Posted tagged ‘teens’

A Letter to My Son

October 22, 2011

Dear Daniel

It’s over. It was a heartbreaking loss in that second playoff round. You had some pretty awesome saves in that game. But it still didn’t lessen the fact that you were hoping for a different outcome for your senior soccer season in high school. Watching you stand at the goal when the buzzer sounded the end of the second ten minute over time, and knowing how you were feeling was the hardest thing I have had to watch since you first started playing the game. And soccer is a game that you have come to love with a passion.

You were just five when we signed you up to play in a 3 on 3 learning league. We commiserated with other parents about having to fit your first game schedule around the Saturday morning Kindergarten Round Up program. You loved the cleats, your coach, your jersey and socks and your team mates. You weren’t too crazy about that first pair of shin guards however. You were very excited about your very first real honest to goodness grass stain. And true to your pre-Kindergarten self, the best part of the 30 minute practice/30 minute game process was the snacks.

The following year we were in the midst of dealing with the massive paperwork process to complete your sister’s international adoption. When we didn’t hear from a coach about the start of your 5 on 5 learning league, I surmised that I might have not sent in the paperwork like I thought I had. I scrambled to find a place for you to play and you ended up on a YMCA team. You were one of two boys and a gaggle of girls. Your coaches loved you and your fierce kick. The entire team loved the game as much as you did. And after your first YMCA practice I got a call from your coach with the other program. Oops. I had sent the paperwork in after all. But, since they were two different programs with two different styles of training, we decided to let you play both of them for a while and let you decide which one you wanted to stay with.

Oy.

We should have known then what your future would hold. You stuck with practices or a game every single night of the week that spring and played for both teams without a single complaint. And you were only six.

From that point on our family life revolved around soccer. Soccer shorts. Soccer cleats. Soccer socks. Soccer jerseys. Soccer shin guards. Outdoor practice. Outdoor games….in the heat, in the rain, in the sleet and in the snow. Indoor practice. Indoor games….at varying times between 5 am and 11:30 pm. Ice packs. Ibuprofen. Heat packs. Ice packs. Athletic wrap. Athletic tape. Bio Freeze. On and on and on.

For the next twelve years.

From a parent stand point, the logistics of this passion of yours has been very frustrating. This was especially true after your sister decided that soccer was her game as well. Carting two of you here and there, using vacation times and vacation money for out of town tournaments, stopping for quick ‘fast food’ meals to and from practice sessions, dealing with stinky, sweat soaked shoes/socks/jerseys locked in our car all weekend, sitting on the sidelines watching practices, sitting on more sidelines watching games, critiquing coaches and referees and keeping our mouths shut – or open – as the situation called for it. Soccer parenting is not for the faint of heart. I don’t think ANY kind of sport parenting is.

And what do your Dad and I want you to take away from all of these years?

Mostly we want you to take away the memories. Memories of team mates that provided you with camaraderie like no other. Memories of times when you succeeded when you thought you couldn’t….and failed when you thought you shouldn’t. Memories of hot summer days when sweat poured from your body and yet you pushed forward. Memories of cold freezing days that energized you even more. And of course….the snacks.

And we also want you to take away respect. Respect for the coaches you have had that have shared their gifts with you. Respect for the coaches you have had that taught you to be the best that you can be. Respect for the coaches that have believed in you and stood up for you. Respect for all of the opponents that challenged you to give it your all. Respect for the team mates that have trusted you….and that you have given your trust.

We hope that you have learned that soccer – like life – is not a ‘blame game.’ That you will not always be able to achieve what you want or expect to – but that there is a certain fulfillment in knowing that you have given it your best shot. That when that buzzer sounds at the end of a game – or a day in your life – you can always say, ‘I did my very best.’ We hope that you have learned that you will need all kinds of people on your ‘team.’ We hope that have learned to value each of them for what they bring to the ‘game.‘ We hope that you have learned that everyone plays a part in your successes and shares in the disappointment of your losses.

We want you to take away a sense of self and self-esteem for what you have accomplished as a player….and as a person. You are someone with skills. You are someone that can be counted on. You are someone that expects the best in others because you know you will be giving the best that you have. You are someone that enjoys a good laugh….and a heart to heart talk.

And we sincerely hope that you find a way to continue with this game that you have grown to love – as a player or as a trainer or as a coach or as an official…..or as a parent. And if that day ever comes, we have some good, solid sideline chairs and an umbrella you can borrow.

We love you, son. You have made us very proud.

Mom and Dad

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HOW Did It Happen???

March 13, 2011

The Prince turned 17 a couple of weeks ago.

SEVENTEEN!

Which means he no longer has a ‘restricted’ driver’s license and can drive after midnight even though he may or may not be coming from or going to a real job.

Which means he is just a year and a half away from graduating from high school.

Which means he is only a year and a half away and a summer away from starting COLLEGE.

Which means he is going to be putting his big boy pants on and looking for a real job to help pay for a car/gas/books/food/date nights/whatever.

Which means he is only a year away from casting his vote and having a real say in what is going on in the world.

Which means he is actually going to have to make decisions about things more important than just what he should have for a snack before going to bed…..or which channel to watch on the television…..or which homework to let slide this week.

Which means he is no longer my baby boy.

Just HOW did that happen?

Just how did this:

……..evolve so mind boggling quickly into this???

Riding in the Car with Mom

January 13, 2011

“….now we need to find him a car and I am never driving my kids to school again!”

At first, I heartily agreed with a friend’s Facebook status expressing exhilaration at her son finally getting his driver’s license.   Not having to cart your socially active/sports playing kids/teenagers around town is kind of freeing.   But driving them to school?  Hmm…..

My children have had to deal with Mom’s Taxi from the very start of their school careers out of necessity.  Since we didn’t live in the school district where I taught, and wanting him (and later, her) to be on the same year round school calendar as I was, I enrolled Prince across district boundary lines.  This meant that he needed to ride with me every day and spend a time in the before school child care program at his school so I could skedaddle to mine.  Later I managed to find a parent closer to our house who could babysit in the mornings and they could catch the bus from her neighborhood.  Then I was transferred to a school right next door to a middle school so they could ride to work with me in the mornings and then walk down and wait my classroom till the end of the elementary school day.  When he went to high school we even managed to finagle a ride for him on a high school route that would drop him off at my elementary school so he could wait even longer.

But they did their homework in the Media Center, helped out in classrooms and got into some harmless trouble now and then.  But we rode together……every day.

Back and forth.

In Mom’s Taxi.

When they were younger we would sing songs at the top of our lungs, practice spelling words and talk about books they were reading as we drove back and forth.  We knew the routes to take to see the MOST obnoxious holiday displays and the short cuts to avoid – or not – on muddy days.   We knew where to plug our noses to avoid the smell of mulch in the making.  We knew where to see nesting swans and baby ducks in ponds along the way.  

But the reason that I could relate to my friend’s happiness at those ‘taxi’ days coming to an end is because driving kids – now teenagers – can be a bit aggravating.  We have had days when the only conversation we had were grunts or snorts as they took cat naps in the car.   And the surliness of kids who were tired of the mundane routine of school was a little hard to bear at times….especially if my own day had been challenging. 

 I did have some respite from the task when HRH was laid off from his job for a period of six months last year.  He did the chaffering to their schools and I enjoyed the luxury of being able to leave home a bit later in the morning.   To play MY songs on the radio.  To roll the windows down and turn off the air conditioning.

But the truth of it is, I kind of missed those morning and afternoon drives after a while.  I missed the forced containment in a small space with my kids for a short period of time. 

You see, riding in the car with Mom gave me a few moments of the day to reconnect with them.  To hear about how their day went, who they were sitting with at lunch and what ‘crappy’ homework they had to do.  I heard about substitute teachers that were awesome and shenanigans in the hall that others were involved in.  Always….others. 

I know the music they like and the radio stations they tune into.  I know the fast food places they want to stop at for an after school ‘snack’ and how quickly they can ‘power shop’ in the mornings at the 24 hour grocery store.  I knew how they felt about the current events we saw happening on the news as we were on the way out the door. 

So now that one has a license to drive and the other has her learner’s permit the campaign to get a car for them has stepped up somewhat.  They want to drive themselves to school.

But, in all honesty, I am planning on holding out for at least another year. 

I’d miss my kids.

Sigh.

Tuesday

September 22, 2010

Remember back when I was musing on the enjoyable ‘Tues-Dates’ I enjoyed with my laid off from work for six months hubby?  We used that day to drop the kids off school and reconnect with each other?  We would go out to breakfast or lunch, to movies, grocery shop together, etc. etc? 

Boy, I missed those days today.  I could have used a ‘Tues-Date’…..with myself.

Instead, I roused the kiddos and we headed for the local 24 hour super market to do a bit of ‘power shopping’   before school.  Tomorrow is my turn to help with the varsity team dinner and Prince had requested the apple dumpling recipe that has people clamoring for more of.  We set up a plan of action on the way to the store.  Once inside the door we headed off in three directions only to meet 8 minutes later at the apples.  Through the checkout and out the door to the car we went.  Heigh ho!  Heigh ho!

Food in the back and I was congratulating myself to be on the road toward the high school even earlier than we would have been had we left from home.  Halfway there I suddenly remembered that I had left my purse on the kiddie seat of our shopping cart…..back in the parking lot.  Curse…curse….slamming the steering wheel as I was stuck in high school traffic with no opportunity to turn around….curse…curse…..driver’s license….DEBIT CARD…..curse some more.  Calming breath and steeled resolve.

People are good and helpful and generous in my little world, right?  No one would take it, right?

Pulled up to the curb in the high school parking lot and sent the kiddos off with a ‘have a good day’ and “I love you!”. 

They sent me off with a grunt and a nod.

Zippity doo dah…..I raced back to the supermarket….scoured the parking lot for my shopping cart and found it.  It was tucked safely between two pick up trucks and my purse nestled right where I’d left it. 

HUGE sigh of happiness….and relief.

Back on the road I headed toward our local discount shopping store where I needed to purchase a tee shirt and iron on computer paper for the Prince’s school project that he’d PROMISED we wouldn’t be working on the night before it was due.

It’s due tomorrow.  Heh.

The store is in the process of being redesigned and renovated.  NOTHING was in its place.  And I was particularly disappointed that they have reduced their awesome craft section to two measly aisles.  Dang.  But I found the ribbon I needed, the birthday cards and tissue paper, the tee shirt (a $4 value!) and the iron on computer paper.

I was on my way home at 8:20 am. 

I spent the next 3 hours putting together two boxes of surprises that would need to be mailed….along with a birthday card for my sister.  I peeled 6 humongous Granny Smith apples, sectioned them in 8s and rolled each piece in a crescent roll.  This filled two pans for the apple dumplings that have everyone clamoring for more of.  I took a meatloaf out of the freezer for dinner.

At noon I was back in the car and headed toward our local post office – 20 minutes away.  Inside, I purchased packing tape and secured the two boxes, bought postage to mail them as well as a book of regular stamps.  I headed back to the 24 hour super market to meet my varsity soccer team dinner partner to do some more shopping.  She caught me chatting with a former student who is the mother of a former student and then we were off.  Fifty minutes and $90 later we had our taco salad supplies and our garlic bread stick plans in place to feed 24 high school boys after soccer practice tomorrow. 

She assured me that feeding that many boys at once would be a wonderous sight to behold.

With a mere 15 minutes before I would need to pick the kiddos up after school, I decided to check out the neighborhood where the dinner would take place.  Grrr….it was in the very neighborhood of two of our failed house purchasing bids.  I REALLY wanted to live in that neighborhood.

Picked the kiddos up from school and languished in the traffic jam moving in mass to get out of the school parking lot.  Back at home I put the meatloaf in the oven, poured the ‘secret ingredient’ over the apple dumplings and put a pot of macaroni and cheese on the stove.  Checked out the Prince’s school project and fiddled with the computer to set the printer to mirror image printing.  New computer.  New programs. Old frustrations.

Prince left in my car for the high school parking lot to meet the bus for the away soccer games.  I printed his iron ons and then checked the time for the school Open House I needed to attend.  It was 5 o’clock and the Open House was scheduled for 6 pm.  Threw on a dress.  Brushed my teeth.  Turned on the curling iron.  Shook out some pretty smelling lotion.  Curled the ends of my hair. Rushed out the door to the truck….which was taking me to my car at the high school parking lot so I could go to the Open House while HRH and Princess went to see the Prince’s soccer game.  Pondered the empty school parking lot where the Open House was scheduled.  Wierd. 

In my car, I suddenly realized that today was TUESDAY and the Open House was WEDNESDAY.  Called HRH on a cell phone and we met in the elementary school parking lot so that I could ride to the Prince’s game with him.

HUGE sigh. 

Talked non-stop to HRH on the way.  Went over the really weird events in last night’s premiere of ‘The Event’ and everything and all that went down with my day.  And I mean non-stop.  Prince won his game against my alma mater – 4 to 1.  He decided to stay for the varsity game. (Prince is technically a varsity player but usually serves as the goalie for the JV games….which means he can’t play in the varsity games.  He is okay with that because he’d rather play than sit on the bench just watching the totally awesome senior goalie all the time.)

Back at home I slipped OUR little pan of the apple dumplings that everyone clamors for more of into the oven, set up the ironing board and iron for Prince to finish his project with….and oh…what the heck, I ironed it on for him.

‘The Code of Foote’ on one side and 14 ‘rules’ on the other. 

I finally sat down to enjoy a taste of the apple dumplings that everyone clamors for more of and enjoyed a little television.

Prince came home.  Alls well with the world.

So why…at 11:49 pm….am I having trouble getting to sleep?

Sigh.

The Kid and his Clothes

June 29, 2010

Last spring, Prince was invited to a party.  It was a Sweet Sixteen party for a friend at school.  It was a very formal, Black and White kind of deal.  A soccer fiend who is at his most comfortable in athletic shorts and a tee shirt, Prince is also very particular about his clothes.  Shopping trips with him are horrendous because of that.

Slacks, shirts, shoes….socks…..it doesn’t matter.

I guess I should have realized what I was creating when I insisted – from an early age – that his clothes at least….match.  What he was wearing never seemed to bother him except when it came to socks.

He gave me fits about socks.

He didn’t like the seam at the end of the toes so we searched and searched to find some without seams.  And that was back in the olden days before manufacturers began catching on to his fetish.

It went on for years.

And then around mid elementary school he started having opinions about everything he wore.  The fabric had to feel right.  The colors had to be nondescript.  The neck had to be plain.  The length had to be just so.  The brand had to be the right one.  He drove  drives me nuts.

It hasn’t changed.

So since he didn’t have anything that was appropriate for the party, I wasn’t looking forward to a shopping trip to remedy the situation.  Neither was his Dad.  Neither was he.  But one evening  just before the big event we stopped in at my  favorite clothing store (and my only charge account) to ‘just look.’

He had nixed the idea of a jacket or suit right from the get go.  Slacks were on sale.  We found a black pair that he liked rather quickly.  Moved on to the shirts.  We had decided that a black shirt with a white tie would be the ultimate of cool.  White tie?  Check.  Since he was feeling so good about finding slacks and a tie so quickly, I snatched up a couple of black shirts and sent him off to the dressing room to try them on before he had a chance to say ‘not now.’  His dad and I waited outside. 

A shirt came out.  A very nice, silkish black shirt.  ‘Put it back.  Its too…black.’

A second shirt came out.  A heavier, cottony shirt.  “Put it back. It doesn’t feel right.”

HRH and I were rolling our eyes and shaking our heads and…almost….snickering about the dilemma.  We were never going to get out of there.

Meanwhile, the Princess, who is generally bored and disinterested on shopping trips that don’t involve pet stores or sporting good stores or skateboard anythings, meandered through the mens wear by the dressing rooms and asked, ‘why are we buying clothes for him?’  She stopped dead in her tracks when we said he had been invited to a party.

‘Someone invited him to a party?’

‘Wait….someone invited him to a party?’

Another shooper was standing by and covertly keeping an amused eye on my daughter’s obvious confusion.  I thought she would lose it when the Princess’  eyes got even wider as I reminded her about the  formal sweet sixteen party for his friend.

‘Wait……a GIRL asked him to a party?  Now why would she do that?’

Honestly, Princess, you can’t figure it out?

Tues-Dates

March 25, 2010

I am a part time Teacher.  Years ago, when we brought the Princess home from her Russian orphanage, I became a ‘half time’ Teacher.  I taught one section of Kindergarten.  My students came two and a half days per week…and then 2 days one week and three days the next week.  How 5 year olds adjusted to THAT routine is another blog.  This schedule allowed me to bring home a paycheck and STILL do the ‘Mommy and Me’ thing with my new five year old daughter.  She went to preschool/daycare on the days that I worked.  When she started school full time, I applied myself to getting back into a full time position….for seven years.   Not easy……and not fun for the pocket book now that my kids were older.  But I DID like my days off.  Our house was quiet.  I was writing….and sewing….and quilting…..and shopping……and cleaning (sometimes). 

Last year I was upgraded to an 8/10ths position…..or four days a week.   MUCH nicer on the bank account.  And my Principal, who was involved in the “specials’ scheduling process asked which day of the week I wanted to keep as a day off.  I could pick any day except  Monday or Friday. 

I kept Tuesday….which wierdly works to my benefit in the long run.  I am never working on that first day of school so I can get my own kiddos off to a good start.  And those Monday Off holidays always turn into Monday/Tuesday Off holidays for me.  I cherished my Tuesdays.  Our house was quiet.  I was writing….and sewing….and quilting…..and shopping……and cleaning (sometimes). 

So when the Hubby told me last fall that he would be laid off for a considerable amount of time ( five MONTHS…yikes!) , I was a bit crushed.  Lump in my throat kind of crushed.  And not about the money or the time He would be home.  My solitary and quiet  Tuesdays would be gone.

It took us a couple of weeks of dancing around each other come January when his lay off began but my Tuesdays gradually evolved into our ‘Tues-Dates.’

Tues-Dates!

We have taken in afternoon movies together.  We have gone shopping together.  We have gone to  restaurants for lunch together.  We have attended appointments together.  We have driven around and through neighborhoods together looking for a new house.  Sometimes we have just spent the day quietly at home.

Tues-Dates.

When you have two active children who need to be driven to sports events and practices, driven to school, driven to friends’ houses,  have homework monitored and a constant supply of meals and snacks and laundry tended to, that ‘date time’ gets lost in the shuffle.

And to think I always shook my head when I would hear that ‘parents need to schedule time together AWAY from their kids.’  Not us.   We CHOSE this parenting thing.  Its part of WHOWEARE.   Heh.

Our Tues-Dates have given us back what we used to have – before kids.  We talk more.  We share more.  We strategize our parenting more effectively.  We enjoy each other more.

And now that he is talking about going back to work again….about the assembly plant reopening…..I have been crushed.

My Tues-Dates will be gone.   Our house will be quiet again.  I will be writing….and sewing….and quilting…..and shopping……and cleaning (sometimes)…again.  Alone.

Rats.

The Crimp in My Morning

March 10, 2010

Having written in the past about how much I have enjoyed my mornings, I have to admit that having him home tends to cramp my style a bit. 

 Him…….being this guy. 

Last fall, the kids and I had fallen into a nice routine.  Prince and I would rise at 5 and take showers.  He would fall into a doze stretched out on the couch in front of the sports channel while I wrote  or cruised email and various internet stop overs.  I would wake Princess at 6ish so she could shower.  We would all dress for the day and pack our back packs.  No need to talk really.  Just quietly reflecting on the day ahead.  It was a ‘system.’

 I would be out the door by 6:50 to drive him to the high school  and then head back home to have breakfast with her.  Then we would be out the door for a drive to the middle school by 7:50.   I would drop her off and then go to my own school – which happens to be right next to hers.   I enjoyed those few moments of one on one time with my teens.  I really did.

Occasionally she would come with me to take him and we would go to a cafe between his school and hers for breakfast.  Not often…and usually when we needed a few more minutes to go over materials for a test.  Pathetically the waitress there knows our order before we even order.  Hash browns and hot chocolate for her, breakfast special #1, rye toast and water for me.   Or we would get a quickie breakfast at a fast food place or ‘power shop’ at the nearest Meijer’s store.  Fresh bagels and juice, fruit and salads for lunches generally fill our basket on those mornings and other things needed at school or at home.   Not very often you understand….but often enough to make our mornings special.

And then HE was laid off from his job of 30+ years.  Its only temporary but is lasting for months.  WAY longer than he is used to.

And he likes to talk in the mornings.

To us.

That definitely cramps our style.

He wakes us up and watches the television news as we shower and dress and pack backpacks/lunches….or not.  HE drives the Prince to school and then comes home to drive the Princess to school and then drops me off at my school right next door.  Once we have gone to the cafe for breakfast…but it was costly for three.  Once we power shopped but he doesn’t know the ‘system.’  Plan ahead, start at the back and work your way forward till you have your basketful.  It was a fiasco.

Definitely puts a crimp in our morning routine.

Aarrrgh.

But some things can be over looked and dealt with after twenty years.  After all, I get to deal with this for a period of time every year.

I mean, how many people are lucky enough to sleep with Santa Claus?