(my school picture from freshman year.)
we moved to amsterdam from san francisco when i was pregnant with my first baby. we stayed there for nearly the first five years of his life and the very beginning of my daughter’s. traveling with babies is not easy… particularly on eleven hour international flights. and then when you arrive there is the horrendous jet lag that kicks in (there’s a NINE hour time difference between california and the netherlands.) so i only brought my children home once a year, but we would stay for at least a month to stabilize and enjoy the visit before heading back. now that we live in colorado we have continued this summer tradition. the kids LOVE their camp in berkeley (kee tov) and i get to spend time with my family and all my growing up friends.
we’ve always stayed at my parents’ house for these extended visits. in theory, it’s a great idea… my children get lots of time with their grandparents and i have built in babysitters, but every year i regress about thirty-five years and feel (and ACT) fifteen again. i have to ask permission to go out (to confirm that my parents can watch the kids), i have to borrow the car (which i am never that comfortable driving because the one available to me is my father’s black BMW race car… it is very low to the ground and i usually scratch the metal circles in the tires by getting too close to the curb or bump the front into the cement things in the parking lot because there are no cameras or one time i pulled the seat too far forward because i like to be REAL close to the steering wheel, like a granny, and the whole seat got off track.) so at least once a summer i have to tell my dad what i’ve done to the car. every summer i get nervous about this conversation, even though he is always super gracious about it… after thirteen years, i think he is resigned to the annual damage i inflict on the car.
(there IS a bit of poop on the car even though i didn’t park it under their tree…)
just like when i was in high school there are a lot of rules i need to follow: i should only get a certain kind of gas at a particular station my parents favor, i should park in a precise spot in front of their house (not under the tree because of the bird poop and little leaves that fall on the car) and i should not drive too far away or stay out too late because my father waits up for me and worries. (one summer i fibbed and said i was meeting friends nearby and actually drove well out of town. i got a parking ticket that i didn’t notice on the windshield, but it was mailed to my parents a few days later and of course, i was busted. “jennifer, WHAT were you doing way down the peninsula at that hour?” see… it NEVER pays to lie!)
another summer, in an attempt to give my father some peace, i arranged to stay with a girlfriend after going out so he wouldn’t feel like he had to wait up. of course, that was the night BOTH of my children got up (separately): one of them sleepwalked around and was hard to settle back down and then the other one might have wet the bed, which was a project my mother didn’t appreciate at two in the morning. my mother was EXHAUSTED after all of these disruptions and declared i wasn’t allowed to sleep out anymore. my father was exhausted from the cumulative effect of waiting up so many times and declared that i wasn’t allowed to GO out anymore (except for one final dinner that i had already planned, but i was told i had to be home by eleven. i asked my friend to push up the reservation to accommodate my limited time and hoped the race car wouldn’t turn into a pumpkin if i was late.) so i was GROUNDED at forty-seven and given an earlier curfew than cinderella as well. at least i wasn’t expected to kiss my mom when i got home so she could check my breath for alcohol…
so this summer we did something different. we rented a cottage nearby (mostly because we also brought hank and my dad is allergic to him.) we still see a great deal of my parents and i still have to get permission to go out and leave my kids with them, but i can stay out as late as i want and not worry about taking my shoes off on the porch and creeping back into the house, which never works anyway because their house was built in the 20’s and i can never remember exactly where the creaky floorboards are. i think we are all sleeping a bit better, but i do kind of miss the excitement of being fifteen.