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Day Fourteen: Independence Day

28 Jun

This might be a good time to reiterate that I was rather nervous about how this vacation was going to unfold. Somewhat because of the extra wrinkle of adding the large dog into the mix, but mostly because for the majority of the time it was going to be me, and only me, with all three kids, and two weeks to spend in one place. But here’s the thing about kids getting older; in lots of ways, they need you less. And revisiting the fact that not only do I have (mostly) mature, capable children, but also there is no law in the state of Maine (nor Florida, for that matter, unless something has changed in the two weeks I’ve been gone) regarding the age at which it is legal to leave children home alone. Therefore, I have had far more independence on this trip than I expected. And for that matter, so have the children. And here’s where it is handy having three kids, because while I would not necessarily be comfortable leaving the 8 year old home alone, I am perfectly fine with her being with either her sister or her brother. This means that not only have I been able to take some time strictly for myself, like trivia night with my friend, but also that I’ve been able to have little adventures with just the girls, or a single child. I never dreamed this would be how this vacation would unfold, and it has made it better than I could imagine.

Today, it was Beau’s day of independence. After (another!) lazy morning Beau and I struck off on a driving adventure of our own. I wanted to peruse a few antique shops, and mostly just tool around the back roads with my boy. And he was a good sport. The girls texted me asking if they could have ice cream sandwiches or popsicles as a dessert after lunch, I responded with a selfie of Beau & I taken in front of a Dairy Queen. It was a silly, fun, spur of the moment kind of adventure. The kind I rarely get to take with a single child individually. And nothing really exceptional about our activities – stopping for ice cream, mailing a postcard, stopping at a convenience store – but that wasn’t really the point anyway. It was nice to have time and conversation with my oldest child. He is a really cool and interesting kid. Very smart and funny, and pleasant to be around (most of the time! And this happened to be one of those times.) The real reason I was driving around was in search of an antique store that might have some old lobster bouys. And while we mostly struck out on that count, we did find an antique mall that had some cool and exciting stuff – including old typewriters (one of which was still working, and if I had any idea where to procure replacement ribbons, I might have been tempted to buy!)

After we got back to the house, it was time for some afternoon down time. The kids were actually playing very nicely together, which is not necessarily always the case. So I try to embrace that, and let it ride (as long as no one is getting hurt/left out). Unfortunately, playing together happily, often means excessive noise and roughhousing. Which were not ideal conditions for the quiet reading and nap I had planned for myself on the couch. But, being a problem solver, I removed myself from the fray, and retired to “the designated napping room”, which is how we refer to the downstairs bedroom now that Amy has vacated it. And I did fall asleep reading, though I have no idea how long I slept. And I definitely woke groggy and feeling a bit off. Happens sometimes when naps are interrupted. But it was nice to leave the children to their own unplugged devices (wordplay that, since that’s how we refer to their personal electronics, as devices!) and get some rest.

It was just a little too early to start dinner, and as I sat working on our puzzle (thanks, Amy!), Beau was skulking around me, clearly wanting to ask me a question, or just restless with the desire to engage in some activity. Eventually, I got him to settle down, and voice his issue. He asked if he could walk into town. The answer was no. But, then I countered with yes. I told him that he could not walk to town because it was approximately three miles away on a curving road without sidewalks, and too much tourist traffic. But I would be happy to drive to drop him off in Dock Square, where he could wander the shops, and check out the new pizza place we’ve been wanting to try, etc, etc. He enthusiastically agreed that he would love the opportunity to wander the port by himself. So, I dropped him off, with a cell phone, $20 in his pocket (his money), and a back-up plan that if I didn’t hear different from him, I would see him back in front of the pharmacy in an hour and a half. It was a strange feeling driving away from him. But at the same time it felt perfectly okay, and even, good. It felt like I was giving him a taste of my own childhood. Long before I was his age (11 going on 47), I was riding my bike up to the convenience store alone. We, plain and simple, had more freedom, more autonomy when we were kids. And this lovely little town, is just the right size for this kind of summer freedom. Trusting in his upbringing, the lovely manners I know he has, the good judgment he has proved to have when he is focused and aware of his surroundings, I set him free. I want him to grow up knowing that I expect him to respect his father & I by being the very best version of his socially acceptable self when he is moving through the world, but also that he can trust himself, and me. That respect earned will be granted. That he can come to me with all issues and questions and problems that the world throws at him. Any confusion is a chance for discussion. But the only way he learns these things is to be left on his own from time to time, to explore the world, to be in situations where independent decisions must be made. So, today was an independence day of sorts for him. Maybe not a huge thing, but a baby step in the right direction. I’m excited about the kind of adult Beau is going to become. And he has to start somewhere.

Once I picked Beau up, he was full of tales of adventure in town. We had a quick dinner at home (actually I had fed the girls while Beau was away), and then it was time for movie night. Apparently, the only Harry Potter movie dear Avery has not yet seen is number six – The Half Blood Prince – and I promised that we could watch it tonight. Which was all well and good, until Avery fell asleep on the floor in front of the television. But Harper and I made it through (well, perhaps there may have been some off and on dozing on my part!), and it turned into a bit of a late, summertime bedtime. The very best sort.

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim