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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Destination of a Boy

Today my coworker friend sent me an email with the header: You’re gonna love this. Stars Wars has been selected as theme for the Harvest Fest this year. My heart lifted as a pic of the familiar logo and a costumed Luke and Lea came into view. Then I felt a little sad. Oh yeah. My kids are big now. Teenagers. A Darth-Cole might be more eerie than cute.

Not that my 14-year-old isn't still cute. He is. But he’s stepping out of...boyhood. I’m now a dwarf next to him. Lengthwise anyway. (Still got him on girth.) His once sweet, animated voice has migrated into a lower, monotone decibel. Car singing is a joy. Imagine Steven Wright doing Katie Perry. But the thing that worries me? This bit of cleverness that's steeping in. I'm not talking textbook academic-clever. I'm talking about the intricacy of his stories. In other words, lies. Lies getting more difficult to detect. For example...

It’s 9:00 and he decides to retire.

"So early?" I ask with a bit of suspicion. (I'm not completely clueless. Insomniac kid heads to bed at 9:00....potential miscreant behavior ahead.)  But then he says...

"Gonna read."

"Well! Okay!" I say with a proud smile. My lessons on "how reading will make him great" are starting to sink in!

"Don't stay up too long!" I say, but not really meaning it. Would I really reprimand him for staying up until midnight for reading? Heck no.

After he heads down, I get to thinking. Have I seen Cole with a book lately? The kid painfully relates every part of every book he reads. I'm thinking I haven't heard anything of the sort.

When I decide to sneak downstairs to his bedroom to confirm his bookish pursuits, I discover he has not lied to me. He is reading. A Fantasy Football update on his iPhone. He needs to, I am informed. No longer can he research Fantasy Football at school. He and Jordan got it banned. 

At least he accomplished something this year.

He asked me the other day if his study hall teacher had called me. I said "No, why?" He only replied with a "Oh good." When I pried, he only said, "If you didn't get a call, it was nothing." Then he whipped up a smile, eyes all glimmering. I have a feeling the kid could be dangerously furtive.

But he’s not all grown up. Nor is he completely sneaky. I still relish in every bit of his boyishness.
  • He still favors kicking and shooting balls. More than anything in the world, it seems. I’m assuming this will change any minute and he'll be compelled to become an astute student. 
  • So far, his daily body inspections have not indicated any underarm hair. 
  • He tattles on his college-aged sister like a little kid. Just this weekend he mentioned her “going-ons” at college from her one of her SnapChat stories. When I tried to see them on my SnapChat, I couldn’t. Cole explained I had been blocked, but he was more than happy to share with me. (On a side note, my daughter explained her blocking of me was an act of love—a need for maternal separation. She's getting so smart in college.) 
So tonight I told Cole about the Harvest Fest theme, expecting a teenagey "too cool for that" type response. My heart leapt a little when his eyes grew wide and said, "Awesome! Can't wait to tell Matt."

Strong, stays the Force in the heart of a boy.
A long time ago, in a galaxy not very far away...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Departure Grief

Here we come Alex!
It’s been just over two weeks since the dropoff and here’s what I know.

Forget wrinkles and achy joints. The worst part of getting old is taking your kids to college.

Yeah, I know. This is why you raise your kids—to be independent and find their way in the world. Blah. Blah. Blah. I simply want my little girl back. The little girl with the big brown, curious eyes and bobbed haircut. The five-year-old, asking me to read Olivia for the billionth time. I'll tell you what I would NOT do if I could back in time: I wouldn’t sigh about rehashing the clever little pig's mischiefs. Nor would I calculate all the tasks required to uphold an averagely-kept house. Nope. I'd let the laundry go undone! I'd leave the dishes sit on the counter! I might even allow the pets to puke on the carpet without throwing a tantrum. Maybe.

Some of you (the few, the proud, the followers) might have notice this blog on hiatus. The break was merely due to my grief. The perpetual lump in my throat and swirl about my guts as I ponder what's going on in my college-bound daughter's world. Everyone keeps asking me how’s she doing? I think to myself, How’s she doing? I DON'T KNOW FOR SURE! GHEESH. THANKS FOR REMINDING ME SHE'S GONE!  

I have an inkling she's adjusted well. Clambered into to her new college life by jumping off the high dive. It’s me they should be asking about. How are YOU doing, mother of student? 

I guess I’m coping. I think about her all the time...probably too much. I wonder if she misses her family as much as we miss her. I’ve reached out to her a few times (quite a few times as she has pointed out), hoping we could Facetime. Apparently, I’m catching her at bad times. Almost always a bad time. Two days ago she said she’d call me back later. I’m still waiting for that call. It’s like I’m in high school again, waiting for the boy to ask me to a dance. And he's just not interested in the nerdy bookworm.

In three days, we reunite—to celebrate the opening season of the Hawk’s football season. But really? It will be a celebration of my endurance. My ability to step away from one of my most favorite people in the world and let her mess up her room without me saying a word about it. Really, I won't. We can simply talk about cool stuff. Like English literature classes. Or if anyone has tempted her to taste a beer. That happened to me once in college.


As I was finishing this blog, I received that call from Alex. Eerie, huh? (She didn't recall she was to call me back a few days ago. Kids!) Anyway, hearing her voice instantly lifted my spirit. And as we talked, it quickly became evident, that my role of mother wouldn't be going away anytime soon.

Maybe I'll bring Olivia with me this weekend.