Tag Archives: parenting

Getting To Graduation Day Only Slightly Unhinged

I started “writing” this blog (thanks to voice to text on my cell phone) while driving back from Tallahassee yesterday. And before anyone starts accusing me of improper use of a vehicle, I promise both hands remained on the wheel and both eyes on the road the entire time.

Trust me, it was much safer than having me rocking it out at the top of my lungs to 70s and 80s music with some occasional Broadway tunes through in for good measure since I can easily get lost in the lyrics.happy-quotes-1753-520x245

Anyway, I was there for a few days while my daughter was filming her senior thesis at FSU, just a few days after my son graduated from high school and less than a week after returning from the experience I shared in my previous blog about Camp Jenny.

Yeah, it has been a crazy busy time.

I had actually been thinking about this week’s blog ever since the curtain rose at Ruth Eckerd Hall last Thursday evening while “Pomp and Circumstance” was played by the high school band and 178 boys young men sat on the stage in their tuxedos (they wore the traditional cap and gown the night before at the Baccalaureate service at school)

…in perfectly lined up rows

…hands strategically placed on top of each of their thighs

…looking straight out at the filled to capacity audience comprised of family, friends and faculty (by the way, my husband did lose the bet about how filled it would get…when will he learn?)

…with the most serious of expressions on every one of their faces

So, call me crazy but… I am getting chills sitting here now thinking about it. It was such a dramatic sight. Everyone gasped and then erupted into applause and a lot of cheering.

I was there with my husband, father, sister and brother in law. And we are admittedly a somewhat cynical and sarcastic bunch (I know shocking). But that moment? Seriously, it took our breath away.

Sadly, my daughter missed it. She started production earlier that day. Truth be told, I didn’t know I should have been prepared to videotape the moment.

Well, that’s not really true.

As a parent, I should always be ready. And with the release of Periscope for  Android last week, I definitely had no excuse and should have streamed it live for not only her but also for my brother and his family out in California.

That, of course, would have required me to know that Periscope for Android had been released.

Sigh…

I did manage to get a photo, albeit a very blurry one, of the scene and immediately sent it to my daughter. The school’s photographer, thankfully, got a much better shot that will go where all other photos go these days…into my Google Photos account hoping to make it into a to be created online album.jesuit graduation

Source: Jesuittampa.com

 My son is in the second row from the top on the left, first seat off the middle aisle. Fortunately I found that out prior to the ceremony or I would have spent the entire time looking for him.

Then again, they were sitting in alphabetical order, but I probably wouldn’t have thought of that until after I spent the entire time looking for him.

Did I mention it has been a crazy busy few weeks?

To say I am proud of my son may seem like a given, however, I need to say it just the same. Yes, he graduated Cum Laude (which was revealed in the program that night and, of course, I cried) and he has been a real team player on various soccer teams for the past 14 years, but my pride goes well beyond his academic and athletic accomplishments.

Simply put, he’s a good kid. He wasn’t too happy that I had him stand outside in his tuxedo when it was 90+ degrees so we could get this photo. One day he’ll thank me or at least that is what I choose to believe.me and nathan

Some may say he didn’t start out such a “good” kid at birth. He came out screaming and really didn’t stop for the first 3 or 4 years of his life. I am talking ear piercing, never ending stuff.

You know it’s bad when even the grandparents don’t want to be around.

He was, though (in my opinon) a really cute baby… 10

But that screaming?

Painful.

He also didn’t sleep, eat and, forgive me if it may seem like “TMI”, poop. I mean he did a little of each, but not nearly enough of what the average baby was supposed to do.

As a result, I never ate, I never slept and well the third thing…use your imagination. Suffice to say, I became slightly unhinged (by my definition) and it certainly didn’t help an already troubled marriage.

We took him to every specialist in town and while we were grateful there was nothing seriously wrong with him from a physiological standpoint…or at least not via an official diagnosis…it was, nevertheless, a very emotionally draining situation.

Come on moms with difficult children, fess up! You know you relate to this…c09f5d03d153650c1c7614c8bdb71126One close friend who happens to be a pediatric development specialist told us at the time that some kids have a “kink in their hard wiring” when they are born and it just takes a few years to work it out of their system.

Ummmmm…that was all fine and wonderful to hear but going through those years???

OMG!

She was, of course, right because he is now capable of sleeping until mid-afternoon, eating more than his body weight on any given day (or so it seems) and, well, again use your imagination about the third issue.

We never really know what we are going to get when we make the decision to bring a living, breathing human being into the world. I’ve had friends and family who have breezed through the childhood years while others have dealt with everything from some typical teenage rebellion and minor learning disabilities to autism, cancer, mental illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction and even the random, unexpected and extremely tragic death of their child.

So if it meant no sleeping, eating plus that third thing and ultimately going through a divorce to come out on the other side and sit in a room of almost 2000 people knowing I have a healthy, smart, well adjusted, all around good kid heading off to college in a few weeks, ok then so be it.

One final thing, I realize it is unlikely my ex-husband will read this but I still need to put it out there that I am very grateful that he provided Nathan the opportunity to attend a private high school. I do believe it has and will continue to pay off even if he insisted on sticking out his tongue in graduation pictures.20150527_212544 (1)

I guess boys will always be boys.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Motherhood, Parenting

Winning Isn’t Everything: Lessons From The Soccer Field

This past weekend marked the end of my son’s soccer career. The competitive team he has been playing on since fifth grade lost all 3 games in the second round of the Florida State Cup.

No, that wasn’t fun, especially when you consider 2 of the 3 games were about 150 miles away…one game at 8 am on Saturday and the other at 2 pm on Sunday with his senior prom smack dab in the middle on Saturday night.  Several of his teammates also went to prom so, suffice it to say, it was a very long weekend.

I suppose there are some that would have forfeited going to the prom if it would jeopardize a potential win and opportunity to move on to the next round. I am just so glad that the team, as a whole, never created that culture or projected that mindset. As the coach said after the loss on Sunday, he appreciated our “low expectations”.

Don’t get me wrong, they always played to win and they were a good team over the past 8 years if you look at their win-loss record. However, by the time they were all in high school I don’t think any of the boys anticipated they would go on to play in college and/or professionally.

Call me crazy but…does it really matter if you win or lose? I believe participating in a sport ultimately needs to be about how you mindfully play a game on a field which, in turn, should determine how you mindfully play the game of life off the field and hopefully make you a great human being.

Win or Lose

All that said I have a confession to make…I didn’t understand why it was even necessary to play the Sunday game. I mean, the chances of going on to the next round were so slim…like paper slim. It would have taken a miracle and major planet alignment. So why not sing a round of “Know When To Fold ‘Em”, save us all the hassle and just forfeit in advance?download (5)

Enter my very wise friend Sarah who played soccer through college and just completed the MBA program at The University of Florida in her late thirties. She did it while maintaining a full time job as a regional director for a pharmaceutical company so she travels a lot for work. Some weeks she is gone Monday-Friday. But without fail, one very intense weekend a month for over two years she made her way to Gainesville from wherever she was to attend classes all day Saturday and Sunday.  And the remainder of the month when she wasn’t working she was slammed with assignments and group projects. She has an amazing work ethic!

So, when we were together this past Saturday afternoon, I mentioned to her my thoughts about just forfeiting the game the next day given their chances of winning and moving on, how tired most of them would be as a result of going to prom and no doubt staying up most of the night plus the distance required to travel to the game.

Why bother?”, I said.

She looked at me and said, “What are you…crazy?

Ummmm….hello…Beth Blacker Call Me Crazy

Anyway, she proceeded to reprimand me (it’s ok…I deserved it) about the fact that if I allowed my son to think it was ok to forfeit I was essentially telling him it’s ok to never complete a task or job if the outcome is a foregone conclusion. And, she advised me based on her years of playing, by forfeiting, there really was no way to determine the intended opponent’s true ranking in the tournament.  In other words, the actual point totals and not necessarily just who won or lost the games on Sunday were equally significant.facepalm

Yep, I deserved that big smack in the head.

I’ve always prided myself on being very driven and highly motivated. And I rarely have backed away from anything. In fact, I knew the odds were so stacked against me starting a baked goods company a few years ago that I subsequently shut down this past January.

That said, I never wanted anyone to tell me not to think the impossible could happen even when I had gone through 2 brokers and 3 manufacturers to try to launch a product nationwide. I still hired a third broker in the hopes that the planets would, in fact, align and we’d find the perfect co-packer. As many of you know, it didn’t happen but every phone call, email, meeting and sample run were all necessary whether we ever made it to retail shelves or not.

So what was up with my lapse in judgment this weekend?

I guess this is the point where I should probably tell you I have never been a very good soccer mom. I mean I understand all of the benefits for exposing children to sports but I don’t enjoy them myself. My idea of an athletic feat as a kid was tackling the key recipes in my mom’s dog-eared Betty Crocker cookbook.

I tried not to impose my lack of interest in knowing the difference between a goal and corner kick on either of my kids, but the fact remains I was not all that engaged through the years. The majority of the times the team traveled overnight my son went with his father. Being divorced, I had a hard time justifying us both paying for gas, meals, hotel rooms, etc. I’m not cheap, just practical.

Besides, I do have an older daughter who until she went to college did not necessarily need to forego her weekends to be 200 miles away watching her brother play. Or at least that’s my opinion.

Oh and did I mention I also had a business that required attending a lot of weekend events as well as helping my husband when his mortgage company exhibited at home shows around the state? So trust me, I wasn’t sitting at home eating bon bons.

I know I’m in the minority in my thinking about competitive sports but you totally lose me when parents get more worked up about the game than their kids. I guess they live by this famous quote…

Vince Lombardi Winning Isn't Everything

Me?…not so much.

And don’t even get me started with the crazy rules including the new “no water break” one here in Florida. Apparently someone has decided that our entire state is at a competitive disadvantage when teams travel out of state because nowhere else do they allow hydration.

That’s 40 minutes on either side of a 5 minute halftime…in Florida…you know, where it feels like 120 degrees most of the year on any open field…with no water?

Again, call me crazy but…THAT’S INSANE!!!!

Seriously, I thought my son was going to pass out two weeks ago when the humidity level was especially high and it was only 10 am. I was getting lightheaded just sitting on the sidelines

…under an umbrella

…DRINKING  A LOT OF WATER!!!!!!

And that ladies and gentlemen is why I think despite my brain fart this past weekend, I try to always look at the bigger picture with my respect to raising my kids. I know, overall, I am good mom…or as I like to say…the best mom I know how to be. I will never be able to distinguish when a player is off sides, but I have tried to instill great values in both of my kids and thought the best lesson I could teach them in doing anything was to just always try to do their personal best and, of course, see it through until the end.

So the bottom line? I was never going to relish the 6 hours of total travel time that my son undoubtedly was going to sleep through for a two hour game that I pretty much knew there was a minuscule chance of winning (think as small as a speck of dust).

But I have to say, they gave it their all with exactly the right expectations and the right mindset.  And to snap this photo after the loss clearly shows just how much.

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No frowns, no pouty faces…just a bunch of goofy guys who played to win but happened to lose…and got to celebrate the loss with donuts to really take everyone full circle to the days when they were 8 or 9 and there was always some sweet treat and Capri Suns after a game. My son told me last night that this photo is probably his all time favorite of the team. He thinks it shows the “fun” in their dysfunction. Score one for the anti-soccer mom !

They were, indeed, a GREAT team…win or lose on the field…and will no doubt continue to individually be great off the field as they move on in life and hopefully be remembered for a lot more than a bunch of soccer games.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut!

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Life Lessons, Parenting

#ProudMama Moment … Score One For Higher Education !

Anyone who knows me, knows I have never been one of those moms that brags a lot about my kids, hovers over them like a helicopter or tell them “It’s ok, Mommy will take care of it.”

And I am admittedly a terrible soccer mom…seriously, after a dozen years of watching on the sidelines I still don’t understand when they get a corner vs. goal kick.. Inevitably whenever one of my kids scored or made a really great play I was talking to the mom or dad next to me.

But I ALWAYS remembered to turn the beaters off before letting my kids lick them…score one point for me!

food-quotes-from-pinterest-2

Anyways, I am a realist and while I certainly wanted my kids to be kids and feel like the world could be at times simply filled with thoughts of rainbows and unicorns, I tried very hard throughout their “formative” years to teach them they were absolutely going to have to suffer through some skinned knees…literally and figuratively.  And trust me, I have, dare I say, “suffered” through the tears and fears right along side them.

But we all have managed to get to the point where my now 21 year old daughter and almost 18 year old son, are just fine. Well, at least by my definition of “fine”.

So call me crazy but when my daughter, now a junior in the Florida State Film School program, tells me that her documentary from last year, Earning Jenny, has won an award for editing at this past weekend’s Black Warrior Film Festival  at The University of Alabama, I’m very proud.

Proud Mama Alert

Couple the award with the fact that the documentary was featured last night at the National Federation of Temple Youth’s (NFTY) Biennial Conference  in Atlanta, I am literally gushing.  You see, I have history with the NFTY program so this is kind of a sentimental thing for me too. I was very involved as a high school teenager through my synagogue in Metro-Detroit and the experiences I had definitely helped shape..all religion aside…the person I am today.

When my daughter was in high school, she too became very involved in her temple youth group which included going to Camp Jenny 3 out of the 4 years of high school plus the past few years while in college. So yes, I’m proud that she took her experiences and turned them into something even bigger while in college.

It is, in my opinion (albeit a very motherly one) an awesome documentary about the Camp Jenny program, established in 1988, which provides 150 kindergarten through 5th grade students from the F.L. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta the opportunity to literally earn throughout the school year 4 days of a camp experience at the URJ Camp Coleman property in the northern Georgia mountains every Memorial Day weekend. Some of these kids have never been outside of Atlanta let alone spend a weekend away from their parents. This is a really big deal and the kids work incredibly hard to get one of the very precious spots.

So while some may poo poo the costs vs. benefits of higher education these days, I am going to give it a big THUMBS UP … or at least for my daughter. She has totally earned it and it is my hope all of the children who earn Camp Jenny will go on to earn many more things too.

Earning Jenny on Vimeo

FYI…if you want to watch the video you will need to send me an email to receive the link and password. Sorry it is technically the property of the film school but trust me it is awesome and totally worth the 7 minutes of your time.

That’s all for now…#BlackerOut

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