Tonight is prom #2 for son, Payton. This photo is of prom #1 a couple of weeks ago. Prom #1 was at St. Francis high school where Payton's (ex) girlfriend goes. Tonight is his prom (Serra High School) and he and Alex are still going together even though they are "on a break." All of you Friends fans out there are laughing, but seriously, they are on a break. Whatever that means. They have been together for 7 months which is an eternity at 17.
Tonight Alex will (we think) be wearing a yellow dress and Payton will be in an all white tux. Alex was supposed to wear the yellow dress to her prom, but changed her mind at the last minute and wore a beautiful black gown. The corsage had yellow ribbon in it. That's what happens when you change your mind so late in the game. This time we went with an all white corsage. Just in case.
We will be going to Woodside for a pre-prom get together with Payton's best friend Zack and his date, Haley. Then off to the prom in South San Francisco after which the 4 of them will be joined by 5 other couples for a limo ride around San Francisco. Then the 4 of them (or some sub-set of the 4 of them) will come back to our house around 3am and spend the night.
There is a baseball meeting at noon Sunday. If they are lucky they will get a few hours of sleep before hand.
I'll post pictures tonight.
Payton started school last week, Darren has his first day as a freshman this Wednesday. Some of the school clothes shopping is done, more to come. Backpacks, binders, t-shirts. You know the drill.
I love this time of year. As much as I love the break of summer with all of the great vacations and free time to socialize, I also love getting back into a routine. I have aspirations to start planning meals again. Payton has asked for my help in eating healthier as he starts on his quest to play varsity baseball at Serra. Tryouts aren't until after the first of the year, but fall ball is an opportunity for him to improve himself and get noticed.
As the first day of high school looms, Darren is dealing with it pretty well. He is not going to the local public school and really doesn't know anyone at the new school. That makes things a little tougher for him, but I'm confident that he'll have a whole host of new friends in no time. And that's part of the beauty of it. He gets to start with a clean slate and doesn't have to live up to what people think of his brother. It's all about Darren.
Gone are the days when our list of supplies included pencil boxes, lunch boxes, crayons and safety scissors. In their place are scientific calculators, Spanish/English dictionaries, parking permits and lunch money.
Where did the years go?
Here are the boys on their first days of kindergarten and their kindergarten school photos. These sweet smiles and soft cheeks take me back to the day...
An open letter-type post to my sweet boy. My 13 (almost 14, dear God) year old boy...
Times are tough my son. You are going through a time in life that is typically tough for everyone your age, yet you have additional challenges. I try so hard not to excuse you and lower my standards for you because you have these additional challenges. Yet, in my heart, I ache for you. I know I need to be strong and consistent and stick to being the parent vs. the friend.
But because I know you won't be reading this any time soon, I feel like this is where I can tell you what is in my heart and soul, even if I can't let you see it all the time for fear that it would undermine my ability to be a mean mommy, a hard ass, the rock that I hear about kids needing but not getting.
I want to be everything for you. Everything, everyday.
There are two songs that I have listened to in the last several minutes that seem to really nail what I'm feeling for you right now.
Against All Odds - Phil Collins
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkle
I know that the difficulties that you are facing right now seem so overwhelming. I think that you just don't know what to do. I think that you are in over your head and that you don't know what the next steps are.
Letting go of the particulars, I want you to know so much about what I'm feeling for you.
"How can I just let you walk away
Just let you leave without a trace
When I stand here taking every breath with you
You're the only one who really knew me at all"
Sometimes I feel like you are slipping away from me. Like I just don't know what to do next to help you. I'm trying everything I know how. I'm working on trying new things. But I still feel so connected to you, like we breath together. And when you struggle, so do I. When you hurt, so do I. When you feel the desperation, so do I.
"When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. when times get rough
And friends just cant be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down."
You can be so smart, and so thoughtful and so "all that and a bag of chips." When you screw up it kills me because I know what a rock star you are. I just can't figure out what it is that makes you do what you do sometimes.
What worries me the most is that maybe you don't realize how much your Dad and brother and I love you. How much we love who you are (who you can be) and how much we love to be with you when you are at your best.
At your worst you worry the crap out of us. I don't know how much of that is your ADHD, your age (your hormones) or something else. I think it is my job to worry. My job to freak out about how boys your age with ADHD are at such a significantly higher risk for suicide. My job to defend you and advocate for you and be the one of the two people on the face of the earth who will stand by you no matter what.
Dude. Please just get through 8th grade. Please just do what it takes to get you to the next step. Your Dad and I have worked hard to make sure that your choices for high school will be better than what the middle school experience has been for you. I know that one of the choices will be very expensive, but if that is the right choice for you, somewhere where you can thrive, and be appreciated and be happy and part of a brotherhood, then I don't give a crap how much it costs. I don't care if I have to sell my car and walk to work...you WILL get what you need.
I just want to hold you and tell you that everything will be OK. That you'll be fine...not just fine, but that you will ROCK. I honestly believe that if we can find a way to get through the next 6 months, the world will be so much better for you. You need, and deserve a fresh start.
"They" say that the best things in life are also the things that you work the hardest for. I hope you know how much your Dad and I love you and how hard we are working for you. We are here for you.
I can say all of this here, because I don't have to be the hard ass here. I can fall apart here, in the blogosphere, because the people here know where I'm coming from. They are parents. Some of them have been in similar places with their kids. I need to be strong for you. I need to be consistent and maintain boundaries for you in your world.
But in this, my blogging world, I can be vulnerable and sad and angry and frustrated. I can even be weak.
In this world, and in the real world, I love you more than life. And I just need you to know that.
Superbowl Sunday is always a big day at our house one way or the other. This year it has some special meaning because it is also Payton's 16th birthday. My baby. My first born. My sweet cheeked little button nosed bundle of joy. 16. Be still, my heart.
Pictured here, I am 24 and he is about 10 months. This kid had me at hello. He taught me that my life was secondary to his. He taught me how to get up at 4:30am and somehow still make it through the day. He taught me that my heart will forever, now, be walking around outside of my body.
Until I had Payton, I don't think that I had ever really FELT my soul. I knew it was there and that it might be unleashed someday. That someday was February 4th, 1991.
And so, now on this Superbowl Sunday, when "the other Payton," Peyton Manning takes the field to play for his first ever NFL Championship, I will be cheering for him. Ever since he started playing in the NFL, we have been Colts fans. First because of the name, but now really because how can you NOT love this guy? His commercials are friggin' hysterical and he just seems like such a great guy. AND he has a little brother, just like our Payton does. Only his bro is named Eli (he plays for the NY Giants, if you don't know), not Darren.
We didn't name Payton after Peyton. Really his name just came from a baby book, but we liked the reference to Walter Payton (I was born in Chicago) and, maybe ironically, Peyton is playing against the Bears in the Superbowl! Go figure. I know, many of you are saying "Big freakin' deal." I happen to think it's kind of funny.
On this day, I will also be remembering my Uncle Bob. UBob passed away during the 2 minute warning of the Superbowl between the Rams and the New England Patriots. It was February 3rd, 2002, but it will always be the Superbowl, regardless of what the actual date is, that will remind me of his passing. I was there along with my Mom, my Aunt and my cousins to guide him into peace as he passed. We had the game on in his room in the ICU which may seem strange to some, but if you knew UBob, you know he absolutely wouldn't have had it any other way. No better way to go than while the Rams were about to lose the Superbowl. My Mom and I were SOOO glad that he didn't pass away one day later, on Feb. 4th, Payton's birthday.
But this year, those two dates merge in my mind. On this day I will remember the very first time I ever witnessed the beginning of a life and the very first time I ever witnessed the passing of one. Both incredibly precious moments that will be in my heart for eternity.
Went to the Journey, Def Leppard concert last night in Mountain View. We took both of our boys and some of their friends. It was a great night for an outdoor concert. It was warm, the bands were great, friends all over the place. This photo is of me and Payton (left) and his best friend Zack (right) in the parking lot. We tailgated before the concert with sandwiches and drinks and a good time was had by all...
More details later...
Thanks for all of the good energy you all were sending our way. IT WORKED! P made the baseball team today. It is a HUGE accomplishment for him. I'm just reveling in the joy of it all...
Please do one or more of the following:
Payton has been trying out for the Serra baseball team over the last several weeks. He has survived 2 cuts, they are down to 30 candidates for 20 spots and he is still one of them. We think that the final cuts will happen on Friday or Saturday of this week. I'm dying with the waiting. He tried so hard with basketball tryouts and was the last kid cut. He wants to wear the Serra uniform so badly and there is nothing that Dan and I want more for him right now than the feeling of success.
So I just finished watching "Ordinary People" on TV. Darren is off on vacation with my Mom, Dan is at a soccer meeting and Payton is at Zack's house. A couple of glasses of wine and an Academy Award Winning tear jerker later and I'm a blubbering fool.
At the end, the kid tells his Dad how much he loves him and they embrace. Effing lost it. My chihuahua thinks I'm nuts because as the credits were rolling I was asking him if my boys would tell me how much they love me when they are grown. I think they will. They are both so affectionate and so loving and sweet. I guess I've just been waiting for them to turn into the Exorsist children when their heads start spinning around with teen-aged angst and intollerance for their parents, but at 12 and 14, they haven't done that yet.
As I drove up to the house tonight coming home from work, Payton was scootering away down the street towards Zack's house. When he saw me he stopped, turned around, scootered up to my window and leaned in to give me a kiss. Are you f*&king kidding me? Is he just so totally playing me that he knows how to reach in and yank my heart out? Who is this kid?
He's MINE! He's the most awesome, cute, sweet, funny, compasionate kid I have ever been in love with. So I know that might sound creepy to some of you, but Moms, you know how it is. You don't just love your kids, you are IN love with them. And you fall in love with them over and over.
Darren visited my grandparents today. They called me specifically to tell me what a polite, helpful and thoughtful young man he is. Apparently, my Mom took Darren and my grandmother grocery shopping today (my Mom takes her Mom each week for groceries. She's a saint). My grandma said that Darren went out of his way to help her with everything. He lifted all of the heavy stuff, he reached for all of the high and low stuff, he unloaded her cart at the check out counter and then loaded all of her groceries into the car. My grandmother spent her prime years in the era of the gallant gentlemen (like my grandfather) who opened car doors and pulled chairs out for their female companions. And SHE was impressed with Darren's manners.
Can I just weep myself to sleep?
What a big weekend for my now 14 year old son, Payton. He turned 14 on Friday, and this morning he had an interview at Serra High School (whose alumni are very impressive, see the end of this post for a list) as the last step in the admissions process. There are over 500 kids applying for 258 spots. He spent about 10 minutes being interviewed 1 on 1 and then Dan and I came in for another 10-15 minutes. This is kind of a tricky process for us as Serra is an all-boys Catholic school and we aren't Catholic (back in the day, I was baptized Catholic, but it was literally a back-door baptism as my Mom was a 17 year old unwed mother and especially back in the '60's in the mid-west, that was highly frowned upon.).
Although they say that you don't have to be Catholic to attend Serra, you know it helps. On the application, we had to write about what we were doing for the spiritual growth of our kids since we weren't attending any church. That required some real introspection on my part since we haven't necessarily made a point to foster a spiritual side of our kids, but as I thought about it, I found that we did, in fact, in our own way, teach our children to be mindful of their place in this world, to "do unto others...", to be giving, caring, thoughtful, respectful, and to understand that they are a part of a large community that we call the Earth. They know all about Karma and have seen it in action. They know that character is how you behave when you think that nobody is watching.
Which brings me to the BIG lesson that Payton learned today. The man that interviewed him used to be a teacher at the middle school that he attends. The teacher remembered him from when he was in the 5th and 6th grade. He didn't teach him in class, but he knew him from the time he had "playground duty." He said that he remembered Payton as being a good kid who followed the rules and looked out for some of other kids (Payton has always been in that "cool jock" group and has been in a unique position to be a role model at an early age). As we walked out of the interview and back to the car, I asked Payton how well he knew the teacher and he said that he remembered him but didn't know him that well. I couldn't help but point out the fact that his behavior and his attitude 2 or 3 years ago was watched by someone without him really knowing about it, and that because he was a good kid, and treated people well (which for a 10-11 year old boy out on the playground is not necessarily the norm), he was now reaping the rewards. I said, "Payton, you never know how your actions today will effect your future. You just learned that by just being a good kid a couple of years ago, your interview was off to a good start before you ever even opened your mouth. That teacher remembered you, and had a high opinion of you, and now that is going to possibly get something that you really want."
What a HUGE lesson to learn and to see come to fruition right in front of his eyes. I big Mom **sigh** moment for me. And a big moment for Payton. He did really well during the rest of the interview, he smiled, he looked the interviewer right in the eyes, he was articulate and passionate about why he was there.
From there we went to Big 5 to get him cleats and sliding pants for baseball tryouts today. Like I said, it's a big day for him, one that could weigh heavily on his self-confidence. The first part went well, and gave him confidence going into tryouts. My son, how you are turning into a beautiful, self-sufficient young man who is tackling all that life puts before you. You make my heart weep with joy and admiration.
To both of my son's, I would like to quote my favorite author, Maya Angelou:
Because you are who you are, I have never had to exaggerate. I just tell the truth: I have the most wonderful son in the world.
All night tonight and all day tomorrow, including the Superbowl, I will have a house full of 14 year old boys (about 8-10 of them at any given time) helping Payton celebrate his birthday. I tend to only get religious during times like these. Lord, grant me the strength and the wisdom...and if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. If I shall live through the night, I pray that there is enough tequila in the house to get me through tomorrow!
Professional Athletes - Barry Bonds, Tom Brady, Lynnn Swan, Greg Jeffries,
President and CEO Trader Joe’s, John Sheilds
New York Times Editor and Pulitzer Prize Winner, William Keller
Last night Darren asked, totally out of the blue (which is where most of his questions seem to come from), "Mom, did you ever notice that a lot of "lady" kind of words have "guy" words in them...like woman and female? How come that is?" I swear I didn't lead him to it. He thought of it all on his own. Darren, you are quite a young man, my son.