H’s and Traps and Not Being in Control

There are some things I have no control over in life, and I have become okay with that.  That part of me probably came to be a little after 3:32 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in September 1995.  With the birth of my first child.  You have children, you learn to let some things slide just a tad.  Or else life can get really hard.

Like my little guy, Cooter, who is now a reader!  I don’t know if there is a more melodious sound than the sound of his voice sounding out a word.  It’s precious.  He doesn’t sound the least bit frustrated either, just determined.  And curious.  I LOVE THAT SOUND.

See, I knew I couldn’t control when he would start reading, though I might possibly have whined and worried about it just a little to my Aunt.  Ahem.  But here we are.  Having met another milestone.  Relief.

Homeschooling gives me many situations I cannot control.  Or perhaps better put–many battles I choose not to fight.

Like when Cooter went through his phase of writing his capital H’s and then turning them into modified tic tac toe boards.  Bless him.  He’d giggle and cut his eyes over at me every time he did it.  He is the class clown of Zoo Crew Academy.

Cooter's style of writing H's when he first started writing.
Cooter’s style of writing H’s when he first started writing.

And now that he is reading, he is learning to spell words.  His workbook asks him to spell or choose the correct word based on a simple picture.  So this happened recently.

Tap.  The word is obviously tap.  But not for Cooter and his quirky sense of humor.
Tap. The word is obviously tap. But not for Cooter and his quirky sense of humor.

The picture was obviously of a girl tapping on a door.  The correct word to spell out is “tap.”  I was checking his work and realized he had chosen “tr” for the beginning sounds.  “Ummm, buddy?  I think we need to look at this one again.  Why did you spell ‘trap?'”

He got so excited and the biggest smile was on his face.  He could hardly get the words out through his laughter.  “Because she’s about to walk…..into…..a…..TRAP!”  Insert little boy maniacal laughter here.

This boys cracks me up.  And I think he knows it.

Later I found this mistake.

The guy decorating the tree is named Tim apparently.  Apparently he and Cooter are on a first name basis.
The guy decorating the tree is apparently named Tim, and apparently he and Cooter are on a first name basis.

I was prepared this time as I asked him with a touch of resignation in my voice, “Hey, come here, what’s up with this picture?”

“His name is Tim.  Tim is decorating the tree.”

I gave him credit.  Seriously, how often do I say, “Hey, let’s trim the tree”?  Not very. So Tim it is.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  So I can handle not feeling in control of things.  I was not raised getting my own way.  As a matter of fact, I’m not so sure that sometimes things didn’t go the other way just to help me learn to adapt.

Then there are things I can control.  Like the type of toothpaste I purchase.  Until I make a mistake and get a different flavor.  I just opened the new tube, and blech.  A one word difference, I kid you not.  Same brand, same type, only thing different is one word in the flavor.  Fresh mint versus fresh clean mint.  I could cry.  It has a hint of licorice flavor to it, and I don’t like licorice.  I always gave Daddy my black jelly beans. (He would have loved this toothpaste.)  And so now I am stuck.  Throw it out, you say?  Oh no, I will suffer through it.  Waste not, want not.  Words I was raised on.  And suffering through, well it’s kind of what we do.

It was earlier this week that it occurred to me just how frustrating it is not to be in control, not to know what is going on.  The morning was getting started good, and I was taking Miss Sophie out for her morning routine.  We walked up and down our street, with her searching for the perfect spot and me ready to pull the baggie out of my pocket at any time.  Then I heard it.  She did too.  She looked back toward our backyard.

We live at the end of a cul-de-sac with our backyard up against the woods.  Behind the woods is a major road.  We can hear the traffic sometimes, depending the time of day and the weather.  We can hear the train when it goes by.  Still it’s a pretty peaceful spot.  The birds are happy and perform daily, and it is a delight to hear.  But this, this sound?  It made my stomach lurch, my shoulders tighten, and my head hurt.

A dozer.

Or something like it.  I knew it was a possibility, I guess.  We were told when we moved here that the woods were protected, and that nothing would go in behind us.  Funny as it might seem since I’m not a fan of snakes and other such critters, I like being against the woods.  It’s peaceful.  And it reminds me of my Granny’s woods that Daddy would take us trekking through.


But then this has been happening behind many of the houses on the same line as ours.  I am not sure how far down they’re coming, but when I heard that sound behind us, I half expected to see those trees toppling before my eyes.

They are getting so close to taking down the trees behind us.  I'm just not sure how far they're going to come.
They are getting so close to taking down the trees behind us. I’m just not sure how far they’re going to come.

So far there’s nothing very noticeable.  I think it might be a little thinner back there than normal, but I can’t be sure.

I realized then, as I walked Miss Sophie back to our porch and I found myself close to tears, that I don’t handle things I can’t control very well after all. While I can handle tic-tac-toe H’s and the occasional different brand of toilet paper that finds its way into this house (OCD much? yes, thank you), apparently I draw the line at things that affect my peace and my life and my sanctuary.  I don’t know how I will cope if the trees back there start falling, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s going to happen.

I need to get a grip.

That’s what Mama would have said.

She would have pointed out that there is more of life that we can’t control than we can.  Actually those words sound so familiar.  You know what?  She has said those exact words to me.

And she’s right. The things we can’t control…..

There are a lot of them.  For all of us.  Bloodwork we wait to hear the results from, spots we watch to see how they develop, papers we try our best on and sit back and wait to be graded, tests we study for and take and try our best, things we write and hope will be well-received, people we love making choices that harm them, doctor’s appointments to diagnose what’s causing leg pain or headaches or stomach problems.  We sit back and hold ourselves tight and try not to acknowledge how scary the not knowing, the not being in control really is.

If only everything could turn out like the “trap versus tap” situation.  Not so serious and keep us laughing.  But it doesn’t always, does it?

Mama used to quote the Serenity Prayer to me.  She learned how to live it.  I have heard it so much over the years.  It is a core part of the twelve step programs.  I’ve heard Mac and Miss P from Sister Circle quote it a lot.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Tonight I’m thankful for these words coming back to me in my Mama’s voice and for a wise Mama who had learned to know the difference and wanted the same for me.  And for littles who keep me laughing and for my oldest, whose growing up and heading off to college I sure couldn’t control.  She makes me smile too.  And sometimes even guffaw.  😉

My Pirate girl sent this to me unexpectedly last night.  It came when I most needed a smile and a hug.  Love that girl and my whole crew.
My Pirate girl sent this to me unexpectedly last night. While I don’t advocate violence as a general rule, since it’s hypothetical in this case, I let it slide.  It came when I most needed a smile and a hug. Love that girl and my whole crew.

Love to all.

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