Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Childhood. It’s His Turn, Now.

Brownies in 70sMy childhood wasn’t especially spectacular or amazing. But it was mine, and I hang onto the magic that I feel like it should have had, and now hold the spectacular moments that it did close to my heart. Years ago, my roommate commented on my cherished bulletin board. Loaded with photos, concert tickets, my high school graduation tassel, menus and matchbooks, it was my “I have had a good life” showcase to the world.

I felt such pride over that overcrowded bulletin board, and still miss it. It was my “Look! I can be cool!”

That bulletin board was my proof.

The fact that the world never saw it, and that hardly any sober people besides my dad ever visited our crappy apartment back then didn’t deter me from continually grooming that cork board reminder of life’s treasured adventures. It was my proof that I was, and had been, happy.

I was especially proud of the state labels that I’d collected from the bottoms of cigarette packs along a road trip taken freshman year in college with my best friend. Forever preserved in cellophane, those tiny state labels were a reminder that I was a traveler and an adventurer, if not a dumbass for smoking all of the contents held within the packages that they protected. I still have them, in an old scrapbook:

80s dance got ready for and cellophane cigarette wrapper state labels copy

Not sure what I was trying to do with the pout. Probably thought I looked hot.

Each fall, while mourning the loss of summertime, I also looked forward to crisp, new, preppy and then less-than-preppy and more grungy back-to-school outfits, and the anticipation that maybe this would be the year when I’d be less awkward, more popular, and more athletic. Because, as everybody knows, athleticism grows during summer months spent at the pool, on bicycles, and that all angsty, story-writing, pale teenaged girls transform into swans while peddling nonchalantly by the homes of the boys they crushed on.

For me, the end of summer has always meant, and, continues to mean grief for the loss of long, light-filled days. For games of spotlight, played after dusk, of running back and forth from the neighbors to home, and for wished-for stolen kisses had in the bushes between.

But it’s also brought the fall leaves that I am too afraid to jump into for fear of spiders, anticipation, hope, and excitement over new beginnings. The bug-filled fall leaves come, and I’m somehow able to relax into my post-summer grief, and feel hope and anticipation for the new year.

While I mourn the loss of my son’s childhood as he begins kindergarten this week, I’m also excited for him to experience some of the things I remember most from growing up. Sadly, I do not remember many moments before turning five, or those incredible, snuggly, sweaty days spent giggling with my mother in the summer grass. I remember the sheet forts, built along the fence with the neighbor boy, and I remember being allowed to walk across the street to visit the elementary school playground, alone, to meet my friends. And while I am personally and selfishly heartbroken over the passing of Tucker’s beginning to the end of childhood, I’m excited for him.

It’s his turn, now. It’s his turn to create the memories that will carry him through his own grieving days as an adult watching his children grow too quickly. It’s his turn to find a start to making the friends that he will build forts with in dewy summertime grass. It’s his turn (in a few years ah hem) to start asking to go to the playground across the street without me.

And while I mourn it, grieve it, and shed tears over the fact that my baby is no longer a baby, I also celebrate it. Because, really, what is the alternative?

It’s his turn to have a childhood that, while not especially spectacular or amazing, will have moments worth holding onto. Maybe, one day, he’ll even have a cyber-bulletin board, full of concert tickets, photos, menus and memories, much like the one that I once had. But also, one that is entirely his very own.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post (a prompt-based writing exercise for bloggers to finish the sentence prompt and link up with those who also finished the sentence below). Today’s sentence was “At the end of each summer, I always feel…”

Your hosts:
Me (Kristi), from Finding Ninee
Stephanie, from Mommy, For Real
Tonight’s guest host: Kerri from Undiagnosed, but Okay. Please show her some love.


  • Emily - I love this and not just because I too had that “I’m so cool” bulletin board too! My husband commented to me tonight that he thought my post was quite negative and I agreed that it was. However, I didn’t change it because I guess I do always feel bummed out about summer being over and I didn’t want to try to make my post fake by being all bright and cheery when I truly hate the end of summer. However (again), your post really made me look at summer’s end from a different perspective. You are right — it IS our kids’ turn to make those memories and if I take a step back and stop mourning my own loss of summer and watch them with their new beginnings of school, etc, perhaps I will feel less bummed out?? Or maybe not…but I can try!September 4, 2014 – 10:09 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I so miss the bulletin board, Emily!! I almost wanna start a new one just to prove to Tucker that I had a life before. Of course, it would be as filed with him as the one magnetic side of the fridge is but whatever!! I loved your post and think it should stay exactly as it is. End of summer totally sucks. It sucks. Except it was like 97 here today and I’m a little bit done with that part….September 5, 2014 – 11:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I loved how you finished this sentence and got to admit I totally am not a fan of summer ending. Each year I get a bit nostalgic and definitely down as it approaches. This year as you know it was kindergarten approaching for Emma that got me even worse then usual. I totally wrote all about this on Wednesday and probably could link up here tonight with that post as it pretty much sums up the sentence and how I feel about summer or the lack thereof now. Still not going to steal you thunder on that. But still just so glad all went so well for Tucker and got to admit Emma is totally shining and beaming right now when she talks about kindergarten and the school bus, too. Still can’t believe our babies are doing it and how ell they are indeed doing this now. Hugs and huge thank you for holding my hand through this the whole time! 🙂September 4, 2014 – 10:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ah to the summer nostalgia, eh? I mean really, it’s a huge thing and I’m so so glad that Emma was beaming and shining over the school bus! I saw your FB status so know it went well but still, it’s totally fine and normal that we’re completely freaking the eff out!!! AND thank YOU, sweet one, for doing the same with me.September 5, 2014 – 11:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - It is Tucker’s turn, but he has so many more years of childhood left! Celebrate the beginnings and mourn the endings – yes. That is exactly how I feel, Kristi. And I think you need to work on perfecting that sexy pout. Just sayin’.September 4, 2014 – 10:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ah Dana, yeah, he does have a billion years left in it, but omg they go fast. And wait, you have tips for the pout? Might be (probably) too late.September 6, 2014 – 12:01 amReplyCancel

  • celeste - SO beautiful. My oldest started high school this week and it was (is) a huge milestone for all of us. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s also going to be a lot of excitement. A lot of growing. Maturing. I know what you mean about it being his turn. It’s such a mixed blessing, but it is definitely a blessing.September 4, 2014 – 10:34 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Celeste! High school. My husband’s daughter moved here for high school… and I know know that the days and years will go much too soon until I’m calling my son a freshman. EEEP. It’s definitely a blessing.. Still, so sad!!!September 6, 2014 – 12:02 amReplyCancel

  • Jess H. - I think those memorable summer moments are what made our typical childhoods so spectacular. This is a lovely post.September 4, 2014 – 11:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think so, too, Jess. I miss them, and wish for days past but also see how much love and beauty is in the now. But yeah, miss miss them…September 6, 2014 – 12:03 amReplyCancel

  • Allie - As always, you amaze me with how quickly you can come up with a blog. I’ve been trying to writing my for two days! I’d forgotten about the labels at the bottom of cigarette packs. I had no idea that they represented the 50 states. I vaguely remember my dad saving something that came from the Raleigh cigarette packs.September 5, 2014 – 5:27 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Well, I can pull them out SOMETIMES (not usually) but it’s impossible to not see them and think how much better they’d be if I’d have spent “real” time. Ugh. And holy cow, yeah, the cigarette thing was awesome. You should find out if you still have your dad’s collection. I’ll bet they’re worth something (maybe) now???September 6, 2014 – 12:05 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Se, I told you you would come up with something awesome! 🙂 I love your spin on it. As I have grieved my girls growing up, I haven’t really thought about it as i relates to my childhood. I had so much fun in middle school, actually. (High School, not so much!) I have feared my oldest being a middle schooler, but hadn’t really thought about how much fun I had then and the fact that , maybe, she will have fun, too, and it won’t be as drama-filled as everyone has warned me it will be. My childhood was not anything out of the ordinary either, but I have great memories – I hope my girls do too.September 5, 2014 – 6:21 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Well, sweets, I think “awesome” is relative but thank you so much for your faith and support and joining in and overall wonderfulness. Grieving childhood is hard and really I have to wonder how much of this is about me and about Tucker, ya know? I mean, not really but mostly??? If that makes sense. You loved middle school? I hated it. I was the biggest loser in middle school, and also freshman and sophomore years in high school. Somehow, junior year in hs, I managed to be better but wow, was I awkward. And yeah, I think that it was all less drama filled than we’ve been told. Mine was not remembered fondly, but it was also pretty drama-free. Here’s to your girls and Tucker having excellent memories!!September 6, 2014 – 12:08 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Ohhhh Tucker with the giant backpack – SO adorable 😀September 5, 2014 – 6:28 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Oh my friend, I love this post. How you told us about your summer memories and how you cannot wait for Tucker to make his own. I hope it takes some time before he wants to go to the playground aloneSeptember 5, 2014 – 9:47 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It better be years and years, you. Unless you and B baby are here to help with buying me a spy cam!September 6, 2014 – 12:09 amReplyCancel

  • Twindaddy - Watching our children grow brings on a torrent of mixed emotions, doesn’t it? Pride at the things they’ve accomplished. Mourning of little things lost. There was a time when the twins told me daily how they wanted to be strong like me when they grew up. Now the thought of being like me fills them with dread. Damned teenagers…September 5, 2014 – 10:12 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Teenagers are assholes. I’m living proof. But well, yeah, the emotions. Them growing up and doing and being their own people? that part is hard.September 6, 2014 – 12:10 amReplyCancel

      • Twindaddy - Haha. I was definitely an asshole when I was a teen. The twins, so far, haven’t been much of an issue.September 8, 2014 – 8:29 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Ok I’m never jumping in leaves again. 😉 I feel like such a party pooper to be excited that summer is over – look forward to cooler temps and dark by 5:00. That dark think makes me feel wonderful – like I’m actually staying up late. Christopher on the other hand is mourning summer and not feeling going to bed while he can still see light through his window. Love the pout pictures and I didn’t know there was a state stick on the bottom of cigarettes.September 5, 2014 – 12:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yup, sorry, leaves are nasty. You’re allowed to be cooler by staying up until 8 or whatever when it gets dark at 5pm. Also there’s the ugly heat thing that’s going on. I dunno about down there, but here, it’s been like the hottest week of the summer, so that makes me ready for fall, too!September 6, 2014 – 12:12 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I have been mourning the loss of the beginning to the end of childhood, but I just have to think of it only as a beginning. He’s beginning childhood, not ending it! I swear. Five is a big age, but it’s oh so small. (I say this because I’m feeling old today)
    I wish my parents would still buy me a fall wardrobe. Do you think I could convince them to do it?
    (no)September 5, 2014 – 1:56 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah. It’s beginning. I know this. You know this. Perhaps, together, we’ve got this. Especially if I can get the photos I mean you know. No pressure or guilt or whatever 😉 But yeah, five is both big huge and tiny baby, all at once… and if I were your mom, I’d totally be shopping with you now. Buying? Um, maybe. You ARE super cute.September 6, 2014 – 12:14 amReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - Love this Kristi!! I too, saved EVERYTHING that was worthy of good… trying to believe it was.

    Tucker is JUST beginning his childhood. These will be the days he remembers, sort of. My kids don’t remember but a few special events around that time of their life. It amazes me that they don’t remember more… but I know it’s ingrained in their hearts somewhere!September 5, 2014 – 1:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - The good that we believed was good simply was. I have to know that amusement parks, playgrounds, beaches and oceans just were GOOD. And thank you Chris. Especially for saying that Tucker’s just beginning his childhood. xoxo to the imprints on their hearts, too…September 6, 2014 – 12:24 amReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - Gosh I’ve been so busy fretting about the possibility my country could be torn apart in 2 weeks time that I forgot to check out the FTST, and haven’t got a post. This sounds a good one too, though I also always feel grief for the end of long light days.(And here it’s light till around 10.30pm in June and early July and where I come from it’s never completely dark then.)
    So yes, I can relate to your feeling. Also relate to sadness at your child starting school. I think I’ve told you before that I felt that way when mine did. I’ve often felt that although I’d never want to hold them back, it would nice now and then just to be able to hold that baby or 2 year old again – maybe for a day.
    Your bulletin board was great! What a lovely way to remember your own childhood, and I laughed that your dad was the only person who wasn’t drunk who visited your apartment.September 5, 2014 – 2:35 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yvonne, I so very hope that your country is NOT torn apart and feel very ignorant of the situation. I read your post about it and the whole thing is just sad… I know, too, that you relate to the sadness and grief of passing childhood while also celebrating it. It’s just too dang fast, all of it. And thank you, too, for reading to the point that you caught that my dad was the sober visitor!!!September 6, 2014 – 12:26 amReplyCancel

  • Joy Christi - You’re so right. What’s the alternative? Every year, beginning of the school year was SO MANY different things, not wanting to let go, knowing I had to. Kindergarten is thee toughest. I like how you remembered your own journey, and now it’s his turn. That is what it is, that whole circle of life. Go get ’em, Tucker!September 5, 2014 – 3:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Michele @ A Storybook Life - What a sweet post about coming to terms with the end of one season (literally, in summer, and figuratively, in Tucker’s life) and in finding the promise and joy of what’s to come. The fall and the year ahead will bring lots of memorable experiences for both of you! (But yeah, watch out for the spiders in the leaf piles. Ewwww.)September 5, 2014 – 3:26 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Michele!! The end of summer IS sad, but all that’s coming, and the memories to be made are awesome, too. And yeah, leaf piles in these parts can be pretty disgusting. 😉September 6, 2014 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly - But starting kindergarten is not the end of childhood, Kristi! But I agree, whenever the kids reach another mile stone, I’m getting quite angsty. In only a little over a week, I’m going to have a first-grader here!! Can’t believe it!September 5, 2014 – 4:45 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh I know, I know, Stephanie, that it’s not the end to childhood. It just feels like the beginning to the end, if that makes sense! Yikes to the first grader but also, so beautiful and perfect. I get the angsty!! 🙂September 6, 2014 – 12:29 amReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - I definitely feel different about the summer ending at this time in my life than I did in summers past. I think the change in location has changed my perspective on summer tremendously also which is why I decided to write about that this week! I love how Tucker has an end to childhood but also a beginning at this age. You describe it so well. I wonder how he will capture all of the memories. I noticed you mentioned a cyber bulletin. Whatever it is, I know it will make what we did back then and even now look ancient. Haha!September 5, 2014 – 8:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHA to the cyber bulletin board – I just made it up!! I mean, the way kids today and the way kids when kids like Tucker and JR are old enough to treasure keepsakes – who knows what they will have!!! I did love my bulletin board though and thank you for your sweet words about summer and well, all of it. For joining up. 🙂September 6, 2014 – 12:32 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - I think that we all have childhoods that are spectacular and amazing to each of us. How we experience the world as children has such an impact on who we become as adults. I share with you a feeling of loss as the summer slips by; it’s really just too short. But it is wonderful to see how our kids keep growing and rising to each new challenge on their road to adulthood.September 5, 2014 – 8:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - I am totally choked up. You captured that so beautifully- the ending that we mourn, and the beginning that we celebrate. And OMG, I had a “Look at my awesome life/I can be cool” bulletin board, too! xoSeptember 5, 2014 – 8:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni AaMom - I experience those days every day with my fifth grader and first grader!! So much fun, and I just know Tucker will have the same and more!September 5, 2014 – 8:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - I had one of those peg boards in college—it was a mish-mash of my life and I was so proud of it. I understand how you felt dropping your son off at school—that first week is so tough. He is growing up now and creating his own memories—just like you did. Scary and exciting at the same time. I think you’ll find that you will grow together in this journey—-and it will just get better and better. XOSeptember 5, 2014 – 9:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Marcia weren’t those peg boards AWESOME!!!??? I miss mine. I think I may make a new one because why not? And yeah, the first school days are pretty tough and sucky and scary but also so exciting. I think you’re right and thank you!September 6, 2014 – 12:33 amReplyCancel

  • Chantale DP Virtuallyateacher - I feel like crying too! But you should be proud Kristi! Hope he has a year full of fun memories!September 6, 2014 – 2:00 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - This time last week I was creeping into the bedrooms of my daughter’s room mates. They weren’t there and weren’t expected for a week. I knew I was safe! I went in them to get a sense of the girls with whom my daughter would be spending the next 8 months of her life. What did I find? Lives well lived. Mirror doors decorated just as you’ve described. Countless photos of family and friends. I was left feeling grateful. My gal will have a wonderful year.September 6, 2014 – 3:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kelly! HAHA I love it! And I’m glad that you found lives well lived. Here’s to your daughter having a wonderful year (and you, too!!).September 7, 2014 – 5:19 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - “For me, the end of summer has always meant, and, continues to mean grief for the loss of long, light-filled days.”

    So true. Your baby heading to kindergarten. My oldest baby turns 21 tomorrow. Oy. We’ll get through the colder months and our babies will continue to spread their wings. hugs.September 6, 2014 – 6:21 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Jamie,
      My husband’s daughter will be 21 in April so I understand the Oy. Happy happy birthday to your baby today!! Here’s to them spreading their wings and for us to try and make time pass more slowly!1September 7, 2014 – 5:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Love this! I have a bulletin board, too…aren’t they grand?September 7, 2014 – 1:20 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Bulletin boards are totally awesome, sweets! So awesome.September 7, 2014 – 10:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - Kristi–you’ll probably hate me for this, but I loved how “feel good” this post made me feel. The part you’re gonna hate is: It reminded me of the Mary Tyler Moore Theme song, Love Is All Around and the final lyric: You’r gonna make it after all.” Now I’m singing that song in my head and thinking of you and Tucker. You can delete this comment after reading. You have my permission. But see, you are going to make it after all–even with Tucker going off to kindergarten. In fact, you are both going to make it after all. Well, that’s enough about that. Happy Sunday evening.September 7, 2014 – 11:47 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Linda, your comment made me laugh out loud – not the internet “LOL” thing but that thing we do, audibly. “You’re gonna make it after all!” It also makes me think you’re right, and that your comment holds deeper understanding and love and support, that I very much appreciate so much. I mean, yeah, that damn song is in my head, but maybe, it’s not such a bad thing to have an earworm like this one. Maybe, we all need that song in our heads.
      I love you. And your twisted awesome, lovely and perfect brain with this song.September 9, 2014 – 12:26 amReplyCancel

  • Nicki Gilbert - Beautiful Kristi.
    It is inspiring to read and learn from your journey – from your end-of-summer sadness, and your fear and reluctance to let Tucker “go” as he started Kindergarten even while you know this is how it must be, how it is… to your acceptance now that he too will have childhood and growing-up memories of his own. Really resonates for me as a mom – the bittersweet, smiles through tears, as our little people, inch by unforgettable inch, become not-so-little.September 8, 2014 – 1:43 amReplyCancel

  • Allison - I, too, love fall but mourn in this season as well. For all the same reasons. & I get scared about the dumb things my kids will do in their turn and I also get excited for them to remember how beautiful life and changing seasons are. Here’s to hoping for the best…September 8, 2014 – 3:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Allison - Ding dang- everyone is being so sad & weepy in this link up… Immagonna write a post to perk everyone up!September 8, 2014 – 4:09 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Gah to the mourning and the sadness and also to the love of the seasons. Thanks, you.September 9, 2014 – 12:27 amReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - It is a sign of resilience when facing a loss, that you see the positive in what comes next. I do it by loving the colors of the changing season, the warm reds, yellows, and oranges. 🙂September 8, 2014 – 5:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sigh. Here’s to loving the colors. And here, the cooler, crisper temperatures!!September 9, 2014 – 12:38 amReplyCancel

  • Alison - The ending of something just means the beginning of something else, yes? Something bigger and better. 🙂September 9, 2014 – 4:07 amReplyCancel

  • Allison - SOOOO I missed the linky party but I am on a mission to cheer everyone up! 🙂 10, 2014 – 3:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerith Stull - It’s so scary to think about how responsible we are for someone’s childhood. I never really thought of it much (beyond parental duties of care giving and rearing). But as my oldest got to be a high schooler and beyond (she’s 20 now), I hear her talk about her childhood as if it’s in the past…. in the past… powerful!September 11, 2014 – 2:16 pmReplyCancel

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