A significant part of my job as a mother has been a kind of matchmaking. I'm not arranging my children's marriages. They can pick out their own partners when the time comes.
What I am doing is matching the kids to summer camps and activities that dovetail with their interests and personalities. Because this is NYC, I am doing the research in February and March. Then I present both children with their options. I give them enough vetted choices so that they will feel a sense of ownership of their summer, but not so many as to overwhelm them.
Proximity is not the first criteria I look for in matching my children with activities. Sure, I could sign them up for Tennis Camp and that would be a five-minute walk from home. The fact is that I don't have Tennis Camp type kids. But if they change their minds, I'll be all over that option.
I'm not willing to travel by subway, bus and ferry for activities in Staten Island. I have my limits. What I am willing to do is take the A train from uptown to a downtown neighborhood so that Noah can participate in an exquisitely well-run computer science camp.
As I get on the subway with Noah in the morning, I have a sense of what one writer calls Time Abundance. Noah and I settle into our seats for the duration. One plus about this particular commute is that it is a straight shot. We don't have to transfer.
In anticipation of our commute, I've packed a large tote. This oversized bag combines spacious practicality with a whimsical pattern that matches my fashion aesthetic. Combining these two priorities was not easy, but I think I managed it nicely.
Noah has done his own packing. A book. A handheld video device.
Today's commute was a mixture of activities. There were times when Noah and I were sitting side by side, each engrossed in our own books. I’ve done this commute before, and in the early days I didn't anticipate how much reading I could do during this trip.
One time, I finished my book and had no reading material for the trip home. I picked up five or six free newspapers on the way to the subway, but they were so bad that reading the stuff of interest only took me about halfway home. I should have bought one really good magazine instead. I learned my lesson. I now pack reading and back up reading.
Noah and I also had a conversation. Like most of our talks, he initiated this one. It was a rather scientific discussion about primary and secondary colors and what can happen when you mix the colors together.
I have a few blog posts started. I worked for a while on one. When I got to a good stopping point with one, a switched to another one. Eventually, one of the three will feel finished. That's the next one that I'll post.
I also did some list making and schedule tweaking.
I dropped Noah off at camp then got back on the A train to do the same trip in reverse. I edited some photographs that I took between Noah's camp and the subway.
I blogged. I read. I discreetly listened to the conversation between two women. One of them is getting married soon and plans to start a family immediately.
I had a sudden idea and started a fourth blog post. I don't usually have this many going at once. Long subway rides are my Think Tank.
There is a luxury to all of this commuting. Time is moving at a different pace. I'm a captive to the subway train in a good way. The train travels as it will. I have no control over that, and no way to hurry things. My big bag, with my books, iPad, and iPhone are all I need for a rich life.
Fifty percent of the time Noah is with me. I am available for conversation when he wants that, when he doesn't, we travel together in companionable and comfortable silence.
The next two weeks of camp commuting stretch before me wide open and full of possibility. For some, it's a beach vacation or a spa. For me it's the subway.
After camp is over, that particular commute will be too. There will be days to spend in the neighborhood or out of town. But soon enough there will be other places to go. When you live far uptown like I do, long commutes are a way of life.
The title of this blog post was inspired by the excellent book, The Blessing of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise ResilientTeenagers, by Wendy Mogel Ph.D.
This blog post was written during a subway commute to and from computer science camp.