Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wake me up when we reach Loreto

That's it, we are going back to Mexico. I can't get my seven year old to keep her stringy hair out of her face. It's time to move back to Loreto where the nuns at Colegio Calafia will make her ponytail stand at attention. She'll be angry with me over the return to the austerity that doesn't include hours of Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel and trips to McDonalds. We've collected an entire army of Happy Meal toys, characters to movies I didn't know existed. We came home just in time to celebrate Christmas and re-load. Going back to Loreto will be a relief for me, but she'll see it as deprivation. We tell ourselves that one day she will be grateful for the time spent there and remember the happy times.

I don't know how long we will stay this time, but it'd be nice to be there all winter. There are more people in Loreto Bay now as more homes have been completed. Several families are there with children attending schools, so the experience should be better for Allison this time. The season for the return of the whales is close so we will be there to enjoy baby whales swim alongside their mamas. Ryan will soon be back to college and Beau has opened his wheel and tire business and has to fly on his own. We reacquainted with friends, though not all of them. We celebrated four family birthdays. Robert took his boating trip down the east coast to Florida and said he cured himself of the desire to own a boat. I fell back into keeping house and family harmonious and content. The boys seemed exuberant to see me in the five or ten minutes they'd hang around. It's mating season and I just have to turn my head to the drama of it all having lived it once; it's too tiring to witness. The girls are older and prettier, but not wiser to the mindset of young men who just want to have fun.

Our sons are definitely too big for the nest especially with their entourage in tow. Ryan can summon his posse to our house in a matter of minutes (the miracle of cell phones.) Usually they all go to the basement where there's a partial element of privacy, but we still hear the guitars and laughter and smell the occasional cigarette smoke that sends one of us down to scold. We made room for this since we are happy for these times to be together as a family, and most of these kids we have deep affection for having watched them grow up. Occasionally, the kids would sit and converse with us and one time serenaded us with guitars so we could see how talented and wonderful they were before they ran off the drink a beer or whatever. But still, they are big boys, disruptive and messy and not so cute that I overlook the labor and expense required to live with them. My laundry is never finished, the milk carton is always empty. Cars litter our driveway and I can't walk through the house in my underwear if I so wanted. I've let Allison run wild like a hippie-child in a commune. It's easy to overlook her in a crowded house. I've had to summon her from the depths of the basement where she was cuddling up to one of Ryan's girlfriends, talking about God-knows-what while being in earshot of the occasional profanities that young people so easily emit. Thank God for St. Joan, who comes over almost daily for Allie's dose of proper schooling and moral instruction.

Sometimes I scold myself for not running a tighter ship, for sleeping at the wheel, for not shielding my last young cub from the constant lure and call of the sirens of sea of American pop culture. Mom, Can I have a cell phone? Lauren has a cell phone. Can I get my ears pierced? Just one more hour of television. Pleeazze? I'm hovering over the decision to pull hard against the reins or just let go and go with the flow. Beau warns I'll make a weirdo out of his little sister if I think I can shield her from the world. Let her duke it out like the rest of us had to. But what if I can change the world we live in? That's what I used to say. Now I just want to search for the existing world that suits me and move there. And where would that be?

So you see why lazy seaside Loreto Bay looks appealing for its wholesomeness. Ironic that I sometimes I feel we must run away to Mexico in order to bring our daughter up with good old fashioned American values like respect and gratitude. What Loreto offers is protection that comes from isolation. It's easier to control your child when there is less to fight against. Here I feel the constant bombardment of negative influences on my family. Here kids grow up too fast, but not too-equipped. What they are really good at is making fun of things. It's the Jon Stewart mentality of ridiculing everything. I think Jon Stewart is very funny, but my brain is too cured to be influenced. I guess I don't care if they adopt that mocking attitude after they move out and I'm no longer under obligation to be their moral authority.

I don't know what has happened to me. When did I grow so tired? Where's the tigress in me? I only long for rest and peace. Other people's problems make me weary, including my own family's. I try hard to appear interested, and initially I might be, but years on earth have shown me that there is little I can do but listen, people will do what they want and with all the drama you'd expect. Boys will break girls' hearts, things will get lost or stolen and maybe found again, high expectations will meet with disappointment or glorious fulfillment. It is what it is, and que sera, sera.

I'd like to be a better person. I resolve every new year to at least try. I say I want to give more, to help more. I want to be a better parent. Truth is I do, but I don't want to work hard at it anymore. So what I'm opting for is the minimalism of village life in Loreto. And let the nuns of Colegio Calafia back me up about the hair.

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