My grad makes me cherish the life we live
I can remember when our two boys were toddlers and I was a frazzled, harried stay-at-home mother dreaming about them going off to college.
As a distressed and stressed new mother, I would scowl at the well-rested, well-groomed parent veterans at the local H-E-B, who gave polite reminders, “Cherish them because soon they’ll be out of the house living their own lives.”
Now, the time has arrived for one of the two boys, who have eaten an embarrassingly, unhealthy amount of cereal in my home for the past 17 years, to make his dreams come true. He will graduate from Fredericksburg High School, along with 200 others, on June 1.
Perhaps I should not have judged those veterans so harshly. Perhaps the clear-eyed, well-coifed know-it-alls at the grocery store, who I rolled my eyes at when I had to abandon a full grocery cart in the middle of the aisle in order to teach my oldest a lesson about temper tantrums, had a point.
I should have cherished the lessons I taught my oldest and more importantly the ones he taught me.
This young man, who at the urging of his father and younger brother thought it would be a great Mother’s Day present to show me how he, at five years old, could kick himself with his own foot but only kneed himself in the face, is going off to live overseas in Oldenburg (Holstein), Germany for a full year.
I have heard that the German economy is at a six-year high and grows stronger daily. I don’t think even the largest economy in Europe can help our oldest son fulfill his childhood dream of becoming the first Tyrannosaurus Rex train conductor.
Paleontology is one of the many sciences that he dabbled in as a toddler. His interest in science began early and was expanded in the engineering and rocket program at FHS. He blossomed as student, designing, building and launching a rocket this semester.
The launch this April in Willow City was met with the same amount enthusiasm and failure as the experiment he conducted as a toddler (while I was napping). In this, his first of many experiments, he found out that eating 12 Popsicles in a row induces vomiting.
In grade school, he enlisted the help of his younger brother to test the laws of aerodynamics. After coaxing the youngest onto the highest point of the couch, the oldest yelled, “Now fly!” and without hesitation and with confidence the youngest jumped.
As he leaped, I screamed, dove and reached for the child but landed with only a Batman cape in my hand, while the test subject came down with a thud. Both boys learned a valuable lesson from that experiment but not the same one.
Still smarting from the Batman incident, the youngest showed the oldest how to make plush toys into weapons by switching the ceiling fan to high and tossing them into the blades. He cheered on the oldest who with a creative flair decided to throw marbles instead. They both concluded, “Marbles are bad.”
Our eldest child even dabbled in atmospheric physics. On car trips to El Paso, I knew when we hit the desert, not because of the change in landscape but when my oldest said, “Mama, my eyeballs are hot.”
Whenever his eyeballs were hot, he suggested we cool them with a slushie.
In addition to being a human barometer on the trip, my oldest hammered out some heavy philosophical and social theories in the car.
“Mama, if you were in jail and Daddy was at work, I’d be an orphan,” he said.
His second interest is art.
In elementary school, after visiting an outdoor art show, he worked steady and hard for an entire 20 minutes churning out watercolors on the back of recycled papers.
As he waited for his paintings to dry, this salesman convinced his younger brother to drag a plastic easel from the backyard into the front. After a lot of muscle flexing, the youngest sweated as the oldest egged him on with, “You’re so strong” and he did it happily. As the whole family hung his art to string with clothespins, he mentioned that he was going to sell each piece for 50 cents.
The boy’s blue fresh water eyes turned to ice, when I suggested that five or even 25 cents might be a more reasonable price range.
His father said, “You work hard on your art and you should sell it for whatever you think it’s worth.”
All three shamed me inside the house, where I still had my doubts about the saleability of this kid’s rainbow-colored stripes made on pages of used paper.
All told, he cleared $3.50 for seven paintings. As we were putting the oldest to bed, he mentioned that he wanted to have another art sale and this time he was going to charge $2 per picture.
Before I could disagree, his father gave me the same icy glare his son had given me earlier.
Perhaps I should not have judged so harshly. Perhaps I, too, have graduated.
When he’s gone, I will be pushing my grocery cart at a leisurely pace and in my clear-eyed, well-coifed know-it-all way, I will advise a new mother struggling with her screaming toddler to disconnect all her ceiling fans.