Sardines and Food Allergies

This past weekend I took our Princess up to my alma mater where her sister is also a student for their annual event, where alumnae are encouraged to bring young women of all ages to visit as prospective students.  I enjoy it immensely as it has become something of a mini-reunion with fellow classmates, and it culminates in a scholarship fund-raising theater event–STUNT–which I loved when I was there and still love now.

Our Princess has enjoyed going for the past two years, and this year was no exception.  She had her “bag” packed by the middle of last week and woke up on Saturday SO excited.  She knows her way around campus very well, and she has the routine of the day down by now.  However, they did something new this year as an icebreaker.  The younger set of students played a game of “Sardines,” which has best been explained to me as a game of reverse hide and seek.  One person hides, and as you find her, you join her in her hiding spot, until there is one person left seeking all of you.

My girl ditched me and her bags faster than you can say “Golden Heart” (the class she will be at Wesleyan) and headed out for the game.  I was tempted to follow her out into the hall, but I didn’t.  I let her play and found myself holding my breath.  Worrying about how close she could potentially be with others who might have just eaten some of her allergens made me nervous.  I sat there, worrying and yet amazed at how eager she was to go play with these other girls, some of whom she sees once a year and some whom she had never met.  She had a great time, and all was well.  Then it was on to the mini-STUNT scripting activity, and after we took a break during the campus tours.  Later we joined all the others by the fountain for supper (we always brown bag these events), and then it was time for a pep rally and off to the main event in the auditorium.

A great night.  Aub was a part of the team who put the whole thing together, and they did a fantastic job.

On our way home after 11 p.m. that night, I asked our Princess what her favorite part of the day had been. I was sure it was going to be our visit to the campus store or her beloved Golden Hearts winning the STUNT Cup, but no.

“It was when we played Sardines in Taylor Hall, and then later when we played a modified version around the fountain after supper.”

Bless.

Y’all.

Of course.  Her two favorite times were when I wasn’t hovering.  Obsessing over clean hands and what she might be exposed to in the midst of a day outside our norm.

Bless her.  Her two favorite times were both when she had handed me the epipen case she wears cross body style whenever we leave home.  The two times when she let loose and was just another kid running around with friends and some who will be.

It’s hard, isn’t it?  This whole parenting thing and knowing when to let go and when to be on guard.  Add in a life-threatening allergy (or any number of other health issues), and the difficulty level in being a good, balanced parent grows exponentially.

I’m glad she had a great time.  I’m thankful she was safe.  I don’t know what the answer is, from one situation to the next–how vigilant to be without being obsessed and way overprotective.  There’s no precedent here for me, and I’m just doing the best I can in any situation we find ourselves in.  It was bittersweet to be reminded that she only wants what the rest of us want–to fit in and be a part of a good time and not be reminded of what weighs us down.

May we all have those precious moments.

Love to all.

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For more information about food allergies and research, go to http://www.foodallergy.org

 

 

My Daughter is Also My Sister

Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year.

Right up there with Christmas and Easter and birthdays in our family.

Huge.

It was STUNT weekend at Wesleyan College, my alma mater.

My second home.  The place of many joyful and wonderful memories.  The place where I figured out what I believed and tried it on for size for the first time.

Where I became a Psychology major and experienced great internships at places like the Methodist Children’s Home and Macon Outreach at Mulberry UMC.

Where I made friends for life and promised to be loyal and true to this place that built me.

And where I had the great privilege and honor and pure-tee fun of being a part of this great tradition, STUNT.

This is the 119th year of this event, which was begun to raise scholarship money for a sister who couldn’t afford to return to campus by a group of students all those years ago.  They would not let that happen, so they started this competition between the classes where each class writes and produces their own comedy musical.  The winner gets the coveted STUNT Cup.

That’s what the sisterhood at Wesleyan is all about.  It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we’ve last seen each other or talked, if one of us needs something, we are there.  I’ve had my sisters sit with me in darkness–be there when I was grieving, show up at my Mama’s funeral, send me messages of encouragement, and challenge me to step outside my comfort zone.  I’ve had my sisters remind me to give myself grace, and show up to cheer on my daughter and her class.  They’ve even been known to wear a class color other than their own, just to encourage another.

And that’s huge, y’all.  Once you enter as a Purple Knight, Golden Heart, Green Knight, or Red Pirate, you spend the next four years and the rest of your life pretty much embracing that color.

It’s all about the sisterhood.

And so was yesterday.  I took our Princess up for the day, as this is her favorite day of the whole year–when alumnae bring prospective students to campus for fun and friendship–some are their own daughters, some are not.  But all enjoy and have the time of their lives, which might explain why our Princess had her bag packed to go since she got back from last year’s STUNT.

It was a day spent with people I have known and loved for a long time.  Familiar faces etched onto my heart, almost as though they are a part of me.  My PirateFriend and her OnlyFriend, who shared the story of their friendship that began the first day of their freshman year, with the comment, “Hey, I like your pants.”  Y’all this is the friendship of a lifetime–I’m going to start telling people I like their pants.  If that’s the kind of lifelong sisterhood and love that comes of it, we should ALL be telling someone we like their pants.  They played a trivia game with the young girls visiting, and we laughed and had such fun.  We even sang and danced to the original number written by the group, “Rosie had a little puppy, and it’s okay to love puppies.” (sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”–a future hit, I’m telling you)

I loved hearing the years the daughters of my friends will be there.  I look at my baby girl and know she will be there on campus with some of these other legacies, and I smile.  We will be attending STUNT for many, many years, and I like the sound of that.

As the day went on, we were joined by more friends–sweet faces that haven’t changed one bit since graduation.  We took pictures and hugged and laughed that we had become those “old” alumnae who show up for things.  And we loved every moment of it.  One of the most precious moments was when my oldest, a sophomore at Wesleyan–more importantly, a Red Pirate–came up and met members of my class.  They embraced her as one of their own.  My favorite photo is one I’m not in–it’s my girl with my Purple Knight sisters.  Who stepped out of their knighthood for the night and cheered on the Pirates.  Auburn was the chair of her class’ STUNT committee for the second year in a row.  She and a committee of three other women from her class wrote the 30 minute comedy musical–they wrote the script, the songs, cast and directed it.  They have only been rehearsing for the past two weeks.

It’s tradition.

As the classes marched in one by one, each class sang their cheers.  “Night of the Screaming Women” is a well deserved moniker.  We’re loud and we’re proud.

Yes. We.  All of us alumnae were cheering along too.

And when the lights went down, my last glance back behind me showed me faces I have known for almost thirty years.

I was glad the room was dark.  I may or may not have teared up.  Ahem.

There were Purple Knights, Green Knights, Golden Hearts, and Red Pirates there, all with anticipation and beauty and joy etched into their faces.

And my girl’s 84-year-old grandmother was in the audience too.  There because of love.

But then, weren’t we all?

Yes.

The night was a good one.  The STUNTS were all good, and the Pirates won.

Well, in my book they did, but the judges saw it differently.  The Golden Hearts won the STUNT Cup and the Spirit Cup.  As seniors that was especially poignant.  They were thrilled and the night ended with lots of laughter and hugs and encouragement. With goodbyes and promises to see each other soon.

Before the Cups were announced though, there was a passing of the hats.  The Co-Chairs of the different committees will be Chairs next year.  It was time for them to name their Co-Chairs who will be the Chairs in 2017.

Since shortly after Aub set foot on campus, my girl has hoped to be tapped for this.  She’s spent years poring over my yearbooks and looking at the pictures.  She knew I loved STUNT and that I served as Executive STUNT chair my senior year.  “Mama, I want to do that too.  Wouldn’t that be cool?”

Well, only if you really want to.  I wanted her to do what she wanted to do at Wesleyan and not relive my years.

Long story short.  (or maybe a little shorter)

Last night her dream came true.  Auburn was named Co-Chair for 2015-2016.  Her junior year.  In the words of my daughter:

I.  Can’t.  Even.

As the announcement was being made, my classmate who is now an amazing member of the faculty at Wesleyan came up behind me and wrapped her arms around me.  She held on tight, and–

I.  Can’t.  Even.

See, she’s not one of my daughter’s professors.  It’s likely my girl won’t ever take a class from her.  But my friend has found her and loved her and–

Well.   She didn’t have to.

But that’s what the sisterhood is about.  And it lasts beyond the four years.  It lasts through generations.  And beyond.

It’s forever.

My friend whispered in my ear, “I’m so proud of our girl.” And she hugged me again.

Through my tears, I said, “Thank you for loving her.”

She waved her hand, “Don’t thank me for doing something that easy.”

Oh, my heart.

Today there have been so many pictures and posts on social media from my friends sharing their joy and happiness over being together yesterday.  One GreenKnight friend has said on more than one occasion, “It’s like going home.”

Amen.  And yesterday I sat upstairs in our “house,” and watched my girl and her sisterfriends SHINE like the stars they are.  I stood on stage with my sisterfriends and sang a song that another professor wrote, “Wesleyan is my school, Wesleyan is your school…..”  And my own daughter said she bawled.

She once told me that her friend who was STUNT chair last year was my special sister because we had a lineage between us of women who were tapped by the one before her, and it eventually was traced back to me.  And the one who tapped me and so on.

Well, huh.  I never thought of it that way.

And so now my oldest and much loved girl is a part of that lineage.  And I couldn’t be more tickled–because she’s happy.

My girl and me as the evening came to a close.

My girl and me as the evening came to a close.

So yeah, my daughter is also my sister.

It’s a Wesleyan thing, y’all.

And I’m a Wesleyanne for life.

I’m thankful for that and for all the treasures which that has brought and continues to bring me.

Love to all.

 

Going Home Again

You can, you know?

Go home again.

I know because today I did.

I went back to the place I loved when I was growing up.  Wesleyan College.  When my Mama was in school there, finishing a degree that I had unintentionally and in utero interrupted, I visited and fell in love with it.  Mama spent two years in classes there to change majors and finish a degree she had only been two quarters shy of twelve years earlier.

She took us to campus when we were out of school and she had classes.  I sat in the solid wood desks in Taylor Hall and wrote stories while she learned Psychology.  I had no clue that six years later I’d be sitting in those same desks, fascinated by the same course of study Mama loved.

She and Daddy took us to plays and concerts and performances by the Naiads (the synchronized swimmers) on a regular basis.

It already felt like home before I set foot on the campus in fall of ’86 as a full-fledged Wesleyanne.

And so it has ever since.

My four years there gave me memories and friends I’ll treasure forever.

I married there twelve years after graduation.  Right there around the same fountain I was thrown in on my birthday every year.  ‘Cause that’s what we do–throw you in the fountain on your birthday and when you get engaged.  It’s called love, people.  And tradition.

And about that.  The tradition continues.  Aub began her Wesleyan journey officially on August 17, 2013.  What an amazing journey hers has been.  Despite a hard semester emotionally, she did well academically. She too has made friends whom she will love forever.  And she made another tradition a huge part of her life.

118 years.....wow.

118 years…..wow.

STUNT.

The Pirate STUNT committee--y'all did a great job!

The Pirate STUNT committee–y’all did a great job!

In a nutshell, each class elects a committee who writes and directs their class’ thirty minute comedy-musical.  Aub was elected to be on her class, the Pirates, committee.  Since last fall, she and four other wonderful women from her class wrote and edited and dreamed and spent many hours creating their class STUNT.  Three weeks ago they read the STUNT to their class for the very first time.  Yes, it’s been kept a secret that long.  And until three nights ago, the other classes had no clue what the other STUNTS were about.  It all culminated in tonight.  STUNT night.  The big competition for the STUNT cup.  Ticket sales from the event raise money for scholarships for rising seniors.  This is the 118th year.  That’s a lot of helping out your sister.  And I was one of the beneficiaries many moons ago.  Thankful.

Today was also Welcome to Wesleyan Weekend.  The day Wesleyannes bring young women–daughters, nieces, friends–to campus to attend mock classes, listen to the story of STUNT, eat in the dining hall, see dorm rooms, and attend STUNT.

I took our Princess, my Golden Heart 2027.  She has been so excited about this for weeks.  She planned her outfit–jeans and her Golden Heart Wesleyan shirt that her big sister got her last fall.  And a red sweater to support Aub’s class, the Pirates, in their effort to win the STUNT cup.

A precious day full of more moments to treasure.

Being with women whom I lived with for four years.  Before we entered the “Real World.”  I had promised to giggle the first time one of us had to use her “Mama” voice.   And I did.  But then I was the second–it was inevitable with my crew.

The beautiful dining hall at Wesleyan.  As our Princess said, "It's more beautiful than I thought it would be."

The beautiful dining hall at Wesleyan. As our Princess said, “It’s more beautiful than I thought it would be.”

I sat in the dining hall and ate supper with friends I’ve known for a long, long time.  Almost thirty years–what?!  How did that even happen?  And I had a wonderful visit with someone whom I had seen in plays there before my freshman year who became a dear friend.  I adored her then and I still do.  She’s just that fabulous.

One of the women from the class ahead of us led us in the singing of the Doxology.  I don’t think I will ever hear the beauty of voices raised in song in this room and not get chills.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Funny thing is we only ever sang it on Thursday nights before Family Style Supper, and yet, when I went to sit down tonight, it was the first thing I remembered from my years there in that beautiful room.

Our children played together around the fountain, and we reminisced.  So much to remember, so much forgotten, but one thing stood out. Sisterhood.  It does last a lifetime.

We went to see the model room for one of the dorms.  My room from my Senior year.  Remodeled, but same room still.  Then we went across the way to view a room in another dorm.  The dorm that we weren’t allowed in while I lived there.  Except for that one time.  The irony is that the same women who let me in that one time also let me in tonight.  I love them, but I might just hear that drum banging in my sleep.  If I can even sleep tonight.  Fortunately they were much friendlier this time around.  😉

Heading to the fountain for our Pep rally.

Heading to the fountain for our Pep rally.

As we stood around the fountain and sang our class songs, I looked across the way to my independent Princess who had found her way to stand with other Golden Hearts.  She was not looking back once.  Tears.  Gratitude.  A smile.  She has found her way home too.  She used those exact words tonight when we were walking back to our car, “Mama, it feels like Wesleyan is home.”

It is, baby girl, it is.  And so another Wesleyanne is born.

I love this place and the things that never change.  Familiar.  That is home for me.

I love this place and the things that never change. Familiar. That is home for me.

While sitting in Porter Auditorium tonight watching the classes put on an awesome show, I moved in my seat.  Without thinking, I reached down and felt the velvety sides to the leather seat.  I knew without consciously remembering that’s how they were made.  I’ve sat and touched the velvet during plays, concerts, convocations, meetings, STUNT rehearsals (so many of those), Alumnae meetings, and graduations.  It’s like going in a house you haven’t been in for years and you just KNOW where everything is.  Because it’s home.

Tonight I give thanks for folks who have known me forever it seems.  For the ones who listen to old stories and new, for the laughter–oh thank you for the laughter, for little girls and big ones bonding together where their Mamas learned to begin growing up.  For memories rising up and causing your heart to skip a beat because they are so vivid.  For the whispered words of my roommate when I was climbing over a chair, “I’ve got you,” and the realization that yes, she always has.  I’m thankful that my girl gets to create her own memories in the same place where her Mama and Maemae did so many years ago.  I’m thankful that I left her tonight with a smile on her face and joy in her heart.  Her class didn’t win the coveted STUNT cup, but they won something much better–a bonding experience and story after story that I hope one day they will share together on a sunny afternoon sitting around the fountain remembering with those they grew to love.

I’m also thankful for all who have supported her journey.  Godparents and Aunts and family and friends who were sitting in the audience, cheering my Pirate on, I love and appreciate more than they can know.  For folks who wore red or sent her encouraging words, it meant so much.  And to my Wesleyan sisters who sat and watched and cheered for a class different from their own (and even brought her cookies), simply because she was mine and therefore theirs, my heart is full to bustin’.

Tonight I’ll be dreaming sweet dreams of home.  Love to all.