Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Orchid

My parents live a half days drive away from us.  Regardless of the distance, they have done a great job of maintaining a great relationship with my kids.  In addition to trips to our home for big and small events, my parents have been very good about calling my kids often and sending them small notes and cards on a regular basis.

This summer, in addition to a visit to our home, my parents played host to my kids separately.  Due to a scheduling issue, my daughter and youngest son went to stay with them at the same time, leaving my oldest son, Conor, here with me.

Conor is my kindred spirit.  He's the child who is the most like me.  He loves to read, enjoys time by himself, has a great sense of humor and loooooooves to talk.  He can talk your ear off.  Add to that the fact that he is super smart, well read and retains oodles and oodles of information in his big brain.  So he has lots to talk about.

Conor is the child I worry the most about.  Because he is so easy to please and compliant, I sometimes forget to give him the attention he needs.  If my kids were houseplants, he would be my pothos - left unattended and unwatered it appears fine, until suddenly, you awake one morning and it isn't okay.  It has yellowing and dying leaves.

So this week alone with my Conor gave me a real chance to nurture him in the way both he and I needed.

On Monday, we did nothing.  I tackled all the jobs that have to get done each week, such as laundry, cleaning, bill paying, etc.  Conor enjoyed having the television and Playstation all to himself.  No need to argue over who got to sit in dad's chair or even what channel to watch.  He was able to turn on the History Channel and not have to worry that something may have too much shooting or that a war re-enactment was to realistic and would give his younger brother nightmares.  He could play his Cabella's Big Game hunt and not have Hayden stand behind him saying "Can I have a turn now?  Is it my turn now? Can I go?  When can I shoot?"

On Tuesday, we decided to check out Peak's Island in Portland's Casco Bay.  We headed into Portland and caught the ferry over.

Got our tickets!

Portland's beautiful working water front!

Ferry ride over.

We walked up from the dock and to Picnic Point.

We found small pieces of sea glass.

I questioned my thought process of bringing a purse! 

We walked over to the rope swing.

No way he would pass up a chance to climb up it.

Checking out the tide pools.

Loving the day.

Watched some ships go through the islands.

He let me hold his hand on the walk back to the dock.

He even smiled while holding my hand.

We didn't eat there this day, but The Inn on Peak's Island is a great place to stay if you ever visit.

Then we went home and I made him chicken fried steak. He ate it all. 
(Recipe from the The Pioneer Woman - have I mentioned I love her?)

And that was just day 1.  We got a good night's sleep and the next day, we took Stella for a walk down to the covered bridge.  It was a hot and humid day.  Conor rode his bike and I got dragged along by a dog that wanted to keep up with that boy incredibly bad.  The dog was hot so we brought her down to the river to cool off.  Soon, Conor was dropping hints about how hot he was and how he wished he had worn his bathing suit.  

He tried to cool off by putting his feet in the water.

Conor is not a risk taker.  Its not that he is afraid of anything, rather that he is a rule follower.  He is the stereotypical first born child.  He believes there are rules and they should be followed and is amazed that people don't understand the simplicity of it all.  This is another way he is like me.  So the thought of swimming in regular clothes was way out of his comfort zone.  But perhaps it was the heat, or the humidity, or the simple pleasure of being the sole focus of my attention for an extended period of time that allowed him to embrace the moment and jump in.

And he swam and the dog swam.  And they continued to swim.  For over an hour.  And then we headed home.
Our last day by ourselves I set aside to fulfill a birthday wish.  Conor didn't ask for much this year.  There was a series of book he asked for and that was all.  At the last minute he asked if he could go rock climbing and bring a friend.  We were so busy around his birthday that we kept having to push it off.  This was a perfect time to do it.  We could spend all day there and he wouldn't have to worry about his brother and sister being there to distract him.  

Conor climbing.

Conor belaying for his friend.

After our day at the Maine Rock Gym, we headed over to Trader Joe's to get some snacks for the ride home.  I apologize for not having photos of the incredible brownie bites with sea salt we had, but, Conor's friend is in all those photos and I'm just not comfortable including pictures of someone else's child.  But trust me, they were good!  

We left the next day to all spend a week with my parents and I think Conor enjoyed having me all to himself for those final hours in the vehicle.  Currently, he continues to be spoiled by my parents as this is his solo week with them.  They have gone to Steamtown National Park, done a tour of West Point, and today they are visiting the USS Intrepid.  

Soon reality sets in again.  I will be picking Conor up this weekend and life will return to normal.  He will go from being the one and only, to one of three.  But one thing I will change.  Instead of treating him like a pothos, I will remember that he is a beautiful rare orchid, and treat him as such.

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