motherhood

Beast Mode

Somewhere along the way in the past few months, I noticed that T.Puzzle was on his phone a lot. I decided to talk to him about it and we came up with some new rules for him to follow. This leaves a big chunk of free time for him because he never has homework. It’s weird. Since we’ve moved he has maybe had two assignments that spilled over to home. Even with studying for the upcoming state spelling bee, he has loads of free time.

I can’t remember when exactly, but I took it upon myself to make sure T.Puzzle learned the skill of typing. Full Speed had a dedicated class in 7th grade that made him proficient and now, as a sophomore and countless typewritten assignments later, he is a solid typist. With all our moving around these past few years, T.Puzzle didn’t have this same opportunity. Therefore, in order for him to earn video game time on the weekends or vacations, he had to dedicate time to learning to type. There is a typing game that is competitive so it all worked out. While I remained diligent in making him stick with it, I kind of forgot about it over time. One day I realized he had been practicing for months and months and told him he could stop (finally!).

In the last week or so, when he got home from school and since he now has limits on his phone time, he has been doing the typing game. In his mind it’s considered ‘educational’ so this is how he bypasses the ‘no video games’ during the week rule.

It’s a slippery slope for sure.

One day I came downstairs to see what he was up to and found him furiously typing away with this creepy look on his face as if he was trying to murder the keyboard.

I’ve never seen anything like it. His lips moved in undulating curling snarls and it was one of the craziest, funniest, things I have witnessed in a long while.

Turns out he is a literal and figurative beast on the keyboard.

Leave it to the son of Mad Dog to turn typing into a competitive sport (who by the way uses temperature checks as a contest which he never fails to ‘win’ because his temp is always the lowest).

At this rate, T.Puzzle will be typing a thousand words a minute.

Mad Dog won’t care though as his temp will still be running a cool 97.2.

motherhood

How Do You Spell Champion?

I had no expectations as I signed T. Puzzle out from school. His nervous energy permeated the air as we made our way to the car. Soon he would be facing the other school winners in a spelling showdown for the district title.

T.Puzzle was not new to this level of competion. Both boys had competed at district when they were fifth graders. Let’s just say nightingale and futon are words you may never want to speak out loud around them.

Full Speed made it to the final two (check out his cool trophy below) and T.Puzzle placed ninth out of the thirty-six district-wide competitors.

Our new district is smaller with only eleven competitors total. I wasn’t fooled by their (mostly) diminutive size. After all, my boys weren’t exactly giants when they competed before.

Last year’s victor was competing again and he oozed confidence. His ease suggested he was well- studied. I imagined if T. Puzzle made the final two with this kid, victory may not be his.

As the practice round concluded I found myself to be relatively calm. I had a dash more adrenaline pumping through me than normal, but overall, I was okay. My biggest concern was T.Puzzle would be the first one out.

No one wants to be that kid.

Once it was clear he was safe for a few rounds, I sat back and let it all unfold feeling proud to be in this moment.

The selected words made quick work of the competitors. By round seven it was already down to T. Puzzle and the previous champ.

As the former champ sauntered to the mike I thought we were set for a battle. As quickly as this thought formed a word was given and you could see the kid freeze. Panic washed over his face and his shoulders slumped.

He didn’t know it.

He didn’t know it!

He struggled through it, piecing it together as best he could and just like that, the bell dinged.

Then, it was T. Puzzle’s turn. He had to spell the next word correctly to win.

Inexorably he did.

Inexorably he won.

Inexorably is his new favorite word.

We were lucky to have us all together to celebrate this awesome achievement. My heart was happy to see his joy.

Yes, moms, teenage boys do have souls. However, his happiness was soon replaced by dismay at the realization he will have to continue to study for the regionals set in March.

You can’t win them all but it helps to prepare to increase your odds.

Inexorably, this is the way of the world.

Congrats, T. Puzzle!

motherhood

From Here on Out

The worst part about having teenagers isn’t the unpredictable moods (mainly my own), its the damaged self-esteem having become the shortest member of my household.

I hate being the shortest.

However, this was what I prepared for, this moment in time when I could no longer intimidate them by being bigger.  I did all I could to earn their respect.  I carved rules into stone and quashed revolt to the best of my ability.  It’s all led to this…I genuinely enjoy them as humans.  

This has pushed me into a new precipice of parenting. While I am still a quiet, constant support in their lives, what they do with them is no longer up to me. I will serve them best if I keep my opinions to myself.  I’ve had my shot at being a teenager. I gave it my all and it’s not up to my boys to fulfill any of my unlived dreams.  And, anyway, I feel like I’m just getting started. 

I plan to appreciate wherever my one, wild, and precious life takes me.

The point of all this, and yes, there is actually a point, is that I want to declare that my boys are in charge of their destiny from here on out.

I want Full Speed to choose his college (if college suits him) and career path based on his own criteria.

No limits.

From what I can see, he is thoughtful in his musings about his future. I trust him and I trust life to take him wherever he needs to go. As long as he is following his curiosity, the answers will come.

As for T. Puzzle, who at this stage remains committed to verbalizing the least amount of words possible on any given day, I support this endeavor. Who I am I to know what he needs? Maybe my penchant for feeling-based talks aren’t the answer to everyone’s problems. What works for me may not work for him. I did recently ask him to at least alter the inflection when he says “good” or “ok” just to give me some auditory variance.  If he decides not to, that’s fine by me, too.

The greatest superpower a parent has is their ability to witness the incredible, pure essence of what makes each of their children awesome. This will help see you through the conflict particular to raising teenagers.  

And remember, the best way to get them to listen to you is to say as little as possible.

I think T. Puzzle is really on to something there.

motherhood

Little Miracles (2020 Year in Review)

As the year draws to its conclusion, this is the time to reflect on the adventures we have embodied and to highlight the triumphs and glory that made our hearts sing. For our family, we had these moments. Mad Dog’s new job, moving to the beach, Full Speed’s coaching dreams pursued, T. Puzzle’s spelling bee victory, but they somehow pale in comparison to the one simple fact, …

we survived.

So did you.

If no one has told you lately, let me remind you what a marvel you are. You didn’t give up, even on the darkest mornings and the bleakest days. You kept rising to the challenges that erupted like land mines across all your expectations.

I am dedicating this post to you.

What an honor you continue to be a part of our family’s journey. Thank you for all the ways big and small you have shown up for us, for your loved ones and I pray above all else, for yourself.

Now that we have the scars of survival etched in our hearts, this is our roadmap to the turnaround. This is where the lessons learned, the gratitude gleaned, and the hope harvested move us beyond our collective healing.

This is where our survival becomes a revival.

We can’t prevent disaster but now we know whatever happens, we will get through it. 2020 tried everything in its power to stop us. It knocked us down more times than it lifted us, but we kept righting ourselves back to the life in front of us. To all those tiny, precious details we never had time to notice, until 2020 halted our motion and busyness and these little miracles were all we could see.

What beauty to know our strength is infinite and that together or apart, we are one.

Thank you for reading. May the year ahead provide us with all that is needed to grow our courage, cherish what matters, and cultivate love for ourselves and for one another.

motherhood

Spelling the Way to New Horizons

It’s been a minute since T.Puzzle competed (and won!) his school spelling bee.  At the time, he was a fifth grader and required my help in preparation. You can read about that here:

How Do You Spell Amazing?

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As an eighth grader at a new school, we were pleasantly surprised when he qualified to participate in his school’s bee. The process was different from our past experiences. He initially wasn’t given a list to study from and there were challenges to find this list. Once in his possession, we talked about a possible study schedule but the beauty of his age (now 14), is the responsibility of studying was all his.

Having teenagers has its perks.

It was surreal to watch him up on that stage not only because of the masks and pandemic safety protocol symbolic of the year 2020, but to see and hear him as a nearly grown man with a baritone voice. He seemed to tower over that microphone.

Not so three years ago:

Do moms ever really see their boys as men? I guess I’ll have to wait and find out.

The first rounds crept by but gained speed towards the end. He breezed through each of them and when it hit the top five, I had a feeling he would win the whole thing.

Now, it’s on to county. He’s only mildly happy about that. The competitor in him loves to win, but the teenage boy in him hates to study.

Whatever happens, I’ll be there.

Always.