Friday, June 10, 2011

"Friday Night Frolic" - On Becoming a Freshman

Max--with 'lil sis-- his first day of 1st grade.

He slept in late this morning
this, the first of long summer days
that sit between the afternoon’s high heat and high school.

He wheeled off on his dad’s old Santa Cruz
moments after Mama bandaged the scrapes on his elbow,
from the fall at the edge of the sloping driveway.

He, resisting iced peas as aid,
stepped back on the narrow board,
and tacked atop the hot, cracked pavement.

Out of Mama’s sight,
to the club across Nate Whipple Highway
where the pool had just opened.

She wondered if she should have driven him.

Last week, the pediatrician’s standard inquiry: you like girls?
the boy grinned an affirmative answer,
conceding his broadening affections.

They hadn’t had the sex talk.
Or had they? It was time. 
It was not. It couldn't be.

Sketch pad and kneaded eraser tossed on the table,
trilobites, igneous rock, northern Pangaea,
participles, exponents, realism a closed chapter.

Middle school books to be returned to the town,
(seems yesterday they were just covered)
a tattered grey lunch bag and chewed pens to replace.

The sky receded with indigo clouds,
a growling acceleration of a squally evening. 
He’d left on four wheels screwed to a wooden board’s bottom.

She hadn't mentioned the hour to return
when he appeared at the door, sweaty, flushed, puffing,
thinly beating the rain spew, white hot vectors, the air collapsing in on itself. 

The green of the grass deepened as the storm rolled over,
lights flickered around the house,
Dirty Harry flashed from the TV screen.

Six feet tall, shirtless, shoulders that had bolted 
it seemed, overnight, unwinding on the leather couch
he looked casually at his summer reading list: Dickens and Dumas.

How wide the space had grown 
between the little boy of first grade, Dr. Seuss, crayons,
and the charcoal prints he brought home yesterday.

There's a slow, woody nightshade unfettering,
scrambling over the trellis, a liberation,
ever so rooted in that vessel called home.

* * *

Peter Wolf, former lead vocalist for the J. Geils Band (I still have their old vinyl "Blow Your Face Out"), has released seven solo albums since leaving the band in 1983. His latest, Midnight Souvenirs, was released in 2010.


  1. Little boys. Lordy, how dear. And, if the roots are strong, how sweet they can be to their mamas. That sure seems to be the case here, so watch for the sweetness to grow and grow again, circle back to where it started as your boy moves along toward one of his own.

    A good Friday's work, Jayne.

  2. Great use of detail. I really feel the tug of having that boy grow up. So slow and yet so fast before your eyes.

  3. Jayne, doesn't it all go so fast? On another blog today we were talking about our grand children and how long ago it seems that our sons and daughters lived with us, but when I read your posts it all floods back to those little events that make a life with your/my children. There are days it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I now have a 36 year old man that is my son. The same son that rode his skateboard, and had crushes on cute girls, learned to drive and learned to be independent of us (though not entirely) I am glad you still have time to keep him "close at hand".

  4. aww, now you got me all choked up...

  5. Ah, the little guys grow. My youngest is a sophomore now. Seems like he was just jumping off the arm of the couch in nothing but a homemade cape, underoos and swim goggles. What a flight!

  6. This is really sweet, Jayne. I love the old photo of your children and I am moved by your poetry. I can't help think of my own mother, she must be feeling the same way as you do. You're a great Mom, your son should read this. :)

  7. Nance- I wish I had enjoyed the younger years more, but they were difficult times. My husband traveled for work (gone for least 3 to 4 days/week) until my youngest was five years old. So, for a good 7 years I felt like a single mother, and I wanted those kids to grow up but fast!
    Now, I want to freeze them in time. These early teen years are fascinating. Their need for independence, while still looking for guidance. It's going to get trickier (and lonelier), I know, but I'm pretty certain that, as you said, it'll all circle back. :)

    Angela- Slow and fast exactly! Mama's not ready for him to leave the nest. Thank goodness I've still got a few years. ;)
    Thanks for stopping by, Angela!

  8. Cheryl- Way too fast. In the beginning though, it was foggy slow motion. In those sleep deprived days, I don't think I gave motherhood much thought. I jut did it.
    It's so entirely different as they get older; this acute awareness of the years getting away scares me! I'm going to keep both of mine close at hand for as long as possible. Especially that little sprite... oooh, she's a handful. ;)

  9. Tim- Thank you. I like in a words. :-)

    id- Brace yourself, my dear! It's like a can't turn the faucet off these days. Hell, I don't think that's going to change. Ugh!

    Nessa- That may be the one saving grace of watching them fly solo--not having to worry about anyone breaking an arm or leg by jumping off of tables and chairs (and bookcases!). But, I'm not kidding myself--I know worry sticks around.

  10. Maria- It's so nice to see you here again! Thanks for stopping by. And I've no doubt your mother feels the same way--it comes with the territory. ;)

  11. Loved this, Jayne. Just beautiful. I'm traveling in Europe with my 20-year-old son. We arrived in London yesterday. So yes, it does go by fast, but keeps turning into something else, which can also be sweet and good. (Okay. Rest time is officially over and back out we go!)

  12. Wonderful piece on the passage of time.

  13. Seré- So good to hear from you, and from Europe, at that! I hope my son decides to do a semester abroad, so I can visit him out there... not for quite some time, though. Though we know that time will arrive sooner than wanted.
    Enjoy your travels. More news on the book, please! :)

  14. thanks for reminding me about peter wolf. it appears that he's aged quite gracefully unlike many other rockers.

  15. Good luck to your son on his first year of high school! Having just finished my sophomore year, I can honestly say that he will love it! Even though truthfully now I can't wait to be done and go away to college (: But good luck to you as well with all of the changes I'm sure all of you parents experience. It's going to be fun! My mom and I try to make sure we laugh at each other more than we yell, and I would highly advise anyone else to do the same!

  16. Jayne, I love this beautiful story. When your son goes out, he is a boy- skateboard and scrapes. But with a change in the weather and at an hour you did not set, he returns as a man- 6 feet tall.
    I always say, don't blink or we'll miss it!

  17. My eyes are smarting. I keep thinking of my own boy who's growing up so fast.
    This was wonderful, Jayne.

  18. BP- Wolf's done alright for himself. I always loved that "wooba gooba sayin' to ya" (that whole intro) from Musta Got Lost... brings back memories from, well, from when I was my son's age. ;)

    Karson- Thank you for those wishes. And I hear you on the laughing more than yelling. It's sweet how the scales tip as you get older, and the yelling bit becomes something neither mom or child remember. (Well, mom remembers less, anyway.) ;)

  19. Leonora- Oh gosh, I try like heck not to blink! Those thunderstorms make it awful difficult, though. :)

    Lydia- They have to grow up, of course. We just don't have to like everything about it. My son's still a good hugger, though. Thank goodness. ;)

  20. Best wishes to your son at this exciting time ... College next!

    I saw Peter Wolf in concert last year when he toured Midnight Souvenirs, he's a great storyteller on stage.

  21. Ahh i know that feeling well. My baby is turning 21 at the end of this month and I've been going through photos so I can put a birthday post together for him.

    Take heart in that truth that he's doing exactly what he should be doing.. growing to independence.

    Lovely post.

  22. Nicely done. Brought back a lot of memories for me... and I get to relive the experience again hopefully with three grandsons, 2, 4 and 5.

  23. Joanne- I don't want to think about College! Although he's interested in UVA, and wouldn't mind traveling down there every now and then.
    And Wolf--I can't believe I missed him last year when he was in Providence. He tends to play small venues and I'll bet it's a great show. Lucky you!

  24. Hilary- 21? That's a big one--I won't want to miss that post! I'm betting we'll be seeing lots of beautiful pictures. And yes, taking heart, 'tis the only thing I can do! ;)

  25. Robert- 2, 4 and 5?! They're keeping you busy, I'm sure. My mother (who had six children) has eleven grandchildren, all born within a span of 10 years. We have some wild family gatherings. Good for my mom she can escape to Maine for the summer... although we do tend to follow her there.
    Enjoy those boys! :)

  26. You summed it up so perfectly, and managed to make my heart wince. My boy arrived home last night, his first year at University over. He has to bend down now to hug me, he's grown, a man now. I am in awe, so proud of him. But. How I miss my child!

  27. He's a handsome lad!
    I'm a sucker for poetry, Jayne, and this one I enjoyed greatly.

  28. whoah.. nice, i'm follow you! i'm from Malaysia :)

  29. (Poetry, yet. Holy cow...!)

    Whenever I read something like this about someone else's son growing up, with (as I always point out) no kids of my own I always end up wondering about myself. (Note clever excuse-making for narcissism, ha.) People always told me I was nice, and smart, and so on, but really, y'know, I must have been such an emotional chowderhead. I bet my own mother harbored many of these same feelings, same thoughts, same memories, and I just skipped along la-de-da oblivious. Like, Oh yes, I your first-born am going away to high school next year, but I don't suppose you feel one way or the other about it so I'll just be on my way...!

    For what it's worth, I don't think Mom and Dad ever had The Sex Talk with me, either. (The running joke -- not quite true, except in spirit -- was that Dad couldn't do it because he was at a lodge meeting that night, and Mom was too embarrassed to do anything more than hand me a little booklet... thereby embarrassing the bejeezus out of me, too.)

    Thank you as always for such a great musical selection here. (I do wish, though, that whoever uploaded the "Sleepless" YouTube video had at least chosen a still photo of a pillow less obviously slept-on. :))

  30. Aw. Such a touching tribute to your son and to your coming to grips with him coming of age.

  31. It's amazing how diverse you are with your posts. Keep it up :)

  32. Little boys grow fast. So do mine. It's scary.

    Nice poem >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  33. I can feel this and I don't even have kids. Can't they just stay a sperm and egg forever? They grow up so damned fast. One moment he's a glimmer of DNA, the next moment he's starting his first day of school.

  34. Shrinky- Can't think about college!
    Right now, I like that my boy is still a boy, with some young man qualities. I don't know how I'll feel when he's ALL man! Old, I guess. ;)

    DB- Thank you. I think he's rather handsome, but then, I'm rather biased.
    Sucker for poetry?! Well, it doesn't happen often here... but I'm finding I really like the verse. :)

    Shopping- Welcome--and all the way from Malaysia! Glad to have you join us. :)

  35. JES- Secret: No mother thinks her son is an emotional chowderhead, even though she feels it's true of everyone else. But her son? No. Never! But, she does expect him to skip along "la-de-da oblivious"-- perfect description. :) (How I wish I had that kind of skip in my step.)

    Now, the sex talk... I've had plenty of conversations w/the boy that, I'd say, have been fairly sex oriented, that creep up organically--which I think is good, I can take advantage of those moments. But he hasn't had the "sit-down" which, IMO, ought to be his father's responsibility. (I got the books, too. Eeew that was awful.)

    And about the poetry--a rare occasion--I've two other poems that I've published here within the last year, but nothing worth noting. Although, they were fun to write. ;)

  36. Carol- Oh, don't be fooled by all this--I'm in denial. ;)

    Kid- Hey, good to see you here--and thanks for that encouragement. :)

  37. Cold- Too scary. You have some blueprints for time machine, or something like that?

    Beer- Oh, how you've got a lot to look forward to! Glimmer's the early stage of fireworks. I see a very cute little Beer in the making. (Well, you know, eventually.) ;)

  38. Oh my gosh, I could cry just looking at those pictures! I can't believe how big our boys are getting. I LOVE, love, LOVE The Green Fields Of Summer here. How do you find these songs . . .

  39. You might add either Sandy Denny or Fairport Convention, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes."

    And it does evaporate. A fine honoring of your young man's journey and a mother's awareness of transition.

  40. Poetry: you had to know I'd go back looking for the earlier two, right? :)

    I can see that you had fun writing them (especially the missing " " one). Which hardly seems fair; I mean, aren't you supposed to retire to a garret and go without food or drink for several days before setting pen to paper? (Oh, well, I see by your comment that you commonly do, indeed, go without food or drink. So maybe they were fun to write after all.) My own poetry -- none recent -- is pallid stuff. I mean seriously: practically translucent. Next time I blog drunkenly maybe I'll post some of it.

    (Hint: I never blog drunkenly!)

    I think it was The Missus who told me that when her mother handed her the sex talk-manque books, the experience was both more and less creepazoid than expected: Mama had cut out and discarded all the pictures.

  41. Lin Ann- I know, it's crazy! It wasn't so long ago those boys were marching up the hill with their wooden guns, and handmade slingshots, to make battle with General So and So. Now, girls. Meh. ;)

  42. Marylinn- Fairport Convention, yes! I featured Richard Thompson on one of the first few Friday Night Frolics I posted (before I really had any idea where I was going with the FNF--not to say that I do now).
    That certainly is a perfect song for this Frolic. Alas, Wolf was in queue. :)

  43. JES- Did I say without food or drink? Did I? See, this is what poetry does to me. Makes me delusional, turns me into some kind of trickster. Thus, I write little of it.
    (Beg: Oh, please get drunk and write a poem. I'd love to see a JES poem.)

    And I seriously laughed out loud with this image in mind--Mama carefully cutting out the pictures in the sex talk-manque books. I wonder if she really discarded them, or if she might have made some paper and Popsicle stick puppets. ;)

  44. Jayne, that was so beautiful. It seems you have a lovely pen for poetry; picking the perfect details and painting a picture on my soul.
    My son turned 30 last Thursday. I am still watching him grow, like creeping ivy, creating a blanket of green softness before my eyes.
    I still wish I were going to that convention with you;) Poetry makes me think of my mother.

  45. These next four years will go very quickly. Snap - he'll be graduating.

    A lovely ode to your love for him.

  46. Leah- You're too sweet. I've so much to learn... hoping I will will be able to absorb something from that conference!
    Oh, come on up to little Rhody. Or, lets see if we can find a future conference someplace more exotic than URI... This will be my first writer's conference, and I know it won't be my last. ;)

  47. MJ- I'm not liking this snappy stuff... Um, I'm probably going to have to remind myself of that as all that teenage stuff kicks in, now won't I? ;)

  48. Hey, Jayne - aka ThatJaynieGirl! Thanks for coming by my blog. I can't believe I was featured as post of the week! Yahoooo!

    I have boys that are now 24 and 30. Every thing you described broke my heart. When there with my own, I just ad to breath through it

  49. Boy, it's gonna be tough saying "No" to a charming beg like that one. OTOH, it's not exactly like you're asking me to just toss you a table scrap, so please don't let yourself go hungry in the meantime. :)

    That finger-puppets-from-sexual-plumbing-diagrams image is almost too disturbing!

    ...yet at the same time, I can't stop laughing about it. Which in a way makes it doubly disturbing.

  50. I'm heading to Seattle and looking at one there; although Seattle isn't at all exotic. I live in Florida and I know that there is one in Orlando in October where 15 agents will be available to look at work. Orlando is warm in October;)

  51. A beautiful post, Jayne - my youngest son left NZ for the UK two months ago; seeing him go was the strangest mix of celebration and loss. Paradox = the stuff of life, eh? Mostly, we were excited for him, but where do the years go to? As with your friend Nessa says, it was just the other day he was leaping off the couch in his cape and underoos! How wonderful that they know about flight, though, and about saying yes. . . I agree with Maria - your son should read this.
    Love, Claire

  52. JanieGirl- It's not easy is it? It can be heartbreaking, in that you long for that innocent child, but it's such a delight to watch them come into their own... the discoveries they make, all those aha moments, their successes and failures. That frenetic energy wanes, but it's replaced by a more measured and thoughtful force.
    It takes a while to adjust to it, though! :)

  53. Leah- Seattle? It may not be exotic, but I've never been and have always wanted to go! Keep me posted. :)

  54. Claire- Max did read my post--smiled all the way through. "Paradox" is the word. (What would we all do if life were too simple?) I'm learning to love the paradox. ;)