I've lived in Missoula for almost ten years. Ten years! A decade. It's pretty hard to believe. Until it's graduation weekend and not only are kids that I've taught graduating from eighth grade, they are graduating from high school. Pretty wild. I'm finding that nothing ages me more than seeing the kiddos that I teach grow up. A few months ago a teenage boy came up to me in Rattlesnake Gardens with a big, cute grin and said, "Hey, Gillian!" in his husky, adolescent way. I had no idea who he was. I stared and smiled and fumbled around until he said, "It's Cy! You taught me how to read!" A million years ago when he was a wild little, moppy headed boy. Not this husky voiced, handsome kid. Crazy stuff.
This weekend it was graduation parties, birthday parties, general springtime goodness. Eliana has had more forms of sugar than I care to re-count, bounced on the biggest bouncy houses known to man, received more than her share of plastic prizes (all I can see are those tiny, Cambodian hands bleeding in the factories...) -- and enjoyed every last second of it. Sol's a bouncy house man too, but, luckily, he doesn't really get the whole prize thing yet. He was happy to sit on a mini-John Deere tractor and make vrooming noises with his big lips. Love him.
The best part of my weekend, though, came on a little family walk. It was so simple. Just us and the trail, a granola bar in my pocket, a dog on a leash. The kids get so creative when we're in the wild. Eliana immediately remembers her obsession with creating the perfect violin, finds the best balance beam to practice her gymnastics.
Solomon was just a chatterbox today. A million miles an hour about the moose and bear and deer we'd see. He'd hear a chatter in the treetops and say, "Birdy!" He'd bust his new favorite catch phrase whenever the opportune moment arose, "No way!" He'd reiterate everything his sister said (just with a bit more caveman flair). "Find violin!" "Big creek!" "Fast shoes!"
And then after an hour or so of run, run, talk, talk, big boy behavior, he asked: "Mommy hold you?" (my favorite of his phrases). So I scooped my little caveman up and let him "hold you" all the way back to the car. I thought about my summer with them and how much of it I want to spend outside. I thought about how they think of the wilderness as a playground and I felt so, so happy for the choice we made a decade ago. It seemed so random, so spontaneous at the time. And here we are. All settled in.