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Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Price of an R-Rated Movie

Sunshine Boy is closing in on 16 years old in a few months.  In many ways, he’s an extraordinary young man who makes Mr. Sunshine and I very proud.  And in many ways, he’s very much a normal teenage boy, who makes Mr. Sunshine and I cringe.  As such, he has increasingly been asking to see movies we don’t necessarily want him to want to see.  Specifically, R-rated movies.

The other night, as I was in his room saying goodnight (can it still be called tucking him in if he’s almost 6 inches taller than I am?), he asked me if he could see “The Dictator”.  I asked what it was rated.

“R”, he said.

“Don’t you have to be 17 to be able to see an R-rated movie?” I asked pointedly, “How old are you?”

“R-teen.”

Nice try kid.

To be honest, we have started to allow him to see R-rated movies, and have found out after the fact that he has seen R-rated movies at friends’ houses without our knowledge or permission.  We realize that we are no where near as cool or hip (is that still a word?) as his friends’ parents who all allow their kids to see any R-rated movie they want.  We’re perfectly OK with that.

But when we allow Sunshine Boy to watch an R-rated movie, there is a price to pay beyond the ridiculously priced ticket and concessions. One of us gets to go to the movie with him, and sit with him. This way, it ensures he will be sufficiently uncomfortable during the scenes where he should be uncomfortable.

When I am the tag-along parent, I totally understand that watching sex scenes with your mom is uncomfortable.  That’s pretty much why I’m there.

And there is a “discussion” after the movie.  Always.  Where we talk aboout the movie.  All of it.  Not only does he have to watch any sex scenes in the movie with his mom sitting right next to him, he has to talk aboout it with his mom afterwards.

To be up front and honest, I generally HATE R-rated movies. (I am truly a G-rated movie kind of gal.) But I am trying to allow my son to grow up and be a part of his peer group. (We are well-acquainted with his friends and love and approve of them all, so far.  If a girl enters the picture, all bets are off.)  So if I’m forced to attend one of these R-rated movies as a good parent, I make it worth my time, and I have a little fun with it. There’s no crime in watching my kid squirm a little!

And then we come to Mr. Sunshine….. I am quite certain that when he takes Sunshine Boy to an R-rated movie, he is “one of the boys”. I imagine him springing for the large popcorn and refillable sodas, laughing out loud at all the “right” places, and walking out of the theater, arm around our son’s equally-tall shoulder, both laughing at the raunchy humor.  And probably laughing at how they got away with watching an R-rated movie and both enjoying it, behind my back.  (But not really.)

So Sunshine Boy will probably get to see “The Dictator”.  And so will Mr. Sunshine.  And I will get to avoid seeing it myself (thank God!).  And we’ll all pretend that Mr. Sunshine made Sunshine Boy aware of all of the inappropriate humor while we all know that they just spent “Man Time” together.  And Sunshine Boy would never spend time with his father if anyone actually called it “Man Time” out loud.  But knowing that our time is rapidly shrinking as Sunshine Boy gets closer to a driver’s license, “Man Time” is the price we charge to see an R-rated movie.

It’s a steep price, but I think we’re OK with that.

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Neighborhood Covert Operations

Maybe you’ve already picked up on the fact that we tend to be fairly patriotic in our house.  (See Land of the FreeJust American, and Raising Patriots)  Apparently Mr. Sunshine and Sunshine Boy decided to take it to a whole new level today.  But to totally understand, you will need a little more background.

Mr. Sunshine is retired from the US Army.  He takes great pride in the flag that flies in front of our house, and becomes quite perturbed when he sees an American flag in disrepair.

Approximately 3 years ago we had new neighbors move in across the street and almost immediately, they hung a beautiful new American flag on their front porch.  We were tickled pink, and complimented them.  But their flag flies on the eastern side of their house, is often in the shade of the beautiful huge oak tree in their front yard, and their flag gets more moisture than ours and doesn’t tend to dry out completely.  Because of that, it wasn’t long before it began to show wear and tear with dirt and mildew and fading.  To say that it was becoming a thorn in the side of Mr. Sunshine would be an understatement.

Now don’t misunderstand our relationship with these neighbors.  We actually have a very good relationship with them.  We talk often.  We joke around.  We politely confront each other about animal graveyards and barking dogs and roaming dogs and proper outdoor attire.  The wife and I are great supports for each other.  We’ve spent holidays together and gotten to know extended family.  But for some reason, we never felt comfortable bringing up the topic of the flag needing to be replaced and retired.  Mr. Sunshine mentioned to me the idea of replacing it for them, but I nipped that idea in the bud (or so I thought).  I explained that if we  do it for them, much like our children, they won’t learn to take care of it themselves.  (I know I could say this to their faces, and I’m sure they would respond much like my kids:  with an eye roll.)

Then, two weeks ago we went out to dinner with a couple who are like-minded when it comes to flag flying protocol.  They related a story of how the husband had gone out in the wee hours of the morning to replace their neighbor’s worn flag with a brand new one, without the neighbor knowing.  To the best of their knowledge, the neighbor still hadn’t realized they had a new flag flying on their house.  I watched Mr. Sunshine’s eyes light up, and I knew it was just a matter of time before our neighbor’s flag was replaced.

So that brings us to today.  I took our daughter out to spend some gift cards she had been accumulating.  I left Mr. Sunshine and Sunshine boy at home, content in the knowledge that they wouldn’t get into trouble with their list of to-do’s, and just enough time to lounge in the pool before I got home.  Apparently, Mr. Sunshine saw this as his chance to defy my edict.

Mr. Sunshine enlisted Sunshine Boy to go out and buy a flag and new pole for the neighbor, probably as soon as I was out of the driveway.  Then he had him go steal the old flag.

Then Sunshine Boy put the flag/pole kit together, and, according to Mr. Sunshine, paraded across the street as if leading a marching band.  So much for covert.

In the meantime, Mr. Sunshine was here at home, snapping “before”, “during”,  and “after” pictures of the neighbor’s front porch.  My guess is that he was hiding behind the Magnolia tree in case the neighbors came home and caught Sunshine Boy in the act.  Mr. Sunshine would have allowed Sunshine Boy to divert their attention as he made a beeline into the garage, no doubt.

But, they were not caught in the act.  The new flag was hung.  They were proud undercover soldiers.  I received pictures from Sunshine Boy bragging of their success and about what great neighbors we are.

When I got home from shopping, I had to admit that the new flag did look beautiful.  I wondered if and when our neighbors would notice their new flag.  Then the neighbors got home and immediately texted me, asking if we replaced their flag.  (Kind of disappointing that they immediately suspected us, but not really surprising.)  I played dumb on texts at first, until they mentioned what they were going to do with the old flag.  I asked where the old flag was.  “Folded up on the rocker.”

My undercover soldiers left evidence.  So much for covert.

All in all, it turned out great.  The neighbors laughed (they said “lol” in a text, so I know they laughed out loud) and thanked us for the flag.  And now we get to look out our front window and see our neighbor’s beautiful flag flying in the breeze!  Mission accomplished.  Good work soldiers!

Story of Their Lives

My favorite picture, ever!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every  purpose under the heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

If you have spent any amount of time on this planet, you are aware that things change.  This is particularly evident when you become a parent.  You watch the rapid progression of your newborn into an infant, into a crawler, into a toddler, and then you blink and they’re graduating high school.

While we’re not at that season in our lives yet, I can see the speed of time increasing exponentially.  My daughter just graduated from middle school, and we officially have two high schoolers living in our home now.  And while I am by no means the type of parent who wishes time would stop, I am realizing that the older my kids are, the faster the hands on the clock spin.  And I find that this is a time that I, and many friends with high schoolers, tend to reflect on our roles as parents.  And why wouldn’t we?  Our roles are rapidly changing with our children, and we are all on uneven ground here.

My baby boy

Some of my friends in this stage of life see the horizon as foreboding as they prepare for an empty nest.  They look upon these seasons of change with melancholy and a longing for the past.  They miss the precious little baby they could cuddle in their arms and snuggle while sleeping.  They long for the innocent toddler whose safety and security could be assured by scaring away the monsters under the bed.  They miss the magic of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.  To me, that feels like living life looking backwards; and it might cause me to miss out on the joy in the here and now, and the hope for the future.

Maybe you’ve met those parents who seem to be counting the days when their kids are out of their house?  To when their unruly teens will finally be out of their hair.  To their freedom from parenting moody and grouchy teenagers.  Or breaking the short leash a busy-but-not-yet-licensed-to-drive teen keeps them on for chauffeur services.  Or a break from the astronomical grocery bills a teen causes them to incur.  Or the end of seemingly non-stop homework, projects, and last-minute school supplies.  Or maybe they look forward to a future of a quiet, empty house.  Of a schedule that is theirs alone.  Or to grandchildren; eager to hold that tiny sleeping infant in their arms again.  But it’s always a “We’re not there yet.” approach.  While I admit to having adopted this outlook more lately, I will also admit that it feels like an unsatisfied approach; always reaching for something out of grasp.

So, over the years I’ve tried to take a healthy mix of these approaches.  When I look back on my children’s lives, I don’t do it with longing or sadness for what has been lost.  I do it with appreciation, and even amazement, at what has been.  I appreciate the incredible human beings God has loaned to me.  I appreciate having been able to be present, truly present, at points of their lives.  I am so thankful that I know who they are at their cores.  I love the fact that we have inside jokes from years ago, born of tons of time spent together.  I am truly amazed at how they learn, sometimes in spite of the obstacles they have had to encounter.  And I’m wowed by their character, and their ability to surround themselves with friends of equally exemplary character.

My baby girl

I’m also thankful that God has allowed me to grow and develop as a parent.  There are some lessons in life that I didn’t truly learn until I became a parent.  There are struggles and pain and joy and laughter that I could only experience as a mom.  And I can’t put into words how grateful I am for those experiences.  For how they have shaped me as a person.  God has used these two beautiful souls to help me grow.

Because of the truly awe-inspiring people that my children have always been, and who they are, and who they will continue to be, I am approaching this stage of their lives as an eager observer.  Their lives are a story whose first chapter is coming to a close.  But the rest of the story is bursting to unfold in front of us.  I am enjoying watching them continue to develop into the people God has made them to be.  I am honored to be involved with helping to guide them, when needed, to follow right paths.  And I look forward to watching the story of their lives unfold, and watching the ups and downs of the roller coaster ahead, with all of its twists and turns, highs and lows.  Because this isn’t an end, but a continuation of a story authored by a loving, gracious, powerful and mighty God!  And he authors some pretty amazing stories!

This is a wonderfully written assessment of homeschool from a first-year homeschooling mom. Plus, she’s a great friend!

Frolicking Flamingo

Well, we’ve come to the end of our first year of homeschooling and Casey and I have learned a few things.  In addition to diagramming sentences and picking up a little Latin vocabulary, Casey has learned how to make stop motion videos and kayak.  He’s also started his own blog, played the Rat King in the Pied Piper, and auditioned for the Gulf Coast Children’s Choir (he was accepted).

On the other hand, I have learned that math causes physical pain.  I personally have not experienced any physical pain, but it must cause pain for Casey, given that just the mention of division can bring tears to his eyes.

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25 Years and Counting

Once upon a time, waaaaaaay back when, I met this skinny young man in my 9th grade English class.  He sat in the row behind me and to my left.  His best friend sat right next to me, so they cut up a lot.  They thought they were funny.  I thought they were annoying and distracting.  I remember trying to “discipline” them and get them to act right.  No such luck.

Our first date.

Then, in 10th grade, this same young man was in several of my classes again.  For some reason, he still thought he was funny.  I still didn’t.  I knew he was annoying and distracting, and I further determined that his pracical jokes were beginning to go too far.  So I went around undoing them.  I would watch him put classmates’ books on top of speakers mounted on the wall, and before the unsuspecting classmate discovered their books missing, I retrieved them and arranged them on their desk neatly.  Then I would “gently” lecture him on the proper way to treat people, sure that he would see the error of his ways and fly right.  Again, no such luck.

Moving on to 11th grade, we were again placed in a class together.  This time, it was Trigonometry.  I struggled from day one.  But this class clown didn’t.  Turns out, he was actually pretty smart.  And as I ran into him at school events, I discovered he was kind and considerate too.  He offered me his jacket and tie at a soccer game when he noticed I was cold.  (Yes, he wore a tie to school every day.  It was the 80’s.)  We ended up double dating to Homecoming our Junior year.  Special things were said.  By the end of the year, we were a couple.

That was over 29 years ago.  Today, that class clown and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.  It’s been a hard road at times.  We weren’t sure we were going to make it.  But we have, by the grace of God.  And with love.  And hard work.  And perseverence.  And determination.  And kindness.  And consideration.  And yes, laughter.  Because that class clown’s sense of humor is one of the things I love most about him.

Land of the Free

Mr. Sunshine and I had the pleasure of having coffee and dessert with some elderly neighbors of ours a few nights ago.  We had spent time with them before in neighborhood social gatherings and knew a little about them.  But that night we had them all to ourselves.  I took full advantage of the short time we spent with them to learn about them and their history.  Since they love to talk, it wasn’t hard work.  🙂  We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them better, and hearing about “Their Story” (the wife started her reminiscing with “Dis story is aboud 50 years old”.  I love how she saw her life as a story!)  But the conversation ended on a somewhat eerie note as you’ll see below.

This couple are both in their mid 70’s.  They are both originally from a middle eastern country.  They both came to this country in the early 1950’s.  They both practice the Bahia faith, which is considered punishable by death in their native country.  He arrived with a Bachelor’s Degree and $25 in his pocket.  They both admitted they really didn’t speak English.  And they didn’t know each other when they got here.

They moved to America and got menial jobs just to be able to survive.  They put themselves through school and rose through the ranks of their respective careers.  They dabbled in  real estate investing; losing a little here, making a little there.  They had babies who would be American citizens by birth.  They raised those babies in this country so that they would enjoy the freedoms their parents didn’t have as children.  They watched their children grow up, become successful, and have families of their own.  And they appreciated all of the freedoms and opportunities they had here in America.  They lived the American Dream.

I can’t imagine how much courage this took.  To leave your homeland.  To leave your family.  To travel across an entire ocean.  To arrive with only $25 in your pocket.  To try to speak the new language.  To eat strange new foods.  To try to get a job.  Or to further your education.  And to practice a faith that is still considered a minority in your new country.  Why in the world would anyone do this?

They had an aswer to that question:  Freedom.  They came not just because they feared for their safety and for their very lives.  They came so that they would enjoy freedom of religion.  So that their beliefs would be respected.

But before we finished our conversation with them, they left us with a warning.  They said that as they watch what is going on in America today, they fear we are going to lose our freedoms if we don’t wake up.  They suggested that every American visit a country that doesn’t enjoy the freedoms we have, so that we would really know what we have.

I plan to spend more time with this elderly immigrant couple.  And I plan to take my kids along with me (probably grudgingly).  The kids will probably question whether this couple has something to teach with “their story”?  Shouldn’t we pay attention to them?  Shouldn’t we learn how valuable our freedoms are?  Before we let them slip away.