Bookends and Swings

“Are you taking just the Bookends then?” Bearded Husband asked as I headed out the door. That was a new nickname he came up with as I got ready to take our oldest and youngest to the park. The Middles were happy playing Camp in our bedroom, so I opted to leave them be.

Off we went, the Bookends and me. Those two boys look the most alike of the four. Watching the toddler sometimes takes me back eight years to that special time I had with just #1.  We don’t often have a lot of time together, just me and the Bookends, my babies.

As we walked to the park, Oldest asked Little if he wanted a piggyback ride because, “I can do that you know, Mommy.”  I remember giving you all kinds of piggyback rides, baby, and am glad you still ask for them albeit less often.

Oldest raced to the swings, his main reason for coming along. He loves to scale the poles and climb. He is particularly fond of swinging higher and higher and then jumping off.  I stopped myself from saying “be careful” and instead admired his abilities. I remember when the slide was too scary to try without me, buddy, now look what you can do.

“Watch me, Mommy! See what I did, Little? Want to come on the swings with me?”

Little raced over and hopped onto the swing beside his biggest brother.

“No high, Mommy, no high.”

“Go high?”

“Yeah, no, no high.”

“Not too high?”

“Yeah.”

You got it, baby boy. 

And there I was pushing my Bookends on the swings. Memories of taking #1 to the park just the two of us came flooding back, followed by snapshots of each of my boys at that age. The giggles, the grins, grabbing their little feet.

“I want to swing at the same time as Little,” Oldest asked. So I changed the pace so they could swing side by side. They grinned at each other, swinging in tandem. But slowly, Oldest was going higher and faster again and they were back to their own rhythms. After a few moments, Oldest abandoned the swings and Little started to follow. I sat down and slowly began swinging on my own. And I thought, this is how it’s going to be. My boys are becoming their own persons.

Then my Oldest, my original baby boy, turned back and came to push me. And Little hopped onto my lap. And I could smell the sand and heat from his neck and see Oldest’s shadow as he gave us one last push before climbing a new challenge. I watched him scale the fire pole with Little cuddling with me and I realized: This is how it is supposed to be. 

We walked home for dinner and Little decided it was okay to hold our hands. As we walked along, Oldest and I did “One, Two, Three…Wheee!” and swung Little repeatedly the whole way. Yesterday, I was the little one being swung, I blinked and I was the one swinging. Slow down, slow down.

“We don’t have time like this very often, just the three of us do we, Mommy?”

No, baby, but we should. We will, my Bookends.

Me, The Maze, and My Boys

The boys begged me to take them to a local farm that has some fun attractions, including a corn maze. So one morning we hopped in the van and took off in hopes of high adventure in a corn field. We were not disappointed.

Come see our fortress!
Come see our fortress!

“The maze is ready!”

“This way, Mommy!”

“Come on, Number 3, let’s go see! We’ll show you around!”

“I wonder if they made it trickier this year!”

The Bigs could not wait to get going and rushed ahead, encouraging their younger brother.

“Don’t worry, Mommy, he’ll be with us,” they reassured me.

I was in charge of the littlest Little who was not going to let those big boys out of his sight.

The first time I took them in the maze I had Number 3 in the baby carseat and was hesitant to let them explore. The owner knows me and could see the slight worry on my face as I contemplated how I would schlep the baby and the boys through the mucky field.  She asked her kids to take the boys through and they were thrilled. And I released my hold on my boys a little.

The next year the four of us went in together. Number 3 was toddling after his brothers while I stuck close behind him, catching him before he tripped on a rogue cornstalk or tumbled a little on some uneven ground.  I could here the older boys giggling with delight as they tricked me, hiding between the rows. And I released my hold a bit more.

Wait for me, guys!
Wait for me, guys!

The third year, I had a newborn again, but had grown wiser and put him in the Baby Bjorn so I could venture into the maze with the three boys. Now the games included Tag, Hide-and-Seek, and racing back to the top. I lagged behind, but was able to keep them mostly in my sights. And my tether to them lengthened and loosened again.

Last year, our baby boy was a spunky one-year-old up on Daddy’s shoulders, then Mommy’s shoulders, then back to Daddy. He loved spying his big brothers from his perch way up high. There was no point in trying to hide with him on your team since his excited yelps gave us away every time. My baby was becoming a Boy. And I released my hold on them a little bit more.

This year, we had incredible fun together, me and my boys. The only rule I had was that if I called their name really loud, they had to reply so I knew they were okay. And I promised them that if they needed me or just wanted to know where I was that if they called, I’d stand in one spot yelling, “Right here!” until they found me.

You can learn a lot from a corn maze.

There are many different paths, some short, some long, some smooth, some a tad treacherous, and it’s up to you to choose which one you want to try. It’s okay to double-back and try another path because eventually you’ll get to where you need to be.

You can choose to run, walk, or saunter. Maybe do a little bit of each.

You never know when you might discover a hidden fortress, a secret lair, or an amazing spot for a fort. It’s okay to go off the well-trod path, but not forever. Someone made the paths for you because they knew the best way to travel through.

A corn maze can be fun on your own, but it is better with a friend, and even better with a group. Sometimes it is good to hold hands, but it’s okay to let go, too.

There are dips and bumps and mud and itchy things along the way, but the adventure is worth it.

And if you ever feel alone or afraid or unsure, stop and call your mom.

“I’m right here. Right here.”