In a Creative Writing seminar some 25 years ago, the instructor gave all of us the first line of another author’s story, and we each had to write a short story using that sentence as the lead-off. I thought of this exercise after reading a Facebook post from one of my cousins last week, and I’m borrowing her first sentence: "What a week!"
Or is it two weeks operating at this velocity? Two concerts, two field days, one final big school project for Liam, three baseball games, a hitting practice at the baseball cages, Will’s gymnastics practices, Bill’s birthday, a Saturday spent detailing three cars, Will’s golf matches and practices. On the weekends, we still go at that pace with piano and trumpet lessons, birthday parties, baseball games, and golf matches. And all around us, I see a multitude of families operating at the same speed.
The speed of life has made it impossible to put a coherent story on paper. Feeling a bit calmer now, I see the tip of summer about to rise.
Malcolm emotions ran high over past couple weeks. Perhaps I should own that: Linda's emotions. Seeing the misery on Will’s face as he detailed the goldfish van. A consequence for a pre-teen misstep. Feeling the misery of having to deal out this consequence and thinking how much I hate seeing him this miserable. Then, thinking he’s _not_ supposed to be enjoying this!. Then wondering, who is feeling worse? And pretty sure, based on the physical exhaustion from the mental parenting, that it’s me.
This reminded me of when Will was two and had a febrile seizure. His lips turned blue; I thought I had lost him. I began giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. And then at the hospital, realized he had been eating grapes at the time and was worried that I had blown a grape into his lung. Chest x-rays proved that had not happened. Two days later, he was happily playing fever-free. I was un-balanced and crying. The emotional stunning left me a wet noodle that spent the next few days just staring at him as he ate, played, and slept -- until a phone call from our adoption agency came a week after the seizure. Will had a little brother in Korea. And would we raise the two of them together? That final weep cleared the physical residue of thinking I had lost Will. I popped like a cork out of a physical sadness into gratefulness.
Today, I barely tilt my head to kiss Will’s forehead. This soon-to-be 8th grader has sprouted another inch-and-a-half since March. The two of us went shopping on our own this week for three pairs of longer shoes, a few pairs of longer shorts, and a couple longer golf shirts. Will's smile and willingness to shop conveyed more than words his gratitude for no longer being the smallest student at his school of 6th - 12th graders.
Will had a friend over Sunday night and as I listened to them chat, I turned away to smile. Both of their voices are deeper. When Liam was in the mix, the contrast of pitches was clear. When Will started 6th grade two years ago, he practiced this voice as he was surrounded by older kids in his class. Now, with that strong lower range, I’m asking him to speak up when we are in the van. And in the same breath, I’m asking Liam not to shriek in the van.
A few weeks ago, Will moved out of the bunk bed in the room he and Liam shared and into his own room. Liam graduated ecstatically to the top bunk where he crawls in bed by himself, and now, after just a quick pat and kiss from me, he goes to sleep. After years of sitting by Liam's bed until his eyes closed, this big boy moment that I thought would never come, appears. Curtly. Simply. Done.
The small children have left our house. As I changed sheets on Will’s bed Monday, this happened:
The 10-year-old pirate sheets served us well.
As my cousin closed her post, so I close this Hump Day Short: