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      Love Notes
      From the time each of my children started school, I packed their lunches. And in each lunch I packed, I included a note. Often written on a napkin, the note might be a thank you for a special moment, a reminder of something we were happily anticipating, or a bit of encouragement for an upcoming test or sporting event.
      In early grade school they loved their notes-they commented on them after school, and when I went back to teaching, they even put notes in my lunches. But as kids grow older they become self?conscious, and by the time he reached high school, my older son, Marc, informed me he no longer needed my daily missives. Informing him that they had been written as much for me as for him, and that he no longer needed to read them but I still needed to write them, I continued the tradition until the day he graduated.
      Six years after high school graduation, Marc called and asked if he could move home for a couple of months. He had spent those years well, graduating Phi Beta Kappa magna cum laude from college, completing two congressional internships in Washington, D.C., winning the Jesse Marvin Unruh Fellowship to the California State Legislature, and finally, becoming a legislative assistant in Sacramento. Other than short vacation visits, however, he had lived away from home. With his younger sister leaving for college, I was especially thrilled to have Marc coming home.
      A couple weeks after Marc arrived home to rest, regroup and write for a while, he was back at work-he had been recruited to do campaign work. Since I was still making lunch every day for his younger brother, I packed one for Marc, too. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from my 24?year?old son, complaining about his lunch.
      “Did I do something wrong? Aren’t I still your kid? Don’t you love me any more, Mom?” were just a few of the queries he threw at me as I laughingly asked him what was wrong.
      “My note, Mom,” he answered. “Where’s my note?”
      This year my youngest son will be a senior in high school. He, too, has now announced that he is too old for notes. But like his older brother and sister before him, he will receive those notes till the day he graduates-and in whatever lunches I pack for him afterwards.
      It Takes a Special Man to
      It Takes a Special Man to With Father’s Day coming up, it’s occurred to me that this country is missing a holiday, Stepfather’s Day.
      If anyone deserves a special day, it’s these brave souls who’ve had to carve out a place for themselves in readymade families with the care and caution of a neurosurgeon.
      That’s why we have a Bobber’s Day in our family. It’s our own version of Stepfather’s Day, named after Bob the stepfather. Here’s why we celebrate it.
      The Bobber has just moved in.
      If you do anything to hurt my mother, I could put you in the hospital, you know,” says the college boy, who is far bigger than the stepfather.
      “I’ll keep that in mind,” says the Bobber.
      “You’re not going to start telling me what to do,” says the junior-high schoolboy. “You aren’t my father.”
      “I’ll keep that in mind,” says the Bobber.
      The college boy is on the phone. His car has broken down forty-five miles from home.
      “I’ll be right there,” says the Bobber.
      The vice principal is on the phone. The junior schoolboy has been in a fight.
      “I’ll be right there,” says the Bobber. oI need a tie to go with this shirt,” says the college boy. Pick one out of my closet,” says the Bobber.
      “You need to get your ear pierced,” says the junior schoolboy.
      “You need to stop burping at the table,” says the Bobber.
      “I’ll try,” says the boy.
      “I’ll think about it,” says the Bobber.
      “What did you think of my date last night?” asks the college boy.
      “Does it make a difference?” asks the Bobber.
      “Yes,” says the boy.
      “I need to talk to you,” says the junior schoolboy.
      “I need to talk to you,” says the Bobber.
      “We should have a stepfather-stepson bonding experience,” says the college boy.
      “Doing what?” asks the Bobber.
      “Changing the oil in my car,” says the boy.
      “I knew it,” says the Bobber.
      “We should have a stepfather-stepson bonding experience,” says the junior schoolboy.
      “Doing what?” asks the Bobber.
      “Driving me to the movies,” says the boy.
      “I knew it,” says the Bobber.
      “If you drink, don’t get in the car. Call me,” says the Bobber.
      “Thanks,” says the college boy.
      “If you drink, don’t get in the car. Call me,” says the college boy.
      “Thanks,” says the Bobber.
      “What time do I have to be home?” asks the junior schoolboy.
      “11:30,” says the Bobber.
      “Okay,” says the boy.
      “Don’t ever do anything to hurt him,” the college boy sa
      ys to me. “We need him.”
      “I’ll keep that in mind,” I say.
      And so we have Bobber’s Day. The boys buy their stepfather a new toy they can all play with. The Bobber grills steaks. And I am awed by our great fortune that the Bobber earned his way into this family with such grace that it now seems he was always there.
      One of the requirements of every commencement speaker is that they offer some advice. Well, get ready, It here it comes.
      Soon you will be leaving the company of those who think they have all the answers-your professors, instructors and counselors-and going out into what we like to call the real world. In time you will meet up with other people who think they have all the answers. These people are called bosses. My advice is: humor them.
      A little later you will meet additional people who think they have all the answers. These are called spouses. My advice is: humor them, too.
      And if all goes well, in a few years you will meet still another group of people who think they have all the answers. These are called children. Humor them.
      Life will go on, your children will grow up, go to school, and someday they could be taking part in a commencement ceremony just like this one. And who knows, the speaker responsible for handing out good advice might be you. Halfway through your speech, the graduate sitting next to your daughter will lean over and ask, “Who is that woman up there who thinks she has all the answers?”
      Well, thanks to the sound advice you are hearing today and that I hope you will all pass on, she will be able to say, “That is my mother. Humor her.”