Halloween is Coming!

Halloween is in a few days. I like Halloween.  I enjoy seeing the little kids dressed up cute, and I love the candy.  Oldest One and I have a thing for candy corn, which Husband and Little One think is very wrong.  I know you can buy candy corn all year, but it only feels right to eat it around this time.

I’ve done a lot of Halloweens with the girls. Oldest One wasn’t quite 2 months old for her 1st Halloween, and I dressed her up in a clown outfit my Mom bought to hand out candy.  Sometimes all of us dressed up, and sometimes only the girls.  It was always a big deal at the beginning of October to talk about costumes, and figure out what to get.

I love looking at the pictures of past Halloweens. Little One wore a great lady bug costume one year that Husband made huge wings for.  They both spent a couple of years in the toddler blue and purple clown outfit, complete with a shiny blue tinsel wig and lipstick red nose.  Little One went as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz one year, and she looked just like her, except her skirt was sparkly.  Sparkle and glitter are very important for my girls.  One year I ordered a pirate costume for Oldest One, which was too short when we got it, so she had to wear shorts underneath to not flash everyone.  Last year, her senior year, I bought her the Sandy from Grease outfit of black leather pants and the black shirt.  I curled her hair, and she looked amazing.  Her friend dressed as Danny, and they were so cute together.

This year Little One was supposed to be cheering a football game on Halloween, but parents and athletes weren’t too happy with that (I was fine, candy is expensive!) so the game was moved to Thursday. Little One isn’t sure what she is going to do, but all I know is she has no costume, and time is running out, and teenage girls can get very upset if the costume isn’t right.  Husband has to go buy candy, but that is the easy part.  Oldest One needed 3 costumes, but traded with friends so we didn’t have to buy all 3.  I’m hoping to see pictures, but since she was a cat at the sorority meeting last night, and I didn’t get sent anything, I’m probably not going to.

I think I understand why those whose kids have left home might not be as excited about Halloween. It reminds you of the fun you used to have dressing the kids up and taking them out, and that those days are over.  That everyone is getting older, including you.  That time marches on, no matter how much you try to slow things down and live in the minute.  That those pictures taken through the years are worth more than any artwork.

Well, I think right now I’m going to go get my valuable artwork, and spend some time with it. And then eat some candy corn.  And brace myself for the costume chat with Little One.  Because I want to be fully in the moment this year, and remember it always, so feeling sad is tempered with feeling grateful all of us made it through sane.

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The Hovering Helicopter

Helicopter Parents. I’ve read articles about them, and how not to be one, and I try.  I’m sure in some ways I am, because I worry about the girls.  But I’ve always tried to let them solve their own problems, because I won’t always be able to help.

When Oldest One was in 6th grade – I think – she ran for a class office.  We made posters, and helped her write her speech…the usual parent things.  Problems came about when the girl she was running against started to take Oldest One’s signs down and put them in the trash, and started bad mouthing her.  Oldest One told us about it, and that the principal had called the other girl in, and her parents were called.  We talked about it, and how she felt, and what she could do about it.  Ultimately the other girl won, and Husband bought a beautiful vase filled with flowers for Oldest One to cheer her up, and which did put a smile on her face.  A co-worker berated me the next day, saying I should have made a big deal of what the other girl did, and I should have demanded she be taken out of the running.  Basically, she was saying I didn’t do enough.  I told my co-worker I could have done all of that, but what would my child have learned?  Life isn’t always easy, people aren’t always nice, and you don’t always win.  Better for her to find those things out now, and learn to cope, then to be a 20-something having a major meltdown at her first job.  Oh, and Oldest One went on to hold offices in high school, so, yes, it all worked out.

This was all brought to mind as I texted Oldest One today. Although she went and paid her parking ticket last week, it is still showing on her Bursar account.  I have to pay the balance on the account today, and I’m not including the ticket, since I know it’s paid.  I texted her to remind her to go to the Bursar’s Office with the receipt to have them remove the ticket charge.  She is busy today, can she go tomorrow is what I received as an answer.  She can, but there might bet a late charge, so I told her she needed to make sure it was removed along with the ticket.

Could I call the Bursar’s office myself? I could, although since she is 18 I don’t know if they would talk to me.  But I don’t want to.  She needs to start handling this stuff herself.  I’m reminding her, but ultimately she has to do it herself.  She needed to go to Student Health, so I told her to take her insurance card, pay for the visit with her debit card, and I’d put the money in her account to cover it.  Because she is old enough to make the appointment herself.  She still needs our help, and our advice, but she is at college now, and needs to start doing things and figuring out things.  I haven’t talked to any professors or her advisor, because I shouldn’t.  I don’t want to either.  But I’ve suggested she do it, when the situation seemed to indicate it would help, and she did, and it was a good result for her.

Letting go is tough. Kids grow up too fast for us parents, and our instinct is to throw our arms around them and protect them from the world.  Doing everything for them is one of the ways to do this.  But it doesn’t help the kids grow and learn, and understand what to do next time.  I’m always just a phone call away, and I’ll always stop what I’m doing to listen and to chat.  But it’s time for her to start making her own appointments, and to figure out how to get the Bursar to remove a charge that has already been paid.  Bigger challenges are on the way, and if we don’t give our kids a chance to conquer the little stuff, how can we expect them to be prepared for just living?

My Little One

I love watching Little One cheer. She completely lights up, and she is charged with energy.  Cheer coaches have told me how electrifying she is when she is “on”.  I like that she has so much fun doing it, and that it makes her happy.

I remember her very first cheer competition, when she was in 2nd grade.  She had spent the previous year watching her big sister do competitive cheer, and she couldn’t wait to join a team.  She was super nervous when the day came to compete, and she wouldn’t smile at all until it was all over.  I have a great picture taken of her right after it was over, and she has a big smile on her face.  That entire first year she couldn’t smile or do facials while competing until we were at nationals.  The very last competition of the season she finally smiled while doing the routine.  It was great!

I have always done her hair for cheer, except now she is so tall I need her to sit in a folding chair in the bathroom. She does her own make-up now, and likes to make sure there is some sparkle to it that the lights of the football field will pick up.  When the cheer team takes a water break, or has a break after their half-time routine I’m lucky to get a brief kiss in passing, because she has so many people to talk with.  That’s okay, because I’m just happy to be at the game to watch her cheer

She isn’t doing competitive cheer this year, due to my medical issues and her knee problem. She’s in a high level tumbling class once a week though, which she loves, and I’ll probably give in and let her take a 2nd one after the first of the year.  She comes home so happy, with such a big smile, ready to sit down and tell me all about the class and her accomplishments.  I look forward to that.

I tease Little One that she can’t go to the same university as Oldest One, that she has to live at home and go to the local university. She isn’t having any of it.  I told her to have fun in high school.  She can look forward to college, but she needs to live high school, and make good memories.  She can’t wait for her senior trip, and to start having the experiences she’s seen her big sister have.  I wouldn’t mind spending another hour with the 2nd grader who just finished her first cheer competition.

Bad Girl for Volunteering!

At Oldest One’s University there is an Alternate Breaks program, where during spring break student’s go to different cities and work with the homeless and underserved populations. I had told Oldest One about this program last year, and she recently applied to take part in it.  She was accepted into the program across the country, which costs a bit more than those in states closer to us.

We were still fine with it, since the program gets grants and solicits donations to make the fee the students have to pay very low. It is a fraction of what we paid for her Costa Rica trip.  And, since there are a couple thousand kids that apply, and she got chosen, we are also very proud of her for getting a spot.

She set up a GoFundMe page to try and get donations to help pay for the trip. She posted it to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  I only have Facebook, and I shared it asking anyone who wanted to support her to please donate.  Most people either ignored it or commented they thought it was great she was doing this.  Except for one person.

A family member’s fiancé, who tends to be negative (one day I’ll tell you all the story about meeting her…Oy Vey!) commented “Why leave the state to help the homeless? Couldn’t you help locally??”  Oldest One does help locally, and through University groups does volunteer projects to help the underserved populations.  I was just amazed that someone could look at her trip, and make it seem like a bad thing to be doing.

Oldest One could have asked us for money to go to Florida for spring break, where I’m guessing things go on I don’t want to know about. But instead she asked to go as part of a college program and spend her break helping those having a rough time of it.  Yeah, she is a rotten kid.

Oldest One answered the comment before I did, in, as one of my friends said, a very mature and articulate way. She very nicely pointed out that she will be able to do more, having an entire week, and that she will be able to interact with them in a very different way than when she only gets a few hours.  And she also pointed out how many students weren’t able to be a part of this.  My comment was how proud we were she wanted to help people on her spring break instead of partying.  Not surprisingly, the negative commenter didn’t say anything else.

With all the stories we hear of kids the age of Oldest One doing idiot things, and being narcissistic, you’d think Oldest One would get this person’s support for getting into this program and for wanting to do this. It shows a different side of this age group, and one I’ve seen in a lot of kids, that they care, want to make a difference, and are worried about the plight of others.

I didn’t delete the comment, or de-friend this person, even though several people told me I should. That she is negative and possibly narrow-minded is her loss.  I also don’t know how to de-friend someone, and I’m too lazy to figure it out.  I support my daughter, and many other people do also.  I’m proud of her, and excited for her that she has this opportunity.  One Negative Nellie isn’t going to change that.  Oldest One, and Little One too, are going to help make the world a better place.

Exercise Classes?

Oldest One is registering for spring semester at college. She really wanted to take an exercise class, but said there aren’t any.  I offered to look, because of course there are PE classes offered.  Heck, back in the late 80’s we were required to take a PE class in order to graduate.

But that has changed. The only exercise type classes I could find were under Dance.  I know ballet isn’t to her liking, and though she might like modern dance or tap dance, that isn’t what she is looking for.  These days college students have massive, and amazing, recreation centers.

I went to look up the rec center website. Her dorm is right across the street, and she does use it regularly to run, treadmill and lift weights.  She and her neighbor try to go every night.  She said the classes cost money, so she didn’t want to ask to do one there.  It’s actually a good deal though, to get her a pass for the classes.  I can get a pass for an entire semester much cheaper than I can get her a gym membership, and she can go to any of the classes when she wants.  If she has time and wants to go to 3 different classes in one day she can.  And the classes are for everything from yoga to Zumba to water aerobics.

Husband agrees the pass is a good deal, so if she wants it we are getting it. My parents never encouraged me to do any exercise or sports, because “girls didn’t do that.”  We have always had our girls active, mostly in competitive cheer, which is very physically demanding.  I’ve been told if I had been physically active and exercising my scoliosis may not have gotten so bad, because my back muscles would have been stronger and could have held up better.  Today all my back issues ultimately stem from the curving of my spine.

I’m determined my girls will always have access to recreation centers, gyms, and classes. I will happily pay for all of it to help keep them fit and active, and keep their muscles strong.  I don’t want them to have my issues one day, and in doing this I can help them avoid it.

Family Weekend

This past weekend was Family Weekend at Oldest One’s university. Because we weren’t sure with all my problems if we could go, I waited until the last minute to book a room.  Our usual hotel was charging $800 a night, instead of the usual $80.  Ridiculous!  So, I found another hotel for $60 a night, which, upon entering, prompted Husband to declare we had hit a new low for our hotel stays.  The area was definitely rougher, yet we had a very quiet stay.  Husband had to pay $20 (refundable) to get the one key allowed for the room.  The air conditioner, which kept the room very cold, was held together by duct tape and cardboard.  The furniture was chipped and stained, and Little One had fun hopping around the carpet finding where the hard lumps were.  The beds were really comfortable, the sink in the bathroom was huge, and most important, the cable in the hotel included the channel needed to watch the college football game we weren’t able to get tickets for (just for Husband and Little One, I had planned to watch in the hotel all along).

I couldn’t do much, so Husband and Little One went with Oldest One to the carnival on Saturday, and to walk around the campus with Oldest One showing them where her classes were, where she went to study groups and to study, and where the Starbucks with the least amount of people was. I was able, with my cane and special chair, to do the tailgate and brunch at the sorority house.  The sorority house was beautiful, and much bigger than it looked from the outside.  The only Mom I got the opportunity to talk to was a completely rude and nasty woman.  When I initiated conversation she actually ignored me and turned her head.  Oldest One assured me most of the Moms are really nice, but I got the one who isn’t.

I also made it to Oldest One’s dorm room. I did have to lay on the floor on the sleeping bags and blankets Little One had slept on after I got there because the beds are so high, but that was okay, because I was there!  She has all the sorority things she has been given so far on the walls, along with pictures of family and friends, and Audrey Hepburn.  Oldest One loves Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  We briefly met her roommate (they are cordial, but that’s it).  Her roommate’s side of the room is super clean and organized.  Her roommate also has a framed 8×10 of herself on her desk.  Interesting.

To spend time with me Oldest One brought the DVD of Dirty Dancing over (checked out from the front desk of the dorm…she loves their movie selections) and we watched it on my laptop snuggled together in one of the hotel beds. Because of the game, and how long it took for her to get her car out of the parking garage with game traffic, she got to the hotel super late…we didn’t finish the movie until 3a.  Husband and Little One fell asleep in the other bed, and Little One pretty much sleep walked back to the dorm with her sister.  Oldest One and I had a great time watching the movie, chatting, saying the lines, and getting annoyed with Baby.

And, to keep the good times going, I got a call yesterday from the Big Name Clinic I had sent my MRI reports to for review, and the surgeon gave me an appointment! Which means he saw something wrong that he thinks he could surgically correct!  Just think, next year for Family Weekend maybe I can do everything, including walking everywhere and attending the football game.  I always strive to dream big!

Keeping in Touch

When Oldest One started driving, I got in the habit of saying “Keep in touch” when she left the house. This was a final reminder after the 32 others I had given that she needed to text me when she got where she was going, and when she left, and any time in between if something changed.  Then, when she got home, if we were in bed (her curfew as a senior in high school on the weekends was one a.m., and sometimes I just couldn’t stay awake) we had various ways she could let us know she was home:  text me, turn off a light we left on, come wake me up…the possibilities were all about the parental units being woke up.  I got into the habit of charging my cell phone at night next to my bed, so if I was needed I would hear my phone and could instantly wake Husband up and send him to fix the emergency.

Oldest One is very good about keeping in touch. We allowed her to go to a couple of concerts her senior year, with an extended weeknight curfew.  Since Husband and I had to go to work the next morning, we went to bed before she came home.  Those were long nights.  She would text when the concert ended, then she would text when they got to the car.  Then she would text they were going to get something to eat, and when they got to the restaurant, and when they left…until she got home I wasn’t really getting to sleep, because my phone kept going off.  But I wasn’t going to complain, because she always kept in touch.

Now she is in college, and of course she doesn’t have a curfew. We ended the curfew this summer anyway, without telling her, because we felt she needed the responsibility before she left home.  She figured it out when we never said no to her coming home later when asked.  She is actually good about keeping in touch, and we get calls several times a week, giving us the highlights of what is going on.  She is big on using Snap Chat, and we get pictures too, which is nice.  And the pictures come at all hours.  Anytime, day or night.

Last night, or rather early this morning, my phone went off. I was wasn’t really asleep, as I was having one of those nights where I wake up every half hour from the pain, but I still kind of leaped (as well as I could) out of bed for the phone.  If something is wrong, even though she is 2 hours away, I am right there to help.  It was a Snap Chat video, so I ignored it, and got back in bed.  It was after 1 a.m.  When I looked at it this morning, it was something about French braiding hair.  Quite important.

But, at least she took my words to heart, and she is keeping in touch. And that is what is important.  I know she has made a lot of new friends, for the most part she likes her classes, and she is having fun being in a sorority.  I know her sleeping habits, because she told me, I know where she eats, and I know she is having fun at fraternity parties.  Which is all good, and things I want to hear.  But not after I go to bed.  I won’t say that to her, because 1 a.m. for her is totally different than it is for me.  And because I want to keep getting the videos and phone calls.  And because it’s nice to know she really does want to keep in touch.