Night To Remember

August 26, 2014

My daughter left for a week in Disney World with the Boys and Girls Clubs at three o’clock this morning. My son and I spent hours discussing, debating, fighting over a trip to the woods tonight to celebrate the end of summer. Long story short, I won. No trip to the woods but he was allowed to stay out until 10.

Long, long story short, I lost. After about three minutes of due diligence I discovered him on his way to, you guessed it, the woods. He threw his phone in the car, swore he wouldn’t take a walk to the forest, (shades of Little Red anyone?) and took off in the direction of the Square. Two hours passed. I had his phone. I’d put it on the charger, and heard no texts, no snapchats; it was silent as my phone. And that is really, really silent because Katy was in Disney world.

So I went out to look for him. I walked around the Square, I walked around the Circle, I headed over to Cunningham Woods, following the footsteps of about 5000 teenagers with much “cooler parents” than me. I took the shortcut behind the old barn, I heard voices, all different voices, girl voices, and man voices, punk voices, and rap voices, freshman boys with changing voices, and freshmen girl voices I recognized, in between drags on their cigarettes. No son.

I headed back in the car. Three minutes after I drove away, I was pulled over. My lights weren’t on. I told the officer the tale of the son and the horribly strict, uncool mom, and he told me go home and drink some tea.

I went home for tea, probably not tea, maybe seltzer, most likely aspirin and tap water, and was greeted by a the sounds of one or two dogs next door- barking, shrieking, wailing . There was a dog beneath the porch of the abandoned house next door. Barking, shrieking, wailing. They didn’t sound like any dogs I knew.  Did someone make a trip to the shelter this afternoon and decide the poor thing should spend the night outside?

I pulled out my phone and stepped beyond my back door to investigate. It’s a new phone, I hadn’t downloaded the flashlight app. We don’t own any flashlights, haven’t bought one since we discovered we could buy the app for free.

Walking toward me, ablaze in light from his high beams and his very own flashlight, the kind with batteries, a police officer,  (a different police officer from the one I met 20 minutes before.)

“Someone called in, is that your dog out there? The neighbors think they hear your dog next door, makin all kinds of noise.”

The officer, me and the Flashlight went over to investigate. It took time, the officer was even more cautious than me, but yes, that was Sophie, who had someone gotten her leash (from our earlier dog walk in search of Colin) all tangled up in a skunk’s tail. I guess dogs sound different when they are in the throes of battle and stench.

By the time I was calm enough to approach her, or felt like I really didn’t have a choice because after all, a cop was waiting for me to get the damn dog back in the house, and this cop probably had better things to deal with, like the party at the quarry with 5 thousand kids all belonging to incredibly cool parents, kids who weren’t doing anything more than exchanging snapchats and discussing who had who for home room, a couple of whom might need rides home from some of our finest. Because their really cool parents were already sleeping. Or at their very own party-

By the time I was calm enough to approach her, the skunk had died, choked by Sophie’s leash, or by the mighty Sophie herself. Sophie is sleeping soundly now, and our house does’t smell like wet dog anymore. It smells like dead skunk.

Colin just got home. He’s outside inspecting the dead skunk. I really, really hope the damn skunk is dead. A trip to the ER with an angry injured teenager might be a little too much excitement for one person to handle.

When he gets back inside, we can discuss the war. The war between Sophie and the Skunk. Not our nasty brief skirmish.

What I learned from tonight? I really really need to renew my license, and to take off the Sweet Bloodthirsty One’s leash as soon as we get home.

There’s probably more, but I want to go watch tv with my son and pretend we are both about two years younger. The Simpson’s marathon is still on, so after an hour or, we might not be pretending anymore. He might share the quilt, and might let him wear Dad’s slippers.

This summer,  I sat down with my 14 year old son and discussed, in depth, porn and pot.
I took my 11 year old  daughter shopping for a swimsuit. She came out of the dressing room a young woman. A young woman that had discovered what horrible lighting, unforgiving mirrors, and a swim suit one size too small can make can make a person feel like spending the summer on the couch.
This is not a time that lends itself to facebook posts.
I look at my son and I swoon when he smiles and I cringe when he opens his mouth.
I reach for my daughter and she’s left the building or she leans on my shoulder and giggles or she takes a deep breath and explains the world.
I don’t know what’s happening next. Just that summer is almost just about done and fall means we are all moving on and I wish I could have this summer one more time
Next year. Cause it’s only going to get more complicated.
Or just worse.
It’s going to get worse. And ‘m going to wish I’d appreciated now- these past few months, even with the awkward conversations and sad revelations, more than I did.

After all, there was long games of catch in the back yard, watching Colin’s face beam as he showed me a snake he caught at Ponkapoag Lake, the way Katy still puts her hand in mine when we cross the street, lots and lots of ice cream, and more time than I’d like to admit, curled up in bed, all three of us watching Brooklyn 99 reruns.

I’m going to wish for a lot of things.
Growing pains suck. For me. For them.
But I couldn’t wish for two smarter, cooler, funnier, kinder kids.
While they sleep upstairs, I count my blessings, pray for help, and thank God for all the memories.