Sweet Sixteen

Dear Kids,

The three days that herald Memorial Day Weekend leave us full of greed, year after year. All winter long, we hunger for these 3 days so that we can hammer through so many of the warm weather projects that we can’t touch all winter.

This year, we were blessed with warmth and your feet pattered around the grass barefoot. As we plowed through one task through the next, I reached that tipping point when one task piled on top of another so quickly that I questioned my own stamina for handling the work required to handle a lake house.

Charlie, the Heron, visited us.

All day long you played. You used the boxes from the furniture we bought to build a horrendous fort in the basement – the bunk room. Most of your time was spent at the neighbor’s building a “lake” on the edge of the lake out of sand. I worried about you and skin cancer all day long; do you have enough sunscreen? Did I miss that spot above your upper lip where cancer attacked me? Is it time for more? When I went down to your “lake” to apply your second helping of sunscreen, sand was impossible to separate from your skin and the sunscreen, so I ended up rubbing it all in together to create a combination mud mask, sunscreen. I wonder, how do you interpret that? Certainly not as an act of desperate protection from someone who loves you. You don’t have the perspective yet.

When I wasn’t de-cluttering the house from the junk we’ve collected over the past three summers, I was out in the garden building your fort. A fort that is undeniable taking up valuable real estate in the garden, as I have enlarged its size by four times since last summer. Will you even play there this summer? Your Dad was busy assembling our new furniture, which you helped build too. A little bit.

Then night fell, and your sprits seemed to soar up, in an inversion parallel with the setting sun. You caught four frogs within the first few seconds after the sun dropped. Dad started the bon fire, and you came into the kitchen searching for marshmallows and graham crackers. While you were busy with the frogs, we took the chance, while we had it, to pull out a few of the boxes from your fort and fan the flames of the bonfire. I’m sorry… but there was no way to walk though. “It was a fire hazard.” Not sure what that means, but that’s what my parents told me when I was a kid and I got out of control.

The bullfrogs are mating; we could hear them in a symphony across the lake. You searched through your drawers for long sleeved shirts, and “long-sleeved pants”, as the mosquitoes were out. Then you headed off in the canoe with your Dad, and your flashlight, to gawk at the frogs. One made it inside of the canoe, but soon jumped completely free and back into the water. There were tears.

Then there was the annual wrestling to get your teeth brushed, and finally we hit our heads on the pillow and you were all blissfully quiet.

As night fell, most of the projects we knocked out were invisible to the naked eye; grown-up stuff that we often find so important, and necessary. You show us, everyday, especially when we’re at the lake, how simple and clear your needs truly are. You would feel complete, I think, in a simple cardboard box that is close to the water’s edge. For a second, I think I would be too.

This weekend, your parents reached their 16th wedding anniversary. We just want you to know, life couldn’t be sweeter; and we’re learning every day, especially from you, what really does matter in life. Sweeter every year.

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