On growing up, biking to the dock, fireflies, and firsts

camp pickup ©mom-101.com This is a post I hope you will leave a comment on. Because it will save a life, thanks to the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign. A real life of a real child. Please read more info below.

This year, as my readers know by now (along with anyone who has been unlucky enough to run into me at any point for the last month), my children went to sleepaway camp for the first time. The day I arrived to pick Thalia up after two weeks to see the remarkable young woman she had started to become, was one of the most amazing, memorable days of my life. Or as I referred to it on Twitter, one of the worst days of her life.

(Sorry kid. This returns us to our regularly scheduled lives. Also, take out the garbage.)

I’ve been online very little over the past week, instead drinking in the incredible maturity and change I’ve seen in both my children live and in person. In just more than a week, there have been so many firsts.

I’ve seen Sage set the table by herself for the first time without being asked. This week on family vacation, I’ve seen Thalia help herself to salad. (Win of epic proportions.) I’ve seen them make their beds, correct my own making of my bed (well!), write more letters than I ever thought possible, recreate plays and sketches and songs which make no sense to me at all. I’ve seen Sage put herself to bed without 18 requests for water or temperature changes or another doll – no that OTHER one. I’ve seen them cut pancakes or pour milk instead of asking me to do it. I’ve seen them go an entire 24 hours without playing Minecraft. I’ve seen my formerly reluctant swimmers jump into a pool off by themselves, emerging triumphantly with cries of WE TOUCHED THE BOTTOM MOM! WE TOUCHED THE BOTTOM!

Pool ©mom-101.com Then just last night, perhaps the biggest first: I sent the girls off on their bikes with friends, telling them, “just be back before dark, okay?”

I never thought I’d hear those words come out of my mouth.

Ever.

I know a lot of you can relate.

It is the most beautiful, scary, terrifying, remarkable, wonderful, awe-inspiring, painfully lovely thing to actually notice these moments in which our children show signs the adults they will grow to be. It’s like spotting fireflies with your family at night, as we did this weekend. You stare and stare at a single spot in the woods, hoping to catch that bright, brief twinkle. Maybe you will and maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll see it then you won’t see it again for a long time. Maybe you’ll see it but no one else will. Maybe your kids see it and you miss it. Or maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll see a ton of those flashes of light all at once, all together, so everyone can feel a part of it. When that happens, your heart feels full to the point of bursting.

I want more mothers and fathers to experience the firsts, however small: The cutting of pancakes, the writing of letters, the jumping into the deep end.

You can help make that happen for other parents.

Lately, I’ve seen discussion online about whether “the stuff we talk about online” matters. Or really, whether it translates into action. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, hell yes. (Eh, I’m not one to pull punches.) Can’t we all think of dozens of examples just off the tops of our heads? Twitter conversations that impacted businesses, or the news media, or entire governments? Blog posts that raised money? Formerly undiscussed issues brought to the forefront with a the combined efforts of a community?

Yes we can.

To quote a line that’s stuck with me for the past two years, you serve the best by doing the things you love the most. And lucky for me (if not my friends and family at all times) I love talking. I also love commenting. I love having discussions with you all and learning and growing from them. Whether it’s discussing gender issues so that one day our kids will feel they can be whomever they want and have a positive impact on the world; or discussing how to get more kids vaccinated  so they can live to do great things too.

We can talk about own children’s firsts, and we can also make sure other children get to experience more of their own firsts too. There is no moral relativism. It is all good.

So.

For every comment on this post, one vaccine will be donated by Walgreens to a child in need around the world.I hope that you will leave one, then share this post so others can to. (And I pretty much never ask for that.)

In comments, share your favorite of your own child’s firsts from this summer. If you don’t have children,  share a first from your own childhood that reminds you of growing up. Tell me about how your own kids are doing with swimming or bike riding or independence these days. Or you know, just say hi, and support the effort.

Every comment you leave here counts, as well as those you leave on the other Blogust bloggers’ posts, all month long. Yesterday it was Nicole Morgan. Tomorrow it’s Kimberly Foster.

So leave a hundred. Leave a thousand!

That would be a pretty good first.
Shot@Life: Power of Vaccines Infographic | Mom-101.com

More about Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014: During this month-long blog relay—an amazing group of North American online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on the Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world through UNICEF and WHO, specifically for polio and measles vaccines in countries where they are most needed.

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit shotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

{223 Comments}

223 thoughts on “On growing up, biking to the dock, fireflies, and firsts”

  1. My girls come home from camp this weekend and I can’t wait to see them – and already anticipate feeling much the same mix of excitement at their new independence and abilities and ache that they’re growing up so fast. You captured the feeling beautifully.

    I have to add, I really love this line – “You serve the best by doing the things you love the most.” Love it.

    And I love supporting vaccines for kids by commenting here and hitting your share buttons! Thank you!

  2. My 4 yo started riding a bike with training wheels. He’s slowly warming up to strangers. He’s getting more comfortable in the pool. He’s eating PB sandwiches WITH the crust. My 1 yo ate a whole thing of yogurt with a spoon all by herself.

    My dream is to one day soon have a backyard, so even more summer memories can accumulate. 🙂

  3. This is such a neat campaign! Kudos to you for taking part in it, and for all those wonderful firsts.

    Our ‘first’ this summer was not enrolling our daughter in any camps or any form of organized activities. My in-laws came to stay with us for 7 weeks and we are having the most-unorganized, yet the best times of our lives!
    Sumitha recently posted..How to Give Your Kids Freedom in a Dangerous WorldMy Profile

  4. Love this post- As the mother of an almost 2 year old every day is some kind of a first for us…but I especially love her firsts that show a growing independence.

  5. I think summers are always times for firsts. I remember when my oldest spent the summer before kindergarten with goals he had come up with himself: he wanted to learn how to tie his shoes, climb across the top of the monkey bars, learn to ride a two-wheeler, and learn how to tell time. He accomplished all four, and I just sat back, amazed at all this little person could accomplish on his own. Now I figure my job is to just stay out of his way. He seems to have this thing called growing up under control.

  6. Your camp experience brought back memories of taking my son, now 45, to camp the first time. As I left him there sobbing because I was leaving him (I was sobbing as well, but he didn’t see that), I wondered what in the world had I done. His sister, three years older, had gone to camp without a whimper, but he was different. Well, when I returned to pick him up a week later, I, too, discovered a new kid and breathed a sigh of relief. So firsts sometimes are as much for parents as they are for kids!

  7. This summer has been the summer of “mom, I’m going outside” and instead of me saying “okay, wait for me”, it’s “okay, see ya!” It’s lovely and a little sad, all at the same time.

  8. My 6 y.o. repeatedly went off a 10 foot platform into a 12 foot pool. It was slightly scary for me and she did it again and again. Also, swimming confidently in all depths without a life jacket. It’s so good to see her mastering a skill that I think is essential to life.

  9. A day without Minecraft? That would be a first in this house… Looking forward to all the firsts with my sons, including sleep-away camp.

  10. What a lovely post. I put my son on a plane to the South Pacific this summer — quite a first for me! But, as I think about it, not all that different from taking him to kindergarten on the first day, putting him on the bus to day camp the first time, dropping him at sleepaway camp the first time — all teary moments for me, but also ones of pride and satisfaction at seeing him toddle or walk or stride on into the next chapter of his life. I wish every parent such joys … and many fireflies, too.

  11. What a lovely post about “firsts.” For us this has felt like a really enjoyable summer of repeats. We got to have my niece stay with us for a few weeks again, and we spent time at the cottage again, and visited friends and relatives, and even though we did do some new things, most of what my kids were clamoring to do was the same stuff we did last year. Last year was the “best summer ever” and how do you top that? Repeat it! It’s been great.

    It is a lovely and amazing thing to watch your children grow up. My kids are fairly independent, and to be able to count on them when I need them to pull their own weight when necessary is incredibly freeing. It makes me feel lucky and proud.

    Thanks for alerting your readers to such a great cause. Shot for Life is a great idea.
    Korinthia Klein recently posted..Mold-A-Ramas at the Imagination StationMy Profile

    1. I still don’t believe it. And I can’t take credit for it; but there you go – words matter. We never know who we’ll reach and what impact it will have. Thanks for being part of this too, Nicole.

  12. So glad camp was a great experience! It’s amazing how it allows kids to feel free enough to take risks and try things that they normally would never do.

  13. I love the way that you can capture your firsts, and put them into words! Tomorrow, my daughter is going to do a wonderful first…..take her drivers test! From there, the opportunities for her will be endless . Thank you for the inspiring post of “firsts”. God bless.

  14. My 4-year-old played her first organized sport this summer: six weeks of T-ball. Although I really should have put “organized” in quotes, because, 4-year-olds.
    Oh! And the other day, she threw her first “literally” at me.
    (Thank you for doing this campaign!)

  15. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and supporting this wonderful SHOT@LIFE campaign … it’s such a creative way to make a big difference in children’s lives.

  16. Child’s first this summer? FIRST BIRTHDAY! Oh my word. So much wrapped in that one — this summer has seen first snugglysnugglysnuggly bug, and standing up, and double-fisting-cupcakes. And her older sister? Just generally being incredible, I need to write down these moments more!

  17. My daughter babysat her brother for the first time while Capt. (husband) and I went to grab a drink at a neighborhood watering hole with friends.

    SHE’S BABYSITTING. She also sent us a text: “When will u b home? I don’t want to go to bed yet because I want 2 b prepared in case something happens.”

    *sniff*

    I’ve turned them both loose in the neighborhood with instructions to come home at dark, not seeing them for hours at a time. I’ve watched my son learn to use a knife for his dinner. I’ve given him a bunch of materials and he’s run off to make a neighborhood fort.

    It’s happening so fast. The early days feel like they stretch out in front of you, like a never-ending marathon course. And now, it’s feeling much more like a sprint to the finish line.
    Karen recently posted..Growing Up Girl Child: My First Instagram AccountMy Profile

  18. #Blogust2014 Shot@Life is a global social intervention model for addressing global vaccination & immunization priority.Bloggers addressed “happy & healthy firsts ” with vaccination priority & health
    consciousness.
    @mom101, Good& responsible parenting for growing children in social
    stress conditions ,could influence decision making & socio-cultural behavior for
    parents as parenting isn’t just holding on ,it’s knowing when to let go. In changed
    world ,dynamics of social change,customs,culture contact,social control
    mechanism,social intervention model, could deliver
    better societal practices for better society & community.Good parenting
    should also integrate with dynamics of social change ,culture contact,& social
    intervention for better society , healthy& secure childhood.
    ASHISH SHRIVASTAVA recently posted..Francis on Impact InvestingMy Profile

  19. What a fantastic post…summer is so perfect for firsts….for my son (11) it involved his first sleep over camp….huge success…his first time skipping rocks…swimming without goggles…jumping from the dock at the lake….seeing his first bald eagle…paddling a kayak solo…earning his first merit badge…and playing his first croquet and backgammon games. All those adjectives used to describe how it feels as a parent to witness or just hear about the firsts…especially as our children grow and need us less or maybe just in different ways are so right on!!!

  20. Good for Walgreens! Also, good for them for staying in the U.S. I will shop there to support that decision. I would have gone to CVS or RiteAid had they decided differently.

    Firsts….my 18 year old daughter flew to New York alone this summer, though when I say that, only the flight was alone. Her grandparents met her there, and they visited NYC for 5 days together. They had a great time, and now she wants to move there.
    J recently posted..Friday Randomness (again)My Profile

  21. Lovely post. I often wonder whether these firsts are actually harder on the parent than the child 🙂

  22. My ten year old went to sleep away camp for the first time. My six year old learned to dive just the other day at the pool. My twelve year old just babysat for the first time. A kid outside the family. Small things, but still big things.

  23. What a sweet post! Standing back in amazement at how quickly and perfectly my son evolves is one of my favorite parts about being his mother. It’s the part where we are allowed to get out of the way and marvel. You are so right – if only ALL parents were allowed this time. Thank you for being a part of Blogust. It’s one of the best things born of the Internet!

    Blogust Class of ’13
    Dresden recently posted..add this to your back to school listMy Profile

  24. This is the first time I’ve been asked to write to make it possible for someone to get a vaccination. Indeed, one of our daughters disapproves and my sense is that our grandson, aged 14, may not have had his. Ugh. Everyone should have one

  25. I ADORE this post… absolutely beautiful. A few firsts of ours this year: My 3 year old waded into the ocean and lake without clinging to me and being scared… she was almost too brave. 🙂 And, my 2 year old wanted to jump off the side of the pool and swim (first year swimming for her! underwater, kicks and everything). Watching small people grow truly is a miracle.

  26. As we were walking through our neighborhood yesterday evening, my daughter quickly turned and punched me in the arm.

    “Slug bug. No punch backs.”

    (This must be the 2014 version of punch buggy, as she pointed toward a VW Beetle.)

    It was a special first.

  27. Is it wrong to be happy that my child is still only four and camp is far off? Brave mom. Great campaign.

  28. I also have begun to give my four children more outside freedom – AKA freedom from my worries! While inside myself, I worry about not being able to see them as they circle the long block, but they return none the wiser and I am proud that I was strong enough to let go.

  29. First time riding a bike without training wheels, first time swimming without her vest, first time going off with a friend in ANOTHER MOM’S CAR

    First time he said his sister’s name perfectly, first time doing a real somersault, first time watching an outdoor play until 10 pm (!)

  30. My boys, ages 14 and 9, just came back from 2 weeks at sleep away camp (first time for both), and when they climbed in the car, the first words out of their mouths were, simultaneously, “I’m coming back next year for 4 weeks”. We will be actively searching for the money, because it was cathartic for us all.

    I’m thrilled to help in every way possible to promote vaccines, especially for those who need them most.

  31. What a wonderful post. I read all of them but this one especially connected with me. My boys are still a little young for sleep-away camp, but I have been blown away by how much my nearly-six-year old has matured this summer, especially learning to ride his bike by himself without training wheels! Heck yeah! Thanks for sharing with us, and for promoting vaccines!

  32. Thanks for sharing your family with us, and for helping kids elsewhere in the world be safe from polio and measles.

  33. You mention riding bikes, and to me that was a big part of exploring independence as a kid. It seemed like so much more space opened up! I could go to the pool or to the icee stand or any of the playgrounds or…!

  34. Love this post Liz . . . too many of us are forgetting that our job is to raise adults and I’m inspired by the way your are embracing and encouraging these signs of maturity.

    1. Thank you Matt! Not sure if I’m embracing as much as closing my eyes, holding my breath, and letting go…but I’m working on it!

  35. My son rode his bike to the park by himself for the first time this weekend. That’s a big one to me!

  36. I’ve never seen a post like this before – I’m so grateful to write so a child will have a chance to stay healthy. Bravo!

    A first for Max this summer – he’s 17 months now and is talking up a storm! He knows 8 colors (really 8!) and is starting to count a bit too. He’s a little book worm and his vocabulary is exploding. It’s so fun to be able to understand him and he’s getting excited to be understood!

    Otherwise, nearly everything he does now is a “first” 🙂

  37. My child has handled a cross-country move with grace and aplomb this summer. And while she said she was afraid of our new home at first, after just a week or tow of exploration, she told me she is no longer scared.

  38. This summer vacation, my husband taught our 5 year old to ride a two-wheeler, and she hasn’t missed a day of bike riding since. I’m so happy they’ll have this special memory forever…

  39. I know blog posts can change us- I’ve found a world of connections, answers to my questions about not-so-typical kids, and support worthy of a lifetime.

  40. Yep, camp in all its incarnations…day camp with the Brownies, church camp in Iowa, camping @ Goat Lake in WA with my parents, in the sand @ Hatteras, and my first vacation with my husband. CAMP.

  41. Thanks for this. It made me remember, having learned to ride a horse, the first time I went out for a ride on my own. Like the best bits of friendship combined with the best bits of solitude.

  42. Watching my daughter grow into the amazing mother she has become has been the greatest gift I could imagine for myself. Motherhood is something I always expected-I am a 60’s woman, after all (Some of us where hold to go to school to get our MRS.)-but a grandmother? Never contemplated the abiding joy of experience three generations under one vacation roof, spending perfectly harmonious days together. Were I in charge of the world, all children would be as fortunate as me and mine.

  43. What a great post! The last few years we have the opportunity to take our kids on one lake vacation, and one beach vacation, and during each I am amazed by how much their confidence grows in one week (and grows most when I am watching from a little further off, rather than right by their sides). Thanks for sharing your story, and for making it count for children in developing countries who deserve these milestones.

  44. My son, who will be entering kindergarten in a few days (sob!) got to partake in the “school-agers” summer program at his day care this year. Every Tuesday and Thursday, they pack their own backpacks and set out on city buses for full-day outings to parks, museums, and swimming pools. It has been truly amazing to see how he has matured and gained confidence and competence over a handful of weeks!
    Thanks for the lovely post and the opportunity to participate in this action.

  45. Yes, firsts never ending and so we too can grow again with our children. Thank you for sharing and supporting the cause!

  46. Awesome cause! My favorite first was not one, but both of my children learning how to swim this summer! It was amazing to see how far they’ve grown since last summer!

  47. Putting her face in the water. Reading chapter books. Bunking together. Sleeping in his crib in his own room all by himself. Eating pierogies.

  48. Even at 26 & 19 my girls continue to surprise me with all of the new “firsts” I see. I don’t think it ever stops really and I certainly look forward to many more in the future. Being alive is just that – growing and learning all the time and as parents we are right there too.

  49. My 7 yo son got his first dog this summer. Love at first lick. And the first real responsibility he has had to manage. So fun to see him rise up!

  50. Our baby, who just turned 6 months old, had a summer of firsts: first roll over, first teeth, first trip to the beach, first swim, first time up on all fours, first ride in a stroller without the carseat….you get the idea.

    Our 7 year old had her first misplaced tooth & subsequent letter to the tooth fairy asking if she could still have the money. Lucky for her, the tooth fairy apparently has some discretion in matters such as this.

    Our 3.5 year old had her first beach trip where she slept in the ‘bunk room’ with her older sister and cousins. Her bed was a trundle that looked like a drawer when pushed in, hence the reason she keeps asking us to build her a “drawer bed” at home.

  51. My first is actually for me, not my children.

    As a mum, I have only in the past month started to put myself first some of the time. I feel so alive! And my children are seeing a happier mum too!

  52. Before reading this, I never thought about growing up in terms of summer. I always thought that you grow up during the school year, from September to June, and then in the summer you relax and play as kids should do. But now, I agree, some of the most pivotal growing up moments can be through doing things on your own, when no one forces you to, unlike the forced schedules of the school year. I’m a long way away from having kids, but I can’t wait to watch them grow summer by summer.
    The Shot@Life Campaign is an amazing venture, and I really hope more kids are vaccinated because of it.

    1. Thank you Leigh Nicole! Thalia even said something about how great it was to try things not because someone asks you to, but because other kids say hey, you might like this. I hope she takes that feeling back to the school cafeteria too.

  53. My eldest watched me as I sat rapt when our youngest padded barefoot into the dōjō. Her back was ramrod straight and her eyes were huge, to some they may have looked serious, I knew them to be terrified. She never wavered, but the twitch at the side of her mouth, the fight to not cry was more than I could bear and tears slipped from the corners of my eyes and my eldest shushed me and wiped my tears.

    Not hiding the moment and then explaining to her that those times when they make me weep from their courage are my favorite part of parenthood, she whispered, “Making you proud is our favorite part of childhood.”
    Amanda recently posted..You get what you pay for and other life lessons of rarely putting yourself first.My Profile

  54. Great campaign!
    My 8yo is cartwheeling and flip flapping like a pro, she learned to do that all by herself! My 5yo mixed 3 songs into one and sang it out loud in front of 50 people! My 1yo is sleeping through the night (most nights, yey!)
    And apparently I love using exclamation points!

  55. Hooray for confidence and independence! Big Sister came down the stairs this morning with a dry diaper, took it off, went in the potty and put her PJ shorts on herself (with the tag in the back, thank you very much!) – all before I had put in my right contact lens. Way to go, girl!

  56. I don’t know if it is this particular age (7 and 9) but I’m stunned by the changes this summer, physically and emotionally. They look so biiig! It’s so bittersweet to see them grow up, but we are so very lucky. Every parent should have that blessing- healthy, happy, fast-growing kids. <3

    1. Having kids the same age, as you know, I feel the same completely. I can’t even believe the difference from even a few months ago. And yes, we are all lucky.

  57. I don’t have kids of my own but have been blessed with nieces and nephews and their parents who have let me be a part of their firsts. Hopefully they realize what a gift that is and always will be. My favorite firsts this summer were of getting a video (thank goodness for modern technology) of one of them riding their bike without training wheels for the first time (I was also lucky enough to see her brother do this live a couple years before!). Also having the other experience her first family tradition of pirates cove mini golf and the Sundae School ice cream on cape cod and her sister having her first 1 year old cape cod beach experience! Couldn’t ask for better gifts! Thanks for this great article and reminder too!

  58. This reminded me of the day after my son came home from his first two weeks at camp this summer – he was a little bit of a behavior nightmare for a few days due to the massive sleep deprivation that comes with camp. So he was very whiny and talking back a lot and was getting yelled at for it, and at one point asked to be taken right back to camp, because he did NOT like it at home anymore.

    I can’t wait to be able to send him out on his bike by himself with his friends. That sounds great!

    1. We had a little attitude – I think it also has something to do with mom telling her what to do (like clean her room), as opposed to a super nice 20-year-old counselor telling her what to do (like go canoeing).

  59. My daughter had her first job this summer, and had to get herself there and back every day. As parent it’s amazing to see them grow and become more independent, but it’s also completely heartbreaking.

  60. I remember feeling so grown up the summer my mom started letting me and my sisters ride our bikes into town and not return until the evening. I hope to live in a small town when I have kids so I can do the same.

  61. Wonderful post! Love the vaccine tie in. My 12 yr old pitched an incredible game and then had the lesson of losing in the playoffs. My 8 yr old swam her heart out in swim team. My 5 yr old passed the deep end test – she (and all of us) was so proud of herself.

    Take care!

  62. Fun summer first for my girls consisted of my 6 YO teaching herself to do headstands and my 3YO catching fireflies (and not screaming while touching them).

    And, yes, I think the on-line conversations matter, like this post. Also, I have learned much from reading others’ perspectives and responding to them.

  63. My little guy was finally comfortable enough to float on his back in the pool and is now “super fast” at swimming.

  64. This summer my children ate more vegetables. The oldest had his first job, packed his own lunches and often took public transportation to get there. The youngest likes to bike a route everyday, sometimes she lets me go with her. and I am letting the middle one hide and read and just be. It is lovely to see what they want to do. All of them different. wonderfully different.

  65. My son is going to his first camp this summer. He is almost 5. He managed to dip into a standard-sized swimming pool for the first time although he is still scared of the depth of the water. He is having fun everyday!

  66. My daughter has been cooking like a champ this summer. It’s fascinating to me to watch her style evolve, the choices she makes when left to her own devices. “I feel like some broccolini today…” and I’m like WHAT?!?!?!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I’m backtracking and leaving comments on all the posts this month. I hope some of you do the same.

  67. Yeah, the setting the table without being asked thing? Lasted about three days at our house. 🙂
    Thanks for all you do!

  68. I’m constantly experiencing ‘firsts’ with my 17 month old and it’s a joy. Thanks for helping others do the same!

  69. TFS!
    I remember our 2 children’s first Water Babies class in June in very cold Echo Valley pool which is spring-fed, Their teacher Ann Norman from the YMCA helped them enjoy putting their faces under water. Heather would only do it for Ann! Forget Mom at 8 months!
    That’s what parents are for: to give our sweeties roots and wings!

  70. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

    This week my own Thalia helped decided she’s the weather princess. It could stay you know…

  71. If children all over the world knew we were helping them get SHOTS, they’d probably start crying earlier at the doctors’ offices. But them’s the breaks kiddos; we want you well so you can run the world.

  72. Thank you for using your platform like this, Liz, and for always telling real stories that resonate with me. Big love to you.

  73. My almost-13-year-old stayed home by himself for several hours at a time, many times this summer. That’s a big win for us because of his historical lack of responsibility… seeing those glimmers of big-kidness was awesome.

    Bravo to you!

  74. I have loved watching my kids learn to ride their bikes and swim. These little steps of independence are so exciting to experience.

  75. My three-year-old daughter can pump her legs on the swings and doesn’t need to be pushed. Love seeing the triumph on her face (bittersweet not to be needed).

  76. Not a first, but a repeat of a first, and hopefully, a return to normalcy. My 23-year-old daughter, who is suffering from severe depression and crippling anxiety, offered to make dinner! Shows the start of some enthusiasm for life that we haven’t seen for a long time. Wonderful!

    1. Thank you for sharing this Jann. What a great reminder that even after our kids are grown, mothers are still looking for those monumental moments with the same pride and joy. I wish her the best.

  77. I vividly remember being dropped off at summer camp for the first time. I was 10 and a half. And as I watched my parents and my little brother pull away in their minivan, I leaned back against the side of my cabin, took a deep breath, and thought, “Finally.”

    Some steps you’re just ready for.

    1. Ha, that’s exactly how it was. I was waiting for some clingy teary farewell and instead I got a perfunctory, “bye!” as she ran off.

  78. The independence thing is such a balance for me. I grew up in the country and lived wild and free and no one really knew what I was up to unless I was doing farm work. My kids live in the burbs as my husband did growing up. I read Free Range kids and wonder. One day this week, I left them in the car, walked three cars down to pay the meter, and on the walk back was terrified someone would “tell.” Crazy. Yesterday, I left my 5 & 7 year old reading/playing in a library corner while I took the 2 year old to change his diaper and it felt rebellious. How did I (we) get to this point. So weird. I’m planning to try and relax more and give a little more freedom.

    1. Oof, I feel you. To think we can’t even leave grade schoolers reading in the library any more. When I was 7 I remember biking there myself!

  79. Getting to watch my kids grow and learn has been one of the most amazing things in my life. It has also been one of the most intellectually profound things in my life- as I watch them develop, I am find myself thinking about the world and the people in it in new, and I think better, ways.

    Every parent should get to see their child turn into an adult. We cannot always make that happen, but vaccines can make it happen for more parents. Go, Blogust and Shot@Life! Let’s get vaccines to everyone.
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    1. Thanks so much Rachel. If you ever want to come over and here 37 camp songs with the words sung incorrectly (“All is well, safely rest, God is night…”) just say the word.

  80. I want to give Walgreens a shout-out for supporting #Blogust and Shot@Life! Great work donating all these tens of thousands of vaccines to kids who really really need them!!!

  81. This is the first summer that he can actually swim, rather than throwing himself willy-nilly into the water and coming up choking! Also: this past weekend, on a camping trip, he learned to do the back float. 🙂

  82. My son is only 2, but this summer he climbed to the top of the biggest slide at the playground (meant for 5-12 year-olds) and went down all by himself. For the first time, I started to realize that I don’t have to hold my breath every time he does something new. He is smart enough to know how to hang on so he won’t fall. He is smart enough to know he can’t jump off the top. And I’m smart enough to know that this is only the beginning.

    1. I have a catch in my throat remembering my kids finally going down the “big kid slide” by themselves. It took them a lot longer than two!

  83. Camp was so scary and so awesome. I hope my daughter enjoys it one day as much as I did. Also, yay for vaccinations!

  84. This summer was a first for day camp for my 3-year old. It was a struggle at first, so I kept her home the first week. She was getting over a virus and then didn’t want to go at the end of the week. A few weeks later, it was their second week of camp — she went! She complained up until the moment! But, tonight, she was sad that tomorrow is the last day.

    Sleepaway camp — way to go!
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  85. My ten year old rode her bike to day camp with a group of kids. No adults. Big pride for me to see her taking new responsibility and building confidence!

    1. Yes! Mine started riding her bike with friends on vacation and what pride and joy she felt about it. Congrats to your daughter! She’ll always remember the summer of 2014.

  86. Firsts! How special to be able to witness them, right? My 5 year old son’s most note able first this summer was drawing people, with arms, legs, eyes and mouths (and not just blobs). So funny.

    1. Now that my kids draw actual people who look like people, I kind of miss those blobs with the spindly lines for legs, and the fingers coming out of the cheeks.

  87. One of my kids had a first experience with an awful boss this summer. It was a good life lesson. He was measured and mature in his response and thoughtful in realizing how he wants to conduct himself in the future.

  88. Today was first day of kindergarten and 4th grade for my boys! Although I wish we would wait until after Labor Day to start school, so that they wouldn’t be summer firsts. 🙂 For break, this was our first summer without being overscheduled, including playdates. It was nice not to be managing the schedule so tightly.

  89. My son just turned 2 so his language skills are just exploding! It is so amazing to hear him say and understand the meaning of a different word everyday. He even did a version of a joke the other day… blew my mind!

  90. It’s funny how the smallest moments reveal such big accomplishments. Here’s to camp and feeling so grown up!

  91. My son’s first this summer–riding a bike without training wheels
    My daughter’s first–going all the way across the monkey bars

  92. Thank you for your post.

    My eldest (6) spent his first week away from us at “Grandma Sleep Away Camp”. I’ve travelled away from him multiple times, but leaving him last week at my mom’s was different. There was a pit in my stomach and as week drove away a feeling that part of me was missing.

    I can say that we have all handled it very well. I don’t know if he will be eating salad or setting the table, but I think he’s gained some independence (my mother doesn’t hover nearly as much as I do) and hopefully some maturity.

    Jack arrives home tonight via train with my mother and I cannot wait to see him and his now toothless grin!

    1. That is AWESOME! I remember doing that too at the same age and loving it. My daughter is already asking when she can do it. Eep.

  93. Love this post, Liz. I feel like I live moment to moment in firsts with my kids, and I dread the day I feel them slowing. (probably why I keep having babies)

  94. “It is the most beautiful, scary, terrifying, remarkable, wonderful, awe-inspiring, painfully lovely thing to actually notice these moments in which our children show signs the adults they will grow to be.” Indeed! Thank you for such an inspiring post in honor of Blogust. These moments are absolutely everywhere and I feel like the first with them are becoming fewer and far between as they grow up.

  95. okay… I live in Germany and I simply have a completely different experience with my kids… you guys sound like a lovely family but a few things seem a little weird to me. In Germany kids ride on a balance bike at 2 and switch to the regular bike with no training wheels at 3 or 4. At 6 we send them off to school all by themselves (driving a tram or a bus usually) and since the age of 11 they are allowed to ride on bikes on the street alone (assuming they wear helmets). I mean…. are laws regarding child safety in the US so different? like since what age are kids allowed to go out shopping or playing outside by themselves? My son goes to the corner store to get some sweets or hangs out at the playground two blocks away since he was a little older than 7. Im simply trying to understand how those things work in the US. also another thing – Ive heard that in the US kids are supposed to be attached to their parents and have to follow them around because they cannot be left at home but than at 16 they get their first car and can drive…. its a bit strange but intersting. here in germany many people do not get their first cars till late twenties cause they simply get by with bikes and trams. apparently in the US the idea of giving a kid independance and having their firsts is different

    1. Oh Liza, I’d love to sit down with you over a good German beer and talk about this all. No, I would not say that kids are supposed to be attached to their parents and have to follow them around–at least not teens. Maybe 7 year olds, sure.

      But yes, the cultures are very different. Presumably you’re not having as many school shootings and Amber Alerts there and parents aren’t as completely freaked out about their kids (rightly or disproportionately) as they can be here.

      It’s kind of funny though to think of a 16 year old who is never allowed out alone then suddenly gets a car. I can see why that sounds confusing. At 16 you get a junior license and can only drive with parents or during restricted hours, until you are 17. Even then, I’d hardly say every kid gets a car. Most drive the family car when they’re allowed, or if they’re very lucky, they might get an older model from their parents when the parents trade up. But for the most part, suburban kids are riding bikes too. Where I live in New York City, many kids don’t even learn to drive because the public transportation is so good. Then they get to college and the suburban kid are like what? You don’t know how to drive?

      True story. Ask my brother.

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