Mom’s Advice before the Camping Trip

My son left for his seventh grade camping trip this morning. Three nights. Four days. Hiking. Sand dunes. White-water rafting. Campfires. Marshmallows. He couldn’t be more excited.

My parting advice?

“Sometimes kids play Truth or Dare on camping trips.”

“I know, mom.”

Lie.”

Quote from an Eight Year Old

We were talking about the complicated web of rules and social alliances an eight year old boy must negotiate to survive recess. He is frustrated with the inconsistency of friendships and where he falls in the order of teammates picked. He says he sometimes feels invisible.

I have found that the second through fourth grade years are tough on boys, as they become aware of athleticism, the cool factor, and “boy world” pecking order. I was advising him to choose a different game or friend on days when football brings him down. Recess is supposed to be fun.

He looked at me, deeply serious. Eyes big and teary. “But would you rather people were friends with you for who you really are, or who you want to be? I want them to pick me to be their friend because of who I already am.”

The Tooth Extraction

Every once in a while, unfortunately at the expense of my sons, I get to revert to the mom I was when they were toddlers. Wiping a tear away. Holding a hand. Whispering anything that might ease their pain.

Today, my twelve year old had two teeth pulled.

“Do you want me to wait out here or come in with you?”

He shrugged. “Either way is fine.” Tough guy.

But the dentist waved me in.

I started off in a chair across the room.

After the first needle pricked his gum, and the tears started to flow, I was on the floor next to his chair. His hand squeezed mine so hard, my ring left a deep imprint. My eyes locked to his willing courage into his little body.

It is a terrible thing to watch your child in pain and not be able to stop it. Even when you know it will only last a few seconds. And yet, once the extractions were done, and he was sipping on a strawberry smoothie…

…I was glad he is not already so tough he doesn’t need to hold his mom’s hand.

The Best Vacation

Spring Break 2016 has ended, and I return from a week at the beach certain that it was the best vacation ever. Ideal weather. Tan but no sunburn. Lots of rest despite the roosters. Delicious lobster quesadillas for lunch three out of seven days. Softest sand on the planet between our toes. Clear blue water.

Sounds great, but “best ever” because…

Our three boys played together in the water, splashing through waves that looked too large… even larger when I was in the water with them several times a day. We dove under waves, Let them crash on our heads. They talked and laughed and made up silly games as the waves kept pummeling us.

They told stories, gave opinions, laughed more, told jokes, paused mid-sentence, dove under, and came up talking. Tireless. Fearless.

They played hours of football with Dad.

We made two styles of sandcastle. A multilevel traditional fortress and a drippy one that received a “Lovely drippy castle. Well done!” from a British accent who walked by as we completed it. They were both our best to date.

The boys read good books and talked about them. Killer Angels, Moneyball, Wings of Fire.

They helped the youngest find Orion in the night sky.

If I could have stopped time a hundred times since they were born, I would have. At each moment, I imagined I could not love them more. But then we would not have had this vacation and I would not have seen how sweet they are together at 8 and 12 and 13, how much fun they have with their brothers.

And I might not understand that “best ever” and “love more” will happen again and again, washing over us like the waves and the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

Too Many Calvins, No Hobbes

At lunch today, our sixth grader quoted Calvin and Hobbes for the millionth time.

“It’s funny. Every time I build character, he saves a couple hundred bucks.”

He knows the comic strip so well that he can now take a real one (like that one) and alter it slightly to fit the current circumstance so that you don’t know if it’s Bill Waterson’s version or his. He uses it most often at the expense of his parents… always grinning… blue eyes twinkling… somehow coming off as innocent… like Calvin.

Laughing, I pointed out that the benefit of reading the same thing over and over is that you can quote it at just the right moment.

“That’s because Calvin and Hobbes is the perfect guide to childhood,” added his big brother.

“Many before you would say that’s what the Bible is for,” said Dad.

“But you are such a Calvin,” we all agreed of the sixth grader.

“What about me?” asked his little brother.

“You’re Calvin too.”

“Then who’s Hobbes?”

Silence.

“Dad?”

Nope. Another Calvin at the table.

There’s Gonna Be a Rumble

They are not the Jets and the Sharks. Not the Crips and Bloods. Not even the Bad News Bears.

You know you have nerdy, good boys when they return from the park, flush from the glory of a playground fight, and the story they tell goes like this.

“There were some kids at the park, and they were total jerks. We were having a perfectly fine snowball fight with them, but then they pushed our little guy.”

“Everyone knows you can’t push the little guy.”

“So we started yelling.”

“And did you hear that one guy? He didn’t even know what a pronoun is!”

I know! And when I asked him what an adjective is, he said ‘person, place or thing.’”

I know! What a loser!”

“And they said they were 14, but I bet they were only 12.”

I know! They were totally lying!”

“’Person, place or thing’… Ha! What a jerk.”

“And mom,” said the little guy, “a tree fell right next to us.”

“A big tree.”