Monday, December 19, 2011

Magpie Tales: Where you put your hands (or Teaching middle school boys how to dance)


Things do not always turn out the way we hope. I never developed a mutant power upon reaching puberty, nor did I join the FBI or become the next James Bond and just when I thought I had grasped the direction for my life, it slipped through my fingers, leaving me feeling like a blind man working a jigsaw puzzle by touch with pieces made of broken glass. Not a whole lot of fun, yet...

He knows these things but right now all I want him to get is Over, Under, Around and Through.

Over, Under, Around and

No, no that is too loose, let me show you again and I take it slow, he has never had to tie a tie, relying on mom, but she is not home and it's less hours and more minutes until we have to leave to make it to the dance. Fashionably late he says, and I joke that one day his wife won't put up with that.

Truth be told a week ago he did not want to go, not his scene. Now he hides behind the fact there will be free pizza but I know there is more to it. A girl has caught his eye and...he does not want to talk about it, doesn't want to hear it from brothers and sisters or even me---he just wants it to work itself out.

I release the tie once more and he does a passable job, that still lets him breath while letting everyone know he was the one that tied it. We pressed shirt and pants already, and he's ready. Do you know how to slow dance?

'No, and that scares me a bit,' so I show him where to put his hands, how to hold her with respect and lead, all the while he worried someone will walk in and see, so I let him know my wife is prettier than he is and he laughs, just a little uncomfortable. It's all hypothetical anyway, since there is no girl, according to him and he keeps repeating it as if I might actually believe it.

[CLICK] the necessary picture to share with his mother, and we are off once more through the wet dark silence, and these are moments his dad sits in the shadows, mocking voice echoing around the head room, gone but here. His dad left over a year ago, or better yet they escaped. He did not pick this either and there are days he wonders and days he cries.

It is ok, I tell him, men cry. Men hurt. And this is contradictory to everything he understands but he does.

I remind him once more the meaning of respect and how to make her feel special. He takes it in and reminds me there is no girl. He gives me a fist bump as he steps out the door, then turns back, "Hey, I can't thank you enough."

How we got here, got us here, and here is what we make of it. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes, it is all worth it. Would I change anything? Some days, maybe. Then, though, I might miss out on this.

He crosses the asphalt and she steps from behind a brick column. Their shadows mingle, then her hand finds his and they enter the middle school. I smile, pop the car into drive and join the stream of headlights returning to town.

This is a Magpie Tale, and a true story.

Thanks to all the thoughts and prayers for my gramma yesterday. The break was worse than they thought, both horizontal and vertical. She will have to be immobile for 4 months before they ever consider rehabilitation. But she survived surgery and is still among us. Smiles.

92 comments:

The Bug said...

What a great story - it's true that the path we follow might not be the one we choose, but then what all would we miss? You're a good man...

Sorry to hear about your grandmother's break, but I'm glad that she made it through surgery.

Laurie Kolp said...

This is so sweet, Brian. The middle schooler is lucky to have such a positive role model. Oh, and that jigsaw puzzle image bites!

So glad your gramma's okay... it will be a long four months, I'm sure. Hang in there!

Suz said...

breaks in grandma are always difficult ....I will continue to pray for her Brian and her quick mending and successful rehab when it comes...
your story is a journey
and I love that about your writing...you never know where it is going to take one...I loved how you mingled the shadows..not only of the boy and girl, but of boy and his past....so well done

Berowne said...

Excellent. For another dad-son tale, drop by...

Berowne said...

Excellent. For another dad-son tale, drop by...

Becky Sain said...

Awesome!! I remember that feeling myself and now with my own kids.
This is really great!

JANU said...

I don't know how to react to this...a mingle of emotions. It brought a smile, a laugh and made me a bit sad too...You always deliver! :-) Prayers for your granny.

DJan said...

The magpie tale is a true story? It's unusual, but then again, this is Brian we're talking about. And I am sorry to hear about your grand having such a bad break.

Nancy said...

I loved this, Brian. Adolescents are so precious in their vulnerability.

On another note, m MIL fell and broke her hip last week - age 99 - so it sounds like we have things in common. Same issues - made it through surgery, but...

Magpie said...

What a wonderful tale of compassion.
I'm glad for the news of your grandma. Blessings.

kaykuala said...

A growing up process, Brian! It can be most rewarding with a tutor and role model. I'm sure later on in life he would have realized it better and appreciated it more. Considering himself lucky for having you to guide him.

Extremely relieved that grannie is ok. Pray be a speedy recovery!

Hank

happygirl said...

Sweet story. I haven't experienced this as a parent, as yet. Young love is so cute. And middle school slow dance. THE BEST!!!

DCW said...

An excellent reminder of the treasures that we can find among the remains of our unrealized plans.

Thanks.

Hilary said...

Wonderful tale, Brian. Every child should have someone like you in their lives.

I'm sorry your Grandmother had such a severe break. Sending healing thoughts her way.

hedgewitch said...

This is such a revealing story, revealing of the inner self--I do believe people are put on earth for a reason, are who they are for a reason, and this tale shows very clearly yours--best wishes for your grandmother--four months of immobilization is very hard on anyone, but as they say, old age is not for sissies--you have to be tough to make it to 90.

Daniel said...

Beautiful. I love your perspective. If you were sitting up in some corporate office, you might have more stuff, but you would likely miss all of the life that you taste and touch and influence in your own special way.

anthonynorth said...

Ah, those paths - the twists and turns. And an even better story for being true.

Sheila Moore said...

a wonderful story, full of hope. glad your grandma is going to be ok.

The Silver Fox said...

Too cool. Nice that the boy had a guide of sorts.

Glad to hear that your grandmother made it through her surgery.

Margie said...

I loved this story!
It brought a smile to me on this rather gloomy morning!
Thank you fir sharing!

So sorry to know that your gramma had such a bad break and I will continue to keep her in my prayers!

Valerie said...

Love these Magpie Tales and I'm filled with admiration for the way you write about life. Amazing.

So pleased to hear your grandmother pulled through surgery okay. Four months isn't so long, you know. It will be gone in a flash.

Claudia said...

it will be more difficult for him with his background but good he has someone like you who helps him sort out his feelings and gives him some practical tips..smiles..charming write from first to last line

Eva Gallant said...

Oh that was sweet. Hope your grandma heels quicker than they predict.

Ann Grenier said...

Tears in my eyes. It's a wonderful, heartbreaking story.

Pat Hatt said...

Over, Under, Around and Through
haha that was a great line from you
Just so fun to say
And on yes, where the hands go can cause some dismay
But muddle through it we all do
And you wanted mutant powers too
We have to go find some of those
I'm sure there is some artifact that can do that, hidden in those Indiana Jones secret government warehouse rows..haha

Helen said...

Oh yes .. you bestowed on all of us the gift of sweetness. Sending energy to your 'Gramma' ... Happy Holidays to all of you!!

TALON said...

So glad you're Grandmother is okay, Brian. So glad she has all the support she's going to need to get through what sounds like a very difficult time.

Your story was beautiful, Brian.

Caty said...

It was awesome of you to be there for him; I'm sure it helped make some of his pain a little less. what a sweet story :) Happy to hear your gram made it through surgery, hope her 4 months of immobility speed by. I worked with the elderly for five years before switching to babies, and they all hold a special place in my heart :)

Tara Miller said...

This piece has such special meaning in both the life of middle school boys as well as life lessons we all face at one point in our journey. I can feel his tender heart in the way you talk about him and know you are a blessing to him, love. I'm happy that you can be there for him when his father isn't....if our path didn't go this direction - who would have been there? Anybody? I know he is thankful for you. I firmly believe God has special plans for us, plans better and greater than we could ever imagine.

♥ Braja said...

Wait a minute....you're not James Bond??

wtf??!!

nsiyer said...

Mny are called,
Few choose.

Fred said...

Brian, Really wonderful story, has a lot to say in here. I've often pondered what I would do if I had a chance for a mulligan. And yeah, all those things we'd miss out on if we did, usually trump the bad things that one experiences. Loved the opening paragraphs. I think like that all the time, reflecting back on what goals once were and where those goals wound up. Dreaming up the impossible, yet to a child they seem so natural, and then life strikes the child, as through age, goals are tailored to the possible, for most, and things do change. Anyhow, great read. Really enjoyed. Well, sorry to hear about your grandmother having to be immobilized, that's tough on everyone, obviously her especially. I remember when my Grandmother was in a similar situation many years ago and the want to go visit her in the nursing home somehow turned into a burden, which was a complete incongruity, as I wanted to visit her, to hopefully cheer her up, show her that she is loved, but daily constraints were on you and it was very difficult. I do hope everything works out for her and your family. The fact that she made it through surgery is a great blessing in itself. So that is definitely something to be thankful for.

Thanks

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

I was about to congratulate you on the prose, but a true story? That's even better.

Rob said...

Thanks for stopping by to day. I hope all is well with you and the fam.

Lyn said...

But there is no girl...what a richly drawn scenario. Sometimes things do work themselves out, like this piece, for instance.
Strength and prayers to gramma.

Pauline said...

You don't need a canvas and paints when you have such words! Glad Grandma is still among us and with you :)

Mama Zen said...

Lovely story, Brian!

I'm so glad to hear that your grandmother's surgery went well.

Kathe W. said...

Brian- between sharing this story and how you related to us about your Grandmother - the gift you give all of us in how you tell stories is wonderful - and breathtakingly beautiful. Such a gift! Thank you and have a Merry Merry Christmas.

Daydreamertoo said...

You are quite a guy Brian. Amazing in fact. God knew you had to lose your way so that you could help others to find theirs. Even boys who need a father figure to show them how to dance, not that there IS a girl to dance with mind you ;) Your sons have a wonderful man to look up to who will teach them their values.
The boy will never forget how you made him feel, despite memories of his crappy absent father.

TheRaveSite.com said...

Awesome story, it takes me back to simpler days...

Anyes said...

He is lucky to have you in his life...no matter what the circumstances :-)

Sending healing energy your grand-ma's way so her stay in the hospital will be as short as can be

Lena said...

I have to admit - this was a teary read. Such compassion...

I'm glad Gramma pulled through. My mum-in-law (God rest her bossy soul) had a similar experience, rehab and all. My best wishes for Gramma.

Oh, and just in case I'm not around, I wish a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family now, Brian....x

Mary said...

Brian, I am a little late coming to this read (busy day), but I am so glad I did. Your son is so lucky to have you as role model. And, of course, there was 'no girl' anyway. But he can save the lesson for when there is. (wink) Sorry yor grandma is doing worse than first thought.

Leovi said...

Wonderful story, I was always a clumsy dance and a teenager more.

adeeyoyo said...

I am so glad your gran is going to be ok, Brian. It will be a long recovery, but she will get there.

This is my favourite post of yours so far. Filled with such humanity, kindness and love. You are such a great person, Brian, and role model to all young people, your own and others you come in contact with. No matter that you didn't make mutant status, or secret agent, you are a REAL hero and God bless you and yours!

Vicki Lane said...

Great story, Brian. He's lucky to have you in his life. Good ending too. And best hopes for your grandmother!

Ruthiey said...

"How we got here, got us here, and here is what we make of it. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes, it is all worth it. Would I change anything? Some days, maybe. Then, though, I might miss out on this."

Love your explanation of this paradox of life. Glad gramma's on the mend. Pray that God will heal her quickly.

Cloudia said...

Glad Gram is still with us!



Aloha from Honolulu
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Katherine Krige said...

Rough time Brian. My thoughts are with you and your family.

And I love how you spun this tale for the nervous young man. Magical as always.

Lady In Read said...

really wonderful story, told so sweetly and so well..
Glad your grandmother made it through surgery...

ayala said...

A great story, Brian. Sorry to hear that your grandma's break was worse, but happy that she made it through the surgery.

Ed Pilolla said...

what a magical story .

Steve E said...

That's a long time before rehab, time which passes fast for active Peeps, but oh, so slowly for one who is laid up (better than 'laid out', huh? Or maybe not.) Does she blog, or FB? Probably not...but that's one reason I do this stuff, because one day I could be she.

Most certainly, my prayers will be for her. Keep us informed, if you can, Brian...how old?

Other topic: Crap, I STILL have trouble making a tied tie look good. Might have something to do with the neck it is hiding--grin! And I LOVE those 'chance meetings', where she "steps from behind a brick wall..." at an assigned moment!

PEACE!

Susie Clevenger said...

Great story...I have daughters. I remember talking to them about dating...seems years a go.

So sorry about your grandmother...i pray she will heal well

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I hope he tells you how the dance went. I bet he had a great time!

Sorry to hear about your grandma. :(

Victoria said...

I wish it were better news for your Grandma. Love the story.

Isabel Doyle said...

Great story sensitively told -- best wishes to you and your family

manicddaily said...

Very sweet. Lovely tale. Mine is also, weirdly enough, school related--something about that picture, huh!? Though quite different. Glad to hear things are a bit better. K.

Cinner said...

I loved this post, it was wonderful and yes you would not want to miss times like that. Brian I am so sorry to hear about your Grandma, glad she made it through the surgery, sending prayers to her and your family. wishing you a happy holiday if I don't get back her before Christmas. Congratulations on all your followers. your amazing. be well.

♫♪♥PhilO♥♪♫ said...

Great to know that your gramma's better. She'll be fine :) All our wishes are with you and your family.

A great post.

Thank you for your wishes :)

Lorraine said...

a love story with tears and a happy endings, I love, how grandma's better, prayers still

Birdie said...

you are father to more then just to your own kids Brian ... a good father! hope the news with your grandmom are good!

Dave King said...

This is a very clever take on the image. Clever and apt. I warmed to it fro the first and the feeling grew as I read.

Heaven said...

Lovely story including your reflections on life's jigsaw puzzles.

Happy to read that your grandma is doing better ~

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

WONDERFUL story of this boy. And, you were there when his own father was not...that is a memory to last forever. I smiled throughout with his insistence that there is "NO GIRL." So sweet.

So sorry about your Gramma and I pray her recovery will not be too long. Poor lady...

Doc FTSE said...

Lovely story, Brian. Catches adolescence very well.

izzy said...

Wow- even girls can identify with the scene you drew here! -My Dad had his toes stepped on repeatedly, by me. (I got a few sporadic dance classes here and there)Was sent to a few formal parties -yuk- and learned how to help a guy tie a tie!
Glad your Grandmother is healing.

the walking man said...

Sorry about but good for Granny and her surgery.

Ah that first school dance. The first one I ever went to Bob Seegar played at. Him and his band did those a lot on the way up the ladder.

Promising Poets Parking Lot said...

Sugar Sweet Sentiments,
Sending special support to sad figures, HOW DIVINE!

barbara said...

Good story, all those layers suggested, but not in the way. Always fun to find something like that in a picture.

Sorry for gram's break. Sounds painful, and tedious. At least rehab will be a spring thing.

Rachel said...

what a powerful story. what a precious retelling of a clumsy boy turned dancer. it makes me smile.

Betsy said...

Glad Gram made it through the surgery! :)

jabblog said...

Aww, precious moments, never to be forgotten.

Glad your grandmother is recovering. 'Tis the season for breaks, I think. My mother-in-law fell and broke her hip but she's up and walking well. Not bad for 94.

Sue said...

This beautiful piece made me cry. You are doing much the same work my son does, and it is so meaningful.

I will keep you grandmother in my prayers, Brian. I'm sorry that her break is such a bad one but grateful that the surgery went well.

=)

ds said...

A beautiful story well told, and the fact that it is true makes it all the sweeter.

I am sorry to hear of your grandma's fracture, but relieved and grateful to know that she made it through the surgery. That is among the best of Christmas presents!

Bodhirose said...

What an endearing story. It's so hard to be a kid and then to have a parent take off. A lucky boy to have you in his life.

Did not hear about your Gramma's trouble...I'm glad she's doing well after surgery.

wayside word garden said...

A heartwarming story, so glad it's true!
And I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother, I hope she stays as comfortable as she can while healing.

Nicholas V. said...

Great story, a wonderful take take on this Magpie.
Sorry to hear about your grandmother. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks and it certainly puts a dampener on the festivities of the season. Perhaps it gets us to re-examine the real meaning of Christmas, too...
In any case I hope that you and your loved ones celebrate together. Peace!

buy domain names said...

I5 enjoyed the read..Did not even miss a single bit of the story..Thanks for such a nice story..

Máire T. Robinson said...

Lovely story! Sorry to hear about your grandmother. That must be tough.

Zuzana said...

Congratulations on your POTW nomination dear Brian and happy to hear that the surgery went well, even though the road to recovery will be long.
xoxo

TexWisGirl said...

this was beautiful and tender. :)

(and blessings to your grandmother!)

Reena Walkling said...

Truly a beautiful story but it is your words that make it so ...
Glad to hear your gramma is still hanging in there ... bless her spirit!

Okie said...

glad to hear your gramma is doing ok.

This story is good fun. Last week my wife and I went to my oldest son's 6th grade Christmas dance. It was an hour long thing with dance cards and various dances they've been learning. They invited the mom's because they have more boys than girls and needed some additional ladies to fill in. I tagged along to take embarrassing photos.

It was so fun to see the kids awkwardly maneuvering around the gym...stepping on toes, crashing into each other, trying to maintain then avoid eye contact. Very cute.

Goofball said...

you've helped so many kids on important moments of their life. I don't think you even realise how valuable you are in their lives when you touch their life?


So sorry to hear about the long difficult recovery that your gramma is awaiting. Does she live far away? Can she get help during that period? How does she take it herselves?

secret agent woman said...

I always thought going through puberty WAS a mutant power.

Jyoti Mishra said...

wat a story.... growing up can be so interesting... :)
lovely read...

m extremely happy, grannie is OK... and yeah biggest relief is, shez still among u :)

Merry Christmas Brian !!!

Barbara Shallue said...

You are truly a gift in this boy's life... a shining light that will see him far. Thank you for sharing. I just succumbed to Pintrest and this is going on my "Favorite Blog Post" board! Sorry to hear about your Grandma - I'm behind on reading. I'll keep her in my prayers!

myheartslovesongs said...

sending healing thoughts and prayers to your gramma! ♥

Syd said...

Sorry to hear about your grandmother. I am glad that she will be okay. My mother broke her ankle twice at 90 and 91.
Great story here. You help so many here and in your life out there. Inspiring stuff, man.

chiccoreal said...

Dear Brian: Blessings for a speedy healing for your Grandma! Really loved your very creative write this week! I am in awe of your talent, always your voice, in the characters you paint so well. Always a pleasure to read. The dialogue is brilliant!

redprisma said...

I really enjoyed reading this. :)