I Can Make Your Hands Clap

I spent today questioning all of my life choices. Was I a good mom when the kids were little? Did I teach them the things that really matter? Could I have gotten a day job sooner and provided them with cars in high school instead of flip phones?

I stopped long enough to go get my last-born from high school at the actual time that school ended; my first small victory of the day.

I pulled to the curb, a quite-unemployed mom, and my very-broken son (ankle tendons hate to be snapped) put his “wheelie” into the backseat and wrestled his giant boot into the front. We took a moment to collect ourselves. There were kids and moms and cars everywhere.

As the school year winds down, mothers are trying to decide whether they will cry or rejoice or both or neither, and funneling that conflicted energy into a frenzy of summer planning. Depending on which way the wind blows, there will be bonding cross-country family road trips or individualized music or pony or surf day camps that entertain while mommy works the day job to pay for it.

Not many will do what we used to do: hunker down for our annual summer stay-cation and make plenty of koolaid.

One of my worries was: did we, in afterthought, drink too much koolaid?

We waited our turn to escape the parking lot while the kid commandeered my smart phone, said some magic words over it, and music played through my car speakers. I surreptitiously turned the volume down while he studied his choices. He skipped around, then landed on, of all things, the Barber of Seville.

I beamed at him as we turned onto the road, “Oh, I did do something right!”

The flashbacks to his third grade music lessons lasted only moments before he replied, “Yep, Bugs Bunny is a classic.”

Deflated, I reminded him, “Well, Rossini was real, and the fact that you can appreciate his music puts you ahead of a lot of other high school juniors.”

“I ask people once in a while whether they listen to opera, and I get the strangest looks…” he said.

He skips to Verdi’s Rigoletto, and we sway the car a little and try to hit the note that goes and goes and goes….

“I have no idea what he’s saying,” I say, “but it sounds like he’s having a good day. In Italian.”

I remember that our big plans to get our last driver permitted and practiced this summer have now been scrapped and replaced with physical therapy sessions. A car for him would be superfluous.

The music moves from Thomas Rhett to techno beats to Queen, then we’re HandClapping with Fitz and The Tantrums.

“I have no idea what he’s saying, either,” I admit, “but it sounds like he’s having a good day, too. In illiterate repetitive gibberish.”

I remember throwing all kinds of music at my kids, hoping their thoughts and horizons would keep opening and exploring and enjoying. I still wish most music came without lyrics. Much like a cross-country family road trip, there isn’t a need for running dialogue. Everyone gets to put their own spin on it.

“You don’t even know,” sings the kid.

We pull into the garage to the inspiration of the “Rocky” movie theme song. Even the car is motivated.

No, I don’t even know. The summer will bring what it will and the music says to look forward, not backward.

Rich with family time, exploring ways to get our feet back underneath us, and a run to the store for koolaid comes to mind.

That can make my hands clap.

I wrote this at the end of MAY, people…. Whattayagonnado?

Play It Again, Yosemite Sam

When our 25th wedding anniversary rolled around, we were at our wits end as to how to celebrate it.

We were six months into a new home that needed every last one of our pennies, two girls in college, two boys in school, and cars yet to purchase.

A “stay-cation” seemed appropriate.

But then we looked each other in the weary eye and said, “Let’s go somewhere that our kids and our house can’t reach us.”

Hence, a budget trip to Jamaica.

We stayed in an all-inclusive resort which means you get there and don’t move for a week.

Yes please.

There are restaurants and live entertainment and beach activity staff members whose only mission in life is to make sure you are having a superb time every single moment of your stay. They bring you jerk chicken, strawberry daiquiris, fresh mango or ice cold “wata”. Or they become a team so you and two other tourists can have a pick up volleyball game. They groom the sand and remove the resident jelly fish from the cove each morning.

Life’s too short to swim with the jellies.

Each night, we dressed up and ate in a different restaurant.

The first night, I put the finishing touches on my flat-ironed hair, tossed on my heels, and we dashed from our air conditioned room, across the lobby, over the courtyard and into the French House.

A few minutes into the meal, I noticed Hubby staring at me and smiling.

Not the way a romantic lover watches his beloved in admiration, but the way someone stares in fascination at a slow moving train wreck. It wasn’t because I was eating escargot with gusto. It was because my lovely hair was responding to Jamaica’s deeply demonic humidity.

By the time we ordered dessert, I had native dreadlocks.

The waiter couldn’t decide if perhaps monsieur had switched ladies half way through the main course.

On night two, we discovered the Round Bar. This is a place in the center of the entertainment area and is, as noted, round. A baby grand piano sits in the middle, a bar circles it closely, a ring of lounges and sofas form an outer circle, and the whole thing is open air. You can drift in and out of the bar, listening to the very talented player during dinner hours.

We scored seats in the inner circle, right in front of the player. We ordered drinks and dangled sparkly earrings and lounged with just enough boredom to give off the proper chic nonchalant vibe.

The crowd grew thicker as the player tickled the ivories and began pressing his audience for song requests. Turns out, he could play any top 40 hit from the last three decades and if you just sang or hummed the first notes, his fabulous fingers found the right keys and suddenly everyone had a sing-along straight off the radio.

The first warning bells went off in my head when I realized he was working his way along the inner circle, making small talk and taking songs. I sat up a bit straighter and frantically went through my mental files under “music”.

This was difficult, as I was already half way through my second martini.

Something classy. Something snappy. Something popular.

Ack! Something I could sing the words to!

I was coming up with Looney Tunes.

I know all the words to every Disney movie ever made. Can we sing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”?

I can even do the dance moves.

The lady next to me requested “Livin’ on a Prayer”, and people were blaring out Bon Jovi.

I had reached into my mental files so hard they had exploded into oblivion.

With songs from “The Jungle Book” singing cheerfully in my head, I mumbled something about the restroom to Hubby and slunk from my bar stool. With a startled look on his face, he escorted me gallantly from the room.

“Yeah, I’m ready for dinner anyway,” he said. “Let’s go have some sushi, hm?”

Halfway to the restaurant I recognized the quiet tune he was humming.

Little Mermaid.

“Kiss the Girl”