Thursday, July 23, 2015

I like it here in the land of sunshine and lollipops

When you have a baby, you are (usually) convinced it can never get more challenging than it seems at the beginning. The sleepless nights. The worries that something is wrong with your kid. The anxiety that she will stop breathing in the middle of the night. I certainly felt that way the first few months or even years with J.

At some point, though, even when things continued to become challenging in different ways, somewhere deep down I knew things were going to get a lot harder. I knew that eventually my little kid would grow up and have bigger issues. After all, my mom was fond of saying, "Little kids, little problems; bigger kids, bigger problems."

As my baby grew into a preteen, there was the stress of grades. Too much homework. Trouble with girls ignoring her. The disappointment of a boy not liking her. Now that she is entering 7th grade, I know that in addition to those challenges, all the "big" scary things are not too far away.

Recently on FB, I wrote about how I was surprised a family comedy from the mid '90s showed 7th graders thinking that other 7th graders had sex (they did not actually). A few friends told me that, yes, it does happen (and I am sure they were laughing at how naive I am). Knowing my child as well as I do, I think I can safely say it won't happen to her that young. But I am also not fool enough to think I can feel this safe for years on end. After all, I saw some 8th graders making out at the school dance a couple of months ago. Lord knows what else goes on!

The same with drinking and drugs. I am 99 percent sure that when I was in Catholic school (through 8th grade) only one person drank. It just never occurred to most of us. I think the same is true for most of the kids in J's class. But, again, I am sure some kids in the school do drink. And I know the kids who start 7th grade sure as hell won't be the same kids leaving 7th grade.

Then there is my biggest fear of all: drugs. I have a 30-something cousin who has been off and on drugs for 20 years. I have seen him strung out. I have seen circles under his eyes that were so black, that I can never get the picture out of my head (10 years later). I have read about him in the paper. I have seen him connected to tubes and machines in intensive care. I have heard a nurse tell me that his heart stopped and he did chest compressions to save him (spoiler alert: paddles are not really/so much used like you see on TV). But I have also seen him fight his way back to sobriety. I am writing here, for the very first time, that I don't have a lot of faith that he will ultimately win. I put his chances of "complete recover" at about 5 to 10 percent. But not 0 percent. 

I like to think that J, who has never seen said cousin at his worst, but knows a little about what has happened to him, will keep his life in her thoughts the first time someone offers her a drug. Even marijuana (which is still not legal in PA, and certainly not legal for a minor). But who among us does not know someone who complained bitterly as a child about her parent smoking who now smokes a half pack a day?

I know I have a little time to enjoy the innocence. A lot of parent lost that when their children were much younger.

So I am going to continue embracing the land of sunshine and lollipops for as long as I can. I am going to be glad my child has never kissed a boy (though sad for her that she has never had a "boyfriend" by grade school standards). I am going to thank the Lord and my lucky stars that drinking at this young age seems ludicrous to her. I am going to be glad that she is not on FB and Instagram (though at almost 12 and with most of her classmates having been on there for years, I might give in to the latter.). And I am going to try to be less annoyed when she gets mad at me when I cuss, because it reminds me of how innocent she still is.

Because before too long, those bigger-kid, much bigger problems will probably surface with a vengeance.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A lot of times I suck at living in the moment.

Well, maybe my title is not entirely accurate. I mean, I can find joy in little things. I don't need to be part of something that is big and spectacular. But yet I sometimes (maybe closer to often) find myself becoming sad because those little moments are going to end, and I focus more on the loss (and trying to capture the moments).

A few hours ago, we returned home from a week at OC MD. When we went last year, we stayed only four nights, and I honestly thought we would not be back for years. But one year later, there we were, and staying longer to boot.

Yet during the last couple of days, which would be more days than we had last year, I found myself almost panicking. I felt as if I had to grab a hold of the final days and fill them with as much beach and ocean as I could. I kept worrying that we were not doing enough things or that I was going to regret doing nothing.

Thursday was the first bad weather day we had. Before the storm came, I managed to get a run in on the beach around 8 a.m. (something that is on my mental list of must-do things). But within an hour, rain came like crazy and kept going for hours. A little after 1 p.m., when the rain had finally stopped, I decided to head out into the gray skies. I did not care that weather.com said there was a 100 percent chance of rain at 2 p.m. I was going crazy in the house just watching TV.

I first headed to get a milkshake (I had gone several days without sweets at that point; it was amazing I was not going through some kind of withdrawal). Then I sloshed through some flooded streets (where I, of course, took pictures), and I found myself at a park. I spent some time wandering around that and taking a bunch of pictures of the waterways and ducks, before I eventually headed back to the place. By then weather.com decided there was now only a 20 percent chance of rain, and by the time I got home, the rain seemed to be gone for the day. I managed to beg my child, who by that time was almost sick of the beach, to go to the ocean with me (our place was on the bayside and about a 7-minute walk to the ocean). We ended up being only 2 of about 10 people there. It was quite chilly, very overcast, and we lasted only about 15 minutes. But I just had to make it to the beach. And I just had to take some pictures.

The next day, even though I had gone running the previous day, I figured I would get another one in, this time, by the bay. Soon after that, a friend from college/high school came down, and we spent about 3.5 hours at the beach. I was getting burnt and hot, but knowing that was our last full day, I soldiered on. We ate a late lunch at a restaurant on the bay, where I had a crab cake sandwich (two more things I could "check off" from my must-do list) and where I preceded to get more burnt. Then she and her son dropped me back to our place, and I hung out with my family. Where I proceeded to go stir crazy watching TV for almost two hours.

I once again managed to convince the kid to go back to beach, because this was our last night. It turned out to be a good decision. We ended up catching the end of a beach wedding, where, of course, I cried for two complete strangers. Then we walked around the edge of the ocean, I took a bunch of pictures, and after an hour, I sadly walked away, continuing to snap just one more picture. Which turned into way more than one. Of course.

I cannot fully explain why I get this way. Maybe I was this way last year, fully believing that I would not get back to the beach for years. Then again, maybe I was just so grateful to be on our first vacation in 5 years, that I was actually able to enjoy it.

I am happy/relieved to say that after listening to the people above us party until 3 a.m. last night/this morning, I was ready to come home. And the thought of sleeping in my own bed, and not the world's most lumpy mattress and squeaky bed, makes me happy.

While I was writing this post, I downloaded the 200-plus pics I took this past week. Some of the best "moments" follow.

I think I am okay now. :-)

My first glimpse of the ocean, last Saturday

Bloody Mary with crab

Crab soup
The kid looking at the ocean one evening
The sun setting on the bay (I do remember regretting not seeing this last year, so I made sure to do it the second night)
The lagoon/bay during my run around Northside Park

Just a cool pic of the foamy ocean

J and I at the top of a lifeguard chair/stand the last night
Our last minute in the water Friday night (I was trying to capture our pedicures, but, man, do my feet look pale and rather hideous

The final beach/ocean pic I took, as we headed back to our condo