Round and round

“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”

—Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel, Character of Grandma, Parenthood (1989)

I love this quote from the movie “Parenthood”. There’s a scene at the end of the movie that puts the pieces of the puzzle that are parenthood and roller coasters together most effectively. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know what I’m talking about.

Kate provided us with one of those moments when she was about 5. It was during the annual children’s Christmas program at church. Most of the kids played the animals living in the stable where Jesus was born. Kate was one of the sheep. Her costume consisted of a headband with little sheepy ears, white tights and a large white sweatshirt with a fluff of cotton for a sheep tail on the back. The sheep were supposed to gather around the manger to admire baby Jesus, and most of the sheep did just that.

Except for Kate. She sort of crawl-hopped to center stage. I guess the crawl-hopping movements made sense to her: in Kate-world sheep and bunnies were both white with fluffy tails; sheep walk around on all-fours and bunnies hop. She was supposed to crawl-hop around the manger. But, there she was, center stage, with her back to the audience, wiggling her fluffy tail for all to admire.

One of many of the heady, unforgettable moments of being a parent. Not a milestone event like graduating from high school or college, making the football team or the cheer leading squad or going to the prom. Just an ordinary day that became an extraordinary memory of Kate as a child.

We weren’t “video camera” parents. I remember watching a young family on the beach one summer afternoon. They had a toddler, cute as a button. She must have done some adorable little thing that toddlers usually do at the beach (like eat sand maybe), and I heard her mother say, “Baby, can you do that again for the video camera?” I guess it’s like choosing to ride the coaster, have the experience, or watch someone else’s video tape of it.

Kate is on the roller coaster right now. She misses Big Sister, but continues to protect herself from any further heartache that Big Sister is so adept at handing out. Good for Kate in that she’s learning to shelter herself from abusive people and toxic relationships; not so good for Kate as far as coming out of her shell and building new relationships. It’s going to take a while, but the wounds will heal, and hopefully not scar too badly. I ordered her prom dress yesterday; how can that be? Last week she was the mischievous little sheep that stole the show at the Christmas pageant.

Sometimes even roller coasters have sections that go around and around, and in my experience with coasters those sections are usually at the bottom of a drop. Wubby has been riding that section of the coaster for at least two years, actually more like three.  It’s been frustrating for all of us. But, in the last few weeks, Wubby has started to move past that round-and-round section and into some direction, which will most likely change, but at least it’s a direction.


Seen this? A “new”‘ Van Gogh. What fascinates me about this story is the process used to authenticate the painting. One would think that you authenticate something by examining that something and comparing it to other examples of what that something is. In this case, a floral still life that, to me anyway, is almost painfully exquisite in its beauty.

No. There’s another painting underneath this one, of two wrestlers, that was discovered by x-ray several years ago. And it was that painting, the one underneath, that authenticated the visible one.

What on earth am I trying to say? These thoughts have been chasing themselves around inside my head for days. We have three cats that all chase their tails, but are rarely successful at catching them. It happens now and again, and I love to see one of the cats actually catch its tail. The surprise of success causes the poor kitty to let go of her tail, and the process starts all over again.

Roller coasters and merry-go-rounds.

Extraordinary and routine.

Funny thing about roller coasters and merry-go-rounds: they both travel in never-ending circles. The ride starts; the ride ends and another one begins.

And extraordinary vs. routine: how do you know something is extraordinary without having experienced the routine, the mundane, that makes the extraordinary what it is?



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