The Bean has been playing lacrosse for over 3 years. The first few years, she loved it – the physicality of it, the speed, the great kids she played along side. Then last year, she started to make noises about not wanting to play anymore.
The thing about the Bean is she *never* wants to play anything. She is happiest in our house, Facetiming friends or playing on her phone – but, 9 times out 10, when she gets out of the house to do whatever activity she’s been dragged to, she’s happy to be there. So, when she started saying she didn’t want to play lacrosse, I pretty much ignored her and I signed her up for the season anyhow, figuring once she got in the swing of it, it wouldn’t be a big deal.
<Hi, my name is Heather. Evidently I’m new to this parenting thing.>
When lacrosse season started, Bean had to miss the first few weeks of practice due to conflicts. She kept telling us she didn’t want to play but we kept assuring her she’d love it and not to worry. I figured she’d fall into the same routine of complaining and then being fine once she was actually there.
Finally the first practice she could attend arrives and I knew I was in for a battle, but I figured within 5 minutes or so she’s be resigned and we’d be on our way.
Me: Hey, you have practice tonight. Eat your dinner and we’ll head out in a bit.
Bean: I’m not going.
Me: Yes, you are – we’ve talked about this. You love lacrosse! Eat up and we’ll go!
Bean: I don’t like lacrosse and I’m not going- I told you I’m not playing this year.
Me: Yes, you are- you’ve made a commitment.
<This is normally where she cries. Once that doesn’t work, she folds, grumpily gets ready and away we go to have a good night.>
Bean: (completely calm) No, I did not. YOU made the commitment. I told you I didn’t want to play, you signed me up anyhow. So the commitment is on you.
<Huh. Welllllll, this isn’t going to plan. She has a point, but I’ll be damned if I tell her that.>
Me: Either way, you’re on the team. They are expecting you – go get changed, we have to leave in a few.
Me: (clearing losing here and more than a little flummoxed) Well, if you don’t get changed, I’ll take you in your school uniform. I don’t care.
Bean: Neither do I. You can take me in my dress clothes – when I get there, I’m just going to tell the coach I don’t want to be there and sit on the bench. You can make me go, but you can’t make me play.
I always knew the Bean had a bigger back bone than most people. She’s been stubborn from day one and I know this trait will help her move mountains when she’s older. But now? Now, when she’s 11, I really just want her to do what I tell her to do. It would make *my* life a thousand times easier.
But did I really want to teach her that she has no voice now? Did I want to stifle her autonomy and force her to do something she really didn’t want to do – something I knew she didn’t want to do, but I signed her up for anyhow, ignoring her wishes? Do I want her to be a person that gives into what other people tell her to do just to make the other person happy?
I grew up with the philosophy that once you committed to something, you saw it through and have tried to raise my kids with the same mindset. But, in this case, she didn’t commit to something- she was 100% correct that the Hubs and I made that decision for her.
Sometimes, as a parent, it’s easy to make a proclamation and decide that the most important thing is to force your kids to do what you say. You dig in your heels and decide that that decision is a hill you’re willing to die on. And sometimes, as a parent, you’re 100% correct and your kids just have to deal.
And other times you wise up and realize that raising a kick-ass kid with a mind of her own and the strength of her convictions is a thousand times more important….no matter how much you miss watching her play.
Dear Bean –
Happy birthday, kiddo – you’re 11! And, frankly, you weren’t happy about it. You told me, very seriously, that 10 was a great year and you’re a little worried that 11 won’t live up to your expectations.
Girl, I hear you.
Getting older is HARD and I know you’re starting to realize that things are changing. You only have one more year left in your beloved school and the kids you’ve known since you were 3 will scatter. We’re still in the process of figuring out this home addition. And this summer is an odd one with lots of trips – one without your dad and I. While you do many, many things well, you do NOT do change.
But here is where I tell you, it’ll all be fine. I swear it.
You weren’t wrong though- 10 was a stellar year for you! You slayed 5th grade with great study habits, a wonderful teacher and solid friendships. You continued to ride horses, you gave up lacrosse (in a moment that oddly made me stupidly proud of you), you made more Tik Tok videos than should be legal and girl – you found basketball.
You’ve never been much for team sports, and that’s Ok. You don’t thrive off of the sense of community that comes from playing on a team, you don’t really care about meeting new people, nor were you particularly sold on sports, but something clicked this year. So, with the urging of some friends, you decided to try out for a travel basketball team.
You made that team and you FOUND YOUR TRIBE! A group of girls that you instantly bonded with- I have never seen anything like that with you before. Even your teacher commented that being part of this team gave you more confidence across the board. So, high-five to that!
And now, you’re 11.
Here is what I hope for you this year:
So, here’s to 11 being even better than 10! I can’t wait to see where your adventures take you.
I love you,
You have been blessing this earth with your sassy attitude, funny personality and charm for a decade now.
Girl, you’re old.
How in the world did that happen? Aren’t babies supposed to stay babies? I think there is a law about that somewhere that you broke with all this growing up you’re doing.
We were in FL back in March, on the beach in St. Augustine – you were all long, skinny, tanned limbs and my heart stopped just looking at the gorgeousness that is you. Not just your physical features, but your sparkling eyes and loud laugh – that was the moment I got a glimpse into you who you’d grow up to be and it was astounding.
You are still my mystery girl. Your brother and I are very similar- what you see is pretty much what you get. We like people, we like crowds and there are no such things as strangers- just friends we haven’t met.
You, on the other hand, are much more guarded. You keep your circle small, your friends close and list of things you love to do pretty damn small. Getting you to try new things is like pulling teeth and if you’re not sure you’ll be 100% successful or comfortable doing something- you’d really rather not.
Parenting you is sometimes one of the most challenging things I do – and I’m so thankful for it. You, my Bean, make my life a 1000x more interesting. You keep me on my toes, you show me a new way to look at things and you’re constantly wowing me with your intelligence and humor. In short, I adore you.
This past year was a great one for you. You rocked 4th grade- adoring your teacher, getting good grades and working hard. This year was the start of some serious girl drama as you discovered that have 2 BFFs is hard. But you ladies figured things out and learned a bit more about kindness, compromise and what being a friend is about.
You kept playing an instrument, even though you complained once a week about that. You played lacrosse again and killed it – even though you complained about that too. Your father and I have figured out that you’re going to complain about most things that take you out of the house- but once you’re there, you shine. You’re dedicated and work hard and more or less remember your manners.
The only things you never, ever complained about? Playing flag football and horseback riding. You’ve already stated that in 7th grade you’re playing real football because when you grow up you want to play in the NFL. Then become a marine biologist. You don’t care which you do first- you’re just going to do both of them. And I really don’t doubt you will if that is what you really want.
As for horseback riding- you started taking lessons about a year ago and fell in love. I don’t know if it’ll be a long time love affair- but you have never once tried to get out of riding and you’d pretty much rather be at the barn than anywhere else (except home- you always want to be at home). It’s a joy watching you find what makes you happy – and right now, being on a horse is one of your most happy places.
You start 5th grade in a month – and it’s the first time in your life you’ll go to a different school then your brother. You two make each other crazy, but you’re also each other’s BFFs and I wonder how this will go for you. I have a feeling you’ll find a sense of independence you’ve never had before and I can’t wait to see how you stretch your wings.
As you start the first year of your second decade, I wish so very much. I wish you:
You, my darling Bean, are one of the best gifts I have ever received. You are my heart – my wild child, my rule breaker and my stubborn mule. Watching you grow is my greatest privilege and I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years bring.
The calendar tells me it’s Spring. The kid’s sports calendar tells me it’s Spring. Mother Nature didn’t seem to get that memo though- it’s cold and grey and sleeting outside my window. It snowed on Easter Sunday. This seemed like a particularly bitter pill given that we had arrived home from Fl the day before.
We had a fantastic trip – hitting the West Coast…
and the East Coast…
There were feet in the sand, Mickey Ice Cream Bars consumed daily, trips to numerous pools and tanned faces. There was also one trip the ER (the Hubs, sinus infection), one puking kid (the Bean, low blood sugar) , two teeth lost (Scorch, they were loose) and minimal tears. We drove 1115 miles* on the way home and no one lost their minds until about 45 minutes from home, so I consider that a win. There was lots of family time with some of our favorites, a date night that turned into sharing a table with two drunk fishermen with lots of funny stories, and lots of movies watched over and over and over to make the drive down and back bearable.
All in all it was perfect and the Hubs is on his annual campaign to convince us all to move south. Maybe one day…
Full confession- I wanted to fly to FL this year. So did the kids. But a combination of a last minute date change and the Hubs iron will meant we drove. And while it’s a pain in the butt (2 days in the car both ways), I’m so thankful for these times. When we travel, we usually travel with people or to see people – but those days on the road are just the 4 of us at dinner and crammed into a hotel room. We only have 7 more of these end-of-winter get aways with both kids (!!!!!) so I’m feeling the need to savor them.
The kids are also amazing travelers. I’m sure it’s a combo of their personalities and the fact that they have no choice- but they really are. Road trips with them are a joy 90% of the time (the other 10% involves vomit and/or sibling death matches). Because they are so very awesome, we’re driving cross country with them in 2019 for a few weeks…
…and I have no idea how to plan this trip. I mean, I know how to plan the route and where to stop, but I don’t know how to plan how we’re doing this. Taking our car and staying hotels or cabins? Renting an RV? If so, do we tow our car?? That part baffles me. So hit me up, peeps, with any thoughts you have on that topic!
When Scorch was in 3rd grade, he started snowboarding. He worked so freaking hard to learn- it took him all 6 weeks in row of weekly 2.5 hour lessons to finally- FINALLY- get his green pass. He hasn’t looked back since. Last year, the Bean and I started skiing. She’s fantastic, I stink- but we are, officially, a family that skis. (Except the Hubs- he wants nothing to do with it thanks to his previous 5 knee surgeries.). We love our Thursday nights on the slopes- Scorch heads off with his friends while the Bean and I stick together and she makes fun of how slow I go. We meet up randomly and then have a fun dinner out. #bonding
Last week, just as the Bean and I got off the ski lift at the very top of the mountain, I heard my cell phone ring. I ignored it and we continued on with our group lesson, slowing inching our way down the hill with our instructor and 8 other kids. All was going well enough until I got a tap on my shoulder from another chaperone who some how tracked me down to tell me Scorch was hurt and that I needed to go check on him ASAP.
Which was doable – in theory. Except that I was stuck at the top of a trail I didn’t know with my 9 year old who promptly fell over, lost a ski and started to sob that she was never going to get up again. So I called the head chaperone who was with Scorch, determined that no bones were jutting out, EMTs were not called and he was calm – then I more more less told the Bean to calm down, pull herself together and get moving.
15 agonizing minutes later I rushed into the room where Scorch was to find him acting completely fine. Sure, he had ice on his wrist, but there were no tears, swelling or bruising. It was rather anti-climatic after our rush down the hill.
We headed home and had the Hubs (a former EMT) look at Scorch’s wrist where he deemed it fine. We asked Scorch to perform a bunch of mobility exercises, that he did successfully and then basically shrugged our shoulders and figured he was fine.
The next day, the wrist was still sore, and, given that Scorch had a basketball game and two football games the next day, we decided to get him x-rayed just in case. The doctor we saw agreed that it was probably nothing but ordered the x-ray just in case.
You know, just in case his wrist was broken in two places. Which it was.
Scorch handled this rather well all weekend long – until Monday when the cast was put on and reality set in. That night, my sweet, patient, loving child lost his ever loving mind as we drove to the gym (something we so every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so the Hubs and I can work out). There were tears, yelling, stomping of feet- and then finally, after getting the Bean all riled up – The List.
My kiddos spent the last 15 minutes of our drive to the gym outlining all the things that I don’t let them do that I should:
For the record, I defending myself against the “lying” accusation by noting that telling my kids that they can do something, only to find out what they wanted to do wasn’t offered at the time they wanted to do it (something out of my control) was not lying (that happened the week before). I also told them I’d stopped yelling in the morning (why do I yell? So we get to school on time. I didn’t yell yesterday once, we were 20 minutes late). The rest? Well, they’d just have to suck that up- that’s called parenting.
Bottom line: Scorch is in a cast for the next 3 weeks, he’s a resentful mess over it and I’m wondering how much a kid with a broken wrist would get me if I sold him to the circus.
This weekend, the Bean took my phone, snapped a quick selfie and asked if she could post it on my Facebook page.
My immediate, visceral reaction was No. No- we don’t draw attention to ourselves like that. No- we don’t just take selfies and share them. No, just no. I hate taking solo selfies- if I take a selfie, it’s with other people while we’re doing something that I want to document. It’s not just me, sitting on a couch, snapping pics. That makes me* feel like I’m begging for attention (…as opposed to blog writing?? I didn’t say my thought process was logical). But the Bean was adamant and I don’t ever want to squash her if I don’t have to, so I told her to have at it.
Her caption? The beautifulest girl
You guys, I wanted to cry. And cheer. No matter what society is throwing at my kid, right now my 9 year old is feeling herself. She thinks – hell, she knows – she is the most beautiful kid. I don’t want my kids to get all caught up on external beauty- that’s not my priority and it shouldn’t be theirs. But I do want them to have a health self-esteem because, lord knows, the world will try to knock them down a peg or two as they grow.
While I really hope my kids don’t grow up taking duckfaced selfies all day long, I do want them to love themselves today and every day.
*No judgement if you’re a selfie fan!
After one of the craziest, most fun, busiest summers ever, we’re firmly back into the fall routine. The kids are happy with their teachers, school is going well and we have a nice rhythm going on. This is actually our quietest time of the year with minimal after school activities and I’m enjoying every.single.second of the peace – because you know it won’t last long.
So, the summer. We did a lot – we visited Lady Liberty…
Saw a professional ballgame (or 3 – baseball was big this summer)…
Visited with hundreds of our friends at a local music fest…
Spent The Best Week Ever in the Outer Banks with family…
Visited a Fort…
And drove a dragon in a Harbor.
The kids went to different camps each week- school camps, nature camps, sports camps. The Bean learned to sail a boat and Scorch got to hang with friends. In short, the summer was really just about perfect and I was beyond sad to see it go. But you know was solves your dread of summer being over? Having your kids home for 2.5 weeks before school starts while you’re working full time. Trust me, that’ll teach you to embrace a schedule.
So- 6th grade and 4th grade.
This picture of their feet makes me laugh every time I see it because it captures them perfectly. Scorch will stand still and do what’s asked of him because it’s easier and he likes to please. Bean is literally trying to back away out of the picture as quickly as possible because she wants no part in following an order and cooperating. His feet are 2.5 sizes bigger than mine and she’s still obsessed with all things gold.
I love those freaking kids so much and I’m so very excited to see how they grow this school years. But honestly- I’m even more excited for next summer, because summers are the best.
As has been my habit lately, I’m writing this horribly late. I’m so sorry about that, but we’ve had such a full, fun summer that writing has taken a backseat to living. If it makes you feel any better (because I know you pay attention to these things), Scorch’s birthday post was just as late.
So you, my darling funny face turned 9 over the summer. 8 was a fun age, but 9? At 9, I expect you to soar. I like you at 9- the age suits you. You have turned into this long legged, tanned spitfire- still so much a child, but I’m starting to see the hints of the amazing young woman you’re growing into and I’m in awe.
8 was the year you continued to figure out who are you. When you were 7, you bloomed and at 8 you continued to shine. You have always had a huge sense of self, but 8 is when you started to sink into your own skin in the best way possible. We had countless conversations this year about friendships and what they mean and what they look like and how I expect you to treat others. Not because you were doing anything wrong, but because everyone around you is growing up and sometimes the world around you doesn’t always seem stable.
But we’ll always be that stable home base. Your touchstone where you can be you- which ever you you decide to be that day. Some days it’s the quiet, laid back you, content to curl up on the couch. Other days it is the touchy, miserable child who spends more time spitting fire than speaking. Some days – heck, some minutes- it’s both. And we’ll always love you no matter what.
Parenting you is my biggest joy and my biggest challenge. Scorch and I are on the same wave length, but you and I? Well, we’re different. You don’t let your true self shine around a lot of people- most often, you’re reserved and quiet. Standing out in front of a crowd of people you’re not close to is pretty much your worst nightmare. The fact that I call you one of your numerous nicknames, frequently hug you or play with your hair or – some days – even talk to you at all in public is infuriating to you. You hiss at me to call you by your real name and to stop touching you. You’re not a baby, darn it! <insert literal foot stomp here>.
So I have to temper my natural inclination to be loud, to overshare and to run my fingers through your hair. I want you to be more flexible and less worried about what others think, but I also want to be respectful of the person you are today and the amazing person I know you’ll grow to be.
So, for your 9th birthday, I have some wishes for you:
> I wish you fearlessness. I hope the child we see at home starts to explore the world more and makes her presence know. “Quiet as a church mouse” isn’t a phrase I ever want to hear again.
> I wish you joy. Joy in your friendships, joy in your family and joy in what ever pursuits you decide to try. Nothing warms my heart more than hearing your belly laugh.
> I wish you strife. Not a lot of it, obviously, but I feel like you’re on the edge- where life is going to start to get more complicated and, sadly, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with it. So I wish you small fights and sorrows today so you are better prepared to deal with the bigger ones down the road. No one’s life is sunshine and roses all the time and knowing how to be resilient will serve you well.
> I wish you friendship. I’m still friends with many of the people I knew in 4th grade. I wish you those friendships that stretch and grow with you as you make your way in the this world.
> I wish you confidence. You, child, will move mountains one day. Hold on to that knowledge, keep it close to your heart and never stop listening to the voice in your head that tells you right from wrong. It will take you exactly where you’re supposed to be.
> I wish you love. May you always have it overflowing in your life- the love of friends, of lovers, of family. A love of something- books, a sport, a hobby, a passion.
Raising you is one of the biggest privileges in my life and I’m thankful each and every day that you’re mine. I can’t wait to see what 9 brings for you, Smooch- I know you’re going to rock it!
All my love,
Dear Neglected Blog,
It’s not you, it’s me. Or more specifically, it’s the kids. They have taken over everything. I don’t know who allowed that to happen, but here we are. The end of March through now has been lost in a haze of baseball, lacrosse, concerts, birthdays and other things I can’t remember. It’s all been amazing and fun, but it’s been a time suck to the nth degree. Hence, our temporary breakup.
Let’s see- what did you miss. Scorch turned 11 a month ago. We just held his birthday party this past weekend because it was the first day that didn’t involve multiple kids needing to be in multiple places in for-freaking-ever. Back in May, he and I traveled to NJ together for a baseball tournament and that 1:1 time was truly the best gift I received this year- we had a freaking blast.
We got our first taste of travel baseball and tournament play and it was such a great, positive experience. I don’t want to face the fact that my baby boy is growing up, but he is- and it’s a joy to watch. I promise to post about his 11th birthday before he turns 12.
Beaner tackled some pretty big demons and played in not one but two concerts this spring. Getting this child to put herself out there like that was a huge hurdle and she rocked it. Literally. She got dragged to more baseball games this spring then she ever had and only lost her mind once, bless her sweet heart. Thankfully s’mores fixed that up quickly for her. Now her lacrosse season started so the tables are turned.
The Hubs traveled two weeks in a row for work and my job recently changed. All good stuff- but one more thing keeping us busy. I saw Rusted Root in concert two weeks ago and then Neil Diamond the next week. I’m sorry blog, but live music comes before you any day of the week. #sorrynotsorry
School ends next week and I want to tell you I’ll be back more, blog- but that may be a lie. Regular baseball season turns into All-Stars and lacrosse gets into full swing. Camps start up in earnest and life will continue to fly by. And I wouldn’t have this wickedly crazy awesome life work any other way.
Be back soon….