Letting Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 2

Hi everyone. Hope those to whom this applies got to enjoy a wonderful Father’s Day doing exactly what they love to do. I know my hunny deserved a great day. Hope he feels he got one. 🙂

As we’ve all come to learn about Joanna Aislinn, she is not particularly good about creating—let alone sticking to—a schedule.

I am very glad, however, to have hosted Christine Warner as she launches her next book, Secret Love. (If you missed it, the link to last week’s post is below.)

I wanted to tie into Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts one more time. (They’re quite interesting and very mom-relatable, or so says MHO.  Feel free to check them out.  I linked you to her most recent.  This one and this one are read-worthy as well.)

Ended my post-before-last on the topic of overprotective Italian mammas with a promise of a post about D-Day, a.k.a., the day Older Son’s acquired the dreaded DL. That would be the—scary music please—Driver’s License. (Thought I was bad the day the kid went on the ski trip.)

Joanna n baby boys  Older Son is on my right.  

Background: I always remember a day when Older Son was eight. I was standing on a neighbor’s porch, watching my boy cross the street alone. Out of nowhere a thought hit me: That boy is halfway to his driver’s permit.

Well, that stay of execution came, sooner than any parent wants, I guess. At sixteen-just-turned, the boy did his six-hours-behind-the-wheel course and practiced driving with his mamma every chance he could. (Talk about not feeling in control that first time the kid is controlling the car and mamma is in the passenger seat. The perspective changes big-time!)

DL Day came in December—on a snowy morning. He already had a car and went to school with it immediately after finishing his road test.

Aside: My Italian mamma didn’t let me take a car alone anywhere for the first six months. See? I’m much better at letting go than my ma was–and is. She’s an off-the-boat Italian mamma–and far, far worse than I. Just sayin’.

Back to the DL-Day: That evening, Older Son told me he was picking up his girlfriend at work, off a nearby, VERY BUSY highway. No way was that boy going onto THAT highway, and driving up a slippery, snowy and/or icy ramp in the dark w/o his mamma.

He did fine until after we picked her up. I knew where three lanes on that stretch become two; wasn’t sure the kid did. Not sure, either, whether he noticed the semi-trailer merging right to left—sans blinker—at that exact spot.

Mamma calls out: “Watch the truck!”

Older Son swerves left at the very instant a car flies by on the same side.

Don’t ask we didn’t get side-swiped. God was watching I’m sure.

We got out of there safely and dropped off his girlfriend at home.

Mamma promptly lost it, on the less-than-five-minute-drive between our houses. Older Son, in all his compassion, pulls over and hugs his mamma. “I knew this was coming.”

“I’m sorry! It’s just that I love you so much, and I know I can’t hold you back, but I’m so scared at the same time.” Sob, sniffle. Sniffle, sob.

The next morning, I got up and did the li’l old Italian lady thing—sobbed like a fool—while everyone else slept. The morning after that, the inspirational books came out.

By the end of that first week, people often asked, “How’s the driving going?”

“I’m doing much better,” I would answer.

I realized then I hadn’t texted the kid—for the first time in a week—to make sure he’d gotten to school.

I suppose I’m doing better, almost seven months since DL Day. I’ve survived his first snowboard trips with only a friend, and a spring-break ride to the shore. The next biggies: going to the shore with his friends and no parent(s).

The weekend-after-the-senior-prom deal is more than a year away.

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

photo (33)  This was taken on the first day of this school year. (Only they aged, right? Right??) The brute on my right is Younger Son. He’s training for a lineman position for his high school’s football team. (Now why can’t either one of these guys be into a nice safe sport like…uh..tennis? 😉 )

Check out Christine Warner’s virtual visit here.

Have a great parent war story to share? I’d love to read about it! Solidarity!

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for indulging me!

Joanna

Letting Go: They’re Growing Up (Part 1)

Letting ‘Em Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 1

Since I’m still developing the posts I had hoped to get to this week—based on two written by Kristen Lamb at her awesome blog—I’ll allow myself to get sidetracked a bit. Hope you get something out of the next two weeks.

Really loving and relating to fellow blogger and fiction author Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts. One of her most recent touched on her self-imposed role as overprotective mother (a.k.a. chaperone) on her 8th grade daughter’s upcoming trip to Washington, DC.

Stacey and I are both Italian mammas. My mom is off-the-boat, and her family of origin is one of the most loving crowds one could get to know. Unfortunately, anxiety—and hence the need to control their world—runs rampant. (I’m blessed enough to take after my dad’s side. Counseling in my younger days helped too—a lot.)

Not sure how much of this stuff is in-bred, lol. I consider myself a pretty laid-back parent—not to be confused with permissive. I work very hard at giving my kids their space while hovering near enough in the vicinity to be ‘hands-on’ if/when needed (or wanted).

Letting go when it comes to ‘big things’ is another story. Not saying I don’t, but that deep-seated Italian (?) anxiety, upbringing—whatever you want to call it—shows up. Every time Older Son (in particular) wants to do that next thing my mom would have NEVER allowed, I turn into a sobbing fool.

One quick example: In 7th grade, Older Son won a raffled snowboard. Of course I didn’t allow him to attend the ski club’s day trip that year! The thought of a 14-year-old on the slopes with who-knew-what-kind-of-supervision (if any) freaked me out. The next year, the moderator of the club begged me to let him go. She called, left me her cell number, etc. I finally acquiesced. (Hubby might have taken him to a local ski resort in the meantime, so we had a sense of what the kid was like up there in the fine, cold powdery stuff.)

Trip day arrived (a Saturday). Dropped the kid off at the bus in the winter-dark at 6:30 AM and waited a while. Since I was the only parent fool enough to hang out in the parking lot, I decided to go home and save Older Son the embarrassment.

Sat outside my house and sobbed like a fool. Every generation of Italian ladies that came before me channeled themselves through me that morning. Settled for texting Older Son at intervals throughout the day. Thank goodness the boy is kind enough to return his ma’s messages.

We’ll discuss the day said kid got the dreaded DL another time.

So: How do you let go? Are you naturally good at it, or is it a practiced skill? Are you an “Italian” mamma?

Have a great week, folks!

Joanna

Catching Up and Checking In

Happy Presidents’ Day, people!

The East Coast has been getting seriously hammered with snow and ice these past weeks—snow days from school abound, it seems, and another one loomed as I wrote this. Gave up grumping about having to make them up later, opting to be grateful I don’t have to brave the slippery, slidy elements in a car or other form of transportation. Makes for a much more peaceful day, in my head, anyway.

winter 2014-2  The ice got quite thick. We’re blessed not to have lost power. 

winter2014 Hubby’s newer car is under there. About 2 feet of solid snow and ice are between its front and the fence. 

V-day flowers 2014

Hubby  made sure I was not w/o flowers for Valentine’s Day, so I got these two days prior.  I wound up snowed in, so he got his first hand-made card (a color-by-numbers I’d used with my students at school–special thanks to Mrs. M for bringing that to school in the first place). Of course, hubby shows me up by pulling my card from under his pillow before it was light enough to see on Valentine’s day. That’s a Leo for you…)

Vday for dad 2014 Made sure I cropped out the mushy stuff I wrote on the side 🙂

So, between snow days and a high-profile (?) report last week got away from me. I am, however, thrilled to report I’ve made serious headway into a presentation/workshop I’ve been working on. (PowerPoint part done. Check!) Next, I’ll be trying my hand at CreateSpace to put together a related booklet. (Tips welcome.) After that, promo letter and maybe a separate blog dedicated to the topic.

Anybody out there with thoughts re: getting started on types of venues to book? Paid or not? I’m thinking about reaching out to PTAs in neighboring districts and libraries to start. I’m sure there are many more and would love input.

Thanks and have a great week!

Joanna

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 6 and Done :)

The Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! The first Grand Slam of 2014 is here! Tennis in the morning. Tennis after work. Tennis in the evening. Tennis at night.

And everyone wonders why I don’t get any real writing done. (“Yeh,” say the Aussies).

Yes, I’m moving on. Maybe a calming chamomile tea is in order. (Nah. Hate tea. Coffee’s my brew.) Hope everyone is well, this second full week of the New Year.

Can I possibly wrap up this series? I suppose I should have be done, but one incident with Older Son (OS) stands out too much to not share. And it’s so interesting how several seemingly unrelated events came together to help Hubby and me with our responses to the situation.

OS turned 17 this past November. In my state, that means a driver’s license, which he got December 11, 2013.

That means OS has had a driver’s permit since April. Sometime before June he came across a used car for sale, pretty much what he wanted, and a great deal for him. Hubby and I had our misgivings, but we allowed him to use a portion of his savings to buy it.

It got parked at a friend’s house, pronto, not to be registered or insured until he got the DL.

On a mid-June weekend this past summer, Hubby and I were supposed to go to our PA cottage. A dear friend had passed away and we’d hoped to attend the funeral, which was in the vicinity. OS was scheduled to work and Younger Son (YS) is in the ‘bored’ stage in PA (no internet connection for the X-box in the woods).

Because putting together arrangements for a responsible adult to be available to a 14- and 16- year-old was turning out to be more tedious than we figured it should have been, Hubby and I made a last-minute decision to stay home. Neither of us felt all that comfortable leaving the kids home while we were three hours away. And we’d visited my friend twice during her bout with cancer, so I felt better knowing I’d connected with her before she exited this life.

So, there we were Saturday afternoon, June 15th. Kids are both out and Hubby decides to step out—maybe run to the deli or something along those lines.

He came home livid.

He’s spotted OS driving his should-have-been-parked-car, with his girlfriend (GF) in the passenger seat.

OS came in a few minutes later, pleading his case for the necessity of the run.

Hubby grounded him on the spot, including not allowing him to attend a rather formal birthday party he and GF were due at in less than two hours.

Not sure I agreed with Hubby’s choice of handling the situation—he was pretty mad—and the party, as far as I could see, had nothing to do with the transgression. I spoke to Hubby privately (so that OS wasn’t aware of the conflict of opinions Hubby and I had), but supported his decision since it had already been made, and he felt very strongly about not changing it. He believed strong action that showed OS the severity of his transgression was necessary. I did agree with the rationale, but might have chosen a more related form of discipline (i.e., revoked even permit-driving privileges for x-amount of time, or something along those lines).

Aside: GF was kind enough not to attend the party w/o OS.

So, that’s how Saturday, June 15th went. OS probably said something to me here and there, but I reminded him (nicely) that he’d made a choice, got caught and now had to deal with the consequences of his action.

The next morning we realized there was some emergency vehicle activity going on a few blocks from our house. Being the mind-our-own-business folks we usually are, Hubby walked down to scope out the action then texted OS and GF to come down. They took off on their skateboards.

A FIFTEEN-year-old boy had taken his mother’s SUV—she had gone to church—piled in at least three friends and lost control making a turn. He ploughed headlights first into an electrical pole. (Don’t ask how the force at the bottom toppled the top third of the pole, knocking it onto a power line and taking out the electricity to one or more houses on that street.)

OS hung out, and chatted for a while with the tow truck guy, who talked about the law-end of what this kid and his family would be dealing with in the not-so-far-future. And that kid won’t be seeing a driver’s license anytime near his 17th birthday. (He kind of seriously messed up that privilege.)

So what’s my point? Hubby and I could have ranted and raved at OS for making the impulsive choice he did. We didn’t. In agreement or not, we stood united in doling out consequences. (We are lucky. OS takes his lumps like a man (?). YS shows a much more dramatic side, but eventually does his time—often the next day, once he’s calmed down.)

I’m getting at this: LIFE stepped in and demonstrated a real-life example of what could happen when a kid takes a vehicle, especially if said kid is not terribly skilled/experienced at handling it. Sans getting preachy, we used that illustration to point out how flippin’ lucky OS was that his actions the day before cost him a party and little else.

And how crazy was it that Hubby and I stayed home and Hubby just happened to be on the same road at the same time OS had taken out his car? Coincidence? I’m not so sure…

Anyone out there with similar experiences to share? Please do! How did you handle it? Would you have grounded OS from the party? If not, what consequences might you have imposed? Did life show up with a lesson better than anyone you could have given?

Have a great day, folks,

Joanna

Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 4–Doing What You Have to Do)

Happy Hump Day folks! Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. Not sure I can claim that, but at least I felt very productive. Think I haven’t slowed down yet, and definitely feeling the effects of that. So glad it’s not too much longer to the next weekend. 🙂

Promise to try and wrap this up series soon, people! Geez! I thought I would be sharing a simple incident based on a conversation with friends. As in my previous series related to parenting (Discipline Vs. Control), one post took on a life and direction of its own. (Wish some of my characters would do the same! :()

In case you missed them and are looking to catch up, here are links to the preceding posts, one, two and three.

Today’s thought: doing what I had to do as a parent without worrying about what someone else might think of my choices.

Some background points to help set the tone:

1. A kid has to know a parent means business.

2. A parent who means business doesn’t necessarily have to force the issue, nor does that parent have to be mean or angry to show s/he is serious about what s/he is expecting from a child.

3. Bullying takes on many forms. We who are trying to ‘teach our children to do the right thing’ by ‘making’ them do what we say might have to watch going over a fine line. (Trust me, I’ve gone over it TOO many times. Younger kids—and those older ones who just love pushing buttons will tip you over that line themselves.)

4. And unless what a parent is doing is abusive, emotionally and/or physically, a parent should just toss what others think out the nearest window. (Just sayin’.)

Case in point: When Older Son was five years old and in preschool, he tended to dawdle when it came time to get dressed. Being the model parent I was, I remember doing my fair share of yelling one morning. I needed to get Younger Son to nursery school, Older Son to school and me to work. (Luckily, I worked in the same building where Older Son attended preschool.)

The next day, I kept him home. He wasn’t feeling well.

Day after that, he was well enough to return to school. He so took his time not getting ready. I decided I would not shout or make a scene.

Time came to leave the house. Older Son was pretty much taken aback when I handed him his shoes. I very calmly told him we had to go. When he said something about not being dressed, I told him we had no time. He’d used his time playing rather than getting ready. (Not sure how he got his shoes over his footie PJs, but he did. And I’m lucky. He was never much of a tantrum-throwing child. Now that Younger Son kid…let’s not go there.)

So we dropped off Younger Son, which mean Older Son had to walk into the nursery school in his PJs. When he mentioned something about PJ’s and school, I reiterated that he hadn’t gotten dressed when he had the time.

Once we got to school, I took him to the nurse. Told my boy the nurse needed to see him since he’d been sick the day prior. (Yes, I fibbed. Judge me if you please, but there was a much greater cause at stake.)

In the nurse’s office, I handed Dawdle Boy a set of clothing I’d bagged on the sly. I told him any future episodes would not come with a back-up outfit. He’d be in PJs for the day.

I kid you not, friends. From that day forward, I have never, ever had a problem with that boy not being dressed for school. Chances are, I brought his clothes partly b/c I might have felt embarrassed having him show in pajamas, and I certainly didn’t want him to feel that way, so I came up with a compromise. Luckily, it worked.

I’m fairly friendly with a dad whose four-year old daughter was giving him a run for his money. On many occasions, this 6’4″ European-born man whose daughter reached just past his knee would have him complaining about how she wouldn’t get dressed; at school we’d see that manifested in how late he’d bring her in every day. (Mind you, there are other family circumstances that impact her behavior to this day, I’m sure. Our conversations, however, showed me he wasn’t willing to stand up to her behavior.)

One day last school year, I shared Older Son’s PJ story. The man’s jaw dropped. He seemed horror-struck.

That dad  was most likely worried about what someone else would think if his daughter showed in PJs.

Did I abuse my son in any way? He was warm and covered appropriately for the season. I didn’t yell or force him to do anything.

I did, however, show him I meant business.

And that’s where we’ll pick up next time. Getting past myself when I impose a limit, or consequence. Sometimes that’s way harder than dealing with what others think.

So how have you dealt with some of the stuff your cherubs–no matter the age–dish out? What was the result and how effective did you find how you handled a particular situation in the longer run?

Thanks so much, readers, followers and friends. Have a great week! No stressing re: upcoming holidays allowed–somehow, it all gets done!

Joanna

Vinca Beats the Odds

Happy week of Thanksgiving, everyone. If you’re celebrating (and get to do the cooking), hope your fridge is already housing the bird and all the trimmings. Every year I swear I ain’t messin’ with the fine china, but when else will I use it? (Besides, Christmas, that is. I do really love it and–hey, there is no school and no cooking the day after the holiday, so what the heck, right?)

So maybe I’m a geek or a Pollyanna or a ridiculously positive person (RR is shaking his head yes to all three, I’m quite sure), but I am inspired by things that someone else might not even pay attention to.

Every year, I do some flower gardening. (Hubby is the veggie man.) Every year I try to add one more perennial (i.e., type of plant that comes back with little or no help from me), but there’s always room for an annual or two.  This year though, I hit Lowe’s at the end of the season and came back with a bunch of little flowering plants, but none of the impatiens or vinca I normally add.

IDK, I know annuals come from seeds, lol, but the plant is not supposed to come back, correct? Well, I started the season noticing tiny marigold seedlings mixed into the weeds I call grass on the side of the house. Found at least eleven. Transplanted every one where I normally plant them every year. Got a full spread. Every seedling made it to full growth and blooms. Cleared them out a few weekends ago.

We won’t discuss the sunflowers. Haven’t planted those annuals for at least three years now. Go figure.photo (1) That wall behind me gets crazier every year. That’s last summer’s photo. Don’t you love how I hide the hips and thighs behind the poster?

Sunflowers These are now the norm. I promise I planted a few seeds several years back.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I thought I saw a vinca sprout peeking from the edge of a little flower bed under a tree on the side of my house. Not sure if it popped up during a few very warm fall days, but uh, that thing was not supposed to grow at all (even though I did have them there last summer, 2012). Not only should that li’l fighter not have been there in the first place, it should have had full sun. (It was hidden under the crazy mums that come back every year. Found it when I cut back the mums killed by the deeper frosts.) And, the li’l bugger should NEVER have bloomed in early November, AFTER several frosts, a couple of which hit the mid-20s. (Hardy plant or inspiration that, given the right combination of circumstances, pretty much anything can get past the odds?)

vinca in Nov 2013  Crazy!

You know me. I am inspired.

Is it just me? Or have others run into similar experiences?

May you all feel gratitude, Thursday and every day–I know it keeps me peaceful!

Joanna

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right?–Part 2

Hope everyone had a great week and weekend. Sorry for last week’s posting snafu. Funny. I made a mental note to change the date on the ‘inspired some more’ write-up, but forgot to check the note, I guess. 😉

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”

That’s where I left off last post. If you missed it, you might want to check it out. (Pinky swear: it ain’t all that long, and lays the groundwork for this one.)

As I stated previously, my coworker’s question really struck me, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since. Those of you who have been hanging around the blog for a while might remember a series of posts I did about Discipline vs. Control. (I’ve linked you to the first. Feel free to take it from there, for a total of five essays on the topic, and maybe a bit more insight into groundwork laid.) And before I go any further, please note I’m no magician who turned my guys into pretty awesome young-men-in-the-making. Yes, Hubby and I work hard constantly, but I also believe we are lucky, too. (Some folks do everything to the best of their ability and still run into problems. And that’s assuming there aren’t special needs or other issues involved.) 

Okay, back to business.

Not that Hubby didn’t help out before, but since he took on the role of stay-at-home-dad, he’s taken on many of the responsibilities involved in keeping a house running. He often refers to the house as “his job”. So, he models a lot of the cleaning behaviors and consideration. (These are important components, folks.  Akin to the subtext in a story: what’s not written but inherent and working on your psyche as you read.)

We usually all pitch in after dinner. On many occasions though, when Hubby knows I still have paperwork to do, or errands to run after work, he’ll offer to clean up on his own. (Most of the time, I try to move a little faster and make sure to employ everyone present. If every person does a small part of the bigger job, we all get done more quickly, and one person isn’t stuck with all the work, right?)

And this is a bit of an aside, but it ties in: years ago a friend and I were chatting. Something came up about her husband offering to “help” her do something home or kid related. My friend accepted his offer. She also took the time to point out that whatever had to be done was their responsibility—not hers alone with him jumping in because he thought it was kind, his duty or whatever other reason spurred him on to offer his time and efforts.

Back to subtext: this was a shift in perspective for me! Being a doer, I tend to lead and ask others to take on parts of the job. I quickly got the concept and passed it on to Hubby. Little by little, could it be the sons are getting this too? (Interesting too, how on the same day I write this, older son just happened to start filling the dishwasher while he, his dad and I were hanging out in the kitchen, discussing how his friend’s mom seems to create at least part of the conflict she complains about re: her son. It was like my guy was on auto-pilot, chatting and cleaning. More thoughts on this in a later post.)

Allow me one more take on this before I get back to the point please: When my full-timers were small and my part-timers (a.k.a., stepsons) were still children and spent time here regularly (i.e., weekends, overnighters, etc), the bulk of my time outside the day job—which never lacked for work to bring home—was taken up with two to five boys at any given time and paperwork when I wasn’t attending to a kid.

One day, Hubby got a little annoyed with this. He told me he felt as he was “at the bottom of the totem pole.”

I’m sure he got a look for that one. “Actually,” I told him, “I’m at the bottom. You’re probably the next step up. However, since we’re supposed to be equal in this relationship and family situation, I’m thinking you’re belong at bottom next to me.” (Chances are, Hubby wasn’t too thrilled with me at that moment.)

And all this, IMHO, brings me back to a single word: RESPONSIBILITY. Perhaps that is the “key” to the “foundation” Hubby and I may have laid “something like this to happen,” as my coworker put it.

We’ll talk about this more next week.

Have a great one, folks. And if you found this content share-worthy, would you kindly take a sec and do so?

As always, I thank you!

Joanna