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Archive for sons

letters to my daughter . 091216


It started out as a threat. I’m not ashamed to admit it. School mornings are tough at our house. School Monday mornings are tougher. Nobody wants to get up, including the Mommy in the room. I try my best to keep it positive, but sometimes that first hour of the day tries to do us in with cajoling, begging, groaning, and more often than not, a little raising of the voices as I try to pry my children from their beds to get started with the day.

Sometimes I resort to threats. The first (and least invasive, in my singular opinion) is this: “Do I need to start singing?” Yep. I threaten to sing if I don’t get a response to the admonitions to wake up and sit up. Now, I like to sing. And, my children are used to me adding my own brand of wackiness to situations by breaking out in show tunes, or 80’s tunes, or jazz tunes, or the occasional beat box. There was a period when they were younger (and the words were simpler) when I sang a song for every spelling word on their lists as we practiced for tests. But, that’s another story.

So, singing is not really all that unusual or earth-shattering around our house. In the mornings, however, it’s gotten pretty rare because of the groaning responses emanating from their beds. Enter the threat. Usually the morning singing threat is met with a chorus of “NO!”, followed by begrudging movement under the covers as they attempt to open their eyes to the light. This morning, however, something astonishing happened. When I asked the infamous question, “Do I need to start singing?”, Elisha Bug gave a small, half-sleepy grin and responded, “Maybe.”

Holy wow. Maybe. For a Monday morning, that’s pretty amazing. So, I brought out my usual morning song — the old Lake Forest Ranch camp favorite we sung at morning council to “wake up” the echo living on the other side of the lake.

Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise! And shine! And give God! The glory, glory!
Children of the Lord!

I sang it. I got some giggles — so as to indicate an actual awakening of the 4th grader. And then, this from Bug: “We might need the kick.” (More giggles.)

Now, Bug was clearly toying with me. Another good sign that we were actually waking up. “The kick” refers to my history of inserting a cheerleader kick/clap under the leg after the third “Rise! And shine!”

I was all in now. So, round two of Rise and Shine came, including the requested kick, more giggles, and the morning routine begun.

Just a morning. Just a Monday. Just an ordinary moment. That I hope we’ll never forget.

letters to my children . 050416


Today’s the big day. My Bug’s state test in writing… two five paragraph essays back to back, 45 minutes each. He’s cried himself to sleep quite a few times with worry about not finishing. He’s had tummy aches, afraid he’ll “fail.” Because he cares and because he doesn’t do anything — ANYTHING — halfway. His school counselor has given all the high achiever test anxiety coping mechanisms. His teacher has given all the practice tests and the time prompts and the encouragement. So, today’s the day. And when I’m not wanting to punch some Legislator or Department of Education appointee in the nose, I just want to say, “YOU GOT THIS.” Because he’s having trouble remembering that.

letters to my son . 040516


I wonder if they need to hear this. I’m certain they do. And I often grieve that I’m the one they hear it from. In these words… “would be.” I stay awake at nights sometimes wondering if they have this sense of void. The unfilled space in their hearts where a Daddy would fill. I wonder how much they remember. And if in their memories, they hear the words. I wonder if my saying them is a poor substitute. Or if it can somehow reach in and touch the gap.

My oldest earned his Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts last night. It’s a two-year process that he’s enjoyed, and worked for. And one that has taken me out of my comfort zone. When he said he wanted to join Cub Scouts, I felt this huge wave of anxiety. I didn’t know how to do that. But, with the help of great leaders, we did it together. I think about those experiences, and know his father would have enjoyed them. And, I wanted him to hear it… “I’m proud of you, son.” I wanted him to hear it in his heart and carry it with him for always. Stored up for those times when he needs to know. When he needs to know the joy he brought to his dad, and the joy he brings to me. Just by breathing.

letters to my daughter . 040116


Well, it was a perfect April Fool’s Day experience. Only, I fooled myself! This morning was another example of why my children sometimes look at me, shake their heads, and say, “you’re crazy.” My 3rd grade, Bug, has been gearing up for the regional science fair after he won first place in his category at school. We made some additions to his board this week, and arrived at Humphrey Coliseum at 7:30 this morning with board, scientific notebook, and sundry time-killing books in tow. To find that the regional science fair is actually next Thursday. Yep. I overshot it by six days. Bug sunk into disappointment that today would actually be a regular school day instead of a fun science fair and date with Mommy day. Except not a really regular day since he would have to get a tardy slip, after all. Not the end of the world. I hope. And to my attempts at cheering him up with “now, you’ll have book club to look forward to,” and “at least we were early for science fair and not late!” — making lemonade, and all — he promptly replied: “yeah, like we’ve ever been early for anything.” My 9yo. Spot on again.

So, today’s letter is to my son, Bug. With all the appropriate humility, regret, and a bit of giggling thrown in.

letters to my daughter . 021716


Today’s letter is a big brother edition. My third grader is starting the process of preparing for end-of-year required tests, and it’s producing a lot of worry — a fear he won’t do well. Every now and then this happens, and I try to remind him that there’s never been a challenge he hasn’t met when he’s put his mind to it. “You can do this!” Don’t we all need to hear this sometimes? For all those challenges, big and small. From video game levels to classroom tests to gamete skills. When the worries creep in, I want them to hear this. And, until they have the confidence and experience to say it to themselves, I want them to hear it from me.

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