Wednesday, December 28, 2011

He's Decided to Be All That He Can Be

You know how you get caught up in the craziness of life, to the point where you sometimes forget that not everyone is living it with you?  Or how you make so many updates on Facebook, that you neglect the poor blog you started as the original update location?  Well, that's how it's been here. 

The biggest thing right now?  The Teenager enlisted in the Army.

Yes, I know the original plan was the Navy.  But after three attempts to get an ASVAB/AFQT score high enough for them to take him, he decided that maybe they weren't quite the right fit for him.

You will note, however, that he didn't give up altogether. Oh no. Not this boy. Man. Whatever.  No, he just went shopping for the branch that WAS the right fit for him. He found that with the Army. And so he took the physical. Signed the paperwork. Swore the Oath. Chose a career. Received a deployment date for basic training. He made it completely official.

My starter baby is leaving me in just a few short months. He is leaving me, to go learn how to protect and defend all of you

And I honestly believe I just may be more proud of him for this decision that I would have been if he had received a full-ride athletic scholarship to the college of his dreams. Well, if he'd ever dreamed of colleges and not the military.  Apparently, he IS going to be living his dream. Or at least, setting forth on the path towards it. Regardless, I AM so ridiculously beyond proud of him.

This may sound silly, but it occurs to me that this is one more thing in his life that we get to do together: learn to be Army Strong.  He as a soldier; me as a soldier's mom.

This is what he will be spending a very large chunk of his time in. Only, you know, a real tank that's not made out of Legos. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Someone Needs to Publish a Puberty For Parents Handbook

Mom, we can have this conversation, but you can’t look at me. Just….look at the TV, ok?

And that was how Bug and I started the conversation about his very first kiss. Which hadn’t happened as of last night and that conversation we had where we weren’t looking at each other, but most likely has happened by the time this post is up and you’re reading it.

He informed me that he’s going to do it. He’s going to kiss his girlfriend today. He’s got a plan.

A plan?

Yes, Mom. A plan.

And really, it’s a brilliantly simple plan. After school, he’s going to take her around the building to somewhere there are no teachers (Because PDA will get me in trouble at school, Mom)….and kiss her. Simple. His brother agreed; it was a pretty good plan.

When asked if he was sure, was he really ready for this since he hadn’t been comfortable with the idea with previous girlfriends, he assured me he was. As long as he could get her around the corner where no one was at.

Because really, Mom…I just don’t want to do this with everyone watching.

So it was set. He had it all planned out. This first kiss thing should go off without a hitch. Until this morning….

Just one last question, Mom. How, exactly, do you kiss a girl?

::blink blink::

To my credit, I recovered quickly. I’m not even sure he was aware of just how big a loop he just threw me for. But all of those recovery brownie points go flying out the window in the face of what I told him. Because, really…I have no idea how to kiss a girl. And I don’t remember agonizing over how to kiss a boy, either. So I told him it would probably be a lot like kissing me, except on the lips; and that he could practice on his hand a couple of times. Oh, and don’t pucker up like a fish.

If I wasn’t so sure that once it’s started kissing becomes fairly natural, I’d really worry that I’d just completely doomed him to a kiss-less lifetime. As it is, I have to hope that it goes smoothly enough to not leave him distracted. He’s planning on doing this right before tryouts for the school baseball team today.

I’m still not sure what I was wishing him good luck on as I backed out of the driveway….the kiss, or tryouts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Perspective Makes All The Difference

Every year, it’s the same battle.

A battle with the school, to make sure his 504 Plan is reevaluated and updated. A battle with the teachers, to hold them accountable for following his 504 Plan. A battle with Bug, to actually do the homework we’ve gotten accommodations for.

Then compound all of that with sports.

Every year, it’s been a lot of the same thing. At the beginning of each season, I meet with his coaches and explain what makes Bug…Bug. I offer advice on what works best, and what doesn’t, in keeping him calm and upbeat. I give each coach a run-down on the physical signs to watch for, in order to better ward off the emotional breakdown that follows each one.

This year, though? This year is going to be different.

For starters, Bug told me at the beginning of the school year that he didn’t want to use his 504 Plan this year. And although he wasn’t able to convince me to give the thing up entirely, he did make some valid contributions to this year’s modifications. When pressed for why he didn’t want to use it? He’s just tired of being treated differently. He wants so badly to fit in, just the way he is.

Now, I would like to say that I’m such a fabulous mother that I instantly realized that I should apply that same logic to baseball. However, apparently I’m a little bit slower than instant.

Bug IS on a new baseball team. We’ve known the coach and a couple of the boys for some years now, and we’ve always been impressed. This coach is amazing, and has a definite affinity for working with young athletes. Plus, he lives and breathes baseball, so he knows what he’s talking about when he directs them. So when an opportunity came up for Bug to try out for this team, we jumped at it. And Bug made the team. (This is where my new found knowledge would have kicked in. You know, had I actually been able to claim it.) As I said, we already knew this coach. So there was no need for the “conversation”. We didn’t need to give him any pointers; he knows my kid well.

So I sat back, and watched. Watched how Bug interacted with the other boys on the team, and how they interacted back. Watched how he played, and how he handled himself when something in the game wasn’t going his way. And even though I could see how well he was doing, how much his self-esteem had improved, how much greater his self-control had gotten…well, it wasn’t until he made this comment to me that things started to click in my head.

Mom, you know why I like this team so much? I fit in. Just the way I am; I fit in. No one is pushing me to see how far they can go before I lose it, and they all just encourage me. I fit, Mom.

And yes, I cried at that.

But my true A-ha! moment came last night. Bug had been called by another team in our club, and asked to fill in for one game. The manager of this team has also known Bug for years. The difference, though, is that ALL of the other boys on the team have also known Bug for years. Which means they’ve all witnessed at least one very public meltdown during a game. The significance of that finally sunk in last night. Or, more accurately, the significance of the fact that almost NONE of the boys on his actual team had ever met him before August.

In a normal game, each of Bug’s teammates can be heard at various times in the game cheering him on or shouting some kind of encouragement; all based on that game’s performance and how awesome they all believe him to be. Last night was different. Oh, the boys on that team all encouraged him, it was just…not the same. Last night was more like how I used to encourage him when he was younger. “Keep your head up! Don’t let it get you down!”

It occurred to me last night that maybe one of the biggest reasons he’s doing so well on this new team and making such strides in mastering his self-control? Is that not one person on that field is waiting for him to fail.

They’re excited about watching him succeed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Busy Isn't Busy Enough

It's the nights that are the hardest, I think.

I talk to him several times throughout the day.  I play Words With Friends on Facebook with him. I text him frequently.  We send each other pictures of life in our separate parts of the country. But at night, after the chaos of dinner and homework, baseball and dishes; when the boys are in bed, and it's time for me to head that way....I find myself at a loss.

When Coach first took this job driving over the road, we were certain we knew what we were facing.  Of course, we also thought we were looking at a schedule where he'd be on the road for a couple of weeks, maybe even three, and then he'd be home for three days.  We soon realized that wasn't the schedule that would bring in the paycheck that we need after his long sojourn in the Land of the Unemployed. So we stretched his first couple of "away from home" stretches to a month. Then six weeks. Then eight weeks. After all, if the wheels aren't turnin' the driver ain't earnin'....

And I managed to keep busy. Work, baseball, trying to help the Teenager find his path. Liberally lacing my days with phone conversations with Coach. The boys would call him for advice. I'd call him and let him know stupid things, like the kitchen sink was clogged but I figured it out; or ask for advice on how to take care of something or other.

But then.......bedtime would roll around, and I would find myself starting some other activity closer and closer to the time I should be heading to bed. I'd pick up a new book, I'd start a game of Angry Birds. Before long, I'd simply be too tired to even keep my eyes open any longer, and then I'd fall into bed. 

People, I'm averaging about four hours of sleep a night. And I think that might be a generous estimated average. 

As much as I love not fighting for the covers, or feeling like I'm sleeping with my own personal full-body heater....I don't like going to bed without him.  We've been married almost 19 years, and I suddenly find myself actively avoiding my bed. For goodness' sake, it's after eleven now; and I sit here, wondering how long I can type before there's just too many words for this to be even remotely worth reading.

The nights are definitely the hardest, and I hate feeling lost in my own bed.