Structureless Summer

My son is now nine years old. Ever since he was three months old I have been entrusting his care to, well, basically strangers. It started with a lovely Nepalese woman who I handed him over to when he was three months old. Three months old. It should be illegal. But I had exhausted my three months off from work and it was time to go back. After Aunty Chandani’s he had a brief time with a woman in our neighborhood who everyone at work was using (and still does). This was just before he started preschool on his second birthday. We were freaked leaving him there. He did not yet know how to drink from a cup and was still in pull ups. Then on to kindergarten. We were absolutely certain that he would get lost on the campus which, today we consider to be pretty small. And through it all, he has survived. Survived and thrived. He is always the youngest in his class being a late December baby. He has spent every summer in a structured summer school environment. Taking academic classes and fun classes. But always taking classes.

And really it is our fault that he has had this truly alternate experience than I had when I was growing up. Back then in the suburbs of NY we knew all our neighbors. Almost everyone had kids that were close to my age. We got together all time and rode our bikes up and down the street. We went over to each other’s houses. Our parents hung out. There were front yards, backyards, basements and plenty of sidewalks. We swam in each other’s pools. I was on my friend’s gym set with him when Elvis died. We were unsure exactly who he was. Space. Pets. Friends. My son lacks much of this. This situation is partially due to our small living space (one bedroom apartment in Makiki). It is partially due to the fact that we work a lot. Sometimes we work on weekends. These are poor excuses for the state of my son’s life. I am trying to fix it.

Recently we purged and organized and created a loft bed with plenty of storage for my son. We have mostly gotten rid of the unsightly plastic storage containers. And the one bedroom is looking kind of nice. So we are having a sleepover this weekend. An actual kid from my son’s class will be at our house where the three of us can’t get out of each other’s way. So four should be fun. No, I mean it. Not even being sarcastic.

And, my crowning achievement, in an attempt to expose my son to my mother for a long period of time yet again and to give my son the 1970s summer of my youth, I am shipping him off to New York for just about two months. We will be joining him there for the last two weeks but he will have a solid month and a half of a giant fenced in backyard, three dogs, my sister, a beach just opposite the house, my aunt’s pool, my friend’s giant old wooden creaky farmhouse, lots of farm stands, serious home cooking and an extremely large greyhound who belongs to my friend Joe. It will be a summer of bike riding and skinned knees. Sunburns and cut feet. A summer of growing. A boy’s summer. A summer of love. I will miss him more than anything but it will make being reunited all the sweeter. And I know that when I do see him in NY again in July that he will be incredibly taller, wiser and more mature. Because he is growing and testing and pushing and learning. And it is time to remove all the structure which has encased him for all of these years and just let him be. So I am.

About nematomorph

Living like the rich and famous, splitting time between Hawaii and New York.
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1 Response to Structureless Summer

  1. Yvette Yasui says:

    Free Range Kid(s) indeed! Such a heartfelt post about growing up as a mother. 9 must be the magical age, my 9 yo took his first solo cross county plane ride to spend winter holidays with his grandparents in California. I love the idea that you are giving your child the free roaming that all kids need. We try to do this in smaller doses since it does not seem to exist in our every day lives, this modern world we live in. But for a few days at a time, when we are camping with friends, or at a 4 day hippie music festival or at the beach for a week, he gets unstructured time to run (almost) wild with a tribe of kids. For a young boy, pure bliss. What a great year for clearing, and the wonder we discover when we create a space – is that friends can fill that space, sleepovers, and gatherings. I always recall the tiny parisan apt of a friend who hosted a party in honor of our visit and everyone stood or took turns sitting on the one couch and it was jovial and festive and in only 800 sf of space. that party always made me question the my thinking that our home is “too small” for parties!

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