My boys are getting older. I don’t see it as much with my own eyes, until I look at photos I’ve taken. Like the one above from the bleachers at yesterday’s Giants game. I can’t help but dart from one boy’s eyes to the other’s, trying to absorb what they are thinking. What they are feeling. Who they are. Maybe even get a glimpse of who they will become.
Hard to believe I “caught” both of these little humans, like slippery fish, the moment they came into the world. I am reminded of that fresh fish market in Seattle where the apron-clad workers sling giant stripers and such around the pier like wet rugby balls. Seems like yesterday. Also seems like about 20 years ago. Then again, 20 years ago, we didn’t have kids. That seems unfathomable now. What was life like before kids? No idea; I can’t remember. And increasingly, I’m fairly certain it doesn’t matter.
Both boys are headed off to sleep-away camp on the East Coast in, oh, about 9 days. This is Max’s third trip, and Everett’s first. They will be essentially off the grid for 4 weeks — no iPhones, no Internet, no email, no phone calls home, and probably not much in the way of old school letter-writing either. Their bedrooms here at home will lie dormant for weeks. Silent and sterile. Little museums memorializing their lives circa June 26, 2015. Frozen in time. Chocked with autographed baseballs, dog-eared books, mismatched socks dyed every color of the rainbow, candy wrappers strewn about as evidence of verboten activities. Full, but empty.
The empty part once left me breathless when Max first left home for camp 4 summers ago. I could barely bring myself to glance into his bedroom knowing he wasn’t in there, and wouldn’t be in there, for several weeks. Strangely, I find that I am not experiencing these same lonely pangs this time around. This despite the fact that both of my sons will be out of my grasp for nearly a month, 3,000 miles away.
I guess their sleep-away camp has also been a sleep-away camp, of sorts, for me. Training wheels for all of us. As much as I struggled with my emotions the first time around, I find myself at ease, more or less, a few years farther out. Even the thought of college (suddenly not that far off now), is not as terrifying and gut-wrenching as it once was. I now know that my boys and I will arrive at the same point of “mutual readiness” when the time comes for that particular chapter. I’m looking forward to seeing the photos I take a few years and several such chapters from now.
The times, they are a changin’. And as it turns out, I’m cool with that.
Thanks for reading.
Good stuff, beloved first born.
There comes a time, beginning with high school, where it seems they are on fast moving conveyer belt that doesn’t slow down until after college. Then it begins again.
And don’t you remember those toddler years when it pulled at your heart to think of them going to school and otherwise having their boundaries grow beyond the reach of your arm. But each year contains its own beauty.
Kids leave, and its gut-wrenching, and then their absence becomes the norm. Somehow we survive this, though it seems ridiculous.
Lovely words. I have two boys as well, a bit younger, and I felt exactly what you were saying.
I know it’s normal and natural that they grow up, but it still saddens me. I long for the little boy that loved to snuggle with me and tease the dog. Now I have this teenager who, on some days, barely manages more than a “Sup? for his mom. I know its a phase and that he’ll grow out of this as well, but still I wonder where my baby went.
Great post. I have a little girl that is starting kindergarden in a month so this really speakd to me. Thanks