So which team am I going to cheer for?

“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” – Vince Lombardi

Fall. Sunny days and cool, crisp evenings. Football weather. The chance to reconnect with  friends at the stadium. Hoodies printed up with team logos, marching bands, brats grilling, whistles blowing – Friday nights under lights across the U.S.

Memories flooding. Some folks may feel torn. Some may be ambivalent. Some, like me, find the irony a bit comical.

High school, and once again for me, it is a bit awkward. Why? Because, should I decide to go to the game, who will I cheer for?

This week’s football game is an “us versus them.” Only for me, “us” is my kids’ high school football team going up against my old high school, who is now “them.”

If I let it, it could prove to be quite a dilemma. The school that helped shape me, that educated me, that housed friendships and memories.

My past.

Days of teenage angst; feeling like I didn’t fit in. The square peg in the round hole. The one who didn’t measure up against my peers…

I haven’t been to that football field since I graduated. But since then, I have met up with some classmates I graduated with, and we have had a great time together at each gathering. Life has beat us all up, and we’ve dealt with stuff we would have never dreamed of when we graduated and parted ways some 30-plus years ago: deaths, deployments, divorces, downsizing… none of us unscathed by life.

But it makes for better friendships and deeper conversations than it did back when we were teens.

I would love to root for my old alma mater.

But I can’t. It is the past.

I am in the present.

In the here and now, I have to cheer on my new home team, which boasts of some pretty good guys. The young men who, I swear just yesterday, were about half the size they are now, goofing off and eating pizza in a classroom party I helped host.

Some of these young men have been over to shoot hoops in my driveway. A few of them were here to help with a science fair project that consisted of putting Mentos into diet soda in anticipation of pop shooting all over the sidewalk. (They weren’t disappointed.) Some of these young men were loud boys who needed to be reminded to be quiet at 2 a.m., because, yes – even in the summer – parents have to work. One of these young players has a good throwing arm in part because he and my son tossed bricks to each other to practice (until I shrieked for them to stop!) Many of the guys on the team have grown up with my son; they are some of his closest friends, and their parents are now among my some of my dearest friends.

I will cheer for my new home team because it boasts of a lot of young men I have watched grow and mature over the years.

I will cheer for my new home team because it is the team my son cheers for.

I will cheer for my new home team because my youngest daughter, a JV cheerleader, will be there, rain or shine, sleet or snow, for her home team.

I will cheer for my new home team because each week they bring the hope of a win, a reason to gather, a sense of community.

While I am not forgetting my past, I am putting it behind me where it belongs, while enjoying the present.

To my new home team, and to your young fans, I cheer for your future. I hope that the bonds you make today with your friends continue to grow deeper with time. When you part ways at graduation, I hope you stay in contact with each other. When life beats you up and you have mud on your face and you’re up against hardships that you never knew were possible, I hope that you will find yourself grounded and firm because of your home team.

When you graduate from college or trade school and have a family of your own, I hope the values you learned growing up in this town stay with you. That you welcome a yard full of kids, running, swimming, shooting hoops, squirting each other with hose. (But for Heaven’s sake, please don’t let them toss bricks!)

And after a few years, maybe even a few decades, when you meet up with your classmates, I hope you will find that your friendships are stronger and your conversations are better.

And if you find yourself in an awkward spot on a Friday night, please know that it is okay to cheer a new home team.

Even if it feels a bit odd.

The new home team will appreciate it, and the old one will understand.

Trust me on this.

© 2012  – Lynne Cobb

The Mom Who Cried, “Pizza!”

“If you want to recapture your youth, just cut off his allowance.”  Al Bernstein

What started out as a little joke was rather revealing. Now, to preface all of this, I’m a mom of four, two of which are out the door and married; and two teens who are still at home.

It’s an awesome time, in their lives and mine. And I do mean that! It is a time of tremendous growth for the kids, and, at the same time, it is a time where a tremendous number of gray hairs grow on my head. There are plenty of stressful issues: driver’s training and sports injuries and teenage angst and such. But there is a lot of fun, and joy, too, in watching my teens turn into young adults.

We teach each other lots of things. I have shown them how a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner work. They patiently work with me on new technology, like how to use my cell phone. And how to Twitter. Plus, I’ve had some real deep conversations via text, too. So it’s all good. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss them all being little, home around the dinner table and tucked into bed by 8 p.m. each night.

This summer is giving me a peek into the future. Between their work, social, and – dare I say – sleep schedules, I don’t see them much. My husband and I are getting used to dinner for two. Come fall, when they are back to school and on a schedule, I’ll see more of them, I’m sure.

So… here’s my weekend faux pax using texting: purely by accident, I found a sure-fire way to get a teen home for dinner.

Picture this: a wonderful dinner of barbecued pork-chops, seasoned grilled potatoes, fresh pineapple slices and veggies was being served at 6:45 p.m. One teen was at work, so I sent the obligatory text to the other available teen. And here’s how it went:

Me: “Will you be home for dinner?”

Teen: “Doubt it. What are we having anyway?”

Me: “Pizza.”

Me: “But does it matter, you aren’t going to be here anyway.”

Me: “Oops – I mixed up the “P” meal…it’s Porkchops, Potato, Pineapple.”

And that was it. No reply at all to any of my texts.

It looked like another quiet dinner for two.

But in what seemed like seconds, here is my beautiful teenage daughter, in person, at the table.

Teen: “Where’ the pizza?”

Me: “Didn’t you get my texts? I was joking.”

Teen: “No, I was riding my bike home. I can’t believe you did that. M-o-o-o-o-om! I could have had pizza with my friends! That’s what they were having!”

She said it laughingly, not appreciating the joke but totally appreciating knowing that her presence is missed at the dinner table.

Since she is a whiz on her phone, without ever missing a text, I never dreamed she’d read “pizza,” shove her phone in her bag, jump on the bike and head home without a text response like, “Pizza? Really? Awesome! Can my friends come, too?”

Wow – I totally underestimated the power of pizza.

Seriously, she really was a good sport about the whole incident, but I wouldn’t dare do that again.

I could get the reputation of “crying pizza.”

So the next time she texts, “what’s for dinner,” I’ll text back, “Chinese food.”

She likes almond boneless chicken as much as pizza…

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Making time to smell the flowers

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A.A. Milne

Reading my dear friend and mentor’s blog the other day made me sit and reflect on Mother’s Day and flower giving. Cindy’s blog, (found on my BlogRoll and here: www.laferle.com), was a simple post and a photo of the flowers she received from her son and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law.

My Mother’s Day arrangements have evolved as my children have grown older. I, too, received flowers. My youngest son gave me a beautiful hanging basket, and it touched my heart in so many ways. My husband had a rose, freshly cut from our yard, sitting in a vase next to my coffee and newspaper.
I believe my first experience in receiving flowers was from my dad. He never forgot to give my mom flowers on their anniversary and other special days. Every once in a while, he would surprise my sister and I with flowers on Valentine’s Day.

My husband does the same – he never forgets special dates and likes to surprise me with  bouquets. Every year on Valentine’s, he gets roses for our daughters, daughter-in-law, and our granddaughters. He also brought me the most beautiful flowers for the birth of each of our four children.

To me, no bouquet is sweeter than the handful of dandelions, picked with love by the chubby fingers of a toddler. Who smiles more, the giver? Or the receiver?

I still chuckle at the memory of my oldest son, who was about eight or nine-years-old, bringing me some of the most gorgeous hand-picked bouquets I had ever received from a child… until a neighbor (or was it his older sister?) alerted me that the flowers were coming from the garden of the dentist’s office down the street.

There is such beauty in seeing flowers in bloom. There is such a beauty in receiving flowers given with love, too.  The beauty of the flower compels us to pay it forward by sharing them with others.

When God created these living works of art, I am sure He knew they would touch more than our senses.

He knew they would touch our hearts.

Who smiles more? The Giver? Or the receiver?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb