I am a football fan. I am. Not in a crazy, overly fanatic, I-know-all-the-stats-and-history-of-the-game kind of way....but I do enjoy the game. This phenomenon is probably good fodder for the whole nature versus nurture argument. I was raised in West/Central Texas in the era of Friday Night Lights. Yes, my friends, the movie and television show are pretty accurate in their depiction of that culture. The high school I attended (shout out to my Central High School peeps) was a huge rival of Odessa Permian (the FNL team, for those of you who may not know), and I was there in their Time of Greatness. I'm talking football game attendance of 50,000+....for high school....in towns that only have a population of 80,000-90,000. It's about 90 miles from San Angelo to Odessa, and when we travelled to away games the road was peppered with orange and blue balloons tied onto stakes placed in the ground at 1-2 mile intervals. No joke. Can you even imagine how long it took the parents to make that drive? That's some dedication.
He's standing by two of his teammates....and they are average-sized kids. He looks like this next to 90% of the other players on any given team. The other 10%, he towers over by just half a helmet. There's a kind of security to watching this game when your kid is the biggest one on the field.
Twelve years ago, these words took on a new meaning, morphing from an innocent slang statement casually tossed out in social and sports settings to a profound declaration of courage, strength and American heroism. September 11, 2001 began innocuously enough, a day like any other. It didn't stay that way for long.
It's amazing, isn't it, how the days that change the course of history often begin as ordinary days with nothing to distinguish them from the days before.....until something does.
It was five days before my first wedding anniversary. My children weren't even a thought, yet. I was a new PT, a new wife, a twenty-something young American woman at work, getting ready for my first patient and thinking ahead to what the hours would bring. I had no idea, when I picked up the phone to answer the call from my co-worker across the way that her request to turn on the waiting room TV would show me the most horrific sight of my life. I watched in slack-jawed shock as the second plane crashed into Tower Two of the World Trade Center. I tried to absorb the complete travesty of the images before me, and couldn't. I listened to news stories pour in, as people ran screaming and crying down the streets of Manhattan. I watched smoke and dust engulf these images. Then, I listened as breaking news announced another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. And then another had smashed into the field in Pennsylvania - we would later learn it had been bound for the White House.
Images and memories from that day are forever burned into our hearts and brains.
Flames engulfing the towers.
The tiny figures leaping from the heights to plummet hundreds of feet to the buildings and pavement below.
Hundreds of New York City firefighters and police rushing into the rubble to perform their duties and rescue the victims therein, only to become victims themselves when the building collapsed on top of them.
People running, running, running as they tried to escape the horror all around them.
It was the most devastating attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.
It happened in our lifetime.
And the world would never be the same.
In less than ninety minutes, the landscape of our existence changed forever.
Because someone with hate in their heart and envy in their blood unleashed their poison on mankind.
Nearly 3,000 fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, friends, wives, husbands and loved ones lost their lives that day.
A generation lost its innocence.
A nation lost its security.
But only for a while. Before long, out of the ashes, the tales and details of bravery and brotherhood began to rise. How can we remember this day without mention of the brave passengers and crew of Flight 93? Their calls to loved ones, their reactions and determination to act upon learning of the other planes, their majority vote to rush the terrorists and thwart their plans no matter the cost, their phone calls and voice mails to loved ones, some ending in statements of needing to hang up because it was time to run at the front of the plane......who can ever forget Todd Beamer and the message he left for his wife with the GTE supervisor before joining his fellow patriots with the charge, "Are you guys ready? Okay, let's roll".
In the aftermath, we clung together as a people on our knees and wept, then held to each other as we started to rise. Regardless of race, religion or politics, age, gender or education, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation, we were united - one nation, under God, and, for a time, indivisible.
On this day, may we never forget any of it. May we remember what it felt and looked and sounded and smelled like to live through a defining hour. May we know that in every terrible season, there is an opportunity for greatness. And that our Father watches and holds us, assuring His children that despite the world's troubles, He has overcome them and will triumph with us in the end (John 16:33).
We made it through another first week of school! We were on time every day, had paperwork signed and turned in before deadlines, remembered water bottles and last-minute school supplies and only experienced one major debacle, which involved confusion on the bus home -> missing boys for a while and a stern e-mail and face-to-face meeting between myself and the transportation department. Since that mistake was actually on the part of the school district, it doesn't count against us, so we're in the black this year. Wahoo!
Anyone else this excited about the beginning of the school year?
I'm not sure I can adequately express how ready I was for the routine and days not spent lounging about the house to commence. The last two weeks of summer vacation nearly killed me - or led me to commit unacceptable acts upon my offspring. The day before school started they actually tore through the house like a tornado, destroying everything in their path while trying to maim each other. It was incredible, really. I've never seen anything like it.
That evening, we laid out clothes, packed backpacks and had a motivational speaking session about our goals for this year and how much they have all grown and how proud we are of them and go get 'em, Team Greebon! Most of this was done by my husband as my boys sat sullenly (Drew) or glaring (Luke) and Emry cried because she didn't want to go to pre-school the next day. What was I doing during this reluctant pep rally? I'm so glad you asked! My contribution was to dance around the house while singing Kool and the Gang's "Celebrate" over and over. No joke. I couldn't stop - it was like a compulsion. I knew it wasn't helping the situation, and that I was poking the proverbial bear. I just didn't care. The relief I felt overshadowed everything else. Mom of the year, here.
The first morning went well - I even cooked breakfast, which will probably not happen again until the last day of school...don't judge me. The two youngest kids were in great moods (hallelujah) and Luke was quite possibly in the worst mood I have ever seen him in. Awesome - let the pre-teen years begin. When I asked him what he was thinking, his reply was, "I'm thinking we should have pulled my wisdom teeth out earlier in the summer." Oh, that. I guess I should be fair and point out that he had his wisdom teeth cut out and two permanent teeth pulled the Friday before, so was still really swollen and somewhat sore, not to mention limited in his diet. So, basically, he started fifth grade looking like a really tall, angry chipmunk. Oops.
All things considered, it was a pretty great first week. Especially if we compare it to last year's first week. What a fiasco that was! Here's a summary:
Someone who either doesn't have school-age children, or really hates his wife (or ex-wife) decided to schedule my husband's company's National Sales Meeting week the first week of school. Which meant that I was on single mommy duty the first week. Normally, that's not too bad a week to have full duty, other than daddy missing the photo ops and trying to get everyone where they need to be and get myself to work on time as well. Okay, so it's not the best timing...
Still, I was determined to plaster a smile on my face, don my Superwoman cape and show everyone how it's done. Naturally, this meant that all hell was going to break loose.
Two nights before Gregg left, I was awakened to a scratchy, scrabbly sound coming from the direction of our bedroom dresser. This sound persisted for most of the night, but of course would stop every time we turned on a light. It was incredibly frustrating. Finally, Gregg sighed, squared his shoulders, and pronounced his verdict - we had a mouse. Excuse me? EXCUSE ME??? Needless to say, I sat up shaking the rest of the night.
Gregg purchased some mouse traps and sticky paper and set them everywhere in hopes of catching said mouse before he left. I cannot emphasize enough my stress and displeasure at this situation. I don't do rodents. Period. I spent the day tiptoeing around the house and peering under everything, while avoiding walking into my bedroom alone. I procrastinated at bedtime and pleaded with Gregg to sleep with the lights on. He alternated between amusement and annoyance throughout the ordeal. He started saying things like, "It's just a mouse, Bec. Not a mountain lion. A mouse." All things considered, I might have preferred a mountain lion. They have a harder time hiding inside a house!
That night, I was again awakened to the sounds of tiny tap dancing along my furniture. As the sun rose, my heart sank with the realization that our traps had failed (the little sneak had snagged the bait, but escaped with it) and I had to face this situation alone. For the next five days. The first week of school.
My dad came over with more traps, this time the old-fashioned snap traps, and we set them throughout the house. I sat up well into the night, watching television (goodness knows I wasn't going to be able to sleep), waiting for the "snap!" that would indicate this creature had been caught. Nothing. Nada. Zip. This had to be the smartest mouse ever born.
First day of school madness ensued in the morning as we ran around trying to get everyone dressed, combed, cleaned and packed up. Luke was chasing Emry in her then-favorite game of "catch me to dress me" and I was tying Drew's shoes with one hand while stirring pancake mix with the other. In the midst of all this tumult, a shot rang out - "SNAP!". I froze, turning my head in slow motion. Many words and phrases were running through my mind. The only one I can print is "Are you kidding me?!". NOW? In the middle of all this noise and movement?! Now, the mouse decides it needs a peanut butter breakfast snack? Oh, yes. Not only did it decide to go for the gold and set off the trap at the most inopportune time ever...it didn't even have the good manners to do it correctly. Instead of having the trap snap down on it's neck as planned, the trap caught it by the hind leg. How did it even do that? Was it backing up to snag the bait with its foot? Was it showing off for someone - hey, check me out...I can grab food without facing it! So, at this point, much to my shocked panic, there is a mouse trying to run across my living room floor while dragging the trap holding its leg behind it.
This was too much for me to handle. Superwoman or not, everyone has their limits.....and this was mine. I promptly began screaming for Luke. Yes, my friends, in my hour of need, I reached out at the top of my lungs for my nine-year-old son to come rescue me. I'd love to explain this with some profound mother-son relationship lesson and psychology babble about giving him opportunities to develop as a man and provider/hero/leader/etc....but that would be lying. I just flipped out.
My little hero came running, and among my shouted instructions to be careful and grab the edge of the trap furthest away so as not to get bitten (I did retain some semblance of mothering instincts), he brought it to the trash bag I was holding open with my arms fully extended away from my quaking body. After a short arguement about releasing the mouse back out into the wild vs. putting it in the trash bag (you can guess who won that one), it was over. I managed to pull it together enough to take pictures, make it to school on time and walk everyone to their respective classes. Barely.
Then I called the exterminator. Gregg was not in agreement on this decision, but I informed him that she who has to deal with the vermin gets to pick the method by which she does so. End of discussion.
Throughout that week, two more mice were caught and disposed of....but not by me, since the professional was on the job, so that helped.
The second day of school, I received a call from after school care that Luke had fallen and scraped his knee. It seemed like overkill to call for such a minor injury, until I got there and saw that he had a rock embedded completely in his knee....I mean, to the kneecap, flush with the surface. When I dug it out at home, his leg looked like I had use a small melon baller on it.
The fourth day of school, I received a call that Drew was in the nurse's office because a fellow student had thrown mulch at him and his eye was red and hurting. A quick trip to the eye doctor revealed a scratched cornea and need for a contact bandage to prevent further damage. Voila!
And yet, we survived that week and school year. And I was still beyond ready to start a new one. Because, no matter how much chaos and craziness and calamity we experience during the busyness and bustle of our full agenda and timetable, the boredom and disorganization brought on by the end of summer vacation is bad enough to drive us back to the grind of routine.
Plus, it's 137 degrees here. Bring on the fall.
Solidarity, sisters. There's a time for every season. Except for one with mice...there's never a time for that.