Back-to-school are three mournful words around here. Oh I know this is not something a parent should admit out loud. I deeply understand about kindling curiosity and creating a sense of excitement around learning. During the homeschooling years with Eli back to school was enormous fun as we planned and plotted our way toward Davy Crocket and all the pirates. It was fun back in the New City years too when I could rely on excellent teaching and the tending of every kind of child.
But when you have a kid with a big brain and an outsized case of ADHD along with the working memory woes of a tick borne illness that left its tracks in the white matter of his brain … when things are educationally … imperfect … well then back to school signals a slog.
This year we are exploring wonderful gap year programs for what comes next. Eli is looking at saving turtles in Costa Rica and trekking mountains in India. He can consider music industry shadowing in LA and art in Florence. The possibilities are endless and as opposed to the wasted dollars so many of us have spent on college freshman years it looks like an economical choice too.
At our annual out to supper on the first night of school last night we heard the happy stories of who is in what class and which teacher is planning what sorts of projects. Eli is brave. He faces this turning like he does everything with a cheerful plan and a big sense of humor. He has always been our happiest child. He naturally expects the world to be a good place and when it isn’t he shrugs it off with humor and goofy antics.
Maybe I am grieving the bigger turning that is happening here. Eli is our youngest and this year he is a senior in high school. While we will put college off with a keen gap year, the endless summers of bikes and boys, piles of tennis shoes and poker chips, are coming to an end. We might get one more if we are really lucky. And with the two older kids already launched I already know that they come back and that the next phases are as rewarding as all the others. Coming up are the texting years. The years when you get constant updates in ten words or less and you can thrill them with their favorite dinners or even just the bathtub. They get really grateful when the comforts of home and mom are far away. They bring home new friends and girls and all of a sudden you are worth showing off. Family vacations are joyous and raucous. I know all about the good parts coming.
But I have dearly loved being Eli’s everyday mom these last few years when it has been just the three of us. I love making spicy stromboli for a houseful of boys and carrying in piles of steak nachos to the poker table and feeling the easy gratitude of a table full of hungry boys. I love always having kids to move the furniture or help out in the yard. Eli has actually been the best roommate John and I have ever had. He’s funny and easy. It’s a good combination.
You never know which moments will be the golden ones until after their gone. So I am putting down my iPad and making sure I am present whenever they come. I am making breakfast every day that I am here and cooking up piles of kid friendly stuff on Friday nights the better to attract them a few more times. The poker table can be in the middle of the library for all I care. Ping pong and basketball and ramps in the driveway. Cause I really love this part. I am gonna soak it up.