Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer (whirl) winds

Can this child squeeze any more partying out of summer before her college life (of partying) begins?

I think not.

Earbaby seems determined to go to any and every gathering, cookout, hangout, alleged party within the city, all the neighborhoods, and a few of the surrounding towns, before she bids farewell. I guess all that teasing from her dad about going to school with farmers has made her decide that now is the time to practice dancing until the cows come home.

EB has found the perfect job for her new lifestyle we call, what's-for-dinner-can-I-go-out-there's-a-party-at-(fillintheblank)-and-can-I-take-Steve?

Her job is as a camp counselor. The hours generously start at noon, and end at six, which gives her enough time to come home, find dinner, retire to her lair to eat it, take a shower, spend time texting with her friends for the info on who, what, when and where, take a shower, get dolled up, and get out of the house. With Steve.

Steve is what EB has named her dad's car. She informed us his full name is Steven Carmichael Jordan Mullin the 3rd, and even though he may be on his last legs -- OK tires -- he is the traveling companion who safely gets her where she wants to go. And apparently, Steve has never met a party he didn't like or couldn't finagle his way into.

When her dad and I aren't rolling our eyes at her constant search for the perfect dance venue, we're hoping she gets it all out of her system. In three weeks, we expect her to get serious and buckle down with her schoolwork (Yeah, right).

But this has been EB's summer of summers. She always liked going out with friends, especially this past year, when she found herself again and reestablished herself among the people who really care about her. But in the last couple of months there is more frenetic energy, as if she has suddenly realized that everything, and everybody, will be different later on. Even though she knows she'll undoubtedly see many, if not most of her friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, she recognizes that the distance and time will mean they won't have the same friends, classes, likes, dislikes, and general things in common any more.

I've tried to prepare her, but not in a sad way. I had two best friends through most of my formative years, especially through high school. But the three of us went our separate ways after graduation, and we actually never got together again until our 20-year reunion. One moved to California, and that was her first time back. Before there was texting, there was still constant contact. We'd check in every day on what we were wearing, what our after-school activities would be, who the crush of the day, week, month, was, whose turn it was to have drama. EB's friends check in much more, all day, and all night, sometimes. Still, it will be interesting to see how fast the drop-off will be as they all find new friends, and new dramas in new settings.

So maybe I understand that frantic need to connect with somebody every single day. She's not anticipating being lonely in school. But I'm sure she wonders if she'll feel as close to her high school compatriots when she returns. I want to reassure her that even if she doesn't, it will be all right. Life is all about the changes.

I've also noticed a bit of a push-back from growing away from us. We didn't have to push this baby bird from the nest. She has spent quite a bit of time this past year (and the previous one) poisoning it on her way out. But every once in a while the baby bird wants to creep back in. She'll ask me to do something for her she's perfectly capable of doing for herself, she'll want attention, physical affection of a back rub, or she'll nostalgically rub my ear in the way she soothed herself when she was tired or anxious as a baby. Then it was cute. But now she wears acrylic nails and being stabbed in the ear isn't the barrel of monkeys you'd think it would be.

This month has been such a contrast. EB is getting more and more excited about going away to school, and more and more anxious about going away to school. Yes, she will be thousands of miles away. But she's already worked out that she'll see us nearly every month. We will visit for Family weekend in October (I wouldn't be surprised if it's the first and last time she wants us to), she'll have more than a week home for Thanksgiving, and then there will be at least a month for Christmas. And as my husband and I talk about our spring vacation plans, she is already saying, "wait for me!"

So this summer is for eking out the last vestiges of carefree school friendships. It's for establishing oneself as a bonafide city mouse before becoming, or at least coexisting with the country mice. It's for pulling away from mom and dad, while still wanting to be their baby. Finding herself and losing herself.

She's standing on the precipice of adulthood and trying to both jump off and hang on. I feel for her. We all had to do this. So I know she'll do just fine.

Party on, Earbaby. Party on.

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