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No complaints

Woo hoo! That’s a good one! Just because I’m not going to use this post to whine doesn’t mean I’ve got no complaints.

I promise you though – I won’t go there today. Today I want to cheer myself up as much as anything.

I do this with full knowledge of the consequences: this will be a boring post. Ask the news director at your local television station. Misery, desperation and destruction sells! You show me a local news program that leads with a story about a local kid’s puppy finding his way home to Kansas, after being dog-napped in Kalamazoo, and I’ll show you a local news director who doesn’t care about being employed.

I won’t be discussing puppies or their heroism, but I will be discussing kids – mine in fact. Both seem to be blossoming this year in school, and not just academically.

Beth took a test last spring to determine which materials the school would order for her this year. She’s in ninth grade, for those of you keeping score. It’s traditionally known as the first year of high school ’round these parts. It’s the freshman year, or the year of feeling REALLY young. You may recall she attends a small private school due the social problems she had in public school, attributed to high functioning Autism (or Aspergers). The classes are small, have mixed grades, and are self paced – thus the need for personalized materials. We learned how she did on the test in August.

Beth essentially tested out of high school before she started. As a result (in part), she got involved in some extra curricular activities to keep school interesting this year. She decided she’d like to work on the yearbook. The teacher who oversees the group said she’d be assigned tasks according to her strengths. If you know Beth you know she wasn’t satisfied with such an open ended statement. So she pressed. “Oh, we’ll probably have you doing a bit of everything.” She was recently asked to attend a sports event to take photographs. She thought it was the coolest thing since the penguin experience at Sea World.

She’s been volunteering at the YMCA one day a week and attending drama club another. (Like we need more drama in our lives.) This spring she’ll be taking the entrance exams necessary to take dual enrollment courses at a local college starting next year.

Discussions at home have been filled with university degree programs and the prerequisites she’ll start taking next year. It seems like just last year she was in middle school and now we’re talking about her starting college.

They grow up fast!

Meanwhile Adam’s been coming home with tests for me to sign, and I can’t recall the last one I saw with a wrong answer. He’s been an information sponge that never seems to fully saturate.

He joined Cub Scouts this year – something I’m not completely happy about. He desperately wanted to join and I wasn’t sure how to explain discrimination based on sexual preference to my precious, sweet little boy. I know it can’t last forever, but the loss of childhood innocence is a door you can’t close – and I don’t want to open it yet – not if I can help it. He’s smart enough to know not everyone is perfect, and the world as a whole is similarly flawed. But living out in it gives us a deeper knowledge I can’t bring myself to share. However, the emphasis on community service complements his kind soul, and he’s having a great time.

Maybe the best thing is they both still want to spend time with their dad. Adam still pines for “a catch,” the American ritual of father and son throwing a baseball across the back yard. When I think about it (and sometimes I think about things far too much), I’m awestruck that such a simple thing as a baseball passed back and forth can seem so important. It’s almost as if it’s a bonding ritual written into our DNA, designed to be hard wired into the areas of the brain where love, nurturing, and long term memories reside.

I remember dismissing such things as a parent in waiting.

Were we all such fools when we were young?

Beth still seeks my opinion on a wide range of issues and accomplishments. Apparently she still thinks I know things. Were we all such fools when we were young ;-) She is a teenager, isn’t she? Doesn’t she know parents stop knowing things when their kids reach thirteen?

If Cheryl didn’t intervene with trivial matters like, “Beth, you need to get some sleep tonight,” or “Beth, the house is on fire, you really should get out,” we’d talk for hours. The only thing larger than my self-doubt is her curiosity and confidence in my words. Recently she wanted to know if she should be afraid about overpopulation and diminishing world resources. That was an especially long conversation, meandering between light topics like the environment, climate change, and population dynamics across the social-economic spectrum.

Long story short: I’m happy to report the kids are more than fine. They’re pretty great.