Category Archives: Boys

Letting go

imageSaturday was a big day and I’m not talking about American Pharaoh’s upset up in Saratoga. No, it was the first day of my oldest son’s adult life – he is officially a college freshman. Yesterday was Drop Off day, which might be better named Jump off a Cliff Day because that’s what I felt like doing after waiting in endless lines on a hot afternoon.

How come no one told me about the clusterf*ck involved with getting your kid situated in a dorm room? I suspect it is part of an overall conspiracy of silence involving parenting situations such as childbirth, potty training and your child’s impersonation of Satan during puberty. Come on, more experienced parents, you need to share this information! For the uninitiated, let me tell you what it was like…

First, you’re assigned a specific drop off time, which is silly because it truly means nothing. If you’re like me, you dutifully arrive 5 minutes early (forgoing that gas stop in favor of promptness) to join the already inordinately long line of vehicles trying to reach the promised land of “Student sign in.” After approximately 30 minutes, you reach your first destination, park your car, race to use the bathroom and wait patiently as your child queues to receive their dorm keys.

Step two involves driving to another parking area, one I ultimately referred to as the “holding pen,” where you park near other parents with children with the same dormitory assignment. This is where you have an opportunity to meet other annoyed parents and discuss the odds of getting your children unpacked before their graduation day arrives. After about an hour, and numerous parents complaining to the keepers of the gate, we were finally released to go wait in our cars for the final line step – drop off.

This part of the process is made much more exciting if your gas gauge indicates that your miles-to-go-to-zero is clicking down at the speed of light, or so it seems to be when contrasted with the rate of speed in which the line moves. If you’re lucky, a nice university cop will let you advance when he correctly detects panic in your voice as you ask him how far it is to the nearest gas station. Now things get fun.

imageYou pull to the curb and are immediately approached by an enthusiastic group of students who happily take the remaining possessions out of your car (everything other than the refrigerator already unloaded and hauled on foot by your children as they try to hasten the process) and place them into wheeled bins to deliver to your child’s room. There are brief conversations (Student: “Do you know where you’re going?” Parent: “Yes, the f*ck out of here.” and “I love your Bernie sticker!” said by the young woman in charge of UHart’s Students for Bernie Facebook page) and then you park your car in the third parking lot of the day and finally enter the room where your child will be living.

imageAnd then, it gets real. You see your child unpacking the things they found most important to bring along on their college adventure – books, electronics, that tea kettle you gave them as a birthday gift. You take in their surroundings so you can imagine them there when your home feels off-balance and empty without them. You walk back to your car and know beyond a doubt that the original cord cutting 18+ years ago was just the first of many. And you let go.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Education, family, moms, road trips

For whom the bell chimes

imageIn the quiet of the morning I have the house to myself. The trees sway a bit and occasionally the tremendous wind chimes toll their gorgeous and deep notes. It’s peaceful and I find myself, rather than imagining the day’s activities, reflecting upon all the years we’ve been fortunate enough to spend time in this beautiful place.

For seventeen summers we’ve been coming to Cape Cod. My children don’t recall a single summer of their lives when they did not spend some amount of time at the beach. Their growth from infants covered and protected from the sun to young boys slathered in sunscreen sporting (hopefully) life-preserving vests to almost men itching to drive has been breathtaking. I wish I could remember more of the early days, but the memories which do remain are vivid and never fail to elicit a smile. They were exhausting, but good days.

As the children have grown at a furious rate of speed the overall pace of our vacation has decreased. No longer is it necessary to pack multiple bags and coolers in an attempt to anticipate every single need imaginable. Life here has become simple in a new, now more easily appreciated way.

Moving forward isn’t always easy, though. Growth and change can be intimidating and there are scary parts to negotiate as we travel from who we once were to who we are destined to become. And now, over the quiet gong of the wind chimes, I hear feet slap the wood floor. Time to share the day.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, family, musings, relationships, Summer, vacation

The sun also rises

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Photo: Jessica Kelly

Tonight we laughed under a sky filled with shadows and ever changing bands of purple and fuchsia. As the sun set in the west, I waded through the tide to reach the bridge so I could witness (and cheer on) the daredevil feats of 4 boys. It was a magical evening.

The wind was wet and warm driving away the pesky green headed flies and allowing the guys to jump “one more time” again and again. I thought about their boldness and admired their nerve. It gets harder as we age to take leaps into the quasi darkness.

We’re approaching a second full moon for the month of July, a blue moon, and the waters are responding by becoming deeper at high tide. On our little slice of heaven the road leading to the bridge becomes unpassable, prompting a sense of isolation which can leave us feeling comforted or detached. Or maybe both.

The water, though, will recede and our path will again be revealed. And, of course, despite tonight’s fascination with the colors of the setting of the sun, the sun will also rise.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, musings, Summer, vacation

Moments that mean “Beach Vacation.”

 

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  • Having no idea whatsoever of the time.
  • A margarita – and then another one.
  • Donuts with breakfast and chips with lunch.
  • Classic board games.
  • Ordering your afternoon like this: walk – nap – run – shower – wine.
  • Another load of towels in the washing machine.
  • A layer of stickiness that can only be created by salty air, sand and sunscreen.
  • Eating off of paper plates and out of Rubbermaid containers.
  • Finding a temporary new rhythm that is decidedly a bit off beat.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, family, favorites, moms, musings, road trips, Summer, vacation

The Graduate

In the early aughts,* we rented a house in South Chatham, MA, for 3 or 4 consecutive years. It was a simple Cape with a super comfortable vibe and, once I rolled up and stashed all of the potentially treacherous throw rugs which were scattered about, the perfect place to relax with young children.

There was a tiny TV room where we would gather to watch the Tour de France inimage the morning and various classic movies in the evening. One year, we caught a young Dustin Hoffman and the beautiful Anne Bancroft in Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Now maybe this wasn’t quite the ideal “family” movie, but the Simon and Garfunkel tunes were catchy as hell and “Mrs. Robinson” became part of our family soundtrack. Our tradition every year since, as we approach the Bourne Bridge, is to open the sunroof and lower the windows and blast that song as we drive across the canal. It is our signal that vacationDSC_0002 has begun.

Two weeks ago, my oldest son graduated from Albany High School. The ceremony was long, but lovely, and he beamed as he walked across the dais and accepted his diploma. Next month he heads to the University of Hartford to study international relations and political science, but before that he’ll be riding shotgun as we head east to the beach.

I’d like to think my son will return from college with more focus than Benjamin Braddock, but regardless, I’m more interested than concerned to see what he does next.

*I can’t believe I’m running “aughts!”

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Cape Cod, Education, Events, favorites, Movies, Music, Summer

Seen all over the TU

SilviaTUI had a pretty busy weekend. If you have any doubt of that, check out the timesunion.com homepage from earlier today.

In the upper left hand corner, there’s my Seen gallery from Friday night’s Dave Matthews Band show at SPAC. Hitting at least one show at Dave’s annual two night stop in Saratoga is a tradition for me and one which I’ve been sharing with my middle son for the past few years. A couple of days prior to the show, though, he told me he’d rather go to his uncle’s lake house to hang out with his cousins than go to SPAC. I couldn’t have been more proud of his choice. Those are good priorities.

So, off I went solo. I drove up early to avoid traffic and get my photos prior to going through the gate. For the first time ever, I rode my bike around the park snagging my pics and it was a blast. Full confession: I did not wear my helmet because I thought it would be too weird.

I did, however, use extreme caution and was never really on a road at all. 100+ photos later, extra ticket sold for slightly below face value, I made my way to my seat and got my DMB on. It wasn’t my favorite setlist ever, Bela Fleck or not, but I still had a good time.

image5Sunday I hopped back on my bike, avec helmet, and rode down to Wolff’s Biergarten to snap some Seen pics of the crowd gathered together to watch the women’s World Cup final.The Independence Day holiday weekend combined beautifully with our USA women’s team to create a festive sea of red, white and blue. The energy, as always, was contagious and the roars of the spectators were deafening with each of our team’s five goals. Phenomenal and worth waiting 16 years to see!

I took a bunch of pictures of small groups and pairs of friends. I also worked hard to get an exceptional shot of the crowd, stepping in to the position that TU photographer Michael P. Farrell had occupied during Wednesday’s semi-final game. It was a good vantage point and I got a picture that made it on to A1 of the Times Union’s print edition, which was a thrill almost equal to the first 15 minutes of that final match.

For the first time ever, the Seen gallery was accompanied by  a brief video. At an event such as the World Cup final a 12 or 15 second video conveys what’s happening beyond the power of still photos.

I mean, if a picture tells a thousand words, a video tells a million. Be sure to click on the video for a dose of competitive patriotism at its finest.

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Filed under Albany, biking, Boys, concerts, Events, family, favorites, Local, Music, road trips, Saratoga, SEEN, soccer, Summer

Let’s party like it’s 1999

imageLast night my soccer playing middle son and I went down to Wolff’s Biergarten to take in the women’s World Cup semi-final game. It was a great match up – #1 ranked Germany vs #2 USA and we, along with the majority of those present, were thrilled when our women were victorious with a final score of 2-0.

The bar was packed and the roars of the crowd were deafening. It was fantastic. There were so many familiar faces and it took both hands to count the number of former students who were present. Time does move on, doesn’t it?image

The last time our women’s team won the World Cup was 1999, the same year my middle son was born. I remember we were in Harwich Port, MA and had the game on the little television set which was in our bed and breakfast. My oldest son was two and was completely captivated by the post-game excitement emanating from that small TV perched atop the mini fridge. It was unforgettable.

If England beats Japan tonight, Sunday’s final, a USA v England match on Independence weekend promises to be epic. I hope to be with both of my big guys, Liam the Anglophile and Griffin the baby born in our last winning year, at the Biergarten. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Photos from last night’s match are here.

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Filed under Albany, beer, Boys, Events, family, Germany, Local, SEEN, soccer, Summer