It’s the end of the school year. I have a child, so my time is once again defined by the academic cycle. That particular kind of seasonal division had faded during my 20’s and 30’s. My cycles were much more defined purely by weather then, and not by the activities that were wrapped around it. But now, there’s a whole bunch of stuff bringing me back to my youth. On every level. He’s 10. Around that age, I was just flirting with buying my first bra. Things were just about to get really confusing.
But here and now, him having a girlfriend in his class still only means, “We like each other, and we’re friends.” Honestly, isn’t that really the heart of it? I mean, we should all be so lucky to have that as the center of our most provocative and consuming relationships.
I have to say, the 10-year-old zeitgeist is quite revealing. I remember a few years back, spending time with friends whose daughter was 10 at the time. I found her so winsome and pure-hearted, a sensitive poet with no real idea of how beautiful she was.
I feel the same way about my son. Sometimes, he is filled with a bravado and bullish intensity that clouds his ability to be an obedient boy. I admire him for that, even as I know I must carefully outline the boundaries of what he needs to recognize as the rules of society. But then later, he is recalcitrant and soft, cuddling in my arms as I read him Harry Potter until his heavy lidded eyes disappear from view, and he is all long eyelashes on cheeks, and quiet breathing. I cherish his need of me in those moments. The love we feel for each other is staggering.
Did you know that if you are a parent, you are almost certain to screw it up? You can count on it. I make it a point of singling out moments where each of us can learn from our mistakes. Perfectionism won’t be an issue for my son, if I can help it. I’m doing my best to normalize imperfection. I actually find it comforting. It takes the pressure off in a big way, and allows us to experiment to the point of failure. It’s the best way I know how to learn and paradoxically, to achieve excellence without anxiety.
To me, anxiety is the biggest obstacle in my path. I steer clear of it whenever I can. I navigate it like a seafaring captain of yore. Does that mean an expert from the olden days? Because that’s what I’m trying to say. I hope you can feel the depth of my intention. It’s that important…
The only way I know how to make sense of this amorphous rush of passing time in which my son keeps growing and figuring out more pieces of the puzzle, and I navigate my ever stiffening muscles and bones as though that couldn’t possibly be the thing that is going to define me going forward, is by capturing little flashes of tenderness and wonder in myself and the people I love in a picture or a poem, or even a story.
Here’s a smattering:
In Nantucket a few weeks ago, we shared a banana on the streets. I made silly faces and didn’t act my age at all.
Later, my son looked too cool for school on the docks.
Back in NYC, he rehearsed with his dance company, and I wondered what kind of adults they would grow into…
Our friend Nusha experienced unconditional love with a snake at Tom and Bernadette’s house on the weekend.
I felt it too. The snake just clung to my warmth and looked like a lush mix of white and dark chocolate.
The kids gathered around the laptop – the new playtime hearth.
My friend came over and finished the last of this lovely bottle of wine. I took a picture of the label so I’d remember what it was called the next time I was in the store.
Tomorrow’s the last day of school. The summer is going to rush by so. very. fast.