Friday, August 29, 2014

The Roller Coaster Ride

Having boys, of course we were avid fans of Toy Story. And when Toy Story 2 rolled out, we loved it just as much. We were actually on a Disney cruse, I believe, when we saw the first trailer for Toy Story 3. And we were all equally excited. And the wait began. It finally released. Going together was assumed. We found a time when the four of us could go, and off we headed to the theater. No one told me. No one prepared me. I went in expecting Pizza Planet and Stinky Pete. I wasn't expecting such a poignant, kick me in the gut, this is about to happen to you crying moment.

We all loved the movie. So much so that I created a scrapbook page about going to see it. I'm glad I did. On the page, I captured a quote from my oldest, who would leave the nest first, that I know would long be forgotten by me now. On the drive home he said, "That is possibly the best movie I'll ever see." Awwww. Don't you love when the little boys turn into young men, but still remember their little boy days in their hearts? I know I can imagine in an instant the boys one Halloween, my Philip as Woody, my Andrew as Buzz Lightyear, the costumes a predilection of their personalities to fully and later emerge. I can still see, too, all the ensuing play days where they wore the costumes around the house, forsaking clothes for the chance to live in the world where "There's a snake in my boot" are good words to hear and "To infinity and beyond" seem like a plausible reality.

I bought the Toy Story 3 movie when it dropped, as any avid Disney fan would. But I'll confess. I haven't had the nerve yet to watch it again. In fact, I tear up just recalling the utter sorrow I felt as college-bound movie Andrew drove away with mom, his toys on another's lawn. But, someday I will be courageous enough to watch it again. I think I'll do a time honored Grimsley tradition, though, and watch all three of them together, back to back, in sequential order. Oh, the bliss of the DVD home movie marathon. Even if I am watching it by myself, my own Buzz and Woody headed off to college themselves.

I share this story and this layout as in introduction to a story I wrote on the first day of school for my youngest son, my Andrew. And now I post it, and share it 13 years later, as he finishes up his first week at college.

The Roller Coaster Ride, written August 15, 2001

"Can you believe the summer's over?"
"I think it's this way."
"Ooh, I forgot my camera!"
"She's not here - she didn't get off the bus."
"I'll see you this afternoon."

Sentences, sounds, and sights assault our senses as we walk down the brightly fluorescent lit halls, rubbing shoulders with the crowds.

We knew what to expect this year. We are veterans now. We knew the cars would overflow the parking lot before 7:30. We knew the halls would be crowded. We knew all would exude confusion. None of that prepared me, though.

In something near a state of denial, I bought school supplies and clothes early and then put them away. Last night we could delay no longer. We got the clothes out and sorted through them and selected what they would wear for the all telling first day. We - the four of us - dressed and drove and parked and walked. We arrived. We hugged. We parted. They are there now. Both of them. Gone. I cried. My husband looked at me, so unsure of what to do or say, but ultimately knowing he had to go on to work and I would be fine. He hugged me. We parted.

The house is just me. I have not thought beyond this morning. I have been looking at the DAY and not farther. I had a very clear recollection of holding my first born during his first month and telephoning my mom and asking, "What age do they start school?" She answers from her school secretary desk, "Five." I am incredulous. I utter, "Five? That's far too early."

I think five is far too early. So, I delayed the inevitable and held my August baby boy back one year to defy the odds. I purposefully delayed his passage, but he has nonetheless begun it now. I held to them both so fast with my hands. In the end that doesn't matter. The school rings the bell and they run and I'm there in the dirt, waving goodbye without them so much as glancing backward.

I held them fast because, you see, another thing I know is that raising the boys is like a theme park. We get up and start early. All is fresh and clean. Slowly we orient ourselves to the options and study the map, making choices. We make our way through and cautiously try out the less intimidating rides. The smells and sounds of all that it offers surround us as we make our way through: cotton candy, summer days, laughter, tears, footsteps, mechanics of the rides. All of these beat out a steady rhythm. What accompanies them with a massive resonance is the clank clank clank of the roller coaster making its ascent to begin its fast and furious ride.

Initially, there is not any interest in the roller coaster ride. Contentment for the cotton candy and the train rides exists. But as the day hits the high noon heat, their eyes fix upon the roller coaster and they begin to show excitement toward all that it offers. Nothing will do now but to ride it. We resist initially, knowing all the while it is fruitless.

Acquiescing finally, we all head over to it and wait in its redundant winding line. Monotony pervades, but we each survive the wait and go to board the electric monster. We see fear. We see fun. We see families. We watch all the while, waiting for our turn. While waiting, time seems to crawl slowly along. The last bend is reached. We hit the queues that determine our car. Time hits turbo speed and we quickly board. Final fears are forgotten. We are strapped in. We must go now. The roller coaster ride is fast. We scream. We laugh. We laugh until we have tears. We go up. We twist. We turn. We look around when we think to, and see with a new vision. We ache as its pressures reign down on us. We go down. We screech to a halt.

It is over. As fast as it began it ends. We are not sure what happened. We are disoriented. We are confused. We are still laughing as the endorphins finish out their symphony in our minds. What just happened wasn't much - and in the final analysis it wasn't near enough. People do it all the time. A roller coaster is a quickly thrill. An easy clean high.

But - in the final analysis - we are done and we must go, regardless of the monumental truth we now face: what we are left with are two boys that have crossed a hurdle. That will be content no longer with the kiddie section of the park. One simple ride - all its curves and climbs and thrills and turns - and they are changed. 

School is that roller coaster, dressed differently, and sounding much quieter, but nonetheless taking our children and - time hitting that turbo speed - rushing them through 13 years in what seems like 15 days. The bell rings. We are strapped in. We must go now. The "roller coaster" ride is fast. We scream. We laugh. We laugh until we have tears. We go up. We twist. We turn. We look around when we think to, and see with a new vision. We ache as its pressures reign down on us. We go down. We screech to a halt. As fast as it began it ends. They have diplomas in their hands. We are done. The ride is over.

It's that time to leave the park. Other things await us all now.

Toy Story 3 ~ Family Movie Adventure ~ June 2010
Sketch Credit: Inspired by May Flaum's Camp Scrap Class
Paper: October Afternoon, Girls Paperie
Title: Screenshot of movie image, printed on photo paper, and hand cut (I would probably do it on the Cameo now, though. Technology advances with that beast, Time.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Wish I Could Turn Back Time

There is a lumbering 19-year-old boy, tossing and turning in his bed above the room in which I sit and write. As he begins the process of waking for the day that holds the driving off to college, it settles heavy on my heart that I won't sit here and be nudged by that creaking bed to be a little more quiet. That lumbering boy is like his mom, and his grandmother. He is an early riser and a light sleeper. I will miss that creaking bed, and I will miss that boy.

We ate dinner out last night. His pick. He's had a grand rodeo these last few months - eager parents proffering up any idealized moments, hoping to steal more of the borrowed time with their baby boy. As we sat at Pappasito's, I just watched him. And I listened to him. And I laughed at him. And it just hit me really hard. I am going to miss him. I am going to MISS him. 

I am going to miss him blowing through the door, with a bag of comic books in his hand. I am going to miss seeing his keys on the counter and his little gray Jetta in the drive. I am going to miss his witty comments, in every conversation we have, no matter the subject, time, or place. I am going to miss his competitive spirit and the joy of playing a game with him, win, lose, or draw. I am going to miss hearing him laugh. I am going to miss seeing him scowl. I am going to miss his stories.

Cher sings the song I Wish I Could Turn Back Time. The song is about a relationship gone wrong, and the verse lyrics don't apply at all...but I can hear her woeful singing of the refrain, and it echoes in the beating of my heart. No, I don't really wish I could turn back time. I know this is all normal. But, it sure seems to go by so very fast, and I wish I had more of our every day time together. 

This growing up phase is normal and natural, and kids get tall and teenager-y so we will recognize the need to slowly let them go and find their path. The fact that it is normal and natural, and that they are tall and teenager-y, do not make it any easier on a momma's heart.

Oh, yes. We will be able to turn up the music. Turn on the early morning news shows. No more jockeying in the driveway for space. No need to coordinate dinner plans or try desperately to find some groceries for our picky eater. No more messes on the counter. No going to work and coming home to the house looking different. Yes, yes, I get all of that.

And Thanksgiving will come soon enough. And for a few days we will rekindle our relationship and bask in the delight of our tall red-headed sons being home. And on the days in the middle, we will have our memories to help us connect. We will have our new lifestyle to give us hope. We will have new habits that hint at other, better, different days to come.

But, there will always be a part of me that remembers simple family celebrations like these, days that we were all together, days where life was golden, days where happy was a simple wish and a candle on a cake. I wish I could turn back time. If only in my mind.

Happy Birthday Andrew ~ Turning Sixteen ~ August 2011
Paper: Simple Stories