When we see the face of a child, we think of the future. We think of their dreams about what they might become, and what they might accomplish. ~ Desmond Tutu ~

IT’S OPEN HOUSE WEEK!! If you are like me and many other parents…this is a really, really big deal! It overwhelms and amazes me that I have one child that is starting the second grade and even more startling is that the oldest is going to be in the seventh grade this year. Time has both slipped through my fingers like sand, as well as mud over the last thirteen years. Some moments are just like snap shots of times that seem so very long ago, and others seem like yesterday. The one thing I know for certain is that they are becoming their own individuals and that all I have the power to do is treat them like a garden.

Eric and I got married on June 1st 2002 in Jamaica by a lovely man that reminds me to this day of Desmond TuTu. It was just Eric and I and a small cast of friends from both of our pasts and his brother. It is hot in June in Jamaica…very…very hot. I remember feeling like I was withering away in my simple wedding dress…I remember my bouquet had fresh orchids…I walked down to the gazebo down a long pier with my best friends husband singing along with Otis Redding…to a faint “Sitting on the dock of the Bay” blaring from a jam box manned by a resort staff wedding person…I remember at the end of the gazebo stood and my future husband smiling along with Mr. TuTu.

That is the movie that plays in my head. It’s all kind of fuzzy after that, I blame the heat. The one distinct thing I do recall to this day though..is these words from the beloved Jamaican man who married us…He pulled us to the side and told Eric to treat me as he would a prized rose. To love me and nurture our life as you would a garden. If you pour your compassion and faithfulness into the garden, it will flourish. If you neglect and forget to tend the garden, it grows over with weeds and slowly dies.

That has stayed with me all these many years later and I use it in my life now that our garden we created by joining our lives that day has expanded into the children we are raising. They themselves are tiny works in progress that need us to help them grow into good, respectable, honest and compassionate adults. It’s a dance though…Ansley Rose at seven needs so much more than I can hardly muster…”needs” is a strong word…how about “requires” so much.

She is unafraid and unaware of the negatives in life for the most part…she wants me to cook with her, sew with her, sing with her, cuddle with her…she is my shadow. A constant story telling, song singing, narrative giving bundled mixture of energy, joy, laughter, sunshine a pixie dust. To her the world is just one great big oyster, and she is its only pearl. She wakes up happy and shares her cup half-full attitude with anyone willing to sit a spell. And before you realize it….you are under her spell, desperately longing for her to take you with her when she flutters, flits and eventually flies away.

On the opposite side of the universe is the sullen sulky one. The teenager. In stark contrast he barely emerges from the shadows. If so, he speaks in grunts, mumbles and heavy sighs. He has grown to my height now, and has the faint boyish mustache fuzzing above his upper lip, a crackly voice, teenage angst and acne. Depending on the day, hour and minute his mood can change as quickly as a scorpion can strike…the one thing that usually pushes his buttons the easiest, the sunshiny glare of his sister’s obnoxious happiness.

He is an introspective observer of life. There will be no fiery buildings that he will rush into without due calculations. He keeps small groups of loyal friends and is cautious with how much of himself he shares. But you will never find a better soul to share your burdens with. He is the silent, back rubbing type that knows when you are at your breaking point with life…and then without a word will pat your back, ever so gently on his way past you to know he sees you…he knows you…he has your back should you need him.

He is the first to say I’m sorry, and does so without reservation, even when you should have been the one to say it first. He isn’t a push over, but he is a weigher of consequence. He measures what the outcome will be, and most often takes a higher road. Where she will be one to twirl through life without care…he will be the one to take note of the special, magical beauty of the things most people in life walk past. He will capture your heart and make you long to be worthy of his.

Both are rare, beautiful children that require the same love that was told to us in the beginning. One day it will be time to let them go. Maybe they will run, maybe they will stroll…but one of these days these birdies will fly away to make a life of their own. This week will be just another small step in that direction. Open house days are this week. Do any of you remember the joy of finding out who your new teacher is? Which of your friends are in your class? That excited feeling that comes from starting a new year of school?

Truth be told, I’m lucky…both of them are ready to go back even if they refuse to admit it. Much like their Mother, the one thing we all share in the house of Stone is the need for a routine. Too much willy nilly free time get’s old after a while. Even too much sunshine can burn you after awhile…Summer is a great break, but we all do better when we have a schedule to our craziness. So bring on the school year, we have let the weeds take over and now we need to shape up our gardens…clear up the over run and dead vines of yesterday…start with some fresh soil and new dreams to plant…