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Today marks the last Friday of summer. Come Monday I will be the mother of a middle schooler. This is simultaneously hysterical and frightening. Middle school marks the transition to so many developmental milestones, not to mention facial hair and a changing voice (possibly for both of us). Hold me. Karma has one foot propped outside the stage curtain, waiting to make her debut. I’m willing myself to not look at baby pictures of Bird or read my first day of kindergarten posts. Here we enter the time I pass the baton to Kismet, the time when I can no longer protect my son at every turn. He’s going head first and headstrong into this stage. We’ve always maintained the philosophy that we are raising adults, not children. Our steadfast goal has been to raise sons who are independent, kind, generous, and productive. We need to trust that we are doing just that and trust our children to make good choices. I’m not gonna lie, this is really hard.

I will not helicopter. I will not smother. <<Repeat this mantra as necessary.>>

Meanwhile, my baby boy Deal starts fourth grade. He’s still a kid who revels in LEGO, fart jokes, and playing with his food. He has no one to impress. He is quirky, confident, and a tish complex. Deal has always been an old soul with a mind and heart that teeter in equilibrium. This is his first year without his big brother in school. All signs point to this being a positive turn of events. As the younger sibling of a really bright, accomplished brother myself, I can relate. I was happy to have a couple years of being ME in school instead of someone’s little sister. I know Deal will thrive. 

I do wonder about myself in all this. How has my identity changed? What will I do to channel my talents and energy? Who will need me now? I’m exploring all these new dynamics and waffling a bit. The ways my sons need me are evolving, and this is where the tough part of parenting comes in. Sometimes I yearn for the simple days of wiping butts and snuggling for books and nap time. Yet I marvel at the boys my babies have become, each with his own talents, insights, whims, passions, and idiosyncrasies. I still see traces of the baby boys they once were nestled into their facial expressions and mannerisms. I do a double take when I watch them sleep, caught in a time trap of their baby selves and their more mature boys-to-men.

This is a time for celebration, not a time to wallow in melancholy reflection. We’ve shepherded our boys this far. There will come a time we yearn for these times, thinking back on their boyhood when we are empty nesters. I recognize this. For now, I will stand straight and proud as I kiss my boys and trust we’ve served them well to meet new challenges, be a friend to others, make responsible choices, and carry on their insatiable curiosity. 

They are in good hands, even if they aren’t mine.

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Being Neighborly in a White Neighborhood

by Ilinap on August 18, 2014

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On a rare date night we received a frantic call. From a neighbor, not even the sitter.

My heart stopped beating. I couldn’t blink.

“Don’t worry. Your boys are fine.”

Breathe. Exhale. Relief.

“But the cops were at your house.”

WTF?!

And now the hairs on my neck stood in prickly salutes. My mouth was agape.

The boys were in PJs and had been tucked in. Our babysitter had played games, built block fortresses, read stories, and caringly tucked in the boys. They were wrapped in warmth and felt safe, and more importantly loved and cared for. When the kids were in bed, the sitter ran to his car to grab something from the back seat. He leapt there and back in a jiffy, by all accounts. 

A neighbor spotted him. She went to his car and peered inside. She spotted a duffle bag. Ooh, what could be inside? An Under Armour gym bag is oh so suspicious. I don’t know about you, but in my gym bag you would find smelly socks, a stretched out exercise bra, crumbly old deodorant, ratty flip flops, and a hair band from three years ago when I had long hair. I don’t live in a Hollywood movie so the chances of finding cash or narcotics in a gym bag in someone’s back seat are pretty slim. I figure if sketchy people have something to hide, they in fact hide it. Amiright? 

Well, the neighbor peeked into the car after she saw the babysitter trot back to our house. She must have been peering out from behind her curtains across the street. Then she had the audacity to go look into the man’s car. Can you imagine?

Then she called the cops.

She claimed something was “suspicious,” though she had no concrete evidence.

The police came to the door, acting on the call of a worried neighbor who was being “neighborly.” You know, neighborhood watch and all. The boys’ eyes had barely closed to usher them into dreamland when they were awakened by police thumping at the door. They crept downstairs, each doe eyed and worried. They stood on either side of the babysitter, peeking from around his legs. They all wondered what happened to warrant police at the door at this hour, late for children but just when the settling in begins for adults. The boys were nervous and anxious. It’s not everyday we see police. This is, after all, a Norman Rockwellesque neighborhood. The sitter maintained composure and was cooperative. He had nothing to hide. He ran to his car to get a book. Jane Austen or some such British author, as I recall. It was a big, fat edition of something I chided him for.

Amazingly, the boys fell asleep easily after the police left.

We apologized profusely to the sitter and assured him we are better than what our neighbor exhibited. He told us it wasn’t unusual. He knew how to behave and react. It had happened before. 

Our sons were full of questions in the morning.

And we didn’t have answers. 

Why were the police at the door? Why did the neighbor call the police in the first place? 

Because she saw a black man run down the street and into our house. Empty handed. A man who had been at our house scores of times. Our babysitter.

She saw a black man and called the police. That was her instinct, her gut reaction. This is an educated, progressive community. She is an educator. And she called the cops because a black man was in our neighborhood.

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Be Inspiring

August 14, 2014

Tweet Maybe it’s time we stop sharing inspiring quotes and actually do something inspiring. I posted this statement to Facebook and Twitter the other day when my stream was exploding with inspirational quotes and memes. I do love a good quote. I have journals from high school brimming with quotes that inspired me. I was [...]

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Oh Captain, My Captain…RIP Robin Williams

August 11, 2014

Tweet To never see his smirk again… Or be jolted by his laugh. In a cruel twist of irony, the man who made us convulse in fits of hilarity is gone too soon due to profound depression. Perhaps as he lifted us he consumed all he had, leaving nothing for his own nourishment. I don’t [...]

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Summer Makes Me Cuke – 5:00 Fridays TM

August 8, 2014

Tweet All the back to school stuff clogging the aisles of every store is making me feel a bit uneasy. Oh sure, I’ll miss the boys. We have had a playful summer and wallowed in the luxury of boredom. But I won’t miss the din of constant bickering. For the record, bickering at deafening decibels [...]

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Glory of Summer – Wordless Wednesday

August 6, 2014

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“Kid-Friendly” Food is a Disservice to Kids

August 4, 2014

Tweet   I loathe the term “kid-friendly” when it comes to food. That is too often synonymous with fat-laden-greasy-sodium-overdose-fried-processed-garbage-cut-into-bite-size-nuggets. Let’s just call it FLGSOFPGCIBSN for short. Now don’t get me wrong. There’s a time for indulging in FLGSOFPGCIBSN. I admit to enjoying fries and a shake on road trips. No ketchup, vanilla, in case you’re wondering. [...]

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Blogust: Celebrating Firsts, Even When They Are Bittersweet

August 1, 2014

Tweet This month shall forever be known as Blogust.  Do you remember when I was part of the team of bloggers who participated in the inaugural Blogust in 2012? Being a Shot@Life Champion has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’s afforded me countless opportunities to share the Shot@Life story with [...]

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Luna, the Albino Gator…I Kid You Not

July 30, 2014

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Support Public Education, Whether You Have Kids Or Not

July 29, 2014

Tweet People seem to think I’m in the minority. They think people only advocate for issues that affect them directly. I speak up for causes that don’t necessarily touch me directly but are important to me nonetheless. I guess most people only have the time, energy, and wherewithal to support issues that affect them personally. [...]

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