I plopped down next to Full Speed to help him sort and fold some laundry. Every once in awhile I like to help the boys with an occasional assigned chore. My hope is that it teaches them to help others without being asked.
“What is your plan for me to come get you for the dentist tomorrow?” I said.
“What time is it?” said Full Speed.
This is where time seemed to slow down. I felt myself leaving my body, hovering over the scene as anger arose from within me.
“I know you are not asking me what time your appointment is. The one that I told you about and ask that you develop a plan for when I should come get you. The one that I sent you a text message with the details and reminded you to figure out when I should come get you. I am trying really hard to not sound annoyed right now, but I realize I am not doing a very good job.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait a minute! You know you have to tell me things at least four times before I actually remember them,” said Full Speed (for the record I did, probably more).
It seems I could tell each and every one of the men I live with about appointments a thousand times and it would not be enough.
Eventually, with some mindful breathing, I accepted the situation as it was. I also calmed my mood by realizing that I won’t always have to be in charge of my boys’ appointments. At some point, they will need to figure that stuff out on their own. My guess is, especially in the realm their future dental care, scurvy could be a real possibility for them…
Later that night, I was writing out an early dismissal note for Full Speed.
“What period will you be leaving?” I said.
“I’ll leave after seventh period,” Full Speed said.
As T.Puzzle sauntered in the room, he caught a snippet of the conversation.
“Why is Full Speed leaving early?” said T.Puzzle.
“For your dentist appointment,” I said.
“Wait. When is that again?” said T.Puzzle.
I would write more but for the safety of my children, I have relocated to a monastery to begin my zen training in earnest.
In our house, along with running (get it?) jokes about Full Speed’s dynamic track prospects, T.Puzzle is known to regularly shoot barbs at Full Speed. While these jabs are humorous and a natural part of any sibling relationship, sometimes, it’s too much. This is where Mad Dog or myself step in and talk to him about being respectful and all the other parent-y things one says in this situation. So, when Mad Dog and Full Speed returned from another track meet, I put the kibosh on T.Puzzle’s comments. We were about to watch a video of Full Speed’s 4×800 and I didn’t want any disrespectful comments flying about. Full Speed is trying and that’s all we should focus on.
That is, until I couldn’t.
As I watched Full Speed lope around the bend of that first curve of track, I wasn’t sure if Mad Dog had accidentally set his phone to slow-motion speed. My brain couldn’t comprehend what it was seeing and in combination with Full Speed’s pithy commentary, I lost my mind.
I could not stop laughing for the life of me. I tried, I really tried, but the more footage I watched, the more tickled I became.
Eventually, he was the only one in the frame shot and if we kidded ourselves a bit, it looked as if he was a lone runner cruising to first place. This made us all laugh even more.
Mad Dog explained if I thought this seemed rather slow, imagine his surprise when at a previous meet he watched Full Speed crawl to an even slower pace in the 4 x 400. How was it possible he had to run an entire lap less, but was almost doubly slow? Turns out he was misinformed and thought he was really running the 4 x 800.
He was conserving energy for a nonexistent second lap!
P.S. – Full Speed shaved 20 seconds off his time at last night’s track meet. While realistic in his capabilities, he is determined and improving.
Mad Dog and I were seated 15 yards back from the end zone. Our panoramic view of the field added to the excitement. T.Puzzle was at QB calling the shots and Full Speed was zipping up and down the field at a breakneck pace.
Sounds amazing, right?
It kind of was and it kind of wasn’t. There are many perks to having the boys on the same flag football team such as shared practices and games. There are also many pitfalls. Let’s just say there are days when egos collide and managing the talent is way above my pay grade.
Even though their flag season was a mixed bag of victories and defeats, I am grateful that I get to watch these boys from the sidelines. Besides, I’m feeling generous because I am a World Series Champion! Yes, it was a long road and a lot of hard work, but I hung in there. Don’t worry, I haven’t let success go to my head.
In the spirit of full disclosure, success actually has gone to my head a little bit. As it happens Mad Dog and I are predominantly featured in a recent World Series recap. It premiered on FS1 and is available for DVD purchase. Well, we are flashed on the screen for a millisecond or two, but it still counts. Here’s proof the Cubs couldn’t have won without me.
Now that I’ve sufficiently addressed my newfound celebrity status, here’s a breakdown of the rest of my team:
Let’s start with T.Puzzle. This is the child that continues to confound me. He is overly opinionated and strong-willed yet gets glowing reviews from teachers and coaches. Often, after another flip comment has escaped his adorable face I’ll say something like, “wow, raising you is the challenge of a lifetime.” His instant response is, “because I’m so awesome, right?” Something like that. He’s something alright.
T.Puzzle continues to loathe school, adore video games and aggravate his brother. He’s entering the double digits age-wise. I have a feeling I may need to start another blog dedicated to coping with T.Puzzle’s impending milestone decade. The truth is, he is completely true to himself and even though he challenges me a lot, I know he is always going to land on his feet.
Full Speed is transforming before our eyes and becoming a kind and thoughtful young man. Thankfully, he still has a great sense of fun and is loving his Extended Studies this year with its focus on improv. He loves school, reading, reading and oh, did I mention reading? He is a walking encyclopedia of sports facts and stats. This was really helpful for me, especially as I got farther into my World Series winning season. Chicago thanks you, Full Speed!
Then, there’s Mad Dog. He continues to excel at work. There I reasons I love this and reasons I don’t love this. I love this because I can tell that he is feeling challenged and inspired by all his new and varied responsibilities. He’s also an incredible leader. I am very proud of him and like that he remains humble and grounded. I don’t love this because he is often working long hours and has to travel. I’m not a huge fan of sharing Mad Dog with the world, but I get it. He’s awesome and the world needs him. So, I let him go with love.
As for me, it really all boils down to this. I realized that I am my truest, most genuine self when I am in the company of these three incredible men and they all accept me exactly as I am. My goal for the coming year is to be the self that is loved by them when I am out in the world. It is easy in concept but hard in execution. I’m not sure if the world is ready for an empath like me. All I know is that if I have these guys in my corner, then what the world thinks of me is less important. In fact, for any of you reading this, I encourage you to be your truest self in all circumstances. The only approval you actually need is your own.
Wishing you a Blesssed Holiday Season, a Bright and Merry New Year and above all else Love.
Well over a decade ago, the girl had her First Little Buckeye.Even though she was of an age that society deemed her to be a responsible adult, she didn’t feel very grown-up and worried she wasn’t going to mother him correctly.The first time she held him in her arms was transcendent.Her worry and her fear left her.All she felt was peace.Peace for the girl is highly unusual.This is why she remembers it so vividly.She looked down into his tiny, baby face and felt comforted by him.She thought that was odd.How was a tiny baby going to take care of her?She didn’t know, but she was thankful he was here.She was grateful he was healthy.She holds that memory in a pocket close to her heart.On her hardest days, as life can be hard, she reaches into this pocket and remembers that love.That memory of peace reminds her that no matter what shows up in her world, everything is going to be okay.
Now, enough about the girl, let’s get to the fun stuff.Let’s learn a little bit more about the FLB.He loves life.He loves learning.He sometimes loves his Little Brother, but sometimes he only tolerates him.It depends on his mood and how much his Little Brother is annoying him on that particular day.
The girl tries to stay out of the way. It’s hard to believe that their relationship and their lives in general aren’t really her business. She’s working on staying out of the way. She doesn’t always succeed at this. At least she is trying.
A couple months back, the FLB’s love of learning earned him a spot in the county-wide spelling bee. He managed to beat out all the other 5th and 6th graders at his school. It was a pretty amazing day. That meant over holiday break and beyond, he had to study, study, study to get ready for the Big Show at county. It was a lot of work but he didn’t mind it. He actually kind of liked the challenge of learning all these new, almost-impossible-to-pronounce-yet-harder-to-spell words. The girl remembered to stay out of his way. She told him she trusted him completely. If he wanted to study all the time or not at all, she was going to support him. He chose somewhere in between all the time and not at all. It was a good, steady balance of studying that kept his attitude good, steady and balanced. That’s all the girl cared about. She wanted him to feel good about the process and he did. So, she felt good about the process, too.
About a month before the night of the Big Show, the girl needed to have a serious talk with her FLB.She wanted him to know something very important about what her expectations were for him regarding the competition.This is what she said to him:
“I want you to remember that you are awesome.The amount of awesome you have inside you is static.That means it doesn’t change.There is nothing you can or can’t do to change this fact.At the beginning of the spelling bee you will be awesome.At the end of the spelling bee you will be awesome.And during the middle, you will still be equally awesome.Winning or losing can’t change your awesome-ness.If you wonder how I know this it’s because when you were a baby and I held you in my arms for the very first time I loved you instantly.I kind of already loved you before I even knew you.Why?It wasn’t because I thought to myself, ‘someday this kid is going to be great at spelling.’No, itwas because you were awesome.You were then, you are now and you always will be.”
Most of the time the FLB is polite when the girl goes into one of her ‘Love-You-As-You-Are Lectures’ because let’s face it, there are SO MANY of them.The girl can’t help it.It’s who she is.The FLB knows this about her so he is respectfully quiet. The girl is never quite sure if he is actually listening to her but she lectures anyway. However this time, the girl felt like maybe this Love Lecture penetrated his soul a little.He seemed a little more sure of himself and seemed to have even more relaxed fun in his study preparations.The girl was relieved that he believed her.Sometimes as children we don’t believe the good our parents tell us about ourselves even though it is a proven fact that the good is ALWAYS TRUE.We only have to be brave enough on the inside to believe it.Thankfully, the FLB is brave enough. At least the girl hoped he was.
On the actual day of the Big Show and right before the spelling bee started, the girl’s eyes swept over the mass of talented spellers selected from each school in the county.Sure, she felt proud the FLB was included in this group but she also felt something else.This isn’t something the girl talks about very much, but growing up she kind of never really fit in anywhere.She stills feels that way. She thinks most of the whole world feels this way but no one ever says it out loud. So, as she watched those amazing, nervous kids, she could see herself in them.She could see the shy ones, the awkward ones, the ones who looked like they might pass out from nerves and she could relate.She saw the FLB way in the back row, he’s kind of small so she had to strain her neck and there he was.Yes, he seemed a bit nervous but he owned that stage.He was all confidence and class.It was if he understood he was among peers and while they may not be the considered the ‘coolest’ when in the mainstream of school life, he seemed perfectly fine about it.He is who he is and he knows he’s enough exactly as he is.The girl’s heart was full.She already won even before the first letter was spoken.She won because the FLB had already won.
He remembered he was awesome.
When he happened to place 2nd in the whole county the girl thought to herself, ‘isn’t that an embarrassment of riches?’
I know as a mom, there is an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t compare your kids. It’s like apples to oranges, right? Yes and no. If all you have known in your parenting history are the actions and behaviors of your firstborn, how can you not apply this knowledge to your second kid?
If you’ve ever read any of my early posts about raising my boys, you know that they both were incredibly stubborn and highly active children. The good news is that while they remain stubborn at their core, they are thankfully a lot more compliant and much more pleasant to live with. These behavior changes came over a period of several years and after lots of hard, consistent disciplinary work from my part. At around the second grade, Full Speed completely transformed. He became a delight to be around. He developed manners and empathy. While he still has spurts of insane, high-energy, they are much easier to handle. Naturally, I thought that once T.Puzzle hit second grade the same would ring true for him. I waited and waited, and then I waited some more. Manners? Nope. Being compliant? Not so much. Having a filter? Not on your life.
His behavior baffled me. I did all the same things I did with Full Speed, so why wasn’t it sinking if for T.Puzzle? After a while I began to realize that, wait a minute, they actually are quite different kids. While Full Speed remained vocal and independent at school, T.Puzzle kept to himself. Full Speed’s confidence certainly won the respect of his teachers, but T.Puzzle’s quiet nature won them over completely. Where Full Speed sometimes didn’t get ‘outstandings’ in conduct, T.Puzzle was bringing them home left and right like nobody’s business. Yet, when he return home from school again, he would be that flip little loose cannon who does not like to be told what to do. At home, this is where Full Speed shined.
Okay, I get it, these guys are opposites in some regards. They have to mix it up to keep me on my toes. I let it go and focused on being grateful that most of the time, away from me, T.Puzzle was a pretty well-behaved kid. Then, it happened. There was this shift in him. He has started to remember his manners more, he does things the first time he’s told with less commentary and he actually offers to share things with others on occasion. I noticed something subtle the other day, too. I snuggled up to him on the couch and instead of me putting my arm around him, he put his arm around me. He even began to absently pat me on the back. Exactly like Full Speed does when he is ‘taking care’ of mom.
To help encourage this new-found growth and maturity, I sent T.Puzzle to his friend’s house by bike. He did so good. He called me when he got there and called me to let me know he was on his way home. When I greeted him by the garage I was so proud of him.
“Mom, my helmet feels weird.”
“Uh, that’s because you are wearing it backwards.”
It’s not a perfect system, folks. Not by a long shot.