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The quintessential American experience

Two adults, two kids

A car, a tent

The open road in summer.

 

Re-creating the vacations of our youth

My spouse and I take our children

Into the expanse of the West.

 

Unlike some friends,

We have qualms about sending our children forth

To grandparents, to camps, away,

For weeks, months, at a time.

Instead, here we are,

In the bubbles of our own creating–

The tent and the car surrounding,

Protecting,

Entrapping us.

 

What is being learned?

Who are the teachers?

Who the students?

 

Growing,

Exploring,

Conquering fears together.

 

The elder and I climb a dangling ladder in the Badlands

Temporarily suspending ourselves and our fear of heights.

The younger marvels at every creature,

sunset, flower,

And we see the marvelous landscape anew.

We climb and relive past ways,

Candlelight in a deep cave

doused to make us face what we cannot see

and see what we hesitate to face.

The relics of the past,

Animal, human,

All made this trek,

pushing themselves to these places.

In the snowy mountains,

we encounter our physical limitations,

while agape at the glory around us.

All peoples imagine their gods in the heights

and we too feel as if we have met mysteries.

 

Somehow, the problems we encounter—

storms, sibling fights, timing, tempers—

all pale in the memory.

Instead, we are left with connections,

built on gossamer threads of experiences shared.

Glad to be home,

Joyful in the knowledge

That we can be more than we often are,

That together we are more than individuals.

Family.

(c)Lydia A. Schultz 2009

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My oldest is about to graduate from college this year, and I have been thinking about the process of nurturing and letting go.  I wrote this a number of years ago, when he went off to sleep-away camp for the first time.  Funny, to me it doesn’t seem so long ago.

***************************************

Daniel

 

Absence

Is an ache

Not like the active toothache

But like the way your tongue keeps working a spot

Where the tooth is gone,

The way your jaw remembers that place.

The pain isn’t stabbing or shooting

But constant

A sense of loss

Of being missed

Of something that was so much a part of you

That its absence makes clear

Just how essential.

 

You grow so fast, so far away.

I cleaned your closet in your absence

Finding old treasures, long forgotten,

Finding the badges of your courage,

Achingly.

 

The letting go is hard–

Harder than I thought.

But the joy in the progress, the growth,

The glimmers of the man you will become,

Make me hopeful.

 

So I sit with tears now

That I can’t tell you about.

Tears after the heartfelt hug you gave

In spite of wanting to be macho in front of your friends.

Tears when I heard your tiny brother

Sigh deeply and say,

“I miss Daniel ’cause I love him.”

 

A boy too big to kiss his mom in public

But young enough to sneak

Stuffed animals into bed.

 

My gentle, temperamental son,

I miss you too

And love you.

 

Camp helps me to grow up too.

 

(c) Lydia A. Schultz

As a parent of an adolescent, and as a teacher, this seems appropriate for the start of Spring Fever.

*****************************************************

The Boy Men

 

They can barely contain it.

 

The energy flows like sap

Through their veins and

into the world around them.

 

Fingers drum on their knees

Feet bounce a restless staccato

Hands in constant motion

Bouncing balls

off floors

walls

each other

 

 

They want to get onto the court

They need to get out there

a pressure valve

a release

 

They need to tap that sap

in the game

in the rush

the flow

the sweat, the motion

 

the game

 

a way to control that burgeoning

That sense of growing

beyond  their boundaries

exploring and exploding

 

Direct it

into spent energy

Take that potential

and make it sweet