Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Winding Down and Gearing Up

Cape Cod Weather Today: Cool, clear and calm, after wild thunderstorms that rolled through yesterday. Wispy white clouds on a pale blue sky the color of this font...

We had a visit yesterday from old friends, the Websters. From when we lived "off-Cape." They were passing through, and were only here for the afternoon so their boys could hang out and catch up with my boys. I baked a cake.

For some reason, seeing these boys they used to ride the bus with every day reminded my kids that summer is really almost over. Hit them over the head like a ton of bricks. After our guests left, the boys were scrambling to find their supply lists for school, and worrying about how many days of summer are really left on the calendar (although my ten year old still refused to even touch the summer math packet he got back in June...)

I really thought they'd be scrambling for old photo albums, or mementos of the past. Instead they were anxious and eager to move forward.

Why is that?

Why when confronted with memories of the past do we become more eager for the future?

These were their best friends from Kindergarten, lived around the block from us, and grew up together. Yet I got no questions about why we had to move away, when would we be moving back closer, could they come to visit again soon... nothing I expected. "Where is my supply list for seventh grade?" was the anxious question. "How many days until school starts?"

My boys have grown tremendously in the last two years. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Seeing the Websters may have made them realize just how much, as well as realizing they didn't want to go back to who they used to be, or how they used to see the world.

My ten year old is in a rock band now. He's played concerts in front of hundreds of people. He writes stories that make me jealous of his creativity. He draws fabulous sea creatures that his art teacher frames for him. He isn't the kid who gets pulled out of class for writing support or physical therapy anymore. And he doesn't want to be.

My twelve year old is now six inches taller than his old best friend, and already been through puberty. He's been hanging out with more independent and mature kids all summer. He has different interests than he used to. He'd been talking about seeing this particular friend all summer (coincidently) and was able to ask him all the questions about all their former classmates... so and so is still a bully, that guy became a real loner computer geek, the other kid is still hyperactive... which he rattled off to me after the Websters left. I think he just wanted to confirm he didn't miss anything important.

I did kind of the same thing. Asking about different neighbors and friends. I was assured our old house looks exactly the same. The biggest news was that our old bus driver was fired on the spot one day. He let up on the brake pedal too early at pull-out, and bumped the bus in front of him. No tolerance policy. The old superintendant finally left as well, but that writing was on the wall long ago.

Would we go back to our old town? Probably not. It's a great town, and I still keep up with friends there. But the kids are different people now for the experiences they've had since moving. Going back would feel like going backward.

But it's still nice to visit with old friends.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lobster Roll Cruisin'

Cape Cod Weather Today:
The day started out iffy but soon turned sunny and bright... and humid. Which was okay, as long as the lawn dried out enough to mow. Which it did. And the sunset should be beautiful...

My oldest son went to his first semi-formal dinner dance tonight, aboard the Lobster Roll Cruise out of Sesuit Harbor in Dennis. Shirt and tie were required for the men, coat was optional.

My son is twelve.

He didn't have a "date," none of the kids did. This is the Junior Yacht Club's "Commodore Ball," an annual event which this year is being held on a dinner cruise. He was excited, and scared, and thrilled in a way he didn't understand.

Me too.

It's so hard as a parent to start letting go. To not sign up as a chaperone for every single event, as I've noticed some of the JYC parents do. But that's not why the kids are involved in the JYC. They are there to gain some measure of independence from their parents.

Which includes me.

Which is why I'm sitting home writing about it instead of on the dinner cruise, watching him try to eat a lobster on his own without making too much of a wreck of his new tie. Or talk to the girl next to him without feeling too stupid.

Two summers ago, we went on a different sunset cruise, with just my husband, myself and the three kids. We borrowed my sister-in-law's boat, and sailed out to a low tide sandbar not too far from the mouth of the harbor in Chatham. The kids ate roast beef sandwiches and chips, and my husband fished for blues. It was a wonderful night, and a great memory for us all.

Tonight's sunset cruise will be only in his memory. Not mine, not my husband, not his siblings.

Just him. And that's part of what makes it so special.

As he walked up the gangplank an hour ago, dinner ticket in hand, I could see how decked out he felt, and how grown-up he looked.

Except he forgot to put on a belt with his dress pants.

Sigh... I guess he still needs a mommy after all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

Cape Cod Weather today: Beautiful!!! Sunny, blue skies, very low humidity (there is always Some humidity this close to the Ocean) First rays of sun already sparkling on the clear pool water outside my writing window... teasing me...

Summer is finally in the homestretch... the "dog days," as my father used to say, though he never explained the phrase to me properly. The dogs seem just as happy now as in July.

The kids however are another story...

My oldest finally admitted this week as we were driving past his school, "You know? I kinda miss that place." There was an element of shock in his voice even as he spoke the words.

"What is it you think you miss?" I asked.

After a pause of consideration, he answered, "I miss my friends, I guess." Now, he's seen a bunch of his best-est school friend this summer at basketball camp, hung out with the neighbors XBoxing on many of the myriad rainy days, and made a nice group of new guy friends in the sailing program. Even befriended a cute girl or two along the way.

I think he just misses the familiarity... the daily routine... even the learning he claims to despise.

I know I do.

The "dog days of summer" must be when the novelty of summer vacation has worn off its shiny exterior, leaving a dull feeling of "been there, done that" left sticking to the roof of your mouth. Because how can you knock summer vacation? So you laze around like a dog, whining at your mother that there is nothing fun to do.

I know I'm ready for school to start!

But not before we go to Vermont next week to visit my little sister's farm. The kids and dog and I had so much fun last summer, that my husband is actually going to brave a 6 hour car ride with the kids to join us for the long weekend. I hope the trip doesn't disappoint, and does something to relieve the ennui that has set in amongst the children.

But I'm still ready for Back-to-School shopping!