On Eighteen Years

This weekend, my oldest graduates from high school. Each of us in our family are experiencing an array of emotions. If you haven’t yet read Michael Gerson’s thoughtful post on the departure of his oldest son, it is worth a read.

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On Saying Goodbye

Jason Good is a writer and comedian. I know him primarily through his blog: www.jasongood.net. Hilarious stuff, especially for parents. I think Andrew Unger introduced me to it years ago.

Here, Jason shares the intimate moments surrounding his father’s death. For me, these moments are poignant partly because Jason is clear that he doesn’t believe in God or heaven, the assumption being that his father simply ceased to exist. It’s interesting to see these moments from a view of life and reality that is so different than my own.

That said, Jason loved his father, who has left a legacy of a loving, connected family. These intimate moments are a glimpse along the path each of us will walk. With our grand-parents. With our parents. With a spouse. Or a friend. Or even with a child. These moments are not part of our daily existence. I find it helpful to peek into Jason’s experience and prepare myself for these moments in my own life.

Enjoy Jason’s post, and check out his other, more amusing posts as well.

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On the Things that Ain’t Happenin’

Jen Hatmaker hits it out of the park, once again. Having just ushered my 18 year old into adulthood 2 days ago, I am relieved that I don’t need to back-fill my antique trunk with annual time capsules. As I like to say at my house: that ain’t happenin’.

Other things that ain’t happenin': spending time angst-ing about planning the perfect birthday party, regretting all the parties I promised and then never got around to, attending every single sporting event or school concert or feeling guilty if I don’t, and painting or other messy crafts.

Things that are happening: being present for the big stuff (as defined by the kids), lots of family meals (not all home-cooked), involvement in church (including regular service and deep, cross-generational relationships), chores & expectations at home, some screen parameters (that are regularly agonized over and discussed), and conversations — countless, thoughtful, structured & unstructured, where there are two main goals: understanding who my children are and who they are becoming, and inviting them into my world view, my values, my mission and my hopes for their character.

For all of this, I am grateful for the example of my own parents, and proud of the hard (and sometimes tedious) work of parenting that Hal and I have done. And I am always glad to be reminded to send the kids outside to play with the neighbors.

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On Common Core Myths & Facts

Common Core Myths & Facts: It seems that I hear increasing understanding by parents in my community, but I continue to hear many of these myths perpetuated by politicians. It’s troubling to me when our students are caught in political cross-fire.

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On Surviving the College Admissions Madness

Thank you to my March ’97 Mama friend, Lara Nolan, for this one. Our 17/18 year olds are making college decisions right now, and this is some terrific advice.

When your son or daughter is thinking about selecting colleges to apply to, sometimes you hear guidance counselors and others talk about finding a “good fit.” To be honest, it’s hard to figure out what that might look like. It is worth noting, though, that it doesn’t necessary look like the toughest school your kid *might* get into. Maybe it does. Maybe that’s the best fit. But maybe the best fit is someplace else.

I love hearing stories like in this article, about students who thought their dreams were dashed, and then they discovered something beautiful, something wonderful. They found a good fit. For them.

It takes a special person, a special attitude to get rejected and then be willing to be happy again, to find their place in a community they didn’t think they wanted to be part of.

My hope for my 17 year old and his friends, and for those of you whose Juniors and Sophomores and Freshman are headed down this road next year and beyond, is that they will learn day by day that being satisfied and connected in the community you are a part of has much more to do with attitude than success.

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On Practicing

At our house, we use a principle we learned from good friends: “Practice makes improvement.” This article describes the results of research that expands upon the principle. While the research was about music, I might hypothesize that the observations and conclusions might also apply to athletics and other skills. What do you think?

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On Looking Out for Each Other’s Children

The title of this piece is a bit sensationalist, thought it’s a very real issue. I like the article, though, for the specifics it has regarding ways we can “look out for each other’s children.”

Back when my 17 year old was 3 or 4, one time we were at a park with playgroup Moms & kids. There were some older kids there (older, as in age 8-10 : ) ) who were running around and knocking over toddlers and preschoolers. They weren’t trying to be mean, just having fun and oblivious to the consequences. I remember looking around, seeing no parents who seemed attached to these kids, and having an epiphany: “I’m the Mom. I can say something to these kids.” So I did. And the kids listened and stopped running into the little people. 

While this particular moment had little to do with the safety of the “big kids,” the incident speaks to the ways that we *are* in community, the ways that we build community and cultivate safety simply by thinking: “If there’s a kid without an adult, I am willing to take action to look out for that kid.”

Have you ever helped a child in your neighborhood feel safe? It might simply be saying hello to them while they’re walking home from school. Some might call me a Pollyanna or naive, but I truly believe that these small choices we make day to day, week to week, are the building blocks of a safe community.

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