Days 14 & 15: The Shopping Network

Every member of the family has his or her role within the familial structure. Well, unless you’re a mom, in which case any and all roles can default to you at a moment’s notice.

Even at a young age, my oldest son established himself as the Tim Gunn of the family minus the snooty accent (most of the time anyway,) He was arbiter of cool and had the power of veto over his brothers’ purchases.

This, of course, made Back to School shopping a breeze for me. I gave him a budget and watched him work his magic. It was a sight to behold, really, the way he could work a rack of t-shirts at Marshalls or find bargain shoes at the Nike outlet.

We covered a lot of ground before college drop-off but this was the one thing that wasn’t on my radar. . We were so busy outfitting his room that I forgot his brothers needed an outfit or two as well.

The fact that I used “outfit” to describe something my teenagers would wear is precisely why I can’t be in charge of picking out clothing. It is cringe-worthy vocabulary (insert eye-roll)

How the hell was I going to shop with my stylist 7-hours away?

Between football practice and work schedules, I found just one morning with a few hours available for a trip to the Mall. Without my assistant buyer, I simply did not have the faculties to tackle the outlets.

Each boy made a list. Ok, that’s not true. I badgered them until they came up with a couple of items they really needed. Oh and I had to promise them lunch at the mall in order to extract said list.

I never missed my eldest more than in that moment.

I stood in a sea of Nike and didn’t dare touch a thing. I wanted him to get the shorts that were on sale but I knew if I said that, it would have the opposite effect.

We both felt comfortable in the realm of team logo apparel. There was another mother held prisoner by indecision, like me. We exchanged a look that promised we would forget anything we saw there in the Young Men’s department and never speak of this day again.

My youngest, who was really just looking for shoes that fit the uniform code, had wandered off to play Pokemon and pretend he lived with another family.

Smart boy

We settled on Terp shorts, no shirts and socks that may or may not be the right ones. I can now detail the 100 different kinds of white socks Nike distributes that look exactly the same, except they aren’t.

We tried on no less than 10 pair of Sperry’s for my 8th grader and none of them fit. I willed a little Sperry cobbler to appear, put my son’s foot on that slanted stool and make him a custom shoe right there. I mean, everyone knows it’s Sperry’s or nothing. (insert eye roll)

Guess what? I opted for nothing. Did I mention we were T-2 days until school?

I headed for the one area where I knew we would find success—the eatery. I’m not sure if it was the Diet Coke or finally getting a win after a discouraging trip but suddenly it was all so clear to me.

The boys needed to shop alright.

IN THEIR BROTHER’S CLOSET.

Even after taking a crapton of clothes to college, his closet was still bursting at the seams. Shoes, shorts, t-shirts, all cool and approved by the Dalai Lama of design himself.

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

Maybe he was feeling nostalgic for home, maybe it was pity or perhaps now that he is living with other men he realizes the gross excess of clothes he possesses but he gave the in-home shopping network the green light.

Phew!

Although I took anything I thought he’d want for himself off the market, his brothers were primed for back to school–including the elusive Sperry’s—in no time. Those Sperry’s looked suspiciously like they had never been worn, which just proved my genius.

So, I guess my role in the family is to be right—AGAIN. Such a burden (insert eye-roll).

Day 13: All Hail the Queen

After I gave birth to my third son, a lovely Jamaican man came into my hospital room with my dinner tray. He spied the picture of the two older boys and then at my blue-capped newborn and said,

“Ah, the mother of sons. You will be a queen one day.”

Here’s an update for you… I’m still waiting.

What that guy failed to mention is that the road to the crown is paved with mud, stains and unidentifiable odors.

To think I used to spend HOURS drinking in that sweet baby smell and now I scramble to stay down wind of the whole lot of them. And their friends.

My status in the family is never clearer than when they hand me the rugby, football or baseball pants to wash. These items require special delivery because they are too caked with mud to be tossed into the hamper with the run of the mill disgusting stuff.

My husband does the big loads of laundry (no, that still does not make me Queen, I sort and fold) but the athletic gear is all mine My 15yo just brought home his practice pants and jersey for the first time after weeks of football.

WEEKS, people.

Grass, mud and blood caked all three. I wished for an old fashioned wash board while I tried not to think about whose blood was shed on his jersey.

Kids have been playing football since roughly the 1930’s. I cannot imagine what those old-time pants were made of or how anyone got them clean. No Sport Tide detergent, Oxi spot pretreating and wick-away fabrics back in the day.

I think they just bleached them until their skin burned off and called it a day.

This was a challenge dammit and I was going to get them white again if it killed me. It took three times of filling the sink, soaking and draining to get clear water. Even the experts at the WSSC have not seen water this brown.

This was royal alright. It was a royal pain…

I pre-treated and scrubbed each spot until my arm muscles ached and then poured in some bleach and let them marinate. My house smelled clean even if the football gear was not.

I had been at it for over an hour. My hands were pruned and I might possibly have ruined the chance for a good fingerprint should I ever end up in the slammer.

I rinsed everything one final time and took them outside to dry, letting the sun do some of my dirty work. Since my deck is the modern day equivalent of a clothes line, I draped stuff everywhere. The athletic girdle with the pads built in twisted every time I tried to hang it so I just threw it in a chair and hoped for the best.

My poor neighbors, at any given time there is an array of personal items drying on my deck. We are the Beverly Hillbillies and if we had more room on the lawn, we would park the truck there too.

I went back inside and further distanced myself from my queenly status by cleaning up my mess and doing the dishes I’d piled on the counter to clear the sink.

It was 9:30am and I was exhausted. Now I know why all the pics of women from pioneer days show them with an arm draped across their forehead and looking wrung out. Like Scarlett O’Hara, spent from the rigors of deciding between Ashley and Rhett, I needed to take to my bed.

Well, in reality I lounged for an episode of Baywatch in Hawaii circa 1996. That show has more cheese than Wisconsin and it was the perfect elixir for my overwrought soul. Although there were some tense moments when Matt got bitten by a poisonous fish and almost fell down the rapids trying to reach the fishing village for assistance with Mitch. How come this show never won an Emmy?

But there was a happy ending for the lifeguards and for me. When I walked out onto the deck a few hours later, the white was blinding I tell you. Every trace of dirt was gone.

After lunch my son came down to get ready for practice. I had gathered everything up for him and watched him shove all my hard work carelessly into his bag. He grabbed his water jug and gear and as he walked out the door he said:

“Thanks mom, you are the best. You really got all that stuff clean.”

In that moment, I understood the subtlety of what that attendant was saying. Mothering boys is noble work as they really are foreign creatures to us mothers. They make big messes and big smells but they love big too. And when that big love shines on you, it is a regal moment indeed.

**picture drawn by my youngest when he was 8 years old. There is a small chance he was depicting me, but not super likely**

“To Siri With Love…”

Dear Siri,

I admit, the first time I heard your perfectly modulated, computer enhanced voice, I was mesmerized. I applauded those geniuses at Apple for making us all futuristic like the Jetsons. We pushed that button often, just because we could.

But a mere five years later I’m more than a little unmesmerized. Is that a word? Don’t answer that, nevermind.

Siri, can I be honest?

Shut up.

Just. Shut.The.Hell.Up.

I think you are trying to put me out of business. I used to be the one with all the answers. I was the freakin’ Encyclopedia Britannica. What I didn’t know, I fabricated with the kind of self-confidence that no child dared question.

You are trying to suck the lifeblood from my authority one snappy response at a time. You know everything from the square root of 2,433 to NBA stats. My kids went so far as to pick a nickname to share just between the two of you.

So not cool.

As a woman, we could be all solidarity and fist bumping each other as we show my little people who is boss. Between you and Google, thinking for oneself is a dying art.

So I propose a new approach. When my kids ask a math question, you just say, “Do your homework on your own, dammit.”

Or if my kids have a query at midnight, you respond, “Your sorry butt should be asleep right now.”

See how that works? I scratch your keypad and you scratch mine?

It’s bad enough today’s generation will never know how to read a map. Or wait while the cassette tape rewinds to hear their favorite song again. Or God forbid, go to the library and find reference books.

Now my kids use you, Siri, against me. They quiz me on a topic and compare my answers to yours. I can’t compete with your quick wit and clever repartee. That little Sugar Hill Gang rap rip-off is comedy gold.

You got it all going on; like the cool aunt with the added bonus of a British or French accent. See, Siri, I am out here ranting about how life is HARD. Until you show up and make it look so easy.

These kids are drinking the Siri Kool-Aid while I serve up the bitter truth.

So, Siri, here is my truth: back off sister.

Because until you can get the kids to do their homework without asking more than once. Or find shoes that have been missing for a month. And remember who throws away lunch if the sandwich has mustard…. Girl, you are just phoning it in.

Day 11: Say it Ain’t So (An Olympic Tale)

The kids come down in the morning, collapse on the couch, hit the remote and sigh as they remember the Olympics are over.

I know how they feel.

See, we are simply Olympic people. Ok, maybe Olympic addicts with an issue that needs to be looked into. The television was on all day for two weeks straight. I saw more Olympic action than Al Roker and that guy was EVERYWHERE.

We wear our love of the Olympics like a big shiny medal. But now our world has lost some luster.

The colorful, yet confusing, Closing Ceremonies aired on Sunday and served as the official end to the games. So, of course, we turned them off. Seeing endless Brazilian stars lip syncing in the rain is no way to keep denial in check.

And watching poor, Lilliputian Simone Biles wrangle that Gulliver sized flag in the wind? I just can’t even.

Tuning into Beachfront Bargain Hunt seemed like the only logical choice. And by the way, they picked house number 2.

We hate to bid the games goodbye because the Summer Olympics are magical; in my house, anyway. Unlike the winter games, the relaxed summer schedule lets the kids stay up later for the premier match-ups. Although, admittedly, there were some pretty strange sports that qualified this time around, they were all entertaining.

Yes, even handball.

I haven’t seen viewing stats yet, but I didn’t come across anyone who wasn’t watching at least some portion of the games. Yes, we rooted for the Americans, but we also cheered for the incredible feats of athleticism we saw from around the world.

The dedication and training necessary to reach this level of competition is staggering; a great lesson for our kids about hard work and reward. Many a night, I went to bed with the three boys lounging watching the games together. The only time that happens is when they sneak a movie I wouldn’t approve of or gather for a marathon of The Office on Netflix.

How can you not be a little sad when something that brings not only nations together but families as well, ends?

Last night, we flipped through the boring old channels and Billy Bush wasn’t anywhere. Well, that’s not technically true. The Today Show promoted Billy from Rio rebel-rouser to regular in the 9:00 hour every morning. I’m not sure I have enough Folgers to prepare for that kind of early morning enthusiasm.

Then, in the middle of the reruns and QVC, was Rio the Redoux. On one of the 3000 NBC owned channels well past NASA and the stuff you never pay attention to, were all the highlights of the Olympics. And it was on this morning as well.

We are back baby. Now, like an Olympic 12-step program, I can wean myself off programming slowly over time.

And when that time finally comes, long after the Summer Olympics are forgotten and eyes turn toward South Korea and Winter 2018, we will remember all these games gave us.

Most notably, we will savor the fact that our national pride swelled as a result of something other than tragedy. And that, in and of itself, is worth its weight in gold.

Days 9 & 10:The Fullness in Goodbye

As we turned out of the parking lot, the empty bins rattled around in the hatch of the car, much like the thoughts rattled around my brain. My mind raced from images of yesterdays when he was still in our midst to worry that I didn’t convey everything when I had the chance and finally fear for the both of us.

This is what it is like to die, I surmised. Life flashes before you and you clearly see the scope of it up close. Then the pain of its incompleteness consumes you.

Seventeen years of parenting had boiled down to three words, “Go be great.”

I’m not sure I would have expanded on that even if we had been afforded the time but I will never know. Three words, one hug and then seven hours would separate us.

The entire college drop-off process is chaotic by design. It doesn’t give parents or students time to really absorb the enormity of what is transpiring. It’s all about comforter sets, micro-fridge rentals and storage space until finally the only thing left to unfold is goodbye.

We have perused all the articles designed to help us through this very moment, yet nothing makes the reality bearable. I couldn’t read my son’s face but I know his heart like my own and instinct told me it was aching just like mine. He had the luxury of friends who had followed us to the car. They lounged by a dumpster filled with flat screen television boxes ready to scoop him up after we left; bringing me some measure of comfort.

At the suggestion of a friend, my two younger sons had chosen an item from home to leave with their brother. They chose the only book we owned that held their attention as toddlers. Back in the day, if we got through a story without bloodshed or tears, it was like experiencing a miracle right there in the family room. In time, the binding came apart and pages ripped, so I recently bought a replacement. Perhaps subconsciously anticipating it would again be our glue.

The friends all gathered to spy the book and the picture of the boys taped inside the front page with a note. Even in that photo, my eldest was the leader propping up his brothers with a smile. Was he being brave right now to bolster them?

Part of me wanted to see his stoic and strong side, ready to face this new chapter. Yet there was another equally strong tug to glimpse some vulnerability to prove he still needed me. He chose the former and never flinched when I held him and said goodbye.

This confidence was a good thing, so why did it feel so jarring and wrong?

On the surface, we laughed, joked and smiled as we milled around the car. Once sheltered inside its confines, however, the fissures began to show. Like an x-ray, the open road had exposed our breaks and the tears came.

We no longer had to pretend that we were alright. This was uncharted territory for all of us and we were heading out without our compass, scared and vulnerable. It all seemed so backwards. I mean shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Turns out, the answer is no.

Just off campus, we stopped for gas. The two younger boys and I went into the convenience store to buy snacks for the first leg of the trip home while my husband filled the tank. We were like trauma victims. We wondered around aimlessly, bumped into each other and could not decide on a purchase.

The store clerk eyed us up as we meandered through the aisles, our eyes red and faces blotchy. Once at the register she asked, with a measure of suspicion, if we were ok.

Although I wanted to spill out our whole story and justify the odd behavior, it was too much effort. Instead I simply replied, “Not today, but we will be. Eventually we will all be ok.”

Saying those words out loud gave me clarity. Just like those empty bins, I had served my purpose. Over the years, I had packed him with everything he would need to settle in without me. All the essentials I worked so hard to stow in his brain would be at the ready when he required them and serve as a map to guide him on this new journey, alone.

It was a tearful week and we are missing him tremendously but with each passing day, my hopes for him overshadow the fears. I take solace in those hopes and they make me feel very full indeed.

Day 8: Summer Song Road Trip

After 16 hours in the car over two days, I was thanking the genius who invented Satellite Radio. There are like a bazillion songs in the universe and I think we heard each one at least once. I realized that many of this summer’s hits apply to the experience of traveling in the family truckster:

No matter how organized I am, it is always shocking how quickly we fill the back of our Yukon, one of the largest vehicles manufactured. And no matter how full that car is, I “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” that I’ve forgotten something the minute the garage door closes.

However, I had no choice but to “Let it Go,” and hit the road. A mere ten minutes in and everyone was complaining they are too “Close.” With the leaning tower of packing threatening to smack someone on the head any moment, I totally got it.

The only one silent was the dog, Murphy, who was smart enough to “Sit Still, Look Pretty” for the time being. Fortunately, the kids were soon engrossed in technology with headphones in place making the car the closest thing to a date my husband and I had experienced in a while. Since, “We Don’t Talk Anymore” we tried to take advantage of the moment but the Waze lady kept interrupting us with road conditions.

With the opportunity lost, I busied myself counting the miles until we got to Wawa. See, when you are held prisoner in your car with no leg room or snacks, “Cheap Thrills” like Wawa become necessary to survival.

After what seemed like an eternity I spied the orange and yellow Wawa sign in the distance. As we prepared to get out of the car for snacks, the dog barked as if to say, “Me Too!” My husband drew the short straw and walked the dog in the parking lot amid the exhaust fumes. I felt guilty. Sort of.

Fortified with sugar, I felt “Brand New” as we resumed travel. Had it really only been a little over an hour? The morning sun was high, streaming through the passenger window and baking my entire right side “Just Like Fire.”  And we still had a little over two hours to go.

When you routinely have hot flashes, any added warmth can bring out a “Dangerous Woman” alter ego.  So, when I began stabbing at the AC buttons and complaining, no one argued no matter how uncomfortable they were. I am sure eye rolls ensued behind my sweaty back.

Traffic began to slow as the “Ride” eked into the third hour. Murphy made several attempts to scale the center console to join us in the front seat but was too “Unsteady” to gain any ground. I was careful not to make eye contact with him because he is one unhappy pup when he can’t follow me “Wherever I Go.”

I counted on the boys to entertain Murphy and prayed, “Don’t Let Me Down” as we were almost at the beach.  I needed to focus on my husband who was totally “Stressed Out” by the back-up and taking it personally. Because, yes, honey the traffic is all about you.

Cresting the second bridge, we caught a glimpse of the Ocean City skyline and exhaled. Because “This is What You Came For;” the ocean breeze, sand in your toes and happy hour on the beach are in your sights.

Unloading the car, “Piece by Piece,” I marveled at how much we managed to fit in that car and not forget a thing.

 

 

 

 

Day 7:  Random Olympic Musings

 

When you are obsessed with the Olympics and watch an average of 12 hours of coverage a day, you learn a thing or two.

Here are my observations:

  1. Am I the only one who thinks Ryan Lochte looks like Anderson Cooper now?
  2. Whoever paid airfare for Ryan Seacrest should demand a refund. He adds nothing to the coverage.
  3. Please stop showing the sprinters in slow motion after the race. It is creepy to see the way their skin and features get distorted because they are moving faster than the speed of light.
  4. The trampoline? Who knew?
  5. Jack Conger should have kept his spot in the final. Period.
  6. They should make the men gymnasts dance for the floor routine. I mean even just a little, we know they are flexible…
  7. How did the IOC miss the 150lb rodents during the tour and proposal phase prior to awarding Rio the 2016 bid?
  8. A horse pranced in perfect time to Vanilla Ice. Best equine moment since Mr. Ed.
  9. Women’s beach volleyball makes my husband very happy.
  10. The first US Gold medal earned with the air gun is doing nothing for my argument against them here in my house in the middle of suburbia.
  11. Olympic commercials make me cry
  12. Ditto the National Anthem. E-v-e-r-y time
  13. Speaking of anthems, I was disappointed to learn the Jamaican National Anthem had not one steel drum
  14. The Indonesian Badminton fan base is one wild and crazy bunch
  15. Good thing Toddlers and Tiara’s has released new episodes. I’m going to need to get my fix of intense competition once the Olympics close Sunday.

 

 

 

Days 5&6: A Letter from a College Freshman to his Family

past present

As a writer, you hope to inspire others through words. As a mother you hope to inspire your kids to be better people. This one time, I managed to do both.
My son wrote this to us before he left after reading my letter to siblings last week. He was hoping it would be shared because he thinks most kids feel this way but don’t convey it.
He is helping me out as I am not ready to put move-in day into words yet. So this will stand in its stead:

 

The words “John MacKinley Stiles” echoed throughout the spacious church as I maneuvered up the main aisle to get my diploma. I remember grasping it in my hand and thinking this is the happiest I have ever been in my life. As soon as I reached my seat, there was a change. All other sounds in the Church muted as a switch flipped in my head.

There was only one thing I could think about; moving to college and more importantly—freedom. My mind immediately switched gears from high school to college. The excitement was overwhelming with college occupying my thoughts day and night as the August 14th move in day moved closer and closer.

There I was two nights before move in day relaxing in bed and about to fall asleep when the soft and fuzzy feeling previously associated with leaving suddenly disappeared. My mind flooded with all the change I was about to encounter and people that would be left behind. No one warned me about this strong and overpowering sensation. It hit me like a tidal wave, drowning me in thoughts and memories, I found it easiest to grasp and process them by putting them into words.

Mom and Dad
Today must be one of the hardest days of your lives. I promise you everything will be ok. You’ve spent 17 years, 10 months and 29 days instilling values in me that I will never forget. The time you spent repeating yourself over and over had paid off. I am taking your lessons with me to college to mold myself into a better person; the person you raised me to be.

But it’s time to let go.

You have to trust that I can hold my own. It’s no different that learning to walk or ride a bike. You held my hand and showed me the way. The first couple of times, I may have come back bruised and bloodied with tears streaming down my cheeks, but I learned. And today is no different. You’re sending me off knowing that I’ll hit some bumps in the road and face obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. I will still need you to show me the way every once in a while, even if it’s through phone call or text I value your input. Eventually, just like walking or biking, I will learn and find my way myself.

I love you both more than words can describe and will be forever indebted to you for what you have given me physically, mentally and emotionally. All of my achievements root back to the two of you and even if I might not show it at the time, I’m extremely grateful. I may be moving out from under your roof at home, but I will always be under the roof of your heart.

Drew and Reed
Boys, I will miss you both more than I can convey. You are my two best friends in the world and I’ll never forget the memories we’ve made growing up with each other. It’s never a dull moment when the three of us are together and I cherish that. Whether it’s walking Murphy at night, blaring music all over the neighborhood as we drive or just playing PS3 and laughing, I always have a blast. Take your school work seriously but allow time for fun in high school too. Both of you are incredibly gifted and you’ll soon learn what those gifts are and be able to truly embrace them. Try not to worry too much either. Worrying is a waste of time. If it already happened, you can’t change it. Just forget about it and use your mistakes to grow and learn. You know my favorite saying, “Let the past drive the present.”

Look out and care for one another. It’s important for both of you to know that I am so incredibly proud to call you my brothers and I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world. Sometimes we bicker and fight, but we’re always able to laugh it off right away and get back to normal. You both are exceeding expectation left and right and nothing makes me happier. I love you both immensely and can’t wait to hear about your adventures while I’m gone.

Murphy
I think you’re going to take this the hardest. It’s easy for the rest of us to understand what’s going on because we communicate with each other. However, you will just see us pack up the car with a lot of my stuff, then have everyone else come home but me. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you running in and jumping on my bed to lay with me. I always felt that you understood me and we were pretty similar even though you’re a dog and I’m human. Orhan Pamuk once said, “Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” I find that pretty accurate. I’m always listening buddy. I’ll be back soon and I can’t wait to see you in my bed, tail wagging a hundred miles per hour, exactly how I left you.

Day 4: A PokemonGo Lingo Guide for Parents

pokemon

My kids are roaming the streets at night with a gang of friends just like I did back in the day, Their faces illuminated, not by the spark of fireflies, but the glow of their phones and the thrill of capturing Pokemon.

If you thought talking to teens was tough before, now we have a whole foreign Poke-language to decipher. After totally eavesdropping on my kids and their friends in the car, here is your PokemonGo lingo guide. You’re welcome.

POKEMON SPEAK: “I’ve been in the gym since 9 this morning..”

TRANSLATION: Sadly, your child has not found a new affinity for fitness. In Pokemon, a gym shows on a map in a live location where you go to fight for prestige. The gym this morning was in a Church down the street and my son lamented that no one came to fight him. So maybe players were having an existential crisis about the irony of fake games that take you to real churches to fight imaginary figures for shallow glory.

POKEMON SPEAK: “Mom, I’ll be back, I’m going to get balls at a Pokestop.”

TRANSLATION: If you are the mother of boys, like me, this will simply be another reason for your kids to say “Balls” a hundred times a day. Balls (yes I just snort laughed there) are used to catch Pokemon and are essential to winning. Which is why my kids love their balls so much.

POKEMON SPEAK: “Look, there’s a Bellsprout..”

TRANSLATION: As with the gym, this does not mean your child has developed a green thumb or sudden love of vegetables. A Bellsprout is a Pokemon that looks like a flower. However, much like our children, this character looks sweet but can spit poison from its mouth when it feels threatened.

POKEMON SPEAK: “Yes, I got a Lickitung..”

TRANSLATION: No your child has no cracked the parental controls on cable tv or visited a massage parlor on summer break. The Lickitung Pokemon is basically your cat caught in a virtual world. It licks most everything it comes in contact with and hates anything sour. Obviously it is immune to its own bitter personality just like every other feline.

POKEMON SPEAK: “My stamina is low, I need to grab a potion..”

TRANSLATION: A potion in Pokemon is like wine to women everywhere. It restores balance and stamina and staves off the credible threat that little people are trying to kill you. Most importantly, potions should not be wasted but rather reserved for a real crisis. I am starting to like this game…

Though much of PokemonGo is fantasy, its basis is for real people:

Candy is power and is used as a reward.

That is a concept that needs no translation; parents have been using that trick since the days I was out catching fireflies.

Day 3: A Letter to the College Freshman from Your Younger Siblings

boys162

Our house has been abuzz these last few weeks. As the lazy days of summer wind down, the frenzy around your departure gains momentum. The dining room has become the staging area for the big day. A comforter set, over sized pillow, and anything that can be used as stackable storage dwarf the table. It’s the most action this formal room has seen in years.

Mom alternates between crying and snapping at everyone. Dad mutters about fitting all this stuff in the car. And we, your siblings, are extras in this epic drama known as College Drop-off.

We have been there with you from the beginning, Spending vacations and breaks touring college campuses. Suffering through the administrative buildings, in awe of the dining hall and athletic facilities and proud owners of t-shirts from every single bookstore we visited.

It seemed so far away then; more like an adventure than a reality. Not once during the tours did it dawn on us that you would be living in one of those dorms and not in your bedroom down the hall.

There will be an extra seat in the car and at the table. And a huge gaping hole in our hearts.

So, as you begin this new chapter, we ask a few things of you.

1. Make time for us before you go. It doesn’t have to be any big deal. A trip to McDonalds, hitting balls at the driving range, seeing a movie or anything that you know we would enjoy. We understand you have a lot of people to say goodbye to, but the gift of time makes this most important goodbye easier.

2. Don’t just call mom and dad. Call, Facetime or text us too. Tag us on Facebook, send us a Snap Chat story or funny video. These little things will make us feel like we are still a part of your life.

3. And when you contact us, remember to ask about our lives. We know you are spreading your wings, but in smaller ways, so are we. Take a moment to wish us luck or offer congratulations; it takes away from our moment if we think you have outgrown us.

4. Come home. We really can’t imagine what a pain it is to come home and endure the confines of family life after a taste of freedom. Do it anyway. When you are here, sit down to meals with us, stop by one of our games or just chat. Yes, your friends are more fun but we need that normalcy.

5. Be patient. Everything is changing. Our compass is a little off making us needier just when you are stressed the most.

Most importantly, remember that we are excited for you. We have spent years following your lead. So your college experience, like so many events before it, will shape ours.

We fledglings in the nest will look on as you retreat toward the horizon and will be waiting right here when you reappear.

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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos

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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos

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