The change of season and back to school...

And it is a welcome one. Really. I'm ready for the change.

I drove the neighborhood today (quite like taking Olivia to the bus stop) - my regular path. Down to the end of the street - drop Olivia with the rest of the Oakland and Central kids then turn the corner and head into our neighborhood the back way - past houses I usually don't see - up and around the corner where we do know some kids. Up the street, past all the familiar haunts to our familiar "green house", as the boys say.

Of course, I do then let my mind wander to how the boys would run down the street to play on the neighbor's swingset all summer - how they would play with water squirters up and down the sidewalk - how they would snack on the front porch, reluctant to miss out on anything. We went through boxes and boxes of juice pops, we made lemonade, we picked tomatoes on the deck, we took late evening walks with Lil in the wagon and, of course, the long days at the pool with packed lunch, goggles and treat money to last us all day. Lil would bring her mermaid Barbie for the baby pool - the boys would find school friends for the "big pool". I think we have a few summers left of the baby pool - plus some tentative diving board lessons from mommy and daddy - tennis in the morning before it gets too hot. They're still so little :-).

Last night, Olivia went on a walk with a couple friends - one starts school at Shadyside Academy today, so he was, noticeably, not at the same bus stop today - and ... for years, he was. Earlier in the day, she went shopping with another friend, starting at the same school - probably a little nervous - definitely going to miss her besties ;-). Now all that, I have to admit, is a passage (and going to high school isn't like starting grade school with years and years ahead of you - it has a very real, close, potentially scary, "might leave home" end ... in just a couple of years!). They are young, but they are growing up and, once they get to high school, it seems to go rather fast. I see kids I remember as the "big kids" in 7th or 8th grade now driving or hear that they have boyfriends / girlfriends or that they are spending part of the summer in Nicaragua or New York City. Doesn't seem possible - any of it ;-).

And I do remember those late night walks with friends - the things we talked about - the way the dim light of dusk sort of made us imagine our own futures living in houses in similar neighborhoods with our own kids - and all the things that would have brought us to that point - college, boyfriends, new jobs. It was all in front of us. Amazes me sometimes - that I didn't realize that then - I thought I was already there - on that pre-set path to wherever I would go, whatever I would do.

Yesterday - I lay on my bed for a minute, having dumped a basket of laundry next to the dresser and feeling that I needed a quick breather. I stretched, feeling my calves sore from our morning run the day before - feeling the familiar cool air of the ceiling fan. I listened to the boys playing downstairs - I heard the water from the hose hitting the side of the van outside, knowing that Lil was helping Daddy wash the cars - I heard Olivia banging around in her room, filing school papers, taping her schedule to her planner, figuring out her new graphing calculator. When I stretched, my fingers touched some of the NEW paperwork :-) that I have to read and sign for our new high school experience. I thought then and feel it even more so now - we are lucky. LUCKY.

I noticed the finger painting pictured here in the corner, next to my armoire, behind some summer debris ;-), and.... it really hit me how important these years are - these years growing up with our kids. See - I did the finger painting - years ago, in first or second grade, and I remember clearly doing it - sponge painting then realizing that my fingers were paint-covered so I just went ahead and started with the finger stuff, eventually moving to hand prints. I was always the kid who would volunteer for like the art teacher's project to get kids of all grades to step in the cold October mud outside the school and put our footprints on a piece of paper that would hang the length of the hall (I went to Kent State University's lab school - with a Montessori philosophy). On this day, I remember being told that I should have signed up for finger painting instead of the sponging but that my work was fabulous. I mean, my mom even framed it, and she never framed anything. I remember the Dixie cup of juice and the animal crackers after that class - so clearly, I can almost remember how they taste together like that - when you're hungry - when it's special sitdown time with your friends. I do not want to lose those memories - I don't want them to fade, and... want them all for my kids.

Happy day, all. The season is a changin' ;-). Trendy Mom @www.trendymomcafe.blogspot.com

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