They are no longer little kids. I’m not sure why that occurred to me this week. Maybe it the birthday party for a friend. Or seeing some kids we hadn’t seen in a long time. Or revisiting places we hadn’t been in years. Something had me thinking about age, and time, and growing up. Or not growing up.
I came downstairs one morning and Cecilia, who is now taller than Michelle and certainly looks like an eighth grader, was happily watching a Disney show and I realized she looked bigger and older, but might not actually be bigger and more mature. Then I realized I was supposed to be older and confident and know what I was doing. But did I? Of course not.
There are many times I still feel like a insecure, nervous eighth grader. We all do. We all have a little imposter syndrome, no matter how young or old, and are full of doubts and concerns.
Sorry, girls, that feeling is not going away at 15, or 25, 45, or 75. It’s a universal part of the human experience. You gotta do your best to see through the posturing and be there for your friends and family. That’s one thing I’m confident about.
This past week Ce was happy. Not just happy, but unusually bubbly and helpful. So much so that both Michelle and I commented on it to each other almost in disbelief. I realize the moodiness is completely normal and will continue for the next few years. This was an unexpected rainbow in the midst of cloudy skies.
There are so many things that often don’t go right or go as you planned when you’re a parent. So many frustrations, stressors, requests, and obligations that can throw you off track. What are you going to focus on? Unless you make a hobby of gathering these impositions into a lint ball of resentment, the best course I can think of is to just recognize and appreciate these tiny miracles.
I’m on the record many times about being a person that likes routines and order. I like having a plan. I like figuring out what we are going to have for dinner over my first cup of coffee in the morning. This…trait can be helpful in many aspects of life but I do find myself saying ‘No’ a lot because it’s not on the to-do list or it’s not on the menu.
I can easily defend saying ‘no’ as doing the responsible thing, the necessary thing but is it the best thing as a Dad? If this strange summer has taught me anything it’s that you just never know how long you have. Why not say ‘Yes’ a little more. More chocolate chips in those pancakes? Sure. A neon red slushie at 11 a.m.? Sure. Going for a walk on the beach at 10 p.m.? Sure. It might drive my ordered mind temporarily insane but I’ll forget. The girls will remember those slushies.
The girls made a cake this week. On one hand…no glitter. On the other…so, so many questions. I had to work really hard (and wasn’t always successful) to not shut them down or freak out that they didn’t know to take out the butter and eggs hours earlier. Room temperature doesn’t happen by accident, kids! I took a deep breath, suppressed a shudder when they almost used salted butter in the recipe, and let them ask.
This is what I wanted as a parent. Not only do I want to teach them there are no stupid questions, but to go further, and understand you only become smarter by asking questions. Asking questions should be a lifelong process. Too many adults stop asking questions. Curiosity doesn’t kill us. It shouldn’t embarrass us. It should makes us better. All learning starts with admitting your ignorance.
So, I swallowed down the abhorrence at the thought of using unsifted flour in a baked good and was thankful I was raising ‘why’ childs.
Last day of vacation yesterday and it feels like a success. The hurricane almost completely missed the Cape. The girls alternated their freak outs to one of them per day. Michelle only attended one work meeting. There were boat drinks and lobster rolls, bike rides and sunsets. Still masks and distancing but we made the best of it.
We did learn our school fate on Friday and after all the hand wringing and anticipation, I think finding out on vacation wasn’t a bad thing. Just another reminder that so much is always out of our control. I’m learning this lesson very slowly. Best to focus on the response. Learn our lessons from the spring and try to be better prepared and less fragile in the fall. Be a little less broken and a little more improved. Antifragile. That’s a homeschooling lesson the kids can potentially learn from.
We were down at the Cape for most of the holiday week and it seems fitting on the Fourth of July that the girls got a little more independence this year. While they are not swimming alone or biking off down 6A to the General Store, they do now have the freedom to pedal around the complex and go for low-tide beach walks.
It’s been good for all of us. If a mid-afternoon lull sets in or if they just can’t survive without dessert immediately, we can shove them out the door and tell them to pedal around for 30 minutes until the second, mmm, maybe third, bottle of wine kicks in. Let freedom ring!
I like the challenge of cooking on vacation. I like the different stove. The different equipment. The weird spices. The limited cupboard. I think just being in a different kitchen and a different place can spark your creativity.
Of course, after a day in the sun or a day touring the sites, sometimes you don’t want to cook. You just want something easy. Or for someone to put a plate in front of your hungry face.
We spend a lot of the summer weekends in Brewster on Cape Cod and we take plenty of advantage of all the local, fresh seafood to make some great meals, but sometimes vacation means taking a break from everything, including cooking dinners.