I don’t think we’ve been to the fire department to visit since before Christmas.
The phone rang in the middle of the night, forcing my husband out of bed and allowing me to stretch out and cuddle into that sweet spot right in the middle. A garage fire kept him out all night, leaving him just enough time to come home and shower before heading back to the fire department for his normal shift. In his rush, he forgot his toiletries bag.
So after Children’s Choir tonight, we ran it over to him—showing up just in time to wash the fire trucks. We meaning that the boys jumped right in, washing the trucks with sheer joy while I sat on the couch in the garage and snapped photos. I watched as LittleBrother skipped—a new skill—from fire truck to fire truck.
As a special treat, the boys got to “ride” in the fire truck as it was pulled out of the garage so the other firefighters could squeegee the water down the drains. All the joy.
As we got back in our car, LittleBrother asked an important question.
“Daddy, when I’m a firefighter, how old will you be?”
My husband’s heart darn near exploded with joy. I love being part of this family—our four person unit and the fire department.
The boys got into a fight this week, on the 16th Snow Day to be precise.
I figure the brothers might be well over all this forced togetherness, the forced inside-ness, the forced everything. I know I passed my tolerance for All Things Inside and Winter many weeks ago, so I can’t fault them for being tired, for being over it.
But I can fault one brother for holding the other brother’s arms down so hard and so long that the held down one started to cry.
I can fault the held down one for, once released, reaching up and scratching the ever loving crap out of his brother’s face.
To be fair, this physical altercation marks their first real physical fight. A push here, a shove there… sure. But never before have these two set out with intent to hurt one another, with malice aforethought. Never before have I stood before them, hands on my hips, looking down at two little guilty faces — one scratched, one blotchy and red with anger and tears.
As I related this story to various people, I heard many of the same reaction: “Brothers.” “Boys will be boys.” Along with the popular: “It may be their first but it won’t be their last.”
I loathe “boys will be boys.” I hate the way we push gender onto our children and then excuse the acts of boys in this manner. Nope. Not happening in our house. In our house, boys will be raised to respect others’ bodies — male or female, and yes, that includes your brother. Rough-housing is one thing; physical harm is unacceptable.
I sent them to their rooms while I calmed down, while I figured out what I needed to teach them regarding hands on another’s body.
Awhile later, we sat round the table as they wrote sentences — I will not hurt my brother. Ten times, which took forever for LittleBrother as this sentence writing punishment was his first ever. I talked about the importance of our own bodies, of having our own personal safe space. I talked about the importance of respecting others’ bodies, their personal safe space.
I laid down the line I’ve mumbled, grumbled, near-shouted, and whispered over the past few years. “He’s the only brother you’re ever going to have.”
They nodded. I got them a snack, feeling that the discussion and time alone and the sentences were enough for the time being. As I left the room, I heard one say to the other, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t force that apology, and so it felt like the best apology my ears ever heard.
Later in the day, I walked into the living room to find LittleBrother giving BigBrother a “head spa,” ala Bugs Bunny.
This learning process — of being brothers, sons, boys, human beings — seems hard at times, but I’m hopeful that they’ll end up getting it right.
I danced around the kitchen to an appropriate song — “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” — while making pancakes next to my husband. His charges included the bacon and the potatoes, but I controlled the middle griddle and the pancakes. I danced and flipped, danced and flipped. I peeled some Cuties; I danced and flipped.
Then the phone rang, my dad asking me what I was doing. So I told him: dancing, flipping pancakes. “It’s Shrove Tuesday, after all!”
I went on to explain. Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Day! FAT TUESDAY! Tomorrow being Ash Wednesday. All of the things.
Then he asked me a question. “So what’s a shrove? Is it a pancake?”
I stopped dancing. I shrugged, which he totally didn’t hear through the phone. I realized I didn’t know the answer.
For years and years, I’ve known of and observed Ash Wednesday. I’ve also always participated — with great delight — in the eating of Paczki on Fat Tuesday, and a number of times, made pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. I’ve never participated in any Mardi Gras events. I’ve always understood the events of today to revolve around food, gearing up for the Lenten season. The using up of all the delectable ingredients to make amazing stuffed Polish donuts. I’m all about eating all the food.
Apparently “shrove” comes from “shrive,” meaning to confess. From Wiki: Christians “make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with.”
Well, I’ll be.
I’ve been thinking a lot about these topics, as they pertain not only to my family but to myself. I’ve been working on journaling through some of my bigger faith thoughts, mainly revolving around the larger concept of forgiveness and why I can’t seem to offer and accept it on that personal level. I’m pretty hard on myself, in case you missed it. I feel like I could use a lot of growth in that area, whether specifically over this dawning Lenten season or just in general. It feels big and scary though, as most things regarding self-examination and faith and questioning and doubt and fear and belief and love tend to be.
And so, tonight I sit on my couch wrapped up in my blanket, my belly full of pancakes, thinking about what I would like to focus on for the next 40 days. Tomorrow morning I will make final decisions as to whether I will give up something for Lent. Tomorrow night we will attend Ash Wednesday services again. And for 40 days, I’ll walk through the valley of Lent.
One of my old sorority sisters (Phi Mu represent) contacted me last week to let me know about a brand new race coming to Pittsburgh this April in honor of her niece. It’s got multiple distances and it’s for a great cause.
1st Annual Finley’s Fighters 1 mile/5 mile/10 mile/15 mile Race in Allison Park, PA on April 27th, 2014
But more than just tell you that there’s a new race happening, I want to tell you about Finley.
Isn’t she a beautiful little girl? Totally. In 2009 Finley was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder by the name of Lebers Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). In short, she will eventually go blind. Her form of LCA, caused by a mutation on the RDH12 gene, is the rarest form of the disorder and, at this time, there is no cure.
That’s where Finley’s Fighters and the new race come into play. All proceeds from the race will be donated to the RDH12 Fund for Sight. Donations help fund new biomedical research for children like Finley in hopes that a cure might be found before they lose their sight completely.
If I know the running community and the Pittsburgh community like I think I do, I know that you’re ready to sign up. Yes, it’s the weekend before the Pittsburgh Marathon, but don’t you need a little five mile speed work or a ten mile challenge or, slackers, at least one long run before running 26.2? I thought so. Kids are allowed to participate in all races; kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Why not just run the 1 mile race with your kiddos?
Pre-registration is $25 per person and includes chip timing, race shirt, goody bag, personalized Braille bookmark (OMG, MOST UNIQUE RUNNING SWAG EVER), and bag check. On site registration begins at 8:00 AM with the 5-miler starting at 9, the 10-miler at 9:05, and the 15-miler at 9:10. The one mile fun run starts at 9:30.
I know we all have our causes, our own favorite races. This is a new race on the scene that serves a big purpose: funding research to help find a cure so that kids like Finley can keep their eyesight. Consider adding this race into your calendar for 2014. I bet you won’t regret it one bit. (PLUS! BRAILLE BOOKMARK! OMG!)
For more information, check out Finley’s Fighters or Finley’s mom’s blog for more about the family.
Remember in January when I was all, “Oh! I’m going to wear more real clothes in February and not just live in my pajamas.” Yeah. So optimistic. It’s like I had no idea that all of the snow and ice and cold would continue to keep us stuck indoors, stuck in a rut, stuck stuck stuck. Add in some medical issues and a stomach virus and the Winter Olympics which required sitting on the couch for hours upon hours and a general lack of desire to do anything, and well, February was a fashion bust.
Gray top: Kinzie Top at Groopdealz. Maxi Skirt: Jane.com.
Necklace and wide bracelet: lia sophia, retired. Yellow bracelet: Mingle by lia sophia.
Sequined shoes: Bongo.
Running Shoes: Rouge Red/Green Apple Mizuno Wave Rider 16. Gray Capris: Lima Capri by Fabletics.
Pink Top: Everlast.
Running Shoes: Blazing Orange Mizuno Wave Rider 16.
Off White Sweater Tunic: Sarah Tunic at Groopdealz.
Leaf Necklace: Efflorescence by lia sophia. Gold Bracelets: For You Bracelets.
But it’s okay. Today is March 1st which means that it’s the first day of my Third Annual 17 Days of Green. I wore green both during my run and when I got dressed for the day today. As always, I’ll be chronicling my green outfits and other greenery on Instagram via the #17daysofgreen hashtag. It’s always fun to play along, so feel free to join in. I’ll share a weekly round up of All Things Green here on the blog on the next two Sundays.
Here’s hoping that a nice theme will break me out of my sweatpants phase. (Though, as I’m writing this, I’m wearing green sweatpants. So…)