There is a distinct rhythm to the KidsOutAndAbout calendar. Beat the heat and summer bucket list transitions to back to school, which is followed by apple picking and corn mazes and pumpkin picking, then Halloween. It’s the rhythm of a happy American childhood, a rhythm we followed as a family for years. One we don’t really follow anymore.
I really didn’t notice this last year because we were overwhelmed by repainting our kitchen and hosting our exchange student from Spain. But at some point this week, I realized that we hadn’t even pulled out our Halloween decorations. I’ve looked at one full weekend after another, and yesterday I lost track of family plans and suggested that maybe we could fit in a quick family apple picking trip for Saturday morning. M reminded me that she was volunteering for some National Honor Society event. Cute W reminded me that he was spending the morning at work. I remembered that I’d signed up to volunteer at the high school at midday, and then the afternoon is M’s soccer game. So: no apple picking, again.
Traditionally, by now, we should have pumpkins on the front step, apples piled on the counter, and a huge bowl full of candy that everyone’s started raiding early. Instead, the house is sporting the detritus of a household with teenagers: a fine dusting of glitter everywhere (despite repeated vacuuming) from making posters for senior nights, paperwork and forms hither and yon in the aftermath of filling out our first FAFSA and CSS Profiles, homework and sports uniforms and endless college brochures lounging on every available surface that isn’t strictly monitored. Which is to be expected, really. And some of the newer fall traditions are lovely. The senior nights have been sweet: it’s touching to watch the girls and their friends labor over posters for each other and wax nostalgic about their high school careers. And I liked my rose from M’s soccer senior night. At least, until my kitty Ruth brutally attacked it.
But there’s also the bittersweet knowledge that an era has passed before I even realized it. I was talking to J yesterday. Her Friday volleyball practice was cancelled because of the high school’s craft fair getting set up, and Monday is her last game. So with last Thursday’s game, it turns out that her last school volleyball practice of the season was on Wednesday, and she hadn’t even realized it. Which is how childhood goes so often, isn’t it? You have no idea that something was the last time until it’s in the past. And now I’m wondering, with M heading to college next year and our calendar swamped, will the four of us ever go apple picking together again? And today’s soccer game is a sectionals game, which means that if they lose, M’s high school soccer career is over today.
Y’all, I am not ready. But I guess it doesn’t matter if I’m ready or not.