1. Tonight I dropped the two oldest boys off for their Scout campout, feeling a little wistful as I pulled away. Alex (he's 16) was the oldest Scout on the trip, but it seems so recent that he was a newbie. This morning I took him to open a checking account so he could complete the paperwork for his summer job, which requires direct deposit. He pulled out his state ID, which asserts that he is 5'5". These days he's a little past 6 feet. I wrote one of my favorite posts the summer he got that ID, amazed that he was leaving the country without me. He seemed so old then; it's strange to remember that he was more than seven inches shorter.
2. On the way home Stella asked if we could go to a playground. Yes, Pete chimed in, let's go to our school. It might be a little odd to spend the evening at school on the first day of spring break, but that's what we did. I found myself wistful again, looking at the memorial bricks with their mix of strange and familiar names. My mother taught at a high school when I was young, and I remember feeling wistful even as a 10-year-old looking at the yearbooks she brought home. The girls seemed so elegant in their formal pictures, and it felt peculiar to imagine them out in the wider world. Sic transit gloria mundi, O Prom Queen.
3. Speaking of transit, Stella is changing so quickly. I should record her telling a story sometime. She's into future tense these days. and she's just figured out passive infinitives ("I don't want to be hugged"). But she's still sorting out the irregular 3rd-person singular forms (has/does), coming up with constructions like "Do she has a cat?" When she says something like that she'll take another run at it, knowing that it's not right, but she can't quite get it unmangled.
4. I was going to read a book while the kids were on the playground, but all of those wistful feelings spurred me out onto the equipment instead -- I was keenly aware that I would not see this particular golden evening again. Did you read that Dear Mom With The iPhone post? I was a little surprised by the ire it provoked, because haven't we all been reading dear-mom-with-the-iPhone posts for a while now? I know I've been wrestling with the impact of the internet on my mothering for as long as I've had an internet connection. I have been writing this post very slowly, because one of my boys wants to tell me all about the Lego books he is reading beside me. "Would you scratch my back?" he just asked me. "Not right now," I said decisively but with an inner guilty twinge. "I'm writing a blog post." Did you find it more button-push-y than usual, this latest exhortation to be more engaged, and why?
5. This evening when I was actually going down the slides instead of reading a book on my iPod as originally planned, I had a thought. Earlier today I was reading Stella a 1971 children's book about a 5yo boy named Steven who is only allowed to explore a bit of his block initially. When he gets a little bigger, he can go around the whole block on his own. On the other side of the block, he makes friends with all the other 5yo boys who are playing outside unsupervised. So here's my theory: it's easier to be fully engaged when your kids are better at occupying themselves. Do you know what I mean? When parents are expected to be full-time entertainers, driving kids to playdates and coaching soccer teams (and spending, heaven help us, full days at chess tournaments), it's no wonder they want to catch up on Twitter instead of climbing on the playground equipment. I would argue that more independence is valuable for kids for all kinds of reasons, but I also think it's beneficial for parents. Too bad Steven's neighbors would call CPS on his mom these days.
6. Today I've also been reading Stella the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik. Mother and Father Bear have no qualms about sending Little Bear out to play alone, or telling him to be quiet so they can read. Were there 1950s editorials urging parents to put down their newspapers and be present for their children?
6.5 My nostalgia for older children's books is far from universal. I just stopped typing to read Danny and the Dinosaur. Tell you what: I will have no wistful feelings about the end of my Danny days. And Richard Scarry? I will do a little dance of joy when I give away our copy of Busy Busy Town in a few years.
7. I wonder, always, what my children will remember about their childhoods. A couple of sentences into take #5, Pete put his arms around me and squeezed me hard. "You're such a good mom," he said tenderly. Just a few sentences later he was impatient. "When are you going to tuck me in? You're spending too much time in front of a screen again." He might be right about that.
More quick takes at Jen's.