Fall. You’re here. I see you. I feel you. The yellow trees. The crisp air. The Halloween costumes hanging in the kids rooms. The pumpkin crafts coming home from school. You’re definitely here. No fighting it anymore. No more adjusting to new school schedules. Nope. Not my little family. We have settled in nicely to our new normal. To the fact that my family feels a whole hell of a lot smaller during the day when I am missing one big kindergartener. But somehow, It feels normal now.
No more fighting to hold on to summer.
So, Dear summer. I have finally let you go. I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to recreate it. Oh summer. My life came alive with you. You gave me such a gift. A breakthrough. A deep breath that filled me to my core.
Not just any summer. THIS summer. Oh man, it was one for the books.
I have a five year old. A boy who was going to start kindergarten in the fall. In three short months. And when the heat was just rolling in, neither of us were ready. If you know us, know him, you know. This boy was academically ready for Kindergarten at three years old. Dave and I stopped spelling things out loud we didn’t want him to know long ago. He was constantly reading at four years old. And I am learning now, there is a great relief as a parent to remove the pressures of academics from the equation of Kindergarten readiness. But for my first boy. Something just felt off. Like he was not ready for this. That he was too young. That socially, physically, mainly emotionally he just seemed so immature from his age group. From his peers. It was something beyond the regular not ready for Kindergarten that all moms feel.
As I searched for answers, I found nothing really. Nothing holding us back. I mean. He never truly connected to kids his age. He struggled with a funky gate when he was running. He preferred to be coloring rather than be wrestling. He needed me more than most five year olds need their mommas. But seriously who is complaining about that last one? I sort of loved it. And I still do love that sensitive boy who hated the conflict of soccer. I love that his heart is so deep and full.
Still waters run deep.
But I HATED that he was insecure. That he doubted himself. That his cautious nature kept him from trying new things. That the disconnect he felt from his classmates turned out to be self inflicted when I examined it closer. What was it? Bravery. maybe. Experience. sure. But ultimately, I learned it was self confidence. And all those little things you just can’t teach as a parent.
BUT this summer changed my boy. Inside and out.
We played outside. And swam all day. And rode the gondola up to the top of Adventure Ridge on Vail mountain more times than I can count. And my cautious boy learned to jump on the bungee trampoline, climb a ropes course, ride a zip line, and a pony. And most of all he learned to trust himself. To feel pride in trying new things. But this was all just the beginning.
He did skateboarding lessons with Ryan. A snowboard instructor. And while I am sure Ryan left his days with us thinking he is never having children EVER. My boy left changed each day. A little more confident. A lot more brave. And stronger. And surer of himself. And he watched kids come together at the skate park. And he learned to try and try again. He watched people fall. He fell hard himself. But something about that quiet strength of Ryan. To my surprise, my boy picked himself up and kept trying. I can still hear the words of affirmation from this guy.
“You can do this little man.”
“You’re not a real skateboarder until you fall and get back up. Get up.”
“Just try it and we will see.”
“You are the coolest five year old I know, you belong here.”
I imagine Brooks can still hear these words too. He lives his new life in Kindergarten by them. These words probably meant very little to Ryan outside of the prospect of ramps and tricks. But to my boy, they shaped a little part of his character.
Dave and I always struggled to bring this bravery and strength out of our boy. To encourage him in ways that fueled his spirt. To inspire him to try and fail, and to pick himself back up just to go at it again. But it couldn’t come from us. He held on to us too tightly. And we protected his gentle spirit too fiercely.
Slowly but surely, we learned to let go of him.
We learned to let him be loved, and taught, and most of all, led by someone other than ourselves.
The true definition of bitter sweet.
And when this summer was over. And we drove home from our last skate lesson. I looked in the back of my car to my son. He was taller, much thinner, stronger, and braver.
He was a boy. A real boy. With no strings to hold him up.