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September 19, 2022

part 1: when it rains, it pours: saying the wrong thing, small ninja sneak attacks, can we be friends with our kids?

My 2 high school kids started school
 9/6. Very late due to renovations.
This pic was taken before the first
 day of school when Curly came
along on our outing to the zoo. 

Tuesday September 6th started out in a positive, 'this is going to be a great day' kind of way. 

5:55 am:  I woke up well rested - not because someone incorrectly set his alarm. I fumbled around, hoping not to wake up Coach. I grabbed workout clothes from a clean laundry pile next to my bed. BLINDLY. Mini is not the only family member who doesn't always have her laundry put away. Once in the bathroom, I switched on the light. Low and behold - I'd magically chosen an outfit that I loved. It matched. 

6:45 am:  Coach told me that Ed had texted Coach at like 5:15 am to say, ARE YOU AWAKE? 

Nothing makes me smile more
than two buddies opting
 to hold hands at the zoo. See what
I'm doing here - showing photos of happy
 moments to offset the stress I'm writing about.
Huh?

Tuesdays are full days. 6 tots/baby in the morning, then 2 more arrive by bus at 11:00 from preschool. It's hectic till the beloved naptime. 

10: 30 am:  

Me to Ed:  (text) What's up?

Ed:  I'm sick.

Cold symptoms? Too much to drink? Stomach bug? 

Um . . . THE.OTHER.END. 

We now believe that he had E.coli. Or something. He'd cook fish. Perhaps the meat thermometer was bad. He was REALLY sick. He'd finally slept 5 hours after being up all night. 

4:20 pm:  I texted to see how he was doing. No response.  

*****

4:30 pm:  Reg texted, in freak-out mode. If he took the bus back to the high school after his golf team tournie he'd be VERY late for travel b-ball fall league practice. 

Me:  Do you want me to drive there, get you, then drive you to b-ball?  *opposite directions

Reg:  Yes, bring . . .  (list, including dinner & his epilepsy medication) 

I gathered his stuff. 

*****

5:30 pm:  Lad called me driving home from a job interview. He's 


been interviewing for a new job. That day he had a 2nd interview. It was a big deal. He had to come up with a presentation to share at the interview revolving around a case study they gave him in advance. He'd been researching his response all weekend. Well, Coach, Reg, Curly, and I were at a friends' lake house over Labor Day weekend. I'm pretty sure Lad wasn't doing much research while we were away. 

8 second lake house video. The lake had a pirate parade/water balloon fight. Our kids are on the boat on the left - decorated with pirate flags. We tried to keep a safe distance, observing. Maybe a white flag would've helped. The little buggers attacked us. Friendly fire? Watch the one balloon launched at us. It hit me in the right boob. OUCH! Coach called it a one in a million shot. Hey, now!

I digress. I kept looking at the clock, wondering how Lad's interview was going. 

Lad:  So, it went well, I think. Then they asked about my timeline and what else I was thinking about. I was honest and I said that 'B' company is my number 1. (this interview was not with 'B' company)

Me:  WHAT? WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT? *B would be a great job, but he was very early in the process and I feared that it was more of a reach job. Shit.

This is when it's nice to be Coach. I screw things up. Say the wrong thing. More or less, step in it. Then Coach has the time and space to gather himself and his thoughts and approach our offspring poised and calm, ready to clean up my verbal diarrhea. 

After he hung up with me, Lad called the headhunter who had lined up the interview. The head hunter blasted him. Later I told Lad, THINK OF IT LIKE A DATE, YOU DON'T SAY TO A GIRL. I LIKE YOU, BUT THAT GIRL OVER THERE - SHE'S THE ONE I'M CRAZY ABOUT.

Lad was ticked at me, or the situation, or his blunder.  *sigh*

6:00 pm:  Me:  I'm driving to get Reg, would you pick up Curly from her volleyball game when the bus gets back? 

He was not enthusiastic. Then Curly shared that the varsity game hadn't started. I thought only freshmen were playing, so this was gonna take awhile. I told Lad not to worry. I'd get her after I dropped off Reg - even though I usually stay in my car at b-ball because it's a hike. Lad didn't seem to be in the right frame of my mind for favors. 

Under water polar bear
viewing. Super cool

*****

6:40 pm:  I decided to call Mini. 

Mini: (text) Call you in a minute.

*****

Lad called hollering about wasting his whole day and not wanting to pick up Curly. 

Me:  I told you - not to worry about it. *Goodness* 

*****

Mini called, crying -but pretended she wasn't. Up until now, she'd mostly spoken to us in short, abrupt bursts that left us to believe she was mad at us, or in a hurry. 

Mini:  (A few excerpts): I'M MISERABLE. I HATE IT HERE. I JUST WANNA COME HOME. WHAT IF I PEAKED IN HIGH SCHOOL. EVERYONE LIKES COLLEGE, WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? I'M SO ANXOUS. I'M WORRIED ABOUT ACADEMICS. I LIKE H AND M, BUT  I'M PUTTING IN ALL OF THE EFFORT. I REALLY LIKE ANN. SHE'S SUPER NICE AND SHE'S ONE OF 6 KIDS, TOO. WE BOTH MISS OUR FAMILIES. I DON'T LIKE BEING ALONE. AT HOME, I COULD ALWAYS JUST WALK INTO THE KITCHEN AND FIND SOMEONE. 

We'd had a few teary phone calls before, but this one felt different. More involved. As I listened, I was pretty sure a small ninja had slipped into the car and hit me directly in my throat with a sucker punch.

*****

I hope you'll tune in on Wednesday to learn what happened next in this saga of 'the night my offspring had everything going on'. In the meantime, I read this article in the Chicago Tribune about whether or not parents can be friends with their kids. It resonated with me. Where do you stand? Were you friends with your parents growing up? Feel free to take a stab at what else went wrong this particular night. 


28 comments:

mbmom11 said...

Oh my goodness, what a day.
You haven't mentioned Tank yet, or the dog- maybe someone else got sick? Ran away to join the circus?
I hate cliffhangers!

Nicole MacPherson said...

I'm so sorry Mini is so homesick. Hopefully it's just September blues and she'll get into the swing of things soon.
What a day! My goodness. I'm emotionally exhausted just thinking about it.
Re: friends with your parents, I absolutely was not when I was growing up. Now, I love hanging out with my kids but I don't think I would really say we are friends. But we do have an open communication and ease that I did not have growing up.

Adelaide Dupont said...

Hmmm...

I think the issue is - would you be friends if you didn't know your kids/didn't have that bond?

Like a random person with the same traits your kids have.

Ernie said...

mbmom - Sorry for the cliffhanger. The day, or mainly the evening, was so nutty that this would've been way too long to post in one post. Good guesses. Fortunately no one else got sick, and Finn chose not to drive me nuts on this particular day.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Mini missing home and being so anxious about identifying her group of friends has been a complete shock to me. That was the last thing I would've expected. I do believe that things will improve. It was the kind of day when stress popped up at every turn.

I was not friends with my parents when I was growing up either. Not at all. I do feel like I am more approachable and I sure do enjoy my kids' company. I think the relationship that I have with Mini is very friend-like, but I'm definitely still the mom with rules and guidance, etc.

Ernie said...

Adelaide - I see what you are saying. I would definitely be friends with my kids if they weren't my kids . . . but in that case only if they were my age. I don't generally hang out with teenagers.

Busy Bee Suz said...

A day in the life~Ernie's version.

Yikes. I'd not make it a week in your shoes.

I can't imagine what else could have gone on? Are frogs coming up from the basement? Raccoons living in the attic?

Being your kid's friend is acceptable once most of the 'raising' is done. I couldn't be my girl's best friend while they were in HS because there was still much work to do. Now? Even though I'm the Mom, we're more equal because of maturity. How did they catch up to me?

I was not friends with my parents as a kid. I was hardly their kid at times. LOL!

Kara said...

I'm on my first kid at college, so I'm no expert. But everything I've read says that between weeks 6 and 8, things start to click. Then they come home at Thanksgiving, and realize that their high school friends have changed and have their own college friends and college experiences, so it gets even easier after that.

I don't think I'm at the stage where I can be friends with my kids. They're still kids. Maybe when they're adults. But they'll never be my best friend. My husband is my best friend.

Kari Wagner Hoban said...

What an eventful day. Oh, my friend, I'm sure you were exhausted by the end of the day.

I have a great deal of empathy for Mini. I'm sure she's feeling a range of emotions. Is there a neutral counselor on campus she can talk to? I only say this so she can find someone who isn't emotionally attached to her.  When kids are homesick, it can be tough.

About the friends with your child situation, I agree with many of the comments above. Friendship is probably not something people have with their kids as they grow up. Definitely more when they are adults. But every parent is different, as are their children. 

Sending you all hugs. ❤️

Suzanne said...

Oh my goodness -- this is a LOT. My heart aches for Mini, and for you. Hoping everything is at least all better NOW, with the whole crew.

Nance said...

I was one of four kids at home. My parents seemed very old to me. We were never friends, ever. It seems silly to even think of it.

My sons are both now in their 30s, and while I'm still very much their mother, we have a more relaxed relationship. I've (gratefully) butted out of their lives unless invited in. That didn't happen until they were in their twenties, had moved out for good, and had real lives of their own.

Honestly, it sounds like Mini is having totally normal growing pains. She's just finding her way. It will be okay.

Ally Bean said...

My parents were never my friends. Ever. They were parents. Different times, perhaps.

As for homesickness, welp-- the only way through it is to endure it. Poor kid. Bet she'll feel better once she gets more into the real reason she's there-- academics. Friends are a byproduct of, not the focus of college.

Pat Birnie said...

Oh boy what a day. I do believe Mini will settle in beautifully and find some great friends- hopefully very soon. I know how you felt when you heard from Ed. One of my kids seems to be very susceptible to stomach issues & seems to get food poisoning where others could fight it off. It’s horrible when they call and you are so far away and can do nothing. We are friends with our kids now that they are adults. Some we particularly enjoy hanging out with; but when they were younger not so much. Parenting came first.

I promise you that some day your life will be quite boring. Honestly- but you have a few more years of insanity first!

Jenny in WV said...

I'm sorry Mini is having a rough time. It took me a couple years to find my friend group in college but Mini is way cooler than I ever was. Is it possible for her to come home for a weekend? Maybe that would help.

I've read a few accounts of astronauts recounting their interviews/selection process and giving some less than stellar answers but still getting selected, so maybe there is hope for Lad and this job yet. Or maybe job B will materialize with an offer.

In some ways my mom is my best friend and in other ways not so much. I guess parent/kid friendship is complicated. That said, I do enjoy hanging out with my parents.

Colleen said...

I think you should raise your kids to be the type of adults you would pick for your best friends. But you have to be the parent when you're raising them. But parenting them doesn't mean you can't enjoy their company also, I would hate to think that!

Ernie said...

Suz - Maybe you would have a better chance of making it in my shoes if I wore Vionic flip flops? ;)

I like your guesses, and I'm grateful that frogs and raccoons are not issues on this particular night.

I tend to agree with you. Once the parenting stuff has been mostly squared away, the friendship can blossom. I feel like Mini and I are on the path to friendship. I do like to bounce things off of her, but she DOES need to be told to clean her room and she needs pointers on finding the customer service area in Target. wink, wink

I was too busy playing the role of Cinderella to be close with my folks as a kid. Drisella and Anastasia - eek.

Ernie said...

Kara - That sounds like a believable scenario: 6-8 weeks. Mini will not drift from her high school friends. They are rock solid. Still, I think she will start to click with particular girls and feel more comfortable there. 'Uncomfortable' is her biggest complaint.

You are sweet to have a husband as your best friend. I might feel like that usually, but we are at odds over getting the garage floor epoxy finished, so not this week. ;) We agreed to do it ourselves but he wants to focus on his upcoming teaching obligations. I say he can teach those in his sleep. I do enjoy the heck out of my kids, most of the time. They are funny and enjoyable as they age and have things to say/funny approaches to things. I'm still the boss of them though.

Ernie said...

Kari - I was drained by the end of that day. DRAINED.

I've asked Mini if she wanted to talk to someone, and she said no. Things seem to be getting a bit better since this particular night. She did just ask me how many weeks until I come there, pick her up, and drive her to Ed's college where her BFF goes to school. It is 3 weeks away, and she thought it was 2 weeks away. She sounded slightly bummed, but no tears.

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I know things will become more comfortable for her and this will be a distance memory soon. On this particular night - yowza. It was overwhelming to hear how tough she found everything.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - I went to an all women's college. Tiny. I was so happy to be out of my folks' house and college felt like a giant sleepover. I wonder if social media and the presence of phones makes a difference to the students of today. She has sounded better this past week.

Ernie said...

Nance- I'm laughing at you thinking your parents were so old and that being friends with them seemed silly. I was afraid of my parents. Flat out didn't tell them stuff. I may not be my kids' friend, but I do think I've been more approachable when they've had issues.

I will happily butt out of Lad's life once he moves out and takes his dog with him. His dog has about worn out his welcome. Not that we ever really welcomed him.

I am confident Mini will settle in. This particular night really blew my mind. Things have improved since.

Ernie said...

Ally - Different times for sure. I'm glad my kids know who is in charge here, but I am also glad that they seem to enjoy spending time with us. I know they find me approachable when issues arise.

This is an excellent point. The academics have been a struggle for her, which added to the overall anxiety. She has gotten good grades so far, so I think she is starting to relax about that aspect of the whole process. It might have seemed impossible at first, and now she seems to be more of the mindset that she does belong there.

Ernie said...

Pat - I cannot imagine how touch that must be to have a kid with regular stomach issues. This really threw Ed off his A game. He was so uncomfortable. It lasted for so long.

I hear you, parenting first. Hard to believe that Ed wore me down as a youngster. One mom told me that it seemed Ed would've been better as an only child. Now he's fun and delightful and self-aware. Mini still requires me to reassure her and she calls me when things crop up that she is upset about. At the same time, she and I enjoy one another's company. I can only imagine that one day I might be bored. Then I will be poised and ready to work on my photo album updating. ;)

Ernie said...

Jenny - I'm laughing at 'way cooler than me' - you and me both. I think that might be partly why it's so hard for her, she's accustomed to being able to mesh with all of the groups at school because no one made her feel out of place. She fit in wherever, and she got to fit in while being herself. She never put on airs. I noticed she was wearing mascara at the football game I went to. Not a big deal, but she never wore mascara at home unless she was going to a dance. I wonder if she felt out of place being her what-you-see-is-what-you-get self.

The company he was interviewing at ended the process the next day. He didn't make it very far with the B company. It seems everything has sort of fizzled. The company where he blew the interview said maybe they would touch base with him in January. *sigh* All good lessons though.

I was quite close with my mom back when I was getting married and when my kids were very young. Then I stopped drinking the lemonade and noticed how lopsided things were in terms of how the 5 of us were treated. There has been a lot of hurt.

She could come home for a weekend, but I think it is best that she keep plugging away at being in the thick of things and making connections. She is coming to Ed's college in 3 weeks, then home the following weekend. She has a whole week off that week. Hopefully by then she will have settled in. Dare I wish that there are no tears when she returns Oct. 21st?

Ernie said...

Colleen - Well said. I agree with all of that. I really like the way you summed it all up. Try as we might, we have a few kids who still are a work in progress. Well, we hope to see progress. Some of them have age on their side, and some not so much. It is amazing how we parent all of them, but they don't all turn out the same.

Beth Cotell said...

I'm with Suz - I wouldn't last a week in your shoes! At this stage of the game, I would not say that my kids are my best friends - there's too much parenting left to do to say that. I definitely enjoy spending time with my kids and now that they are both in college, I miss them waaaaaaayyyy more than I thought I would but that doesn't mean I consider them to be my best friends. Maybe somewhere down the line we will enter into best friend territory but if we don't, I wouldn't think it odd or strange.

Anonymous said...

My six-year-old tells me I'm her best friend regularly, and I say it back to her. It's a way of expressing affection, and I'm happy she feels that way. She's not a friend like my adult friends are and I don't treat her that way, but I'm in favor of all good feelings between us.


Re: Mini: I had a really rocky social start to college, not because I was homesick, but because I was expecting to find my people quickly and I didn't. I despaired pretty hard because I was seeing it as a never-find state, rather than a haven't-yet state. I only started finding friends in the October/November time period, I think. My first friends were people who I connected with while sitting outside of one of my classes, waiting for the previous class to come out. It started with "what did you think of that assignment," getting to know you conversations. From there, it expanded over time to include some of their roommates and people they'd met through activities. By the end of the school year, I was really happy with my social situation. I enjoyed those friendships a lot. It didn't last all 4 years with that exact group, but it was a good starting point. She may need to give it more time.

Ernie said...

Beth - I'm laughing at you missing them WAY more than you thought you would. Hee hee. There are things I don't miss and I am lucky to be quite busy during the day. I really look forward to hearing from them, but this is their time. I hear you - more parenting to be done. I do like that most of my kids feel close enough with me to tell me what is happening, etc.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - Mini used to tell me that I was her sister. I saw us starring in Dove soap commercials, as in 'WHO IS THE DAUGHTER WHO IS THE MOTHER.' Ha. I feel pretty close to my kids, but I am happy to know that there is a line and I'm the boss. ;)

You NAILED it - I believe this is exactly what Mini's issue is. She believed it would be an instant connection to her close college friends. Not exactly the case. These things take time. They evolve. I think for her it's especially hard becuase her normal self is very entertaining and I believe she is feeling a little restrained at the moment. Like it might not be cool to let it all hang out just yet. I look forward to the discovering of who her greatest friends are. It is yet to come. For sure.