It is 2001. Everything is in order in the Powell household. There are 4 little boys ages 10, 8, 7, and 5. Daddy works and Mom stays home, homeschooling the boys, teaching them the catechism, tending the vegetable garden, and living a quiet life centered around church and family. All is safe and secure.
Mom is washing the breakfast dishes and the boys turn on the TV to catch the last bit of Blue’s Clues before lessons begin.
Recently in “Miss Molly Goes to Harvard” I told the story of my first day at Harvard Law School, a simple God-fearing, Auburn football-loving sorority girl entering a new world. I failed to mention one notable classmate. Here is a clue . . . while I call my blog In-House Counselshe could start a blog and call it In-the-White-House-Counsel.
Yes, Michelle Robinson Obama was in my Harvard Law Class of 1988. Above and below are our yearbook pictures from our third year. (Her also notable husband came along a year or so after we left.)
Not your average first day of school story from not your average Harvard Law student
It is the fall of 1985, and I have arrived at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other students enter the dorm carrying duffel bags and milk crates. I have matched luggage, a U-Haul trailer, and two parents in tow. We unload, creating for me a nest of familiar things.
I miss Mr. Joe – the wizened African-American man who worked for my family for many years doing yard work and odd jobs. He had always helped me move in and out of college dorms at Auburn. One year he told my mom ”I do believe that Miss Molly is moving out more than she moved in.” I don’t think I would have ever lived it down if Mr. Joe had helped me move in at Harvard.
I once read that the definition of a boy is “a noise with dirt on it.” This definition is a bit simplistic. I might instead say “a hungry noise with dirt on it,” but it does ring true to my ears . . . to the extent that they still work.
Boys are noisy. Boys are dirty. And this is good, for many of the most heroic things, done by the best of men, involve both. If you have boys or hope to have boys just accept this reality from the beginning. You will have a much happier life.
Early on, as the noise and the dirt started to get to me, I thought it through. At a fundamental level, boys are loud and messy. If I did not like these “qualities” then on one level I just did not like boys. Given that I appeared to be in the habit of giving birth to one every 19 months, that just would not do. Continue reading →
“The aim of the boy is to tell the world ‘I am a force to be reckoned with.’” Having known four boys quite well, I agree. Here are some thoughts on boys finding their callings.
On a morning walk through Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville, I notice something that should not be there.
The juvenile scrawl, in black Sharpie marker on the creek-side boulder, proclaims to all who pass “Bogey was here.” Other stones bear witness to the date and time of the visit and to Bogey’s love of soccer. One displays a drawing of a flag, firmly planted in the rock. Bogey left his mark.
When I come across the vandalism, I am confused and even angered. How can a child be so selfish? How could he have so little respect for the beauty of the setting, provided by the goodness of another? And even the self-righteous “Where was his mother?” These are valid questions, but not the most interesting. Instead, why did Bogey do it?
The Nashville City Track Championships bring all local high schools – large, small, public and private – together for one great week of track and field. The competition is fierce. My son Owen was competing in his best event, the 110 hurdles. As a freshman, he had earned a place on the varsity.
110 meters. 10 hurdles. Three steps between each hurdle. The same leg extending, flying up yet relentlessly forward, straining toward the finish in 16 seconds or less. A hurdler in rhythm is a beautiful thing, not unlike a dancer, grace masking tremendous exertion. Owen had hurdled 3 years. Right before his race I said that I had almost gotten over being nervous.
Owen is in third place nearing the end. On the next to the last hurdle, his trailing leg hits it. Continue reading →