This summer has been hot in Portland. Irritatingly hot. Stretches and stretches over 90. The grass burnt yellow and brown. The dirt so hard and dry, even overturning a rock yields no life squirming underneath. Portland isn’t used to this kind of heat, so most homes (including ours) do not have central air conditioning. So this summer has meant a lot of early morning outings followed by afternoons holed up in the relatively cool basement.
I’m glad we didn’t make a summer bucket list this summer, because we wouldn’t have crossed too much off of it. We had some still-cool morning excursions: berry picking, bike riding, sprinkler runs, trips to the river and the playground. We ate ice cream. We went to the library. We visited family in San Diego and Tucson. But for the most part, this summer has been a homebody summer. And that has suited me just fine.
Our oldest goes off to Kindergarten this year. A new year, a new school, a new set of friends to be made. We will be scheduled, we will be commuting, we will be wading through new bureaucracies and expectations as we enter the world of public school. This marks the end of our time of optional education, when we can stay home because we feel like it and make vacation plans without regard to school schedules.
Kindergarten is also a psychological hurdle. Although my son is only five, it’s hard not to see this as the beginning of the inevitable pulling away. I catch glimpses of it already now. An occasional sneer that knocks me back a step and forward ten years, a harbinger of his teen years. An unusual fierceness in his desire to get something done in his way, in his time, without help. A deeper interest in his friends (even a first sleepover!). A desire for “grown-up” things, eschewing characters on his backpack and shoes for sleeker, designless models.
So what I’ll miss most about this summer are those long afternoons when we were forced into the cool basement, without the distraction of the world up above. Watching my son build Lego structures. Seeing his body sprawled on the floor as he moved toy cars in wide arches, an ongoing monologue uttered nearly inaudibly throughout. Admiring his compassion as he helped his baby brother onto the couch, which was just an inch too short for the baby’s chubby little legs. Giggling along as he made jokes, throwing his whole body into them to emphasize the silliness. Following along with his instructions for making a monster penguin (which was pretty awesome), right down to writing my name on it.
I will miss the seemingly endless afternoons, equal parts boredom, contentment and awe. I will miss the slower pace. I will miss the opportunity to observe all my children, and to have that observation be welcome. I will miss this time when my oldest maybe doesn’t need me, but he really, really wants me. When he wants me to be part of his adventures. When he wants me to listen to his stories. When he really just wants me to be there with him, finding reassurance in my presence.
I will miss this summer.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather together to share their versions of a completed sentence. This week’s prompt was “”What I’ll miss about summer…”
Kristi Rieger Campbell (findingninee.com),
Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman (flingome.com) – this week’s sentence thinker-upper, and
Allison McGrath Smith (thelatchkeymom.com/)