Thirteen

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Southhampton Beach, August 24, 9pm

Surf, sand, sunset, s’mores.

Thirteen years old. My teenager.

Everyone says it, and that’s because it’s true: Wasn’t it just yesterday?

That I lumbered through New York City in August, walking, eating, nesting, waiting for him. The labor that went almost too fast, like a train off the rails. The surprise of him: a real, live baby, a stranger, whose life depended on mine.

And then I didn’t get dressed for a couple days. Those days that run into night and back to daylight again. Nurse, rock, change, repeat.

Going out the first time felt momentous. Leaving behind wrinkled sheets smelling of milk and Dreft, time standing still, the sun felt blazing on my bare shoulders. I carried him into Riverside Park, trussed his dangling limbs, our shirts wet where he pressed into me. My stitches were still raw and sore.

Crossing the busy city street with my arms wrapped around him, taking my son into the bright world, I have never felt so brave.

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August Break: Reading Light

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Late night on the road. Car packed to roof, two panting dogs, three restless boys, one cranky husband (an overtired wife), too much brotherly bickering, one whining with a headache, a spilled sticky drink, a bathroom accident.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one in that car that has the thought then, of how I’d rather be anyplace else than trapped in this airless metal box with the most annoying people on earth? Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.

But sometimes, when the car is soaked in darkness and everyone has settled into themselves, it can be golden. Quiet, dark, peaceful, with my most beloved, going places, together.

Then, I feel lucky, full, certain I have everything I want and need right here. I can hear myself think, feel my heart beating, thinking I’m exactly where I want to be.

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August Break: Magically Delicious

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Last night I came home from the supermarket with a box of Lucky Charms. My boys have endured my rants about the evils of sugary cereal, the wrongness of marketing this to children as a healthy breakfast. They’ve stoically accepted that Cookie Crunch will never be a part of “a healthy, well-balanced breakfast” under my roof.

I surprised them with a box for dessert last night after dinner. It was inspired by my brother who was staying with us. Growing up, our mother also didn’t allow sugary cereals. Twice a year, she’d buy Honeycomb (a real lightweight junky cereal compared to its shelf-mates Captain Crunch and Count Chocula), and Griff and I went wild, emptying the box in one sitting.

When we could drive, we struck a deal with her. If we did the family grocery shopping, we could buy whatever cereal we wanted. Thus began the Lucky Charms years.

Just as I remembered, the milk turns Easter egg colors, pastel blue shifting into seafoam green. The leftover milk, having been steeped with color and sweetness, is its very own confection, a secondary, unexpected bonus treat when the cereal is gone.

Thomas (nearly thirteen), bowl of sugary pieces bobbing in milk in front of him, said, “I can’t believe that this is actually happening”.

As they shoveled the chalky bits into their mouths, James kept saying, to no one in particular, “I never even thought they would be this good”.