Tag Archives: Raising boys

The UnderDog

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A few weeks ago, 2nd Most Honorable Son played in his final lacrosse tournament of the seaon. We weren’t expecting much because the team had not won one game at the last tournament in Indiana. And it’s not about winning- right? Also- it was hotter than a mother out there and I was secretly hoping to get home in time to just relax. But of course we cheered and told him to go out there and play his best. And he did, they all did. This last seeded underdog lacrosse team played their heart out, beat out a previously undefeated team and went from last place to a final competitor in the championship game. They played the game of their life and lost but came in 2nd place overall.

A great lesson for us all- NEVER EVER underestimate the underdog! 

Exchanging a Bathroom for a Scooter

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April-June 2016 415A few weeks ago, we sent Big Boy to Lacrosse camp at the University of Notre Dame. We made a prior trip this past Spring and really enjoyed our time there. This was Big Boy’s first time away from home and he was so excited. In fact, he couldn’t wait to push us out of his dorm room. It really disturbed him that we hung out a little to observe the scene. He kept saying- “just go already!” He was more than ready for this.

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From a parent standpoint, I found the most interesting thing about the camp to be NOT the lacrosse skills he acquired while there from the coaches who hailed from various universities across the country. Don’t get me wrong- he definitely improved upon his stick skills and learned some new tips on defensive moves.

April-June 2016 414April-June 2016 417What cracked me up and surprised me the most were the life skills he learned while he was there- basically how to barter and work with others in a free enterprise system. Turns out- prior campers had this whole camp thing figured out. Boys had came prepared ready to barter, sell and profit from exchanging goods and services such as snack treats, stringing other people’s lacrosse heads, lacrosse sticks, nets, skateboards, and scooters. Big Boy said he sold his bag of beef jerky for $3.00 to another player. I responded with a “What? I paid over $5 for that bag?!” To which he promptly responded – “Mom- I had already eaten some.” I was thinking why in the world would you sell it then but instead said nothing.

Big Boy’s biggest complaint on day 1 was that his feet were killing him because the coaches made them walk back and forth from the dorm rooms to the playing fields a couple times a day- adding up to several miles on top of the regular drills and games.

So Big Boy did what he had to- he “sold” access and use of the private bathroom he shared with his roommate in exchange for use of another player’s scooter so that he could scoot back and forth throughout the day. Turns out Big Boy and his roommate had a corner room so they were the only boys on that floor to have their own private bathroom. Big Boy quickly realized what an advantage he had and used what he had to get what he needed.

The other player got to have his own private bathroom to do his business in and Big Boy’s feet got to rest just a little bit. And I had been worried about him and his feet. Yeah, right.

A Confirmation and some BBQ

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Big Boy was confirmed last weekend. My sister Melina flew out from Southern California to be his sponsor and visit St. Louis for the first time. So very grateful for the time she spent with us as she is in the middle of a move from the house she’s lived in for the past 15 years to a house closer to where our parents live. The weekend flew by much too fast and was filled with lots of sunshine, love, and all-around happiness.

I took her to Bikram Yoga with me on Sunday morning and then we squeezed in two lacrosse games around Big Boy’s confirmation. We were also lucky enough to have the honor of Big Boy being confirmed at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on a gorgeous, 81 degrees blue sky day. For Big Boy’s confirmation gifts, we bought him his first NSV bible along with a book of prayers for young men. He has been reading his book of prayers every night since. I am so glad that the words he is reading there are resonating with some part of his soul. His confirmation marks the official end of Sunday School – a journey he has been on for 9 years. Our parish has a teen youth group he will now move into and hopefully create some great memories there.

Afterwards, we had ourselves some down-home BBQ at SugarFire Smokehouse BBQ. Dang- the veggie lover in me licked every bit of sauce off my fingers. Along with Pappy’s BBQ, these are some serious BBQ St. Louis institutions you must visit if you are ever in the area. Still thinking about those baby back ribs… mmmm. Enjoy your weekend friends!

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Rip the Duck

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We are on our way home after a lacrosse tournament weekend in South Bend, Indiana. It was cold but we had a great time getting to know other lacrosse families and visiting University of Notre Dame for the first time. Grateful for this experience we all shared in together. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

To Kill A Mockingbird

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“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

Harper Lee died last week. Since then, I’ve been processing what her death means to me personally and the impact that her words have had in a society that continues to struggle with race and color. By coincidence, the night before she passed, Big Boy had been reading his assigned chapter for “To Kill A Mockingbird” and had thrown it down out of pure outrage and disgust. He was angry. He is an avid reader, this son of mine- during the summer he will read up to 5 books a week. He swallows words whole, coming up for air only to breathe and he reads all books- he has been exposed to great literature and I am so thankful for that. But this book- this book finally put him over the edge.

It was a pure teachable moment, the moment I have been waiting for since I gave birth to these children who come from such beautiful and pure cultures that also put them at risk for brutal racism, discrimination and stereotyping.

I have shied away from writing about these issues. Why? Because they are so deep and I carry my own emotional baggage from childhood. I am still on my journey and traveling through this subject of raising black children in America. Especially when I myself am not black. I am scared. I feel like I’m not doing enough. Or maybe not doing it the right way. Is there a right way?

But Big Boy’s outrage put it out there. You can’t sweep it under the rug. I told him, anger is good. Because I think it is good. If you look at every social justice movement in this country it started with that spark of anger from people saying “that is enough.” We must try to create change and do better.

We are tired. So tired of having to explain ourselves or not explain ourselves. Of having to defy stereotypes, of having others judge or make assumptions about what type of people we are, based on how we look, how much money we make or don’t make, what neighborhood we live in, the clothes we wear and the music we listen to. It’s me having to tell the boys that they shouldn’t wear hoodies, especially dark ones at night. It makes me angry too. And so scared.

Harper Lee’s words resonate with us and now that she is gone, I feel even more so. On the eve of her passing, my son got angry because he read her words. For 13 years, my husband and I been trying to teach our son what it’s like to be a black boy growing up in this world. But it was Harper Lee’s words that put that brutal truth in perspective. No more sugar-coating, no way about it.

Use that anger and turn it to good. As parents, I think that’s one of our biggest jobs and legacies- to educate the next generation and help them to confront that which makes us uncomfortable, have conversations with those who are different and have different opinions, tackle that which we find conventional and status quo but wrong and create change that will ultimately make the world a better place.

My friend Kristin told me yesterday that by the year 2030, all the people of color put together will be the majority in the United States. I told her- well by then I’ll be an old lady so it’s on our kids- they are the ones who will have to figure out how all the mixes of colors and peoples can best work and live together in harmony.

It’s an uphill battle, all the odds are against us but as Harper Lee told us in her own words- that’s the definition of courage- to begin anyways knowing that everything is stacked against you and to do it anyway.

Rest in peace Harper Lee and thank you.

Cub Scout Mom

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After 7 wild and crazy years, my journey as a Cub Scout Mom is coming to an end.

It all began when Big Boy was in second grade. I opened up his backpack and amidst the lunch bag leftovers and homework assignments, I saw a flyer- “Would you like for your son to join the Cub Scouts? Come to the information meeting!”After asking the boy if he was remotely interested and he was- I decided I needed some co-conspirators and set about rounding up a group of moms whose sons could join us and together we all decided to take the scouting plunge. There was only one problem. Who would step up to take on the coveted position of THE DEN LEADER? Cue scary music and happy face.

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Faster than you can say Cub Scouts and together with one of my biggest partners in crime- Jackie D.- the next thing you knew I found myself wearing khakis. For those of you unfamiliar with Scouting- all den leaders must wear the khaki uniform shirt complete with sewn on badges to all scout meetings, outings and ceremonies. After some going back and forth and hours of den leader training and several trips to the Boy Scout Center it was decided that the meetings would be held twice monthly directly after school. So there we were, Jackie and I- lugging bins of arts and crafts, balls, marbles, training manuals and flags – in our khaki shirt to and from school. Other moms on campus would see us and shake their heads and laugh, “the things we do for our kids- you won’t catch me wearing that shirt!” It was humbling at first but you know what- looking back now- it was one of the best parenting experiences of my life.

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Jackie and I took those boys from 2nd Grade Wolves Scouts to 5th Grade Webelos. We even managed to add another den leader – Dad of the Year- Brent to our crew. Over those four years together and along with a great Cub Scout Pack and involved parents, we learned how to camp, fish, hike, tie knots, build pinewood derby cars, sort canned food at the Food Bank, clean river beds and hiking trails, sing campfire songs, put on puppet shows, cook eggs in a plastic bag in boiling water, earn a multitude of belt loops and make cakes in the shape of rockets and boy scout emblems. We saw these boys grow from crazy, silly 7 year-olds to slightly more mature, respectful and honorable 10 year-olds who learned with time the proper way to fold the U.S. flag and participate in a flag ceremony.

Along the way and through the years, personal changes continued in my life. Read the rest of this entry