Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012: Run Forest, Run!

Ben ~ 12 years old

Ben just left for Day Two of his first job.  A month shy of his sixteenth birthday,  Ben has been quite excited about this first time feat.  He landed this job at a newly opened breakfast restaurant after much persistence in hopes of being a gainfully employed bus boy.  Instead he was hired as a host.  I do have to say that when he called in exuberance to tell me he got the job, I as a bit surprised that his initial role would be the host position.  The mother in me had a few pangs of angst thinking it would be a bit better for my free-spirit middle child to learn the ropes cleaning tables rather than throwing him onto the masses on Day One.  But as with many stages in parenthood, this one was out of my hands.  This one was up to Ben.

Yesterday morning began with a scurry of me trying to locate a birth certificate and Social Security card requested by Ben's new employer.  As I unsuccessfully rummaged through every drawer in the house searching for the elusive Social Security card, I could hear Zach (my college son home on spring break) schooling Ben on appropriate attire and tips on success at his new coveted position.  Ben seemed a bit nervous, but gladly accepted the sweater lent from his brother and looked quite nice and professional.  As I dropped him off, I gave Ben my final words of encouragement and advice (look everyone in the your boss how you are doing...) and he seemed ready to tackle this new adventure.

After Ben's departure, Zach went back to bed (I have yet to crack the sleep pattern of a college student) and I pondered whether I would go out on a long bike ride that beautiful March morning or go to the gym.  Although I convinced myself that I had officially "let go" as a parent as it related to this job and Ben, I chose the gym knowing that I would be more accessible just in case Ben needed to get a hold of me.  And once again, this mother's intuition was right on.  As I sweated it out on the stair climber, I was surprised by an incoming call from Ben.  This couldn't be good, I thought, since Ben had opted to leave his phone at home (the chronic and skilled texter knew this device in his pocket would be too much of a temptation and a habit that may not prove well as a paid employee).  Ben proceeded to ask me in a panic how to press his pants.  Huh?  He went on to explain that his new boss told him that pressed pants were a prerequisite to being a host and without this wardrobe detail, he would not be able to work that day.  Ben convinced her that with the close proximity of his home, he could correct the situation and would be back in no less than twenty minutes. That worked for her, so out the door Ben went and ran like lightening to my house.

I would say that the fire drill that followed was completed with fine execution by all parties involved.  Zach was the on-site facilitator, me the drill sergeant via phone, and Ben the willing student learning the fine art of pressing pants.  Although I believe more Downy Wrinkle Release was employed than the good old fashion iron, success was achieved with Ben making it back within his twenty minutes window.  When I didn't heard back from him as I finished my workout, I assumed no news was good news.  But even with this credible assumption, I couldn't resist a quick "drive by" on my way home.  It felt a bit like I was staking out the place as I drove by the restaurant hoping neither Ben or his boss would notice his sweaty mother checking in on the situation.  I was quickly put at ease seeing Ben busy at the front register and then reminded that no one else knew who I was, let alone the car I drove.  All seemed well in the world with no material parental infractions recognized.  Relieved as I drove from the restaurant to my house, I visualized Ben in his unpressed pants running like the wind to my house to make his committed twenty minute timeline.  The famous movie quote "Run Forest, Run!" flooded my mind with this visual along with a similar Ben experience from junior high. 

I am sure that Ben never knew that his inaugural junior high run in dress pants would pay off four years later.  This story from Ben's junior high days always gives me a chuckle as it is truly vintage Ben Lane.  This nonchalant child of mine never ceases to amaze me when I hear stories that weave their way back to me on the funny circumstances he gets himself into and how he responds.  Ben's first instance of pulling a Forest Gump was with the timed mile run that occurs in junior high.  Anyone familiar with this coveted timed event knows that every junior high kid is well aware of who was the fastest kid in the class during that spring in-school race.  Zach and his buddies would refer to the speed of Colin McCann and how he almost broke the school record for years.  The talk of the timed mile is the testosterone charged beginning of teenage (and later middle-aged/teenaged) male banter on the competitive nature of every event they are involved in (NCAA brackets, pick-up basketball, fantasy football, golf, beer drinking...)

When Ben reached the same junior high time frame for this event, I heard nothing from him; nothing before and nothing after.  One day as I was picking the kids up from school, the junior high track coach came up to me and asked if Ben could go out for track.  After I walked away from the conversation, I felt a bit like Ben was being recruited.  Hmmm...  As Ben and his friends piled in my car, I quizzed Ben on why the track coach had pulled me aside.  Ben's buddies immediately piped up to tell me that Ben won the timed mile.  "Wow, that is impressive, Ben.  Why didn't you say anything?"  I asked.  As Ben shrugged his shoulders, his friends went on to tell me how Ben forgot to bring athletic shorts and a t-shirt that day (which is a huge deal to these uniformed Catholic school boys as I recalled from my similar Zach years).  He ran and won the class race in his navy (overly starched and pressed) school pants and collared white polo shirt.  Ben thought nothing of it and saw no need to share such a thing.  It was just an ordinary day for Ben.  And yes, I did sign him up for track that year.

So fast forward to this morning as I am showing Ben how to use an iron and ironing board to press his khaki pants.  It is embarrassing to admit, but these apparatuses are clearly as foreign as a rotary phone to my second child.  He shared bits and pieces of his first work day experience with me.  I do wonder what all really happens in a day in the life of Ben Lane.  I am sure many interesting things occur that I will never hear about.  Thoughts of this make me wish he would write a blog on his ordinary days from his perspective.  I bet it would be a great read :)

Zach and Ben hamming it up as restuarant customers

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 10, 2012: 10 Things I Love about Grant

Grant and I just got back from a weekend in sunny Phoenix.  I would describe it as a "weekend on a whim" and was nothing short of fantastic.  With all of my travels, Southwest Airlines has not only deemed me as an A-lister, but they have also issued me the coveted "Companion Pass".  Basically I name my companion and for a year (up for renewal :)), my named companion accompanies me for free anywhere that Southwest flies.  The only restrictions are that he flies with me and that there is a seat available.  So as you can gather with my opening statement, Grant is my free travel companion.

With Ben touring Europe with his classmates last weekend and Grant and I looking at our activity free weekend in Omaha, we decided to capitalize on our travel opportunity and go on an adventure.  Phoenix was our choice...warm, sunny and plenty of family.  We boarded the plane with no specific plan other than some good company with people we love and came home with a weekend adventure that exceeded expectations.

As I reflect on my weekend with my eleven year old, I am reminded of the "Grantisms" that I love the most.  So often during the course of our daily parenting, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our kids.  It's our role to teach and set an example, so the byproduct many times is spending more time reminding them of their flaws than counting our blessings for their many strengths.  So as I sat next to Grant on our flight home with a smile and a head full of memories of a great weekend, it took no time to write down ten things that I love about Grant Lane (and were so obvious during the three days we spent together).

10 Things I Love about Grant (in no particular order)

  1. Sense of adventure - As we went to retrieve our rental car, Grant begs me, "Please, mini-van!"  I tease him that I am going for a PT Cruiser (which I actually got as a rental in Vegas once...true story).  I quickly am apprised that there was an abundance of convertible Camaros, of which I could upgrade (Manager's Special :)) for a total of $30 for the weekend.  Sold!  Grant missed the conversation as he waited in the seating area.  He immediately wanted to know what car we were assigned and I proceeded to tease him on undesirable options all the way to the garage.  The look on his face when he saw our muscle car was priceless.  Regardless of having his mom in the driver seat and not having a clue where this car was going to take us, Grant was ready and excited for our forthcoming questions asked.  Cruising with our top down in the cool Camaro all weekend was the highlight of our trip.  It didn't matter where we went or how chilly it got, he and I were on an open air, fast car adventure over the Phoenix byways.
  2. Love of family - Grant loves to spend time with family.  Watching him interact and enjoy the company and comfort of our extended family is heartwarming.  He understands the gift of this tight circle and is grateful for the many cousins, aunts, and uncles he has. 
  3. Small things bring great pleasure - It doesn't take much to make Grant happy.  Past the car and family, he so enjoyed our random outings.  Highlights included eating at PeiWei.  This Asian restaurant, a step up from Panda Express, had been talked about by a friend of Grant's.  "You have to try it, Grant."  So when we asked Grant what he wanted to do for the weekend, at the top of the list was to eat at PeiWei.  A second outing that had Grant's captive attention was getting specially fitted for running shoes at the Road Runner Sports store in Scottsdale.  As I was checking out their new line of Asics on the wall, I eyed Grant on a treadmill with a personal fitter.  Ten minutes and a video/graphical analysis of his shoe later, Grant is enjoying every minute of hearing of his unique instep and run pattern.
  4. Great manners - Is there anything better as a parent then to hear your child use their please's and thank-you's continuously and unprompted?  From politely asking for his drink on the plane to thanking the cook of the meal on the table, Grant is very generous with his gratitude.
  5. Interacts well with adults - Grant spent not a minute of our trip with anyone under the age of 25.  We were with adults the entire time and he never tired of this interaction.  Grant is a child who has no problem communicating and interacting with those many years older than him.  This is not a trait many kids are comfortable with, but one that Grant excels at.
  6. Doesn't get bored...looks for his own fun - Not once did I hear "Mom, I'm bored" or "What are we going to do?".  Within all of the adult conversations and adult lally-gagging, Grant just went with the flow.  At Aunt Barbara's, he asked if he could draw and then checked out her expansive backyard on his own.  As I was chatting and catching up with Judi and Larry, Grant asked if he could go in their hot tub.  And that he did (and asked if he could have his book to read while soaking :))
  7. He loves shoes! - Enough said!
  8. "I like long flights"  - No complaints about the flights other than my rule-abiding son not thinking his mother turned off her cell phone soon enough at take off or put up her tray table early enough at landing.  I do appreciate his ability to interact well with the people around us, communicate directly with the flight attendants, and NEVER ask how long until we are home.
  9. He likes to read - I very much love this about Grant.  We didn't even make it on to our connecting flight in Denver without buying "The Hunger Games" book with a plan to have it finished before the movie is released later this month.  A child who enjoys reading really is a child who is never bored.
  10. Not embarrassed to still be a kid - Being in Junior High usually comes with obsolete childhood fancies.  This is not (yet) the case with Grant.  Not only did we spend a good hour at the flea market with Grant trying on every authentic Mexican wrestling mask (and he knew the name of every character), but he had no problem later wearing the mask in our convertible.  The zoo was his desired destination for that Sunday afternoon.  And a child who has not outgrown the zoo does warm this mother's heart.  Stefano and I had as much fun as Grant checking out all that the Phoenix Zoo had to offer.

Thank-you, Grant Lane, for being such an awesome traveling buddy.  I chose well for my Southwest Companion Pass!