Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: change

Tying Up Loose Ends


By the time I post this my Son and I will have completed the gauntlet that was hell week. The week leading up to the band trip to Orlando. 

The reason I’m calling this hell week is because there is something every night leading up to our Friday flight to Florida.

Monday night is parade rehearsal along with an after school orchestra rehearsal, Tuesday is a mandatory meeting about the trip, Wednesday is Spring concert rehearsal and Thursday is the Spring concert, after which uniforms and instruments will be collected so they can be transported to Florida via truck.

Full Calendar

Thank goodness they are not squeezing in luggage collection prior to our departure. I was worried about that. Two years ago luggage collection was the day before, but we left on a Sunday. The process has been simplified, with the students bringing their luggage with them the morning they leave. Of course they have to be at the school at the ungodly hour of 3:30AM, but at least they can sleep on the bus to the airport and plane.

My Son and I could have bowed out of this trip, and we did come close, but being his Senior year, we both figured it would be a great way to end his high school marching band experience. 

Knowing now that my Son won’t be attending a college that has a marching band I am grateful we did. (His college of choice offers pep band, jazz ensemble and symphonic band, so he will continue to play, he just won’t be marching.)

Looking Back

This trip truly plays into the “year of lasts” which I wrote about at the beginning of band camp in August. At this point, we have checked off quite a few “lasts” already (last band camp, last football season, last winter concert, etc.. ) and in all honesty as we draw closer to my Son’s graduation we most certainly feel like we are tying up loose ends.

Kind of funny “The Walking Dead” has done the same thing. Capping off Season 8 with the final battle between Negan and the Saviors, and Rick and company, with Rick’s gang winning, thus opening the door for a new beginning at the start of Season 9. Just as my Son and I will face a new beginning when he heads off to college in August.

Quite the nice parallel for the final months of this blog. Thank you TWD.

TWD Finale

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WTW Is Coming Full Circle


If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you know oh to well the show returns February 25th. And with it’s return, the undoubted departure of a well-loved character.

TWD Masthead

Spoiler Alert –

If you are not caught up with TWD, please do not read any further.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Year of Lasts


With band uniform fittings the beginning of this month, I realized my Son and I are officially starting “The Year of Lasts.”

In September my Son starts his Senior Year in high school, so all the things that are once a year in high school, will never be done again. They will be the last time he and/or I do them.

Just as this was my Son’s last high school uniform fitting, it will also be his last high school marching band camp at the end of the month, which ushers in his last high school marching band season.

First Game Senior Year

I stress high school, because there is a possibility my Son will be marching in college. One school he is applying to has a marching band. This would mean Saturday road trips for Mom, but I’m OK with that because I would get to see my Son.

To be honest, I’m not sure either one of us is totally ready for this, but the reality of it is sinking in fast, especially with college applications being submitted this month and his Senior pictures behind us.

I actually got teary eyed the day of his Senior pictures just thinking about it. School photos are a rite of passage and when the final one comes you are met with an avalanche of emotions.

Excited for the future, but sad because it means everything will change. Change in a good way, but all change is met with some apprehension.

Next year at this time it will be about packing my Son up for college.

How did we get here? Where have all the years gone?

Last school year we were so consumed about making it through Junior Year and starting the college preparatory process that the notion of Senior Year was just a fleeting thought.

That thought is no longer fleeting. It is staring us down and forcing us to “wake up” and realize that we need to truly appreciate this “year of lasts” because we will never experience them again and can never get them back.

Junior Year was about surviving; Senior Year will be about appreciating and savoring every little detail that comes into play with the “lasts.”

It’s about living in the moment, which is not always that easy with the pace and pressures of today. This is something I know I need to learn to do better, not just for this year, but in general.

August Calendar

As I sat in the mandatory parent band meeting the first day of band camp, I didn’t drift off because I was a veteran parent, I listened and remembered what it felt like my Son’s Freshman year.

There were so many questions, so many fears. Would my Son actually survive band camp and stick with it? What is expected of me as a band Mom?

We found out the answers to these questions quickly and slowly fell into place with the rest of the veterans.

Now I’m a member of the music booster executive board and knee deep into everything band. Some days I ask myself why, but to be honest, just as the band has given my Son a safe-haven in high school and second family, so have the boosters for me.

I know I have made friends who have been and will be there for me even when our kids have graduated and are grown.

So, although this will be a “year of lasts,” I will cherish every moment, even the challenging ones, and store them for when my Son is away at college and I’m missing him.

The “lasts” won’t just apply to high school events though. They will also apply to this blog.

I started “Waking the Walker” in 2014 when my Son was finishing up middle school and transitioning into high school. It was a means to work through the trials and tribulations of raising a “zombie,” I mean teen.

WTW_TShirt_Final

 

Granted, there will most definitely be trials and tribulations when my Son goes off to college. They will however, be on a different level than those experienced through high school.

Will there be a new blog reflecting how I deal with these new issues? And how it feels to be in an empty nest? I have no idea yet. Only time will tell.

I do know though, that with each passing month, I found writing this blog quickly became therapy, even during the months when my time was stretched thin. The process of writing became my place of refuge and a means to work through my ever-evolving emotions.

Those ever-evolving emotions will be all over the place this year of “lasts.” Particularly the closer we get to my Son’s high school graduation.

Lord knows what I’ll be like when we get to the end of next Summer and it’s time for my Son to head to college. Mentally I won’t go there yet. I want to enjoy what this year has to bring.

I can guarantee though, this last year of “Waking the Walker” will not so much be about how I’m dealing with my Son’s behavior, but more about how my Son and I are dealing with the emotional roller coaster we will both be experiencing.

It has pretty much been just my Son and I from the very beginning. We have become a team. So, as we experience each “last” through this upcoming school year, the reality that the team will eventually be disbanding, will become ever present.

The good thing though, we have the school year to work through the challenges this reality brings, together. In so doing, we will make the team even stronger, so when we are apart, it won’t feel like it.

So, with “The Year of Lasts” already in motion, and quite a few “lasts” already behind us, the pausing and savoring every detail has begun.

Not just for me, but for my Son. He and his Senior buddies are determined to make this their best year yet. And I will cherish hearing all about it.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2017. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection

Here We Go Again


They say history repeats itself until the lessons we need to learn are learned.

Personally, I believe this is true. Generally because we don’t either consciously acknowledge there is a lesson to be learned in the first place. Or, we refuse to change the behavior that triggered the problem, even when we know it will help.

I see this too often with my Son for both reasons. And, sometimes because he just won’t listen to Mom’s suggestion as to how to remedy the problem that has arisen, which could sort of fall into the “refusing to change behavior.”

This is the very reason I find myself repeating similar themes periodically. It is a vicious cycle.

internet-wasteland

We just went through this during the last marking period. My Son, with permission from his teacher, chose to use his personal copy of the book they were reading in English. Early on though, there were some red flags. Red flags signaling it might be best to also get one of the school’s versions of the book to at least keep at home as back up and reference.

The night of the first assignment related to the book, my Son forgot his copy of the book in his locker. Why? He had taken it to school earlier to get approval to use and decided to store it his locker. His locker can become the black hole, so “storing” anything in it is never a good idea.

Next came poor communication between him and his teacher. Freaked out about forgetting the book, my Son emailed the teacher. Now I did not see her response, but based on what my Son stated, he only needed to track down a bio on the writer and he would be fine.

Note, while waiting for the teacher’s response, I suggested my Son look for a free copy of the book online because the book was no longer under copyright. He declined for more ridiculous reasons then I care to include, but when he got a response from the teacher, he was content with what the teacher told him and felt it wasn’t necessary.

Add to this, had he checked the teachers website, as I also suggested, he would have discovered that he most certainly needed more than a bio. Plus, there was a link to not only a pdf of the book, but also an audio copy.

Needless to say, when he took the test the next day, he was not prepared and did poorly, which lead to the end of the world drama I wrote about last month.

Fast forward to the end of the marking period and a shaky English grade looming in the wings. Read the rest of this entry »

LOSS


Hershel and Beth Greene

Hershel and Beth Greene

In a month normally filled with joyous gatherings of family and friends the subject of loss seems so unfitting, but I found myself profoundly effected by the loss of Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) on “The Walking Dead” mid-season finale and to be honest, I couldn’t quite figure out why. Other characters have been killed off, including ones my son and I were quite fond of and ones that really helped to move the story line along. In particular, Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), Beth’s father. My best guess as to why her death got to me was that she, like her father, was becoming a beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak end of times world. Plus, she was just coming into her own, having grown from a shy, frighten teen, so distraught with the realities of this horrible apocalyptic world that she came close to taking her own life. Any life cut short is sad, but one with so much prospect is truly a tragedy. I realize these are fictitious characters, but, it made me wonder if there were any lessons in the grieving process that could be garnered by the loss of our favorite fictitious characters.

Before I could ponder this any further, my family was forced to deal with the sudden illness of my 94 year old mother, which landed her in the hospital and now in a skilled nursing facility for the remainder of her days. We knew for awhile that this day may come, but when you’re slapped in the face with it and no other options, it can be earth shaking. She has health issues that we thought would be what would take her from us, but some how she kept motoring along. We worked hard to keep her at home, but the reality of the situation hung large over our heads. For years we were watching who she was slowly drifting away due to the ravages of dementia, which was breaking our hearts. When pneumonia hit, along with the discovery of congestive heart failure, we knew we could no longer care for her on our own.
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CHANGE


“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor E. Frankl

I had good intentions of dedicating this month to an attitude of gratitude. My son and I were going to play a daily round of what I dubbed “Bob’s Blessing Assessing,” styled after Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) from “The Walking Dead.” Him and Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green) would play the “good out of the bad” game in an effort to lighten the gloom of the zombie apocalypse they were struggling to survive in. She would state something that in their situation was definitely a negative and he would reply with a way to turn it into a positive. For example; she would say “danger around every corner” his response, “never a dull moment.” or “hot sun beating down on you,” he’d reply, “gorgeous tan” and one of the best, “no privacy,” his reply, “captive audience” followed by him giving Sasha a kiss. Which brought a smile to everyones face. So, this little game did help to lighten the load in not just their lives, but those around them.

Bob and Sasha

Bob and Sasha

My thoughts were if they could find a blessing in anything while trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse, my son and I could surely be able to find sunshine in anything that brought us gloom in a non-apocalyptic world. The problem was, we found it hard to find the gloom. In reality, even if we complained about something or were upset about something that occurred during the day, we never considered it enough of a negative that we would have to dig deep for the positive. We knew it was something that would pass and not worth giving that much energy. As I look back at our efforts, I’m quite pleased because we learned that despite our grumbling at times, we both know we are truly blessed and nothing can take that away from us. Not even the daily parent/teen struggles.

red flagThis exercise also made me realize that my son might actually be understanding that some things happen for a reason and that some of the negative things in our lives are there to teach us lessons. That maybe, just maybe, they are a sign that we might need to change how we do things or think about things. My theory was quickly ripped to shreds at the first sign of trouble with school work. As many of you regular readers know, my son can challenge me when it comes to his time management and organization of school work. My June post was all about this, which prompted me to bring in a private tutor to help with his study skills, which needed to be fine-tuned in order to survive his high school years. In general, my son gets good grades, but has the occasional not-so-great ones, which I’m OK with because I know we all have off days. It’s the not-so-great final grades that raise the red flag, especially when things seemed to be moving along at a steadily improving pace. My son was implementing some of the time management/organizational and study skills that the tutor had introduced, plus between the three of us we created a daily check list for my son to use to help ensure he doesn’t overlook any assignments, an issue that has bitten him in the back end more than once already.

As the end of the first marking period of his freshman year in high school approached, all signs were pointing to a positive outcome across the board. His academic grades were all A’s and high B’s as well as in band and engineering. That was until the final project for engineering was handed in and my son found out he had completely misunderstood a major detail to the assignment. The teacher was generous and gave him the opportunity to rework the section that was wrong, but he would only get half credit. My son did this, but, it only pulled the final grade up to a “C” because he already had a really late assignment at the beginning of the year. I did not get upset with my son, because, number one, it was not a core academic class. Number two, a “C” is a passing grade and shouldn’t keep him from making honor roll. And, number three, it was not only the gloom, but the light. Had my son actually pulled out the rubric for the assignment as he was working on it, he would have realized what he thought was OK to do was very much wrong and this would have prevented this not-so-great grade from happening. This major detail opened the door for a lesson to be learned, thus the light. When the teacher lays out the assignment in detail, use that as your guide and you won’t have major issues, don’t rely on your memory. It turns out that this is the very thing that caused problems with my son’s final science project in eighth grade, which was the catalyst to bring in a tutor.
Positive vs. Negative
So, here we are again, two steps forward and one step back. Despite my son’s advancements with his study skills and taking ownership of his actions when his decisions are far from the best, the “C” in engineering and 2 other not-so-great grades in a test and homework, threw him into a funk. He became “Mr. Negative,” stating he’ll never change, so why bother. He missed the point that these things will continue to happen until the lesson we need to learn is learned. Instead of these incidents being a catalyst to change, they became an excuse to just give up. Read the rest of this entry »

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