About Lesley Bolton

Posts by Lesley Bolton:

A Week in the Woods

Story and I have had very different childhoods. I grew up in a log cabin my dad built surrounded by woods. Story has grown up in our little yellow storybook home on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood. We had dirt roads; Story has pavement. I could visit my grandma whenever I wanted; she was only a short walk away. Story’s visits to her grandma take planning and a lot of driving and are not nearly long or often enough. My summers were spent at home exploring the woods and living the adventures of my imagination. Story’s summers are in camps, exploring what Bloomington has to offer and living the adventures of someone else’s imagination. And then our childhoods collided this past week.

Story spent the week at my parents’ house — the house I grew up in, surrounded by the same woods and experiencing the same timelessness of summer. And she was there without me.

It was the first time I had gone days without seeing or speaking to my child. The dogs did not like it at all, and when I got home from work, they spent a whole twenty minutes telling me all about how Grandma kidnapped Story and didn’t take them. There was much whining and grumbling.

I was immediately restless and called her the very next day. I told her to call me if she missed me. She didn’t. I really missed that kid! Even with the dogs’ complaining, it was too quiet here.

I finally got to pick her up Friday night, and the ungrateful miss didn’t even meet my car with her arms outstretched in need of a mom hug — certainly not fulfilling my daydreams of our reunion. She merely looked up and said, “Oh, hi, Mom.” Le sigh.

She had quite the week. She went fishing with Peepaw and caught catfish and bass. She got her own room at Brooke’s house, and they decorated it. She and Grandma made oobleck and cooked together. They went to the zoo. Story practiced her bow. She had a chance to be bored, though I’m not sure she was. She got to stay up late every night and sleep in every morning. She got to experience a bit of my childhood, and I am so grateful for that.

Story found it very difficult to leave. She’s never been good at goodbyes, but this time struck her especially hard. Before she would get in the car, she made me promise that she could stay for two weeks next summer.

The Tornado Crate

Story is growing up. I know that sounds ridiculous. Of course kids grow up. We all grow up — well, most of us. Anyway, what I mean is that she is growing in maturity. I can hear it in her choice of vocabulary. I see it in her facial expressions. I notice it in the grown-up topics she discusses and decisions she makes. I am very proud of her growing up; she is certainly growing beyond my expectations, and they are pretty high.

The other day she asked me about high-yield savings accounts — and I promptly told her to talk to Ali. She worries about how others perceive her and thinks deeply about how she can change perceptions. She shops for and makes her own lunches. She presents arguments in a logical way when she really wants something. She understands herself and her intrinsic motivations. I love all these things about her, but sometimes I wonder if she is missing out on childhood stuff. She’s only nine after all. And then something happens that helps me see the little girl she still is.

Last night, we had several tornado warnings throughout the evening. The sirens were going off. Tornadoes were confirmed on the ground. And Story was away from home. She is scared of tornadoes, so much so anytime the wind blows, she has me check the weather. I was grabbing my phone to call her, when I got a text: “Mom, can you get my tornado crate and Rocki [the bearded dragon] ready?”

A couple of years ago, Story put together a crate of her favorite stuffed animals, those that have special meaning to her. This crate has a specific function as a tornado crate. If we have a tornado warning, I am responsible for keeping Story and the animals safe, and Story is responsible for keeping the crate safe.

Story is growing up, yes. But she is still enough of a kid to worry about the safety of her stuffed animals over her own safety and that of her mom. And I’m okay with that.

On Top of Old Smoky

Well, our annual NHN vacation has come to an end. This year, we visited the Great Smoky Mountains. We felt on top of the world in every way. And now, well, we’ve come back down. I should have written this before we left, because now all Ali and I can think about are our to-do lists, prepping the girls for summer camp, and the pile of work that is waiting for us in the morning. The mountains seem but a dream, but it was a darn good one! A few highlights:

  • Ali actually gave us permission to eat breakfast food for dinner, but all the pancake places (and there were a lot!) closed at 2:00 p.m.
  • I faced my fear of heights way too many times.
  • For the first time ever, we vacationed without lists. The jury is still out.
  • The girls had very few fights and played together very well, even during the car rides.
  • We visited a swimming hole; this was Story’s favorite part of the vacation.
  • We climbed (well, walked, but it felt like climbing) to the highest point of the Smoky Mountains.
  • There were roosters everywhere.
  • Ali yelled, “Give her the muffin!” and it became the quote of the day.
  • I yelled, “Children are dumb!” in a tram car full of people. I was under a lot of stress.
  • Our navigational guide tried to kill us.
  • We rode bumper cars on ice.
  • We did not get eaten by a bear; this was Maddie’s greatest fear.
  • We took a ghost walking tour, and Ali’s EMF reader went nuts.
  • Ali finally understands why I think spiders are aliens.
  • Maddie learned about moonshine and CPS.
  • Riley perfected her gorilla walk and had the girls in giggles.
  • We visited a place that served ice cream on donuts. Need I say more?

The Storm Before the Calm

Ali and I will be taking the girls to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, next week to indulge in a relaxing vacation in the mountains. We’ve both been daydreaming about coffee on the cabin’s porch overlooking the famous mists of the Smoky Mountains. But first we have to get through the storm.

The last couple of weeks have been simply maddening — in all senses. We’ve been so busy, I don’t know how we’ve kept our wits about us. Managing schedules has been a magic trick, and regular chores have been sacrificed for sleep. Our houses have been a wreck, not least of which because we both have had home improvement projects going on top of the chaos.

Then we both got sick during a full moon, causing our tempers to flare with anything and everything we encountered — except each other, for some odd reason. Typically, arguing is just a matter of daily life for the two of us, but we were united in our anger this time. We hated the world but provided the encouragement and support each needed to survive without doing serious damage.

We have one week left: of school, of work, of extracurricular activities, of household chores, of responsibility, of the storm. We will weather it together. I know our struggles are not uncommon in the parenting world, so take a moment and look around. Can you be a calming force in anyone’s storm?