Archive for October, 2009

Azaleas

… gracious, I’ll have the finest yard in Alabama.  Those Bellingraths’ll look plain puny when I get started!

Said Miss Maudie to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird (it’s the One Denver One Book book and while I don’t actually live in Denver, I like to pretend to be an urban hipster).

I loved this line, so much so that I read it to Peter when I got home. I got a Southern reference without having to google it! Go me. The Bellingraths were a prominent family in Mobile for many decades, including the time that To Kill a Mockingbird takes place.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home was the creation of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bellingrath.  The Gardens first opened to the public in 1932 while a national garden club meeting was taking place in Mobile.  Mr. Bellingrath placed an ad in the Mobile paper, announcing that anyone who would like to see the spring garden could do so free of charge.  After an overwhelming response, the couple decided to keep the gardens open year-round, beginning in 1934.

We’ve visited Bellingrath Gardens a few times. It is so beautiful. Good for Miss Maudie thinking she could rival the local socialite!

For years I tried to have azaleas in my yard.  Each year I dutifully purchased mountain azaleas, supposedly bred for this climate. They died. It is too cold or too dry or too sunny or some combination therein on the plains for azaleas to thrive. My mother-in-law has an abundance of azaleas in her yard in Alabama. She largely finds them a nuisance. They grow everywhere, even where you don’t want them – and once you have them somewhere, I hope you like them there. They’re like our Russian Sage. I guess we all covet what we cannot have. I cannot have a lush green, bloom-filled garden without an extensive irrigation system. And she cannot have Russian Sage or cactus.

I was reading in a coffee shop on Friday and was stopped on my way out by someone asking what I thought of the book, he had just finished it. I gushed about the imagery. Now that I’ve spent time in LA I can visual the live oaks (I was married under one), I know what a kudzu covered front porch looks like and I know what those summer days, where the air doesn’t move, feel like.

This afternoon I might should make myself some sweet tea, don a wide-brimmed hat and read.

No, I Did Not Forget His Birthday Post

Elliot turned six a few weeks ago. Generally I commemorate keeping my children alive another year with a witty blog post and a cute picture. But this year? This year I couldn’t do it. I had nothing to be witty about and getting a cute picture was out of the question.

That is to say, Elliot and I were having issues. I wish I was the only adult in his life that could make that statement as of late. But I am in the good company of his father, his grandparents and his teacher.

It’s been hard. And heart breaking. There was even the night I laid in his bed with him and cried. An all time winner on the sadness scale. I think the last time I cried in his presence we were making him cry-it-out, and that was less “in his presence” and more “sitting outside his door.”

I tried writing a birthday post leaving out the drama of our lives. But I couldn’t separate all the good from all the bad – it was all so overwhelming. It was like someone had taken the kid I had known for the last six years and replaced him with a less evolved, more emotional, jerk version of him.

So, yeah. The weeks leading to his birthday and even the week of his birthday were horrible. The day after his birthday he had three new toys taken from him as punishment. Three. In one afternoon. It was a stellar day.

His teacher was struggling too. So we talked and made some changes. She wanted consistency, I wanted my happy kid back.

And then the clouds broke and the sun came out again.

She gives him more individual attention at school. Nothing all that interesting honestly: five seconds here, a shoulder squeeze there. I have stopped taking Audrey with us on the carpool run. And I walk him all the way to class. And I hug him in front of his friends and he acts like he doesn’t LOVE it.

In hindsight, it seems that Elliot felt he wasn’t getting enough attention. So, he started doing whatever it took to get attention – even negative attention. That kid of mine, text book example of behavior patterns if ever there was one.

Yesterday his teacher told me, “I had no idea he was so, so … affectionate.” Yes, that is an accurate description. He will hold hands, sit on laps, hug legs endlessly. Really, if you’re sitting down and he wants to sit down too, your lap is probably where he’ll land. It’s been that way his whole life. I think it’ll make high school a little embarrassing, but what do I care since I’m going to be his prom date?

Now you can look forward to his birthday post. The one where I tell you about grown-ups doing a pillow case race. It was awesome.

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