Adventures in Imperfection

A Piece of Pie and a Cup ‘o Joe

Approaching a teenage boy is a lot like capturing a wild animal.

You can’t make any fast movements, don’t dare back them into a corner and be sure to bring food.

My teenager has gone from a chubby cherub to a man-child overnight. Since football ended and wrestling started at the end of November, he’s lost fifteen pounds and acquired patches of facial hair now removed by the buzz of a razor. We don’t know if a baritone or a squeak is going to emerge when he shouts at his X-box buddies.


As the mom of a sweet, easy-going girl, I’m in unchartered territory.  We breezed through Tanna’s teenage years with barely a scratch and only one missed curfew.

That said, Dane and I have an excellent relationship. There are times that he still lets me see the glimmer of the early days before girls, sports, and rap music arrived on the scene.

Like this past Saturday. He was in desperate need of a haircut, and I needed some Dane-Mama time. The haircut usually falls into dad’s list of duties, but since my friend who cuts their hair was out of town, I took Dane to the friend who cuts mine.

We made light chit-chat during the drive, and I even got brave enough to ask if I could tag along on the community service at a tree farm that his wrestling team was doing the next day. His silence said everything and I let him off the hook with an “It’s okay, bud. I don’t need to go.”

His face was kind, but his words were earnest, “I don’t want to be mean, Mom. But it should be just me and dad. Nobody else’s mom will be there, and if they are, they won’t be in coveralls carrying a chainsaw like you will.”

Apparently, I’ve embarrassed him before.

It was quiet again until he asked where Carrie’s shop was. When I told him that it was near the downtown, he got excited and asked if we could “get a coffee” after the haircut.

For a fleeting moment, I saw a little guy with dancing hazel-brown eyes, buckled up in a car seat. It reminded me of a time when he was four and I had asked him what the daycare had served for snacks that day.

Matter of fact, his little voice said, “A piece of pie and a cup ‘o Joe.”

To this day, I don’t know where he picked up the expression. It was one of those phrases that I committed to memory and wrote into my journal as soon as we got home.  This haircutting trip was turning into a “moment”, and I felt an opportunity presenting itself as a gift.

“Sure dude. There’s a cafe’ right next to the shop. Maybe they have pie, too.”

After Carrie cut his hair and gave him a straight-edge shave, we walked next door.


Since Dane didn’t have to make weight for wrestling until next week, we bonded over pancakes and bacon. He devoured breakfast with the gusto typically demonstrated by our always-starving rat terrier.

Silently, I reminded myself of the wild animal reference and avoided any sudden movements. Somehow, I never once backed him into a corner and was able to coax him out from under his man/boy armor with the offering of sugar. At first he talked animatedly about the close shave Carrie gave as well as how much hair fuzz was laying on the floor. Then, between inhaled bites of bacon, he hunkered in for a real conversation.


He gave me insights into his new semester classes; his goal to finish the year on the high honor roll as well as his date plans should he ever want to take a girl out. Not that he’s interested in anybody. Sheesh Mom! It took every ounce of reserve not to pepper him with questions, and I let the conversation go where it was meant to.

I was quiet, engaged and completely unaware that the place was full of patrons. We had a private spot at the breakfast counter, and I had a front row seat as I watched this boy grow up right before my eyes.

Every so often, I pulled out my phone and took pictures. He saw what I was doing and asked, “You’re going to write about this aren’t you?”

I just grinned and snapped him drowning the pancakes in syrup.


“How do you know that?”

“I just know “that look,” mom. You had it the day I started high school, and then you wrote about it later.”

My sage, old soul.

It’s the look Tanna saw on her graduation day, and it’ll be the same for his graduation. The identical expression he’ll see when he waves good-bye from his new dorm room and then again when he brings home the beautiful woman who steals his heart.

Wow. Forgive the mist in my eyes. This circle of life sneaks up on me and sometimes bites me right from the keyboard – like a wild animal.

I think I need a piece of pie.

81 thoughts on “A Piece of Pie and a Cup ‘o Joe

  1. I’m struggling to find a peaceful way to interact with my 19-year-old son. Thank you for sharing this beautiful moment with your teenager. Always help to see that other parents manage it. Now, if only I could figure out how to with mine. 😉


    1. Believe me…if I had it all figured out, I’d have a best-selling “How to.”
      That said, the joy and adventure is in the journey, right?
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting 🙂


  2. Love this! My boy is going on 6, but in the last year the change was incredible. And my daughter is going on 12 and almost unrecognizable. We used to go to Bodyworks and smell and test all the lotions and giggled the whole time. This weekend we went shopping, and of course i said lets go play at Bodyworks – she said, maaaaam, i don’t do that anymore! Ugh. 😥

    But i am also amazed at the great people that they are growing into. And it sounds like your son is too. Very cool!

    Thank you for this post. Hugs.


    1. Maggie! Maggie! So wonderful to see your smiling face come across my page.
      You are just getting ready for some fun, right?
      I love that my 20-year-old daughter still goes on Disney watching binges when she’s home from college. I have no doubt that your girl will be ready for a Bath and Body trip when you least expect it.
      Hang on, Mama…it’s a wild ride!!
      Thank you so much for stopping and commenting. I always love hearing from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You capture the small moments in such a way that I want to work harder to treasure my own. You’re awesome, Michelle…and someday, I’m sure your boy is going to fall for a ‘chainsaw carrying woman’ just like his momma (when he realizes that is cool).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I couldn’t help but tear up a little while reading this, knowing the feeling of seeing fleeting moments of the child you knew flash between a young man who is fast becoming his own person. It’s bittersweet, and your post captured it beautifully, Michelle 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww…thanks, Ned.
      Our boys are the same age and I know you can relate.
      Those last couple of sentences were unedited…I was crying at the keyboard and it happened out of the blue.
      All good though! I’m so blessed to have these moments in the first place.
      Have a great week and enjoy some guilt-free coffee for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice slice of life you served up here.
    You never do know exactly which/what personality you’ll see each time you approach a teenager – they don’t either. All you can do is hold a steady course and hang on.
    I get sad when I see families in cars and the kids all have movies or devices – the car ride is one of the last chances to stay in touch with your kid (if the dinner table is gone – so many schedules now.)
    So far so good. Wishing you happy travels the rest of the way.


    1. I know what you mean jelly bean!
      I even hesitated to bring out my phone for pictures because I didn’t want to miss anything happening in “real time.” Dane left his phone in the car while we ate and I absolutely treasured the technology-free time.
      I hope you are doing well and off to the start of a great week. Thanks for stopping and reading!


  6. just perfect…i wish i could say that i mastered the art of approaching a teen (or 22 year old) son, but it just constantly shifts.
    But the sounds like such a beautiful day.
    I love his bemusement and acceptance of your chainsaw, and your writing…that’s a good kid.
    Cute too…thanks for this. Definitely sniffing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I do think he’s a cool kid 🙂
      I did have daddy proof the piece before publishing just in case I wrote anything that might embarrass him. It got the thumbs up from the hubs, too.
      I hope you are having a great Monday, my friend!


  7. Oh Michelle. I treasure the memories of moments like these that happened with my girls growing up. Your words captured a very special time with your wonderful son and his momma, and it’s a gift for us to share it.

    And this: “… they won’t be in coveralls carrying a chainsaw like you will …” Good thing I wasn’t drinking a cup ‘o joe. It would have been all over my laptop.


  8. If you can admit to feeling misty-eyed, then I can admit to all out bawling. Michelle, you have no idea how badly I needed to read a piece like this one. To say it gives me hope during a dark time right now, well, it’s an understatement. I feel like I was sitting with you and enjoying the pancakes, and I look forward to a similar experience with my daughter very soon, thanks to this uplifting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww…and to think that you and I are the “non-cryers!”
      I’ve always loved reading about the moments with your kiddos and we both know those times can be few and far between.
      Hang in there, mama…we will figure this out together 🙂


  9. Getting them to let us in becomes increasingly harder the more they become the people they will become. Well done and well written, my friend. As a father of two 15-year-old boys, I understand this all too well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And you get to be the cool dad!
      Granted, I know the father-son relationship is complicated…but, as a mom, I’m usually the afterthought. Boys need their daddies!
      I’m not even complaining, just being realistic and pragmatic and opportunistic when the time comes 🙂


      1. My boys open up more about their personal lives to their mom than me. If I pry they acquiesce, but I don’t like to pry. They like to talk to me more about sports and video games than school and girls.

        I’ll take what I can get.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, yeah. This dance is very familiar. I found myself reading and nodding in agreement (and tearing up). It’s all so thrilling and scary and exciting and bittersweet, this parenting thing. Seems to me like you have a really good handle on the process, though.

    Love that picture of your boy drinking his coffee – you can still see the “boy” in him there. The one at the bottom of the page on the right, you see the man he is becoming. Amazing.

    A piece of pie and a cup o’ Joe. I love that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Mary!
      If only you knew how often you popped into my head during this coffee outing. I thought of your little guy on the top of the roof and the story that followed. Then, the Ferris wheel. I bet you didn’t know how relevant your words always are to me.

      Between you and Cayman, my mama-love was dialed up to high!

      I saw the same thing in the pic of him drinking coffee, too. My little guy is still in that baby face, but I won’t dare tell him that 🙂
      Thank you so much for reading…it means the world to me!


  11. Bring on the tissue. My life, my husband’s life and my kids’ lives just sped up in front of my eyes. I just don’t know what I’m going to do when my little guy becomes reluctant to give me hugs and kisses. I haven’t embarrassed him yet but I know it’s just a matter of time. And getting a cup of coffee with him? Impossible. I need to use Elsa’s icy powers to freeze time this very instant.

    Thank you for sharing a little about the sweet and wise boy you’re raising into a man. It melts my heart!


    1. I would certainly love Elsa’s icy powers!
      I hope my mini-lamenting didn’t make you too apprehensive of days to come. I have loved every stage these kiddos have been through and it seems that each becomes my next favorite. I’m a sappy sentimentalist by nature, but always find a way to emerge from the wreckage.
      But, I not gonna lie…the year that Tanna graduated from high school just about did me in. It’s because of that experience and her “vanishing” into the college space that I’m holding on the Dane-man a little more closely.
      As for Cash…I can’t imagine a day that he won’t want to hug his mama. Somebody’s gotta keep him from those girls 😉
      Thank you for reading my ramblings and letting your heart be melted. We share that same mama-love!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. They do that to you Michelle. Get all growed up and run away all created in our image…sort of 🙂
    My son did that…and came back 4 times…nearly had to kick him out in the end because I finally started to do things for me again and found he was starting to cramp my style.
    Ah change…where would we be without it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a touching realization of growing up and handling the passage of time. there are times that we must all take note of which I never take down and God knows I’ve lost a lot of memnories of times that we all should remember, anytime I really enjoyed you story


    1. Hi Chuck!
      Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read my ramblings.
      As for your memories? I love seeing glimpses of them in your paintings.
      Thank you again for taking the time to read.
      Love you!


  14. This is so great, Michelle. You captured the heartbreak and sweetness of motherhood so beautifully. Love that you took him for a simple haircut and captured so much more. I always have my phone handy, but treasure those moments when I only pull it out to capture a moment (like the syrupy pour). Great pictures in this one. Love everything about this post.


    1. Thank you, Kristen!
      This post was so much fun to write and photograph. I had a 1000 more to share, but I practiced restraint…just like you did in your post 😉
      Speaking of photos–I love seeing yours. I’m not on Instagram all that often and it’s usually just to capture a photo op. But, I love seeing your beautiful pictures every time I have the chance.
      Have a great week, my friend!!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post Mama. Very heart warming – you’re a good Mama. I had to laugh at the image of you showing up dressed in coveralls and wielding a chainsaw. Ha! It occurs to me that your son’s healthy attitude and positive view on life comes from his Mama. Good job and it appears that your worry about not having shared enough time with him was unwarranted, given the great way he turned out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Paul!
      He seems to be heading the right direction…now I just gotta stay out of my own way and let his path continue.
      I hope you are having a great week!
      Any guest posts lately??


  16. I wish I could LOVE this post instead of liking it. Good job!

    I remember not realizing when M was really making the transition to teen and then adult. Everyone would ask who answered the phone, and I would be confused how they didn’t recognize my sweet voiced boy. Then one day he called me…and wow. That hit me.

    I get what you mean about the approach too. some of our more serious talks started when we were fighting each other on Mario Kart or engaged in a heated Uno battle. I think it worked in our case because it would have relieved any silences that could be miscontrued as not understanding or confusion (we are both the strong, silent type at home).

    Beautiful post, and pictures 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Sheena,
      Thank you for your kind words. You’ve been there and done that, right?
      I giggled over your share about M answering the phone…that whole voice thing-y is crazy!
      Good call on the Mario Kart and Uno…I may need to join in on the Clash of the Clans at some point.
      I hope you are having a great week, my friend. As always, thank you so much for reading and joining in on the phone. It means the world to me!


      1. Not a problem! You know I feel the same about your input too 🙂

        I just remembered, there really is something to the playing while talking thing (or eating, or whatever, while talking). M’s therapist usually plays Yahtzee with him if M isn’t being very open about what he wants to talk about. It takes some of the pressure off and is fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. What a great blog. Brings back fond memories. My two daughters & I. Going to K-State football games. They were ten & eight years old. Bill Snyder was this new football coach. Tickets easy to get. But time spent was priceless. RMG

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Coach!
      What an honor and nice surprise to see you here. I love that you shared about your daughters and the KSU games…that’s where it all begins. And now…Coach Snyder is in the Hall of Fame!!
      Just think–if it hadn’t been for your wood cutting expedition, we might not have had anything to open up a conversation.
      I love how we parents are all connected.
      Many blessings to you and yours 🙂


    1. Ah shucks, Diana – you are so sweet 🙂 AND, I know you can relate. You have a growing, moving, thinking young man in your house, too.
      I love the thought of having a Kleenex widget. Which reminds me…you have a good post sitting on your site I read last week. It’s been marinating in my head for a few days now.
      Thanks for stopping here…I’m on my way over to your place 🙂
      Much love and mama-hood xoxox


  18. Holy crow…what a blockbuster of mindblowing posts in the last day or so and yours is a shining star, Michelle. That boy is in good hands, clearly. He seems kind and gentle, and yet those hormones will do funny things…ha ha. No matter what he says (or doesn’t say, for the most part), that bond will never be broken. You are sowing seeds that will blossom later. he is already blossoming from seeds you sowed long ago. There is promise in them there eyes and you get to watch it unfold. I am nowhere near that in terms of my kids ages, but I will reflect back in 10 years from now at this and wonder the same things, no doubt.

    Stunning post in its complex simplicity or simplistic complexity. let’s just call it life. Old soul, new soul…loving souls. And you are one.



  19. This is beautiful Michelle. My youngest son just turned 18 last week, and I could relate to so much of it. Those times of not being “included”, but then there are those “sweet” moments of hanging out in a coffee shop (or pizza parlour) 🙂 and having a wonderful conversation.

    Dane seems like a very well adjusted, confident young man. My family would NEVER allow me to take some photos and write a post directly about them….lol. I guess they are a bit more reserved. (which I am myself in real life). 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this Michelle. It was a wonderful read! 🙂



  20. Now you got me all misty eyed. My son is 12, just a few years behind yours in terms of chronological time, but light years behind in every other way. What a wonderful moment to share with your son. Those, I do get with my son, and at this stage they are becoming more precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My goodness! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. My son turns 11 next week and he is already starting to change into the young man he is going to become. I still, thankfully, get moments of little boy but they are fewer and further between. I read this and I put Jake and myself in the seats of the coffee shop. As much as I am excited to watch him grow up, it breaks me just a little.
    Thank you for sharing this moment in time with your Dane. It is so touching and reminds me to enjoy those little boy moments I still get.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Jake…one of my favorite names for a boy. Dane has a best buddy named Jake and I love him like my own. I’m glad you were able to put yourselves in the coffee shop seat – it makes this whole march in motherhood seem a little less daunting. I’m always so honored when you stop by, Sandy.
      I need to go check out your site! I haven’t gotten an e-mail lately and I worry that I’m missing something!! I hope you and yours are doing well! xoxox


  22. What special moments shared. I love that you backed away from the desire to pelt him with questions and stepped into that Present moment and sense of where the conversational current should lead. It takes faith and wisdom to do such a thing, friend–two emotions I know you tap quite often.

    Blessings to you all in the Moments to come. May you be in their Fullness.

    With heart,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Faith and Wisdom”…oh, my friend. You give me more credit than I deserve. Needing a dose of both on this Monday morning. Hey wait…I just read a note from you…seems like a nice dose right there.
      Thank you, Dani. xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  23. hey momma joy – hear hear! you nailed something amazing here with the “teen” angle and the changes we all go thru – and your pics were so fun, and that was nice of him to not mind – I actually grabbed some footage of 4 teens sitting (we sat them down for – um – a literally 5 minute chat about something) and I got about 15 seconds and my son looked and then looked away as if to say okay but not totally okay – but okay enough to chill – (if that all made sense) ha!
    but the pouring syrup shot was fav – it felt lively and the flow feel of it matched the post as we took the drive with you for the haircut and “cup of Jo” –

    Liked by 1 person

  24. See, I get this, from the other side. The dad, with the growing daughters. You want to soak them up, but be cool about it. Ask a lot, but not too much. Take them as a grown up, but remind them of what they were like at age 4, because that’s how we see them, right?

    He’s a good boy to let his mom shoot pics and blog it. My kids turn to me at crucial times and say, “put THAT in your blog!” True, some is off limits, but for the most part … they live under a microscope.

    A loving microscope. But a microscope, nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I think that you and I live parallel lives – just with different kids 🙂
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I have a couple from you waiting in my inbox…I know it’ll be like a birthday gift when I get the chance to read. Words from you always strike me that way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It does seem like that, doesn’t it? I’m glad I came here for this one. I don’t get here as often as I’d love to, and it’s always well worth the trip.

        Mine don’t have expiration dates, so take your time. Always good to see you at my place too. Maybe there’ll be cake.

        Liked by 1 person

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