Last week, we joined a group of homeschoolers and checked out the new aquarium here in the valley. We clearly weren’t the only ones with the same idea, as it was crazy and crowded. We all enjoyed it though, and look forward to going back someday when it’s not as busy (ie: when it’s not still newly opened and 110 degrees outside)
I was catching up with a friend while the kids played in the playground area. She asked me how we’d been doing, and I answered with my fairly standard, “Good. Busy.” “What have you been busy with?”
What have I been busy with? So much of it is just… life. Life with an active two year old who’s in my arms a large portion of the day. Life with a busy six year old and a driven nine year old and an inquisitive thirteen year old. There’s school (my school) and summer movies, and playdates, and an endless list of weekend activities. The days are quickly getting away from me, and I continually need to remind myself to breathe, to soak it in, to take the time to sleep, shower, go to the bathroom ENJOY IT.
On Saturday, we took the kids to something called Mighty Mud Mania. Apparently it’s an annual event, but this is the first I’d heard of it. It’s only been going on for 35 years, so you can see where I’d have trouble. But now I know, so we went. It was a long, hot, and fun day.
I’ve noticed lately – when I’m going through my hundreds and hundreds of snapshots that I’ve taken at various places – that there are far fewer current pictures of Spencer than the other three. I was somewhat wracked with guilt and confusion over this (why am I excluding one of my children?!) until I realized why. He’s either beside me when I’m taking them, or he’s off doing his own thing…. unless it’s 3 in the afternoon, in which case he’s sleeping on the couch. He’s at “that” age right now, that in-between, not quite a kid/not quite a teenager age. When we were at the mud event, he enjoyed himself, but didn’t really want to do any of the activities. He was happy to hang out with us, drink his water, and watch.
I remember with great clarity – oh so painful clarity – what it was like to be thirteen. I was awkward and confused. I didn’t fit in anywhere. My body was doing strange things. I had a group of not always nice “friends” who sometimes treated me so badly that I dreaded going to school. I was the one with frizzy hair and bad skin. I was mercilessly taunted by older kids. I had a tragically huge and unrequited crush on a boy who was four years older than me. I had no idea who I was or where I was going or what I wanted.
I was not yet ME.
I share this humiliating history to show that I can fully commiserate with my barely-a-teenager son, but also to give a praise of thanks that he is so much better off than I was. He knows who he is, and a great majority of the time he’s happy. The friends he makes are true friends. He has a close relationship with us, and with his grandparents. He’s excited about life and he’s following his interests (currently that means hours at the computer, researching the ins and outs of operating a construction business) And the great torture that was provided to me at school? Not an issue for him. He’s able to become a young man as gracefully – and painlessly – as possible.