IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

Yes, the summer flew by far too quickly, but that’s not the only thing that has happened in the blink of an eye.

Yup, I'm going to trot this picture out any time I have a chance!!!

Yup, I’m going to trot this picture out any time I have a chance!!!

This wee, innocent, fragile soul graduated from high school! I KNOW! Crazy right? He just learned how to walk last week, so the fact that he went to his Prom is incomprehensible!

A Boy and his Truck

A Boy and his Truck

Because no Prom is complete without photos, and because I’m not a fan of the traditional “stand beside your date” snaps, we did a full-fledged shoot with the one thing in the world that fills First Born Son’s heart, his truck.

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While other grads were cozying up to their significant others, this grad wanted to make sure he had all the shots he could possibly get with his truck.

This blows my mind. Every. Single. Time.

This blows my mind. Every. Single. Time.

Don’t misunderstand, he had a date. She looked lovely. She was thrilled that he had a cool ride. But he just wasn’t that hung up on pix with a chick when he could have pix with his pickup truck!

Sigh

Sigh

The afternoon was bittersweet, because, with the pride we had in how he has wrapped up this chapter of his life and standing on the edge of the next, I couldn’t help but think of how proud my Dad would be. Not only did FBS rock his suit, and look ever inch a young man, but he made sure his grandfather was represented on this special day. He wore Dad’s cufflinks.

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After what was, in his words, one of the best nights of his life, FBS said “Farewell” to his high school years. He was more than ready to drive off into the sunset, as long as the sun set over his college!

Aviators - the finishing touch!

Aviators – the finishing touch!

Minutes after this photo was taken, he started working for a landscaper and we didn’t see him again until the day before he moved into residence. (I’m only being mildly sarcastic, it was actually two days before.)

As “Move In/Move Out” day approached, advice started flooding in. I was going to cry. I was going to be emotional. I was going to miss him like CRAZY! Well as time progressed, I wasn’t getting emotional, I was nervous. Anxious that he wasn’t allowing enough time to get ready. Not making sure that he was prepared for the practical demands of being responsible for himself. (Grocery shopping wasn’t a priority until his Uncle mentioned he might was to look into it. We did it the next day, at FBS’s insistence!) I never developed the symptoms others warned me about and I was starting worry that I was a lousy mother for not dreading my child’s imminent departure.

I remember my parents’ reaction to my leaving for college. It was a difficult transition and I felt very scared. I didn’t want that for FBS. Both the Big Guy and I felt that doing our job as parents would be to prepare our son for the world, support him in his decisions and be happy for his successes. If I’m sad or upset, I take away from his excitement, and maybe even damage his chance of success. If I make my feelings more important that his, it diminishes what he accomplishes.

Besides, we were both really excited for him. (The Big Guy was most excited about FBS’s Dorm Life – flashback anyone??) There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a young person on the edge of a wonderful opportunity. We could see how excited he was and how he was so ready to GO!  How could I, as a parent, be anything but thrilled for him? Parents are only successful if our children are happy and achieve the dreams the set for themselves. The whole “Bird flying from the nest” analogy is corny, but it’s perfect for this situation. We are excited that he’s ready to fly, and can’t wait to see how far he goes and where he lands!

So, three weeks in, I have yet to cry because I miss him. (Partly because he texts me more now than he did when we lived under the same roof!) I have already seen him grow and change in wonderful ways. He’s starting to learn the things we are unable to teach him; what he has to learn for himself. I’m not feeling emotional when I walk past his room (I know he’ll be back when the food and clean clothes run out!).  I don’t miss him in a negative way; I think about him just as much as I regularly do and I’m always thinking that I can’t wait to hear his stories!

And I don’t have nearly as much cooking or laundry to do!! 😉

Valentine’s Day in Three Parts….

It’s only two days after Valentine’s Day, and the Easter swag is on the shelves, but I’m still reflecting on the events of two days ago….

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I’ve been watching the commercials that start in rotation every January 2nd. The message is the same. If you have someone special in your life, you’d better do something for them on February 14th.

Or risk not having someone on February 15th.

I will admit, when I was young and naive, I bought into this commercialism. I’m not sounding very romantic right now, but if you stand back and set aside the Pink coloured glasses, you will see that there is nothing romantic about being forced to show how you feel about someone. Even the most emotionally emotive man gets a heavy dose of insecurity in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. The bar is set high. Anything less will result in disappointment and frustration, not to mention reliving the moment for years after – if you are “fortunate” enough to stay with your loved one.

What is romantic about that??

I remember dating The Big Guy and he brought me a Valentine’s Day arrangement. A teddy bear clutching a plastic vase with fresh cut flowers. I was thrilled – such an obvious gesture of love and affection! Totally cute at the time and it impressed several of my friends, because we know it’s all about the brag factor. Wouldn’t thank you for it now. I love the idea of the unexpected. What is romantic is not what happens on one day, but the connection, the listening you do, on all the other days, that makes that one day memorable. And it doesn’t have to be V-day.

*A special note for you guys – you DON’T have to buy a piece of jewelry to get her attention. <Cue the Crickets>

I’m serious here girls! What would you rather have? A piece of jewelry that you basically TOLD him to buy for you, or a night in with your man, your favourite movie in hand because he LISTENED to you when you said you desperately wanted to see it. He also has your favourite snacks!! One is forced, one is genuine. When it comes to relationships, I prefer the latter.

That’s not to say I will turn away a hinged furry box! But let’s put it in context….

I won’t forget my 12th wedding anniversary because I received my sapphire and diamond ring from The Big Guy. Not on our 10th or 15th…. Completely unexpected – and I LOVED IT.

Surprise is romantic. The unexpected, is romantic. Pressure, expectation, entitlement…..

No so much.

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Second Born Son has taken an interest in baking lately. We made kick-ass peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Not long after, we made cupcakes for a friend’s birthday.

Look at that technique!

In the fashion of all agonizing childhood milestones, Valentine’s Day rolled around for him in his classroom.

At his age, not too many kids are keen on demonstrating affection, so it’s an awkward situation. I’ve told SBS that if wants to take a Valentine to one person, he needs to give one out for each person in his class. Fortunately, he agrees.

But this year, when his peers were marking a day for love and affection, one little shit student was changing the rules.

He handed out his store-bought cupcakes to only a handful of students. SBS was not one of them. To add insult to injury, he walked past SBS’s desk and said, “Jealous??”

To which my son, my little sweetie – who had given this child a Valentine AND a box of Smarties, just like everyone else, came back with this gem.

“No. I can MAKE my own, any time I want them.”

Freakin’ brilliant.

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It has been documented how our sons feel about our anniversary. Maybe because The Big Guy and I don’t gush over these holidays, we don’t expect much from the boys.

It was mentioned at one point that they had “something” for us, but honestly, with the chaos these past couple of days, I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I have a collection of sweet Valentine cards from my little men, and was looking forward to seeing what they put together this year.

But first, I had something else to attend to.

Made with Love - Half the Calories - ahahahahahahahahah

I always believe the motto “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” So these little dreams were sinful!

It looks like The Big Guy had the same idea!

Poetry! Wow!

But for some reason, he thought I was going to share…THIS?!

Uh...YUM

I was ready to mow through dinner, just to get to dessert, but the boys has other ideas. Watch us get our minds blown!

Awwwww!

It was a Valentine’s Day card with a dinner card inside. They plotted and planned with FBS slipping downtown on his lunch to pick up the cards. Who knew they were so thoughtful!

And that, my friends, is the definition of a loving Valentine’s Day.

True love is the soul’s recognition of its counterpart in another.

~ Wedding Crashers

If….Then…..

For the most part, we are blessed with good kids. But every now and then, one of them will pull a boner.

This time it was First Born Son’s turn. Nothing epic, but certainly worth several well thought out words in an elevated tone to drive home how frustrated and disappointed we are. In a day or so, it will all blow over, but for now, there needs to be a line drawn and some consequences.

This has been our approach since we became parents, and fortunately, The Big Guy and I have been on the same page, without really having a discussion about it. I remember while we were dating (long before talk of marriage or children), trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant while a young upwardly mobile couple tolerated, and indeed coddled their young child. Certainly old enough to know how to behave in a restaurant, it was fairly obvious that we were witnessing a case of the Tail Wagging the Dog. Whining, food thrown and indulgence. Understandable when the child is 2, more than annoying when the kid is 5. We looked at each other and basically said the same thing to each other, “If we have kids, we are NOT letting them get away with crap like THAT!”

One of the worst things I see is when parents use threats or ultimatums. These could also be considered boundaries. Nothing wrong with setting terms, the problem is when the child knows the threat is hollow. We have made a point of not doing this, and it has served us well. Its all about the follow through.

I remember when FBS was just a wee guy. We were at a friend’s house and he was enjoying the pool. I was done for the day and back in my dry clothes (fear not, he had enough safety and flotation devices on him, not to mention I was ALWAYS within arm’s reach). Anyway, I asked him nicely to come out of the pool to dry off; it was time to go home. He refused. I told him he had to the Count of Three (another favourite tactic) to get out of the pool, or I was coming in for him.

One beat after I said “Three” he started to laugh – there was no way Mommy was going to get in, she was in her clothes. I stepped right into the pool, sandals, shorts, tee and all, and hauled his scrawny wet tush out of that pool. From that day forward, he knew. There were consequences and not listening to Momma was not advised.

Years later, I coached his ball team. During a practice we were working on stealing home. I advised the base runner, who was a little meek, that he needed a more substantial lead off. Three pitches later, he’s still take two steps. I need him to take at least four. I tell him, “If you don’t get more of a jump out there, I’m going to make you wish you had.” He looks over at FBS who is the third baseman for this exercise. FBS just shakes his head and says, “She’ll do it man.”

Ironically, the runner had an excellent jump and  was able to get to Home Plate with ease.

I took exception to title the Day Care teachers gave me; Hitler Mom, but that’s only because of the choice of villain, not because of the context. I don’t drop the hammer all the time. The Big Guy isn’t irrational. We save consequences for serious transgressions. Laptops and tablets, iPods and TV privileges have been revoked because of serious breaches of behaviour.

Which is why I identify, and respect the position of this father…..

Dad uses Facebook

Naturally, there are people who feel he is the worst example as a parent.

I feel I’m in pretty good company.

A Tale of Two Paths

In the work that I do now, I get to witness people at some of their lowest points. The biggest observation I’ve made is my internal response to these experiences.

I have found these intense events fall under two categories: people who have bad things happen to them; and people who bring about bad things to happen to them.

There are people, who at this very moment, are finding out a loved one has died, that their house has burned down, that their car has been broken into and stolen. These people woke up this morning and had no clue what their day would end up like. They figured it would be another Thursday in a lifetime of Thursdays. And at breakfast, it was just another Thursday.

But by dinner tonight, not so much.

Then there are the other people. This group is not blind sided by the events of their day. They are aware of what their reality is, because they helped build it. They have spent their lifetime of Thursdays exposing themselves to people and events that are not healthy for them. They have made choices every day that have helped them get to the chaos they exist in.

They stay with their husband/wife when they should probably leave; especially when he/she has beaten them, again. They sneak out a window when their parents have forbidden them to leave the house, to meet someone who does not have their best intentions at heart. They have one more drink, one more joint, more, more, more. And finally, they sit up and question how they got to where they are now. What did they do to deserve this? In a word – nothing. But they are the authors of their own horror story. What they don’t realize is that they have laid every brick in the wall. They could choose a different way. It’s one step at a time, but it might as well be a 10 foot stair.

My heart bleeds for the people who get a phone call and find out their world is upside down. I want to reach out to them.

For the person who is angry at the world and doesn’t understand why their 18-year-old daughter is a drug addict when she’s been getting high every weekend since her children were born…

Well, I guess I’ll just have to work on that level of compassion.

Hitting a Milestone aka “The Grass is Always Greener”

Every parent looks forward to the firsts in their child’s life. First smile, steps, contracts with NHL franchises. Here in Boweryville, we enjoyed another milestone, just this past Friday night.

That’s the evening after Second Born Son faced his first exposure to drugs.

I’ll give you a moment to clean up the coffee that just shot through your nose. My apologizes for the nasal scalding.

And like so many things in my world – this impactful information was present in the most innocuous way possible.

“Hey Mom, did SBS tell you what happened on the bus today?” asks First Born Son. Let me add here that the boys have been in the house for OVER AN HOUR AT THIS POINT. I’d like to take this opportunity to emphasize how much I loathe “The Bus”. The stories I have from that period in my life make me a poster child for naivety shattered.

After hauling SBS from his father’s laptop, we had a detailed discussion about what happened and I used my journalist prowess to decipher every nuance of the incident. It would seem the little entrepreneur saw SBS board the bus with his box of elementary school fundraising chocolate bars and thought he could negotiate a trade of cocoa product for Grass.

At this point FBS is boarding the bus, and along with his friend, they punch the pusher and managed to hijack the conversation, as well as the proposition. I ask SBS what he’s doing while his brother is pounding the fellow bus rider.

“I just did this.” he sits at the dinner table, eyes as big as saucers, focusing on an imaginary bus seat in front of him, mute and unblinking.

In fairness, FBS has mentioned that this kid had marijuana on him in the past – he’s actually SEEN it on him. I would find out well after the fact and since it did not directly involve one of my offspring – I didn’t feel motivated to go vigilante on this kid. It’s part of the new era I like to call “I’m Only Raising My Kids.

This time, a call to the bus driver Friday evening, followed by an email to the two school principals Monday morning, was required. The high school principal contacted me in the afternoon to advise the student had been called into the office. Suffice it to say, his day got infinitely more shitty than his morning bus ride, when the driver instructed him to sit at the front – an embarrassment he pinned on FBS.

While we’ve had “the drug talk” with our kids for the past few years, it’s still unsettling that it’s come so close to us, with SBS at such a young age. I’m not naive enough to think my kids couldn’t do drugs. I know SBS could easily have swapped chocolate bars for an easy high – and we discussed whether or not he wants to go down that road. His horrified response reassured me.

For now.

I thanked FBS for being there for his brother, and together we discussed things SBS could have said, in the event that this happens again and his brother isn’t around to help out.

I’m not dumb enough to think that this won’t happen again.

You can only go day by day and hope and pray your kids know enough not to blink.