Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear James on Senior Night

Dear James,
It's Senior Night for the marching band students.  I can hardly believe you're at this point.  When did you get to be so old?
It seems just yesterday you were the self assured eighth grader with a bunch of long haired friends.
Then you joined the marching band and I learned not to serve you oatmeal on contest days.  Especially the contests held at Papa John's Stadium.  Those can be stressful times.

After many.many.many hours of practicing on that crazy drum pad, you became a marching snare drummer.  I like to think of you as the quarterback of the band.  
  You drummers have your own lingo.  Thankfully, you have cell phones in which to communicate that special language.
I've watched you grow into a leader.  You've grown in many ways and you've been stretched beyond what's comfortable.  You've learned to lose with grace and you've learned how to relate to lots of different people.
And thankfully you know just enough Spanish to fall back on, just in case you get thrown in a Mexican jail by the federales while on a guitar tour of Latin America.

You've rehearsed and performed and rehearsed and performed and I am so proud of you and your accomplishments.   I hope you realize what a gifted musician you truly are.
 Your senior year has been especially great, seeing you perform not only on snare, but also on guitar.  Your solo was wonderful and again, I was so proud every time I saw the show.

Thanks for pouring into your sister, inspiring her to continue the fine Monck percussion tradition.  You are a patient teacher.

I know you'll be missed amongst the BSHS Marching Defenders.  Next year won't be the same.  [especially if there's no drum line]

I'm glad your future is in the guitar.  It's a much better solo instrument than the snare.  Nonetheless, as you walk on, into your musical future, I thank you for four [mostly] great years of marching band.  It's been an experience and you've hung in there.  I love you, James.  I couldn't ask for a better son.  Happy Senior Night!


Saturday, October 20, 2012


My daughter had an incident this week.  Actually it was more of an accident.  She fell, while in her school's auditorium and cut a gouge out of the bottom of her chin.  The wound required five stitches.  It also meant she missed a biology test and I missed an afternoon of work during a very busy week.  But, daughters come before work and school and all of the less important stuff, so I picked her up, took her to urgent care, and got her taken care of.  Afterwards, she returned to school for a 3 hour band rehearsal session.  I was proud of how she handled the entire incident, and she even told me thanks repeatedly for taking time out of my day to assist her.

Meanwhile, back at her school, it seems her band director decided to make some sort of odd remark about the incident, reminding the band students to be careful, because a female had been reckless and got hurt.  He was referring to my young female, who, according to her story, was not being reckless when the accident happened.  She simply tripped, fell, and gouged her chin on the floor.  She is not a reckless female.

I've pondered the comment sent Tuesday evening, wondering if I should address the director or ask my husband to.  I have done neither and most likely will ignore it.

Mainly because I keep thinking about Malala, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban because she insists on receiving an education.  Simply put, she goes to school so they shot her.  She's 15 and I imagine her parents are proud yet worried sick.  My daughter returned to school when done at urgent care, and faced no violence or persecution or scorn.  Just a smart mouthed instructor who didn't witness what happened.  We can ignore him or address him or report him to school administration.  Malala cannot ignore the Taliban.

My kids have recently expressed I complain a lot.  My husband has too.  My parents, in the past have voiced I haven't always been grateful.  When I think about my conversations with others, whether family, workmates or even strangers at the post office, I realize I do complain often.  I'm a grade A griper.  And I need to stop.

I follow A Couple Cooks and read their latest blog entry this morning: Gratitude.  I'm taking their idea, and modifying it for myself.  I'm self proclaiming November to be no.complain.november.  I pledge not to gripe, tweet irritating things, complain my workplace only has one restroom for 13 staff plus clients, and though I cannot guarantee I'll succeed, I pledge to not yell at irritating people while driving.   Whoo!  That last sentence was way too long.  But I'm not complaining.

It will be hard not to whine about my own misgivings.  I find I often self disrespect:  my hair's yucky, I need to take off a few pounds, I always burn toast, etc.   I have what I need and much more.  Plus I don't live in fear, which I am so thankful for.

I'm going to start practicing today, so hopefully I'll be more prepared come November 1.


Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thesalonians 5:16-18

Friday, October 12, 2012

a series of good-byes

I'd say I know a thing or two about parenting.  Not that I know it all because I don't.  But....I've been a parent for nearly 18 years and if I'd had one vocational job that long, I'd most likely be considered an expert in that particular field. 

If asked what parenting is all about, I think I'd answer it like this:

Parenting is a series of good-byes.  

There's the good-bye when you leave the hospital and realize you've been given charge of this newborn and things just might get dicey.

There's the good-bye when the parents and sister pull out of the drive way leaving you and your husband alone with an infant and you're not exactly sure what to do.

There's the good-bye that happens at daycare and/or the babysitter and/or the first day of preschool.

Then there's the monumental first day of kindergarten good-bye.  I still remember Jamie wearing an orange shirt [which he hated].  We went to Sonic for drinks after school.

Jamie's first day of kindergarten [August 2000]
There's the different sort of good-bye that occurs when you watch your child play catcher and you're confined to the bleachers.  You realize he's alone out there and he's touching every single pitch.  His role matters to the outcome of the game, and you won't converse until the game's over.  You hope an idiotic dad doesn't yell at him.

There's the good-bye when he or she enters the room at all district band try outs.  You have an idea about the level of ability your child possesses.  But, comparatively, when faced with competition and judges, you're just not sure.  You say a few words and the door closes for what seems like an hour even though it's only 5 minutes.

There's the middle school drop off good-bye, leaving you wondering what adolescent life will entail.

Then there's the biggie.  The good-bye on the first day of high school.  Cliques?  Bullies?  School cafeteria lunches?  A wave of fear as you remember the 1980s and high school and Madonna on MTV and drive in theaters and parties and how everything is so much worse now [although it's probably really not].

In between there's summer camps and times away at the grandparents' and band trips.  And a couple times a Haiti bound airport good-bye, wondering if he had a clue what he was in for.

While I realize there will always be good-byes, even way into my children's adulthood [holidays and summer visits and phone calls], there is one good-bye with some finality.  It's the one I remember distinctly from my youth.

The college good-bye.  

It's the bridge between childhood and grown up-ness.  It's a drop off with a realization that things will never ever be quite the same.  Sure, he might be back for the summer.  We'll see him in a month or at least at Thanksgiving.  But he's on his own from here on out.  Yes, we'll provide money and food and assistance.  But, at the end of the day, we are not there.

Saturday we attend our first college open house.  We'll say hello to the University of Louisville, realizing it could very well be, in less than a year, where we'll share that all important, life altering good-bye.  I'm not ready for this.  I don't know if I ever will be.  My first child off to college.  While I'm awfully proud of the young man he's become, I desperately miss that little blond kid in the orange shirt, happy to drink a giant Sonic drink. 

Our daughter, three years younger than her brother, wants to study abroad.  As in England.  She desires, quite seriously, to be a foreign exchange student her junior year of high school.  Another good-bye.  This time a longer distance and more than a short drive away.  I'm sure if she goes, she'll be ready.  Will I be....That's yet to be determined.  But knowing now she's independent enough to consider it, I feel like I'm in the midst of a job well done.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

think [beyond] pink

It's October, which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Lexington's Race for the Cure was yesterday.  Friday evening as I drove home through downtown, I noticed all the hoopla being set up for the festivities.

I realize breast cancer is a big deal.  First of all, I'm a middle aged female.  Second of all, I've had multiple mammograms.  Third of all, I've had to go the extra mile and have an ultrasound done on my breast, due to a large cyst.  While it wasn't cancerous, or even really that dangerous, it was a nerve wracking situation to deal with.  Plus it made my health insurance premiums go up.  While I haven't been diagnosed with breast cancer and haven't lost a close relation to it, I can relate.  I can understand the bleakness and trauma of the situation.  I comprehend the [sisterhood] and the [think pink] mentality that bands us together in a common cause.

Yet, earlier in the day Friday, before the Race for the Cure folks were busy downtown, I encountered a woman who faced other issues.  This woman lives 3.6 miles from me.  I met her Friday morning at a prayer walk.  She wasn't invited, though the group is certainly open.  She had never met any of us gathered there that morning.  Yet she saw us, parked her van on the street, and approached.  She wasn't even wearing shoes, despite the chilly morning.  She openly shared her concerns.

She lives in an unsafe apartment complex.  She's raising [I didn't catch the exact number], I believe 6 children as a single mom.  Because of recent violence in the complex, she doesn't allow her kids to play outside.  There were other situations- the typical single mom living in a rough neighborhood stuff I've heard over and over.  But this was the kicker.  This is what got me.  Whether she was exaggerating I don't know.  But I feel no compulsion to not believe her.  After all, I don't live in her complex.  I certainly cannot relate.  She said,
"I can't go to the complex laundromat at night, because I'll get raped." 
What in the world?  She has to arrange her laundry schedule in order to not get sexually assaulted?  A woman, living 3.6 miles from my home?  She's not in the Congo.  She's not in a village somewhere.  She's here in the city limits of a university town.

Fortunately, a friend/fellow female worker of mine was able to connect with her and get contact info.  We're hoping our workplace can help make a difference there.  Hopefully others will too.

I'm curious as to where the [sisterhood] is when women in our own community struggle like this.  Why are we ├╝ber concerned about cancer, which yes, is horrible, but turn our heads when women fear getting raped when doing their everyday chores?  Isn't that also horrible?

What if today the NFL took all the money spent on [pink] uniforms and accessories and helped women in communities and situations like the lady I met on Friday?  I'm not saying don't support breast cancer research.  I'm not minimizing the grief and tragedy of a woman losing her life to a disease.  I'm just hoping we can expand our horizons and consider kids are getting shot, women are getting raped, and kids can't play outside, 3.6 miles away from our house.  Maybe even closer.  That's a cycle that needs to stop.  Why aren't we racing for a cure for women like I met Friday?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I like food.  I like cooking.  I like baking.  I like eating.  And I like following food blogs. But there are plenty of them out there.  Plus I don't have the patience to photograph every step involved in baking something.  I'd forget to photograph at least one step and I'd have to start over.  I just know it wouldn't work for me.  So I'll leave it to those who already do.  But I will give you a recipe, sans photos, for something delicious to bake this autumn:

Now, on to other topics.  Last evening, while helping my 14 year old daughter with some sewing alterations, she mentioned something out of the blue: 

"That awkward moment when Facebook recommends you "friend" Jaleel, yet he's dead."

Jaleel was shot and killed last week in our town.  He was 16.  Apparently my daughter has something like 32 Facebook friends in common with him.  

Not too many days before that, a friend of friends of my children's was killed in an ATV accident.  Around the same time, a cousin of family friends died suddenly in an accident at her home.  

And.......during the same time period, a high schooler took his life.

So, our city has lost 4 teenagers in the last few weeks.  A murder, two accidents and a suicide.  As a mother of a 14 and 17 year old, that shakes me up a bit.  As an employee of a non-profit organization that works with families, that rocks my world more than a little.  Four kids gone.  Four families whose futures are forever changed.  Countless friends and classmates left behind to wonder why this kind of thing happens, especially to those so young.   People looking for answers, and truthfully, there probably aren't that many.

I recently wrote an entry about suicide, and since hearing about the young man who recently took his own life, I've thought about him everyday.  His father wrote:  Father hopes teen parents will learn...... This is what gets me:

"There was no indication whatsoever that he was depressed or feeling depressed," he (the father) said. 

Obviously, we will never know all the details and what this young man was thinking before he took his own life.  He might have been facing a myriad of issues.  Yet his own father says there was no indication.  

One of my fav organizations, To Write Love on Her Arms, posted this yesterday:  [Suicide is Now the Leading Cause of Injury Related Death]

It is now more common for a teenager to commit suicide than for a teenager to perish in an automobile accident.  I'm not sure that's reason to tout the safety of modern cars.   It's a lot to take in, really.  

When my husband was a teenager, he attempted suicide.  Obviously, it was an attempt and not a successful one.  And for that I'm extremely thankful. It sets me on edge though.  It's there.  The [why?] question.  The [how did it come to that?] question.  Will I know if something is not right?  Am I   It makes me want to hound my kids, constantly trying to figure out if they're really okay.  Sure, they seem fine, most of the time.  They say they're fine.  Their grades indicate they're fine.  Reports from their teachers do the same.  

Please don't think I lie awake at night, fearing for their safety.  It's not that extreme.  Yet, I'm coming to realize more and more that what goes on in their minds, their moldable, not fully developed teenage minds, can wreck havoc if we're not careful.  Golly, my mind is not that of a teenager's and it can get a little crazy, what with doubts, fears, interpreted expectations of others, pressure we put upon ourselves to succeed, etc.

It's hard to be a person.  That sounds trite, but it is.  Despite the age we are, it's not easy.  So much can happen, sometimes suddenly, often through no fault of our own.  

This is a difficult entry to wrap up.  There's really nothing witty to write, so I won't try.  I'm simply sad that sometimes life ends suddenly and shockingly. 

    j  h
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