Deep breath

Inhale. Exhale. Our end-of-school frenzy is over– all the concerts, exams, parties and projects. We’re learning how to relax without a guilty conscience. Really, it is something I think you have to re-learn after busy spells in your life.
Will has been working on that very thing these last few weeks; and he’s doing pretty well, I’d have to say. But lest I give the wrong impression, he’s also doing some regular babysitting, taking care of the lawn, and reconnecting with his Marblehead friends. His bike is all tuned up and getting a lot of use, particularly riding to the yacht club where his friend, Patrick, ‘parks’ his dinghy. They do go cruising around the harbor and beyond, wearing their life jackets, of course. And this is a good thing, because Will had to get off a call with me a couple weeks ago so he could help pump up the dinghy again after one of them accidently unplugged the air valve the last time they docked it. Still, for some reason I trust them out there– so don’t any of you grandparents invest any overtime in worrying about that. Besides, Will told me later, the dinghy wouldn’t really sink without the air tubes, as it has a fiberglass bottom that would continue to float…
Growing to an age of greater independence is different in a seaside town. Last week Chloe arranged a beach day with several of her friends. She looked up the tides and the weather and called around to get everyone there at the appropriate time. Good planning, right? Unfortunately the weather didn’t hold up its part of the deal, and they had spent only a couple of hours beachside before the ominous clouds rolled in and distant thunder rumbled. The littles and Paula and I were just getting ready to leave, so I felt compelled to show them the dark sky just back behind them, and to offer rides to the ones who weren’t on bike. They all ended up back at our house for pizza. Of course, the rain held off for another hour, and they could have been basking and swimming all that time… Aren’t meddling mothers a drag? They were kind enough not to point out the lack of lightning or precipitation– maybe the pizza bought their silence.
But pizza is not the only thing cooking around here. You all know I like to cook for my family, and I love to sit down to leisurely meals together. But even I was surprised when Quinn asked for “more snakes, please,” tonight at dinner. We asked him to repeat himself, and he pleasantly piped up, “More snake, please!” I suppose flank steaks cut into narrow strips really might resemble snakes? And snake might be really tasty with a little ketchup? I don’t plan on finding out! While Quinn, Claire and Chloe had leftover steak, the rest of us had teriyaki salmon (which Clay graciously retrieved from the grill in a huge downpour– perfectly done, I should add). Chloe wrinkles her nose at all seafood, and possibly the littles are following her lead.
Speaking of noses, it seems Claire has a “delicate nose.” She told us so after she bumped it while rough-housing with Will. “Mom,” she sobbed, “Will was [doing whatever it was he was doing] and he hit my delicate nose with the pillow!” (Anyone else thinking of Marcia Brady here?) Stifling my smile, I agreed that noses are delicate (which I think I had actually said to her some time ago when she or Quinn got a nose bump). Will tried to stifle his smile, too, while he told her he was sorry (and he doesn’t even know about Marcia Brady!). Isn’t it funny how small people can’t remember when you tell them not to jump on the couch, like, four thousand times, but they can remember one unusual word you said just once? Chloe and I have named this type of syndrome: it’s called ISSP (Involuntary Selective Sensory Perception). Our highly evolved scientific theory fully explains how people under the age of 18 frequently fail to hear their mother’s voice even though they can hear the ping of a new text message from three floors away. Or how they can fail to see a giant pile of legos/train pieces/crayons all over the floor, but they can spot a Dunkin’ Donuts sign half-a-mile away. Or how some kids affected by this can’t smell the odor their old socks are giving off, but they can smell a box of Cheez-its crossing the county line (and the most amazing thing is that their feet smell just LIKE Cheez-its to me!)* You can write to our newly created institute ISSPI (“I SPY”) for more information.
Backing up, though, it has been quite a while since I updated this site. So I’ll tell you that we celebrated Will’s homecoming a few days before his 15th birthday. Claire and I made a sign for the window, which you can see on the blog home page, in the column where I used to keep the Will update. We were thrilled to have him back with us full time. His birthday we celebrated with a Red Sox game for Will, a friend, Clay and I (the best seats ever, thanks to a colleague of Clay’s). Then, as a family we went out to dinner in Faneuil Hall– at an Asian place called Wagamama. Chloe finished her year in a whirlwind: cello recital, exams, parties, a “Moving On” ceremony in which she and a friend were chosen to read the essay they co-authored, and a dinner cruise with her classmates. A pretty good way to finish junior high, I guess. I’ll try again to post video of her cello recital. I know I said that last year, but… well, I’ll try.
As for the littles? We have a little street gang with the kids across the street, and many mornings you can find them all out with the fleet of vehicles, and maybe some sidewalk chalk, tearing up the pavement. Claire has a sweet new ride– the “Honeybee” bike with training wheels, handlebar streamers, and a nifty handlebar backpack. Quinn is, thankfully, still content to speed down the driveway on one of the existing vehicles, mostly 15 year old hand-me-downs. He’s always up for a trip to the beach or the pool though, for which he dons his “babysuit.” And along the way, he greets everyone we meet with his chipper little, “Hi. I Quinn. We going swimming. OK. Bye!”
And now, as the hour is late and there is still much to be done, I’ll give my own chipper “’bye!” to you all. Have a wonderful 4th of July holiday, and wherever you may be to celebrate, take a deep breath and relax!

* The examples cited by ISSPI researchers are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.

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