“Oh no! They paved the street.” Gleek was genuinely distressed to see the smooth black surface as we exited the house. I was surprised that this was a surprise to her, because the fact of street paving had required my attention for much of the week, including a grocery trip “so we won’t have to go out tomorrow” and then having to sneak out of the cul de sac just before the paving crews arrived because of another urgent errand. I put up with it all because I viewed new pavement as a good thing. Our cul de sac had become a web of cracks sealed with tar. What I did not know was the long and elaborate games that Gleek had around those tarred over cracks. The cracks had personalities and they played a role in her imaginative worlds. Only now all the cracks were invisible.
“I feel like my friends are suffocating.” Gleek said. “Why do things have to change? I don’t want things to change.” I put my arm around her shoulder and we walked past the still-warm tarry street to where my car was parked. I don’t think Gleek was just lamenting her cracks. This summer she is twelve, play has changed. In a few weeks she’ll be in junior high, that is change too. Kiki will be heading off to college, that is different. Gleek shed tears for all the changes, though she only thought she cried over pavement.
It has been several days since Gleek cried over the street. She’s noted that the texture of the cracks can still be seen now that the new layer has settled in. Her friends are changed, not gone. Hopefully that bodes well for the other things.
“This has been the worst summer of my life.” Link said. I’m not surprised at the declaration. Our schedule has been very sparse on fun outings, and his schedule has been heavy with requirements and doctor’s appointments. Add to that the fact that Link feels some separation from his friends. He’s struggling to find new ways to relate because many of the things which interest his friends do not interest him. One part of me thinks I should attempt to help solve these problems, that I should direct, nudge, encourage. Another part of me recognizes that ultimately Link is the one who has to learn and grow. I can’t give that to him as a gift. Mostly what I can do is make sure that the next four weeks have some happy things for him.
Part way through church I leaned over and put my head on Kiki’s shoulder for just a moment. I could do that because Kiki has graduated from the youth programs and now sits with me during the adult classes. She looked at me puzzled. I whispered to her,
“I just counted weeks in my head. There are four.” In four weeks she’ll be off to her next adventure and I’m glad for her to go, but she’ll be missed here.
“Patch went in the dunk tank!” Kiki told me with impressed tones. Indeed he did, as evidenced by his completely drenched grin. His clothes stuck close to is lanky frame, emphasizing how much taller he has gotten this summer. “It was scary, Mom, but I’m glad that I did it.” Patch said before he proceeded to tell me in detail every moment of his dunk tank experience. He walked tall on the way home, quite pleased with his bravery. Gleek braved the tank as well and felt similarly pleased. We’ve never had a dunk tank as part of a church party before, but this one was a huge success.
We bought a veggie tray late Saturday night and put it out first thing Sunday morning. It was an experiment in psychology and healthy eating. If healthy snacks were convenient, would we eat them instead of rummaging the cupboards for chips? By Sunday evening the tray was three quarters depleted, so the answer appears to be, yes. It is only a beginning. Hopefully it is a beginning that we will follow through on, because this summer the meals have been exceedingly haphazard. Getting up and going to bed have been pretty random as well. Half the time the kids are out of bed before I am and they’re on the computers already. At least we’re making token efforts toward pulling these aspects of our family life back together. Bedtimes and meals, they’re good for us. Really.
“Mom, will you play Minecraft with me?” I haven’t played video games in years. Well, except for Plants vs. Zombies, but that’s a little game on my computer. I used to play video games quite a lot back when our console was a Nintendo 64. The kids did not have the skills to play through difficult sections, and they wanted to see the whole Zelda story, so I played for them. It was a thing I could do to entertain the kids. Then somehow they took the controllers and didn’t need me anymore. I had other things to do, so I did those instead. Occasionally I became interested in a game that had a story, but it was always the story which interested me, not holding the controller, so I was happy to be the one to watch. Minecraft is the latest craze with my kids. They love it. I’m fine with it, but I never watch because it is a sandbox game. No story, just the ability to go anywhere and build anything. I wasn’t interested. But then Gleek looked at me with big eyes. She loves this game and she wanted to do something with me. This is how I came to spend two hours of my Sunday afternoon digging a big square hole in the ground and being generally clueless about things like torches, axes, and red rock. Gleek had a great time zipping around me, making sure I didn’t fall into holes or get lost. Sometimes I need to join them in their activities rather than pulling them out to do something I dictate.