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Category Archives: parenting

I’m back!

I’ve been meaning to get back to this – really, I have!  But that whole life thing …

Anyway, here I am.  A lot has happened since my last update.  Long story short – the dream job was a nightmare (and completely misrepresented by the hiring manager).  But it’s all good, because just as I resigned, a new opportunity opened up and I was hired for a great position at a great company.  It’s been just over a year since I started there and every day I thank my lucky stars that everything worked out the way it did!

In other news, #1 is finishing up her sophomore year in college and turns 20 tomorrow.  Twenty!!  I find this quite impossible, if only from a biological standpoint as I am only 32.  Or at least in my head.  My knees are definitely closer to 60.

Also shockingly, #2 is graduating from high school.  He’s 18.  As those back on the British side of the family tree would say, I am gobsmacked.

And if the first two didn’t make me feel old, #3 turned 16 and is DRIVING HERSELF.  EVERYWHERE.
Honestly, where does the time go??  Thank goodness for merlot is all I have to say.

Tattoo You

Told #1 the other day that I had a job interview and that it sounded promising.  Her reply?

“If you get the job, let’s get matching tattoos!”

I said I didn’t want a tattoo – never had wanted one, probably never would.

“Come on, Mom,” she wheedled.  “We’ll get each others names!”

“Really?” says I.  “You’ll get Rebecca on your arm?”

“No, silly!” she squeals.  “I’ll get MOM.”

Guess that should’ve been obvious…

Got the Homesick Blues…

Sounds like #3’s attempt at summer camp is going about the same as last year’s – poorly.  Had a phone call from her counselor a little bit ago telling me that she’s terribly homesick, isn’t participating in activities, and on top of that, not eating much.  Could I offer some tips to help them to help her?  And would I be willing to talk to her on the phone?

Some background:  Last year, #3 and a friend went to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.  Nearly two weeks of art classes sounded like heaven before she went, but the texts started coming fast and furious the first night.  I hate it here!  The food is bad!  I want to come home!  I enlisted #1’s help.  She had had her own traumatic homesickness event at ballet camp several summers before, but miraculously was all better by day 3.  #2 even sent a few funny picture texts.  But nothing helped.  Blue Lake allowed a parent visit at the halfway point, and both parents were begged non-stop to attend.  Finally I texted back, yes I will come if you absolutely need to see me.  However, I will not be taking you back home with me.   She answered that maybe it would better if I didn’t come then.  We went and got her at the end, and afterwards she wasn’t as upset.  Yes it was hard, but the worst thing was the food and the rustic nature of the camp.  She survived and it was over.

Fast forward to this spring.  #3 excitedly asks to go to SpringHills Camp with her friend.  Are you kidding?  Remember last summer?  No, no she reassures us – this is only six days.  Totally manageable.  One minor sticking point – it is a Christian camp, and #3 has definite agnostic leanings, if not downright atheistic.  We talk to the mom of the friend about this.  Not too bad she says.  There is group prayer, but no one is going to single you out or make you feel bad.  #3 says she can handle it.  Think of it as a learning experience I, a PK, tell her.

And off she went.  The other parents drove them up and I was going to pick them up on Friday.  Then the phone rang on Tuesday.

So yes, I talked to her on the phone.  She was nearly incoherent with grief, begging me to come get her.  I reminded her that she’d also had a hard time last year, but managed to get through it and that was for a whole twelve days.  This is only six days – really only five and a half.  Surely she could suck it up for a few more days.  Then the wailing really commenced.  “Please, please, please come get me!  Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, Mom!”

Heartbreaking.  I told her to take a few deep breaths and calm down.  I asked her to give it her best shot and participate in the activities because it would help take her mind off being sad.  I reassure her that she can handle this and that I love her, but am not coming up until Friday.  “But I’m so uncomfortable, she wailed.  “They pray all the time!”  As the sobs continued, I asked to speak to the counselor.  “She is an extremely private person,” I explain, “and she’s very uncomfortable with the praying.  Can you just allow her to observe and not call any attention to her?”  “Absolutely,” I am assured, “We don’t want her to be uncomfortable and anyone can opt out at any time.”  They put #3 back on the phone and I relay this info.  She is steadfast in her begging that I immediately jump in the car and get her.  Yet I didn’t cave in, and asked to speak to the counselor again.  I could hear #3 sniffling in the background while I talked.  “I don’t think I helped,” I said.  “But, since I’m not there to evaluate her myself, I can only go on your recommendation.  Do you think I should come get her?”  They suggested giving it another day.  “We’ll call you tomorrow and give you an update.”

I’ll keep you posted.  I’m betting I have a long car ride ahead of me tomorrow, but here’s hoping she makes it until Friday.

UPDATE:  The camp counselor called the next day and reported that #3 was doing much better, and that “once she spoke to you and realized that going home early was not an option, she decided to make the best of it.”  That, and the hormones had cleared her system.

On Her Way

#1 had her last day of high school and her 18th birthday on the same day last week.  Commencement ceremonies followed a few days later.  Pretty heady sense of freedom for one who has often expressed her desire “to get out of here.”  She’s not physically leaving quite yet – freshman year of college will be at the local community college – but mentally she figures she’s a grown up.

She is an adult in the eyes of the law, except for that pesky drinking age thing, but she’s still my little girl.  The one who came first and survived our newbie parenting.  The one who had such a perfectly round head that all the nurses remarked about it.  The one who, when introduced to her new baby brother, immediately got her two favorite stuffed animals to introduce to him.  The one who correctly predicted #3 was her baby sister when I was convinced it would be a second brother.  The one who stood out at the mailbox every evening and waved to all the neighbors as they drove home.  The one who was the only girl in our neighborhood posse of boys – yet she was the one in charge.

The one who was terrified and excited at the same time to perform her very first tap solo – and whose quivering body launched itself into my arms when it was done.  The one who insisted on doing her own hair and makeup when most of the other girls at the studio still wanted me to help them.  The one who was so graceful and beautiful during a lyrical piece about a girl and her doll, that I’ve never been able to watch the whole thing without tears running down my face (as they are now).  The one who despite her dance talent could never quite get down and funky – always a ballerina even in hip hop.

The one who has always known her own mind.  The one that raced through the doors of pre-school and never looked back, even surrounded by crying 4-yr-olds clinging to their mommies.  The one who really should consider law school since she will argue that the sky is indeed green just to be contrary.  The one who has never lacked in self-confidence: her 5th grade teacher was amazed that she actually volunteered to go first for every speech/presentation they did.  The one who carried on a conversation with a kid in the orthodontist’s office – who had addressed her by name – as if they were old friends, and when I asked who he was she shrugged and replied matter-of-factly and without a shred of arrogance, “I don’t know.  Everyone just knows me.”

The one who during the commencement ceremony jumped up and down waving at all of us.  The one who mouthed “love you, mom” to me during the speeches.  The one who will leave to go away to school in just over a year.  The one who will, I predict, eventually have kids of her own, even though now she says no way.

The one who will always be my little girl no matter how old she gets or how far she goes.  Love you, sweetheart.

Things My Kids Say

Sometimes they crack me up, sometimes they make me cry and sometimes they make me feel old.  And sometimes they even make me feel like I must be doing something right.

#1, on a hot, steamy July day in Michigan as we are preparing to leave for a dance competition in Orlando:  “It better not be like this down in Florida.”

#2, in the car, answering a query as to who was on the radio:  “It’s Nippleback.”  And a short time later, #2 again:  “He’s my breast friend.”  (uh, got something on your mind, son?)

#1, while we are having pork chops for dinner:  “Good chicken.”

#1, the day after senior prom: “That was so much fun!  I want to have prom every weekend!”

Technically not my kids, but I was the carpool mom this day:

#2’s friend, carpooling for hockey: “Hey, hey guys!  What’s the number before infinity?”  Followed immediately by, #2’s friend’s twin brother: “You idiot, it’s infinity – we don’t know!”  1st friend, “Duh, I KNOW we don’t know infinity, but what’s the number right before it?”  (Almost drove the entire carpool off the road after that.)

#3 to #1, who was having a crisis and was nearly hysterical:  “Don’t make decisions when you’re angry.  Don’t make promises when you’re happy.”

#1, to me:  “#3 is so smart.  I was really upset, and she said the best thing to me (see above).  It really helped me.”

#3, to me, after being queried about these words of wisdom:  “It’s just something I saw on Facebook!”

#1, as I groaned my way up the stairs after bashing my knee:  “Geez, Mom, how old are you, anyway?”

In An Instant, Everything Changes

Those of us who get sucked in and initiated into the cults masquerading as kids activities often refer to their fellow cult members as family.  It’s a way of justifying drinking all that koolaid: “I’m not alone, look who else is here and they spend even more!”

But they truly do become your family.  Their sons become our sons, their daughters our daughters.  We share in the joy of their accomplishments and commiserate when they fall short.  We prop our fellow parents up, too.  More than once I’ve been the hockey mom, because the real mom was at a sibling’s activity.  I cheered his perfect pass or pretty goal – and once risked my unhelmeted head on the bench icing a twisted knee.  I’ve been the dance mom often, once on a competition weekend when the real mom gave birth to a new sibling.  Cheering them all on, while in between numbers doing hair and makeup.  Loved every minute of it.

The family is large and extended.  You meet someone new with a child the same age as one of your own?  Dance, hockey, baseball, soccer?  Nods all around.  Ah, yes.  We know, we know.

The other day the hockey family was shaken by the news of a young man’s death.  His name was Ian Jenkins and he was 15 years old – a goalie.  I didn’t know the family personally, but #2 played against him back in squirts (that’s 5th grade for you non-hockey people).  Ian was  hanging out with a friend, doing what boys do.  He jumped or fell off the back of a moving pick up truck and hit his head on the pavement, causing massive brain swelling.  Emergency surgery didn’t help, and after a couple of days he was removed from life support.  The end came, and his parents generously donated the gift of his organs.

All because of a silly decision.  One instant that changed lives forever.  Who among us didn’t make some really dumb decisions at that age?  I know I did.  Rode my horse without a helmet and took a pretty bad fall.  Walked away with only a concussion, but never rode without a helmet again.  Also rode around in the back of a pick up truck.  Drove my car way to fast.  And once, raced a train to an intersection.  I vividly remember looking up as I crossed the tracks and the train was RIGHT THERE.  Never, ever did I do that again.  Just an instant in time that I ended up on the right side of.  But for others, that instant goes the wrong way.  The terrible way.  And it scares me because I have a son exactly that age.  Please God, do not let him fail in that instant.  Keep him safe.

I tear up just writing this.  What an absolutely gut wrenching, horrific thing for a family to go through.  In one second you lose a son and brother.  Everything changes.  How do you go on from that?  How do you find a reason to get up in the morning?  My heart goes out to the Jenkins family, and I find some peace in knowing that they not only have each other, but also the entire hockey family who has rallied around them.  A memorial game has already been planned for Ian, and his teammates plan to wear a patch on their jerseys next year in his memory.

I leave you with the following, which his father posted to his Facebook page shortly after Ian’s death:

News Regarding our Beloved Son…Ian Patrick Jenkins

Monday, May 23, 2011 at 1:42pm

As most of you now Ian battles HARD for EVERYTHING he does. He never gives up and pushes others to reach higher. He lives by the motto of H.A.P. (Have A Purpose) and has no patience for negativity. He believed that things were not over until it was over. He also believed life was special and that God gave him gifts to be great. Believe it or not it wasn’t all about hockey. He was not jaded and believed his gift was his wonderful soul. Ian cared about people that have beautiful souls and that ALL people need help in some special way. He has blessed many people and taught them that life is GRAND. He gave me a gift on the date of his accident (5-19-11…his sister’s birthday and btw if you add the numbers it equals 35) and that gift was his usual words when we got off the phone that ill fated afternoon. After our brief conversation about what time I was picking him up he said “I love you Dad!”. Those where his last words to me…’thank you Ian for that treasured gift.’  I would ask all of you to treat each other the way Ian treated people and that was with extreme kindness and not to judge harshly. If we ALL could lead our busy lives the way Ian did the world’s problems would disappear over-night. So with a broken heart I need to let you all know the final buzzer sounded for Ian at 7:54 this morning. He gave his hand to God and let the blessed surgeons harvest his organs to allow others to continue to experience the world he loved and cherished. Please reach out to my other three beautiful children (Lester Lancaster, Garrett and Cassidy) and let them know you love them and that they are not alone in their suffering.

God Bless, Ian’s Dad

When I Grow Up

#2 was having a crisis awhile back.  While we were talking it through, he exploded, “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up!”  Although it was my first reaction, I knew better than to laugh.  Instead, I tried to reassure him that as a high school sophomore he had all the time in the world to decide what he wanted to do with his life.  Hardly anyone knows what they want to be when they’re only 15.

My reassurances were only partly successful.  He’s at a crossroads right now, all part of growing up, and will come out on the other side eventually – stronger, more mature, more thoughtful.  The childhood dream of playing professional hockey is still there, but I think he’s beginning to worry it may only be a dream and considering other options.  In some ways this is heartbreaking for me.  He has always been happiest on the ice – confident in his abilities and a natural leader.  This confidence is not as evident off the ice – I don’t know why.  He’s not a one sport kid either, but the other ones are only activities, serving as a distraction until he can return to the ice.

I see nothing wrong with encouraging his dreams.  I’ve told him I completely believe in him – that if he wants it badly enough and is willing to work his butt off there is no limit to how far he can go.  What’s the point of having dreams if you don’t try and pursue them?  I caution him though:  “Believing in you does not mean a blank check for you to screw around in juniors until you’re 30.  In any sport, you’re one bad injury away from being done.  Hopefully it won’t be your brain, and you’ll be able to enjoy a long productive life.  Make sure you put just as much work into your brain as you do the rest of your training so it can support you later.”

I don’t know how much of this did sink in.  Time will tell.  I can only hope that whatever he ends up doing, he’ll have good enough insurance to pay for therapy.

I know I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be at 15.  No, wait.  I lie.  I wanted to be a veterinarian – had wanted to be that most of my life.  Then I took a couple of advanced biology classes – yes, dissections – and the dream was over.  I was also taking psychology at the time, and that became my new goal.  I entered college as a psych major, but it only lasted a semester or two.  I was also an MIS major, secondary education major, something else I’ve since forgotten but I know there were five, and finally, a communications major.  And that was probably because I was running out of time and had to graduate with something.

Pretty fickle, eh?  And not horribly atypical.  Lots of my friends changed majors, or even changed careers.  After working in marketing for several years I went back to school and picked up a secondary teaching certificate.  Actually taught for a bit.  Got a better offer back in the corporate world (or so it seemed at the time, but that’s another post) and changed yet again.  My husband, in contrast, went to college as a co-op student and has worked more or less for the same company since he graduated.  My best friend in elementary school announced as a 9-year-old that she would be a nurse, and she still is.

What does this mean for #2?  We all find our way in life.  Sometimes the path is fairly straight, sometimes it meanders all over.  What matters is, in the end, you enjoyed the journey.

15 there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

~from 100 Years, Five for Fighting~