Fifth grade was a year on the fringes. Everyone got nicknames that year (Mine was ‘Dra, what an unfortunate nickname). The inside jokes ran rampant. We had sex ed. Our skin was starting to freak out, our moods swung back and forth like erratic pendulums. We memorized Color Me Badd lyrics as we danced around stocking footed in our Umbro shorts. Confusing times.
That was the same year the boys in my class stashed a girlie magazine in the boys’ bathroom. Catholic school bore down on this discovery. The boys from the 3 fifth grade classes were hauled off to–we were not told where. I thought maybe to do some kind of chore, like picking up trash in the baseball fields as punishment for being smart alecs.
Instead they were taken to the church rectory where Father Tony lived. I learned later that Fr. Tony had a heart-to-heart session with 45 boys about the matter of the birds and bees.
At the time, I had thought. Oh, good. Man-talk. Holy confession without the penance. That’s nice. The girls got to play Mum’s the Word with a koosh ball and ate Sweet Tarts that Miss Mather had stashed in her desk drawer.
But some twenty years later, all I can think is: Fr. Tony should have gotten Sweet Tarts for life.
Where is the justice? That poor priestman! He took vows of poverty and chastity and has to wear an unattractive collar all day and live right next to his workplace and what does this man with huge hands and very large glasses get in return?
What, I ask you??
He gets 45 hormonal rageballs over at his home in the middle of the week asking questions about the mechanics of boom-chicka-bow-wow. And nobody slipped him a tip or sent in any reinforcements.
There is a special place in Heaven for Fr. Tony. I don’t think they allow fifth graders to visit. Not for all of eternity.
We took our maiden voyage as a family into the great wilderness of the Chilhowee campground with our churchies. Times in a tent were had. Most of them were exhausting. Loverpants spent most of the time feeling under the weather and packing and cooking food over a Charlie Brown -esque stovetop. I spent most of the time telling Little Man to stop showing the other campground inhabitants the full moon before dark (oy). Baby Girl spent most of the time having an absolute ball, and her infectious sense of adventure and frivolity made it all feel so worth the effort.
I don’t know why it took us six years to camp as a family, but I’m so glad we finally did. Seeing my kids in a whole new environment, outside the comforts of PBSKids on Demand, a pantry full of snacks, and fluffy beds was revealing. I learned a lot. Like how my children have evolved to not need me so much. They can explore and return; they can make new friends and come back to me for snuggles. The helicopter propellers will still spin phdumb phdumb phdumb but the aircraft doesn’t have to hover so close. It felt good to be able to sit and read a book. It felt better to still look around and see my favorite 3 people all under one nylon canopy, asleep against the din of a whippoorwill during mating season. I am so tired from the weekend and I can’t wait until the next time we get to sleep under the stars. I’m pretty sure we can count on a full moon either way.
On the way to the campground, Baby Girl went reeling out to the car with a huge backpack.
Loverpants: What’s in there?
Baby Girl: You’ll find out!
Loverpants: I don’t want to find out!
We later found out. No one else had packed pillows but the stuffed pig had his own. No Girl Scout badges were earned for that one.
Landlord called and said they’ll be selling the place we’ve been
squatting renting for the last three years.
I’ve been absorbing this news for the last few days and even though I’ve been telling myself to just man up because it’s not a military draft card. Or a warrant for anyone’s arrest. Or a one-way ticket to the Yukon Territory. But this move is hitting me right in the feels, dear reader.
We will likely move within a mile radius of headquarters, and yet I am weepy on the inside as I remove fingerpainted poster papers from these rented walls. I ripped the band-aid tonight and started packing boxes and it felt so punishing. The ink had barely dried on the cardboard since the last time we moved from all those states away. I am aware that I sound as feeble as Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie when they were trying to figure out the public bus system on “A Simple Life.” I just don’t think I’ve ever been this dangerously close to calling into “Delilah After Dark” and dedicating a song. To my feeble self.
Little Man took his first steps across this living room floor. Baby Girl sounded out her first sentences in this same room. We made a whole new life in a whole new state with a whole new community and it began here in this place that is heavy with significance.
Three years is an oft-repeated bracket of time for me. It’s the longest tenure I’ve ever held a job. It’s the time we lived in our Boston condo. It’s the age of Baby Girl when we moved to Tennessee. It’s the age of Little Man now. It’s three times the age of my marriage. It’s 11 times my age. And now I’m just forcing it.
Just like we’re being forced out of our home into another that won’t be as nice!!
There are a few things over which we have control and ultimately they are the things that matter most. We will still search for rimbos. We will still make cute messes. We will seek to do life better with those we hold most dear, under a roof that keeps our heads dry and under the stars that hold promise–against a background of the dark unknown, the twinkling possibilities shine brightest.