The times, the seasons, the morning routines, the bedtime routines, the topography of my baby’s mouth…the season is making its slow descent into the open embrace of its cooler sister’s rise, and it feels like a whirlpool in the Walton house. Come gather round people, wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown.
It’s kind of a boring image that I’ve basically beaten to death at this point (my writing teachers of yore would beg me to shy away from this one) but I can’t help it. Summer starts and I can feel the sensation of the wind whipping across my bare arms, hair sticking against my teeth as I sing out the open window and push the accelerator down a little harder. Sitting here staring at a screen, I can conjure up that very specific feeling at the beginning of the summer when the longer days are literally making the days feel longer and it seems that this might be the first year that summer really will be endless. All around, legs grow longer under their hemlines, dog tongues unroll to surprising lengths, even the bugs start lighting up. Summer comes not with a sense of change, but with a sense of movement.
And then August rolls around. And the change always catches me by surprise, because I’ve just been riding the open-window current of summer’s time.
This year August brought with it a first day of school, bedazzled with a stain-free insulated lunch box, and a backpack with sting rays on it because “they look the most like sea dragons”. In the simplest terms, August arrived with a screeching halt in the middle of it. A break-to-the-floor, ma’am could you please step out of the car, defining moment screeching halt. Kindergarten.
What has not suprised me is how easily Asher has slipped into his new role. He comes home ready to tell us things, talking openly about the day, cooly telling me that it was, “pretty good, actually!” with a tone of voice that implies that he knows to comfort us–his highly unadaptable dinosaur parents–because he’s going there and we’re still clinging to here. He is eager to get out of the car in the morning, cheerfully telling teachers that he knows where he’s going, asking me gently not to give him a kiss any more when I help him get out of the car. In all of these things, he’s not pushing us away or acting like we’re not cool anymore, it’s more like he’s just intuitively untying his boat from our dock and letting the water pull him into the tide.
He’s growing up.
But not feeling that little red-headed boat tethered so close to home? Pardon the overdone metaphor here, but it’s left me a little unmoored.
What really gets my crazy mom tears going is knowing that he’s still so little. He will be five in a couple of weeks and as with every birthday of his, I see him continuing to clearly straddle the line between the toddler that we once knew and the little boy who is moving in. And it’s that, that simple vision of him being so big and so little, the sound of his raspy kid voice saying such big kid things, the dusting of downy hair that’s popping up on his shins, his half-moon eyes when he smiles, his bed head and stinky-sweet breath in the morning when he still wants to snuggle–it’s these baby-boy juxtapositions that have brought me to my emotional knees over the last two weeks.
Asher has been the big kid in the house for the last year and seeing him at the bottom of the totem poll on the threshold of this next stage of life with 5th graders parading around us as bouncy glimpses of foreshadowing–it’s just been a lot to take in. For me. With Lucas in the mix, I think I was briefly distracted from all of the firsts that still await our first. And so when we arrived at this next big FIRST for Asher, it got me right in the Feelings.
But as the man says, as the present now will later be past, the order is rapidly fading. And the first one now will later be last, for the times…
They are looking a lot like this:
Happy first day of the rest of your life, little bug. Congratulations on being the only adaptable one around here.