On Independence

Too much of a good thing can be… too much. The little people in our house, sensing the coming celebration in the air, have been making their own personal declarations of independence this week.

Quinn has been working on his Houdini act– escaping the stroller at any unpredictable moment. What will hold this kid? Chains? A strait-jacket? Certainly not a plastic buckle! Fortunately for me, his chief interest immediately after escaping has so far been to turn around and re-buckle the stroller straps (covering his tracks?), so he hasn’t gotten far yet. He was practicing his act this weekend during the M’head Festival of Arts when a furry little person named Oreo came over and introduced herself. Quinn’s first actual interaction with a dog– he has long been fascinated by them, but he has preferred to admire them from afar. I think he’s ready to meet his uncle Scoot and his cousin Suzie.

Incidently (but not really incidently at all, because it’s a highlight!), Quinn met his new friend while we were waiting for Will to join us outside the Old North Church, where student exhibits were being shown. We went inside and looked and looked for Chloe’s art, but were disappointed to find her work was not hanging with the other pieces from her school. THEN, we found her green and red tiger hanging with the winning exhibits: she received an Honorable Mention ribbon! And this is big time, because it was professionally judged, and there were about 200 pieces selected for exhibit from all the different schools in town. We were very impressed– and she was very embarrassed when I made her pose for a picture! She still doesn’t think she has much artistic ability, but she’s clearly underestimating herself (remember the cover photo on the calendar a couple years ago?)

The big boys are out to breakfast this morning. Clay is taking a few days off, and each of the older kids gets breakfast out one-on-one. Yesterday was Claire’s turn, and tomorrow is Chloe’s. After breakfast this morning, Will is going to try to pick up a round of caddying– Monday is an off day and they don’t report at 6:30 am. He is still trying to get in on this caddying gig, but he finally got in a “shadow round” on Friday (only he actually carried a bag, so he was a little more substance than shadow). His golfers included the owner of a locally famous restaurant chain. This guy and his buddies had some little wagers going along the way, and at the end they gave the winnings to the caddies. So even though he didn’t get paid for the round, Will brought home $50! He was feeling pretty good (and optimistic about his earnings potential, despite his friends telling him about the $2 tips).

Claire. What to tell you about Claire. She is loving summer– the sprinkler parties and Dora slip’n’slide in the backyard, going to the beach and pool, the ice cream and icy pops, having more Chloe and Will time. She has been sick off and on for a couple of weeks now, and has dropped a little of her baby fat, which I really hope she’ll get back. But in the meantime, her new thinness is making her look even older. In some ways she’s always acted like a miniature adult anyway. While she had her recent cold she would say to us, “Speak up, I can’t hear you!” Another common expression recently is “Oh, my gosh!” The other day, when it was Claire’s turn to have breakfast out with Daddy, she asked, “Are we taking the TW?”– meaning Clay’s car, of course. Clay told me he drew a few lessons from breakfast with his 3-yr-old, one of which was that a little cream cheese goes a long way (on the bagel, on the table, on the face, up the arms, onto Daddy’s arm, etc.). He also noted that he wasn’t required to say much, as Claire kept the conversation going pretty much on her own.

Again, on the independence theme: Clay and I slipped out the other night for cocktails. We’ve been doing “mini-dates” on Saturday nights after the small kids are in bed. The bigs hang out in the living room and watch a movie, and we’re home before the movie is over. It’s wonderful! Anyway, there we were last Saturday, dressed in our grownup clothes, enjoying a quiet drink in a fairly quiet, striving-to-be-classy local joint. Not that we were really watching from our table across the room (at least I wasn’t!), but the Red Sox had just lost to the Rangers and the bar TVs were moving on to something else. Can you guess? The Incredibles! We were the Incredulous-es. There is no escape– I was looking under the table to see if Quinn was sitting there with the remote! (Good thing The Incredibles is STILL my favorite movie.)

Sometimes it feels like my own independence is so far away– I’m so caught up in the day-to-day needs of everybody here. But when I stop and think of how fast they are all changing and growing, I realize that someday they won’t need me– at least not in the same way they do now. We’re all moving toward independence, and at least as far as the family goes, I shouldn’t forget to enjoy this time of DEpendence for what it is. Just a thought, as we all celebrate Independence this week. We’ll be thinking of you all, and wishing we could celebrate together– a little watermelon, some fireworks, burgers and dogs on the grill, red-white-and-blue top hats!

Happy 4th of July… happy Independence Day!

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