I love this time of year! Getting to walk down the street, dry leaves crunching under my feet on the sidewalk, always reminds me of when I was younger- mostly around junior high age, I suppose, when I walked everywhere. Ahhh... those were the days. I remember being 12 or 13, somewhere in there, and using tin foil to put braces on my Hallowe'en pumpkin with a friend.
And those were times of high anxiety too - but for reasons I now look on as being ... well, stupid. I don't say that to belittle what we - and now our children - go through at that sensitive age range, but what my peers think of me and my decisions matters far less than what my true friends think of me. Those friends who love me and have proven their love and respect for me by being honest even when it hurt my feelings and being available even when they didn't particularly want to be helping (babysitting, anyone?) and just being there in general to celebrate our lives together. I now know that for every hobby we enjoy, someone else does too. I recognize that we all feel "alone" sometimes, but rarely are in reality. And am trying to guide my almost-11 year old Maestro through the rough waters he's already entering, before he is fully immersed in (and swallowed up by?) the stormy sea of adolescence.
In the meantime, I'm building as many good memories as I can, hoping to give him an anchor to family and an example of what true friendship is. So we went this past Saturday to a new pumpkin farm with some friends - North Run Farm. We went with two other homeschooling families, of whom I think very highly. One family has four children and the other three, many around the same age as my own older boys. They are all very well behaved and pleasant to talk to, in spite of being "unsocialized" by the local school systems, but socialized within our groups and our family environments (that's my nod to homeschooling here... perhaps I'm a bit biased though.) One other person came along - a friend who is single and whom Jeff and I have known, worked with, disagreed with (on occasion), shared fellowship with... in short, a true friend, Beth. You've seen her blog mentioned on here before, but she's such a great friend, I'll link to it again - you can see her knitting accomplishments here.
Beth is not a big crowd fan. She likes quiet, animals, knitting, long walks, etc. But she is a great friend and so she gamely comes over on Saturday nights to have dinner and be with our family and a few other friends. This weekend, she joined us for our pumpkin patch and excursion through the corn maze. She took pictures of Buttercup as she ran ahead for a bit before getting screechy-tired (and driving us all crazy!) and the boys while they ran and played. Beth is awesome. Everyone should have a Beth like ours (but you can't have ours... :) The picture at left is our Beth - not from the farm, but from her birthday, but it is a picture of which I am enormously fond!
The corn maze was fun but gave us all fits! We started out at the 0.4 mile maze. Throughout the
maze were stops where "clues" were located to try to solve a mystery. There was no gain to solving it, simply fun in making the effort. We found clues 1 - 4 on the smaller maze and then proceeded to the larger. Maestro and Smeagol went with the older boys while Bruiser went with the other two mothers and the younger boys - we got Buttercup, trust me when I say that she was plenty by herself and I am totally grateful to my friends who were willing to let the boys go through with them.
Beth, Jeff and I made it through about ten minutes or so of the 2 mile maze before deciding just to focus on finding the way out! The funny thing about a corn maze is that even when the temperature is very pleasantly in the low 70s, inside a corn maze is a bit of a hotbox because the corn prevents most breezes from going through and so you bake, where you would otherwise be quite comfortable. Buttercup began to complain no matter what we tried to do, "Do you want down?" "NO!"
"Do you want your shoes off?" "NO!"
"Do you want a drink?" "NO!"
(Then Beth asked, "Do you want to be good?" ... no answer!)
We found our way out - and then called Maestro on the cell phone I had given him (my own, he doesn't have one for himself as yet) to see where they were at. I get a grumpy answer, "Hello."
Such a down-in-the-mouth tone was hardly what I expected from him while he is with his friends, having freedom without the parents and supposedly enjoying being a big kid. His group had just exited the maze, but hadn't found all the clues. They had two left and he wanted to find them all. The group he was with outvoted him and decided to throw in the towel. For Maestro, this was a sign of "immaturity." One more stumbling block in getting older: realizing that sometimes you get outvoted and have to find the joy in being with friends - or take the difficult steps of going without the group - anyway.
So, not without some small protest, we moved on, and went to find pumpkins and the hayride. In the end, we all had a great time with true friends. I am grateful that Maestro got to see that regardless of our sometime-disagreements, they are not the end of the world, nor do they have to mean the end of the friendship. I hope the lesson stays with him, even as we continue our foray into the (homeschool) junior high years and in the meantime, I am still enjoying the times when he decides just to play!
Tomorrow - a review of the various pumpkin patches we've visited in the area over the last several years and what we like about them!