Ordinary Kids

ordinary

 

So it’s getting to be that time of year again. Some years, I get to participate, other years I’ve been able to skip it. Those are the years we save our money and our sanity.

What you wonder am I talking about ?

Having the privilege to graduate another child out of school.

The culmination of years of homework, teacher meetings, open houses, class parties, field trips, school projects, peanut butter sandwich lunches, new clothes shopping, tons of school supplies, sleep overs, class birthday parties, band concerts, yearly school pictures,¬†dances shows, football games, fun and unexpected calls from the Principal ( if you have boys you may understand this better ūüėČ ) early morning practice sessions, after school tutoring, school dances, boy friends, girl friends, college applications, college testing…

Ok.. I could go on… the list of things you do in a child’s school career is rather vast and endless. At times you wonder if you’ll ever get to the end of it.

I can say I’m there. My final one is exiting school and heading into the big world with college in her future.

We’ve ordered announcements, taken final pictures, and done the hundred and one things that seem to come crashing in the last few months of school.

I gotta admit this. She’s the last of my big brood.¬† By this time I’ve pretty well felt like I could lead parent/teacher night. Or that I could predict with certainty that when I showed up for another year starting in dance, it would be same lines, new year. Or that some things in school just never changed much and it was comforting already knowing the drill on it.

I was the older, smarter more seasoned mom. I figured that in a few years they’d get it too… it takes some moving through the ranks before you learn you can say “no” to things.. ¬†ūüėČ

By the time¬†my daughter hit Senior status I was pretty much like… “just deliver me the necessary paperwork”.

I knew the drill for it all. Many of teachers through middle and high school had already had the rest of the crew… a new year was like old home week… meet and greet… just another new family¬†face rolling through their room.

Although in all fairness to my daughter, one of my sons had made quite a um…mark… on several teachers going through various grades.. she’d get the “ohhhh… you’re so and so’s sister?”

If you have kids then you may have one of these… the high energy, high maintenance, social, outgoing never slow down, yet charming,¬†kid.

Anyway, thankfully, the daughter child was probably a bit more quiet and laid back than previous brood members who went through.

No matter what the bottom line was this…

Get them through. Get them on that stage wrapping their hand around that cherished diploma.

I swear when middle son walked the stage it was ALL I could do not to stand and cheer and whoop like some wild woman. There were debatable days in his final year I¬†wondered if we’d make it.

Now each class has it own “cream of the crop” the “cr√®me de’ le cr√®me” right? You¬† know the ones who’ve been marked since first grade to be the Validictorian ? Every kid in the class knows it. They simply accept it as what’s going to be and move on.

Then there’s the whole “class ranking” thing which was making my daughter get all twitchy one day till I reminded her…

“they don’t hang a number around your neck when you walk the stage. No one will know, and honestly, no one cares..”

I reminded her when she’s out in the real world it will be completely irrelevant as well.

Then there’s the whole college thing. The angst of wondering if one will want her… if¬†she will “make the cut” or be found acceptable. It doesn’t help when her friends are collecting admin letters like candy at a parade.

I reminded her that she could only go to one school and she will still get her degree to do what she wants.

In a community that’s big on pushing college it’s a lot of pressure on kids ( and parents) to feel like they need to perform up to some lofty expectations.. who’s.. I’m not sure…

’cause you¬†see I have ordinary kids and it’s ok.

I’ve never tried to make them do things they didn’t want to do.

Support them in their goals and plans, yes. Push my agendas and desires on them, no.

We learned the hard way when we registered my oldest son for a semester of college, paying cash for it so he wouldn’t have any debt. He went like… three times? and then he said something that really paved the way for the rest of the brood yet to come down the college path way…

He said “you never asked me what I wanted to do. IF this was what I wanted”

Ouch. Point made.

Did I consider him any less successful for not jumping on the college boat? Not at all. My son has always had an artistic bend and was in a band. He traveled around the country for months with them. He lived every 19 year old young mans¬†dream… being in a band in a new town every night, living for those moments on stage. ¬†Living in new places and eating off value menus and sleeping folded up in a van driving down highways in the dark of night. He didn’t do that forever. He settled down and works with his brother now in a family business.

Two of my other sons have wanted to pursue college. One went for awhile and then quit to take on a floundering business that he has turned into a success over the past few years.   One is in college right now working on his degree.

But through these years of raising kids and wanting them to find and embrace what their own passion is I realized it’s ok, really ok, for them to be ordinary.

And I don’t mean that in¬† a plain vanilla way or that they lack value, substance and intelligence because they are all¬†very bright, funny, and clever. They know how to learn and teach themselves things and they are always actively learning.

I mean they don’t have to live someone else’s ideals or expectations or get caught up in the hype with friends and feel like they are somehow “less than” ’cause they perceive the friends are somehow more successful. I don’t¬†need to have them do things to feel validated as a parent.

I saw a T-shirt recently that made me laugh ’cause it’s how I feel so often. It said:

“Worlds okayest Mom”

Maybe I need to buy it. It reminds me I can be me, can be the best mom I can without having to “do it all” or be at every meeting or every event, or get my kids into Harvard.

At the end of the day its about my kids being happy, successful, productive  adults and maybe even a bit, ordinary.

However, if they make an impact in their personal worlds and are decent human beings, I will consider them, and myself, quite successful indeed.

 

 

 

The Joys Of Raising Boys

Parenting-Boy-Both-Fun-Challenging
For the record… these aren’t mine ūüėČ

 

 

I perched on the metal bleacher shielding my eyes from the sun, my gaze fixed out on the field.¬† I listened to the random chatter of parents and children around me. It was a typical spring night and I was watching an…exciting…. or should I say… amusing… game of T-Ball.

However, it was the tall. good looking, lean man I watched prowling the field actively talking to the small creatures at his knees.

It wasn’t my son I was watching play ball, but my grandson, and my son was the Coach.

I got lost in thought wondering where time had gone and wasn’t it only yesterday I was the mom at the games with Goldfish crackers and¬†juice boxes, with my other children running around with me ?

Actually, I was quite comfy being there in my “grandmother” role. It was nice to not have to juggle children, sloppy juice boxes or deal¬†with crying babies. ¬†It is true what they say about being a grandparent… it is fun in a very different way ūüėČ

However, before I got to be a grandmother, I had to do my duties as a mom.

I was blessed, privileged and I guess special, to be able to have not one boy, but three.

Yes. Three.

By the time the third came along, I felt like a total pro with the whole boy thing. I didn’t know if I’d even be able to raise a girl ( side note, we did get some later from foster care, but that is for another post)

Anyway, son number one was a quiet, easy going, laid back kid. He just rolled with everything. He knew how to play and was easy to entertain. He was creative and smart. He wasn’t complicated or difficult. ¬†He was my little buddy for 3 1/2 years before son number 2 came along.

Culture shock.

Why aren’t parents told this secret.. this dark truth…. ???

Perhaps if they knew families would only have one child.

What is it you may be wondering ?

Well when you’re inexperienced you have this weird, but unspoken idea,¬† the next child you create will be, well, like the first.

It somehow, never crosses your mind that the next one will be different.

Vastly. Different. Earth shakingly different.

When my second son didn’t waste any time getting into this world, I joked that he arrived with an attitude that was like…

“WHERE’S THE PARTY??!”

High octane, high energy, always with a thought or opinion, head strong, stubborn, driven to be successful, not settling for something when he knows he can do better. Social and out going, he doesn’t meet a stranger. ¬†The two of us went through the fire and back many times as he grew up. I think because we are wired so much alike has something to do with it.¬† He is my male counterpart. There were tears and angst and some sleepless nights as we grew up.¬† (he is the one who is the Coach)

He was as different from my first as oil is from water.

He was the shopping cart in the store you had to always keep a firm hand on or it would go wildly careening off to the left into a display of Twinkies.

My parenting game just got challenged.

When we decided to plan our third and last child it was with the idea it was the last one regardless of what we were given. Since I was old school and like surprises, we never knew what we were having till they were born.

When our third entered the world, I realized I was now mom of three boys.¬† He was the exact image of his dad, my smallest baby, and adored by all of us. As the third in line, I guess he just adapted to life and learned to just roll along with whatever was going on. He was quiet, but engaging. He loved books ( I read to all of my boys)¬† I’d often find him in his room, with his fav books, ¬†“reading” which was more like telling the story he remembered from the pictures.¬† He too, was fairly easy going but I’m not sure if child three just learns to be like that to keep up with everyone else.

Raising boys, in some ways, is a fairly easy task.

At a point, they refuse to let you put them in cute little clothes and opt for just jeans and t shirts. They typically don’t turn their nose up at what you might bring home, and they don’t have any sense of a fashion style.

They are simply, dressed.

Well, they are dressed most of the time. Hopefully, when they are outside they have clothes on, although at times, that was sketchy

There were those times… thank goodness we live in the country and didn’t have neighbors to really worry about ūüėõ

As we moved through the early years of childhood, which seem now, to have been very, very simple times, we approached¬† the teenage years.. it wasn’t all bad… but there were times that were definitely a bit on the heart stopping edge.

I think what I loved about the teen years is the friends they brought home. Some came and went, others, I would often tease and ask if we were adopting them and were their papers in the mail yet ? Some literally moved in for periods of time.

They all knew how to eat ūüėČ

My cookies never seemed to last long and dinner would need to be doubled up on.

They came in all types of dress and attire. When my oldest joined a band, I had more black leather, metal, chains, make up and boots in my house than a Hot Topic store.

My son taught me through that experience to never judge a book by it’s cover. Under those make up, leather and chain clad young men, were fun, entertaining and sweet souls.¬†¬† Maybe that’s why today I’m attracted to, and enjoy people who are obviously different and push the envelope from the norm.

Raising boys not only meant plenty of food and treats, but experimenting in different sports along the way.

All three toyed in them. Only one I believe had a deep passion for it. My oldest ( in the band) leaned more into arts and didn’t just play music but was also a clever and creative artist.

We let them pursue what they found interesting, and hopefully find themselves in it.

We went through seasons of sports, skateboarding, all types of music, all styles of dressing as they matured, band concerts, game days etc…

Yet, in the mix of ball games, school, activities, friends, and daily life my sons grew up.

Sometimes I find myself marveling when they walk in a room… like…

“I made those beautiful creatures!”

As grown men now, I find myself in the same role, but different as well. I’m still mom. Still the one that will call them out on things or offer up my advice.

But I enjoy the friendships with them too. The talks over the table after dinner, the silliness they still deliver up or at times, the random off beat things they can say that make me laugh, the¬†stories that are revealed to me from childhood ( you know…stuff that you don’t want your mom to know at that time? but now that you’re an adult you can share with her? )

Oh…some of that stuff that has been revealed… has chilled my blood… and I’ve had to remind myself that they are sitting there with me, safe.

Or things that they know among themselves but in some way, sought to protect me from.

Having sons means you have all of these “protectors”.¬† Which isn’t a bad thing.. and is often a sweet gesture.

Or when they come in and hug me… I’m tall… but they are a lot taller… there is something precious about those huge man hugs that I get now.

So I sit at times, lost in thought at the T Ball game, reflecting on life and raising boys and pondering how time seems to have moved oh so swiftly through those years.¬† I sit and watch, amused, often giggling at the antics of the kids on the field who are there to just have fun and enjoy life. They aren’t hung up on winning yet or overly competitive, they are mostly there for fun. They run and jump and play.¬† They have to be directed in what to do. My grandson is often happily skipping to the next base.

They all look forward to the treats that will come at the end of the game. They come flying into the dugout area, with their sweaty little faces eagerly looking up at the appointed mom who delivers them for the game. Treats in hand, they go scampering off to eat, run, and play with their friends.

Even with all the up’s and down’s that can come with raising¬† boys, the trials and difficulties,¬† laughter and tears, joys and frustrations, there is a beauty in all of it.

The beauty now of watching my grown son, with his son, and all of these pint sized creatures following him around as he works with them is priceless.

So I sit and I watch. I laugh and smile.

And I think…

I think¬†how blessed I am to have been given such precious gifts in my sons and how fortunate I am to be able to watch my grandson… even if he is skipping and chasing butterflies out on the field as he heads to the next base.