What I said back then:
You know the drill by now.
What I think now:
2012 will, I think, in retrospect, feel like a momentous year. In many small and subtle ways, things changed this year. Not just the process of surviving another year which ends in a 2, always a risky thing for me, but because the family unit is shifting. These bright and brilliant boys who entered our lives not so long ago are beginning the process of moving out of our orbits and finding their own paths. When your younger child goes off to secondary school, you have to face facts: they’re really not kids any more.
Cameron will remember this year as the year he started on the path of serious exams and momentous choices; we all get there eventually, and I think for most parents it must feel like it’s come too soon – my baby can’t be ready to be sitting exams where the result might stay with him for the rest of his life.
Yet here we are; Cameron is doing trigonometry problems and solving them quicker than I can, because it’s fresher in his mind than in mine. I’m reaching that point where – in some subjects, anyway – I’m no longer ahead of him; I’m learning along with him, and hoping that age imparts some clearer understanding of the wider picture so I can help to put things in context.
But Cameron will also remember 2012 as the year when things changed in other ways: no longer the sole focus of sporting activities, as we’ll see – he has had to learn to be a spectator as well as a participant this year, but what he’ll remember is a week at the lake, passing his boating license, fishing under the stars, learning to waterski, eating what’s put in front of him because there’s no alternative, and doing all of that while the rest of his family get on with life hundreds of miles away. He’s an independent spirit anyway; this summer just loosened the bonds a little more…
And Conor will remember 2012 for just as many things, but I think primarily for being a participant in the BC Summer Games. That independence, which perhaps has not come quite as easily to him, blossomed in the environment of the Games; corralled away from parents, being part of the group with just his team-mates and coaches – overnight on the bus, nights in dorm rooms, and games where no parental input was obvious – just him, his team-mates and his coaches against the world.
Well, the rest of the Province, anyway.
The Games felt momentous to me. Our youngest, off on his own, doing his own thing and making his mark on the world, however small. The sense of pride was enormous; pride in him, doing these things, being part of a massive event like that, but a tiny bit, I think, of pride in ourselves as parents – so far, we’ve done an OK job.
So, you’ll forgive me if I was a little emotional watching the teams file in for the opening ceremony. You’ll forgive me if I was affected by the simple, joyous optimism of the theme song, and – I hope – you’ll forgive me for remembering one moment which just felt magical, right at the end.
During the summer, we had all become aware of the original version of ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’; we liked it, but the boys and I in particular were enthralled by the Walk Off The Earth version – 5 musicians, one guitar, and such evident fun. Music can be hard to learn, but the rewards are enormous. We loved the video, and resolved – well, I did – to find out a little more; they are, after all, a Canadian band.
But there’s never time for such fripperies – we have lives to lead, soccer tournaments to play, and Summer Games to attend. Once the games were over, and we had all calmed down a little from the intensity of it all, there was just the closing ceremony to go. Like the Olympic ceremony, it is altogether less formal; the teams come in mingled together, many of the participants wearing their medals with pride; all of them buzzing with the energy only being part of something so big can impart.
There were speeches, as you’d expect, and there was music – the theme song again, with now much swooning from teenage boys less anxious about the immediate future. To our delight and surprise, Walk Off The Earth are invited up on to the stage. They play ‘Summer Vibe’ and it instantly becomes our summer 2012 song, athletes and parents singing along, grinning madly. They troop off again, to my mild disappointment – presumably it’s a little hard to recreate the whole ‘5 players round one guitar’ thing live, and I'm guessing it’s not been on the timetable anyway.
More speeches, and just before the flame is extinguished: ‘Well, you didn't think we’d let them go without playing it, did you?’
Music is magical. I could have done this with books or movies, or football matches, but it wouldn’t have been the same. I’ll never forget how that felt, watching something unexpected and delightful, knowing that Conor is watching it from somewhere else in the arena, and making his own musical memory, and sharing the experience with him without even exactly knowing where he is.
Get used to it, Dad – this is how it’s going to be.
There hasn’t been a ‘since then’ yet – come back in another ten years; we’ll see.