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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Originally published January 16, 2009

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

I don’t have enough fingers to count all of the reasons I like living here in the Bay Area. The fact that we don’t need mittens, at this time of year, is one of the reasons.

If we had to wear mittens or gloves, along with an extra layer of clothing, as people do in colder climates, I think it would add an extra layer of complexity to life. Certainly, it would be even harder to get kids out the door in the morning.

One of my goals during the week is to get my three kids up and out of the house, so they make it to school on time. I wish I could say accomplishing this goal is a breeze. But it’s not. It’s like weathering a snowstorm in Maine.

In fact, getting my teenage daughter out of bed each morning reminds me of digging out after a snowstorm. Every morning, I find her buried under a mound of blankets. I search for an arm or leg that I can grab to wrest her from the avalanche of covers. Just when I think I have her, her body shifts eluding my grasp.

After I succeed in uncovering her, the hard work really begins. Being a teenager, she is as difficult to wake as a hibernating bear in winter. I poke and prod her. I push and pull her. I turn and tousle her. I work up a real sweat trying to get her going in the morning.

By comparison, I have no problem getting my preschooler out of bed, because he’s always up with the dawn’s early light. The difficulty is moving him along in a timely fashion, because children his age are never in a hurry. As I wash and dress him, we inch our way along as if driving behind a snow plow on a single-lane road. When I think we might be picking up speed, he becomes distracted, causing us to grind to a halt.

I know we’ve turned the corner when my son is finally sitting down for breakfast, but there are still roadblocks. As a three-year-old, his interest in eating comes and goes, like the morning frost. He ignores the toast and cereal that I put before him. I up the ante with waffles and syrup, which he still ignores. On the mornings he eats very little, I like to believe he has some food hidden away to eat later, the same as a squirrel in the winter.

In contrast to my other children, my fourth-grader makes the morning routine look easy. She flies out of bed as if she knows just where she’s going, the way a bird does when heading south for the winter. She showers, dresses and eats a full breakfast, all with the greatest of ease. She is my little ray of sunshine, warming me on the coldest of days.

But, at the crucial moment, she freezes up. We’re at the door, it’s time to go, when she remembers what she forgot: Her homework, book report, art assignment or guitar. She takes one more trip upstairs, sometimes two. Watching her, my other two children are reminded of what they forgot.

Most days, I find myself alone at the door waiting to go. As I finger the house keys in my hand, I think how lucky it is we don’t have to remember to wear mittens or gloves, not to mention hats, scarves and boots, as people do in cold climates. We’d never get out the door in the morning.

As the clock ticks away while I wait, I don’t get irritated or anxious. I stay calm using an old visualization technique. I imagine myself some place I’d really like to be: I’m lying on the beach, under the warm sun, running my fingers through the sand.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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