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.
Under the Speading Chestnut Tree
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