Friday, June 30, 2017

You Plant Peppers, You Get Peppers

One of my aunts taught eighth grade in Ohio for thirty some-odd years.  The title phrase of this post came to our family vernacular from the mother of one of her students during a parent-teacher conference.

Just for something different, we were in a bit of a rush this morning.  A friend of Petunia's was supposed to pick her up at 9 for a playdate, and then the rest of us needed to leave at 9:30 to get Thing One to soccer practice by 10.  OK as far as that went.  Except that the friend's mom was running late.  First she said 9:15.  Then 9:25.  I finally called her and said I'd drop Petunia off at her house on my way to the high school.  Again, OK.  Her house isn't too far from my house but I'd forgotten exactly where her road is.  So I say to my beloved eldest as I am driving along, "[Thing One], please look at the map on your phone and tell me if I have to turn right or left at the end of [XX] road."  He does so, and tells me that I need to turn left and then take my first right.

Mom and Dad, I bet you can predict what's coming next.

I turn left, as instructed.  A short ways down the road, I get to an intersection where the road "T"s.  There has been no right turn in the meantime.  Thing One starts yelling at me that I've missed the (like I said, nonexistent) right turn.  With a sweet smile for the aforementioned beloved eldest, I turn around at the T junction and drive back the way we came.  Very shortly after passing the intersection at which we turned left, we come upon the road we are seeking.  On the left.  That is to say, anyone other than my directionally challenged son would have initially told me to turn RIGHT and then take my first LEFT instead of the exact opposite.  (!!)

To this day, I have to stop and think about my rights and lefts, which is why I suspect my parents are laughing as they read this.  You plant peppers, you get peppers!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Filling The Bottomless Pit

My dearly beloved Thing One is rapidly approaching his fourteenth birthday.  As a fairly standard active teenaged boy, he can already be relied upon to approach food like a starving hyena.  Since this summer he will be playing on two soccer teams (limited schedules at least) while also engaging in a massive summer regimen preparatory to trying out for a third team, his high school's freshman team, I don't know how the hell I'm going to keep him sufficiently fueled.  For the high school team alone, he has three lifting workouts, two conditioning workouts, and two captain's practices a week from now through the second week of August.  His protein requirements are positively mind-boggling!

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I loaded up on eggs, cheese, milk, peanut butter, lean ground beef and chicken breasts.  Oh, and whole-grain buns and breads.  My plan is to keep grilled chicken, turkey and ham lunchmeats, and sloppy joe filling in the fridge at all times for easy sandwiches.  He already eats a lot of eggs for breakfast and cheese hunks for snacks, and luckily we are entering fresh fruit and veggie season in my part of the world as well (I love being surrounded by farm stands!)  I don't keep a ton of junk food in the house anyway, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to cut back on it.  Bottom line, there will be lots of good food in the house.  The flip side of the deal is that he has to eat it without me nagging him!  The reality is that if he wants to make this team, he has to pay attention to his nutrition, and that entire box of mac and cheese that he loves to eat for an after-school snack just isn't going to make the grade.  I spend enough time chasing Petunia around with protein-rich foods, little bird that she is...I absolutely refuse to do the same for Thing One.  If I have to drive his sorry behind to the high school and back seven times a week for the next six weeks, he can darned well show me that I'm not wasting my time by making good food choices!
As you might surmise from the description of the summer training, his high school is a big one with a very successful athletic program.  (Also an outstanding academic reputation, I should say.)  It has a full-time strength and conditioning coach who supervises the lifting and conditioning workouts.  Apparently he also has some sort of app that emails all the boys on the soccer team a series of questions each morning: how much sleep they got the night before, how stressed they are, how much water they drank the day before, that kind of thing.  I think it's great that they are encouraging the boys to get into healthy habits.  I also think it's great that Costco recently opened a store nearby, since clearly I am going to be grocery shopping in bulk for the foreseeable future!


Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Golden One Is Gone

Got a series of IMs from a grad school friend today telling me that another grad school friend died last week.  He was only 47.

Chris was the golden boy back when I knew him...the laid-back dude from California, effortlessly cool, handsome in a dark-haired, rakish sort of way and smart as hell.  He introduced me to Pulp Fiction, ska music and surfer slang.  In addition to his scientific papers, he had patented inventions, and he was of those guys who always asked the good questions during lectures, the kind you wish you were quick enough to have thought of yourself.  If he was a little reserved, his charisma masked it and you generally didn't notice.    

After he graduated, he went back to California, landed a job in venture capital, married and had a kid.  Eventually I heard that he'd taken a prestigious research job at our alma mater, to nobody's surprise.  This was a guy who was going places.

I don't know how he died.  I can't find anything on Google and I am normally the queen of Google.  All I have heard is that since I last saw him, he put on a lot of weight, has had some significant health issues and gone through a divorce.  I have no idea if any of that contributed to his passing, but I am heartsick.  The world lost a bit of light last week.  Rest in peace, Chris.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Thoughts From The Very Type-A Parent Of A Very Type-B Child

He is not me.
His priorities are not my priorities.
His successes are not my successes.
His failures are not my failures.
His definitions of "success" and "failure" are not the same as mine.
Mine are not the only correct definitions of "success" and "failure."
I love my son.
He is not me.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

God, this is hard.

Friday, June 9, 2017

On The Roller Coaster Again

Thing Two has had a tough week.  The things about school that challenge him academically are all tangled up with the things about school that challenge him socially and he is coming home saying things like, "I hate school and school hates me."  Add in a busy schedule and the end of the school year and it's a recipe for disaster, fifth-grade style.  Managing frustration and personal space are a challenge for him at the best of times and we are seeing issues with both right now.  

On the bright side, when he melted down at bedtime on Tuesday night, he was actually able to explain to me what was wrong.  Not perfectly, granted, but well enough for me to be able to fill in the blanks by asking questions.  Two years ago we would not have been able to have that conversation, since his language skills would not have been up to it.  The parent of one of the kids involved with a personal space issue was incredibly kind and asked her son to explain what went wrong to me so that we could use it as a teaching moment.  Very helpful since no adults were nearby at the time and we can't explain social rules if we don't know which ones were broken.  Then the parent of another child in the class was good enough to ask her daughter the same sorts of questions for me, but it apparently took 45 minutes to get straight answers since this child is so fond of Thing Two that she refused to tell her mother anything that might potentially get him in trouble until her mother explicitly explained that we only needed the information so that we could help him.  

The best part was the reaction of the school social worker, his case manager, when I called her Thursday with my concerns.  She has been supervising my son's IEP team since he was three, and it was a while before I felt that I had her measure as a person at the beginning since she is very quiet and not in the least warm or fuzzy.  With eight years of working together under our belts now, however, I can confidently say that she is one of the best things that has ever happened to my son and that I am beyond blessed to have to the working relationship with her that we have built over the years.  By the time we got off the phone ten minutes later, she had plans to talk to his teacher and observe him in his classroom and was already considering potential modifications to the program for next year. She also made some very interesting suggestions for things we can do both now and at the beginning of 6th grade to smooth his transition to middle school, particularly in the Language Arts class that is going to be his bete noire simply by virtue of the way his brain works.

So in a nutshell, I guess the best way to put it is that it may be a bumpy road off and on, but there are a lot of things I can be grateful for at this point.  He is undoubtedly making a lot of progress, and there are good people around us to help us along our road.  I'll take it. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Pout, Whine, Whimper

I just had to borrow Thing One's electric razor to shave off Thing Two's little tiny peach fuzz mustache!  He's only 11 (almost 12, technically, but still.)  I was SO not ready for that.  Where have my baby boys gone??

I know I can't have it both ways, and it is a lot easier in some ways to have big kids rather than babies around the house, but these two little-boy bodies are rapidly turning into young-man bodies and for whatever reason that is really bothering me lately.  Maybe because I am sending one to high school next year and the other to middle school...I can be in denial about all the paperwork but my eyes see the true story.  Only a few years left before they are men.  :(

Preview, Part 2

(Or maybe this should have been part 1 since it will happen first.) We dropped Thing One off at his first sleepaway soccer camp on Saturda...