekend, Alex got a haircut. His hair had been near shoulder length, thick and extremely curly. He now has a cut that would pass muster at a military inspection. This is big news. Isaac should know...he's had numerous people tell him the latest. "Did you KNOW your brother got a haircut?"