Thursday, June 28, 2012
Red, White, and a tiny bit Blue
It was the plastic star spangled tablecloth that did me in.
Every summer, for the past 5 summers, the tiny people and I have thrown a "Red, White, and Blue Playdate Party." It started our second summer together as a themed excuse to have lots of friends over all at the same time. I thought it would be a one off, but the children had other plans...and thus, a tradition was born. We've had plenty of other variously themed playdate parties, but one thing has been constant: Every summer, some time near the 4th of July, we host this one.
This year, there was a niggling bit of sadness tucked into a corner of my heart as we planned our party, our fifth...and final...Red, White, and Blue fiesta. As we sorted through Pinterest for the children to choose which colorfully themed snacks, games, and crafts we'd have I was awash in memories of past parties: The year the Twincesses had just learned to walk and spent most of the event fighting over a wagon (it made for adorable photos!). The year that weather sent us scurrying inside and the children all picnic'd around the area rug in the den, unfazed by the dark clouds outside. Two years ago, when I taught all three (then ages 3, 3, and 5) to recite a portion of the Declaration of Independence. Last year when, for the first time, Little Litigator took a seriously active interest in every detail of the party planning.
This year has memories just as sweet. The day was a whirlwind of preparations, people coming and going, a backyard full of nannies, moms, kids, sprinklers, water balloons, beach balls, and the noises of happy, frolicking children.
After the last guest had left, as I began to clean up the detritus of devoured snacks and of crafts we never got around to doing, I silently congratulated myself on simply enjoying the fun of our guests rather than allowing myself to get caught in the grief of remembering that this is a "final memory"...the last of its kind with these particular children.
And then came the tablecloth. It was one of the last things to clean up...a cheap, plastic, flag looking tablecloth that we've used for a couple of years now to cover one table or another for this party. On this day, it was covered in crumbs and candy sprinkles. Instead of wiping it down so it could be folded up and used next year, I began to fold it around the mess so it could all be thrown away at once. "We won't need this again," I thought.
And that was my undoing.
I don't know if I thought the tears just weren't there yet or if I thought I could hold them off until August, but what I do know is that I didn't expect them this week, and I certainly didn't expect the crumpling of a cheap tablecloth to be the catalyst that brought them. While I am blessed beyond measure to already have my next nanny job secured, and to know that it is a position I will love just as much as this one, it doesn't change the fact that I'm dreading having to say goodbye on our last full day together in August. In fact, I think the only thing that keeps me sane about leaving is knowing how much I'm going to love and enjoy being nanny to the next family.
I let the tears fall and, when they were done, I wrapped up the sadness and put it in the trash with the tablecloth.
I suspect there may be many more unexpected moments this summer where some small random act throws reality into my face and calls up the tears that I don't want to shed. But, as much as I can, I'm going to wrap myself and these three precocious, funny, compassionate, imaginative, wonderful little people into a protective bubble of summer fun and fill it with as many loved traditions and sparkling memories as possible.
They deserve that, and so do I.