I Never Wanted Anything Bad Enough to Camp Overnight for It, But . . .

Antonio had me at, “You can blog about it.”

I studied him, then upped the ante, “With photos … of you?”

To convince a twelve-year-old boy to pose for photos at any time is challenging.

Antonio pointing to an empty display of Amiibos

Antonio pointing to an empty display of Amiibos during our ‘dry’ run.

He nodded.

That is how I came to be standing in a line at Target on a Friday morning before the store opened.

Amiibos would be released at 8 am. It was Antonio’s goal to get three of them before they were sold out. But, he had school. Since I had the day off from work, I would be a perfect stand-in.

The night before the big release, Antonio insisted that we take a practice run. I needed to know the most direct route to the sales counter.

He would have preferred that I camp overnight outside the store doors. He even offered that he and Crystel would join me. He surmised that the both of them could bring their bikes and leave me first in line when it came time for them to bike to school.

I actually thought about it. It would be a new and shared experience. But, then again, I thought I should save that opportunity for something other than a fairy-type Pokemon. Concert tickets or ….. I don’t know …. I’ve never wanted anything bad enough to camp overnight for it.

What we would do for our kids. Antonio certainly wanted these Amiibos. His goal was to collect every one. He has 17.

I’m not a collector. I’m a purger. It took me awhile to understand that my children were different from me. There were times that I cringed realizing — a little too late — that they were collecting the very items I was purging. The items were already down the road at ARC or the school store or the garbage can.

IMG_6301That Friday, after dropping Antonio and Crystel off at school I headed over to Target. I was number 8 in line. I looked down the line at my 7 peeps.

A text message interrupted my thoughts.

Antonio wanted to know if I was in line, how many were in front of me, and if they were kids.

All men in their twenties except a young lady sitting next to me, I text back.

I set down my phone and asked her why she was there. “My brother,” she said. Adding, “He owes me.”

I stood up. “Hey, I’m writing a blog,” I said, loud enough for everyone to hear. “Do you mind if I take your picture?” A thumbs up, a nod of the head, a grunt. “Anyone mind?” I questioned again. No answer, which was my answer.

At 8 am when the doors opened, I was surprised at the calm.

My peeps walked single file. No cutting in line. The first guy determined the pace. Three clerks were at the counter waiting for us. Amiibos were stacked behind them. By the time it was my turn, two amiibos were already sold out.

IMG_6307I can only tell you that I got a Jigglypuff.

Antonio will learn if I scored any others on his birthday in July.

Not knowing until then will torment him. I love doing that to an almost 13-year old.



Being Friends Is Not Natural

FullSizeRenderI drive past Richfield Middle School and spot Antonio and Crystel a block away. The 12-year olds are walking home from school. Backpacks slung over their shoulder. Track bags dangling at their side. Walking shoulder to shoulder. My heart warms. I’ve always wanted them to be friends. To be proud to call each other brother and sister.

I don’t believe that sibling friendship comes naturally. Friendships among siblings need to be nurtured.

What comes natural is comparison, competition, and mine, mine, mine.

Years ago, when I was the stay at home mom, Santa brought Antonio a Disney princess doll set and Crystel Spiderman pajamas. Santa was attempting to even the score that the four-year olds were keeping.

Why does he have a different laundry basket than me?
Do I get three licorice?
Does Crissy get a timeout too?
Can I help? Crissy got to use the mop last time.
Why did the tooth fairy bring him ….
I took a bath first last time.
I’m growing, Crystel’s not.
How come I don’t get no cars?

Antonio and Crystel looked to the other to see how they were doing.

1132To nurture a friendship between the two I sought out opportunities for them to be nice to each other. This could be in the form of passing a dessert, opening a door, saying a kind word, buying the other a birthday or Christmas present, or letting the other be first.

To enrich their friendship I noticed when someone’s heart was hurt and insisted the children make amends to each other. This could be a hug or saying something they liked about the other. Later when they were older it meant putting the words into writing, which they taped to their bedroom wall.

Even now on Crystel’s wall is a letter to her from six-year old Antonio that says:

1. hes the bes. (She’s the best)
2. hes fune. (Shes’s fun)
3. hes cule. (She’s cute)
4. ses sow moch fun to plau weht (She’s so much fun to play with)

On the other side of the letter is a picture of Raikou Pokemon that he drew for her.

DSCN0725It’s also allowing the children to take space from each other, especially when a sign shows up on a bedroom door that says, NO BOYS! This means you Antonio!

It’s teaching the children that privacy is good and respect for each other is a must.

It’s reminding them that the other was there for them when they met their birth mom and siblings and now it’s their turn to be supportive.

It’s celebrating their strengths and having compassion for their weaknesses.

One will always be faster. “I’ll wait for you, Cissy.”
One will always be braver. “You first, Cissy.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s letting them know that the world is a big place and that the Richfield Cross Country team is big enough for both of them. They both can choose running as their ‘thing’.

And, in the Spring when it comes time for sixth grade track and one doesn’t want to join because they don’t know anybody on the team and they don’t want to be a loner, they can count on the other one to look out for them and save them a place on the grass.

I pull the car over to the curb. Antonio and Crystel recognize me. Antonio opens the front passenger door and tosses his bags in. Then he opens the back door and slides in next to Crystel.

I smile at them. “I’m glad you’re friends.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust like when they were little, they look at each other and laugh.

On Being President

Antonio di Grazia 5th Grade President!

Antonio di Grazia 5th Grade President!

The presidency started off like many presidencies. When Crystel announced that Antonio was running for 5th grade class president, he denied it, “She’s lying!”

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “Antonio, your sister was excited for you. She just thought that you threw your hat in the ring. That’s all.”

I didn’t tell him that I was excited, too.

Antonio just wasn’t ready to share it with the world. The next day he confirmed that he was running for President. Candidates are allowed to waffle.

5th grade Presidency leads to White House. First Dog.

5th grade Presidency leads to White House. First Dog.

I asked him if he wanted me to write a speech for him. He said, “No.”

I did it anyway. I knew that he would probably need a speech and why not have one ready? I could see it in my mind. He’d pull it out of his backpack, it would be typed, easy to ready. And, oh, so eloquent.

Have you ever felt different? I have too. Starting with this line was sure to grab everyone’s heart. And, how vulnerable for a fifth grade boy. I could see Antonio on stage, speaking clearer than he has ever spoke. (In reality, he absolutely hates being the center of attention. And has refused since preschool to be on a stage).

Carving of President di Grazia scheduled on Mount Rushmore.

Carving of President di Grazia scheduled on Mount Rushmore.

Then I went on to say how I like Pokémon and soccer. Thinking that would bring in the male vote.

I was really into this. I thought if he was willing to stick his neck out at least I should offer my assistance. I didn’t worry too much about his popularity. His grades looked like he had been campaigning all last quarter.

After I finished writing the speech, I put it in a plastic sheaf so it wouldn’t get crinkled, and I slipped it into his science notebook.

Coming home from running errands, I saw that the speech was gone and that he had gone back to bed.

Probably to look the speech over.

My New Home. In Retirement.

My New Home. In Retirement.

But another part of me knew better and I checked the garbage. And, there it was. My speech all torn up in itty bitty pieces with the plastic sheath on top.

He told me that the speech was suppose to be WHY you wanted to be President. “Can you just say, “Because it’s pretty cool, and I’d feel awesome?”

He didn’t want to draw any posters – it was too much work. Too, bad. If he had included Pokemon drawings on his campaign posters, they would have been rad.

I knew WE had an uphill battle for this presidency. Even his sister wasn’t going to vote for him.



The big snowstorm put off the vote for a week. After the vote (no Antonio didn’t win), we were sitting talking about this blog, he said with a grin, those people who put posters up have to take every piece of tape off the wall, even the sticky part.

And now that I’m sitting with THEE Crystel, she tells me that Antonio didn’t even vote for himself and he voted for the person who won.

Oh my goodness.