Almost a day that I want to forget except for the redemptive late afternoon chat with my 11-year old that changed everything.
It's been ridiculously hot in our little neck of the woods for the middle of June. With temperatures in the upper 90's, crazy humidity and heat advisories, we've been doing what everyone else has...going to the pool. We were super excited to have our friends join us and to beat the heat by going down water slides, lazing about with colorful noodles and eating ice cream while lathering the shit out of ourselves with sunscreen.
But yesterday, every time I turned around, Sam was just not himself. Irritable almost borderline belligerent, I could tell that something was up, but my patience was being sucked dry by the sun.
It culminated at the cafe, when denying him a smoothie in favor of what the masses were having...ice cream, he said to me, "How dare you?!" to which I was thankful that we were in a public forum with dear friends or I would have knocked his ass out the door and let him bake.
After we said goodbye to our pool mates and everyone put on their seat belts, I proceeded to read them the riot act about entitlement and what it means to be unappreciative in a life filled with blessings. They lost screen time, were given additional chores and had quiet time in their rooms until dinner.
As I was in the kitchen, Sam came in with tears in his eyes. "Mom, the truth is I'm just lonely. I mean....I'm not a kid like the girls, but I'm not a teenager...I still like dinosaurs and Harry Potter...but I kind of just want to be with my friends without you and without all of the rules. I just don't know what to do."
My heart broke and I gave him a really big hug.
I remember what it's like to be a tween...caught in the middle of younger siblings who still think it's cool to have your mom cart you around to play dates, while yearning for independence and freedom but not quite completely ready to break free.
It's a tough gig especially when you don't live on a street filled with kids your age and you have to be intentional about creating and sustaining connections, particularly in the summertime.
And to that end, we brainstormed all of the ways that he can stay in touch with his friends and all of the ways that I can back off in the process.
And the truth is...he's growing up....and he's the first born...and I don't know what I'm doing...and I'm continually assuming that I'm fucking it all up...and he's endlessly forgiving...and so am I...and it's really God damn hard to be a parent.
The goal is to help them fly and from my experience, to fly far away and have extraordinary adventures (those were always the most memorable ones for me) but every fiber of my being just wants to keep him close and talk about books, movies, and play chess and board games and snort while we laugh and hug on him.
Maybe I can find a way to do both...but man, it's a rough go. Here's to finding the silver linings in the process.