Hello and welcome! An introduction for you: I'm a mom, wife, friend, animal-lover, and lacrosse parent who also happens to write, edit and manage a publishing company for a living. So why not start a blog, I thought? And here ya go...

October 3, 2014

The Simple Solution

By now, school has begun for all the kiddos around the country. Thanks to the lunatic occurrences and school shootings that have tragically taken place, the lock down procedures implemented at most schools have reached epic proportion. It’s sad, really. While children’s safety at school is absolutely, positively numero uno, it is too bad that things have to be unpleasantly extreme.

My son’s high school is laid out like an asterisk with a center section and many hallways that branch straight out, each ending with a door to the outside. When he first started there two years ago, the kids could change classes by walking the halls or they could exit the end doors, move to the next and reenter. This was a superb system as the flow of traffic had many options to keep it moving at a clipped pace—necessary when 2,000+ students have a distance to go and short time to do it in. It was also extra nice for parents to be able to deliver needed or forgotten items with minimal hassle. For instance, if you knew that your kid would be walking out of the 400 hallway door at 9:30, you could show up and park right outside along the sidewalk and as the kids were changing classes, hand off the goods to your child.

After the Sandy Hook tragedy, that came to a screeching halt and now all doors are locked when school begins. Kids can exit but cannot reenter other than through the main school entrance. Now, it’s a challenge to get to each class on time as the packed in masses result in severe “log jams,” and stress escalates as kids try to hurry and beat the dreaded bell. No more enjoying the sunshine and getting a breath of fresh air. No more easy drop-offs of needed items.

For the next couple years, when needing to go to the school, a parent had to enter, sign in and head to perform volunteer duties or drop off a forgotten lunch or homework assignment in your kid’s locker. As you were there for a legitimate purpose and were not a disruption, you could go in, take care of business and scoot back out. Now? No way. Now, you have to first be admitted to the building by pressing a buzzer outside. And then you better have a government ID, a spotless past, an approved reason to be there, a lack of tattoos, presentable hair, and a willingness to be strip-searched to enter the school. It’s more like prison. Only you’re trying to get IN versus OUT.

So what happens the first week of school this year? My son forgot his lunch. While not the end of the world because there is a buy-your-lunch option (which sucks thanks to our first lady who has decided she knows better than all other parents what kids should and should not eat), but we all recall what a zoo the lunchroom can be. 1,000 kids trying to scarf down a meal in 45 minutes. Often, Chase has told me that the lunch lines are so long that kids spend interminable time waiting in them and then have to gobble down their meals like they’re in an eating contest.

So I wanted to get him his lunch using my old drop-off-in-his-locker method. But to do so now would require extreme planning and foresight. I began sweating bullets immediately, trying to get a game plan together for how to accomplish the mission. I texted trusted friends inquiring about reasons that would pass muster with the drill sergeants at the front office. I thought about what I could hide the lunch in so my true reasons weren’t discovered. How should I look when asking to be buzzed in the front door--smile? be serious? wave? perform a can-can?

As I pulled up to the school, I sent one final text to my friends who knew what I was attempting: “I’m going in. Wish me luck.”

I buzzed the front door and decided last minute to skip the can-can. Instead, I was unassuming and casual. After 30 seconds of visual interrogation, I received the buzz to enter. First obstacle cleared. I entered the main office and was shown the computer check in that is used now—you enter your license info and they check to be sure you aren’t guilty of more than parking tickets and poor dancing skills, I’m guessing. I passed—nice. I was asked where I was going in the school and the information I decided would work best slid off my tongue in a convincing tone. No one blinked. With a printed badge featuring my driver’s license likeness, I was waved in.

I walked to the locker, dropped off the goods, and returned to the front office feeling like a million bucks.

As I was signing back out on the computer, a student I know walked up and I watched as a lady handed him a telltale brown paper bag. “Here’s your lunch,” she quipped. At my look of confusion, he said sheepishly: “I forgot it so my dad brought it up for me” and walked back toward his next class.

Stunned, I looked at the lady standing there, mouth agape. “Parents can just drop off forgotten lunches with you for kids to come get?”

“Yup,” she said. “We deliver forgotten lunches to kids all the time.”

Moral: don’t overthink a situation that may have a simple solution. 

August 27, 2014

Failure Makes Winning Sweeter

We all know the old adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” right? Corny but actually true. Rarely does anyone hit the nail on the head on a first stab at something. It takes time to perfect a skill, to learn the ins and outs, and to fine tune your abilities so that the outcome is success. Last weekend, I lived the adage.

Anyone who has read this blog or my Viewpoint column in Trucker's Connection knows a few things about me. Let’s ignore the boring things (!) and focus on this tidbit: I have a son who is a teenager, a lacrosse player, and the light of my life. Even my husband jokes that on any given day, his ranking in my life falls somewhere between 4 and 5, behind Chase and all my animals. Ha!

Chase has played sports all of his life (somehow he was blessed with athletic skill, not from my genes, I can assure you) and since 4th grade, he’s been a pretty good lacrosse player. Through the years, he’s played a couple different positions, finally dialing in to the attack position like he was born to be there.

We’ve had ups and downs, wins and losses; he’s usually on a strong team, a contending team, but not always the top team. He plays fall recreational, spring high school, and summer travel ball. He’s tasted victory and championships in the fall and summer seasons but the spring school season—arguably the most important of the three—hadn’t quite hit the championship benchmark.

In the spring 2013, he was captain of the Northview High School freshmen team and lead them as the top scorer to an undefeated season before being brought up to Junior Varsity and then finally to the big show for the end of the Varsity season. For the first time in school history, our team went to the state championship game. It was cool that Chase could be a part of it but it was with a sideline view as a player who hadn’t been there since the beginning. In fact, many of the players who HAD been on Varsity since day one of that season didn’t see the field because it was such a tough, high stakes, close scoring game that we ultimately lost to a team we’d bested earlier in the year.

Talk about highs and lows—to make it to the end for the first time was gigantic. To lose once we got there was horrific. We were new to the scene and like a teenager driving solo for the first time: ecstatic and maybe a little dangerous. The regular season win gave the team a false sense of superiority, and a great group of players came unglued in the high pressure game when much of what they did successfully all season wasn’t evident when it counted most. The loss was devastating and as we licked our wounds and massaged bruised egos, we began looking to the next season and redemption.

This year, Chase made Varsity from the get-go and was the only sophomore to be a starter all season. They charged through the regular season 17-1 with just a single loss to a close town rival who beat us by 3 goals. Post season, we went through each playoff game strong, beating each opponent by more than 10 goals, and we made it once more to the state championship game. This time, we faced a team we hadn’t played at all this season. It was a clean slate; they were a tough team; we came in with the lessons we’d learned last year.

The fans showed up in droves, all decked out in neon colors as a show of vibrant spirit and support. For an hour and a half I was on the verge of tears and do not think I breathed as the game stayed incredibly close—with no more than a one-goal advantage at any point and it fluctuated which of us had it. Toward the end, we stretched our lead by 2 goals. With 12 seconds to go, they scored to tighten the differential to a lonely single point but we held them off for the final seconds to win the state championship, 9-8.

Indeed, the loss from last year was a powerful motivator to see us through to the biggest win ever this year. Chase (#6) played most of the game, and was one of only six players to score. Talk about the icing on his state championship cake!

When it’s happening, it’s hard to realize that losing (a game, a relationship, a business, etc) can one day be a tremendous, maybe even necessary, gift toward a future success. The memory of this success is even sweeter because of the history that lead us there.