These last two weeks have been a time of religious celebrations of transition. Two of Vince’s friends have had their bar mitzvahs, and the experience has made the PI and Liz wish that their church offered a similar tradition to Vince. The OWL program addressed important aspects of coming of age, but it does not involve anything like the bar-mitzvah’s connection between young person, spiritual tradition and community. There is a Coming of Age process within the UU faith, but the PI’s church does not have the critical mass of young people necessary to offer participation to Vince and his cohort.
The PI and family did take part in one emerging tradition over the past couple of weeks. For the fourth year in a row, they spent Memorial Day weekend camping on Cape Cod, camping with several other families who all have kids around the ages of Vince and Connie. Since they don’t get to the National Seashore any other time during the year, everyone enjoys the weekend in Truro, despite the challenges they always face in getting out of their house. Except for a violent thunderstorm on Saturday night, the weather generally cooperated with the plans for the weekend, which included the obligatory trip into Provincetown to join the throngs marching up and down Commerical Street on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. Even the PI, who never takes part in this feature of the trip, darkened P-town’s doors this time around. It will be a long time before he does so again.
But the trip’s truly memorable moment came as they settled down to sleep on Saturday night. Ms. Connie was sleeping with a friend in another tent and Vince had already passed out in their tent. The fresh air and cool evening overtook Liz and the PI for a moment, and they held each other as if to hold onto the memory of being in a place so out of the ordinary. Just as the memory took share, their supposedly sleeping son lifted his head from a few feet away and captured the instant in the way that only he can. From his sleeping bag came the unmistakable injunction…”Why don’t you people get a room?”
“Why don’t you get the hell out of my tent?,” came the PI’s reply, but it was too late. Vince had both captured the moment and caused it to evaporate into something quite different. At least the PI and Liz got a good laugh out of it. Having offered his two cents, Vince quickly went back to sleep, as is his way.
These weekends have really changed over the past four years as the older youth (all Vince’s age, or slightly older) have moved into puberty. Camping at the beach offers many tantalizing opportunities for those seeking distance from parents and new experiences. It’s just one particularly striking example of how hard it is for parents, Imperfect and otherwise, to find that balance between allowing the necessary independence and keeping their children safe.
A few days after the Cape trip, the PI and Connie were winding through the Arboretum in the car, on their way home from somewhere. Connie must have noticed the young mother dangerously walking a stroller along South St. near the State Lab. As they came through the famous stone arch over which the trains pass, she blurted out her reflection on the sightings.
“I’m not going to have babies until after I’m married.”
“?De dónde salió eso?, asked the father.
The answer came quickly. “I was just thinking.”
“?Y por qué no quieres tener bebes antes de casarte?
“I just think that you have too many things going on when you’re younger. When you’re older, you’re not doing so much so you’re more ready.”
“Tu naciste cuando tu mama tenia 42 años. Vas a esperar tanto tiempo?
“No! I’m not going to be as old as Mommy and my husband’s not going to be as old as you are, either. I’m just going to wait until after I’m young and excited.”
Ah, to be young and excited…
As we finish this, Vince is attempting to stay focused on studying for his Latin final, which happens tomorrow. It’s crunch time. How he does on the test will say a lot about what his summer is like. The PI struggles to stay relaxed about it. It will all be over soon…until next year.