Subconsciously, I think I had these glowing ideals when they were little, this belief that I would do it better, that I had learned from what I believed were the mistakes of my parents.  That I wouldn’t make those same mistakes.  I’d get it right.  Yeah, right.  There was a turning point somewhere in these last few years when I woke up and realized that I was going to make bigger parenting mistakes than, say,  starting solids too soon, with greater consequences.  When I realized that I would have to accept both my flaws and theirs.  The tricky part is refusing to stop trying to get it right, in the face of the knowledge that you won’t.

Three boys in the house between the ages of twelve and fifteen is proving rough, at the very least it can be intense.  I’m wondering just how growing up in a house of sisters was supposed to prepare me for this.  It didn’t.  Around the table the other night I sighed that this was just too hard, the parenting, the schooling, the everything.  Jonny, who is on a camping kick, said, “Can’t we just all go live in tents somewhere?”  You know, forget about all the rest of this stuff.  I replied, “No!  We have to prepare these kids for the real world!”  Seth chimed in, “I’m prepared for the real world.”  I thought to myself, “You have no idea,” just as Gabe told him with his classic Gabe grin, “Actually, I think you’re the least prepared.” And that time, we laughed.

There’s no point in worrying, I’ve proven to myself again and again that I always worry about the wrong things anyway.  These kids are full of surprises.  Sometimes it’s important to be able to say, “Enough.”  To say, we’re getting outside tonight, away from the house, from the mess, from school.  Away from the Real World.


Cooperstown Road Trip

(Silas took the two pictures above.  He wanted to take pictures of the flowers for Mommy.)

(Jonny here today.)

Last week Keats, Gabe, Silas, Job and I took a road trip to Coopserstown, NY for an epic baseball tournament planned a year in advance. We sold around one thousand boxes of doughnuts, worked concessions at several tournaments, and played bingo to get there. And, it was worth it. Not only because Keats and Gabe got to spend a week playing baseball, but because I got to spend time with my tiny guys in a beautiful part of New York State.
I don’t really do well at planning. Some families from our team booked a place to stay over six months in advance. I, however, didn’t make a reservation anywhere. My original plan was to get a school bus and turn it into an RV for this trip and to take the whole family. But, that went south when I blew all the money on a sawmill. Instead, it became a tent camping trip. I knew there were two state parks nearby (Glimmerglass and Gilbert Lake) that had camping available. We made it to Gilbert Lake State Park at 2:35 am. Not wanting to bother anyone, we just slept in the van. After several hours of not really sleeping, I drove Keats and Gabe to Dreams Park where I registered them and left them for the week. This was the first time our boys would be sleeping away from home without a parent. The littles and I went back to Gilbert Lake to register there and set up the tent. After downing some Cheerios I realized that I had to kill 8 hours before I needed to be back at Dreams Park. So, I strapped Job and Silas in their seats, and we added some miles to the van. We cruised around the countryside and eventually found ourselves on the shores of Otsego Lake and the beginning of the Susquehanna River. It didn’t take long before they were soaking wet.
We made it back to Dreams Park in time for the opening ceremony and the skills competition. Gabe participated in the Roadrunner competition. Each of the 105 teams playing in the tournament entered their fastest kid to run around the bases and be timed. Gabe got 2nd place. Not bad.
The next two days consisted of waking up early to go see the boys play, wasting time, then watching the boys play another game. It was hard to keep Silas and Job entertained while their big brothers played. But, I had plenty of help with the other moms and siblings, so, I actually got to watch a lot of the innings.
At some point, I found myself with the little guys back at Ostego Lake. This time I met a local with a giant gray beard. His name was Bern, and he was super friendly. We chatted for a long time about the Avett Brothers, dams, and ice fishing. It turned out that he had a house on the lake and he invited me to use his boats as I liked. I didn’t hesitate, and before long we were out on the lake in kayaks and paddleboats. The water was amazing. So clear and blue.
The week seemed to fly by. We spent the last night at Glimmerglass State Park just to do something different. The littles and I did a lot of fishing and swimming when we weren’t at the ball park. Keats and Gabe were able to hang with us sometimes when they weren’t playing. The goldenrod was amazing. I saw three dead porcupines in the road. I bought a Vermont Castings woodstove on the side of the road for $40. I love New York.