Monday, September 30, 2013

Putting Away Childish Things

We have waited six long months for this time to come.  I had pictured our trip to Disney as something of a going away party for the Princesses.  A last hurrah.  Sophie and the gals would sit around a table, share a few drinks, have a few laughs over the strangest places they had appeared in their gowns—grocery stores, dental offices, the JCC.  Then, when the time had come to finally say goodbye, they would cry bitter crystalline tears as if their hearts would break.  Woodland animals would gather and widen their eyes sympathetically.  Handsome princes would appear suddenly, from behind dark red velvet curtains to rest one gloved hand gently on their shoulders and issue reassurances, “There, there.”  And Sophie would put away these childish things in favor hot pants and tube tops, like a normal American 6-year-old. 

There have been small signs that it is time.  For one, Sophie announced one evening that her favorite color was no longer pink.

I think I might have gasped.  Then, trying to be all nonchalant, I said, “Really?  Why is that?”

This is what she said: 

“You know how sometimes, someone makes a face and you think its funny.  Then they make the face again, and it’s not funny anymore. “

“Yes, I know just what you mean.”

“That’s why.”

The second sign was the gradual disappearance of her Belle dress—the yellow confection I had bought for her a year ago for Halloween.  The one that if she wasn’t wearing, she was begging to wear.  The one that is shredded under the armpit, it’s yellow satin skirts edged with dirt.   For months after she got it, like Mr. Rodgers, when she came home at the end of the day, she shed her school clothes and slipped on her gown.  On the weekends, it would be on before breakfast Saturday, and there it would remain until I could finally peel it off her body Sunday evening. 

Though I found her obsession somewhat disturbing.  I kept hearing from others, “Enjoy it.  This is a phase.  There will come a time where she won’t be caught dead in a princess dress.”  And I noted that her six-year-old friend Margo passed up a series of flouncy frocks in favor of her own snazzy skirt and boots.  “She’s over it, ”her mother whispered to me, “she’s much more into what the older girls are wearing.”

And sure enough, her beloved Belle dress has been sitting crumpled in a corner of her closet, the detritus of childhood, items loved intensely and discarded: Baby Pink, a soft doll that rattled when she gave it a sound thrashing each morning when she woke in her crib, a series of boxes within boxes that I would build into towers she knocked over with glee, rubber puzzles, brittle with age, that we inherited from Kevin’s mother. 

I had long wondered how Sophie would react to seeing her heroines in the flesh.  Would she rush at them, a deranged fan, ready to snatch a bit of their silken locks, from their elaborately styled wigs?  Would she freeze, paralyzed by an existential crisis—when your dreams come true, what else is there to do?  Or was she already so old that she would walk the line between wonder and skepticism.  “That’s not the real Belle, Mom….is it?”

The first sighting was of Merida, a.k.a. Brave, who as surrounded by velvet ropes and several Disney heavies.  “Merida won’t be seeing anyone for another twenty minutes,” a woman with a clipboard chirped.

“That’s okay,” said, Sophie.  “I can see her from here.” 

If I wanted to ensure Sophie got to see a princess up close and personal, it was apparent that I’d have to “fastpass” one.  So, when Sophie and Kevin were riding on something called the Barnstormer, I made an appointment to see Rapunzel, popping our thumbprint activated Disney pass cards into a machine that spit out three tickets for 6 pm.

We still had some time, so I suggested that we check out Belle’s Storybook Castle before it was time to see Rapunzel. 

The concept was brilliant.   Children who volunteer are assigned roles to act out a play with Belle and given a laminated prop.  Part of the brilliance is that no one gets to be Belle, which might have caused a riot or a domino-like effect of one preschooler after another having an extreme meltdown.  Sophie was very pleased to be the French feather duster, which had a non-speaking role, and, in the program, would have fallen under “ensemble.” 

The parents sat in rows and watched their children take turns roaring (the Beast), or hopping (Ms. Potts and Chip), or doing nothing (the Feather Duster) at Belle’s side, while a photographer snapped a shot of each.  For each pose, Belle stretched her menacingly red lips into a semblance of a smile, then gently pushed the child in the direction of another “cast member” who snatched the prop from the child.

We emerged from the Storybook House just in time for our date with Rapunzel.  At the Princess Fairytale Hall, we handed in our fast passes and hurried down miles of corridors designed for hours of waiting.  Next to a velvet curtain stood Rapunzel, in yards of purple satin, with pounds of golden hair in a plait that hung heavily down her back.  She beckoned to Sophie, a delicately boned hand indicating that they should stand together.  Sophie uncharacteristically burrowed her face into my skirts.  No amount of coaxing from Rapunzel would lure her away from me.  Finally, I hobbled over next to Rapunzel, shrugged, and posed awkwardly for a picture of me, the princess, and Sophie cowering between my legs. 

Next up was Snow White.  She was good this one.  Lots of affectation—placing her hand over her heart, touching her cheeks with both hands, then raising them both in the air in a pose of mock surprise.  Sophie was drawn in.  She pulled away from me and drifted towards the princess.  Snow White bent down, cupped her ear, and proceeded to whisper, secretively, into it.  Sophie smiled, nodded, and whispering back. 

When she returned, I asked, “What was all that whispering about?”

“My missing tooth!”   

But all of this was just foreplay for the main princess event.  We had reserved three spots at a princess luncheon in Norway the last day of our vacation. 

That morning, Sophie donned her yellow dress.  I stared at the shredded armholes.  “Soph,” let me fix your dress.  Sophie eyed me warily.  

“Trust me, when I’m done with it, it will look better, fit better and feel cooler.”  She reluctantly handed it over to me.  I ripped out the sleeves, sewed up the hems and handed it back.  “Voila!”  Sophie admired her doctored frocks, while I, feeling like a fairy godmother, sealed up the velcro closure in the back. 

As we marched through Epcot, Sophie was repeatedly greeted as if she was Belle.  “Hello Princess!”  “It’s Belle!  How are you today, Belle!”  “What a beautiful dress, Princess.”  Clearly they had been trained to do so.  Disney was a system that reinforced the devout.  Sophie recoiled from these overtures.  I couldn’t tell if they embarrassed her, or if she mistrusted them somehow.   Or maybe, just maybe, she was uncomfortable wearing her dress in public? 

The Akershus Royal Banquet Hall was something to behold.  It was designed to look like a Medieval castle:  stone archways, cathedral ceilings, tapestries.  As soon as we walked in, we were led over to Belle.  “We have the same dress!” she exclaimed happily. They embraced for the photographer, and an imported Norwegian led us to our table. 

As we finished our appetizer and then main course, with nary a princess in sight, I began to get suspicious,  “Kevin.  I think the princesses are ignoring us!”

“I’ve been watching them, “ he said, watching them, “We’re not in their flight pattern.” 

The waitress came back to see if she should remove our plates.  “We haven’t seen any princesses yet,” I told our waitress, sadly.  She looked surprised. 

“It’s probably because you came in early,” she scolded in her Norwegian accent.  “I will make sure the princesses come visit you.  Keep your plates, and I’ll hold off on bringing out dessert.” 

Moments later, Alice was at our table.  Not a princess, Sophie pointed out.  “But probably a BFF,” I suggested.  Sophie accepted this and posed daintily with Alice, mirroring her by holding out her skirt.  

Each then arrived in turn.  First Cinderella, who, with startled blue eyes, looked like she might have just lost her glass slipper.  Then Aurora, with a severe, pinched look who, Kevin thought, was just a little too thin.  Finally, Ariel arrived, appearing distracted as if she had a boat to catch.  Each stood for a photo, before rushing off to the next table.  Sophie was glowing.  She eagerly stood for the princess procession and followed Cinderella throughout the castle in a parade of children, most of whom were too young to comprehend what was going on or to ever remember this moment. 

This wasn’t feeling like closure to me.

I did Disney, and now, I was done.  But was Sophie?

On our first day back, Sophie threw an outfit together, ripped leggings, a sparkly Hello Kitty shirt with a glittery headband to match, heart socks and sandals.   It has been a very long time since Sophie volitionally donned anything but a dress.

“Rips in your pants are very fashionable,” she informed us, striking several poses before she ran across the street to show her friend her new look. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Musn't See TV

Sophia woke me before yellow clock on Friday.  Thanks to the plugs I screw into my ear canals each night, I never heard her open the door.

“Mommy!” came a scream, penetrating my deep dream.

I shot up in bed, ready to attack the intruder. 

My eyes focused on the spritely form leaning over me, and I realized my intruder was Sophia.

Then I really went ballistic.  “Sophia, go back to bed and do not come back in here until your clock turns yellow.” I growled. 

“But, Mommy I’m in so much pain.  It’s my loose tooth.”

(This is the part where I sound completely heartless.) “You’re fine.  Go downstairs.  Get a book and read until I call you.  You do not wake me before yellow clock unless you are bleeding or dying.”

“But, I’m dying of pain.”


She left.  Of course, she was fine.  It was simply a ploy, one of many, to get my attention. 

That night, I made her swear up and down that she would not wake me until her clock turned yellow at 7:15 (which I surreptitiously set for 7:25).

So the next day, when I woke naturally at 7:55 and realized that she had let me sleep in, I was ready to bake her a cake. 

I found her downstairs on the couch, engrossed in a book. 

“Sophia!  Thank you for letting me sleep in this morning!”  I smothered her with kisses.

She did not look up from her book.  “You’re welcome mommy.”

“I have to go to the post office this morning, but other than that, I’m all yours.  What would you like to do?”  I was up for anything in my grateful state. 

“After I finish this chapter, can we watch Jessie?”

“Jessie?”  I had never heard of it. 

“Yeah.  Emma told me to watch it.  Emma LOVES Jessie.”  Emma is one of Sophie’s good friends from nursery school.  She’s a few steps ahead of Soph on the cool curve.  She shops at Justice, draws Peace signs, and knows all the words to We Are Never Getting Back Together. 

Emma has older siblings.  Much older siblings. 

The other girls are attracted to her like drones to their queen.  I watch at parties as all the other girls vie to sit next to her.  How, on the playground, they follow her lead.  Though, typically, Sophie defers to no one, Emma is the exception.  Emma sets the standard. 

“Well….” I struggle with wanting Sophie to have the equipment to navigate the complex social world of girls, and fearing that the content is way too mature for Sophie to be watching. 

“Please, please, please, Mommy!  It’s on the Disney Channel.” I had paused and she saw the crack in my resolve.  I know nothing of the shows on the Disney Channel.  But I assume Disney sanitizes its content to maintain its bleachy-clean image. 

“Well.  Okay.  We’ll watch it together for a few minutes, and then I’ll make a decision about whether I think it’s okay.”

“I know mom.  We’ll watch it for fifteen minutes, and then we can go to the post office, because you said you need to go.”  She’s slick, this one.  She was already negotiating for more time. 

“A few minutes.  Then, we’ll see.” 

We headed up to the attic (where I hide the television—out of sight, out of mind) to watch Jessie.  During the first 10 minutes, I tried to figure out the premise of the show.  The opening scene is of Jesse writing in her diary.  It seems that Jessie is a nanny for multiple children of different ethnicities.  Their mother is a fashion model, and their father is a movie director.  They all live in what appears to be a mansion on Park Avenue.  It’s Different Strokes meets Brangelina.  Suddenly the scene switches to a middle school, where two mean girls—one is the eldest child of the Park Avenue clan—exchange slights.  I don’t like the way they’re talking to the other.  In another scene, one of the children calls someone a “nimrod.”  This disturbs me, though I realize that I don’t know what the word means. I know it’s meant to be an insult, and it sounds dirty, but I’m not sure how bad it is. I make a mental note to look it up.  The central problem, neatly tied up in the 22-minute episode, is that one of Jessie’s charges is caught reading her diary.  Jessie then sets out to teach her a lesson about respecting the privacy of others. 

Sophie is rapt, staring at the screen with great concentration, but she only laughs at the slapstick, physical comedy.

We wind up watching the whole thing, because, I’m not sure what to make of it.  When it is over, I try to ascertain what she has understood.  “Soph, what did you think this show was about?”

“Jessie writes in her diary and the other girl thinks she’s an alien and drinks from her finger.”  All of this happened, but there was a little more to it than that.    

“Who is Jessie?”

“She’s their older sister.  She’s a teenager.”

“Actually, Soph, I think she’s their nanny.  Kinda like their babysitter.”

“No! She’s not!” Sophie is indignant. 

“I thought I heard a bad word used in the show.”  I say, changing the subject. 

“Which one?” she asks excitedly. 

“Did you hear a bad word?” I wanted to know if she picked up on it, by tone alone. 


“Good.”  I explain what I can of the plot to Sophie.  She eyes me skeptically.  As if I might be making it all up. 

Later on I look up Jessie on the Internet.  I’m dismayed to learn on Common Sense Media, that, based on 43 parent reviews, 42% of parents say sexual content is an issue, 26% of parents say language is an issue, and overall it received a “caution” designation FOR CHILDREN AGE 12. 

Either Common Sense Media is one uptight group of parents, or I am so pop culturally challenged, I have no sense of what’s written for whom.  I’m thinking it’s the latter. 

Nimrod, by the way, is actually a biblical reference.  He was a mighty hunter who was the founder of Babylon.  It’s genesis as an insult was actually based on the misinterpretation of its use in Bugs Bunny.  Apparently Bugs once referred to Elmer Fudd, as a “poor little nimrod [hunter],” but the viewing audience, not aware of the Biblical reference, assumed it meant “slow witted,” and appropriated it accordingly. 

From now on, I’m not taking media advice from Emma’s older siblings.  I’m vetting any new shows Sophie expresses and interest in. 

I will be the Nimrod of Age-Appropriate television

Or is that what I am already?

Thursday, September 5, 2013


In Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son, Lori Duron goes in search of a label that will capture her son C.J.’s “disconnect between sex and gender,” and preference for “girl stuff.”  She finally finds the term, “gender non-conforming,” on Wikipedia, which is defined as “a phenomenon in which pre-pubescent children do not conform to expected gender-related sociological or psychological patterns and/or identify with the opposite gender.”  In her own words, the author writes, “a weight had been lifted off my shoulders: there was a name for C.J.’s behaviors and way of life.”  The following article is inspired by, but is not specific commentary on Duron’s book, which simply got me thinking about how I feel about labels.  (Please note that “gender non-conforming” is NOT a psychological diagnosis.) 

As a psychologist, who spends much of her time assessing children, I have to say:

I hate labels. 

There is something horribly reductionist about taking a complex human being, with unique constellation of personality traits, strengths, abilities, preferences, and challenges and smacking a label on her that speaks only in terms of deviation from the norm. 

We are still in the infancy of psychology as a science.  We have blunt instruments to understand these complex human beings. The labels that we’ve generated are flawed.  I find it rare that a child cleanly fits into a particular category.  More often than not assessment is a messy business of trying to determine what of a handful of diagnoses best captures an individual so that, if the child needs support to be successful at home or at school, the child will receive the appropriate support. 

Diagnosis is a necessary evil—a label that provides access to services—a key not to who your child is, but to the gate that separates your child from the things that will improve the quality of his life.  At it’s very best, diagnosis provides parents with a sense of relief—this is what’s going on for my child, now I have a word for it, a way of speaking about it to others, and an avenue to pursue.  Behind the gate there are support groups, advocacy groups, accommodations, modifications and treatments.  But at it’s very worst, the label becomes all that people see.  Images from the media or based on past experiences are projected onto the individual.  Stereotypes form.  Assumptions are made.  Judgments are cast.  Personhood is lost. 

There is no shorthand for describing an individual, which is precisely why, though I hate labels, I love assessment.  Each report I write is my attempt to tell someone’s story, to create a richly textured narrative that attempts to capture the ineffable.  It takes a lot of words to do this.  I usually can write no less than 20 pages….and even then I am aware of all that is missing. 

I know there are people who skip to the end to read the labels.  Sometimes I acknowledge them first, so that we can then move past them.  Sometimes I save them for last, so I can embed them in a context that minimizes their import.  Either way, my goal is to have a parent emerge from our conversation with a better understanding of her child…and feeling that her child is understood. 

This post was inspired by the memoir Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron, in which she shares her journey raising a "gender creative" son.  Join From Left to Write, and online book club, on September 5 as we reflect on Raising My Rainbow.  As a member, I received a copy of the book gratis for review.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer Lovin'

Summer loving, had me a blast
Summer loving, happened so fast
Met a girl, crazy for me
Met a boy, cute as can be

We have friends who belong to a private club situated in the rolling hills of Northeast Pennsylvania.  The club has been in existence since 1882 and encompasses 4,700 acres of property with three fish-stocked glacial lakes, a Swiss Gothic clubhouse built in 1899, and 65 cottages built by its members.  These cottages have been handed down, generation to generation.  Many families have spent decades of summers in this place.  Though small changes have been made to modernize over the years, such as men no longer have to wear a jacket and tie to breakfast at the clubhouse, it can feel as if you had accidentally stepped into a wormhole, transporting you to the early 20th century. 

This is where we spent our Labor Day weekend.  With our friends, Ralph and Pam.  

He showed off, splashing around 

Once settled in at the cottage, we made our way down to the lake, where Sophia hiked up her late 20th Century tied-died dress—an anachronism in this place—and was wading up to her tuchus. 

“Sophie, don’t raise your dress any higher!” I warned.  A lady does not bare her Princess Aurora underwear in mixed company.

“I’m not going to, Mom!” Sophie shot back, letting her dress skirt the water.

“Or get it soaked in the lake.”  She ignored me, splashing over to a young man with long light brown curls. 

Kevin and I stood with our friend Ralph, swatting at the gnats, which circled our heads thickly and seemed intent on flying directly into our eyes.

“Why don’t we take a walk in the woods?” Kevin suggested, “Perhaps they won’t bother us if we keep moving.”

“Sophie!  Please put your shoes back on.  We’re going to go for a walk.”

“I’m not ready yet!  I want to stay here with Walter!”  Walter was the sweet, curly haired gent, who was now digging at the shoreline with a giant yellow shovel. 

“Sophie.  You can see Walter down at the lake tomorrow.  We’re going exploring!”

Sophie climbed onto the dock and began an elaborate process of dipping her feet into the water, then putting her sandals on, then dunking her sandals back into the water. 

“Sophie!  You’re going to get your shoes all wet.  They’ll be uncomfortable.” I warned.

“Let her experience the consequences of her actions,” Kevin said, just to me.  And then louder.  “We’re going 1!   2!”

“Wait! Wait!” Cried Sophie.  “I’m getting my shoes on!  I’m doing it!”

“I love that the counting thing still works,” Kevin said to Ralph.

“And I want to know what you’re going to do the day that it doesn’t,” I smirked. 

Sophie came squishing over, but not before she turned and shouted to Walter, “See you at cocktail hour!

See you at cocktail hour?  We had been at the lake for about 45-minutes and she already had a date for the evening. 

“Who was that?” Kevin asked. 

“His name is Walter.  I’m meeting him for the cocktail hour.” 

“Well all right then.  I guess we’re going to the Cocktail Hour,” I replied.  I had previously been on the fence about Cocktail Hour. 

Summer sun, something’s begun
But, oh, oh the summer nights.

Sophie dressed with great care for the Cocktail Hour, which preceded the formal dinner and would end in something called The Grand March, all held up at the clubhouse.

She put on one outfit and discarded it for another, finally settling on a black and pink flowered sleeveless dress, made poufy by a crinoline, accessorized with a bolero jacket and her metallic pink Stride Rite sandals.  Uncertain what to wear, myself, I threw on a floor-length, ruffled gray maxi dress.  Kevin put on the requisite collared shirt and tie, which I knew he would be dying in, in the 80-degree weather. 

At the clubhouse, everyone was dressed in short, colorful summery garb:  Pink linen jackets.  Madras pants.  Cardigans.  Pearls.   Sophie, fit right in.  I, on the other hand, felt somewhat out-of-place, gathering my skirt in my hand to make it up the steps.  On the porch, members were socializing, drinks in hand.  The children had all made their way through the doors and into the main ballroom, leaping at the purple, silver helium balloons that had all floated up to the ceiling. 

Then we made a true love vow

Sophie hung back shyly, clinging to Kevin and I, until she spied her date.  “It’s Walter!” 

Walter was sporting a polo shirt, navy chino shorts with nautical embroidery, and crocs.  He looked adorable. Sophie grabbed his hand and the two of them ran around the room, sweating and smiling. 

Sophie eventually ran back to me.  “I found Walter!”

“I noticed.  Soph, how old is Walter. “  He looked about two to me.  Three at best. 

“I don’t know.  I’ll find out!”  She ran off and came back.  “He just turned four, and I love him!”  This was really moving way to fast.  What kind of strange magnetism did Walter possess?  She had never said “love” about anybody before, but her best friend, Leah, from across the street. 

“Walter doesn’t sound like a Jewish name to me.”  I did my very best imitation of my grandmother. 

“Mom!  I’m only half Jewish.  I’m half Christian.”  Sophie reminded me, he kid is sharp. 

“Well, then.  What are his job prospects?” I joked.

“His what?”

“Ask him what he wants to be when he grows up.”  I was shouting to be heard over the din.

Sophie rand off again, and returned a moment later, “A police officer.”

I sighed, a difficult life, the wife of a police officer.    “Okay.  Go!  Enjoy!” 

We stayed out, ‘till 10 o’clock

They rand about while I sipped my Gin and Tonic, and Kevin sweated in is long sleeve shirt and tie until dinnertime.  We found our assigned table on the porch.  Went through the buffet line, and carried our stacked plates to our seats.  Sophie tore through her prime rib, “I love meat!” she declared, and ate, with equal gusto, the cornmeal breaded fish that had been pulled from one of the club’s lakes. 

Inside the ballroom, visible from the window across from our table, they were setting up music equipment and strobe lighting.  Someone at the table adjacent to ours handed out glow necklaces.  Sophie didn't hesitate to run up and ask for one. 

“Be sure to say thank you!” I called after her. 

“Mom, can I please go back into the ballroom? All the other kids are there!” 

I looked down at her ravaged plate.  “Yes.  Sure.”  I waved her away.

“That’s the beauty of this place,” Ralph’s wife Pam said.  “You don’t have to worry about the kids here.  Anywhere they go, they’re safe.”  I peaedk in through the window.  Sophie and Walter were shrieking and chasing each other.  They rand down the porch steps onto the great lawn.  We could see their necklaces glowing in the dark. 

Sophie ran back to the table, “We’re pretending there are monsters out there!”

“Okay, I say. Just be careful.  It’s pretty dark out there.”

“Okay, Mom!”  Sophie was drunk on freedom. 

Before long, she was back at the table.  “Mom!  It’s time for the Grand March!  And Walter is going to be my partner!  Come on!”  Tables were being pushed back against the porch rails, and Sousa was pouring out the open doors.  “It’s starting!  Come on!”   

“What is the Grand March?” I asked Ralph. 

“It’s something unique to this place.  But it’s too loud for us.”  He and Pam agreed to meet us back at the cottage. 

Kevin and I joined Sophia inside.  A great line had formed.  Everybody, expect perhaps some folks who had quietly slipped out like Ralph and Pam, were scurrying to queue up.  They were marching in place to the music.  Granted, some of the participants carried bottles of wine or spirits in their hands, and few looked sober, but no one was sitting this one out. 

He got friendly, holding my hand

We finally met Walter’s parent.  We shook hands.  Sophie tried to hold Walter’s hand, but he was refusing to hold hands with anyone.

“You can pretend to hold my hand,” his father said, reaching out to him, but not touching. 

“No!” Cried Walter.  “I don’t want to hold hands.”  Perhaps this was a match made in heaven. 

Suddenly we were marching—all of us, en masse—in time to the music.  We marched down the hallway, through club room it’s walls covered with unfortunate animal heads, out the French doors to the porch, around porch and back in through the ballroom.  We were directed by a woman with a microphone, separated by sex and then rejoined by our partners, separated by family, and then reunited with our neighbors.  Everyone was smiling, greeting each other, keeping step.  We snaked back and forth through the ballroom, until we formed many parallel lines, which finally devolved and dissolved into dancing. 

Walter reached for Sophie’s hand. 

Sophia and Walter sat pooped on great wing-backed chairs.  As a kid,  it would have been me sitting on these wing-back chairs, feeling uncomfortable, shy and self-conscious, eyeing everyone suspiciously and making snarky comments.  But now, I was having the time of my life. 

“Come on,” I tried to coax Sophie out onto the dance floor, “dance with me.” 

“Me and Walter are tired.  We just want to relax.” 

So be it.  Kevin twirled me around, and we danced as we hadn’t in years until he could no longer stand to be melting and slipped outside.    I half danced by Sophie, half by Walter’s parents, who were also trying to coax him to get up, but I kind of felt like a third wheel. 

Sophie leaned over and whispered something to Walter.  He nodded and Sophie stood up.   “Can we go back to the cottage now, Mom?”

For once, I had outlasted her.  She was ready for bed.  We found Kevin and walked back in the darkness. 

“Walter and I are going to meet down at the lake tomorrow.”  She smiled sleepily as she changed for bed and we brushed teeth. 

It turned colder, that’s where it ends.

The next day at breakfast at the clubhouse, Sophie spied Walter’s mother, but not Walter.

“Where is he?” Sophie asked us, her brows knitted with concern. 

Kevin agreed to do reconnaissance.  He returned with bad news.  “Walter has pink eye.  He’s been quarantined.  He has to stay inside all day.  His mother didn’t want him infecting the other kids.”

“So I’m not going to see him at the beach today?” 

“I’m afraid not.” 

“But it’s the last day!”  

“Would you like to go to the play room?” Kevin replied, using the time-tested tool of redirection.

“Okay!”  Sophie skipped off behind him. 

Walter was soon forgotten.

Summer Dreams, Ripped at the Seams
But…oh…Those Summer Nights.