19 Dec
2017
Posted in: parenting
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Recognizing My Selfish Parenting

The second day of high school our freshman came home declaring he was going to be a U.S. history teacher. No more engineering or business degree for him. Ninety minutes with his freshman history teacher had changed his life course, or maybe not. He could easily be a professional musician, or coach, or a street performer. The later has crept into conversations ever since a trip to Key West.

Four months of high school has taught me that we are fully immersed in a phase of parenting much different than any we’ve been through to this point. He’s changing, both physically and socially, and redefining who he is and where he wants to fit. More than ever I see our role as parents as guides through this process. We don’t want him to veer into choppy water with illicit behavior and friends that aren’t good influences, but I want him to chart his own course free of what his family and others expect him to do.

In August, a friend told me to prepare for him to “lose his mind.” I thought she was referring to the three worst things I could think of like drugs, alcohol and sex. It’s happening on a much smaller scale that I wouldn’t even notice if I hadn’t given birth and lived with the child for 15 years. There’s a shift in his growing up. It hasn’t been a bad thing, but it’s definitely a THING.

Little things have morphed over the last few months: the clothes he chooses to wear (lots of khaki and black in his closet), his friends have expanded to include new faces (some who are seniors), there’s a wider array of music coming from his bedroom (not necessarily a bad thing), and he thinks more critically about topics but also has most definitely come to the sarcastic side with his mom. The biggest change came halfway through football season. He casually mentioned one day that he wanted to try wrestling and not play basketball. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention. I wrote it of as spending too much time with lineman who are also wrestlers. He’d never wrestled, but had been playing basketball for years.

American flag hanging over a wrestling mat

The wrestling thing never went away. He clearly had no desire to play basketball. It was wrestling or no winter sport. I found the idea of no winter sport more appealing. The child had never wrestled…EVER. Our exposure to wrestling amounted to watching one match on ESPN two years ago. We’d never even been to a wrestling dual or tournament. We knew absolutely zilch. Even in my sports reporting days, I never covered wrestling. The child had lost his mind.

The germophobe in me tried to dissuade him with a list of communal skin infections he’d be exposed to at practice and meets. He wasn’t grossed out.  I shared my fears about becoming weight obsessed. He shared with me information on what and how he planned to eat. I reminded him that he was likely to not do well. He reminded me there are worse things than losing. He could get hurt. That other person is trying to get you to fully submit. He asked how this was different than football.

Upperclassmen football players gently tried to convince me to allow him to wrestle. Numerous coaches and friends who were former wrestlers joined the pro-wrestling movement. Our son didn’t push, beg or throw a fit. He gave us his reasons for wanting to change sports and left us to decide.

All of my excuses covered the one I didn’t want to verbalize. I like basketball. I wanted to watch him play basketball. I had made this about him taking something from me. I would never sit in his high school gym and watch him score on a fast break. I am selfish. His life is not mine. He’s never lacked confidence when trying new things. I didn’t want to watch him fail. I didn’t want to watch his struggle to learn a sport and compete with people who have been wrestling for a decade. I didn’t want to put together the shattered ego. I didn’t want him to take the hard route when he could just do what he’s always done. I have much to learn in parenting. He wasn’t afraid. He knew it would be difficult. He knew it would take work. He wanted to do it anyway.

So, we have a wrestler. I sit on a different bleacher hoping he doesn’t get pinned. He enjoys teaching us what he’s learned. I’ve enjoyed diving into this mysterious sport to support him with his new love, even if the intensity of some matches makes my stomach roll. Success is slow coming, but losing hasn’t changed his desire to learn and grow.

We’ve faced backlash from friends: “How could we let him quit basketball? He could have been so good. What a waste of height. He’s going to regret it. You can’t let him do whatever he wants.” I’ve heard it all. I gently remind most that our kids are not us. His life is his to lead with me to guide him along the way. A few people I’ve had to remind that he didn’t become a drug dealer. He simply shifted how he saw himself. He’s not a basketball player. He’s a wrestler. Maybe he’s not a chemical engineer. Maybe he’s a history teacher. Maybe he’ll continue to play an instrument. Maybe he’ll decide to stop.

I’ve learned loads in the four months we’ve had a student in high school. Most importantly, my parenting skills have been refined. He’s not a baby that needs his mama present all the time. I don’t need to know what he does during the day, although I really wish I did know. This is the part in the journey where we really let out the reins. We’ve laid the groundwork and now we see what he does with it. The letting go is officially the most difficult part of parenting. I won’t mold his life into what I want it to be. I’ll help him to make his life what he wants it to be, even if that means he doesn’t shoot free throws.


 
One of Us
By     |    Nov 8, 2017
Posted in: parenting     |    1 Comment

One of Us

I’m a nervous creature by nature and have serious worrying tendencies. Sending our oldest to high school sent me through a minefield of emotions. I’d never attended a school that size, excluding college. He’d be with hundreds of students from all over the county, and I knew this point marked the time he would be more with others and less with us. All we had taught and trained him up with would be put to actual test. When I dropped... [Read More]

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For the Love of Everything, Put Down Your Phone
By     |    Oct 17, 2017
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For the Love of Everything, Put Down Your Phone

Friends who drive, I need a favor. Put your phone down while you’re driving. I know it’s tempting to check email real quick at a stop light or respond to a text. I know the nagging feeling once you get a notification. You’ll just sneak a quick peak. It’ll only take a few seconds. I need other drivers to help me in teaching our son. As parents, drivers, and members of law enforcement, we can talk all we want about... [Read More]

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Out of the Busy Race
By     |    Oct 12, 2017
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Out of the Busy Race

I’ve officially dropped out of the race for most busy mother. Someone else can take the title. There are people in my vast circle who bring out the worst in me. You have them too. They want you to see all the balls they’re juggling at any given time. They are constantly on their phones. They want you to know what they’ve had to do without any help from anyone. I’ll find myself spouting off my own to-do list and... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Boston
By     |    Oct 2, 2017
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Take a Trip: Boston

Go visit Boston, sooner rather than later. Trust me on this one. We’ve visited an array of U.S. cities…Portland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Chicago, Savannah, and Louisville to mention a few. None of the American metropolises have won my heart quite like Boston. She’s unique. We visited Boston this summer as part of our epic road trip to the East Coast. Cities are not my favorite vacation destinations. I prefer mountain tops and beaches to sidewalks and buildings.... [Read More]

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Teenagers Deserve More From Adults
By     |    Sep 18, 2017
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Teenagers Deserve More From Adults

Twice last week I listened to adults rant about teenagers. I heard all about how lazy teens are, how disrespectful, how they lack work ethic, how they dress like slobs and how our future is surely doomed when that lot reaches adulthood and takes over. I listened and silently seethed until the ranting was over. Both times I shared only one thought,” You, obviously, don’t know the right teenagers.” Right around the time I thought I had a decent grasp... [Read More]

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9/11 Memorial and Remembering
By     |    Sep 11, 2017
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9/11 Memorial and Remembering

I stood at the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial overcome by emotion. I would not be emotionally capable of touring the nearby museum and knew if I stayed much longer, I would be reduced to a crying heap on a bench. We began our day in New York City with a tour of Liberty and Ellis islands. We gazed at the NYC skyline from the ferry returning to Battery Park answering questions from our children about where the Twin... [Read More]

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School Survey Says….
By     |    Sep 5, 2017
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School Survey Says….

The former journalist in me comes out full-force on the first day of school every year. I pepper our kids with countless questions about their day when they arrive home. I’m one step away from a spotlight for my interrogations like my beloved crime books and movies. I’ll take every nugget of information, no matter how small, the kids are willing to throw my way. I really should hand each of the kids a survey to complete. Those who need... [Read More]

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Joys of Back to School Shopping
By     |    Aug 31, 2017
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Joys of Back to School Shopping

Every August I look forward to back-to-school shopping for clothes and shoes for our kids, and every August I’m reminded how taxing the actual shopping excursion is in reality. We try to make a weekend trip away from home to a larger city to make the sometimes tedious shopping more enjoyable. At least in a larger city there are more food options to help in coaxing good behavior. This year with high school football a new part of our schedule,... [Read More]

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Total Solar Eclipse Debriefing
By     |    Aug 22, 2017
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Total Solar Eclipse Debriefing

I woke up this morning with the post-total-solar-eclipse doldrums. I’m sure it’s a thing. The kids and I ate breakfast with a ho-hum attitude. Attending athletic practice and playing at a park seem lackluster compared to the moon and sun show yesterday. It’s akin to the first day home after vacation, or the day after Christmas. We spent months being inundated with all things eclipse related. We live directly on the line of totality and a lot happened in our... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Ben & Jerry’s Factory
By     |    Aug 9, 2017
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Take a Trip: Ben & Jerry’s Factory

During the initial planning stages for our epic road trip this summer, I made a list of all of the states we’d travel through and researched top destinations. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory continually popped up in my research as a fun family destination in Vermont, but it was more north than we planned to be in Vermont and seemed out of the way. We were making the trek to the Northeast to see first-hand where important beginnings of our... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Niagara Falls
By     |    Jul 26, 2017
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Take a Trip: Niagara Falls

We didn’t fully prepare our children for what we’d find at Niagara Falls in New York. We read books about the history of the falls, from its discovery to crazy stunts performed there. I didn’t make it clear that Niagara Falls is a money-sucking tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and a wonder to view. However, it’s also overrun with people, casinos, restaurants and kitschy tourist-driven businesses. When we began planning our epic road trip, we went back... [Read More]

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