13 August 2013
Right now really ought to be the August of our discontent. I keep getting momentarily confused by photos that friends in the upper Midwest are posting on Facebook: “is that from earlier this spring?” I’ll wonder, because they’re standing around near verdant greenery without visibly wilting under the heat and humidity. Then I’ll realize that, in some places, August is still go-outside weather, instead of reverse-hibernation season. There’s no more travel in our future, and soon Pete’ll be back to working the long hours that make doing something as simple as finding the time to go to the dentist a Sisyphean task. It’s too hot to go for a walk, or do anything outside that doesn’t involve a splash pad to periodically douse Theo in before chasing him around some adjoining too-high “Ages 5-12″ playground structure while the sweat melts sunscreen into my eyes. Library programs are all on summer break, and construction traffic made last week’s attempt to go for a walk around the mall into an hour-long car ride of epic angst. It’s restrictive, all of this Texas-August coddling, and it really ought to stuck, which is why it’s worth saying: it’s all really going pretty okay.
Maybe it’s that Theo cut all four molars and a couple of canines during our summer vacations, and is currently taking a break from the past few months’ breakneck teething schedule. Maybe it’s that we’ve been as active as possible within our local playgroup, because other kids’ toys are always the best and most absorbing toys on earth. Maybe it’s because Theo’s picked up a ton of exactly identical-sounding words with which to emphatically express himself and leave his parents to decipher based on context; “an” variously means Sebastian, muffin, ceiling fan, belly button, airplane, trash can, or Pigeon. Maybe it’s because, due to the severe reflux or nap refusal or temperament or whatever, Theo was never particularly happy with his lot as a baby, and finds being a toddler far more enjoyable. And so, then, do we all.
In another few weeks, of course, we could be back in the throes of more teeth, or a sleep regression, or vague working-on-a-verbal-leap agita. But in general, I feel like the fundamental gamble that I took back when deciding that having a kid would be something to take under consideration — that there’d be a whole lot of unrewarding slogging that would eventually become something fulfilling — is starting to pay off.
There’s still a lot of toddler drama, of course. But these days, we’re mostly able to fill up the long, hot afternoons at home pretty successfully. It’s been a while since Theo melted into a puddle of tears on the floor since I had to put him down right in front of me to go to the bathroom. The end of breakfast no longer necessarily heralds the arrival of hold me for this house is awful angst five minutes later. We share a growing number of common interests — chiefly books, and going outside whenever the pavement is not too (as Theo will slowly whisper to himself over and over) hot — and can happily while away hours bobbing cheerfully around the city pool, blazing sun be damned. Summer bliss: brought to you by chlorine.
The pool is some kind of magic, man. So is August, maybe. So is this kid.