I’m on vacation. It’s the same vacation I take every summer to a cozy hamlet in northern Michigan. The little town is the same, with fudge shops and stray bikes. The lake is beautiful as always, and the weather is delightfully unpredictable. Nevertheless, something is different. Something has changed.
Punch is away at camp for three weeks. His one missive read simply, I am having fun at camp. I changed bunks. I didn’t speculate as to the reason for the bed swap and simply decided that all in all, no news was good news. Punch isn’t here. His absence is to be expected. Crank and Whiny however, are a different story.
In past years, I would sit on the porch as the kids cruised by on their bikes. They would occasionally wander up and ask if they could get ice cream or query if the rock they found was a fossil, to which I would calmly suggest waiting to get ice cream until after breakfast or explain that the rock they were holding was, in fact, gum. And they would pedal off. Now it seems the only question my children ask is, When do I have to be home?
At first, I reveled in the quiet, my lack of mandatory services blissfully diminished. I could play golf or go for a run without a second thought. Of course, it occurred to me that I don’t really like doing those things, and that having kids who needed to be taken to the candy store or the putt-putt course was a convenient—even preferable—excuse. Now when I announce that we are going to their favorite fried chicken place for dinner, I am met with an eye roll or worse: I can’t, I have plans.
Plans? When did my 14- and 15-year-olds turn into people with plans? Now, they are the ones heading to a cookout or a party; they are the ones fretting about what time to be home. Suddenly I am the one texting: Where are you? When people talk about the circle of life, I don’t think this is what they had in mind.
Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting, it’s that adjustments have to be made. It’s their vacation, too, after all. It’s fine. It’s actually good. It’s really, really fine. Did I say that already? I’m going to enjoy myself. And when we get home things will return to normal—no more running off ‘til all hours to meet friends and cause trouble. That’s the plan, anyway. They’re just teenagers, after all.