Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sun So Blue

This past winter, Ben got braces. This was important and necessary and demands a great deal of responsibility. Braces require care and food restrictions and thorough cleaning and regular visits to the orthodontist. And Ben has been great about it all.

But that doesn't mean it's been easy.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves, as adults, that when you're a kid, little things are everything. Summer is about fishing and fireflies, swimming and cookouts. So when you are denied the little things, it's a big deal. This weekend, we went to a barbecue to visit some old friends of mine who I hadn't seen in almost 20 years. While we parents talked and ate and caught up, the kids played hide and seek, went searching for lightning bugs and stopped briefly to refuel on dinner.

After dinner, we went outside to check out the fire pit, something we don't have at home. Fire pit! Burning stuff! Ashes floating up in the night sky! Totally cool! And the best was yet to come: s'mores! The best, that is, unless you have braces.

Marshmallows are a no-no with braces, so that dessert-that-says-summer was off limits to Ben. Needless to say, he felt it was unfair and was not at all happy about it. To compromise, we let him have extra chocolate and graham crackers, and then he roasted marshmallows for all the adults. It broke my heart to disappoint him, but he recovered pretty quickly.

Like most parents, I hate to deny my kids things that bring them pleasure. S'mores are as much a part of childhood summers as beaches and fireworks, and I would have loved to bend the rules. But childhood doesn't last forever, and adulthood brings even bigger disappointments. I would rather my kids learn how to handle them now, when they have my help. My hope is that when they are older, they'll be able to make the right choices, no matter how hard it is or how much easier it would be to bend the rules.

Ben may not remember this as the summer of no s'mores, but he will always carry with him the pride he felt when I praised him for his maturity. And as much as it hurt me to tell him 'no', I take some comfort that, as hard as that night was, his road ahead will be easier for it because of what he learned.

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