I’ve known for quite a while that raising a boy is very different from raising a girl. I’ve even had semi-heated discussions with other parents about which one is harder. My opinion? Typically, boys are harder when they are little because they are rough and energetic; however, they ain’t got nothin’ on the girls. Girls are an adventure all on their own, and from my experience, they make raising boys look like childs’ play. (Well, parents’ play, I guess.)

I see the difference between my boy and my girl constantly. My mother and mother-in-law see it too, as they often say, “He never talks to me,” or something similar about the Beetle. That is one thing no one has ever said about the Goose. She talks plenty.

Yesterday, though, I had a huge, huge reminder of how very different my children are in demeanor and personality. I took the Beetle shopping. This does not happen often. Since he finally finished growing at the speed of light, he actually has been able to keep his clothing for quite a while without needing new pants and shoes every three days. His shirts have fit him for years, because, while he was thicker before and required a little more width, he grew tall and thin, and the width of the shirt became length. It worked, and I didn’t have to buy him new clothes. Yay me.

We are getting ready for the kids to go to camp. As strange as it may seem, every year, camp means clothes shopping. I guess it’s because they have to pack for a week with several extra sets of clothes. Usually, about this time of year, we realize they only have enough clothes for four days. Since they don’t go to school, this isn’t usually a problem for us. We wear pajamas as school uniforms, you know. (She types, as she wears her nightgown at 12:16 PM…)

The Goose goes shopping much more than the Beetle. She is in the growth stage, where she grows two inches overnight. Her clothes seem to be shrinking in her closet, so we have to buy clothes pretty often. A shopping trip for the Goose usually means bracing myself for a day full of activity. We go from store to store, looking for the right size, the right material, the right color and the right fit. It’s a hard job. She’s pretty picky about what she wears. In her defense, the child takes after her mother – the one who gets angry if her socks choke her feet or her shirt rubs her the wrong way. Can you say, “Sensory issues?” Don’t say it so loudly. You’re hurting my ears.

A trip to the store with the Goose usually involves great discussion:

“Mama, what do you think about this one?”

“Mama, did you see this shirt?”

“Mama, doesn’t this remind you of the shirt I had 3 years ago?”

“Mama, will this fit me?” “No. You haven’t worn that size since the third grade.” “But it looks big.” “It won’t fit.” “I think it will. I’m going to try it on.” “It won’t fit.” “I’ll try it anyway, just in case.” “Whatever.” …….. (from behind dressing room door) “Mama, can you see if they have a bigger size in this?” *Sigh.*

“Mama, do they have a different color in this?”

“Mama, can you find pants to match this?”

“Mama, what about this one? What do you think?”




Last week, I asked the kids to start planning what they would pack for camp and to let me know what they were lacking. The Goose came with her list of items. The list took up a full page. We went the next day and knocked out just about everything on the list. The child now owns three times as many decent bras as I do. I’m not bitter. Really.

The Beetle shrugged and said he thought he had everything. I told him to be sure, because I did not want any last minute surprises. He came to me two days ago and said he needed jeans. “For camp?” I asked. He said yes, for camp. I asked why in the world he needed jeans for camp when it would be 150 degrees in the shade. He said he wanted to wear jeans. I asked him if he realized he would be the only weirdo wearing jeans at camp, and he shrugged and said he really didn’t care what everyone else thought. Somehow, I believed him.

So, yesterday, I decided I had enough energy to tackle Bealls and Wal-mart (Lord help me) for jeans. The Beetle said he was willing to go look, so we were leaving. I told him to let the Goose know we were leaving, and he said, “Do I have to?” I said yes, because I don’t like to leave without letting my kids know. He said she would want to go with us. I said she wouldn’t because we were just running to Wal-mart. He said she would. I said to just do what I said. The Beetle told the Goose we were running to Wal-mart, and she came running out of her room saying, “I want to go!” We should have snuck out.

So, the three of us headed to Bealls and Wal-mart. On the way, I told the Goose this was the Beetle’s shopping trip. I told her I had devoted hours, possibly days, to her shopping and that I was going to help the Beetle. I’m pretty sure I heard his eyes rattle in his head as he rolled them, but I didn’t care. I wanted to give him attention so he did not feel like I always did more for the Goose. She tends to dominate our lives, you know. The Goose said that was fine and she could shop on her own. I corrected her and said she could look on her own, because we were not shopping for her. I’m pretty sure I heard an, “Uh-huh,” under her breath.

We went in Bealls first. I was mentally prepared to allow the Beetle too look. I am not good at paying full price, especially full department store price, but I wanted him to get some good jeans. We got to the men’s department, and the jeans were on “sale” for $50. I practiced calm breathing. The Beetle said, “Okay, let’s go.” I told him to look, and he said, “I did. I don’t like anything.” I asked why, and he said he just didn’t. I asked if it was because of the price, and he said no. He just didn’t like the style. I wondered how he could know, since we had been in the department for less than 5 minutes, but I wasn’t questioning it since I was starting to hyperventilate at the idea of paying full price. The Beetle ended up getting a few shirts, and the Goose managed to sneak one in too. Then, off to Wal-mart we went.

In Wal-mart, the Beetle walked to the jeans display, picked up one pair and said, “Okay.” I asked if he wanted to try a few pair on to make the trip to the fitting room worth it. He said no. I said to humor me, and I picked out a few more pair. I asked if he liked the color. He said it was fine. I asked if he saw a shirt we passed, and he said he did. I asked if he liked the style of some shorts, and he said no. I asked if he wanted to look for swim trunks, and he said, “Sure.” He looked, literally looked, at a rack and said they did not have anything he wanted. I asked about 75 more questions that he answered with one word answers. Meanwhile, the Goose was across in the women’s department, holding up shirts and yelling to me, “Mama, do you like this shirt?” “Mama, what about this color?” “Mama…..”

I followed the Beetle to the fitting room, but he was already in the room by the time I got there. The Goose came and starting trying on all the clothes she was just looking at. The Beetle came out to show me the first pair of jeans he had picked out (only because I insisted on seeing them). He said, “These are good. Let’s go.” I asked if he had tried on the jeans I had picked up. He said no. I asked if he was going to, and he said, “Why? These fit.” And with that, he had picked his jeans.

I asked the Beetle if he was sure he had the right size. They looked a little big to me. He said they were fine. I asked what size he was wearing currently, and he said he didn’t know. I asked him what size the jeans he had worn from home were, and he said he didn’t know. I told him to look at the tag, and he said, “Well, these don’t fit.” I asked him what he meant they didn’t fit. He said he had to use a belt to hold them up because they were so big. Now, mind you, this was all in front of the Wal-mart fitting room lady who was beginning to believe I was a neglectful parent. And, by the way, the jeans were a little baggy, but not THAT big. I asked him again what size they were, and he named a size that was 6 sizes too big for him. (Please don’t call DCF, Wal-mart lady.) I asked where he got the jeans from, since I knew I had not bought them. He mumbled something about someone giving them to him. I asked why he wore them if they were that big, and he said they were the only jeans he had. (1. Not true. 2. Wash your laundry.) I asked why he had not let me know this, and he said he did. (Yeah. Two days ago. Put the phone down, Wal-mart lady.) 

With that, I told him to pick the ones he wanted and to go get more.  He went and got two more pair of the same style in the same size and the same color. I asked if he wanted to mix up the color a little, and he humored me. He ended up with two lighter wash and one darker wash. I expressed disappointment and said I preferred the dark wash and would like to see him with two pair of those. He just looked at me.

Five minutes after we had arrived at Wal-mart, the Beetle had his jeans and was ready to go. We waited thirty more minutes while the Goose tried on clothes. I walked back and forth to grant the requests of different sizes, different colors, different everything. The Beetle acted as though he was going to die if he had to stay in the store any longer.

As I stood there waiting for the Goose to finish in the fitting room, I realized how very different my children really are. I’m not sure if it’s just a boy/girl thing or if there’s more to it. I have demanding and docile, dominating and disappearing. It amazes me how very different they are. Now, my challenge is to keep one from taking over the world and to keep the other one from being forgotten and pants-less. Good luck to me. -Al


Two Buds



At some point or another, each of my kids has asked me how they can get a best friend. I have tried unsuccessfully to explain to them how to find one, but really, I have no idea. I do know, if they are lucky, really lucky, they will find one.

I met my first real best friend when I was in the 10th grade. We had gym class together. We met while running. More accurately, we met when we had rounded the back corner of the baseball field where the coach couldn’t see us, and we were walking. Willow was wearing an Wham t-shirt and had big hair. I thought she was a druggie. I don’t know what I was wearing, but I had a thick southern accent. I’m sure I had big hair too, since it was the 80’s. She thought I was a redneck. It was a match made in heaven.

I don’t really remember how our friendship progressed from there, but I know it quickly became adventures and sleepovers, usually at my house. She lived in a neighborhood close to me, and my mother and I began picking Willow up on our way to school. Willow and I laughed together, shopped together, watched movies together and analyzed everything a boy ever said to us together. We had to evaluate to see if his words really meant he liked us or he didn’t like us. We spent much time wondering what was wrong with us, since by the ripe old age of 15, neither of us had dated yet. We were convinced we were freaks.

A few times, Willow and I got to travel together. Once, when we were probably 17, we went to Daytona Beach with her family. My favorite memory of that whole trip was when we were driving back. Willow’s family was large, so we could not all fit in one vehicle. Her parents and younger siblings were in the car in front of us, and we were in Willow’s car. Traffic was terrible, and we quickly found ourselves stuck in the middle of an intersection in gridlock. An angry driver floored his car and came toward us like he was going to hit us. Willow’s dad saw this happen and quickly attempted to jump out of his car to come rescue us. Unfortunately, he forgot to unfasten his seatbelt first, so what started as a heroic act turned into a hilarious scene of him coming out and then being bounced back into his car. We laughed until we cried.

On other trips, we went by ourselves. I’m not sure what our parents were thinking, but they let us go. Somehow, we made it back alive. Remember, these were the days without GPS and cell phones. We loaded up the car and went, with paper maps in hand. Between Willow’s incredible lack of directional insight and my incredible inability to properly read a map, we were good to go!

Once, we went to Cocoa Beach. Of course, we were there during Spring Break, but we were nowhere near the typical Spring Break scene. We stayed in a quiet little motel near the water. No alcohol, no boys, no breaking the rules…we were quite the partiers. The most daring thing we did was drive across to Melbourne Beach to find a Subway. But, lest you think we were too cautious, we went at night. In the dark. With just a paper map. Woo. Rebels.

Actually, now that I’m an adult (well, sort of), I’ve wondered if my mother was aware that we did things like that when we traveled. (Now she’s aware…teehee…Hi, Mama! We were good, I promise!) Willow had a craving for a Subway sandwich, and back then, there was not a Subway on every corner. The only one we could find in the phone book (You see, kids…we used to use this thing called a phone book. It was made of paper, and we had to turn pages to find what we needed….) was across town. Little did we know it was in a seedy neighborhood, but Willow needed a sandwich. Out we went, with paper map in hand. We found it, and she got her sandwich. We made it back to the motel in the dark. We had come. We had seen. We had conquered. Luckily, we had not gotten murdered, mugged or maimed by the creepy guys hanging around the outside of the Subway.

We went to St. Augustine at least once. I know, I know. When you think of “Spring Break Party,” the country’s oldest city is the first thing that comes to mind. This time, we stayed at a roach motel right on the interstate. Classy. We weren’t even near the beach, but it didn’t matter. We created our own fun.

On this trip (and possibly some others), we decided to take promotional photos for the hotel. Of course, we knew it was just for our own fun, but it was, indeed, fun! I still have those pictures somewhere. There’s the one of Willow, sitting casually on the bed (back straight, legs crossed, not at all posed). She’s reading the Gideon Bible as though it is the most fascinating thing she’s ever seen. There’s the one of me standing in the shower, peeking out from around the curtain, with a shocked look on my face. We really were strange. It’s a good thing we’ve grown into such normal adults. (HA!)

So, this trip down memory lane was brought to you by the fact that Willow and I went on a Girls’ Trip this weekend. Let’s just call it, “Moms Gone Wild.” Okay. Maybe that’s not accurate. “Moms Talking, Laughing and Eating A Lot” is probably better.

We were remembering our past trips, and I realized, we really haven’t changed that much. Willow still has no sense of direction whatsoever. I still can’t read a map, but the GPS takes care of that, thank goodness. We are still as silly as ever, but now we don’t care whether boys like us or not. Our husbands do, and that’s all that matters. (Okay, well, we were a little giggly in front of the really cute waiter at dinner last night. However, when I realized he was probably 4 years older than my child, it sort of killed the mood.)

I will say, this time, we did not drive across town at night for a Subway sandwich. Nope. We’ve grown up. This time, we drove across town at night for a smoothie. And might I just give a big “thank you” to Smoothie King for being open until 11:00. I’m pretty sure it was going to be a long night if Willow didn’t get her smoothie.

There were no funny pictures on this trip. We’re much too mature for that. Okay. That’s a lie. This time I posed like I was reading.

Our plans were to sit by the pool and read and go to the beach and read. We did manage to go to the beach. For 30 minutes. Until it rained. We didn’t read there. We walked by the pool. I read status updates on Facebook a few times. Does that count?

When we were in high school, since Willow and I shopped together and discovered the same sales, we had many outfits that were alike. Several times, we accidentally showed up to school dressed alike. It really was by accident. We weren’t THOSE girls. Anywho, I had just thought that it was funny how different our clothing styles are now and how there was no chance we would dress alike now that we are grown. However, as I sat writing this, wearing a black shirt and brown capris pants, Willow came out of her room wearing a black shirt and brown shorts. I guess some things never change. I’m pretty sure our friendship is one of those things.

I’m blessed by a few good friends, and Willow was my first true lifelong friend. She and I are so different in so many ways, but we are also alike. Best of all, we can be goofy together without fear of judgment or ridicule. Okay, maybe there will be a little ridicule, but it’s only done in love. This is my hope for my kids that each can find a Willow. Well, not my Willow. She’s taken. They’ll have to find their own. -Al