Summertime used to yield the most colorful renderings - the most accurate depictions of the essence of my children. Their little selves caught in various states of summer through the camera's lens. Their creamy skin gloriously offered to the sun- kissed to a roasted peanut glow. Their hair a little bit more wild. Their grins wide enough to count each bumpy tooth, each gap and gum. Unbridled beams of joy glinting from the caverns of their mouths. They still hadn't grown into their ears- little satellites picking up each chirp, croak, sigh, breath, whish, rush, rumble, hush- marvelling at the stories told by nature, by their neighborhoods, by the sky, the open air, the streetlights, the stars. Their willingness to learn, let go, live- it was all so vibrant, so boundless. Days were a sweet sigh. And then, another sigh- until the ropey tendons released. Until we set our canoes on lazy rivers- no urgency for direction- just surrender.
And now, they are teenagers whose summer lives are no longer intertwined save for (in their minds) the unfortunate fact they share the same house and the same blood. They are elusive. Aloof. Apathetic. Immune to the gilded beckoning of the sun. Heavy with humidity, they are no longer willing to humor their mother with a smile. Openness to the world's offerings is replaced with an earnestness to while away the hours racking up sleep mileage (and dirty dishes). Their days stretch out along a comatose river- too slow to get anywhere. The stagnancy is almost too much to bear- I want to stir their static waters with a loud paddle. Remember the days when the little moments were strung together to make a beautiful story of us? Marvel, again, dammit!
Instead of summer sighs, I hold my breath-waiting for them to shed the affliction of their ages.
In pictures, palms replace faces.
I was standing hopeful that I was about to capture my oldest boy- steadily, gently assuming the features of a man. He stood in a pensive pose while helping to shuck corn at his Nana's cottage. A serene softness lighting on his fine cheekbones. Finally a picture for the family album-a picture worth printing.
Then, my eyes scanned lower- over the image in the viewer of my camera-all the while his eyes were watching my expression. Then I recognized his strategic placement of the corn whose husk he had just peeled away- a prosthetic corn penis shooting out from his shorts. I should have known better.
My squinting, pinched eyes scanned upward, s l o w l y, meeting his. His playful boyish gleam- a satisfied smile. I love you, he cloyingly offered. But I will never cooperate for a picture.
Summertime still yields the most colorful renderings, the most accurate depiction of the essence of my children. And while I pine for the days when the most pressing decision was who to give the last root beer flavored popsicle to, I wouldn't have them any other way than who they need to be today. They are here. But one day, in the not too distant future, if we've truly done right by them, they will get in their canoes and paddle away from here.