Any thoughts on middle school?

Those of you out there with little children, I see you. I know your struggles. Worrying about if they will fall in the swimming pool. Wander out of the yard. Barrel through an intersection on their bike.

Just wait. Till middle school. Then you will really have something to worry about.

*  *  *

Our house is still a construction zone.

I’m behind in some work, so to flee the buzzing saws and clanging hammers, I took up a spot in our library.

It’s a wonderful new space for which I am thankful.


While I was sitting here amongst the books and crying babies, a gaggle of younger looking adults filtered in the building.

They broke off into packs of two and one of these bitty groups approached me.

“Ma’am, we are students from the University of Georgia, would you mind answering a few questions?”

I used to hate it when I was “ma’amed” but now I know that children raised in the South can’t help it. Those who were raised right anyway.

Turns out they were student teachers who were going to be interning at the middle school.

They asked me how long we had been living here. And what I liked about living in a small town. What I didn’t like so much.

Then they asked me about the middle school. What did I think about it?

It’s funny. Well, not really funny how much your children change from 5th grade in the elementary school and their 6th grade year at in middle school.

It’s like they become 12 and flip the numbers around. They think they are 21.

And most 21 year olds don’t like being told what to do all the time by their parents.

That’s what most surprised me as a parent. How that one who used to look at you with adoring eyes now thinks you are the most unhip, uncool — the mom least liked by all their friends — on the planet.

And that’s on a good day.

Talking to these future middle school educators, I realized how tough it is to be a middle school parent — and a middle school educator. We are fighting a tidal wave of data these children receive from the online adult world.

A world they are in many ways not prepared for.

Check your child’s texts. What they are doing on social media sites. I knew my daughter was on Instagram. I didn’t know she had 2,000 followers and was following over 5,000 people.

 That was a fun day my friends — 

The day I told her we were shutting down that account and creating a private one.

Come to think of it, I need to check how many followers she’s up to and what she’s been posting.

My daughter is a great kid. A smart kid. And that is part of the problem. We as parents get busy with obligations of our own and there is all this secret squirrel data transferring back and forth between the younger crowd.

I don’t let her Facebook. Or Tweet. Or have a blog.

I know she will have a blog one day — so remember, whatever you read about me — there are two sides to every story.

That brief conversation today crystalized my thoughts about middle school. It is the toughest water to navigate — in my non-professional opinion. I’m thankful for the school we have in Morgan County and for the teachers that come to make a difference every day.

As parents, we have to stay vigilant. Just the thought of checking all the texts and emails and social networks can be exhausting.

Come to think of it, I haven’t looked at my daughter’s phone lately.

Oy vey.

Any thoughts on middle school?

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Life with kids. Or 10 photos that might serve as birth control.

Well, I’m not going to be getting pregnant again but there’s always adoption.

Weeks like we’ve had this summer make me realize how wonderful it is to be a parent.

And how challenging and exhausting it is. Just when you think the waters are calm, a dam breaks.

Or your house could fall in.

Linking up with Monday Listicles this week. Our prompt: 10 PHOTOS OF LIFE WITH KIDS.






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It’s never dull and all those fish big and small were released.

(So was the snake in spite of my daughter’s sobs.)

What about you? Smooth sailing with the children this summer?

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Enjoying the last malleable one. A Mother’s Truth.

This is why I love dogs.


They adore you.

Even when they get like 1.75 years old. Thirteen in dog years.

These, on the other hand . . .


The child not the strawberry.

Children don’t look at you like you were the last Oreo in the sleeve — forever.

When they are five, they adore you like a Labrador Retriever. And let you hold their hand (in public places).

Then they turn 12 and think you are the most embarrassing creature on the face of solar system.

So that is why I enjoyed today. I spent the afternoon with my 9 year old.

Nine year olds still think you are great, as long as you do not try to take their computer away.

Today after an appointment, we picked strawberries.

But the best part for me was riding in the car and listening to music. My music. I don’t get to do that with the 12 year old.

So today, we listened to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

We sang we all live in a yellow submarine and na, na na, na na na, na na an, hey Jude.

Nine-year-olds love that stuff.

Because they are still Play-Doh when it comes to their moms.

And great music is great music.

Are your children still Play-Doh?

Linking up with the coolio Moonshine Gang

This is pretty funny if you have a second.

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Held hostage at the dentist office.

Not really.

My son had a cleaning scheduled for after school.

In the waiting area, I mentioned that he was going to run with me later.

We have another 5K coming up.

This wasn’t in his plan for the afternoon. He planned to sit on his pa-tooty and play Minecraft for hours. For those of you who don’t know what this is — it’s crack for 9 year olds.

When I said negatory on the Minecraft Marathon, my guy lashed out in what he thought was a death blow.

He snatched my phone as the lovely hygienist arrived to ask the updating-your-file questions.

And just to irate the heck out of me — this is what he did.


I finally wrestled my phone from the little imp.

And at home two hours later — guess who is living the vida Minecraft.

Who is that child’s mother?


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Coach Mom and the Pep Talk.

Every mother has it.

That little ESP where she can look about a room and size up any windfalls or downfalls her child will suffer through.

My youngest and I pulled up to the start of the Real Buckhead Road Race 5K on Saturday.

It soon became evident, there were more children his age than normal running a small race like this. Which was great. Or could be not so great.

Depending what scenario played out.

Scenario one: He races his young friends full speed till his breath fails then he good-naturedly walks and runs the rest of the race.

The second and more likely scenario: He races full speed till his breath fails and he stops right there — not moving another millimeter forward.

The competitive spirit that drove him to almost puke beating a 55-year-old woman to the finish last weekend will swamp him with anger at not keeping up with friends. Why is this the more likely scenario? Because it has happened. Leaving me stranded with an angry child who will not move. One. More. Inch.

But I’m an old pro at this mother biz. Let the slight prospect of a major meltdown bobbing on the horizon stop me?


Besides. We had already picked up our numbers.

Before the race. All was posey rosey.

Before the race. All was posey rosey.


The gun sounded — or maybe there was a nice man who said, “Go” — and we were off.

Sure enough. Soon enough my linebacker strained to keep up with the wideouts.



And before too long . . .




But we kept moving forward.


Until his side-stitch-of-a-cramp paralyzed him like Botox in a midlife furrow.

He wasn’t moving.


This is when I called on my decades of child psychology to keep that boy stepping forward.

“Mom. Mom. I don’t want to go anymore. My side hurts.”

“Just walk it off. Keep moving. It will get better,” I said a bit too peppy for me. I’m a positive sort but not rah-rah so this came out rather like telling all my friends “so glad you made cheerleading when I didn’t because really I only tried-out to watch your triple backflips up close.”

Smile. Smile. Ugh.

We had only gone one mile of three.

Double ugh. Smile. Smile. “You can do this Joe. You got to finish the race to wear the shirt right?”

“No,” was his reply.

And then a little Christmas miracle happened at the 1.34 mile point.

A wide receiver came back to play with my linebacker who had evolved into a lineman.

Skipping and walking and trying “not to step on the road.” Then “trying not to step on the yellow,” the wideout and the lineman forged ahead.



We all skipped along for the last few miles.

Finally, we saw the finish looming up there.



Thank God.

Afterwards, nothing like some pancakes to really work a cramp out of your side.


Yes, my running buddy and I hit the high school cafe for pancakes and all was better.


You know, it was a great morning.

A sweet wide receiver came back and helped his lumbering lineman friend (and the lineman’s mama who was running out of tricks) finish the race.

And my son didn’t meltdown with disappointment. He rose to the challenge and played the ball where it lay that morning.

A raging cramp-in-the-side was a crummy lie.

Like I told the boys. “We might have been one of the last ones to finish, but we beat everyone who stayed in bed that morning.”

Not that staying in bed on a Saturday is such a bad thing. But you didn’t hear it from me.

Have you ever had to coach a child through disappointment?

Tough huh?

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Running on Empty. Chick-Fil-A Madison 5K

Early this spring my youngest told me he wanted to run three 5Ks.

Three races of 3.1 miles.

I wasn’t sure.

But we signed up for the Chick-Fil-A race that was today in Madison.

Now he has run 5Ks before. But it was at Disney World and there was over 5,000 runners. This would be through the streets we travel every day and with a few hundred entrants.

So how did it go?

We started with the pack.



And stayed with the pack.

It became apparent that he thought I was being pokey.


I was intentionally.

It’s just when you are a journalist you have to put personal records on the back burner and think of the integrity of your reporting.

And honestly, it was fun to run and walk at a relaxed pace.


Though my son was all business. As were the people dressed as cows.

A few of the masses cheering us runners on.


We kept running.

My son plowing ahead. Mumbling under his heavy breath, “let’s get her. The one in the blue cow spotted socks.” And nodded in the direction of a woman 10 yards ahead.


We made it to Mile 1.

Then Mile 2.


Then the last half a mile he became as a demon.

Refusing to be passed.

Unless someone passed him.

He finished ahead of me.


 For how else would I get a photo of him crossing the Finish line?

When he stopped he didn’t look so good. He sat down and looked sicky.

“I really don’t feel good.” He cried a little and sniffled a lot.

“Joe. You always push yourself past the point of no return. That can’t be taught. That fighting spirit will serve you well.”

‘I don’t like it,” he said. “It’s too painful.”

I got him up and walking around and he kept asking to leave.

When you child tells you he feels sick and wants to leave and doesn’t even care about puppies for adoption — you need to get that boy home.

Later that morning Dad came home and said that at the race site they had been looking for Joe.

He won second place in his age group.


Joe got something today. A thing much more important than a trinket on ribbon around his neck.

Something a parent can’t give a child no matter how much we’d like. He experienced a sense of accomplishment.

That’s one thing everyone has to earn on their own.

What do you think? Is accomplishment taught or caught?

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Home. Through the window pane.

Five Minutes.

The prompt: HOME


Four walls, some windows and a roof. Thank goodness for protection from the elements.

But there is not much a house can protect us from if a F5 tornado decides to veer toward our front door.

Or a world of tearing down and violence that seeps in every crevice and floats in on a wireless signal.


Long ago, listening to James Dobson speak on the radio, an image he remembered has stuck with me throughout the years.

After a particularly snippy round of his children’s bickering, he pulled them all to  a window and said paraphrasing here.

Look out there. It’s a tough, mean world and people and things are lurking to tear you all down. In here, we are going to build each other up  …


In this home we are going to build each other up by talking kind to each other and supporting each other. Right now this is the best we’ve got.

I bring that point up to my children frequently. Because some days they do battle. BATTLE.

Battling me, battling each other.

I take them to the window.

Our home means safe, encouragement, edification.

Even if I pull my hair out in secret to make it so.

What does “home” bring to your mind?

Linking up with Lisa Joe Baker and Five Minute Friday.  

Click on the badge and join us.


Five Minute Friday

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A little forced family run.

Linking up with Jana and Stream of Consciousness Sunday.

She encouraged our minds to run free this week. Blogging uncensored for five minutes on the subject of our choice.


More specifically running with my 9 year old. We’ve signed up for a family 5K end of next month. Part of all the enjoyment of this family fun is getting out and training with my son.


Five minutes starts now . . .


Are we having fun yet?

I feel like the line from Vacation when Clark Griswold says he’s on a quest for fun.

I’m on a quest for bonding, togetherness and good health with my 9 year old.

Good luck.

“Joe, let’s go out and run this afternoon.”

Wailing, sighing and gnashing of 9-year-old teeth.


Let me say that our running exists of running and walking (mostly walking) whenever he feels like it.

“Leash up the dog, Joe.”

Insert pleas of “I’ll clean up my room every day till I’m 35, if you don’t make me run.”

But I will not be deterred in this quest. Why you might ask?

Because when I drag his complaining 9-year-old booty out there — after the first painful 30 seconds — he ends up having fun. Or at least doing it and carrying on a nice conversation.



Okay. I played by the rules and stopped at five minutes. What I really wanted to say is that like most things involving children, it is never a Hallmark card moment like you imagined.

It is work and not much fun to get him out there most days. But when I do, it’s almost (yes, almost) always worth it.

I love him and he can be my little couch/computer potato child.

I love him too much to not force him outside for fresh air and body movement.

That goes for myself as well I guess. So signing off now to leash up the dog, drag my child away from Minecraft and go for a little run.

What about you? What do you drag yourself or your children out to do?


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Hope springs from a talking giraffe.

I just learned that Disney is releasing a movie on Oz.

As in the wizard. Not the M.D.

Now we’ll learn the real story behind that crazy yellow brick road and those flying monkeys.

Sometimes movies show us what’s really going down.

In the land of Oz. And in our children.

My son emailed me this video short he made.

Seems even though my constant good manner admonitions haven’t changed his behavior, at least they have trickled down to his animated characters.

There’s hope.


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Thanksgiving Feast with the King.

It was a make-up lunch.

Earlier in the week, my son asked if I could chaperon his field trip Tuesday. I couldn’t and he started trippin’ the guilt.

I quickly countered, “I’ll have lunch with you on Thursday.”

“And bring Burger King?” he quipped.

“And bring Burger King.” I agreed and hoped he would forget. Shame on me but I’m trying to get things done by the holiday and those hours they are at school count double.

He didn’t forget, so yesterday I raced up to Burger King and raced over to the school thinking I was late  — only to find a parking lot overflowing with cars.

The Thanksgiving Luncheon. Good grief. I completely forgot.

Dismissing a notion to throw the car in reverse, I parked and carried the Burger King bag into the entrance of the school that was packed with parents waiting for children dressed like this.

This arrived in the mail today. From Mother.

Me at around five. Visiting my grandparents, I put on my grandmother’s apron and Grandaddy snapped this shot. I guess I thought our Puritan fore-mothers wore aprons while they were mixing up all those pumpkin pies.

Finally I saw my son and we scampered to the parents’ table to eat. Another friend was there eating with his daughter. “I had no idea this was Thanksgiving lunch,” he said. “Is this new?”

I didn’t know and still felt irrationally embarrassed about bringing BK while all the other school children were eating turkey and dressing. It wasn’t like it was some sacred meal, right?

Getting ready to go I kissed my son.

“Sorry you missed out on Thanksgiving dinner, I didn’t know.”

“Oh I knew,” he replied. “That’s why I wanted you to bring me lunch. I hated it last year.”

Have your children had their school Thanksgiving feast?

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