Last weekend when my eldest son, Matt, was dealing with some issues, he commented that I was always pushing him to make friends. The boy went through fifteen foster homes, and was never in any one school and entire year until he came to live with me. In fact, he was in five middle schools his 6th and 7th grade years. I could understand why he elected to distance himself from others. Still, these past three years I have insisted that he needs to make an effort.

When he went to Van Buren Middle School to reinvest in the 8th grade, he sat alone at lunch and preferred it. The lunch room ladies were so kind and always going to sit and talk to him. They were all lovely for doing so. Last year, before starting his freshman year of high school I insisted that he sit with others – try the show choir kids. He found a table with the best possible students you could find in the school – all show choir students but amazing young individuals: Tyler Allen (gifted singer, academic wiz!), Will O’Hanlon (football player, wrestler, singer) and Rachel Henry (band, choir – great little musician). I was so relieved that he had the best of the school at his table… I thanked each of the students for welcoming Matt to their table for the entire year. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of Tyler or Rachel – just Will.

This year, I encouraged Matt to find a similar table – and he did. He sits with Tyler & Will again, Phil Williamson, and Nick Budich. All these students, are once again, the very best of Fairmont High School – and I appreciate these students as the fantastic role models they are for my son.

Last weekend, Matt questioned why he should even have friends. I began thinking of my own close friends. I am so blessed with people like my mother, sister, Aunt Norma, Paula Simmons, Valerie & Mike Lockhart, Amanda & Scott Berlon, Nancy Winslow, Carolyn Bendrick, Debbie Allen, Christi & Paul Salchak, Sue Branson, Duneen DeVore, Robin Tinsley, Patricia Hill, Bob & Sarah Koogler, Geary & Jennifer Biggs, the Seybold Family, Rita Bomholt, Don McAdams and Brody McDonald (photo in previous blog as a prince). I have a ton of good friends who are fellow teachers, other adoptive parents, parents of students or parents of my sons’ friends. They have been great resources for parenting and my first stab last year as a 6th grade parent.

In 1997, I met Bill & Kay Hetzer, and their two teenage sons, Brian and Andy. Andy was a star football player at Centerville HS, and had a winsome personality. Sadly, Andy was lost in a tragic automobile accident in 1998. That event brought Bill, Kay and I so much closer. A few years later, they adopted Joey, and the next summer, Chris. Thanks to them, I started my own family’s journey. Each week, the Hetzer boys are here for piano lessons (since 1992) and it is about my only chance to catch up with Bill & Kay due to our hectic schedules. They are just the dearest friends, and I enjoy our several family outings throughout the year.

The Hetzer Family

The past six months or so months I have gotten to know Jeff Carter, director of the Ball State Singers. Jeff is so well-read, witty, charming and a delightful conversationalist. Time spent with Jeff is always memorable. Jeff is in the process of adopting his own son, AJ, also a family friend. My sons adore them both, and when I say we will be seeing Jeff (and or, AJ) the excitement rises. The one thing that impressed me with Jeff was when we were having the dinner party at the Richards, I mentioned the boys were disappointed that they did not get to see Jeff and AJ. When AJ arrived, Jeff said, “This summer, we are making a road trip to Dayton to spend time with Matt and Jose.” I did not think much of it until a week later when he wrote me, asking for possible dates. I was blown away. Here was a man who is terribly busy with all his responsibilities at Ball State, yet he was determined to follow through with a promise to visit. I was both blown away, and touched. Due to logistics, we ended up going to Muncie for our day together. At the Singers’ pool party, I noticed several moments when Jeff was spending time with each of my sons individually… very impressive.

People are always saying, “Let’s get together sometime.” It seldom happens. We are so busy and it is difficult to find the time. There are friends from college and NYC I intend to write more or call, and when I think I will get it done that day, something invariably comes up.

Thanks to the fine example of Jeffrey Carter, I intend to make myself a better friend by sending out more notes (hand written or Emailed) or making calls now and then. Of course, I intend to encourage my sons to do the same with family and friends so that they can become better friends to others…