same song, same theme, three years later

Three years ago, Jodie was placed in charge of the class of 2014 Senior awards and class favorites assembly before their commencement. Because it was almost as big of a deal as the commencement, she put her all into it to make it the most memorable and best ever. Clearly it was training ground for planning future events, her upcoming internship and her major. The theme of the event and music chosen for the video montage to be played was Drake’s Started from the Bottom. Seemed perfect. Everyone liked it; which is no easy feat with a diverse group of 350 people. Check that. Everyone liked it except for the one who had absolute power over all the Senior grad plans for the Class of 2014, the Senior Class Advisor. Mr. C. declared the theme Started from the bottom, now we’re here to be the absolute worst theme because the lyrics were, well, they were explicit. Never mind the Top 40 radio edit version was being used because the kids will KNOW the dirty lyrics. No, nope, no! He suggested another song as the theme with music and lyrics so banal that no one can recall what it even was.

And now three years later…

I present to you the 8th grade graduation theme. The clean version of course. As for Jodie, she’s not bitter. She’s too busy being a part of the planning of a state’s Taco Festival.

Meanwhile, I present to you the first day and last day of 8th grade.

Now we’re here!

does character even count anymore

In the current news cycle we have witnessed the character of men in positions of power and respect that almost compels us to shield our kids’ eyes and cover their ears. Someone tell me please, when did it ever become okay for a potential Member of Congress to grab someone by the throat and body slam them to the ground because they are tired of being asked questions? Is this really acceptable behavior, as some Greg Gianforte supporters stated today while exiting the polls in Montana? They want a Congressman who will react with violence? Members of Congress too? Paul Ryan and others stated today to the public that the gentleman did a bad thing and should apologize but they still support his run for office.

Nearly just as concerning is Gianforte’s aide Shane Scanlon’s statement of what happened; which certainly does not sync with the actual audio tape or the account of the Fox News reporter who was in the room when it happened. In other words, it was FALSE. This is okay?

Today we watched the man who is the current President behave so boorishly at the NATO that he proved to be not only a national embarrassment, but an international one as well. Mr. Trump represented our nation today as The Ugly American in Chief. Can someone please stop his European adventure now? Ivanka? Please? Liz Gumbinner is right – kids, don’t grow up to be like this.

This last week, I witnessed first hand questionable character in some that, well, disgusted me. Daniel’s graduation day was fast approaching and we found ourselves short just one ticket for Daniel’s sisters and parents. Just one ticket – how hard could it be to find one more ticket? Hard! After asking classmates and teachers with no success, I took to local social media and the results really surprised me: just forge a ticket, it’s no big dealsneak in either by lying or waiting until after ceremony has started. I was also lectured about my family’s size and the over-population of the planet. Daniel, upon hearing some of this offered that this is not who we are. It isn’t. Of course, there was much kindness, encouragement and support from friends, a member of the PTA, a former teacher and Daniel’s principal. We managed to find one ticket more and yes, Daniel’s dad, myself and his four sisters all got to be in that auditorium as he graduated from Middle School.

A very good thing because Daniel, his parents and his four sisters all were very pleasantly surprised as he was called forward for a special award recognizing his character.

Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness. Yes, we all cried a little because this is the young man that is our son and our brother. It really was a Wonder moment right out of the book. Character DOES count!

Watching Daniel and his classmates up on that stage, hearing some of them speak and their teachers speak, I believe that the kids will be better – so much better.

Meanwhile, we must continue to persist and hold on. Hurry up kids!

most honorable

So much heartbreak happened last night and in the light of day today in Manchester, UK and pretty much everywhere around the globe. Personally I recalled concerts past of bubblegum pop stars I might never include in my own personal playlist; but I would go to with my own children because there really is nothing better than making memories with your kids and music and dancing and singing together with your child and several thousand of your now close friends. I’m not a super fan of Ariana Grande – sorry, none of her hits are in any of my playlists – but I can imagine the magic and joy shared last night in Manchester followed by the unimaginable that I try so hard to push away while holding on to my own as tight as I can.

I’m not alone in this as we all try to process again terror; terror that targeted mostly children and young teens with their families as I have read so many heartfelt, emotional thoughts on my social media timeline. Jessica Gottleib’s on Facebook this morning struck a chord with me:

And the sharing began of the most honorable – teachers, bosses, mentors, priests, children and more – all which accomplished just what Jessica wanted. It warmed my heart, made me smile and feel gratitude because there are honorable people out there in the world, in my world:

  • a doctor who often breaks that therapeutic bubble that is the doctor-patient relationship taking the time to be on a first name basis with his patients’ families understanding that on some of the worst days of their lives a little bit of warm familiarity can be just as healing as the medications and treatments he prescribes.
  • a dance teacher patiently teaching a small group of children on the autism spectrum hip hop; patiently accepting where each and every one of her students is at on that spectrum because not one of them is the same. Her kindness, sensitivity and PATIENCE made it fun for that small class and for the audience who would watch them.
  • that Target lady, the one with the warmest smile and the kindest eyes framed by snow white hair that practically glows like a halo. Retail work can and is often a thankless job but she is one who does her job with so much kindness and gratitude and care that customers like me will gladly stand in what is often a long line just to bask in her genuine care and service.
  • a friend, recently retired pastor, who radiates so much kind positivity in his music, his thoughts on fractious current events and who on occasion will use his wide influence on social media to try and find just one more graduation ticket so a family can celebrate their son and brother’s day.
  • that one co-worker who is so much more than a skilled, kick-ass, rockstar NICU nurse because they make it look so easy and fun even when it is not. No, my colleagues, I am not going to name them. Just imagine that it is you, because it likely is. I do work with some of the most amazing people.
  • that one son of mine, who has shown us all a resilient strength that has been well-documented in this juggling adventure of mine. Truly the most kind, patient, fair, honest, honorable human being I have ever known is a young man who calls me Mom.

Tonight our hearts still break thinking of so many families in Manchester right now who are living the unimaginable; but at the same time, at least for me, I know that there is still good and it is so good and warm and bright.

graduating

It’s a week full of leveling up here under The Big Top.

Moving from red belt to red-black belt; which was more stressful than anyone can imagine and makes it all the more satisfying to achieve.

And this – dammit, this made Mom cry. The shoe salesman might have been a little concerned; I mean, these are just shoes. He has no clue.

Mom’s just getting warmed up as Daniel level’s up from 8th grade to high school. That’s right, I said high school.