July 29, 2020

egg carton romance

Reg was born with eyes as blue as the ocean and a smile that revealed that he was definitely up to something.  Add to that his cute way of talking with a little speech impediment, and he could melt your heart.  Coach and I used to have to duck into the next room while the other parent was playing 'mad-at-you' parent disciplining him, because it was just THAT hard to get angry at him.  

As the youngest of four boys, I always worried that he would be mouthy.  I assumed I would be getting calls from the principal about him - little did I know that would be Tank's deal, even though Tank was the sweetest most sensitive child in the bunch.  

I didn't have to wait for Reg to start school to turn into a punk.  

I reminded him one night when I tucked him:  Daddy said no more flips off of the high dive at the pool.  It's too dangerous.  

He looked at me dead-pan: "Daddy doesn't know evewy-fing, ya know."  

He was four.  (and yes, he was doing flips off the high dive and all the older boys at the pool, like his older brothers' friends, egged him on to try crazier stuff and he never backed down).

When he was about to start preschool I tucked him in one night:

Me:  Hey, I found out your preschool teacher's name.  It's Mrs. McFadden.  Let's say God bless Mrs. McFadden when we say your prayers. 

*I knew, this woman would need help from the good Lord above if she was going to have Mr. Joe-Cool in her class.*

Reg:  Oh, OK.  I'n gonna caw her McFat.  God bwess Mrs. McFat!  Dere, I God bwessed her.  (uncontrollable giggles).

McFat happened to be Laddie's favorite insult that summer.  

The husband of one of the teachers got roped
 into being my garage sale partner.  He was
 a grandpa and he was a godsend.  Could not
 have done it without him.  When he wasn't
 taking orders from me, he was walking around
 the school taking photographs.  I guess
he was the official wedding photographer.  
Back when I ran the garage sale for our parish school, Reg's preschool-self passed the time while I was sorting smelly clothes in the gym by hanging out with a few of his classmates.  

By the way, I think if I asked my kids -they would count my garage sale organizing days as some of their favorite childhood memories.  They ran up and down the Catholic school hallways sampling the donated toys and playing hide and seek with the other kids whose parents volunteered.  It was mayhem and they lived for it.  

Grandpa Garage helper would send me envelopes
of all the photos he took.  Seriously, he
 was a gem.  We had some good laughs.  We pulled
 off four garage sales and raised over $40,000 - I think.
  Anyway, I was so worried I wouldn't be
able to locate these pictures for this post, but I
 found them with a bunch of other envelopes
 from my buddy.  All labeled neatly.  My house
 is covered in photos albums as I try to get
update them and I forgot about his
 pictures, so I have to add these into my albums. 
Anyway, Reg and this girl were smitten with each other, so the older kids that were dashing in and out of classrooms dodging parental control suggested that they get married.  A wedding was staged mid garage sale.  A kid officiated.  Plastic flowers were borrowed for the bride from the 'housewares' room.  I was not in attendance.  The older kids were all a twitter about it and Reg flat out told me on our drive home that he got 'mawwied' that day.  

Fast forward to Reg about 3 years ago:  This kid sort of seemed to lose his edge.  Maybe he feared verbal abuse from older, wiser brothers?  Tough crowd.  He also didn't land in the greatest of classes as far as boys go.  One kid, Mr. Macho, thought he ran the grade and everyone answered to him.  He and Reg were friends, but tough guy Reg sort of backed down a bit.  It boiled his blood.

A few years ago, Ed's high school water polo coach invited 10 yr old Reg to sit on the bench.  Chase lose balls, hand out water bottles, etc.   Ed would come home and say, "Reg, if someone talks to you - respond.  Don't just sit there."  We kept telling him to let his personality shine.  He walked back and forth on the pool deck when the teams switched sides and his upper body would not move.  He was like a walking statue, afraid to mess up.

Present day:  Reg graduated from 8th grade virtually in June.  We were grateful he had a phone during the pandemic, kind of.  He was able to stay connected to kids during e-learning, but holy cow . . . we've never had a phone addict till now.  Not my favorite teen-issue.  

Then Reg started walking down the street with my empty egg cartons.  He told me that a girl that lives 4 houses away (classmate of his) whose house is near the golf course (we are on an interior lot) was in need of egg cartons.  She was putting golf balls in them and selling them.  I think he learned of her need for egg cartons through social media.  

Guess who apparently had his original marriage annulled?  (Interestingly he has not seen 'wife' #1 in years, different schools once we left Catholic school, but they'll be attending the same high school and they recently connected on social media, oh brother).  

We encourage the older kids to invite friends here, so they aren't always going to other houses to socialize.  We like to know who they hang with, plus Coach has so many Dad jokes, it would be wasteful not to have kids show up to be subjected to them.  Also Coach worked hard to finish the basement so we could be part of the rotation of hip houses.  Hello, ping pong, fooz ball, air hockey, kitchen-ette, Irish dancing stage . . . in case friends are feeling jigg-ie.  Our 'happy to have your friends here' suggestions are often met with high school eye rolls.  

Imagine our surprise when all of a sudden, Reg announced:  Oh . . .  I think my friends will come over tomorrow night.  
Oh look, I actually spent 20 minutes
planting flowers earlier in the summer.
  Um, see how the box on the right
 looks sad?  That's because Reg's buddies
 knocked it over with a ball.  Tank, my
professional landscaper, scoffed at their
 attempt to clean it up. So, Tank took Reg
out the next day and replanted it.  It has
 come back somewhat, but the one
 on the left still looks better.
Why is this font so weird?

We looked at him with blank stares.  

Thankfully, Mr. Macho hasn't shown up when Reg hosts.  (Translation:  Reg and a handful of kids have sort of broken away from the group and are currently enjoying the social freedom of NOT hanging out with Macho.  They ride bikes to the park or to each other's houses or they all show up at our house).  

The first time Reg's posse showed up here, they played volleyball in the yard.  I brought out snacks and drinks and managed not to raise my eyebrows when I noted that there were girls in attendance.  One of the girls (insert drum-roll) . . . the egg carton girl.  

That night Coach and I had our first plans since the start of the pandemic.  We were going to meet his former office manager's new serious boyfriend at a fellow co-worker's house.  Backyard, social distancing, drinks, and chatting.  Just as we were about to walk out the door, Reg and his crowd marched inside and down the basement stairs.  

Coach and I froze.  We had to call Tank and Mini and beg one of them to come home while we were gone.  Tank obliged.  We told Reg his friends could stay until a set time.  Done.  As we left I cringed at how LOUD recent 8th grade grads could be.  Poor Tank.  

Our house is on the corner, so when I look out my kitchen window I see my backyard, AND I see the street that runs alongside our house, AND I now often see Ole Blue-Eyes walking along the sidewalk with one or two egg cartons in hand.

I honestly think that Reggie's interest in hanging out with this group of kids has more to do with the egg carton girl than it does with the fact that he can hang with buddies in the absence of bossy Mr. Macho.  The motivation really doesn't matter, but it is entertaining to watch Reg trip over himself to get us to agree to let him meet up with this pack of kids aka the chick he digs.  

Reg:  Um, I unloaded the dishwasher today and I put my laundry away.  Can I just read my required-reading-for-school book that is super overdue at the library later because my friends are hanging out at the park down the street RIGHT NOW?  

We agree reminding him he MUST read this book later.  

Ten minutes later Coach spotted Reg, egg carton girl, another guy and another girl riding bikes together through the neighborhood.  (for visual sake, picture this:  wind blowing Reg's long-ish hair, face split in an ear-to-ear grin, soft music playing . . . OK, there was no music - but you get the idea).  I'm no detective or anything, but this presents more like a double date than a group meeting at the park.  Am I right?  

We are unaccustomed to social lives revving up so early on in the life of a high school kid.  Coach and I are late-bloomer types.  If you need evidence of why I repelled boys in high school, I WILL post photographic evidence.  You've been warned.  

The first 4 kids have all enjoyed time with friends, but no one was really focused on dating this early - aside from Lad, the next three still aren't and I'm OK with that.  I have no idea how to handle the non-late-bloomer type.  Open to suggestions, but my plan is to just continue to toss Reg my empty egg cartons and chuckle as he does his statue walk down the sidewalk hoping not to show up on anyone's radar.  

We are off to KC this afternoon to visit Coach's sister's family.  I am sure I will have some stories to report since we are road tripping.  Oh, and we are taking 2 local cousins with us, and leaving Ed and Tank home.  So, I will catch up with you next week.  Hope everyone has a great weekend and I would love to hear your own personal 'first love' egg carton stories.  Do tell!


Busy Bee Suz said...

Are you guys having to eat more eggs now? Or just the regular amount?

Lolo didn't care about boys until high school. Then all of a sudden THEY ALL CARED about her. It was stressfull for me and a little bit of drama between us.
Linds started early and I didn't like it one bit.
The hormones are crazy at Regs age. I do love that he's broken away from the asshole friend and has his own circle....even if it's because of the girl who sells balls.
I had to...

I have no advice other than keeping a close eye on them when you can.

have a great weekend!

Kara said...

9th grade seemed to be the turning point for both of my older daughters. Lots of giggling among themselves and boys being referred to with coy nicknames.

My middle child is embroiled in a summer romance with a boy her age. They walk around my parent's neighborhood in packs. It's caused some drama with her sisters who refuse to associate with The Pack. It seems to be very harmless but she did ask to stay in Massachusetts with my parents for another month (since the first semester of school is online) and we said no- so she hates us right now.

Kari said...

My oldest didn't care about boys until around middle school and then didn't date until high school. I am seeing the same trend for Ella. Thank God for homeschooling/quarantine that is putting a crimp in that for Ella. DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD?

Ernie said...

Suz- ha, no we have not increased our egg intake. Not sure that is even possible. I forgot to include a pic of the MANY egg cartons in use in our fridge. I snapped that photo before I found the preschool wedding pi s. Those are way cuter than my overcrowded fridge.

I can see how this could lead to stress. I assume when school work starts to demand his attention he will settle down some.

Selling balls . . . hee hee. And SO glad he has distanced himself from macho kid. Ed has been saying for years that he can't wait for macho to get to high school where he will surely get his ass kicked. ;)

Kara- oh boy, literally. A kid with a romance while visiting grandma's house would be stressful. Hilarious that she thought she could extend her visit.

Kari- I am all for a slow paced or non existent dating world for my crew. Ed dated someone last summer but very low key. Kids are so busy these days, I prefer
They just focus on stuff like school, sports, and friends till they grow up more. Hoping to steer clear of drama for a bit longer.

Gigi said...

Those pre-school photos are absolutely adorable! And should be blown up if they actually do get married! ;-)

I remember when Man-Child was in pre-school he adored his teacher's niece who was in the younger set. We ran into her at Target one day and he began singing, "You are my sunshine" to her - I died from the cuteness.

Actually, I think back to when mine was in high school, "dating" wasn't a thing - the whole group just "hung out."

Ernie said...

Gigi- The pics are so cute. I love how she is standing with her foot twisted. I love that my buddy captured the moment because I was all kinds of busy and would not have gotten to see it.

I like the group hanging out. Technically I think that is what Reg is doing, unless he catches her outside when dropping off cartons, and they get to chat alone.

I think another boy in this group likes the same girl. He told Reg he could not come to another kid's backyard pool but later the pool kid said he should've come. I told Reg I bet he likes the same girl. Nothing gets past me.

Nicole MacPherson said...

Awww, that is so cute. Young romance, the sweetest thing. My older son had a girlfriend at the end of grade nine that lasted until Christmas grade ten, which in that age group, is essentially a lifetime. No girlfriends yet for the younger one! But we will see.

Those garage sales were great fundraisers! I used to organize the book fairs for our school and was always impressed at the money raised - but the garage sale is way more lucrative!

Ernie said...

Nicole - This little guy was way advanced for his age back in the day, so I guess I should not be surprised. A high school romance lasting that long IS a lifetime. Wow!

The garage sale endeavor was quite the undertaking. When the school was looking for recommendations, I suggested it. Another very well-off parish not far from us has been doing this for YEARS and has quite the following. They had it down to a science and I tried to set ours up in a similar fashion. Sadly, when health care took a dive and we could not afford the Catholic school for the kids, they failed to give us a break on tuition and we switched to public school. It worked out- I think the kids got a better education. But when you consider how much time and effort I put into those fundraisers only to have the turn their back on us in our time of need, well that was rotten.

Bibliomama said...

I'm glad you're letting the love offerings of egg cartons continue - everything I've read says it's important to let kids have relationships with others as early as they want because it lets them learn healthy patterns for later ones. Angus had a "girlfriend" for a bit in grade seven and the same one later on in grade eleven I think, but always had girls as friends, and his first serious relationship (started in first year college) is SO much less dysfunctional than mine. Whenever I ask Eve if she likes boys she says "not the ones I know", which honestly, fair enough. It must be so interesting seeing the different patterns and personalities when you have that many kids in the mix.

Ernie said...

Ali- As a late bloomer who wished to be more 'with'?-it' who am I to stand in the way of a good old fashioned egg carton flirtatious delivery? That is interesting about the kids who have these relationships early having less dysfunction later on . . . maybe the other kids will be asking Reg for dating advice eventually. I love Eve's 'not the ones I know' - way to be patient. They are all different.

Ally Bean said...

Forget puppy love. You've got egg carton love. Made me smile with this one. Guess you could say it cracked me up. 😉

Ernie said...

Ally- ha! Exactly. The whole thing cracks me up too. I noticed he was letting the egg cartons collect on my counter and I told him to feel free to grab them the other day. He said she was out of town so I told him to stick them in his locker. At least she had not said "I don't want your stinking egg cartons."