...my child sold your honor student the answers to the test...

Friday, May 31, 2013

Losing a Friend

Wednesday night. long after the boys went to bed, J and I were sitting on the couch watching tv when we heard the pitter patter of feet slowly trudging down the stairs. A sniffle followed, ending in a sad sigh. We looked up at the stairs to see Ashe walking down the stairs, tears in his eyes. When we asked him what was the matter, he tearily told us that today, his best friend C told him that they weren't friends anymore.

Since the beginning of kindergarten, Ashe and C have been tight. I mean soul mate tight. C was the only girl in class who was as much of a video game junkie as Ashe was. In fact, I have had several conversations with C's mom, alleviating her fears that C would grow up with no friends because she is such a tom boy. I made it crystal clear that a gamer girl was going to be one of the coolest kids as she grew up, because she would have a ton of guy friends who would become like her big brothers.

Ashe and C loved Zelda. Ashe and C loved Mario. Ashe and C loved lots of things that many other kids didn't. One day, when I took Ashe over to C's house for a play date, he brought his Link doll with him, because he wanted to show it to her. When C opened the door, she was holding the exact same doll in her hand.

When Ashe had his birthday party, he invited C and one other friend, E, from school. When C had her birthday party, Ashe was the only one from school that was invited. C's mom and I used to joke that they really were soul mates.

So when Ashe came downstairs on the verge of tears, my heart tore in two. This was a situation that I know is common as kids learn to navigate friendships. And it was bound to come up one day. But to have it be C, his bestest friend, and not some other child, was a very hard blow. We knew something must have been going on, because over the last two weeks, when we asked Ashe what he did during recess, he would say that he played alone. When asked why, he said that C and the other kids were pretending to play "Skylander" and he wasn't interested in joining. J even contemplated buying the game, just so that Ashe could play it and join in, but Ashe was adamant that Skylander was not something he was interested in.

The story comes out that C was insistent that she wanted to play Skylander every recess and Ashe was insistent that he didn't want to join. So they each would go their separate ways. And this day, C decided that since their "hobbies" diverged away from one another, they were no longer friends. And Ashe kept silent about it all day, until he lay in bed at night, and reality came crashing down on him.

The day your child comes home and tells you he lost his good friend is going to break your heart. I like C's mom a lot, and still I felt the maternal urge to call her up at 10 pm and cry out "Your child broke my child's heart over a flipping video game!!!" It's a natural mother bear instinct to shelter your children from the harsh lessons that life has to offer, even to the six year olds, even when you know logically that the other parents have nothing to do with what transpires.

So instead, J and I sat down and brought him up to cuddle with us on the couch late at night. And we told him that we hurt with him, as we knew how good of friends the two of them had been. But then we started asking about his other friends. What about E? Or W? Tell us about them. So he did.

He told us how that very day, E had made him a paper laptop as a gift. Ashe even got a yellow bucket (le sigh) because she whispered to him during silent time what he wanted on it, and he whispered back. And how W sent him his phone number, and the two of them were excited to get together for a play date over summer vacation.

Within ten minutes, Ashe went from feeling really hurt, to realizing that he has some great friends still. And sure, they may like different things, but that doesn't mean that they can't be friends. And Ashe started to cherish what he did have, friends who liked him for who he was, not what he played.

I know over the years to come we will have similar conversations, both with Ashe and the other boys. It's a rite of passage for kids to go through it again and again. And it sucks, every time. But in the long run, I hope, that they realize that some friendships will come and go, but the true friendships will last over time, no matter what.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

One Leap in Life

I just returned from Xavier's fifth grade Promotion Ceremony. While the ceremony itself was cute, the implications of today are huge. In one moment, my oldest son went from being in elementary school to becoming a middle schooler.

Even if you are not a parental unit, you understand what this time in life means. Middle school is such a huge transitional period for a child, that even I as an adult, can remember my time with clarity. Middle school sucked. For me, it was probably the most awkward time of my life, likely worsened by the fact that I went to four middle schools in four years. It was a time when the chemicals in your body change drastically, throwing one into a maelstrom of drastic ups and downs. It is a time when the courses get harder, the homework longer, and grades mean more than ever before. It was a time when peers became more important than family, and peer pressure reared its ugly head. It is a time when boys notice girls, and vice versa. School dances come into play, which leads to dating, kissing, and sometimes even heavy petting.

This is the world my son is about to enter.

For now, I don't worry about how he will handle the academic pressure. Out of my three children, I think he is the one who will be able to pull through the inferno that is middle school just fine. However there is one aspect that stood out to me this morning that has me cautious. After the ceremony, I noticed that all of the kids rounded up together, horsing around and celebrating their promotion. All of the kids, except for Xavier. He hung around us parental units and the G-rents. When I encouraged him to go hang with his friends, as he only has one more day left with them, he did so, albeit reluctantly. And that's when I noticed that many of the kids kind of ignored his hello's, or rushed passed him as he tried to join the crowd. For a few minutes he tried, but I noticed that he stayed on the fringes of his classmates antics. After five minutes, he returned back to the family fold, seeming more comfortable with us than his peers.

I worry that this will be his lot in life for the next few years to come. And I don't like it. I was the girl on the fringe for a long time. I was the girl who was bypassed, uninvited to parties, and left alone. It was a horrible feeling as a kid, to not have a few friends I could call up and invite over, or to whisper silly secrets to during lunch. It was hard to go through elementary and middle school and not quite fitting in. It wasn't until high school, when I joined a vocational school for 16 towns that I finally blossomed into the sarcastic, fun loving, loud person that I am today. And part of that was because by that time, I was so used to being the new kid, that I had no issues in the beginning, where many kids had never played the role of new kid.

Maybe I am putting too much of my own history onto Xavier's back. I really hope that I am. Because if he can not come into his own in the next year or two, I know from personal experience that it is a hard road to walk. We will always be there for him. But friends are a huge part of becoming comfortable in one's skin as a  teenager. With him joining a middle school that most of his elementary peers are not going to, at least he will have a fresh start to hopefully make new friends with a clean slate.

Aside from peers though, I can't even begin to explain how proud I am of Xavier and all of his accomplishments. He was given the award today of "Most Improved Student",  something he absolutely deserves. And his smile lit up the room when his name was called to the front of the room to receive his award and certificate. We stopped by the middle school for an orientation the other day, and watching him walk around, looking at his new classrooms, cafeteria, and gym, I noticed that he looked like he fit right in. I hope that is true, and that his time in middle school goes much smoother for him than it did for me.

A parental unit will ALWAYS have something to worry about concerning their kids: grades, attitude, peer pressure, etc. I guess mine is to worry about Xavier and his social circle. I guess right now, if that is all I have to worry about, I'll be ok. And so will he. I mean, hey, I think I turned out ok in the long run.

Xavier and his teacher at today's reception

Friday, May 24, 2013


Summer vacation is quickly approaching. A time in the past where I would consider stocking up on more alcohol than usual, knowing that I would have in my house 24/7 3-6 weeks, three rambunctious boys. I would frantically scrabble through my coffee drenched brain, trying to figure out how to entertain, and keep quiet, our spawns, while J would be on conference calls right below our feet. It was a time of celebration for a year completed, which lasted all of 48 hours, before the boys, having realized that they were also stuck together whether they wanted to be or not, inevitably would begin to chafe of the confinements of one another company, and the annoyance of brothers began to emerge.

That's why I would stock up on my BFF's wine and brandy. But not anymore. I have a new weapon to add to my arsenal of sanity, as of a few months ago, and this summer, I plan to use it to its fullest potential.


After years of trying to get my mom to move to our area, this past winter she and her husband finally made it here. They now live ten minutes away, in a nice complex. Even better, they have a pool right across from their house. Even better than that? They have a place with an extra bedroom...... just for the boys.

Since the move, the grandparents want to see the boys as much as possible and vice versa, so I've been taking them over every few Friday nights, where they spend the weekend with the G-rents. I pick them up Sunday evening before school. It's been a win/win situation for everyone involved. The boys get to run crazy without having to worry about my crazed eye glare and "projecting voice" talent that I learned as a kid who was bitten by the theater bug, that seems to emerge whenever my patience tank begins to run on fumes. G-rents get to enjoy their lovely little G-kids, until they are run ragged, then get to send them home all sugared up and snickering at the thought that they have the ability to send them on their merry way without having to deal with the ramifications of children ramped up on candy. And we parental units have started to actually have some time to ourselves on go on those things we always heard about but never got a chance to try..... date nights. It's crazy!!! We actually get to go out as a husband and wife and pretend it was like 12 years ago when we didn't have kids ( or kids on the way) and we can do fun GROWN UP things! Like eat at a restaurant that doesn't offer crayons! And has real, fresh food, not frozen patties microwaved for 30 seconds and slapped on a plastic bun. It's freaking heaven!

And with summer on the way ( oh hell let's call it like it is with us living in NC, it's already summer-esque here) it's warm enough that at the G-rents place, the pool is open. With it being actually warm enough to swim in, the kids are FRANTIC to finish school and head to  Camp Grammy. But eh best part is that everyone involved actually wants them to stay for at least a week. A WEEK! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?!!! It means that I, SRM, and J, get to pretend that we are grown ups without children for a full 7 days!!!! That's 168 hours. 10080 minutes. That, my friends, is insanity! In a good way!!!

But now the question is, what the hell do I do with all of that extra time?! Sleeping in is, of course, obvious. So is catching up on a few tv shows, a book or 5. But after that? If the weather holds, I'm fantasizing renting a kayak from the local park, plugging my earbuds in, and drifting on the lake solo. Maybe take a few hikes without having to worry about pacing my steps to that of a three year old. What about finding a quiet corner in Starbucks, slowing sipping my venti café mocha while I play on my laptop. Maybe even brainstorming about blog ides? Oooh! What else?! I need ideas peeps, and I need them now!

So yay to the G-rents for finally making it down here, and making everyone happy, most especially during track out vacations!

Monday, May 20, 2013

(Red) Bucket List

In kindergarten, at the school my kids go to, every day Ashe comes home with a colored bucket. If he had a good day, his bucket would be colored green. If he was talked to by the teacher once or twice, it would be yellow. Red is a bad bad day. Ashe never has come home with a red bucket. Until Friday.

I received an email from his teacher around lunch time to expect a red bucket. I was appalled by her recounting of his behavior; talking loudly out of turn, being insolent and rude, and refusing to follow directions. I get we all have bad days. But this was pretty bad.

I *do* know that over the past few weeks he has been a little more belligerent at home, and we didn't know why. I do know that he casually mentioned that he's not playing with his friends at recess anymore because they are playing Skylander and he's not interested. He made it clear it doesn't bother him, but with this happening around the same time as his new 'tude, I wonder if it's actually bothering him more than he realizes.

I brought up the lack of playmates to his teacher and asked her to keep an eye out while we would deal consequences at home for his misbehavior. In the end I sat him down for a long quiet talk about his attitude lately and how we weren't mad, but very disappointed in his behavior at school. Instead of timeouts (which don't phase him in the slightest) or sending him to his room with no toys (he can keep himself entertained for hours with a rubber band) we decided that instead he would write out a letter of apology to his teacher for his actions. And he did, taking care to spell his words properly and with his best handwriting. He actually apologized to me on his own (GASP) and sad h wouldn't do it again.

We'll see how long that lasts but maybe the red bucket wasn't as bad as we though?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Traveling Band Aid

Over the past few weeks, I noticed something going on in our household. No one has loudly announced their purpose for this oddity, but I suspect it to be something of Ashe's imagination.

You see, we seem to have a traveling band aid. What I mean by this is that there is a singular band aid that is traveling from place to place in our home. One day I may wake up to find it hanging out on our island counter. A few days later I will notice it randomly placed on our living room wall.

Last night, while J and I settled down to watch TV, I noticed it hanging around near our windowsill.

I don't know what is going through the boy's minds as this poor band aid continues its travels, but it is just SO random that I can't help but chuckle every time I notice it in a new spot. I'm ok with this traveling band aid so long as it doesn't end up in my bed.