Memories of a Very Important Snow Day

January 10, 1980

He arrived to the birthday party that afternoon in a huge truck that was the color of light brown sugar.  A formidable opponent it was, for the 9 inches of snow that had blanketed Vancouver that day, as it was very tall, sitting on huge tires and had a sturdy black roll bar on the back.  Hopping out of his truck he looked just like an old west cowboy coming off of his horse.  I noticed the way my mom looked at him like he was something special and I wondered what it was about this rugged stranger that appealed to her.  He greeted her with a smile and discrete kiss.  I couldn’t help but stare.  Mom invited him into the house and took his winter coat and cowboy hat.

I stood half-heartedly hiding in the hallway of our little ranch rental home as my mom hung his coat.  “Hi,” I said to the man who stood next to my mom.  My natural curiosity never allowed shyness to win out and this was no exception.  “What’s your name?”

His voice was gentle and kind, and he seemed to be a little nervous as he answered me, “I’m Vance.”

I drew in an excited breath upon learning his name.  “My name is Vicki and it starts with a “V” too!”  I exclaimed!

“That’s what I hear,” he replied with a friendly smile “Nice to meet you, Vicki.”

As I played with my cousins at the birthday party, I kept an inquisitive eye on the man whose name started with a “V” and who so clearly had the interest of my mom.  He had a thick dark head of hair and he wore a long but groomed moustache and beard, both noticeably streaked throughout with gray.  His eyes were dark and warm and behind all the facial hair he had an easy going smile.  He wore an earthen brown suede vest that had a sheep sheer lining, a plaid western cut shirt with pearly buttons, jeans, and well-worn cowboy boots.  His clothes, his truck, his mild and humble manner, everything about him were mysterious to me, and all throughout the party I kept careful track of the attention he gave my mom.

To Be Continued…

Mom With Her Cowboy, Vance.

Wolves and Sharks

Ever heard the expression, “I told you so?”   Daddy’s feeling a little smug around our house this summer.  Let’s take a trip down our family’s memory lane to a few summers ago and discover why…

“Can you tell me again, Mom?  What exactly again are we doing at this camp?”  Our daughter’s question was filled with tense apprehension.  We were just 2 miles from the camp turn off and I could tell she was having second thoughts.  I reached for the cream colored brochure with a cheerful picture of a sun emblazoned on the front.  Turning to the page of camp descriptions, I read allowed all of the details about what she would experience during her week at camp.  Our younger daughter seemed satisfied with the description and relaxed in her seat.

“Do you need for me to read yours too?”  I asked our older daughter.

“Please!” she requested with eager excitement.  She had wanted to go to camp at Camp Shalom since she first heard about it, along with all the adventures her friends experienced there, when she was in the 4th grade.  Now here we were, only a mile or so from the winding dirt road leading to the camp grounds and she was bubbling with excitement!

“Villager Camp,” I began, “For campers entering grades 7 to 9.”

As if by canine instinct, my husband’s ears were suddenly trained on every word I spoke.  He couldn’t keep from interrupting me.  Before I could finish the description, he was barking questions.

“Have you talked to her yet?” he asked.

“Talked to her about what?” I answered.

“Well, there are going to be boys at this camp!  Boys who are in High School! Have you talked to her about this?  Does she know what…” his voice trailed off in frustration.   “Have you talked to her about this?”  As he spoke in his panicked ‘Dad’ voice I could see he was even having a difficult time driving.  The gentle curves of the country road were met with stiff handling behind the wheel of our mini van and I could tell I needed to say something soothing before all of us landed in a ditch!

“Honey,” I said to my daughter in a voice that attempted to both sooth my husband and not freak out my daughter, “You’re heading into Junior High now and at this camp the Junior High kids are in the same group as the first year High School kids.  Some of those kids are going to have more independence and experience than you.”  Clearly I wasn’t getting to the point quickly enough for my husband’s taste.  We turned onto the narrow, forest lined, dirt road leading to the camp and looking at me and my husband implored me, “Get to the point, Mommy.”

I gently began again, “Sometimes when kids your age get alone without the supervision of their parents they try to take advantage of the situation.”

For Daddy, this clearly was not direct enough.  We were taking the hills and curves of the little gravel road with a quickened pace.  “Easy there Daddy, we’re not driving the ‘General Lee’.”  I whispered just loud enough for him to hear me.  He was not amused.  The indent between his eyebrows grew deeper.

In the rear view mirror he looked back to our oldest daughter and began speaking in an urgent ‘Dad’ voice, “What Mommy is not saying is that there are going to be boys at this camp.  High School boys, who have one thing on their mind!” and then he turned to look back at her as she shrunk back in her seat and in a full ‘Dad’ voice, he blurted out, “They are wolves and sharks, and you are what’s on the menu!”

We continued the rest of the drive down the gravel road with those pulverizing words grounding into our ears.

The dust began to settle both inside and outside our mini van as we slowed to a stop in our parking spot.  I glanced back at our daughters, who sat with uncomfortable looking faces, and I couldn’t help but think how mortifying that experience must have been.  Sensing I need to do some damage control before we got out of the car, I turned toward my blossoming daughters and their wilting faces.  In that moment I wanted them to know I believed in their abilities to make good choices, and that I wanted them to have fun.  I wanted them to leave me feeling confident and not crushed.

I stroked my husband’s hand, and looked at the faces of our stunned girls, “You know, Daddy is just feeling protective of you.  I hope you aren’t upset that he made a big deal of there being boys at camp.  I hope you can understand why he’d be kind of over the top about this kind of thing. This is all new to him too.”

Without a moment of hesitation our oldest looked at her Dad with her innocent blue eyes and said, “ It’s OK, Daddy.  At least I know you care enough about me to say something about it.”  With a disarming smile she said, “I know you love me.”

“They are wolves and sharks, and you are what’s on the menu,” 12 words that have lived on notoriously in our family lore.   Thankfully they live on in giggles and teasing as well.  I am grateful our girls know that their Daddy is looking out for them.   And believe me, nothing gets by Daddy…  Let’s fast-forward a few summers to 2010.

This summer we attended our nephew’s wedding in Maryland.  It was a beautiful wedding, featuring the cutest Ring Bearer I have ever seen!

Here is a picture of my little man getting prepared for his close-up!

But I digress…

Through out the wedding and reception festivities my husband kept a keen eye trained on his beautiful teenage daughters.  What protective Daddy would not?  It was at the wedding rehearsal that Daddy’s keen eye trained in on one young man.  Here he is pictured with my nephew (the handsome one on the right) and 2 other groomsmen.

**Que Villan Music**  Dun! Dun! DUUUNN!

Your looking at the guy on the left:

Just in case you were looking at the other left, you were supposed to look at this guy:

He was a groomsman and long time school friend of my nephew, and I can honestly say I did not see him do anything inappropriate.  He was perfectly gentlemanly and nice.  And pretty cute in his tuxedo, don’t you think?  Ok- enough commenting from the old lady here… But, he was the nemesis of my husband for the entire weekend.  Why?  Well, because he was male, and he was being nice to Daddy’s daughter.

Of course the wedding was beautiful and we are all thrilled with our nephew Daniel’s choice.  His new wife is awesome!  Welcome to the family Jillan!  Here is a picture of the big moment!  I love this picture of them!  She is radiating JOY!

The wedding reception was beautiful and was complete with a sit down meal and dancing.  I had a lot of fun clinking my glass to prompt watching kisses of the Bride and Groom and spent most of the other time wrangling a sugar fueled Ring Bearer out on the dance floor.  When the slow dance songs came on I was just thankful my son decided it was time for a smoothie break at the table!  It was all I could manage just keeping up with him!

However, my husband and his protective eye never rested.  Apparently the eyes of a man with teenaged daughters never do!  I was just settling in to my seat at our table when he swooped in to sit beside me.  I wondered if he was going to ask me for a dance.  No such luck!

“Do you see that?!” he said.  I could tell he was having a hard time containing the volume of his voice.

“See what?” I asked.  I honestly had no idea what he was referring to.

“That!”  He said, pointing to our oldest daughter out on the dance floor.

There she was.  Our girl was out on the dance floor, looking beautiful in her blue and green floral dress, the color a near perfect match to her eyes.  Her cheeks were a rosy flush, probably from the heat of the room, but maybe it was also because she was enjoying her first slow dance with one very cute groomsman.

I sighed.  It was so sweet, as her mom, to get to witness such an event.  She is growing up, and making her own way, and they just looked so adorable out there on that dance floor.  I knew nothing about this young man who was enjoying her delicate arms circling his neck, other than that he was a good enough friend of my nephew to be invited to stand up with him on his wedding day, but I was smitten by how cute my daughter was with him out on the dance floor.  Besides, the pair lived 1,000 miles apart and she was well protected by her loyal Daddy.  With him there ready to pounce, I had nothing to worry about.

My husband did not share my sentimental view of the moment.  “What do we do?” he whispered.  He was beside himself!

“Nothing.” I whispered back.  My annoyed husband sat close to me at the table, sitting with crossed arms and looking forlorn and with out a doubt wishing desperately he could change the unfolding situation.  The dance ended and our girl floated back to her seat.  These are the moments that make for good old-fashioned crushes and it was pretty obvious our girl had one.  My girl sat down next to me and began perusing the wedding program.  She tried to look casual, but I knew she was most likely examining with a careful eye.  Part way down the page her finger stopped and she could hardly contain her giggles.  She leaned over to show me what she found.

“Don’t tell Daddy he’s right!” she said through her giggles and pointed to what the program read.  I followed her finger to the list of groomsmen and there it was in black and white.  It said his name was Grason.  Grason Wolfe.

Daddy will not soon let her forget that he is always right.

A New Chapter

About a year ago I wrote this: https://withlovemom.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/my-son-nemo-and-growing-up/ .  Boy I’m feeling those words today!

This is what I did this morning:

I took these pictures

Of my baby boy

Heading down the path

Toward a new adventure.

Did I really write all of that last year?  I hope Marlin swam away and cried…

Because, that’s exactly what I am going to go do.

The Goalie

Sunday was my son’s first soccer game, not just first of the season, but first game ever.  He’s five so I anticipated it would be pretty cute to see him out on the field in his “you’ll grow in to it” jersey and matching socks so long that they were only inches from the hem of his shorts.  It was an exciting day and we were all petty pumped to see the game.  When we arrived to the field we found his coach and left him with his teammates.  The team warmed, up while the rest of my family and I took our places on the sidelines.   It wasn’t long when we noticed that the coach was preparing our son for the position of Goalie, which he played for the first part of the game.

The players took their positions on the soccer field and the game began.  That’s when for me the unexpected anxiety began!  I watched as player after player came toward him dribbling the soccer ball between their feet.  What I wish I could say is that as each different player approached the goal area I watched as my son swiftly and deftly defended his turf, but this was not the case.   The opposing team quickly scored a few goals.   As the wild little band of soccer players traversed the field, my son remained in his designated spot and appeared to have no interest in the action happening just feet from him.  He mostly ignored it and instead preferred to scratch his leg… wave at his dad, sisters, and me… look at the goal net…   Soccer game?  What soccer game?

I was beside myself!  Keeping things in perspective was getting harder and harder.  I restrained myself from shouting, “Get the ball!!!”  I didn’t want to make a scene and be one of ‘those’ parents who constantly coaches from the sidelines.  I didn’t want him to be embarrassed and I didn’t want to embarrass my husband and daughters.  I didn’t want him to miss the ball because he wasn’t paying attention.  I didn’t want to see him fail…  Ouch!  Did I really say that?  Did I just say that about a 5 year olds soccer game?  Boy have I got a lot to learn!

I couldn’t believe how watching the ball coming toward him gave me such a feeling of panic and as I watched the game, it began to dawn on me how much this little ball game was like parenting.  I found myself remembering the times that my mother would try to reason with me about all the typical teenage subjects.  Dating of course was a favorite concern of hers.  I remember the dread every time I had to ride alone in the car with my mom, for fear she would use the car for what I viewed as a mobile torture chamber!  If I think back to those days I can easily remember the pitch of her voice and the way her lips would thin as she spoke with determination and authority with just the slightest hint of desperation.  During the soccer game I began to realize how I was that parent now.

Watching my kids struggle is something I have done a few times over the last 14 years.  I have seen my daughters each take blows from life that would take the breath of even the greatest athlete.  I have seen them struggle with issues far more adult than their own years.  I have felt protective, but mostly for them the things they face are not things they have brought upon themselves.  This little game was just a tiny taste of what I’m sure my mother was swallowing whole on those car rides.  She could see her player in the game of life.  She had been to many a ‘soccer’ game and knew a bit about how it was played.  Seeing me in charge of guarding the goal, it was hard for her to stay on the sidelines and let me experience defeat.  It wasn’t that she didn’t have confidence in me, it was that she knew that at some point everybody misses, everybody looses focus, everybody… looses.   She knew these things because she had lost a few times too.  And I have.  And he will.   Somehow we all make it!

Preparing My Goalie

Preparing My Goalie

The Moment Anxiety Set In...

The Moment Anxiety Set In...

Maybe we should explore the Martial Arts?

Maybe we should explore the Martial Arts?

Defending the Goal!

Defending the Goal!

My Son, Nemo, and Growing Up

Today I watched Finding Nemo with my 5 year old son. Well, to be more accurate, I was trying to get some “stuff” done and the movie was a vain attempt to keep him occupied! As the movie played along, I found myself getting drawn in to the little fish story once again, only this time I couldn’t help but think about how we are in the last of my little boy’s preschool years. I know… how sentimental of me! I can’t even say that ordinarily I wouldn’t be that way, but truth be told I am! But I have to say, for excuses sake ;), that I find myself surrounded by lots of other friend mommies who are sending their babes off into the big, big world for the first time, and I find myself holding on to him just a little more closely.

It’s funny this time around with my son.  Our oldest daughter is now 14, our second oldest daughter is 12 and both are completely submerged in the world of teenagers. Make-up, Cell Phone, Sports, Recreational Shopping, Dances (and the other dreaded ‘D’ word isn’t too far off)…. With the girls we are there. Sending them to Kindergarten seems like forever ago and sending them to College still seems very far off. (Surely I can live in denial for a couple more years right?) When I sent my oldest to Kindergarten I was a mess and when her sister went a year later, I was pathetic! At the time that my second daughter boarded her first big yellow school bus I was pretty certain that my “baby days” were over.  My little boy has been my bonus, the child I desperately wanted but believed I would never have, and the notion that he has been something of a second chance is not lost on me.

So today, as I joined him on the couch to enjoy the way that his little body fits just right next to mine, I swallowed hard at the lump in my throat as I listened to the little fish story. There were 2 parts of the story that really resonated with me today. The first was when Crush (the turtle) and Marlin (Nemo’s dad) are swimming the EAC (East Australian Current) and the dialogue goes like this…

Crush: Curl away, my son. Awe, it’s awesome, Jellyman.

The little dudes are just eggs. We leave ‘em on a beach

to hatch… and then coo-coo-cachoo… they find their way

back to the big ol’ blue!

Marlin: All by themselves?

Crush: (Sh)yeah.

Marlin: Bbbbbutbutbut, dude, how do you know when they’re ready?

Crush: Well, you never really know. But when they know, you’ll know, you know?

The second part takes place at the end of the movie when Mr. Ray (the Stingray) comes to pick Nemo up for the first day of school…

Mr. Ray: Hold on! Here we go! Next stop—Knowledge!

Marlin: Bye, Son! Have fun!

Nemo: Bye, Dad!

Mr. Ray swims away with Nemo on board.

Nemo: Oh! Mr. Ray, wait! I forgot something.

Nemo swims back to his Dad, panting, and quickly snuggles hard into his side for a hug.

Nemo: Love you, Dad.

Marlin: I love you, too, Son.

Marlin hugs Nemo even closer.

Nemo: Dad? You can let go now.

Marlin: (letting go quickly) Sorry…

Marlin: Now, go have an adventure!

I know my time is coming. I know soon enough we won’t be spending our days together watching movies in the afternoon, or playing on the swing set, or pretending to be spies. I will walk him to his classroom as he excitedly runs ahead of me toward his grown up little self. And when we get there I hope I can be like Marlin and with love and confidence say, “Now, go have an adventure!”

First Day of Pre School!

First Day of Pre School!