The Weapons of Goodbye


The last week of August is the week we transition between summer – strictly unschooling – into a slightly more structured version of homeschooling. I usually take the week off from work so we can devote attention to getting the kids set up on the math and science websites/apps they would like to use for this semester, start social studies with a leisurely morning of reading and historically appropriate baking, and ensure the books they will be reading are downloaded onto their Kindles. It’s a week of excitement – looking forward to the new year ahead. 

In the midst of the excitement, A came home yesterday to let us know his friend was moving away at the end of the month. Luckily, his friend is not moving far away, but this has been the older friend who A loves to play with outside, or at each other’s house, since his friend’s family moved in down the street a few years ago. This is the first friend A made on his own, and he has managed the relationship by himself. While we have met the family several times, the relationship is primarily the boys’ own. Although he understood the reasons they were moving, A was devastated by the news.

A and his friend played together for one last time yesterday afternoon, down in our basement playroom. While they will still likely see each other, they won’t be down the street from each other anymore, able to pick up and play at a moment’s notice. The two boys yelled and ran around as they always do, but with a little more vigor – and anger. I heard the usual Nerf guns firing, sword fighting, and noodle wars. After a few hours, the two boys then said goodbye as most boys do, with a simple “see ya” as they went to their respective houses. I’m not sure if they will see each other again for a while. 

This morning, I went down to vacuum the basement, and picked up the carnage from yesterday’s play session. Normally, I’d have A pick it up, but this time, I’m glad I didn’t. As I picked through the blue and orange Nerf darts (I’ll never get them all!), the foam and wooden swords, and spent Nerf guns of various types, I realized this is how they said goodbye to each other. While they played and fought pretend wars, they connected one last time, and let go of this phase of their friendship. 

I came up from vacuuming crying, and at that exact moment, A came down from his room to get some help with a math problem. I hugged him, and he stared back at me bewildered and confused. He’s already started to move on a little bit – fall soccer started last night, and flag football starts later this week. This fall, I’ll know what to do when he gets lonely for his friend who moved away – we’ll have a Nerf gun fight in the basement. 

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