On Saturday, Aug. 18, the children and I parted ways after a whirlwind summer.
This was, by far, the best summer we have had together in the three years that they've been spending summers with me. We were able to get into a routine early in the summer and the remainder of the summer flowed.
We were busy enough that there was seldom an opportunity to complain about boredom. Maybe some of that has to do with them getting older.
While Mason seems to be getting more adult by the second, Maddie seems to be staying young forever.
My pre-teen son has decided to stop cutting his hair. When his bangs got long enough this summer to tickle his nose we compared his hair style to that of Justin Bieber. For the remainder of the summer we called him Mason Bieber in hopes that it would get him to at least go in for a trim.
It worked exactly the opposite. Where once he would push his bangs off to the side so we could see his eyes, he began letting his hair hang over his eyes like a sheep dog.
I asked him one day how he could stand his hair in his eyes all day long.
"I can't, but if I push my hair off to the side I look even more like Justin Bieber," he said.
"Here's a thought, Mason...why don't you trim your bangs so they won't hang in your eyes?" I asked.
"Because I don't want to," he answered simply.
I've learned as a mother to pick my battles, and this is one of many instances yet to come, I'm sure, where he is exerting some independence. I could argue with him until I was blue in the face and he would still refuse to cut his hair. I said a silent prayer that at least he hasn't dyed it some obnoxious color–yet.
Before they left to go back to International Falls, I asked Mason to please clean up his room. I said if he was going to inhabit the man cave next summer, then I wanted him to pack up his room and move it down to the basement where we will store his items until he comes back next summer and he can set up camp in the man cave.
I suggested that the things he wanted to have as keepsakes go in the trunk I bought for each of the kids to keep memories in. Everything else could go in a tote to the basement where he could unpack next summer.
I found him awhile later shuffling his feet in his room with hardly anything packed.
"What's the problem?" I asked him when he looked at me sheepishly.
"This is just hard," he said.
I helped him decide what was worthy of going in his trunk as a keepsake and what should be packed up to go to the basement to await his arrival next summer.
"Mason, don't think of it as being displaced," I told him. "Think of it as packing up your childhood as you move to young adulthood."
"Yeah, I guess," he mumbled.
Mason starts seventh grade this fall. He said this year he wished the summer would have lasted longer. I think he's nervous about being at the "bottom of the food chain" as he referred to being in seventh grade.
Maddie, however, can't wait to start third grade.
She brought with her the list of school supplies she needed for third grade when she came in June. From that time forward every time we were shopping she reminded me that I needed to buy her school supplies. The day we finally went shopping for them was better than Christmas for her.
She packed and repacked her school bag so many times I eventually moved it to a secure location until her departure so the backpack wouldn't begin to tear before she even made it to school.
I asked Mason if he would like me to buy his school supplies for the upcoming school year.
"I haven't gotten a list yet," he replied.
I tried to explain to him that in junior high, he wouldn't receive a list as all he really needs is some pens, pencils and notebooks.
I don't think he believed me.
Already on the cusp of his teenage years and his Mom was in junior high so long ago that I can't possibly know what he would need to start school this fall.
This is just the beginning of the numerous times, I'm sure, I will have to bite my tongue in the next six years of teenagerdom.