So tomorrow is my first day back to work after 4 days off. Rachel had to go back to work on Tuesday , so I was lucky enough to have one on one time with Max. Because of work, school, sports, and life in general, these moments of one on one time are all too infrequent. I’m genuinely bummed, and will really miss being able to spend the whole day with Max tomorrow.
Instead of fun trips to the park, playing board games, swimming, bowling, skating, and working on projects around the house, I’ll be back to “slaying the dragon” at my desk at work. Doing uninspiring stuff like monitoring routers, installing software and deploying new servers and replying to e-mails. It’s very sad that in this “modern age”, in order to provide for our children, it often means spending lots of time away from them. No wonder society has so many problems.
I’m fortunate that my work schedule is pretty flexible. And I probably get to spend a lot more time with Max, than other parents. But since these moments where we genuinely enjoy each others company are so fleeting, it seems like there is never enough. I know the days when I am annoying, or embarrassing to Max are just around the corner. So the fact that Max loves spending time with me, and me with him, is very special to me.
One of the things I love most about spending time with Max, is listening to him talk. I get a huge thrill when he asks questions, and shows interest in how things work, and how he tries to get a better understanding about the world around him. His curiosity is so interesting to me. I’ve heard people say that parenthood is as much of an education for the parent, as it is for the child. And I didn’t quite know what people meant by that at first, but now I totally get it.
So the summer is about half way done. Max starts school in about 4 weeks. I thought it would be a good time to write. So far the summer has been great. It’s nice not having a rigid schedule like we do during the school year. Max enjoys staying up later. And it’s nice not running from ball field to ball field for games and practices. Although fall baseball starts up in just a few weeks.
Staying up later, and late sunsets have allowed us to do some late night swimming, toad/frog hunting, and firefly catching. Thankfully, Max hasn’t been as adiment this year about catching slugs. Last summer he was obsessed with slugs and snails. They are so gross and slimy, I really don’t like them at all. I have to admit that catching the toads has been kind of fun. We wait till about 9PM and we head out with flashlights and headlamps and a small plastic habitat. There have been nights where we searched for an hour and found nothing. There have been nights when we find 2 toads in the first 5 minutes. We usually catch them, Max observes them, we take photos, and then the next morning we release them.
We’ve also done a bit of stargazing. Last week, a co-worker mentioned the International Space Station. And I remembered that I had an app on my phone that tracks the ISS, and alerts when it is nearby and visable. So I re-enabled the alarms. Sure enought around 9PM on Friday night, I got an alert that the ISS would be passing by in 5 minutes. Rachel, Max and I headed out to take a look. About 9:05, we saw a small dot in the distance. In a few minutes the dot became bigger and easier to see. It was the ISS! That same night, we also saw a shooting star and the awesomely bright “blue moon”.
Max and I have gotten really close this summer. Sometimes with school, and sports, it seems like all we do is run around. It’s been nice, spending quality time with him this whole summer. Instead of running around from place to place, we have been leisurely doing different things. Like neighborhood bike rides, swimming, playing with water balloons, and gardening. In the spring, I saw a cool YouTube video about “earth buckets”. They are 5 gallon buckets that you use to grow vegetables. You drill a series of small holes and put a net pot on the bottom. The water wicks up through the holes and into the wicking cup which provides the perfect amount of water to the roots. I watched a few videos and kind of pieced the best aspects of each together and we built 5 of these buckets. We used 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot. We planted two types of tomatoes (roma and grape), two buckets with cucumbers, and 1 with bell peppers. We’ve had varying rates of success. The cucumbers have grown a little too well. They have gotten so large, that they are hard to manage. The roma tomatoes looked promising. The plant grew very full and had lots of flowers. However, as the tomatoes formed and then ripened, most of them got a dark black spot on them like they rotted. We’ve been picking them before they fully ripen, and that seems to help. So far we’ve gotten about 2 dozen roma tomatoes. About 15 cucumbers, and about 10 peppers. The grape tomatoes have grown amazingly well. We’ve probably gotten close to 100 tomatoes from that plant. The plant is huge and has dozens of flowers still. It’s been producing fruit for 6 weeks now. It’s been a fun project to do with Max. He enjoys watering the plants and checking for new vegetables each day. And since he loved cucumbers, he has enjoyed eating the “fruits” of his labor. Next year, I plan on doing these again. Maybe try some other fruits and vegetables.
Max has also had some fun playdates with some of his friends from his baseball team, and school, and he even got together with his friend Brody that he went to pre-school with. Max and I have always been close. But sometimes when we are super busy, we focus more on the activities and less on each other. It’s nice that he is now at the age where we can have conversations, and I can teach him things, and we can share laughs together. I love the way he giggles when I chase him in the pool when we play “water tag”, and when I make “monster waves” in the pool. It’s also funny watching as his sense of humor develops.
Max has also taken a real liking to skating. He goes roller skating almost every week. The local roller rink has fun summer events for the kids, so he got to skate with the Minions, did a “super hero skate”, and some other cool open skate events. He also tried ice skating again when we were on vacation. He’s definitely better and more comfortable on roller skates, but seems to enjoy doing both. The local ice rink has open skating, so I would like to take him a few times so he can continue to practice and get better. Max and I also tried rock climbing for the first time at this cool indoor facility. Max took a real liking to this as well. Rachel’s brother used to rock climb, so the next time we go, we will take him along so he can give us some pointers. It’s fun watching Max try things, and of course, it’s fun when I can try them along with him. I’m enjoying all of this immensely. The time will come, when Max doesn’t want to do things with Dad anymore, and will want to do more with his friends. So I’m happy that he still likes doing stuff with me and has fun while doing it. And we live in an amazing time, where we have cameras and social media to capture and share it all.