Tag Archives: parenting

My Baby Off to the Jury

Sniff. Yesterday was my baby’s first day of jury duty and I didn’t even manage to get pictures.

I guess I have to admit my child really is grown up when they get summoned to sit on a trial. And I don’t get to go along to offer moral support or take pictures of how cute they look sitting with the group in the courtroom.

This was federal court, too, so not even in our city. They had to drive to the state capital, thirty-five miles away, where the U.S. District Court is located. During rush hour. On the morning when a lot of out-of-town visitors were leaving after eclipse viewing.

As it turns out, after half a day of vetting, my kid was not selected and got to come home. I have received jury summonses approximately every three years going back to the dawn of time, yet never actually had to report to a courthouse. I’ve only had to make the phone calls to find out whether to go. So I was full of questions.

Thing 1 (nickname for my firstborn) reported that the case was “Some old super rich guys suing each other because no amount of money is enough for them.” It was a property dispute of some sort. Apparently many high-paid attorneys were involved on both sides. Thing 1 was dismissed when the judge asked if anyone in the jury pool felt uncomfortable with the amount of money being sought – $80 million dollars.

So, there we go. Another milestone achieved. I need to remember where I put the baby book, so I can write it down.

 

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Memorial Day As Mom of Draft-Age Kids

Just a short post here. My children are 22 and 19 years old, respectively. Prime age to be drafted if we ended up in a war with a draft.

It’s fully hitting me for the first time that most of the soldiers we’re honoring and remembering on Memorial Day were just kids, basically. The majority of the troops who have been killed in battle throughout all the years of our country – around the ages my kids are now. Pretty sobering.

This song seems fitting for today. Particularly these lines:

And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin’ what to do
And the closer they got,
The more those feelings grew

 

A Cat and Her Boy

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This critter staring at you from the screen is named Luna. Feel free to extend her birthday greetings, as she is fifteen years old this month. She’s been a member of our household from the age of eight weeks, coming to us about the time my youngest kid was turning four. The two of them bonded immediately. She’s supposed to be my cat, but I’m the only one who signed that contract; she never agreed to the terms and conditions. As far as Luna is concerned, she has one human — the boy she helped raise.

Both of my children are good with animals, and even at such a young age, my son showed a remarkable gentleness with our tiny kitten. The two of them spent many hours playing and snuggling. It wasn’t uncommon for my son to fall asleep with the cat wrapped in his arms.

For a few months last year, Luna’s boy moved away, and I could tell she was looking for him, going to his room repeatedly. Since he returned home in late December, she’s been dogging his footsteps, so to speak. Sometimes I wonder about cat brains and what they remember. Does she know the big, gangly human she loves now is the same person as the little guy who used to drive his Hot Wheels cars around her? I think she must. But I’m sure neither of them remembers a time before the other.

The boy is considering moving away again in the fall. I hope it doesn’t break either of their hearts too much.

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She still likes to sleep in his bed. 

 

Full House Again

Everything old is new again. So much for the empty nest. A couple of months after the first kid boomeranged, the second one came back.

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We brought the 18-year-old home from college for Christmas break and he decided to stay. He had an unfortunate first semester as a freshman, with all sorts of problems, from the college bookstore messing up his textbook order to a bicycle accident that resulted in a fractured wrist. And he discovered he really didn’t like dorm life.

I went with him yesterday to sign up for classes at the local community college. He plans to get a few gen ed credits there this semester and possibly transfer somewhere else in the fall. He and some friends are talking about getting an apartment together. They held a discussion session at our house the other evening. It was interesting listening to 18 & 19-year-old young men discuss the virtues of slow cookers. We shall see what actually happens.

For now it’s back to a heaping cart full of groceries every week. Back to tracking four different schedules and parceling out car use — who has to be where when and what family member might have to give another one a ride. Back to more dishes to wash, to negotiating who has the most pressing need to get their laundry done and thus dibs on the washer, who is showering when. Back to sending shushing text messages to my kids in the middle of the night if they’re being too loud, and nagging about chores. But also back to enjoying their company a lot of the time and the comfort of being an eye-witness to food consumption, so I don’t worry about them starving.

I confess to mixed feelings. I liked having more time and freedom the few weeks they both were gone and I was getting a rhythm to what I thought was going to be my life now. But it’s also comforting seeing them a lot and feeling needed.

My firstborn is working at a small retail store and has already been promoted to assistant manager. This is a pleasing turn of events, after a long period of, uh, I guess I could phrase it as floundering or way finding or struggle or waiting for some brain synapses to do their thing with maturity.

Now I can focus on helping the younger sibling with his…way finding.

 

Emotional Whiplash

I’ve been afraid of changin’
Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older, too
(From the Stevie Nicks song, “Landslide”)

Two weeks ago, we had a plan, or so I thought. My 21-year-old (who prefers the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them”) would continue to live with us for at least several weeks, while continuing college. Their significant other would move into the house as well, temporarily, from the small town where they can’t find work. The S.O. would seek employment here and the two of them would eventually get an apartment in our city, maybe in two to three months.

Eight days ago, I was helping my college junior collect bugs for an entomology lab. The next day — one week ago tonight — the offspring announced that friends in Colorado had a room open and said both of them could move in there. In fact, it would happen over the coming weekend. Both of them would look for jobs once they got to the new place. Friday, my kid withdrew from college and started packing. Sunday night the abductors new roommates arrived and slept at our house, while I spent a sleepless night stalking them on-line. Early Monday morning, they packed what they could fit into a Mazda hatchback and drove off to collect my child’s S.O. before continuing to Colorado.

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Sigh.

This is what young adults will do to their parents. Their life plans change so suddenly and drastically, they leave us with emotional whiplash. I said, “I brought you a stink bug from the garden and this is the thanks I get?”

I had a vision in my mind of getting to know their partner better, helping the young couple furnish their first apartment together, being close enough to have them over for dinner once a week. Calling up occasionally and saying, “Hey, let’s go to a movie, my treat.” Something gradual. Something that would give me time to prepare mentally and emotionally. A bachelor’s degree was in the vision somewhere, too.

I cried real tears. A lot of them, to be honest. My husband even had a little weeping the morning they left. But I suppose the joy of being twenty-one years old lies in being old enough to make your own decisions, but young enough not to be bogged down with worries of everything that could go wrong. The world is out there waiting for you to discover it. $700 in the bank, no car and no job lined up? Eh, it’ll work out.

I spent so many years immersed in the lives and needs of my two children and my mother. Adding in the job I do for a paycheck, I had little time for anything else. Now I suddenly find myself with only my husband and a houseful of pets. In a short period of time, my mom passed away and both kids moved out. At least the 18-year-old will be home for holidays, school breaks and some weekends. He’s doing it the correct way, in other words.

Since I often cope with anxiety and sadness through the use of humor, I gave my firstborn about ten minutes after pulling out of our driveway (roommate driving) then sent a text saying “We rented your room.” A few hours later, I followed up with “I sold the rest of your stuff on Ebay.” I suppose it’s not exactly like sending your kid off on a ship to America from the Irish shore in the 19th century, expecting never to see them again and not even to know for several months whether they arrived safely.

When this child was six, they promised to live with me forever. Liar. Or maybe they simply meant in my heart and mind. I admit, the former feels as if it has a big hole in the middle right now and the latter is still spinning.

 

 

 

 

We All Need Help Sometimes

If you’ve been on social media at all the past couple of weeks, I’m sure you’ve seen this photo by now:

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The sign posted in a private boys’ school in Arkansas. I don’t remember the name. Bootstrap High or something.

Let me tell a story on myself. One day last week, I was checking out at the store with more than $100 worth of groceries when I realized I didn’t have my wallet. Everything had been rung up and bagged already. Thinking back through my day I had a pretty good idea where my wallet might be. I called my 21-year-old, who was home at the time, and asked them to find it and bring it to me. My offspring came through immediately and without complaint, saving my bacon. I suppose they could have said, “Well, Mom, this is really your problem to solve…”

The best part of the story is that the store employees didn’t try to shame me in any way. (I had that one covered all on my own, thanks, apologizing to them approximately five times.) The clerk even offered to put my food in a cooler while I waited if I thought it might take a while.

Have I ever taken anything to my kids at school after they forgot it? You bet. Have there been times they forgot something and I didn’t take it to them? Of course. A couple of times, one of them went off without a piece of homework or a book and I was at work, so I couldn’t bring it. Similarly, I wouldn’t have called my kid out of a college class to bail me out of my situation.

We all need help sometimes. We’re all human and fallible. Can’t we cut each other a little slack? I’m a person who has a hard time asking for assistance from anyone, ever, for anything. It’s a great failing of mine that I work hard to overcome. I didn’t want to raise my kids to be that way. Yes, sometimes I felt hassled and frustrated, but last week I received a payment in kind.

I understand some parents feel their kids get into a bad habit of taking advantage and they need to say no to requests like this. That’s cool, too. Because the parent involved knows their child and family situation the best.

What’s not so cool is the public shaming of parents and their kids so a school principal can feel smug. Maybe this shows me to be a terrible person, but my immediate reaction on reading the sign was a fervent hope that the principal would lock his/her keys in the car by accident and that all the parents, students and school staff in the vicinity would refuse to assist in any way.

How about we let parents and kids figure out for themselves how they want to handle these situations? How about we not hold children to higher standards than we hold ourselves? How about we offer each other more encouragement and support than scorn and ridicule?

 

 

The Last Week

This is the last week. The last week of my son mowing the back yard. The last week of asking him if he has any requests as I fill out my grocery list. The last week to remind him to wear his retainer when he goes to bed. The last week to go to sleep knowing he’s safe under my roof. The last week of the cat who’s grown old as he’s grown up spending an evening in his lap while he works on game design.

We move him into his dorm this coming Saturday, and we’re in the last-minute flurry of getting it all together. I check and re-check my list of what I think he’ll need: first aid kit, plenty of socks and underwear, towels and bedding, deodorant, plates, cups and bowls. Oh, plus, how about a shower caddy to carry all of his soap, shampoo and shaving supplies down the hall? And how about some shower sandals to help him avoid foot fungus? Better throw in a package of toilet paper, because who knows how often they restock in the communal bathroom. I cross-check my list with his: ethernet cable, USB hub, extra computer keyboard… I ask if he’s done any preparation at all. He says yes, he’s backed up files from his laptop to an external hard drive.

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Photo of my son from eleven minutes ago. Or eleven years. Something like that.

I know he still has plenty of nights to spend under our roof in the future, on holidays and breaks, and the occasional weekend. I know I can visit him easily enough. He’ll be less than two hours away, after all. I know in the age of cell phones and Skype, we can be in touch as much as he’ll allow. But I know it won’t be the same as it was before he left. I’m pretty sure the new reality will bring a combination of freedom and pride and sadness and nostalgia and happiness and worry and hope.