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Waffle Cones and the Construct of Time

I'm frugal. Some (my husband) would say I'm cheap. I'd like to argue that I'm easily satisfied, but anyone who knows my obsession with expensive shoes and bags would disagree. Speaking of which, I'm already dreaming of these new Danskos for the fall.

But, I digress. I am, in the day-to-day, very frugal. I don't like to spend more than a few dollars on a coffee, and I always get the kiddie size of almost everything. This extends itself to my own kids most of the time. But yesterday was different.

Yesterday was overcast and pretty boring. We did go to the movies, but even that didn't do much to improve our middle-of-summer boredom. When the kiddos were little, I planned something every single summer day. In my book, it wasn't summer without a daily adventure. As a perpetually nerdy teacher-mom, I convinced them to do "Passion Projects" (where I learned how to do PBL). One year, Zoey wanted to learn about different countries, so each week she'd get library books, and Matty would cook something yummy for her to try. Oliver had a dinosaur year, and a year he wrote Star Wars fan fiction. We went to drum circles, took nature walks, had library time, and collected sea glass. If you have small children, I can't say it enough: do all the things. All of them. Don't clean your house. Go to the zoo. Skip making dinner and have "funky snacks" while watching a movie for the 100th time. Why? Because those days will help you (and them!) survive the teenage years.

Oliver is now 13, which in my opinion is the very worst of the teenage years, and Zoey is 16. She's working, learning to drive and planning things with her friends. She's an intern/stage manager for a production of Heathers. Oliver doesn't always want to go along with my plans, and he makes some of his own too. Mostly though, as it is supposed to be, my teens are trying to have a life of their own, one that is not orchestrated by me. And, yep, one that doesn't always include me. Sigh.

So, yesterday, after the movies, when Oliver asked to get ice cream, I said yes. Was it 5:00? Yes. Had I just spent too much money on stuff at the movies. Yes. But, here I was, with the golden opportunity to spend a little more time with my teenager. He's had a rough year, as we all have, and I'm aware, now more than ever, that time is the most ridiculous construct. It seems like both a million years ago and just yesterday that he was obsessed with Thomas the Tank. I can remember the hurts and anguish of being 13 years old, yet it has been 34 years since I've walked in my own Chuck Taylors. I feel like I'm going to blink, and the constant piles of laundry, the music I'm trying-to-like-but-don't, and the side hugs will be walking out the door and driving away. So, when he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and asked, "Can I get the chocolate dipped waffle cone?" I said yes.

I have a bunch of friends whose kiddos are going off to college, moving out, and my friends are having to redefine who they are and what they do with their time. That time is still a little ways off for me, but not nearly as much time as it feels. I always liked the old saying, "The days are long, but the years are short." I saw a young mom today, trying to hold her toddler's hand and adjust the baby wrap she was wearing with a 3 or 4 week old nustled in against the rain. In that sing song way that mama's talk to their babies (and themselves), she said, "We'll get this all figured out soon enough."

Yep, I thought. You will. And then it will all changes again. So, today, as I'm feeling unclear on this mother-of-teens thing, I'm going to remember that mantra all over: "We'll get this figured out soon enough."

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