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Dear Parents:

A letter to the parents at my kids’ alma mater, Minnetonka High School:
Today is the first day in 17 years I haven’t had the first day of school dash. I (sort of) envy you all! If it’s your first day of high school, know that there are so many moments ahead — great and awful. Sorry, but it’s true. Always remember it’s the bad stuff that gives us the perspective to know what is truly awesome. It’s those eye-rolling “you don’t understand” heated discussions that make you cherish those times when you find them watching a Pixar movie they adored as a kiddo, and ask you to sit down and watch too.
 
BTW: the school is not that big once you get to know it (do friendly presence and see for yourself), they really don’t need lockers or coats to survive, and every kid’s path is the right one. Don’t let anyone tell you differently: I refused to allow my daughter to take more than two honors classes her freshman year, and some gasped. The teachers and counselors thought I was brilliant. She graduated honors roll every quarter, with tons of AP and IB. My other one? Barely graduated, in part because “they” told me he had to do honors classes and it screwed his path up. He’s good now, but his academic career would’ve been better if I had listened to my gut. Listen to yours. But know you will make mistakes. It’s cool.
 
If you are sending your last one off on their senior year: yes, you will say “last time” a lot this year. Don’t dwell: enjoy. If you see a lot of your kid, that’s great. If you have to ask for proof of life snapchats because they are so busy soaking in all the lasts, that’s fantastic, even if it doesn’t feel that way.  It means they are ready. And when they are finally gone, it makes the emptiness seem normal!
Encourage them to do EVERYTHING.
Take risks — pick the college that you have never heard of, rather than the one everyone is attending, if it is the right one.  If it ends up not being the right one, change schools.
Make mistakes: better to learn how to recover from them at home than without the family safety net. Tell them it’s ok if they don’t know what they want to do: 95% of the kids who say they do, don’t. Or will change their mind. That’s fine. If they want to learn a trade, let them. They will be financially well off and always employed (seriously: I have people from three different blue collar trades coming to my house this week. They will be handsomely paid and I will fawn over them when they fix what I could not. Think about it).
Tell them to go to the dance/the party/the concert/the play/the game.  Ask that guy/girl out.  If it sucks, it was one night they’ll never remember.  If it is awesome, it just might be that one night they will never forget.
 
And you?
 
Hang out with friends. Take a class. Talk with your spouse. No spouse? Do something you’ve always wanted to do but a significant other might’ve gotten in the way. Do not wait until the kids are gone to start filling those empty spaces. We are so busy every weekend that we rarely miss the kids. I mean, I would kill to hear my daughter sing, but that’ll come (she’ll gig over winter break at Excelsior Brewing Company — watch for my pathetically excited posts). I’ll visit her for parents’ weekend in Nashville in a couple weeks. She’s coming home for Homecoming. My son will return for a visit in October from Seattle, and we’re taking him and his buddy to Vegas in November for the first time.
Sure, I miss them.  But as much as I love them, I don’t need them. And they don’t need me the same way anymore. And it’s okay.
 
So enjoy the frenzy. Take the pictures. Hope that they tell you more than “it was fine” when you ask about their day later — whether face to face or via text (both are ok). You do you. They will do they. And you will all have a great year!
Go Tonka!

One down, one to go!

Got back last night from Syracuse, NY, where Singer Girl was auditioning.

As you’ll recall from my last post, ’tis been a bit stressful around these parts.  I have been trying to find my inner grown up, and held my tongue and smiled pleasantly a lot over the last few days. We flew in a day early to tour the campus.  I had already decided to spring for the club level at the Sheraton — a brilliant call, if I may say so (and I may.  It’s my blog, after all).  The extra cash got us free breakfast, and snacks and our own bar in the evenings, plus the club room was open 24 hours.

That was the best part.  Singer Girl was wound a little tight.  She has always been angry if anyone was home when she needed to rehearse, often refusing to even do a warm up unless I left the house (so she didn’t warm up.  Until she pays the mortgage, she is not kicking me out of my own home, thankyouverymuch). But because of the club room, she got the hotel room to herself for awhile, and I just took my laptop and hung out with Mr. Wine.  Win-win, wine-wine!

When she texted me the all clear, she was starving.  Room service was an obvious choice, as we were travel worn and not willing to put shoes, or bras, back on and go out in public.  But I pulled a teaching moment: if she wanted a steak brought to her under a silver platter, SHE needed to place the order.  She was horrified. She refused.  “I can’t! I don’t know how!” I shrugged, and said I didn’t need to eat. She, however, was ravenous.  She stared at the phone, terrified, absolutely flummoxed on how to start (kids these days.)  I showed her the little button on the phone that said room service, and she dipped her toe into the shallow waters of independence.  A hurdle had been crossed.  A woman dependent on over-priced mashed potatoes and tiny salt and pepper shakers was born.

Next day was the tour, which was cool.  Very pretty campus, Syracuse.  People were friendly, weather wasn’t anything we weren’t used to, school seems to have what she needs.  The rest of the day we were hotel bound; she did homework and texted Drummer Boy, I worked on planning parties for puppies and high school seniors. That evening she needed more practice time, and so I was sent to “my room,” where I met my new best friend.  The lovely gal working the bar greeted me with a warning: “I pour big.”

Come to mama!

My already-oversized glass brimming with Merlot, I sat down and worked some more.  A little later the Wine Fairy brought over a second glass — on the house — also perilously close to overflowing. Damn, gurl. I’m not sure what work I got done, or which emails I sent, but if you got some sloppy declaration of love, I apologize. And I hope I didn’t volunteer for something new… My Bartender Angel announced she had to close up — would I like anotherhouse? Um, I had barely finished half the second one — but she insisted on topping it off.

Needless to say: if Singer Girl ends up at Syracuse, I know where I will stay for parents weekend.

The next morning was the audition.  I tiptoed around the room, giving her her space.  I watched surreptitiously as she pulled out her wardrobe choices.  We had yet to discuss clothing options, as I was fiercely rebuffed on the subject last week.  It’s a delicate dance, when asked “do you think I should wear this or this?” when neither are what you would’ve picked, but her only choices are what’s in the suitcase and it’s not about you anyway.  Several changes later, she was ready, looking very cute, even if not wearing what I had read she should wear.

But she was right, and I was wrong.

Yes, she was the only girl not in a skirt or dress. Yes, her bra straps showed. Yes, she wore bright yellow doc martens instead of the more modest dark colored boots and heels of the other musicians.  But she was herself, and the others in the room sort of regarded her as a threat for being so unique.  The judges in the audition told her they just loved her boots.  She bonded with one over their shared love of Led Zeppelin.  She came out of that audition beaming, lighter than I’d seen her in months.  I don’t know if she got in, but she was glad it was done.

Next week we fly to Miami for her second and last audition.  I learned this week that most of the musicians were doing auditions numbering in the double digits — made me nervous we were putting her eggs in too few baskets.  That thought re-occurred when I learned that at Syracuse they were only accepting 40 students in the music school for 2018 — and only 10 in her program.  Gulp.  But she will be good. I have faith in her — those boots were made for singing.

I don’t know what she will wear for the audition in Miami — but I know it can’t be the same outfit.  We did have one crisis moment: she had left the waiting room to go warm up, then came back a few minutes late, loudly whispering,  “Hey mom! I need your help!”

WWWWWHHHHAAATTTT?

I rushed out, eager to see what she needed.  Was it a word of encouragement? A hug?

Nope. Her zipper broke — did I have any safety pins? I did not. But this was my moment.  My MOMent.  Why I was there.  I rushed about, asking total strangers for safety pins.  It was looking dire.  I finally found a woman in an office who dredged some out of her junk drawer, plus requisitioned some cute “Go Syracuse!” buttons that were to go on jacket lapels.  It wasn’t pretty, but her pants stayed up. And I helped.  We’ll never forget that moment — even as she had one foot out the door, on her way to the future, she had to turn back to mom one last time.

No matter what happens in Miami, we will always have Syracuse.

(Oh yeah: I finally got my new car! She’s a 2018 Mazda Cx9, and I luff her.  Actually bought her last weekend, but we decided to add a few things — roof rack, remote engine starter and some rust protection coating stuff, as car warranties against rust are null and void in Minnesota, the land of road salt. They’d have had her ready mid week, but we were going to be gone, so we waited until today.  Went to get my new wheels — and we couldn’t register the remote starter as the computer insists that it already belongs to someone else.  The baffled staff had never seen that before — so they need to bring her back in to get that fixed.  Of course. Two steps forward, one step back!)

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