Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful For My Sanity

With Thanksgiving only days away, this is the time of year to pause and take stock of all we must be grateful for in our lives.

I am thankful for my family, a roof over my head and food on the table. I am thankful that Penn State beat Michigan in football this year. And I am most thankful that I still have my sanity because my 12-year-old is driving me insane.

He has apparenly decided to go for the title of class clown in middle school and has been acting up in class. He received an after-school detention last week for misbehaving for a substitute teacher.

Apparently, he has no problem doing homework or worksheets in school, but remembering to turn them in is another issue. He has been turning them in late (for only half credit) if he hands them in at all. He scrambled at the end of the last marking period to bring several grades up to a C. But he seems to think that since he got Cs and Bs on his report card instead of Ds or Fs, that this perfectly acceptable.

If this is not bad enough, his attitude in general leaves much to be desired. We are likely to get a smart answer or an argument over the slightest little thing these days.

We as his parents and his teachers know he is capable of a much better performance, so this is not acceptable in our household. It has resulted in the loss his much-beloved video games. Although this has encouraged a slight--and I do mean slight--improvement, more drastic measures are needed.

We have decided that since he wants a cell phone badly, he will receive one only if he makes the honor roll for the rest of the school year. However, instead of accepting it and working toward the goal, Sean prefers to go for the loopholes.

"What if I get all As and Bs and one C-plus," he asked recently.

"It doesn't count if it's not As and Bs," I said.

"But it's close!"

"Not part of the deal."

"Okay, but what if I got all As and just that one C-plus. Does it count?"

This child is wasting his talents in middle school. He should be in the Middle East negotiating a peace settlement.

I am hoping that wisdom and knowledge will descend from the heavens and settle on his stubborn little head. In the meantime, I have been forced to be the video game police and the locker and backpack monitor conducting weekly inspections for missing school papers.

I have been assured by friends and family who have been through this stage with their sons that Sean will eventually outgrow this and become more serious and cooperative. This, too, shall pass.

In the meantime, I will keep praying for wisdom and strength in the hope that strange people in little white coats will not need to cart me away in a straight jacket. And eating lots of chocolate to diffuse all that stress.

Thank God for the power of prayer--and big bags of Hershey kisses.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Lesson Learned Too Soon

When we think back on 2009, I think we will recall this as the year of losses. We have lost jobs, pets, beloved family members, and--more recently--a dear friend.

One of Shannon's best friends, Autumn Sova, died October 7th at the age of 14. She had been at the University of Michigan hospital awaiting surgery for an aortic aneurysm when she passed away.

The aneurysm was discovered about a week earlier when Autumn had pains in her ribs. An x-ray revealed what doctors thought was a cyst on her rib cage, but an MRI proved the situation to be much more critical. She was in the hospital for about a week while the doctors waited for the inflammation in her aorta to subside. On the night of October 7th, Autumn told her mother she did not feel well and immediately began having seizures. Doctors tried for an hour to revive her, but the aneurysm had burst and she was gone.

Losing someone who spent so much time at our home has been difficult on all of us. Autumn's funeral was the toughest service I have ever had to get through. No one should have to bury a 14-year-old.

No one is having a tougher time than Shannon. The loss of a friend with whom she ate lunch at school almost daily and shared dreams and confidences has been just heartbreaking for her. Although doing better in the weeks following the funeral, the slightest reminder of Autumn will still cause her to burst into tears.

We have spent a lot of time talking about how Autumn would want Shannon to remember her, and how a person so full of spunk and laughter would not want anyone to be sad when they thought of her. We talk about living her life in a way that would make her friend proud.

We also talk a lot about holding dear to the people we care about in our lives--especially friends. I have always told her to choose her friends carefully and to surround herself with people who make her feel positive and good about herself. I did not think we would have to have a discussion this early on how to go on when those people are unexpectedly taken from your life.

Even though it is early in life for Shannon to learn a lesson this harsh, I hope she will take from it the importance of not taking anyone ffor granted. It's a lesson that we all need to be reminded of occassionally. None of knows how long those dear to us will be on the earth. Make sure they know how much they bring into our lives, and don't miss an opportunity to bring something special into theirs.

We will miss you, Autumn.