Modern Family 

As my dad finished saying the blessing at Thanksgiving dinner, he paused just long enough after “This might be our last Thanksgiving…” to create an awkward moment for those of us around the table. Was Carl about to get morbid? Was he making some kind of incredibly sad announcement? There was a collective sigh of relief as he continued, “… in this house.” He was simply referring to the fact that my parents’ house on Lake Coeur d’Alene is for sale. 

Carl Fry, Turkey 

Four generations of Frys gathered at Fry Lodge Lake Coeur d’Alene today to celebrate Thanksgiving. The best part for me was watching Henry and Ruby play with their first cousins’ children, who are their same age. It’s funny to think that my siblings have been grandparents for as long as Kristine and I have been parents. I’m sure it’s funny to them, too. 

Colten, with first cousins once removed, Henry and Ruby 

It was an enjoyable day, full of all the things that make Thanksgiving my favorite holiday: naps, games, movies, the constant smell of turkey, reminiscing about childhood. A few Hi-balls. Thank you, Carl and Kaye, for hosting an amazing gathering. You worked very hard on this (and I’m not just referring to the meal.) I really hope this is not your last Thanksgiving … in this house.

Four generations of Frys 

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Check Mate 

“Would the parent of Henry Fry please report to the judges’ table?” That’s one of the last things you want to hear while at your son’s chess tournament; but this is the announcement that greeted me as I entered the gymnasium after getting some fresh air at Henry’s very first Chess4Life chess tournament on Saturday. “Do you know where your son is?” asked the judge when I identified myself. I had to admit that I didn’t, although I assumed he was watching one of his friend’s chess games.

The judges were trying to clear up a scoring mistake. After five games, Henry had won three. The opponent he’d beaten in his last match noticed that the standings posted on the wall indicated that Henry had lost that game. This boy wanted to make sure the judges knew that Henry actually won. I was impressed with his honesty. I was also relieved, because, with three wins, Henry would get a medal and qualify for the state chess tournament. With two, he’d get nothing.

I was still relieved as the awards ceremony started at the end of the day. Several kids received medals for three wins before the trophies for the top six finishers – with four wins each – were handed out. My sense of relief soon turned to worry as the last medal recipient was called. Henry’s name was not among them. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew exactly what was going through Henry’s mind. Uggh. Then the trophies were handed out. When they got to 3rd place, Henry’s name was called. He knew something wasn’t right as he sheepishly walked up to receive the big trophy that he didn’t deserve. I wasn’t looking forward to straightening out the mess with the judges, because I knew there was a disappointed kid somewhere in the crowd who should have recieved a trophy but didn’t.

After the ceremony, Henry and I approached the lead judge to explain that Henry shouldn’t have received that trophy. Another dad and son were standing next to us, presumably to explain the same thing. The judges quickly caught their mistake, realizing that the other boy had a record of 4-1, with Henry at 3-2. And then the realization hit the judges that this mistake had a ripple effect throughout the entire population of chess players, most of whom had already left with their hardware. All of the results, including final team standings, were probably wrong. Nobody wanted to deal with that kind of cluster.

Before much else was said, I quickly handed the 3rd place trophy to the other little boy, congratulating him and giving his medal to Henry – hoping to avoid a protracted discussion. The trophy winner started to protest, suggesting that he might not have finished that high in the standings. His dad cut him off and said, “sometimes it’s best to just say ‘thank you,’ son,” as he and I gave each other knowing glances. I grabbed Henry’s hand and headed toward the door.

The discussion during the drive home was interesting. I was thankful for the day’s life lessons for Henry: Honesty is the best policy; adults make mistakes too; and sometimes it’s best not to borrow trouble.  As we prepare for Thanksgiving, if members of the Fry Lodge Faithful are looking for role models, they need look no further than the grade school chess clubs of Whatcom County.

 

Radical Acceptance at Fry Lodge 

In one of our recent end-of-day conversations, Kristine introduced me to the concept of radical acceptance. For some reason I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind, and I think it’s a good approach to life for Fry Lodge these days; so I’m sharing with the Fry Lodge Faithful. 

The opportunities for practicing radical acceptance are endless at Fry Lodge. Take breakfast, for instance. 

Here’s an excerpt from a 2012 article from Psychology Today that explains the concept for those interested. 

Radical acceptance is about accepting of life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.

People often say, “I can’t stand this,” “This isn’t fair,” “This can’t be true,” and “This shouldn’t be this way.” It’s almost as if we think refusing to accept the truth will keep it from being true or that accepting means agreeing. Accepting doesn’t mean agreeing.

It’s exhausting to fight reality and it doesn’t work. Refusing to accept that you were fired for something you didn’t do, that your friend cheated you, or that you weren’t accepted into college you wanted to attend doesn’t change the situation and it adds to the pain you experience.

Accepting reality is difficult when life is painful. No one wants to experience pain, disappointment, sadness or loss. But those experiences are a part of life. When you attempt to avoid or resist those emotions, you add suffering to your pain. You may build the emotion bigger with your thoughts or create more misery by attempting to avoid the painful emotions. You can stop suffering by practicing acceptance.


The Dreaded Teacher Conference 

I remember the first time I accompanied my parents to a teacher conference at St. Mary’s Elementary. I was petrified with fear, knowing that Sister Philip was sure to deliver an unflattering report on my behavior. To my shock and relief, she spared me – confirming for me there is a God. Either that, or she had me confused with some other child. 

I did not sense the same anxiety with Henry and Ruby as we prepared to attend their Student Involved Conferences this week. My how times have changed. The format of the conference involved Henry and Ruby leading us through a review of their work. They showed us how they could do math problems, read to us the stories they’d written, and discussed their most recent units of inquiry. Their teachers of course gave us their reviews, too. Both are learning at an accelerated rate. Ruby is already reading at the level 2nd graders are expected to reach at the end of the school year, and Henry’s stories are being read to his class as examples of excellent work. 

There’s a lot of pride at Fry Lodge, where all of the children continue to be above average. Keep it up, kids!