Not Funny Now, But in Thirty Years…

“The man gonna lock you up!”

My husband was letting our ten-year-old drive the golf cart on a three-mile tropical island, when a passerby called out. Father and son quickly switched places. But…

Two days later, with our teenagers fuming and traumatized, my advice to the fourteen-year-old was… in ten years, you can tease him. Definitely in thirty. Maybe even next year. But not today.

While I was in the shower, my husband sent the boys in the golf cart to pick up milk. They returned with the milk, sans golf cart.

“He is such an idiot!”

“If you weren’t such a jerk…”

I looked questioningly at the ten-year-old, who smiled, “I have noooo idea.”

The fourteen-year-old, spreading blame, stared down his father, “You need to go to the police station if you want the keys back!”

Apparently, with his little brothers yelling at him, the anxious fifteen-year-old had allegedly run through a stop sign, barely missing Sergeant Taylor of the Harbour Island police with the golf cart.

Sergeant Taylor made them walk home.

“The tree was blocking the stop sign!”

“He’s an idiot!”

“He was yelling at me!”

But it was my husband who had to retrieve the keys. He showed up at the station, his friend as wingman, proverbial hat in hands. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry isn’t good enough.” Sergeant Taylor accused him of child neglect.

The grown-ups in the police station felt sixteen, reamed again for similar transgressions more than thirty years old in the banks of memory.

“Man gonna lock you up!”

But how to make peace between the brothers back at the house?

Maybe today, this isn’t fun. But no one got hurt. We all learned something. See the stop sign. Don’t make the sergeant mad. Yelling at your brother for a wrong turn leads to other wrong turns. Teaching independence must fall within the law of the land.

And guys, by next year… definitely in ten years… or thirty…

You’ll still be fighting over whose fault it was, but we’ll always remember today as the standout story of 2018.

 

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Nelson Efamehule Agholor

When my 8th grader made his announcement, he did not utter the words we expected to hear. Instead, he said “Nelson Agholor. That’s my answer,” and walked out of the room with a grin on his face.

He waited until the evening before his enrollment letter was due at one of the high schools he was considering to finalize his decision. Go to the school that seems a little shinier, a little bigger? Or follow his brother?

“I’ll tell you at dinner.” So, I made his favorite steak and mashed potatoes to celebrate Decision Night.

Then… “I want to be eating ice cream when I tell you.”

We waited. Maybe he was nervous. Our 9th grader was holding his breath, hoping…

“Four score and seven years ago,” the 8th grader began.

“Remember, that was a short speech,” his Dad said.

He stopped. “Nelson Agholor.”

What? Who? 

We had to look him up. Nelson Agholor, born in Nigeria, is a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not the most famous NFLer, in 2017, he became a league leader in third down receptions and made some of the best, most important catches of the Eagles’ season.

The Eagles.

Only our 8th grader would turn his announcement into a sports challenge.

He chose to be with his brother…. but admitted to a second-string NBA point guard picked out for the other school, just in case he changed his mind in the moment.

Football Dreaming

Our eighth grader does not yet weigh 80 pounds, despite much effort to gain weight over the last year. Yet he sees himself as a football quarterback. He has the leadership skills for it, but…

When a high school principal asked him a few weeks ago what activities he would like do at her school, he said, “Basketball, guitar, debate, maybe robotics, and if I gain 100 pounds this summer, I want to play football.”

She thought he was joking, and was totally charmed.

The dream continues to percolate. “Mom,” he said the other day, “how much exactly would I have to weigh for you to let me play football?”

“A hundred and fifty.”

“Seriously?! But I’d be playing quarterback. I wouldn’t get hurt!”

“Okay, a hundred.” Might as well make it sort of attainable.

Meanwhile, his older brother is at the 150-pound mark. Strong. Loves to get in the way. Would make a decent offensive lineman. But he plans to sacrifice his body to football in another way.

When he got his learner’s permit, he registered as an organ donor. “I’m donating my collarbone to Aaron Rodgers.”

…because even the best quarterbacks with bones bigger than toothpicks get tackled. And there are many ways to be a part of a sport you love. Sometimes, when you’re a 13-year-old boy, it’s just tough to see that.

First Two Days of High School

When he started at his last school, he was four, and his three-year-old brother was in class with him – a two-year preschool.

I walked him in every day. I waited until the teacher hugged him or shook his hand or said good morning. I volunteered in the classroom with other moms – for a number of us, it was our first or only. And we have been laughing, encouraging, comparing notes ever since.

But at this new school – high school – he forges his own path. No mom. No little brother fingerpainting at the next easel. Only one known friend among 500 in his class. We both know it would look silly for me to walk him in. I don’t know his teachers, and they haven’t watched him grow up. Don’t yet know his slow-to-reveal humor and wonderful personality.

His brother asked to come yesterday when I picked him up after his first day. “It feels weird that I’ve never even seen his school.”

And when our high schooler got out of the car on the morning of Day 2, he sighed, “I feel a little sad.”

Me too, sweetie. But you get stronger, more impressive every day. You’re going to do great!

Wanna Walk to Five Guys?

My thirteen-year-old didn’t like the lunch choices at home today. So, I told him he could go to Five Guys for a burger.

“I can?!”

But I was already eating my lunch.

“You mean I can ride my bike there?” he asked incredulously. This would be a first.

I suggested that if he walked, his older brother, who doesn’t like to ride bikes, might go with him.

Really?” they said together.

The older brother quickly signed on, saying with his dark eyebrows raised, “And if we walk, we can taaaalk,” insinuating that they actually have some previously agreed-to thing to taaaalk about.

Oh, to be a fly on route to Five Guys!

For the Love of the Game

Our two middle school sons play flag football on the same rec league team, and as I watched their first game under the Tuesday night lights, I realized that later, it would sound like they had played on completely different fields. One would strut to the car as if they had won (they did not), and the other would approach, head bowed, teeth clenched.

For the first, it has never mattered if his team wins or loses (unless he’e watching the Packers on tv). If he makes one good catch, it’s a victory. Last night he made two, including a one-handed, over-the-head grab. You should have seen his grin. He’s an “I’m just happy to be here” kind of player. A big guy, coaches play him at center, which means he is involved in every play. But he’s almost as happy standing on the sidelines talking about the game with his coach.

His younger brother has the body of a sports statistician but the mind and competitive will of a quarterback. When he is not leading the charge, he feels ignored. When he is, the opposing team looks larger than life. But he runs smart plays that give his team an edge, and he knows it.

The Blue Jays’ chosen quarterback threw him one pass, which he caught for a two-point conversion. As he held onto the ball in the end zone, I felt that “phew” moment moms feel when we think we know our athletes will be pleased that they played their play well.

I should know him better than that.

As the game wore on, and he was left out of one play after another, I could see the frustration build in those piercing blue eyes all the way from the sidelines. It’s not “I’m just happy to be here” or even “put me in, coach.” It’s “give me the ball,” “let me lead the team.” Even if they had made it to the rec league Super Bowl last night, he would have seen the game as a defeat.

Two boys who love football. Same team. Different game.

 

 

Middle School Sleepover Talk

“If Trump builds a wall, there won’t be anybody to mow the lawn.”

“Yeah, I think the guys who cut our grass are Mexican.”

“I’m pretty sure ours are Thai.”

My son grinned, “We have two Irish guys. Me and my brother.”

You mow your lawn?!”

“But you’re not really Irish.”

Later, when we went from the car to the house through the garage, one of his friends paused at the lawn mower. He waved his hands above it as if performing magic and spoke in a low and ominous voice. “This is Jackson’s mower.”