Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Summer of Flip

Summer 2008 will forever be known as "the summer of flip."

Out of no where, my shy, quiet 7 year old son learned how to do a flip into the pool.

Now I know kids flip all the time and I myself in a younger form was actually quite good at flips into the pool. I love to admire other kids antics with their athletic moves of forward and backward flips in the community pool. The flip is about more with my son.

This flip notion is but a new characteristic I see bubbling up in him. I see this wellspring of confidence, a more outgoing personality, a boy finding his own and the thrill of performing a flip, along with the delight of growing up.

I hate it. I want to find out who taught him that flip and shake him (or her.) I want to say in a mean mom voice "that is much too dangerous for a 7 year old to be doing." (Maybe add a pointer finger shaking, with hand on hip for effect.)

Each time he does it, I quickly hold my breath and wait for his small head to surface. He comes up sputtering with a giant Chiclet-gum smile, contrasted against his tanned brown body.

All the while, I can't stop wondering where this fresh confidence comes from. Is it from all those hikes and talks we had this summer? Is it all those Sundays in kid's church finally coming together for him? Is it from spending time with the older and more boisterous neighbor kids?

It could be all of that and none of that. Most likely I know the answer. He's growing up. And he knows it too. His jubilant smile shows me he is shocked and thrilled by what he can do. All I can do is cheer him on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Final Summer Wonderings

Summer is drawing to a close and lately I have been doing quite a bit of wondering. I have just returned from as close as I could possibly ever get to a modern day Walden experience. You remember that book by Henry David Thoreau where he goes into the woods and doesn't do much more than think and write. Well, that was sort of me.

Spending the last 30 days with my family in one of the most remote parts of Western North Carolina in a log cabin on steroids, I had a chance to do a lot of thinking. Not thinking about "what is the meaning of life?" sort of stuff. But thinking about what fresh wild blackberries that I picked this morning tasted like. Or contemplating the aqua blue of thousands of what looked Blue Morpho butterflies in a mountain meadow. But the best thought I had was how delicious it is to do cannonballs off of a dock into a freshwater mountain lake.

It was funny to me that when I had a chance to completely unplug from e-mail, internet, cell phones and modern day obligations, my thoughts were not of deeply spiritual things, but of things sweet and simple.

I think this was because prior to Walden, I had met my limit. Caring for my mom after two consecutive hip replacement surgeries and 3 dislocations in 30 days was emotionally and physically draining. Hosting a family reunion for 40 of my family members was a huge milestone, but I felt overwhelmed by trying to balance the needs with everyone and those of my own. And to add to all of it, this summer I lost one of my dearest friends to melanoma cancer of the liver. Watching her slip away a little more each week and then finally leaving us, left me flooded with grief.

So when I went away to be like Henry, my goal was to treasure it up. To find out what it would be like to completely focus on myself, my son and my husband. To really listen, to do things slowly. To read without watching the clock, to eat and cook with pleasure, to not know what day it was or have any agenda. I have to say it was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed. And when I came back I was ready to let the world flow back in because I had a chance to sort it out.

If I had to sum up "what I learned on summer vacation" I would say in one word "savor." To savor what is before me whether it's fresh tomatoes, holding hands or a good laugh. Because if I can learn to savor the little beautiful things in life, maybe that can carry me through the hard times.