The past couple of weeks have been exhausting, interesting and challenging. Dan and I drove up to Raleigh, NC together. We stopped in Jacksonville for his interview with the Navy people. I sat in the car pretending to knit . . . The interview went well. Things learned from the interview: 1) I should have been more on top of things – he could have applied for the NROTC scholarship WHILE he was applying for the Naval Academy 2) Just because your 18-year-old son seems competent is no reason for you NOT to double check everything. ::::sigh::::: We made it to Raleigh (listened to Pillars of the Earth and The Passage depending on who was driving). My sister and her family could not have made us feel more welcome – her poor kids waited up for us to get there and were exhausted when they headed to school on Wednesday morning.
As we unwound from the drive, Dan asked would I mind if he took the tour of NC State alone. After I inhaled from the kick-in-the-stomach and remembered how I was at 18, I gulped some wine and said, “Sure, we’ll meet you for lunch after.” My sister is the best – she squeezed my hand under the table and kicked me hard in the ankle. And, that’s what happened. Dan did the tour, we met up for pizza and Dan gave US a tour. All-in-all it was a fun day. Next day? Dan finished up everything he had to do on the campus the day before so Aunt Lynne booked us for a Segway tour of Raleigh. Go ahead, laugh at the picture. Helmets and old people and guided tours aside, segways are a blast!!! I don’t know that I ever would have embraced the technology without the shove from my sister, but if you get the chance, it’s a total hoot.
We had to leave Friday, early in the am. My sister and her family went to bed at a decent hour. I was wound up – go figure. Dan and I sat up talking for a while. It is so weird to realize that your widdle baby boy is really mostly a widdle big man. It’s rare that I get to spend time with any of the boys alone so this was precious time. We avoided college talk for the most part, as we did on the drive home.
We left my sister’s around 6 am (yes, that’s right, folks, I was up and driving at 6 am). I drove, Danny drooled on the passenger window. I found myself thinking “Could it really be nearly eight years since I made the older boys pack a lunch, stand in the rain waiting for the ‘bus,’ use ‘hall passes’ to go to the bathroom, raise their hands to speak in the kitchen . . .?” How insane was I? Here I was driving while an Eagle Scout who was accepted to not just five universities, but five Schools of Engineering, drooled on my window. And, still I wasn’t happy. Why? What more could I want? Well, for me, I think I’m good. But, am I? How much is about me and how much is about the kids? For Dan, I want the world. I trust him and know he’s capable of making good decisions, but . . . still I want to be right in there. And, I won’t be. And, it’s okay. He’ll be fine. Right? And, I’ll be fine too. (God help Andy, though. lol)
When we got home, I had to face another reality. Andy and his friends are all going into or are in middle school. I don’t know about your experiences, but middle school is an evil time and place for most kids. I find myself wanting to shake everyone with kids of this age and scream “IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!!!” It really doesn’t. Really. They just need to get through. Period. No one ever checks middle school records – just let them get through it. Don’t worry about them being gifted and talented or anything else for these three years. Just let them be. It’s hard enough to just be at that age. They don’t need pressure or six weeks of sign language or advanced forensics. Math, writing and reading are the keys. Easy for me to say, I know. But, I lived it three times and I am gearing up to do it again.
Hence the title of this post, “The Kids are Alright.” Really they are. Ignore the artificial hoops and skip the angst most parents feel during these years. Dan, Tim and Ian were all nightmares during middle school. They did not suddenly turn stoopid, they suddenly had hormones. Of course, they also had a mom who had NO clue boys “got” hormones just like girls. Just relax, keep them busy (especially physically). Don’t panic. Don’t pile on the work and/or expectations. Just don’t.
We’ll be figuring out this weekend what Dan’s best option is. He’s got the Naval scholarship starting his sophomore year, so it’s just one year of scrambling. There are other issues, but after Mike and I spent two hours driving (wasteful and expensive, yes, but mosquito free) mindlessly through the neighborhood discussing things and talking about our old plans for the future and the reality of our life we came to the conclusion that DOH! You do the best you can. Still, it was nice to arrive at that conclusion together. Just like middle school, you want to force it, but you can’t. It’s all going to work out in the end.
Okay, this is long and rambling. Don’t make your life harder than it has to be . . . your kid(s) will figure things out and surprise you – maybe even amaze you!
Okay, I have to get back to painting (yes, I’m still painting). I’ve missed you all . . .