Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Forget Godzilla or King Kong: Mom and Dad are invading!

Do you embarrass your kids? Do they harbor a base fear that they may run into you at the mall? Do you make them squirm with trepidation when they bring a boy/girl friend home for a visit?

If that’s the case, tell your kids to get ready for the most frightening time of their lives! We are invading their school/college campuses!

We’re heeeeeeere!!! We, your parents, mom & dad, even grandma and grandpa are sitting next to you in your chemistry class, your history class, your English class and yes, even in your physical education classes!

We are the ones with the gray hair – caused no doubt by our very own college bound children – and we’re the ones who hated the idea that bell-bottom pants are back in style! We threw them out more than 30 years ago!

You can see us all over the campus at schools across the country. We are the weird-looking people wearing high heels with backpacks, although some of us wear tennis shoes with arch supports and Dr. Scholl’s corn removers.

Our numbers are increasing – in fact, we are the fastest growing age group attending college today! According to the Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education (
ANTSHE), students who are over 25 make up 47 percent of the new and returning student population on many of today's college campuses. Kind of scary isn’t it?

No, we’re not checking up on you kids – or trying to make your lives miserable – although that is a side benefit worthy of consideration.

We are here to learn! And are we ever learning! We have learned that Ben Gay works really well on sore shoulder muscles from carrying that darn backpack filled with books given to us by professors half our age! We have learned that Scooters make wonderful transportation across a crowded campus… and of course, learning how to drive in between hand-holding college sweethearts – one of those “benefits” I mentioned earlier. Oh, and don’t forget, being late to class is always forgivable if you walk with a cane!

However, there are some things we can do much better than our college age children. We are good at standing in line at the bookstore while hordes of screaming, yelling and crying kids/teenagers/children surround us. We’ve had lots of practice – remember standing in line at the grocery store while you, our wonderful, little children screamed for toys/candy/ice cream? It’s the same thing!

And yet, there are some things we know nothing whatsoever about – yes, this is an admission of total ignorance. So, can someone tell me why some young men can be seen with nose rings? Kind of reminds me of the old bull in the pasture with the large ring through his nose – it was used to “keep him in his place.” Wait, maybe the girlfriend put it there… in that case, hmmmm, not a bad idea!

I’m sorry, but I still don’t get all the body piercings… noses, eyebrows, lips and who knows where else they have placed those things. The only time I ever used safety pins in public was to hold up my poodle skirt when the buttons popped off!

And what’s with the combat boots and clunky shoes? When I was a young adult, the pointier the toe, the better. We wouldn’t be caught dead wearing “old lady” shoes. So what if today we all have hammer toes, need foot surgery and are often seen wearing a podiatry shoe? Wasn’t it worth it to be in style?

Talk about being in style. I can remember being in the cool group if we even owned a television set. Today, it’s streaming video on their I-phones and Blackberrys.

Yet, there are advantages to being an older student. For one thing, when the professors, those same ones who are half our age, begin taking about the 1960s, civil rights, JFK, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the Black Panthers, Woodstock or the first man on the moon, WE were there. We lived it.

And, we are making history again. We are starting a trend that is growing bigger every year with more and more adults attending college – either returning for second, third or fourth degrees or even some of us for the very first time.

So, don’t be embarrassed when you see mom sitting next to you in the class room, she may be a veritable fountain of information!

She also carries aspirin, hand sterilizer, Band-Aids, tweezers, needle and thread, and safety pins! And, she just might be able to give you a few pointers on clothes or accessories to match your purple hair!


Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School

It’s the first day of school for six of my grandchildren. Four others began their school last week. All the moms and dads are excited about, 1) the new schools clothes, 2) the sports the kids will participate in, 3) the days of peace and quiet and 4) spending quality time with each other, their own work and of course being able to fold laundry without “little” helping hands!

They also are “anxious” about 1) paying for all those new school clothes, 2) the sports the kids will participate in, 3) too much peace and quiet, and 4) nobody to help do the laundry or take out the garbage!!

I have some friends whose children just started kindergarten and first grade…. The beginning of a very long journey! I remember when the father of six of my grandkids started his first day at school.

He was so cute in his little-boy suit. Yes, I put him in a suit, sans tie, so that he would make a good impression on his new teacher. As I walked him into the classroom, all the other children began to snicker as only five-year-olds can do. Really, it was outright laughter… son threw off his jacket dropping it squarely in the middle of the floor much like he did at home.

His sweet teacher picked it up and handed it to me asking me if I had an extra pair of sneakers in the car that son could wear. She then assured me he would have grass and gravel marks on his slacks to make him fit right in with the class!

I left the classroom, OK, pushed out the door by said son an hour later. I had tried to sit inconspicuously in a student seat at the back of the room. How does a mother sit inconspicuously in one of those really, really, really small chairs? How does a mother get out of one of those small chairs without taking it with her attached to her, unfortunately, large hiney?

I stood outside the classroom door for the next 15 minutes or so watching my little boy acclimate himself to his classroom, his new friends and his teacher. He was so cute as he announced to the class that he had to go to the bathroom. Then he ran up and hugged his new teacher! On his way to the restroom, he opened the classroom door and said very emphatically, “Mommy, you can GO HOME now!”

Today, five of that very son’s kids start school for the first time… they have all been homeschooled up to this point and are beginning the exciting adventure of public school. The eldest is beginning eighth grade where she is already nearly an academic grade ahead of everyone else. No, I’m not bragging… it is a simple fact – she’s the smartest one of all the kids and of course she is the brightest new student in the new school – at least according this grandma!

Where did the years go? How can my son now be MY age? And his big sister is even older! Her oldest is starting his junior year in high school. Next year, he will be graduating and then off to college!

I’m too young for this!!!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Operator, is something wrong with my line?

I got the biggest surprise of my life last week. After working all day and doing volunteer work half the night, I came home to a blinking answering machine. It was blinking because someone had left me a message.

That was a mystery in itself, yet the real surprise was the person who left the message. Although, I must admit, he has called me several times, much to my chagrin as I always have had to say, “No son, I don’t have any money to loan you.”

This time was different, however. After arriving home around midnight, the message said to call him ASAP. No matter how late it was, he wanted me to call – it was urgent! Of course, my first thought was something is wrong with the children. After all he only has six of the little darlings and so far each one has made a minimum of three trips to the emergency room for various bumps, bruises and childhood illnesses.

I even entertained the idea that there might be a problem with his father (the ex), but I don’t think he would bother me with something that trivial.

I dialed his number knowing that I would wake him and my daughter-in-law, but he said it was urgent. Besides, it’s kind of fun waking them up –especially since the youngest of the six precious children finally fell asleep.

The phone rang just a few short rings (shorter than I expected) and dear son answered with a sleepy “hullo”.

“Hi there, sweetie,” I said gaily with a lilt in my voice. “What’s the problem? Is something wrong?”

My son, the fastest mouth in the West, the smart-aleck of the 21st century, the biggest clown of the decade and the all around horse’s butt of the 90’s and beyond said, “Mom, I was worried about you. I haven’t heard from you in weeks and I just wanted to make sure you were OK.”

Stunned silence on my end. I was in shock. I was completely flabbergasted and bewildered. I answered with a, “Well of course I’m OK”. After all I spoke to the boy only last month.

To hear this from the son who couldn’t wait to get away from his mother is an event that should be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records under the category of “sons who have called their mothers because they care” – a category that probably has very few entries!

This is the boy who would complain because I attended all of his after-school functions, begging me to “please stay home this time”.

This is the same son who wrote one letter in a year, 12 whole months, while stationed in Japan during his brief stint in the Navy. This is the son, who upon returning to the States, finally called me – two months later.

Does this mean he’s growing up at last? Does this mean he is being affected by the fatherhood of five children? Is he finally becoming that responsible, caring, compassionate son I’ve always dreamed about? John-Boy, where are you (for those of you who remember Walton’s Mountain)?

I have a feeling, however, that next week, or even tomorrow, my son will be back to normal. But until that time, I’m going to bask in the glowing knowledge that, if only for a moment, he really does care about his mom.