I had a conversation with one of my friends recently about a curious phenomenon she’s noticed lately. Whenever a crisis arises, she immediately looks around for an adult to handle the situation…and then suddenly she remembers she’s an adult. I could immediately relate to this. It’s always a shock every time I realize I’m no longer a child, or even a young adult.
Last week was all about adulting. For example, after YEARS of saying “We’ve GOT to write a will!” – we finally did it:We also came to terms with the fact that our youngest child no longer needs a babysitter. Every summer our friend and former neighbor would host “Camp Barbara” for my daughter and some of her friends. She would take them on adventures, teach them manners, introduce them to new games, cook with them, and throw parties for their birthdays. Whenever I tried to sign my girl up for any other camp or activity, she would complain bitterly and say, “No more camps! I only want to go to ‘Miss Barbara’s’!” This year Miss Barbara announced that my daughter and her friends were ready to be on their own this summer. This was highly disconcerting for her young charges, who were not yet ready to be kicked out of the nest. To tell the truth it was just as disconcerting for the girls’ parents, who were not yet ready to face a summer without Camp Barbara. The girls had the lovely idea to show their love and appreciation for their beloved Miss Barbara by throwing a (surprise) party for her for a change:The day after the party, I hit the road for the almost five hour drive to Charlotte, NC.
A little side note here, to explain the thoughts that were in my head as I headed down 29 South…When I was a little girl, I went on a field trip to our local fire department. The fire chief impressed upon us the importance of planning an escape route in case of a fire. The minute my dad got home from work that evening I shared with him what I had learned and begged him to come up with the fire escape route forthwith. Being an amenable sort, he agreed. We walked up to the second floor and he walked me down the long, narrow hallway from my bedroom to the bathroom. He cast his eye about the bathroom until it landed on a plastic hairbrush. He placed it on top of the toilet tank and demonstrated how to use it to break the window. “And then you can jump out the window!” he concluded. It never occurred to me to ask him why I couldn’t just open the window. I didn’t sleep a wink, so certain was I that our house would become a blazing inferno that very night. I would have to have all my wits about me to make it to the bathroom, avoid piercing my jugular on the jagged edges of the bathroom window, and to leap far enough out of the window to avoid dashing my brains against the stone patio two stories below.
With the same sense of conviction that I had those many years ago, I was absolutely sure that, having just written a will, I was definitely going to die en route. But this year was my 25th college reunion. (25 years – WHAT?! How is that even possible)?! I’ve never once been back to my college since the day I graduated, but I have kept up with a few of my friends. Last year they came to Charlottesville. This year we met up in Charlotte. Sometimes, adulting means doing things that terrify you. And so I made the drive…
Even though we’re adults, 25 years out of college, we played in the rain:
We visited the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art:
…and had a blast in the open studio playing with watercolors:
We fell into a comfortable rhythm: eat, nap, play, eat, nap, play. (Perfect for babies AND
old people adults)!
We ate at wonderful restaurants, but my favorite was Amélie’s, a French bakery and café. with delicious food and charming décor:
We promised to meet up again next year, because when you do finally grow up, you realize you never outgrow your true friends.
My son’s early soccer days…
And at last weekend’s “Sunburn Tournament”…
Sunburn Tournament champs!
My daughter’s very first day of soccer
Guest playing for tournaments for the last two weeks in a row, in Richmond:
And at the Sunburn Tournament for her age bracket:
I didn’t get any medals myself, but I think we can all agree that I am the true winner of the Sunburn Tournament:
This morning we (finally) signed the papers to buy our house!
We hope to host family and friends here for many years to come.
(PLEASE! Let’s not move for AT LEAST another twenty years, my husband begged).
Our house has been referred to as The Old Rectory in real estate documents we’ve seen, because it was originally built in 1920 for the minister of the Presbyterian church around the corner from us.
One day my kids discovered another name on an old sign hidden behind some foliage:
This fall we discovered why it’s called Leaf Land:
Leaf Land it is!
The other momentous occasion that happened today was my son’s graduation from middle school. I thought for sure we were going to miss it, but our attorney was able to meet with us earlier than expected. We raced over to the school straight from his office, expecting only to see our son waiting for us in front of the school. Miraculously, we arrived just moments before they started calling out the names of all the graduates!
I can still hear the wistful tone in my dad’s voice as he held my oldest son in his arms for the first time. You’re not going to believe it now, he said, but in the blink of an eye he’ll be grown and out of the house and you won’t even know how it happened.
Every single day I feel like it’s all going much, much too fast.
I swear to you this happened a few months ago:
And this? This was yesterday:
Slow it down a little, please!
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, during which time I: helped chaperone a trip to Virginia Beach for my daughter’s 5th grade class, ferried her to two soccer tournaments, ferried my son to his soccer tournament, got him packed up for a two-week program at NYU, sold our old house, went to a work conference in Denver, cried in the middle of the Expo Hall as my husband texted me photos of my daughter’s elementary school graduation in real time, helped pick out the winning (two) covers for my sister’s upcoming novel, and almost died returning back to Charlottesville.
To get back in the swing of things, here are a few photos from the trip to Virginia Beach, the annual field trip for the fifth graders right before they graduate…kind of a baby version of Beach Week for graduating high schoolers and college students.
See that long, wavy thing that vaguely looks like a pasta noodle? I learned that each segment at one time contained a baby whelk in the making!
Everyone had breakfast at the Golden Corral, where I witnessed another freaky sight:
Next stop: the Virginia Aquarium:
The octopus was working on opening a prescription pill container:
The highlight of the day was the Dolphin Discovery boat ride:
Mama dolphins and their days old babies came up to our boat to check US out and say hello!
This was the weekend I became my mother.
I made the classic rookie mistake. I didn’t check for toilet paper before choosing a bathroom stall and doing my business. Where there should have been two industrial-sized rolls of toilet paper – there was jack squat. I sat there for a few long moments contemplating the unsavory options before me. I was saved when I suddenly remembered the extra, unused napkins I had stashed in my capacious bag when I took the kids out for lunch last weekend. They had snickered when they saw me doing it, just as I used to snicker whenever my mom would put extra napkins, ketchup packets, etc. into her bag.
“Just like Grandma,” they said shaking their heads.
Later that day I was driving my daughter home from a playdate when I spotted some adorable daisies – weeds, really – growing along the side of the road. Daisies always remind me of my mother. They are one of her favorite flowers. She carried them in her wedding bouquet and they had a special place in her flower garden.
I stopped the car and yanked a bunch out to plant in my own garden:
My daughter was shrieking with laughter when I got back into the minivan clutching my daisies with clods of dirt falling from their roots: “You’re becoming just like Grandma!”
The first time my mother visited us when we moved to Charlottesville, we took her for a tour of the campus, (“Grounds”). We stopped to admire a hedge of wild roses that had been planted by the building where my husband’s office was located. My mother methodically picked rose hips off the bushes.
I looked uneasily about to see if anyone was witnessing the plundering of the rosebushes.
“Here!” she said, handing them to me, “Try planting these in your garden. If any come up, give me some!”
Later we walked along the Downtown Mall. At each of the large black planters placed at intervals along the pedestrian walkway she would stop to admire the lush flowers. Whenever she spotted flowers that had gone to seed, she would casually pull them off.
I shrank with embarrassment, but she handed them to me saying, “These will look beautiful in your garden!”
It’s been raining for weeks now. Every morning as I drive to work I think about all the things I’m going to do in my garden the minute I get home. Some days I don’t even bother changing out of my work clothes. I just throw on a pair of garden gloves and rush outside to the garden. I’ve found myself outside in the rain almost every day, sometimes in the pitch black, sometimes dodging lightning bolts…I remember watching my mother do this when I was a child.
“MOM! You’re getting soaked! Come in!” I’d say.
“It’s the best time to plant,” she’d reply, waving me away with her gloved hand.
All the kids’ soccer games were rained out, so we spent the day running errands. We had left a bunch of paint cans for the people who are buying our house, thinking they might like to have them for future touch ups. After the home inspection they asked us to remove them, so I dropped by our old house with my daughter and her friend to gather them up. My heart sank when I heard a crash.
“Uh-oh!” I heard my daughter say, “Mommy?”
I ran upstairs to discover that she had dropped one of the paint cans on the kitchen floor. The paint was oozing all over the tile. After a major freak out, I remembered there was a roll of paper towels in the garage. My elation turned to despair when I realized there were only two sheets left on the roll.
“Now what am I going to do?!” I groaned out loud.
My daughter piped up, “Don’t worry, Mom! You have a million napkins in your bag!” And so I did!
My son’s piano recital.
He was the final performer, so I had a couple hours of high anxiety until it was his turn at last. I’ve listened to him play his two pieces over and over for months. He had never gotten to the point where he was able to play through the pieces flawlessly every single time. I’m glad to report that he played them beautifully.
We went to Crozet Pizza, a Charlottesville landmark, to celebrate:
When we got home at last, my sweet daughter put her arm around me and said, “You should go have a nap now, Mommy, so you can be rested up for your fun night with your friends in Staunton.” (More on that later).
“Now who’s being just like Grandma?” I thought as I gave her a big hug.
We had to scramble a bit to make sure everyone had something red to wear, as we were instructed to do, for Pentecost Sunday.
“What is Pentecost?” my daughter asked.
“I have no idea,” I replied as I pulled out a red skirt from my closet for her to try on. I’ve grown up going to church all my life and have never once celebrated Pentecost.
A quick internet search set me straight. In case you don’t know what Pentecost is either…Pentecost means “50,” because it’s the 50th day, or seventh Sunday after Easter. On this day a sudden rush of winds filled the house where followers of Christ were gathered together. The Holy Spirit appeared to the apostles in tongues of flame (hence the red), and everyone began speaking in different languages. The apostle Peter preached his first sermon to those who were gathered, and so this day is celebrated as the birthday of the Christian church.