Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Pancakes

I've really been missing this blog lately. I've been thinking a lot, about the new baby, about how my Teenybop is turning five soon, about Christmas around the corner and how it's always been a wonderful time for our little family, even in hard times. But through it all, I've finally accomplished for my daughter what I'd always wanted for myself as a child: Tradition.

Now don't get me wrong. When I was a kid, there were little "traditions" in my life. It was a kind of tradition that our mean spiteful bus driver would see me and my two cousins almost at the bus stop in the morning, and instead of stopping to let us on the bus she'd keep driving since we weren't technically there yet, forcing us to try running to beat her to the next bus stop so we could get to school. Sometimes we made it, but we often had to walk all the way home from that second stop (from just barely making it and being almost there too), and take our spankings before our grandmother would drive us to school. It didn't seem to matter how early we left for the bus either, or how studiously we trudged to the bus stop. It was like my grandmother would call the driver when we left the house, just so the driver could time her drive-by for just the right second. And I know she saw us coming, saw us trying to make it to the stop on time, because several times I actually saw her looking at us as she drove by.

Now I've got two cousins that I grew up with, one girl a little younger that grew up to be a murderous psycho who is just such a mess that everyone has basically given up on her, and the other right about my age, and we are still very close. We even somehow managed to be pregnant and have our first kids "together". She and I have always been close, even as kids.

It was tradition in our house that at Thanksgiving, Cousin D and I would somehow manage to "overhear" our families talking about how pudgy we were. One year I remember more than others because we had a favorite aunt who was really awesome, and that particular year we heard the aunt joining in the conversation about how my friend/cousin and I were really getting a little fat. FAT?! We'd both just hit puberty, so our hormones were on overload, we were two of the very rare classmates at the time who had breasts, and she had had her period already. We were built like short little women, curvy already too. And our weight was due in part to little things that most of our family probably didn't know. Surely our grandmother and my mother wouldn't have told them that we used to beg to be allowed to walk to school, around the block, down the street ... and we were never allowed. We were kids that were literally raised at home, we didn't get to really go anywhere other than school. Not even to the store ... my grandmother always went in the morning on Saturday and my mom would be home with us kids. I don't one time remember going to the store to buy all the groceries we had to put away.

Maybe we got a little overweight because when we asked for permission to go play basketball on the next street with our friends, we were told no, that we had to play in the backyard. So we'd take our Barbies out there and sit at the picnic table. Perfect way to grow big butts, huh? So our Thanksgiving tradition was to get depressed because Cousin D and I both knew that our bodies were passing up our friends at school, and there was nothing we could do about it. The year our aunt joined in instead of sticking up for us really burned. We were in the bedroom playing and listening to the radio when Sugar Ray came on with "Fly", and since we were music lovers even back then we made up our own chorus. The real chorus of the song says, "I just wanna fly/ put your arms around me baby/ put your arms around me baby" ... and ours said, "I'm too fat to fly/ Can't put your arms around me babe/ Can't put your arms around me babe." Sad, huh? We were just 13 years old at the time, and being "fat" was already so drilled into us that we wrote music about it.

We had Christmas traditions too, but that really wasn't so damaging ... it's even sort of funny now that we've grown up. Especially since I tended to be the target in that one. You know how people who have multiple kids always try to make sure they get the exact same number of gifts for each kid? Well my mother and grandmother would team up on that one. But one year, they put most of my gifts in my grandmother's bathroom, so it seemed as if my cousins all got several gifts where I only got about four. I got ones that were important to me, so I honestly don't remember feeling jealous, other than realizing that I was finished first that year, and that it was a little strange. I sat back, looking at my new CD and wishing everyone else would be done soon so I could go listen to it, and then my grandmother got up to go to the bathroom. Normally I wouldn't remember something like that but once she was in there she called to my mom for help, and they came out together with a stack of gifts that evened me up with my cousins. I wonder sometimes if they were testing me, trying to see if I'd pout, if I'd get angry, maybe even throw a fit or something. I didn't, though, and that makes me wonder if maybe it irritated my grandmother. She and I are both hot-tempered, and she used to enjoy baiting me as a child, knowing that I couldn't truly act on my anger or say the things I wanted to say to her. I remember her looking at me as the other girls opened their things and I watched them, and she looked a little defeated as she went to the bathroom.

Another year they gave me all my gifts, mixing in a car magazine. I had no interest in cars, and no idea why they gave me that, but I said thanks and put it aside, moving on to the next thing. Cousin D got a plastic banana and as we cracked up laughing, my grandmother told her to look inside it. She'd cut a slit along the side of it, and there was a gold necklace hidden inside with a little cross on it. We all got one, but Cousin D was the only one pranked with fruit. She and her sister, Crazy Cousin also got a certain Cd we'd all been begging and begging for. Once all the gifts were opened and I didn't the Cd for myself, I remember that that year, I was jealous. I didn't say anything because I did get some great stuff, but I couldn't help being jealous. A car magazine ... but not the Cd I'd desperately wanted for weeks? And then they said, "Hey, sit back and read your magazine, might be something in there to interest you..."

The Cd was taped in the pages. So our family traditions involved picking on the kids, really, and I always wanted some traditions that made us feel like family, something special we all did or something. And now I've got that.

Saturday Pancakes. Every Saturday, I make pancakes for Fiance, Teenybop and I. They are sometimes a little thick and fluffy, sometimes a little too thin, but always decent, and Teenybop says that I am a great "maker of pancakes". Today at breakfast it was just the two of us since Fiance was sleeping too deep to wake up, and as she finished her breakfast, she said, "You know what mom? When I grow up and I live in my own house, I'm gonna always come over to your kitchen table to eat your Saturday pancakes, and I'm not ever going to make my own because I'm going to still like to come over and eat yours at your house."

I did it. Tradition as it should be, one that brings my family together and makes us feel close to one another. Finally.