Category Archives: Scorch

16.

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Dear Scorch-

You’ve turned 16. SIX-FREAKING-TEEN and I’m not sure how that’s possible. This is a big one, bud. It feels huge in my heart. And in my throat as I panic a little over you – and your friends- driving.

You, my darling boy, are a marvel. A wonder. A jaw-dropping miracle that I still can’t believe is mine all these years later. This is the year that I realized that you’re not going to be just mine much longer – you’re making your way towards adulthood and our time with you living full time under our roof can only be measured in years for a short while longer. So forgive me if I hold a little too tight sometimes, ok?

15 has been one hell of an interesting year for you. After almost two years, life is 99% back to normal. You started your sophomore year and it’s been…a challenge.  Things we learned from school this year:

  • You like Global Studies and English and Spanish – and you do well in those classes. When you want to.
  • You shouldn’t pick 600+ page books written in Russia in the 1880’s as your book report book, no matter how interesting it sounds.
  • Geometry and you are NOT friends.
  • You think Earth Science is stupid
  • If you feel anything is “stupid” you will refuse to put the work in and we’ll fight. A lot.
  • I don’t know how to do geometry and it makes me cry too.

Please, just pass the Geometry Regents so we can burn all your course materials and never speak of it again. I beg you.

Despite the challenges, school has been overall super positive for you. You’ve been challenged, you’ve had to learn to get shit done even if you don’t want to and you’ve kept up with your student council responsibilities.

Outside of academics, you’ve navigated a super interesting year. As you’ve gotten older, friendships have shifted. Some shrunk, some grew, some are brand new. You’ve also got a girlfriend. A GIRLFRIEND – and you’ve kept her for over 6 months. You seem to be really good to and for each other and I can’t ask for more than that. You played varsity football and JV basketball and baseball. You’ve put yourself out there at college camps and are starting to make decisions about your future.

As your parent, it’s scary and sad to see you go through uncertain times, to trust that you’re making the right decisions and surrounding yourself with people that push you to be your best self. Honestly, I’d be happy if you were younger and I was still making all your playdates for you. But you’re not and I can’t- so I have to have faith in you, and the foundation we’ve given you, that you’re making good choices and being kind and full of grace. Because, kiddo, you’re not the only one figuring things out- all your friends are in the same boat. You’re all growing and maturing at a different pace, but you’ll all get there. In the meantime, make sure to give each other a break, don’t be a dick and have a sense of humor. That’s prettttttty much the best advice I can give you for life too.

So, 16. SIX-FREAKING-TEEN. Here’s are my hopes for you this year:

  • I hope you don’t do anything too stupid, but I hope you do some stupid stuff and learn from it. By too stupid, I mean anything dangerous, including: sex, drugs, driving unsafely and breaking the law. Things you can’t come back from. But I do hope you fail spectacularly at something you care about so you have to learn grit and perseverance. I hope you feel what it’s like to really hurt someone’s feelings – so you can learn how to apologize with feeling and sincerity and know how shitty hurting someone feels so you don’t do it again. I hope you get your feelings crushed too so you can learn how crappy that is and see why words matter.
  • I hope you continue to be comfortable in your own skin. You are a wonderful person and I admire your drive and dedication more than you know. Knowing who you are is such a gift and I’m so glad you have it. But I hope you realize that others may not be there yet and you have to show grace and patience. That doesn’t mean you have to let them treat you badly, but it does mean learning not to let every little thing bother you.
  • I hope you realize that you can always change your mind. As we start talking more about your future- college, careers, etc- know that you’re never stuck. As long as you don’t do those truly stupid things I mentioned above, you can always change course. Your dad and I are going to love you and support you no matter what your path -all we ask is that you think things through and move with intention.
  • I hope you continue to value yourself. Your body, your feelings, your emotions. If you don’t prioritize yourself and demand to be treated well, no one else will advocate for you. Know that you are a good person, treat people accordingly and expect the same back.
  • I hope you *always* ask for consent. A.L.W.A.Y.S. Never take advantage, never assume and when “No” is said in any context, at any time, stop. That advice isn’t limited to your romantic partners or hook ups- it goes for alllll your relationships. 
  • I hope you’re mindful of what you consume- what you eat, what you watch and what you listen to. Know that life is very rarely ever black and white. People can have different opinions and thoughts and not be your enemy. Listen, learn and grow- that’s one of the true marks of maturity.
  • I hope you value your health. Don’t put things in your body that would threaten that. For the love of god, never take something if you don’t know what it is and if you DO know what it is and it’s not something you should take, don’t. Who gives a shit what others say or think? Your body, your rules.
  • I hope you know that you’re always loved. Always valued. Always needed. Always wanted.

I hope this is the start of your very best year yet. Happy birthday, baby boy. We are so very proud of you and cannot wait to see where the next year takes you.

All my love,

Mom

Teenagers are Like Toddlers: Part I

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I love raising teenagers. Except for when I don’t. And today, I don’t.

Story 1 – Yesterday
The scene: Scorch needs to / wants to eat. He is hangry but he’s also lazy. So he doesn’t want to cook or make anything. He just wants food.

Just none of the food in our fridge. We have leftovers, we have cold cuts, we have waffles, we have cereal. We have fruit and veggies and PB&J. We have frozen pizza and chicken strips.

He wants NONE OF THOSE.

Scorch: “Mom, we have NOTHING to eat in this house. It’s all the same food all the time.”

Me: “Well, make a list and tell me what you want and I’ll grab new foods the next time I’m at the store.”

Scorch, as he’s throwing himself on the couch, huffing in indignation: “NO! I don’t want new foods. I just don’t want the foods we have. I’m hungry.”

Cool, cool. That’s helpful, kid- super helpful.

Story 2 – Today
The scene: It’s Monday after school. Scorch’s girlfriend is over. She’s leaving at 5, and Scorch has to leave at 5:10 to go to basketball practice.

Me, at 4:50: “Scorch, come up and get food before you have to go.”

Scorch: “It’s early and The Girlfriend is here, I don’t need to eat yet.”

Me: “Ok, but you have 20 minutes until you have to go. Plan accordingly.” (hahahaha– I say that, but like, no, I know he’s NEVER going to plan accordingly.)

The girlfriend leaves at 5:05 and it’s 5:07. Scorch decides, 3 MINUTES before he has to go, that he wants to make eggs and waffles. EGGGGGSSSS AND WAFFLES- remember when I told him to plan accordingly!?

I calmly tell him that he doesn’t have time for that, he’s got to grab something to go.

Scorch: “This is such crap! I’m starving and now you’re telling me I don’t have time to eat?!”

I love him. I love him with my whole heart. But there are days where I wonder if he has a brain in his head.

When Covid Hits Your Home

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Well, 300+ days after the lockdown in NY started, the Heat family got Covid in early January.

The Hub had been battling bronchitis since early December, so when he started coughing again (not a dry cough- a very bronchitis-like cough) on a Sunday night, we didn’t think anything of it because the 5 day pack of antibiotics he was on is never enough and we thought he needed more meds. The next day, Monday, he was tested as part of his pre-surgery workup for an outpatient procedure he was having later in the week. He also met with his PCP that same day to evaluate his cough and everyone agreed his bronchitis was back.

So when his Covid test came back positive the next day, we were all shocked. But then he got sicker. Bronchitis or Covid, I don’t know- but he spiked a temp up to 102 and sequestered himself in our basement.

Wednesday evening, Scorch started coughing just enough for my radar to ping. I started having some congestion at roughly the same time. So Thursday we both went to get tested and BOOM positive for both of us.  *sigh* Somehow, the Bean stayed healthy throughout this whole thing. It would have almost been easier if she got it in terms of the logistics in our house, but she stayed safe.

We were super lucky that overall, we all had a mild case. The Hubs had it the worst of all, but for Scorch and I we never felt like we had anything worse than a cold. We all did lose our senses of taste and smell which is just as odd and disorienting as you’d think it would be. Thankfully within 10 days of losing those senses, we started to regain them. They are still muted for all of us 20+ days since we were first diagnosed, but it’s getting better.

There is a TON of information online about how to manage Covid, but I figured I’d share our experience with 1 sick person, 2 people with mild cold-like symptoms and 1 healthy person in the hopes it helps you plan.

1) Stay away from each other. Even though 3 of us were sick, we still tried to avoid each other because the Hubs was being released from isolation before us and we didn’t want to mess with things and get him sicker. Obviously we all avoided the Bean unless we were masked up. The kids camped out in their rooms, I camped out in my room and the Hubs took over the family room. We all wore masks when we were outside our zones.

2) Have a plan in place to stock up on what you need. I don’t know about y’all, but I did NOT have 2 full weeks worth of food and pet supplies at home. Thanks to Instacart and our friends, I was able to get what I need. Please, please have a plan in place because once you get that call, you’re not going *anywhere*.

3) Make sure you have the meds and medical supplies you need too- thermometers, pulse oximeter, etc. We were told to up our Zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin C intake. I can’t say for sure that it helped, but it didn’t hurt!

4) Paper towels and laundry detergent were key too. Essentially we were told that we should not be using our normal hand towels to prevent the spread – we should use paper towels and throw them all away immediately after. We also were told to wash our bath towels daily. That’s A LOT of laundry, y’all.

5) We were told to put our toothbrushes in bags and to keep them away from each other. We obviously threw them out as soon as we were deemed non-contagious.

6) I can’t speak for other states, but here in NY there were a lot of phone calls to field. The day we tested positive, I spent a little over 3 hours total talking to the state and county so they could try to do contact tracing, talk protocols with me, review symptoms, etc. After that first day, there are daily calls to check in. I was super impressed with the resources available and the kindness of each person from the county calling. I would imagine if you’re fighting this by yourself with no close family and friends around these people are literal life savers.

I’m happy to answer any question any one has in the hopes of helping others! I’m hoping this is our one and only brush with Covid and that we avoid any long-term issues.

14.

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Dear Scorch-

You’re 14. Four-freaking-teen- I’m still shaking my head over this, honestly. I say this every year (I know, I know), but I have no idea how that is possible.

Your feet have been bigger than mine for some time now, and you are officially are taller than me as well. I have to look up at you when I’m forcing you to go to bed every night, or when I’m wrestling you off your sister, or hustling you somewhere…back when we used to have to hustle places. Now we just kind of mosey as all the urgency in our lives has been gone for the last 2 months.

DannyBirth

When you look back at the end of your 13th year and the start of your 14th, I wonder what you’re going to remember. Quarantine life is an odd one and you’ve rolled with it with a ton of grace, good humor and sense of fun. You’ve achieved your life-long goal of getting a TV in your room during this nutty time which has saved our sanity because you can be glued to your PS4, chatting with your friends to your heart’s content (or until 10 pm, which ever comes first, because I’m lame and make you go to bed at a decent hour) while your father and I can watch what we want on TV.

Scorch, you are, hand’s down, one of my favorite people on this earth. One of my greatest joys is that not only do I love you, but I like you. I enjoy your company – you make me laugh, you give the best hugs and you’re one of the nicest people I know.  I’ve seen your amazing sense of kindness this year as you’ve navigated a crush from a sweet girl and spent time on the PS4 with your favorite 7 years old. I am thankful for you every single day.

I adore watching you get older – it’s like a present that I get to keep unwrapping every day. I marvel sometimes over the fact that you weren’t supposed to be here. The month before you were conceived (I know, GROSS), we had our 3rd miscarriage after a long, drawn out IUI cycle. 3 losses in 2.5 years was enough. I was tired. We were broke. But mostly we were heartsore.  We had long conversations on whether or not we wanted to spend more time and money on getting pregnant or building our family in other ways and, ultimately, family won. I was going to be a mom whether or not I gave birth to a child so we were looking into adoption and saying goodbye to Dr. Kiltz and CNY Fertility.

Your dad was working at the UN Summit as he did every September while in the Secret Service and I had a friend staying with me that weekend.  We planned a day of shopping and a night of drinking – but I was having pregnancy symptoms so, while at Target before dinner, I decided to buy and take a test so I could enjoy my wine without worry.  Yes, dear son, it was in the Target restroom that your super classy mom found out about you. I called Dr. Kiltz, crying, and he told me that even though we weren’t undergoing fertility treatments to conceive, things must have just clicked and I better start blood thinners ASAP to help try to prevent another loss. I was scared and nervous and resigned, never thinking you’d stick.

BabyScorch_2006

But you did and 14 years ago today, on Mother’s Day, you came into the world. Billy Joel was giving the commencement speech at Syracuse University across the street from the hospital on the same day, so my doctor couldn’t get to us. Our family was stuck in crazy traffic trying to meet you. You were the first baby born in that county – so we were on the news. It was insane and funny and chaotic and pretty much the perfect representation of what life with you is like.

You are firmly a teen – with a voice that cracks, a strong need to cuddle with your mom and an equally strong need for independence. You can make me absolutely batshit crazy one minute and the next make me marvel at how amazing you are. You are smart and dedicated, but you’re also lazy and easily distracted. You’re warm and forgiving, but you blaze up fast when you feel that we’re not treating you like the “adult” you are. You love nothing more than playing a team sport – you thrive on camaraderie and team dynamics, but you’re also rolling with this lockdown much better than I would have ever thought. In short, you’re AMAZING.

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So, 14 is going to be a big year. You start high school. You’re finally allowed – to some degree- to date. I have so many expectations and hopes for you, kiddo.

  • I hope you continue to love school. Hell, I hope you can go back to school. You’re not built for this much solitude. Continue to be curious, ask questions and speak your mind.
  • I hope you continue to be kind. Please keep standing up for the underdog, please keep picking the kid no one wants for your team and please keep making sure that no one takes advantage of those weaker than you.
  • I hope you continue to not suffer fools – but I also hope you realize that sometimes *you* are the fool and listening to others isn’t always bad. You have a lot to learn about the world, my son.
  • I hope you continue watch out for your sister. Next year is a big one for her and I hope you respect her enough to let her spread her wings, but are there to catch her if she falls.
  • I hope that should you date, you choose your partner carefully. Don’t date someone because your friends “ship” you- date them because you like their heart. Date them because they challenge you. Date them because they inspire you to be better. It’s Ok to date someone based on attraction – but I hope you realize pretty quick that beauty is only skin deep and don’t get sucked into petty drama.
  • I hope you fail spectacularly at something so learn how to dig deep, try harder and pick yourself. We’ll be here to support you- but learning to fail and move on is one of the best lessons you’ll ever learn and I’d love for you to learn it while the stakes are small.
  • I hope you remember the power of friendship- I hope you keep your BFFs from when you were 3 but don’t cut yourself off from new friends. Befriend everyone – they all have a lot to teach you, and you them.
  • I hope you know that our home is always your safe space. You can be yourself, talk about what makes you happy, sad or worried. You can ask allll your questions here and you can be damn sure we’ll always be honest with you.

I love you more than chocolate milk, kid. Being your mom is one my greatest gifts and I’m so glad we have you. Happy birthday, kiddo- enjoy every minute of it!

Love,
Mom

Not Me

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The Bean found my blog.

I mean, I knew the day would come- my kids are the reason I started this blog, after all. My kiddos don’t have baby books and most of their childhood pictures are stored in Shutterfly, not in physical albums. I didn’t keep many of their childhood mementos outside of a few blankets, some books and a few stuffed animals. But I have been chronicling their childhood for almost 10 years now- since the kids were 4 and 2.

Since she’s been going back and reading my old entries, I got nostalgic and started to do the same.  One of the things I used to on Monday’s was “Not Me Monday” back when widely used blog themes were a thing.  “Not Me Monday” was a way to confess your sins and since the old entries made me laugh, I figured I’d share a few of my gems lately:

  • While in Mexico, the Bean got M&Ms and immediately told Scorch he couldn’t have any. He didn’t want any – but he *always* wants to torment her, so for 30 minutes straight, he followed her around making comments like “Yummm…those M&Ms look amazing!” or “You know what I’m craving, M&Ms!” or “Mom, the minute Bean puts those M&Ms down, Imma going to snagging them.”  I was not too busy laughing hysterically at him to make him knock it off when the Bean pleaded with me to do so.
  • Later that same day, I was blessedly at the pool sans any kids, reading my Kindle. 4 chairs down from me was a mom, trying in vain to read her magazine while her son and daughter squabbled in the pool over things just as dumb as M&Ms. The mom finally LOSES it and goes “This is supposed to be FUN. We are flipping on vacation in MEXICO and you’re making me crazy.”
    I did not want to high-five her in solidarity or at least find some of the Bean’s M&Ms to share with her.
  • Earlier this week, Scorch was in class and accidentally drew on his face with his pencil. When one of his friends told him they could see the mark, my son absolutely did not proceed to draw a penis on his forehead and then have to walk around alllll day with his bangs pulled down to hide it when he couldn’t erase it. (“Mom- it was the only thing I could think of to draw!” #teens)
  • I did not laugh stupidly hard at a “69” reference in an Instagram video because Scorch and his buddies are obsessed with certain numbers (69, 420, etc) which evidently has dropped my sense of humor down to a middle-school level.* I also certainly did not save the video to show him when he got home from school.
  • Within seconds of picking the Bean up from school, it was clear she was in a mood. After 2 minutes of grumpiness and a snotty tone, I told her she wasn’t allowed to speak to me again until she could do so with a civil tongue. We did not not speak for over an hour. #tweens

Hot Mess Express graphic with a purple background and pink words

So, spill – what haven’t YOU done lately?!

 

*Please note: I DID (and do, frequently) absolutely talk to my kid about these numbers, what they mean, how they are not appropriate in a lot of places/context, etc – but he’s 13 and he’s in middle school and kids laugh about dumb stuff no matter how mature and enlightened you try to make them. I can either freak out over it every time or embrace my inner 13 year when something is legitimately funny. This video was NOT sexual in any way shape or form, it was just simply a bunch of idiot teens freaking out when that number was called out in public – and it was really, really funny.

 

SHOTGUN!

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So, it’s been a minute! After I shared my fantastic parenting skills, we got sucked back into the routine of school and sports and general insanity. The re-entry back into the school year was a pretty tame one- neither kid made any major transitions so that made back to school pretty damn easy.  Scorch is in 8th grade and the Bean is in 6th and I’m officially old AF.  The biggest drama going back to school was if Scorch should wear black socks or white socks with his navy blue kicks – the boy takes his sock game very seriously.

Scorch, wearing navy blue sneakers, and Bean, wearing white sneakers, on the first day of 8th and 6th grade.

In early October, Scorch broke his wrist playing in a football game about 2 hours from home. Thankfully the Hubs and/or I always go to every away game (my kids getting seriously hurt when we’re not there is one of my biggest nightmares) and were both there that day. We had to drive by the Big City on our way home, so we stopped by the same orthopedic place that did the Hub’s ACL surgery in the Spring and had Scorched x-ray’d and casted within an hour. He’s been a super good sport, but with less than a week to go until the cast is taken off he’s D.O.N.E. with it.

An x-ray of Scorch's left wrist.

The biggest news is that the day I’ve been DREADING finally is upon us. When I took the kids in for their flu shots, the Bean’s height was recorded and she’s finally tall enough to ride in the front seat.

*sigh*

That’s right, I have two kids vying for shotgun for every.single.car ride. Once the kids put the pieces together, they both started coming up with an elaborate way to decide who got to be the shotgun winner. The rules included when you could call shotgun, how even calling shotgun doesn’t mean you actually get to ride in that spot if your sibling can wrestle you out of it and something about headlocks and Scorch using his cast as a club.

Needless to say, that didn’t fly with me, so I quickly instituted an odd/even system – on odd days, it’s Scorch’s turn, on even days, it’s the Beans. They were ticked- I was stripping away ALLLLLLLL the fun out of shotgun- but frankly, I didn’t care. The last thing I needed was those two beating the holy hell out of each other for the privilege of sitting next to me and controlling the radio.

This worked relatively well…except for during school drop offs. I drive both kids to school, dropping Scorch off first, and alllllll Scorch wants to look during drop off is cool. There is a single drop off line – it loops around the parking lot and you can drop your kids off anywhere along the sidewalk. But evidently there is a art to where the perfect drop off location is. Like, he gets concerned if I drop him off too far away (“they’re all waiting for us in line, mom”) or too close (“I don’t want to look like I’m lazy”), the music has to be off just case we’re listening to something that is cringy and the drop off has to be QUICK- there can be no fumbling when you get out.

Which was all doable when he was the always riding shotgun, but now that he’s in the backseat of our van every other day – quick isn’t a thing. First, I have to put the van in park to open the automatic sliding doors -and those doors are slow. Then there is the fumbling for his stuff because he can’t actually wait until the door is all the way  open before jumping out. Don’t even mention the fact his sister is choosing the tunes and Lizzo blasting out of the speakers of our minivan brings down his street cred by like a 1000 points.

Which is why earlier this week, my sweet dumb kid decided that the best course of action was to CLIMB into the front seat – WHILE his sister was sitting in – and going out that way.

Bean, with only her legs showing, is sitting in the passenger seat of the car. Scorch is perched on the leg rest of her chair, trying to climb over her.

Bean’s sitting in the chair, Scorch is trying to climb over her. I’m being the responsible adult and taking pics.

She was super psyched about that idea – he’s lucky she didn’t kick him in the butt and send him sprawling.

So, how’s your fall going?!

13.

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Dear Scorch-

You turned 13 this month.

You are now a teenager.

I don’t know how that happened either, but it did. I swear it was last Mother’s Day that you came roaring into our lives…but it wasn’t, was it?

Before I became a Mom, all I really knew were babies and toddlers. Those were the ages of the kids I babysat for, the ones I liked the most. When I envisioned being a mom, I pictured chubby cheeked infants (which you were), sturdy-legged toddlers (also you) and that was about it. I didn’t give much thought to parenting a child, let alone a teen. I realize it seems silly when I write it out, but that’s the God’s honest truth.

DannyBirth

~*~*~

This year, you started 7th grade. You moved out of your small, protected Catholic school with 14 kids in your entire grade to the public middle school with 200 kids in your grade. You know your father and I battled about this – he wanted to send you to a Catholic school 45 minutes away to keep you safe and swaddled. And I did too- but the logistics just didn’t work so instead, I became the cheerleader for our local public school hoping hoping hoping you would thrive there, all the while so freaking nervous about it, I couldn’t sleep some nights.

When I think back to my middle school years, I just remember how precarious things were. Friendships were constantly shifting, bodies were morphing, voices were changing – nothing was static and, for someone like me, who loves to know what’s going on all the time, it was scary as all get out. But middle school in 1991 is very different than middle school in 2019 so I held out hope that your experience would be better than mine.

I warned you that things would change this year. Friendships may not be the same, dating was going to become a thing and expectations were going to be a lot higher. We established some ground rules, let you (little, slight, small YOU) join the modified football team and prayed things were going to be OK.

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And you know what? They weren’t OK.

They were amazing.

You, my funny, goofy, amazing kid, thrived in 7th grade. Yup, friendships were challenged, dating was a thing (not for you though – sorry, your parents are mean) and expectations were a lot higher – but you met them all. Except for that 43 in Orchestra- but you fixed that fast enough and took allllllllll the teasing that went along with it (because, really, who gets a 43 in Orchestra?!) with good humor and determination to do better. You learned how to schedule your time, take responsibility and make things happen.

You made new friends, learned a whole hell of a lot of new words, saw a lot of fights, decided both your father and I were cringy at various times during the year, learned that just because your friends “shipped” you with a girl doesn’t mean you have to date them, saw that the world is made up of a lot of different colors and sexualities and took advantage of a lot of the opportunities offered to you.

You have always been one of my favorite kids in the world, but, to my absolutely delight, you’re growing into one of my favorite people in the world.

~*~*~*~

So now, 7th grade is almost done and you’re 13. We’re seeing glimpses of the part of teenagedom we were warned about- the hormones, the dramatics, allllll the feelings. I know it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but I’m hoping we’ll keep talking to each other, sharing our experiences and working forward.  I’ve promised you this a million times – your family will always be the first to support you when you try new things, the first to correct you when you’re being a jerk and your safe place to land no matter what.

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Here’s what I hope for you in your 13th year:

  • Keep being kind. You’ve seen the kids that don’t have kindness in their lives this year – how they act, what they do. Don’t be that kid. Be the kid that makes sure people are OK and lend a helping hand. It costs you nothing, but it could mean the world to someone else.
  • Use your position to lift others up. Don’t ever punch down to make yourself feel better, you’re better than that.
  • Keep making new friends. The friends you’ve had forever- keep them close and cherish them. But don’t be afraid to meet new people too. Befriend the band kid, the art kid, the computer kid – they all have amazing stories to tell.
  • Hold on tight to your self-confidence. Know that you are worthy of good things and make smart decisions even if they aren’t popular decisions. Being a leader is freaking hard work – do it anyhow.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities school provides you. You’re going to a big public school with sports, groups and organizations. Explore them all to find your passion.

~*~*~*~

While I couldn’t have imagined raising a teen 16 years ago when we we started trying to expand our family, now I can’t stop being amazed over how very lucky I am to be doing so. I’m so excited for you, Scorch. It’s a privilege to watch you grow, knowing how many fun things are coming for you – new friends, first loves, learning to drive, going to dances, heart breaks, discovering what makes you happy, finding your true tribe, going to college.

So, here’s to 13. May it be your best year yet, my boy – and if it’s not, know that we’ll love you no matter what.

All my love,

Mom

 

 

 

Nope, Not the Cool Mom

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Back in the fall, I took Scorch to one of the varsity football games. He was settling into middle school and feeling like the big man on campus wearing his modified football jersey to hang out with all his friends under the lights. Oh, he thought he was hot stuff and he was feeling it…

…until I made him leave before the game was over because he had a 3 hour long practice starting the next day at 7 am.

He wailed, he pleaded, he tried to bargain – he was pissed at me like never before because I was making him leave early.  He was in SEVENTH GRADE and he was NOT A BABY and why was I SO MEAN?!!?  He ended his fit asking me if I wanted to be a COOL MOM because this was, unequivocally, not cool.

I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom

NOOOOOPE

~*~*~*

Fast forward 3+ months and Scorch, the Bean and I have had lots of conversation about the fact that I am not the cool mom, the Hubs isn’t the cool dad and we’re all OK with that.  Because right now, to my kids, being the cool mom means letting them do whatever they wants….and nope, not going to happen.

Here’s what kind of mom I am though:

  • I’ll be the mom that shows up. Games, recitals, plays, concerts – if my kids are in it, I’ll do my damnedest to be there. I might complain because it’s freaking freezing, unbearably hot, or boring as hell, but you’ll still see my ass parked in the stands without fail.
  • I’ll be the consistent mom. The kids might not like my rules, but they’ll know them. Their friends will know them. Heck, our neighbors will most likely know then when I yell them at the kids loudly (hint: I’ll never be the quiet mom). The rules won’t change, ensuring the kids will know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be expected to follow them.
  • That said, I won’t be the dictator mom. Rules will flex as the kids age – we’re all going to have to adjust. I’ll always be willing to hear the kids out in a respectful way – it may not change my mind, but they’ll never be discounted or ignored.
  • I’ll be the mom you can blame. Both kids know that I’m always happy to be thrown under the bus. If there is anything they don’t want to do, or feel uncomfortable with, they’ve been told that saying that their mom / dad will kill them is a very welcome excuse to give. I don’t care if my kid’s friends think we’re nuts, as long as my kids are safe and happy, make me out to be the bad guy as much as needed.
  • I’ll be the mom with the open door. I admit, the Hubs and I like a peaceful home and having a ton of tweens over is the exact opposite. It’s loud, chaotic and expensive as those kids can eat. And that’s 100% fine with me. My door will be open anytime the kids wants to have friends over. I want to be the house that my kid’s friends feel comfortable in because I know as they get older, my kids and their friends will need safe spaces. We’re it. Nope, we will never condone drinking or drugs ever, but need a break from your parents? Had a bad break up? Need a warm meal? My door is open.
  • I’ll be the mom you can talk to. My kids know that they can talk to be about anything and I’m there for it. Question about your body? Hit me with it. Friendship quandary? Let’s talk it through. Mad at a teacher/coach/friend? Unpack that drama. Sex, alcohol, drugs? Get it alllllll on the table. There is literally nothing that they can bring up that will embarrass me or shut us down. If they are willing to talk, I’m willing to listen. I may laugh like a loon with them, I may have to work really hard not to throw out advice – but I’m always here.
  • I’ll be the mom who is a vault. Admittedly, this is a new one for me. Before if my kids shared stuff with me and I repeated it, it wasn’t a big deal but now it is. So the kids and I have agreed that if we pinky swear on it, nothing will go past me unless the information involves someone getting hurt/hurting something else/self harming/doing illegal things. Those things are going to be shared with the appropriate adults, but the other stuff lives and dies with me.
  • I’ll be the mom who laughs – a lot. This age is hysterical, the kids are AMAZING and there is nothing wrong with having fun. I’m going to poke fun at kids, allow them to tease me and call out their friends as needed. It’s way too easy to take life too seriously especially as a teen. I’m here to point out the crazy and to laugh at it all with my kids – otherwise, what’s the point?!

 

Maybe one day I’ll earn some cool points, but I’m not losing any sleep over it if I don’t.

Middle School Joy

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School has been back in session for a few weeks now and, so far, the transition has been a smooth one. Bean is still in her beloved school – only this time – for the first time ever –  without her brother there with her. In her words, it’s amazing. And Scorch transitioned seamlessly from his tiny Catholic school to the much larger public school.

I think it helped that for the first year ever, we’re letting Scorch play tackle football. Trust me, we debated this decision over and over and over – but what finally got me to say yes is the fact that my kid thrives on a team. He soaks up everything about being a teammate-  having kids to hang out with, having a set schedule, being forced to manage his time. Football here meant summer conditioning sessions and practices that started the week before school started so he went into the new school already feeling like he belonged, which is a really good thing.

Last week, Scorch was supposed to have his first game so the Bean, Hubs and I went to the field. There was a tennis match going on below the football field and a cross country meet happening on the far side of the field. The Powder Puff game was going on after Scorch’s game, so the entire athletic area was packed. Warm up music was blaring and kids were hanging out in groups – teasing, laughing and carrying on. It was a loud, chaotic, fun community atmosphere.

It may be 22 year later, but damned if the sounds, sights and smells weren’t exactly the same as when I was in school.

I freaking loved my teen years. Not in a Glory Days way where I want to go back and relive those times again – but those years were a lot of fun. Sure, there was the typical drama that all teens go through – first loves, fights among friends, pushing boundaries and figuring things out – but overall, those years rocked.  And as I looked around at where my kids were going to be living out their teenage years, I became excited for them.

I know that being a teen today is a hell of a lot different than being a teen 20+ year ago, but I’d like to think that the foundational things aren’t that different. Social media adds a whole new levels to things, but at the core, middle school and high school years are about starting to figure out who you are and who your tribe is. It’s about exploring your interests, stretching your wings and taking those first steps to adulthood.

Sure, it can also be about drama and angst – but, thanks to social media and the news, it’s easy to think that’s all it’s about. But it’s not. It’s also about joy, friendship and crazy love. Come on???  Don’t you remember that first exhilarating car ride you took with your friends with no adults in the car? Finding new friends that you clicked with? Discovering a new activity that you loved? Riding the bus home from games, celebrating the big win? Taking class trips? Sneaking out of your house to meet your friends and getting away with it (or not- thanks, Mrs. Wilson!)? Picking out your outfit to your first formal dance?  The thrill of your first kiss?

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We called this our 90210 pose. Awkward as hell middle school years? You betcha. But I’m going to on vacation with these ladies next month to celebrate our 4oth birthdays!

*sigh* I want my kids to have all that and more. I want them to be 40 years old and look back on that crazy time with a smile on their face remembering amazing friends lost and the amazing friends still in their lives. I want them to laugh over the stupid things they did and realize how those years helped to make them into the amazing adults they will become.

So, instead of freaking out about all the horrible things that the media tells me lurks for my kids as they get older, I’m going to concentrate on all the awesome things that will also happen. My eyes will be open to the bad – I can’t pretend it’s not out there – but that fear won’t take away the joy that I know will be there too.

 

12.

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Dear Scorch-

You turned 12 a few weeks back. You- my first born, my baby, one of my greatest loves – turned 12. As you like to remind me a lot this puts you firmly closer to a teenager than not.

I feel like I should be sad about this. I should be gnashing my teeth and wailing that you’re not a baby any more. Facebook tells me I should feel this way, as do all the sappy blog posts telling me to cherish everything. And I do cherish them when they are happening- I love that you still love to snuggle (even though we all know I don’t). I love that you still chat with me about anything and everything and that your stories still never end. I do miss your toddler cheeks and your squeaky voice – the way your little body used to melt into mine (now you come up past my chin, so if you melted, I’d fall over). But that doesn’t mean I want to go backwards.

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I’m too excited about who you are becoming to wallow in it. Because life, my sweet boy, is about to take off for you.

11 was a tremendous year for you- full of school and friends and sports. You broke your first bone and handled it like a champ 99% of the time. You pushed yourself academically and athletically and started new things like boxing and academic games. You read the Hunger Games series, went to a camp where you knew no one and took first place in a state competition with your classmates. You learned how to argue fairly with friends, perfected the art of rolling your eyes and had more then a few meltdowns of epic proportions as your hormones monster started to grow (don’t worry, we’ll let you watch Big Mouth when you get much older- you’ll get that reference). You learned to care how you looked (still doesn’t mean you match, but you try) and spent more time combing your hair than anyone else in this family.

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So, now here you are at age 12. You gradate from elementary school this month and start Middle School in the Fall. You go from a class of 14 to a class of 200 and you.cannot.wait. While I’m just as excited as you are, I hope you savor every minute of these next few weeks because come Fall, nothing will be the same again. Hold on to these friends because there is great power in friendships that start when you were 3 and carry on throughout your whole life. You’re going to look back on these years and realize how truly amazing they were.

So, as we’re on the precipice of so many changes, I wanted to share my hopes for you.

1) I hope you stay in contact with your elementary classmates and you use them as your touchstones when you move into the big school next year.

2) I hope that Middle School is kind to you and that you handle the changes about to be thrust on you with grace.

3) I hope you fall in love. Hopefully not with a girl yet- but with a class, a sport, a friend. I hope you take all the opportunities given to you and try something new and you love it with every fiber of your being.

4) I hope you stay kind. You, child, are a leader. Kids like you and they gravitate towards you. I hope you keep that charisma and never, ever turn mean. It’ll be tempting. You’ll see kids picking on others and sometimes it’ll be just so easy to make a joke at someone else’s expense. While I hope you’ll be perfect and never slip- you will. That’s part of growing up- but I hope you realize it when you’ve done it and you’re big enough to apologize and try better the next time.

5) I hope you keep caring- about your friends, your grades and your loves. I hope you keep striving to do better and reach higher. Apathy is a terrible look.

6) I hope as you navigate school you find your core – your ride and die group that has your back no matter what. I remember how the sands shifted in middle school, but at the end of the day, those who really loved you were there when the ground settled.

7) I hope you remember that words have power. The power to build up – and tear down. Try to use yours for good. Compliment instead of complain. Offer solutions instead of whining. Use your voice for good, for the betterment of yourself and others. Use your voice to stick up for others, to advocate for yourself and to call out the wrongdoings you see. You’ll be shocked at how loud you can roar, child.

8) I hope you never put too much stock in “cool.” Cool is overrated, over appreciated and ever changing. Staying comfortable in your own skin is the ultimate cool. Don’t be afraid to shake your butt to the music, show your enthusiasm and laugh until you cry.

9) I hope you know that we will always, always, always love you. Forever. No matter what. We are going to fight and we are going to argue and we are going to want to pretend that we don’t know each other some days. There will be slammed doors, eye rolls and crying – from all of us. But we’re still going to love each other fiercely, have each other’s back and always build each other back up.

Child, I cannot wait to see where things go from here. I cannot wait to see you stretch and grow.  Stay true to yourself, stay bold, roar loudly and always, always aim high. I can’t wait to watch you soar.