Category Archives: parenting

There was a Wedding


My son was recently married and people ask me, “How was the wedding?” I’m rarely at a loss for words but answering has given me pause because I want to get it right. I want to answer accurately. I want the answer to be perfect, because, truth be told, the wedding was perfect.

My friend, Lorrie, called. She was unable to attend but had seen pictures posted on Facebook. She asked, “Well, how was it?”

I hesitated and stuttered and stumbled over a couple of words then finally said, “Perfect. Just perfect.”

Lorrie launched, “Well of course it had to have been perfect! Were you really expecting anything else? I mean just look at these photos posted on Facebook! Good lord I’ve never seen such good looking people! What could you have been thinking if you hadn’t thought it would be perfect!?”

I don’t know … I really didn’t consider perfection obtainable in anything, especially a wedding where there are multitudes of uncontrollable variables that could throw a wrench into the best of well-planned events.

Once the wedding week commenced I only had to be in charge of a few items: hosting the rehearsal dinner and a couple things that can only be done at the last minute – making boutonnieres for the groomsmen, and creating the flower arrangements for the church. That last “thing,” the church flowers, was a biggie for me and had been weighing heavily on my mind. Anybody, especially an amateur, who has ever been responsible for the floral arrangements for a wedding knows real angst. Wednesday found me in my mother’s backyard under her magnificent magnolia tree, perched on a rickety ladder with several sharp cutting implements, and plenty of advice being shouted up from below. Thursday found me in the church persuading those 6 foot magnolia branches into arrangements that would be nice, understated backdrops for the upcoming nuptials. It was accomplished without too much trouble and when I left, I felt relieved that the most critical of my responsibilities was finished. It mattered not one iota that I had bloodied an eyeball in the process by getting too up-close and personal with a magnolia stick. As long as those gargantuan arrangements didn’t tip over, it was all good. Then, I relaxed and vowed to “be present” in every moment.

The events and parties as prequels came and went and I was very “present” and aware of the beauty of each moment … until the moment when my older son gently took my arm to escort me down the aisle to seat me on the front row to witness my younger son’s marriage. From that moment I not only felt “present,” I was levitating.

The ceremony was truly perfect; nobody messed up, the officiant, who happens to be my husband, said good things, the music was tasteful and exquisite, the bride and groom were calm, dignified and gorgeous, the flower girl and ring bearer were perfectly behaved and didn’t steal the show, the best man, my older son, didn’t lose the rings, nobody dropped the rings (that happens), I didn’t become a blubbering fool when my husband and sons made their appearance at the front of the church as the procession began, and the arrangements of magnolia didn’t tip over.

Sure, I had a bloody eyeball, my dress had a stubborn wrinkle and I’m pretty sure my bra strap made an appearance, but if you ask me, it was perfect.

Kristen + Hastings

Kristen + Hastings


This is Summer Camp?


My husband reads the Wall Street Journal in about an hour, most days. I peruse it in a nanosecond, most days. But when something catches my eye I settle in for some good content. Recently a blurb about a rite of passage, summer camp, caught my eye. “Parents scrutinize photos for clues.” I read on.

According to this article, many camps nowadays have a photo gallery where parents can log-in to watch their kids. Some parents even tell their kids ahead of time to give signals such as a thumbs-up when photographers are hovering so they’ll know their child is “alright.”  And if little Suzie wasn’t chosen to be the captain of the kickball team or is wearing the flip-flops of someone else, parents can send “polite” emails to counselors in order to rectify such situations. Some parents set their alarms for the middle of the night to check the “updated gallery”.
Surely this is a hoax. Have I been in some time warp and it’s really April and not August and the WSJ is making some not-funny joke about this beloved institution? This just sounds so wrong to me on so many levels! (The least of which is how utterly Orwellian it is!) Shouldn’t children know that at least somewhere on the planet their every move isn’t going to be scrutinized by someone? Wouldn’t summer camp be the perfect place to let a kid just be … a kid?
Attending GA Camp was the pinnacle of my summertime fun as a child. GA is Baptist-talk for “Girls Auxiliary.” If you were a little girl Baptist you were a GA and went to GA camp. If you were a little boy Baptist, you were a “Royal Ambassador” and went to RA Camp. The camp I attended was located somewhere north of Greenville, SC, in an area lush and woodsy. It smelled green. At the time it didn’t matter that woodsy meant tick-infested. Or that lush meant slippery moss. Or that green meant poison ivy. Nobody died.
Days spent at GA camp were simple and carefree. Upon arrival girls were assigned cabins and the most critical event of the week happened in the first 5 minutes – whether or not you landed a top bunk. After that it was a breeze. Revelry woke us up and taps put us to sleep. In between were hours of pure bliss. There was a happy routine of craft time, play time, skit time, slipping and sliding in-the-creek time with a good dose of chapel thrown in to satisfy all the Baptists back at home. Accommodations were crudely built cabins with slamming screen doors as the only ventilation. It was hot as hades and we loved it. The stuff our parents had packed for us mostly stayed packed. We could wear a favorite shirt and shorts “set” five days in a row and nobody cared. Topics of conversation were endless but always came back to boys. It was a week of living-in-the-moment with not a thought for anything or anyone other than the next skit or who might be called on to pray before the next meal. The last thing on our minds was what was happening back at home. We were free; supervised, yes; but in our little minds, we were free.
But now, according to the news article, those days are gone. Camps have sold out to the man, er … the mama.
As I finished reading and was tsk, tsking about these helicopter parents, I popped over to Facebook to get other news from the not-so-esoteric side of the current events spectrum. There was a post by a friend. Nothing surprising there but she had posted a picture of her son who was away … at camp! In the photograph he was shirtless and sitting on a rock; he looked fit and healthy. She said he looked like he missed his mama. I said if looks could kill that camp would’ve had a dead photographer on their hands.
Parenting trends come and go.
Social media touches us daily and for the most part, it’s good, I think.
But summer camp!  Ah … that’s something better left untouched.

Why Do We Share?


I’m more active on social media these days and I wonder why. Up til now I’ve been timid of activity on facebook. Most folks don’t give a flying fig about the comings and goings of their facebook friends. My friends, for the most part, are, like me, voyeurs – rarely posting but always looking. My sudden surge in social media activity could be related to the fact that the sun hasn’t shone all summer for more than 3 days in a row (my husband is counting) or I’ve had more than a week or two at my own home and am not needed elsewhere.
So, after days in the house, alone, I reach for the laptop. And as I reach for the laptop, I realize I am … reaching out. I feel a disconnect. I want to reconnect. So … (deep breath) …  I begin to share. Thus far nothing I’ve posted has brought ruin to my household or disdain to my family, so I’m breathing easier now.
In kindergarden sharing was one of the first lessons we were taught. We learned that sharing is taking the high road on the trip toward the greater good; accusations of being selfish would bring a tot to tears. We practiced this lesson; albeit some of us more than others.
Years ago upon moving to a new town and a new cul-de-sac, I watched my young son giving away his pixie stixs to neighborhood children who had appeared to check out the new kids on the block. His careful one-by-one doling out of his beloved confections to one grubby hand after another is forever branded in my brain and heart. He had lived all of four years on this planet, most of the time as a pure-tee hellion, but had learned that to get along in the cul-de-sac, a kid would be wise to share.
Hastings sharing (2)
Hastings sharing tiny
His sharing continued and we continued to wonder. This kid was compelled to share. On awards day in kindergarden he received a ribbon for a small-tyke athletic achievement. A classmate and on-the-playground competitor of his was devastated that he did not win the award. My son, five years old by that time, and deeply feeling the heartbreak of this other brat child, simply walked over to the child and gave him the ribbon. No thought, no hesitation, no remembrance of playground bullying – he just shared. His generosity apparently blew away the teachers and the principal, as at a later date he was given a better, superior citizenship award extolling the virtues of being a nice guy.
cit. award 2
So why do we share?  Do we feel elevated by sharing? Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Or is it that we really do care about the person or persons on the receiving end of our sharing?
My grandmother, well into her 80’s and living entirely on her social security check of $585 a month, continually practiced care and sharing for “old, poor people”. She never realized the irony of this. She didn’t have material goods to share but she more than made up for it in sharing her care – in the form of a chocolate pie or a pan of biscuits. She also shared her opinions and pity her preacher or children or grandchildren who were on the receiving end of those opinions. But all the sharing was doled out with genuine care for others.
            Sharing nowadays in this social media centered world has a different connotation than the types of sharing of my young son and my grandmother, but I think it’s all for the same reason.  We’re not egotistical maniacs when we share what we had for breakfast or pictures of a family vacation. We want to be connected to others. We care about others enough to share with them.