Our godson, Josh, has been spending three or more weeks with us each summer since he was six. At that time, his mom was a single parent working hard and long, and as much as she missed him, those weeks were fun for Josh and a break for her. Over the years we’ve traveled to Maine and California, done Niagara Falls a couple of times, and camped out on Lake Erie. When he was younger, we used to enroll him in a summer program, too. He played soccer, went to roller blade camp, learned to sail, and took art and photography courses. We always try to have a lot of fun whenever he’s around.
Things have changed for his family—his mom has married a great guy and Josh has a younger sister and brother now. At 14, the time he spends with us now is summer tradition, but it’s also a chance for him to be the only child he was for the first 10 years of his life. There are other boys in our family close to his age, but he spends a good amount of his visits in the company of two women n their 40s. We worry that he’ll be bored with us, but so far it’s always worked out.
Take yesterday, for example: we’ve arrived in Maine a couple of days ahead of the other half of our group, which includes the other boys, so the three of us were on our own on a rainy Sunday. The night before, we had established that despite the big flat-screen TV in our rented house, television reception was limited—although we did all enjoy the broadcast of the graduation ceremony for the 15 8th graders at the local grade school. (Yes, we really watched it on public access; it was just the thing after 12 hours in the car and a nice lobster dinner.)
When Josh got up, he surprised us by tuning the radio to a classical music station, which we ended up listening to all day. “The radio is a lot like the TV,” he said, “not many choices.” He had noticed a breadmaker in the kitchen and pulled out the recipe book tucked neatly beneath it and decided to make garlic herb bread to go with the corn chowder we planned for dinner. When there was a break in the weather, we all headed down to our rocky beach, and 84 pieces of sea glass later we declared Josh King of the Beachcombers. And at the end of the day, while the bread baked and the soup simmered, he and Heidi sat side by side knotting colorful embroidery floss into friendship bracelets.
If these don’t seem to be the typical activities of your average baseball playin’ cross-country runnin’ teenaged boy, you must admire a kid so comfortable in his own skin he'll do whatever seems fun at the moment with whomever might be around.