Going, Going, Gone with the Wind

For fun yesterday, my son’s Honors Math teacher gave her students the opportunity to bet extra credit points based on their movie knowledge. They each bet a certain number of points – my son luckily one of the more conservative gamblers – and then she asked her trivia question.

“What’s the highest grossing film of all time?”

No one got it. No one had even seen it.

“But,” my all-knowing son informed me, “Star Wars: A New Hope is going to pass it soon. No one has even heard of Gone with the Wind.”

What?!

“Kids my age don’t even know what it’s about.”

“Scarlet O’Hara? Southern belle? Civil War? Land is the most important thing?”

He shrugged.

So, I asked, innocently, “Which one was A New Hope?”

What!? The original.”

“Well, we just called it Star Wars.”

“You are so old.”

“At least I’ve seen the highest grossing movie of all time.”

Almost as many times as we’ve both seen Star Wars. But who’s counting? And anyway…

“I can’t think about this now. I’ll go crazy if I do. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

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The Last Game

Brad Paisley’s Last Time for Everything reminds his fans of all those moments in their youth that will never happen again for them. A sad nostalgia for their glory days.

And on the day my eighth grader played his last soccer game with the friends he’s played with his entire life before they split off into various high schools, the song kept playing in my head. He may not ever play again in this world of “cut” high school sports.

But I find that life is funny and filled with surprises.

Yesterday, before heading off to his game, I found myself doing a few things that, at one point years ago, I thought I had done for the last time too. At 7am, I was in the basement of our school library with his robotics club making a poster with glittery letters. Was the last time I did that in middle school?

At 1:00, I was learning a new song in my piano lesson. Until two years ago, I last played when I was 18.

Then in a first time long after I should have had my last time, I blew my whistle coaching fourth grade boys’ basketball (which I have never played, but wanted to).

A few weekends ago, I roomed with my college roommate, making it, after almost thirty years, the new last time.

So, as I drove to my son’s last soccer game, I was less sad for him. He too will have fun with life’s surprises… his next times.

Independence is Good, Mom

My friend moved back into the neighborhood where we met more than 40 years ago, and recently described how the quiet streets where we roamed have opened up a new-found independence for her daughters too. Her girls ride their bikes to the pool like we did, walk to restaurants for lunch, stop in at the grocery store for snacks like we did, and sometimes don’t come home until after 10 at night. It’s summer after all. And she is excited for them, because she remembers how much fun we had at their age.

Soon after, my sisters were re-telling a story about a funny walk home from the same grocery store, now remodeled and shinier. We laugh every time we remember it, and top that one with other oft-remembered suburban adventures with each other and our friends.

But our mom worries that too many of our stories were unbeknownst to her. She wonders aloud, in fact, if she was the engaged, good mother she thought she was.

Silly wonderings of every mom – jennswonderings  – as our children grow up. Was I a good mom? Did I guide them well? Did they know how much I loved them?

What she forgets, as she worries, is that our stories are happy ones. That we look back on our childhoods with humor. That as sisters, our stories were shared ones in which we all played a part for much longer than most.

Our mom trusted us to go out into the world and play. So, she missed a few things. That, at some point, was her job.

My hope for my kids is supposed to be that as I let them loose to play in the world, they will have fun stories that I won’t remember because I wasn’t there. Yet such letting go breaks my heart. I want to be part of their days, laughing, listening.

And I worry that as they collect their own stories, my stories will be less … less everything… because three sweet boys are not always in them.

Stand Up

I saw Chris Stapleton at Red Rocks last night. The sky was clear. The city lights twinkled at us from below the rocks. He played all four songs I know. And Peyton Manning joined him on stage to sing “Tennessee Whiskey.” Plus, he has the most creative intro of band members I’ve ever heard, which makes him really likable.

I just want to know why people feel the need to bug you if you sit down to listen to the music. Like you’re making them uncomfortable.

Christ Stapleton’s music is mellow. His low voice and the acoustics at Red Rocks are impressive. But seriously, I can only sway for so long.

And just to impress the stander-uppers – because if you don’t, they feel the need to nag you – why do you have to stay on your feet until midnight with thoughts of “my-back-aches, wow-that-guy-is-really-drunk, and please-play-faster-I-have-to-get-up-at-5am” running through your head?

Although it may not look it to the stander-uppers, it is way “cooler” to sit and appreciate the awesome guitar playing, listen to the story-telling that is country music, watch a hawk soar above the rocks, and identify the constellations on a crisp, cool night in May.

Terence, This is Stupid Stuff

Last night, my husband and I were sitting at our fire-pit drinking wine, talking about how people eventually get what’s coming to them. And he said, “That reminds me of a poem I memorized by A.E. Housman.”

Seriously?

He memorized it in high school without being assigned to do so. “I just liked the poem.”

Well, I too memorized poems and Shakespearean monologues when I was young. I got an A on the hardest exam I ever took – 10th grade English, when we had to identify a long list of obscure quotations and say what texts they came from, which author, and why important. I was in multiple plays. I only missed a line once, but in that play, I was actually Head of Costumes, and only because I had memorized most of the lines in Annie Get Your Gun, I was a last-minute understudy.

But I no longer remember any of it. That monologue by Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream? Nope. My favorite quotes from F. Scott Fitzgerald? I’ll have to check the book that I used to keep by my bed. The really hard-to-memorize …ugh… what was the name of that poem… Canterbury Tales. Nope.

I only remember one line, “It’s like the ladies’ restroom at the Oriental Theater.” From Auntie Mame. I was the nanny.

Meanwhile, my husband, the science guy, sitting at the fire-pit at least thirty years later, recited – almost flawlessly and without pause – the second half of Housman’s Terence, This is Stupid Stuff.

And I felt stupid.

So, inspired by my husband with the memory of an elephant, I pulled out my – yes, I kept it –  10th grade Norton’s Anthology, and today, I’m going to re-memorize an old favorite.

Hopefully, it stays in my head long enough to recite it around the fire-pit.

They Cheer for the Little Guy

On summer vacation, we ran the OBX 5K. A great experience.

I am 49, and the last race I ran was in second grade, when the winner told my mom, “If no one else was in the race, she would have gotten second!”

The members of our family ran at different paces. Our 12 year old entered the race in the second wave, confident he could finish in less than 28 minutes. He finished third of all 14 and unders. Our thirteen year old had a goal just to finish. He rocked it. And our eight year old wanted to beat as many family members as possible – “at least two of you” – which meant boxing me off the sidewalk.

I ran with the 13 year old for 21 minutes. Then my husband, who was run-walking faster than us with the eight year old, couldn’t take it anymore. He raced to catch up with the 12 year old. I shifted to the little man.

“Mom, slow down.”

“Mom, you’re walking too fast.”

“Mom, STOP!“

But as we turned into the Whalehead Club with the finish line in view, me on the verge of throwing up, my eight year old took off. Sweaty. Fast. All I could see was the big 25 on the back of his Jamal Charles jersey.

And what did I hear as we approached the finish line?

“Go, dude!”

“Keep it up, kid.”

“You rock, little man!”

What about the 49 year old mom of three boys in 97% humidity running her first 5K?! The kid is cute, but he’s eight. Top time for his age group. Good knees.

Just asking…who needs the cheers? The little guy or his mom?

 

 

 

 

When I Imagined Life as a Grown-Up

When I was a teenager, I pictured myself as a war correspondent, or a world traveler doing research for National Geographic, or if my best friend got to be the first woman President, then maybe ambassador to Ireland or Secretary of State. Whatever I was going to do, adulthood looked exciting and glamorous.

I certainly did not picture myself alone in my car, parked outside of a local late night hangout, waiting in the dark for my thirteen-year-old son’s Mary Poppins’ cast party to end.

The party, orchestrated by the fifteen-year-old girls in the play, was at the Village Inn, where you can get French fries, mac-n-cheese, or chocolate chip pancakes at any time of day. Its parking lot at night – somewhat quiet, only slightly sketchy.

As I tried to stay awake. watching the rare coming and going – two old men in polo shirts, tattooed twenty-somethings holding hands, three baggy-jeaned teens looking to stay out of trouble (I hoped) – I suddenly saw a more realistic view of my life as my son passes through the pre-driving-but-starting-to-be-social years.

“Mom, can I go to the football game tonight?”

“There’s a party at my friend’s house tonight.”

“Mom, all my friends are going to see the new Star Wars movie tonight.”

“I can’t wait for the dance tonight!”

Many more late nights in parking lots waiting as his life begins to look like a big adventure. And I was so proud and excited for him.

When I was at my first cast party, I couldn’t have known that that feeling would be better than the glamorous life I imagined.