School's out. The boys are ecstatic.
No more classes. No more books. No more teacher's dirty looks . . .
(Nice, guys. Thanks).
But, of course this means I'm free too. A nice shiny new unmarked summer that's never been used before lies before me. I can wallow around in it-- garden, write, stay up late, sleep in, keep house at a leisurely pace, ignore the clock. Or, at least, I could if I didn't have four boys and an "Ask Mary. She always says yes" sign on my back.
And then there's all that nasty change stuff at the end of it. For me change has always meant upheaval, foundations being shaken, people leaving. So when possible, I avoid it, choosing narrow straight paths, and doing what I can to keep things stable, if not quiet. I've spent the last few years futilely doing everything within my power to slow it all down to a snail's pace. Failing that, I've tried to memorize it--capture it on film, write about it, inhale it and hold it in. If I could record every single moment of our lives in 3-D so I could walk around inside them and relive them over and over, I would have done so.
For now, we're transporting boys back and forth to the odd jobs they've taken on through church members in order to raise money for camp. The members have turned out enforce this year looking for help. I'm hearing a lot of "I'm so glad they can help with this. I just can't manage this for myself anymore." They have paid generously. I am grateful.
I'm helping with VBS again, which means lots of meetings. They're doing a Rain forest theme this year, which means hunting up rain foresty things--which will be more of a challenge than last year's camping theme (I HAVE camping stuff--tropical plants, parrots, and giant mosquitoes, are a little harder to come up with). I continue to enjoy being an Indian as opposed to a chief. All I have to do is show up, do my part, and go home. A week of playing games with thirty to fifty kids, of teaching them about the Bible as they run relay races, piecing together puzzles, team working through problem solving and obstacle courses. This is the second year I've filled this role. It was the kids' favorite stop last summer. I hope it is this year too.
Summer camp itself--preparing for it, buying the required stuffs, transporting to and fro (three hours one way). Three boys are going at three different times, beginning in June, the last trip sometime in July. They are all anxious to go, keep checking the calendar and counting down the days.
The great church rummage sale. Days of sorting through other people's junk/treasures, assigning prices to items, arranging them attractively. More days of bagging, collecting money, policing the (believe it or not) shoplifters (why pay ten cents for it when you can steal it?). As you know, I always come home with great finds. This year I'm on the lookout for dining room chairs, linens and towels--both for us and Jeremiah. All my towels are looking threadbare and it's a little embarrassing to hang them on the line. If I can find a gas powered weed eater, big flower pots, and some lawn furniture, I'll be thrilled.
Mission trip preparations: two boys are going to Colorado along with another larger youth group this year. More fund raising, more purchasing of items. More running back and forth to pick up and drop off. Honestly, I think this is the first trip I've envied them. They are going to working in a national forest, picking up trash, clearing trails, learning about conservation, and get to go canoeing at the end of the week for a reward.
This summer Gary and I talking about trying a more civilized anniversary trip ( one that does not necessitate sleeping on the ground). Personally I'd be happy to go Here and stay Here. I've long wanted to visit this community and see how well it really works, meet people of like mind, and implement some of their ideas. However, Gary seems to think it's not romantic enough. He thinks something like this place would be a terrific place to spend a couple of days. I'm not showing him any more of Scotty's vacation pictures; it gives him expensive ideas. But perhaps we can compromise and go to the Crescent Inn in Eureka Springs (forty-five minutes southwest of us). If that name sounds familiar, it's because it's more famous for THIS than it is for its spa and other luxuries.
Meanwhile, in between all this, we'll do all the normal summer stuff-- swim in the lake, barbecue a bit here and there, light some fire works, throw birthday parties (Daniel will be 18 in June, Gary will be 49 in August and I will be . . . older than I am now shortly after that). But it will be hemmed in by obligations, over-shadowed by a sense that this is the last summer of its kind.
My first day back in college is August 24th, it means commuting twice a week to a campus that's an hour and a half away for three classes, with the remaining three online. Daniel will be in his senior year, Joseph will be a freshman. For the first time ever, I will only have one boy at the table doing school work. But probably the biggest change? It's been confirmed, his deposit has been made, he's got a roommate and everything; Jeremiah will move to the dorms.
I am relinquishing my grip on time, have given up trying to slow it down. It was a bit like bull-dogging a two thousand pound water buffalo anyway. I've decided that it's easier to climb aboard and enjoy the scenery.