Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Battle of Epic Proportions

I think I am getting soft in my parenting "old age". Ask any of my three older sons how I feel about the beloved teenage prank of "toilet papering" and they will tell you that I hate it. Throughout their high school years I wouldn't give them permission to subject any of our friends with their "gift" of TP'ing. Mostly, I think, because it's destructive and messy and NO fun for the parents on the receiving end of the prank. And let's be honest, it's the parents who, for the most part, end up picking up the mess. The funny thing is that I usually don't get upset when our house gets TP'ed. 1. Because we don't have any big trees so it's pretty easy to clean up. 2. I make the boys do it.
So last night Isaac returned home from a birthday party where apparently 750 kids where in attendance (or 25 - I always get those two numbers mixed up) with two of his friends who were to spend the night. Sleep was certainly the last thing on their minds and they told me they had to defend their honor and our property by a preemptive strike on this house where all the girls were continuing the party by having a sleep over. I have no idea what was wrong with me but I simply said, "yes". The lack of massive interrogation tactics such as: "Where are you going?" "Who will be there?" "How long will you stay?" "What are you plans?" "Do you have a back up plan?" "IS that what you're going to wear?" prompted one of Isaac's friends to label me "the coolest mom ever" (which, honestly, is probably what prompted this blog - I really wanted to write that down...) He explained that his mom would be freaking out (which I don't really believe).
So off they went leaving only my 22 year old son, Andrew, to watch the fort. "Where was I?", you ask. I was going to bed - it was nearly midnight. Again - "cool mom" or "irresponsible mom" - you choose.
At 1:30 AM. I repeat, 1:30 AM I heard the sound of girls screaming - not like, "Help, help" screaming. More like, "This is the funnest thing that I ever done in my life at 1:30 in the morning" screaming. Our little dogs joined in the fray, howling to their hearts content. I am pretty sure that NONE of our neighbors were enjoying this adventure at all. Apparently, as the 20 or so girls (most of them named Haley or some derivative) quietly approached our house to do their worst, Andrew opened up with a Super Soaker and then, realizing the desperate odds, got out the garden hose, prepared to defend his "castle" to the death. Or at least until he scared the girls away. It apparently worked - hence the screaming - and happily the enemy scattered to the four winds.
Meanwhile, aided by the dad from the house all these girls were going to stay, Isaac and his friends were hiding in their house, waiting until they returned to scare them out of their wits.
This is of course, an incredibly condensed version of the all-night long adventure. By the time the boys were finally stretched out asleep on our living room floor at was after 3:00 AM. They didn't stir until about 11:00 the next morning.
Now, you might be thinking, why write about such a silly thing? Boys will be boys and girls will be girls and that is exactly my point! I know what can happen when boys and girls gather late at night. Usually its bad. Or it can be. Drugs and alcohol find their way into kids' hands, things get out of control. But here were something like 25 kids having a marvelous, innocent time. Everyone of these kids were involved in CAT and while, I don't take credit for their behavior, I do think it's telling that they all wanted to be together and the worst they could do was toilet paper someone's house, (Aided and abetted by the host mom). It's glorious to have an organization where the kids can grow up together, trust each other, and develop life-long friendships. I know these kids are going to be talking about this night for months to come. It will be one of the memories that will always come up when the have their reunions and gatherings. Its one of the fantastic "by products" of an organization that seeks to lift kids up. WOW! It's a good thing I said "yes"...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things I never thought I'd say

I was never really sure I wanted to be a mom. I wasn't enamored with children when I was young. I didn't really enjoy babysitting and I could see they were really, really messy. Now trust me, I am really messy myself and so that didn't seem like a good combination. I mean, I don't enjoy picking up after myself, why would I want to do it for a bunch of children too?
Nevertheless, I married Mark and now there are four grown Monroe boys: They survived me and I survived them. Better yet, I think they are the greatest gift to the world that has ever been given (OK, exaggeration alert: Christ is the greatest gift the world has ever known and then there's chocolate and Earl Grey tea but the Monroe boys are pretty darn fantastic). I digress....
When I started Christian Arts and Theatre (CAT) 10 years ago I noticed a trend in the things I would say to my boys. Honestly, I am sure if I could step outside myself and listen to my conversations with them, I would be shocked. For example, I never dreamed I would say to any of my sons, "Did you put on your eyeliner and mascara?" Or, "I think that lip color is too dark, lighten it up a bit." No kidding! This last show, Isaac played the Genie in Aladdin. We had a conversation about him shaving his armpits and arms. Those are not things I would have ever expected to discuss with my boys. But when you put it into the perspective of theater it makes a bit more sense. (Some of you are thinking, "No... I still think it's weird"... but that's ok too).
Two weeks ago, I said something else I never dreamed I would say: "My son is going to Iraq". Yep. That is a whole 'nother kind of sentence I would have truly prefered to stay away from. My army son is being deployed. Now, it would have been easier to talk about his deployment if it had gone as planned but now we find ourselves in this weird middle world of army-ness and it's hard to wrap my mind around this new turn of events: I mean, there are new moments in the middle of the night when the thought tiptoes across my brain that I actually want the army to take him. Without too much detail, I can say that despite being told that he was leaving on Saturday, August 15th, he didn't go and now it's all about waiting. Out of 103 troops waiting to deploy, the army took 100 and my son was one of three who were left behind. He is in a place of complete flux, just waiting.
My faith tells me that the Lord has some important, valuable reason he is still here. I have this incredible sense that God is bending the entire "whatever whatever" battalion to do HIS will, in HIS time, in HIS way. Why? For what purpose? The possibilities are endless.... maybe it's nothing more than to teach my son some additional patience. Maybe it's so he and his new fiance' can have more time together as they plan their future lives. Maybe there's a mission that only my son can accomplish and he can't do it if he's in Iraq. Maybe God wants me to learn to trust Him more and He is using my son as the illustration. Maybe there just wasn't enough room on the plane.
Whatever the purpose, it's hard not to wonder, asking the Lord frequently" What is going on? What are you doing with him." But the Lord just gently reminds me trust: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thy own understanding". So there it is. I want God to take my son to Iraq as long as it's what HE wants: That's something I never thought I'd say.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Life of a Lyric

Last night was the dress rehearsal for our Summer Festival show, Fresh Off Broadway: A Musical Revue. It is an amazing compilation of great talent and incredible music. Sitting in the darkened theater (one of the best places to be any time) I was struck again by the power of a well-written lyric set in just the right melody.
"Astonishing" from Little Women is so inspiring, so challenging: That moment when Jo March realizes her destiny is completely up to her and no other: Not a man, not her parents or sisters: It's up to her to grab the reigns of her life and DO SOMETHING!

Another song, "Bui Doi" from Miss Saigon, I had never heard before this show but it is one of the most moving pieces I have ever witnessed. In the musical, this song is sung by a Viet Nam Vet who is coming face to face with the responsibility of all the children fathered by soldiers who will be left behind and forgotten. "They're called Bui Doi, 'the dust of life', concieved in Hell and born in strife. They are the living reminders of all the good we've failed to do. Let's not forget, must not forget, they are all our children too." It pierces the heart.

The humor in a number from Spam-A-Lot: "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" will have everyone busting up with laughter. What could be better than to have the comedic singing, dancing and acting of a large group of talented men? Everyone needs a great belly laugh right now.

It's the power of musical theater - if you have never experienced it you have missed out on an inexplicable joy. So I exhort thee - get thee to a... theater - not a movie theater with trailers, crackling candy wrappers, chatty audiences and explosions of unparalled noise. Come to a live theater performance where people of all ages, shapes and sizes have given their blood, sweat and tears to tell a story through lyric and melody, a well-written line and movement, with passion and commitment.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who told you you could Blog?

I have a problem with follow-through that I tie directly to a lack of discipline. I know I should be blogging even if no one else reads this but me. In the past two days I have read about two bloggers who did amazing things and I feel as if God has slapped me upside the head and said, "See! I want you to blog". Is it hard to imagine God slapping anyone upside the head? I think he did it with Noah. How else could he have gotten him to build that huge boat. Problem for me is, Noah was the only one God asked to build that boat. There's a ka-jillion bloggers now - all writing the "most important" stuff. I don't want to be like everyone else. I want to be special and different.
Today, I sneaked away from my office and went to see the new Meryl Streep/Amy Adams movie: Julia & Julie (or is it, "Julie & Julia"). Anyway, it's great. Really great. I don't even know where to start with all the things I loved about this movie: Meryl Streep is INCREDIBLE and Stanley Tucci as her husband, Paul, is... perfect. The whole notion that Julia didn't know to do with herself, that she was grieving for the children she never got to have, that she was simply at loose ends and decided to go to Cooking School was such a revelation. Coupled with that the dual life of the adorable Amy Adams as Julie Powell: In a job she hated looking for a creative outlet and finds in cooking..and she blogs about working her way through Julia's cookbook. I loved it! The truth of it, the every day-ness of it. I am not that enamored with food (though I was starving by the time the film was over and rushed home to an apple and chips - Julia would have been aghast). But Julie Powell's blog had a purpose and made her different and special.
My "Stuff" is not important. I think I just need to write because God plants ideas in my head and they continually slip through the cracks. Or, I have insight into an experience that needs to be written down. I think that is the thing about blogging. Each blog doesn't have to be earth moving because tomorrow (or, more likely for me, Miss Lack of Discipline, the next day or so) I will write something new. Making it public keeps me accountable.
So I will be sharing about my life, what it's like to raise four boys, all about the joys of youth and community theater (Oh the stories I can tell), growing up (or not). Mostly things that may only be interesting to me and God (and God will be bored from time to time, I am afraid).
If you join in or tag along or stumble across my blog: Welcome.
There's much ahead for me:
My son, Jordan, leaves in 3 days for Iraq, my son, Isaac, is entering his last year of high school, my son, Andrew is starting his career after college as an accountant (I know you'll love hearing all about that), my son, Daniel and his wife, Erin, are getting used to me as a mother-in-law.
I'm writing and rewriting a play, producing and directing all the time. It's just my world.
Here I go.....