Our household has adjusted to being smaller and quieter. With my two oldest off at college, Shaggy Hair Boy has assumed the role of oldest child, the responsible one who feeds the cats and locks the doors at night, the person who calms his mother down when her computer goes berserk. Boy in Black is not much for chatting on the phone like his sister will, but he talks to his brothers online and often stops home on Wednesdays after his drum lesson. And both kids meet me for lunch on Fridays.
My Beautiful Wonderful Smart Daughter will chat about her classes and her friends and her plans for next semester, which will be spent in London. Sometimes she will call me on the phone to talk to me about a story she is writing, or to tell me what is going on with a friend. She is already looking ahead to grad school and a career. She's been home to do things like gather documents so that she can get her passport.
Boy in Black is quieter. When asked about his classes, he shrugs. Even though he is taking upper level science courses, he finds the work easy so far and is puzzled that his classmates keep complaining how hard it is. He had planned to major in chemistry, but now he is thinking of shifting to physics. "I love the stuff we do in organic chemistry lecture," he said, "but I don't like the labs. The thing is -- I don't really care about chemicals." Well, I guess that's a good reason not to become a chemist.
"Are you learning anything in college?" I asked.
"I'm learning tons," he said, "in Ultimate Frisbee." His whole body became animated as he talked about the Ultimate Frisbee team – the practices, the drills, and the tournament they went to in Bison City. He rattled off sentences full of Ultimate Frisbee jargon, and he pulled a frisbee out of his backpack to demonstrate ten different ways to throw. The other night the team practiced for hours in the rain and cold. Apparently, he's found a whole group of young people who are just as fanatical about the sport as he is.
Both brother and sister have told me how nice it is to be on the same campus. "I think I've seen Sister every day," Boy in Black said. When we have lunch together, they tease each other affectionately and joke around. They are both adults now, but they will still act like kids, racing to see who gets the front seat of the car if we decide to drive somewhere. They eat lunch together every Tuesday, Boy in Black told me.
This weekend, my daughter went out of town to visit a friend, and Boy in Black decided to come home overnight. Even though most of his high school friends are off at college, he still managed to gather a dozen kids for a big Ultimate Frisbee game, teaching his brothers and extras all the new throws and moves he's learned. Even after it had been raining for a few hours, and all the other kids had drifted into the house to wrap beach towels around their wet, muddy bodies and huddle near the fire to get warm, Boy in Black and Shaggy Hair stayed out in the field, tossing a frisbee back and forth as it grew dark.
By night time, the house was filled with music. The Pseudonymous Boy Band was playing the same songs they've always played, happy to have their leader back. Blonde Niece suggested we order pizza and the group of kids hung out by the fire, eating and joking around. When Boy in Black sprawled out on the couch, With-a-Why, worn out from playing Ultimate Frisbee with the older kids, snuggled up to his big brother and fell asleep.