Eating Your Young

Every so often I get email updates from my son’s teachers. About half of them make me happy. The other half force me to draw on every principle I’ve learned from yoga, Love and Logic, and Jesus (in no particular order) so I don’t eat my child. Today’s emails, yes plural, were the latter.

Apparently my child has neglected his math homework on nights that coincide with wrestling matches. For two weeks running. And cited wrestling as the reason. In spite of his plan to use class time allocated in his ESL class to get his work done.

Apparently my child was in a rotten mood this morning…for the entire time he was at AHS. And let other people know about it.

Mama Bear was the one to pick him up from wrestling practice.

“How was school?”

“It was good!”

“Really?”

“It was OK. (no pause) I have math homework and my English project. I want to do my project tonight and my math homework tomorrow during English” (please refer to the above in which this plan is great…until it doesn’t actually happen).

“No. You can do your math homework tonight and work on your project tomorrow, since you’ll be in English for both periods because of exams. And because you’ve made plans to do your math homework during that time and have yet to do it.”

Proceed with conversation about not getting homework done because of sports and how sports are secondary and how, the evening of the next weeknight match, the homework better be done by time to leave or you’re not going.

Follow that up with “what put you in a bad mood today?”

Eventually, it came down to being mad at oneself over a test and taking it out on others. And then a conversation about how sometimes he’s just not happy in the morning.

“You don’t have to be happy about it, you just can’t be a jackass.”

That kinda got his attention. He doesn’t hear me say things such as that very often.

And it’s probably the parenting line of the night.

As of right now, said child is retrieving his goods from a neighbor’s house (not even sure why they’re there) and doing tonight’s math homework…as well as last night’s homework.

***Also, he was wrongly accused of blowing through his dad’s soda stash…but you know, when you can’t be trusted to be truthful all the time, and your mom doesn’t drink that mess, you can’t help but be the first named culprit. Turns out, it’s probably the neighbor.

Ah, the joys of raising boys.

2010 Year in Review

My 30th year (or the 2010 year in review)

This year seems to have passed by, quickly and under the radar…and when I think about all that’s happened, I shouldn’t be too surprised. So here goes the 2010/age 30 round-up:

I did my first marathon…got my first tattoo…survived a semester with two practica…attended soccer games for my child…ran my first 10K in Charleston…smashed my 10K time in VA Beach…finally got my child the resources he needs to catch up and be successful in school…took a family trip to Williamsburg…took another trip to DC…finally went to the Holocaust museum (I’d been wanting to go since it opened my junior year in high school)…saw the Newseum…revisited powerful monuments…took in the city…navigated my family through the metro…went to the beach…survived the hottest summer on record of late…lost some weight…found some muscle…read some really good books…started a dissertation…had it scrapped four months later…fought (and lost) more dissertation battles (I’m just hoping to win the war)…was introduced to Anusara yoga by my sister in love and have gone to a class almost every week since…sent my child off to high school…got ready to attend wrestling matches and then he broke his arm…cleaned out the closet in my home office twice (and it needs another two rounds)…had a lot of family time…squeezed in a half-marathon…did a total of five races this year…celebrated Thanksgiving in a different way…had work done on our house…broke the book embargo…started shifting my taste buds away from coffee and to hot tea…discovered the beauty of Brooks shoes…made new friends…renewed bonds with old friends…finished my last required class for this degree…met a lot of new babies (all girls)…left church…found church…saw my husband get a job that went along with his calling…did honest to God therapy in a university counseling center…beat my head against a wall…and a desk…posted links…shook my fist at the Wake Co. school board, NC voters and Westboro Baptist Church…increased the tweeting…started Insanity…had the best birthday (31st) I’ve had since Mom died…got selfish…reached out…prayed a little more…opened to grace…mellowed a bit…borrowed books from others I have yet to return…did a Warrior Dash…contemplated giving up football…discovered the beauty of the salted caramel hot chocolate…had only one pumpkin spice latte…broke bread with some really great people…spent more time in the kitchen…realized my level of competence…and how far I have to go…

How To Get An iPod

Earlier this year, Ryan expressed interest in owning an iPod. Late in the spring, my seester-in-love worked out a trade with Al (who was divesting himself of all things Apple) to get his iTouch in return for her iPod. Al then brokered a deal with Ryan to be able to purchase that iPod if he was interested–and if he continued to do well (behavior-wise) in school. Once he had the money and the rest of the school year went well (especially after a setback at the beginning of May), Ryan would be able to purchase said iPod.

Then summer rolled around. And Ryan had to spend his mornings at the Hill Center for 5 weeks. And he wasn’t excited about having to spend part of his summer doing school. And the not so appropriate behavior started all over again. So we once again pushed back the eligibility criteria for purchasing the iPod. But he seemed motivated by that, and his time at Hill was productive and very helpful for him.

And so, during the last week of the 5 at Hill, Al and I had our parent-teacher conference to get a recap of the work Ryan did this summer. His teachers had very good things to say about him–both in terms of his personality and behavior as well as the kind of progress he made in such a short time. Ryan was a little nervous about the conference–he still associates parent-teacher communication with something he’s done wrong and nothing he’s done well. After we finished that meeting, we congratulated him on being able to become the proud owner of a sleek black iPod Nano.

And we went to lunch at one of his favorite places.

Good work, kiddo.

An Unlikely Role Model

Lately, Ryan has become very attached to one of our neighbors. He’s a former military, motorcycle ridin’, beer swillin’, sailor-like cussin’, cigarette smokin’, tattoo-covered, blue collar, salt of the earth kind of guy. Not the person you would expect to mentor your child. Not the person you would expect to become your adolescent’s confidante. But he has. And I am thankful. Because, really, he’s perfect for my son.

Never Ever Give Up

If you follow basketball, you don’t have to be a NC State fan to know about the Cardiac Pack of 1983. Coached by the ebullient Jimmy V, those college kids wore glass slippers to the big dance that night–and it was the other team’s ride that turned into a pumpkin. Every year, during March Madness, the moment where Jimmy V realized his kids had won and he had no one to hug is included in every montage on every station covering the tournament. We all remember that moment for Jimmy V…and we all remember his fight with cancer and his immortal words, “Don’t give up. Never ever give up.”

Enter a 15 year old middle schooler with the education of a second grader–who is becoming more of a true adolescent boy every single day. It’s also the last 2 or so weeks of school and he’s pretty much toast. And has once again given up on school. He finally said he was not happy with being pulled out of social studies for yet ANOTHER period of ESL–especially when he was given no say in the matter. He’s tired of school. And he’s an adolescent boy.

And so, we had another weekend at the grandparents’ house with another “forgotten” project. Only this time, the project was forgotten on purpose. And so, we had another come to Jesus meeting with Ryan (and moved his desk back out of his office to a more distraction free zone). Somewhere in all of that, we looked at him and said “We love you and the rest of your family loves you. Bunches. And we are not going to give up on you. You may try to give up on school. You may try to take the easy way out. We know it’s hard. We know you got dealt a crappy hand (OK–that was said more concretely) and didn’t start school when you should have. We know it’s really hard right now. But we are going to keep working to help you and help make it as easy as we can. And we are not giving up.”

And we’re not.

We found out this week that Ryan has been accepted at the Hill Center for both the summer program (remediation) and for the academic year. And we are excited about the possibility that he can get some of the support he so desperately needs. We’re trying to work out the logistics of getting him from point A to point B, but we’re going to make it work.

Somehow.

Mother’s Day

Every year I post about Mother’s Day–and how I don’t do it.

I don’t post about the emotional anticipation of the anniversary of Mom’s death that I have starting at the end of February. I don’t post about my awareness of Mom and Dad’s anniversary on April 3. I don’t post about how I remember Mom and care for myself on April 26. I don’t post about how I tend to still be in aftershock one week later on May 3, what would be Mom’s birthday–how I try to come up with a way to celebrate her then…and usually fail. I usually only post about Mother’s Day. Perhaps because I have no say in how that day plays out. I can navigate the rest of the dates on my terms and in ways that are meaningful for me. On Mother’s Day, I have no say. It is foisted upon me whether I want it or not. And usually, I don’t want it.

I tell my people every year that I still don’t do Mother’s Day–even since I’ve become a mother. Yet, I still get cards and the Mother’s Day greetings that make most women happy and honored. This year’s card from the in-laws came on Friday. It was a Hallmark Mahogany card, which make me chuckle a little. It was a typical card from them–very nice and thoughtful, but not what I need or want. Yesterday, I got a card in the mail from a friend who chose a card that was motherly but one where you wrote the message yourself. She told Ryan to “strike a pose” and took a picture of him. She included the picture and focused her note on him and how blessed he was to have me as his mother.

Al and I were on the deck and talking about this whole Mother’s Day thing. I said, “There’s no getting away from this, is there?”

“Nope. Ryan and I really love you and appreciate what you do and we want to let you know that.”

“I get that and I appreciate that. But couldn’t it be on some other day?”

Later on, last night, Al handed me a card and said, “You can open this now. You can open it later. You can put it away and never open it. But I wanted to get this for you.”

I went ahead and opened it. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It acknowledged my not wanting to celebrate but his wanting to let me know how much I mean to him. And I didn’t get it on Mother’s Day.

I asked him later how Ryan got to be so gung ho about Mother’s Day. Al said, “Well…he came to me one day and said, ‘You know Mom’s Day is coming, right, Dad? Well, I have money…and I want to buy her a card.”

Al said, “How can you say no to that?!”

As I wiped away a few tears, I agreed.

I still don’t go to church on Mother’s Day. Instead, I went for a 5 mile run at the lake. The weather was PERFECT and it was the best 5 miles I’d done lately. I thought about Mom and how I wished she were here to join us for the festivities later on today. I think she’d really like the place we’re going for brunch–though she probably wouldn’t get into Iron Man 2 as much. And then I thought about being a mom, and how I haven’t really embraced that part of my identity. I certainly love and care about Ryan. I say he’s mine and ours–because he is. But I don’t usually think of myself as a mom. Until now.

So this Mother’s Day, I’ll allow some recognition of me as a mother. And I’ll embrace it a little, too.