Not Even Close

For the last year or so, Younger has been serious in his search for scholarships. Today, as we were driving to school, he told me, “I found one, Mom.” He flashed his phone in my direction. “It has a 1500 to 2500 word essay. The topic — what should you do in a disaster?”

I glanced at him, raising my eyebrows in question.

He looked back at me, shrugging his shoulders in answer.

“I don’t know . . . Stand sideways and reduce your surface area?” he mused. “Probably should bend your knees a little.”

For those of you who are wondering . . .

That’s not even close to 1500 words.



One More Time

Today, I helped Elder carry boxes, baskets, and bags to his car. Then he wrapped his arms around me and pressed his cheek to the top of my head.

“I love you so much, Mom,” he told me.

“I love you so much, too,” I responded, patting his back.

Then I watched him climb into his car, surrounded by a significant portion of his material belongings. And I stood in the driveway until he and his car bounced onto the gravel road, heading towards another school year at Mizzou.

This parting thing — it doesn’t get any easier with practice.

Just sayin’.



Elder had spring break last week.

So, I was able to check on him every morning. I knew where he was every day. And every night, he appeared at my bedside, lowering his head so I could kiss his blond curls.

And sometimes he would wander about halfway across the bedroom to leave then return to lower his head for another kiss.

He has almost finished his sophomore year of college and will be twenty-one in July. So, a little part of me always wonders if the current break is the last break he will spend at home.

Saturday night, as I was putting dinner away, he hollered, “Mom, come watch M*A*S*H with us.”

And so I tucked the last plate into the dishwasher and wandered into the living room to plop onto the sofa. He promptly sprawled across my lap, sending our border collie into spasms as she had to witness him receiving snuggles she believes belong only to her.

Then, Sunday, he piled his laundry and books back in his car, and he left.

Because he has a life he has to live. A life full of joy and sorrows and beautiful moments.

Because little boys grow into young men.

And moms have to let them.



No Good Plan

Monday was Elder’s first day at his new job.

So, you can imagine the panic as, emerging from the shower, I heard the back door slam and Elder yell, “Mom! Mom! I need your car keys. My car won’t start. Mom!”

So, in my bathrobe, I rushed down the stairs, hurdling over the dogs on the landing to hit the next seven steps. “Here,” I told him, tossing him the keys.

“I have no guess what happened,” he muttered, walking towards the door.

“Well, I have a guess,” I told his back.

Because he has a habit of sitting in his car for half an hour after reaching home, listening to his radio with the dome light on. Then forgetting to turn the light off when he finally retreats into the house. And his dad has warned him and warned him.

But as he slipped through the door, I had bigger issues than an we-told-you-so moment. He was taking my car and leaving me with his dead battery. And I had a class in four hours.

Now, I happen to know that the instructor is an understanding, easygoing type.

Because I am actually the instructor.

Which makes it a little more important that I actually arrive at class.

Besides, I had plans. Big plans to finish grading essays and to prepare for class discussion. And the internet at the house was down. So, I had accomplished nothing.


And now I had no way to escape my house to accomplish something.


“Uhmmm,” I hedged in a phone call to my husband. “You need an excuse to leave work early?”

But apparently, we have a battery charger in our very own garage. So, I learned, in almost triple digit heat, how to charge a car battery.

My husband walked me through every step.



“You’ll need to find the extension cord on the shelves in the garage,” he told me. “And plug the extension cord into the outlet.”

And I would have been sarcastic but he quickly followed with, “The last thing you will do is plug the charger into the extension cord.”

I glanced down at the charger already humming in my hands. “Last thing, huh?”

“Yeah, because that will turn the charger on. You’ll hear it hum.”

“Hum, huh?” I murmured, unplugging the charger from the extension cord. “Interesting.”

But I managed to start the car without killing myself.

So, here is what I learned: don’t make plans.

Plans are just an invitation for life to mess with you.

I don’t need to offer no invitations.

I’ll just let life be rude and drop in on me.


Elder is home for the summer.

How do I know?

Let’s see . . .

By the sofa that is now positioned four feet from the television and littered with video game controllers.

By the glasses marred with chocolate milk rings and scattered throughout my house.

By my tripping over boxes and books as I try to navigate my hallway.

By my doubled laundry pile.

And, most importantly, by the nightly ritual of him appearing at my bedside for a hug, accompanied by a dip of his head so I can drop a kiss on his blonde curls.

Elder is home.

Where he belongs.

Until August.



Rite of Passage

Elder is approaching the end of his first year at Mizzou. And, of course, I’m counting the days until he is home.

Seven, in case you’re wondering.

A few minutes ago, I received a text from him explaining that he only had to answer five out of thirty-five questions right to maintain an “A” in one of his classes.

And I smiled. Because I remember those days. The days before finals where every student is calculating the points needed to receive the desired grade.

It’s almost a rite of passage.

I came, I studied — some, I calculated the worst score I could possibly manage and still receive a passing grade, I conquered freshman year.

Ahhh, the memories.


Speak Science to Me

When Elder was home for Thanksgiving, I warned him, “Either you clean your room or I will.”

We all know which one he chose.

Of course.

I spent three days in his room.

I found 102 teeny tiny chess pieces, although I’m pretty sure he only had one teeny tiny chess set.

I collected a couple thousand teeny tiny Legos.

I found invitations from colleges that he had received over his last two years of high school. He had stuffed them into his bookcases.


I don’t even know.

I moved books from the floor into the newly cleared bookcases. I even had room for the book wedged between his mattress and footboard.

I found empty boxes for three phones, one Kindle, two Bibles, one computer, and a clock.

I even found instructions to a wood burning kit. I don’t remember him having a wood burning kit. I didn’t find a wood burning kit. Not too sure what happened there.

Last night, I looked at Younger and announced, “Your room is next.”

His eyes widening, he shook his head. “Homeostasis, Mom.” He patted the air with his palms. “Ho-me-o-sta-sis.”

Which I think is science for “Don’t touch my stuff.”

But he really should know…

I don’t speak science.