Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twinkle Toes

Last spring, while my son was still on his mission, I had to register him for school for this fall. I spent days calling and talking to a counselor, planning his schedule and trying to guess just what career path he would take. In the middle of all this a mother of one of his friend's, who was going through the same process, called and asked what I registered Jason for. She proceeded to talk me into registering Jason for beginning ballroom dancing with her son.

When Jason found out he was registered for ballroom dancing there was no note of excitement in his voice; in fact, I think it was disbelief and disgust. I explained that it was a great way to meet girls and that he would have a friend to suffer though it with, and besides if it was really that bad he could drop it.

Well, school started and I would inquire occassionally how the dance class was going and I always received the same reply, "It's okay." Those of you who know my son know that's about all a reply I can expect from him.

Then a couple of weeks ago the relpy to my usual question about the dance class was, "It's pretty fun." Imagine that - three words and with emotion!

I also found out that Jason's friend had dropped the class the second week of school and Jason had continued to dance by himself (well actually he did have a female partner, that was "pretty cute"). I was amazed that my 'macho' son seemed to be liking and was sticking with ballroom dancing.

A week ago Jason told me that his teacher had told him the he "a lot of potential" and Jason seemed really pleased. (What was happening to the son I knew? Could he actually be enjoying something as cultural as ballroom dancing?)

It all came to a head last Saturday when I made my usual call to check in on him and found out he had missed a coveted intermural flag football game, that was a play off game, to attend a dance competition! He and his partner had made it through all the morning rounds and had to go back that night to finish the competition. He was excited and I guess he must be pretty good to make it that far - right?

Later that night Jason and his partner made it to the quarter finals before being eliminated. In other words, they made it down to be one of the last 12 couples out of about 100.

Kids never cease to astound you. You think you have them figured out and then out of the blue they like ballroom dancing and do well in a dance competition and actually enjoy it.

So when Jason was registering for classes next semester I asked him if he was going to take the next ballroom dance class. He said no, he was good, but he really would like to learn how to country western dance! As long as we have kids, wonders will never cease.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Glimmers of Hope

I have always tried to instill in my children a desire to give service and to enjoy it. When I woke them up early years ago to help pick corn at our church's welfare farm they didn't seem to happy but they went. When my kitchen was a disaster and I was trying to prepare a dinner for an elderly couple, they helped me clean, cook and carry and they did it pleasantly. As I hauled my boys to the Humanitarian Aid Center for hours every summer to iron, sew, pack, bag, clean, haul and do whatever they asked, they did it without complaint. But as a mother you always wonder if they are really internalizing what you teach or are they just obedient and want to avoid your wrath.

Last night I had a glimmer of hope that maybe this one teaching was sinking into my 17 year old. My husband is in charge putting up some of the tens of thousands of Christmas lights that adorn our temple each Christmas season. He had informed us several weeks ago that he had a large group coming to help and he needed Preston and I to help, too.

As Preston and I drove down to help, Preston remembered that he was supposed to check and make sure his group of boys had a service activity for their weekly meeting tonight. He called his adult advisor to see what he needed to do. Preston was told that since his whole youth group would be putting together gift bags for the city of Tempe on Saturday and five of the boys would be setting up flags for Veteran's Day today, that that was enough service for this week and they would do something else for their activity tonight.

My son hung up the phone, explained the situation to me and said, "Can you do too much service?"

He then proceeded to spend the next four hours hauling boxes of lights, running extension cords and sitting at the top of an orange tree stinging light around it and I never heard a complaint or a whine. At this time of year when we turn our thoughts to the things we are thankful for, I am thankful that maybe, just maybe, one thing I hoped to instill in my son has taken root. And I hope he continues to see the value and joy in service though out his life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quality Time with my son

This week Preston and I spent some fun quality time together. A month or more ago Preston pointed out to me the The Phantom of the Opera was coming back to Phoenix. (I had promised him I would take him when it came back - dang his good memory!) So a couple of weeks ago I noticed that there was a Thursday matinee with tickets almost half price and there was still good seats. I decided that Preston could miss his last two classes of the day and we could go, besides I love Phantom so he didn't have to do too much talking.
When I went to Gammage to purchase the tickets they told me it was cheap because there was no parking on campus because school was in session. I next decided that he would have to miss all his afternoon classes so we would have time to walk from wherever we could find to park. Then I remembered Phoenix's move into mass transit and we decided to ride the light rail into Tempe and walk across campus. After having ridden mass transit in most large American cities and a few in Europe and Japan, I feel as though I'm pretty experienced and a fairly good critic.

So last Thursday, I picked Preston up and we headed to the park and ride lot, bought our tickets and climbed aboard the clean new train. Needless to say we were very impressed and we got to Gammage about an hour early - it was much faster than I had anticipated. We both felt that Phoenix has moved to the big time with their light rail - just too bad it isn't underground and much bigger.

We had a great time at the play with the bus loads of old people that came in from all over the valley, but what do you expect who else can take off in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day to see a play? Preston loved the music and we hummed it all the way back across campus and on the light rail home.

Then yesterday we had to carve our pumpkins for Halloween. We usually go all out on the pumpkin carving but both of us were feeling a bit pressed for time so we opted for easy designs.
Here is Preston's trick-or-treater pumpkin
and my witch.
I don't know what I will do when I no longer have a kid to hang out with and especially one as great as Preston.