Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Report

Today is the last Friday of summer vacation. We've had a nice summer. Unlike other summers, I have not counted down the days until school starts again. I have not had any major emotional funkiness. I never felt trapped in the middle of July. I've enjoyed the sound of the cicadas and the pleasure of hopping in the pool when it's 95 degrees. And now I'm ready for it to be over.

I'm ready for my children to be tired at bedtime. I'm ready for them to fall asleep before I do. I'm ready for Jack to be in P.E. an hour every day so I don't have to worry about what a slug he is. I'm ready for my house to be Wii-free from morning until 3 p.m.

Speaking of 3 p.m.: This is the first year that Will will be in school all day. I'm already preparing myself for the cranky little boy I'll be entertaining in the afternoons. I will do my best to have tasty snacks available and to not take his snarling personally.

Will is like me and The Man--he has limited social energy. Jack, on the other hand, is energized by being around other people. He is a people person, which you might not guess at first because he's so awfully quiet.

That's been one of my revelations this summer: That Jack is not like the rest of us. He digs company. He likes hanging out with a crowd. He's at his most creative and energetic when he's with other kids.

For years I've been so frustrated with him because left to his own devices, all Jack can figure out to do is read or play computer games. The Man and I are both project people, and when I was a kid I was always dreaming up something to do--build a house out of a cardboard box, turn my bedroom closet into a mini-apartment, draw all the characters in whatever book I was reading. I've spent oodles of time and money trying to turn Jack into a project kid. It's taken me ten years to figure out that's not how he works. He doesn't self-start. He plays well--plays best--with others.

It's been a huge relief to realize this. Jack is just who he is and how he is. I've not failed as a parent, he's not failed as a kid. It's all good.


Today Will's friend Win is coming over. He will be dropped off by his mom, Alison, who is simply lovely. It's also possible that she's simply twenty-five. Thirty, tops. When you have a kid at age 38 (which is how old I was when Will was born), the early school years can be rough on you. You're surrounded by perky, thin, very fashionable, very young women who had their children while middle school students and are impossibly sweet in the way of young southern females who joined sororities in college. On the one hand, I find them charming and fabulous. On the other hand, I'm not sure they catch my cultural references, and the way the skin on my neck is slowly collapsing scares them.


Tomorrow Jack and I will spend the afternoon making chicken pies at church. Our church has a bazaar every November, and on the morning of the bazaar folks line up to buy our chicken pies, which are made with Pillsbury canned crusts, have been frozen for three months by the time they go on sale, and are indescribably delicious.

Jack has been helping out on Chicken Pie Day for three years now. Last year, I was out of town on Chicken Pie Day, and so The Man dropped Jack off at church so he could continue in the tradition. I'm sure the day will come when Jack will no longer want to help out on Chicken Pie Day, and it will be a sad day indeed. But for now the good people of our town can rest assured that Jack will be hard at work making their pies, and that the pies will be worth the wait.


Gretchen Joanna said...

I really enjoyed this post. I had my last-of-five kids at 37, and it was interesting to see how I gained a whole new batch of friends among the homeschoolers we were always busy with. Several of these new friends were nine years younger than I, whereas when I had my first two children in my early 20's, my associated friends all were older than I. I'm blessed to have kept most of the older and younger friends. :)

Susan said...

Happy Chicken Pie Day! If I were there, I'd buy a dozen not b/c they were delicious, but b/c Jack helped to make them. He truly is a group project kid not to mention generous with his time and talents and loyal. The most liberating moment in my life as a mom was when I decided that my children were exactly who they were supposed to be. Occassionally, I must remind myself of my revelation, but for the most part leaving who they are and who they are becoming up to them has left me much more at peace.

Tracy said...

I wish we were close enough to have a real time, real life conversation!!!

I think school holidays become easier and more enjoyable as the kids get older. At least that's how it's worked in our house. I actually look forward to them now, where once I was in fear of them. There is something about letting someone else keep your kids occupied all day though!!!!

From one introvert to another....I'm surrounded by people who think reading a good book all day is torture. "What are we doing today" has been the question of the day since Miss Sunshine could talk, and fuelled by her father. "I've got a good book" doesn't seem to be a reasonable answer!

Those young perky things are probably wishing they had your wisdom and were able to see life with the sense of humour you have. A few kids and a lot more years may have its downsides, but there's a lot to be said for the wisdom we acquire with age.

Danielle said...

I want to reserve some of Jack's chicken pies. He absolutely is a kid who plays well with kids! And that's a great quality. Sometimes I've found that broadway lyrics say it best: "People, who need people, are the luckiest people in the world."

And it's wonderful to have a lightbulb moment of the big picture variety about your kid in the midst of the daily grind of parenting. Celebrate it!

debbie bailey said...

I had my last-of-five kids at 43! I have the best of both worlds. I have friends my age and I also have friends in their 20-30's that have benefitted from my 'wisdom' since I'm an older woman with a small child. The young friends help keep me young too. I always call them when I'm not sure about what to buy. They'll tell me if it's too old womanish. While I'm not trying to dress like a teenager, I don't want to look frumpy either.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Gretchen, I've really enjoyed my friendships with younger moms, too--once I got over the shock of not being a young mom myself, of course!

Susan, The chicken pie things slays me, because Jack is so eager to be in on any kind of group activity, even if it's with a bunch of pre- and post-menopausal church ladies. And you're so right--it's quite liberating when you realize your children are who they are, and that's that.

Tracy, I've often wished we could sit down over a cup of coffee and chat away! I'm an introvert surrounded by two introverts and one extrovert, and I feel awfully bad for the extrovert, who I'm sure wonders how he got stuck with all of these boring people.

Danielle, I just wish my parenting lightbulb moments weren't so few and far between! But I really am glad Jack enjoys other people.

Debbie, I completely agree--there are great mutual benefits to older/younger women friendships. I find myself often in the position of saying, "You know, that's something you really don't have to worry about; it really will all work out," and then I share my war stories. And I'm definitely at that age where I need feedback re: the too old/too young fashion. This summer I walked into The Gap, realized it was no longer for me and walked right back out. It was a shock!

Pom Pom said...

Oh Frances, you never fail to entertain. You are such an insightful mother - your boys are blessed. I am considering making my closet into an apartment now.
Chicken pie = SO comforting! xopp

Angela said...

Chicken Pie Day sounds glorious. Wish I was there!! xx

Gumbo Lily said...

I *was* one of those young mommies....first baby at 21 and 5th baby at 30. Now they're nearly all gone. Just one son left at home. Time flies. I'm glad you've enjoyed all the moments of summer.

Happy Chicken Pie Sale Day.


victoria said...

Best wishes for Will's time starting fulltime school. I am gladly looking forward to my own Will starting school next year. Also planning on having my last kid at 38.
p.s. a lot of the mothers of my kids friends are older than me and still they are also hotter than me (in my opinion), you can't win!