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Thanks, everyone.

Last night, we had Matthew’s first music teacher over for dinner.  Matthew, who is now in 7th grade, took piano lessons from “Mr. Dave” in 2nd and 3rd grade.  We’ve stayed in touch with him via social media, where he’s watched our kids grow up virtually, but it had been about 3 years since we’d seen him.

I think I’ll always have a soft spot for Dave, who patiently taught a 7-year-old Matthew to read music, play the piano, and gave him his first taste of performing in front of others at piano recitals.  And last night, I had a reminder of why – he couldn’t wait for Matthew to play the saxophone and sing for him, and he accompanied him on the piano for both.  He didn’t judge Matthew (or us) for not continuing with the instrument he’d taught him to play, but seemed genuinely happy that Matthew still has a love for music (which I will always be grateful that Dave helped nurture).

piano

So, when I was getting a little misty last night, listening to Matthew and Dave playing music together, I was thinking about the many adults in my kids’ lives, the roles they’ve played (and continue to play) and how happy I am that our paths have crossed.

When Matthew was a baby, I remember feeling bothered that he enjoyed the company of other people who weren’t me.  I know it was my own maternal insecurity, which evaporated when a seasoned parent told me, “Kids can never have too many adults who love them.”  And I’m sure now that it’s true.

We have neighbors who have seen our boys playing outside and stopped what they’re doing to come and have a catch with them.  Friends and relatives who have come to see concerts, games and performances.  Teachers, coaches and camp counselors who have understood and appreciated their strengths and quirks, and have nurtured their love for sports, music, theater, art and more.

So, despite the fact that on occasion, I feel slightly crestfallen (I do still like to think I am my kids’ favorite grownup) when I think my kids prefer the company of some of these wonderful adults in their lives, I will always be grateful for these fantastic people in our kids’ lives who are helping shape them into the pretty awesome people we think they’re becoming.

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Sick Day.

I’ve got Michael home sick with me today.  I’m certainly not happy that he isn’t feeling well, but there’s something about taking care of a sick kid that touches the deepest part of my mommy-ness, and I have to admit – I kind of like it.

I realized this about myself when Dave and I were first married.  He got a bad case of the flu.  I SO wanted to take care of him – bring him soup and tea, take his temperature, worry and fix his blankets.  But unfortunately for me, all he wanted was to be left alone to be sick and sleep.  And I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Little did I know that just a few years later, I’d have plenty of opportunities to take care of little people who really couldn’t take care of themselves.  When Matthew was a baby, he seemed to catch everything that was going around.  Before he was a year old, he’d already had about a dozen colds, a handful of ear infections, coxsackie virus, and two pneumonias that landed him in the hospital.  Back then, I could barely keep up with it.  And it stinks to take care of someone who just cries, because they can’t tell you what’s wrong with them.  Until they throw up in your lap.  Then it becomes pretty clear.

cartoon-sick

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve nursed my boys through colds, bronchitis, stomach bugs (those, frankly, I’d be happy to skip), asthma and more.  And they seem happy to have me bring them soup, take their temperature (usually with a kiss on the forehead, which I believe is nearly as accurate as a thermometer), worry, and fix their blankets.

I’m taking Michael to the doctor in about half an hour.  Right now, he’s tucked into a blanket on the couch, eating a waffle and watching TV.  He asked if when we get back from the doctor, if we can “snuggle on the couch and watch a movie.”

So, maybe THAT’S what I like about it.

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I see where this is going.

Michael had his first sleepover at a friend’s house last night.

He’s 8, and had a few unsure moments at home yesterday before it was time to go.  But when his friend’s parents came by to pick him up, he grabbed his stuff, hugged us goodbye, and didn’t look back.  He was happy and tired when I picked him up this morning.  Just like it should be.

sleeping bag

I’m at the same time relieved, delighted, and and frankly a little sad.  Because Michael is our youngest, and in my mind, still too little for sleepovers.  But not really.

And at the same time Michael was sleeping at his friend’s house, Matthew was also out, and we knew he’d be dropped off late – around 11:00 p.m.  Now don’t get me wrong – it was REALLY nice to have a quiet house, sit on the couch with Dave, have a glass of wine, relax and watch football together.

But it was kind of weird, because usually when we have time alone together, we are out somewhere, and the boys are home.  I realize that as the boys get older, this is going to be more the norm – they’re out later than we are, and we’re home, pretending that we haven’t fallen asleep on the couch.

I know this is the natural progression of things, and I plan on letting my kids grow up the way they’re supposed to.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Honestly, not only do I not mind the mess, noise and chaos that can sometimes accompany a home with kids, but I kind of enjoy it.  And sometimes, when they’re not here, it feels just a little too quiet.  But don’t tell them.

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This is the world we live in.

Caution Tape

Caution Tape (Photo credit: Picture Perfect Pose)

For the past three summers (this will be the fourth), I have worked at the camp that my kids attend.  It’s a great fit for us – I love the job I have and the people I work with, and my boys have a fabulous eight weeks there every year.

As a camp staff member, I attend required staff training sessions every year.  At the end of today’s training session, we had several camp-wide drills, before which the camp director spoke frankly to the staff about the harsh reality that we all live in.

And it hit me.  Hard.

Not because I didn’t already know this.  I follow the news.  I read the information that comes home from my kids’ schools, and I know that safety is something to be taken seriously.  But there was something about looking around and seeing the faces of the counselors who take this job just because they love kids, thinking about my own kids being there, and then thinking of the terrifying possibility that something unthinkable could happen.

I find it so sad that kids’ (including my own kids) reality these days includes lockdown drills and intruder drills.  I know it’s necessary, and somehow it’s both scary and comforting at the same time to know that places our kids go are preparing for this.

It also makes yearn for the days of previous generations, when parents put their kids on a camp bus every morning, or sent them off to a sleepaway camp for the summer, thinking that the worst that could happen would be an argument with a friend or a bee sting.

I think every generation of kids has had their crises, their issues and things to fear.  All we can do is hug our kids tight, love them with everything we have, and just talk to them when they have questions, because unfortunately, we don’t have the answers either.

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You should really do this yourself.

I had one of those conversations with my kids this evening that makes me question what kind of job I’m doing as a mom.

I’ll be honest.  I don’t have those moments every day.  Generally, I think that we are doing a pretty good job of raising good, polite, responsible kids.  Tonight, though, the boys conspired to head downstairs just as I was putting the finishing touches on dinner.  I asked them to come back, and when they looked confused by my request, I told them that “I’m not a waitress, and it’s not my job to serve you.”  One actually replied, “But it is.  You’re the mom.”

I’m embarrassed to even admit that this conversation went down in my house.  And it makes me think that we need to do a better job of teaching our kids to take care of themselves.  I’m also hesitant to admit that on some level, not only do I not mind taking of care of my kids, but I actually kind of like it.  There is something that makes me feel wonderfully “mommy-like” by cooking dinner, making school lunches, baking banana bread (with bananas that I have, un-mommy-like, allowed to rot on the counter), and folding little miniature boxer briefs.

But I know there’s a really fine line here, and I fear that I’ve firmly planted myself on the wrong side of it.  My 8-year-old can’t reach where we keep the milk in the fridge, so I pour it for him.  My 11-year-old, on the other hand, is a handful of inches shorter than me, and can certainly reach it.  But he’s convinced he’ll spill it everywhere (which, incidentally, he most likely will), so he almost always asks me to pour it for him.  I’m sure this is a life skill I should be teaching him, and I wonder how his adult life will turn out if he can’t pour his own milk.

Maybe tomorrow morning, I’ll let him do it himself.  Then again, I just went food shopping today, and I’m not entirely certain that I want a whole gallon of milk on the floor.

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