A couple weeks ago Dylan was lying around the house, dramatically bored, and announced that he couldn’t wait for school to start. “There’s nothing to do in the summer,” he sighed.

I often have to remind myself that kids have an infinite gas tank when it comes to being entertained and I realize I probably shouldn’t take it personally when a 9-year-old voices the emotion he’s experiencing at that exact moment in time instead of placing an hour of downtime into the context of a summer filled with swimming, river rafting, horse riding, camping, trailer outings, cabin visits, family get-togethers, road trips, a houseboat stay, water parks, bike rides, ATV adventures, and so on, but I can’t lie, it was a struggle to come up with a gentle suggestion to read a book or play in the backyard rather than a brisk Batman backhand followed by a five-hour PowerPoint lecture about Places Where Children Don’t Even Have Clean Water For Christ’s Sake.

Now that school is actually underway, of course, Dylan would greatly prefer to be home. He didn’t get the teacher he was hoping for, the mysterious and unfeeling process of sorting students placed all of his friends in one class and he in another, and the first day of riding the noisy, jostling bus left him with a migraine. “I wish summer would never have to be over,” he said sadly, and this time I pulled him close because who am I kidding, acting like I know how to have the right sort of perspective, when I too am forever caught between wishing the present away and fiercely trying to reel it back.

Meanwhile, Riley has started middle school and it is strange to imagine him navigating all these new things: locker combinations, class bells that send him from one room to another, those looming eighth graders who have the beginnings of mustaches. He is, so far, pretty excited, and pleased, I think, to feel like he’s leveled up into an exotic locale exclusive to big kids. “Dude, when you’re in sixth grade,” I heard him telling Dylan, “You can get tater tots and pizza, on the same day.”

Riley rode his bike to school today for the first time. We took several practice trips this summer, figuring out the safest way through the busiest intersection, and when it came time for him to leave I reminded him to be careful and watch for cars and that I loved him and then I had to say goodbye, let him go. And he left, and I remembered all those days of waiting at the bus stop with him, and how much that just legitimately sucked, and I thought but at least I knew he wasn’t getting run over, and that’s how it is. You hum and twirl your fingers in the carpet and wish things would change, and then they do, and you’re like, but wait—!


16 Responses to “New windows”

  1. Jen on September 11th, 2017 4:01 pm

    OOF! My oldest is now finding her way home from 10th grade on her own. The middle child is thoroughly enjoying the freedom of her first year in middle school and the youngest is seeing everything through the perspective of her last year in elementary school.”This is an important year, mom!” I’m definitely working through a lot of feelings over here.

  2. Amy on September 11th, 2017 4:45 pm

    I used to read your blog all the time when my boys were little. They are the same ages as yours. I don’t know why I stopped reading, but I did for a few years. For some reason I thought of you and your family today and here you are. Still here. My oldest started middle school this year with the same sense of big-ness and my youngest is now navigating elementary school outside of the shadow of his big brother. Rides his bike to school too. Good to see our lives are still parallel as they always were.

    Glad to see we’re s

  3. Katie on September 11th, 2017 7:25 pm

    My mom has said to me along the way as my kids grow up, “You raise your kids to grow and be independent and have LIVES. And then they do, damnit.” You put so beautifully in to words what so many of us are going through.

  4. April on September 11th, 2017 9:01 pm

    You are so great, and it makes me happy when you write. It’s like we are living the same life but your boys are just slightly ahead of mine!

  5. elizabeth_k on September 12th, 2017 6:13 am

    I love to read your writing. Thank you.

  6. Lori on September 12th, 2017 6:32 am

    I feel you on this, so much.

  7. Shawna on September 12th, 2017 8:42 am

    Our elementary school expanded to include grade six last year, and I’m so happy to have one more year of both kids at the same school, which is literally at the end of our block. It’s so convenient to have our older one (11) keeping an eye on the younger (9) to, at, and from school. And because she’s there, I can leave to take the bus to work that runs 10 minutes before they have to be at school and trust them to get themselves through the last 10 minutes of prep and out the door on time.

    And of course I remind them, “Our door will notify me if you leave late, so if you lose track of time I will know!”

  8. Jen on September 12th, 2017 8:48 am

    Oh yes so much this! I loathed dual drop off but now my oldest comes home to an empty house (for an hour). And oof those minutes before he messages me he is home feel like an eternity some days.

  9. Em on September 12th, 2017 1:36 pm

    I can relate to this feeling, although my kids are still much younger at 6 and almost 4. There is so much wishing away the day, but then they are growing up way too fast.

  10. Simone on September 13th, 2017 11:51 am

    Girl, you sure can write! Love this post.

  11. Chris on September 13th, 2017 1:39 pm

    My Kinder (about to turn 6) will walk home tomorrow the a slightly older neighbor girl the two hundred feet from the school on the neighborhood path to a gate in our backyard for the first time tomorrow. His grandma and the neighbor’s mom will be looking for them and I’m still considering driving over there and watching from afar to just see for myself that it goes ok. Gosh it just doesn’t ever get easier, I can see. Good luck to you guys this school year. :)

  12. Chris on September 13th, 2017 1:40 pm

    Wow that first sentence is almost un-understandable. I blame the first week of school. It is a freaking doozy.

  13. Mary Clare on September 14th, 2017 11:12 am

    So relatable. I love the sweet magical period of having little kids but often resent the constant needs and the infinite time/energy suck. Yet every year as they grow bigger and more independent, I miss how they used to need me in some way.

  14. Christine on September 17th, 2017 7:36 pm

    Yes, again, yes. My new middle-schooler and I are both still having trouble remembering that he really is in sixth grade.

  15. LD's Mom on September 29th, 2017 5:03 pm

    Your writing gets me every time!

  16. Kimberley on October 4th, 2017 9:10 am

    Thank you for articulating my thoughts and feelings so precisely. My kids are the same age as yours and this is all so, so true.

    I love your writing and am so glad you are sharing more of it lately! You have such a lovely way of seeing things.

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