It’s summer. I’m sitting at the pool, watching the kids swim. They don’t need me here. They hardly know I’m here. I’m not hovering, I swear. I’m tucked far away in the shade. They’re here with friends, all of whom are old enough to be here without me. I’ll let them… soon.
The Boy got braces today. It’s a rite of passage and a necessary evil. Do you know how much braces cost? I cried when he walked out with them, but it’s not what you think. I’ve known we’d have to pay for them, and good care comes with a price tag. I’m fine with that.
He looked so grown. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you he aged three years, just with that mouth full of metal. Don’t fret. He didn’t know I cried. I’m not intentionally embarrassing him. Not yet, anyway.
The Girl is sitting out here, as one of the world’s newest fifth graders, girl-talking with the other girls. She’s the exact age I was when I moved to Atlanta, when I met the girls I’m still friends with today. She looks so much like my childhood pictures, and I’m guessing she’s not unlike me in the talking department. She never really stops.
He’s cannon-balling his little self into the pool, going off the diving board again and again. I think he had a corn dog and ice cream sandwich for lunch. It’s a celebration of sorts. We survived sixth grade. If you have a sixth grader, you’ll understand. If you have a sixth grade boy, you’ll understand further. If that sixth grade boy went to Davidson Fine Arts, well, you know what I mean. Like braces, it was bound to happen, and we made it. Yes, I mean every bit of we.
She’s worried about her bathing suit being too cute. She’s occasionally splashing a boy. She’s started talking back and rolling her eyes. My sweet little girl thinks I’m a little dumb.
While he was turning 12 and getting braces and she was finishing fourth grade, I had a birthday. Thirty-nine. I’ve said it before, but age doesn’t really concern me much. It seems to bother everyone else, though.
My dad called a few days ago and said, “You have a big birthday coming up!”
At first, I thought he’d lost his mind. There’s still one more year before the big one.
He said, “Yeah, next year I have to buy you a 40th birthday card!”
I guess so, but I hadn’t really thought about it. My father in law, always a practical man, said, “It’s a big birthday! A lot of people are 39 for the rest of their lives.”
I suppose that’s true, too.
I remember when my parents turned 40. I remember my friends’ parents turning 40. My kids will remember this time. I know that for sure, because I vividly remember the summer of ’87, when I’d just finished fourth grade. I remember the era of everyone wearing braces. I remember my parents embarrassing me.
I also remember carefree summers. We stayed at the pool all day (with or without our nearly 40-year-old parents, who were probably drinking beer) and ate too much ice cream. We came inside well after dark. We made lifelong friends. They are the friends we drink beer with today.
Pour yourself a cold one and head to the pool. Cheers, it’s summer!