Graduation Wreaths

I’m usually not this crafty, but for our recent big dual graduation party, I wasn’t all that impressed with the generic “Congrats Grad!” balloons and paper cutouts.

Enter the wonder of the Internet.

I watched this Youtube video, and made a couple in each of my boys’ school colors and then personalized them with their initials, pictures, and extra touches to make it look like I overpaid for them on Etsy.

Permission granted to use this for graduation, birthdays, or anytime you need some fun.

Personalize them for your own event.
Personalize them for your own event.

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©2014 Tracey Henry

Happy Mother’s Day. For real.

My discomfort for Mother’s Day is well-documented. Over the years, I’ve explained that since my own mom passed away 13 years ago, ownership of this day has not been possible for me. This has eased slightly in recent years, or at the very least, worn the edges of the day down enough so that pain isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but it still remained one of my least favorite days.

This year, I thought it could be approached differently. When I realized that our oldest son’s high school graduation was scheduled for the same day, I thought, good, it will shift the focus to this bigger milestone.

Which it did.

Startlingly, suddenly, with a huge lump in my throat, here was the day my little boy grew up.

I know this is the moment that we parents work so hard for. We want nothing more than to watch our child on a graduation stage, cap and gown clad marching toward their bright future. The recognition of this incredible occasion is important and I did in fact graduate from high school and college, so I’m not sure why this epiphany is falling out on the keyboard in such a tangled incoherent mess, but I’d be lying if I denied that beneath the joy, there is grief. Not a wringing of the hands doubting yourself grief, or even the hapless wishing to turn the clock back grief, but one of the quiet knowledge that you’re going to miss something that has been so beautiful in your life every day for the last 18 years.

And that you’re also missing that other beautiful someone who felt this way about you on graduation day so many years ago.

Over the years, I’ve begged for her haunting. I’ve waited for her signs. I know they are there, but perhaps because I’m watching so insistently, I think I often miss them. That whole watched pot thing, I suppose.

But I know she will be there on Sunday. For me, and for him. Because she wouldn’t have missed this in life, I know she wouldn’t miss it now. It’s almost sacrilege to even doubt her presence there.

And when I realized that she would be there then, something else finally came into focus. She was there on his first day of Kindergarten, his hockey games, our vacations, and every day in between. She is in his face, Matty’s laugh, Amy’s eyes and Jessie’s spirit. She is in my mirror. She boils that pot over every night at dinner.

And so I think after all of this time, after all of the homemade cards and flower pots received with white knuckles, I can at long last welcome Mother’s Day.

The one the calendar says is Sunday, and the all of the real ones in between.

See you Sunday, Mom. I’ll be the one smiling looking up into the trees.

©2014 Tracey Henry

Public Health Alert–Senioritis

As two of my children approach graduations—one 8th grader leaving middle school and one high school senior about to enter college—I can attest to the very real, very serious condition of Senioritis.

The first symptom is a noticeable lack of interest and energy. Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to the expected school-related assignments, but with most normal human activities. In fact, it may appear that the only thing your child will graduate from is higher levels of apathy.

Victims of Senioritis may appear to have some yellowing of the eyes. You may suspect jaundice, but don’t worry, it’s just that they’ve used up all of their bathroom hall passes weeks ago.

You may also notice a severe and rapid decline in cognitive skills. While it could be attributed to long and late studying for final exams, unfortunately the only math your student is doing is the computation of how many days, hours and minutes are left in the school year and how many cubic yards of garbage will come home from their lockers.

Difficulties with hearing may also result. You can ask them what time the athletic banquet is or when they get their yearbooks and they simply stare at you as if the words were spoken in Spanish—a language they just spent the last decade studying in school so even then it shouldn’t be that incomprehensible—but nonetheless they will mumble they think their teacher said something about that last week, but lately her words are coming out all muffled and monotone, to which you’ll laugh and say, “Like Charlie Brown’s teacher?” and they’ll say, “Who’s that?” which you’ll then wonder what you just wasted the last 12 years educating them on when they can’t recognize a simple pop culture reference but then it will make sense why every time you’ve called them “Pigpen,” in the past it never seemed to register and then you’ll really start feeling guilty that you’ve raised a mess maker who will never win Jeopardy! and then you won’t hear anything either above your heaving sobs of failure.

Nausea can also occur. While it can be due to anxiety or excitement, the more likely culprit is they’ve resorted to eating the old snacks at the bottom of their backpacks.

Other psychological disorders and behaviors are common. Like spending hundreds of dollars on Prom night food, flowers, clothes and cars to spend exactly 12 minutes at the actual dance. The obsessive compulsive use of car window paint and Sharpies. Amnesia regarding uniform and attendance policies.

Be advised that Senioritis is not limited to graduating students. It is very common among parents of said pupils. They can be easily identified as the babbling adults standing helplessly in school offices with open checkbooks. Pale, with elevated blood pressures and profuse sweating issues, they are usually chanting from the fetal position in the corner, “Are you sure you turned that in?” or “But the Evite said 7:00, not six.”

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Senioritis. The condition seems to be exacerbated by long banquets, presentations and ceremonies where its contagion level is at its highest. The only treatments currently are radical and random in their efficacy. For student patients, hours spent with other sufferers, laughter poring over yearbooks, new country music, Doritos and long summer days seem to bring relief.

For afflicted parents, it is not so simple. Common methods are lame and last-minute attempts at scrapbooking, wine coolers, old country music and sappy reminiscing. Unfortunately, these are mere placebos, and those exhausted parents of seniors rarely take their medicine as directed, and all end up hoping for reinfection.

Because it’s the one disease that you beg for recurrence if it means your kid can be quarantined at home just a little while longer.

Good luck boys, you’ve us proud every day.

©2014 Tracey Henry