Thursday, September 22, 2016

Picture of the Week - 9/22/2016

Why does 14 seem so much older than 13?  Is it just me?  I consider 13 to still be on the EDGE of being a teenager.  Not really a true big kid yet.  Maybe it's just me.  Now that Spencer is on the verge of turning 14, I can't really pretend anymore that he's not a young man.  I think this is maybe particularly true for Spence, who is truly man-sized at 5'11" and about 175 lbs.  He's not a little boy anymore.  

This has been a year of continued growth for Spence - and not just the physical kind.  I don't know that he's made as many GIANT leaps of growth as he has in years past, but he's fine tuning his personality, his belief system, and his goals.  And honestly, I can't imagine being happier with the direction he's going.  The path he's chosen makes me proud to be his mom.  

I think Spencer is a little odd in how quickly he's matured.  I don't think most 14 year-olds spend as much time thinking about long term plans.  I don't think it's typical for kids his age to understand the impact they can have on others.  I can't explain why Spencer is how he is.  It's impossible to talk about him without sounding like I'm bragging (which I could totally do!), but really I'm just sharing who he is.

Spencer has developed some pretty impressive leadership skills and wants to be better in this area.  He actively looks for ways to lead and help those around him.  He made a conscience effort throughout this football season to help ALL his teammates - the starters, the second string, the scout teams, the 7th graders, the girls, the kids who never play.  It doesn't matter to him.  He treats them all the same.  He wants them all to get better.  I only know this because I have had MANY parents tell me about how much THEIR kids talk about how awesome MY son is.  Do you have any idea how proud that makes me?  There are kids talking to their parents about what a good PERSON Spencer is and about how much they respect him.  These kids don't talk about what a good football player he is...  they talk about him as a friend and leader.  There's a reason he got the most Captain votes this year and gets the honor of helping to lead this team.  He earned the respect of his peers through his actions as well as his words.  

The fact that he's a beast on the football field doesn't hurt much either.  He's earned the right to play both ways and picked up 22 tackles in just 4 games this season.  He is dominant.  He's bigger and stronger than most - more driven than nearly all.  He wants it more.  He has personal goals taped in his locker, which his coach told me he's only seen a couple other times in 10 years of coaching.  The goals he taped up were his idea...  not something anyone suggested or asked him to do.  None of the other kids have done this.  He wants to get better and he works constantly to get there.  He does sit-ups and push-ups and pull-ups every night.  He hits the Smith machine in our basement on days he doesn't have practice.  He eats a better diet than anyone else in the house - all high protein and low carb.  I wish I had half his willpower.  We know he's likely just about down growing in height, but he's no where near his physical potential.  I fully expect him to continue to get stronger and stronger,  which will pair nicely with his knowledge of the sports he plays.  He is a sponge and as he learns more, anticipates more, and gains experience, his attitude and drive will take him far.

It doesn't hurt that he's a bright kid (most of the time).  He doesn't have to work as hard at school work as others.  He does have to study and do homework now (which hasn't always been the case) and he's not a perfect straight-A student, but he's very bright.  He is still taking all honors classes and essentially working through 10th grade math this year.  He somehow keeps up with the demands of his education while also balancing all the stuff he needs to (and wants to) do for sports.  As he gets ready to go to high school next year, this will serve him well.  He has a goal to letter in 3 sports - football, wrestling, and lacrosse.  And while that may seem like a lot, it's a tad more impressive when you consider that he ALSO has a goal to go to West Point.  Will that change?  Maybe, but it's taken 3 years of him talking about it for me to buy into the idea that he's pretty serious about it.  He knows what the requirements are to get accepted to West Point.  He knows (or has read) about what it's like to go there as a student.  He wants to do it because it's hard.  He wants to do it because it's a great education.  He wants to do it because he believes in the mission of West Point.  So I've accepted...  and we are looking for ways to support him.

In general, I think we've moved into more of a supporting role for Spencer.  I suppose that happens.  You start out as care-giver to a helpless newborn and gradually are relieved of more and more care-giving duties.  We are well down this road with Spencer.  He needs us as a supplier of room and board.  He needs our support and love.  He needs to know we are in his corner, which we will ALWAYS be, but he doesn't need me to pick his clothes, remind him to brush his teeth, check his work, or encourage him to try harder.  He no longer needs me to be a care-taker, so I get to be a mom.  I get to guide and push, to provide my opinion and to help him to sort through all the events around him.  I get to love him.  I am so lucky to get to love him!

Before you all go thinking that I think the child is perfect, you know very well that I don't believe that and he is NOT perfect.  If any of us needed a reminder (and I think maybe we did...  a little...) I will simply remind you what happened on the afternoon of Labor Day Monday when he did a super dumb thing and hurt himself badly.  He (likely) ruined his chance to make good on some of his personal goals that day.  He (thankfully) didn't hurt himself worse.  He's back to pretty much 100% after the concussion.  He's back to taking tests and doing school work.  He's back to full contact practices and conditioning.  He'll be back on the football field on October 11th for the first round of playoffs.  He's a little like a caged animal right now waiting to get back to it.  He misses playing.  He misses contributing.  He misses leading his team.  

It may be difficult for Spencer to top the achievements he's had this year.  He's had a really great year.  This coming 12 months will see him finish a middle school football career.  It will take him through a wrestling season and into a lacrosse season playing on the (hopefully, should he make the team) Senior Select team.  He will finish 8th grade leaving behind the most rigorous academic schedule available to him.  He will start over at the bottom of the totem pole at high school.  He will forge a new path for the Bovenizer brothers behind him.  And I couldn't be more comfortable with him cutting the path for us all.  We will all get to learn about a whole new world alongside him.  He's been teaching us and stretching us to grow since he made his debut, nearly 14 years ago.  And we are all better people because of him.

Here's to another year full of happiness and successfully conquered challenges.  Here's to another year of smiles and hugs.  Here's to Spencer.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Picture of the Week - 9/15/2016

I'm so happy to be able to report some great news in this week's message.  

Spencer had an appointment this morning with the concussion specialist.  He's doing so well that the Dr. cleared him to return to normal - and to play in next Tuesday's football game (provided he doesn't have a return of symptoms).  He's tolerated all the stuff he's tried so far and tested better on today's ImPact Concussion test than on his baseline.  

I'm so happy that we can put this behind us* SOON!  

This weekend we have a lacrosse game, a K/1 football game, a flag football game, U15 winter lacrosse team tryouts, K/1 football pictures, Little Shooters, and a family birthday dinner celebration.  It's gonna be a good weekend!!

*of course I will still worry...  I'll always worry about my kids and this is just one more thing to worry about, but I'm not going to let it change our plans or impact his goals.  Onward...  lesson learned.  

BTW - In case anyone is interested...  Spencer's football team has secured the #1 seed from the West Division for the Forsyth County MS playoffs.  We don't know who we are playing yet, but we will be playing at Vickery on 10/11 at 5:30.  If they win that game, they will play in the championship game on 10/18 at 6:00 (I think) at West HS.  


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Picture of the Week - 9/8/2016

Life, ya'll...  it's messy.

I got up this morning took a shower, then headed to the laundry room to fold and load and fuss.  My daily laundry thing...  While I was in there, Zane came out of his room.  He had bed head.  His eyes were still have shut.  He was shuffling around, half asleep.  

I immediately stopped what I was doing, grabbed his hand, and led him to the little couch in our bedroom where I laid with him sprawled across me (because he doesn't fit ON me anymore) until he finished waking up.  I rubbed his back.  I smelled his smell.  I realized, at that moment, that my boys were all safe and sound.  And I realized a half second later, that it was a fleeting moment of security that I would be letting slip through my fingers the second he got up.  

It's scary... when you learn that life is unpredictable.  

It's scary... when you are taught that what you assumed was untouchable, isn't.

It's scary... when that 2x4 hits you between the eyes - again - with a reminder of how precious life really is.  

Melodramatic much?  probably, but I've had a VERY traumatic week.  Grant me the freedom to be a little introspective - and a little weepy.

For anyone who isn't on Facebook or may have missed my posts since Monday evening, Spencer was in an accident on Monday.  He was with some of his friends, just hanging out and being teenage boys.  Were they doing stupid stuff?  Yes.  Were they doing anything we haven't all done at some point?  Probably not.  

I got a call from one of his friends.  The friend alerted me that Spencer had been hurt but "was all right".  He shared that an ambulance had been called.  ("What?")  He said again, "he's alright" and then proceeded to share that he was bleeding out of his ear.  ("That doesn't sound "all right"!")

It took me about 35 minutes to get to the hospital.  I don't really remember much of the drive.  A million things went through my mind - not all of which I am very proud of.  

I was in denial - no doubt.  Spencer is big and strong.  He's an Ox.  He can't be hurt.  One of my other boys, maybe, but not Spencer.  He's like bulletproof. 

I was scared.  Blood from the ear can't be good.  What causes blood from the ear?  Nothing I could think of was encouraging.

I was mad.  (And I am ashamed of this... but it the real truth.)  I was really looking forward to watching him play football the next day.  I was really proud of how he was performing on the field and was mad that something had happened that had put that joy of watching him in jeopardy.  I was mad that the goals he had for his season were likely now no longer achievable.  

I was guilty.  Why did I let him go over there?  Why did I spend the day working on my computer instead of doing some kind of fun family thing so he was with me?  Why didn't I know exactly who he was with or exactly what he was doing?

When I got to the hospital, Spence was strapped to a gurney and heading to get a CT scan.  He was covered with blood.  He was awake and alert, but seemed confused.  I was dumbfounded.  I didn't know what to say.  I look back at how I behaved in the ER and can't say I am super proud.  I detached myself from reality.  I didn't cry.  (I did want to vomit, but I didn't.)  I don't know if I told him I loved him.  

We had some visitors, all of which I am SO thankful for.  It was so nice to have some friendly faces there.  And having Berber there with us was a huge help and source of comfort - for me at least and I think for Spencer as well.  

After an excruciatingly long wait (reality was less than an hour), we found out that his CT scan was normal.  He was OK.  He has a concussion and he burst an ear drum - which bled like CRAZY.  But he was OK.  He would be OK.  

We are blessed.  

And we have, once again, a reset sense of perspective.  We have been, once again, reminded of what is really important.  We are, once again, focused on the stuff that really matters - for the long run.  Hint - it's not a middle school tackle record.  

Tuesday night Spencer's team played a rival school.  This other middle school feeds into the same high school that we will go to.  These players on the opposing team will be teammates next year.  We play lacrosse with many of them.  We played rec league little kid football with lots of them.  We know these families.  It would have been fun to watch Spencer play in that game, but instead he was home, alone, in his dark room, resting his concussed brain.

I went to the game.  I went because I have responsibilities to that team, to those kids, regardless of whether Spencer is there or not.  I went because I felt like I needed to go.  And what I saw there kind of restored my faith in the whole concept of team sports.  It was a blatant reminder of WHY we play.  The physical skills gained through sports play are fine, but it's real benefit of being on a team go far beyond the win/loss record.  What you CAN get out of a team is way bigger than learning to run, pass, catch, block, or tackle.  

Spencer's team wore wristbands with his number on them.  They wore his nickname proudly printed on their wrists.  They brought his jersey.  They carried it in honor of him out for the Captain's coin toss.  They screamed and chanted along the sidelines.  "Do it for Sid!"  "Get them for Bovy!"  "Play for Spencer!"  (For reasons I don't really know, everyone calls Spencer Sid...)

I nearly broke down into sobs a dozen times.  They love him.  He loves them back.  That team is something special - and it's not because they are still perfect on the season.  They are a family.  They are brothers.  They are one.  

So now we are in a recovery period.  We saw a concussion specialist today from the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Sports Medicine team.  We learned that he's still somewhat sub-normal in his brain ability - thanks to a baseline test we had on file.  (NOTE - if you know someone who plays sports and doesn't have a concussion baseline test on file, please go get one!)  But we also learned that he's going to be fine and he can start getting back into his normal life.  After missing 3 days of school, he will go back tomorrow for a while.  He's still having headaches, but he's better every day.  His school nurse and counselors are working with us to help make sure that he's got the accommodations he will need over the coming weeks to fully recover.  

He's going to be fine.  

We are blessed.

And he'll likely be ready to play football again* in time for the playoffs.  :)

For anyone thinking we may be re-thinking our commitment to the "violent" game of football, I will simply say that we are not.  Spencer got injured doing normal life stuff.  He was lifted back up through football.  It's a good trade-off in my opinion.  

Go hug your kids.  Or someone else's kids.  

Remember how unpredictable life is.  

And know that for every one of you who sent up a prayer that Spencer would be OK, I thank you.  I thank you VERY much!  It has been SO VERY heartwarming to see "our people" come together to support us through this.  You all know who you are and please know that I love you all!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Picture of the Week - 9/1/2016

Pretty sure words won't do much to augment this picture.  

My happy, healthy boys.
Ohio State tradition
Football season

Love it all!

Have a happy and SAFE Labor Day weekend.  We plan on much weekend-ing and very little labor-ing, with a good dose of college football.  

PS - In unrelated, but still football news...  Spencer's team won again on Tuesday making them 4-0 for the season so far.  He's having a KILLER season - and a blast.  He's got 20-ish tackles so far and has only played 1 4th quarter.  This could be a pretty special year.  :)  Zane's team lost their first game last night, but he had fun playing center and particularly enjoyed the post-game goody bags.  :)  Next game for the Bovy boys is Tuesday night, then the real fun starts next weekend with football competing with lacrosse and flag football for attention.  Hang onto your seats - September's gonna be a crazy sports month!