She’s leaving me again


IMG_8520Four years ago to the day, we drove our youngest to college. I was teary-eyed when we said our final goodbyes. I wrote about the experience complete with our text messages here. Roll the calendar four full years later—years filled with joy, heart, excitement and anxiety—and she’s getting ready to leave me again.

I remember when we dropped our son, the firstborn, off at college. It was heartbreaking to me. I cried like I was losing a limb. With our youngest, the tears poured down my cheeks, but I was able to get myself somewhat under control.

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My son all grown up.

I’ve got mixed emotions this week. She came home after taking her last two college classes in Paris and Rome. I’m used to having her here even though it’s only been two short weeks. I’m used to having her dog Waffles with me, too.  He’s spent every day since the middle of May with me. Olive the cat is the only member of the household who will be celebrating when Waffles walks out the door. I say I have mixed emotions because I’m excited for her. Also, she reminded me that even I can drive to her house to visit! She says “even I” because I’m notoriously a bad driver and have anxiety on freeways. But, it’s not that far away.

At the moment, my daughter is packing her car. Tomorrow morning she’ll leave for good, moving to her new home in Arizona and ready to take on adulthood. Am I ready for this? Is she ready for it? Oh my. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

I will for the first time in my life, seriously have an empty nest.

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I’m seriously going to miss this boy.

How did you feel when you said goodbye to your kids?

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8 Ways the Beach Is Different With Adult Children Than With Young Kids

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Beach vacation a few years ago.

We’ve rarely had our two kids together during vacations times since both left the familial nest for college. One’s university had a quarter system while the other had semesters and neither Christmas or Spring breaks aligned. Then as far as summers, forget about it! One worked through summers and the other swam with her college team. We did get an occasional visit during our week-long beach vacation. But the times were few and far between.

When they were young (and I was younger, too) the summers stretched from Memorial Weekend past Labor Day. We were together the entire time at home or the beach. My favorite day of the year was packing the SUV full with kids, pillows, boogie boards, sand toys and groceries and heading for our beach vacation.

As blissful and peaceful as those days seemed, they weren’t always perfect. This past week we went to the beach and rented an Air BNB with our two adult kids. Here’s a list of what I found different when vacationing at the beach with adult kids versus toddlers and youngsters.

ONE

Having a child who eats wet sand is no longer an issue. Nor do I have to take my baby to the doctor for the worst bottom rash ever.

TWO

I don’t have to be a hawk-eye, standing in the waves watching my children’s every move.

THREE

My kids put on their own sunscreen and you don’t have to remind them. Once in a while, I’ll get a request to spray their backs.

FOUR

They can be the designated driver after a dinner out with friends. Wait, did I say going out with friends? Yes, when we’re at the beach we get to hang out with our friends, not just the kids.

FIVE

Never once did I have to drive anyone to swim practice at the crack of dawn. Or, remind them in the afternoon that it’s time to leave their friends at the beach for practice.

SIX

They don’t fight over sand. I haven’t stopped a single fight where one child threw sand in the eyes of their sibling. Nor did anyone stomp on another’s drip castle.

SEVEN

No longer do I heat up chicken nuggets and tater tots in the oven for dinner. Now they have the same tastes in restaurants as I do. It gets a lot more expensive.

EIGHT

I’m not worried about putting my kids down for a nap. These days nap time is reserved for me and my husband.

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Breakfast at this year’s beach vacation.

In what ways do you find vacationing with adult children different from when they were young?

Our first day of summer vacation made me want to stay home

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The beach in Summerland near Santa Barbara.

The day we were leaving to visit our dear friends in Carpinteria, I got a text from one of them: “I am going in for emergency surgery to have a stent put in. Sorry to ruin the weekend.”

I’m like, “WHAT?” We were packing the car ready to embark on a week’s vacation with family and friends in the Santa Barbara area. I called my girlfriend immediately after I tried to make sense of her text. She answered in a weak, raspy voice and explained that in the morning she had been at the gym (she’s a health nut, works out all the time, rides her bike 60 miles and only eats healthy) and she passed out. They called an ambulance and rushed her to the hospital. She was headed into surgery when I called her on her cell. It turned out that she had a stroke and a blood clot landed in her carotid artery.

Talk about a jolt! I was terrified for her. How can one lead such a healthy life—and then something like that happens to you? The good news is she’s been released from ICU and the hospital altogether. A week later you’d never know that she underwent such a harrowing ordeal. She’s so fortunate she wasn’t on a bike ride when it happened, or working in her house alone. The stroke happened when she was surrounded by people and she got treatment immediately.

Later the same day, we got another phone call about a family member’s major car accident. After, that another health scare about another family member. Then to top it off, my cat got sick and she had to go to the vet. What else could wrong on the day you’re leaving on vacation?

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Father and daughter on a beach walk.

I turned to my husband and asked if we could postpone our vacation. I had no desire to leave the safety of my home. What’s the point of vacation anyway if all you’re doing is worrying about your loved ones?

We stayed home that night and I calmed down. I reflected on how fragile life is and how you never know what’s in store for you. I’m so thankful everyone survived that awful day and that they are all safe and sound. Then when we finally went on vacation, I treasured every moment I shared with my friends and family.

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Waffles at the beach

What are some of the most unplanned and crazy moments of your vacations?

The privilege of hanging out with our grown kids

Last summer, I spent a few days with my daughter in gorgeous Salt Lake City. Fast forward a year and we have a few days with both kids at the beach. I’ll write about the experience in a few days of how it’s different from when they were youngsters at the beach. Here’s what I wrote last year:

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On top of the world at Deer Valley, Utah.

 

I spent five, count them, five glorious days with my 21-year-old daughter in Salt Lake City, where she’s a student. I shared a bit of her life, her territory. We had a few plans like driving up to the resort town of Park City to be tourists. But mostly, my objective was to be with her.

During the past three years when I’ve visited my daughter, there’s been zero one-on-one time for mother and daughter. We visit, my husband and I, when there’s a college swim meet. We take her out for dinner Friday night, which is nice. She meets us at our favorite hotel usually with a teammate or two in tow.

I don’t mind this at all, and we love any moment we get to spend with her. But, it’s quick, clean and disinfected time together. The next morning my husband and I go for a big walk around town. We make our way to the pool 30 minutes before the meet begins and catch up with other swim parents. Then we watch the meet, which is always exciting. Afterward, we wait for warm-down, team meetings and showers.

Sundays we get all day with her unless we have an early morning flight. We’ve been taking the 9 p.m. flight home lately, so we get extra time together.

This trip was entirely different. I traveled on my own. I had the option of my favorite hotel, my daughter’s living room hide-a-bed or sleeping in her room on a plush, thick mattress, kept for relatives and recruits. I opted to be in her room. I didn’t want to inconvenience her roommates with “Mom” taking over their living room.

 

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Waffles the pug puppy.

I wrote while she swam and went to school. I took the pup “Waffles” on walks, the first one each day to get coffee. Seriously, I don’t know how four girls survive without any coffee or coffee maker in the house? The rest of the day and evening was whatever we decided to do. We walked, played tourists in Park City, rode the ski lifts in Deer Valley, walked some more, shopped at Target for supplies, ate sushi and lobster rolls. We also spent a lot of time in her room watching Gilmore Girls, reading, and just being together.

I feel so honored that my daughter wanted to spend these days with me. She didn’t feel like I was intruding or that she had to cater to me. We like each other’s company. I’m very proud of how “together” her life is. She’s on top of her homework, swim practice, and does extra cardio and fitness, plus takes care of all the little stuff like grocery shopping, cooking and having a social life.

I must have done something right. Or, in spite of me, she’s figured out this thing called life.

About those lobster rolls! We went to Freshies Lobster Co. in Park City. I discovered this amazing place from a blog called femalefoodie. Seriously, it was the best meal I’ve had in three years of visits to the state of Utah.

 

What is your favorite thing to do with your grown kids?

Run, don’t walk, to “Eighth Grade”

download“Eighth grade,” the movie, by YouTube star Bo Burnham was touching, emotional, realistic and absolutely worth it. My daughter and I went to the theater yesterday and together we laughed, giggled, wiped a few tears and felt awkwardly uncomfortable. The movie is so realistic and the acting by Elsie Fisher as Kayla was perfect. Complete with pimples, baby fat and an unbearable shyness, you felt her pain during her last few weeks at school as she tried to come out of her shell and fit in.

Here’s part of a review in USA Today by Taylor Seely:

Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’ isn’t trying to teach you anything, and that’s the beauty of it

The modern coming-of-age movie “Eighth Grade” has been praised by just about every news outlet or magazine.

Written and directed by YouTuber-turned-stand-up-comedian Bo Burnham, the film’s been lauded for its realistic, no-holds-barred look into the teen experience.

It portrays timeless themes like body-image, romance and fitting in. But it also elegantly hones in on the dynamic, and perhaps inseparability, between digital culture and Generation Z. 

The funny thing is that the film is neither for nor against social media. There’s no takeaway lesson that Burnham’s forcing down your throat. He’s just trying to capture real life. 

Essentially, the movie has no agenda, Burnham told All The Moms.

And that’s the beauty of it.

So what’s ‘Eighth Grade’ about?

Note: Spoilers ahead!

The movie opens with teenager Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, speaking into a camera for her YouTube channel. A little nervous, a little pimply, and a whole lot relatable, she’s talking about how she doesn’t have many likes on her videos yet and how people tend to see her as quiet and shy, even though she’s really outgoing but just doesn’t talk much at school.

During the film, we stay with Kayla for her last few weeks of middle school.

download-1In the Arizona Daily Sun, Dan Stoffel wrote a review: Eighth Grade, a remarkably poignant movie.”

Eighth-grader Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is shy and quiet around other people, but in her YouTube videos, she gives great advice about how to put yourself out there with confidence. It’s just too bad she can’t practice what she preaches and her attempts to fit in with the cool kids—or with any kids for that matter—crash and burn.

Writer-director Bo Burnham, at the helm of his first feature, takes us into Kayla’s world as she tries to get through the end of the school year with high school on the horizon. Eighth Grade is funny, sad and at times uncomfortable, exactly like poor Kayla, who really wants to come out of her shell but just can’t seem to get things right. Her single dad (Josh Hamilton) tries to help but, like many 13-year-old girls, Kayla doesn’t really want to know what he thinks.

With a simple narrative and no splashy film-making tricks, Burnham has crafted a remarkably poignant movie by relying on the authenticity of Fisher, Hamilton and the rest of the cast of relatively unknowns. The on-screen chemistry between them seems so real it’s almost as if Burnham were filming a reality show but with better (and less obvious) scripting. I thankfully don’t have a great idea of how 13-year-olds talk, but I have to think it’s exactly like these kids. And Eighth Grade stealthily emphasizes how different their world is from when folks like me were growing up. For example, some high schoolers, just four years older than Kayla, talk about how she’s from an entirely different generation than they are. To me, that was a much longer period of time—like the era of black-and-white vs. color television, not the age at which I got Snapchat.

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“Eighth Grade” had my daughter reminiscing about that awkward age before high school when you’re trying to figure out who you are. She remembered going to a couple birthday parties where everyone was on their phones and nobody was talking to each other. The movie did an amazing job showing how social media plays such a big part of our kids’ lives today. Literally, every scene had kids on their phones or computers, sharing and portraying themselves as they wanted to be seen. The movie doesn’t preach about technology but rather shows it realistically. It reminded me of a reality show but with a captivating character, you’re really rooting for. It was a great movie to share with my daughter.

If you’ve seen “Eighth Grade” what are your thoughts about it? 

What lessons do sports parents learn?

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The fight song at the end of one of my daughter’s college dual meets. Go UTES!

“Lessons learned from 27 years of youth sports parenting” by Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone hit a spot in my soul. He shared many of the highlights of his years of sports parenting with his children. Like he said in his column, they had no idea how youth sports would take over their families lives when they first began the ride. We too tried a variety of sports and then settled on swimming for both our children. Before we knew it, we were all hooked, and swimming filled up our lives.

A few days before the first swim meet ever, we received a call from the president of our team’s board. He said we needed to sign up to help during the meet. They needed timers or help in the snack bar. What? We were shocked. Then, he said that afterward, the entire team stayed to tear down the meet.

I said, “We have family visiting from Seattle.”

He said, “They’re welcome to help, too.”

The phone calls persisted and finally, my husband said, “I’m sorry but we have a life!”

Roll forward a few years and I was serving on the board, writing press releases, creating fliers to promote the team and writing the team newsletter. My husband became meet manager and had to call parents to help at meets, before he took on the role of president of the board. Add our volunteering to the fact that we were taking our kids to the pool six days a week, plus meets, 50 weeks a year–and yes sports parenting took over our lives for a few years.

Here’s part of the great column by Larry Stone that got me a little teary eyed. Especially since my last official year as a swim mom ended this year:

Take it from Larry Stone, who has learned a few lessons over 27 years of youth sports parenting: There are a few tricky or annoying aspects of your offspring’s sports participation, but mostly, you’re going to want to savor it before it goes by in an instant.

It was way back in 1991 when my oldest daughter, Jessica, signed up for a 6-and-under Bobby Sox softball team in Oakland, Calif., where we were living at the time.

It was a delightful season of fun, growth and bonding, though it soon became apparent that Jess was not destined to be a slugger like Dave Henderson of her beloved A’s. To be fair, she did hit a grand slam (of the Little League variety) in her final at-bat, as Jessica, now 32 and married, reminded me on Tuesday.

I didn’t realize at the time that our family was stepping timidly into a world that would at times dominate our lives, and certainly became a focal point of family logistics for more than a quarter century.

Naturally, I’ve been reflecting about the good times and the bad as a youth-sports parent (and fortunately, we had far more of the former). I thought I’d present some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years – some of them the hard way.

• A few of the coaches you’ll encounter will be ego-driven tyrants who think they’re the next Belichick or Auriemma as they micro-manage pre-teens. Far more will be kind, supportive and motivated by the simple desire to make your child a better player without bruising his or her psyche in the process.

• Throw the words “select,” “premier” or “elite” in front of a sports program, and there’s no end to the amount of effort (and money) we parents will put forth to get our kid into it.

• There’s a dire need to make youth athletics less about select, premier and elite, and more about fun, participation and recreation.

• If your overriding goal for youth sports is a Division I scholarship, you need to rethink your priorities. First of all, it’s probably not going to happen – that’s just the stark reality. Second of all, you’re likely to spend so much money in that pursuit that it negates the value of what in most cases would be a partial scholarship anyway. And third of all, if your kid has the talent, it will emerge clearly and emphatically on its own. In other words, pay for the camps, clinics, showcases and recruiting videos if you’d like, but be aware that the payoff is not likely to be what you think.

• Burnout is the scourge of youth sports, and specialization is the single biggest source of burnout. Particularly at the younger levels, diversify, don’t specialize!

• Overwrought and demanding parents are now, were then, and will continue to be the bane of youth sports, perpetually pushing the line between concerned involvement and crazed entitlement.

• Some of the best friends and people I’ve ever met are youth-sports parents who set the finest examples of how to positively support, encourage and nurture your child’s athletic career. And some of the best parenting advice, perspective and support I ever got came from people I sat with in the bleachers — the ones with older kids who had been here and done this, and the ones struggling through the same developmental hiccups that were keeping me up at night.

There’s more to the article and I suggest you read every bit of it. I agree with Stone that some of my best friends I met on our team and from other teams throughout Southern California. Our friendships have lasted through the years. I got great advice from parents of older kids, and commiserated with the ones with kids the same ages as mine. Of course, there were those crazy parents who caused so much stress—but they were few and far between. And we had our own crazy moments ourselves but learned from our mistakes.

I learned more about parenting on deck that went far beyond the pool—like which teachers were the best, about SAT testing, college recruiting and more. In return, I’ve talked with parents with younger kids and hope I can be as helpful as those who helped me.

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The team cheer during the age group years.

If your sports parenting days are over, what do you miss about it? What are your favorite things about being involved in youth sports?

Are you a “wimpy” parent?

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I was fascinated with the sound of “wimpy parenting.” I wondered, did I fit the bill? I looked through the list of bullet points and no, for once I didn’t do all of these things. Therefore I’m not a wimp! That’s the good news.

The bad news is I did plenty of them. I had no issue with saying “No!” and set plenty of limits for my kids, but I never liked to see them fail. I often protected them from their choices and tried to fix their problems.

In the article “Dr. Randy Cale’s Terrific Parenting: Wimpy parenting makes for wimpy kids” from The Saratogian Lifestyle, here are his traits that make a parent a wimp:

Many parents today seem to have graduate degrees in wimpy parenting. What are the characteristics of the wimpy parent?

• Can’t seem to set limits for children

• Protect them from the consequences of poor choices

• Respond to almost every request or demand from child

• Try to fix every problem their child encounters

• Constant work harder at their child’s life…than the child does

• Cringe at the thought of their son or daughter being upset at them

• Incessantly negotiate to keep child happy

• Becomes personal chauffeur on demand

• Let’s child decide what good for them (i.e., food, video games, phone time, apps, etc.)

• Changes plans in an instant when child requests something

•  Can hardly stand the thought of just saying ‘no’ to their child

How many on the list have you done? I did four of them a lot, so a little less than half. I was so good at saying no to my kids that when we’d go to Disneyland and we were corraled into a gift shop after “It’s a Small World,” my kids wouldn’t ask for a toy! I had them trained to not ask by saying “no” so often. What dreary little lives they led, right? Hardly, but I didn’t want to be the dad who bought his daughter an ice cream cone while we were waiting for our table at a restaurant with friends. I also didn’t want to be the mom who caves and buys their kids something to make them stop a temper tantrum in a store. No, I was the one who let them have a hissy fit and tried to ignore it.

Here’s what the consequences are to being a wimpy parent according to Cale:

SO, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? I GO EASY ON MY KIDS

It’s not a big deal. If you have space for your children in your home when they are 35, and have a trust fund set up for them to live on. In other words, they should be just fine, if you are prepared to care for them forever. They will not be happy or satisfied, but they should be okay.

WHY SO BLEAK A FUTURE FOR THESE CHILDREN OF WIMPY PARENTS?

Everything about wimpy parentings puts children on the wrong path to excel or find happiness in life. It creates a set of expectations that is not in line with reality. The wimpy parent is teaching their child that they can get everything that they want, with virtually no effort. In what world is this true?

These children grow up expecting everything while giving very little. This ‘entitled’ attitude not only fails in relationships, it fails in the work place. What happens is that these young adults end up ‘entitled’ to a room in the basement, and ‘entitled’ to dad’s paycheck.

They also grow up expecting few limits on their behaviors or actions. Having felt few consequences for their choices, they believe they can get by with just about anything. In fact, often they do not believe that consequences apply to them!

Who is Cale? According to The Saratogian Lifestyle: Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park-based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. His website, http://www.TerrificParenting.com, offers free parenting guidance and an email newsletter. Readers can learn more by reviewing past articles found on the websites of The Saratogian, The Record and The Community News. Submit questions to DrRandyCale@gmail.com.

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One of my favorite pics taken in Laguna. Look at the love–pinches and squeezes, too.

What are your thoughts about wimpy parents? Are you one and how have you changed?