Parenthood = Roller Coaster

From the moment they are placed in your arms, you are overwhelmed with this immense sense of responsibility. They capture your heart when you hear the first flutter of a heartbeat and the love continues to grow. And although you would never in a million years volunteer for the “Rip Ride Rockit” at Universal Studios, you have unwittingly signed up for a lifetime front row seat to the roller coaster that is parenthood.

From the moment they take their first step, you would do anything to shield them from hurt. You know they are going to stub a toe, fall off their bicycle or skin their knee and your heart aches. That’s just the beginning. Next there is the first trip to the Principal’s office, being omitted from a birthday party or worse, not being picked for the sport’s team and you haven’t even left the single digit age bracket yet.

After this stage, we watch as they move to new schools, filled with the angst of making new friends and the navigating the social pecking order. You witness the first crush and the first breakup. During this time, you heart sinks right along with their own, although by now your support is mostly silent…after all, they are teenagers and “they do know everything.” Are we done yet? Not even close.

We feel their pain wishing with every ounce of our being we could take away the sting, knowing full well these are milestones they must experience just as we did. Knowing this fact does not make it any easier. The challenges are bigger, the stakes are higher and a simple kiss can’t make the booboos go away.

Today, I unknowingly took my reserved front row seat on that exhaustive roller coaster. My son loves tennis. I’m not quite sure he understands the sacrifices required to become as good as he wants; only time will tell, but he has stepped up his game in the past few weeks. The next stage will involve competition…at least two tournaments per month, plus setting time aside to practice serving and using the ball machine for consistency. It is during tournament play where the rubber meets the road. Previous matches have not always resulted in a win which is a difficult concept difficult to grasp. This morning yielded the same result—a complete, unequivocal defeat. Needless to say, our young son exited the match disappointed with his performance, feeling completely talentless, stating he should quit but wanting a reason to continue. Unfortunately during times such as these, a parent’s words of encouragement just don’t seem enough. I gave him the same pep talk and pointed out things he might have done differently when I realized he’d crumbled into an emotional heap in the car seat beside me. Truth be told, these teenagers, for all their bravado, are still children.

We sat in the parking lot of Publix and for the first time, I kept my mouth shut; a first for me, unfortunately. I just let him vent, cry, and pour out his frustration. When he was done, we didn’t talk about it and just went to lunch. As luck would have it, next to our table sat a woman with her two sons. The oldest, probably 8, was having a full blown meltdown, albeit quietly while his younger brother, about 5, looked on. After things had calmed down a bit, the mother stood up to get the food and the napkins. It was during this time the younger brother said something to his older brother. Although we were watching, neither of us could make out the words, however, it became clear within seconds whatever it was displeased the older brother immensely. He gave his brother a deathly glare that could only be described as the most incredible “unibrow stinkeye” we had ever seen, again and again. We broke up laughing.

I don’t exactly know what happened to my son during those hours between matches. What I do know is when he walked out on the court later that afternoon, he was different. He carried his head high, walked with purpose and carried a positivWait for ite attitude ready to listen to the little voices of his coaches he carries in his head. Without fanfare or hullabaloo my son had grown up on his own…he had turned the lemons from the morning into afternoon lemonade. Every time he looked at me during the match, he gave me a confident nod. Gone were the outbursts of exasperation and the barely audible swear words. When he walked off the court after losing 6-2, 6-4, he proudly told me, “I think that’s the best I’ve ever played.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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Unexpected Priceless Moments

Today we celebrated my son’s birthday with a trip to Universal Studios, albeit a month late. He brought one of his best  friends and they settled in the back seat as I acted as chauffeur. Turning fifteen means very shortly they will be vying for the keys of any available vehicle but so far, they have shown little interest in getting their driving peruniversalstudiosmits. This suits me just fine not only because I worry about the risks of teenage driving, a very real danger, but because the ensuing backseat conversations and banter has throughout the years provided the most incredible entertainment ever.  I don’t know what subjects girls discuss, but as far as boys go, you can be sure there will be ample mention of flatulence, gross jokes, innuendos about their friend’s sexual apparatus and great deal of ribbing and trash talk. Best of all, there might as well be a glass wall between the front seat and the back seat for I seem to be invisible for the most part. There are no filters on these conversations….everything is just thrown out there.

Going to the park was mild by their standards…excitement about the day, knowing they could fulfill their junk food desires without restraint and best of all, making it a challenge to keep everything down as they tackled the assortment of rides and roller coasters. One stop they were determined to put on the agenda was the Harry Potter Candy Shoppe where they each nabbed a small bag of what jelly beansI thought were plain old Jelly Beans. My mistake. These jelly beans were actually Harry Potter Bertie Borrs Jelly Beans with flavors like earwax, bacon, spinach, grass and rotten egg to name a few. I wouldn’t have believed it until I tried a few and the mixture of spinach, pepper and sardine exploded in my mouth causing an immediate gag reflex. Blech!!!

On the way home, however, the exchange started to become really interesting. To entertain themselves, they created a new game: “Pop the Unidentifiable Jelly Bean” The only goal seemed to be who could last the longest before spitting out the offensive Jelly Bean. To protect the guilty I have labeled the boys simply by S and C. They each picked out a jelly bean, ate it and then waited expectantly. I didn’t have long to wait.

S: (laughing hysterically) “C! Dude, your face was classic! What was the flavor?”

C: (trying to maintain coolness) “Tastes like soap! Seriously gross man! It didn’t smell like soap.” (major spit reflex)

They pop another one and wait for the other to call uncle.

C: “Tastes like s***! Had to be spinach or broccoli!”

S: (His face crinkling) “Eeeeww. This tastes like pepper…like hot and nasty.”

C: “I heard they make one called booger!”

S: “Yea, they do. When we were up in Virginia and my friend Nathan got some. They also make “dog poop”, “vomit, and “dirt”.

C: “No way!”

S: “Uh huh. We tried them all. I’m pretty sure I puked, though.”  (To myself, I’m thinking; you knowingly ate candy that tastes like dog poop and vomit?????) Then they moved onto the jelly worms.

C: “Smell this one. This one smells good, kind of like limes.”

S: (Takes an enormous sniff) “Yea, that does smell good.”

C: “Dude. Your nose touched it.”

S: (chuckling) “Yea, it did.”

C: “You can have it……”

S; “Thanks.”

As we covered the miles, the conversation began to sink to mild insults regarding the others personal anatomy although I seriously don’t know how the topic veered so far away from the disgusting sugar treats. At some point, C makes the following declaration.

C: “S…..you’re just jealous of my wealth….you know…”

S: “Huh? I have no idea what you’re saying, C!!!”

C: “You know…down there.”

At this point, S goes in for the jugular, giggling hysterically.

S: “C!!! I have never heard that term before. Well endowed, yea but wealthy? Dude!” At this point, they involve me. “Mrs. C, have you ever heard anyone refer to their schlong with the word wealth?”

I said the first thing that came to mind.  “Okay, who wants Dairy Queen?”

No doubt about it. I’m going to miss these times when they’re over. Priceless.

Ready, Set, GO

I knew it was going to happen, I knew last fall. But, as is my greatest talent since elementary school, I chose to push the thought to the back of my mind thinking…..”oh I have time.” At first there was at least a 6 month window……then the holidays took precedent. After that there was the rapid fire of family birthdays clustered one after another. All of a sudden the 6 month window is now a little over a month. We have to get ready to rebuild!!!! Home Alone

When we sold our farm and decided to downsize, my husband and I made a pact to settle on a budget and stick to it. No changes….no deviations. To accomplish this feat meant I had to research products and select almost everything. A lot of research. Now before anyone asks, “What is his job?”, my dear hubby will be working harder than ever to oversee the entire project as well as complete much of the plumbing and electrical. And since he has chosen to remain in the dark with regard to computers, the position of purchasing and acquisitions fell on my desk.

Mind you, I’m not complaining. The truth is, I have always loved the thrill of the hunt and when the hunt involves the construction and renovation side of real estate, I find it even more exciting. Perhaps that is what drew me to my darling husband in the first place. Looking out of his parent’s window as he was preparing to head to his construction job one morning, I can still see the checked flannel shirt, well worn jeans and construction boots he was wearing as he looked up and waved. I vividly remember butterflies doing the dance in my stomach watching him and that was over 31 years ago. Woof. 😉 But I digress.

So with a little over a month before we break ground, I have found myself scouring building warehouses, craigslist, ebay.com, overstock and a brand new site, Diggerslist.com. There are always tile warehouses stocked with the remnants of leftover construction projects and although there is image 1never enough to complete a full shower or bathroom floor, there is usually plenty to complete a simple insert or design or perhaps highlight a blacksplash. Thrift stores, flea markets and other internet sites often have marvelous items such as this beautiful little buffet, to be perfectly re-purposed into  a spectacular vanity with a vessel sink for our half bath. Nice word, re-purposed. Gives new meaning to the items I like to discover.

Pinterest has been a boon for the creative soul in all of us. Having spent more than an afternoon scrolling through various boards, it has become exceedingly clear there are so many members in possession of  incredibly creative thought processes. In my lifetime, I will never be able to get halfway through all the pins in my”Projects To Try” folder. It doesn’t mean I won’t try, however. Bless my husband’s heart, he doesn’t even bat an eye now. I managed to snag four of these beauties below which will be hung like barn doors and a pair will serve as the entry to a small living/sitting room. Coming from old high schools and public service buildings about to be razed in Minnesota, the thought of restoring and giving them new purpose is quite satisfying. Besides, the seller threw in an old “auditorium” sign probably dating back to the 60’s. That particular door is going on my son’s room. Considering his domain will be the hangout when his friends come over, I can’t think of a better place of honor.

Now it’s time for me to get back to work. Duty calls.

Vintage-Antique-Wooden-Door-AWESOME

 

 

 

 

Patience and Fishing

Family holidays aunder the riverside bridgere sometimes difficult for our son. It’s not that he doesn’t like being with family, he does. But his cousins, being quite older, have families of their own, leaving our son, the youngest by decades, kind of stuck with the old farts. In an effort to make sure he got to enjoy some of the pastimes he would like, we went fishing this morning. In fact, his uncle joined in. Frankly, I wasn’t sure said son would arise at an early hour but, surprisingly he did and we were on our way before 8am.

Promising to meet us at the bait shop, we took off before the uncle because, of course, I needed to indulge in my morning coffee. By the time we arrived at the bait shop ten minutes later, his uncle had not only purchased the proper hooks but a cupful of live bait (shrimp) as well. I have to acknowledge my gratitude at this point. I’m not a fisherman and the idea of skewering a cute little tiny shrimp wasn’t appealing at all.

Without driving all over the island, we decided to walk underneath the bridge and find a spot near the murky waters surrounding the concrete pilings. Besides two other fishing folks, we were the only ones. It was quiet, calm and the waters gently lapped the platform underneath. Having successfully baited the hook, my son cast as far as he was capable into the water We waited……and waited…..and waited some more. Casual conversation occupied our time as we waited for some unsuspecting fish to snap up the the shrimp. Behind my brother in law and my son, I noticed what appeared to be a floating boulder, which of course, was impossible. The boulder turned out to be a pelican flyingcouple of manatees making their way upstream. I would like to proclaim I captured their progress as they meandered upstream but I couldn’t get my camera set up in time. Suffice it to say, they are quite impressive.

Snappers seemed to be toying with my son as they breached the surface several times opposite of the location where my son was fishing. I even spotted on leaping almost twelve inches above the water. Of course, we decided to change our location, try a fresh shrimp and cast a little further out. During this waiting period,  I managed to capture a pelican in flight along with one preening his wings. All the while, my son and his uncle chatted nonchalantly. No nibbles, no tugs, nothing, nada, zip.

The snappers had moved to the other side of the bridge or at least their decoys had. Once again, my son moved to where they were making their existence known and once again, we switched bait and regrouped. After another forty minutes, he called it quits but unwittingly gained experience of learning patience. Patience is not his strong suit, nor apparently of teenagers in general these days. He’d garnered no fish, had only seen the manatee as it began to dive, hadngordon and chase‘t had a single nibble and other than witness a nearby flying pelican, the morning had been a dismal failure. But he came away feeling the time had been well spent.

There had been no text messages. He and his uncle had enjoyed a rare camaraderie. Baiting the hook hadn’t been nearly as gross as he anticipated and there’s just something mystical about early mornings, quiet fishing holes and the serene sound of water. It’s an imaginary throwback to the adventures of Huck Finn. In any case, what he did capture was a little slice of heaven he could tuck into his memory bank.

Happy Easter.

The Angst of Immaturity

My husband and I are at the stage where we watch our son in awe…..most of the time. Oh there’s the ups and downs of immaturity and the  aggravaSpencer,Alex,Chasetion thereof but yesterday was different.

Our son took to tennis like a duck takes to water about four years ago. Since then, he and his friends have taken lesson after lesson, clinic after clinic. When the summer temperatures rose to uncomfortable levels in the high eighties, most of the participants scrambled to the swimming pool. This group, however,  headed back out to the courts for another couple of hours of grinding a little yellow ball. I admire tenacity and determination. To have a goal and set out to at least try to achieve it, is a worthy aspiration. On the practical and pragmatic side, however, there is a harsh reality one must eventually address whether the goal is in athletics or academics. It is easy for a young dreamer to announce the desire to play in Wimbledon or perform with the New York City Ballet Company or simply compete in an Olympic event. It is quite another to fully comprehend the magnitude of the desire and knowing the cost, continue with the commitment no matter what results will yield. Yesterday, my son received a mere taste of what the future can hold.

High school athletics is rigorous, competitive and an invaluable experience. One year a particular high school will have attained notoriety in a specific sport only to return the next year barely hanging on to the bottom rung havtennis racquets.on.neting lost the bulk of the team to graduation. I can only liken the rise and fall of any high school’s athletic division to the undulating tides of the ocean – sometimes high, sometimes low. My son chose a high school closer to our home and in doing so, wound up on one of those high school tennis teams climbing up from the bottom rung. There were probably 5 students on the team and only 2 had participated in any formal training, one being our son. For those unfamiliar with tennis  lingo, which I wasn’t, Court 1 is considered the best court, the dreaded arena often referred to as the court of annihilation one wants to avoid unless properly prepared. It would be like having a Freshman suited up to play quarterback facing a defensive line made up completely of experienced seniors. Kind of takes the stuffing out of you.

It didn’t take long for the lineup to be formulated. A great, lanky, and talented sophomore played Court 1 and my son, my tall, wonderfully goofy, freshman son moved to Court 2. In one fell swoop, he was thrown into the deep end.  The remaining team members fell into place thereafter. Now, this was just our high school. There were approximately six other high schools to compete against. A few were in the same category as ours; limited number of players with equally limited experience. Others were highly regarded with a deep roster, exceptional experience, mostly comprised of seniors and carefully cultivated to dominate the competition. They did so quite well. However, our little team became the thorn in their sides, at first surprising, then annoying. While my son’s high school team didn’t do well overall in the standings, both Court 1 and Court 2 weren’t easily overcome.

The season ended yesterday with District competitions, another level involving another set of high schools,  some familiar, some completely unknown. Without being aware of the fact, my son was pushing his commitment into an unknown arena. He was facing competitors of unknown ability in front of friends, parents and other attendees for the opportunity to achieve the same goal as every other high school tennis participant: the chance to play in the finals, a lofty goal for an incoming freshman.

His first match was long and deliberate, controlled and executed. The opponent was no slouch but eventually my son prevailed. Because of a pass, he went straight into the semi finals against a player, a senior, he’d come close to beating twice. My son was chomping at the bit, eagerly ready to play, certain he could win and move to the finals.  Previously, their matches had been neck and neck so the opposing team player was rather surprised when my son won the first set handily. I’m sorry to report that’s when things began to go south. This is where the difference in age, the difference in competitive experience and the ability to pull it all together or simply keep it mentally together, is affected by immaturity. When a few of my son’s shots went awry, his frustration grew. Instead of taking a few moments to gather his wits and take a few breaths, he launched immediately into the next point with the same results. It didn’t take long for his opponent to capitalize on my son’s growing self aggravation and win the second set. My heart broke for my son. He wanted the win so much he could taste it but the possibility was rapidly slipping away.  It was a journey to a lesson he had to take on his own. A simple hug or thumbs up wasn’t going to make everything better. As parents, we aren’t allowed to coach our children during match play. The only thing I could manage to tell him, handing him a bottle of water was, “Getting angry isn’t going to help your game.” not really believing the statement would help.

As he went back out on to the court, however, a new young man emerged. I can’t readily confess he was no longer frustrated but for the first time, he took charge and began playing with his brain again. For the next ten minutes, emotion did not control his game and I saw a glimpse of the young man he is trying to become. When the tie breaker ended, he was the first man to the net to congratulate the winner. I couldn’t have been more proud. I’m not sure angst is the proper word to describe what teens go through but I’m fairly certain it’s the perfect word to describe what parents of teens go through.

Well done, son. Well done.

“Don’t Touch!!!”

“Stop touching that!”

“Please don’t pick that up.”

“Put it back!”

As I listened to my voice repeating the mantra of one of the above for the upteenth time, it occurred to me to question my own sanity. Stepping back objectively, I had to ask myself why was I asking the same questions over and over again after almost fifteen years of repeating them to my now teenage son every time we were at some checkout or near anything he shouldn’t have his hands on.

As a youngster, it was the brightly colored candy wrappers at the grocery store. At the local bagel shop, it was the tip jar or neatly arranged business cards he couldn’t resist. At the pediatrician, he was a sucker for the stickers and lollipops, no pun intended. But the best irresistible paraphernalia lurked at the gas station counters: little red vials of 5-hour energy, an abundant display of cookies and, every parent’s favorite, handy dandy pocket lighters. Who wouldn’t want their toddler flicking a bic while waiting to pay for gas.

It brought me back to a distance memory that will remain one of my fondest although there is one friend who doesn’t share my opinion. We used to ship horses professionally and in doing so, were regular customers at certain truck stops. My son, as a toddler, always traveled with me. Driving a semi allowed him to enjoy the wide expanse of a double bunk, a television, VCR and cold juice from the refrigerator. It was a young boy’s dream. On one particular trip, we were fueling up for the last time before heading home. I’d left a deposit inside and was done topping off the tanks. Taking my hand, my son skipped alongside as we walked inside to purchase some chocolate milk for him and a pack of gum for me, get our change and be on our way. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the type California is known for. Just before we entered the doors, my son did a little hop, skip and a jump and pulled a heretofore unnoticed lever. Frankly in all my years of stopping there, I had never really noticed it. We entered, retrieved our items and completed our transaction. While waiting for a fuel receipt, it became quite apparent something wasn’t quite right. A nearby cashier, a weathered middle aged woman with a bouffant hairdo masticating on a wad of Juicy Fruit, began swearing under her breath. She began banging the buttons on her electronic register with escalating force as if the thing would eventually cry uncle the harder she pushed. The line of customers began grumbling, softly at first, then their tone began to escalate as well. Grizzled truck drivers began filtering in, complaining loudly about the pumps not working.

With obvious exasperation, the cashier called for the manager over the loud speaker. “PAUL! I need you up to the front. RIGHT NOW!” From the back, a short, bald headed man following his ample belly came scurrying to the fuel counter asking what was wrong. The cashier voiced the problem loudly, “All the damned pumps are shut down. Nothin’s working! Some idiot must have pulled the emergency switch. DAMN IT!”

It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. That heretofore unnoticed lever my son had spontaneously jumped up and pulled had completely shut down every fuel pump in the entire facility.  I could feel myself breaking into a cold sweat.  Worse, in his innocence, my four year old son was trying to confess to the crime. Now, I’m a great believer in honesty but I’m also a believer in survival. Scooping up my son, I said, “Let’s not bother the nice lady right now, sweetheart.” We skedaddled out of there weaving our way through a small throng of frustrated drivers elbowing their way inside.

I never shared that particular tale with anyone other than my husband until one day a year later. Meeting up with a trainer friend, I thought it was the kind of escapade he would appreciate, considering he possessed a wonderful sense of humor. Upon completion of the story, he looked at me for a good ten seconds before responding.

“Do you know, I was stranded there for at least three hours before they got those damn pumps working again?”

So here I was trying to pay for diesel and a cup of coffee when that memory came floating back. And again, my now young teenage son, who towers over most people including me, became instantly mesmerized with an unusually tinted lighter.

“Mom, take a look at this one.” Snatching up the lighter without thinking, he tried, once again, to flick his bic to no avail. I stopped myself in mid-scold.

“Yea, cool lighter.”

Thank goodness there are no emergency shutoff valves around here. In this town, they know where we live.

“Work in Progress”

First day of high school    The opinions of our children can cause exasperation, wonder, amusement or thoughtful reflection particularly when the opinions are unsolicited and erupt from those in their early teenage years. If you are a parent or even a close relative of one, you become aware of this “growth” period immediately. Prior to the onset of the freshman year of high school, mothers, formerly impeccable with not a hair of their natural color out of place, nor a smudge of misplaced mascara, could be seen bouncing from meeting to meeting, juggling all manner of balls in the air and managing this feat without breaking a sweat or a fingernail. Fathers, standing tall, would proudly keep one hand on their the wallet, the plastic sleeves filled with a chronological collage of their little one, ready to let it drop to its full length of 20” should anyone unwittingly ask to see the latest photo of junior.

    Then the moment arrives; the first day of high school. Not only are parents left wondering, “Wow, that went by fast. How did I end up here?” but they encounter a moody, unrecognizable stranger living in what used to be their child’s bedroom. Oh, the old, loveable personality visits once in a while, but frankly, the visitations come and go with shocking irregularity as if stuck in one of those revolving doors found in a five star hotel. The sudden fluctuation leaves one’s head spinning. Just when you think the happiness and gaiety has returned, it’s been replaced with moodiness and condescension while you simply went out to get the mail.

      Parents of such precocious, eye rolling, “they just don’t get it” teens can be easily identified. For women, the battle to maintain their god given hair color becomes fierce as gray streaks sizzle to life with alarming alacrity. Peaceful mornings become a thing of the past as the effort to get the little darling up and ready for school begins at 7:00am and ends with a supreme challenge of beating the tardy bell at 8:50am. What mother hasn’t felt the thrill of victory of accomplishing that very feat considering when they left the house, it was 8:45am, she had already lost one fake eyelash, was wearing two different shoes, the notes for her business presentation are sitting on the kitchen table, the child is putting his pants on in the back seat, wearing two different colored socks and they live 15 miles from the school. Oh, did I mention her silk blouse is inside out?

     For men, the change is more subtle. Formerly, insightful in speech and deliberate in action, they find themselves beginning a sentence only to lose their entire train of thought after three words. The phrase “I’m going to the gym” becomes their escape mantra. It is not uncommon for the men, rattled by the continual emotional flux to unintentionally mistake their wife’s perfume for their cologne. Mother and father, an eyebrow raised, begin to level accusatory glares at their partner. Crow’s feet begin to leave evidence on both parents but, of course, on men the look is distinguished. Gray hair begins to haunt the men as well but almost entirely around the temples. Frankly, the bastards weather this “transitional” stage much better than women. However, unless the husband decides to take up pipe smoking, indicating he is taking the whole “distinguished” look to a brand new level, there’s no need to worry.

     At this stage, a parent may wonder if their precious child will ever come full circle. Will this son/daughter ever rejoin the fold and tame the chaotic emotions threatening to up heave what was once a harmonious family, most of the time? Will these unrecognizable mutant teenagers live long enough to see their twenties? The latter question is melodramatic, of course, but parents have been known to mutter the question under their breath.

     The truth, fortunately for most parents, is yes. As my son progressed through the school years, each phase brought highs and lows. One high was catching the last pass of the last game of the flag football season and running for a touchdown. His school suffered a humiliating defeat: 28-7 but he only remembers the touchdown and the feeling of euphoria as his teammates rallied around him. He endured the unfortunate ordeal of a personality clash with a teacher and dealt with bullying in middle school. During this formative period, we acted as his voice, his champions so to speak as most parents are. After enjoying a successful stint of homeschooling, we silently approached his first few days of high school with trepidation. Wanting to fit in, like most high school newbies, he resorted to a heretofore hidden dry sense humor which served him well. Imagine my surprise when, after only one week, a dizzying number of kids seemed to know him by name and I hadn’t been called to the principal’s office.

  In this first year, he has ridden the freight elevator from his original high grade point average straight down to just above the bargain basement levels. He has suffered the heartbreak of his first real crush and has decided, albeit begrudgingly, his parents may be right about one or two things, after all. Like the metamorphosis of a cocoon to a butterfly, I’m watching my son slowly grasp the value of making better decisions. Every once in a while, the lights are on and there actually is somebody home. The realization is exciting and not just because I’m tired of hearing my own voice. Some of those decisions aren’t going to be easy, some of them are going to hurt and many will go against the wishes of his friends. The fracture we are experiencing as a family is this: these are no longer solely our decisions. He’s testing his wings. Not every choice he has made so far has been wise, but he’s learning. What’s promising is twofold. He’s made a couple of sensible decisions about schoolwork and achieved a measure of academic reward. Secondly, he’s discovered, to his surprise, he rather likes the feeling.

    My one sister has two boys. She once confided to me, surreptitiously, her older son was so moody and disdainful throughout high school, he drove her to distraction. When he began looking for colleges, she offered him a one way ticket to Alaska. They lived in Iowa. Both her sons have come full circle, are amazing men and she is deservedly very proud. We haven’t reached the point of dropping our son off at Alaska Airlines, yet. So far it’s been three steps forward, two steps back. The positive is beginning to outweigh the negative. Besides, I have to confess my husband looks rather dishy with a smattering of gray at his temples and so far, he’s shown no interest in picking up a pipe. As for me, my hairdresser is a genius with color and styles my hair so the bald spots where I pulled my hair out aren’t noticeable. Furthermore, false eyelashes are highly overrated. Let’s be honest. We are all works in progress.