Just like that, summer seems to be coming to a close.
School registration and teacher meet and greets loom just around the corner of the next few weeks, and while this has been a busy and tiring summer, and I have at times despaired at the lack of structure and routine involved in combining school break with a brand new baby, there is a sense of wistfulness at its ending.
It's been a hard summer, to be sure. 2 extremely "busy" boys (I prefer to call them kinesthetic learners and not hyperactive...at least when I am feeling fresh and upbeat), unbearably hot weather, and the delicate skin and erratic sleeping and eating habits of a newborn are not a very comfortable combination.
The older 2 have been endlessly patient with the hour that it takes us to get out the door...because sweet Greystoke's nap extends a little longer than planned, or he just spit up all over himself, or he wants to eat a little sooner than expected. They've been relatively understanding when our beach and pool jaunts are cut short for fear of sunburn or overheating.
They have jumped on the couch and off the top of their bunk bed far more than I care to admit. They have watched many more episodes of Magic School Bus and How It's Made than I originally intended.
I have fussed at them for developmentally appropriate behavior on more than one occasion. And for outright disobedience almost as often.
When the summer started, I wondered if I would survive it. But really, it just took us some time to get in to the groove. It took Aquaman and I several weeks to become more understanding of each other. He is concrete and sequential ("how am I supposed to read between the lines when there is nothing there??".) I am abstract, and totally random. I live between the lines.
I think it is safe to say that we have begun to understand each other better, if not totally. I have always respected him, but I have begun to respect him more. If only the courage and strength it takes him every day to face life. For some people life just rolls off of your back. For others, life is a constant struggle. And I have been learning more and more how much of his life so far he has spent just growing into and learning to regulate his complex and intense personality.
I have watched him seek spiritual knowledge this summer. How every time he has a choice as to what story we read it is his tried and true Jesus story book. How he has begun to realize that there is more to the word of God than just those stories, and how he asks me to tell him more "from my Bible."
I have also seen his frustration. He listens to the same stories over and over, but he is not satisfied with mere memorization of them. He wants to understand, and while I feel certain that God is working, Aquaman has not yet experienced Him fully. I've watched him struggle with that. I've trusted that He will make it beautiful in His time.
This summer, though little brother Dude still lays as close to right on top of me as he can get during before-bed snuggle time, Aquaman has drifted further away. He loves it when Greystoke joins our snuggle sessions, and he allows me often to hold his hand, but he needs it less.
What's more important to him now is that I answer his many many burning questions.
A few nights ago, watching Greystoke working hard to lift his head off of my chest, I flashed back to Aquaman's bald head and the little puddles of drool and that concentrated expression as he tried to do the same thing. I told him what I remembered, and for a moment he quieted from his endless bouncing on the bed to search my eyes. I told him how he used to lay on top of me, and when he was The Dude's age he hung on me as often as he could, and now he barely needs more than a few hugs every day. I could sense his anxiety as I told him these things, and then I said: "but that's ok. That's what you're supposed to do." His relief was palpable. "Thanks, mom." He said.
Off the hook.
I held JT closer that night, remembering that he is the only one of my boys that I get to keep forever.
We've crossed a lot of things off of our bucket list this summer. We've visited 4 different libraries, many more than once. We've read a lot of books, almost 100% about cars, trains, trucks, and boats.
We've played at McDonalds and Chick-Fil-A play places, made a shaving cream toy car wash, sent marbles whistling down the inside of pool noodles. We've completed swim lessons and gymnastics class. Aquaman has become a proficient swimmer and has surprisingly gotten very confident and skilled on his body board. The Dude has learned to swim under water by himself. Thanks to a visiting friend, we finally made it to Sebastian Inlet last weekend, and loved it.
We survived our "vacation" to Clearwater.
We've had the chance for a job change for JT and turned it down (the pay and the job were great, the insurance was too expensive).
Aquaman has not practiced reading and writing like he should have. I just got tired of pushing him.
But considering he gets to start kindergarten all over again this year, and he did great academically last year, I'm not terribly concerned about it.
We have fallen wildly in love with our newest addition, and wondered how we could have been blessed with such a happy little child. He is as sunny as a Florida summer, without any of the thunderstorms.
He is still sleeping like an absolute charm. I can drink all of the milk and eat all of the food I want to, and his stomach never hurts. I have not stopped thanking God. I probably never will.
I have wondered how I survived those difficult baby days with the other 2, and have learned as much through the ease of this baby's days about God's provision for me during the difficult ones as when I was living them.
And now, in a panic, I am looking back at the list of things I wanted to do during this busy, just-learning-how-to-be-a-mother-of-3-kids time, and trying to squeeze those last few bucket list items in.
I've ruled out anything that involves paint, and if you spend any time on Pinterest, you know that a LOT of recommended things to do with preschoolers have to do with paint. No thanks. Not at this point in my life. I have enough to clean up, and those activities seriously only entertain my children for like 10 minutes, and clean up takes 20 sweaty ones...
But I think we're definitely going to float some ice boats down a pond somewhere. Gonna have to make a "sand volcano" on the beach. And some sand slime.
We need at least one water balloon fight.
A picnic on our new picnic blanket (which has primarily been used as a "tummy time" mat up until now)
A free game of bowling.
And then there'll be school haircuts. All those beautiful red curls on the floor.
The Dude already has a new "Benjamaturtle" backpack. He says he doesn't want to go to school unless it's Kindergarten, but I think he'll change his mind. He might scream bloody murder the first day I drop him off.
It will be embarrassing, but then again, parenting little boys in public is embarrassing most of the time.
Last year at this time, I was preparing to increase my work schedule, and the boys were 2 days away from their first and last days in daycare. I thought God was moving my cheese, and I was following it. How much can change in a year. Or really, in just a few short weeks. The daycare didn't work out. The egg I was getting ready to drop turned out to be Greystoke.
Now I am working less outside of our home, working more inside of it, and full of energy I never even knew I had.
God gives us just what we need, not what we expect, and I am so thankful for that. Bucket lists are nice. The unexpected is even better.