Yesterday John went on an all-day DNR kids’ camp at one of the lakes in the area. He learned about water habitats and fishing and how to keep our lakes clean. It was aimed at kids 5-12, but there were only six or so kids, so it wasn’t too overwhelming for him.
As we drove to the lake, he asked questions so fast I wasn’t sure he was listening to the answers. “Are you coming with me? Is Maia? Is this all day? So neither you or Maia will be with me? I’m going to be by myself? All day?”
By himself. All day.
He wasn’t by himself, of course. The nice DNR grad student was there waiting for us. At the same time, another woman was dropping off two boys. They looked to be about nine, and they were cousins.
John, who is tall for his age, suddenly looked terribly young. The cousins looked at him and, almost at the same time, wordlessly dismissed him as not part of their gang. I bristled at their lunch cooler (John had a brown bag) and their fancy thermoses filled with ice water (John had a plastic purple canteen).
The DNR kid (why yes, I DID just call a 23-year-old a kid!) rounded the boys up and started walking off toward the dock. The cousins collected their gear and followed, and John turned to wave at me once, beaming. He had to run to catch up.
I will be such a mess on the first day of kindergarten.
Yesterday, it got to 90 and the humidity was in the 90s. When I picked John up, he looked boiled. He was subdued, because of the heat, and would say no more beyond “yeah” and “it was fun.” At home, however, he expanded. He caught several fish, including a fish that finned him when he tried to get it off the hook. He dropped another fish, but it flipped itself off the dock into the water, which was cause for some hilarity. There were games and they painted pictures with stamps made from fish bodies. He approved of the lunch I had packed.
All the time he was a toddler, I was expanding his limits so he would grow. But because I did so incrementally, I had no idea how far I’d let him go. I don’t want to reel him back in, but the joy I have in seeing his independence is, to some extent, ambivalent.