Friday, October 31, 2014

Kitten Heels and Football Fields

(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

Do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . .

That's what I'm thinking, here at the edge of the high school football field with my daughter, husband, and the other fall athletes, band-members and parents. We're getting ready to walk to the 50-yard-line, our names announced as honorees for Senior Night.

I've watched this spectacle many times, but never thought it would be here so soon for us - it seemed light years, millenniums into the future. Even the date sounded far away. I mean, 2014. That is some space-age shit right there. Where's my hover-car?

The line moves, and I toddle forward with the group on one-inch kitten heels, trying to remain upright and heartily regretting my footwear choice. I wore these shoes specifically for the traditional senior night photo, hoping to look taller and thinner, though I know I won't - God did not make me tall and thin. But I never let reality stop me. No sir. 

The unfortunate shoes have one bonus: They help distract from the pressure building behind my eyes. Nothing new, I'm always blinking back waterworks lately, because the knowledge that our kid will soon leave for college is forever in the back of my mind. Oh, how I used to snicker at the weepy moms, bemoaning senior year and graduation. But karma, as they say, is a bitch. A bitch who slaps. 

A bitch who slaps hard.

My daughter's voice pulls me back to the sidelines.  "Are you going to cry?" she asks, her face horrified. "God, Mom. Do not cry."

"I'm not crying! My feet hurt, that's all."

"Well don't cry!" she hisses. "I mean, jeez!"

We step to the photographer's station in the end zone, and I put on my best smile. The one that says I'm not crying dammit!

Even in its early stage, this senior year thing has been a frazzled whirlwind of photos, college visits, applications and meetings, along with the usual cheerleading and school functions, and as I recently told my friend Wise Marj, I don't dare forget or overlook even one event.

"We are so busy lately, with the senior stuff," I said. "And I feel like I can't miss anything."

Marj, whose youngest child graduated last year, gave me her smug grin. This grin normally comes when she relays the many symptoms of old age and menopause I'll soon experience. But she took a break from her usual message of doom to be even more depressing. 

"Yep. That's 'The Lasts,'" she said. 

Sometimes, Wise Marj can be Vague Marj. 

"What are you talking about?"

"It's the last homecoming, the last football game, the last prom - all of it," she said. "And you go to everything because it's the last time it will happen. Ever."

Yeah. Thanks a lot, Wise Marj.

“Welcome to the 2014 Sheridan Generals Senior Night . . .”

The loudspeaker blares with each family's introduction, and we head further into the end zone as the groups make their way onto the turf. Some of the couples are married, some aren't anymore, but everyone is here tonight, walking three-by-three in the red stadium surrounded by acres and acres of farmers' crops.  Rivals call our students "Children of the Corn," but the kids don't have any problem with it, cheerfully posing for yearbook pictures with giant International Harvesters and corn stalks.

I stare into the brown fields and blue sky, trying not to do anything embarrassing for my daughter, such as breathing, but she fusses with her uniform, giving me an excuse to sneak a sideways glance. Fair skin, brown eyes, tiny stature - to see her is to see me, albeit a younger, smoother, better me, and definitely a smarter model, as she takes classes like "Advanced Calculus." I'm not even sure what "Advanced Calculus" is. It sounds suspiciously like "Really Hard Math."

But the whiz-kid by my side is only one version of her, and there were many over the years, though I don't recall them all. All I can seem to remember are snippets of baby talk, screen-shots of days, and a chattering blur in little pink clothes.

Back then, old women - complete strangers - would coo at my daughter as we pushed past them in the grocery store aisles. "The years fly by!" they said, bent with age over their carts of coupons and wheat bread. "It goes so fast - enjoy it!" And I smiled and nodded and disregarded them, in a hurry to get the baby home for a nap, so I could have some time alone.

They were right, of course. It flew. There was so much to do, always, and the years went by like grocery bags in the wind, like the old women themselves: barely noticeable, and gone when I looked again. 

And faster than I could say "financial aid," I'm on a football field wearing regrettable shoes, looking for my hover-car and wondering how to let go.

"Mom - it's time."

"And next we have Laura Weber, escorted by her parents . . . "

Do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . .

Do not blink.


I'll miss all the children of the corn next year
but particularly the tiny one at the harvester's top left.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Hobo Has Left the Building

(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

There's a stranger in my house.

I'm not sure who he is, but from all appearances, this kid combs his hair, brushes his teeth, and showers voluntarily. Quiet, anti-social, his fingers tapping furiously at a screen - I'm afraid to approach him. He looks pretty surly.

Nonetheless, I carefully walk over to the outsider and stare at his face. Is it . . . could it be?

Holy zit! It is him! Yes, I can't quite believe my eyes, but somehow, I know I'm right. Judging by the pimples, voluntary showers, and alarming array of Axe products in the bathroom, I now have a . . .

(*Cue dramatic music*)

. . .  Teenage boy.

You remember my son, the Hobo, right? Avid fan of farts, stranger to personal hygiene, avoider of anything girl- or romance-related?

Well, the unbelievable, the unthinkable has happened, and he seems to be growing up and taking an actual interest in bathing. No longer content just to smell, no, he actually wants to smell - good.

I should have known my son had crossed the slick, sweaty bridge to adolescence - the signs are all there: He empties the refrigerator, sleeps 11 hours a night, and no longer dry-heaves at the mention of females. And if I had any doubt that he's changing, it disappeared the other morning as I tried to roust him from bed.

"Hobo," I called up the stairs.


"Hey, buddy! It's time to wake up."

*Muffled mumble. More crickets*

"Levi," I called again, using his real name to indicate the magnitude of the situation. "It's 6:15. Time to wake up."


"I HEARD YOU!" he roared through the ceiling. "I am GETTING UP!"

I stood on the landing, my mouth agape, debating whether to whoop his butt or run and hide.

Where was my kid, the sweet boy, the one who would have simply said, "Okay, Mom!" and then bounded down the stairs to hug me?

Ah, but I should have anticipated this. I've been through it before, and pretty recently, too, with my daughter, the Princess, who was in a puberty-related bad mood for a good part of a decade. She's 17 now, with (mostly) grown girl parts, so the hormones are (mostly) done coursing through her system, and she's in a decent frame of mind these days.


Oddly enough, it was to her I first mentioned the Hobo's foul moods.  "I think your brother is becoming a teenager."

"I know!" she replied, eyes wide. "He is, like, mean! I said something to him the other day, and he just, like, SCREAMED at me! For no reason!"

Ha ha ha!

Oh, Karma - you're a bitch. But sometimes, you're my very best friend.

Still, I realize this is the beginning of the end of something - again. In the next several years, I'll deal with a crabby, gangling, sometimes insufferable man-child who will double the grocery bill, empty the hot water tank, steal my Victoria's Secret catalogue, and continue to expand his disturbing collection of Axe products.

And I will miss the little boy, the three-year-old who said "You're my girlfriend, Mommy!" when I asked about his love life.

I'll miss the older version, too. The one who smiled, laughed, replied without yelling, looked at something besides an electronic screen, and even occasionally - just sometimes - acknowledged my presence in public.

I mean, that kid smelled funny. But he sure was nice.