Thursday, November 20, 2008

We Can Do Hard Things!

Packing for china...easy. Turning 40...easy. Walking on hot coals...easy. Having your oldest son turn 18...NOT EASY!!

As I've said before, many times before, I don't mind aging. I like it. For me and for other people. As long as it's not my own children! It's always a little painful for me when they have birthdays. A little melancholy, a little pang of reluctance, considering that they are one step closer to leaving me. When they were infants, at least with the last few, I shed tears at the most miniscule of milestones. Sometimes they looked older in the morning than they had the night before. Tears. Or they'd grow out of their newborn sized clothes. Tears. I was losing my babies and I knew it, and I didn't like it.

Eventually, the babies were gone and I was sad. But I had these great new "kids." They were funny and talkative. I finally got to hear what I had wondered about for so long: what they were thinking. They could dress themselves. They didn't wear diapers. It wasn't entirely devastating.

Those bookend kids, though, they give me the most heartache. When Andie turns 5, 8, 10, it smarts! I don't like it. When I see the last of them moving forward I find myself wishing I could turn back time.

But watching my oldest is usually more fun. It's all the firsts; first step, first lost tooth, first day of school, first teenager, first driver/dater; those things are not only firsts for him, but for me, too. So it's exciting new territory. Fun to be in on and to watch.

So I was caught a little off guard when, the night before Tanner's 18th birthday, I started to panic. No! I'm not ready! Waaaaaiiiiiit!!!!! Just wait a little while, k? Just until I can get ready for this. We're not in any hurry, right? Heh, heh. *Sweat droplets on forehead.* You don't need to do this. Think about what you're doing, Tanner. You don't need to do this! Don't do it! DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!

Okay, I was kidding about the sweat droplets, but I really did say that, or something to that effect. And by the time I finished, tears were streaming down my face. I was laughing, though, and smiling, but also crying. Tanner got a kick out of it and egged me on with, "No, I'm doing it! I'm totally doing it! This is the last time you'll ever see me as a non-adult. When you see me in the morning, I'll be an adult! So goodbye -- for - ever!" He was joking around, but a part of me was feeling denial/sadness/regret/PANIC!

Knowing what an incredible person he is eases the pain somewhat. But he was my incredible person, and now he's his own incredible person. Well, he's still mine, but not in the same way. Here's how incredible he is: at his birthday dinner he told the kids who were telling me how I couldn't boss Tanner around anymore, "Just because I'm 18, that doesn't mean I don't still need to respect my parents." I know, weird. But he said that. That's the kind of person he is. Respectful, kind, good, honest, trustworthy. He's also very funny, and super-smart, and smoooooth; joe cool. I could tell you stories to prove my claims, but I'd need a lot longer than one blog entry. I can say, however, that I don't know of anyone who doesn't love Tanner. And I know lots of people who adore him. He's pretty great He'll be a

There! I said it! Ouch. That stings.

Yeah, well, at least he doesn't wear diapers anymore, so, you know, I'm cool with it. I'm fine. No problem...


Tanner's Birthday

So I have to quick tell you about Tan's b-day last night. And then I swear, I'm going to finish getting ready for China. We leave in the morning. Yikes! Anyway,

I knew Tan would way rather do something with his friends than with the fam, but I also knew I'd resent it...unless it was my idea. So I called his friends and we hatched a plan:

At school one of his friends told him that they were going to pick him up around 5:30 and take him out for his birthday -- the best night ever -- a surprise! Tanner knew we were planning dinner and stuff, so he called me and, as diplomatically as possible, told me what he'd just heard and asked if we had plans (which he knew we did, but, you know, diplomacy...) So I acted perturbed and told him of course we did and why did his friends plan something without checking first and they would just have to do it another time.

"Can we maybe do dinner another time?"

"What? Of course not! Tanner, it's your birthday, and we're going to have a family dinner and cake and presents! Your friends will have to reschedule!"

"But -- they arranged to leave basketball practice early and everything! And what if they've, like, bought tickets or something?"

"I doubt it."

"Okay mom, that's okay.'ll be fun. Yeah, dinner's good." He's so polite - tee hee! He won't be rude to me, even if he's dying inside of regret, having to miss out on the best night ever with his friends. And a surprise, no less!

Later his friends kept calling and texting him, saying that if he hurries they might still have time to do it. So Tanner was tempted to pick a fast food restaurant for dinner, and even suggested some semi-fast places before we called him on it and made him choose a sit-down, peruse the menu, take-your-order, tip-the-waiter restaurant. He was so fidgety. I was doing an amazing job of keeping a straight face. I don't know how I did it! I always give it away with my face -- but not this time. I feigned sympathy for Tan with a side of irritation towards the friends. I was so smooth. And the rest of the family were perfection -- no slip-ups whatsoever.

The friends kept up a stream of, "Are you done yet?" "We're running out of night ever...surprise..." and finally, "It's too late. We'll have to do it another time, dang it. We still won't tell you, but it will be the best night ever." Maybe a little overkill on the "best night ever" stuff; I was worried he'd be let down. But it was awesome watching him squirm, torn between his massive regret of missing out on the night with friends, while still trying to be kind and not make us feel like he'd rather be somewhere else.

After dinner we got home and prepared to eat cake and open presents. Tanner went down to his room for a sec and...SURPRISE!! There were his friends. Then I broke it to him that we'd planned it days ago and I'd bought them all tickets to the James Bond movie that starts in an hour.

Boo yah!

Whoa. I gotta go. China calls...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

HB to Melissa and Me!

My friend Melissa and I are twins! Well, I mean, other than the fact that yesterday I turned 40 and she turned 18. But still twins, give or take. We were chatting on Facebook the other day and she was telling me she had lots of funny stories from her apartment-living down't the BYU. I asked her to write one and email it to me for my birthday and she said she would. You will, right M'liss?

I asked her what she wanted from me and she said she wanted me to dedicate a blog entry to her. Perfect!

Here's the thing: getting old is SO awesome! Okay, I will admit that, for me, age 17, 18, and 19 can never be replicated in terms of freedom and fun. But eventually, and a little painfully, I had to give that up and move on. I did that by DECIDING that getting old is so awesome. I didn't believe myself at first. It took me a few years during my mid-twenties to learn to relish every age, every year, every new number I got to be. But once I believed, I believed. And I love getting older!

In my mid-twenties I was having children. Actually, in my entire twenties I was having children. During every year that started with a nineteen-ninety I was either pregnant with, or nursing a baby. Nothing can ever compare to that decade. It was awesome. I loved nearly every minute of it. I knew it was going to fly by and I could never get a moment of it back, and so I cherished my babies. I miss them.

The day before I turned 30 I had a brief mourning period for my twenties and wistfully kissed them goodbye. It stung a little, but the next day I ripped the band aid off and dove into the 30s like I'd won the lottery. Not like the big lottery, you know, not the 16 million dollars. More like a decent sized lottery, like maybe about 16 thousand dollars, around there. But I loved it. I thought of myself as all mature like. Like when I clip-clopped through the church gym in heels and thought I sounded just like my mom. So cool. I was a WOMAN. It was strange to think of myself as such, and I still much prefer to be referred to as a GIRL, but technically -- woman.

By then I was volunteering in the schools and when the kids said, "Hi, Mrs. Farley!" it made me smile. And when my young women and primary kids, or anyone, for that matter, call me "Sister Farley" -- love it!

Part of the reason I can love getting older is that I know I don't ever have to act older. I learned from my mom that there is no such age when you can't sit on the floor or have a water fight or have regular doses of hard-core laughter therapy. There's no such age when you have to stop doing anything. Wait, I'd better qualify that. There may be an age when you should stop wearing pigtails. Should, but don't have to if you really feel strongly about it.

Here is what I love about aging:

~You can do whatever you want. You are the boss of you and you can make your life exactly what you want it to be. You might have to work really hard and make sacrifices, but, again, you get to choose.

~You go through hard stuff and come out okay on the other side. You come out stronger and wiser and more grateful -- and way cooler. I love being able to look at anyone older than, say, 35 and know that they have, in all probability, had their heart broken. One way or another. And survived it. That's pretty impressive.

~You get smarter. You know stuff. Lots of stuff. You've been there, done that, and if not you, then someone you love, and you still learned stuff from it. And you can give some pretty good advice about just about anything. Or at least you think you can, and that's really all that matters.

~You get prettier. At least in my opinion. I think everyone should share that opinion, but we're not quite there yet.

~You get wrinkled and saggy. What? You don't think that's awesome? Psh! Whatever! Do you even know how much you have to smile and laugh to get good wrinkles? A TON! You can also get them by frowning a lot, but I wouldn't recommend it, because people will be able to tell if you have frowny wrinkles or smiley wrinkles. The wrinkles don't lie. But they do say, "Check me out! I've been through life! And I've loved it!" (Or not loved it, but that's not what I want mine to say. *Crossing fingers*) As for the saggy; well, let's just say I carried, birthed, and nursed a lot of children to get this saggy. And I'm proud OF it! And besides, they have really good bras and shapers nowadays.

~Gray hair. My fave. No, I'm not joking! I love me some elegant, sophisticated, silver hair. Seriously, if you could get past the 'old' factor, you'd have to admit it's a beautiful color. Don't give me that look! It's the truth.

~Many other things that I would list right now if it weren't for that pesky down side of aging: I can't remember.

So, happy birthday, Melissa! It's not hard to love being 18, so no prob for you. But when it gets a little harder, just remember: One year cooler, smarter, and more awesome.

Or my kids' version: One year weirder, geekier, and more embarrassing.

What do they know? They're young. Poor things.