Monday, April 16, 2012

Coming In Last, Feeling Like First

Max: Mom, did you see that I came in last in everything. But you know? That's OK.

This weekend, I got a lesson in courage from my 10-year-old. Each year his school has a track meet and all kids are encouraged to participate. Max was never interested—until this year.

As we talked more, Max went on to tell me that he realizes he’s not that great at sports. “I’m good at other things but I do want to try the track meet just to see what it’s like.” I love that Max realizes that he has many other talents. I also love that he’s branching out.

So on Saturday afternoon, Max gathered with his fellow 4th graders at McGuiness Field and the events began. He lined up each time, smiled and gave me a thumbs-up and took off. At the end of whatever event—when he came in last— he waved at me in the bleachers and always had a grin. As I smiled and waved back, tears stung my eyes more than once. I wanted him to experience success and win just one of the competitions. But why? He was having a ball, regardless of where he placed.

As I thought more, I realized that Max was experiencing success. He was trying something new, putting himself out there, maybe even knowing down deep that he may not win, but doing it anyway. I don’t know many adults who feel completely comfortable putting themselves out there but for Max, that’s what it was all about.

The last event was the softball throw and Max was up last. He threw the ball and his friends ran to him, lifting him up and cheering. Did he throw the farthest? No, but those sweet boys knew Max did something that afternoon that was new to him and they were proud of their friend. More tears from me. Then we piled in the car and sharing custard at fries at Freddy’s with his friends.

As we talked at bedtime, I told him how proud I was of him and that he taught me a big lesson. “Oh Mom, I wasn’t the best but it was my first time. I can try again next year. You never know, I may just get better.

I think he's already the best.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Politics, Popularity and Kid Rock

Max: I think Mitt Romney made a bad choice on his campaign song.
Me: (Stunned that he's discussing Mitt Romney and apparently knows his campaign song) OK, well, what is it?
Max: It's by Kid Rock. Really? Kid Rock? Who picks Kid Rock?
Me: Apparently Mitt Romney.
Max: Someone should tell him Kid Rock is just not popular.

I guess Max is paying attention to the world of politics. And it sounds like he knows more than I do. This isn't the first political conversation we've shared. I got an earful about Obama (Max thinks he is to blame for just about all that's wrong right now, which means he's been talking to his grandmother). He's quizzed me about who I think should be our president and he definitely thinks "a girl will be president someday." Love that!

I'm not sure I remember knowing much about politics when I was his age. But I also didn't have access to the overload of media that Max and other kids have today. Heck, we only had three TV stations. (Max can't imagine how I survived.)  I pay attention to what he's watching, searching and Googling but I also know Max is curious and truly interested in history  and current events. So if he'd rather watch The Today Show instead of Sponge Bob, I'm fine with that. But I'm also certain to talk to him to make sure he understands and that what he sees or reads may not always be true. 

As the presidential campaign continues you may get more insight from my 10-year-old political analyst. In the meantime, you might rethink that Kid Rock CD in your car. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

With A Little Help From My Friends...

"Mom, don't be sad that you can't run. It's OK to take a break sometimes."

This weekend, I did something I haven't done since I became a runner: I was a spectator. Thanks to the stress fracture in my fourth metatarsal and the lovely Frankenshoe, I've got at least 10 days (but who's counting) until I can even think about running.

The past few weeks without running has made me realize a few things. One, I've been pushing myself too much, not listening to my body and not running my own race. No matter how I felt or what hurt, I ran. I wasn't letting myself recover after long runs and I didn't take time off after my fall marathon. So basically, I have myself to thank for this. Lesson learned.

I prepared myself to cheer on my friends at the Rock & Roll Half in Dallas and I let myself feel sad & disappointed. But I quickly let let it go. Wallowing in self-pity would do no good and it's not my style. I had a cow bell to ring, a sign to hold and encouragement to give--to my running buddies and complete strangers.

While I stood in various points along the 13.1 mile route, I scanned the crowd for faces of my friends and found myself watching those I didn't know. I wondered about their running story: Was it their first half? Their 20th? Was the smile on their face real or were they struggling? Why did they become a runner? Are they doing something they never thought they'd do?

Even though I had no other choice, I was exactly where I needed to be on Sunday...cheering, encouraging, offering hugs & "you can do it" because that's what my friends needed. And it's what I needed too. While I was there to encourage them, they ultimately encouraged me. I experienced the sport I love from a new vantage point and it reminded me why I run.

Around mile 9, I stood holding my sign as a woman ran past & pointed at my boot. "Next race, you'll be back stronger than before."

Yes I will.

(About the photo above: This was the sign we held. It elicited tons of laughs. Mark and I decided if there was a contest for best sign a the Rock & Roll Half, we would have won.)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Booking It

"Mom, I just love books. Books can take you places, give you adventures, make you feel happy, sad, scared and excited. I just feel so good when I have a book."

Books and reading were a part of Max's life long before he was born. Gifts of books were bestowed upon him when he was still in my belly. When I found myself on bedrest, I embarked on the Harry Potter series and often read aloud; thinking baby Max might enjoy hearing about wizards and such.

Max’s very first very present after he was born was a copy of Where the Wild Things Are. A more appropriate gift couldn't be found. During Max's 5 weeks in the NICU, his Dad and I read The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other childhood favorites just so he could hear our voices.

I've always been a reader and nothing made me happier at age 10 than a Judy Blume book and an afternoon to myself. I have vivid memories of Saturday trips to Southern Oaks Library with my Mom. I'd grab a few books and race to the carpeted castle in the children's section where I would climb to the top and lose myself in whatever book I'd found on the shelf. Trips to the bookstore were always a treat and to this day I know that even when money was tight, Mom rarely said no to a book.

Max loves going to the library and exploring bookstores and like my mother, I rarely say no to a book. I joke that Max has his own library in his room with shelves overflowing and stacks of books on his bed. We go through his books often and donate those he's ready to pass along to his school library. And on occasion, we deliver a stack or two to his pediatrician.

It would be na├»ve of me to think that all kids are as fortunate as Max. There are too many children in our state and country who don’t get the opportunity to have books at their fingertips, enjoy weekly bookstore visits or even trips to the library.

Reach Out and Read Oklahoma is doing its part to change this. A national program started locally by my college friend and Delta Gamma sorority sister Dr. Marny Dunlap, Reach Out and Read strives to deliver specialized early literacy counseling and support. This is achieved by the access pediatric primary care providers have to children while they are in their critical years of cognitive and language development – 6 months through 5 years old.

Three program components include:

At each well-child visit from 6 months through 5 years, children receive a new, developmentally and culturally appropriate children's book from medical providers. By the time they begin school, children acquire a home
library of at least 10 beautiful children's books.

In the examination room, physicians and nurse practitioners offer tips and age-appropriate advice about the importance of reading with their young children, including materials to take home.

Volunteers read stories and look at books with children in clinic waiting rooms, thereby modeling for the parents reading aloud techniques.

There are 37 Reach Out and Read clinic locations throughout Oklahoma and over 17,00 children participate each year. Thanks to this program over 25,138 books are distributed annually--creating readers and lovers of books from an early age. If you’d like to learn more about Reach Out and Read Oklahoma or maybe even volunteer, visit

And to quote Jacqueline Kennedy:

"There are many little ways to enlarge a child’s world. Loving books is the best of all”

I couldn’t agree more.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Checking My Work

Max: Mom, I've noticed something. You haven't posted on Musings by Max in awhile.
Me: Are you checking up on me?
Max: No. Well, kind of. I just like to see what you write.
Me: I am behind. I have lots of ideas in my head and I need to make the time to write.
Max: Well, it is called Musings by Max. Maybe I should just take over.

Ouch. I was definitely called on the carpet by the kid. I do have blog ideas that are great and funny and insightful but I haven't made the time to write them. I have the time, I just need to make the time. Two very different things.

Since I left my full-time, 8-5 job (or 8-8 or 7-9, depending on the day) seven months ago, you'd think I would have all time time in the world to do those things I said I would: cleaning out every cabinet, learn Italian, write more, keep the house clean, take a photography class, organize closets, paint the bedroom and the list goes on. But alas, not so much. What have I done? Treasured seeing Max's smiling face as he runs to the car after school each day, enjoyed yogurt dates to talk about what we both did during the day, cooked more, listened more, become a better yogi, appreciated more, prayed more, walks with the crazy puppy, developed new friendships and learned to love quiet. Much better than cleaning cabinets, if I do say so myself.

But I do love writing and blogging and goodness knows Max gives me plenty of topics to cover. So for this, I will make time. And maybe I will make time for the occasionally cleaning of a closet. Or drawer. But if I fall off the blogging wagon again, know this blog's namesake will gladly take over.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Letter to My 4th Grader

Max: Mom, I am in 4th grade. I am so proud!

Dear Max,

As you embark on 4th grade, which I honestly can’t believe, (weren’t you just 2 yesterday?) I want to pass on a little advice. At 9, my advice is most likely still welcome but there will come a day when you will be 100% certain you know more than me. But for now, you still think I’m fairly smart, so here goes:

Be kind – To your friends, to your teacher, to strangers and especially to those who can be unkind. They need it the most.

Be persistent – Things can be tough sometimes. Learning something new, developing a new skill—it's often frustrating. Don’t let it get the best of you. Try, then try more. Don’t give up.

Be true – Be true to yourself and who you are. Just because someone else loves something doesn’t mean you have to. Love what you love.

Be content – It’s easy to look at what others have and wish for their life or what they have. Be grateful for what you have because it is exactly what you need.

Be strong – Sometimes going along with the crowd is the easy thing to do but stand strong to the things you know are right.

Be courageous – New things can be a little scary but persevering and trying something new can open the doors to things you never imagined.

Be proud – Of who you are, what you have accomplished, of where you’re going.

Be yourself - You are the only—and best—you in the world. Don’t change for anyone.

An amazing year is ahead of you, sweet boy. As a matter of fact, an amazing life is ahead of you. I am so proud of you and am lucky to be your mom.

I love you,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lovey Dovey

“Mom, I feel like I am growing up but is it OK if I always have my lovey?”

Lovey. Issy. Blankey. Pompy. Chicken. These are actual names used by kids I know (or adults) for their soft, cuddly blanket.

I started thinking about the love of blankets the other day when a friend of mine texted me. Her daughter, now 7, found the soft, silky Little Giraffe-brand blanket I bought her when she was born. She asked where it came from. My friend explained it was a gift and her daughter replied, “I love blankey and it will be with me forever.”

I wasn’t a blanket kid. I had my thumb—it was always with me and I couldn’t lose it. But it did cost my parents thousands in orthodontist bills. Sorry, Mom. But I have a blanket kid— a lovey kid to be exact. Max has had his lovey since birth and still has it. You can see what is left of it in the picture above. He rubbed it to go to sleep, scared me by laying with it over his face while he slept, and took long sniffs of it and got the same drunk look on his face every time.

Lovey soothed boo-boos, nightmares, shots and was there after 3 surgeries. It was also introduced to every new stuffed animal that came into the house. “Knuffle Bunny, meet Lovey,” I once heard him say. When he was younger it went everywhere, even to preschool for naptime. Now, it remains in his bed to snuggle with when he sleeps. It doesn’t go to sleepovers or Scout camp but it did just leave for a week in Ohio. But I was told not to tell. Whoops.

“What would people say, Mom, if they knew a 9 year old was still carrying a lovey?” he asked.

“Don’t you think some of your friends have stuffed animals or blankets? Why don’t you ask B?” (“B” is a new friend who is starting 4th grade with Max. And a girl. She’s awesome, according to Max. And me.)

“Mom, she is a girl and girls are supposed to love soft cuddly things. Duh.”

Well, allrighty then.

So I explained that if lovey makes him happy, soothes him or helps him fall asleep then that is just fine. It is his business. No one has to know. (Well, except for the 22 of you who follow my blog. Pinky swear you won’t tell, K?)

“OK, Mom that sounds good and it can just be my secret, because it does make me feel good. And I think it always will,” he said. “Even when I am a grown up."