Seems like only yesterday our kids were very little and we were lounging at the San Simeon Cove — moms gossiping in our lounge chairs and toddlers frolicking in the shallow white water. As most moms know, children at the beach are physically unable to make the short distance from the water to the line of towels where mom’s sitting without being totally covered in wet sand. And they’re always hungry when they emerge — sand covered snacks are but one of the many challenges moms face at the beach! (Ever tried to change a diaper there?) Had to watch Melissa the water magnet carefully — but I also had the added responsibility of having to look behind me, as Cliffie preferred exploring the rocks on the other end of the beach. The other kids proudly retrieved shells and sand crabs — he’d bring me fossils and lizards! My son’s easygoing and quiet, and always attracted friends with voices only a little louder than their huge personalities. Such an entertaining bunch! I walked the stretch of that beach yesterday, and felt a pang of despair at the sight of a pack of seven-year-old boys covering each other with sand. Whatever happened to that large collection beach treasures we kept in a jar on our front porch? All but gone are those wonderful days.
When Cliffie was two I was working in an office full time while he was in daycare. Yeah, that scenario broke my heart too. But on Fridays we’d leave a little early and have breakfast at the McDonalds by our house. Every time he saw the golden arches he’d yell “Donalds!” One of his first words. Dang he was cute! I must be nostalgic today because I shared that with him on the drive to the test site — we both agreed he was a pretty adorable toddler!
I think I’ve done pretty much all I can with this boy, raising-wise. And I’m quite happy with the result. Oh, I’ll pass along reinforcements now and then, but he knows exactly who he is, and makes no excuses to anyone. Lucky for me, “who he is” has turned out to be well-mannered, independent, sharp-witted, driven, kind and accepting, non-conforming, easily annoyed (hey, I didn’t say he was perfect!), brilliant, deep thinking, and creative. Did I say brilliant? And creative? There was a period between, oh about fourth and ninth grade, when I thought I just might have lost him — just didn’t interact with me that much. He once ran away and left a note saying he was no good to anyone so he may as well just leave. Cliffie’s been through a lot, and as I pointed out earlier, he is a deep thinker. But he’s come back in droves, and now, at the dinner table, he chooses to linger and talk. His perspective’s so insightful he could be featured on Bill Moyer’s Journal. I hang on his every word.
He’ll do well on the test. On the drive to the test site, the offramp was blocked so we had to turn off at the next one, then find our way back to the general location of the school. We took many wrong turns — poor kid got his inferior navigation skills from his mom! But we made it. And in a sea of high school juniors and seniors lingering outside on a foggy Saturday morning, my son — wearing a yellow computer t-shirt and carrying a brown bag containing peanuts and a banana — was a standout. He will go on to do great things. And bring me his future versions of fossils and lizards.