Wednesday, May 25, 2016

...Graduation Loading...

Here we are, 17 days until our youngest graduates high school.

Last week we went to the academic awards night where he was presented with his college scholarships by his very own brother.  That was one of my most proud moments as a parent.

The day after he missed senior skip day, because his coach threatened to pull him from Regional's if he didn't show up to school.  It's been like that as long as I can remember, and he's too good of a kid push the limits.

His high school sports career is over, due to a technicality (if you call a student forgetting to measure his throw because he wasn't paying attention a technicality, then go with that.  I call it a major fuck up, when he would have PR'd and gotten his personal goal for the season).  Granted, I was hoping he'd make Sectionals, but there are some really good thrower's in the region. It was more about him beating his goal. All in all it was a really good high school sports career.  Four years of football ending with a defensive player of the year award, all conference honorable mention, and a GMC scholar award, four years of track and a year of baseball (of his own doing...he wasn't cut).

He spent yesterday in Chicago with his other AP Science classmates exploring the Shedd Aquarium and the Planetarium.

He'll spend today and tomorrow likely paying no attention in class, because as a senior he probably doesn't really give a crap any longer.  I know I wouldn't.

The weekend will be at our home away from home most likely spent relaxing, fishing, shooting and eating.

Next week he'll have four days of class and his final sports banquet.  Every day I ask if he has homework and he says no.  He's either doing it at school or the teachers have given up handing out assignments.

The week after will be finals.  Who knows how many he'll have after they give out exemptions.  Then he'll have his senior dinner dance, graduation walk through and training for his summer job.   Then we have the big day.

I think I can say it will be a big day for him.  It's the culmination of 13 years of school.  13 years of playing by the rules.  13 years of going to class and getting his homework done. 13 years of making and losing friends, and earning the respect of teachers and coaches.   13 years of getting to practice early, and leaving late, when someone else didn't do their job and equipment needed to be put away.  13 years of getting ready for that next step in his life.

I remember when he moved from preschool to kindergarten.  We were there when they had their ceremony.  He wore a gown and a homemade cap, and I took pictures(!).  They called it graduation.  (Side note, I don't believe in calling it graduation when a kid moves from preschool to grammar school, 2nd to 3rd grade, 7th to 8th grade, etc. ... it's passing your grade.  Needless to say, we celebrated it like it was a graduation, even if calling it that pisses me off to this day).

Once June 11th arrives, I'm sure I'll be a bundle of nerves.  We'll try to get to school early enough to get a decent seat along with the 1,600 other spectators.  I'll be armed with my trusty Canon, trying to get shots of him and those kids that mean something to our family.  We'll listen to the class speaker, fingers crossed it's our favorite, because man can he give a speech.  We'll spend three hours in that stifling gym...why I have no idea, when the school has a great sports stadium.  I'll cry when I see him walk in the gym.  I'll cry when I see our friends that have been on this journey with us.  I'll cry when I see teachers, coaches and the counselor that has been on this ride with us and I will thank them all for that they've done.  And I'll cry when he walks across that stage to get his diploma. (For the record, I'm crying now as I write this.  I really am pathetic.)

What I won't do is apologize for it.  My husband and I are ready for high school to be over.  Both our kids successfully navigated this district, all the ups and downs, and avoided getting caught up in the minutia.  I don't doubt that our youngest is ready to be done too.  This summer will bring a full time job, college orientation, a combined graduation party, his 18th birthday, and we'll see how many friendship's stay true for both he and us.  He'll be heading to campus on August 11 to arrive for his first day football practice.

Just remember kiddo, Dr. Suess said: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." We love you and can't wait to see what you do next.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dear Boys: Why I Pushed You in School

Dear Boys:

I'm sorry that over the course of your education, I pushed, and badgered, and made sure that you got your homework done.  I made sure you studied for your exams.  And I didn't let you bail on your responsibilities.   (I'm not alone in this...your dad did some of this too).

There is a method to my madness.  I was an OK student in high school.  I skated through with B's and C's and an occasional A, and I'll be honest a D or two.  I graduated high school on my 18th birthday.  My parents threw a party for me, and one of my classmates thought it would be funny to dump a watermelon boat on my head.  Spoiler alert.  I was fucking pissed.  That night I celebrated with many friends in a barn, and did things I probably shouldn't have been doing at 18.   But I thought I was an adult and I knew what I was doing.

Fast forward three months and I went away to college.  It was college of choice because they were known for business and I wanted to be an accountant and I there was no way I was smart enough to be a Badger.  News flash.  Just because you are good at math, doesn't mean you should follow that dream.

I met your father on day one at college, while he was dating someone else.  You know this story since its in the book, and you've heard how we met.

At the end of our first year, I was asked not to come back.  My grades were horrible, and I wasn't focused.  In all honesty, I wasn't ready to go to college.

The next year, I went to a tech school for a year, then transferred back into the UW system.  That year your father proposed and we ended up moving out together.  Two years later we were married.  

We were young, and school was no longer a priority.  It was more important that we were living on our own, started our family and then bought our house.  Had we finished school, we would have been in a much better place.  Instead I worked full time, and your dad worked multiple jobs.  Those early years were hard.  When it came time to send you to daycare, we trusted someone else to help raise you and paid a fortune to do it.

Once you got to grade school, we kept an eye on your grades.  It was important to us that you buckled down and studied.   You may have hated us when we (I) pushed to keep your grades up.  But that first time you came home with all A's, I knew you got it.  You both sailed through your schooling.

When you were in Little League, and I was on the board, I went back to school.  I went back 17 years after I stepped foot on my first campus.  I walked into this new school with 85 credits and over the course of a year, took another 57 credits.  I worked full time and studied while you slept.  Each A brought me closer and closer to my goal:  a degree in Marketing.  The best decision I made was to go back to school, even if it did mean the family had to sacrifice.  When I suggested going to grad school right away, I realized it was time for you both to get you college educations first.  

I only bring this up, because in this day and age, having an education will get you more job opportunities.  Spending years to get where we are today might have been easier with that piece of paper.  

Know that once you walk across that stage, it won't matter if you got an A or a C in a class.  Employers won't look at that.  And if, by chance, you run into an employer that cares what grade you received in freshman English or speech, instead of looking at your skill set, your experience and what you can do for them, you probably don't want to work for that company.

Thank you both for putting up with me and how much your dad and I pushed.   You'll understand better when you have kids of your own.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Note to Our Boys

Regardless of what you think, you will always be my babies.  

I was there before you were born.  

When you were stubborn and didn't want to be born, I was cut in half to make sure you were safe.  And I was there when your dad nearly passed out. 

I was there for your first birthday.  And your first day of daycare.  

I was there with your dad and walked you to your first day of kindergarten.  And I was there when I got the phone call you rode your bike into the window at school.  

I was there five minutes after you took a baseball to the face, thrown by someone that never, ever, hit someone in batting practice.

I was there when we got notes from your teachers that said what good citizens you were and how you always had an extra pencil to share.  

I was there when you taped money to the floor because you thought it was funny.  

I was there when you came home after throwing a baseball across the parking lot that bounced and dented a car.

I was there when you were the quietest one in school, and when you finally got your voice and became the most sarcastic kid in class.

I was there when you played soccer, and then discovered baseball, and football too.  I was there during practices and games in grade school, middle school, high school and college.

I was there to help with homework and help (write) edit papers.

I was there for countless movies I didn't necessarily want to see, but saw any way because it meant we were together.

I was there the first time you watched an R rated movie and I tried not to laugh when you turned red because there were boobs on the screen.

I was there to wash the pair of shorts you just had to have for the next day.    And I was there when your shoes wore out in gym class and we had to run out at 8:30 at night to find you another pair.

I was there when you discovered girls and fell in (love); and then I was there when I realized you were really in love.

I was there when you wanted to eat the last donut, which you knew was my favorite, but I let you eat it anyway.

I was there when you called me momma, and mom, and woman.

I was there when you laughed.   And cried.  And couldn't sleep.  Or was sick.  And when you were scared of Scar.  And when nothing scared you as well.

I was there when you still slept with your blanket.   And when you grew up and still sometimes used it.

I was there when you sold your Xbox and games and gave some of the profit to your brother so he could buy a new game too.

I was there when you went hunting and came home with your trophy...and there when you came home with nothing.  And I was there when you allowed me to sit with you on opening day and I watched in awe when you took the shot three feet from me.

I was there at the dinner table and tried to be the voice of reason, when all you wanted to do was fart to make me laugh.  I tried to be the adult and held back the giggles, when deep inside I was already laying on the floor laughing.

I was there during doctor visits and surgeries, and held your hand in the hospital when you weren't sure you'd recover.

I was there when you bumped your head the day before school pictures, and there when you realized chicks dig scars.

I was there when you realized you knew where you wanted to go to college, and what you wanted to study.  And when you knew you wanted to play college football and gave it your all.

I was there when you got best hitter awards, and when you were the best defensive lineman, and got the Cwik award, and the all conference nod.  And I was there when all the hard work paid off and you were awarded your scholarships.

I'll be there when you graduate college.  And when you graduate high school.  And you graduate college too.  

I'll be there when you fall in love, and get married and have babies of your own.

And I'll be there when your kids test you and you don't know what to do...and you realize the only thing you can think of is to call your mom for her advice.  

I love you both with all my heart. Thank you for making life pretty easy for me and your dad.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What I've Learned

Here we are, four days before college commencement and 30 days before high school graduation.  The days are flying by.  I swear it was just yesterday we were walking our oldest to his first day of kindergarten.

What have I learned in the last 17 years?  Absolutely nothing.  No, that's not right.  I've learned so much my head hurts.

I've learned that some friendships don't last.
I've learned that true friends will be there when you need them, and those that aren't suck.
I've learned that sometimes it takes walking away from nearly everyone you know and go to a campus where you know very few people is the best decision could make.
I've learned that as a sports parent, sometimes you have to keep your mouth shut.  You aren't the coach, and no matter what you think, really doesn't matter.
I've learned that some of the best friendships are found with those very coaches.
I've learned that its ok if your kid stays home on a Friday and Saturday night because they have made the decision to avoid drama.
I've learned that your kids will make decisions that you don't agree with.  You just have to hope they correct their mistakes, or at best learn from them.
I've learned your husband can intimidate a principal with just a look.
I've learned that it pays to be friends with a resident tattoo expert when a gym teacher overly judges.
I've learned that both kids and parents embellish the truth.  Just remember I'm on to you and you are full of shit.  Even better that you know I know you are full of shit.
I've learned that sitting back and watching drama unfold on social media is pretty damn funny.  Especially when it isn't about you or your kid.
I've learned that sitting through Christmas concerts can be painfully boring.  But I love them all the same.   And damnit they are Christmas concerts, not holiday sings.
I've learned to have tolerance of kindergarten, 1st grade, fifth grade, sixth grade (you get the picture) graduations.  Your kid is moving to the next grade.  They aren't graduating.
I've learned I'm the homework Nazi.   I'm ok with that because our kids got into a great college....actually many great colleges.  Tough crap they hated me when I badgered them about grades.
I've learned that college drinking is inevitable, and high school drinking is just stupid.  It doesn't matter that I did both.
I've learned that waiting 17 years to finish college was the toughest thing I've ever done.  I don't recommend it, and that boys is why you will finish school.
I've learned that kids lie.  And their parents do too.
I've learned that parents judge. I used to care.  Now I don't.
I've learned that kids will be nice to you to your face, and then bad mouth you when you turn around.  News flash you little fuckers, some day someone will call you on your bullshit.
I've learned that I miss the kids playing baseball.  And I hate they quit because of poor coaching and shitty teammates.
I've learned that I'm really going to miss taking pictures on Friday night's, and being overly involved in the football program.
I've learned that both our boys set goals to play college football, and although it's not Division I, it is a damn good program. I thank 95% of the coaching staff for helping them fulfill their dreams.
I've learned that even after your kid graduates high school, you'll still be friends with some of those parents you met.
I've learned that I can't wait to delete some of the others.
I've learned that sitting in a parking lot waiting to get chairs and tables for a festival will afford you the opportunity to see a teacher rocking out in his car.
I've learned that I can't freak out when your kid never brings home homework.
I've learned that its pretty cool that our oldest will present our youngest with his scholarship awards.
I've learned that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
And lastly, I've learned that I can't wait to watch both our boys  walk across their respective stages while I take 1,000 pictures and post them.   And I won't apologize for it.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Not Just Another May

Would some please explain to me where the last four years...I mean 4,600+ days...have gone? How is it possible that the sweet, skinny, yet tall, little boy that took a header into the window at Wilson on his bike, and that quiet, yet sarcastic, little boy who took a baseball to the face and survived, are both graduating within the next 33 days?

Yes, more school is in the future for both boys, but wow those years flew by fast. I've realized as I've gotten older that days turn into weeks, weeks into months and months into years much faster than when we were jockeying from the little league diamonds to Greenfield Park, or packing the boys five deep in the back of the pickup truck after an especially wet football practice. I remember grand slams and hitting the grid iron playing both sides of the ball. I remember posing for pictures for dances, and skipping dances too. I remember getting the float ready for homecoming, and picking up loads of chairs and tables for fundraisers. I remember going on field trips and watching the boys faces light up when they were holding baby chickens. I remember an entire staff of coaches turning around and looking for us in the stands from the football field, after our oldest took an especially hard hit...and I remember my husband jumping over a fence to get to him. I remember our youngest taking a cleat to the face, a half inch below his eye. I remember staying up after a late Thursday night game while watching one do homework for the next day. I remember all the friends they made....and the ones I've made too.

We were informed by the Regional Director of Admission at Ripon that our oldest will be presenting our youngest with his scholarship awards at the academic awards night next week. Doug and I are so very proud of both of our boys, their accomplishments, and the men they have become.

The last month has been a whirlwind of getting ready for the final days of college, attending the senior gallery opening, watching our youngest at track and wondering if he actually studied for his AP Chem exam, and planning when we can go pick up all of our oldest's stuff.

Mothers Day weekend was spent getting a lot of work done, just like every other weekend, spending time with both our moms, going to a movie and having one last Sunday dinner before we have a college graduate.

There are days I wish we could turn back the clock and spend a little more time going through the younger years. So many days were spent at practice or games, where they learned how to be a team player, when to speak up and when to stick up for the little guy. Then there were the days that ended up in punches and swearing after an especially heated battle. I love when I check out Facebook and all those memories pop up, the good...and the bad. Perhaps I'm a little too dependent on what happened five years ago, but even more memories come flooding back when you see them.

I wish our dads were here to see the boys graduate. I know, in my heart, they are toasting them, and cursing they couldn't be here.

I am thankful that Doug and I, now 46 and 45, are on the cusp of this chapter of our lives coming to a close. I am more thankful the next chapter is just the first of many, many more. I am simply in awe of everything that has been accomplished these last 22+ years. So many milestones. Bad memories that fade with time, good memories that make us smile.

This is our 17th year of school. The last full month where we have a child in high school. There will be no more track meets. There will be no more dances. No more AP exams. No more handing over $5 for lunch. No more planning football fundraisers or taking 1,000 pictures on a Friday night. No videos of coaches singing in their office. There will be no more high school memories until our kids have kids of their own.

Being a parent is the hardest job on this planet. You have 18 years (ok maybe 22 years) to get it right, and hope to God that your kids are ready for the world. I'm actually more afraid the world might not be ready for them