Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where we are

I should probably bring my camera to work most days, if not every day. Something always catches my eye, inspires me, makes me wonder, makes me laugh. In a huge sandbox filled with toys, the thing that most captivated the children was finding and sorting and displaying the collection of rocks. This is sacred, to me.

As I think about it, what's amazing is how sacred it is to all of them, too. To think that, in a school with children from age three-and-a-half to fourteen, no one displaced a single rock when the play was over. I found this set up at about 7:30 a.m., which means that it had been there since about 1:00 p.m. (or earlier) the day before.

And then there's my boy. Whew! An 8th grader this year -- so grown up. Here in the U.S., eighth grade signifies the end of your elementary school years, and from here you go on to high school (for four years). Everyone goes to high school, not everyone finishes (you may legally leave school at age 16), and not everyone goes on to college (university). [edited to add: apparently I've felt the need to explain this a lot. sorry 'bout that -- I'm fixated. clearly.]

So Dean is on the threshold, educationally, between childhood and being a teenager. Sigh.

He continues to be a wonderful person. He's kind and polite and friendly; he's smart, he pays attention, and he cares. And while he's been playing soccer for the past 8 years or so, suddenly this season he's a whole new man on the field. All his skills have sharpened, and his ability to see the game and be strategic in his moves is beyond what I would have imagined for him. He's been moved back to play defense because he's one of the "big kids" now, and for the first time he has the ability to play in an appropriately aggressive way (up until now he's been waaay too unassertive to play defense!). Our family wonders together when he'll score from mid-field; he kind of misses some of the fun of being on offense and scoring goals, but his leg and aim are good enough that we (and his coaches) suspect he'll knock one in without playing out of position.

Too. much. fun.

I was awestruck today when I gave myself a moment to realize how wonderful this year has been. Despite my own kind of general grogginess and funk, despite difficulty figuring out what to put down, the reality is that it has been, and continues to be, an utterly fabulous year. I need to keep making myself stop, and think about that.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


We are made powerful by our ability to remember, rebuild, and move on.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Our fall, back-to-school resolution is to get back out into the woods for some family hikes. We are so fortunate to live in an area with an absolute abundance of trails, Ken and I both really need the exercise, and it's a time for the three of us to be together without anything to distract any of us. Along with broad trails like this one, there are paths that lead up and down through the woods as well, although all the recent rains have made those temporarily impassable.

Every time I see a picture of Dean next to Ken, or next to me, my heart skips a little at how tall he's become. Won't be long before he passes Ken, I think. Beginning 8th grade this year has brought it's own raft of changes for Dean and I keep finding myself holding my breath, wanting to slow things down, trying not to worry about what comes next. It's huge -- in the US, you start high school next, after you've been graduated from 8th grade; the final step before going off to college. Sure that's 4 years away but still, it is momentous. It feels as though that spot in time where suddenly you can see the doorway through which your child passes from his life with you, under your wing, to his own life, out in the world, is right there -- in front of you and in focus in a way it has never been before.

And 8th graders as a whole are an edgy bunch. They feel it, too; the dwindling years of childhood and the massive gap to be leapt into the *real world* of high school and beyond. We laughed when we got back to the car after our hike that we'd never been able to make the loop in an hour before, and it's all about not having to pick Dean up and carry him along the way, about his legs being just as long as ours and able to keep up (actually, I was the one who had the hardest time keeping up).

Dean will take off early next week on his next class hiking trip up into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I know I don't need to worry as much as I did the very first time he headed off, and maybe I can pry myself away from the weather reports while he's away. Maybe I can think about where I'd like to be headed, and what's past that big leap for me. I just haven't been having much luck getting my brain to go there.