I think we all have some special summer memories. I certainly have my share of memories of summers as a kid. I remember occasional raspas (snow cones), watermelon with my abuelita, and those summer trips. Of course, there was also the Texas heat and arguments with my siblings. Now, as an adult and mom, my summers are special to me because I can be at home with my kids. I fit into that category of moms who work during the school year and stay at home during the summer. Summers are that much sweeter when I can spend even more time with my kids.
I remember those summers past when we were a family of three—summers spent with just my son. Those were summers with little sleep and sharks in the kiddie pool. I remember toddler years when he and I went exploring right in our backyard and inside cupboards. I remember (ugh!!) the potty training summer. I remember trips on planes when he could still sit on my lap. There were the Fourth of Julys with hands-over-ears at firework time. I can remember one Fourth of July when he spent half the firework show hugging a little boy who was on the same motorcycle ride with him when the sky began thundering up above. The summer of being six, seven, and then eight months pregnant, waiting in anticipation for my daughter to be born was a memorable one. I still tried to pack in fun for my son, but that was the hottest summer ever!! My five-year-old son eagerly helped me decorate the nursery. I knew it would be different the next summer as a new family of four, but of course, my son couldn’t know how life would change.
The summers after that were certainly even busier. I had two to shuttle about and different levels of outings. I can recall having my daughter in the stroller parked nearby while holding my son’s bicycle while he learned to ride a bike. There have been times, more often these last few summers, when the age difference has been an issue. One kid at Story Time while the other reads just outside the room. One playing putt-putt while the other just runs around. There was day camp so my son could start to branch out from mom and that baby sister. But summers all had raspas, watermelon, and afternoons at the pool that both could enjoy. There have been some summer trips that brought us even more memories. And, of course, tears, meltdowns, arguments, and moments when I wanted to escape back to work.
This summer, like all summers, will be unique. This summer my son is not yet a teenager. He is on the verge of 13, which he reminds me of constantly. I certainly see the signs of its arrival: a little hair on the upper lip, acne, an occasional phone call, lots of texts from friends, lots of YouTube. There is a need for deodorant and always bigger shoes. He’s asking to spend more time with friends or to include them on trips to the movies or for pizza. The door to his room is closed more often. He is taller than me now. He asks questions about the news and those tidbits he overheard at family gatherings that were beyond his understanding beforehand. He just asked me about the flag being at half mast after yet another tragedy that hit our country. He notices things and takes things in that are just now triggering his 12-year-old brain.
But he still enjoys family movies at home, Uno with his little sister, and giggling about family silliness. He tolerates me asking lots of questions and kisses me before bed. He’s content to hang out with his dad and listen to all his stories. He is looking forward to our family vacation. He listens to almost all of our advice. His frustration with us as parents is still minimal. I have not overheard him talking about girls. Of course, there is that closed door.
This summer I will watch him knowing that my summers with him are changing. I will listen to his voice that has not quite deepened yet and try to remember it as it is now. I will look for his little boy enthusiasm and try to answer his many questions patiently as he still seeks me out for answers about the ordinary and extraordinary. I will take the time to enjoy his silliness, dancing, and roughhousing. I will try to be patient and listen to him talk about video games that I know nothing about. Of course, I’m sure I’ll spend my fair share time scolding him for picking on his sister, forgetting to do chores, and a score of other things. I will advise him, nag him, and warn him about being careful each time he is about to walk out the door. I will joke with him about things that are “our” jokes.
Next summer will have its own unique and special memories of having a teenage son in the house. This summer I am going to hug my 12-year-old when he wakes up, listen to his stories of the day, and wait for him to kiss me goodnight.