Don’t Concuss at Me

One of the most dangerous things you need to worry about as a parent, is your child. Kids have a seemingly natural tendency to “express their love” by unconventional means. Not all the time. You get the hugs and kisses, sometimes without even asking for them, but there are those times when you also get smacked a little too hard in the back or receive a swift kick to the nuggets. I’m not saying you should feel unsafe at the top of the stairs or at a subway platform when you are alone with a toddler, but I think you should be careful. As a rule. An accident happens by accident so you have to be aware that even your most trusted friend can cause you a great deal of pain without meaning to hurt you.

My junior year was my favorite year of high school. I had a very tight-knit group of friends who would get together frequently. From going out to eat to spending hours hanging out at someone’s home, we had fun doing simple, harmless things. I can only hope our parents took note of that, because even our most wild night was tame. I developed friendships over that year that have stood the test of time. We would never to anything to hurt each other. Right?

Anyone who is familiar with band nerd protocol is probably aware that before school starts, you go hang out in the band room. Over the course of high school, your band mates are the people you see the most, so it makes sense that the people you form such a strong bond with are also the first people you want to talk to as the day begins. Likewise the band folks who drove to school would try and park as close as possible to the band room door, knowing that it would be the door they would use at the beginning and end of the day.

So it was not surprising that as I pulled into a parking spot very close to our special door one morning, I looked over to see two of my very best friends parked in the next spot. Their eyes were closed, listening to some music and patiently waiting for the doors to be unlocked so we could pile in the band room and regale each other with tales of things that had occurred in the 12 hours since we had last seen each other. Clearly I must have had something to talk about that couldn’t wait, because that morning I exited my car and found my way to their driver’s side window. I remember wanting to give my friend in the driver’s seat a bit of a scare, and so as they both sat there with their eyes closed, I took position with my face close to the window, waiting for his eyes to open to my ugly mug inches from his place of rest.

I don’t remember how long I was waiting, but I was willing to put the time in for my little joke. His eyes remained closed, as did his passenger, one of our close female friends. Eventually she opened her eyes and greeted me with a big smile. She began talking, but with their windows up I couldn’t hear a thing from inside. I assume she was going on about how I was right outside the window, and how clever and funny that was of me, and how so many girls in school wanted to go out with me, you know, things like that. He remained sitting with his eyes closed and began to grin in an odd way. Evidently at some point she told him to open his door really quickly. My very good friend, who would go on to be the best man in my wedding party, did not question this idea because…well, because boobs. So in complete trust of her advice, he pushed the door open with as much strength as he could gather at that time in the morning.

And then I don’t remember things that clearly.

I know I was in the band room getting a very concerning talk from my band director about something on my head. Whatever that means. I know I had a similar conversation during my first class because I couldn’t “focus.” Then there was some kind of drama involving my mom coming to school to get me and that I was not to be allowed to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. Either way, I got a few very nice phone calls that evening asking if I needed anything. Isn’t that nice?

A similar incident happened over the weekend with Carter.

Carter has a new favorite toy. It’s one of those toys that has an arrow pointing to one of a bunch of different animals, and if you pull the lever on the side you hear something along the lines of, “The cow says, ‘moooooo” You all know the one. A speak and say. Carter decided that when he’s ready to play with it, he would let me know by slamming it down on my lap with a massive smile on his face. The smile is to make sure I’m aware that it’s done in a happy way, not an angry way. Since he has managed to avoid hitting me in the dangle thus far, I have been very tolerant of his method. So all was well and good till this weekend when I was taking a well deserved moment of rest on the couch. William was in a rare mood of actually sitting still to watch some cartoons and Carter was running around playing with whatever struck him in the moment. His sights must have set on his speak and say at some point because I remember seeing the quick flash of a cow and a goat, but it all goes fuzzy afterwards. I know that Melissa said something about a thing on my head, and then she was going on about a doctor’s appointment and something my eyes were doing. I don’t know, it was hard to focus.

It actually reminds me of this time in high school! A really good friend of mine was sitting in his car with this girl. They were listening to the radio in the morning…..

My point is – Be careful out there parents.

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The Most Amazing Six Year Old I Know

Now 32 years old, I’ve become a little jaded to my birthday. I haven’t really “celebrated” my birthday in a long time. I’ve had people come over or go out for dinner, but I avoid much of a fuss. As you’d expect, it was a different story when I was little. I demanded wanted a big show. I wanted lots of people because that meant lots of gifts. I wanted a celebration of me! It’s an important thing to celebrate.

If you have never heard Patton Oswalt’s musings on when you should recognize a person’s birthday, go find clips. In short, he has joked that through your life, there is really a short list of birthdays you should be allowed to celebrate. I really like it, partly because it falls into my own mindset of, “I turned 32…so?”

Very much on the list are the young birthdays. Ages 1-10 where you are a little kid growing up. These are ages where you expect to see a kid begging for a party with loads of friends. You expect trips to Chuck E. Cheese, bowling alleys, parks, or even backyards. You might cringe at the idea of what you need to put into the favor bags so that when the kids all see each other at school next, your child hasn’t lost any favor in the eyes of the other kids based on the wrong flavor of lollipop. So certainly for a 6 year old girl, the pressure is on the parents to provide the pony for kids to ride or a slew of princess dresses for a group of little girls to wear for an evening and feel like they are in a Disney movie. For parents Cherie and Shawn Flowers, something very different was requested.

Shawn and Cherie have two kids. Daughter, Mackenzie and son, Brady. Cherie is an amazing photographer and, like any proud mom, loves to take pictures of her kids. These photos tend to make their way across my facebook feed. Which I hate. Let me preface this with, I love my boys and I think they are as adorable as six puppies hugging seven kittens. Additionally I think their little boy is a handsome little fellow, but pictures of Mackenzie are painfully cute. I do not like it, and I do not trust it. As if being cute is not enough for her, Mackenzie decided to also be an astoundingly good person. Not just for a 6 year old, but for anyone.

Imagine what would go through your head if you asked your child what they wanted for their 6th birthday, and they responded with pet food, pet toys, and gift cards to pet stores. I can’t help but think I’d go searching for a mystery pet that our kids had been hiding from us. Incredibly, when Mackenzie asked for these things, she was just being a sweet and giving little girl.

Yes, she had her friends over for a party, and yes, she wore a tiara like any little girl might. What set her apart was that she asked that no one bring her a present. What she wanted was for people to bring items that she could donate to the Humane Society. My favorite part about this story is how people began praising Shawn and Cherie for coming up with a great idea. As if they made the decision to withhold presents from their daughter and put her face on some poster campaign to give donations to an organization. In truth, this was all Mackenzie. Why? She loves the heck out of animals.

I’m happy to praise good parenting all day long, and I know that Shawn and Cherie are great parents.  Still, I think this act of generosity surprised them as much as anyone else. Parents spend an amazing amount of time trying to guide the minds of their children in what they hope is the right direction. I think though, this is a great example of where exceptional parenting meets an exceptional heart. I can’t imagine how proud they must be of their little girl.

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