Monday, July 18, 2016

My boy and his chickens

On Easter Sunday, my husband surprised the kids with ten baby chicks. They were so young their feathers looked like fur. They were chirping, hopping balls of fluff. Although all the kids enjoyed them, we knew the chicks were really for Truman. He'd raised chickens before we lived overseas, and he was ready to raise them again.

Fast forward four months. The chicks are now full grown with beautiful glossy black feathers and rust accents. Truman loves his chickens. And it seems, they've imprinted on him. They follow Truman around when he's outside, bobbing their heads and making their cheerful clucking noises. Truman takes time to find worms, kneels down, and hand feeds his chickens. He puts them away to roost each night, and gets them up each morning.

So when it was time for Truman to leave for a week at scout camp, his only request was that we take extra good care of his chickens.

The first Monday night he was gone, we decided to go to the drive-in theater in Stephen's City.  Just as we were ready to go, sitting in the car, with the engine rumbling, we realized we should probably put the chickens away to roost for the night. Unfortunately, it was only 5pm...three hours earlier than their normal "bedtime." After some furtive attempts of chasing the chickens around the shed, and out from under the cars, we decided to go ahead and go...postponing the chicken catching until we got home.

We returned at 2:30AM.

Three of the chickens were missing. A few scattered piles of feathers dotted the yard, the only clues to their demise.

We felt horrible. Charlotte cried.

When Truman returned home a few days later, I was the one who told him what had happened. I confessed my lapse in judgement and apologized. I feared he would be either devastated or furious. But he surprised me by being neither. Yes, he was sad. And although my son had every right to be angry with me, he chose to forgive, love, and look on the bright side. "I still have seven, Mom," he said. And then he hugged me.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

From the Porch

I went back and forth about whether or not I'd like having a teenage driver. Of course, it's not like I was really going to have a choice about having one. But would I like it? There was the whole "milestone" and end of childhood issue. Then there was the logistical bonus of having an extra driver to help with all the comings and goings at our house.

Madi is a good driver. A conscientious, responsible driver. But there was also the fear of putting her at greater risk behind the wheel...facing other drivers, who maybe aren't as careful or responsible.

In my mind's eye, I imagined the moment of her first solo drive. I pictured us having a serious heart to heart about all these swirling emotions: how happy I am for her independence, how I'm counting on her to make good decisions behind the wheel, and how proud I am of her accomplishment. I wanted to tell her the story of my Dad making me promise to never, never, NEVER drive without a seatbelt and have her make the same promise I did 25 years ago.

As it turned out, the day she was officially licensed was packed full of end of school year activities. I stood in the kitchen preparing dinner while simultaneously helping another child with a final school project. Madi remembered a meeting she needed to attend...and we both realized she could drive there herself.

I walk-jogged with her to the car. And without ceremony or more than a brief "here it is" pause, Madi got in the car. She quickly promised to always wear her seatbelt (without the story about my Dad) and to not listen to music for the first month of solo driving.

And then she was off. The gravel crunched under the wheels as she drove down our driveway. I watched her look left and right and then pull onto Sands Rd.

I watched her from our little side porch.

How many times have I cried on a porch as I've watched my children take big steps? The kindergarten bus. The middle school bus. The high school bus. A first date. And now a first solo drive.

My mom heart is happy for each milestone. But there is sadness too. I am happy for the accomplishments and growth. I'm super happy for the help! But I am sad for endings. My daughter will never need to ask me for a ride again. She will just ask me for the keys.