Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Ties That Bind

When I began writing a column for the Irregular 11 years ago, my children were 17, 5 and 4 years old. Guy was a junior in high school, Josie was in kindergarten, and Eli was still at home with his mum.

Guy left for college two days after his high school graduation in 2001 and has never moved back home. Not even for ‘a week or two’. Josie-Earl is going to be an 11th grader in the fall, and Elias graduated from 8th grade last week. It doesn’t seem possible that the end of our ‘school daze’ is in sight, but it is. A small part of me will be sad to see it end—-but I’m excited for my children and their futures, too. Life is an amazing ride, and even the smallest decisions we make can have long-lasting impacts on our lives. How I wish I were in their shoes right now, with the whole world opening up in front of me. Except… this time I’d like to start my young adulthood with the wisdom I have at 47!

It took me two weeks to pull information about an 8th grade graduation from my youngest son. I’d ask, “Hey, Eli… is your class holding a graduation?”

“I dunno.”

“Your teachers didn’t send home any notes?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Well...wouldn’t you know, if they did?”

“I guess so…”

A day or two later, I tried it again.

“Any news about graduation?”

“Not yet, Mum.”

“Well, it’s the first of June. Exactly when would they tell you?”

“I dunno.” A nonchalant shrug of his shoulders.

“So, I suppose that means you still haven’t brought home any information about it?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Well, Eli… if you’d brought home papers from school; who WOULD know about it?”


On Friday, June 3rd, I tried again.

“Eli? What’s up with graduation, anyway?”

“Oh! We’re having marching practice on Monday. Or maybe Tuesday. Oh yeah, and I need a note, too.”

“Well, when’s graduation?” I’d already found out the 'old fashioned way'… I’d asked the mother of an 8th grade girl. They pay far more attention to these things, since such occasions call for a shopping trip, hairdo, fingernail polish, toenail polish, shaving of legs and much fretting over who their marching partner will be.

“I dunno. Thursday, I think.”

“What time?”

“I dunno.”

Oh, brother.

Come on, Eli! Pay attention! It would be nice if we could tell Papa when graduation starts, so he can leave work on time, wouldn’t it?”

“I guess….”

“And why do you need a permission slip?”

“Oh! We’re going to the beach.”

“Ooh, that’s nice. Which beach?”

“I dunno.”

You don’t know which beach… Is it Popham?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Oh, for crying out loud! When are you going?”

“I don’t know, Mum! Monday or Tuesday, I guess.” He was beginning to sound exasperated.

Welcome to my life, kid.

At 4:30 on Thursday afternoon, Eli came into my bedroom. Gone were the baggy jeans and faded tee shirt. In their place were khaki slacks and a dark dress shirt. He had a necktie draped around his neck.

“I can’t tie this.”

I grinned. That’s one of the cool things about being a mother… this tying of her young man’s necktie. He cautioned me not to snug it too tightly, so I didn’t.

He looked sharp, and I told him so. He wandered into his bedroom to check himself out in the mirror.

“I’m not going to wear this tie. It looks dumb.”

Just then, Josie-Earl wandered upstairs. You know…Josie-Earl; the sister who argues with her little brother all the time, and who tries to boss him around until he loses patience with her! She heard me tell Eli that the tie didn’t look 'dumb', so she popped into her brother’s bedroom.

I overheard the conversation.

“You look GREAT! That tie does NOT look dumb! Wow, Eli! You’re handsome! Oh, my gawd; girls are going to be hanging all over you next year when you get to high school!”

Without another protest, Eli wore the tie.

I love my kids.


  1. I'm afraid I have to side with Eli on this one. Ties are just the modern equivalent of a brand, announcing to all and sundry that the wearer is owned and in service of some description. Everything about them is restrictive and uncomfortable.

    Necks of the world unite! Necks of the world untie!

    Tee hee.

  2. Hah! :o) Birds of a feather...

    Honestly, though--I know what you mean. I'm afraid I'm claustrophobic and can't stand to have anything touching my neck... loose OR snug (which is why I currently have a bright red chest, at the moment. Three hours in a motorboat cruising Junior, Scraggly and Keg (or Bottle?)Lakes on Monday, and I look like a cooked lobster. Friends have been playing tic-tac-toe on my chest for two days. What is it about a sunburn that makes people poke you so they can see bright white spots where their fingers pressed? Sheesh!) :o)

    Being a woman has its perks when going to a 'dress-up' function, I suppose, as we can opt-out of a tie. But hey-- you boys miss all the fun of childbirth, so my sympathies are somewhat limited.


    Nice to see you, CP.