Left to Go Left

I had the honor of chaperoning Full Speed and some classmates for their sixth grade trip to Sea World.  Thankfully, Mad Dog was able to attend.  Trust me, if he can manage a myriad of employees at work, seven twelve-year-old boys were a piece of cake.  It helped that they were all well-behaved, too.

As the day drew to a close, Mad Dog escorted our gang back to the bus home and Full Speed stayed with me.  We decided to hit one more ride before meeting up with Mad Dog at the exit and driving home separately from the class (all sanctioned by Full Speed’s teacher of course). Of all the things he could pick, Full Speed chose the flamingo-shaped paddle boats.  I wasn’t entirely sure this is what he truly wanted, but he’s a smart kid who takes after his Dad.  Sometimes you pick the stuff that you only kind of like because you know the important lady in your life would LOVE it.  And I did.  I really, really did.

After I had paid the fee for our twenty minutes, we fitted ourselves with life jackets and headed to the dock.  The attendant quickly went over instructions.  He said something to the effect of ‘go left to go left, go right to go right’.  He was referencing the way to manipulate the steering apparatus that was centered between our seats.  I followed his directions and we were off to the races….but, not really.  The harder we pedaled and the more I tried to maneuver us away from the dock, the more we stayed put. Eventually, I was able to get us crookedly angled away as long as we pedaled BACKWARDS.  Let’s just say, I shouldn’t quit my day job.

As we slowly and awkwardly floated out to sea, I casually said, “Full Speed, why don’t you try steering?”

He grabbed the control and in less than 30 seconds had us on a straight path.  He steered the paddle boat as if he had been doing it his whole life.  Turns out, you didn’t ‘go left to go left’.  Instead, you actually had to do the opposite.  Since I wasn’t particularly prideful about my gaping inefficiencies as a paddle boat captain, I sat back and enjoyed the ride.  Apparently, knowing how to actually steer properly makes everything a whole lot more smooth.

As we floated about, I had this out-of-body moment.  It was almost as if I was looking at Full Speed as how he could possibly be as a grown man.  Not surprisingly, he appeared a lot like Mad Dog.

I thought back to when I was twelve.  At that point in my life some fundamental aspects of my personality were formed.  My sensitivity, my empathy, and my creativity are all still a part of the grown-up version of me.  As I looked at Full Speed calmly navigating the waters before us, I thought if he has even half this amount of ease and confidence as a grown-up, he is going to do just fine.

Best paddle boat ride ever.

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The Bedtime Dilemma

The inevitable summer bedtime negotiation had begun.  T.Puzzle and Full Speed aimed high, Mad Dog and I aimed low.  T.Puzzle wondered out loud, “Why do grown-ups get to stay up later than kids?”  We explained as best we could, that adults are done growing so they don’t need as much sleep.  Kids’ bodies are still changing and growing every day and need the extra sleep to help in this process.  He seemed mollified.  Then, he started to imagine what his bedtime would be in the future.  Full Speed started shouting out ages and as these ages increased, the bedtimes rose exponentially. “When I’m ten I’ll stay up until 9.  When I’m 12 I’ll stay up until 10″… and  so on and so on.  When he reached the number 18 we told him that at that time, if he didn’t live at home anymore, he could stay up as late as he wanted.  That’s the great thing about being a grown-up, we explained.  You can stay up as late as you want.

I asked T.Puzzle, “How late are you going to stay up when you’re 24?”

“Well,…I’m going to still live at home.  I’m always going to live at home,” he said.

Full Speed, not missing a beat, said, “I guess we better get some bigger beds.”

The boys hanging in T.Puzzle's crib.  Hard to believe they both used to fit!
The boys hanging in T.Puzzle’s crib. Hard to believe they both used to fit!

Changes

ry=400 Change is all in how you look at it.  I tend to be more sentimental than most in this regard.  Today is the last Friday of the school year.  After today, T.Puzzle will never be a kindergartener on a Friday ever again.  It kind of stabs at my heart when I think about it.

On the flip side, T.Puzzle is thrilled beyond compare.  He is so happy that kindergarten is nearing the end.  I suppose the fact that summer vacation is upon us helps his great mood.

I have a choice.  I can continue to be sad that my ‘baby’ is growing up or I can choose to celebrate this fact.  I believe every moment of a child’s development is a mixture of triumph and letting go of how things used to be.  Yes, there is an ache that he’s getting older.  There is also excitement and that unknowing, fluttery, pit-of-my-stomach anticipation that the future holds great adventures for both my boys.

It isn’t that change is bad.  Change is awesome.  Even if you have to go through a box of Kleenex or two to realize this.

It’s Time

Full Speed on kindergarten screening day. Where did the time go?

We all have the ability to stop what we are doing and allow ourselves to be awakened to the present moment.  For me, it happens in the most random situations.  I was helping Full Speed’s home room Mom decorate his teacher’s door for teacher appreciation week.  Then it hit me.  Full Speed is almost done with kindergarten.  I let this thought settle over me.  It made me feel a pit of resistance in my stomach.  This year has gone by too fast.  He is getting older.  Every day he needs me a little bit less.  Every day I want to hold on to him tighter.  Instead, I have to let him go more freely.

I snapped out if it.  I returned to the task at hand.  The door was appropriately decorated and it was time to go.  Still some sadness over watching my boy grow up clung to me.

Full Speed had not felt well over the weekend.  He was tucked into bed early that evening to help combat whatever virus he was fighting.  After he was resting, Mad Dog and I heard an indistinguishable yelp from his room.  Mad Dog ran to investigate.  There was blood and Full Speed was visibly shaken.  Mom was called in for back-up.  The initial thought was Full Speed’s virus was now becoming more serious causing him to spew blood. 

Nope.  It was only a loose tooth that needed to come out.

I was so relieved.  And then I wasn’t.

The loss of a first tooth means baby teeth are making way for the grown up ones. 

I don’t like it.  I don’t like it at all.

Thankfully the tooth fairy is better adjusted to the growth of children than I am and left Full Speed a generous gift of money. 

Too bad she can’t give us back the gift of time while she’s at it.

Testing…

 

Test Track, a popular attraction at Epcot, at ...
Image via Wikipedia

 

We were at Epcot for the day.  The weather was pitch perfect, the boys well-behaved and we were having a marvelous time.  Mad Dog insisted one of our first stops was Epcot’s Test Track.  I remember Test Track from a past trip and let’s just say, I’m not a fan.   Mad Dog and I had taken Full Speed along with my nieces and brother-in-law about two years ago.  Here is the photo of me completely relaxed and enjoying the ride:

 

Yes, I'm that big of a scaredy-cat

 

Fast forward two years and now Mad Dog wants to take both my boys.  Was he serious?  Yep.  He instructed me to go sit at the exit by the gift shop (of course the exit is by a gift shop).  I did so and ordered my mind not to think about how frightening I found the ride as a grown adult.  I ignored the instinct to grab my three year old T.Puzzle and run for the hills.  I sat quietly and I waited.

That’s when it began.  The mind-numbing roar of the test cars on the track overhead.  Each sounded like a freight train colliding with a Mack truck.  Oh, and then there were the piteous screams of the helpless passengers spilling over and making me feel very, very nauseous.

Okay.  I can do this.  I can pretend to be a rational Mommy and wait patiently.

Roar.  Scream.

Roar.  Scream.

By this time my anxiety had reached full throttle.  My stomach was in knots.  A kid next to me joked that it was taking so long for his older brother to emerge because someone must have been flung from a car.

Roar. Scream.

At that point I almost lost it.

Another fifteen minutes passed and keep in mind, my boys supposedly had fast passes to this ride.  I think I aged about thirty years as I waited for their ride to be over.

Finally, I saw them.

They were perfectly fine.  T.Puzzle cried a little at the end (the scariest portion), insisted he would not be riding it again and was quite proud of himself.  I pretended to be all calm and collected.  I congratulated him and let him have him his moment.

Looks like my boy is growing up.  Unfortunately, this feels a whole lot scarier to me than any ride in the world.