Saturday morning, when I came downstairs, the kitchen was clean, just the way I’d left it the night before. The living room was clean. There was no one sleeping on the couch, no empty glasses on the counter, no laptops strewn about. It felt wrong.
My three oldest kids and some of our extras spent the weekend at an Ultimate tournament in Country to the North. That left just my husband, With-a-Why, and me home in a quiet house for three days.
“Do you think With-a-Why is going to be lonely?” my husband asked me. “He’s used to the whole gang being here.”
“Maybe we should take him out for ice cream,” I said. “We could go to the duck pond.”
“Um, he’s fifteen now,” my husband said.
I keep forgetting that. My youngest son is a teenager now, lanky and tall with long hair that hangs in his face. In my mind, he’s still a little kid.
Luckily, not everyone thinks that way. Quick, one of our college-age extras, has never treated With-a-Why like a little kid, but rather a peer his own age. He showed up Saturday afternoon, and the two sat and played chess for several hours. That night, my husband suggested we go to the movies, and the three of us went to a movie that involved a complicated plot and lots of men with guns. I think it might be the first time we’ve gone out with just the three of us.
Yesterday afternoon, I walked around Pretty Colour Lake with an out-of-town friend and his two young kids. We did the same kind of things I used to do with my own kids – balancing on a log over a stream, skipping stones into the lake, swimming at the beach, and having a picnic on the sand. The shallow water in that small beach is fun for little kids but not so much for anyone taller.
I thought back to the many times I’d sat on that beach with my own kids when they were little, watching toddlers playing in the sand or splashing in the water, and it felt like a sudden shock to realize suddenly that those years are over, that my kids are mostly adults.
Earlier this summer, when I was driving With-a-Why home from a piano lesson, he was singing a song from the Peter Cincotti CD that he’d been listening to. It’s a song I was listening to on the way to Bison City the week I helped my grad school daughter move from one apartment to another. The Rainbow Connection is most famously sung by Kermit the Frog, but in my son’s voice, the lyrics seemed especially haunting. The end of the song was playing in my head last night as I fell asleep, thinking about all the precious things I keep trying to hold onto in this summer that is going by so quickly.
“Have you been half asleep
And have you heard voices
I've heard them calling my name
Are these the sweet sounds that called
The young sailors
I think they're one and the same
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
There's something that I'm supposed to be
Someday we’ll find it
The Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”