Whoever it was that so lovingly reminded us that we only have 18 summers to enjoy our kids…. obviously didn’t have teenagers.
18 summers? Seriously, I’m at summer number 17 with my oldest and its pretty much like he’s the renter and I’m the old boarding house owner who provides meal and laundry service, and insists no girls are allowed in his room. Give a kid a drivers license and you take away any ties that bind. Just saying.
I would dare to say, from my own experience, that 13 summers together, maybe 14 depending on the kid, is all you’re going to get. And by that I mean, that’s how many summers you’ll probably get with a kid excited to see the latest Minions movie, go swimming with you, or talk to you about more than just the next food stop on your family road trip.
And it sounds bad I guess, if you’re still in the days of preschool Disney vacations and adorable beach photos. But once they’re young men and women of a certain age, parents are not only embarrassing, but probably not the ones they want to be seen walking into the community pool with while mom hauls a big cooler of snacks. It’s just the natural progression. That’s not to say I don’t still do it. I’ll take anyone willing and available for together time when we can make happen, big cooler of snacks and all. They always thank me once the cooler and I are well hidden from view.
But now they have jobs. And sports. And friends, and phones, and interests outside of mom and dad. All as its supposed to be. Cars take them to dates with girlfriends, two-a-day football practices, and probably to places I’ll never even know. Friends take them to places that sound better than movie night at home on the couch with the family, and the call of growing freedom invites them to spend more and more time away. I’m learning to get used to it.
My husband and I went on an evening picnic last week, and all three boys joined us. Which was like mom heaven for me, because though my words say one thing about acceptance of our new reality, my heart still craves another. The boys ended up playing an aggressive game of catch with a dinner roll to pass the time. They also did some wrestling and semi-regular cell phone checking in the event the world moved on without them. But for a couple of hours I got to watch these new people that used to be my little ones.
Though my words say one thing about acceptance of our new reality, my heart still craves another.
I talked to them about football practice and their work schedules for the coming days; I asked when the next summer baseball game is. We talked about an interesting ethnic tribe of people who still live practically untouched from society, and I thought how fun that might actually be to join their tribe for a while. I didn’t ask about the girlfriend because at this age personal topics are pretty taboo and off limits when discussed with a parent. And I took pictures even though they didn’t like it too much.
I decided beforehand to treat it as a picnic with new friends that I would like to get to know a little better. Small talk and a meal is a start.
And I got a solid two hours of time together for the week, and called it a success.