You guys! After the excitement of Nate’s fifth birthday and the awesome fulfillment of his fifth birthday wish, I was very excited to sit down write some blog posts about recent activities in our household. Alas, on the evening of his birthday, Nate started to not feel well. He was so out of sorts that he didn’t even want birthday cake! And then he burst out into a nasty cough, a high fever, and a runny nose. He was out of school for most of last week; in fact, he was only in school on his birthday! And then Nate fell ill again. As I was taking care of Nate, there wasn’t a moment to sit down and write. Today, Nate is back in school so I’m stealing a few moments to share some of the wonderful joys in our household as of late. First up? Chad graduated from Yale.
That’s right, people–wedidit. I don’t know how we did it but we did. Chad was in residence overnight at Yale every other weekend for twenty-two months. In addition, he also had a total of four weeks away from home — three for “boot camp”/intensive studies and one for a special program in Ireland. Throughout it all, he worked full-time in his very challenging job (and switched jobs all together — but at the same company) and was Super Dad to our boy Nate. For the past twenty-two months, Chad’s–and our–lives have revolved around the timing of scheduled video conference calls with his classmates who live across the country, the amount of assigned reading and homework for each two-week period, and the scheduling of finals. Chad studied on his train ride to and from work, came home, ate dinner, and studied some more. But that’s a thing of the past, dear friends, an MBA degree from Yale School of Management was conferred upon my wonderful husband.
Chad’s program really knows how to live it up so our celebrations began the night before commencement. On Sunday the 18th, we were invited as a family to attend a formal dinner in the President’s Room. The invitation said it was intended for families and offered a child’s menu option (chicken fingers) so we gladly RSVP’d for three. As the day got closer, the panic started to set in. Chad and I realized that this was Nate’s first formal event and, moreover, the first public outing after Nate was declared potty trained. We have yet to attempt the public potty. If we run an errand, it’s usually pretty close to home and we’re rarely out for long periods of time. But this was a formal, three course, wear-your-pearls dinner that didn’t really have an at-home potty break built into it. So on Saturday, Chad and I headed to the store and bought a portable potty seat. The whole thought of it makes me shiver but Nate’s terrified of falling in the toilet. In the end, we decided to put Nate in a pull-up and called it a day.
I also packed a bag of distractions, which ranged from crayons and a coloring book to Goldfish crackers. Nearly every item was used at dinner and it became a rehearsal of sorts that made me more prepared for commencement the following day.
We lucked out and found an awesome parking spot for dinner. I took the opportunity to take my boys’ portrait. Nate’s expression pretty much sums up how he was feeling. (aka Um…why are we here?)
The event was in Woolsey Hall, a round building with marble walls that have the names of students and alumni who have died in American wars. Nate loved tracing the letters and numbers in the marble and marveled that the entrance and walls were circular. It took us a while but we lured Nate upstairs to the party where we found many of Chad’s classmates with their families. Many of them. It was time for the first distractor.
What was it? A lollipop. I know, I know. It’s the potty training treat. But now that we’re pretty much potty trained, it’s become the ideal motivator for Nate. It’s a top shelf treat and Nate savors his lollis, which means they last a really long time.
The event began with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and entertainment–very special entertainment–The Whiffenpoofs! For those of you unfamiliar with the group, The Whiffenpoofs are an all-male a cappella group that are synonymous with Yale. They were spectacular singers and Nate was enchanted by them. Nate liked them so much that I said, “Fancy party be damned!” and took Nate to the front of the crowd where we sat on the floor in our party clothes and swayed in rhythm to the music. Nate even got a bit brave and made a few sounds, not quite in harmony but definitely in hopes of being a future Whiffenpoof.
While Chad socialized with his classmates, Nate and I snuck away into the President’s Room where the dinner was being held. Only the service staff was present so I showed Nate our table and our assigned seats. He climbed right up into a chair so I decided we’d have a quiet moment together before everyone poured in. Chad came in to check on us and he and I got to talking. It wasn’t until that moment that we realized that, despite the invitation saying it was a family event, we were the only family to bring a child. Apparently everyone else brought family to watch their children at the hotels or ditched them in the closet. We don’t have family nearby. We don’t have a nanny. Nate doesn’t like the closet. We’re a team of three and we took that mention of a chicken fingers kid’s meal to mean Nate could come along and eat chicken fingers. Everyone else read it as, “There are no chicken fingers.”
Chad headed back out to be with his friends and Nate and I stayed in the room. As luck would have it, rolls were being passed out and, as you know, rolls are one of Nate’s most favorite foods. Ms. Paige happened to be in charge of the Doling Out of the Rolls so we introduced ourselves. Nate’s cuteness prompted a plethora of rolls, enough for Nate to share with friends.
The banquet manager, Erin, was in the room. She sensed my distress and came over to make friends. Erin was a seasoned pro at this type of event. She explained she had an office full of toys and an entire kitchen at her disposal so whatever Nate wanted, he could have. Thank God Erin meant it. The first course was salad; Nate liked the edible flower but only to play with. Nate’s meal, chicken fingers, didn’t look like chicken fingers. The breading was puffy, not panko-like, and Nate shook his head no as he pushed the plate away.
Chad kept Nate entertained while I ran to find Erin. The “deconstructed Strawberry Shortcake” dessert was still being, well, constructed, so she went into the kitchen and procured a bowl full of strawberries topped with fresh whipped cream and an apple, which is the only food that Nate loves so much that he’ll say it. A prepared mama, I quickly took a teaspoon of whipped cream, mixed it into Nate’s melatonin, and gave it to him before he dug in to his special Yale menu. Pretty soon, Nate looked like this.
Nate slept through the rest of dinner, which included faculty awards, student gifts (the School gave each graduate the official Yale diploma frame), and the class gift to the School. Chad also helped to present gifts to the administrative staff who keep that program humming.
Once we were all partied out, we plunked Nate into his car seat where he promptly woke up. He jibber jabbered the whole ride home, telling us about the whole event. It took a bit of time to settle Nate down to sleep again but we eventually did…and it’s a good thing because we had a big day ahead of us…Commencement!!!
Stay tuned for part two a.k.a. I can’t fit it all into one post!