Monday, June 24, 2013

Graduation Blues

With two kids graduating, I was bound to have a few sentimental moments. Of course I hide this from my humorous husband. He’d laugh, which I totally don’t get. I learned of his strange reaction to my tears after watching Forest Gump together for the first time. It’s the unsaid, unexpected sweet moments of human kindness that twist my throat into a knot. Forest meets his son for the first time, and I have to hold back, take deep breaths, and control the sniffles. If it’s on again, I may leave the room to go blow my nose. 

I was fine watching Aaron march down the Middle School track to his seat on the field, was fine during the first two speeches about setting goals in high school…but when the class president spoke about how challenging it was for the kids after super-storm Sandy wrecked their homes and school, my eyes filled. From the top bleacher, I saw a community that shared the same trial, got through the worst of it, and still has challenges ahead. I prayed for all the children, and thanked God for them and my sunglasses.  

A southwesterly breeze blew ocean smells our way as a peewee little league game played on the field behind the bleachers. Strange to hear the smack of a ball and homerun cheering during a graduation ceremony. The sounds of baseball brought me back to Aaron’s T-ball days, when he hit a double, but abandoned second base to get a drink. I smiled and clapped as his name was called. My heart fluttered with a mix of pride, love, and memories. Gene asked if I needed a tissue. So much for hiding emotions…I was ready to go home. 

Four days later, we’re at the same place for Andrew’s high school graduation. This time we’re two hours early and melting in the morning sun. I’m too hot to cry. The sun must’ve drained every ounce of water from my body. While waiting for the procession to begin, I focus on what other moms wear; why couldn’t I have a cute, comfortable sundress to replace my long grey pants that soak up every UV ray? Too bad the storm flooding swallowed half my clothes. 

Not until it’s over and we hunt for him in the crowd do my emotions strike. In two months, he will move into his dorm a few states away. I’ll have to trust God to watch over him. As Andrew poses for pictures with friends, I imagine gushing with tears when I hug and congratulate him…but when I finally do, I’m in control of the dreaded sniffles. After all, Gene is ready to capture the moment and share it on Facebook. I’ll have to cry later.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Cost of Being a Dad

                               1st year Tee Ball                                        All County Award
                                        age 5                                                           age 19
So you’re a father now. Congratulations! You’ve been blessed; from now on you will have someone to worry about and love more than life. We have four sons and a daughter, and have now reached the most expensive stage of all: four teenage boys.   

Here is a list of two weeks’ expenses of our most wallet-draining son. Granted this June is a busy month, but still. Who knew one healthy son could cost this much? Times four plus girl.

$ 150…………………… to sports award night at Marriott
$ 350……………………..summer baseball league
$ 100……………………..wooden bat for summer league
$ 400……………………..housing deposit for college
$ 200……………………..admissions deposit for college
$ 110……………………..hotel reservation for new student college visit
$ 340 …………………….limo for prom
$ 120……………………..tux rental
$ 140…………………… estimate, probably more

And I used to think the diaper stage was expensive! So take this as a warning to new fathers out there—beware. Your adorable, gurgling, burping little boy might like baseball…and you’ll love watching him play. When he bats off the tee, you’ll cheer like he hit a grand slam in the major leagues. He may pitch a no-hitter…and may win all-county. You’ll spend every spring and weekend sitting on a cold bench shivering for two hours. After games, he’ll be hungry. Very hungry. Unless you own a supermarket, you won’t have enough food in your house. He won’t have his own money, because he has no time to work during baseball season. Practice is every day. 

You’ll remind yourself there is more to life than baseball, but you’ll still spend your last dime on his pitching coach and baseball camp. Then he’ll grow up, want to go to college, and attend his prom. You can’t say no because you love this boy and you’re his dad.  

Now that you’ve been warned, enjoy the days; they go faster than your fastball. Your son is an expensive blessing, but worth every dime and hour spent. So go have that catch; you won’t regret it.




Saturday, June 8, 2013

And Then Came the Purple Poptart

                                                                (A Father's Day Story)

Slivers of sunlight reached through the vertical blinds and warmed my legs as I rolled over. Spring crickets sang their overture and the scent of blueberry pie wafted over me before the . . . smoke? My eyes popped open like a toaster.

“It’s okay.” Jill rested her gentle hand across my chest and stopped me from bolting into the kitchen. “The girls are making you breakfast in bed . . . so don’t move. I’ll check on them.”

“Smells like we should call the fire department.”

“Just a little burnt toast, I’m sure. Happy Father’s Day, honey.” She kissed my cheek and left to supervise.

I lay in bed trapped, waiting for breakfast. Didn’t they know I only drank coffee in the morning? A dot of milk with no sugar. Strong and bitter. I wouldn’t feel like eating till twelve, at least. I wiggled my toes out of the sheet so they could breathe in some fresh air . . . and waited . . . read a chapter of Dr. James Dobson’s Bringing up Girls. And waited.

Six and ten year-old size footsteps pitter-pattered down the hall toward my door. Then a knock loud enough to shatter my bones.

“Dad?” Laura called.

“It’s open.” I got up to help since their hands were full.

“What’s this?” I looked as surprised as ever.

“We made you breakfast for Father’s Day,” Sandy answered.

“We have a few courses,” added Laura.

“Wow, you shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble.” I kissed the tops of their heads and smelled strawberries. Hmm. Shampoo or jam?

“We made our favorites.”

Uh oh.

I propped up a few pillows, set the tray over my lap, and examined my first course. Pancakes bursting with color.

“We didn’t have chocolate chips, so we made M&M pancakes.”

“They sure are colorful.” My beautiful daughters stared at me with wide grins, waiting for me to take a bite, I supposed. I sawed off a tiny red and green piece and hoped to swallow without tasting, but the sweet flavor lingered. “Mmmm. Delicious. Guess I’ll wash it down with this super dark chocolate milk you made.” I could see about one inch of syrup settled at the bottom like mud.

“Mmmm, mmm.”

“We’ll go get the next course while you finish your pancakes.”

As soon as they closed my door, I scanned the room. How could I dispose of the rest? My sock drawer . . . nah, I’d have rainbow streaked socks. Jill’s jewelry box? Not a good idea. Under the bed wouldn’t work—Rex might get sick eating too much junk food. I mean “breakfast.” He was already drooling and waiting for me to toss him a bite.

They must have returned with the next course in two minutes. I fumbled with a napkin, wrapped some pancakes, and stuffed them in the back of my nightstand drawer where I keep library books and tissues. “Come in.”

“Here’s your cereal,” said Laura.

“Froot Loops gots lots of vi-uh-amins,” added Sandy. “And I poured it myself.”


“We’ll go get the last course ready.” Laura shut the door.

I was glad to hear the end was near. I mustered the courage to take one mouthful. Sugar and dye—the breakfast of champions. My stomach wasn’t ready for artificial garbage, so I poured it out the window. I hoped it wouldn’t poison any birds.  

This time they charged in without knocking.

“Here’s your dessert,” said Sandy.

“Wow, I get dessert too?”

“We’re going to keep you company while you eat.”

They hopped on the bed and stared at me as I stared at the toasted Poptart.

“It got burnt on the corner where the sprinkles melted. I think that’s what made smoke come out.”

“I’m sure it tastes perfect. I like my food well-done.”

The first bite sent shivers down my neck. Sweet blueberry with frosting and sprinkles—who creates this junk? A ten year-old CEO?  And worse yet, I bought this junk.

I ate every crumb of that purple Poptart and washed it down with a tall glass of ruby red Hi-C Punch. They smiled, so proud. I smiled and hugged them.

This was the worst and best breakfast I ever had—made from my daughters’ sweet hearts.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Starbucks Chronicles

Every day at lunch break, I indulge in my favorite addiction: a Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Latte—extra hot or extra cold. The bubbly workers ask if I’d like my “usual.” If I’m feeling wild, I may venture out and try a CafĂ© Mocha or Mocha Light Frappuccino. Then I wiggle onto one of the high seats that make the average adult feel like a toddler—my feet swing and can’t reach the ground.

I try to read and write and not watch the other customers…but sometimes I can’t help but scan the place for possible characters ideas. Somehow I connect with every customer because we all decided to go to Starbucks at the same time on the same day. Who knows? Maybe God wanted me to cross paths with these strangers so I’d pray for them. And I do.

One drained lady comes in every day to order a brownie…just a brownie; if they don’t have any, she leaves without her goody bag. Does she have a family? Does she eat anything else? Why? All I know about this lady is that she lives close enough to walk, and she likes brownies. God knows her whole story and loves her.

A man with paper white hair inches his silver Buick into the parking lot…so careful as if not to knock the imaginary egg off a cone—flashback for Brady Bunch fans. (Google the episode.) As he gets out, he steps into a puddle, his car door smacks into the car parked next to him. The old guy doesn’t seem to mind. He continues into Starbucks as if nothing happened. His loafers squeak as he heads to the bathroom. Second person to leave without getting anything. How does anyone smell rich coffee brewing with a hint of hazelnut in the air and not want some?

I guess Starbucks is known for more than their coffee—their bathroom and brownies. I know it as a place to sprinkle some silent prayers.